Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Zion

Today is December 21st. Zion's fifth birthday, according to her birth mom, not her "official" paperwork.

She wanted a lemon cake, so (at 4:30 pm) we're waiting for her Daddy to get out of bed (he has a migrane) so we she can blow out some candles and we can EAT IT.

I can't seem to convince my children that December is a COLD month. I even hid all the shorts and short sleeved shirts in Zion's room. But, somehow, she found some, enough that every single day I wonder if it's worth fighting over clothing.


Photo update, Daddy got up!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Blog Break

As you may have noticed, I'm not posting right now.

Today is an exception because I want to announce that:

We're adopting yet again!

I don't yet know what I can share and can't, so things will continue to be quiet here at the Sneathspot until I find out more.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Stoned to death, in November 2008

I've read three articles now about the 13 year old girl who was stoned to death in Somalia recently. Her crime? She was raped by three armed men.

This article in the Scotland Sunday Herald was the most graphic. I hesitated to include it on my blog, but really, we can't ignore what is reality for many women in our world today. The bigger question is, what can we DO about it?

The 13-year-old girl from the Somali port city of Kismayo was taken to the police station by her aunt to report the crime. Asha was the one who was arrested. After being held for three days and tried in secret by an Islamic court, Asha was sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery.

Kismayo's rulers encouraged people to come to the football stadium to watch the execution. A lorry load of stones was laid out. Asha, dragged kicking and screaming into the stadium, was buried in the ground. With around 1000 people watching, 50 men stepped forward and started hurling the stones at Asha's head. After a few moments, the stoning was stopped.

Two nurses were asked to step forward and check if she was still alive. She was, they said, so the stoning continued.

I say we speak out against extremism. All forms of extremism carry with them the capacity to justify killing the innocent.

Have you ever thought about which form of extremism you'd prefer living under? I wonder if I'd prefer communism over religious extremism. Tough choice. I hope we are wise enough, strong enough and vocal enough to prevent either from gaining a foothold here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

End of the Day


This is a scene that often greets me after a long day away from home. I really should give up on feather comforters and feather pillows - or - perhaps I should give in to the PediPaws ads (the canine nail cutting tool) that litter my inbox every day.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Graft and Greed in America?

No, not Africa. Here.

This is taken from a letter our governor sent to Henry Paulson (US Treasury Secretary). Does it make your blood boil, too? How long before greed destroys us?

· Carolina First CEO Mack Whittle retired sooner than expected. Some have surmised that Whittle’s retirement date was moved up so that his bank could apply for federal bailout money while Whittle retained his “golden parachute.” The estimated value of Whittle’s retirement package is $18 million; the deal would have been compromised if the bank had asked for a taxpayer bailout before Whittle left.

· The Federal Reserve is putting $150 billion, $27 billion more than previously extended, into AIG after an initial bailout attempt failed to stem massive losses. After the initial bailout in September, AIG treated some staff members to spa retreats in California ($440,000) and a hunting trip in England ($500,000).

· The Wall Street Journal reported last week that some $40 billion is being paid to executives of banking giants that are getting bailout payments. On top of that, Bloomberg reported that the Federal Reserve is refusing to identify who is getting $2 trillion in emergency loans.

Maybe we should slow down. We're trusting Congress to regulate, right? I'm not feeling too confident . . . .

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Only 12 days late


Okay, so I'm a bit behind on the blogging. I do have excuses, a great trip to Denver, a not-so-fun trip to the ER . . . But, I will try to catch up this week. Here we are before going to my friend Lori's Hallowingding, which I highly recommend! Check out the invite below, featuring art by her husband Trahern.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

This Historic Day

It's great to have watched history unfold last night.

Sarah said it so well today:

"Mom, do you think when you go to heaven you still see what is happening here?"

"Maybe honey, if you're still interested in what's going on here."

"Well, I bet Martin Luther King must be very proud today if he can see what's happening down here."

I agree.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Our Newest Pet


No, I did not ask for this.

And Zion can't say opossum (who really can?), so she calls him "AWW, cute mouse."

