Monday, June 29, 2009

My Blog Is Moving Too

Because I just can't get enough of moving, I'm moving my blog too. "Born at the Right Time" no longer quite captures where I want my blog to go and where my focus is now that our adoption process is done but the story of our family goes on. So please join me over at:


Please update your bookmarks and RSS readers, and feel free to put me on your blogroll or share the link with others. And I'd love for you to comment over there so I know you found me.

One note: You'll notice over there that just for the sake of privacy/safety, I'll be a bit more vague about some things. In particular, I'm not sharing as many details of Anna's life—and I'll be referring to her as AJ or the Joygirl, so please try to use those nicknames. And I won't be linking from that blog back to this one, although I will leave this one active for some time to make sure all my readers find my new place.

Thank you for following this blog over the last three years, whether the news and posts were interesting or I was in a slump. I hope we can have even greater conversations over at Living the Epilogue.

—Wendy

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Letter to My Church

To our brother and sisters, our friends and our family in Waldport:


The time has come to remember, to celebrate, and to part ways. Our time here has come to an end so that you may walk into a new beginning. Our epilogue is the new beginning of what God is doing next here in this place, through you and in you.


We are grieving our separation from you as deeply as you are grieving us. But we must turn to the next thing, becoming single-minded as we stretch and begin the next leg of our race, and so must you. Yes, this is difficult. It was not for no reason that the apostle Paul called it “straining” toward the goal. It is a strain. It is difficult. Yet we press on.


We are grateful to you for countless moments shared talking, laughing, crying, praying, eating, playing, working, and singing. We are grateful for your help and hospitality, your patience and forgiveness, your love and affection for us and our daughter. Truly we could not have asked more of a congregation. But as we prepare to step away, I ask one thing:


If you love us, feed these sheep.



Feed the children and teens and young adults who come to church, and the ones who don’t. Feed the Frontline kids, the Young Life kids, the graduates, and the younger siblings. Feed their parents and their unplanned babies. Feed the hungry and the stuffed with overconfidence; the talented and the awkward; the go-getters and the do-nothings; the thinkers, dreamers, in-betweeners. Feed their leaders all the support, resources, and encouragement they can hold.


Feed them with Oreos and soda and pizza and chips. Feed them Mondays before Club and Sundays at Frontline. Feed them a sandwich at the game, lunch out just to talk, or a holiday feast in your home. Feed them the next day with the leftovers you sent home.


Feed them the Word, with Scripture that never changes in language they can understand. Feed them words of recognition and encouragement in the grocery store, at the car wash, on the street. Feed them the Living Word by being the Christ who gives rides to town, who helps with financial aid forms, who simply knows their name. Be Christ with your presence where they are competing or performing or just plain being.


You can do this. You can make a difference. You are ready.


We have taken many steps together, but you can go on in this work without us. God is with you. He will make a way. “He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber” (Psalm 121:3).


And so, as the time draws near, I am finding rest in remembering that Jehovah Jireh, the God Who Provides, is also the Prince of Peace. He will make the way, and He will be present to comfort us when the road seems long and the distance great. And so, dear friends,

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.


Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

(Ephesians 3:14–21)


He is able, and I know you are willing. I can’t wait to see what He does with you next.


Blessings—


Wendy

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Like the One You're With

I love that I really like my husband. Twelve years of marriage, and we're still havin' fun.



This year we even got to be together and have fun on our anniversary. Happy #12 to us!



P.S.: Obviously we were only about twelve when we got married—or I was, anywaybecause I got carded today. Ha ha!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Warning: Nostalgia on the Loose

I have to warn you: I'm having a lot of nostalgia issues lately, and pretty soon they're going to leak into this blog.

I'm also turning into our friend Bob, voted Most Likely to Cry During a Young Life Function twelve years running. I'm at graduationgetting misty. I'm in churchteary. I'm interviewing a pastor candidateblinking a lot and losing the battle anyway. I'm telling my daughter we have to say goodbye to everyone for a long time and it will be sad, and I'm the one who needs a hug. You can imagine the disaster that was me reading Aaron's final church newsletter column.

We're three weeks away, and I still don't know how to say goodbye.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

All That You Can Leave Behind


There goes about a third of our belongings.

I'm gonna miss that stuff so glad it's gone.

And to the people who took the remaining free junk we left at the end of the drive: God bless you most of all.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

One Car and One Metric Ton of Junk

Okay, I admit, I have no idea what a metric ton is, but I'm sure we've got one--and on Friday we'll be spreading it all over our yard. We will create a cozy living room scene out front, since almost all the furniture is for sale. And because we're classy like that.

