Monday, December 29, 2008

A Rooney Christmas

Because of the awful weather for the first two or so weeks in December, we had the chance to hang out with our neighbors a lot. During the summer, we tend to congregate in the street for all the kids to play, but we usually don't see so much of each other when the weather gets wet. It was a lot of fun during the holidays to meet up for impromptu sledding gatherings and visit each other's houses for "Winter Solstice" parties and a "Fishmas" party (yes, it was fish-themed).

I found it funny that when we walked into the Fishmas party, the gaggle of kids already there ran up to us to whisk Abe away while shouting to the host, "Abie is here! Abie is here!" Ted and I, as parents and grown-ups, are officially invisible to the neighborhood kids. It's all about the Abie-baby.

At this same party, I ended up in the kitchen with two other moms and got to experience for the first time the excitement all parents feel about preparing gifts for their kids. The party was on the 23rd, so these two moms were whispering excitedly about all the last-minute things they had to do to get ready for Christmas morning. From a birds' eye view, we were three heads pushed together, conspiring over cups of fizzy blackberry holiday ale. Of course, I got teary, aware of the moment, thankful for being a part.

On Christmas Eve, we hosted an impromptu gathering of the Portland family since everyone was snowed in. We went to a Christmas Eve service and then met at our house for food and drink, most importantly, this Christmas miracle that Ted brought:

Ted had stopped by a neighborhood liquor store for rum for the eggnog and found Becherovka, my beloved Czech herbal liqueur. Mm, mm, mm. It has been very difficult to find this in the U.S., so I am officially thrilled that a continuous supply is in walking distance to our house.

The good thing about having the people around is the constant supply of book readers for Abe. Here, Chris reads Abe his new book from Aunt Annie and Uncle Paul. Thanks, guys!

Abe has no idea what presents await him, doesn't even get the concept of presents, but no matter: he's ready to get this show on the road.

Christmas morning, Ted tries on his new PJs. Abe much prefers the Grinch to Santa. Santa is bad, bad, bad. Abe has major Santa-issues, does not like him one bit.

After opening all his retro fischer-price toys from us, the big prize is brought out: the rocking horse from Granny.

And somehow, on cue, it started snowing again in the afternoon, so thick that getting pictures was difficult.

Everyone came back over for a big Christmas Day dinner. Here, Ted is telling the story about the day he fooled his poor mother into thinking he'd joined a cult. It is truly a great story. I should've recorded it.

I'll leave you with this clip of Abe on his new "woah-woah" (phone) rocking out to Bob Dylan singing "This ole Man" from a CD my mom sent.


I watched Oliver! the other night for the first time and rank this up there with Fiddler on the Roof, my favorite musical. I stayed up until 1am, well after everyone else had gone to bed, to finish it. This song broke my heart. It's in the first half hour of the movie, and even with Abe up and running around the room, it was taking all I had in me to hold it together during this song.
Will I ever know the sweet "hello"
That's meant for only me?
Who can say where she may hide?
Must I travel far and wide?
'Til I am bedside the someone who
I can mean something to ...

...and seriously, my husband was born to play the role of Fagan...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Another Year, Another Self-Flogging

I started out this year's birthday festivities by celebrating the sinking feeling that came at midnight by going to bed and writing down all the things I hate about myself. Of course, one thing on my list is that I am half-empty. There were many other things, like how selfish, lazy, drifting, and distracted I can be. I am too sensitive, get my feelings hurt too easily, care about ridiculous things that I should be able to let go of. This list filled two pages. Writing it all down helped me somehow to fall asleep.

I woke up, came downstairs, made coffee, piddled, logged in to facebook. Ted wished me happy birthday (he's always up way before I am). I saw that I had 43 "new notifications" on facebook. I started crying. Ted sat down on the floor by my chair and put his head in my lap while I cried.

Pathetic, no?

I wasn't crying over being another year older. I was crying because I felt overly-blessed. The self-loathing kicked back into hyper-drive, and I thought, "Who are these people wishing me happy birthday? Don't they know these gross things about myself I so meticulously wrote down last night?"

Lest you think I am clinically depressed: I am now fine. I even managed to have fun today. But I think the mood started the night before, Christmas evening, when my sensitivity to noise kicked into overdrive, and I had to run away, not from my family, but from the noise they have every right to make--especially on a boisterous holiday like Christmas--so that I could take in the quiet of our snowy neighborhood for a half-hour by myself. Lori the Introvert was hoping to recharge the batteries by walking by herself in the snow. Except. I just ended up kicking myself for not being able to take it, for being weak, for being selfish, for not doing more with my life, for letting opportunities fly past me, for so often choosing comfort over charity, for constantly failing at being the person I want to be...