David is not thrilled. He hates rats, and the tail just does him in. Sarah wrote me a note, telling me (with lots of hearts) to look up the National Opposum Society. Doing that now.

Turns out that opposums are not related at all to rats. They are North America's only marsupial.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Vote early, vote often.


Two of the three (terrific) people that read my blog have asked why I haven't been writing lately.

I hate to say it, but it's because I'm overwhelmed by the election.

Yes. I am . . . undecided.

Do I realize there are scant few hours before I must walk down the corridor of truth?

I do.

Because I have nightmares about it. More than once. In the first one, which reminded me of those dreams you have in high school that you hope NEVER to repeat, I'm standing at the bottom of a long, dimly lit, mustard yellow painted, cinder block hall. The hall fades into murky, snot-green darkness, but I know what is up there. The booth. And, I know that by the time I finish this long walk, I must make a decision. I know this because multiple disembodied voices on both sides are screaming at me, "WHAT IS YOUR DECISION??!!" overlapped with, "YOU HAVE TO TAKE THE POLL!!!"

I don't remember the second dream as vividly. But, it woke me in a cold sweat. Two am, my mind already circling, slashing at the pro/con lists like a salad shooter whirring through endive, iceberg and romaine. I was up for an hour and a half, endless circling.

I broke down and posted the dilemma on my Facebook status yesterday. I feel pretty confident in saying 49% of my friends consider themselves "liberal," while another 49% believe God rides an elephant to work each day. Two percent are either left or right leaning third-party supporters. And, while my status update drew few responses on Facebook, my email's unread messages jumped ten fold in fifteen minutes.

Judging solely based on the volume of mail for the "endive" candidate, I'm now convinced he can't lose. It was nothing short of a full blown intervention. A passionate back clapping to rid my lungs of indecision's dust. I guess my romaine friends either assume I'll see the light, or they don't care. I know my iceberg friends don't care, they are voting third party and thus . . . obviously.

I have mixed reactions to it. I'm not much for crusades, or crusaders. I don't see much black and white. It's probably the gray dust I'm drinking into my pores, though, coloring my world. Is my indecision the chicken, or the egg? From what I've seen shooting political spots, most campaigns are run by kids in their early 20s, drunk on power and enthusiasm, but hardly equipped to choose or aim world impact trajectories. I want to be hyped and thrilled and carried away, and ride the wave into our new future. And, I think it is past time for us to BE in our bright, rosy, post-modern future. But, I'm not convinced this is my train.

Instead, in steady, 13 minute cycles, I'm the idiot each side vents about. Just roll me up to the booth tomorrow, and I guess we'll see which end is up at that moment.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sadness at AHOPE, Ethiopia

Tilahun Yimer, a wonderful young man at the AHOPE orphanage has just passed away. My friend Lisa did a story about him on her blog. Please take a look.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Art Auction


In Denver next week there is an art auction to benefit one of my favorite charities, Children's Heaven. So, I've been putting together some things to auction off so I can get them mailed tomorrow. First was a picture book of Ethiopia, for children born there. The last page is blank so the high bidder can personalize it with the child's photo. I just finished this shadow box of a woman pulling thread. I lined it with a scarf like the one her family made from the thread she is working on. I also want to do some scrap book pages - just the elements, for people who have been there. One page will be round houses, one weaving, one cooking, that sort of thing, with some paper and accessories to go with the photos. I hope people like my items and the bid them up.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Christmas Shopping


This is my favorite place to Christmas shop so far this year:
http://www.ahopestore.org/

Some of the photos aren't up yet, but you can find them on the AHOPE for Children blog.

Sarah, Alden and I got the bracelets and I haven't taken mine off yet. It is a great reminder that children are living with hiv - a reminder to advocate, to pray, to give, and to think about my financial and lifestyle choices each day.

Plus, they have cool Amharic writing on the side.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Good-bye MaryLou, I'll miss you


MaryLou left today.

