Sunday, December 30, 2007

Neezer Gear!

Okay, I admit it: shopping for baby clothes is fun. I'd avoided it for a long time since my way of coping was to tell myself that we weren't going to hear about our baby until well into 2008, so why torture myself with an empty room stocked with baby stuff? And besides that, we didn't know if a boy or girl was in the cards for us, but now that we know... what fun.

With Portland being a hippie-dippie, recycling kind of town, it's easy to find good quality childrens' gear at consignment shops. I found a rack Saturday with all items only $1 a piece, so guess who stocked up?

I'm not a huge fan of the turtle overalls, but since they were just a dollar, I figured, what the hey? He can wear them this summer and get them dirty. I'm a big fan of kids clothes like the ones on the left in the above photo: clothes that just look like shrunken adult clothes. Kids are cute enough anyway: why guild the lily with cutesy characters?

Well...the cutesy characters rule doesn't apply to sleepers:
This tshirt he won't be able to wear for another year or so, but I'm keeping everything together. The "My Dad's a Geek" onesie: well now, is there really any question about that one?
We got these in Ireland this summer and stuffed them with grocery bags for our Christmas brunch prayer photo. We can't wait to fill them with Baby Rooney.

We have friends loaning us a Moses basket, a wooden high chair (love those things), and various other items. We're on the lookout now for good carseat and an Ergo Baby Carrier, plus all the other items on our list to travel with. A friend who's made two trips to Ethiopia with kids told me today to plan on one diaper per hour on the flight. She planned this way and used every stinkin' (literally) one of hers. Holy Crap.

So with this court date coming so soon, I've had the occasional moments of panic and general feeling of being absolutely overwhelmed with all that has to be done (and have I mentioned we're in the middle of a kitchen remodel?)...but then I take a look at that chubby, rosy, thumb-sucking little face, and all the worry fades. It's all going to be okay in the end, God willing, help us, Jesus.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Court Date and other things.

We're hoping baby Abenezer is ready to go from the warmth of Ethiopia to this: winter in the Pacific Northwest. I snapped this photo while driving up to Seattle yesterday to visit friends. And it seems that he may be here sooner than we expected! Mary called today with the surprising news that we have been assigned a court date on January 4th! As our friend Kelly K would say...Holy Crap! It's all wonderfully exciting but boy is there tons to do to get ready.
Yesterday while up in Washington, I got to sit betwixt two of my favorite women in the world, Carolee and Dee. I feel so blessed beyond measure to have these inspirations in my life. These folks know how to live well. Carolee makes me laugh and cry nearly every time I see her, by the little ways she has of doing things like jumping fully clothed into a swimming pool to relieve stress or like the time she made me cry at our Christmas party a couple of years ago by handing me a framed snapshot she had of Rich Mullins sitting on his porch with his dog. She knew that Rich is my hero and she even got to sing with him and everything. Carolee has the voice of an angel.

Dee is the most creative person I know, with a house filled with meaningful treasures and joyful things, like a framed portrait of her chickens. She gave us a basket of gifts yesterday, with stuff like fizzing bath crystals (ooh la la), green fuzzy baby socks, and an adoption-themed baby book. It's a treasure. It's called My Family, My Journey: a Memory Book. She also gave this book to "Ted and his boy," which made both of us cry. We love Dee and Chris.On my birthday, we finally got to try out the local Cajun/Creole place in town, which I was especially excited about. And Ted made me feel very special by splurging on a gift set of Lovely as well as all kinds of art supplies. Amidst all the preparations for Baby Rooney, I hope I have time to get to those... We also found out on my birthday how horrendously expensive diapers are. As Ted would say, Jiminy Christmas! So it looks like we'll be starting out with a big box from Costco and then transitioning to cloth diapers when we get home and settled in. Portland's a cloth diaper kind of town, so I'm sure we'll figure it out.

