Monday, December 29, 2008

Boy report

"We're exhausted."
"We shot cool video of me dropping 15 feet off of a rock."
"It's awesome."
"We're heading to Vail tonight."
"Schwartz is an awesome skiier."
"I'll take some motrin tonight and I'm drinking a lot of water."

The boys are clearly having a blast. It makes me happy to have such great kids and to be able to provide such fun for them. I am so grateful to Mr. Silly Pants for being so generous in spirit and material with all of my (our) children. He said to me as I planned this rather extravagent trip for the kids, "we'll spend this money joyfully for them." I'm the lucky one. I'm going to thank him tonight when he gets home by taking him out to a lovely wine bar and telling how much I adore him.

Good thought, eh?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cousins, Colorado, and Ski Bums

I am green with envy: the teen boys in our home are in Colorado enjoying the best snow Colorado has seen in years. When we agreed to take Schwartz as our "exchange son" for the year we essentially made an informal promise to show him the U.S. Well, what is more awesome than seeing Colorado in the winter on a pair of downhill skiis & a snowboard? (you're out of touch with an 18 year old if you have something MORE awesome in your mind!).

So our Waffles and Schwartz left for Colorado and the energetic company of my Colorado cousin on Christmas day. He promised he'd lock up the booze but couldn't make any guarantees about the company of beautiful women.

It's confirmed - they're livin' the life, I tell you! Friday they had an "acclimation" day on snowshoes in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Today we have had a few phone pics of the boys at 12,000 feet, skiing Copper Mountain. They head to Vail and meet up with more cousins on Tuesday (dang, these cousins have a life!).

Yes, we're green with envy - Mr. Silly Pants and I love the Rockies and remember with great delight our own trip to Lake Louise in Canada 3 winters ago. That said, we could NOT provide the entertainment (ahem!) our 35 year old mountaineering, engineering bachelor will bring to the mountain with our young men. I dare not ask about their after hours entertainment - food and a few new found friends?

So here we sit watching "Victor Victoria" after last night's "An American In Paris." Lots of talking, plenty of reading, shopping, and some girl's snuggle time with our cups of tea. The thing is, I miss the boys - even if they'd be playing the PS3 player WAY too often and too loud, even if they leave the dishes out and about, even if they sleep until 1 (or in Schwartz's case, 3), and even if they're idling on the computer with silly games and youtube videos.

I'm happy they are off in the mountains having the time of their lives. I keep thinking how cool it will be when Blueberry heads off to Colorado with his big brother, Waffles....for the time of HIS life!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2 nights before Christmas and the chubby cheek throw down

  • Schwartz is at the UW basketball game
  • Twinkletoes and Clementine are hangin' out (Clementine is her bo-named because of his hunger for the aforementioned fruit)
  • Songbird is doing her art
  • Blueberry is sleeping after a full day of play and cuteness
  • Waffles is ice skating in our backyard skating rink with his friend Jo-Jo
  • Mr. Silly Pants is on his way home from work- a glass of wine is waiting for him
  • Ms. Plum is sitting for the first time today, listening to holiday classics on Sirius radio and plotting holiday meals (although as I type the TV has been turned on to a bowl game
  • upon the arrival of Silly Pants - boo! hiss!)
  • We are all waiting for an additional 6 inches of snow that is supposed to arrive late tonight
    ...and so it goes....

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mr. Silly Pants Delivers

4 babies this week - 4 babies in the past 5 days. You thought I was going to say pizza, didn't you? Whew - there have been a lot of sleepless nights around here. First, my beloved has been up all night delivering babes and then working all of the following day. Blueberry simultaneously came down with an ear infection accompanied by a high fever and a couple of very restless nights (resulting in sleepless nights for me). I'm seriously tired - Mr. Silly Pants is seriously tired. When you mix this with holiday festivities and our own family home and holiday preparations, you've got 2 tired adults who just keep on keepin' on.

Despite all of this, we are working on staying connected and enjoying our family and our precious baby. There is plenty of holiday music, enjoyment of the tree, some outdoor frolicing in the snow, and delight as Blueberry works on crawling. The state of our home leaves a little to be desired; the floors need a good mopping, the holiday grocery list has yet to be made, holiday cards remain packaged instead of mailed, and the dog could use longer walks (it's been very very cold here!).

Of course, there is a double entendre here - because Mr. Silly Pants delivers. He really does. He's so good to me, he's so good to my (our) children, and he's a great daddy to Blueberry. Mr. Silly Pants delivers.

Winter Wonderland

These kids are seriously great fun. Forget everything you've been told about teenagers - it's a myth ("the myth of the sullen teen" ). Nothing sullen here - I love the spirit of my kids!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree!

What a wonderful winter day! Our annual trek to the tree farm was full of fun, frolic, and a Finn in charge of felling the tree!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Digging out!

