Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Whatever Day This Is Update

We are in Michigan and I'm not really sure what day it is. But in a good way--isn't that how vacation should be? What's been going on:
  • Spending Christmas Eve and Christmas at home was wonderful. We had a nice relaxing, fun day with Anna, packed while she napped, and had a lovely dinner with friends.
  • Friday's drive to Portland: uneventful. Flight to Chicago: tolerable, despite non-sleeping child. Flight to Grand Rapids: CANCELLED due to smothering fog. Curse you O'Hare! We spent the night in a hotel and my parents came and drove us to GR.
  • Weather: confused. It was over 55 degrees on Saturday when we got in, then promptly got cold again the next day. We need, and should get tonight, some fresh snow to pretty the place up again.
  • Football: let's move on.
  • Christmas: bountiful. Sunday we had Aaron's immediate family Christmas at his parents' house and the extended family was over later on. So we did get to see most everyone, the three girl cousins got to play, and Anna was quite charming throughout despite her lack of nap, with the exception of a couple toy disputes early on. (Apparently the hot item all the kidlets covet this year is a kids' toy laptop. And Anna is that bully who starts a fight in the mall to get her hands on the last one. And whatever else you have in your cart. We need to practice sharing...)
  • Sunday afternoon my brother, sister-in-law, and 9-month-old nephew arrived, so the farmhouse is family-filled and festive. How we spent our lovely day yesterday: cook, eat, open gifts, play Wii (repeat). Anna is really into the opening this year--loves ripping that paper! She will even help you with yours. Even if you don't want her to. Fortunately, she also likes delivering, so she can be distracted by the task of taking a gift to someone else.
  • Today I hung out with a friend and I think we are all going out to dinner, but in between we are doing nothing, nothing, gloriously nothing in particular! Very nice and I hope to do some more of it this week.
Merry Christmas and here's to a happy new year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merrymaking Mouseketeers

'Tis the season for rampant festivities! And ours ramped up this weekend.

Saturday I helped make an army of Christmas Eve Mice for the youth Christmas party. I am usually not very crafty but I will make an exception if it's edible. These are fun to make, especially if you have a few friends on the mouse assembly line with you. And they're almost too adorable to eat--though I managed. Even their spare parts are delicious.

But watch out. Sometimes they get hungry and start to organize.

Or even cannibalize.

Sometimes you have to make an example out of one to keep them in line.

Sunday was a big day since Aaron preached at church and we had the Frontline party at night (with the watching of some sport in between, though it did not really resemble pro football). The last couple years we've had a progressive dinner for the kids at a few church families' houses, but there are getting to be just too darn many of them. So we rented out a great little coffeeshop/restaurant and had a really nice dinner there. The helpers from church decked it out gorgeous, the food was great, and it was a nice intimate (okay, pushing crowded) setting for a little Charlie Brown Christmas and singing. I think the kids enjoyed it; some of them never go out for a dinner that nice. Heck, rarely do I--it was pretty darn nice!

Monday we did some more cookie decorating with friends. Don't worry, I'll eat them all before we leave town. By myself if I can have to.

This is the first year we'll actually be here for Christmas Eve and Christmas--usually we travel, but this year we leave on the 26th. I'm so excited that we'll be here for the candlelight service. I always love that and our church all decked out and in candlelight will rival any for beauty worthy of the occasion.

And I'm excited for what sounds like it'll be a very, very white Christmas in Michigan. Lots to do before our trip, though, and work calling too. Fa la la la la . . .

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday: Advent

It was a time like this
war and tumult of war,
a horror in the air.
Hungry yawned the abyss--
and yet there came the star
and the child most wonderfully there.

It was a time like this
of fear and lust for power
license and greed a blight--
and yet the Prince of bliss
came in the darkest hour
in quiet and silent light.

And in a time like this
how celebrate his birth
when all things fall apart?
Ah! wonderful it is
with no room on the earth
the stable is our heart.

Madeleine L'Engle, "A Time Like This"

Friday, December 19, 2008

Two Articles

I'd like to recommend this very thought-provoking article on transracial adoption from The Stranger: "Black Kids in White Houses." It raises many of the difficult issues we need to think about as white adoptive parents--even if we'd rather not. (Hat tip: Habesha Child.)