Christmas was a lot of fun, with Ted getting to change his very first diaper after Christmas dinner. He did great. We're lucky to have Baby E around to practice on--he and Baby Rooney are even the same age, though E is twice as heavy :) Here he is taking a nap on Aunt Lori during dinner. What a sweet snuggler. I can't wait for Baby E and Baby A to play together.
While opening presents Christmas day, it started to snow pretty hard, so all the neighbors ran outside. That was fun fun fun. Here we are with some of our favorite neighbors:
We did our best to include Baby Neezer (as Sophie Breedlove has been calling him) in our Christmas day brunch, so here's evidence of that. A little bit twisted? Or sweet? Weird? Oh well:
By the way, Ted is wearing here the sweater his mom knitted for him twenty years ago. He pulls it out every Christmas, like a good son should.

Finally, we got to do lots of singing and games too, like Apples to Apples: the Bible version...which is kind of trippy. On one of my turns as judge, my adjective was "wide," so despite being offered choices like the Nile River and the land of Canaan, how could I be a good Christian and not pick "the love of God," laid down by nephew Matthew?

Here are a couple of clips of the caroling that went on Christmas Eve. Ted's instructions to the crowd during "Feliz Navidad" is a nice example of what he likes to call his "stupid humor." He's awfully good at that.

And finally, I wanted to put the query out there (for anyone who's read this far) for advice on what the heck to take on this trip. We have a great list from our agency, and I've been reading travel tips from parents who've already gone, but I'd love to hear input/advice about traveling with a 7-month old baby. Any of you who have flown long distances with a baby: What items came in handy and which items just got in the way? I'd love to hear input.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Baby Got Back

That sweet girl with the mischievous smile standing here with me at my wedding--the same one who bravely karaoke sang "Whomp, There It Is" two days before our wedding in front of a large crowd of our friends and family, plus a few strangers--just sent me this video today, which has completely made my birthday! I love it! Thanks, SJ!

I hope you all had the best Christmas ever. I know we did. Pictures to follow. For now though, we're off to watch Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Last year on my birthday, it was Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny, so I'm sensing a theme here with rock music parodies...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Cloud Nine

So what's been going on with the Rooneys since last week? For one thing, my brain keeps misfiring. I can't think of simple words sometimes, I forget to eat, and I've felt like I've been existing on some other plane of reality. I'm guessing (and hoping) this wears off as reality sets in?

One thing that has surprised me is how quickly I've felt myself attaching to these precious photos we have of baby Abenezer. I had somehow convinced myself that I could remain guarded until we passed our court date, but that was before I'd seen a photo of that wide-mouthed gummy smile! So, I'm a goner: completely ga-ga over this little guy. I even brought his framed photo to church yesterday to show anyone who'd expressed even a passing interest in our adoption plans.

We've had fun celebrating in various ways this week. We finished up wrapping our Christmas packages last night and have them all nestled under the tree. I opened up one early, a bumper sticker made by our friends Rusty and Carrie, which says,
"Life is like having a bumper sticker. You believe in something strongly for a short period of time and display it proudly. When you've moved on, the idea refuses to let go completely, leaving marks and stickiness where it once was, embarrassing you until you eventually just cover it up with something just as dumb, hoping no one notices the lumps underneath." Rusty and Carrie are my cleverest friends.

We've also been eating things like this:

This one is called the "Queen of Sheba," so of course I had to order it. If you're ever in Portland, I highly recommend the shop Pix for dessert.

I didn't eat this one, but I thought it was really pretty anyway.

My friend Jana came to visit all the way from Slovakia, so we had fun showing her around Portland. Jana and I have been friends for ten years now. She likes to eat tortilla chips and salsa, even at breakfast:
We took a walk with Jana up on NW 23rd, a.k.a. Yuppie-ville U.S.A., where we found this John Cleese t-shirt hanging in a window. This Wednesday it will be four years since Ted proposed to me by giving me this "Ministry of Silly Walks" t-shirt. He said that part of his calling in life was to have a ministry of silly walks and he asked me join him. There's more to it than that, of course, but it's a whole other long story. Suffice it to say, it was a very original proposal. So we got all sentimental when we saw it, even going so far as to kiss on the street.

