Thursday, January 29, 2009

Snowy winter week

It's been a cold snowy week here.
Now, where we live, pretty darn cold in winter is normal.
Snow and ice storms are not so much.
We usually only get a couple of good snows a year so it's always a thrill.

It was so pretty and exciting to wake up to this:
For a two year old, snow and very cold is a whole new thing! "No!" Gabey calls, pointing with excitement. (To be carefully differentiated from his other very clear "no" for oh, many many things.)
Yesterday was one of our few official snow days, so the kids spent a good part of it looking like this: In and outside, bundled up, then shedding layers to drip on the mudroom floor.(Yeah, she does looks a tad cranky...it's drag to take the boots on and off and on and pull the jacket on and off and hang it up again.....it's a tough life when you're ten, oh my!)
Later it started to look a lot more like this all around, after first ice then snow all morning.And I know for many of you, this is small potatoes, a mere dusting. But for us, its big news and a big white chilly fluffy thrill. Anyhow, it won't last, but it's so fun and pretty while it does that I had to post it, for the record.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Happy 53rd Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary to my Mom and Dad!
Here they are, this is the quintessential picture of them from when I was a kid.
This is one of those nights they got all dressed up to go out. I thought my mom looked so beautiful, with her happy smile and fancy embroidered dress and Indian jewelry and shawl. Maybe that's where I got my love of shawls, who knows? I love this picture, they just look young and happy and it is one of the mental pictures, an ID sort of picture, in my head of my folks and those years.

Anyhow I just had to say Happy Anniversary to my Mom and Dad, because that many years is such an accomplishment...rare indeed in this day and age.
They have five kids all grown up and sixteen grandchildren.
They have been blessed with good health and a long marriage.
I love them and miss them very much and hope they have a lovely day.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Books books books

Section of tryptich, Roger van der Weyden, 1448
I love books.
I mean it, I love books and always have.
I could'a called myself "bookmom", but somehow it doesn't have the same panache as "coffemom," does it? I didn't think so either.
To play this out just a bit further: coffee and books go hand in hand, preferably with a nice (bunch of) Pepperidge Farm Raspberry Chantilly cookie (best cookies ever!) in hand too. But, I digress.
by Daffodilus, on flikr
Anyhow, this is a roundabout way to say that I love to read, always have, always will. That has lately been supplemented by reading blogs. More than a year ago I started reading the Bottomly's blog, as we too began the process of adopting from Ethiopia. So I was pretty happy to see that they had turned one of my guilty pleasures, blog reading, into one of my favorite things in general: a book.

That's the book, From Ashes to Africa, below.
Frankly, I wasn't sure what to expect. I am not only a book maniac, I am funny about them. And by "funny about them" I mean picky. You might not be able to tell that from looking at the exploding shelves and stacks of books all over my house....but it's true. I am picky about what I read. My sister calls me a snob, but I disagree. However, I am picky because my time is at a premium. I am not one of those purists that will finish any book they start, come hell or high water. I mean, c'mon, life is too short. If the book is dreck, it's gone, I'm done. I won't waste my time.image by austinevan, flikr
{above: my hallway...kidding, mostly}
So, this is a roundabout way to say that my curiosity got the best of me and I got this book: From Ashes to Africa. I opened it and read the whole thing. And I read it in just over a day, and that's with standard mom duties (though not school, it was the weekend, full disclosure).

It's good.

I was surprised in a way (no offense Amy and Josh!), as you just never know, you know (and I'm picky)? But it's good because it goes deeper and further than most are willing to go. In this blogworld, it's rare to find a blog that lays it all out on the line. We might say we do, but really, maybe not so much...we all edit. Despite the relative anonymity online, its not total and so we edit - so as not to hurt or embarrass loved ones or ourselves. No one really wants to know how moody I am or that I can yell so loud that my throat is sore, do they? No. (And, no, I'm not going on record...that's just a 'for instance'...yeah, that's it.).

But this book goes further into the back story that drove this couple to the new place they now live: where their hearts a bit shredded, permanently, for these orphans. They have new eyes to see now. But it takes quite a bit to get those eyes really opened. That is what this book is about. They lay out their hard walk through infertility with scathing honesty about the tears it causes in a marriage. I walked that road too. It was some of the most excruciating and lonely times I have lived through, and it was kind of unspeakable at the time, a dark hard lonely place (for each of us). The Bottomly's open this up to the light; bravo for them, that takes some courage. And it's this rocky hard road that brings them to their new world, their new eyes, their sweet son.