She is my husband's brother's wife's mother. And I loved her dearly. I met her before David and I married. She is the matriarch of an incredibly tight-knit family, yet she never once treated me like an outsider. In fact, walking into her kitchen was like stepping into a wonderful hot spring. Warm tea, great food, family conversation.

I instantly felt included - immediately followed by well fed! I can think of a dozen things I want to say about her, and her incredible family, but they all look trite when I put them on the page. I keep remembering snippets of conversations we had. Like the time she told me about her internal debate over the value of their dairy cows versus their smell when the wind shifted towards the house. Discussions about kids and school and meals and history and marriages and work on the farm and the many "older" folks she cared for. Though she might have seemed a touch frail on the outside, she was made of titanium inside.

I guess she just lived two lives in one, and had to go before the rest of us were ready for it.

Wish I could have said good-bye in person.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Daddy gets to do THAT?

In keeping with the content of this story, I'm posting images of men doing unbelievably stupid things . . . because they CAN.


Alden and I made smores this afternoon. David was napping, so I passed them under his nose when they came out of the oven, but he didn't budge. So, I wrapped one up for later. Now, he's up, reading in bed. Alden wanted to take him his smore, but I said no, I don't want crumbs in the bed. Alden was surprised that Daddy "could not" eat in bed. I said, "no, Daddy can pretty much do what he wants, but it doesn't mean it's a good idea."


Alden: "REALLY??? Daddy can do WHATEVER he wants???"

me: "Yep, pretty much."

Alden: "Like, if he wanted to, could Daddy go by himself to Chuck E. Cheese at night?"

me: "Yep."

Alden: "Wow. You know Mom, when I'm old, I'm going to go to Chuck E. Cheese at night!"

Saturday, October 11, 2008

My brother in Japan

The Japanese have been treating my brother Daniel like royalty and he is thrilled - beautiful hotel room, lots of great food . . . . Last night they played the championship, and Japan won. But, my brother's team came in second place. I was really hoping he would win because they are going to use the people from the winning team as characters in the next game.

Here is the Metal Gear Online website. There is a video somewhere, I'm looking for it . . . .


This is a photo taken of my brother while we were driving from Rome to Sorento, May 2004. As you can see, rather than taking in the breathtaking Italian countryside, my brother is hard at work preparing for this very week, four YEARS in advance. I have to admit, back then I didn't have a full appreciation for where this committment would take him.

Also note my daughter, preparing for her future career, which she assures me will NOT be photography or video!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

No Photos of Today!

Be glad I didn't include photos.

In keeping with the creepy, crawly halloween season, one of my children has opened a successful lice sanctuary. Not only that, said child has passed the blessings on to me. So, today was spent combing. And recombing. And purchasing expensive mixtures of rosemary, eucalyptis, olive and other oils (that actually work, unlike over the counter lice meds).

Now, we smell like the fast growing eucalyptis tree in our front yard.

Belive it or not, combing can wear you out.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Activities of Late


What would you do with this great discovery?

We found these wonderful acorn tops that look like curly heads of hair (or octupus hats, as Sarah suggested) outside the University of SC Art Department the other day. The kids are taking art classes there on Fridays for a few months.

Suggestions are welcome. Here are some initial ideas:
shepard and octopus Christmas tree ornaments.




We like to keep Ethiopian culture here at the house by roasting coffee. I think Zion's birth mom will enjoy these pics, don't you?




She's also been doing some Dominican style cooking with Elias.


Zion joined Alden this week at the dojo, now taking karate and VERY excited about it. Alden got an email from China, so we grabbed this shot today to email back. Pictures transcend the language barrier (and my ability to type in Chinese), and he really wants his friends back there to know he is doing karate.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Perspective

Because we've been discussing a depression hitting the States, I wanted to think about how another family might take this news in their country. I've been mulling over this shot I took of kids enjoying mangos in Haiti, thinking about them, their mom and dad, and how they might prepare when they hear a storm is coming.

And Haiti did just got drenched with yet another ferocious tropical storm. At least if we face grueling circumstances, our kids don't go into them dressed like this.


