Friday, December 30, 2005

Random stuff … ‘Cuz that’s what blogs are for.

Today Kevin told me: “I had a dream this morning that we took a cruise to Iraq. I thought it would be boring and then realized we’d get to see the Mediterranean and travel through the Suez Canal.”

I’m glad his dream turned out okay.

Because my sister Christy got her own apartment recently, she got a bunch of household items (sheets, pots and pans, etc.) for Christmas. “This is awesome!” she said. “It’s like getting married … but without the man.”

I love my sister.

It’s official now (i.e., enough people know, including our employers). We’re planning to move to Indiana, probably in the spring. We are excited and know it’s what God has for us but – as with all big changes in life – we are also somewhat anxious and overwhelmed.

A lot has to happen between now and then.

My mom hadn’t really said anything specific about us moving until this past weekend. My parents have always been supportive, knowing it will be a good thing for our family, even though I know it’s hard for them to see us move so far away.

Well, apparently, a woman at my mom’s church asked her what she thought about us moving. Her reply was: “I would rather have my daughter be married to a godly man and happy than living close to me without that.”

That is an unselfish love. What more can I say?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Temperate Holiday

Here I am in Long Beach, sitting in front of my parents’ computer. I had forgotten how warm it can be in So. Cal. in the wintertime. Even Sacramento is considered “extreme weather” compared to here. My first clue in discovering that I’d brought too many sweaters was when we pulled into my folks' driveway and my mom came bounding out of the house in shorts and a tank top.

On Friday we went to the Getty art museum in L.A. We had a great time and enjoyed both the art and the beautiful vistas surrounding the museum. We took an architecture tour and I learned more than I was planning to learn that day about the subject. But it was interesting, I will admit.

Other than the fact that my aunt Lori broke her arm on Christmas Eve, things have been pretty low-key. I can’t believe Christmas is already over. So much hoopla and then … it’s all over. So suddenly. Sigh.

Kevin's already home. Meredith and I are staying a few extra days to visit friends and family. I love my family here in L.B. but Kevin IS my family now. And I already miss him tons. For that reason, Thursday won't be here soon enough.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Merry Christmas from Meredith


This is me on my first date. It was last night with an older man. He is Ty Edmonson and he is seven months old! He gave me a kiss. (It was my first kiss from a boy.) And then I cried.


This is me last night with my parents. They said my first date had to be with adult supervision since I am still so young.


I just want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Kevin in the Paper

Yesterday Kevin was in the Sacramento Bee.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Ahh, Life ...

Yes! I’ve borrowed a laptop so I can get meet some work deadlines before Christmas arrives. I’m glad to be able to get my hands on technology again!

Everything has been going well except for my computer woes and the fact that I left some sugar on the counter overnight and an army of ants overtook my kitchen. Kevin is normally the one who would deal with insect infiltration but, since he was at work, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I couldn’t locate the Raid in the garage but did manage to find another kind of chemical. The bottle advertised that it would kill aphids and prevent diseases on rose bushes. I rationalized that if it could kill aphids, it could certainly kill ants too. Right?

After completely hosing down my kitchen with this aphid-killer, I sat and victoriously watched all the ants drown and die.

Oh, and another thing … thanks to all of you, I recently learned that I was taught incorrect versions of various nursery songs as a child! Not only was I erroneously told that the middle-piggy ate “corn and bread,” I was also taught an incorrect version of Patty-Cake. Maybe I shall need to go into counseling because of this. Does anyone know a good shrink?

[Note: Mom and dad, if you are reading this, I’m sincerely not bitter. At least you loved me and sang to me. Seriously, I think I have the best parents ever. Even if they made up their own words to certain songs.]

Other than these things, mentioned above, we have been greatly enjoying this Christmas Season. I went to a very fun ladies’ Christmas Tea; I’ve been doing a lot of baking (what else do you do when your computer is broken?); we went and saw the glitzy Christmas lights at the Fab Forties; and tonight we’re going to a Christmas party and gift-exchange with friends.

Oh, and last night Kevin introduced me to Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. He’s been saying how much he wanted this CD and so I bought him one for Christmas. Then, low and behold, last night he plans to buy one while we’re at Barnes and Nobles. (Can you believe it?! You’re not supposed to buy things for yourself in December!!) So, I had to reveal my hand and tell him I’d already gotten it for him! Sheesh.

Anyway, last night we listened to the whole thing together. It was fun.

Finally … In case I don’t get a chance to say it before December 25, I wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas!

Now I’ve gotta get to work! Deadlines are looming!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Value of Being Connected

Right now I would say the value of being connected is priceless. Kevin would tell you otherwise. That’s because he’s currently looking at exactly how much it’s going to cost to get us a new computer since ours died on Wednesday night.

We are presently at Kevin’s office using his work computer. He is being industrious with his research and I’m goofing off.

For the past few days I’ve hardly known what to do with myself. I rely on my computer to work, stay in touch with people, read the daily news, and get pretty much all my information, including driving directions, grocery ads, and recipes for dinner! I’m so utterly dependent on the internet it’s not even funny!

Just so you know – if you sent me an e-mail in the past week, I have not received it and will likely never receive it.

Okay, I’d better go. I hope our new computer gets here like yesterday.

VERY Important Question for You

Can you guys please help me and Kevin settle an ongoing debate? Thank you.

Since Meredith has started to notice that she has feet on the end of her legs, we’ve been helping to cultivate her fascination by reciting “This Little Piggy” to her.

Kevin says that the middle toe piggy had “roast beef.” I say this is WRONG. The middle toe piggy actually had “corn and bread.” That’s how I learned it as a child and that’s how it must be.

World War III is likely to break out if we cannot solve this crisis.

It is so very difficult raising a child when the parents each have different views on important things like religion, politics, or how to accurately recite "This Little Piggy."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Herr President

Apparently, in protest of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s refusal to commute the death sentence of Crips gang founder Tookie Williams, “[l]eaders of Austria’s opposition Green Party even called for Schwarzenegger to be stripped of his Austrian citizenship.” (Here's the full article.)

I don’t often post on our blog, but in light of recent talk about amending our Constitution to allow Schwarzenegger to become the next U.S. president, I find this threat somewhat disturbing. While we can assume the best of Schwarzenegger personally to maintain his loyalties here, the Constitution and its safeguards are meant to assume the worst. I don’t think we should permit foreign nations even the possibility of wielding citizenship as a means of influencing the decisions of our elected officials. They shouldn’t have that kind of influence over any of our elected officers, let alone the president.

--Kevin

In the Toy Shop

Last night was one of those “first experiences.” It was the first time we had the opportunity to go toy shopping for our own child. And it was so much fun! We walked up and down the aisles looking at all the playthings. From time to time, Kevin would pull something down from the shelf and show it to Meredith. We would watch her to gauge her reaction. When she smiled and kicked her legs wildly we figured she liked it. (Aren’t we smart?)

There was one toy in particular, a little plastic cooking utensil set, where she consistently went hysterics every time we showed it to her. [Yes! A girl after my own heart!]

There are several toys from my childhood that I remember in particular: 1) that little cone shaped toy with rainbow-colored stackable rings; 2) that little plastic bench toy with the little “nails” that you can hammer down; and 3) that toy that looks like a vacuum – you walk around with it and the little balls pop up and down.

One thing that was interesting to me is how hi-tech everything is now. The modern versions of all the above toys involve both shinning lights and music. What happened to the beautiful simplicity of toys?

Last night I learned that toys are not timeless. They evolve.

‘Twas 13 Days Before Christmas …

… When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my couch to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash …

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a large fire engine (so who needs reindeer?),

With a truck pulling an old man, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

Yeah, so, I was talking on the phone to Kevin, who had called me on his way home from work, when I noticed that Santa was cruising our neighborhood to give Christmas greetings to the children in Roseville.

After spotting the hullabaloo through the window, I ran outside to join the throng.

Pretty much all the children in our neighborhood were standing outside their homes with huge smiles on their faces.

Santa spotted me and said, “Ho, ho, ho, who’s that on the phone? Tell them that Santa says Meeeeeerrrry Christmas!” And then he let out a big chuckle.

Ummm … Where can I fill out an application to have his job for next year? It’s like getting to be the biggest celebrity ever for a whole night. Everyone loves you and you get to make people happy. What a great job.

Turns out that Kevin, who was almost home when he called, got stuck in “Santa traffic.” But some little elves came by and handed him candy canes to make up for it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Weekend Highlights, Lowlights, and Christmaslights

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Koons’ household. Our tree stands shimmering in the living room, greenery ornaments the staircase, and stockings adorn the fireplace. And yes, oh yes, I’m in the Christmas mood.

