Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ruby Rose, Super Genius?

Tonight, Ruby found a balled up sock of mine that had fallen off of the clean laundry pile on the bed.  She grabbed it and sat down, and tried to put it on her foot! I was amazed! How did she recognize that it was a sock and that it went on her foot?
So, I gave her one of her shoes and she tried to put that on, too.  I was amazed by her genius!
And then she pulled down a bib from her dresser...and tried to put it on her foot.  Oh well.
In other news, we looked at a 3 bedroom house (to rent) tonight.  Allen found it while he was out driving around today.  The house was cute, but the landlord seemed, well, like a tweaker.  We have a few more lined up to look at.  The idea of being in a house is pretty appealing.  Apartments are all well and good, but being in a place with a yard, a washer and dryer hookup, and not connected to neighbors playing "Sweet Home Alabama" really loud? Now that sounds great!

Monday, May 30, 2011


You can see a video of Ruby's trip to OMSI here.  It was pretty fun!  We also walked around downtown and perused the Rose Festival City Fair...from the outside.  We didn't feel like shelling out the money to go in, since Ruby's too small to enjoy any of it.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tonight is not a school night!

Have to love that!  I finished the "Ballad of Team Awesome-o" page that has long been under construction.  Go read it...if you can handle all that mushy love stuff.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Done with conferences!! YES!
Well, not technically done.  We had a few kids who didn't show or were out of town or whatever, so I think we have 7 or 8 left to do in the upcoming 2 weeks of school...that's right, 2 weeks! And neither of them full weeks!  Summer is coming, thank goodness.  I'm ready.
Conferences went well.  Some contained lots of praise, some contained hard words of truth; but all were spoken in love.  I hope we made that clear.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Still standing (so to speak)

Well, I'm sitting, actually.  You'd think I'd be hopping around and stretching my legs, because I've been sitting at conferences all day long.  I think we had 19 today?  We had a few no-shows. It was a long day.  For the most part, they were good conferences and I think we said what needed to be said.
Speaking of standing, Ruby was standing when I got home, and she took several unaided steps towards me!  Toby and Allen said they have seen her do that a few times today, mostly towards the cats.  Aquila was terrified.
Here's a cute b-day pic I haven't posted yet.  Toby looks pretty hilarious! They're both showing off their Cardinals footwear.
The Birthday Twins (22 years apart...)
Random thought: I'm getting baby fever.  Whenever I see little babies, I want another one of them.  Looking at Ruby's pictures from last year isn't helping!  I know, I know, we're not ready, etc.  They are a lot of work and the first few months are very taxing.  I remember.  But they're so cute!  God was smart when He made babies cute.  It is their first line of defense.  
Well, I think it is bedtime. YAWNNNNN! Goodnight.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

At 2:11 AM a year ago, a child was given...

Shortly after she was born on Monday, May 24, 2010

...and we named her Ruby.  Ruby Rose Cook.  Ruby, because we liked the name.  When we were engaged and whiling away the hours on a long road trip to St. Louis, we talked about names we might give to children we would one day have.  We went through flowers and gemstones just for fun and then both said, "Ruby...yeah, I actually like that.  Ruby!"  Rose, because it is Allen's mom's middle name, and it has some nice alliteration with Ruby (and they are both shades of red).

At the park by Lake Oswego
As I type, she is cruising around the living room, so close to being able to walk.  She is saying, "bep, dep, dat, hada!" and other sounds.  I don't know what she means by them.  She needs a diaper change, a bottle, and bed, but I just had to write on here how much I love her and how I just can't imagine life without her. I often have to remind myself that she was a gift to us from God.  Not something that He owed us, not something that we applied for and won on our own merits.  He has the power to give life...and take it. I am very glad that He gave this life to us to cherish and nurture.  My prayer for her is that she would grow in stature and in knowledge and love the Lord.  Any other talents, accomplishments, or traits are secondary to that.
"Here I am!"