We've also had lots of time this week to visit with friends. We've never understood it when people say, "Oh, we'd love to get together but you know, with the busy holiday season, we may not be able to until January when things have calmed down." Huh? Isn't that what the holidays are for? To slow down and visit with friends? So here is Ted with one of his oldest--and I'd say best--friend Jim.
And here are some old friends of Ted's from high school. We got together with a group of them who are in town for the holidays, including one who is a genuine FBI Agent. You'd never know it to meet her: she seems pretty gentle in person, so I think it's pretty awesome to imagine her chasing down criminals with her pistol drawn. I put this picture here to point out the little photograph on the table. Anyone recognize that little face?

I'll leave you with a clip from one of my favorite Christmas movies. I hope you all have a blessed holiday, with lots of peace, joy, delicious treats, and some Christmas enthusiasm as displayed here:

Friday, December 21, 2007

New Photos!

Thank you Thank you THANK YOU Cortney and Lindsey for taking the time to pass these photos along to us. That, along with an all-day surprise visit from one of my oldest friends from Slovakia, Jana K, has made my day! And she came bearing Becherovka, so I think I know how the Rooney house will be celebrating tonight :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


The following is the email that Ted sent out yesterday to the Rooney yahoo group. With eight siblings, plus spouses and children and spouses of children plus their children, that's a lot of people to keep up with, hence our own Rooney yahoo group :) Feel free to "ooh and ahh" to your heart's content. I can't stop looking at this picture! Have you ever seen such amazing lips?!


Does this look like a Rooney at all to you?

Well, it is!!!

Lori and I wanted to introduce you to someone we met today. His name is Abenezer, and he is about 6 months old. We have decided to make him a big part of our lives, so you may be seeing a lot of him in the future. Our commitment toward this relationship is at least through him turning the age of 18. Sounds serious, huh? Well, we are actually committed up to the day we die, but after 18 the choice will be up to him, as well. So we hope he likes us.

My dear Rooney extended family. I just wanted to let you know as soon as we did that we got the referral for our Ethiopian child this morning and we are still in a bit of a daze. To read more, go to Lori's blog. We are not sure about his name, but we do like the name he was given (Means: "God has always helped us"--or so we hear), so it just may stick.
We'll let you know as things progress.
Much love.
Ted & Lori

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Soundtrack by Roberta

"His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him."--Charles Dickens, about Ebenezer Scrooge.

I woke up wide awake this morning at 5:00 am, worried because our little cat Buddy wasn't sleeping beside me like usual. In fact, the last I'd seen him was at 9:30 when he scampered out of the kitty door, miffed about all the noise going on in the house (we had friends over, with four kids running around).

I got up and called him, but he didn't come. I woke Ted up, and he got dressed and went walking around in the rain calling him. Ted does these sorts of things not because he's worried about Buddy but because he loves me. Sometimes I think I'm indulged more than I'm worth.
I managed to go back to sleep but all I dreamed about was Buddy getting lost or run over by a car or chased by coyotes. When I woke up again, Buddy still wasn't around, so I put on clothes and hat and walked around the block, checking the gutters and curbs know. My mind goes to that dark place. Sorry.

As I walked back home, the stupid cat comes running up to me, meeowing. Where he'd been, I have no idea. But I think I got a taste of what it means to parent a teenager who doesn't come home on time. I was happy to see him but a little mad at him too for making me have dark dreams about his violent demise.

Satisfied that all the living things in my care were safe again, I sat down at the computer with my hot cup of PGTips to read emails, many of which were sweet, encouraging comments from people about the Wait.

Half an hour later, the phone rang. It was Mary, our Gladney caseworker, and for about half a second, I thought it might be our referral call. But then I realized that we weren't going to hear about our referral until January, and Mary then started answering a question I'd emailed her about this week. Whew. She answered my question but didn't hang right up. She lingered. I didn't know what to say. I thought, "Uh, Mary? Aren't you kind of busy these days? Didn't I hear something about you guys working late nights lately? Shouldn't you be doing something important?"

It turns out that the important thing was to make sure I was seated because...she was calling about a certain little 6-month-old boy named Abenezer who is going to become Our Own Rooney! Yowzers!