One very sad thing I must mention, however, is that on Friday, when we were decorating, we despondently realized that we’d forgotten to get a stocking for Meredith. Very negligent of us! (We’re hopefully going to remedy that tonight.)

We took a break from Christmas festivity to celebrate Kevin’s 28th birthday on Saturday. We pretty much lazed around all day, took a bike ride through an “open space” near our house, and then had a great steak dinner.

Thanks to the environmentalists, open spaces are fairly common here in California. The one just down the street from our house looks like an enchanted forest with little rolling hills, long wavy grass, and spooky, gnarled oak trees. In the spring, when everything greens up, it’s especially beautiful with lots of purple lavender growing amongst the grass.

Last night we went to Todd and Kathy’s house and watched the children decorate gingerbread houses. Next year I think I shall plan a Christmas party for adults to decorate gingerbread houses. Wouldn’t that be fun? We could even make it into a contest!

I think Kathy saw that I was envious of the kids and she allowed me to decorate my very own gingerbread man. I loved it!

This morning I went downstairs to play some Christmas music. I turned on the CD player and, to my horror, Kevin had taken out the Christmas music and swapped it with some tribal-sounding chant music. Blah! I immediately switched it back. Now lovely strains of “Oh Holy Night” are wafting throughout my house. Ahhh. Yes, this world is a wonderful place to live. Especially at Christmastime.

Announcing “Winter Family Day,” December 25

I’m somewhat surprised that no one seemed to agree with me that churches closing on Christmas is shameful. To me, it’s not necessarily that I think they’re committing a cardinal sin. It’s more the irony of the matter. I think a church closing its doors on Christmas is kowtowing to the world’s definition of what Christmas is all about.

If December 25 were simply a random day in the middle of winter dedicated to family time and giving, I can see the logic of skipping church for that kind of holiday. (Although I may not necessarily agree with it, I can see the logic of it.)

But, if Christians purport to celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25, but don’t want to go to church on December 25, that’s quite ironic.

It is inconsistent to say Christmas is about Christ and, on the other hand, choose not to go to church on Christmas when it falls on the Lord's Day.

I'm not judging ... I'm simply pointing out an inconsistency.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Fun Food Gift Ideas

Fun! Everyone loves food (some of us more than others)! Give the gift of food.

Bowing to Secular Culture?

When I think of the state of the modern church, the apathy, the disregard for God's word, the love of the world, it makes me want to scream, toss my lunch, pray, and sob ... all at the same time. What has happened to the church?

Some Churches Closed On Christmas

"We believe that you worship every day of the week, not just on a weekend, and you don't have to be in a church building to worship." -Cindy Willison, Southland Christian Church, Nicholasville, Ky.

(AP) This Christmas, no prayers will be said in several megachurches around the country.

Even though the holiday falls this year on a Sunday, when churches normally host thousands for worship, pastors are canceling services, anticipating low attendance on what they call a family day.

Critics within the evangelical community, more accustomed to doing battle with department stores and public schools over keeping religion in Christmas, are stunned by the shutdown.

It is almost unheard of for a Christian church to cancel services on a Sunday, and opponents of the closures are accusing these congregations of bowing to secular culture.

"This is a consumer mentality at work: `Let's not impose the church on people. Let's not make church in any way inconvenient,"' said David Wells, professor of history and systematic theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary …

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Moving Forward or Looking Backward?

Yesterday, the Restitution Study Group announced that a coalition of student, religious, community and other groups are committed to pulling loan money from the three parent banks and their subsidiary lending institutions until reparations are paid. The group’s head, Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against JP Morgan and seventeen other companies over restitution for profiting from slavery.

“The movement for reparations is based on the idea that slavery in the US not only denied captive Africans of economic compensation for their work, but that those individuals’ present-day heirs continue to suffer from that deprivation. Reparations advocates say that trillions of dollars that should have been paid the captive workforce before slavery’s abolition continues to be missing from the coffers of the African-American community. They argue that the heirs of companies that withheld those funds continue to benefit from the inheritance of that money.

“‘These companies have amassed enormous wealth off the backs of enslaved Africans,’ Farmer-Pallmann said. ‘They participated in institutionalized terrorism, genocide, rape, torture, and theft of humans. They owe us restitution, but they refuse to pay. They left us no choice but to boycott.’”

Although slavery in the US was a grave injustice, no person alive today is responsible for what is past. There were a lot of white slave-holders and there were also a lot of white persons who gave their lives to end slavery. (The companies are sued merely because they have deep pockets.) As long as the African-American community looks backwards, instead of forward, the divisiveness will continue. A sense of entitlement hinders vs. empowers.

Searching for Search Lights

I have a crazy husband. Last night, after getting our Christmas tree (finally!), we drove around for twenty minutes trying to locate the source of search lights we saw in the sky. “I want to find them!” he declared. So, we set off on our mission.

They seemed to be mostly west and slightly south of where we were. With Kevin at the wheel, we maneuvered back and forth on both main streets and side streets until we finally found them. It was kind of like a treasure hunt of sorts.

Personally, I think search lights are cool. I love the grandeur of the light beams shooting into the sky, especially as you get closer and closer. Needless to say, we had a good time on our hunt.

In the end, our search light search landed us in the parking lot of a new gym opening up in Roseville. I told Kevin we should go inside to see if they have free cookies and punch. But, after discussing it, we decided to just go home and put up our tree.

I love random adventures.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Proof Boys Need Dads

On the way to a Chinese Restaurant on Sunday, I rode in my dad’s truck with him, my mom, and my ten-year-old brother, David.

“Chinese is my least favorite food!” David moaned, as real tears rolled down his cheeks. “I hate Chinese food!”

My mom, in the back seat, tried to console him. “David, just try to eat a little bit. Please? You like rice, don’t you?”

“Oooh,” he continue to sob.

“David,” said my dad from the driver’s seat. His voice was strong and commanding. I could tell it was going to be one of those no-room-for-negotiation talks I had experienced myself in my own childhood.

“Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t like,” my dad continued. “Today you are going to eat Chinese food and you are going to do it gracefully. You are not going to complain. Do you understand?”

David wiped his tears and managed to mutter a “Yes.”

This little conversation really struck me as proof that boys need a father to become a man. While mothers are essential too, there is just something about a father speaking to a boy to encourage him to rise to the occasion and become a Man.

God bless fathers who take their jobs seriously and make a difference in their boys’ lives.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Culottes

Every once in a great while, for who knows what reason, I take it upon myself to comment on the latest fashion. Today is one of those days …

Never in my wildest imagination did I ever envision culottes coming into vogue. But, to my utter disbelief and astonishment, such is the case. Culottes are now “the thing.” Who would’ve thought?

Maybe my mind was blinded, thinking this trend impossible, because of those bygone ATI days. Maybe it’s the fact that I have a few horrid pictures of me, being 14 or so, and wearing a homemade pair of culottes! Not because they were fashionable but because they were modest and acceptable for a girl who liked sports but was bound by institutional legalism.

Ugh. Those are the pictures I’d like to rip out of my mom’s photo album and burn.

And to think … today I walked the mall and actually contemplated buying a pair to go with my boots! Not that the culottes I saw in the mall today can compare with those that originated from my mom’s sewing machine, of course.

Wow.

This is proof that you should never ever say never. Especially when it comes to fashion.

Monday, December 05, 2005

How To Bring Parents Home

Alert – If both sets of your parents live far away from you and you are lonely for their company, wishing you could see them more often, I have learned that there is something you can do about that! And that would be … have a baby.

Yes, a baby in your family has an amazing tendency to draw your parents to your home for a given weekend when, otherwise, they would probably have made different plans.

This weekend both sets of our parents came to town for Meredith’s baptism. Needless to say, it was very special to have all four grandparents present for this momentous occasion.

While we must trust God to plant seeds of faith in Meredith’s heart so that she may someday personally dedicate herself to Christ, yesterday’s baptism was symbolic of God’s working already in Meredith’s life by placing her in a Christian home. We are grateful that God’s promises are for us and our children (Acts 2:39). We are also thankful for the Christian families that God placed us both in. We do not undervalue our godly heritage.


[Note: State Farm has already thanked me for the free advertising.]

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Congrats to a Friend

The guy who heads up "The Committee to Save Merry Christmas" is a long-time friend of mine. Last year I watched Manny work tirelessly to take-down Macy's and, truthfully, I wasn't convinced it was going to do much good. Well, I guess I was wrong. Amy eats dirt!!

This just goes to show what one person can do when he's willing to work hard and he believes strongly in something. Way to go Manny!

