Tuesday, April 29, 2008
When we got there we were set up with an ipod shuffle and sent into a maze of connecting African themed areas. This was all set up in a room the size of a gym. In fact I think it was a gym - but they had transformed it.
We took our ipods and headed through a curtain of hanging strips of cloth into a small hut. There were four paths to take, depending on which ipod you were handed. Four stories of four African children all who's lives had been touched by AIDS.
Our narrator started telling the story of a young boy who's father had died of AIDS and who's mother was sick and dieing from it as well.
What really made the experience real was that there were photos of this boy and his brother. The story was true. All the stories were true.
The narrator sends you slowly through the maze of photos and exhibits. Eventually ending up at a clinic for an HIV test (the narrator asks you to put your hand up on a counter where it is stamped either + or -). I'm not sure how they decide who gets what stamp. But, some people walked away with a red + and others with a black - . We were lucky, ours was - .
The most powerful part for me was when my 4 year old son put his hand up for a stamp. I know that there are 4 year old children in Africa that test positive for HIV. It really hit home for me to see my son there. It was heartbreaking.
So many families fractured by AIDS. So much pain. We do our small part, but sometimes I wonder if it is enough. I know it's not enough. But it is a small drop in a large pool. What would it take to beat AIDS, the horrible monster that is causing so many orphans and widows.
I encourage you to check out the World Vision website. Sponsor a child and make a small difference.
We have chosen to sponsor a boy with the same birthday as our son. I hope that over the years we can teach our son empathy and generosity. We have been blessed so much and I want him to appreciate that, but also to learn to pass on to those in need some of the blessing.
*Yes, my husband does work for World Vision. No, I wasn't asked to write about this and we don't get anything for this post.
Monday, April 28, 2008
I have gone through many phases in my life. When I was in high school and college I was beyond the "good girl". I fell into the "Uber-Christian" category. It kept me out of trouble and away from some activities that I could have come to regret. But it also kept me away from the grit and reality of the world beyond my backyard.
With age I have found that I enjoy movies that show a tougher, sometimes heartbreaking side of the world. Mostly those tend to be R rated. Take for example Trade. I believe it was done very well, but there was no way to cover the topic without earning an R rating. I also believe that I am a better person for having watched that movie and knowing that story.
A few other movies that fall into that category for me are Lord of War, Hotel Rwanda, and Dangerous Beauty.
On the other hand, I tend to stay away from movies that have violence or nudity just to have it. I am okay with having violence or nudity if it is central to the telling of the story, but not if it is just extraneous. There are truths that are much more potent when told in a story format and sometimes those stories aren't G rated.
I will not allow my son to watch those movies until he is much, much older and can truly understand the meaning that is being portrayed. It takes a certain amount of maturity to watch and understand some movies.
Let me stop here for a moment and say, that if someone chooses not to watch R rated movies, that is their choice and I don't doubt their maturity level. We each have to make our own decisions and it is not up to me to judge anyone else's choices. The only ones I am responsible for are myself and my son until he is old enough to make those choices himself. While I do have some influence on my husband's choices, even then, it's ultimately up to him.
Have I watched movies that have no redeeming value and violence or nudity? Yes. Do I always regret it. No, not always, but often times I do. And I'm sure that sometime in my life I will again watch a movie that does not add to my character. But for the most part when I watch a movie I try to ask myself, "Does this make me a better or more interesting person?" It is my hope that I can say "yes" more times than not.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
So, thank you for returning, both of you. I promise then next time I get a bee in my bonnet to do a food post it will be more exciting. I few years ago I got access to my grandmother's recipe box, so there should be some great food blogs coming. Someday I will post the best red velvet cake recipe ever, I promise.
In the mean time let me invite you into a strange part of my life as a mom. My son has learned how to take full advantage of the fact that he has a mom that goes a bit overboard with photos. One of our favorite mother/son activities has become setting up his toys (mostly Playmobil) and taking pictures. So today I invite you into our bizarre world of toy photography. I have to admit, though, it's kinda fun.
Stop me if you've heard this one. So a Texan, a Roman Centurion, a knight and a couple of pirates get on a plane...
Sailing the high seas...
My all time favorite. Because what nativity scene would be complete without a matchbox police car. But in the process of taking the photo Brian snagged it mid-exposure.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
As we have tried to become more healthy in our eating habits our snacking has started to change. But microwave popcorn is still as unhealthy as ever.We have searched high and low for microwave popcorn that doesn't have some sort of fake butter or cheese or a combination of both. We did finally find one brand, but it's expensive. Let me just ask, why is it that the brand that has only popcorn with nothing on it is the most expensive? What's up with that?
