Saturday, December 22, 2007

We'll Be Home for Christmas

Sorry, I should have said next post on Ethiopia would be partying with Solomon and noted I've no idea when that will be. It won't be this weekend, because we're busy scurrying around getting ready to fly out to Michigan tomorrow night. Aaron has been fighting a cold, and now my head is feeling like junk, although that might be partly because I was lying on the floor and Anna fell with her forehead smacking full force directly into my nose. Seriously, ouch.

My mother will start worrying about me flying with a cold in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . commence worry.

I am more worried about Anna deciding to grow another tooth in midair, since today she seemed to be hurting and drooling up a storm again. Nice timing. Sorry, fellow passengers.

We had our little mini-Christmas today, which was mainly our stockings. Her favorite item was the packs of wipes. They make a nice hat. As does her Grinch bib. And of course the paper. It's fun to make a mess.

A couple friends came over with clam chowder for dinner and too many desserts and watched Christmas Vacation with us. If you want to make Aaron laugh out loud, just put in a Chevy Chase movie. But watch out--he pre-laughs when the best gags are coming.

Now that we've had ourselves a merry little Christmas here at home, we'll be home (the other home) for Christmas, and I'm dreaming of a white one. Grandma's got the snowsuit waiting.

Hope we see you there, Michigan friends.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ethiopia Trip: Day 4-5

Monday morning we had breakfast and left for the orphanage at about 9:30 again. This morning it was sunny and much warmer. While we were waiting for the babies the kids were out in the play area and some of them, mostly girls, were sorting lentil beans. They were picking small rocks out of them. It was a lot of beans and they said it was one day’s worth. I took some pictures and Kate and I walked around the grounds a bit.

This morning Anna was wearing the red outfit with snowmen we saw her wearing in some pictures and knitted booties, plus a pink jacket we took off. She immediately spit up on me. She was much more burpy and farty today but just as happy. Aaron was making faces and looking away like he wasn’t looking at her and then suddenly kissing and tickling her and she loved it. She was watching him, following his face, and then when he looked at her she burst into giggles. She even started smiling a little before he did it like she knew he was about to.
At about 11:00 she started getting a little fussy. I held her to my chest and she shook her head and rubbed her face into me—no no no no no I’m not tired! Then she fell asleep. She stayed asleep on me until Wendi came and we took the girls back to the nannies at almost noon. The sweetest, sweetest thing . . .

We decided that after lunch we would go see and do some things around town. We went to the National Museum where the skeleton Lucy is kept (my camera batteries ran out). Some guys were making a music video about Lucy for tourism, to help change Ethiopia’s image from negative to good things like this. So we stood there four in a row like we were going to have our picture taken, but they were videotaping, so we didn’t know what we were supposed to do, look down at Lucy or up at the camera, while the guy was talking to us. It was kind of funny. We spent a little while more there, then went to the Hilton and checked email for a while. Then we went to a shopping center and bought a few souvenirs and tried to find a sweatshirt for Aaron but couldn’t. I felt like I spent a lot of money but so far on the trip (today) I spent $100. Here's photos of us at the wonderful ice cream shop, Bruno's, and Jon's amazing Spaghetti Ice.

Dinner at the guest house was good, and then we just relaxed in front of the fire and TV. Kate's funny--she reminds me of my college roommate--and she tried to suck us all in to her guilty pleasure of watching the cheesy nighttime soap show North Shore every night. After that came Oprah. English with Arabic subtitles.

Tuesday the weather was drying out. In the morning we went to Sintiyehu’s (the lawyer's) office to finish the embassy paperwork. He is very nice. He said they had 14 families coming between then and the end of August. I had tea and Aaron had Ethiopian style coffee—basically espresso, which they put lots of sugar in but Aaron doesn’t. We then went and saw Anna.

At lunch it was semi-sunny so I took a bunch of pictures around the guest house of the flowers, birds, turtles. Jon came out to see what all the hollering and noise outside the gate in the road was all about (couldn’t determine) and the old man guard was starting to weave cloth; he doesn’t speak English but showed some finished cloth to indicate that was what he was doing. He held a spindle with about six spools of fine thread on it and walked along stringing it between trees. He has worn a path there parallel to the wall from the driveway by the gate down out of sight past the car port and garden. He smiled for pictures and got a kick out of seeing himself in Jon's video camera. He has the most beautiful, patient, wise face.

While waiting for them to bring out Anna in the afternoon we asked Solomon to show us around Toukoul. They don’t let us in the baby rooms because of germs, but we saw playrooms, dining rooms/after school tutoring areas, older kids’ activity rooms, the dorm building. I think Solomon said there are about 200 kids there total. They go to public school; nannies walk them to the bus. After school they get extra help with homework or do activities. Laundry is hanging on lines, on bushes, on fences, on play equipment almost all the time at Toukoul. You never saw so much laundry! It is a pretty sight.

Next post: Partying with Solomon!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Public Service Announcement

We interrupt this broadcast for a public service announcement for those in the greater West Michigan area.

Due to our inability to be fifteen places at once and unwillingness to triple-book our teething baby into exhaustion as we have in the past been wont to do to ourselves, we would like to invite those of you who would like to meet Anna to come over to Wendy's parents' house on Sunday, December 30th. This informal "open house" will start at 5:00 p.m. and extend until we all get tired of each other or the old people (that's us now) want to go to bed. No circle time of sharing wisdom into spatulas will be required this time.