The purpose of this book is to raise awareness of a bigger worldview, one close to my heart. So I am biased. I've been through the excruciating infertility games, and I am a fairly obvious cheerleader for adoption. This is not an academic text, nor a long annotated social history and commentary. It is not a detailed fictional epic a la Dickens. It is a real story. It is personal. It is a memoir with a periscope of the heart.

This book is worth a read for the basic human story of it. That very same central common part of each of us, what makes us human, is exactly what makes it good.

Buy it, support a good cause, and read it, feel your heart stretch a little wider.
Grab some coffee and a cookie; it is a quick short read, and will be time well spent.
It occurs to me, after yapping on about this book, that I might throw out a book here and there. Because I'm all about opinions, they are simply spilling out of me most of the time. So hey, why not post 'em on the blog?
So, more to come later. More books book books!
Fair warning.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Aerobic Mass, Part 3

I know I've posted about this before, and it's not a new concept to me. I've had a kid or two over the years.....but it still is somehow always something of a surprise.

Yup.
Another aerobic Mass today, and we are stepping it up to a new level.
Because Gabriel Tariku is officially two now.
So, I'm just saying...those of you who are doing the Shred (Grace, Jess)?
Those of you who've made those new year's resolutions (not this one, not me)?

I've got a whole new workout for you!
It's got it all: weight lifting, aerobic conditioning, stretching, squats, lunges, pushing that envelope past where you think can keep it...hold it hold it, hold him.....

Yup, take my Gabey to Mass.
Keep him quiet and out of trouble in the vestibule.
If I could only figure out how to package this, I'd have a gold mine.
Aerobic Mass, the toddler IS the workout!
Whew. Again. (I should be buff by the time he's three!)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tumbling Stones

Remember this?
This is a rock tumbler, seeing it is like a blast from my past.
My eldest brother is a gemologist, and as a boy, we had one of these babies grinding away in my dad's workshop (a large-closet size room off the carport) for many a day.
It was kind of fascinating to watch him go out in the desert, hunting for stones, and come back with a pocketful. He would sort them and then put some paste of some sort in the tub and flip the switch. Then it would turn and turn and turn, slowly but surely. It was kind of loud, sometimes kind of smelly, often in the way.
I always wished it would hurry up and finish (yup, impatient even way back when).

Finally, he would decide it had turned enough and he would flip the off switch. The bin would come to a halt and he would open it up and reach inside. I always tried to be right there when he did. He would pull out the same stones and they were smooth, then he would polish them and they would be like some kind of cool rugged jewels.
It was a kind of magic for a kid. It was just cool.

I lay in bed this morning, awake again at three a.m. with Gabey. He had gone back to sleep next to me, but I could not. And I started thinking about the various drama we've been having with the kids: nothing big, just the usual fussing here and there and kids fretting about turf and things and how come they do this and why can't they be like that sort of things. You know, the sibling stuff, standard issue.....to an exponential factor since we have a large family.

And I think it was Kimberly Hahn who I heard once say that having family is a way to rub off your sharp edges. And I remembered David's rock tumbler.

That's what having a big family is like. A rock tumbler.
We are tumbling stones.

We are given to each other to rub off all our sharp edges, to smooth each other out. It's often loud, a lot messy, sometimes stinky, and frequently in the way of one of our individual desires. It's not always easy and all that bumping and banging can hurt a bit here and there.
And yet, it is a cool thing, to be able to have each other to work away those rough bits. To learn to withstand the jagged edges of the one who scrapes across you, once again.
To get mad and frustrated and even hurt, but to learn to soothe and be soothed, to endure and withstand....to forgive and forget and move on.
It is this tumbling, this smoothing of our rugged jagged stony hearts and natures that is what we do best for each other. And what, as a family, as a large family in particular, we can do like no one else in the world. It is hard sometimes. It can hurt, frustrate, scrape and chip. But in the end, you end up with something all new again.....transformed, you could say.You end up with jewels. All different. Each unique. None just quite like the other, different size, shape, color, composition...some with streaks, some with glints of glitter.

But you end up a family, each being polished into their most true selves.
No wonder I was so fascinated with his rock tumbler, ultimately, I was to have my own.

Feast Day: St. Francis de Sales

It is the feast of St. Francis de Sales!

This saint, this man has been deemed one of the Doctors of the Church, meaning one who's writings and ideas are formational; the depth and understanding of their faith and the orthodoxy of their theology is held in highest esteem.

His book, "Introduction to the Devout Life" is a classic and a challenge - to my way of life and thinking and being. It humbles me: when I read (or reread) it, I tend to hang my head and think, "dang, right, gee whiz....oh, very good, man!" (It is initially difficult to get past his literary device of addessing his writing to "Philothea" {student} but once you do, you're good to go/read/soak it in.) I recommend it to anyone, it's very well worth the effort.