I almost always fail at resolutions. The one I tried to keep last year was to remember people's birthdays. But I didn't. I so admire my friend Stephanie who remembers, not just your birthday, but also your brother's--the one she's never met--and all three of your cats' to boot. For a while, she had a sign hanging in her kitchen saying "Live Your Values." No point in talking about them if you're busy doing them. That's how I feel about resolutions. I'd rather just do them than talk about them.

I'd also rather live my values than talk about them. But I fail so often at living my values. And this is what I was beating myself up about last night and this morning. I was inspired by the many well-wishes from people all over the place who know me a little or a lot, all who took the time to wish me well. What a seemingly little thing to tell someone, "Happy Birthday!" But today, for me, the big collective Wish from those I love inspired me to forgive myself a little bit. This group of people lived my value for me, my failed resolution from last year to remember birthdays. They remembered mine in spite of my failure, failure both to remember theirs and all my other many many many failures in general. It felt kind of redemptive.

Is that crazy? Am I overthinking this? Maybe. But I was inspired today not to focus on all the ways I have failed. I simply want my mantra this year to be, "Lori, Live Your Values."

I know, I know, enough with the introspective crappola. Where are the pictures of Abe opening presents? They're coming.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Our world action!

Despite being pretty much housebound (okay, not driving, but doing lots of walking around the neighborhood), life is feeling pretty good. It's definitely never felt more like Christmas than right now.

Something we love about Abe is that he is not easily frustrated, as evidenced here:

This video is from Sunday:

And the same hill today, after a few more inches of snow. Not as exciting:

So to make things more interesting, everyone started sledding down the public staircase:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow Week

What our world looks like right now:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Referral Day Anniversary

It was almost exactly this time a year ago that I was sitting at the computer, enjoying the quiet morning, when just after 9:00am, Mary from Gladney called with the news about a little boy named Abenezer. Together, Ted and I tried our best to listen to the information Mary was telling us while we looked at pictures like this one:
He seemed so fragile, so small. I'd told myself from the beginning of the process that I was not going to get attached until we'd passed court.

Yeah, whatever.

I still so admire those who can pull this off. But I couldn't. It was impossible for me, and what a gut-wrenching three months were ahead of me...little did I know.

A year ago today, now to this:What an unbelievable year. Love, love, love. Thank you, my dear friends in this community, for caring, for giving support and love, comments galore, packages mailed and prayers. In case you missed it, our referral day post is here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sledding in Portland

It's been a while since we posted a video, so with all the snow in Portland, this is as good a time as any. Sunday was the big "snow-day" here, but none of it has melted at all since then, so we bundled up this afternoon and went to a park to introduce Abe to the wonders of sledding.

One thing I love about Ted is his love for quirky objects like the hat he has on in this video, which he's been wearing every time we go out in the cold. He got it during his years in New York City, where he used to ride his bike around Manhattan in the hat. Except, he didn't like to be hunched over while he rode (he's a tall guy), so he turned his handle-bars upside down so that he could sit straight up.

Lanky Ted + upside-down handlebars + the streets of Manhattan + this amazing hat = notoriety. He'd go to work or auditions or for coffee and folks would say, "Oh yeah, you're the guy who rides his bike in that hat."

I heart Ted. I heart Abe. I heart fuzzy hats. I heart Abe in his Oompa-loompa outfit.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Happy 18-month birthday, Babe. We love you mucho mucho, even Bang Bang.
please excuse my dirty kitchen floor.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Photos, Socket update

Joy takes lovely photos:
puckered up at Le Happy

chipmunk cheek with breakfast at home

Thanks for all the concern about my shoulder. I'm going to the doctor tomorrow morning.

Two Holiday-related things:

For Twilight fans, this video is chock full of amusement.

If you like sleep, don't watch this video. I couldn't fall asleep the other night from this song being stuck in my head. That aside, it's becoming one of my favorite Christmas songs.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


So tonight, I'm sitting on my couch with Abe playing at my feet, Joy to my left, and Amy across from me. I pull Abe's barn out of the toybox, but some of the plastic animals fall out in the "no-no" area to my right: on the floor beside the couch. Abe wants his plastic animals. Joy is in the midst of telling me a touching story about how difficult it is to explain to children what "happy tears" are. I want to pay attention to this story, so instead of turning my back to Joy to grab the plastic barn animals off the floor, I end up sort of arching my back and leaning up, with my head still facing left (towards Joy) and my right arm reaching down and behind me to grab the toys.

I try too hard to be polite because what followed was about 3 seconds of excruciating pain.

My shoulder popped out of its socket.