Because Ted had his night disturbed by searching for our wayward lil' bastard, he was sleeping in. I went upstairs and found him hanging with Bang Bang. With his signature Rooney morning face, he gazed at me, but it was clear he wasn't getting it. When I gave him a thumbs up and mouthed the word "Referral!," he sprung out of bed. Later, he told me that at that moment it felt like it was Christmas morning and he'd overslept and was awakened with that news of an extra big surprise under the tree with his name on it.

The next half hour sitting in front of the computer was the most surreal moment of my life to date. As Mary went through all the information about this little guy, I only heard about half of it. My head was swimming, and the thing I never thought would happen did: I fell in love with a photograph. People, our little Christmas Abenezer Scrooge Rooney is STUNNING.

For all of you parents out there still in process, feeling overwhelmed by notaries, by having every intimate detail of your life scrutinized by strangers, by papercuts and signatures, and copy machines, by the hours spent pouring over blogs, by the occasional dumb question, and by the long, long wait: be of good faith! It's all worth it for the moment that you see that face.

I've been hearing Roberta Flack singing in my head all day "The first time ever I saw your face, I thought the sun rose in your eyes...," this beautiful, beautiful day.

PS: No, we are not naming him Christmas Abenezer Scrooge Rooney. And hang in there, pictures are coming :)

Monday, December 17, 2007

As We Wait...

We were sent this weekend through some family member I've never met a blog of someone they know who've adopted from Ethiopia, and looking at their photos of them home with their child, I got this longing ache. It physically hurt. I guess this is what comes upon entering the magical 3-5 month period we were told it would take for our referral to come. Until last week, I hadn't let myself think about it, knowing that it was too early. But could happen anytime, and that ache is a real killer. I sent an email this morning to another Waiting Mom with the subject line simply "Sigh."

This is my prayer. I wish I could take credit for having written it because I think it's the best blessing I've heard...maybe ever.

"May all your expectations be frustrated. May all your plans be thwarted. May all your desires be withered into nothingness that you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God who is Father, Son, and Spirit. Amen."

Let go, let go, let go. Thank you, Jesus, for Brennan Manning's spiritual mentor, the author of this blessing. Thank you for our friends Nan and Dave who sent us to these retreat talks. Thanks for loving me as I am, not as I think I should be. Thank you for "Me and My Arrow," roasted pecan dip on snow peas, and Full Sail Wassail. Thanks for giving Blind Kitty a home. Thanks for giving me a man who cries at Will Smith movies. Thank you for friends who forgive me when I forget to call them back and thank you for and the friends I've found there.

Thank you for our baby(s), wherever he/she/they may be.


Brennan Manning

We just now found out through a friend at our church in Los Angeles that Brennan Manning, my number one favorite Christian writer, spoke at a recent retreat. Ragamuffin Gospel and Abba's Child changed my life, absolutely. I was excited to hear that his talks at the retreat are online for download. I haven't listened to them yet, but I wanted to put the word out to any other ragamuffins who might be interested in hearing a Seasonal dose of grace.

Go here to listen. You'll get to hear lines like this one:

"Aristotle said I'm a rational animal. I say I'm an angel with an incredible capacity for beer. That's the real Brennan."

PS: Our friend Dave suggested turning the volume way up, as Mr. Manning has gotten pretty feeble of late and mumbles/slurs sometimes.


This has been making us laugh...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever

My friend Melissa gave us this quilt last week as an early Christmas gift. She made it herself. The only thing I've ever sewn in my life, at age 19 because my mother made me, was a tent dress made with fabric in the "kountry kitchen" style with chicken feed labels and black-eyed pea cans all over it. I think it was supposed to be used for curtains...very ugly curtains. And I got carpal tunnel syndrome in my wrists and forearms from the sewing experience, so I haven't gone back to it since. Because I'm so lacking in crafty talent, I'm always impressed by people like Melissa who manage to put such beautiful things together with their own heads and hands.

It got me thinking about a few beautiful things in my life lately, starting with this quilt. You can check out the other things Melissa has available at her shop at etsy. She sells a lot of things in stores around Portland too. I'm proud of her and the way she manages to work full time, take care of her gorgeous kids, and make such beautiful things.