What fun Songbird and I had this morning with Blueberry and Herbie and a couple of shovels!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Perspectives of Teen Sons

2 comments recently heard from 2 young men in our family

Heard from Schwartz today
Me: How was the drive to the tennis club today?
Schwartz: It was good.
Me: Was it slippery? (It was snowing quite a bit)
Schwartz: I'm getting used to it. I like it when the car slides.
Me: ????????

Heard from Waffles yesterday
*Waffles took injera and wot to school as part of a project on East Africa*
Me: How did the kids like the food?
Waffles: Some kids were saying things like, "This isn't bread, this is a sponge," and, "this tastes like styrofoam!"
Me: Hmmmm.
Waffles: Mostly the white kids were rude. A lot didn't like the injera. Most of the black kids liked it a lot.
Me: Interesting.
Waffles: I thought some of the white kids were mean. Closed minded. Racist. Why would you say that about a food people consider so important to them?
Me: silent....You've got some new experiences and perspective, don't you?
Waffles: mmmm-hmmmmm.

Boys - I love 'em!!!!!!!! THIS is why you should have a foreign exchange student and THIS is why you should take your teenager to Ethiopia with you! 'Nuff said.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Give the boy a bone!

Blueberry likes the dog's toys as well as his own! I have no idea how to interpret that face, except to say, "hilarious!"

Saturday, December 13, 2008

So Many Ways To Serve

Goodness - there is so much to do!!!! My head is spinning as I think about the great opportunities we have to be part of moving us closer to global justice. I've got some favorites. I could post my favorite baby toys, I could post my favorite ways to spend an evening with my honey, I could post the best quips of the past few days...and I will. But the following are my ideas for getting things done NOW.

There is this movement to dig wells in Liberia . The folks involved are seriously grass roots and AWESOME! And, if you are motivated, you can dance for water here. I love this project - and the heart beats that are driving this effort are inspired and true.

You all know I love supporting AHOPE. This is an orphanage for children with HIV/AIDS and it is such a heart warming experience to sponsor an AHOPE child. We do - we love it. We visited AHOPE while in Ethiopia and we'll continue to pledge our support for these lovely children.

Heather has started a club to work on helping kids in Africa. She needs your help. Check this out - Heather is a cool mom and she's onto something with this club - and $7 goes a long way to make a difference. How much do you need those 2 mochas a month?

MSF is always a winner - and my checkbook is proof of this! If you want to hear a great piece listen to this - and think deeply about humanitarian aid in the 21st Century. We need to think about these issues collectively.

This guy is doing something great - he's about to leave the US army and head to Ethiopia to volunteer his time at AHOPE. Yep, I bought him a few "cups of coffee" for his room and board during his time in Ethiopia.

Of course, our family is personally sponsoring some young people in Ethiopia so they can attend school and pursue their dreams. You can read about these 4 kids in various posts on this blog. One of these days I'm going to organize a foundation to help kids in Ethiopia find sponsors and get educated. This is my dream plan and my dream job. I'm telling you, I'm going to do it.

Tonight Mr. Silly Pants, Blueberry and I went to a fundraiser for Clinic At A Time. A great local reggae band, Natty Nation, played and the founder's mom cooked amazing Ethiopian food for all of us. Clinic At A Time is a great local initiative by an Ethiopian woman who lives and works in our community. Her dream is to bring sustainable change, on clinic at a time, to medical facilities in Ethiopia. I love this organization - grass roots, local, no overhead, heart felt, and all Ethiopia all the time. Mulu, the founder, is a lovely and kind woman who is doing good because she feels it in her heart.

Who among us hasn't yet arrived in this place? Who among us who has adopted a wee one from Ethiopia doesn't get the need to be bigger, be better, be more present? Who among us hasn't considered the question, "What can I do? How can I make a difference?" Well, I just named a bunch of ways to do something today. Now, get to it!!

And, post a comment if you've like to add to this assortment of good ideas!

A room with a view

It's difficult to reflect our family during any given moment, but here is a photo from the upper level peering down into our living room. Twinkletoes and Songbird are playing music with Mr. Silly Pants, while the guys are playing something violent and deadly on PS3. (We don't seem to have trouble mixing these items all up in one moment. Music, movies, merriment. Joy!

Twinkletoes has a recital today and Mr. Silly Pants will accompany her while Blueberry and I will be part of an appreciative audience- it's all in the family!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Sled, A Daddy, A Blueberry....No Cool Runnings Here

A sled....A kiss from Daddy before the ride

A full face plant and a quick recovery with giggling parents!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Grinning from ear to ear

Our version: Cialis and a baby bathtub

The mother of invention: yesterday during the snow I wanted to take Blueberry out to sit in the snow while I threw frisbees to the dog. I took out his bathtub and set him in it to enjoy the cold, snow, and dog. Do you know the Cialis commercial - the one with the lovers in clawfoot bathtubs in national park style backyards demonstrating they are "ready any time, any place" (the backyard view that NONE of us has - and who has a clawfoot outside?) So this is our version of "Cialis for Men." I like it much better :-) because he's in a bathtub with whale eyes and in our public park/backyard. Plus, look at this little man - he's our darling.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Finn in the Frozen Tundra