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Headed into quite a week

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I'm sitting on an interview committee for some job openings at the school next year.  Wednesday night is a long meeting in which we (the staff) review the Director and the Board.  Thursday and Friday, from 8-8, we have conferences.
In the words of a cheesy line from the church play I did when I was 6, "Makes me tired just thinkin' about it!"

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The cats are in trouble now...

Ruby has been chasing them around the coffee table.  The end of their easygoing life could be at hand.
In other news, I did 2 complete loads of laundry with the third one in, and gave the bathroom a good scrubbing.  Now going to try out a broccoli casserole recipe to use some of the HUGE amount of cut up broccoli florets we got from Gleaners this week.
Allen is sicky; he came home from work a little early, even, so you know it must be bad.  I'm grateful that his insurance coverage through his company will start at the beginning of June so he can go see a doctor for his various ailments.  The insurance coverage is two-thirds, but that's better than nothing.
...and Ruby's pulling books off of a different shelf this time!  Variety is the spice of life.

A few bullet point musings...

  • As I said on Facebook, something that used to matter: having some kind of order to the books on our shelves. You know...philosophy, spirituality, poetry, fiction, how-to, memoir, textbooks, etc.  What matters now: trying to have books on a shelf at all, since Ruby likes to pull them all off.
  • Remembrance (based on speaking of having orderly bookshelves): my roommate junior year, Erica, had the most incredible bookshelves ever.  You should have seen it!  I believe her main schema was to organize by publisher, which had a very unified look; all of her Penguin classics together, near the Everyman section, closely followed by the small (but colorful) Green Lion Press.  And let's not forget the Loebs.  Her dorm room always looked like it came from an IKEA catalog.  Mine?  Not so much.  
  • You know what would make my life easier?  If I took the time to PIWIG every day.  PIWIG?  Put It Where It Goes.  That, and spot cleaning, would prevent me from having horrible buildups.  I'm pretty good about brushing and flossing daily, and as a result, the health of my teeth is pretty good.  I admit, I did have a cavity filled on a recent visit, but it was my first in, what 26 years of having teeth?  My house, on the other hand, is the equivalent of someone who hasn't brushed in months and drinks coffee, soda, and subsists on junk food.  Scary!  Especially the bathroom...shudder.  
  • Question: why don't I do things that make my life easier? 
  • Answer: because they aren't immediately pleasant.  In fact, they are immediately unpleasant (or bothersome, or take effort).  To quote Charles Baudelaire's poem "Au Lecteur" from his collection Les Fleurs du Mal, "[There is one vice] who is uglier, more wicked, more foul!  Although it does not force either with grand acts or great cries, it would with pleasure make debris of the earth and in a yawn swallow up the world; it is ennui!" (p.s. that was my own translation from 10-29-05.  Oh yeah, St. John's!)
  • Reflection: I used to be able to translate heady French poetry, Roman epic, and both koine (NT) and Attic Greek.  I doubt I'd be able to do that now.  That makes me a little sad.  I have this little pang of sorrow that my St. John's year are over (by 5 years, to be exact).  Don't get me wrong, I am not that person for whom college was "the best 4 years of my life."  There was plenty that wasn't great about it, and plenty that is great now.  Still, I am so very glad that I went there, learned what I did, met who I did, and grew how I did.  
  • Time to change the laundry!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shifting Sand

I'll let the eloquence of Caedmon's Call speak for me right now:

Shifting Sand
Sometimes I believe all the lies 
So I can do the things I should despise 
And every day I am swayed 
By whatever is on my mind 

I hear it all depends on my faith 
So I'm feeling precarious 
The only problem I have with these mysteries 
Is they're so mysterious 

And like a consumer I've been thinking 
If I could just get a bit more 
More than my 15 minutes of faith, 
Then I'd be secure 

My faith is like shifting sand 
Changed by every wave 
My faith is like shifting sand 
So I stand on grace 

I've begged you for some proof 
For my Thomas eyes to see 
A slithering staff, a leprous hand 
And lions resting lazily 

A glimpse of your back-side glory 
And this soaked altar going ablaze 
But you know I've seen so much 
I explained it away 


Waters rose as my doubts reigned 
My sand-castle faith, it slipped away 
Found myself standing on your grace 
It'd been there all the time 

(Chorus repeated) 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I'm usually modest but...