We are selling about half our furniture, or so it feels. The goal is to leave Oregon with an equal or lesser amount of stuff than we brought. The size of our rental truck demands it. We are alternating between feeling good calculating what clunky things we've gotten rid of and freaking out as we consider the (lack of) size of our truck. I think we'll be okay. We need to be okay. (Tell me it's okay?)

Monday night Aaron put the For Sale sign on our Suzuki, "the buggy." Tuesday he ran some errands and a woman practically begged him to sell it to her right then and there in the Staples parking lot. She drove it, she went to the bank, she came over and bought it. Voila! That was easy. And perhaps it was a tad too cheap, because we got two more calls about it after that. But we're glad to have it done and cash in hand.

We might as well start getting used to being a one-car family again. I haven't gone anywhere this week, but who wants to wager how long until we run into a driving dilemma . . . OH CRAP, THE ANSWER IS SUNDAY. D'oh!

Would anyone like to loan my husband a scooter? I think he'd look cute on it.

Wordless Wednesday

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Graduation Matters

Saturday in early June: graduation day in Smallport.


Funny hats. Crepe paper. Lame metaphors. Overfrosted cake. It seems like a lot of hype for something everyone’s supposed to do, doesn’t it? Most people these days do get their high school diploma. Where I grew up, most kids were heading to four-year colleges. High school graduation wasn’t the achievement; it was just a step along the way.


Then there’s all the clich├ęs. A whole new beginning—really? The most significant day of your life—really? If these graduates are going to go out and change the world, how come after all these years it hasn’t really changed much?


Yeah, I’m trained to be cynical about graduation. But I also remember: for some kids, graduating really is a major achievement. It really is the end of their education, and it may be the point after which they’re on their own—and in this world of postmodern adolescence and this town of poverty and drugs, a lot of them have already been on their own in too many ways for too long.


I graduated with over four hundred others, and families were not supposed to cheer when our names were called, because the band members’ fingers were already cramped from playing “Pomp and Circumstance” twenty times. Only those who were trying to be funny or thought the rules shouldn’t apply to them dare violate this edict. Everyone just wants to move on. We took it for granted.


In a small town and a small school, graduation is different. Here there are about fifty graduates, and the ceremony is open to all. Every graduate’s name is on the wall. Every one appears in the senior video, their cute baby photos and awkward middle school days and greatest sports achievements fading into each other over John Cougar Mellencamp and Green Day. And every one gets their moment of applause and whoops from the crowd when their name is called. We pause. We let each one have their moment. We join in, because even if we are not family, when we come together in the old, echoey gym, we are community.


When these community members—not your parents—were the only ones cheering for you at your game, at your play, at your poetry reading, their cheers for you now matter.


When you are first in your family to earn a diploma, graduation is a big deal. It matters.


When you walk with a baby in your arms, commencement is a victory. It matters.


When you have difficulty learning, a diploma is a prize. It matters.


So today, we cheered. We cheered for them all: for Chatterbox and The Playmaker; for the cheerleader and the guitar guy and the computer geek; for the valedictorian and the one who almost didn’t pass; for the one everyone in town knows and the one who wonders if anyone would miss him if he were gone.


They deserve it.


They matter.


Congratulations, class of 2009.

Friday, June 05, 2009

She Speaketh

Anna has been having Early Intervention sessions for her speech for three months now, so I thought I'd give an update.

Judy comes every other week and plays for about 45 minutes. Obviously Anna loves her! She brings puzzles, books, blocks, crayons, and other toys that are very interactive so she can encourage Anna to use words to indicate what she wants and so on. Mostly I think she's training me to interact this way.

Anna has made a lot of progress. When she was first tested I made a list of words she said consistently without prompting and it was maybe 50. About a month ago I listed a bunch more. This time before Judy came I made another list, and I was amazed how long it was. I didn't count, but it might have been 50 more, and she's putting together more phrases.

In the last couple weeks she has really gotten into using people's names. She can identify and say several colors, a bunch of letters, and of course her favorite condiments. She can count to ten.

It's amazing what you can learn when you start talking, eh?

Next visit Judy is going to do a mini re-evaluation of Anna's language development to see how her scores now compare to her first test. Normally they wouldn't do this until a couple months before she turns three, at which point she enters a different phase of the EI program, but since we're moving, this will give us some sense of her progress.

