Scenes from Thanksgiving

It’s not easy to gather eighteen people together in one place…

But we managed to do it!

From my 80-year-old dad to my 20-month-old niece…

I’m so thankful that we made it happen this year, especially since those gypsy parents of mine…

announced that they’re moving back to Korea in March for a year…or maybe three.

There was turkey…(thanks, Ina)!

and way too much food in general:

There were outings…(thanks, Auntie Sissy!):

Carter Mountain:

Taste of China:

There were quiet times:

and rowdy times:

There was music:

There was laughter:

And there was love:

Canticle of the Turning

My kids and I sang Rory Cooney’s Canticle of the Turning with our choir this Sunday. The lyrics are based on the Magnificat, Mary’s song of praise when she learns that she will give birth to Jesus, the baby who will usher in a time of peace when the wolf lies down with the lamb, when swords are beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks:

My soul cries out with a joyful shout that the God of my heart is great,
And my spirit sings of the wondrous things that you bring to the ones who wait.
You fixed your sight on your servant’s plight, and my weakness you did not spurn,
So from east to west shall my name be blessed.
Could the world be about to turn?

Though I am small, my God, my all, you work great things in me,
And your mercy will last from the depths of the past to the end of the age to be.
Your very name puts the proud to shame, and those who would for you yearn,
You will show your might, put the strong to flight, for the world is about to turn.

From the halls of power to the fortress tower, not a stone will be left on stone.
Let the king beware for your justice tears every tyrant from his throne.
The hungry poor shall weep no more, for the food they can never earn;
There are tables spread, every mouth be fed, for the world is about to turn. 

Though the nations rage from age to age, we remember who holds us fast:
God’s mercy must deliver us from the conqueror’s crushing grasp.
This saving word that our forebears heard is the promise which holds us bound,
‘Til the spear and rod can be crushed by God, who is turning the world around.

My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,
And the world is about to turn.

In the hour before, I had been with the 4th and 5th graders at our church in Sunday School, trying to make sense of the lectionary text from the Book of Mark on which the lesson was based. Jesus describes the apocalypse and signs of the end times to his disciples: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines…” And what will happen to the magnificent edifices built by man? As Mary sings: “Not a stone will be left on stone.”

A terrifying vision. A terrifying reality.

The background information provided to teachers of this week’s lesson entitled “Future Hope” read: “Earthquakes, terror, economic crisis – the times in which we live bring challenge and doubt; our faith can become battered by fear, rather than buoyed by trust…” Indeed. Given recent events, the lesson seemed weirdly prescient and disturbingly apt; the exhortation to hope – absurd.

Over the weekend my fellow teachers and I had had a brief email exchange to decide whether or not to discuss the acts of terror that had just occurred around the world during class on Sunday. We decided that we would not bring them up ourselves, but would be prepared for a discussion if the children wanted to talk about the attacks. They didn’t.

We tried to strike a hopeful tone. We talked about the ways in which life has improved over the years with advances in medicine and the end of the Cold War as examples. We sang How Firm a Foundation, in which we are reassured that:

When through the deep waters I call you to go,
the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow,
for I will be with you in trouble to bless,
and sanctify to you your deepest distress.

Honestly, I was finding little comfort in these words.

At the end of the hour, the children were asked to draw a picture of or to write about their hopes for the future. I wish I had thought to take some photos of their work! Here are a few of the radical and simple ideas they came up with:

  • Food, water, and books for everyone.
  • World peace.
  • No war. No hunger. No illness.

My faith may be battered by fear, but I am buoyed by the innate goodness of children and their dreams for a secure future for everyone. May we all find a way to live as they do: not in fear, but with hope for a world about to turn.


Soccer Siblings

Soccer has been a huge part of our lives for so many years…

The kids have bonded over their shared love of the sport…

I’ve loved watching them play together any chance they could get.

It was especially entertaining to watch them play soccer in the driveway of our old house, which, like so many homes in Charlottesville, sits on a sloped lot. They developed some mad skills as they attempted to shoot goals into a net perched at the top of our steep driveway.

For years the kids have been cheering each other on from the sidelines, analyzing each other’s plays and offering up post-game commentary…

They’ve warmed each other up before games and during half times…

They’ve congratulated each other on games won, and commiserated with each other over games lost…

We’re down to two players now. After many years of playing…

…the 13 year old officially announced his retirement at the end of the season last year.

This season, my oldest son has been getting in his required service hours for high school by helping out with his little sister’s team:

On Saturday her team lost their first game in two seasons. It was a miserably cold and rainy morning. By the end of the game, my daughter was a sopping wet, muddy mess. We were all chilled to the bone after standing out in the rain for over an hour.

But for me, watching this pre-game warm-up drill made it all worthwhile:


The National Zoo

We went to the zoo so my panda-obsessed daughter could get her fix…Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see a single panda.

“The pandas are jerks,” a friend later informed me, “They never come out.”

Too important to consort with the hoi polloi, we concluded.

Oh well…We did get to see some pretty cute animals, like:

a cartoonish sand cat,

a Golden Tamarin monkey, (“We need to get one as a pet!!“)

a Fennec fox,

a couple of otters,

and a prairie dog.

The highlight of the trip may have been in Amazonia, where we got up close and personal with a couple of Roseate Spoonbills:

It wasn’t all fuzzy, cute, pink animals. We saw some scary ones too, like this tiger:

…who was a pussy cat compared to the Triceratops!

Related post: Weekend Snapshots 10

Weekend Snapshots 30


I think it’s important to always look professional for work…

You never know who might drop in…

My 13-year-old had some friends over for a Halloween party later that evening…


On Saturday morning my husband was acting really fishy. My daughter came down the stairs in her pjs and plopped herself next to me.

“Dad sent me down to keep you company.”

“Why?” I asked her with narrowed eyes, “Does he not want me to come upstairs?”

She grinned and shrugged her shoulders. Very suspicious.

He came down himself and started putting away the laundry that I had just folded and placed on the back of the couch.

Now I knew something was up. It takes at least a full day of nagging to get my family to take their laundry and put it away.

Next he started to take away the empty laundry basket.

“Hey! I need that!”

“I was going to put it away for you…”


“But I need it for the next load of laundry that’s in the dryer now.”

“OK,” he said reluctantly and put the laundry basket back down on the floor.

Fishy. Very fishy.

And then the doorbell rang.

And then these lovely friends came in bearing flowers, gifts, and scrumptious foods and drink:

It was a surprise housewarming brunch! My husband had managed to keep the secret for weeks, even when I announced that I’d be taking the kids to Arlington this weekend.

“You can’t leave that weekend!” he had blurted in a panic. “I have to check the calendar…I think I have something going on.”

I remember feeling a little miffed at the time. “You don’t have to come,” I said. “The kids are out of school on Monday and Tuesday and I’m taking those days off work. We have trick-or-treating on Saturday, and then we’ll leave Sunday morning.”

As soon as he heard that I was leaving after Saturday, he dropped it. Poor, poor, long-suffering man.

How awesome is that? If I had known about the housewarming, I’d have spent hours, maybe even days cleaning and stressing out. Fortunately, I had done some tidying up after the boys’ party the night before.

Later that day, we went back to our old neighborhood with our last trick-or-treater. For the second year in a row she dressed up with a friend. They were Calvin and Hobbes…


We drove up to Arlington on Sunday morning.

The kids had fun checking out the new foot massager my sister got for my parents:

My sister (Sissy to me, Auntie Sissy to my kids) had come up with a surprise for the kids. As we rounded them up to take them to the undisclosed location, they kept venturing guesses as to where we were heading.

“Oh, I know where we’re going,” the fifteen year old said. “You’re taking us to a mountaintop to sacrifice us, right?”


Well, since the surprise was ruined, we took them to a trampoline park instead. While they waited for their time slot, they practiced their driving skills.

This boy…

is about to get his learner’s permit. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Actually, he was a genius driver compared to these two:

But that’s not saying much.