I have to post these pictures because I want to have photographic proof that this event happened!  I was at Goodwill looking for a cute outfit to wear for Allen on a date night.  I had heard him say on several occasions that he thought I would look good in white pants, but I'd never done anything about it.  Then I saw a pair of white jeans for $7.99.  The price was right for a try...but they were a size 8.  I can't even remember the last time I wore a size 8...maybe back in 8th grade.  Seriously.  But I thought there was no harm in trying them on.  So I did...and they fit!
So OF COURSE I snapped those puppies up!
I probably won't wear them much (white pants + toddler = not very white pants) and I may not fit in them for long.  But I will be proud that I--post baby, no less--could wear those pants.  These pictures are hilarious also because the perspective is completely wacky and I look like I'm living in a house built for little people.  Oh well.

Oh yeah, and Allen thought they looked good, too ;)

My Little Girl is Growing UP

Only a few days old (but still lots of blond hair!)
How can it be almost a year since this picture was taken?  I know, I know...what a classic parent thing to say.  Time flies, people grow, and it's very easy to see in the littlest of people.  I've heard the saying, "The days are long but the years are short."  Very true. Look at her now!
May 13, 2011 (only a few weeks off from being 1!)
She came home from daycare on Friday with two little pigtails. It made her look so much older.  Both Toby and I were amazed by it.  And then, within ten minutes of being home, she did more amazing things.  She stood up by herself and balanced well for 10-12 seconds...and from that stand, she took a step!  First step!!!  

Pigtail Power!!!
Cool Shades, Uncle Toto!
Toby remarked that he wondered what Ruby was going to call him.  Unca Todee? Toto? Tobee?  He's very anxious for her to start talking "for real." She doesn't really have any words yet.  She can say "nnma nmma" and "da da da" but I'm not sure if she's associating it with us.  Sometimes she can sort of repeat sounds that I make.  I think the walking is going to start soon, though.  She's cruising all over the place.  She can push herself into a standing position from the ground up. I think she just may be able to walk around by her first birthday! No telling, though.  Another girl in our home community is about four months older and is still doing the same stuff.  Ruby seems to want to be moving, though.  
My goodness, she is getting into everything.  In our bedroom, she sleeps in the closet.  We sectioned off part of the bedroom to be "her room" by lining up a cooler and a suitcase.  It was enough to keep her contained...but no longer. This morning we were sleeping in, and we heard that she was up and playing happily.  A little while later, I heard her making noises in a different place.  I woke up and saw that she had crawled over to my side of the bed--yet the cooler and suitcase barrier remained intact. We puzzled over how she could have done it.  Later in the day, she kindly showed us how. She stood up at the cooler (which came up to just above her tummy) and reached across to the far end of it, and pulled herself on top of it.  She swung her leg up pretty gracefully and then sat atop the cooler.  She had a bit of trouble getting herself down from it but managed to do it without faceplanting.  Looks like we've got to rethink our bedroom layout.  It is at times like these when a 3 bedroom would be pretty stellar.  

Outdoor School (a few thoughts, anyway)