We have resources. We have education. We have compassion. We will weather the storm. Perhaps now is an important time to reach out rather than hold back. We can send a message to our collective psyche that we can continue to give, continue to help, even in the face of hard times.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman

The thing I'll always remember about Paul Newman is how he came out of his star trailer and sat with us (crew) at lunch.

Found this video on his Newman's Own website. Great legacy, something that will live on. I hope I can leave a legacy like this.

Mr. Newman, you are - still - an inspiration.

Here's a clip from the film where I met him. Can't believe he's gone so soon.

Scary Computer Stuff


Now that I've changed over to high definition video, my external drives are no longer fast enough to edit properly. So, my friend Wedge at Wegener Media turned me on to this little device that hooks up to my computer via an eSATA cable. Nifty, but you need an expensive card to get it going. Leave it to computer guru Robert to find a cheap work around. Well, I bought this thing, and opened my computer to install it.

It's a good thing I didn't read the directions first, because I would have completely chickened out. I had to take my computer apart - all sorts of screws in a bowl next to me, and some left over when I was done . . . but, I am now up and running, and it is SCREAMING fast.

Very cool.


In other news, one of Alden's friends from China found us, and Alden has been on the phone with this friend for an hour. I can hear them talking from my desk. Alden is explaining to him how to do something on the computer and it sounds exactly like Wedge or Robert trying to walk me though something.

"No, hit the P key!" "Now hit ENTER." The thing is, he is outside, pacing in the yard while he's giving these instructions. I'm telling you, these kids are born double clicking!

He then came in and asked to get on my edit computer. Our laptop is out with David doing taxes. Well, supposedly he's doing taxes, though I just got an email from him asking if "pleather" is a real word (it is slang, according to Wikipedia, though there are several types of pleather, you have to be specific). Anyway, Alden was on line, playing a video game with a boy he went to school with in China, who stayed at his orphanage and foster home. Two years ago, neither of them spoke a word of English, and now they are yelling to each other while they are on line playing a game together, two states apart, in the USA, in totally new lives.

Nice.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Moscow


My dad just got home from a job in Russia. His first trip there, and he says he loved the food. It was 40 degrees, though, so I don't think I'll go with him any time before August. Here's a shot he grabbed of the Moscow Kremlin. I find it a surprisingly fun archetectural style.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

SAVE YOURSELF


This bailout screams "save yourself."

I just want to ask, what is there to fear if the USA enters a deep depression?

I'm not talking about the shockwaves that hit the rest of the planet if we stop sending millions of dollars in aid. That IS frightening. But, let's keep the discussion to right here, Market Street. USA.

Could a true depression cause us to reach out to our neighbors and lend a hand to those in need? Could a true depression slow electronic, all consuming life frenzy for a time and put purpose back into our daily tasks? Do you think we might begin to talk to each other about real needs rather than argue about abstract ideals?

I sound like I'm romanticizing here, but I've seen the happiness in those who have little, and I wonder if we lose what we have, we might not be better off.

Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to plug the cracks in this dam with sand. It's gonna go anyway, why not face it with dignity now rather than leave it to our children to navigate without us?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Elias

Elias is here this month from the Dominican Republic. Shorter people in the house are bummed he'll be leaving soon, and it will be back to just us booring parents. "Uncle Elias" is much more fun. He rides bikes with Alden, plays cards with Sarah and princess Zion actually listens to him.


I'm bummed he's leaving because he's great to have around and he can't sit still, so he's constantly looks for projects, and it's fun to see what he comes up with to work on. Last time he was here he volunteered to paint Sarah's new bedroom, and this time he's been spending a lot of time in our boat. One of these days we will get it into water, but I have a feeling it may be on his next trip over, as it still lacks seats.

David is going to miss him because Elias beats him at online poker every night. Okay, maybe David won't miss the sore throat he gets from yelling "YOU LUCKY DOG!!!" all the time.