If you don't know where The Farm is, email me. If you don't know either where it is or how to get in touch with us, umm, you're probably actually not invited, random stalker person.

We will soon return to our regularly scheduled story broadcast.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ethiopia Trip: Day 3: Meeting Anna

I am going to give you Day 3 of our trip pretty much as I journaled it the next day, with a few additions. July 15, 2007--meeting Anna.

At Toukoul orphanage you meet your children in a small room with a few couches and chairs, red carpet, poor lighting. We sat for perhaps ten or fifteen minutes before someone told Jon, standing outside, they were coming. A smiling nanny appeared with a little bundle—Yegetanesh. Anna. The nanny was smiling broadly and Anna was looking around and smiling too. She is so small! We just stood there grinning stupidly at her and laughing nervously for a minute. I wasn’t sure if I could take her from the nanny or not; I didn’t want to be rude and pull her away but I wanted to take her. Then I did and she came happily to me and smiled over my shoulder at Aaron. She seemed to weigh nothing. Her smile is incredible. The guard who opens the gate into the orphanage came to the door and made kissing noises at her to make her look and laugh. After a minute I let Aaron take her—I knew he really wanted to! Then after a couple minutes we sat down on the couch so we could both see her together. She sat and bounced happily, just smiling and laughing at just about anything.

The moment we saw her was so surreal. All we felt was happy; we didn't cry. But Jon did! I think I would have been the same way watching someone else from the outside. We were on too much happy adrenaline.

She had on a red dress with white and red jacket and red tights, so we couldn’t see much of her like her feet. But her precious hands are so tiny. Her hair is so soft with a few loose curls forming on top and in back. Her nose is the tiniest. Her eyes are so deep brown and so big. Her eyelashes are so long and beautiful.

We played with her mostly on our laps and a little on the floor. She seems to be able to sit up mostly on her own but she’s a little tippy. She can push up pretty well on her stomach. At first she didn’t seem to push with her legs much, like when I put her weight on them, but later she was kicking and pushing back strong when lying down. She thinks all the faces we make at her, especially Aaron, are hilarious—she downright squeals with glee. I can’t believe how happy she is. Are we biased to say we have the most beautiful, happy, lovey baby in all of Addis?

She did have a bit of a runny nose and a chest cold. She wheezed when she breathed and with her little face, well . . . she reminded me of Yoda--funny old wheezy "Eh! Eh! Eh!" Empire Strikes Back Yoda (not some lame newer Yoda).

Help you I will!

At about 11:30 she started getting tired, not really fussy but fighting tiredness. Aaron put her on his chest and rubbed the back of her neck and her ears and she fell asleep.

At noon the nannies came and took the babies back, and Wendi took us back to the guest house for lunch. We went back at about 3:00 for more time with the babies. After lunch the babies had apparently had theirs too as they were spitting up a fair amount. Anna took more interest in the monkey rattle in the afternoon. We could only stay until 5:00 or perhaps 5:30.

While we were at the orphanage it suddenly rained—poured. Buckets of huge drops. In no time the yard at Toukoul had an inch of water standing. It was like a heavy Oregon storm but no wind.

Dinner was at about 7:30. At lunch we had moved from the separate guest house room to a room in the main house because it would be warmer for Aaron—he was really cold when he got up in the night and morning the first night. The privacy of the outside room and bathroom was nice but it is nice to be here in the house with Kate and Jon, easier to hang out in the living room and go back and forth to the room. I got us semi-organized before bed. I brought way too much crap, not enough long pants, Aaron’s zip hoodie didn’t get in and neither did my sling. Doh!

We went to bed at about 9:15. I woke up at 3:00 am and could not get back to sleep; I was thinking of everything we had to do and wanted to do and all these things. I heard the call to prayer again. I think I got back to sleep again a little bit before the alarm went off at 7:00.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Ethiopia Trip: Days 1-2: Travel

I can't promise I'll get through it all before our Christmas trip, but I've decided to take a shot at telling about our trip since I just finished journaling about it. (Yes, I know it's five months later.) Let the storytelling begin.

On July 13, 2007, our friends Janice and Terry took us to the airport. We got to the airport at 11:00. Janice helped us get the luggage to the line but it was tricky getting it back to where they take it into security—two suitcases and one big Rubbermaid bin, plus backpacks—since Aaron couldn’t really lift it (remember this is just about five weeks after open heart surgery!), but we managed. Then we got through security and had enough time to get some fast food to eat. That was a mistake—in business class you get a three-course meal!

Business class did not disappoint even six-foot-five-plus Aaron. Legroom? Ha! You could have a dance party up there in Row 1. And your seat is not a seat, it’s a Transformer with its own remote control. Between eating and drinking (which takes a long time with tablecloths and courses) and refreshing ourselves with hot towels and sleeping, we didn’t even have time to watch movies on our personal screens or even read books (we were too tired for reading anyway). We got to Frankfurt at about 8:00 a.m. their time. I wasn’t too impressed with that airport (though the part we were in coming home was better). It’s huge, but that wing had two-seater bathrooms and no drinking fountains, and we couldn’t go into the sitting area by the gate until the previous flight was gone, and there appeared to be some holdup with the German Pen & Teller’s tickets, so we stood or sat on the hard floor in the hallway a long time. Then we took a packed bus to our plane. Finally the comfort of business class again, and now I got a window. Took off at right around 11:00 am. We refueled in Khartoum, Sudan, and a bunch of people got off. Only a couple more hours to Addis.

