Thursday, January 29, 2009

Interupted Sleep is Starting to Feel Like ....

This ------>

A Finn and A Telemarketer

Last night someone broke through our "no call" status and made a dinner hour marketing phone call. I decided that it would be a great American experience for Schwartz to take the call and answer the questions that focused on the media. His answers made for a very humorous dinner. This is what we heard Schwartz say from our side of the conversation:

"I haven't read the newspaper in 6 months."
"Yesterday I watched 9 hours of television."
"I guess I'm white."
"I'm 19 and still working on finishing high school."
"6 1/2 people live here" (my comment: the 1/2 isn't the who is it?)
"I don't know, I just live here and I don't pay for anything."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Textbooks and Travelers

Last week Mr. Silly Pants and I scurried around to collect and send some textbooks to the student we are sponsoring in Addis. Richard had described to us the difficulty he was having supporting his college studies with adequate materials in microbiology, physiology, and anatomy. When we heard about his limited access to textbooks we quickly determined we could help him by sending some textbooks via a traveling friend. Mr. Silly Pants put out a request for a medical dictionary from colleagues and it was quickly answered. I did some scouting for a microbiology textbook and when nothing surfaced I found a used textbook at a local store. They cut their price from $40 to $20 to ease the overall cost. Mr. Silly Pants had an excellent anatomy textbook he willingly parted with on behalf of Richard's studies. We packed them up and shipped them overnight to our traveling friend. This request was followed up with another quick overnight of a pair of shoes and a collection of photos from our time with him in Lalibela (*note to self* always read the P.S. of e-mails or you might miss the inquiry about an additional need - like shoes!). Thanks to the good will of our traveling friend and her parents, the packages were delivered to a very happy young man. It took a little organizing, but the deed is done. A huge shout out to ML and her parents - for being our couriers and for being patient friends.

This is the first time I've asked someone to transport materials for Richard (or for the other kids we are helping). It was an interesting task for us, and for me in particular as I continue to navigate the cultural dynamics of giving and getting and the relationships of power and need in this endeavor. When I say "need", let me be clear, the need is mine to be a giver and to "do good" in the world. The need for Richard is for us to continue to support him throughout his education. His needs include, it seems, things like books and shoes.

To be honest, it is quite challenging. Richard and I must navigate communication only through e-mail, time differences, language limits, the dynamics of wealth and poverty, cultural interpretations of meeting Americans and receiving a delivery, and expressions of gratitude. The list could be much longer - but you get the idea.

The picture I am putting together is really an on the ground training for something bigger and more "formal" for another stage of my life. I'm wading my way through this with the help and encouragement of my generous and loving husband. Recently, a friend, inspired by our giving, threw her hat into the ring and has begun sponsoring a very lovely family who are in great need of help. Through her, help has been found. What is really riveting about this family is that they are a family of women only - as their father/husband died shortly after we left Ethiopia. Here is a chance to practice change through women (read my post on girls "The Girl Effect" to know what I mean!). I am so excited about this endeavor and my friend is the perfect woman to undertake this really special endeavor.

I will have the great pleasure of sending another care package to Ethiopia in a few months to Lalibela. There, AlemTsehaye will be the happy recipient of some gifts my traveling friends will deliver to her in Lalibela. The world is getting smaller, and I love it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Caged Bird

Ah, it's just rough sometimes. Little Blueberry is adorable and I am so lucky to be his mom.
And, sometimes there is just "stuff" in the baggage of life that makes some days tough. I feel pretty far away from my family. I miss my mom every day - still (when does that stop?). Mr. Silly Pants has been very busy at work. I'm not getting enough exercise. Dinner for the masses takes a lot out of me every night. Did I mention the laundry yet? The dog needs more attention and training than I have to give him. And my family, again. My dad hasn't even met Blueberry yet. My bro hasn't either - he's got his hands full right now. My sister is keeping the hearth and caring for her son who is sick. I miss my sister too. I don't feel like I get to share this new family experience with my family. Yeah, that's the crux of it. I'm pretty blue about it tonight. A good night's sleep should help...but we haven't had one of those in awhile. LOL. My mom would say just put your head down and grind through it, so that's what I'll do. G'nite.

A sled, a dog, and no knees

I think this is the moment they plotted the no knee move!

Blueberry and I have a daily nature boy ritual. It's necessary in Wisconsin to get outside no matter what - and so we do. I get the babe all tucked into his snowsuit, plop him in the sled, and pull him through the little wooded refuge right in our backyard. We've stamped down the snow so there isn't much danger of tipping over and it is here that we get our 15 minutes of wooded exposure, Aldo Leopold style (well, sort of).

Oh right, the dog is in the mix too. He's a crazy dog. He's too energetic. He needs no recovery time from one good run to the next. He eats toys (that are NOT his) all day long if he doesn't get a good dose of running around. So that's how it works; me, Blueberry, Herbie, and the sled. Usually Herbie carries his ball or a flying squirrel. Today it was his squirrel. He runs back and forth and circles around us. Sometimes I snag his squirrel and give it a toss. Blueberry loves watching Herbster run in the woods. Today, he ran right through my knees and knocked me FLAT on my back. It must have been a sight. Thank goodness noone saw us!!! And, thank goodness the snow is deep because it was painless. Another season, another story.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mr. Silly Pants Celebrates A Birthday!