I was speechless, quietly gasping for breath (still trying to be polite), while my right arm is incapacitated. I don't know what to do. I'm panicking, wondering how in heck I'm going to get my arm back into the socket, and as quietly and politely as possible please. For one or two of those three long seconds, everything is black.

I sit back up, facing forward, and this makes the arm pop back into its socket. The searing pain subsides to be over-taken by a dull lingering one (still painful now as I write this). I regain vision to find Abe at my feet staring blankly and Amy across from me looking slightly disgusted.

I think Joy asked if I was okay.

"Oh yeah, I think my arm just popped out of its socket...okay, no, I'm fine, it's what were you saying about happy tears?"

Yeah, I'm slightly freaked out by this. Ted said it's because I'm weak, and a friend from our church in L.A. confirmed this by telling me less bluntly that I might want to "consider seeing a physical therapist about strengthening the surrounding muscles to decrease the chance of it happening again."

Wait. Does this mean I have to start going back to the gym?

On a sidenote: it's been fun having Joy and Amy around. I love showing folks around Portland, where we keep it weird, dislocated shoulders and all.

Update--two hours later: I'm up, unable to sleep, and not just plain-ol' insomnia like usual. My shoulder hurts too bad. Crappy crap crap crap.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

GQ Men of the year

I take photos like this one because, well, you never know what the future might hold...

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things

Currently, a few favorite things about my son.

1. He laughs so hard when I tickle his sides that his lips turn blue.

2. I often catch him standing in front of the piano, looking at his reflection, and making faces at himself, trying out new ones, perfecting the old.

3. He occasionally enters the room where I am with wide eyes, saying "no-no" to let me know that he'd just been pulling ornaments off the Christmas tree or putting paper in the toilet. He's a confessor.

4. He finds birds sitting on top of tall buildings, microscopic at the long distance, and tells me while pointing, "Bir, bir."

5. When he wants me to pick him up, he's starting to now say "up," clear as day, no longer grunting and pulling on my leg.

6. Now that he's learned now to say the /s/ sound, he has the most lovely "yes" I've ever heard. It's perfect, sort of like "yash."

7. While he is extremely sociable, shaking hands with everyone and letting many read him books and hold him, if he's hurt, he goes to Mom for consolation.

8. He snores pretty loudly when he sleeps, just like his dad.

If you want to read something beautiful, go here. These words left me with an ache in my chest. I heart Julie. She's always on the top of my list of people to see when we are in California. What a beautiful soul.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Black Kids in White Houses

Over a year ago, I joined a message board dedicated to Ethiopian adoption. I can count on one hand the number of times I have posted, partly due to the negative and reactionary tone often found on this board. People often get "flamed," and misunderstandings run rampant. I remain a member though because I want to be exposed to what is going on in the world of Ethiopian adoption, whether I agree with the viewpoints expressed there or not.

Recently, someone on the board linked this article, which I strongly recommend you read. It's caused quite a bit of debate, which I completely understand. These are hard things to read. Reading this article produced in me the same feelings I had when reading a group of blogs I found last year about
adult adoptees who were chronicling their search for their biological roots and discussing how awful it was for them to have been adopted. These blogs, full of truth and bitterness, um...freaked me out. A lot. "Black Kids in White Houses" made me scared that one day Abe is going to look at us with bitterness and tell us that "love wasn't enough" (one of the claims the article supports).

It is a lot to try to go into in a short amount of time (namely, while Abe is taking a nap), but one thing I came away with after reading this article is that the adoptive families that "failed" did so because of an attempt by the parents to be "color-blind." As parents of a child of a different race, we can never ignore the reality of racism that our children are going to face when they are older. This is so much a no-brainer to me. And I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Any parents adopting a child of a different race is doing their child a disservice if they don't read books like In Their Own Voices. We must must must listen to what adult transracial adoptees have to say about their experiences growing up in a family that doesn't look like them.

I mull over these issues every single day. That is my responsibility as a parent of an African child, a responsibility that I must take seriously. I will do my best to nurture in Abe a pride in his Ethiopian heritage, all while hopefully inter-twining the Irish/Scottish/German/American Southern roots that he gets from Ted and me. We'll probably be eating a lot of Guiness stew, with spaetzle, injera, and black-eyed peas. We'll all get grafted in to each other into a very unique family tree.

Such is my hope, but it is easy to be overcome by fear when I read transracial adoption horror stories. I'd been feeling some of that fear lately, and yesterday afternoon in Home Depot, we had an encounter with a man that left both Ted and me in tears, good tears.

While Ted was ordering paint, Abe and I were looking at the displays of Santa figurines. I was delighted to find a row of brown-skinned Santas, and while I was poring over them, an African American man approached us and said, "Ah, I see you're looking at the black Santas because of your boy there." I smiled and nodded and he said a few words to Abe before walking away, though he kept looking at us from a distance.