We did it. We’re in Africa.

I’d been a little afraid getting off the plane would be busy and chaotic, but it was easy. We went directly into the room to get our visas, which was simple. We changed some money, then stood in line and went through the customs window, then got our bags onto a cart. Well, again, I got our bags onto a cart while Aaron stood there feeling lame and looking lazy/cruel. He said later he should have given me a 'hurry up, woman!' slap on the butt just for further effect.

Heading out, I didn’t realize we needed the baggage claim stubs we’d been given at PDX and I’d stuck in my zip ticket holder, and I couldn’t figure out what the guy was demanding—“Tickets! Tickets!” Then I was flustered and hot from hefting the suitcases around and just wanted to find the agency's lawyer, Sintiyehu—but didn’t see him. Some people had signs but none said Dove. I tried to act like we knew where we were going but a couple guys asked if we needed a taxi or to use their phone. I was a little freaked but the paper said go outside and follow the sidewalk so we did, all the way down to where cars pulled up, where fortunately a man asked if we were us, Dove Adoptions—our driver Wendi. Thank goodness! Sinti was inside but we had missed him; he said he showed me his sign and I said no. Whoops. We loaded up, tipped an unsolicited luggage helper, and were off. It was very warm out, felt good.

Our room at the guest house was a room with a queen bed and bathroom off it and bedroom with two twins and a wardrobe. I'd heard it was rather like camping but I didn't think so. But first we went in the house and they had dinner ready for us. We met a couple who has been here a while already and done some traveling, Kate and Jon, from Alaska. They talked to us a bit while we ate a little but we really weren’t hungry because of all the airplane food, so we ditched out to go to bed. I slept pretty well but it was cold in the room and Aaron got really cold when he got out of bed (as he had ever since surgery). In the night we heard dogs barking and I heard the mosque call to prayer, but they weren’t loud or bad. I woke up a little before the alarm went off at 7:00 but it was very dark in the room. And . . . no power. I found the crank flashlight to get my clothes around and discovered there was still hot water, so Aaron took a shower. Okay, maybe it is a bit like camping, I thought at this point.

Then I opened the door and felt like Dorothy in the Land of Oz: the sun was shining brightly on huge, bright green leaves, colorful flowers, dewy grass, cheerful birds.

We had breakfast at about 8:00. Very good. Starting to get nervous and emotional about meeting Anna . . .

Wendi drove us over to the orphanage care center at 9:30. Kate and Jon asked him to tell them to have them bring out our girl first since we hadn’t met her yet, and Jon was going to use their little DVD burner camera for us and Kate used our camera. We were ready . . . right?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

All She Got for Christmas Is

All she wants for Christmas is . . .

Hold it . . .


Actually, two front teeth.


Aren't they cute?

I am just glad she has some so I can finally say yes to all the people that ask. Same reason I'm glad she's now crawling, standing, balancing, and at least attempting new sounds. She has really come a long way in the last month or so, but for a while there I felt like I said "Not yet..." to every question.

It's not the questioners' fault, of course. It's just natural to talk about other/your own kids when you meet someone else's, and they are watching her grow just as we are. And clueless new mamas like me need to know what other kids are up to to have the vaguest idea what ours are "supposed" to be doing. I wouldn't have known Anna's teeth were on the slow side coming in unless I'd been asked a hundred times and heard how little Einstein got his at four months. The thing is, I wouldn't have felt bad about hers being slow either.

There's a sly kind of competition in the comparisons sometimes--even if it's fighting a guilt that's purely self-imposed. Why should I feel bad that my daughter doesn't have teeth? It's not a reflection on me, as if I could do a thing to speed them up. It's not a sign of adoption difficulties or third-world nutrition or being licked by the dog too many times that I should feel defensive about. It's just teeth, and here they came in their own sweet eleventh-month time.

But I let it nag at me sometimes that maybe she's behind. Maybe she's not catching up as fast as she should be. Maybe I should be reading to her more, feeding her more variety, leaving her with others more, taking her out less. Maybe Early Intervention will be needed and they will revoke her status as Ethiopian Adoption Poster Child. And then what does that do to me as Poster Mother? (They just take the T. Make it Poser Mother.)

Every time I start to worry, though, she learns a new trick (or grows a new incisor) to reassure me. Look, I'm standing, I'm crawling, I'm able to leave a path of chaos through the house in a single bound. I'm sippying my cup and I'm hiding my own face to peekaboo you. I'm renewing my interest in the contents of this drawer and the word Mamamamamama. I'll take that step before you know it, and then there's no slowing down.

Really, world, what's the rush?

Moms (and dads), let's hear your thoughts: Do you ever get caught in the comparison trap? Why do you think we do this? Why are we in such a hurry for our kids to get to the next thing, and how can we remember to enjoy them as they are each day?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Burning Questions (and Budgets)

There are things the Internets know and things the Internets want to know.

The Internets including my friends, my in-laws, project managers, authors, students, and others who might have wanted to come over to my house but will now decline, know all about my stinky pets and other noncleanliness issues. Nice. Ray of hope: all my Christmas dreams are coming true thanks to the good folks at (that's why they call it) Woot!