I'm a day late getting my thougths about my dear man's birthday on this page. It's typical these days - I'm a little behind on just about everything. OK, everything. My days get away from me and my evenings are a blur of trying to grab a little time to wind down and flat out exhaustion. So, I'm late and January 18th is a very important date; Happy Birthday Mr. Silly Pants!

Mr. Silly Pants was born the 3rd, last, and only son, to his pastor father and nurse mother. He was born in South Dakota but his family made their long time home in WA state - in a little town that is the stuff of Americana. Raised in faith, in kindness, a strong work ethic, and surrounded with enduring love, Mr. Silly Pants truly grew from boy to man with "goodness" both embracing him and eminating from him. Really, he's that kind of man - he's good. His goodness is the part of him that matters the most to me. By that I mean, no matter where we are in conversation, negotiation, or disagreement, I always feel anchored in knowing his goodness and his kindness.
Mr. Silly Pants brings these, his strengths, to my life too. I am under his influence. Let me illustrate: there have been several times that I have struggled mightily with someone (or something) in his presence. Often these struggles have involved the possibility of me "giving someone a piece of my mind" in a way that might have been warranted, but might also have served only to let off my personal steam but would not have been relationally productive. In these moments he has gently said to me, "think about who you really want to be in this moment." After screaming, "ugh, I hate it when are so smart like this" I give into the obvious higher road of tenderness and kindness. This is my beloved's truest gift. I feel lucky. Incredibly lucky.

I am a better person under his influence. I dare say, his presence is good for all of us. My older children love Mr. Silly Pants. While they have a father (who is a good father), Mr. Silly Pants has brought light and liveliness into our shared home. (OK, and a big TV, and the boat, and a generous love of boy things that my boy, Waffles, surely enjoys!). What I love, though, is that he has brought evident love back into our home - it is deeply gratifying to have children in our home witness our love and comittment.

And, he IS an adoring daddy to our sweet Blueberry. Our family has grown in love and in size and in dynamic and in true compassion with Blueberry as our sweet son and brother. Mr. Silly Pants brings all of his goodness and kindness into our precious boy's life, and I am so grateful to share the parenting of our boy with him.

Did I Mr. Silly Pants is a gifted musician, can drywall, knows how to direct a choir, delivers babies as part of his job, can do the wiring in the room we are refinishing (he's refinishing, not we), cooks the best ribs, wields a drill masterfully, and gets choked up over his favorite romantic music? He also rides a motorcycle, captains our boat, enjoys tennis and downhill skiing, and can talk your ear off about sports medicine. He's also in charge of all of our household technology.
I guess they grow them like this in families in Washington?

I love Mr. Silly Pants. I cherish my life with him. We've been together for 3 years and we've only been married since October - but I've surely known him in my heart for longer. Our hearts are wise together. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR. SILLY PANTS!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I do solemnly swear...

New York Times 1/18/09
Barry Blitt

Thursday, January 15, 2009

10 months and 10 things about Blueberry

Blueberry is 10 months old today. It's also a landmark day because this day we remember that our son has been in the US for 5 months - and lived in Ethiopia for 5 months. I personally meet my awareness of this with a mixture of joy and sadness. I will never forget standing in Bole Airport with my little darling boy all wrapped up and sleeping on my chest while I cried and cried. I felt such sadness and tension because of my growing understanding of the injustice of the privilege I had in taking this perfect child out of his home country. I had, and continue to have, a keen awareness of my own participation in removing a most precious child from Ethiopia. And why? To build our family, yes. Because we could, yes. We could because of the mistake of our birth and our resulting power. In the scenario of the haves and have-nots, we landed in the "haves." I know there is a great injustice in our parenting this darling boy. I know there is a woman who misses her son and whose hopes for him lie in our determination to raise him in love as well as to raise him justly. Because the truth is there is injustice in IA. As I delve deeper into the journey I find myself more dedicated than I have ever been to social justice, to change, to making a real and true difference. But make no mistake, we all love this little boy to the ends of the earth. We love him like crazy. The way we love him is magical and moving and transforming. And that is where the joy lies. There is so much good in loving our Blueberry. He is our beloved.
10 things:
favorite spot: on daddy's shoulders
favorite food: anything on the floor that is small enough to put in his mouth
favorite playmate: Herbie, his dog
favorite book: Moo, Baa, La La La and Global Babies
favorite game: throw (anything - - - and, he's a righty)
favorite object: any and all lights - he points to them all the time
favorite lovey: his ducky blanket
favorite friends: Aster and Wubbie, of course!
favorite song: Pop goes the Weasel and Rikki Tikki Tembo
favorite toy: the musical farm thingy with the noisey chicken
7 teeth - crawling - crawling up the landing of steps - stands alone for a few seconds - 22 lbs.
big mitts, a quickly growing head of curls, and an infectious laugh

Monday, January 12, 2009


I'm not going to sleep, momma!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Pit

No, not the money pit.
No, not the pit of my stomach.
No, not Brad Pitt (although I thought he was great in Burn After Reading)
Nope, not a cherry pit.
I'm talking about a mango pit. In our family the mango is a greatly desired fruit. We take turns getting the pit and the pit is always such a treat. For the first time ever, it was Blueberry's turn. He knew JUST what to do with the pit. YUM.