Ted got there soon after and I showed him the Santa I'd picked out. As we were walking to the register, the man approached us again. Many times when people see Abe with only one of us, they assume that one of his parents is African-American. But I suppose that after seeing both of Abe's parents, the man realized that he had been adopted, so he came up to us to ask us about that.

It turns out that this man had also been adopted into a white family as an infant. I was so excited to hear what he had to say to us. He first expressed to us what a good thing adoption is. His parents adopted another African-American child after him, and he told us about how good it was for him to grow up with a sibling that looked like him.

I asked him if his parents had a very d
iverse community of friends, and he said, "no." He explained that his adolescence was extremely difficult. Finding a place where he fit was very hard for him. But he then said that his father, a professor, did his best to try to understand what it meant to raise an African-American son, not just a white son. I wish he'd had more time for us to ask him more about this.

Finally, I asked him what advice he would give to people like us, white parents trying to raise children of African descent. My heart was actually beating faster as I waited for his answer. I was hanging on his every word.

His answer?

"Just make sure you love him. Let him know every day how much you love him, and it's all going to turn out okay."

A lump rose in my throat as I fought back tears. I looked at strong Ted, and saw the tears already in his eyes. We both thanked the man and Ted told him that this is the one thing we know that we'll do right in raising Abe.

I know that it's naive to think that love is everything. We still need to do the work of educating ourselves about issues of race and adoption, but I was so comforted to hear from a man who is personally and acutely aware of the difficulties of being raised in a white family, that quite possibly, love can have the power to cover the mistakes that we will surely make as parents of an African child.

So maybe love isn't everything, but it surely accounts for a heck of a lot.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I've been slowly being inspired by things like the "craziness" of the holidays to write again...but not quite yet. In the meantime, I've been doing a lot of reading, and this evening, I read a lovely piece by our friend Danni, the mother of the amazing Judah. This piece explains perfectly the gratitude I feel for the women who loved our children while we were waiting to get to them. Not all children have this. I sometimes refer to myself as Abe's "third and final (hopefully) mother." It would be absolutely wrong to ever discount his mother by birth and the mothers who took care of him in the Gladney home until I got there.

Go read what Judah's mother has to say here.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Week in Pictures

Last weekend, this group arrived an hour early to be first in line, ahead of all the 12-year-old girls, for the Saturday night viewing of a wonderfully awful movie about vampires. The lovely lady who brought us all together (bottom left) made the matching t-shirts and was the first to erupt in laughter at the melodrama. Good stuff, very fun.

On Tuesday, my sister arrived all the way from Mississippi to spend Thanksgiving with us. She started out by buttering Abe up with some strawberry-rhubarb pie.

Then she bought him her kids' favorite book, Goodnight Moon.

She also delivered this barn, all the way from our mom's house. It was the favorite toy of our little brother when he was a toddler. Some bits are even chewed up from little Jon teeth. Sweet. Abe loves it, though it's currently tied for favorite toy with that blue toilet brush you see in the photo. Abe prefers "real" objects to play with, so he's been running about lately with the toilet brush and a very large shoe-horn, both of which I bought for $1 a piece at Ikea.

Abe is officially bonded to his Aunt T.

Thanksgiving Day, we spent with family in Corvalis. Abe and cousin E spent loads of time sitting on this step reading books.

And in true Oregonian fashion, Abe went skateboarding with the cousins after dinner in the rain.

Waiting for dinner with Uncle E.

And best thing of all: Aunt T taught us that turning the flap down on Abe's hat nearly always lulls him to sleep, which comes in handy for full days of thrift shopping.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Tag

1. I am thankful for my grandparents, who took me to Dairy Queen every Friday before piano lessons, who let me pull the Christmas bell over and over, who made or bought Easter dresses for me every year until I was in college, who let me play in the workshop and the fishing boat with virtually no constraints, who invited all 10 of us for Sunday dinner every single week, who took those same 10 to Disneyworld...twice, who let me live with them off an on through college, who came to my class while student teaching to recite "The Cremation of Sam McGee" on Halloween and convince at least half that it was a real story, who love us all without conditions, and who showed us what marriage should look like.

2. I am thankful that my mother, despite our differing opinions, respects me and emails me to tell me so and then keeps her heart open enough to pass along stories that support "my side." She is a true example of grace, of peace-making, and of love being the bottom-line.

3. I am thankful that my dad takes us all to Merlefest every year, sets up camp for us, and leaves us with a fresh pot of coffee before he leaves for his festival responsibilities each day. I am thankful for his bleeding heart, that he leaves messages on my phone "from Pappy to Abe." I am thankful that he has embraced his newest grandchild as tightly as he has and that he calls sometimes just to tell me he loves me.

