Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Here's Hoping...

That you get to open some really amazing gifts this Christmas time!

Merry Christmas from me and my parents!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

First Hair Cut

It was bound to happen.
It needed to happen.
I didn't want to do it.
We went to the $10 hair cut place that Frank's been going to since we moved. A nice middle eastern man name Ali (yes Ali the barber), cut Zane's angel hair locks.

It was a full on trip to the barber, wet down, cut, blow dry, even trimmers around his ears and nape of the neck. From the time stamps on my pictures it took about 20 minutes! And he was great about it!

The wet down.

Taking a little off the sides.
And some more.
Looking down for the bangs to be cut.

With Daddy, right after he got out of the chair.

The back after it was done.

I'm not into crew cuts for my little boy. Frank sports one nowadays because chemo left his hair a different texture. I just think Z looks better with some hair, and there's a chance that his curls wouldn't all go away, which, it appears they have not!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Halloween 2008

Taking the initiative to put together his own costume....Z, trying on mommy's shoes:

Don't worry kid, Mommy, thanks to Nana*, has got you covered.

Beware of lions lurking in tall grass...

Or crawling through their dens.

Or just sunning themselves...

Did you hear, there's a new rule in the jungle, all lions must carry a ball of some kind around at all times. (His tail swished when he walked)

Lions also have good friends in the three eyed monster and yoda categories.
Here they are all looking in the same direction! (there was a puppy dog on the loose)

Hope you had a happy Halloween.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why we go to church at Berry

This was read last Sunday, by the author, in our church here in Chicago. He’s a twenty something musician. It’s his response to why he’s part of Berry UMC. I asked him if I could share it b/c it touched me so as a profound reminder of how important the small church is in the world.

Here’s some background about his references to help make sense of the whole:
• Sherrie is the pastor.
• Ben is a 5 year old rambunctious boy, most often found almost tripping any number of people as he runs in and around our legs, during fellowship time. He's often chasing his twin sister or younger sister.
• Temma is the pastor’s daughter who has the capacity of about a 3 month old. She comes to church every Sunday, is wheelchair bound and 23 years old. Our sanctuary is on the 2nd floor and there is no elevator. It takes at least three strong people to carry her up and down those stairs.

Why I Go to Berry
by Matt

The first Sunday that I attended Berry around 5 years ago, the benediction was in the form of Wendell Berry’s “The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.”

I remember Sherrie’s reiteration of the final lines. “Go now… be like the fox, making more tracks then necessary, some in the wrong direction. Practice resurrection.”

At the time, I was visiting Chicago on tour, while still living in Michigan. In the interest of time, lets say that I was a hardened and withering Fundamentalist attending a 1,400 member congregation with 2 jumbo-tron screens, a neon backlit white plastic cross, and a sense that nothing could happen unless it was MASSIVELY visceral and overwhelming.

I say this, not to condemn that church or way of experiencing God, but to acknowledge the immaturity of my own perceptions and lack of engagement in that community. My judgments kept me from seeing anything through the thick “God presence” fog emanating from a hissing machine behind the plastic plants on stage. I always missed the message because I was so busy noting the production, which was so completely incredible that I was sure – through a well-timed fan letter – it would be featured on This American Life with the suggested title, “Weekly Circus: Super-sizing Sunday Service in Middle America.”

I had disengaged and to curb my frustrations, I was assuming the role of an anthropological scientist. “Just here to watch.”

It’s no surprise that the first visit to Berry was slightly alarming. Everything was completely other to me. It was small. There wasn’t a safe 400th row to bob and weave my way through toward the door. Sherrie took long, considerate breathes between thoughts, which was a revelation in itself. “She’s actually thinking as she talks.” I was in love with the unrehearsed, unpolished, and sometimes down-right raw way that things occurred. Children showing me Jesus by freely running amuck. People shared defaming prayers of joy and concern in the safety and trust of the community.