Meanwhile, the Internets demand to know why I carved a pumpkin in December. Technically I didn't carve it, just did a Sylar on it (now there's an image). I should have gone ahead and carved a Christmas tree into it and taken a photo for you all. But why? Isn't this obvious? For the seeds! Glorious, glorious roasted pumpkin seeds. It's sad that I couldn't find time to extract them in October but even more tragic that when I finally did, I burned them. D'oh!

Speaking of Christmas dreams, Aaron's was a nightmare, because yesterday his PalmPilot went on the fritz. Which is to say his life went on the fritz, because a PalmPilot is the best geeky-man's ADD drug in existence. Not something I could expect him to live without, and so it is that our Christmas money is spent before we even get it. Fa la la la la, story of our lives.

I got all my rush projects done yesterday. I ordered some items which are ridiculously practical but I'm ridiculously excited about; we'll make them Anna's Christmas presents (hopefully they'll come in a nice box she'll like). I got photo Christmas cards ordered, although I'm not thrilled with them. We're just not that photogenic, save Anna, of course. I won't reveal that photo, but here's a couple from "Hanging of the Greens" night at church. It's one of our favorite times with our church family, and the church looks gorgeous this time of year. The bold little preacher tried out the pulpit. "Yo! Jesus is coming! A ba ba ba ba da da yah!"

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


The correct answer to last blog's question was of course (d). My mom is missing the point, which is not that I was busy but that I carved a pumpkin after putting up a tree. Make cookies? Are you delusional?! I should mention that I also cleaned the roaster which was put into the cupboard not exactly fully scrubbed . . . after Thanksgiving.

One more day on deadline and I'll have a little breathing room. By breathing room I mean time to unearth my desk, balance accounts, order Christmas cards, figure out what gifts we're buying, start buying them, get a grip on our Michigan schedule, and pick up branches and shingles from the yard. Bonus activities would be cleaning any part of the house, looking at readoption papers (please tell me there's no tax advantage to finishing this in 2007, 'cuz it ain't happening), and oh, why not take up roofing to put on some shingles and plumbing to figure out why the sink is dripping?

At least I have a little elf to help me with it all!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Seasonal Dyslexic Disorder

What seasonally-associated activity did my weekend include? Try this short quiz.

1. On Saturday, I:
(a) hung laundry outside to dry
(b) cut and decorated a Christmas tree
(c) carved a pumpkin
(d) all of the above

Thursday, December 06, 2007

From the House of Catch-Up

Tonight the Husband of the Year is off to the first high school basketball game with his little girl in tow after emailing me from work the fateful, sexy words “If you need a break from the girl, I could take her to the game with me if you want to just chill at home or something.” I rewarded his sexiness by taking him up on the offer. If I can remember what “just chill at home” means, I will turn off on Oprah and do it as soon as I finish up this blog my work project.

I have been on deadline all week. I like to say “on deadline” because it sounds like I work at the newspaper with Superman. Really it just means I worked so slow that my projects became no longer staggered. Bah, holidays and hurricanes. Hoorah, income. Um, mixed feelings about needing to use scissors in my line of work.

Tonight I used the lazy man’s thesaurus on Microsoft Word looking for a synonym for insight. It suggested imminent, approaching, just around the corner, about to happen. I’d say Word is a little lacking in sharpness, shrewdness, good judgment, intelligence, expertise.

I know all y’all really care about is pictures of Anna, so stay tuned, Christmasey photo ops have begun. Speaking of Christmas, the nerdy time schedule Excel spreadsheet for our trip to Michigan is now taking reservations, so if you’re wondering when our paths may cross, drop me an email.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Little House in the Big Wind

We enjoyed a nice 30-hour stretch of indoor camping here on the coast, since the hurricane-force winds knocked out the power right after church Sunday (as in while we were still in the church). Since we couldn't watch football (thank God for small mercies, this week), Aaron and Waltino threw one around outside in the wind in between runs of the bulldozer pushing branches off the street. They were hoping to see a big tree fall. Thankfully the big trees are all far enough away from our house to make that a fun game. When it got too wild we wind-watched from inside, eating cold foods and wearing extra clothes. During a lull we drove down for a peek at the waves.

I think Anna wondered why we didn't turn on any lights (we had plenty of candles though, set up high) and why she was wearing pajamas with clothes over them, but she didn't mind us having nothing to do but play with her all night.

It's odd to have no power all day. It's one thing for it to go out at night--you use a flashlight to head to bed. But two days with no work, no computers, no TV, no cooking, nowhere to go . . . feels odd. I did sort out a bunch of papers cluttering my office today. But last night we were content to listen to the wind, to feel small, to chat, to watch the candlelight, to make a little girl laugh and hold her when she got sleepy. We bundled up under quilts to rest in utter darkness, waking often but safe from the chaos outside, and we stayed three in the bed as long as possible in the morning.

The winds continue to blow and many on the coast are still without power, but we have heat and light and each other, and a good reminder how precious they are.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

World AIDS Day 2007

December 1—World AIDS Day.

I have pontificated before on the staggering scope of the global AIDS pandemic. On the millions of orphans. On how the scandalously inexpensive drugs which prevent mother-child transmission or keep mothers, fathers, doctors, farmers alive are simply not available to the poorest victims.

World Vision reports that 30 percent of Americans say they know little or nothing at all about the AIDS issue.

What have you learned about HIV since last December 1?