Another beautiful thing can be found here, at the blog of a 2007 Photobloggies Award nominee. The other nominees are great too, but hers is my favorite.

I find these prints, made by fellow Gladney-ite Jana, especially beautiful and meaningful. I think she needs to do more of these because she's very good at it. Then she can teach me how to do them.

I must have a thing for men in period costumes because I find this, this, and this oh so dashing and gorgeous (I'm the lucky girl actually married to one of these men!).

Finally, I've always loved ballet, ever since I was a little girl (pre-fat days) and met Kathy Thibodeaux right before her performance in The Nutcracker. I thought she was the most beautiful thing I'd ever set my young eyes on. Not long after that, the movie Six Weeks, starring Dudley Moore, Mary Tyler Moore (who I thought looked just like my mom in this movie), and Katherine Healy, came out, and I'd watch it every time it came on HBO. I always loved this scene as a little girl, thinking that playing Clara would have been the best thing in the entire world. And (spoiler alert), no matter how many times I saw it, I cried every time I saw this scene because I knew her days were numbered. I loved this movie.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Good Samaritan

Ted has this habit of getting into the car, turning the ignition, putting the car in gear, and then clicking his seatbelt on after he's already started driving. When he does this, I tend to make the Marge Simpson sigh/growl, which he knows is his reminder that I prefer he not get killed or maimed in a car accident. He doesn't do it as much as he used to, and maybe after what happened this week to my mom, he'll remember even more.

My mom, seen here dancing with Ted at our wedding, came upon a wreck one morning this week on her early-morning drive to work. Cars ahead of her were swerving off to the shoulder to avoid the wreckage, so she did the same. Once she stopped, she saw that one young woman was standing outside her car next to the body of a man curled in fetal position on the side of the road.

My mom told my little brother to stay in the car (he rides to school with her) while she got out to check on the man. The paramedics had been called, but this man was in bad shape, and Momma said she couldn't just stand there and do nothing.

She's been a registered nurse for more than thirty years, so she knew what to do but felt frustrated by her lack of equipment. She'd had experience in trauma cases like this before, but only in an emergency room, not on the side of a freeway. She found that he had a pulse but his breathing was very labored. The young woman standing next to him had seen the accident and said that she counted ten times that the man bounced on the pavement before stopping. He'd not been wearing a seatbelt and had been thrown from the truck. Obviously, he was in bad shape.

So my mom weighed the options, and she knew that, despite her lack of gloves and anything sterile, she couldn't live with herself if she didn't at least help him breathe. So she said a prayer, asking God to protect her from the risk of contaminated blood and with her bare hands, cleared his air passageway. He took a deep breath then, but his pulse was weakening, and by this time firemen had arrived and could move him onto a board.

After they'd done this, my mom could see the full extent of his massive injuries and started doing chest compressions. She continued doing this while hearing the local news stations' helicopters flying overhead. (She told me today how angry she felt then, thinking 1. how intrusive this was to the injured man and his family and 2. how ridiculous it is that news stations have the money for helicopters but hospitals don't and that things could have gone much differently if a medical chopper could have whisked him away rather than having to wait for an ambulance to make its way through miles of stalled traffic).

The medics finally arrived, but quickly after getting him into the ambulance, they pronounced him dead. My mom turned and saw the same young woman standing there watching all of this, so she went to her, put her arm around her violently shaking shoulders and asked how she was. She had never seen someone die before. My mom then got back into her car and realized for the first time how cold she was--she'd not noticed until getting back into the heated car that it was only 32 degrees outside. She and my brother drove back home so that she could clean herself up.

I was so proud of my mother and get teary every time I think about what happened. Of all the people who could have happened so quickly upon this accident, my mom couldn't have been more perfect for that situation. Not only did she know exactly what to do, but she did it with compassion. Upon first feeling the man's pulse, she had a bystander go find some I.D. so that she could address him by name. She leaned next to him and spoke directly to him, calling him by name and letting him know that he wasn't alone. As awful as this accident was, it's also good that hopefully he knew that a caring someone was there with him in his final moments.