I also recommend this short article by Gwen Ifil, "The Malia and Sasha Effect."
I am taken by what America will now see in these two little brown girls. Not victims, like the little girls who died at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in 1963. Not hoochie mamas, like the Black girls who shake their rumps in music videos. Just two happy, playful, well-adjusted future Black women. . . .

[Barack Obama] mused about what it would mean for other children to see his daughters running around on the South Lawn. "That changes how America looks at itself," he said. "It changes how White children think about Black children, and it changes how Black children think about Black children."

Symbols can be powerful, I agree.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cheery Hair and the Secret Weapon of Sports Parenting

Early last week I did Anna's hair up in more box braids than usual with green and white star snaps for one of her favorite things: high school basketball game! (She just calls it ball but makes a dribbling motion--to distinguish it from touchdown signal ball, of course.) I thought it turned out really cute because it was so crazy fun. Stayed well for days, too, which is always nice!

In the previous post she was doing her cheerleading moves (not just being sassy). Her favorite is the "Irish Rumble." Hands on your hips now, everybody, and lean back and forth as you say:
Everybody do that Irish Rumble
Everybody do that Irish Rumble
Iriiiiiiiish! (roll hands above head)
Rumblllllllle! (bend over and roll hands down low)
Or as Anna says, Ah-ah ah-ah ah-ah-aahh. Ah-ah ah-ah ah-ah-aahh. Aaaaaaaaaah! Aaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Okay, I'll have to post video. Trust me, she's got it down well enough to make her whole section of the bleachers crack up laughing. She wants you to do it with her at random times, like anytime you put your hands on your hips or while you're changing a diaper. Whenever the school spirit moves.

At this game she was given actual cheerleader pom poms by a real live cheerleader to play with throughout the game. This was good because at the previous game, someone gave her one but then we had to give it back, and the meltdown was epic. And every time she saw one, she wanted it. Theirs are so sparkly! And may I just say? Best. Toy. Ever. for a basketball game. She was an angel because she takes her job of cheering very, very seriously, as you can see.

The funniest thing was that she was not just cheering along but copying virtually everything the cheerleaders did. You know how they stand when they're not cheering, facing the game with their hands and pom poms behind their backs? Anna stood like that almost anytime they did! A two year old standing quietly with her hands behind her back for long stretches of a public event? God bless the cheerleaders, every one!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oh the Weather Outside Is . . . Sunny?

Today is the second consecutive day that school was called off on account of . . . frost? It's sunny and snowless here! But it is COLD and probably was a bit icy in the morning even so close to the coast. The real problem is that if you simply drive a few miles east into the hills or sometimes even just uphill, it can be a lot icier, so I know it was bad other places. It's all about the elevation, baby. But it is a bit strange and amusing to us former midwesterners that what appears to be almost nothing is treated as a small disaster.

Then again, I've lost my snow-preparedness touch: tried to drive to the store this morning and did not have an ice scraper. Note to self: put "buy ice scraper" on the Michigan to-do list. A small plastic beach sand shovel does not really work.

The view from my office deck. Because yes, my office has a deck.
But clearly no snow.

The bummer is that our fun Christmas Young Life Club was cancelled, but the no-snow snowday still made me feel Christmasy, and since last week I have accomplished a lot on the holiday to-do list. One trip out for a few things tomorrow and I should have everything, but there's still all the packing and travel to-dos, of course. This year we are not leaving for Michigan until the 26th, so at least we get to celebrate Christmas together at home and on Christmas rather than saying, "So when do you want to do presents?" and cramming it in at some odd time days before.

A few days ago some friends brought us a couple presents: a pelican pull toy that says "Squaawk!" and "Wheee!" and the train they used to put around their tree when their grandkids were little. The pelican is cute and fun but the train is the more special gift. Neither of us ever had a train before but I think it'll be a nice tradition. It even has a light and whistle.

Look at that face! Do you think she likes it?