So my search continued.
I know we could do the whole air popper thing, but that would be one more thing in my kitchen that I would have to find a place for. Plus, I know we wouldn't get it out and set up so it would languish in a cabinet somewhere.
Then I found it.
Let me start by saying I love Alton Brown. Not quite as much as Bobby Flay, but still I love, love Alton. If you don't know him you are missing out.
When I learned that Alton Brown said that I could pop regular old popcorn in my microwave I was on it right away. So here is what happened...my first foray into food blogging!
Pour into a regular brown paper lunch sack.
Fold the top down twice.
Alton says staple. I'm not so sure, so I tape.
Microwave. I started it at 2:22, but ended up taking it out when there was about 30 seconds left.
Since I don't have a beautiful popcorn bowl, I divided it up between two bowls. Plus it keeps my portion from getting swiped by my dear husband.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
It's a great way to get Brian interested in seeing things around the city and it's fun to see him connect that what he is seeing he first read about. Anything to encourage a love of reading...
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
My response: "Really?"
Does that mean that I am eccentric and hard to read with bad hair?
But, since it is on the internet, it must be true. Right? Right? On second thought, don't answer that.
Monday, April 21, 2008
a week ago we put in our garden. Last fall we mulched and covered the area with plastic. Now it's ready to plant...
The weather was beautiful...
My husband worked hard...
I worked hard too, there just weren't any photos of it!
A salad in the making...
Then, the next weekend this happened...snow...
I was messing with my camera settings and accidentally over exposed this photo. But I really liked the way it turned out...
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
Tonight is the "pre-wedding dinner". It would be a rehearsal dinner, if there was a rehearsal. Since it's going to be a small wedding there will be no rehearsal. But we are having the dinner anyway. It's a good reason for a party.
I know that there is a tradition of doing toasts at the rehearsal dinner. And I would love to do a toast, but I am a crier. Not a pretty, dainty crier. I am the blubbering, can't talk, nose produces more liquid than my eyes kind of crier. I did get water proof mascara specifically for this weekend, but I don't think that will be enough to help with the toast.
So, here it is. The toast I would give tonight if I could actually get through it.
To my brother.
You and I have been through so much together. What would I have done without you? You were always the one constant that I knew would be there. From beating up on me as a kid and tickling me until I cried to being there when I got married.
You were there to teach me how to drive, to shoot and to change a tire. You taught me what good food was. And you taught me how to show compassion.
My marriage is better because I had you to compare men to. Some measured up, others didn't, but you never judged. And in the end I got a great guy because he had the characteristics I valued in you.
You challenged me to read better books, to learn more and to broaden my views. I hear your voice in my head asking, "Have you read any good books lately?" We might choose different types of books, but it is because of you that I have a love of reading.
You gave me a view of a God that was more than I could ever imagine and showed me how to follow Him. I see the love of Christ through you in your generosity, your willingness to sacrifice and your ability to always put others above yourself.
As cliche as it sounds, I am a better person because of you.
I hope you have a wonderful marriage. That you are able to have some great times. And when the tough times come that you have a solid foundation and commitment to get you through. I hope you find more joy and richness in life because you are going through it together.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
While I may look like a girl again (that last photo didn't do me any justice) at least my brother is dressed appropriately for the "snow" in the background. Gotta love old photos!
I recently started reading a book called Captivating. I'm sure I will share more about it in the weeks to come as I make my way slowly through it. But one thing really hit me as I was thinking about my brother this week.
In the book they talk about the three things the heart of a woman desires. One of those is "an irreplaceable role in a great adventure". Again I was thinking about what my brother taught me to expect from the men in my life.
Some of my best memories are from the summer after my Freshman year of High School. I spent most of that summer with my brother in Alaska where
That was the summer that I learned to shoot a shotgun, went ice caving, rock climbing, canoeing, fishing, camping and mountain biking. I loved that summer.
I also loved who I became that summer. By the end of it I had found a confidence that I had never known before. There is something about danger and adventure that brings out courage and strength.
So many days I forget that I am still that person. The one that can ford a glacial stream, catch a fish dinner, portage a canoe, and hike a mountain. It has been replaced my the mundane day-to-day of raising a child and taking care of a home. Sometimes I need to be reminded that I am part of a great adventure, this time with my husband.
It was good to have someone in my life to teach me how to adventure. And it is good for me to remember to still be the adventurer.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
When I was in high school someone once told me, "When you get married you will marry a great guy because you compare all your dates to your brother". At the time I didn't think much about it. Now that I look back, it's true. I did compare guys to my brother.
Yes, it did get me a great husband.
