Monday, November 17, 2008


I'm it! My friend Dani "tagged" me (that's blog lingo for a fun, circulating post prompt). I have been asked to post the fourth picture from the fourth file on my computer so here goes:

It's Josiah! We must be at a children's museum somewhere -- I'm not sure what adult is attached to the arm that's playing with him, but I have no doubt that everyone involved was having a blast. Thanks for tagging me, Dani! I would like to pass this fun along to my entire travel group! If you travelled with us, consider yourself tagged. Fourth picture. Fourth file.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Election

Yesterday was the election. Grinning broadly, nervous hands poised to display their photo IDs, my kids approached the poll. As they neared the door, a man (my husband) disrupted their path with bags of pretzels and an exhortation to "Vote for the jungle gym! A vote for the jungle gym is a vote for exercise!" This in spite of the fifteen crayon clad posters on notebook paper throughout our house urging us to "Vote for the Pop-up Camper!" "Pop-up Campers ROCK!" Some with fabulous artwork to boot! In conjunction with the campaign speeches from the night before and Olivia's spontaneous Halloween candy handout on Sunday, punctuated with "Vote Pop-up Camper!" and "We appreciate your vote for the Pop-up camper!", the campaign itself might have deterred a lest ardent polster, but not Josh! He was at the door in full force! The vote would have been unanimous, too, were it not for my voting booth conversion to the Jungle Gym camp. (Contrary to Josh's probable supposition, it was NOT the pretzels that swayed me -- I just wanted to mix things up....and I thought a jungle gym might be fun:).

The vote was spurred by two factors: 1. Our involvement in the whole process (campaigns, primaries, debates, etc.) of the OTHER election, and 2. The undecided Grand Prize in our family reading program. For various reasons, I put together a project (complete with a giant wall hanging of a flower whose stem we will climb toward the grand prize should have seen what I IMAGINED it might look like!) to keep everyone excited about reading. Each family member maintains individual point breakdowns [i.e., Olivia gets 10 points for a picture book, 50 for a chapter book, etc.; Josiah gets 20 points for letter sounds, 30 for three-letter words, 100 for easy reader books, etc.; they both get 10 points for every sibling listening when they read their books (more if the book is longer); Josh and I get smaller point values for books we read to the kids, 500 points for books we read to ourselves... (which almost never happens anymore), and (this is a rider proposed by my husband, who, I think, is getting a little anxious over my project) I get 2000 points for every chapter of my dissertation that I finish. Everyone is rooting for mom, now! (Even more than before!)] We get a family fun day at 3000 points (leaf #1), a membership to something at 7000 points (leaf #2), and a grand prize that was subject to such debate that we decided to cabbage onto family election hysteria (we are a house divided, which makes for constant conversation) and vote on it, formally.

THE POP-UP CAMPER WAS VICTORIOUS! In spite of Dad's lobbying, the kids stuck to their guns and voted their consciences. So the center of the giant construction paper flower was adorned today with a picture that I found online of someone's father in front of a random pop-up camper. If I've estimated appropriately, I should be able to put $10 per week in a jar to significantly offset the cost when the point total is attained. However -- they've been reading like mad, so I'm anxious to see what the Saturday tally reveals! (Anxious in every sense of the word!.....Better start finding ways to fill that jar early, I think!).

You should have heard the victory speeches. Josiah noted that "With a pop-up camper, I would never have to be homesick!" and Olivia walked us through a series of "Can you sleep in a Jungle Gym!? (Well, maybe you can...but...) Can you cook over a fire next to a jungle gym (maybe, I guess....but....) can you take a jungle gym with you? No! And does a jungle gym have beds!? NO! Pop-up CAMPER WINS!!!!!!!!"

And then (my favorite), Josh's concession speech (which I will botch horribly, I know, but even if I got every word right, I could never capture the spirit and intensity with which it was delivered...or the uber-political hand gestures that accompanied it). "We fought a good fight...ran a good campaign for the jungle gym. I want to thank all of our supporters, my staff, and everyone who voted for the jungle gym. We congratulate the Pop-up camper on its victory. It was a well fought race. And rest assured, we will be back. This is not the end of the jungle gym." No. I'm sure it's not:)

After the vote, the tally, and the celebratory hooplah, we grabbed popcorn and watched blue and red Rorshach blotches coagualate across a giant a family.

What election did you think I was talking about?

Rock of Ages VS Philosopher's Stone (Steele cage grudge match of the millenium)

I've blogged a million posts in my head this week, but nothing actually made it to the screen. This moment is one that I MUST not forget, though, so I might as well share it while I record it for posterity (and for my deplorable memory). A few weeks ago, I realized after Sunday service that we discussed a question I had never brought to my kids: "What do you know?" As a lifetime student of philosophy (with the papers to prove it!), I could have kicked myself for letting this one slip by! So, over a backyard picnic, I sprung it, ready to pounce with a little deconstruction and immaterialism (maybe little cognative science just for flavor). Here are my kids' responses, in order:

My question: "Is there anything that you KNOW, and how do you KNOW that you KNOW it?"

Olivia's reply (looking a little annoyed at the question's apparent condescention):

"You can't KNOW anything, Mom. You can only choose to believe. Everything anybody thinks they know they are really just choosing to believe. For example, I choose to believe in God because it's better, but not because I KNOW. No one can KNOW anything."

As I wound my immaterialist tail back between my legs and prepared to limp home with a weak, "Very interesting thought, Olivia. How did you know that?" (This time, a sincere question rather than a provocative one), Josiah jumped in with his reply. [Be sure to imagine his Rs as Ws and his Ss as SHs....I love the way he talks but trying to write his sweet particularities is....annoying).

Josiah's reply: "Well, I believe in God....because...if I didn't, He might not KILL me.....but He might WANT to."

Now there's a boy who's been to Sunday school! That's material I can work with! But who wants to? At this point, I was bested, laughing, and ready to dive with my kids into the waiting pumpkin pie. What great kids!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ethiopia Montage -- Katie's Present

As if her friendship, her love of our children, and the gift of her time and energy in journeying with us to Ethiopia were not enough, Katie (Josh's sister) made this beautiful montage for us! Thank you, Katie -- for everything! There are no words to express how much the sacrifices you made, the encouragement you offered, and the loving arms that you shared with our tiny babies on that trip meant to us. You are a fantastic sister, sister-in-law, aunt, and friend. And we LOVE the montage, too!

(And thank you, travel group, for allowing us to share this excerpt from such a pivotal week -- and some of your pictures, as well. No one ....NO ONE...has ever experienced the emotional whiplash and euphoria of meeting their children for the first time with a better group of friends. Thank you for a lifetime of memories.)