Saturday, November 29, 2008

Great Gifts, Great Deals--

--but you have to move fast.

One of my best friends on the planet is a gifted artist who creates gorgeous jewelry. For some wild reason, her prices this year are so inexpensive, they'll beat Target. They'll beat Walmart, even. But instead of mass produced cookie cutter bling....well, you get real stones, and hand crafted quality and art.

You can order right from her webside. It's called Halcyon Designs.

I have a version of this necklace. Its beautiful.

I'm planning to go buy up all the snowflake earrings for teacher gifts. Maybe she'll make more.

Send a link to your mother-in-law, show your spouse, or at these prices buy something for yourself and wrap it up to lift your spirits on a bad day.

Happy Shopping!

Holiday Party Obesessing

Oh dear, the office party is next week. Not my office, that would be a handful of sweet women who are my dear friends all playing Yahtzee and eating fondue. THAT would be fun.

No, this is a fancy deal, with valet parking, big ticket gifts and of course the invitation says "business casual"

Yeah, right.

Business casual means you have to squint and judge from a far what everyone else is going to wear and I know it's not going to be totally low key.

I am a big time drama queen, and don't mind dressing up more than most of the an event where I'm already comfortable! But here, I'll be the only spouse who isn't a power lawyer or a physician or a something fancy. I'm happy with what I do (and hey, I can say "author" as long as I change the subject FAST!). But this time, I'd like to just be a part of the crowd.

I read Peacebang's BTFM, even though of course I'm not ordained clergy, it always has good advice.

I read the blurb about office parties on the Oprah website and iVillage. This is what I get: no cleavage, knee length for skirts, maybe a suit with a dressy shell and good earrings. Dress at a level they'll expect (impossible!!).

So, here's what I'm thinking.

The sweater I have is from the local consignment store, Ann Taylor Loft from last year, black sequins trim the v-neck which is much lower cut (and needs a silvery shell or something with a little something to it).

The slacks are pretty much these. Or I have black.

Add dressy dangly earrings, pearl choker, sparkly hair bling.

Or a dress....OK, mine's cut longer. I think. Maybe. Yes it is. It's just below the knee. But again, lower cut.


Any and all advice would be appreciated.

And back to some serious theological issues and great inspiration for creating dynamic family minstry soon, promise.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Top Ten True Things about Thanksgiving

I've figured out a whole bunch of true things this Thanksgiving. Here they are:

10. It is totally developmentally appropriate for adolescent boys to play video games all day long on a holiday.

9. Vegetarians should never have to clean out the turkey. Ever.

8. A clean house makes everyone happier, even if getting there makes everyone grumpy.

7. Missing friends and family is just part of the bargain.

6. Drink some wine, cook with some wine. Repeat.

5. Sylvia's pie crust recipe on The Pioneer Woman blog really and truly is the best, ever.

4. Having friends who you actually like and look forward to hanging out with come for dinner takes all pressure off, and you just look forward to a good dinner.

3. Check to see if you have an extra leaf to that table way ahead of time, a drill and rubber mallot may be involved.

2. Pumpkin pie always takes longer to cook that the instructions think it will.

1. This life is so full of blessings that it's almost too humbling to list them. Family, marriage, children, friends, colleagues, and the chance to do it all again in the next 24 hours bring me to the biggest "thank-you" prayer yet. Thank you.Happy Thanksgiving.....WITH a side of cranberries!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gloomy Tuesday in Seattle

It's a gloomy day here in the Pacific Northwest.

The gardens are all put to bed for the winter--only a few herbs still grow. The leaves are almost all off the trees.

There is a chill in the air, in the houses, in the floor. In me.

Even the crows look hunkered down. It is a very gloomy day.

It's the kind of day that might lend itself to going to a coffee shop to work. A good coffee shop, with wi-fi and a view of the water. You could wear the cute jeans and the new sweater and the leather jacket. And lipstick.

But we're down a car. And there are places other people in the family need to go. I'm on the big work day of the week, anyway. Working from home should be good.

It's more like pulling an all-nighter.

And then, just when it looks like the sun is going to set at 2pm in the afternoon, the light shines. Not from the sky, but from lesson prep.

World Prayers.

Michelle Richards has written this great curriculum for middle schoolers called "Popcorn Theology" everyone in my church is jealous of the middle schoolers and their weekly movies. And the resources are wonderful. The prayers are wonderful.

Here's a "Keep it in perspective" for me today.

Blessings All!

Prayers of Celebration

Wage peace with your breath.

Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings and flocks of red wing blackbirds.

Breathe in terrorists
and breathe out sleeping children and freshly mown fields.

Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.

Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.

Wage peace with your listening: hearing sirens, pray loud.

Remember your tools: flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.

Make soup.

Play music, memorize the words for thank you in three languages.

Learn to knit, and make a hat.

Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief
as the outbreath of beauty
or the gesture of fish.

Swim for the other side.

Wage peace.

Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious:

Have a cup of tea and rejoice.

Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Celebrate today.

wage peace - judyth hill - september 12, 2001

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Multi-Gen Thanksgivng Service--a SUCCESS

It was a success! Happy day! Oh thankful joy.

We've done Intergenerational services before--you know, services that have the children and youth putting on a service for the adults And one Easter we did a kind of Multi-gen service where the children and youth stayed for the whole service, but we didn't really have all ages creating the service.

Today, well, we did. From the opening with fantastic drumming and an upbeat "prelude" of Gathered Here to the All Ages Sing-a-long choir that led the hymns. It was good. The piece that stood in for the homily was a break down of the word THANKS, T=thankful, H=hope, A=awe, N=naming your truth, K=kindness, S=spirit.

Six groups or people shared. Each person told about a time when the feeling they spoke about had been really alive for them. We had a family of four, youngest member age 4 share about one topic. There was an elder, a young mother, a middle schooler a woman in mid-life who recently climbed mount Kilamanjaro and an older elementary aged boy. All of these people spoke with eloquence and grace. Some of the deepest meaning for me came from the middle schooler and the 5th grader and the thoughtful things they shared.

We had some chatter from the little ones, but maybe it helped that I explained how our sanctuary is a holy place, and we have to be resepctful of that sacred holiness. I told them how I think of the holy being like if you were on a cliff looking over a still lake with mountiains across the lake and out of the forest near you stepped a deer. The deer munches for a moment, then looks up at you and almost....smiles. That's holy.

Or maybe the service was interesting enough.

Or maybe I was just up front and didn't hear too much chit chat because it was behind me.

It was a wonderful Sunday. And following the service we had a huge Thanksgiving Feast. Our official membership last UUA count was 142. At this feast we served 140 people.

That's a good day.

I'm thankful for the minister I serve with and her willingness to follow me on these tangents. I'm thankful for a Sunday Services chair who listens to me and trusts me. I'm thankful for an RE Council who stands by me and works hard to create dynamic, outreaching family ministry. I'm thankful for members and friends of the congregation who say "yes" when we ask them to share and lead. And I am deeply thankful to my own little family who helped to set up the feast and stayed for two more hours cleaning up after the feast. I hope they enjoy the left over turkey we got to take home. It's nothing in comparison to what they give.

I am deeply blessed. May we all be.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Nanowrimo Writing Retreat

Have you ever been to a wine tasting? I went with a batch of friends. It was our "re-entry" event following the nanowrimo writing retreat. This was amazing. Wine, pouring. Wine; over and over again. Oh my gosh.

My friend Debra knows her wine and she knows what she likes. And she knows what I'm going to like.

I think maybe we've found a new favorite.

Just sayin'.

And when the writing got tough, well the writers went out for a beer with friends. Cheers!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Our Bleeding Hearts...

Over at the blog Root and Source there's an impassioned appeal "My bleeding heart started dripping especially heavily" to help deeply needy children in Afghanistan. Me, too. Drip, drip, drip.

I'm not at all familiar with the organization linked to. I'm sure it's a good and worthy destination for our money.

If you want to do something in your RE Ministry, or in a social action project for your whole congregation I can't say enough good things about Pennies for Peace and the simple, effective materials they offer. The video they sent was riveting for our children ages 3 and up. I added a little worship during which we each took three sips of tea to symbolize three cups of tea. Man, this really helped the message stick. Then we decorated jars for our congregation to collect their pennies and made Afghani cookies. We read books about kids in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was volunteer friendly, child friendly, youth friendly and inexpensive.

And all those pennies will go to CAI and I hope help that little girl get an education and have a good life. I hope.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Funny World

I am not avoiding my NaNoWriMo writing, just in case anyone who might have promised me a pastry if I write 1,500 more words thinks I am. No, well maybe a little. Just a little though.

Last week I got a facebook friend request from a guy I went to high school with. Well, more that that, Jr High too. And we went to the same church, not always at the same time, but he was UU too.

After a few days of back and forth on facebook we got to talk by phone today. He has a lovely wife and a beautiful little daughter with another baby on the way. And he's had a life that flows along like so many of our lives. Flood and drought. The times when all goes just along over the rocks with a song and times when it crashes down over a cliff.

It was so nice to talk with him. There was no pretense, no pretending. I guess we come from the same place, the same home church in a way, the same place in time, so why not just tell it like it is? There's no reason to hide. In some ways it felt like looking back over the last 20 years together and saying "Yeah? That's how I saw it too, always wondered if I just made it up."

Not that the last 20 years were awful or bad. Just that it's good to have the view confirmed.

"Yep. Me, too."

In some ways I think those of us who grew up in the fellowship movement congreagations all might have at least slightly similar experiences. Many of us yearn deeply for more from our churches. We want that deep holy spark that moves us. And, for most of us, we find it.

All the more reason for me to work hard in the church I love and make it a place that fills that hole without question. All the more reason for me to work hard for the children I love to give them the spiritual grounding and the spiritual wings they deserve.

It's good work, if we can get it. I'm thankful to have it.

OK, OK, back to writing, only 2,000 words to catch up to the goal for the day. Ah! Yikes!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Writing a Book, of course

I have a friend who I know in one of those quadruple ways that sometimes comes along. I knew his wife from a parenting group I led when we first arrived in the Seattle area, then I met him at a Renaissance Module for UU Religious Educators; he's a UU Youth Coordinator here in the Seattle area.

Then he showed up at our little local homeschool school with his kids! My youth group went to the con he planned. My son babysits his kids. It's just all over the place, and he is also a facebook friend. Especially during busy writing times, I natter at facebook a lot.

When you change your status message on facebook all your friends see it. I try not to record my every move (Kari is eating breakfast, Kari is working hard, Kari is a facebook geek.....) but I change it more than necessary. Like anything is "necessary" on facebook!

Anyway, during this wild NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, I refer to NaNo in facebook status a lot. The other day at school my friend said "what is this nano thing you're doing?" with a kind face but you could tell he wondered if I was just a little you know... off. Maybe.

I was sitting at a table in our family room with my writing buddy--we write together every Thursday morning, all year and during nano last year we wrote together any chance we could get. This year we got smart....we're going away for a two day write-a-thon mid month. She answered him "NaNoWriMo--National Novel Writing Month, we're both writing a novel in November."

He looked a little relieved. We weren't totally losing it. "OH, so you're trying to write a novel?"

"Oh no, we will write a novel, we both will." she said. Oh yeah.

It reminds me of what the midwife told me when I was pregnant with my first born. She said not to say I'd try to breastfeed. That sets the expectataion that you might not make it. She told me to just say "yes, I'm going to breastfeed."

Works for lots of heroic commitments, I guess!

Happy writing!

(Kari's NaNo word count....12,188--and counting)

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Million Joys and One Snark

Just a little tiny complaint. I am overjoyed in this new beginning for our country. I love that Barack Obama is our president elect. I cried during his acceptance speech, and I feel personally ready to take on what we need to take on to redirect this country, as I imagine my grandmothers felt as we went into World War II. Really, I am transformed.

But just one little tiny thing:

Will there come a day when one barrier will fall first to a woman? Maybe I'm just swimming around here in my own funk about this, but could there be a woman who breaks a barrier before a person of color, who is a man? And no, Sarah Palin does not count. She was a "hail mary" pass, not a well planned and vetted leader.

This unsettled feeling is not playing well in my house. I live with one very old dog, one husband who was adopted from Korea as a baby and three Hapa young men. They don't want to listen to my feelings of being marginalized, of once again being led by men.

I can't blame them. It's not like Sen. Daniel Iouye is our president elect, they've yet to see an Asian man in a postion of such power in our country. But my sons have seen a mixed race man ascend through the minefield of torn alleginces and infighting that can plauge mixed race folks. Still, gender seems to be a game breaker.

Take, for instance, our own UUA Presidency. I don't get a vote because I am a Religious Educator, and not a minister, but if I had one, would I use it to elect a woman to lead us? Well, frankly, no. I would choose based on which candidate I felt could lead us, not as a token pass.

I do wonder. I don't have daughters, but I wonder how little girls are feeling in this post election frenzy? I'm overjoyed that young black and mixed race boys see by looking at their TV screens that they really can be the president of the USA.

What do little girls think?

Thursday, November 6, 2008


If my dear old pal Ivan has enough hope to actually quote Bob Dylan, well then, this leadership change must be the real deal.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

election 2008

We are humble and ready to serve for the benefit of
our country.

So, let us all be transformed.


Our Fifth Principle: In House

I just finished prepping the lesson for our Older Elementary Sunday School class for this week. We're using Toolbox of Faith by Kate Covey (do we have a Facebook fan page for her yet? we should) this week is about the Democratic Process.

It makes me so deeply grateful to be Unitarian Universalist, and to have been raised with these core values as a UU. Democracy is not about keeping *you* away from *my* stuff, it's about us, all of us here in this world today taking care of each other. And now as I plan this lesson with the RE volunteer and my brand new fabulous Associate DRE I am stunned at just what we do here in our little humble denomination, and our humble little congregation.

I was reading what Kate writes about direct democracy and about consensus, and of course I realize that our own Michael Kusz, who serves as the Sr. Manager of FUNTIMES Youth Caucus at GA, should go talk to the Older Elementary class this week! I mean, the Olympia Brown story is a big deal and important, but we have our own story, too.

We have the story of how the youth of Westside UU Congregation got the vote, how we changed our bylaws so people under 18 could be full members of our congregation and go to GA as delegates. And how one of those youth was voted into leadership at GA and then brought more justice and voice to all UU youth by serving on the Youth Ministry Working Group.

It's a good story on this good election day.

(I have decided that working by myself in my house all day was a really, really bad idea on this very highly heroically stressful day! And I'm taking the rest of the day to sit by the tv and to try to write my nano and to cook, and bake and sautee and keep my hands busy. Ah!)

Monday, November 3, 2008


Does anyone else from the MTV 1.0 generation remember that old Pat Benatar song with the video where she was all freaked out? No offense to folks with real mental illness, but I'm kind of spinning on the Pat Benatar MTV kind.This election had better hurry up and get done. Oh my gosh. I swear I'm about to rip my TV off the wall.

And how are all you Nanowrimo folks doing? I can tell that Facebook has been busy! That's what I do while I'm mulling over a sentence or a shift....I flip between email, facebook and whatever else I can think of! But this year's writing has been faster than last year. And more folks I know are on the bandwagon--both new and old friends. So it feels like a whole "Breakfast Club" of us out there pulling together in our own Nanowrimo induced detention.
But it is clearly not enough to distract me from the election or the Halloween Candy. Maybe a part of the ritual after Nanowrimo is over, is joining Weight Watchers! Just like last year.

OK, everyone. Almost done. Oh my gosh I just caaaaaan't wait.

"Anxiety, can't get nothin' done. Anxiety, spoils all the fun....."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Nanowrimo?? Well....almost.

So sometimes when you start writing, things take a turn. Sometimes a U turn, sometimes a little curvy turn. And sometimes a genre turn.

My novel is turning into a memoir.

It's kind of a story about raising kids. I don't always know what it means to raise kids and I almost never really know what I'm doing, but it seems that this is what is in my finger tips this November, so there it is. This is what comes out.

I feel just awful that it's November again and I still haven't finished last year's novel. But oh well. It's that practice of imperfection again. And really, I think I will.


So, guess I'm writing a Namewrimo. National Memoir Writing Month??! OK. I can handle it. I am used to doing things a little differently. It's all good.

I hope everyone who has an actual novel is doing really well and that you have a plot and some rockin' characters and some good twists and turns coming up. Me? I'm just writing what has already happened. What could be easier than that!?

Whatever is getting written, it's really all good. Happy Na....whatever.

Scenes from LREDA Fall Con 2008

This was really the best part of the whole conference. OK, the theology from Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker was life changing, and the sessions were solid and full. Seeing my good friend Halcyon and getting to room together was the best part!
Did you know the leaves change in New Mexico, too? I didn't! This was down by the Rio Grande River.

The courtyard at the Hotel Albuquerque was lovely, and offered fast respite in moments of complete overload.

The light fixtures looked to me like big chalices!

The local mission church in Old Town Albuquerque.

Day of the Dead, or Dia des los Muertes decorations were everywhere.
You can see the buskers in the shadows. Eventually there were two local guitar players and one local tourist with a wicked harmonica. A treat!

The Rio Grande River----it's really shallow here, and very murky.