The psychology behind relationships is fascinating. Many of the characteristics I thought I would end up with in a spouse didn't happen, and yet I got things I didn't know I wanted.
My husband and brother share many things, but the characteristic that I appreciate most is their desire to be better people. I've met too many people that think that striving to become better shows weakness. In truth, you have to be confident and strong in order to face those characteristics that are in need of changing.
Throughout my almost 12 year marriage I have come to appreciate many times over that willingness in my husband to change and grow. The people that we were when we walked down that wedding isle at age 20 are very different than the people we are now. In many ways we grew up together.
What if neither one of us had been willing to change?. I think that question is an easy one to answer. We wouldn't be together as a couple today. The ability to mold around each other like two trees twinging together as they grow is what makes a marriage work. Really work, not just coexist.
Lately we have laughed about all the ways we have become like each other. Which is good, because there are still so many times we want to scream because of all the ways we are different. Sometimes that change comes by choice. Sometimes we wake up one day and realize that we are more like each other today than we were yesterday.
We have learned how to communicate better, love more selflessly, give more generously, and be more open and accepting. The richness of life comes through relationships with other people. How they impact you and how you impact them. The ability to mold around each other makes those roots go deeper. It makes life more beautiful and worthwhile.
I will forever be grateful to my brother for patterning that kind of ability to change and grow. A characteristic that I didn't know I needed in a spouse, but subconsciously looked for and found.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
For day 2 of the Wedding Week I want to share with you one of my brother's best characteristics. Generosity. He is an incredibly generous person.
For example during my Senior year of high school I was in need of a car. My brother handed over keys to his car, um, well, one of his cars. At the time he was earning a bit of extra cash buying, detailing and reselling used cars. So this car had been in his "inventory" long enough to have gone through the detailing process, but wasn't sold yet.
So, I had in my hand the keys to a Honda Accord. You can't beat Hondas for long lasting. Which is good since this particular car was already about 13 years old. Oh, it was a beauty. It was shiny, being silver and all, with a custom paint job (Part of the detailing process was to add a black stripe along the bottom of the car).
This car also had a moon roof. That broke when I loaned the car to a friend. I replaced it with plexiglass, so really, the car had a skylight. It also had a few other luxuries, like power windows and automatic door locks. I say automatic door locks, because they weren't power. On the console between the two front seats was a little lever that somehow connected to the locks. No power needed.
You could hear this car coming. Not in a deep rumbling cool way, but in a rattling and shaking kind of way. I always said it was the manifold pipe. Not because I knew what a manifold pipe was, but because it made me sound like I knew. And it was a fun word - manifold. The Car Talk guys would have had fun with this car.
I finally got rid of that car when I could no longer keep the tires on the rusty wheels. Though, I did get really good at changing flat tires. Ironicly, a skill my brother taught me.
In all seriousness. My brother would give anyone the shirt off his back. I would have been driving a BMW if that had been what he had on hand at the time. And, really, all I needed was a set of wheels.
He inspires me to want to be more giving, both with my time and my resources. I've seen him give out of abundance and I've seen him give out of need. He will sacrifice so that others have. He's pretty great that way.
Monday, April 14, 2008
My older brother has found "the one". No, not in a Matrix-y sort of way, but in a I-want-to-spend-the-rest-of-my-life-with-this-person sort of way. Yes, this coming weekend I finally get to see my brother get married.
I am very excited for him and I love my soon-to-be sister-in-law. I am also a bit melancholy. Big life changes always cause me to reminisce and I've been thinking about all the
So this week is dedicated to my big brother, whom I have always adored.
For today I will leave you with a few shots of us when we were growing up...
Oh, dear. Please ignore the plaid pants.
I'm really loving the wrist bands! And, if you could see my t-shirt you would know that it was a Pac Man shirt. Lovin' the 80's.
Congratulations Big Brother!
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
As a family with small children and a limited budget for babysitting we were looking for something we could do together at home. We tried movies, but found that there wasn't much interaction. It just didn't cut it.
So I offered to try online gaming with him.
I must explain that my husband works in the computer industry, he knows computers and he has done much online gaming in his life. I have done none. In fact, because it was something that took a lot of his time and was not time spent together he had recently completely given it up. I was touched and knew how hard that was for him. So when I tentatively offered to try the gaming it was more as a peace offering - mumbled under my breath hoping that he wouldn't really take me seriously. But he did, and here we are.
Surprisingly I have enjoyed it. I don't know that I would continue if it were just me, but it's much more fun than I had anticipated it would be. Plus, I'm spending time with my husband.