Macy's Agrees to Say Merry Christmas; National Boycott of Sears Announced

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Nov. 30 /Christian Wire Service/ -- The Committee to Save Merry Christmas today announced Macy's Department Stores has agreed to return the phase "Merry Christmas" to store signage and advertising. "On behalf of every American who celebrates the real meaning of Christmas, we applaud Macy's decision and hope other retailers will follower their lead," said Manual Zamorano, chairman of the Committee to Save Merry Christmas. Macy's letter of agreement can be found at www.savemerrychristmas.org.

On the heels of this major victory, the Committee to Save Merry Christmas has announced a national boycott against Sears Department Stores for the 2005 Christmas season. "Pro-Christmas Americans should avoid the 'Bah, Humbug' attitude of Sears this Christmas shopping season," said Zamorano. Sears has rejected several requests that "Merry Christmas" signs be returned and posted in their stores and that their advertising both acknowledge and respect the time-honored phrase "Merry Christmas."

"Sears is in need of an extreme makeover in regards to their discrimination and bias against Christmas," said Zamorano. "Over the past several years, Sears has systematically removed references to Merry Christmas. Inviting us to shop for Christmas gifts yet eliminating Merry Christmas is offensive to the sensibilities of millions of average Americans. Eliminating 'Merry Christmas' is plain wrong. It's time to remove Sears from your Christmas shopping list."

"It's the height of hypocrisy for Sears to make tens of millions of dollars selling Christmas presents, yet coldly refuse to acknowledge Christmas," said Zamorano. "What's the holiday all about, anyway? Politically-correct phases like 'Seasons Greetings' and 'Happy Holidays' are no substitute for the real thing."

Book Love

Meredith loves books. How do I know this? Whenever I read to her she furiously kicks her legs and slaps the book with her hands. This indicates her extreme excitement. Then, every time I turn a page, she grabs the book, brings it to her mouth and tries to eat it. Today as I read her Curious George’s ABCs, she wouldn’t settle down until I allowed her to taste every single page. I’m glad my little girl is displaying an early love for books.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Flavor is Life

“Could it be POB juice?” I asked myself this morning as I took a long luxurious sip.

This is the first time I’ve been able to taste anything in the past four days because I’ve had a horrible head cold.

You know how they say you never appreciate something fully until it’s taken from you? Well, whoever said that is a very wise person.

Because I haven’t been eating very much, ‘cuz everything tastes like cardboard, I think I’ve lost about five pounds. This has got me thinking about whether I’d rather be super-skinny and not enjoy my food OR carry a little extra but love every bite. After some deep, contemplative thought, I’ve decided that being fat is not the worst thing in the world. One of the worst things, however, has got to be having no flavor in your life.

Thank you, God, for all those wonderful flavors you created for me to enjoy!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Home Again!

From Meredith

This past week I went on my third airplane ride. This time it was to a place called Indiana. There are lots of people who love me in Indiana and I liked it a lot. It was my first Thanksgiving, too. I learned that Thanksgiving is a special day to be grateful for what you have. I have a lot to be thankful for, even though I'm just a little baby. Here are some pictures I want to share with you. One is of my first snowfall and the other two are of playtimes with my Grandma and Grandpa Koons.





Friday, November 18, 2005

When you can't speak ...

The past few months I’ve experienced something I’d never experienced before. The absence of Freedom of Speech.

Even though I live in America, when I talk to Megan in China, I can’t talk about God or Prayer – or anything religious – because it could jeopardize the work she’s doing over there. In fact, that’s why she doesn’t have comments on her Xanga – so others don’t accidentally say those taboo religious words.

I never realized, before, how difficult it is to refrain from using religious terminology. “I’ll be praying for you …” Or “I’m sure God will direct you …” Or something about “God’s will …” Or “at church last week …” etc., etc. Those are just a few of the phrases I take for granted living in the States.

On several occasions, either talking with or e-mailing Megan, I’ve messed up pretty badly. This results in either awkward silence or a reply e-mail asking me to re-send what I wrote without “certain words” because the first e-mail was “quickly deleted.” One e-mail I wrote, expressing my thoughts on decision-making, was especially bad. After I sent it, I realized what I had done. It made me angry and it also made me feel like giving up on communicating with Megan altogether!

When you can’t even speak your heart, and be honest and open in your communication, why bother?

It really infuriates me that a government can ban people from speaking their heart.

It also makes me tremendously grateful for the freedoms I have here at home.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Old Familiar Places

Here are several things I learned this past week:

1) Never take a red-eye with a baby on your lap.
2) D.C. was not designed for strollers and nursing infants.
3) Virginia is still as beautiful as it ever was.

We had a fabulous “vacation” this past week. Kevin attended the Federalist Society conference in D.C. for three days while I painted the town with Meredith. Then we spent some time visiting with good friends in Maryland and Virginia.


From Meredith: “This is me and my mom standing outside where the President lives. We also went to the place where they make all the laws and a bunch of other places.”

We went just about everywhere, actually. The first day in D.C., just after flying in on our red-eye, I decided that it would be a shame to waste precious daylight hours. So, I took a shower at the hotel and we (me and Meredith) set out to see all the major landmarks. We walked the entire length of the Mall and I thought my legs were sure to fall off! On Friday we went to the Zoo and, on Saturday, we went to the National Gallery of Art and Botanical Gardens with Sarah. While in D.C., we had lunch with Jeanette, dinner with Christy, and then dinner on Saturday with the Mehrens and the Richmonds. We miss our east coast friends!

After three days navigating the D.C. Metro-system with a stroller, I have a whole new appreciation for handicapped people. It is such a pain to have to look for an elevator or a ramp everywhere you go!

On Sunday we visited with church friends at the Gazos’ home. We couldn’t believe how much all the kids had grown up. Amazing! (Are we getting older too?) Katrina was a flower girl in our wedding and now she’s so grown up! It was fun to see the Shipps and meet their little girl, Nora, who is the same age as Meredith.

On Monday and Tuesday we met with HSLDA friends. We especially enjoyed seeing Sherri, Sarah, Leah, John, Cora, the attorneys, the Joneses, and, of course, the Hall family. We also were able to stop and see the Klickas on the way to the airport. I can’t believe it’s been three years since we’ve been back. Working at HSLDA and living in Virginia were incredibly good years. That was such a great chapter of life!


From Meredith: “These are my two new friends, Reagan and Parker Hall. I went to their house and they played with me and let me see all their toys. Life with just mom and dad will never be the same again.”

D.C., A Friendly Place (Who Would’ve Thought?)

One thing that amazed me, during our visit to D.C., was how courteous and friendly everyone was toward Meredith and I. Especially in the non-touristy areas. It was as if people in D.C. never get to see little babies. At least every 15-20 minutes someone would stop us and ask to look at Meredith. One morning while we were having breakfast at a bakery-shop, every single female working at the shop (five or six) stopped to look at Meredith, smile, and coo at her.

I’ve also never had so many people open doors for me in my entire life! Not to mention the many people who helped me carry the stroller up or down a flight of stairs when I couldn’t find a ramp available. While we were on the Metro, people consistently stepped aside to let us board first, gave up their seats for us, etc., etc. One day, a man who, I guess, was homeless (and smelled like he hadn’t showered in over a week), peered into Meredith’s stroller and talked to her for about five minutes while we were riding the Metro. Meredith smiled back at him and acted like she thought he was the greatest thing ever. She must have totally made his day (or maybe even his life!). The other people riding the Metro also got a big kick out of it. I think they were amused I let this man put his face next to my child. But, what could I do?

Then, there was that time when my stroller got stuck in-between the exit “doors” where you insert your Metro ticket. A gentleman in a business suit, who had been walking quickly past me, stopped to help. I pushed with all my strength and he pulled with all his. Finally, the stroller came unstuck.

Because of these positive experiences, I have a whole new outlook on the District of Columbia. I now view it as a wonderful place full of friendly, kind, thoughtful people. Before, it was just another big city.

More pics (I) ...

Okay, Kev said I needed to post more pics. Here are a few more from the plethora of pics I just downloaded from my camera:


Meredith protests at the Supreme Court.


Enjoying Art with Sarah


Early Addiction


Theresa, Meredith, Katrina (Gazo)

More pics (II) ...


Dinner at the Halls'


Nathan, Kevin, Adam, Jordan


Geni, Meredith, Logan


The Joneses


The Klickas

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Losing Bad Habits

Over the weekend we swapped stories (with my family being here) about how our parents got us to lose bad habits as children.