I plan to contact the Michigan program, and I'm sure they'll want to do their own evaluation. Their system appears to be similar, so if she still needs help when she turns three, she might be able to go into a group learning situation, like a focused preschool program, which I think would be good for her since she's not getting that social aspect much now. We'll see.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Monday, June 01, 2009

The First Day of What?

My calendar has got to be broken. Tell me it's broken.

It says this is the first day of Holy Crap! month, more commonly known as June. Its exclamatory nickname is favored in our house, though, because we can see the end (or the next beginning) from here.

Thirty days. Four weekends: graduation, garage sale, Beachcomber Days, our good-bye party.

Then my parents will be here, and we'll close on our house sale and drive away. We have a truck reserved and plane tickets purchased. (My mom and I are taking the red-eye with a toddler and a carry-on cat and a cargo-checked dog. Lord, have mercy.)

Aaron's work is winding down. We are selling his car. Closer to the move we'll get rid of my van.

We are having a garage moving sale on June 12 and 13, 9:00 to 3:00. We are accepting volunteer labor if you'd like to help out!

We are downsizing as much as possible to get everything into a reasonably-sized moving truck. It's amazing how much we can get rid of without missing it, even though we had a huge sale less than three years ago. Aaron recently found some crusty spices of midwest origin in the cupboard, and we decided that no food that moved here with us should move back. The same rule should probably apply to my wardrobe.

But hands off my books!

Back to work . . . sorting duty calls.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Birthdate Reversion

Or: Why Adoptive Parenting Is Weird Sometimes

Remember our daughter's January birthday? No, you don't. You can't. You mustn't. Forget anyone ever said anything about January. This is not the birth date you're looking for.

Once upon a time at the end of our pre-child days, we received that most remarkable of phone calls, the one telling us we had a daughter waiting a world away. It was April, and she'd been born in December. On the very day we had delivered our completed dossier to the agency, in fact. What a story!

Oh, but there was more to story. Well, actually, less. That birth date was just an estimate and the orphanage doctor didn't think she could be that old when they took her in. We were told to consider her a month younger, January birthday. Okay, Ethiopian Christmas baby, that's cool.

Ah, funny story . . . (not really). There's this little thing in adoption called paperwork. Actually it's such a big thing that it consumes your life almost as much as an actual child, but I digress. The important thing to know about this paperwork is that the parts of it that come from another country may well be full of typos and translation errors and contradictory facts like, oh, say, two different birth dates. So while Anna's medical records show a January 2007 birth date, everything else says December 2006: adoption decree, Ethiopian birth certificate, visa, and so on. We've been observing the January date, but anytime I have to be able to actually prove it I have to remember to say December because that's what's on paper. Confusing and occasionally embarrassing (you don't know your kid's birthday, lady?).

So to make a short story boring (too late), I thought I could get these reconciled when we did the Oregon readoption process. A lawyer is now working on our readoption papers, and he says that there is no clear-cut process for changing a birth date, so while we have a shot based on the existing medical records, the court might refuse. We could try again with perhaps a new doctor's affidavit, but there's no guarantee on that either and, well, do you know how much lawyers charge for this kind of thing?

At this point we need it done--so there's no confusion as we get new insurance, doctors, etc.--more than we need to spend all kinds of time and money on the chance we can get the date moved one month. It just seems a bit silly to fight for now that we're measuring her age in years. And really, isn't it more fun to celebrate before all the Christmas hoopla makes you feel like if you have to deal with one more present or social gathering or baked good, your New Year's weight loss will start off with gagging on the birthday cake?

Still, it's weird. We're deciding our daughter's birthday? After we've celebrated it twice? Obviously she doesn't understand time well enough to realize this is a change, but someday she'll find out. The really difficult question to answer is why no one really knows her birthday. . . . Having no story of her to go with that day is one of the harder things for me to accept and figure out how to explain. But it's the reality that we will just have to grapple with one year at a time.

All that to say . . . hey, did you know our daughter's birthday is the exact day we dropped off our dossier? Cool story, huh?

Mark it down: DECEMBER. There is no January. If you send cards in January, we will tell her you are tardy and senile.

Born at the right time . . . whenever the heck it was.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Book Review: The Unlikely Disciple

Full disclosure: I got this book for free from the publisher by offering to review it here, which I did because I wanted to read it. My first foray into blogger whoredom, some might say. Will shill for books! But I will always state clearly if I received something for blogging about something.

