Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekly fasts

Okay, here's the deal that I outlined in my previous post. I confess I've already begun trying to interpret these to my advantage. At dinner, I asked Spence if I had to give up my nightly ice cream this week or next -- since we already have it at home and I wouldn't technically be buying it. He just smiled. Anyone care to weigh in on that one?

Fasts begin Monday and end Saturday. Sundays are feast days. Either do each fast for only that week, or let them build on each other so at the end of Lent you are doing all five at the same time.

Week One: Sweets, Treats and Self Indulgence
This week, resolve to spend nothing on yourself but what is absolutely necessary. Buy no new clothes or gadgets, books or music, don’t go to the movies or buy coffee or candy. Eat cheaply, save money (or give what you would have spent on coffee, treats, entertainment for the week someone in need). Keep journal entries of what happens when you deny yourself something you’ve become accustomed to or something you really want. How does it affect you? Why?

Week Two: Food/Meals
Pick either a type of food (like meat or carbs or even “solids”) and fast from them for the week. Or alternately, pick a meal (like breakfast or lunch) to skip on a daily basis. Keep journal entries of what it’s like to go hungry, even if it’s just for one meal. What is it like to begin to assert some mastery over your body these past two weeks? How does your body/mind respond to that? If you forgo a whole category of food, consider: What is it like to deny a craving? Is it easy or hard. How does that craving grow the more you deny it? Does it eventually become easier? Why?

Week Three: Television/Music/Media
Forgo the usual shows. In fact, turn off the TV altogether. Drive without the radio. Leave the iPod at home. What is it like to increase the silence/decrease the media inputs into your life? Do you miss it? Does it make you anxious? Relaxed? Something else? What does your reaction to this fast tell you about your connectedness to media? Keep journal entries of what silence does for you, what missing certain shows/events means.

Week Four: Social Media and Internet
Turn off Twitter, Facebook, blogs, news — check and answer work emails and nothing else. Put a Lent “Out of Office” reply on your personal email letting people know you’ll get back to them next week. Keep journal entries of what it’s like to unplug and disconnect — to not obsessively check email/ Facebook, etc. Do you feel disconnected...or free?

Week Five: Time
Go out of your way for others this week. Fast from indulging yourself time-wise. Get up a half hour or an hour earlier. Make it a goal bless someone else through your words or actions daily. Once or twice, to give someone else the gift of your listening ear — resist the urge to share your troubles and instead focus on someone else and helping to share theirs. Commit this week to doing something for someone else — help a friend move or paint, serve the poor, stop and help a stranger even if (especially if) you are in a hurry to get somewhere. Keep journal entries of what it’s like to spend your time on others.

Last day of indulgence

I've always been intrigued by the various Lenten practices each year -- this is the first time I've decided to hop all the way on the wagon and try one. Here's why:

A few weeks ago, I realized the holiday pounds I added to my middle were not going the way of Santa Claus. Apparently my formula of exercise 5 days a week and eating whatever I want in unlimited quantities wasn't adding up to the "figure" I envisioned. I've never been good at math. Anyway, I decided to think about giving up my nightly bowl of ice cream for the month of March and see what happens. Granted, it is low-fat or frozen yogurt and the bowl is small, but it is also every night with very few exceptions. This thought had nothing to do with Lent. It was about fitting once again into my pre-pregnancy jeans. I realize I haven't been pregnant for more than 3.5 years, but those jeans are still the measuring stick of my body image, and there has been only one small window where I could get them both zipped and buttoned.

On a completely different subject, but also leading up to my Lent decision, I've been thinking about my son's birth country. I miss Ethiopia like crazy. The people, the customs, the love and sacrifice, the poverty, the simple lives -- it all had a profound effect on my world view ... and my daily life. When Caroline eats half of her lunch and says "I'm full," I think about Ethiopia and fret over throwing out the leftovers. When I forget to put my water bottle in my gym bag and think about shelling out $2 for a bottle, I think about Ethiopia ... and use the water fountain. The other night, my mom saw me rip a paper towel in half and said, "You can have a whole one." So I told her the story about walking with Sisay over a mountain in Wondgenet. We were being followed by a handful of residents (not unusual when ferengis are present). Sisay finished his water and handed the empty plastic bottle to one of the young men. Later I said, "What's up with that?" And Sisay said it's a valuable item for him. He'll use it for many things.