Kevin’s parents bribed him to give up sucking his thumb by taping a picture of a bike to the side of his bed and telling him that if he didn’t suck his thumb for x-amount of days, then he would get one. Apparently it worked like a charm.

My parents, when I was 2 ½ years old, decided it was time for me to give up my bottle. My dad made me pick up all my bottles and put them, one by one, in a large trash bag. He then walked with me to the outside trashcan and made me watch as he threw them away. That night when I cried for my bottle, my dad said, “Remember, Amy, we threw them all away today.” I paused for a second, thought about this, and then closed my eyes and went to sleep. Of course, as soon as my dad threw the bottles away, he went back outside and rescued them for my little sister to use!

Parenthood definitely requires a little bit of timely creativity.

Sayings

Today I was looking for a quote for a project I’m working on and came across two noteworthy ones. The first one got a chuckle and the second one made me think.

“Friends are like television. Some are like PBS and always asking for money. Others are like the news, with sad tales to tell everyday, some are like that one station with the foreign language; you don't understand a word of it but you listen and watch.” – Unknown

“Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.” - Rabbinical Saying

Monday, November 07, 2005

Family Photo

Glimpses of the Weekend


Meredith says: “I’ve discovered that these two fingers taste the best.”


With Aunt Melissa


Meredith says: “I’m one cool chick.”


Grandparents

Friday, November 04, 2005

Quote

“I’ve discovered that my feelings and attitudes are directly related to how clean my desk is.” – Kevin Koons

[Yesterday he was feeling really good 'cuz his desk was clean.]

A Personal Low Point

This week I pulled out one of my favorite sweaters (yes, finally!) and wore it all day while running errands. Later that evening I noticed a small hole on my left sleeve. It appeared to be moth damage. Upon closer examination of my sweater, I spotted numerous holes on my right sleeve and a large hole on the lower back of my sweater.

My first horrified thought was: “I can’t believe I ran around the mall not knowing I looked like a tattered hobo all day.”

My second horrified thought: “I wonder how many of my other precious sweaters are ruined?”

I ran to my closet and tore out all my clothes. Turns out that four sweaters were damaged, three of them being my absolute favorites. Grrr.

What can I say? I guess moths have good taste in sweaters.

I don’t understand why there was moth damage considering I wore these sweaters tons last winter. I thought this was only supposed to happen if you let your clothes sit for more than a year.

Kevin’s reply was: “I know you probably don’t want to hear this right now but ‘do not lay up for yourself treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourself treasures in heaven.’”

When he said this, I actually started to get teary-eyed, knowing that my clothes money budget (that I consistently spend as soon as I get the cash for it) wouldn’t be able to replace my sweaters any time really soon. [Forget the spiritual, Amy!]

Then Kevin, to console me, immediately offered go outside our budget and buy me more sweaters. Ugh … I don’t know, maybe I’ll take him up on it.

One thing I do know is … moths are EVIL.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

While I'm at it ...

While I'm bemoaning what this world is coming to, here is one last post for the day. I promise. This girl's gotta get dinner on the table!

Another blogger today posted breaking news:

9th Cir. Rules Parents Have No Fundamental Right to Be Exclusive Sex Educators of Their Children

The opinion reads: "[W]e hold that there is no free-standing fundamental right of parents 'to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex in accordance with their personal and religious values and beliefs' and that the asserted right is not encompassed by any other fundamental right. In doing so, we do not quarrel with the parents' right to inform and advise their children about the subject of sex as they see fit. We conclude only that the parents are possessed of no constitutional right to prevent the public schools from providing information on that subject to their students in any forum or manner they select. We further hold that a psychological survey is a reasonable state action pursuant to legitimate educational as well as health and welfare interests of the state."

My Blood is BOILING!

This recorded phone call is amazing. Truly an eye-opener for me. Imagine if this were your daughter! Imagine the crimes that take place and go unreported. What kind of insane world do we live in that this is possible?

Note: It takes a second before you hear the phone being dialed.

Kevin's Latest Craze

Thanks to a link on Linnea's blog, Kevin has recently become hooked on Sudoku puzzles.

Personally, I think these puzzles are entirely too tedious to be any fun. But, I usually join Kevin in helping him solve it after he's gotten the first half figured out. Then, it gets more fun.

You Are Probably a Bad Parent

Sorry guys but I'm immersed daily in Prop 73 stuff. Here's one of many pieces I've recently written on this topic.

Prop 73: You Are Probably a Bad Parent

“In an ideal family, a girl would at least feel comfortable discussing [abortion] with her parents, without fear of being reprimanded or told what decision to make,” said Gaia Veenis, senior opinion columnist for The Daily Aztec. “But as we know, most families are not ideal.”

Because she thinks most parents are overbearing, Ms. Veenis wants you to vote against Prop 73, a ballot initiative that would require parental notification 48 hours prior to a minor child receiving an abortion.

Ms. Veenis isn’t ultimately worried about abusive homes, because Prop 73 exempts teens from notifying parents who are abusive. No – she’s worried about those “bad” parents out there who would actually reprimand their child or tell them what they should do. Apparently, in her utopia-world, all parents would support their children in whatever they choose to do – regardless of whether it’s good for them or not – and abandon any authority-figure role in their lives.

Thankfully Ms. Veenis isn’t the despot of the world.

Because parents are the ones who care about their children the most, and are willing to be loving even when it means “tough love,” they should have priority in helping their child to make an abortion decision.

Statements like Ms. Veenis’ show the extreme elitist’s mentality by those who oppose Prop 73. She believes that her style of hands-off parenting is so far superior to everyone else’s that whoever does it differently is a “bad” parent.

Another troubling comment made by Ms. Veenis is one that is being heard more and more frequently in modern public policy talk. “The problem with Proposition 73 is that religious sentiments are seeping into the legislative process yet again,” she said.

Although there is nothing per se “religious” about Prop 73, Ms. Veenis is concerned because some of Prop 73’s backers happen to be religious people. If this doesn’t smack of religious intolerance and bigotry, what does?

It is frightening that high-profile persons like Ms. Veenis are permitted to say such odious things against religious persons without any public outcry or other repercussions.

Lastly, it is interesting that, when considering the commonsense argument by proponents of Prop 73 that children can’t receive Tylenol without parental consent but can obtain a surgical or chemical abortion without parental notification, Ms. Veenis responded as follows: “Abortion is a much more complicated and delicate matter than these simplistic arguments make it appear.”

Could it be that she was simply at a loss for a better response? Yes, the argument is “simplistic.” But that is what makes it so overwhelming. Tylenol vs. Abortion. There is absolutely no justification for the disparity that is currently in our laws concerning the emancipation of minors to make their own medical decisions.

To read the entire opinion column written by Ms. Veenis, click here.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Durbin on Alito

This morning I heard Senator Dick Durbin on the radio. I looked for his exact quote online but couldn’t find it (here is a paraphrase). Essentially he went through a list of things he was going to research on Judge Samuel Alito before he was assured he is qualified for the High Court. These things included his views on abortion, civil rights, the environment, etc.

What’s with the far left? Either Durbin knows little about the Separation of Powers Clause or he simply doesn’t care.

How far have we come that so many prominent U.S. Senators completely disregard major structural concepts in our Constitution?

If Judge Alito were running for Congress, it would be appropriate to know his views on every political issue. But he’s not running for office. He’s been nominated to the Supreme Court.

Recent history has shown that the most significant way liberals have changed the law in their favor is through judges (vs. the legislature). Durbin knows that, to move forward with his agenda, he needs liberal activist judges who are willing to legislate from the bench and re-write the Constitution. That’s why he’s so desperate.

My guess is that Senator Durbin already knows he won’t vote for Alito. He knew that a very long time ago. He didn’t vote to confirm Roberts and it’s unlikely that he’d vote for any Bush nominee.

Constant Prayer

Pray without ceasing.” (I Thes. 5:17)

Obviously it’s impossible to talk to God constantly. Thus, prayer is more than talking. Although prayer involves words too, it’s also non-verbal communion.

This devotional I read today by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman was very insightful. I especially appreciated the illustration of the mother and child.

"Likewise also the Spirit helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what to pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." (Rom. 8:26, 27)

This is the deep mystery of prayer. This is the delicate divine mechanism which words cannot interpret, and which theology cannot explain, but which the humblest believer knows even when he does not understand.

Oh, the burdens that we love to bear and cannot understand! Oh, the inarticulate out-reachings of our hearts for things we cannot comprehend! And yet we know they are an echo from the throne and a whisper from the heart of God. It is often a groan rather than a song, a burden rather than a buoyant wing. But it is a blessed burden, and it is a groan whose undertone is praise and unutterable joy. It is "a groaning which cannot be uttered." We could not ourselves express it always, and sometimes we do not understand any more than that God is praying in us, for something that needs His touch and that He understands.

