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!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Night Out

Ted and I had a night out together sans babe, thanks to our friends Jim and Jill. We saw Burn After Reading (seriously: George Clooney is hilarious) and ate Italian food, which I could taste only because I'd get up every 20 minutes or so to blow my nose. Jill has posted some pictures of their evening with Abe on their blog, which you can see here. For some reason, he looks so big to me in their photos, more a boy than a babe. Sigh.