Speaking of the pit, we've been in the pits of hell with some awful sleeping behavior by Blueberry. I think it has gone on about 3 weeks - although it could be longer. Sleep deprivation is wrecking havoc with my memory and every thing else (ifyaknowhatimean!). Blueberry goes to bed a 7:30 and is waking fitfully and earnestly nearly every 2 hours. We think that he really demonstrates his grief/trauma in his sleeping - but we're not sure. It could be something else. There is no ear infection. We've checked to make sure the giardia is gone. We've changed him to soy formula to rule out lactose intolerance....and we're about at our rope's end. I have an ever present small but bothersome headache on account of not enough sleep. So we are going to really grind through this weekend with some new ideas. Actually, they are old ideas like put him to bed earlier and maintain strict consistency with naptime and bedtime ritual. We also received some great advice (and some consoling words) from our forum friends about helping our sweet baby develop good sleep habits. I figure I'm pretty good at all of this, but hearing the strategies framed slightly differently have helped us dedicate ourselves to making some progress this weekend. On that note, Blueberry is in bed and asleep already tonight.
There is other news under the acacia tree, but I'll save it for another post. In the meantime, I hope to replenish my sleep and continue the mad rush to babyproof the house. Our little guy is ON THE MOVE!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Quad of Joy

Joy Joy Joy Joy - 2009 is starting off with a lot of smiles. This morning was our last morning all together before all of the kids went back to school. Songbird had to head back to college for 2 weeks of intensive swim team practice before spring semester begins. Waffles and Twinkletoes headed back to high school and Blueberry, well, he's going to miss having the adoration of his siblings at his side all day long. Me too, me too.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ramen for Jesus

Today we celebrated Rosca De Reyes under the direction of Clementine. He introduced us to this Mexican tradition in which Epiphany is celebrated with a cake in which are hidden little plastic babies. The babies are tiny, white, plastic dolls symbolizing baby Jesus. There were 4 babies hidden in our cake......*dramatic pause*

Every person must cut their own piece of cake and then slice the cake open to see if they received the little baby in their piece of cake. If so, the person must cook for all who are gathered again on February 2. He also explained the recipeint must dress baby Jesus as well as it is unlucky to leave Jesus naked. Clementine tells us that Mexicans love any excuse to party!

We all cut into the cake with delight and anticipation - wondering what does this baby look like, how big is this baby, who will get the baby? Our biggest laugh was the thought that Schwartz might get the baby. Schwartz doesn't cook - except to make Ramen. Ramen all the time. Did you know you can buy 30 bags of Ramen on sale for about $3? That's right - and Schwartz loves Ramen. He was nervous when he cut into the cake, because if Schwartz got the baby, it was going to be Ramen for Jesus and Ramen for the rest of us. (Gads, I haven't eaten Ramen since college!).

Well, the only person who got the baby was Clementine. I am so looking forward to his cooking on February 2nd. The rest of the cake sits in our fridge - we couldn't finish it. He was a good sport and promptly found some felt and dressed baby Jesus in a poncho. Jesus is lucky to have a guy like Clementine in his life, and vice versa.


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Today's winning comment

Me: I'm going to set a goal weight and will you agree that when I reach it that we reward my effort by going to Ethiopia and doing the TESFA trek?
My husband: Yeah, let's do that.
Me: Really?
My husband: Yeah, and make it 5 lbs so that we can go really soon.

*laugh laugh laugh laugh*
Seriously, I miss Ethiopia every day. I want to see my young friends there. I want to see the countryside again. And, since we were there during rainy season I want to trek there with TESFA. It's a deal! I think it will take me a long plodding time to get there, but this is a great reward at the end of a long journey back to fitness and good health. I'm starting now.

Ringing in the new

Reading and standing up on all of the furniture is the best way to celebrate the new year! Blueberry is growing by leaps and bounds, too. To celebrate the end of 2008 he demonstrated his good health and development by impressing his pediatrician with statistics that include 85% for height and 70% for weight. Mr. Silly Pants and I are giddy with delight. Blueberry decided to celebrate his impressive growth with a very fussy night's sleep (not sleep, actually) and is now rewarding our calm evening efforts to get him back to sleep with a long and early nap today. Balance in everything, right?
Our wish for our blog readers in 2009 include splendid and delightful love and friendship, understanding and compassion in our communities, and determined acts of kindness to make this world brighter. Thank you, all of you, for your friendship and kindness "under the acacia tree."