4. I am thankful for my oldest friends, the ones who knew me at age 13 and know me now and who still love me. They are my connecting threads. My life would feel diluted without them. Every time we visit (not nearly enough) or talk on the phone, I am filled with gratitude that they are still in my life, that we are "weathering life's storms" together, even from great distances, that they are often-times closer than a brother or sister. I am also thankful for the blogging friends I have made in the last year, people who get me like few do--I know for a fact that we're going to know each other for many years to come.

5. I am thankful for every night of sleep I get. I am thankful for the makers of ambien, tylenol pm, simply sleep, down comforters, fuzzy socks, box fans, and earplugs (all the things necessary for me to sleep).

6. I am thankful that I have daily access to clean water. I am thankful that Scott Harrison's heart of flesh compelled him to bring together other hearts of flesh to bring clean water to others. I am also thankful that Children's Hope Chest exists to keep us connected to Ethiopia and to the children there.

7. I am eternally thankful for Mary, Natalie, Belay, Dr. Tiluhun, the caregivers at Gladney, our drivers, Wegayu, and all the many other heroes who worked so diligently to bring Abe to us, to make him "our own Rooney."

8. I am thankful that I have a man who loves me in spite of my neurosis, extreme reactions, hyperbolic style of exposition (i.e. "talking out of my ass"), and insomnia. I am thankful that he says he's sorry as easily as he does. I am thankful that he takes out the trash/recycling every week and brings me store-bought coffee most Sunday mornings before I've woken up.

9. I am thankful for the leaders in the civil rights movement whose hard, sacrificial work I'm currently reaping the benefits of every day by being able to raise a son of African descent in a country full of good people of all races who have the vision to see beyond their differences. I pray I will honor their bravery by teaching Abe about them, eventually even being able to read Abe his Martin Luther King board book without breaking down in tears on every page.

10. I am thankful for our modern day court jesters, like Tina Fey for filling Tracey Morgan's and Alec Baldwin's mouths with the words that make me laugh out loud every week. I am similarly thankful for Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant (on whom I have a "nerd girl crush") for writing scenes like this one.

11. I am thankful that Stacie will understand that I couldn't leave out two smaller things I am grateful for: Southwest Airline coupons that allow us to fly really cheap, and Goodwill superstores that allow me to clothe myself thriftily and stock our library with $0.49 children's books.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I now tag: Beka, Joy, Courtney, Julie, and Meredith.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Delightfully Weird...updated with photos!

When Ted and I were dreaming of who our children would be, we'd often pick out the most off-beat kid at some gathering and say, "We want one like that." It was usually the quirky-looking boy in a striped polo shirt talking excitedly about his collection of old Beatles records or the buck-toothed little girl with the uneven haircut in our Kids Church class who knew the puppets weren't real but would be the first one to talk to them anyway. You know: the kid with imagination, spunk, and total lack of self-consciousness.

It may be too early to say, but we think we may have hit the weird-jackpot with our Abie Baby. Here are a few examples:

The first time that Abe danced in earnest, completely entranced in the song, going so far as to incorporate numerous dance moves within those four minutes was the first time we played "Abie Baby" from the musical Hair, sent to us by one of Ted's brothers. I have a video of his performance but won't post it because of some pretty family-unfriendly language in the song, but if you come to our house, ask us, and we'll show you. It's a ground-breaking performance.

As mentioned before, Abe's favorite youtube video is with Lisa Loeb, the Queen of Quirk.

The one thing we can count on Abe eating anytime is cold broccoli, which he calls "boo-ah" and bananas, which he calls "bwwwwa."

Currently, the toy that Abe wants to play with first thing in the morning is his purple Hanna Montana fan that I got at Big Lots for our trip to Ethiopia. It's one of those fans you can put around your neck and use for cramped spaces, like the backseat of cars in Addis Ababa.

Abe's ability to make weird faces continues. He's moved on from mere silly faces to dramatic ones. In the mornings over breakfast is when he's at his best with the cinematic looks. He's pretty much perfected brooding, menacing that borders on truly evil, skeptical, and surprised. I know people accuse me of teaching him these faces (Cindy C.), but really: I only copy what he does first. The following photos were taken tonight at dinner:

Anyone interested in some jello puddin' pops?

Bella, I love you, yet I'm so intoxicated by the scent of your sweet, sweet blood...

...just kidding, that brooding vampire performance is convincing, I know. But really, I'm just an angel--notice my sweetly folded hands.

Boo-yah! Egg on your face!