Do you think he does?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Prayers for Aunt Barb

We pray tonight for my aunt Barb, whose husband Jerry left this earth late last night. It happened so fast; I can't believe he will not be there when we go to Michigan in just a couple weeks. We will miss Jerry's hearty laugh and constantly but good-naturedly teasing Aaron about the Lions. He never got to see the Lions win the Super Bowl, but he will be happy that in heaven there are no 0-and-16 teams...

Barb has family and friends surrounding her with support, but the weeks ahead when things quiet down will be difficult. I am sorry I cannot be there this week but glad it is just a couple weeks until we will see her.

You who live in heaven
Hear the prayers of those of us who live on earth
Who are afraid of being left by those we love and
Who get hardened in the hurt
Do you remember when you lived down here where we all scrape
To find the faith to ask for daily bread....

I know you bore our sorrows
I know you feel our pain
I know that it would not hurt any less even if it could be explained....

And so, you've been here all along I guess
It's just your ways and you are just plain hard to get

--Rich Mullins, "Hard to Get"

"You can't conceive, nor can I, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God."
--Graham Greene

Detroit Sunday Best

Photo taken during the Lions Thanksgiving Day Disaster of 2008. Aaron wishes it to be known, for the record, that he was doing this under duress.

Like all of America watching that game.

Sunday: Advent

Thou son of the Most High, Prince of Peace, be born again into our world. Wherever there is war in this world, wherever there is pain, wherever there is loneliness, wherever there is no hope, come, thou long-expected one, with healing in thy wings.

Holy Child, whom the shepherds and the kings and the dumb beasts adored, be born again. Wherever there is boredom, wherever there is fear of failure, wherever there is temptation too strong to resist, wherever there is bitterness of heart, come, thou blessed one, with healing in thy wings.

Savior, be born in each of us who raises his face to thy face, not knowing fully who he is or who thou art, knowing only that thy love is beyond his knowing and that no other has the power to make him whole. Come, Lord Jesus, to each who longs for thee even though he has forgotten thy name. Come quickly.


Frederick Buechner, The Hungering Dark

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Transition Team Announces: Change.Wetzel

Ducks are in rows. Wheels are in motion. Proposals have been accepted. Tiny adolescent hearts have been broken. And the transition team of Change.Wetzel wishes to announce:

Aaron will be starting studies at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, in fall 2009.

Your first reaction to this news probably depends greatly on where you live. For our friends and family in Michigan, there is much rejoicing. Here in Oregon, well . . . there is great support, great understanding, and great love, but there is also great sadness at the thought of parting from the place and the people which have very much become home and family. (So no gloating, please, Michigan folk.)

Aaron has been accepted to WTS to study for his M.Div degree and become an ordained pastor. It’s a three-year program. This is something he’s always thought about doing someday, and over the last couple years he’s had more opportunities to preach and lead in different ways and received more encouragement that made him more able to see himself doing it. He’s just ready.

And I’m pleased to be able to fulfill the prophecy laid out by my best friend back in high school, that I will be a pastor’s wife. (I also recall something about the organ and a “pastor’s wife’s butt,” whatever that means, but let’s let that part go.)

I should have declared a moratorium on mascara last week, because it was terribly emotional. A few people—basically the church elders—knew our plans but we wanted to tell a few more in person before the whole congregation found out. But we didn’t want it to get out to the kids; we needed to tell them ourselves, all at once, so they didn’t hear any misinformation or feel slighted that some were told and some weren’t. Sunday morning the church was told (not gonna lie, I cried through church and then avoided talking to people) and Sunday night Aaron told the kids at Frontline. The girls, the grownups, and Aaron bawled.

We’ll be here and Aaron will keep working for the church through the school year. We hope we can help the church and our friend from the Foursquare church who has been partnering with Aaron on Frontline this year be able to keep a ministry to kids going strong into the future. We really hope our church has a pastor by summer too. It’s such a strange and difficult time to be breaking this news and bringing more change upon our church, but we hope the long notice will actually help smooth the transition.