Yet 74 percent believe they individually “should play my part, however small” to help those affected by AIDS, and 69 percent of the respondents indicated they would be willing to donate to help children impacted by AIDS.

What have you done to help?

It’s easy to say I should, we should, they should. Yet often it’s surprisingly almost as easy to learn something new, to get a different perspective, to write a letter, to sponsor a child, to offer a prayer. I don’t do everything I feel I “should” do either. But I’m determined to do something.

Here are some places we can start learning and doing:

My favorite: World Vision’s interactive AIDS quiz which everyone should take.

World Vision's Countdown to World AIDS Day site also has some great videos and ways to get involved including humanitarian assistance programs such as caregiver kits and a highly regarded child sponsorship program.

Here's an informative Transracial Adoption Blog post.

Join the ONE Campaign to Make Poverty History. Sign their “On the Record” campaign to urge all presidential candidates to explain their plans to combat global issues including AIDS, malaria, education, and clean water.

Give a gift to help or sponsor an HIV-positive Ethiopian child through AHOPE for Children. Or even adopt one—more and more families are doing so!

Friday, November 30, 2007


Today I got to do something I'd never done before. That's one way to look at it. Unfortunately, it wasn't anything remotely fun.

I went to in the Valley to see my doctor for a checkup, flu shot, and Hep B booster. I bet some of you can guess where this is headed--I am horrible with shots and blood draws. I've passed out at least four times in doctor's offices, although for the last couple years I've been doing well. I do better with someone talking to me to keep me distracted. Well, today I was on my own and the nurse was taking her sweet time between shots 1 and 2.

She had needle #2 in my arm and I could tell I was losing the battle against woozy. I told her I was getting really dizzy and she said to lie back. I remember going to lie back and then . . . dreaming about lying down, getting shots, and then other completely random dream stuff I don't remember. Suddenly I am looking up at my doctor's face and the nurse. Hello, hello, you're at a place called Vertigo.

That's bad enough, but hey, I'm an old pro at unconsciousness; I know that I'll feel better in a bit, eat my granola bar, and be on my merry way. Except that they tell me You had a seizure! What? Didn't I just pass out? Apparently I got all stiff, was shaking, and my eyes rolled back in my head. I guess it was more like 30 seconds than just a few. It did feel like an extra long nap...

Well, they didn't want me to leave without talking to a doctor/neurologist. They decided the fastest way was to send me over to the emergency room. And I think it must be a rule that I couldn't walk, so I got a freezing cold outdoor wheelchair ride. Then I got to sit in the ER waiting room alone and think about anything except those people who go in for a flu shot and find out they have a brain tumor. Then I got to sit in a room, talk to a nurse, and talk to a doctor.

Given my history of rolling blackouts and the fact that I knew I was losing consciousness as I did, they really didn't think I had actually had a seizure. With seizure disorders they hit with no warning, and I've never had anything at any time other than when facing needles. They said fainting with blood pressure drop can make the brain let things out so you may have seizure-like movements. Enough to scare a poor family practice nurse but not a real seizure. They decided to let me go without an EEG, although they said I could get one later if I wanted. But this time it had been probably an hour and half and the only ill effects I felt were hunger and a sensation that someone had been sticking needles in my arm. Did I mention I'm horrible with shots?

So Mommy's day of grocery store freedom didn't turn out quite as planned. I got home shortly before Aaron had to head down to school, with just enough time to snag a power nap (going into a deep sleep state is very tiring) while Anna napped and before we joined the Powder Puff fun freezing cold insanity.

Was your Friday more fun than mine? Not more eventful!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Real Good and Real Fake Football

We don't watch much football besides our beloved Lions, but oh me oh my what a Thursday night football game we are enjoying. Thank you NFL Network. Well, I am still watching--yes, I outlast my husband at watching football. And the day the commentator said they ran a stunt and Aaron said, "What's a stunt?" and I said, "It's when two defensive lineman switch positions"? Priceless. Thank you Idiot's Guide to Football.

It's sad that Brett is on the sidelines . . . but what's the only consolation for missing his on-the-field glory? The glory that is Sidelines Brett. I'm just sayin', the old man wears a hat well too. As for young Aaron Rodgers, now that he finally got to take off his sidelines hat for once, he can pull out of his I'll-never-play depression and cut his hair. And all of Wisconsin can stop crying; he wasn't bad.

Postgame Update: Dangit, Brett could've pulled that out with a minute left. Cancel the shave, Rodgers.

Tomorrow is an even greater football day: the school's Powder Puff game! The honyacks on student council couldn't get it together enough to have it during Homecoming week, so now we will all freeze our patooties off for three hours because Young Life is once again having a tailgate party beforehand. I'm not sure if Enor and Waltino will be allowed to "commentate" once again. Perhaps one too many principal/leprechaun comparisons last year. I won't be doing my famously funny sassy sidelines reporting video shtick. But I do believe there will be flying stuffed monkeys involved, so it's sure to be a ridiculously good time. Support your local fake sports!

Announcer: You know, it’s really tough to make predictions. Especially about the future.

Student: I think the announcers should go home.
Reporter: They will never go.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Odor Eater?

Okay, I'd like to move on from thoughts and descriptions of doggie deposits on my rug as much as anyone, but I am still dealing with it, and I figure who better to help than the Internets?

The spots are coming out very well, but I think I have an odor problem. I mean the rug has odor. I don't have a very good nose so I'm not sure if it's the smell of dog doo, carpet cleaner, baking soda, or some unholy combination of them all. I wish it would be sunny so I could put the thing outside. What's my best bet for stench removal? Will an Oxy-something product help?