Abe's affirmative answer for something he really truly wants to do is like this:
Me: Abe, do you want to read some gooks? (what he calls books)
Abe: Uuuhhh Yah Yah Yah Yah Yah!!!! (while nodding furiously)

Abe's hair is starting to resemble Don King's when he skips a day with conditioner. It seems to have grown a few inches in the last couple of months, and if he sleeps with the top of his head squished against the crib, he wakes up with it straightened out pretty much. But it stands straight up. Hence, Don King.

Yes, Abe is in the back of Dad's El Camino, wearing his "I'm small, but I rock" shirt.

Ever since he started walking, Abe's will is out in full force. Well, lots of changes have happened since he started walking. My personal favorite is how he likes to pull his diaper down to his hips so that he has the plumber crack going. I have a photo of this plumber-impression but hesitate to post it. Wouldn't want to embarrass Abe, I guess. But believe me--it's pretty adorable. If you come to our house, I'll show you.

Finally, Abe much prefers to shake hands like the diplomat/politician that he is, but if he knows you well enough, he'll give you five. Just don't overdo it, as I do here. This odd gesture of putting his right hand by the side of his head and saying "ooh" is Abe's way of saying that you need to take it down a notch. Abe prefers subtlety in his acting, a true sign of theatrical greatness.

Finally, look who's heading to Ethiopia tomorrow! This post made me cry. I love Jana. And I can't wait to meet Miss R.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Surreality and an Opportunity

Every week that has gone by for the last month leaves me shaking my head wondering where the time went. I haven't managed to write about much of importance for a while now. Part of the reason for this is that we have been sick...or I have been sick for an entire month. Wah, wah, wah, poor me, I know. I've been fighting colds and sinusitis for weeks, determined not to let it slow me down. The infectious snot that has taken up residence in the cavities of my skull depletes the potential for articulate thought.

The other thing leaving me shaking my head is the amount of time us Rooneys have spent on airplanes the last couple of months. One or both of us are back and forth from Portland to Los Angeles on a weekly basis. And we've had to cancel two trips out to Dallas for the past two weekends due to work conflicts for Ted, one of which had him flying first-class to Bogota, Columbia this week where he spent most of the day Wednesday in the role of a deranged mental patient who froze all his cats...and then his wife.

I could never make something like that up.

One upside through all of this is that Abe has become the master traveler. He really is a lot of fun to travel with. Unlike both of his parents, he is an extrovert who relishes the chance to have a captive audience on an airplane. He loves to stand up on the seat to wave at and shout "hi!" to all the lucky passengers behind him. When we got off the plane in San Jose and waited for our stroller to arrive, he'd make eye contact with each passenger walking past us down the ramp so he could make his face. "The face" is the one he's making here:
How fun for both Abe and his mom to watch at least 50% of the passengers smile, keep walking two or three steps, and then turn around to make "the face" right back at us. Abe would squeal in happiness each time he got "the face" from someone. Oh, the joy our son brings to people.

Only twenty minutes after waking up this morning, I found myself sitting at the computer in tears at the video I will include at the end of this post. While we were in Ethiopia, we were able to visit a few of these orphanages that Children's Hope Chest will be sponsoring. I even recognize many of the faces in this video, and I can tell you that these children are precious, precious, precious. I feel honored to have met some of them in person.

Our friend Joy articulated beautifully what this Children's Hope Chest project is about, and she's allowed me to share with you here her words:

Are you an older married couple who are done with the "kids" stage but desire to be a part of an orphans life?

Are you a married couple who are done having children but want to be "long distance" parents to a little one who has none?

Are you a young single whose not ready for marriage and children but understands the incredible need for caring for orphans and wants to be involved?

Are you someone whose never considered being involved in helping the estimated 143,000,000 orphans in the world but feels maybe this is something you should pray about?

Do you desire to be involved in a community that is part of an orphan care ministry but your church has no involvement?

Well we have an incredible opportunity for you! Children's Hopechest and Red Letters Campaign are partnering to launch holistic orphan care in Ethiopia!! Yes, this is child sponsorship but it's so much more than that! Here are the 5 key areas in which the children will be cared for:

1. Spiritual Development. These kids will have a personal counselor/discipler to meet with weekly. This is HUGE when it comes to an orphans life. Yes, a life without parents, but a consistent adult in their life to show them love and guidance.

2. Physical Needs. This is pretty self, water, shelter, clothes, ect.

3. Education. They will have wonderful education and will even get help in finding and applying to a university! This will also extend to skills training, learning how to interview for a job, ect.

4. Medical and Dental needs. Keeping the little ones healthy. :)

5. Emotional Support. The life of an orphan can be extremely stressful. These little ones will be loved by the incredible caretakers.