Although I saw much poverty in Ethiopia, that moment had a major impact on me. I think of it often.

Now I'm certainly no model of frugality, but I try to be aware and appreciative of the little conveniences as well as the luxuries and indulgences in my life. So when I got an email from our pastor with an idea for Lent, the pieces of the puzzle came together. It's not an all-or-nothing 40-day fast but a series of weekly fasts that I hope will open my eyes a little more to the privileges I (and now my son) enjoy on a daily basis -- privileges that most Ethiopians don't have.

So here in print I commit to giving it a try and then blog about it along the way. I'm going to post a quick summary below, then in a separate post I'll spell out the whole shebang. Each week begins on a Monday and ends Saturday. Sundays are feast days.

Week one: Only necessities; no self-indulgences
Week two: Pick a food type and fast it
Week three: No TV, music, media
Week four: No social media or internet (except for work)
Week five: Focus on others

Other than week two where I'll give up my bedtime snack (and will most likely be the only one in my family to do so), I really haven't thought too much about the details. I'm just going to take it as it comes...and then whine and vent as necessary right on this blog.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

D and me

It's nearly 8p. Kids in bed...hubby on a camping in PJs watching Andy Griffith (boo bobsled!)... enjoying the quiet after a very busy day. Dawie and I took a little road trip to Knoxville to the Ethiopia Adoption Group gathering (it's a Yahoo group I joined a year or so ago and they meet every 3-4 months). Caroline stayed in Cookeville with our friend Olivia.

Anyway, I was just sitting here thinking, "I wish somebody would post some pics from the gathering" so I don't have to put on shoes and go dig through my car for my camera so I can download the six measly pics I managed to take, when lo and behold: Check these out. Theresa, you're my hero!

It was so great to meet Macy, Anna, Hanna and all the other sweet kids, visit with Johannes who not only got out of the car this time but got rowdy with the other boys, and to catch up with families who've just returned from picking up their kids or who are about to go. Thanks to everyone (there were many) who chased after Dawit while I heated up injera.

Tomorrow I'll post a pic of a little flirt session between D and little Katie.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I never thought I'd have a son named Owie

We have an ongoing debate in our house over how to pronounce Dawit's name. DOW-it? DAH-wit? Dah-WEET? Spence is obsessed about making sure we're pronouncing it correctly. So whenever anyone says, "Oh he's cute. What's his name?" there's a 5-minute explanation that drags everyone into our debate and makes us look like we don't really know what it is.

Frankly, it's true. We don't know. It depends on whether we want to try to mimic the Ethiopian accent or put some kind of American spin on it. Luckily, Caroline has rendered the whole thing a moot point. She calls him Dawie (DOW-ee). And if she's telling on him, it's Owie:

"Maaaaa-ma! Look at Owie!"

Usually that means he's unloading the trash can or eating last night's dried peas off the floor.

Sometimes you just can't control a name - you have to give in and let the chips fall where they may. Apparently they've fallen on Owie. Heaven help him when school starts!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Happy birthday, Spence!

Yesterday got a little nutty, so I'm a day late blog wishing my hubby a happy birthday.

We had a nice birthday celebration at Mama Norma's and Papa Connie's with all the cousins.
Pics coming soon.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Splish splash

I really get an F in hair care for the first six month Dawit was home. I got lots of great advice, but so much of it I couldn't make a decision on a regular routine. So, for the first time, about 2 weeks ago, I bought a Denman and some detangler and combed out his cute curls. Now we're stylin'.

He loves hats too.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Caroline coifed

Caroline was much overdue for a trim as you can see.

She was less than thrilled at the prospect of George cutting her hair.

But she soon warmed up and went home with the cutest pixie bangs.