Saturday, June 28, 2008

Come and Knock on Our Door

There is nothing like waking up from a blissful good night's sleep (so very rare) to a warm Portland Saturday morning spent finding amazing deals at yard sales with a pit stop at Stumptown for iced-espressos and a final stop at Freddy's for their 50% off sale on summer clothes. Summer in Portland, when we're all together and especially when guests are around, is total euphoria for me.

My mom was commenting to me last week about the revolving door that our summers are and wondering if it's tiring for me. It's actually not at all. Every summer since we've been married, we've had pretty much constant house-guests. This is what Buddy thinks of the summer weather and fresh dirt in the yard.

We really love showing people around Portland, and last week--can't remember the day as they all run together in the summer--we took Rusty and Carrie to Multnomah Falls with a stop first at the Vista House.
Abe inside the Vista House.

We got to Multnomah Falls and decided to go on all the way up to the top, a hike I'd always wanted to do but hadn't yet. It's only a mile but it's a pretty steep climb, and we were happy that R and C were game.
(this photo to the right was taken in the same place that we "sledded" down on our tushies last winter when it was all frozen over).

Proof that we all made it to the top

The view from the top of the falls. Really beautiful, and a little scary.

Dad's hilarious "trail banter" on the way down helped to put Abe to sleep. I made Ted strap the whole jogger to his belt and no pointing was allowed the whole way down--both hands on the babe at all times. That narrow path and steep drop-off were slightly scary.

Here we are the bottom of the falls. Rusty is my oldest friend in the world (we met when we were 13), so later that evening over dinner outside on the lawn at Edgefield, I got all weepy (imagine that) talking about our friendship, how proud I am of him, of where he is in his life and mostly how amazing it is that he and Carrie have found each other.

A favorite story people tell about Boy-Wonder-Rusty is the time that our friend Jessica met Rusty's mom Ava for the first time. She said, "Oh! So you're Rusty Spell's mother? Congratulations!" Well, when we got home from our trip to the falls, I checked my voice-mail and had a message from this very same Jessica. She was in Oregon for a wedding (they live in Mississippi)! Amazing. I called her back and handed the phone to Rusty while it was still ringing just so I could hear her scream through the phone.

The next morning, Jessica rented a car and high-tailed it from Eugene to Portland for a mini-high school reunion.
We're the best, can't you see? We're the class of '93!

The next day, R and C headed out for a few days to the Oregon coast, and we got the chance to meet Joy and her two sweet girls. What a sweet, kindred spirit that Joy is, especially about understanding the pitfalls of being an introvert. Oh, and she feeds her girls green beans for a snack! The Rooneys think that is way-cool.
Finally, we also took Abe for his 12-month check-up, and he's made his way up to the 12th percentile for weight (that's up from the lower 3%). Our boy likes to eat. Here he is trying pizza for the first time:

We've got the backyard pool all set up, and we're looking forward to trying that out and to Rusty and Carrie getting back from the coast tomorrow morning. R and C are the masters of funny voices, as you can see here:

And now, how many of you like me, have the Three's Company theme song stuck in your heads?

Friday, June 27, 2008

An Opportunity

Many of you may already know of the famous Owlhaven blog. Mary, the author, is mother to ten children, four of whom are Ethiopian. Her sister is currently working as a nurse in Ethiopia, serving the poorest of the poor (I highly recommend reading her letters) and their parents are heading out in a few days to visit. Mary is raising money to send with her parents to help offset the rising food costs that have so devastatingly affected the people in this region. You have until Friday evening to donate money to Mary's paypal account. I know it's not one of the big-name charities, but I can assure you that all of this money will be going directly towards buying staples for these people who are in such dire need.
You can donate by clicking here.

For the Kids

We've been busy with out-of-town guests, and I'm getting a post together soon about the fun we've been having this week in the glorious Portland summer (really, these few weeks are the heavenly reward for what we put up with the rest of the year).

In the meantime, here is one of my favorite "A Je To" videos. Most kids love these, so call 'em in from outside playing in sprinklers to watch some good ol' TV (courtesy of youtube):

Monday, June 23, 2008

Wow, Tonya, Wow!

In one week, Ted met two pretty random celebrities. The first: James Eckhouse, Jim Walsh from Beverly Hills 90210, came to opening night of Taming of the Shrew (directed by our own Ted Rooney). He hung around afterwards and chatted. Nice guy.

Even more awesome than that: Tonya Harding. On his flight today from Los Angeles to Portland, they were seated next to each other and got to talk quite a bit. She's quite a character, with arms like a boxer who was wearing Romeos because, in her own words, she doesn't like to deal with shoestrings (no joke). Ted said something about the beer being bitter to which Tonya replied, "But hey, at least it's free. You can never complain about free beer."