Here are Schwartz (left) and Waffles at yesterday's Green Bay Packer game. They guys had a very comfy bus ride, an all you can eat tailgate, and nice seats for the game. Mr. Silly Pants joined the fun while I stayed home (are you kidding me? It's too cold for me to sit up there in the Frozen Tundra on a relaxing Sunday!).
Here's the story of the origin of our Finn. I was an exchange student myself in Finland "way back when" and Schwartz is the son of my host sister. So, he was family even before he arrived this summer. He arrived in August within 24 hours of our return with Blueberry from Ethiopia - so it was trial by fire for all of us together as our family grew from 5 to 7, adding 18 year old and a 5 month old sons to the family fabric in the same weekend.
While we did get our share of raised eyebrows regarding our decision to have Schwartz come and live with us, we knew it would be better than fine. Schwartz's family is wonderful; I have connected again with them in deeper ways than the annual holiday card and occassional e-mail greeting. And, Schwartz has kept our family eye on the teens in ways we didn't anticipate. It's important as a host family to fulfill informal obligations of "seeing America" - Schwartz's presence has kept us on our toes for sporting events, road trips, and attention to the everyday details of "Americana." This has been great for the whole family and has kept the balance between baby needs and teen life in focus.
It's been great - simply ihana (Finnish word for wonderful/lovely).

Friday, December 5, 2008

Ms. Manners in Finland?

Heard last night at our dinner table:
Me: What is the translation of "please" in Finnish. Is it "ole hyvaa?"
Schwartz: There is no word for "please" in Finnish.
Me: I sort of remember that - is there something close?
Schwartz: No, in Finland if you want something, you just take it.

The rest of the dinner table: Laugh Laugh Laugh

I'm sending Ms. Manners to Finland. Even if it is true that I have never heard Schwartz say "please," he always says "Thank you."

Our household is pretty fun.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I love women!

It's true, I'd be lost without the sisterhood. Women are the rock of my life. I've always been interested in gender studies, in using gender to examine social justice through the lives and lens of women, and in the informal economy of women (part of my grad work). I found this site after having coffee and talk time with one of my soul sisters...which makes this find sort of serendipitous. It's called THE GIRL EFFECT and there is a lot of good evidence here that changing girls lives WILL change the world. I'm like, "duh, we know that!"

Women and change are linked - here's a site that makes the case in a sort of postmodern way.
To top off the site there are 2 videos that feature young women from Ethiopia. It's worth a look - and the position paper is very good. If you are interested in the action agenda, read it here.

Funny aside: some of my 9th grade boy students call my cultural anthropology class "women's pride." I think it's a compliment of the highest sort.

Girl Power!

Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day

Today is the World AIDS day. I live in a com-munity where people I care about suffer from HIV/AIDS. I live in a community where and people I care for are the caregivers and family members and beloveds of someone who suffers from HIV/AIDS. So do you... trust me.

We need to work together to end the suffering of this disease, to end the stigma of this disease, and to stop the spread of this disease. It's not beyond us - and it's within our grasp. Here are some facts:

Even though HIV is a preventable and treatable disease, every 12 seconds someone contracts HIV and every 16 seconds someone dies from AIDS. 50% of all of HIV/AIDS illnesses are suffered by women, and 60% of all HIV/AIDS sufferers are from Sub-Saharan Africa. In Ethiopia, only 5% of those who need HIV/AIDS medications have access to them. states that,

"HIV and AIDS are life threatening conditions. There is no cure yet for HIV/AIDS. The transmission of HIV occurs through three well documented means: 1) having sex (anal, vaginal, or oral) with someone infected with HIV; 2) sharing needles and syringes with someone infected with HIV; and 3) being exposed (fetus or infant) to HIV before or during birth or through breast feeding. HIV transmission can be prevented through avoiding behaviors that expose someone to the means of transmission and by taking preventive measures if identified risk behaviors occur.

HIV is not transmitted through day-to-day activities such as shaking hands, hugging, or a casual kiss. You cannot become infected from a toilet seat, drinking fountain, doorknob, dishes, drinking glasses, food, or pets. You also cannot get HIV from mosquitoes."

If you're looking for more information on HIV/AIDs, World AIDS Day or ways to get involved, there are some great websites and organizations you can count to eradicate, educate, and enumerate the AIDS crisis. We need to make this happen - we need to end this pandemic. We need to care. We need to - now.

Avert, an international AIDS charity:
In Ethiopia an HIV Orphanage where you can sponsor a child:

If you aren't going to do anything that requires direct education and effort on your part, participate as a consumer in the Product Red campaign. If you need something for yourself in order to give something to make a difference, go to Starbucks and have one of their (red) drinks - get a (red) ipod - buy a (red) Dell or shop at the Gap for a (red) item. Product Red saves lives. 9 drinks = one day of medicine .... so do it however you can. Please. Now.