And so we can just pour out the fullness of our heart, the burden of our spirit, the sorrow that crushes us, and know that He hears, He loves, He understands, He receives; and He separates from our prayer all that is imperfect, ignorant and wrong, and presents the rest, with the incense of the great High Priest, before the throne on high; and our prayer is heard, accepted and answered in His name. --A. B. Simpson

It is not necessary to be always speaking to God or always hearing from God, to have communion with Him; there is an inarticulate fellowship more sweet than words. The little child can sit all day long beside its busy mother and, although few words are spoken on either side, and both are busy, the one at his absorbing play, the other at her engrossing work, yet both are in perfect fellowship. He knows that she is there, and she knows that he is all right. So the saint and the Saviour can go on for hours in the silent fellowship of love, and he be busy about the most common things, and yet conscious that every little thing he does is touched with the complexion of His presence, and the sense of His approval and blessing.

And then, when pressed with burdens and troubles too complicated to put into words and too mysterious to tell or understand, how sweet it is to fall back into His blessed arms, and just sob out the sorrow that we cannot speak! --Selected

Monday, October 31, 2005

Clever

After having said what I did about Halloween, I will add that the phrases in the Indy Star crossword are rather creative today. If you've never done crosswords before, the ones published at the beginning of the week are easier than the ones published at the end of the week. In other words, Mondays are good to start with!

An Innocent Practice?

Regardless of whether you choose to participate in Halloween or not, hopefully you have deeply wrestled with the question of whether it’s okay to celebrate this holiday. Like many other things, too many Christians partake in Halloween activities because it’s simply the cultural thing to do.

How many Christians have honestly asked themselves, “What does God think of Halloween?”

“Is it possible to align ourselves innocently with something traditionally and currently involved with the occult and be certain we will not be affected in any possible manner?”

“What about the repeated admonitions in scripture that we should not imitate evil?” (3 John 11, for instance.)

I can’t say I’m 100% convinced of what the right thing to do is. Currently Kevin and I choose not to celebrate Halloween because of its evil origin. Some years we go to a Reformation Day dinner (and eat German food) and other years we just stay home and watch a movie with the lights out.

The decision to not celebrate Halloween hasn’t been easy for me. I would love to celebrate – dressing up and eating candy. What could be better?

Anyway … whether you choose to celebrate it or not, I think it’s admirable to think deeply about it rather than simply doing it by default because it’s the “thing to do” on October 31.

For an interesting radio broadcast on this topic: go here.

Indy Cousins!


From Meredith: "This is me with my first-cousin-once-removed, Emily, and my first-cousin-once-removed-in-law, Wade. They are from far away in Indiana. They came to visit me yesterday and I liked them very much."

Friday, October 28, 2005

How to ... do anything!

Living in the Information Age is so empowering. Last night I was scrambling to make dinner and get out the door in time for bible study. Don’t ask me why, with my time limitations, I decided to try a new recipe for dinner. But I did. I’m crazy that way (and other ways).

It was a pasta with homemade sauce. The key ingredient of the sauce was white wine. I ran to get the bottle of wine and the corkscrew and then I realized that I’d never opened a bottle of wine before. Even though I frequently cook with wine, Kevin has always been the official Opener.

To make a long story short, after ten minutes I had managed to destroy the top half of the cork. After I was unsuccessful with the corkscrew, I got out a knife. A knife should work, right?

Not.

That’s when I decided to go online. To my relief, I found this great website called “eHow: Clear Instructions on How To Do (just about) Everything” and all my problems were soon solved. I especially appreciated the pictures explaining how to use a corkscrew.

Check it out … You never know when this website could save your life. Or at least your dinner plans.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Dumb Laws

If you want to waste time today: Dumb Laws.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Yours or Kneers?

It seems that the president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, Kathy Kneer, is terrified of Christians who leave the four walls of their churches and homes and enter the world of public policy.

In a recent L.A. Times article, Ms. Kneer, whose organization offers abortion services, spoke these words concerning James Holman, the main proponent of Prop 73 (an initiative to require parental notification for abortions performed on minors): “It concerns us that someone with such deep personal and religious views is able to enter the arena of public policy and essentially force those views on everyone else.”

Presumably Ms. Kneer is okay with public policy activists forcing their views on other people (because that’s what public policy does) as long as they are not deeply religious.

Just because you’re a religious person, or happen to hold a view that is consistent with a particular religious teaching, doesn’t mean that your opinions are insignificant or unintelligent.

Someone’s values and opinions will control public policy. Will it be yours or Kneers?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Think About It

This past weekend Dr. Michael Horton spoke at our church. He spoke mainly about the church-growth movement. Probably the most thought-provoking thing he said was this:

“A pastor once asked his congregation: If Satan were to take over a city, what would it look like? Various people gave various different answers. Then the pastor replied: If Satan were to take over a city, there would be white picket fences everywhere. The children would always say ‘yes ma’am’ and ‘yes sir.’ No one would drink, smoke, or swear. And everyone would go to a church on Sunday where Christ is not preached.”

Attempted Larceny

On Saturday we went to Wal-Mart to print off some pictures. While Kevin and I were mesmerized, looking at the monitor to edit some of our photos, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that a man was lingering around our shopping cart. I looked over at him and saw him reach into our cart and into the diaper bag where my wallet was sitting in plain view. My heart raced and I started to walk toward him. He looked up and our eyes met. My eyes were incredulous and his were guilty. He instantly withdrew his hand and walked away. I went to make sure that my wallet was still there. It was. When I looked up to see if he was still around, he had (of course) completely disappeared.

At this point, Kevin was still deeply enthralled with the photo editing, and completely unaware of what had transpired. I’m amazed that, since I’m so spacey, I even noticed this attempted larceny.

Kevin makes fun of me how I’m often paranoid that people will steal things. When we leave our car, I try not to leave valuables in plain-sight and I always lock my doors. I think it’s because we have very different upbringings. Kevin grew up in the country in Indiana and I grew up in L.A. It’s probably the difference between leaving the keys in your unlocked car and not only locking your car, but using The Club, whenever you park your car in front of your own house! (Yes, I admit, I used to own The Club.)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Capturing a story ...

Looking at these pictures reminded me of how much I love photography - especially photography of people that tells a story. In each one of these photos, I can imagine a story behind it. I especially love the one of the Polish grandma waiting for the next fly!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

It's All Good

Three years ago Kevin and I were bitterly disappointed by an unsuspected turn of events in our life. At the time, we didn’t understand why God had given us a certain vision, led us to a place where we almost realized it, and then took it all away.

Yesterday, however, we learned new information that what had happened to us three years ago was ultimately for the best. It was a huge confirmation that God had been leading and directing our life. God had protected us from disaster by not giving us what we would have chosen, were it up to us.

“Thank you God for not giving me what I thought I wanted.”

This was my prayer yesterday. It wasn’t the first time I’ve prayed these words. And I know it won’t be the last.

As life unfolds, I am continuously reminded that God takes care of us and He will not withhold anything good from us if we diligently seek Him. My job is to continue doing what is good and to trust Him unconditionally. It’s hard. But, on days like yesterday, I’m reminded that, in the end, everything will be good.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Honor the Troops

As you read these words, our soldiers are fighting and dying in Iraq. These brave young men and women voluntarily enlisted in our armed services knowing that they might be called on to offer the ultimate sacrifice. They are serving our country to promote peace and freedom – both at home and around the world. We all should be tremendously grateful that there are courageous men and women who believe that peace and freedom are worth dying for.

This past Saturday the Iraqi people went to the polls to vote for a constitutional referendum. It is now estimated that at least 61 percent of eligible Iraqis turned out to vote on Saturday’s election. The Iraqis who voted know first-hand the sacrifices that American troops are making to give them the ability to vote. Every day the Iraqi people see soldiers, who are far away from home, defending their right to be free.

The number of Iraqis that voted is extremely remarkable in light of the number of Americans that typically vote. Although the right to vote is arguably one of the most important rights of American citizenship, a substantial amount of citizens choose not to vote each year. According to the U.S. Census Bureau only 46 percent of Americans voted in the November 2002 election. The statistics are even worse in California where only 42 percent voted.

While we, unlike the Iraqi people, cannot visibly see men and women dying in the fields for our freedoms, our right to vote is nonetheless a direct result of blood shed by brave soldiers.

What are you going to do about the fact that young men and women died so you can have the right to vote?