I did a crazy thing recently: I read a book. I mean read it, for fun, at my leisure, in places other than in front of my computer, with no red pencil or tracked changes in sight. Hey, for a person who edits books all day and often doesn’t want to see another printed word by the end of the day, unless the alternative is dealing with a fit-throwing toddler, finishing a book is a major accomplishment. Happily, Kevin Roose gave me a story that made me want to keep reading: The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at Americas Holiest University.


Kevin Roose was a student at Brown University in Rhode Island, which is the academic and philosophical opposite of Jerry Falwell’s “Bible Boot Camp,” Liberty University, or by conservative Christian standards, “a notch or two above Sodom and Gomorrah.” But after visiting Falwell’s church in the course of a job, Roose was frustrated that the “God Divide” between himself and the evangelical students he met seemed so great. Were they really so different? Or just living in separate worlds?


Roose noted a study showing that 51 percent of Americans don’t know any evangelical Christians, even casually. And neither did he. (But before you rush to judgment on that, churchy folk, how many liberal non-Christians hang out in your bubble? Most of us are guilty of sticking with those most like us.)


So what did he do? He crammed on Christian literature and music, B.S.’d Liberty’s application essays with Christian lingo, and registered for classes at Liberty as his “semester abroad.” Undercover, of course. (Cue suspenseful music and situational hilarity.)


Let’s just say that his experience gave new meaning to baptism by immersion. Roose lived in a dorm, joined the Thomas Road church choir, learned acceptable substitutes for colorful language, and started spending Friday nights at Bible study instead of at parties or watching R-rated movies. He visited a group for guys struggling with, um, certain temptations, and he even landed a face-to-face interview with Jerry Falwell, which turned out to be Falwell’s last.


As you might imagine, plopping a secular liberal into a lot of these situations is a recipe for tension and humor, and Roose writes with plenty of snap and wit as well as honesty, charity, and thoughtfulness. I really enjoyed the sharp humor and storytelling and would recommend this book for those qualities alone.


But The Unlikely Disciple is more than just a fun book with a clever premise. I think there is real value here for the Christian who is willing to consider, “If that’s how outsiders see Liberty, how do they see me?” If someone went undercover to your church, how would they experience it? Are we making our faith into a bubble, and if so, how can we let outsiders in—or better yet, step out of it ourselves? After all, if there really is a “God Divide” in America, God’s people should be the ones trying to bridge it. Kevin Roose showed that it can be done, because on a personal level, the divide is not so great after all.


The one criticism I might have of the book is that it purports to reveal evangelical culture without clearly defining what an evangelical is. If it's the broad standard of someone who believes the Bible and calls themselves “born again,” evangelical includes me, but by Liberty's strict standards I'd flunk out. I mean, I’m a Presbyterian—a conservative one who takes the Bible seriously, sure, but not one to take it all literally as they do at Liberty. I’d consider myself evangelical but not a Liberty fundamentalist—and I’m guilty of looking askance at Falwell and his style of fundamentalism and politics from the outside almost as much as Roose.


So a little more nuanced definition of terms would probably make the broad spectrum of Christianity clearer for Roose and his readers, but then again, that’s the point—at Liberty there are only two kinds of people, saved and unsaved, and they’re not likely to consider you saved unless you meet all the criteria of conservative evangelical (really fundamentalist) theology. But what Roose says of Liberty is just as true for all Christianity: “Once you dig under the surface, Liberty is every bit as messy and diverse as any secular college, and lumping everyone on this campus into a single category seems irrational and simplistic.” Indeed the same goes for any group—secular college students, those of a different political party, those of any certain age or generation. Roose’s peek into life at Liberty gets its wallop from his outsider-gone-underground perspective, but his best contribution to the cultural conversation is illustrating how the same we all are at the basic level.


And if Roose can convince at least a few secular liberals and a few conservative fundies to give each other a chance, at least one of Jerry Falwell’s prayers will be answered: that Kevin Roose would enter journalism “in key places where he can make a difference in the culture.” He’s certainly on his way, and I’ll be watching to see what he does next.


Kevin Roose’s blog: http://www.kevinroose.com/blog/

Kevin Roose on Twitter: http://twitter.com/kevinroose

Liberty in the news last week: LU pulls the plug on campus Democrats

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Today I:
  • wrote--for me, not work.
  • called my grandfather and thanked him for serving on a Navy PT boat in WWII. He downplayed it as just something millions of us did but I think was happy to remember it. Only 4 of the 15 guys from his group remain to share memories.
  • took a two-hour nap. Oh, glorious day!
If anyone would like to declare tomorrow a holiday as well, I would totally be up for a repeat.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I Fight Authority


Authority always wins.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pre-Summer Saturday

Saturday we took Anna to the local kids' fishing derby. We didn't fish, but Anna did:

play some games



get her face painted



try to decide what she thinks about cotton candy



and of course bring home some balloons and little plastic junk toys. Most of them have mysteriously disappeared while she's sleeping. It's the darndest thing.