This is Abe's reaction to finding out that his dad met these two awesome people:


New word: All morning, Abe has been saying "Wooow!" nonstop. As I sit here at the computer, he's crawling around with his favorite toy in one hand, a toothbrush, proclaiming Wooow wherever he goes. He ignores the huge basket of toys in the other room, preferring to play with his toothbrush, one of my Nikes, and the laundry basket. This has entertained him for the last half hour.

I just managed to get a video of his amazing articulation of the word "wooow" which I hope to post in the next day (yep, forgot the cable again in Los Angeles, but Ted is bringing it home to Portland this afternoon). We're super-excited about Uncle Rusty and Aunt Carrie coming to visit us tomorrow, for a whole week. I can't wait to see what words, songs, and tricks they teach our Abe.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Insight from Lynch

Didn't David Lynch say something once like "pay attention when things happen in 3's"? Any fellow Twin Peaks fans out there might be able to remember him explaining how he pays attention to the recurrence of numbers and things that look like mistakes actually being much more (i.e. the casting of Frank Silva as Bob). Please excuse the weird grammar in the previous sentence. I'm too tired to figure out how to fix it.

Nerdiness aside: We had an occurrence of 3 in the last 24 hours.

Part of Ted's direction of
Taming of the Shrew was to set it in Italian-American Brooklyn, mobster era. When two men cross each other on stage for the first time, they'd say in slight Joey Tribbiani style, "How you doin'?" (but as man to man, not man to hot girl). It works. It gets a laugh every time.

On Thursday, Angie and Noah gave Abe a fa
ntastic onesie with a logo for "Pudgie Louie's Boxing Club, Brooklyn." We love it. It makes Abe look tough, despite his pudgy belly.

Today, Abe was wearing this hipster ones
ie in Trader Joe's in our neighborhood in Portland when we heard a voice behind us say, "Hey, how you doin'?" The guy was talking to Abe, had not seen the Brooklyn Boxing Club onesie. He'd just come over to say 'hi' to a cute baby. I asked him where he was from: Brooklyn. And he's Italian. He works with kids and told me that he teaches them all to say "How you doin'?" plus "Get outa heah!"

What are the chances? What would Lynch say? What am I supposed to be paying attention to? How many of you are going to stop reading this blog now that you know what a geek I am
(and a Twin Peaks-geek at that--Ted even took me to the Snoqualmie Falls area on our honeymoon so that I could track down the Double R Diner, the Sheriff's Station, the Great Northern Hotel, The Roadhouse, and Big Ed's Gas Farm, a day that was one of the giddiest of my life...many photos were taken, one new husband never once ran screaming from the freak that is his wife).

And because I know you're all dying to see the pictures:Ted was excited to see the sheriff's station. He wore his most special t-shirt for the occasion.

Lori poses somberly in front of the Double RR, thinking about all those "meals on wheels" shut-ins.

Double points: Big Ed's Gas Farm right next to Ed and Nadine Hurley's house, with that infamous window with the silent drape runners.

Snoqualmie Falls (that paper in my hands: printed online research I'd done on finding all these places, essentially our treasure map)

And because I am very, very loved, a couple of years later, we stayed at Salish Lodge (aka "The Great Northern"). This was the view from our room: the top of those famous falls. Amazing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Grim Reaper Rooney

Check out Ted selling Coors Light. He thinks he's hit an all-time low career-wise. I think it's pretty awesome and he got to keep the mask.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kitty Bjorn

This is not what happens necessarily when one has too much time on one's hands, but rather when one is doing taxes. Everyone needs a break and for our friend Susan, that means trying out Abe's Baby Bjorn with her cat, Honey, the same cat Abe wakes up in the morning talking about. That is one cool cat and she loved being carted around like this, purring up a storm

I do want to write about our interesting Father's Day and Abe's birthday, but for now, here are two videos. The first is showing Abe's fascination with cats and his vocal range:

And now, a clip from a Christopher Guest-style, improvised mockumentary Susan did called Change Your Life! about pyramid schemes and stupid products/cultural trends. This one makes me laugh out loud every time. You can see more by going here.

Taming of the Shrew opens tomorrow night, so if any of you are in the Hollywood area, go check out Ted's directorial brilliance. Our friend Carolee is actually babysitting for us, which will be Abe's first evening with a babysitter. Weird for me, not for him--every baby loves Carolee. It'll just be Abe's first night being put down to sleep by anyone but me or Ted. Big step, I think.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Favorite Shots

Playing at Griffith Park with birthday gift from Ian, Amanda, and Ben.