Send a loud, clear signal to the American troops that their sacrifices matter by going to the polls and exercising your right to vote!

This is a very practical way that you can honor our brave soldiers. See you at the ballot box on November 8th!

[Editor's note: Nov. 8 is the date for California's special election. And, incidentally, this post has nothing whatsoever to do with voting for pumpkins.]

And the winner is ...

Kevin Koons ... a.k.a. #1! Actually, I think Kevin won by a lanslide, which he was very happy about. His pumkin is rather cute since it looks like it's laughing with a big smile and squinting eyes.

Mine is the one that looks like a scary tribal version of Cindy Crawford (#2).

Thanks to all who participated. I had fun reading through the votes. Happy Fall to all of you!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Cast YOUR Vote Today!


This past weekend Amy, Shannon and Kevin held a pumpkin carving competition. Only problem is ... there was no one unbiased enough to judge! Help us out by casting your vote. From left to right are pumpkins #1, #2, #3. You choose the best one based on whatever criteria you want and we'll soon announce the winner (provided anyone cares enough to judge!).

Aunt Shannon

Lil' Pumpkin

Playful Girl

Meredith had her first studio pictures taken last Friday and, despite our valiant efforts to coax her, the little boogar wouldn’t smile directly into the camera. So, basically, we have pictures of her smiling while looking away, smiling while looking down, and then several pictures of her looking at the camera with various non-smiling, quizzical facial expressions. Oh well!

It’s been fun to watch Meredith’s personality develop more lately. My prediction is that she’ll be outgoing, friendly, independent, curious, fun-loving, and opinionated. These are characteristics I already see in her at three months old.

One thing I never realized was how young babies are when they start to appreciate and love their toys! It’s amazing to me how toys are such an integral part of even a very young baby’s life. Kevin thinks we’re going to force Meredith into being ADD because of all the toys we put into her face.

Lately she’s been cracking me up whenever I syringe her nose. She’s been mildly congested this past week and I’ve been trying to help her out a little bit. Whenever I bring the syringe to her face she starts to fuss and move her head from side to side. But suddenly she’ll stop, look at me and smile (sometimes laugh). Then she squints and smiles again each time I touch her face. It’s as if she’s thinking: “Oh yeah, I forgot, Mommy is just trying to play a little game with me. This is a fun game Mommy!”

Meredith is such an entertaining addition to our family. What did we ever do without her?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

It was bound to happen ...

Thus far I have deftly evaded the scrap book craze. But now, at last, I have resigned myself to the inevitable – a life full of cutting, gluing and photo journaling.

Maybe it was the realization that, if I didn’t do something soon, Meredith would be going away to college and all her baby photos would still be sitting in a shoe box at the bottom of a lonely closet.

So, last night I went to Emily’s house. Emily is one of those brilliant, creative scrap booking people. (My mom also is one of those people, thankfully, and she had already bought me a Creative Memories starter’s kit several years ago for Christmas.)

I must confess, I had a good time. It was fun to work with my hands, be productive, be creative, and also get to visit with a friend.

Speaking of Emily, she is 21 weeks pregnant and was just put on bed rest. Until last night I didn’t really have any concept of what “bed rest” is actually like. Emily can only sit up to eat and can only shower for five minutes every other day. I think I’d go completely stir crazy! Emily’s attitude is remarkable, though. She consistently exemplifies optimism and a willingness to sacrifice (a must-have qualification for any parent) despite her undesirable circumstances.

All that to say … Now that I have the scrap booking bug, and Emily will be available for weekday visits, my prospects for getting caught up on a few photo projects have brightened considerably.

Discussing Abortion With Your Daughter

This is a piece I just wrote for my employer. For those of you who live in California, don't forget to vote on November 8th! And, if you're not registered to vote, you have up until two weeks before the election (because in California we like to make it easy for illegal residents to vote ... or people who procrastinate). So, go register!
______________________

Prop 73, a ballot initiative that would notify parents 48 hours before a minor child obtains an abortion, will be decided by California voters in just a few short weeks! Because Prop 73 will likely be determined by a narrow margin, both those who support and oppose this initiative are burning the midnight oil.

The latest tactic of Prop 73 opponents seems to be their contention that it would result in government “forcing communication” between parents and children. Keep in mind, there are exceptions built in Prop 73 that would exclude minors from being compelled to notify parents who are abusive.

This past week, State Treasurer Phil Angelides, who is running for the Democratic nomination for governor, said that although he talks to his three daughters about personal things he “can’t imagine compelling them to talk to me about this difficult subject.”

What is most alarming about Mr. Angelides' comments is that there are many parents out there who are just like him! There is nothing noble or dignified about taking a “hands-off” approach when your minor daughter (perhaps as young as age 12) decides to get an abortion. In fact, when an abortion is considered, this is a crucial time in a young girl’s life and she needs the support and counsel of the adults who know her best. In other words, her parents.

It is understandable that a young girl, when discovering her unplanned pregnancy, would be embarrassed to tell her parents and afraid to disappoint them. But, because a minor child – even in a “good home” – would not naturally turn to her parents in this situation, is precisely why the government should require parental notification.

Adults will be involved in a young girl’s decision to abort (e.g., an older boyfriend, a school guidance counselor, etc.). Parents simply deserve the courtesy of being one of those adults.

Interestingly, it is the liberals who are the ones who typically want to “save people from themselves.” It is the liberals who mandate bike helmets for minors and ban children from going to tanning salons. If ever there is an instance where a child needs to be saved from herself, it is when she contemplates an abortion. Her parents must be told. She is merely a child and, while she may be embarrassed and afraid, she must tell them so they can counsel her and help keep her safe. Tell the parents – she may not like it now but in the end, perhaps when she is a parent herself, she’ll see the sense of it.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Reunion

It seems like half the people on my blogroll came to dinner on Saturday night. Well, maybe not quite. We had the annual OBCL Alumni Association meeting here in Roseville and then a get-together at our house afterwards. It was so great to see old friends again. Carrie posted pictures on her blog in case anyone is interested. Thanks Carrie!

Blogs are fun – but they’re a far cry from seeing people face-to-face and engaging in good old-fashioned conversation.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Random

I don’t have time today to post anything “real” since I’m cooking for 50 people who are coming to my house tomorrow … but here is my blog in French, in case you know French and would prefer to read it in that language:

Kevin et le Monde d'Amy

My sister-in-law in China can’t access my blog in English (communist regulations on free speech?) but she can access it in French. Weird.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Has it really come to this?

Do you realize that they now sell pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the frozen food section of the grocery store?

Why is this? Is it that working moms, overburdened, no longer have time to make even PB&J for their kids’ school lunch boxes?

I can understand having frozen lasagna or meatloaf … but PB&J?

Could it be that making something so simple like PB&J will soon be a lost art?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Where is the stopping point?

Recently the Netherlands legalized polygamy in all but name by granting a civil union to a man and two women. “We consider this to be just an ordinary marriage,” said Victor, who tied-the-knot with both Bianca and Mirjam. Victor added that a fourth person would not be allowed into their marriage because they want to be "honest and open with each other and not philander."

While the battle to legalize polygamous marriages has not yet come to the forefront here in the United States, we only have to look to this example in the Netherlands to realize that someday we will likely face it.

One of the arguments against legalizing homosexual marriage is that there is no logical stopping point. If marriage is redefined to accommodate same-sex couples, why can’t it be redefined to accommodate the polygamous relationship of a man and two women? Or how about two men, five women and another person who isn’t sure their gender? And if it is redefined to accommodate these sexual preferences, why can’t it then be redefined to accommodate bestiality, incest, or even, eventually, consensual pedophilia?

And then there’s the guy in Australia who recently wanted to marry his television. What about his rights to marry anyone, or in this case any thing, he chooses?

Either marriage is between a man and a woman or it isn’t. If it is not, then there’s no logical argument that can be made to limit it to any particular couples or groups.

The timeless institution of marriage between one man and one woman is the foundation for building healthy families. For the sake of future generations, we cannot afford to tamper with it.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Ashland in Autumn


Hike up to Beacon Hill


Panoramic Views


Kev and I agree – the MOST fun thing we did was cruise around the Abel’s property (2,000 mountainous acres) on the Four-Wheeler. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had that much fun. :)

Ashland Part II


This one’s for Braiden – (Sorry but I couldn’t get him to kiss it!)


Someday I will tell my grandkids – “See, I really am cool.”


Relishing autumn in Ashland.

Ashland Part III


Love those colors!


“Wouldn’t you know it – my mom forgot my hat. That is a very bad thing to do for a baby when it is so cold outside.”