Figure 1: Heart Hands
So much has happened since last Sunday!  Only a week of calendar time has elapsed, but it feels like a lot longer than that.  We were away on Outdoor School adventures from Monday-Thursday.  It went really well.  There were a lot of moving pieces and logistics to the trip, but it all went pretty smoothly.  The weather was good, the kids were good, and places we went were neat, the campsites were nice, and somehow we managed to keep Jeff's birthday cake presentation a surprise.  I stayed up very late the night before putting together a photo album for him of each of our kids.  We took their pictures of them making the "heart hands" (except for the few who were just too cool for that), and then I had them write a little note to him on an index card.  I put them all together into an album.  But, knowing me, it couldn't just be as simple as gluing down pictures and index cards.  No, no...it had to be decorated and color-coordinated and done up just right!  I enjoyed working on it; I think it will be a special present.
Anyway, Outdoor School was huge and overwhelming as well as good.  Allen brought Ruby out to visit on our day trip on Monday and made an impromptu decision to stay the night with us (since he has Tuesday off, too).  He and Ruby slept in the car, so it wasn't really her first tent experience.  They spent all of Tuesday with us, too.  He saw us to our second campsite and then we parted ways.  So, I was Ruby-less from Tuesday afternoon to Thursday afternoon.  I think that's the longest I've gone without her since she's been born...I think.  Tuesday night I didn't really think much of it, but on Wednesday night we were at OMSI and we watched an IMAX movie about orphaned baby orangutans and baby elephants who are cared for.  I definitely cried while watching that.  Those baby orangutans looks so much like human babies (well, really hairy babies).  It made me miss Ruby!!! I missed Allen, too, but there's something different about being away from your spouse versus your baby.
I don't know what else to say about Outdoor School, mostly because I could probably spend an hour just writing about that.  So why not? you may ask.  Because it's 8:45 PM on Sunday and there's school tomorrow, and I want to write about Ruby's latest achievements, too.  So I'll have to shelve Outdoor School for now.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy first (official) Mother's Day to me!

My Mother's Day so far...
Getting a Starbucks drink (last night, in honor of "Mother's Day Eve")
Sleeping in
Snuggling with baby and hubby
Getting some specialty jams
Going to church and watching a whole bunch of cute babies get dedicated
"Finding" a Jamba Juice gift certificate in the car
Skyping with my lovely mom (and dad and sissy)

Still looking forward to...
Going out to dinner at as-yet-unknown-to-me restaurant while Uncle Toby babysits

There was a lady sitting near us at church who was very pregnant.  When the pastor asked all the moms to stand, I saw her look at her husband quizzically.  I was in the same quandary last year.  The baby's still inside, so does it count?  He motioned for her to stand.  I think that's the right move!  Come on, when you're housing a kicking little baby, you're a mom.
This is what I looked like last Mother's Day (picture courtesy of Kerri Patrick, who always thinks of such things:)

And from a similar time,

My mom said she was looking for this one of the Lowe/Munson/Cook women (from July 2008, on my mom's 50th birthday, I believe):

Here's a shout out to Allen's mom:

Happy day!
I also got this adorable little figurine from Allen
We went to a sweet Italian restaurant, Il Piatto, on Burnside by Imago Dei.  The food was yummy and out of the ordinary (and by that I mean that it was the kind of Italian food that I wouldn't cook for myself).  We waited a long time for it, but that didn't much bother us.  Apparently, though, it caused our server to feel badly for us, because she offered us a free dessert to make up for it.  So we got a pudding-type of thing, which was delish!  We also ran into Len from Catlin Gabel!! I haven't seen him (or any Catlin person) for more than a year.  It was nice to chat with him, albeit briefly.  That's the kind of smalltown feel you get here in Portland: no matter where you go, you're bound to run into someone you know from somewhere.  

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Proof that I was meant to teach middle school?