It was such a nice summery day that we all went to the beach at sunset, something I don't do nearly enough. Anna now yells, "BEACH!" with a toddler accent that sounds as if she's calling me a mean, overbearing woman. (Maybe I am, but that's no way to talk your momma.)



Sunday and Monday nights were the last Frontline and last Young Life Club, but I'm not emotionally capable of describing them just yet. For now I'll just say they were packed and special.

Tonight: semi-improptu grown-up geeks with no life American Idol party here. The Dark Horse versus the Prince of Darkness showdown seemed as a good a reason as any to eat ice cream with our YL leader peeps. BYO phone.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Recent Progress

I thought I'd give a house and moving plans update on this fine Friday morning:

We had our house inspection yesterday. It took for - ev - er and I had Anna and the dog out and about, shopping, etc., the whole time. Tiring! But I don't expect any problems from the inspection, and we should know today if the buyers' loan is all set, so in a couple days we should know for sure that we are on our way to our early July closing date. (As a side note, we thought we might be getting a second offer to consider if the first didn't work out, but then we didn't hear anything on that. And that's fine.)

We are making progress on moving plans. My parents are flying out to help us pack up, then the ladies are flying home and the guys are driving the truck across the country. Pretty sure we girls are getting the better end of that deal, although we are taking the cat and dog with us, which could make things a bit, ahem, hairy.

I have figured out what health insurance to buy for us and how to avoid the dreaded preexisting condition waiting period. We are not COBRA eligible and can't risk a gap in coverage, so this was essential. The bad news is that what I expect us to spend in premiums, deductibles, and copays is more than I earned last year. Get me a sign: I literally will work for health insurance. (Rent, food, shoes, etc. are so overrated.)

Last weekend I was freaking out because I realized that if I did Anna's readoption papers myself, they might still be in process when we moved, and then I might not get them back to do the next step or it might be a mess with us no longer living in the state. But Michigan has completely different rules and it seemed risky to try to do it in a different state than she came home to. Ack! I decided to call a lawyer to do the readoption for us. It is costing us a chunk of change, but I am relieved to have a pro doing it and to know the time will not be an issue because he'll handle it.

Moral of the story: DO NOT procrastinate!

Yes, this is the moral of almost every tragic tale I tell. Obviously I don't listen to myself.

On the docket for today and the next few days:
  • hair session with Anna
  • get readoption papers to lawyer
  • community kids' fishing derby and YL car wash tomorrow
  • last Frontline of the year Sunday
  • last Young Life of the year Monday
  • finish up some work and start sorting for a massive moving sale!

What's that about procrastinating? Time to get a Round Tuit!
Click here to finally get around to it

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Recasting Mother's Day

Mother’s Day has simple and good intentions, but for many it is a difficult day. Many feel unworthy of it, and many wonder why there’s no day for them. Indeed, the cards and commercials can make it seem like a day for none of us—for who could be so perfect as these sanitized, sparkling, fake families?


In the midst of the myth of Hallmark perfection, let us also remember those often hurt or forgotten on Mother’s Day:


The women who have lost a child--born or unborn, young or old, an only or one of many, recent or long ago but not forgotten . . .

The women and men who have lost or never known their mother . . .

The women who want a child but are still waiting, and those who will never be able . . .

The women who want to adopt but are still waiting, and those who will never be able . . .

The women whose family members don't recognize their motherhood or children as "real" because they came via adoption or marriage or they don't look the same . . .

The mothers who placed their children for adoption and struggle to find their place in their lives, and the mothers who did so secretly and silently endure the condemnation of "I don't understand how any woman could do that" from those who have never even tried to understand . . .

The mothers unknown around the world whose children have journeyed to America without them, their identities lost and too often forgotten . . .

The single mother who feels blamed for society's ills . . .

The lesbian woman whose motherhood is scorned as second class . . .

The woman who regrets her abortion . . .

The woman in the depths of postpartum depression who despite her best efforts, at this moment regrets her baby . . .

The women whose daughters endure abuse and whose sons rot in jail . . .