“Who will serve communion?” How about you and you? And there was communion, without spiritual hierarchy or micro-management. It made sense to me. I could not remain anonymous because this wasn’t a drive-thru window. And though I maybe thought that was what I wanted, it wasn’t. This was a meal at a small table in a friend’s home. It was honest and loving, and that was about all that it needed to be. A community of engagement.

I’ve been here ever since, and I’m a part of it simply because I love it. I see Christ in the minutia here and at times when I’m most uncertain of belief, that is exactly what I need. A still small voice. It could be Ben singing “Jesus Loves Me” or it could be a few of us and Temma making our way down the stairs.

I want to end with a quote from Nelson Algren’s Chicago: City on the Make…

Yet once you've come to be part of this particular patch, you'll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real.

Berry: Community on the Make

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

fall fun

apple picking w/ mommy and my friends

I picked these off the tree w/ mommy's help.

These are my buddies. We're eating apples our mom's helped us pick. Boy were they (our mom's) glad that the farm had a wagon they could rent that would hold all of us!
I'm all of 5 mo older than they are, but I do teach them all the "fun" things I know how to do and Mommy warns their mom's about the tricks I teach them. We have lots of fun together.

Yellow or red? I like them both!

pumpkin patch farm w/ daddy and his cousins

I'm looking at pigs with my 2nd cousins on my Dad's Mom's side.

Hey, these make really good balls! (at least he was rolling, not kicking or throwing, this one)

It's not as great as the bumble bee I was going to bring home to show mommy (who was out of town this weekend), but this pumpkin should do just fine. She was proud nonetheless.
It looks bigger in this picture than it really is (camera angles can be so distorting); I carry it around every time I get the chance. Mommy says she might just be crazy enough to let me help carve one of our bigger ones this year. She's insane. But I'm told that never stopped her before.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Water, Frogs and Snakes

There were turtles too.
What seems like WEEKS ago, but was only 10 days ago, Zane and I went to a Toddlers and Tunes event at our local park . Here are some of the pictures from it, taken w/ my cell phone.

Looking at frogs in a bucket.

Finding a drum beside the buckets of turtles.

touching a snake. he really touched, it, but this picture turned out better.

And the impromptu drum circle w/ fellow beat-sters. Their hands really were flying.

Lastly, below, a pic of Z in front of the flood waters of the North Branch of the Chicago River last Sunday afternoon.

Saturday around 5pm we got a reverse 911 call from the police saying that evacuation locations were at our local police precinct. Now it had rained a lot that day and we'd driver through some water earlier as we'd driven through Lincolnwood and Skokie, but really, evacuation?

Then I started noticing a lot of tow trucks in the parking lot of the elementary school across the street from us. Being the curious cat that I am, coupled w/ Zane in the middle of a very uncharacteristic severe meltdown, we went out to take a walk in the neighborhood.

Following the flashing lights, sirens and tow trucks about three blocks from our house we discovered our neighborhood was very flooded.

We got to see a group of about 15 city workers trying to figure out how to fill sand bags with one shovel. They eventually got their acts together b/c the next day there were many sand bags about.

We were in the restricted area for most of the week while police limited car traffic to allow the heavy equipment to not only put down the sand bags while the water was rising, but get this--front loaders were used and city workers help flooded folks haul the debris of their homes out of flooded basements (and 1st floors) into large trucks that hauled the stuff away.

If only the folks in NOLA had that kind of help early on. Of course Katrina was a lot bigger area than the blocks around the North Branch of the Chicago River....

Travel around town was quite a chore, but we gratefully did not get any flooding. Some of the faulty building of our condo did get some water, but really, when you get 10+ inches in less that 48 hours, 6.5+ of them in 24, a bit of water damage is not unexpected. (the remnants of Hurricane Ike were only the last 1 or 2 inches of water)

Some homes along the river are still mucking out. aprox 350-400 homes were effected. The park we were at a few days earlier was also under water.

This was probably the high point of the water.

Stay dry and happy fall!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Popping Wheelies

So now that Frank's an international man of of accounting and all, he has a leg up on the "competition" and can score bit in the "toys that no other kids on the block has" department.