Back when I was a first year teaching apprentice happily working at the kindergarten/first grade level, I would have told you that you couldn't PAY me enough money to teach middle school.  No way, no how. Just NO.  Then, in the summer after my first year of apprenticing, I had to take 2 courses on middle school curriculum and development. I went into them feeling rather grudging.  I had to take them in order to get a broad "Elementary-Middle" authorization level for my license here in Oregon, but I secretly knew I would never use this information. I was never going to teach middle school.  Never.  Ever. End of story.
And then God chuckled, and through a series of twists and turns, I ended up teaching 8th grade English as my first solo (i.e. non-apprentice) teaching job...and loved it. From there, I went on to teach 6th grade at the school I'm at now.  It's exhausting, exciting (NOT exiting, as some students still insist on spelling it), and full of adventures, both good and bad.
Our 4 day long excursion known as Outdoor School begins on Monday: two nights of camping, one overnight at our local science museum, and a day in Portland.  I'm trying to rest up this weekend, because I know it will be a demanding week.  I think it will be fun, but being one of the people in charge of 40 something middle schoolers out and about in the larger world is quite a responsibility.
When we handed out the packing lists, several girls were very dismayed to see that we had told them not to bring makeup.  "But why not?"  several pleaded.
I replied, "You need to pack light, and besides, we're CAMPING! It's not a fashion show, it's Outdoor School!"
I was met with looks of "Wow, you SOO do not get it, lady."  After all, they never really see me wear makeup, so how could I possibly understand how central it is to their lives?
Well, I remember being that age and being very interested in makeup.  For several years in high school I wore it every day to school.  It was a form of self-expression, I liked it, etc.  I have nothing against make up, but I do have something against girls/women feeling paralyzed without it.  So, girls, I do actually get it.
Anyway, Jeff and I had agreed to pack our suitcases and bring them in on Friday as examples of how to pack light.  Thursday night I got the idea, Hmm, it would be pretty fun to do a "how not to" version.  But I don't want to haul all of that to school... And so the video was born.  I love iMovie and how quickly I can do basic editing.  I think that it turned out very funny, if I do say so myself.

Here it is.

Look at her go!

I put together another video of Ruby.  Maybe, if I'm really inspired, I'll make a big ol' montage video of photos and clips before her birthday.  We'll see.  For now, here's her latest cuteness!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Assorted thoughts (based on bin Laden)

Rest in...whatever you get, I guess.

Not sure what to make of the announcement of Bin Laden's death.  I didn't lose anyone close to me in either the terrorist attacks or the ensuing years of war, so Bin Laden's personal effect on me has been small.  But he was certainly a bad man doing bad things.
This brings me to a curious point: has anyone out there in the media tried to say that he wasn't a bad man?  After all, aren't good and bad relative things these days?  One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter and all that?  My first college roommate had a little book that purported to be about spirituality.  It was the kind of book that always seems to be on discount at Barnes and Noble or Borders and is located near the check out...a very happy-dappy pop culture type of thing.  On the subject of evil and hell, it had only this to say, "If there is a hell, it's reserved for people like Stalin and Hitler...you know, people who did REALLY bad things."  Is Osama bin Laden going to be added to that very short list of people who did REALLY bad things?  How many people do you have to kill to qualify for that author's list for hell, I wonder?
I am glad that a person who did lots of evil is not around to do evil anymore.  He will face judgment, just like the rest of us.  But it's certainly a case of "There (but for the grace of God) go I."  There's nothing that different between what we're made of, bin Laden and I.  Is it just luck that I turned out not to be an evil genius?  Just nationality?  Parents?  I'm sure those are all factors, but God says that we're all equally capable of murder. Jesus said that if you so much as have a resentful or hateful thought against someone, you've as good as murdered them in your heart.
Last night at home community, we read a short essay by C.S. Lewis (you can find it here...read it!).  We got to talking about how a lot of people will say, "Yeah, Jesus was a really good man and a great teacher, but that's all."  Someone pointed out that anyone who says that probably hasn't read Jesus' teachings that carefully, because some of them are pretty hard to take.  Thinking mean thoughts=murder?  Fantasizing about someone=adultery?  Jesus talked a lot about hell and the fact that some people were going to go there.  He said he was God.  People who talk like that usually aren't seen as "just a good teacher."  No one says, "Man, that David Koresh guy was such a good teacher," or "The Heaven's Gate dude was a really good man."  People who say they are God and make moral pronouncements about who will and won't see God usually make friends or enemies, but not distant admirers. Lewis discusses this here on this guy's blog (he's quoting from Mere Christianity.)
Back to bin Laden.  He did horrible things and killed a lot of people.  But he was also somebody's little boy, once upon a time.  He was human.  In the words of Derek Webb, "My enemies are men like me."  Here is a moving YouTube video someone made set to this song.  I don't know if Derek Webb wrote it specifically addressing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but his song does communicate the tragic reality of our world.  Our enemies are people like us.