"But my dad kept me all snuggly and warm."


Cute downtown Ashland, OR – We also went up to Medford to check out the original Harry and David store which was very impressive, by the way.


Amy tries the famed Lithium water of Ashland – this is a naturally carbonated water that is piped in from local springs and tastes like raw eggs.


Globe Theatre replica – Ashland is all about Shakespeare!


Snapshot of Mount Shasta – taken from the car on the trip home.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Especially Glad

Today, for reasons which I cannot say, I am especially thankful that God is sovereign. If we knew all the facts (like God does) we would choose what He has for us every time. This is reassuring when certain things happen that I would not have naturally chosen. Since God is infinite, and I am merely finite, I’m glad He’s the one who is behind the steering wheel.

A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” - Proverbs 16:9

I’m glad that God ultimately controls the responses of other people:

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; Like the rivers of water, He turns it wherever He wishes.” - Proverbs 21:1

And I’m glad that, as His child, He has my best interests at heart:

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.” - Psalm 84:11

Mums, Pumpkins, and Little Smiles

Kevin’s grandma sent us an e-mail last week and mentioned that they had decorated their porch with mums and pumpkins. After hearing about this, I was inspired to do a little fall decorating myself. Even in California, where we only have two seasons – sunshine and rain, it’s still possible to relish the best of each traditional season by bringing out some festive d├ęcor.

So, yesterday I went to WalMart to buy some mums and pumpkins too. (The pumpkins should be okay but I’m not sure about the mums, considering my history of killing plants.) While I wheeled the cart up and down the aisles at WalMart, Meredith kept staring and me and breaking into smiles. This, of course, made it dreadfully difficult to concentrate on my errands. I kept stopping my cart to lean my face close to her, smile back, and talk to her. Then she would smile bigger. I know I’m her mom and, of course, I always think she’s cute … but this was especially cute.

Stay-at-home-moms talk about one of the “downsides” being the fact that no one appreciates you. Yesterday I never felt more appreciated and loved in all my life.

Speaking of “happy” babies, last Saturday was a milestone for Meredith ‘cuz she laughed for the first time when Kevin accidentally dropped a toy. He then proceeded to drop it over and over again, which caused her to repeatedly laugh each time it fell to the floor. It’s great to know your kid has a sense of humor. This is strictly necessary if she’s going to live under the same roof as me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Rain and A New Scale

On days like yesterday I am once again reminded what a crazy person I am. It rained for the first time here since April and I stood out on the back patio for nearly ten minutes with a huge smile on my face while I let the rain completely soak my clothes and hair. It was a glorious moment. It truly was.

There’s a Frank Sinatra song that goes “she hates California, it’s cold and it’s damp …” I never got that song. It’s stumped me for years.

One of the things I loathe about California is that it never rains in the summer. But, then again, one of the things I love about California is that it never rains in the summer. Basically – I’m both crazy and confused.

Oh, and I must tell you … yesterday we also purchased our first scale. The Koons household now joins the rest of America and owns a weight-watching device. We are starting to realize (gasp!) that, as we reach our late twenties, our metabolism is beginning to wane and fade. And this realization has stricken us with a much deeper sense of responsibility as of late. Thus … the scale.

It’s kinda sad once you get to that point in life when you realize you’ll never be able to take an Oreo cookie for granted ever again. I remember those careless days of youth when I was able to binge without any consequences. Well, I think those days are finally past. And maybe that’s a good thing. Leading a disciplined life is always a good thing … probably.

That’s what I’m telling myself, anyway.

Monday, September 26, 2005

I think I need to go back to kindergarten …

The other day I went to the store to buy thank-you notes for Meredith’s last shower, since I’d run out. It’s like getting married all over again – just when you think you’re done writing thank-you notes, there’s a whole new group of them to write. (I’m not complaining tho’ – I really do appreciate people’s generosity.)

Anyway … I saw some cute ones with pink flowers that said “thank you” on the front. Since I thought they looked proper for a little girl’s thank-you notes, I bought them. Today as I started to write, I noticed that they said “thinking of you” – not “thank you”! I’m such a retard. I can’t even read.

Speaking of not being able to do basic things … last night Kevin asked me to play Cribbage with him. For the record: I hate Cribbage. I think the main reason I hate Cribbage is because it makes me feel like a loser. Although I really enjoyed math in school (honest!), for some reason, I can never seem to be able to add up the points on my cards when I play Cribbage. Kevin has to constantly help me out every single time we play that wretched game. He has to remind me of all the ways to add up to “15.” … “Amy, just look for groups of either six and nine or … blah, blah, blah.”

I seriously need to look into going back to elementary school. Do they offer elementary school classes online? Or maybe I can get some books and homeschool myself?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Hurricane Names

In light of Katrina and Rita, I have been wondering why and how hurricanes are named. Today Kev sent me a link, written right at my intelligence level, to help me understand these things.

In case any of you are curious too, here's the link: Hurricane Names

Thursday, September 22, 2005

“May it please the court …”

Yesterday I parked the car and ran four blocks - in my heels - to the downtown courthouse. I was slightly worried I wouldn’t make Kevin’s hearing on time. Yesterday Kevin presented oral arguments before the California Court of Appeals, 3rd District. It was his first time making appellate arguments and I wanted to be there!

Thankfully Kevin’s case was the second one up - so I wasn’t late. As I walked through the doors into the courtroom, I was struck with a sense of awe. The courtroom was large and majestic with tall marble pillars, carved woodwork, and a gold painted ceiling. I saw Kevin seated just past the “bar” awaiting his turn to speak to the justices. I took a seat against the wall behind him.

As I sat there in this particular hall of justice, I was reminded how much I love the law. I’m tremendously grateful that I was able to study law for four years, especially in the United States. Although there’s a lot of craziness in our legal system these days, I still believe that we have the best system possible.

Needless to say (what else did I expect?), Kevin did a fabulous job. He was articulate and organized. He took every question from the justices head-on and it was obvious he knew what he was talking about. At one point, one of the justices asked, “But hasn’t California traditionally been a ‘fence-out’ state?” [meaning that ranchers have to put fences on their property if they want to keep cattle off it]. I held my breath hoping Kevin would know the answer and he immediately responded, “Yes, in 1850 …” Whew! But that’s how Kevin is – he wraps his mind around something and he’s good at defending his arguments. [Feel sorry for me – I usually lose all of our “arguments” at home!]

Another thing Kevin is good at is analogies. He used several compelling analogies yesterday to explain his case and help the justices to fully understand his arguments. “Yes, your honor, but I think a good way to understand this is to think of a swimming pool …”

I heard a cute story, from Kevin’s childhood, how his little sister Megan cried at his kindergarten graduation and said, “I’m just so proud of him.” Well, now it’s my turn to be proud of him. And I’m so glad I get that opportunity. [Kevin, I love being your wife.]

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I can TOTALLY relate!

I can completely relate to this woman:

“I've been trying to get a good snap of Violet smiling. So about ten times a day I lay her down and start poking her belly and tickling under her arms. ‘Funny baby! Ha ha ha!’ I repeat like a moron. Violet stares at me, and then her face creases into an absolutely enchanted smile, drool hanging from the corners of her lips, toothless gums exposed. I swiftly bring up the camera, focus it, press the button, and — once again she's become mesmerized by the lens and is staring stoically right into it. I may have 100 images of her with the flat, level gaze of a baby transfixed by a camera lens.” – Joyce Lollar

But, finally … here are two victories!


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Ugly Woman Sues

This was a topic of conversation at the dinner table last night. Kev and I both agree – we don’t know who is more to blame, Extreme Makeover or Ms. Williams. In any event, the allegations in her lawsuit are unbelievable.

While these makeover shows are obviously of interest to the public (they wouldn’t be on air if they weren’t), I’m dismayed at the message they send to young women about their value and self-worth.

Monday, September 19, 2005

"That's Piglet!"

Kevin thinks it’s funny that I like to collect cereal box tops to redeem a prize. For three months this past summer I made him eat Raisin Bran (I don’t like it but he does) in order to get a free DVD. I had several choices of which DVD I wanted and opted for 12 Angry Men with Henry Fonda. (I probably should have let Kevin pick since he’s the one who had to eat the cereal, huh?) Anyway … the DVD finally came in the mail a few weeks ago and last night we watched it.

As soon as Juror #2 opened his mouth to speak, Kevin exclaimed, “That’s Piglet!”

“Huh?”

“That’s the voice of Piglet from Winnie the Pooh!”

I was somewhat skeptical but was also amused that Kevin was so astute in his knowledge and recollection of cartoon voices.