In our neighborhood that is pretty international to begin with, that can be quite a feat.

(Although, I'll readily admit it's really not the 17mo in the house that cares about these things, but I digress!)

Feast your eyes on the MOPI. From Hungary via a friend of a friend of Frank's from work.

Within ten minutes of getting on it, I decided Z needed to be wearing a helmet. Good thing too b/c he started popping wheelies up and down the hall.

Needless to say, he loves it.
He got the helmet so he could go bike ridding w/ Daddy.
And this is just a shot to show you how helpful and cute he is. He loves the vacuum cleaner, when it's off.
Have a great day.
The Rev.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

the dangers of watching the oylmpics

Ok, so you knew it would happen--why didn't you all WARN me?

Z is now able to climb into any chair--he's even attempting to scale into our super tall bar stools, he'll manage that by Wednesday. Someone this morning said that from the time they walk until they have some kind of self-preservation skills developed is called “baby prison” for the parents.

No surface is out of his reach. He's been scooting furniture around for months. He's an amazing problem solver. I give him a week to figure out that he has the ability to get to every surface in our house. By pushing a chair up to it and climbing.

A trip to the emergency room is just around the corner.

Now, on to why it is not safe to watch the Olympics in our house.

We caught a bit of the men's gymnastics last night and Frank joked, "We probably shouldn't let Zane see this, it will give him too many ideas."

I agree.

Example number one:

This was the day after we watched the opening ceremonies. Like 38% of the households (some stat I saw in today's paper) in the US we were DVRing it at the same time. I mean really, if you can zoom through commercials, you do. Then if you see a cute one you can go back and watch it, like the Coke one w/ the colorful birds--watch it closely and see what the red one is standing in front of when he picks up his straw.


During one of the commercial breaks we went back to see the awesome drums.
picture 1
picture 2
picture 3
Then in our own little living room our 16mo son crawled up on the couch turned his back to the TV and used the side table as his drum, mimicking the slow but deliberate moves of that he's previously seen.

Smart little twerp. Seriously, it was pretty awesome so watch him, and a lesson in how he is soaking up EVERYTHING around him and more often than not giving it a whirl.

He also LOVES the "wawa". He and I were at the lake for a while when we visited my parents. He's a beast in the pool, jumping in w/ abandon, never thinking that he might *NOT* be caught. Even when he'd go under the water he came up smiling.

My sister suggested today that with is loves of all things "ball" and now "wawa" that perhaps we have a future water polo player in our midst.

Now off to search for a toddler gym in our area that will teach him how to do all this stuff safely, so that I don't deplete the oxygen level of every room I’m in as I watch him tumble off his latest height.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Flying solo - a day in the life

The Rev and Zane have gone on an extended trip to Missouri to visit friends and family, leaving yours truly to fend for myself (without a car). I started off the day by heading over to church to pick up our weekly share from our CSA. Drop-off is around 7:40 AM, and the buses don't run too frequently at that time of day on the weekends, so I had to leave the house around 6:45 to make it in time, even though it meant arriving 15 minutes early. Fortunately, a bus arrived a few minutes after I picked up the groceries, and I was able to make it back home fairly quickly.

Next I decided that our bicycle, which has barely seen the light of day in the past 5 years, needed to be cleaned up and put to use. Unfortunately, the tires were flat and we didn't have a bicycle pump. I figured I could pick one up at Home Depot (which is probably the closest hardware store to us if you're using the CTA), so I decided on a plan. I would go to Agent Orange (because it makes your green disappear) and buy a pump, then head to the Roscoe Village neighborhood where the annual "Retro on Roscoe" street festival was taking place, figuring I could have lunch and also find a bike shop (there aren't any in our neighborhood that I know of). Then I could head home, pump up the tires, and take the bike in to get tuned up and buy other necessities (helmet, lock, cable, spare tubes).

Well, it's always wise to have backup plans when public transport is involved, and when the southbound bus I wanted didn't show up for 10 minutes, I saw a bus heading westbound so I hopped on and went to Jefferson Park. As the bus was nearing the end of its route, I spied a bike shop on the left, so after I got off I walked over to check it out. It didn't open for another 30 minutes, so I walked to the library, checked e-mail and read for a while, then walked back to the shop.