This saint is one of my favorite writers and a gentle soul. He was known for his gentle kind ways
and his simple clear explanations. He was great friends with another saint I love, St. Jane de Chantal. He taught her to be a saint 'where she was', in her station in life....she didn't have to go be a desert hermit or do heroic acts, but rather quietly live a holy life, where she was (which is of course, SO much easier said than done!).

Although he earned degrees in both law and theology, he realized he had a vocation to the priesthood and ultmately even became Bishop of Geneva. He is the patron of writers and journalists, so he is also a timely saint, in this era of crazy media and bloggers all taking up their own little mini journals...like me. This prayer below, from his Treatise on the Love of God, shows why he is so good, and why I hang my head and see, once again, just how far I have to go. sigh.

Prayer of Dedication by St. Francis de Sales

Lord, I am yours, and I must belong to no one but you. My soul is yours, and must live only by you. My will is yours, and must love only for you. I must love you as my first cause, since I am from you. I must love you as my end and rest, since I am for you. I must love you more than my own being, since my being subsists by you. I must love you more than myself, since I am all yours and all in you. Amen.

St. Francis de Sales, pray for us!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

On this day...

My son, Buddybug, is here.
Washington, D.C.
He is at the annual March for Life with a group from his university.
These are some pics from last year.
Most years Coffeedoc takes a few kids along with him, ours and a few extras. This year he couldn't get there. But we are there in spirit.
I try not to get too political on this blog.
But it is surely no surprise to anyone that our family, I, we, are pro-life.
We are Catholic.
The Catholic Church has made it's position on the spectrum of life issues very clear, very simple: All life is sacred. Period. Beginning to end. No matter what, where, who.
Simple.

And before you get started....I am quite clear on all the facets of this issue, and have worked through different things and thoughts about it all over the years. But finally and fully, as a Catholic who has discovered the deep beauty and richness in the faith, I realized it IS simple. And for me, though I spent years having long and important discussions on all the angles of this and these issues, finally it hit home in the most visceral way possible.

Here:
This is why I am pro-life.
Look, really look, at these faces.
How can I not be?


And while the actual March for Life happens today, the more, the most, important event (some might argue this point, but I would disagree) happened last night: the annual Vigil and Mass for Life. In the packed Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, with Bishops and religious and just regular folks from all over (thousands upon thousands), all jam packed in to pray. They wait for hours (often 4-6) before the Mass even begins, just to make sure they have a spot. They pray, they talk and then, they pray in community: the Mass. Here's a snip from last year. Our Lady of Guadalupe, protector of the unborn, pray for us.
video

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Almost Wordless Wednesday

"California Dreaming,
On such a winter's day."

It always happens, this time of year.
It's cold.
So, you know what I gotta post, yup, the classic:
(Gabey loves to dance to this and it makes us all smile on a cold day).
Gotta love the Mamas and the Papas:

Friday, January 16, 2009

COURT DATE!

This is Bananas saying "no way!" with glee!
Yes way!
We have a court date!!!!!!!

March 31st!

I can't believe it! I am so thrilled!
Last night Natalie wrote and said she'd be out of office and if a court date came through Mary would call. I said thanks.
This morning I stopped and asked Coffeedoc, "do you think that means that maybe she'll call today? That was a different sort of email..." He said, "No, she just did that in case you email her again." "Oh, ok, (sigh) I won't get my hopes up." Then I promptly tried to squoosh them down, once again.

So, this morning, after adoration, an 817 area code called my cell (it's still working!). And it was Mary. Ok, my hopes zoomed up and I held my breath and she said "I have good news for you!" And I think my voice went up two octaves, "You do?" "Yes, you have a court date! March 31!"
Woohooooooooo!!!
Well, it was a lot of gabbling questions and chatter after that and now I am floating through the rest of my day! And this afternoon I go to meet a woman I hope will be my Amharic tutor. A great day. God is SO good, all the time!

So, I will beg for prayers for a successful court date. Please put us on your lists, the FBI list, and your prayer lists. We need to bring our daughter home.

If I were young and it was warm, we'd all look like this!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Not so Wordless Wednesday: Post Birthday Edition

Last week: Gabriel Tariku turned two!
This was his first bday celebration.
So - ripping wrapping paper: check!Great presents: check!
(The boy loves shoes, what can I say?)