The women and children and orphans who live on $1 a day while we spend $1.5 billion on throwaway cards . . .

The women who are not called mom but take the time to bake her brownies, go to his games, staff the nursery, take her underwear shopping, vote in school board elections, send birthday cards, attend graduations, chaperone trips, walk to the well, and work for peace . . .

Women who feel they don’t fit, women of complex stories, women of the real world . . .


This day may not be easy for you, but you are remembered, and you too are worthy of honor.


To all the women who have loved me and those I love—thank you for blessing my life and our world with your love.




Partly inspired by this blog post: "For the Childless Woman on Mother's Day" by author Vinita Hampton Wright

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Why do we stand for it? World AIDS Orphans Day

Today, May 7, is World AIDS Orphans Day. I've written before about HIV/AIDS and the 40 million reasons to care.

Today I'd like to point you to a post by Erin at Full House, Full Hands and ask with her: why do we stand for it? An excerpt from her post:

In the United States, if a child loses a parent to accident or illness, it is considered a terrible tragedy. Such stories are covered by the media, communities mourn and show their support, etc. In Sub-Saharan Africa, parents dieing is a normal part of life. It is still a terrible tragedy for those children, but it happens so often that no one else really pays any attention.

And do you know what makes this really, truly horrible? Do you know what makes my gut twist and my heart ache? HIV IS COMPLETELY TREATABLE.

If a person contracts HIV in the United States or another country where there is treatment readily available, they have an excellent long term prognosis. Most HIV+ people receiving treatment now have close to normal life expectancies and can live in good overall health. With treatment, HIV+ children can be healthy and happy. They can go to school, grow up, go to college, have (healthy!) children, and live long enough to raise them and beyond. Without treatment, an estimated 50% of HIV+ children will die before the hit their second birthday. My Solomon was almost one of those 50%.

HIV does not have to be a death sentence, and yet for thousands of people every day, it is, because the world doesn't care enough to really do something about it.

Can you imagine for one minute if some terrible disease struck the United States (or whatever country you live in) and was killing thousands and orphaning thousands every day? Can you imagine if another country had treatment that could lead to good health and a long life, but it just was too expensive or too difficult or too much trouble to get that medicine to us? We wouldn't stand for it.

So why do we stand for it now?


Erin knows of what she speaks--her family has adopted two HIV+ children, and much of her life's work is helping finding homes for more. But at the present rate of apathy in the Western world, it will not be enough for many millions. If that doesn't sound right to you, I encourage you to check out her suggestions for ways to touch an orphan's life, starting getting educated about HIV and sharing that knowledge with whomever you can--be it two hundred church members, twelve blog readers, or just two friends.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Monday, May 04, 2009

SOLD! One Thunderdome

We have officially accepted an offer on the dwelling known as the Thunderdome.*

Can I get a yeeeeeeeeehaw!?

The offer came in Friday, and we signed it this morning with our agent. The price is a little lower than we were asking but right where we expected to end up.

But the most Providential? Instead of closing in the typical 30 days, thus causing us to be kicked out before we're ready to go to Michigan and have to effectively move twice, their offer was to close in 60 days. Right around July 5. We wanted to pack up and leave town around July 8. So we made an addendum with the slight adjustment of closing and being out of the house July 8. Perfect! (Or if for some reason they balk at that, close enough.)

Of course we have to pass inspection first. That should happen within a week or two.

Then it's time to start packing and sorting for a garage sale. Lots to do, but just knowing the house is taken care of is such a huge relief!



* Thunderdome explanatory note: I accidentally nicknamed our house this at Young Life camp. We were doing an activity one night that was being code/nicknamed “the Thunderdome” so the kids wouldn't find out about it. During cabin time one of the girls says, “I saw in your notebook something about the Thunderdome.” I immediately said, “That’s what we call our garage. Now as I was saying..."

I didn’t think before I said this (obviously), but I did have a reason: comedian Brian Regan does this bit about how ridiculous it is that people name their houses and why not your apartment or, heck, everything in it? (“Hand me the can opener.” “You mean . . . Umberto?”) Anyway, it got around that our house was the Thunderdome. After all, it is kind of dome-like inside with the crazy curved ceiling—and spaceship-like on the outside. It truly deserves a name.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Her 'Do These Days

I tried a new hairdo on Anna the other day and I really like it, I think because having her hair back really shows off her little face. It's 8 cornrows from the bottom up to a puff. This versatility is why I'm learning to 'row! Just wish it didn't take me so long.