The guy behind the counter (I believe it's the owner) doesn't win any points for congeniality, but he did help me find a combination pump set (one for home - a floor pump - and a portable one to mount to the bike) as well as some tubes and I headed back home on the bus. I was able to pump up the tires and ride back to the shop without incident. I left the bike for a tune-up and was promised it would be done by the late afternoon, which meant I had about four hours to kill.

So I decided to head to the Near West Side, which I've never been to before (that I remember). I knew that the original Al's #1 Italian Beef was in the 1000 block of West Taylor Street, but that's about it. I took the train through downtown (avoiding the crowds heading to Lollapalooza) and got off near Union Station, then walked south to Taylor Street and headed west.

As I walked down Taylor I saw the street blocked off with lots of fire engines and other equipment. Turns out it was the Chicago Fire Department's 150th anniversary celebration at the Robert J. Quinn Fire Academy. I stopped in and got a "junior firefighter" hat for Zane, but didn't stay around, although there was free food and other cool stuff, which in retrospect could have kept me fed and entertained until I was ready to head back. Incidentally, I learned in my readings at the library that the Fire Academy was built in the 1950s on the site of the former home of Patrick and Catherine O'Leary, where the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 started in a barn behind the house. (The O'Learys' cow was probably NOT responsible for starting the fire, by the way.)

I continued west through the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago, had a Polish sausage at Al's, then headed north to catch the train back to Jefferson Park. I had more time to kill, so I went back to the library, then found a local coffee shop and got an iced coffee, then back to the bike shop, where I bought a lock and a helmet and biked home (but based on my experience and comments from others, I'll be looking for another bike shop next time). A good day of exercise. Maybe I'll hit Roscoe Village tomorrow - now I can bike there instead of navigate by train and bus.

Friday, July 25, 2008

lazy days of summer

So, you'd never know it's summer by the thermometer here in Chicago. Seriously I hope we don't pay for this with a bitterly cold winter.

We've been busy, going to the beach in Fl (which also was not unbearably hot) for the 4th of July, hosting family and friends back here at home.

He loves to mow. Outside and in.

Zane continues to be a learning machine. He babbles away. Words are still not completely understandable, except for "truckKKKKK", but the sign language I've taught him has come in handy as he UNDERSTANDS a lot more than he can talk about.For instance, he know to sit down when he wants to play his rythm sticks, or have his shoes put on. Plops right down in fact. He really enjoys both.

He loves anything that has to do with water:

He loves to boogie, dancing to whatever music is at hand: a commercial on the TV, a song on the ipod, a passing car playing Latin salsa or rap music. He's got the music in him and it makes his daddy VERY happy. Me too, it's just plain fun to watch him spinning around to the music.

Last night we got to take in one of Chicago's many free offerings: a Bossa Nova concert at Millennium Park. We put a blanket out on the lawn and Zane made everyone around us smile w/ his twirling/dancing/flirting.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I'm told...

...that I'm not updating enough. We're vacating this week, but have wifi in the condo. So for those who want to see a picture of a cute boy, here's what Zane did today.

I don't like sand.
Zane LOVES sand.
I now tolerate sand because he loves sand.

He also said "thank you" today. Prompted yes, but said it in context! It was the best birthday gift I could have ever gotten.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

in the future....

When you see cuts and bruises (casts are only around the corner) on my child, please know that while I delight in him exploring his world, I do not encourage him to climb as high as he can nor do I gleefully watch him navigate a playground's many levels and decide to jump from on high.
Some of what I'm talking about:

Because this is often the result:

That's not a "bloody nose" but a cut under his nose(?!). He got it while falling off the ledge he was walking along. I was close by, I fear I made it worse by trying to keep him from falling....but I digress.

As a mommy friend said to him this morning in the park after he fell and got the cut under his nose, "Zane, at least your black eye has healed up!" Yes, he ran into a table at full speed about a week ago and gave himself a beautiful shiner.