Oh, and while you're at it, what's the answer to the question of life, the universe, and everything?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Oh, Sh...rug

This morning I woke from the kind of sleep that makes your limbs weigh 45 pounds each, stumbled downstairs and had breakfast, fed Anna her breakfast, deposited her in Aaron's computer room with him, and went and took a shower. Important note: I have no idea what the dog was doing at this time.

Oh, crap, yes I do. And that's what it was.

When I returned downstairs I decided maybe the girl should get out of her wet diaper and pjs before, you know, she took a nap. I took her into her room but realized I wanted to grab something out of the bathroom. I turned around and saw . . . oh, sh . . . rug! The new rug! Noooooooo! A great big puddle of doggie diarrhea. I took a step and slip! A second pile, now transferred to the white square of the rug with my very own leather moccasin with the knobbly bottom. As if my eleven-year-old moccasins weren't gross enough.

So, the question of the day: How do you get runny dog crap out of the bumpy knobs of a brand new, 5 x 7, spot clean only, supposed to remain cute enough to grow with her until college, polyester/faux wool, pastel-colored rug?

I actually did pretty well with water, paper towels, washcloths, a small laundry brush, and lots of Resolve (carpet cleaner and my own angry kind). Our dog never has accidents, so I don't know why in the heck he did this (or why he is still alive). I will give it another round of scrubbing after Anna wakes up, assuming the fumes haven't rendered her comatose. Just what I wanted to move to the top of my to-do list.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Alles Gut Endes Gut

Another visit done and gone already. Today my mom flew home and I drove back home from the airport. We had to leave early and it was a rather mundane drive home alone in cloudy weather, so I was pooped when I got home. But Aaron had a meeting so I had Anna back right away; I darn near napped with her, but I had things to do. Until five minutes ago the living room looked like a toy factory exploded, so needless to say I still have lots of things to do tomorrow, and I have to get back to work too. But it's always worth it to have visitors (so come on out!) and Anna and Grandma and I had lots and lots of fun together.

As the Germans say, Alles gut endes gut: If it ends good, it's all good. Or something like that.

Coming soon (hopefully): blog posts with actual thoughts and ideas and stuff.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


"We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 NIV

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sleepy Saturday

Photos from the last couple days, clockwise from top: Bright day; Daredevil; Can't shove it in fast enough!

We didn't do much today but I am plumb tuckered out. Anna refused her afternoon nap so she is going to bed early. I think we would all like a nap--or maybe we need to go for another drive.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Fridays with Grandma

Today we three girls went out wandering in the sunshine. Drove down south; gorgeous waves and blue sky. Had lunch, did the tourist shops, drove back, had leftovers for dinner (didn't we all?). Huge full moon out at sunset too.

After dinner we played in Anna's room where Mom/Grandma is sleeping on the air mattress, which is really fun to play on. Anna decided it was time to get brave and start letting go to stand up on her own! At first she was kind of leaning her knees against the air mattress but then she tried it further back. She was hamming it up for us and the cameras. Once she discovers something new, she is really into trying it over and over again, so I expect she will be getting good at balancing very quickly now.

I can't post pictures tonight because there's a Battle of the Bedtime going on upstairs (she's just so not tired!), but I will try to get some up soon.

By the way, who knew y'all would have so much to say about spiders? Thanks for commenting, and don't worry for us, I haven't seen any in days--the good thing about it getting chilly!

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I am stuffed with satisfaction.

Mom arrived yesterday without any travel troubles. We had lunch, went to Target (I did not spend more than the gift card I had so HA. She bought the rug we'd been eyeing online for Anna's room though!), hit a little traffic, then took to the back roads. I had never taken that road before but it got us around some more traffic snags and was quite pretty. (Note: I am now NaBloPoMo -1 since I didn't blog yesterday. Thought about it at 10:30 pm, but thought my husband would think I was crazy. And be pretty unhappy if I woke up the girl.)

Today, food and football, of course. Oh, Brett Favre . . . I hated you the whole time, but there's no one I'd rather lose to. If we'd played the "how many times can they say Brett Favre" drinking game, we'd have been schnokered before kickoff. I thought the piece with legends from other sports offering their worship was a bit much, though. George Foreman, you wake up in the morning and think, "I'm thankful for Brett Favre"? Gimme a break. You're thankful they let you put your name on that grill, that's what you're thankful for.

Mom and I spent the day cooking enough for ten times our number. She makes the best rolls in the universe. I must say our turkey was extra good too. Anna liked the super-sweet sweet potatoes, turkey, and orange Jell-O (you have to include some, uh, fruit, right?). Later on some friends came by to have dessert with us, so we got two kinds of pie. Wonderful.

Anne Lamott wrote that there are really only two kinds of prayers: "Help me, help me, help me" and "Thank you, thank you, thank you." Today is a day for the latter.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


This one's for all you spider-lovers out there. What, just my mom? Okay, all you spider-haters can also play along by telling me which ones I should whack with a shoe.

Lately I have been noticing a lot of spiders around the house. And wondering which ones are poisonous. I keep an eye on this one on the back deck every time I let the dog out. I'm pretty sure it's waiting around to eat us.