From a distance my cornrows now look almost respectable--to white people, anyway. (Ha!)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Moving Decisions

For those of you tracking our pre-move preparations, here is your basic update (upgrade to excruciating detail available via phone or in person):

The other day Aaron and I actually took some time to chat (imagine that) and I felt like we made more decisions in a half hour than we had in two months. I think I will probably end up freelancing (although I would still explore any good opportunity, so if you hear of something, please do pass on the tip). I felt like Aaron gave me permission, even though he didn't need to because he's always been supportive, when he said, "Why don't you keep freelancing? You're already doing it and it will make so many other things so much simpler." And it will.

I think I didn't realize how stressed I was at the thought of "having to" find a job, figure out child care, etc., especially from a distance. It was all a bit much to think about at this point. We can always reevaluate once we're settled, but realistically I wasn't going to be able to have it all lined out before then anyway, so it was a pointless stress to self-impose. (Of course I still don't know quite what we're doing about insurance, so the underlying source of stress is still there, but I'm accepting that trying to get covered by a new job by the time Aaron ends his is not the answer.)

Under the work-at-home scenario, we should be fine with one car, which means we'll sell our Suzuki rather than having to move it across the country. Then we'll take my dad's Ridiculously Imposingly Ginormous (RIG™) pickup off his hands, thereby allowing him to complete Phase One of his master "How can I get a new truck?" plan and me to look like a miniaturized King Kong scaling its towering sides to get up into it. I'm thinking of attaching a catapult to the running board so I can more ergonomically heave Anna up into her seat. But hey, at least I will be able to plow through snowdrifts.

Finally, we determined that we should set a target date for moving so we can get a truck rented. We are aiming at right around July 8. I can't believe I just wrote that.

Maybe God was watching for some sign of decisiveness down here, because today we had people look at our house who actually seem interested. We hope that they are rich and get loan approved--or are not rich but will get approved like they are anyway. You know, like us. O dear sweet homeless baby Jesus, save us from this mess and we'll never borrow subprime again...

Heretical kidding aside, we sure are praying and hoping we get an offer we wouldn't want to refuse. Join us, and watch this space for updates . . .

HOLY CRAP 8:45 UPDATE: We are getting an offer tomorrow! Sounds like it should be solid . . . Woo hoo!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sha-na-na-na-nah . . . Get a Job?

As I mentioned in my recent panicky post, we have less than three months till we put all our stuff in a truck and head east to become cemetery dwellers.

People ask me if I'm excited and I just don't know what to say. I was, and I think I am. I know I will be. But so much must be done first, and right now I don't quite know what I'm supposed to be looking forward to because so much is still unknown, particularly for me. Life in Michigan is in many ways a big, mitten-shaped, blank canvas.

We know where we're living (seminary townhouse), and I think being part of the seminary community will be interesting and good for us. But what does my actual day-to-day life look like? I do not know if I'm (a) getting up and editing two hours in my pajamas before taking my girl for a leisurely walk to the park to smell tulips before lunch, or (b) getting up and putting on stiff clothes I don't currently own and driving 45 minutes to spend 8 hours in a cube at some sort of Evil Spamway Corporation. There is a really big difference between the two.

Freelancing has its, ahem, prose and cons.

I would like to continue the freelance life, but I've never done it full time so I'm nervous about my ability to win enough bread (because health insurance/care will require a lot of extra bread). Yet a job would most likely have to have benefits to be worthwhile since it raises the issues of cars, commutes, clothes, and child care. But in our situation, with "preexisting" health issues, group health insurance is almost priceless, so I might have to take what I can find--if there are any jobs left in Michigan to find.

Another option would be for me move into a Starbucks and simply move from one side of the counter to the other depending on whether I'm working there or freelancing or sleeping. But I might build up an immunity to caffeine, and then I couldn't be a freelancer anymore. It's a rule. (Actually, though, I've heard Starbucks offers benefits and $4000 adoption grants. Hmmmm.)

There is some sort of break-even or tipping point between freelancing and a regular job. Freelancing is a better hourly rate, so a part-time job probably really doesn't make sense, although freelancing does require paying payroll taxes (which has never bothered me since we just had extra tax withheld from Aaron's pay to cover mine, but I'll have to pay quarterly again). But a job with benefits would be a different story. Maybe. Now we'd have child care and commuting costs to consider. So a lot depends on the particulars, but as I'm poking around online, I don't see any tailor-made publishing jobs just begging to be filled. Ten thousand new English major soon-to-be grads, plus half the auto industry, will probably see to that.