He was 27 years old, with a wife and son.

We were talking today about what happened, and one thing Momma said was that she was making sure from now on that she had a box of latex gloves in her car, plus a first aid kit and a blanket. We were also talking about the importance of more people having at least a basic understanding of CPR and first aid. She was telling me how simple it can actually be to keep someone alive in the crucial minutes it takes for help to arrive and how any average Joe could do it. Apparently most fire stations will give free classes on CPR if you can organize a group of people to come. This has inspired me to try to get one of these classes together in our neighborhood.

All this got me thinking about the practical side of being a good samaritan. It's not just having compassion and generosity, though those things are certainly important. If I have a giving heart, I should also have in my car things like a first aid kit, latex gloves, a small box of nonperishable food, a list of all the shelters in my area, a blanket to give to someone who is cold, an extra hat and coat too.

I'm not sure how to wrap this up except to say how proud I am to be my mother's daughter. She's been a hero to many, like the countless special needs foster kids she's taken care of through the years and the family whose father she gave one of her kidneys to (yes, you heard me right--she gave away her kidney, and she's a bone marrow donor too). This week, she rose once again to the occasion, being the comforting hands and voice to someone crossing over, to someone who would have died alone had she not been there to gently say his name.

Please wear your seatbelt.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Because this is who I was as a 10-year-old...

(notice napkin firmly in place for next feeding)

...I can laugh at things like this, knowing my inner fat-kid now knows her way around an eliptical trainer and does yoga:

Fat Kid Successfully Avoids Ridicule By Swimming With Shirt On

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Little Tykes

The couple we have staying with us this week through Hospitality Club make me feel old. I like them and all, but it's hard for me to get used to the fact that I'm not in my mid-20's anymore like they are. They both have this "youthful optimism" (to use a cliche) and wide-eyed wonder at a lot of things, like all the vegetarian offerings at Trader Joe's and the surround-sound in our basement (which the previous owners of our house installed).

They both just returned from their stints in Peace Corps-Macedonia, so they're in that weird reentry culture shock that I so much remember. It's nice though--they think nothing of walking the little trek from our house to the closest light-rail station and they came on this trip to Portland with the attitude of "Yes! We will move here! We will get jobs and find an apartment all this week!"

They go to bed early and get up early and cook big eggy breakfasts before setting off on their days, which are no doubt full of optimism. Even the weather seemed to follow them: it'd been downpouring for days before they came but the sun came out on their first morning here. Granted, it's raining again today, but I'm sure they're taking it in stride. They've got their love to keep them dry.

And interestingly, they were just visiting last week with a Macedonian Peace Corps recruiter who I knew in Slovakia. He taught me to make cucumber salad. I even have a picture of Igor on this salad-making day to show them. Small world, as they say.

Another little tyke we've taken in this week is a blind/deaf cat who showed up at our church Sunday morning. I have no idea what to do with this thing. He was shivering and wet and oh so pathetic, so of course we brought him home. We bathed him and fed him and didn't complain too bad when he pooped out some weird, hard stuff with lots of hair in it onto our bathmat (sorry for being so gross). He's still a kitten and is actually pretty cute, but he makes me so so so sad.

Since Sunday, he's perked up a bit. His poops are more normal (I know this because he won't go in the box, only on the floor--though he will pee in the box, which means I get to clean poo every day, hurray!) and he's been trying to explore his surroundings a bit more by walking head-down until he bumps his head on a wall.

I really don't know what to do with him. I've tried giving him to one of the "no-kill" shelters, but they're all full, and I know the chances of some kind soul choosing a blind kitten to take home from the humane society are pretty slim. No one has claimed him from the ad I put on craigslist either. I keep hoping I can find someone in a retirement home to take him. He's just the most vulnerable, helpless little thing, not an ounce of scrappy stray-cat in him. Sigh.

According to the Breedlove's countdown, we're now on week 11 or something Waiting. Just so you know.

I leave you with this clip I sneaked during the preshow of the play Ted just finished directing. He led the preshow for the first two performances. I call this piece "Christmas Gusto." I wish you all could see the energy that man has on stage.