I'm also pretty sure my husband just wet himself. He goes twitching and jerking across the room in a Steve Martin/seizure kind of way yelling "Uhnnnnhgh! I hate spiders!" whenever I have to save him from one. Actually I felt pretty Uhnnnhgh taking this picture, even hiding behind my big honking telephoto lens with macro. Glad to know what that comes in handy for--taking pictures of relatively small insects of doom from a relatively safe distance.

I thought this one on the window was kind of pretty. Very bulbous.

Then I picked up the spider book in the library and thought it might be an immature black widow. Nice. No, I won't put my thumb in the photos for size reference!

I let this one live in the corner of the window by Anna's changing table for a month or more. Don't worry, I kept a close eye on him. Then yesterday, because my mom's coming and sleeping in there, I vacuumed him out. I put the vacuum in the garage, though, in case he came crawling out angry (wouldn't you be?). But today . . . he was back! And suddenly he didn't look so trustworthy. Is this a hobo spider? Well, maybe, because he took his bindle over by the trash can and I got him for sure this time. (Or so we'll say just so we can all sleep. Sorry, Mom.)

I like this fuzzy guy much better. He has a big red beard. His name is Jack.

Okay . . . sweet dreams, everybody!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday(ne) Update

Life ambles on at breakneck speed.

We had a nice family Friday. That's when Aaron's here puttering around on his day off and it just feels good to be home together. He handled a lot of what Anna needed all day too so I could get more work done. I've been doubled and tripled up on projects lately, but with well-spaced deadlines, which is nice because I can switch off when I start getting numb to one thing, whether it's formatting nightmares or lingo like hotness or randomly inserted irritating capitalization and hyphenation Like-This. (Rrrrrr! What is that? It makes me crazy just seeing it again!)

Saturday we played a few rounds of dominoes with friends and my total score was 4. Just 4. Unheard of. In a minor violation of No-Spend November, we bought some ice cream for the crew. Our friend Edge bought me a chocolate orange, nature's greatest food and all I want (a truckload of) for Christmas. (Okay, there's one other thing I want.)

Sunday: church, football . . . um, let's talk about something else.

I spent most of today doing things that needed doing immediately (clean bottles for the girl would be nice) and before my mom arrives Wednesday (turkey to thaw in fridge; bills; bathe the girl). Anna I will leave early Wednesday to meet her at the airport, and I have a sneaking suspicion Anna may have her first Target experience. Mmmm . . . . Target. No-Spend November, you have just met your match. And we were so doing so awesome kinda well.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Please pray for all those touched by the accident involving George Fox University students.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Flashback Ethiopia: Babe in a Denim Dress

Lately I have been amazed to find in my house not a tiny baby but a toddler in the making. Anna has grown so much, gotten so much more hair, and gotten so good at standing that already she doesn’t look so much like a baby anymore; she looks like a little girl, standing tall, ready to take on the world.

But sometimes when she is at her sweetest and most innocent, sleeping or waking up or drinking a bottle, she seems to shrink in my arms. She weighs next to nothing again. Her sometimes-chubby face seems tiny again—tiny nose, lips, cheeks, closed eyes, ears.

The third day we were with Anna, the nannies had dressed her in a denim overalls dress. She fell asleep on Aaron’s chest in the room we visited her in, and we marveled at her tiny hands, ears, lips, cheeks; her perfect skin and long eyelashes.

Today as I rocked her to sleep for her nap I found in my arms again a tiny girl in a denim dress, and in a flash I was brought back to Addis, to those first days of wonder and those first naps together. She looked every bit as small and soft and innocent today as she did then. She slept peacefully in my arms as I marveled at her tiny face, her perfect skin, her precious curls. She hasn’t changed at all. She is still my baby girl.

Gratuitous Football Violence, Week 11

Big, big game for us in NFL Week 11. Now, I'm not saying I wish injury on anyone, but remember, little Eli, what happened to the last quarterback who stepped into our house . . .

That's right. We ripped his head leg off.

How do you like the Claw?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Overheard in Youth Ministry

Bossy Teenager: "I was specifically talking to all of you!"

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Marfan Story on Today. (Too Much Air to Fill on MSNBC.)

Okay, apparently you were all too traumatized by my honesty to comment. That's okay. I am traumatized by my honesty myself sometimes. And Lord knows my husband is. (He previewed and okayed that post, though, FYI.)

Anyway, just wanted to note that the Today show aired a story on Marfan this morning. It's pretty general and the "interview" at the end is really rushed, so the article I linked to yesterday is more informative, but it's good media attention anyway. You can find the video on the Today website under "Video from TODAY."

From the video page you can also learn about a girl who craves eating metal, why Santas are urged not to say "ho," and about a woman who found an image of Jesus and Mary on a pancake. No word yet on why it sold for $338 on eBay, why this is news, or what keeps the anchorwoman who had to read the story on MSNBC from pulling a revolver from behind the news desk and demanding a few Hail Marys and a huge raise from her boss.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Marfan and Remembering Eye Surgery

Thinking about this time last year and Marfan Syndrome today. The Boston Globe had an article on Marfan, "Old Drug Offers New Hope Against Disease." It does a good job explaining how Marfan affects the body and some promising new research.