As soon as the movie was over, Kevin got online to prove that he was right. Sure enough, John Fielder not only played Juror #2 in 12 Angry Men, he also was the voice of Piglet in Winnie the Pooh. His debut as Piglet was in 1968 and his latest movie as Piglet was in 2005. In case you were wondering, that is.

Saying Goodbye

It seems like life is cyclical with regard to meeting people, becoming friends, becoming good friends, and then having to say goodbye. This past weekend we said goodbye to good friends at our church who are moving to New Mexico for a job opportunity. It’s always hard to part ways with friends, knowing you won’t see them again for a long time – and, in some cases, maybe never again here on earth. One of the great things about heaven has got to be the fact that there is a permanency of fellowship. No more saying goodbyes!

Sharing the bond of friendship with others makes life so much more rich and rewarding. I’m glad that we were able to know Richard and Charity for these past few years. As I look back on the various chapters of life, and the various friends we’ve known in each chapter, I’m filled with gratitude for the people God has put in our lives to share the journey by our side.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Unforeseen Delight

Am I the only one out there who has so many adventures at the grocery store? Yesterday I locked my keys in the car after I had finished unloading all my groceries into the trunk. Fortunately I had the baby with me (i.e., she wasn’t in the car). That would’ve been a nightmare, for sure.

The first thing I did (like I usually do whenever I find myself in trouble) is call Kevin. Unfortunately Kevin was in the middle of a moot court (his first appellate arguments are next week!). So, I left a message with his receptionist and then dug through my wallet to see if we had any kind of roadside assistance with our insurance company.

YES we do have roadside assistance; yet another thing to be glad about.

The lady with our roadside assistance asked me for the address of the grocery store. Because I didn’t have this on hand, I walked inside to customer service to get it. While the kind man behind the desk was writing out the address for me, Meredith started crying. It was past time for her to eat and I knew she would be hungry soon. Then … my cell phone started beeping that it would soon be out of batteries.

That was a trying moment in my life – juggling my near-dead, beeping phone, attempting to communicate with the man behind the counter and the lady speaking in my ear, with Meredith contributing a penetrating background noise, all while coping with the realization that my cheese and milk were spoiling in the trunk and I wasn’t going to get anything productive done for the rest of the afternoon.

Somehow [God’s grace] I made it through that moment.

Soon Meredith and I were sitting on a bench outside the grocery store while I attempted to feed her in the midst of a very bustling environment. At this time, the tow truck company called to let me know it would be nearly two hours before they could get to me. Argh … Patience has never been my virtue, I’m afraid. Maybe God ordained all of these to teach me that I should have more of it?

After Meredith was done eating, she sat in my lap and smiled and flirted with every person who walked by (a lot of people). She seemed to like sitting outdoors and, at this point, the breeze was very cool and enjoyable. So, I decided that this waiting for the tow-truck wasn’t so bad after all. Practically every elderly person stopped before entering the store to chat with Meredith and give her compliments. And, of course, they wanted to tell us all about their own grandchildren and great-grandchildren. One lady was from Russia and she told us she has ten grandchildren. Another lady talked to us for about five minutes while waiting for her husband to park their car. She was happy to tell us that her granddaughter just had twin boys … “but she had to use a surrogate mom for health reasons,” she said. Another man smiled a toothless smile and asked if Meredith was a boy. Another woman asked if I thought her eyes would stay blue and couldn’t believe she was only ten weeks old.

And to think it was only because of my scatterbrained stupidity that I was able to get the chance to meet so many pleasant people.

So, what I thought would be a bad experience – being stuck somewhere I didn’t want to be for an extended time – turned out to be quite enjoyable.

I wonder how many other “unchangeable” things in life would be significantly more agreeable if I would just embrace it rather than bemoaning and resisting it.

It turns out that Kevin called me after moot court and was able to come rescue me a half-hour earlier than the tow-truck could come. I always love an excuse to see Kevin mid-day. Maybe I should “accidentally” lock my keys in the car more often. [Just kidding, Kev.]

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Incredible Times

Breaking news: Federal Judge Rules Pledge Unconstitutional

Can you believe a restraining order has been issued ordering that certain public school children in California may not recite the Pledge of Allegiance?!

Is this not incredible? Is there any doubt we are now fully a post-Christian nation? Does anyone else wonder what the repercussions will be for our posterity?

The North Beach Diet

When you come across a book where the cover itself makes you laugh for ten minutes, you have got to buy it. And that’s what I did the other day while in a book store. I’m not sure if it was the book itself being so funny or just the fact that it really caught me off guard … I can definitely appreciate a humorous take on the whole dieting craze.

The North Beach Diet
“NEW! All-Carb Diet * All-Fat Diet * We Want to Plump You Up!”
Add Belly and Hip Fat Instantly with Batter-Fried Twinkies & More …
Over 60 High Calorie Recipes Made with lots of Butter, Refined Sugar, White Flour and Chocolate – Virtual Exercise: NordicSnack, Pie-lates, “Relaxin’ To the Oldies”

The “before and after” pictures are great. The thin “before” pictures show the model with a sad, depressed look on their face (don’t they always do this with “before” pics?). The plump “after” pictures show the model very happy and pleased, while eating potato chips, etc.

“Krispy Kreme Donuts, Caramel Popcorn, Sara Lee Pound Cake with Ben & Jerry’s Triple Chocolate Cookie Crunch … it was darn tough for us to make up our minds which of these favorites to consume while watching late night TV. The North Beach Diet showed us how we could get them all by simple planning.” -- A testimonal.

The book is filled with adds: “Win a 7-day all-you-can-eat cruise” … “Chubby Cheribs: A summer camp for thin kids. (Hope for the thin child.)” … “Queer Eye for the Thin Guy.” Etc.

And, yes, there really is a recipe in the book for “Batter-Fried Twinkies.”

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Tourists In Our Own Town


At the Stanford Mansion. All the museums in Sacramento were free last weekend to celebrate California's statehood. It was actually quite fun to be a tourist in our own town for a change!


Amy in Old Town Sacramento, a place that takes you back in time to the days of the Wild West.


Pic-nic lunch with the Chadwicks outside the Railroad Museum.


Papa and Meredith at the Railroad Museum. (Meredith said to tell you: “Who says it’s only boys who like trains?”)

Meredith Pics


"Didn't my mom tell you that I really love my tongue?"


"I'm all tuckered out after that very long, and very bouncy, walk."

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Terror of Children

[Thought-provoking article from Peggy Noonan this week – if you have time the entire piece is worth reading. But usually all of Noonan is worth reading.]

“The [Katrina] stories that pierce my heart involve the terror of children. And the one that hit me the most was the story of the 6-year-old boy found wandering over a bridge with six younger children. Most of the kids were too young even to know their names. The 6-year-old was carrying a 15-month-old infant. They were taken in and cared for by strangers, by nurses; and ultimately all their parents were found. But we forget the terror of children. Adults, even the dimmest of them, can calculate and think up strategies, even if they're bad ones. They can feel and know it's a feeling. But with young children it's all impressions, they can't think it through. They have a natural, primal will to survive, but beyond that they're helpless, it's all wet and cold and the way momma's face looked when the radio said everyone's leaving.

“One of the things I have been thinking about is how children take their cues from the adults around them. If the adults are enraged and screaming, children become scared and learn that the way to respond to frustration and pressure is with screaming and rage. If no one's in charge, children can tell. If no one is leading, children can tell. If no one is caring for them they infer they aren't worthy of care.

“It is hard to be a parent at any time, but to be a parent in a life-or-death crisis is brutal. It is hard to give children what they need when you're overwhelmed yourself. It's hard, when you're afraid, to talk to children gently and listen to them, really hear them, so you can figure out what they're really telling you when they ask a surprising or seemingly illogical question. It takes patience not to work out your frustration or terror or pessimism on them, but to show instead forbearance, or frankly fake it if you have to. And to show optimism and faith—‘We'll be OK, don't you worry’-- because optimism and faith can become a habit, they are communicable, and the habit of optimism and faith allows children to trust life, to enter it steadily and have confidence in it.

“It is exhausting being a parent under trying circumstances. It is probably the hardest thing in the world. But on such things nations rise and fall, endure or falter.

“And no one says thank you, or rather no one has videotape of your heroism and replays it in a loop. But for parents in the Superdome and Astrodome, for parents living with children in somebody's spare room, for parents in a motel room crammed with three generations of a family, from the old and frightened to the young and colicky--for those who lost everything and yet are still functioning as parents--well, please consider this a small salute from far away. A small attempt to recognize, and honor. You're saving a country, too.”