Waiting to pick up iced espressos at Porto's in Glendale.

Ma's favorite spot to kiss.

A beautiful boy, today in the late afternoon sunshine.


There's this blog I read from time to time that had a post recently with complaints about the current high gas prices. In the comment section, someone wrote this:

"I think it’s time that the Dems in congress realize that the resources we need are slightly more important than the welfare of some animals."

Excuse me? My feathers are a little ruffled, but probably less than those belonging to all the feathered and furry creatures this commenter hopes to off so s/he can keep driving her/his SUV. What is wrong with people? And this is on a "Christian" blog--whatever happened to us being called to protect and take care of the earth? I really don't get this idea that "it's okay to rape creation because it's all going to burn anyway" (as one friend described it).

The cable arrived in the mail today (thanks, Colin!), so a happier post should follow soon.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Head Gear

The most bizarre thing I have seen in a very long time:

Yesterday at the little-kids playground at Griffith Park (even Abe was climbing around), I saw this big blond boy, age 3 (I asked), running wildly on all the play structures wearing a contraption on his head made of soft, pillow-y material. It looked sort of like those twisty balloon hats you can get at fairs, except it was some sort of fabric. There was a band around his head, another from ear to ear, and another from front to back. The whole thing stayed on securely with a strap that went under his chin and buttoned behind his ears.

I couldn't stop myself from staring. I noticed a small, frazzled Latino lady following him around, so when they came near us, I said, "Boy, he must hit his head a lot, huh?" She said, "Oh no, his mom just wants to protect his know, he's very smart, fluent in three languages!"

I hope they don't have any photographs of their son in this thing. If any of his 6th grade classmates see it in a few years, boy's gonna be in for serious butt-woopins. Poor thing. Only in L.A.

(still no transfer cable...will post pictures on Abe's birthday as soon as we get it).

Thursday, June 12, 2008

First Birthday

When I was packing to come to Los Angeles, I left behind the magical chord that lets me transfer photos and videos from the camera to the computer. Until I track down another one, the chances are high that Abe's birthday pics won't be posted for a while.

Yes, our boy is turning the big 0-1 tomorrow. This milestone fills me with all kinds of emotions, which I have been feeling all day. The deep well of emotion that is motherhood has blindsided me. I think I had some vague idea of it, what with all the Hallmark cards I've seen in my life and the way my own mom has teared up at graduations and weddings and what-not. But now, I look at the face of my son as he interrupts his evening bottle to say "keeee?!" (kitty) for the thousandth time today and I choke back tears with the thought that this rapidly growing creature in our care is nearly a year old. One Year Old.

I know I've been posting a lot of random-ish youtube videos lately but I can't resist adding another today, as this song has contributed to the tears this evening. Our friend Carolee is close friends with Roby Duke, a fellow Mississippian. He performed this song on December 23, 2007 and passed away unexpectedly three days later. Carolee went to the funeral in the Mississippi Delta and said the experience was incredibly uplifting. How could it not be, knowing what Roby just sang?
As I go of the way of all the earth,
As I step through the door, there where time is no more
I shall see God.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

We heart Susan

This is our friend Susan, holding Abe on his first full day in the United States. We like Susan. She lets Abe play with her cat, Honey, and she also gets mad at all the same parts of that silly Sex and the City movie as I did. She makes really good tea in cute teapots and even brews her own kombucha, which she generously shares. She and her husband Larry, the master of carne asada, are good at entertaining Abe while he eats by doing little dances to whatever music happens to be on. Yesterday, it was a cute French ditty, and Abe was entranced.

She wrote a really amazing book this year, which I've already mentioned a few times already on this blog, but I wanted to go on and put the word out there that it's available now to pre-order on Amazon. Go do it. You won't regret it.

Susan is also one of the funniest people I know. Here is proof (you can see more of this improvised genius on her blog):

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Reverend

One of the first dates Ted and I had was at the Sunday morning service at the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Memphis, across the street from Graceland, led by the Reverend Al Green. No kidding. This church service was one of the best experience of my life. We arrived right on time, walking past the white Roles Royce parked outside to take our seats right in the center of the sanctuary. People meandered in and out, and about 30 minutes later, nothing had gotten started. We asked someone if we were early and he replied that we were on time but that it just takes them a little while to get going.

After another 15 minutes, the full congregation of around 50 people were settled in and the band started to play. The small choir began to sing. Then the Reverend Al appeared. His sermon looked exactly like this (and if any of you missed church this morning, no worries--just hop aboard the Soul Train and you'll be there):

He sang-preached for a blissful hour, pointing here and there at people in the congregation, including me at one point. He pointed my way with a big smile on his face and said something about how I had a look on my face like I thought he was crazy. Note to self: when Al Green tells me that I look stiff, get busy with some loosening up.