This Saturday, Elias and I plan to go yard "sale-ing" early and then he and David are going to a Carolina football game, compliments of my friend Wade. Then, we are going to cook Dominican beans and rice. I tried it the other night and he gave me some pointers, so I've asked him to walk me through it. One of these days I WILL master that dish!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Artisans in the House


Only two days into this week and we are ART heavy. Monday we got together with our friends at Studio Campfire to get the kids' art ready for the State Fair. I'm excited about both Sarah and Alden's pieces. Sarah did a neat piece called "Dancing Henna" which featured a hand covered in henna, and the henna moving off the hand to surround it in the picture. Alden's work is a montage of school work in both Chinese and English, over which he decoupaged colored tissue paper in symbolic Chinese and USA flags, and then topped those with a large word in Chinese, made from strips of black paper.

In other art news, today was art class at Excelsior (30 mintues for Alden, two hours for Sarah), at the Tuesday homeschoolers program. They are both working on coats of arms since their focus this year at Excelsior is the Middle Ages.

And, tonight Alden worked on sanding and painting his pinewood derby car for Royal Rangers at church.


We have high hopes for the State Fair this year, especially since David brought home some earnings last year. I couldn't decide on a photo I liked, so I'm sitting this one out. I need to find some photos for the upcoming auction in Denver for Children's Heaven, and I planned to look for both a fair entry and auction photos simultaneously, but nothing is jumping out at me.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weekend in Atlanta

We had a fabulous weekend with our friends in Atlanta. It was the first time we'd seen Little Cutie on the swing since we came home with her from India. She is so well adjusted and happy - it is just wonderful to spend time with her.


But, the big news was Zion's future husband's birthday! Here he is, with Zion on the couch (love this photo by the "other" mom).



The party was a real rush. I have my friend Laura to thank for this flattering photo of me pretending to enjoy myself on the giant inflatible slide . . . you know, just for my kid's sake.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tokyo

My brother is going to Tokyo. All expenses paid, to compete in the international competition for the game, Metal Gear Online 4, that he has been playing lately.

I'm re-thinking my whole frequent flier strategy and wondering if I should take up gaming as my new "cheap travel" method. Previously, I gave up video games after weeks of frustration over not being able to complete a single screen of Pac Man. But, some of this skill must be genetic, right? I just need to learn to tap in.


Here's some info(!) from gamebattles.com:
This summer, GameBattles is proud to host the North American Qualifying leg of the Metal Gear Online World Championship, which will offer the two winning teams a trip to Tokyo, Japan!
. . . . both teams will be flown to Tokyo, Japan on or about October 8th -12th in order to battle it out with gamers from across the globe in the Metal Gear Online World Championship at the Tokyo Game Show! In addition to the winning a trip to Japan, there is $8,000 in cash and additional prizing from Konami up for grabs for the winners of the North American Qualifiers! Competition is sure to be fierce!

I'm realizing as I type this that I don't know how to properly format the name of a video game. Is it in italics or underlined like a book? Or in quotes like an article? My gut says think of it like a film, which is notated like a book title. I think. When I was in school, one gave Pac Man proper credit by just capitalizing the first letter of each word . . . not that any teacher wanted to see an arcade game mentioned in homework. I guess those proff's didn't imagine a world where your thumb power could entice sponsors to fly you around the world.

Travel is the finest form of education, wouldn't you agree?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tea Time


Today we hosted a local Homeschool Girl's Club.


She served her new friends tea, Chinese style, and showed them some tips about Chinese brush painting she learned from Grandma. Here she is grinding ink. I think the girls enjoyed grinding as much as they did painting.


And, here they are, running off a bit of energy - oh yes!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Cuba - Hurricane


Please pray for Cuba. The area where our friends live has been decimated by the hurricane storm surge, and we can't get in touch with anyone. There was a five story building near where they are that is now just GONE. In that area also, the water was already brackish, so our hope is that people can at least get clean water while they wait for other services to be restored.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Yearbook Yourself

Almost as much fun as turning yourself into a piece of IKEA furniture, my friend Heidi W told me about this one, Yearbook Yourself.

Here I am in 1960 and also, the year I was born, 1968: