Monday, April 30, 2012

World Book Night 2012

I'm so behind in my blogging. Last Monday (a week ago) Mike and I participated in World Book Night 2012.

World Book Night began in the UK in 2011 and spread to the U.S. this year. It's an annual celebration of reading and books. Authors, publishers, distributors, independent booksellers, UPS, printers, and binders collaborate to print and distribute the books, for free, to reluctant readers across the country. This year 25,000 givers distributed 20 copies of a book out of a selection of 30 books (some pictured at left). (We got to make three choices, and if we were lucky, we received one of the books we requested.)
I gave away a book by one of my favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible. I went to pick up my stack of books at our wonderful local bookstore, Annie Bloom's, where they had a World Book Night Giver Reception complete with sharing of stories, cupcakes, champagne, and door prizes. It was fun, and I met one of my coworkers there. (Kieran was very happy to get my cupcake, while I enjoyed the champagne.) I also picked up an extra (unassigned) box for Mike to distribute: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. (He also helped another friend, laid up, who had signed up to give away The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, by arranging a giveaway at Chris' high school.) 


We decided to distribute the books after school at Kieran's elementary school, along with another parent, Leigh, who was also participating (she was distributing Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, which I recently read for my book group).

Everyone who received a book was very appreciative and grateful. I'm afraid that we were not as successful as we'd hoped at reaching "reluctant" or "light" readers. A couple of self-admitted reluctant readers studied our selection and ended up leaving empty handed, saying that they already had enough books to read. I'm wondering if that was partly because all of our books were serious fiction and perhaps too literary for "light" readers. Now that I look at some of the other possibilities, I realize that our selections probably reflect our high-falutin' fiction preferences--perhaps not as appealing to those light readers. (We chose books that we'd read and loved.) If we'd been distributing The Hunger Games, perhaps even light readers would have been interested. (The Hunger Games was one of the choices, but of course it was the most popular!)

World Book Night is celebrated on April 23 because it's the UNESCO International Day of the Book, chosen in honor of Shakespeare and Cervantes, who both died on April 23, 1616. (It is also the anniversary of Shakespeare's birthday.) In the Catalan region of Spain, the day is celebrated by giving a book and a flower to a loved one.

We had lovely sunny weather for our book giveaway--all of the pale Portlanders were wearing summer clothing!

If you'd like to be a World Book Night giver in 2013, sign up here to stay apprised.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Top 10 Reasons Why Men Shouldn’t Be Ordained

This list was first published in 2009 on the Christian Feminism web site. I've scoured the site looking for a way to request permission to reprint, but cannot find any way to contact the site authors. So I'll hold my breath and hope they approve of my reposting!  

Top 10 Reasons Why Men Shouldn't Be Ordained

10. A man’s place is in the army.

9. For men who have children, their duties might distract them from the responsibilities of being a parent.

8. Their physical build indicates that men are more suited to tasks such as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be “unnatural” for them to do other forms of work.

7. Man was created before woman. It is therefore obvious that man was a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment, rather than the crowning achievement of creation.

6. Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. This is easily demonstrated by their conduct at football games and watching basketball tournaments.

5. Some men are handsome; they will distract women worshipers.

4. To be ordained pastor is to nurture the congregation. But this is not a traditional male role. Rather, throughout history, women have been considered to be not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more frequently attracted to it. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.

3. Men are overly prone to violence. No really manly man wants to settle disputes by any means other than by fighting about it. Thus, they would be poor role models, as well as being dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.

2. Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained. They can sweep paths, repair the church roof, change the oil in the church vans, and maybe even lead the singing on Father’s Day. By confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the Church.

1. In the New Testament account, the person who betrayed Jesus was a man. Thus, his lack of faith and ensuing punishment stands as a symbol of the subordinated position that all men should take.

I might also add that men have a biologically proven greater difficulty in multi-tasking, and what is a clergyperson if not a multi-tasker? My amazing pastor has to do all the following--and more--on Sunday mornings:
  • Make sure everyone assigned to a task is in church to do it (including visiting priests and musicians)
  • Lead the service and announce songs, prayers, etc.
  • Ensure everything moves along swiftly and efficiently
  • Give a flawless, well-delivered sermon that speaks to people, or lead communion in an inspirational way
  • Reach out to visitors and guests
  • Greet church members warmly and kindly
  • Not get flustered by anyone who is angry, aggrieved, or stressed for a particular reason
  • Check in with members who are suffering from health or personal problems
  • Make sure the church building is not too cold, hot, dark, sunny, or noisy (those darned woodpeckers!)
  • Fill in if someone doesn't show up or needs assistance with one of the various tasks in the service
  • Pay attention to the congregation to see if anyone looks like they are struggling or in emotional pain
  • Keep track of her teenage daughter (if her husband is not there)
  • Listen and respond calmly and appropriately to everyone who approaches her
  • Make sure no one does anything outrageous or inappropriate (and if they do, figure out how to respond)
  • Ensure that the doors and windows are locked, or that someone has taken care of that
  • Be prayerful, prophetic, and worship, while doing all of the tasks above
I'm sure I've forgotten many others, and these are just on Sunday morning. The point is...there is a lot to keep track of, and generally women are better at juggling multiple tasks at once. Disagree? Let's hear it.

So remind me again why many denominations (including the Catholic church) are so adamantly opposed to ordaining women? Favorite excuses are "God said so," or "Jesus chose only male apostles." To that I say codswallop!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Partyin' with the Russians!

Mike's aunt from Florida visited over a long weekend, and the Russians were partying!! (Mike's mum is 100% Russian, and Aunty Nancy was married to Olga's brother Alex.) The festivities began on Friday night with a celebration of Russian Orthodox Easter, with Russian appetizers:

Zakuski (Russian appetizers)

Ready for a party!

Mike with the Swedish vodka

The vodka shots

With the pelimeni (Russian dumplings in broth)


Nick got hold of the camera!

There they go with their shots!
I was called a lightweight because I was the only adult not doing shots. I sipped my vodka slowly instead.

Chris indulging in his Russian side
On Saturday we hosted a birthday tea party for Olga (whose birthday was on Sunday) and our dear friend Annette.
The spread

Lively conversation
Sisters-in-law

Our butler, Mike, sat down for some tea
 
Dad popped in for a cuppa after taking Nick to the park

Annette and Mike
 
Aunty Nancy and Dad
With my mom and her dear friend Alberta,
who she worked with in the St. Vincent's psych ward


With Mom
(who helped a great deal with the party!)

Mom, Mary, me, and Annette
 
The Russian familia

Dad modeling the cap we got for him for his birthday: S'more Tester!
Sunday (Olga's actual birthday) we sent her and Aunty Nancy to Portland Center Stage to see "Anna Karenina," and we went to meet them for a Russian celebration after the play.

Monday, Aunty Nancy's last evening with us, we celebrated the 100th birthday of Mike's grandmother, Alexandra Plotnikoff (Olga's mother and Nancy's mother-in-law), who lived with Nancy and her husband Alex for several years in Florida. Out came the Russian goodies and vodka once again!!

Finishing off the vodka with more shots!
Nancy left Portland yesterday, sadly too early to see the man stripping down for the TSA screeners at the Portland airport! :)

Catholic bishops and Vatican wage battle with the laity and enlightened religious

In the news today, a Catholic bishop ranting about President Obama:

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Peoria, Illinois, Daniel R. Jenky, has compared President Obama to Hitler and Stalin:
“The Church survived barbarian invasions. The Church survived wave after wave of Jihads. The Church survived the age of revolution. The Church survived Nazism and Communism. And in the power of the resurrection, the Church will survive the hatred of Hollywood, the malice of the media, and the mendacious wickedness of the abortion industry...The Church will survive the entrenched corruption and sheer incompetence of our Illinois state government, and even the calculated disdain of the president of the United States, his appointed bureaucrats in HHS, and of the current majority of the federal Senate.

 
May God have mercy especially on the souls of those politicians who pretend to be Catholic in church, but in their public lives, rather like Judas Iscariot, betray Jesus Christ by how they vote and how they willingly cooperate with intrinsic evil.

 
As Christians we must love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, but as Christians we must also stand up for what we believe and be ready to fight to defend our faith. The days in which we live now require heroic Catholicism, not casual Catholicism. We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but instead be Catholics by conviction.

 
In our own families, in our parishes, where we live and where we work – like that very first apostolic generation – we must be bold witnesses to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We must be a fearless army of Catholic men, ready to give everything we have for the Lord, who gave everything for our salvation.

 

Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care. In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, President Obama – with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path.

 
Now things have come to such a pass in our beloved country that this is a battle that we could lose, but before the awesome judgment seat of Almighty God this is not a battle where any believing Catholic may remain neutral.”
Also in the news, at least six Catholic parishes in Washington are ignoring the Seattle Archbishop's (Peter Sartrain) demand to gather signatures for a referendum to repeal the state's recent marriage equality law. And one brave priest, Rev. Tim Clark, received a standing ovation when he announced at Our Lady of the Lake parish that they would not be participating in the anti-equality campaign:
“I am happy to report that Our Lady of the Lake parishoners have been overwhelmingly and, thus far, unanimously supportive of the decision I made NOT to gather signatures in support of this referendum,” Clark wrote. “The standing ovation experienced during one of the Masses says less about me and much more about the health of this parish. I only wished the archbishop could have experienced the sustained applause — the ‘sensus fidelium’ — of the people. He needs to listen to this ‘voice.’ That is my prayer.”
Yes, those are the Catholics I know and love! Mike expressed the opinion that this will make the Catholic Church come down hard on Seattle. Maybe they will send someone like the Rt. Rev. John Nienstedt, archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis, who is staunchly anti-gay, anti-divorce, and anti-premarital sex. He said he "would brook no public dissent from any priest in the archdiocese," and “It is my expectation that all the priests and deacons in this archdiocese will support this venture and cooperate with us in the important efforts that lie ahead." Archbishop Nienstedt mailed out 400,000 anti-gay DVDs to Catholics in his diocese and refused communion to students wearing rainbows at a diocesan mass.

 
In the meantime, after silencing a popular Irish Catholic priest who has been vocal in his criticism of the church, the Vatican issued its "Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious," which has been investigating the Leadership Conference for Women Religious (LCWR) since 2009. The report expresses grave concerns that the women are being too welcoming of gay people and also support women's ordination, among other seriously threatening and heretical stands. (!) They are also radical feminists:
"Radical Feminism. The Cardinal noted a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith in some of the programs and presentations sponsored by the LCWR, including theological interpretations that risk distorting faith in Jesus and his loving Father who sent his Son for the salvation of the world. Moreover, some commentaries on “patriarchy” distort the way in which Jesus has structured sacramental life in the Church; others even undermine the revealed doctrines of the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture."



The Vatican (through my old "friend" Cardinal William Levada) appointed Archbishop Sartrain of Seattle to reform the LCWR (and stamp out all that radical feminism!). Perhaps this is a way to reward Sartrain for his anti-gay proselytizing, or perhaps it's the Vatican attempting to replace him with someone more likely to rule with an iron fist. Yes, bring in the men and fix those uppity women! Sartrain and his cronies will have authority to: 

  • Revise LCWR statutes
  • Review LCWR plans and programs
  • Create new programs for the organization
  • Review and offer guidance on the application of liturgical texts
  • Review LCWR's affiliations with other organizations, citing specifically NETWORK and the Resource Center for Religious Institutes
They'll whip those brazen hussy nuns into shape! How dare those radical feminists do such evil things like supporting the Affordable Health Care Act!!! I for one am waiting for good Catholics everywhere to start speaking out and standing up to the bullies at the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Bishops, as Maura Casey wrote about in her Oregonian piece, "Catholic women must speak out" (about birth control).

We desperately need a Catholic spring, not just in Ireland but across the world. As more and more Catholic religious and laypeople begin mustering the courage to express their faith through speaking out in favor of justice, the Vatican and its henchmen are swinging their hammers. The only way for the church to change is for the people to bravely speak out. Yes, I know it's easy for me to say as a Lutheran, who really cannot understand the concept of church hierarchy telling me what to believe and how to vote.

Most Catholics disregard most of what the hierarchy says and just quietly do their own thing (use birth control and support gay marriage, for example). But silence is agreement. It's time to speak up and be brave like the Catholic priests in Seattle.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Republicans' hollow claims of Democrat war on women

Any schoolyard child knows the rules: if someone accuses you of something, you throw it back into the other person's face...especially if the accusation rings true. That's what the Republican party is doing as they see the poll numbers and realize the damage their anti-women screeds and legislation are wreaking on their presidential prospects.

After their aggregious war on women (not only trying to ban birth control and calling women who use birth control "sluts" and worse, but also trying to force women to have transvaginal ultrasounds, restrict abortion, imprison doctors who perform abortions, ban Planned Parenthood, etc.), they now have the audacity to accuse the Democrats and President Obama of waging a war on women.

First, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus compares women to caterpillars:
"If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we’d have problems with caterpillars. It’s a fiction.”
Then he defends the party's attacks on birth control by saying that said that by attacking women’s rights, the Republican Party is demonstrating that they are actually the ones who are pro-women:
"If you believe that all women are pro-abortion, maybe in your own world, maybe there’s a war on women...And the fact of the matter is, that the real war on women, the actual things that I think most women in this country are most concerned about, which is a good job, a good family, being able to live the American dream, provide for your kids and your family, that war on women is being perpetrated by President Barack Obama who has put our economy on the wrong track."
This is real audacity, because the poor economy is a direct result of eight years of Republican power. The economy was in a shambles when President Obama came into office, and it takes awhile to fix something so broken. And instead of focusing on creating jobs and writing legislation to actually help people, the Republicans are busy writing 90 separate anti-abortion bills across the country and refusing to support equal pay for equal work (ala Lily Ledbetter).

Mitt Romney is singing the same tune, claiming that 92 percent of the jobs lost have been women's jobs. Yet, the 92 percent comes from January 2009, before President Obama was even sworn in. In fact, 39.7 percent of the jobs lost since the beginning of the recession in 2007 were by women...so the 92 percent figure is a big, fat lie. Since taking office, he has been a staunch supporter of women and policies to help them and their families.

The reality is that the likes of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are most responsible for the Republican war on women. They have done far more than Romney to skew the party further to the right in the last year. Charles Blow writes on the New York Times blog about what "Rick Santorum has wrought":
"Santorum surged by dragging the debate so far to the right he couldn’t see the middle with a telescope. The base dropped all pretense of moderation or even modernity and followed Santorum down a slippery path that led to a political abyss of social regression...Instead of small government and fiscal conservatism, Santorum overwhelmingly promoted — and the public overwhelmingly focused on — his apparent obsession with sex and religion."

Now Romney has no choice but to pick up the women war where Santorum left off. He has to if he has any hope of winning far-right conservatives' support. Blow continues:
"The shift in the debate, which Santorum helped create, and his withering attacks on the front-runner forced Romney to move further right than was politically prudent...As a result, Romney is now weaker than any post-primary party nominee in recent political history."
I almost feel sorry for Romney, because I don't think he's as misogynist as the rest of them. He's just bowing to peer pressure. How could he not know anything about the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, though? Most likely, he had to check with his conservative advisors before knowing how to respond.

They must think that women are really, really stupid to believe that the Democrats are the ones who hate women. They underestimate us yet again.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Happy birthday, St. Annette!

In April 2008, I wrote about our dear friend Annette and how much she has meant to us throughout our children's lives. She is a regular reader of this blog, so I thought it would be fun to embarass her yet again (while also reminding her how much we admire and love her!).
With a little boy, Mick, at church
(who is now not so little any more!)
This is what I wrote back in 2008: 
************
My parents went to Pacific Lutheran College (as it was known back then) with Annette and her husband Neal, but I didn't get to know them well until after they returned from Africa and Asia in the early 90s. They have since become close friends of ours, as well as my parents.
Annette is one of the most generous, giving, and genuinely altruistic human beings I have ever met. Not only is she caring and nurturing, but she is also incredibly well connected. I love to tease her about the fact that everywhere she goes, she meets someone she knows. It is amazing. I think it must be her positive magnetism that draws people to her.

As the photo at left says, Annette was the first person at Mike's side when I was having an emergency c-section for the birth of Chris. Throughout the biggest crisis of our lives, Annette was our own personal parish nurse and friend, and we will always be grateful for her tender loving care. She has provided the same level of caring and loving dedication to many members of our community when they have gone through crises. In recent weeks, Annette's been caring for a woman at our church who is suffering from a very painful cancer in her mouth.

In recent months, she and Neal have regularly cared for Nicholas so Mike can get some writing done in the morning, which has been tremendously helpful to him. Nicholas can say two people's names clearly at this point, and one of them is "Annette." He has developed a very special relationship with both of them. Our family has christened her "Saint Annette," because of her giving and loving spirit.
At Kieran's third birthday
******************
Now, three years later, Annette and Neal are grandparents to their beautiful grandson Tarun. In the past year I've had the pleasure of working with Annette on our church steering team, allowing me to experience a new side of her compassionate wisdom.

Annette always thinks of other people first--it's how she's wired. But the great thing about St. Annette is that she's not pious or prude...she has a great sense of humor and always has a smile on her face. Our kids view both Annette and Neal as extended family.

Happy birthday Annette! We love you!
At one of Chris' birthday parties


At a music gathering at our house

Dinner party

Nick's second birthday party
(Neal holding Nick, Annette in background)

At Kieran's play last December--along with her son Corey,
his wife Nandita, and their son Tarun


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

When will Oregon wake up and begin adequately investing in our future?

This evening I went to a very depressing community meeting at our beloved elementary school, where parents and a few teachers met with the principal to discuss the budget cuts being imposed across Portland Public Schools. Our school has to cut 1.7 full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching positions. This means that the few enrichment options offered in the school now will be reduced much further, and class sizes will continue to grow. At 60 kids, Kieran's grade is one of the largest. This year, they have three third grade classrooms, but next year the grade will have only two classes with 30 kids each.

The school district mandates that the kids get two enrichment offerings per week, even though the funding is being cut. Federal mandates require PE, but that too will be cut (again--it was only added back in a few years ago).

The principal had found a way to retain 0.5 FTE (librarian) because of the money raised through the school foundation. She had to send "unassignment" letters to the half-time PE teacher and also "unassign" 0.5 FTE of our combination librarian/technology teacher, who our principal says is the best librarian she's ever worked with. She said that she's seen a true love of reading in our community that is unmatched in other schools, much of that because of our talented librarian and rich literacy programs such as "Battle of the Books" and the "Bookbaggers" overnight event.

Beyond that, she wanted the parents to let her know which meant the most to us:
  • Technology
  • Music
  • PE
How can we possibly choose among those three? I copped out, noting that I would support whichever option the staff felt was most important (even though my kids would most like music). The staff at our elementary school are simply phenomenal, and I trust them to choose which is best for the kids...not just my kids, but also the ones whose parents cannot afford to provide outside enrichment.

One of the third-grade teachers shared with me that she worked in a lower-income school that had to cut technology and the teachers were supposed to shoulder that themselves. Bottom line, that option fell away because the teachers did not know enough about maintaining the computers.

I think back to those long-ago days when I was in school. We didn't have technology classes in elementary school (I took my first computer class in junior high), but at Vose Elementary School in Beaverton, we had two PE teachers, two music teachers, and a full-time librarian, in addition to four moderately sized classes per grade. We were able to take violin in fourth grade and band starting in fifth grade, although I don't remember having a school choir. I'm sure that Vose had more total students than our smaller school does, but irregardless, that's a clear contrast to current staffing levels.

Kieran and Mom at one of Chris' school concerts,
back when they actually had concerts!
Even when Chris was in elementary school, they had library, technology, music, and P.E. Nicholas is starting kindergarten in the fall, and I feel so sad that he will not have the enrichment opportunities offered by trained specialists. More responsibility falls on our already-overloaded teachers to provide extra educational enrichment, and as parents, we must find a way to dig deep and cough up more contributions for our foundation if we hope to provide any enrichment opportunities at all.

The tax naysayers claim that they should not have to shoulder the burden for the education of other people's kids. What they don't realize and acknowledge is that these children are our future doctors, teachers, lawyers, firefighters, police officers, scientists, technologists, etc. When we have outstanding schools in our community and our state, it benefits the whole economy and the community.

Chris marching in a parade with the middle school band
As long as Oregon funds education in its continuing piecemeal fashion, we will keep chipping away at our educational foundation and jeapardizing our future. We can't cut any closer to the bone. It's dire and desperate, now.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Nine years ago, our family expanded to four

Nine years ago today, our big, strapping 7-pound-13-ounces baby Kieran joined our family. The date of his birth, while long anticipated and prayed for, was not all pleasant. After Chris' extremely difficult early birth and 117-day-long NICU stay, followed by four miscarriages as we tried to have a second child, I was placing a lot of high expectations on his delivery and birth. I had to have another c-section, so it wasn't to be the ideal labor and delivery, but at least I wanted it to be a thousand times better than the first experience!

Although I had a scheduled c-section, when we arrived at the hospital, the nurses informed me that they were too full and I would have to give birth in a surgery room rather than a birthing room. What that meant, bottom line, was that after Kieran was born, he would be whipped away with Mike, and I'd be taken to a large surgery recovery room to recover with all the other general surgery recovering patients. No nursing immediately after birth (which was extremely important to me), no family at my side...exactly the opposite of what I had been waiting for the previous six years. I burst into tears and asked Mike to go advocate on my behalf. I felt that if any new mom deserved to be handled with care, it was me!

By the time the anesthesiologist took me in for the spinal, I was hysterically sobbing...even though they had resolved the issue (tears help!) and had told me that they had miraculously freed up a room. It was not a relaxing beginning to my "ideal childbirth" experience!! I still feel angry about the poor way this was handled.


Meeting precious Kieran for the first time


New family
The hospital continued its ineptness when my milk did not come in soon enough for the nurses' liking. They threatened to force me to give him formula, and the only way I could stave them off was to call our pediatrician (I failed in this fight with Nicholas). They also did not like the fact I had him in bed with me and would not allow him to go into the nursery. But again--after what we went through with Chris (not being able to hold him until he was 6 weeks old)--I was not about to let go of my baby!
We held him constantly!
Six-year-old Chris and baby brother

Such a happy baby!


Farmers market, fall 2003

Christmas 2003 (he loved those boots,
which played "These Boots Are Made for Walking"!)

Family photo, fall 2003
December 2003 (8 months)
Kieran has added so much to our lives. He's the most independent of our three children...for example, the third graders recently had to build a model of a Portland bridge. Kieran chose the St. John's bridge and built his model completely by himself, without any help from us (which, judging from the professional appearance of the other bridges, was rare). He has a tough exterior at times and is anxious to grow up, but he's a very sensitive soul. Yesterday as I was getting ready for church, he was the one in the family to tell me that I looked nice. I cherish his constant "I love you, Mom"s and huge hugs, and I hope they never stop.

Love that kid!!
I truly look forward to watching and waiting to see what life brings to Kieran. I have a feeling he is going to do great things.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter-Birthdays 2012

We've just finished a CRAZY busy weekend, full of church activities, birthday parties, and family time. It started on Friday afternoon, when Chris and I went to rehearse for the Good Friday service, which took place that evening. Our church had a clown/mime service for Good Friday, with one of our visiting priests (Father Leo) acting the role of the clown, Tug. Chris and I worked with a talented harpist, Suzanne, to provide the background music.

When I was a teenager, I formed friendships with a few special women from our church. Suzanne was one of those women. She and I actually took a clowning workshop from Father Leo when I was in high school. (Of course, my clown name was Rainbow, as I was obsessed with rainbows as a teen.) It was a beautiful, moving service, and it brought back so many memories of my teen years. Of course, it was especially wonderful to make music with Suzanne again after all those years!

Saturday morning my sister and I took our dad out to brunch at Seasons and Regions to celebrate his birthday. After that, I rushed home to get everything sorted out for Kieran's birthday party, which commenced at the movie theater. We went to see "Mirror Mirror" with five of his school friends, his cousins, Nicholas, and my brother's girlfriend's son, Reign. Although the movie had received mixed reviews, we all enjoyed it. Nadine and I chuckled at the fact that Julia Roberts is now the stepmom instead of the leading lady. I liked the fact that Snow White saved herself instead of relying on the prince, but unfortunately she didn't get to rule the kingdom in the end because the spell over her father was broken and he returned to take his place on the throne.


At the movie theater
 Next we took the kids home for play and pie...I ended up driving Kieran and his five school friends in the minivan, and it was my first "minivan mom" moment. It was fascinating to listen to their conversation and to be the only adult in the car. Kieran tends not to spend a lot of time with his friends outside of school...I'm not sure why but from what I've heard this is more typical with boys. He always enjoys them when he sees them but he doesn't request get-togethers with them either.

Kieran and Cece in a rematch of their spicy competition


Singing happy birthday and getting ready to eat frozen lemon cream pie
(Kieran's a lemon freak)


He liked the pie so much he decided to put his face into it!


With his friend Kayra (and the Sasquatch claw Kayra gave him)


With Annika


With Logan


With Colleen
 Saturday night we got together at my parents' house to celebrate Mike's, Kieran's, my dad's, and my mother-in-law's various March and April birthdays.

Mike with his mum


The birthday crew


So glad to see my bro so happy!

For Easter, we had an egg hunt at home, followed by an egg hunt at church and Easter services, followed by brunch and ANOTHER egg hunt at my parents' house!

Kieran with friends at church


Nick searching for eggs


The bigger kids


And the young women


With Mike during the egg hunt


My wonderful mom


The boys after the egg hunt


And after church
It was a fun, but busy, weekend. Now back to the routine of work!
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