Besides, we couldn't wait any longer to tell—do you know how much stuff we have to figure out before summer? We have to get our house ready to sell, try to sell our house in this lovely market, look for a job in the lovely Michigan job market, find health insurance on the open not-for-sick-people market, figure out finances and financial aid, figure out what to do with our pets (boo hoo), figure out how to move across the country, get rid of everything we don’t want to move . . . and oh yeah, do it all while proceeding through our regularly scheduled life with a toddler underfoot.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Help! Will you be my transition team?

I hope to step up my blogging since I have a thousand rampant thoughts clamoring to finally get out of my head. Let me know if you have questions I can answer.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

About Those Ducks

I have an announcement coming soon about those ducks. The ones in rows.

Meanwhile, please drop a prayer for my uncle Jerry (and aunt Barb), if you're so inclined. A few weeks ago he had a blood clot in his leg and in the course of testing they found he has cancer in his pancreas and liver. He is supposed to start chemo next week but went back in the hospital Sunday with something else going on in his brain, it seems--not sure yet what that was about.

UPDATE: Jerry did apparently have some sort of stroke, but it is NOT cancer in his brain. He will start chemo soon.


Monday, December 08, 2008

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sunday: Advent

The Incarnation is the place . . .

where hope contends with fear.

Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Overheard in Youth Work

Teenager: He asked if I was a Ducks fan or a Beavers fan and I said neither, I’m a Detroit Lions fan, and he fell on the floor laughing.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

In Your Face--No, Actually, in Mine

My two-year-old is beating me up.

She's gotten into hitting. For control. For effect. Apparently, for fun.

This gets her a time-out. Problem is, that doesn't seem to be helping much. Sometimes I think she wants one. Sometimes she definitely wants one because it means she'd stay in the living room (albeit on the chair in the corner) instead of having to go for a diaper change. Manipulator alert! We're onto this one, so diaper change it is.

Sometimes if she takes a swing at me and misses I'll warn her and she'll stop. But when I'm brushing her teeth, she doesn't miss. She slaps me in the face. Which kind of, you know, fricking hurts. And makes me mad. And then she knows it and hits again, again, again. I can either get hit repeatedly or grab her hands, but that only confirms that I'm mad and makes her mad (or makes it more fun, perhaps, depending on your understanding of total toddler depravity, I suppose).

It's getting to me. And she knows it.

I don't think I want to give her time-out then (although tonight I did) because I don't want to teach that negative behavior gets more attention--and gets her out of brushing her teeth and going to bed. I do want to stop and/or punish the behavior with enough unpleasantness and immediacy to show this is serious. And I'd really like to, you know, not get hit in the face.

How do I get at this? Can I make time-out work here? Do I need some sort of upgrade to Time-Out 2.0?

I am remembering that it's probably about control, so I should probably find some way to give her more control in the tooth brushing process.

Right. More control? She's opening the cabinet, she's licking the mirror . . . she's out of control!

But at least she has semi-clean teeth.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I intended to blog today but my brain is as cluttered and stuffed as my fridge full of leftovers. And both are probably on the verge of rotting as well. So let me stick to the important issue of the day: we have way too much meat hanging around here!

I need an easy recipe for soup or something to make with a ham bone (and ham). Split pea probably not preferred, since it looks too much like a healthy vegetable to fool Aaron. I could do another kind of bean soup, though, right? Or a ham/corn soup/chowder kind of thing? Anybody?

I'll probably make another turkey casserole and freeze it. For turkey noodle soup, I will just wing it. (No pun intended. But I am amused.) Any other ideas?

Monday, December 01, 2008

World AIDS Day 2008

December 1 is World AIDS Day.

I just wanted to take a moment to draw attention to this once again and encourage you to pause and reflect on the lives torn apart by this preventable disease. Perhaps you think you don't know much about AIDS and would like to learn more. Perhaps you will be moved to say a prayer for those who are sick or grieving loved ones. Perhaps you would like to consider how you can help in your community or in other parts of the world where resources are scarce and orphans sadly are many. A donation to AHOPE for Children directly or through Ethiopian Orphan Relief might make a nice gesture in lieu of unneeded gift for a relative or other bleeding heart blogger you know. (She also likes sterling silver. I heard.)

If you ever have an opportunity to see part of the AIDS Quilt displayed, go see it. It is unforgettable.