All this for $34 a month. $34 a month??!! Just give up a couple lattes and a few other things you don't need each month and a child with no future has hope and love and health and more!

Personal contact with your child will be much more personal than the average sponsorship. You can write them letters and there may even be access to email once in a while. You will receive a couple yearly updates on how they are doing and will be able to give money for them to have a birthday and Christmas gift. Another incredible opportunity will be the annual trip offered to go visit your child and their orphanage!! I think this is an incredible addition and will help build the community even more.

"The Community" that I am mentioning will consist of people from all over the states who are sponsoring a child at the same orphanage as you. RLC will be an online place to go and get to know each other a bit and keep up to date on our orphanage and children.

Without good orphan care these little ones could very likely end up on any of the following paths:

-prostitution (which could very likely lead to death from AIDS)
-drugs (also could lead to death from AIDS)
-death from a preventable illness
-sex slavery

But a child who experiences incredible orphan care and knows that someone far away loves them and prays for them...these kids could become the most incredible leaders in their country...the brighter future of Ethiopia. I truly encourage all of you... friends, family, fellow adopting parents, stalkers :), random think and pray about this and then ACT!

And finally, if you choose to sponsor a child with this community you will be involved with some really fun people. Like me for instance. :) Or Amy. Or Beka. And of course many other really cool people but I don't want to speak too soon for them. You can email me if you are interested or have more questions at or contact Amy (she is in charge of putting this online community together) at

We are so so so excited about this opportunity. I love that yearly trips will be made to visit the children in person. I'll leave you with the video that had me crying with joyful anticipation of the hope to come for these little ones:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Unexpected Travels

This is where one of us has been this week, arriving home this evening bearing gifts of mugs, scarves, first-class travel amenities (yes, are high-class) and coffee from the Juan Valdez Cafe:
More to come...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Change of Plans

Edited: So we're not going to Dallas after all, at least not this weekend.

This is the video that Abe asks to watch at least fifty times a day. He has now been waking up in the morning asking to see "mooo?" (moon), which continues through breakfast, before nap, after nap, etc. You get the point. I've always been a big Lisa Loeb fan, even getting to sit front row at a small concert in L.A. at a place called Largo (highly recommended if you're ever in the area) where she led us all in a game of pass-the-secret, so I'm happy that Abe likes this video as much as he does. And I want Lisa's skirt here. And her glasses and boots. And her belt and just her general cuteness.

A close second to this video is Stop and Go, where I want Elizabeth Mitchell's skirt this time. Both of these songs can be found on the CD named Catch the Moon, which I highly recommend.
We got it at the library. It comes with a DVD with these two videosMy singing "Little Red Caboose" can fix most anything that might be wrong with Abe.

While both Ted and I dig the Lisa Loeb video, all that sweetness and pretty puts a lump in my throat, every time having to choke back tears (no kidding). So this is the video that Ted and I enjoy best, though Abe is just so-so about it. At least he seems amused watching us dance to this one while he stands pretty stoically playing air-guitar:

Finally, the first moment I cried on Tuesday night was when a newscaster said, "There are going to be children in the White House again" and then later when our President-elect said, "Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House." So this video cracked me up today. Funny. Happy weekend.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I Couldn't Say it Any Better

Please go read this and leave a comment.

And for those who don't always click on links, you can read it below (with gracious permission from Mr. Bottomly's wife):

These two boys waited as a long line of adults greeted Senator Obama before a rally on Martin Luther King Day in Columbia, S.C. They never took their eyes off of him. Their grandmother told me, "Our young men have waited a long time to have someone to look up to, to make them believe Dr. King's words can be true for them." Jan. 21, 2008.--Callie Shell for Time Magazine

I am a white-skinned father with a black-skinned son.

A little over a year ago, my wife, Amy, and I adopted our son, Silas, from Ethiopia.

Silas turns two in December.

Today our conversations tend to revolve around our favorite snacks - yogurt and lemon pound cake at Starbucks - and favorite TV characters and movies - Elmo and Ratatouille. We also squabble very little these days. Sometimes Silas will take a swing at me when I take away the Wii joystick. And other times he'll treat the cheese sandwich I made him for dinner like a Frisbee.

One day, though, Silas will want to talk about other things.Like the color of his skin. And my skin. And his mother's skin. And pictures and events and people and dates he finds in his history textbook.

There are some historical dates I don't want to explain to Silas then. August 12th, 1955, for example. That's the day Emmett Till, a 14 year old boy, was brutally lynched in Mississippi by white, southern, "Christian" men.

Then there is September 15th, 1963. That's the day when four little girls were killed by a white supremacist bomb at 16th Street Baptist Church.