When we were first married we were given a book on marriage. If I could remember the name of the book I'd tell you, but I don't. There are only a few things I remember from it, but one of them was that a husband needs a wife that will play with him. Anything from board games to hang gliding, bug collecting to mountain climbing. Just something that is fun to do together.
I got that advice over a decade ago and promptly decided that it didn't apply to us. Now, I am learning that, really it does. It applied then and it applies now. I wish I could go back and have a talk with my 20 year old self. But, I probably wouldn't have listened. I could be a bit that way then, um, occasionally now, um, okay I'm stubborn - still.
As I've watched my husband build friendships I've noticed that he does stuff with his friends. They play. Sometimes it's sports, sometimes it's other (read: computer) games, even going for a
I've learned after 12 years of marriage that my husband doesn't want to sit on the couch and chat about how cute my new shoes are (dang it). Yes, I'm a slow learner. But, I am learning.
Along with doing something together we are also building up our communication. This one actually came as a surprise to me. As we tried to beat the bad guys we were talking about what the best strategy was, where we were heading and what direction we wanted to go that evening.
I may not get to talk about how my husband feels, or what he thinks of my new shoes, but I am getting him to talk and we are building our marriage one bad guy at a time.
Here is the dam. It's pretty impressive.
The best part of the day, having fun on the playground...
I loved these shots of Brian on the swings. He was swinging next to a little girl he was quite taken with.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
That was the morning after we got Brian. The deer-in-the-headlights look that you see on our faces, that was us realizing just what it was like to have an infant in the house.
We had begun our journey to become foster parents a few months prior to this and we had finished all the paperwork, background checks and home study. But our social worker wasn't quite done with her part of the home study. The next step was supposed to be the call that said, "You are approved, we will call you if we have a child to place with you."
But at 6:30pm on a Monday evening, the call we got instead was, "We have a baby boy. Are you interested?"
"Um, of course!"
We had Brian at home with us by 7:30pm. 18 months later we finalized his adoption.
That is one of my favorite memories.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
It seems that over the last few years process has been a recurring theme in my life. I've never been one to enjoy waiting for the next phase. I have always wanted to go from one event to another without having any time in between. The harder I try to avoid waiting the longer the wait seems.
I believe that God works in those in between times. Teaching us patience, perseverance, how to truly rely on Him, and so many more traits that I would love to snap my fingers and have be part of my character. Funny how the desire to have those traits instantly is the very thing that causes them to allude me.
Now that we are looking at another adoption the idea of process is coming up again. First with the paperwork, then with the paperwork, and then again with the paperwork. Did you know that an adoption creates quite a bit of paperwork? Well, if you didn't let me tell you - lot's of paperwork. I've heard it referred to as the "paperwork pregnancy".
The process isn't so bad when there are immediate things that I can take care of. But when I'm waiting on others it's harder. But so often, the wait comes just because the passage of time brings about change. I can't hurry it along.
Now our home study is done, our profiles are in and we are waiting. Waiting to be "matched" with the birth mom that will give birth to the baby that will become ours. There is nothing I can do to hurry it along.
This makes me think about the idea of the journey of life. What does it mean to journey? When I think about trips that I've taken the best memories are not really the destination. While I've been to some great places, the joy is in the company and the adventure.
Shouldn't it be that way with life?
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
After getting thrown up on, buying out the local store of their ginger ale and soda crackers I was looking forward to a bit of recuperation this week while my son goes back to preschool.
Usually he is in preschool three afternoons a week. I love those days. Not because I don’t enjoy my son, but because it’s a really nice break from explaining “why”, picking up various random toys, and keeping an eye out to make sure that my son isn’t trying to kill himself by learning to fly, be Spiderman, figure out how electricity works…
But, when I showed up at preschool with my son in tow, I was told that this week is Spring Break. No School. I almost burst into tears. It wouldn’t have been so bad except that Brian didn’t want to go to school today and had let me know, in no uncertain terms and very loudly, that he really, really didn’t want to go to school today. It’s always a bummer if you endure screaming for no reason.
Now that I've gotten over the shock I am looking forward to some time for just the two of us. Also I'm sure it will be filled with lots of arts and crafts...
I am starting back into the world of blogging. My first blog failed, miserably. Now I feel that I understand the whole process a bit better and am excited to try again. Or it's like a great pain that with time the memory eases and it doesn't seem so bad now. I can't decide which. Of course, time will tell, and readers (or lack of).
It is only fair to give credit where credit is due. Without some of the other bloggers out there I never would have had the courage to start this blog. During my blog "research" over the last several months I've come across many different blogs, some amazing, some forgettable. There are several blogs that I have been
Welcome to my world, I hope I don't bore you.