But really, it always comes down to the most important birthday features:
cake and candles and song.
And Chocolate!
And...lest we forget, he's two...
The classic two year old boy bday present: Kidsize Basketball!
After that, well, there was not much more to say.
Except, of course,
"Shoot!"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's Aliiiiiiveeeee!

Nope, we are not talking about the creepy baby doll. (but yeah, that is too, jeepers!)

My cell! My blackberry: lifeline with all my contacts and connection to email!
It worked!
The rice bag really worked!

See Bird up there, that's how I would look if I was young and cute with fabulous hair. See Miss M up next to her, that's how we all looked, in disbelief and amazement.
I even (just today) schlepped to the cell phone store to check out my options when I found inevitably found it really was dead. And came out of the store kind of bummed, it was not an easy fix. No, correction, it was an easy fix. It was just a pricey fix that I didn't want to make. (Though I could upgrade to a slick new model, which would be cool....but, ahem, frivolous! Right, I knew that.) And oh, all that info, that data, those phone numbers and addresses, all gone - yikes!

So, I came home, loaded with my options. I knew what I had to do. I took a deep breath, pulled the phone parts from the bag of rice. They were all dusty (is this another layer of problem, rice dust, oy). I blew it all off, cleaned it all up, ever so gingerly. I put it back together, pushed on. And waited. And waited. And watched the sand timer spin and spin and spin. Then it went blank. White screen. OH NO..... And then up popped my little picture of my favorite Mary icon, my background and up popped my emails zipping in to my inbox. It's alive! Yahoo!

I know, you might think how doofy I must be to be so thrilled. But, this is a nice little victory and happy surprise for me. And ok, I am doofy and a dork. But hey, I am a CONNECTED dork, so I don't care! Plus, I even backed up my contacts and photos, sent them all to the big computer....just in case we are just in a last gasp situation. Because, you know....ya never know!

Anyhow, I have to go email Natalie and let her know my number is good again...because we all know that's the real reason I carry my cell with me everywhere: we are waiting for a court date and I gotta make sure I can receive that call!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday stupidity

{If I was cute and a toddler like Gabey, my face would'a looked like this.}

The topic of confession has come up. I went to confession even yesterday. As you might imagine, as a Catholic, I have many thoughts on this subject. It is near to my heart. Those thoughts are not all well gelled or pulled together, and they may never get there. Even so, I have much to say on Becca's latest post.
But I'll save the bulk of it for another time.
You're welcome.

However, in the spirit of Becca's post, on the facet of confession as owning up to our imperfections, I give you this: my Sunday stupidity.

Yes, I accidentally dropped my Blackberry cell in the tub.
I know, it surprised and shocked me too! (No, not literally, thank goodness!)
No I was not going to use it, I had carelessly set it on a towel. It fell.
Yes, I do feel like an idiot, thank you for asking.
Yes, I am in fear that it is quite dead, but am trying to let it dry out, despite my pleasantly surprisingly swift reflex on grabbing it out of the water in the deluded hope that it wouldn't get as wet somehow.
No, I did not back it up and had a fair lot of data on it (you might remember, we are remiss in this area and apparently, never learn. Old dogs and all....).

So, this is my Sunday stupidity confession....on the cultural/mom level. No supermom here, no rocket scientist. Just careless mom. Oh dear.

Calling all techies: I am open to suggestions on fixes if you've done this too!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bittersweet

We have all had such a great time having Buddybug home over Christmas break.
Our house has been filled with music and laughs and a little more peace.
And tomorrow he leaves to drive back to school. It's time. But I am listening to him play the piano and sing. And it makes my heart fill up, it's one of my very favorite things, listening to him sing and play. It's a gift. But, knowing he is leaving makes me a bit conflicted and is bittersweet. I am both happy and sad, happy for him to head back to where is doing so well, happy for the time with him here, happy for the music. And springing just a few leaks, as I listen.

One last Christmas gift from my husband

Coffeedoc has gone and done it again.He has given me perhaps the best gift of the season:
the recovery of our crashed hard drive!
We hemmed and hawed on if we wanted to spend the money and give it a try. It's a dicey project at best and we've tried it once before, long ago with a different drive, and it didn't work well. But, we finally decided to give it a go.And this morning I woke up to all of our old pictures, and emails, and documents back on our computer, with a new improved back up system in place! I think I cried to see all the pics back again: from when the kids were little ones, old amazing vacations and travels, even some of our referral and update pics of Gabriel. So really: priceless! What a gift, one last one before Christmas triple officially ends tomorrow with the feast of the baptism of our Lord.
Thank you Coffeedoc!
I love my husband and his sweet, sentimental, and generous heart!