The drummer and bass player never stopped going the entire time. Reverend Al would slow down and build back up along with the drums (who was following who, I'm not sure), breaking out into full song and the choir would join in and the congregation would follow and I tried real hard to show how much I was feeling the Spirit...cause I mean, Al Green told me to.

Eventually, he invited the willing up to take communion and be blessed. So we went. They had a tray of grape juice and a tray of red wine. Reverend Al was serving and about half the time would comment on who took the juice and who took the "real stuff." He made sure we knew we were free, free, free to take whatever we felt led to take. Let me be a witness: if Al Green is serving you communion, take the real stuff.

Fast forward almost five years (!) and I'm sitting at the breakfast table trying to get my teething son to eat. He's not having it. He's cranky and glaring at me with his deadpan face between outbursts of screeching when he sees me coming near him with a spoon of cereal.

The laptop was beside my coffeemug on the table, and I took a break from the task of feeding this fussy boy to check something. I remembered that last night I'd been listening to some of the new Al Green album. I did a quick search and found this clip. I clicked on play and Abe got quiet. He really started to listen. Then he started to clap. He let me feed him. With a mouth full of food, he'd clap and squeal happily, just the way Reverend Al does. Every single time Al would let out that wonderful high-pitched wail of his, Abe would do the same. And then we had church at home, singing:
Loving you whether, whether times are good or bad, happy or sad...

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Travels with Abey

Breakthrough Update: We have teeth! Two bottom teeth are peeking out today!

My fears about traveling with Abe were unfounded. It turns out that he saves his screeching and squirrelliness for his mom. Lucky me. I have discovered that Abe is happiest in a grocery store; he's got bright, shiny things to look at and women to woo around every corner. Being confined on my lap in an airplane is for Abe like being strapped down in a cart in the grocery store. He's pretty happy both places.

The flight from Portland to Sacramento was easy enough, even though he didn't sleep at all. I can easily tell when he's found a new friend by the way he squishes up his whole face into a smile that crinkles his nose and turns his eyes to slits. On this flight, he had a whole row of people behind us to smile at the entire time. At one point during the flight, he started saying "good!" loudly and enthusiastically when the guy sitting across the aisle peeled a banana.

While waiting for our flight to Burbank in the Sacramento airport, a nice lady in a business suit actually sat down right on the floor next to us and let Abe play with her blackberry and fancy leather handbag. She was actually giving him these expensive items. Then once we got settled into our seat, two more business-women across the aisle oohed and ahhed over Abe until he passed out upon take-off. After sleeping on my lap for half an hour, he opened his eyes, smiled and immediately started saying "bye-bye." He then flirted with the two women for the last ten minutes of the flight.

We drove with Ted to his rehearsal for the play he's directing in Hollywood since we didn't have time to go all the way home (Friday afternoon traffic in L.A. is a bear). We found a big, empty, carpeted room to hang out in at the theater where Abe played happily until it was time to leave at 10pm. I even got to read a few stacks of old newspapers I'd been hoping to get to for weeks while Abe practiced his yoga poses on all that carpet ("downward dog" is now his new favorite).

I'm sorry if this post gushing about our child is boring. It's just that I never thought I'd say this: spending a day traveling on two airplanes, driving through rush hour traffic in Los Angeles, and biding time in an empty room in a Hollywood theater until 10pm, all with an 11-month-old in tow was not just a tolerable, but an actual fun experience.

Now we'll just have to see what it's like when he's two.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


I'm not sure what your world looks like today, but mine is depressing, chilly and grey. Gross. I made the mistake of going to the seedy end of town this afternoon to check out a thrift store I'd heard good things about. Word to the wise: don't go to thrift stores in Portland if the weather sucks. The whole experience is depressing. As my friend Susan said about thrift stores, "they smell of dust, BO and failure." Oh boy. Yep. Despite finding a cool wooden toy for Abe that was only $2 and a cashmere sweater for $7, the experience left me feeling gross.

So I came home and turned on Ben Folds, loudly. It's tough for this song not to improve one's mood:

Distorting my child's face with the handy use of iphotobooth is also a nice mood-lifter.

We're escaping the grey for sunny Southern California tomorrow. I've heard it never rains there, right? We'll see how it goes flying now with a squirrelly eleven-month-old who has discovered high-pitched banshee screeching, which he practices between the 745 times he says "keeeee" (kitty) and "bye-bye" every day.
(the subject line here is Abe's contribution to this post, proof of his squirrelliness and adeptness at grabbing the keyboard).