And then there is April 4th, 1968. That's the day Martin Luther King Jr. had his hope-filled voice silenced by a sniper's gun.

These are days in America's history that I don't look forward to explaining to my son.

But then there are days I can't wait to explain to Silas.

Days like December 1st, 1955. The day when Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man. That small, defiant "no" reverberated out into a large, defiant "no more."

There are other days, too. Like August 28th, 1963. The day Martin Luther King delivered his famous message, "I Have a Dream." It was a day unlike any other day. It was a day of dreaming of another kind of America.

And now there is November 4th, 2008.

This is a day I look forward to telling Silas about - not as a student of history, but as a participator in making history.

And I will tell Silas this: I voted for Obama. For you. For me. For us.

And I will also tell him something like this (I hope): "Silas, my son, this was a day that heralded a new day. A day of change. A day of hope. A day brimming with the promise of a new kind of political dialogue, a new kind of political leader, a new kind of American citizen, a new kind of America, and, for African Americans who share your same skin color, Silas, a new kind of dream, a new kind of role, and, most importantly, a new kind of responsibility.

Now know this also, Silas. Not everyone will share the enthusiasm your parents did on that day. There will be some people that your mom and I love dearly who disagreed with us. Don't worry: We still love them. And they still love us. Because what we understand is that Jesus' love conquers all things. And, Silas, if we can't practice this amongst each other as Christians, then I'm not sure who can.

But make no doubt about it, Silas: Not everyone on the day after November 4th, 2008 will look back with misty-eyed nostalgia. Many, especially in Oklahoma (which we may or may not be living in when you read this), will look back with red-eyed nausea. And some of those people will have a knee-jerk reaction.

They'll spew apocalyptic rhetoric. They'll entertain thoughts of doom and gloom and Armageddon. They'll re-read The Left Behind books and re-nurture the hope of an imminent rapture. And sadly, some will choose not to roll up their sleeves and get to work for the common good when President Obama takes office. Instead, they'll dig in their heels and look menacingly for someone to blame, scapegoat, and demonize for the world not fitting into their little egocentric matrix.

Others, son, will unfortunately have retreated back into their tribal matrix - whether their political party or religious ghetto- and will have completely ignored Jesus's call to us to embrace his worldcentric matrix of multi-tribal community, enemy love, forgiveness, generosity, and grace.

Others will reduce "God's politics" to single, hot-button issues like abortion and homosexuality, completely glossing over and blatantly disregarding the other issues near to God's heart, like extreme poverty, the dehumanization and violence of war, corporate greed, and religious indifference toward the needy.

Even others will try to guilt you. And me. And your mother. They'll insidiously project a tribal deity they have largely created out of a dark patchwork of isolated scripture, hidden fear and anxiety, and thinly veiled religious pride, racial prejudice, nationalistic xenophobia.

And finally, some will tell you they are "praying for America", when really they are secretly petitioning for God's judgment and wrath to come on everyone who doesn't think, believe, and act like them - the way the disciples did toward the Samaritans (Lk. 9:54-56), which Jesus rebuked them for.

So hear me, son: Change always comes with a great price. It can be a tremendous blessing. It can also carry a weighty burden. And in the end, it will take the Spirit who gives us the capacity and ability to forgive those who wound us, to understand those we disagree with, to show courage in the face of hostility, and to hold onto our faith, hope, and love, while we seek to mediate into the world, God's compassion, justice, and shalom.

And finally, my boy, I want you to understand this: November 4th was a day that many around the world celebrated. But it is not the day, it is not the party, it is not the celebration that in our heart of hearts we long for. At best, it was a fleeting glimpse, a tiny foretaste. For a day is coming in history, Silas, when Jesus, the true Lord, the true President, will herald the beginning of something that will never end. A new kind of humanity. A new kind of community. And a new kind of creation. And that day will be for all peoples of the earth - Democrats and Republicans and African-Americans and Latinos and Hispanics and Kenyans and Ethiopians (yeah) and Iranians and Iraqis and every tribe, tongue, and nation! Now that will be some party, Silas, my son! That will be some party!

--Josh Bottomly from Josh Bottomly's Reflection Blog

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Coverage Break

My favorite Kids in the Hall sketch ever:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Glory Be...updated

This radiant lady in blue right here? See her?
She is, as of today, officially MOM to little Ruthie. Jana has been one of the sweetest friends I've made through this community, and she and Michael had a particularly long road to their daughter. So when I woke up this morning, the first thing I thought of was their court date. I snapped open my cell phone and thought, "Damn! No text from Jana yet." Then lo and behold, the news is now out: You can check it out here. Be sure to tell them "Hallelujah!"

And now more good news! Chris and Heather are bringing home Mimi as well. Yay for new families!