Many of you know that Aaron has Marfan and in the last year required eye surgery and heart surgery. November 9 is the day we saw the specialist and decided to go ahead with surgery on the 15th. (I know these dates well from my insurance saga.) Although this decision was a thousand times easier than the heart surgery decision, I was far more scared going into the eye surgery. I just never thought God would let my husband die that day in heart surgery. To be honest, I wasn't so sure he wouldn't let him go blind. And I didn't want to find out what would happen if he did--to our life, our plans, our faith.

It sounds silly to say it seemed "easier" to face the possibility of being a widow than the possibility of being the wife of a blind man. Obviously I would prefer to grow old with my husband, in sickness or in health. That was our agreement and all. But everyone knows what to do with widows. Maybe not how to execute it perfectly but the general idea of how to help them grieve and go on with life. No one knows what to do with a blind youth pastor. Including me. I think I had more faith in my ability to survive on my own than my ability to help him survive.

Whatever the reasons, I had trouble being open to the possibility that God might let the surgery be unsuccessful. I really, really had to rely on other people's prayers, because they were braver than mine. Mine were kind of passive-aggressive: I'd tell him how he could decide if he wanted to make a terrible, terrible mistake. Here is some of what I journaled the night before the eye surgery:

At times it has been overwhelming to think about the “what ifs.” But the support has been incredible. . . . Last night at the end of Young Life everyone huddled around Aaron to pray. The kids are amazing. [Kid you would not expect!] prayed the most beautiful prayer: “Aaron always asks me the most amazing questions; he has made me think about so many things in my life that I never thought about before . . . Bring him back so he can ask me more of those questions—and look me in the eye when he’s doing it.”. . .

It breaks my heart to think of Aaron not being able to serve those kids like he is . . . I know God would find an amazing, surprising way to be glorified . . . but I am terrified of being asked to do that. I don’t know if I could be good enough at holding him up. I don’t know if he could keep the faith or if I could bear it if he couldn’t. Part of me is sure we would find the grace . . . but mostly I just don’t want to be that holy. I know this is no super-spiritual attitude—feels like I should be saying “Whatever you want, God, is fine by me”—but that’s not really true. Of course he has the right and I want to be obedient and even be glad to be that obedient. But honestly I don’t want that. Yes, I’ve told God this, since he already knows. And I think if I understand him correctly (okay, I don’t even come close to understanding him, but humor me here), he’s been leading us all along to SmallPort, to youth ministry, to adoption . . . I don’t think he wants to change all those plans all of a sudden. I hope not anyway. Aaron is so gifted at what he’s doing. I want us to bring home our baby and I want him to see how beautiful he or she is. God, you aren’t going to let all this go to waste, are you? See, I have conflicted feelings—yet I am finding peace. I am being held up. I am being brought to the feet of Jesus by my friends who have faith for him to see. On him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again . . . so that many may give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many (2 Cor. 1:10-11).

I wonder how many times I have clung to that verse in the past six years. I wonder if I'll be braver the next time we face something big, after all we've seen by now. But maybe I don't have to be--maybe just being honest and letting others carry us is enough, whether it's the first time or the twelfth or the the two hundredth.

Oh, we are not as strong as we think we are.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Just to Say I Did

I think I'm going to cop out tonight and post this nothingness instead of a thoughtful post. I have some of those percolating but I can't get them out right now. I mean, tonight I made muffins. Like from a recipe. With flour and stuff. That's kind of like creativity, right? So don't get all greedy and expect a post too. Never mind the fact that most of you won't get a muffin either. Or that they probably won't be that good.

Shout out to my friend Artsy Betty, just to see if she's out there reading and plagiarizing my blog for PSA's . . .

Monday, November 12, 2007

Danger! Move (Your Things) to Higher Ground!

Thursday after Anna's breakfast I was making my own. I had put her down on her back in the living room. I heard her make a look-at-me! noise and looked up--she was standing up against the front of the couch. Ta-da!

She spend the rest of the day practicing pulling up, and now she has it thoroughly mastered and is starting to work on creeping sideways. She loves standing and "walking" with her hands held. Couch, chairs, tables, shelves, legs, you name it, she will stand against it.

Aha! There's that phone book I wanted to eat!

Her swing has found a new use as a pull-up device, although she also somehow got herself seated.

We've spent the last few days moving everything up, up, up higher. Including the animals. Poor kitty. Or as Anna calls her, "Kheeee!"

Sunday, November 11, 2007


"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Postgame Letdown

Okay, so that didn't quite work out as hoped. Dangerous territory for those of you on List Probabation. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

Small consolation photo: they still almost ripped his head off.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Beast #92

It's Saturday. That means tomorrow is a religious day in our house: FOOTBALL DAY.

The Lions are 6-2 (about to be 7-2). Hop on the playoffs train now, if you're not already on The List. (Those on The List are not allowed to cheer for the Lions when they reach the Super Bowl, because these non-fans have made too many disparaging comments. We don't allow hypocritical bandwagoning once the dynasty has begun.)

This year I've been collecting photos of our team, especially the large and in charge #92 Shaun Rogers, acting out our favorite cheer, like this to start the season: RIP HIS HEAD OFF!

Those arms are scary.

This one, I love tiny Greise's face: "Mama!"

This one reminds me of the end of Bill Cosby's Fat Albert routine: "We give! He ain't fallin' on us!"

Oh, but this--THIS!--it does not get any better, or more exciting, or funnier, than this 360 pounds of grace:

Time to feed The Beast, football fans. You gotta feed The Beast. And give him oxygen.

Tune in next week to see how Kurt Warner looks with his head ripped off.