What do you think is the tipping point, dear readers? At what point is going back to a "real job" worth it--financially, emotionally, practically? What am I forgetting to consider?

Freelance and work-at-home friends in particular, what are your "wish I'd known that" secrets to making it work well enough to carry the financial load? If you've gone from job to freelance or vice versa, what have been the pros and cons for you?

Most importantly: which would make the best blog fodder?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

How's the Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid So Far?

I'm watching the NFL Draft (and working) without my man today because he's at a youth event until late tonight. So no party despite the Lions' dubious honor of picking #1. And no suspense either (until pick #20) since the Lions signed their #1 pick last night: quarterback Matthew Stafford.

And the fans' reaction? Let's just say they may have grown a tad cynical. Some quips from the message boards after the deal was announced:
  • The Detroit news is reporting that a 1,000 Lions fans have jumped off the Ambassador Bridge. They're doing all they can to save the people.
  • Stafford, let me introduce you to the wheel chair.
  • OK . . . well, welcome to Detroit, Matt! Now get rid of that damn curse and win us a super bowl . . . you have your hands full.
  • Congrats, Matt! If anyone knows how to lead a team to a championship that hasn't won since 1957, it's you.
  • Mr. Stafford, welcome to the Lion Nation. We are harsh, sometimes brutal, but loyal. Welcome to hell, rook!!!!
  • Congratulations, Matt. Now you have the time and money to take piano lessons.
  • Fan 1: "Hopefully now The Curse of Bobby Lane is officially over!" Fan 2: "For $78 million, something had better be over."
  • Stafford, welcome to the Lions--if you are a pro bowler and hall of famer, you won't get booed.
  • Can he be converted to a left tackle?
  • It's time for the rest of the league to prepare . . . for a Staff Infection!
And most disturbingly:
  • He will play in year one because I want to see my investment and my draft choice in action. Sincerely, William Clay Ford Sr.
Nooooooooooooo!

But hey, it's spring. Hope springs delusional eternal in for Lions fans. Anna says, "More Kool-Aid please!"

Or if you're not drinking the Kool-Aid yet, add your own smart-aleck quip below!


Awaiting pick #20 . . .


"We're Lions fans. The draft is our Super Bowl."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What Shall We Do with a Sickly Toddler?

Anna's very "two" behavior has been much better since last weekend. Now I don't have to chase her down to feed her; I only have to chase her down with a tissue bucket to catch all the snot flowing out of her.

Wait--these kid things get sick too? And I'm supposed to do something? Sorry, I'm not that familiar with this part of the job description.

Whether it started with our germs or with allergies, what she has is now very much like what made Aaron and I miserable in succession over the past month: nasal congestion, runny nose, cough, general misery. And although I'd checked her temperature yesterday morning and it was okay, it didn't occur to me to check it again until her bedtime, when it was over 101.

At that moment I realized: My kid is really sick, and I have no idea what to do.

Anna has never really been sick. No fevers, ear infections, nothing. So I couldn't remember where the Fever Danger Zone starts. What's the rule on calling the doctor? If her fever is over 101? 102? Over 100 for 24 hours? Under 124 while watching 24?

Always nice to feel both helpless and clueless.

Fortunately it also occurred to me that hey, they probably make medicine for that, and I had some on hand that she can actually take now that she's over two. Gave her some and checked on her later--fever was down a bit by the time we went to bed and quite a bit when I checked her in the night. (I also got instant advice and assurance via Twitter--viva la connected world!)

Anna was pretty wilted and miserable again this morning but perked up a bit as the meds kicked in again and she got her fill of sweet, sweet mommy sympathy and Winnie the Pooh movies. Well, almost. She can never really get enough Pooh these days.

Perhaps I'll let her watch a little more while I read Mommying Your Sick Child for Dummies.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Referral Echoes

Anna with her referral picture
April 19, 2009




I think I'm going to take a picture of Anna with her referral picture every April 19 from now on to create a progression kind of like the school photos collection you have by graduation. Too bad I didn't think of this a year ago, huh? (Or before Sunday's post. Duh.) I think this would be a neat project with a first baby picture too.

Of course I couldn't get her to sit still and hold it up and smile all at once. But since there is a slightly different version of the photo on the back of the frame, she did eventually point at the baby for me. And kiss it. And try to eat it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Two years ago.

April 19, 2007



April 19, 2009

Happy referral anniversary, Anna Jubilee Yegetanesh.