Then there are the times when he's all sweet and mostly helpful:

Of course right now he's spreading Cheez-its all over the floor and stomping on them.
A day in the life!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Life at the speed of Zane

Life at the speed of Zane is what I'm calling it. It is the new rhythm of my life and I like it. A lot. sometimes it's a wild ride, other times it's snuggling up and kicking back.

It also keeps me from extended periods of thoughtful reflection on the blog.

So, to recap:
I feel more like a Chicagoan. And not just because I know why they call it the Windy City. (btw: It has nothing to do with the often present breeze)

The Walk n Roll for the ACS (a month ago?!? now) was amazing. First, it was a Sunday morning event outside the that I was able to participate in.
Second, Frank was able to raise quite a bit of cash for something we really believe in.
For me it was amazing to walk through Grant Park, in front of the Field Museum, along the lake front and realize that I was going to be sleeping in my own bed that very evening because we LIVE in Chicago!

(in the Chicago skyline picture the walkers are in the far right near the lake, the line stretched all the way up to the skyline)

It wasn’t an easy walk. However, the hard part had NOTHING to do with the 17,000+ steps my pedometer told me I’d walked at the end of the day. It happened while I was walking w/ Frank and Zane. I'm "sight seeing" and amazed by the number of people participating. Groups of people laughing and having a good time, wearing T-shirts or carrying signs and banners in honor or memory of someone.

And then it hit me; I almost burst into tears. I saw T-shirts memorizing a woman younger than us who passed away 2 months ago. A reminder that while it was a beautiful (but cold) day midst the laughter and fun of those walking, we were also all "touched". For a moment I felt the weight of grief felt by this mass of humanity. So many lives lost, so many people being missed--and YET HOPE b/c so many survivors were also there too.

In the days that followed the weight turned to words of thanks for the inquisitive minds of many smart doctors and researchers who have made it their life's work to find cures for the cancers among us.
The following Sunday, back at church, as I voiced that prayer of thanks, gulped down a few of my own tears that I was still sitting next to the man I love. And, while cancer is still a part of our lives we have lived so much since then and have such a beautiful future ahead of us. And such a cute boy to share it with!
I mean, come on, who's number one?

A second big thing in the past month is that Z and I managed a visit to my parents and then met up w/ Frank for a weekend trip back to where we moved from.

We (Z and I) traveled alone for 6 hours in a car. He did great. He loved being at my parents (we went to the MO Botanical Gardens where the sheep picture was taken). He also got a kick out of this brass pot he's sitting in. He carried it around their house. At times he thought it was wonderful, at other times the pot made him very, very mad. His audience thought every moment was funny. It's a HEAVY brass pot, but he wouldn't let that stop him, no not my child!

Back in MO we saw as many folks as we could and took the opportunity to visit the church I served. The current pastor gave his blessings for the visit. (translation: when I asked, he said it was ok for me to visit, I'd checked with him weeks before as it is very uncool for previous pastors to "show up" w/o telling the current pastor it smacks of meddling in the current pastor's work with the people).

It was good to "go home" & see folks. I will always love that little church and the people who work to make it what it is. They walked with us through so many things! And I wanted them to see how big Z had grown in the short time we'd been gone. They, the church, are doing great, just as I knew they would.

It seemed like ages since I'd been there (only 4 months), and other previous pastors might have felt awkward, acknowledging some of the changes that have already occurred, but not me. I am genuinely happy and received as a gift the opportunity to witness some of the seeds I'd planted beginning to find a life, growing under the amazing care of their new pastor.

I am deeply proud of them.

It was a deeper confirmation for me too that I am exactly where God wants me to be, on this side of the pulpit, living at the speed of Zane. I do miss certain aspects of the job, but I'm not climbing the walls as some might expect.

I mean, I get to play with this little boy everyday! How lucky am I? Even in the middle of 3 molars and I think at least two other teeth cutting this week (he won't let me get my fingers in there to check) I'm more than pretty darn lucky!