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hearts of Flesh

Got a hair cut yesterday, first one in months and months and months, which is why that hat makes so many frequent appearances here on the blog. I'm not even sure if the last haircut I got technically even "counts," as I paid $6 for it at a beauty school. The conversation I had with the stylist got me thinking about some things.

She asked me a lot of questions about our adoption, which she knew about through a mutual friend. I didn't mean to go on about it, but I find it difficult to talk about our trip to Ethiopia without mentioning the overwhelming need there right now. I saw her bristle a little when the subject came up, and I mentioned something about the topic being depressing and not meaning to make her uncomfortable.

She explained that she's a "bleeding heart," that she pretty much avoids any news about suffering in the world because she's afraid she'll simply come unglued. She said, "I don't even have a clue about what's going on in that Durfur (sic) place."

I'm not judging her. I can remember distinct times when I was in grad school and extremely busy with a job and 3 consecutive 12-hour semesters where I'd turn on the TV late at night, hoping for a half hour of Seinfeld or something and actually end up feeling irritated by the sight of gaunt-faced children in need of food, being held by someone like James Robison or Sally Struthers. It's not that I didn't care--it's that the situation felt overwhelming, and with the demands on my time during that part of my life, I didn't want to be faced with reality when I turned on the TV. I wanted Jerry and Elaine, Cosmo and George.

I'd quickly change the channel to bury my head in the sand. I didn't think I could take it. I'm not proud of these feelings I had.

So I'm really not judging the lady who cut my hair yesterday. I understand her impulse to choose oblivion. I've done it. It's just that something changes when you have seen those faces first-hand. They are no longer faces behind a TV screen. I've seen those faces before, talked with them, and played with those children. I think about them all nonstop now. I do feel overwhelmed by the poverty, the hunger, the need.

And here's what I come back to, over and over: During our time in Addis Ababa, we had a conversation with Belay (Gladney's in-country Superman) about this topic. He's a very quotable guy and told us something about how even Bill Gates couldn't afford to buy the whole world a steak dinner. And even if he could, the hungry would still be hungry the next day. He then explained that the need is overwhelming and that one person can't change it all. But what one person can do is take action where they feel their heart being pulled.

That's what I try to remember when the burden starts feeling really heavy. I don't want to bury my head in the sand. I don't want to choose oblivion. Like in the story of the Good Samaritan, I don't want to be the person who walks on by doing nothing.

So even if it feels that the money we give or the time we spend pulling our heads up out of the sand are not enough, rest assured that it'll never be enough. But it's something. It's something to the person our actions affect, and that's what matters. That and the reality that by letting ourselves be affected, our hearts remain flesh and not stone.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Abe Updates, Unicef

I keep having dreams about rescuing Abe from various situations like being locked inside a car or being in the midst of a crowd that a sniper is shooting at. I look at him while he's sleeping and think that I believe I understand that adage about a mother walking around with her heart outside of her body. I think it might be true that our children could break our hearts more than anyone else. It's a scary, crazy amount of love. I'm not saying anything new here. These things I've heard about parenthood just keep hitting me in new ways every day.

A few Abe-updates:

He still eats pretty much anything I give him (excluding squash), though his tastes are becoming more discriminating, as seen here in his reaction to the peas and carrots I fed him yesterday.

He has moved out of those little brown giraffe shoes and into his big, yellow giraffe shoes. I also think that today might be his last time wearing our favorite stripey sweater outfit, which is a 3-6 month size. He looks big in pictures, but he's still a pretty little guy. We're on now to 9 month clothes. I did feel sad retiring the brown shoes though. Sigh.

Abe says a few words already. He has his version of "kitty cat," plus "Ma" for either Ted or me. Last week, he perfected "bye," which I think is the cutest thing I've heard in my life. What we're sure he understands best is "good," never used with peas but always with yogurt or anything sweet. He lets us know what he likes and doesn't like. Today, he proclaimed my lentils "goo," and ate two bowls of them. Weird.

Yesterday, he met his Grampa Rooney for the first time...

...and made this face at him for a long while. This is the same face he made meeting me and Ted for the first time too:Finally, I can't stop thinking about all the Gladney families out there in process. Grace seems to have explained what's going on very clearly over at All These Reasons, and we'll be joining in the Day of Prayer this Tuesday. Please go leave her a comment if you'd like to join the ranks.

Also, here's a link to information about what UNICEF is doing for the children at risk due to the drought in Ethiopia. They are making a call for more donations as the situation is extremely dire.