Dec 31, 2006

On the Second Day of Christmas...

... we traveled from Texas to Colorado to celebrate an early Christmas with our relatives there. We continued to weather our bouts of multiple illness; Miranda developed a double ear infection and pinkeye, but somehow we made it through. We exchanged presents and had our usual laugh-fest over clever buttons and other stocking stuffers. (When we get together, Mom, Ellery and I really crack each other up. Creig and Billy sit patiently and wait for us to finish.) Some of this year's stocking highlights included "Next to the Last Supper" gum and matches, and some "W" joke items that are too vulgar to publish here.

We also spent time with Billy's family in Colorado Springs, which was really nice. Billy's grandmother is quite amazing, being 86 years old and still living on her own.

Miranda was quite taken with the stairs at my sister's house, and enjoying getting to know her cousins Lauren and Ava. There were a few... negotiations over toys and whatnot, but it was really fun to watch them together. I also watched my first episodes of the TV show "Pingu", which is strange and fun!

On the First Day of Christmas...

... we traveled to Texas to celebrate an early Christmas with the Russell/Selim clan. It was lots of fun, and we took our annual large family picture. This is the image we tried to convey:

... although this might be a more accurate representation of the spirit of the group...
... or this. Yikes!

Our Christmas Season 2006: A New Paradigm

In the midst of trying to get everything "done" by that magical date -- Christmas Eve -- I started reflecting on the meaning of the phrase "the Christmas season". I've always thought (or at least acted like) that the "season" meant December with its superhyped lead-up to the 25th. Thus, there was always this tremendous pressure to pack all the requisite Christmas activities into December 1-24, and if it didn't get done by then, we just had to wait until next year.

However, as our community has considered and experienced Advent, I've realized that the Christmas season actually begins on Christmas Day and continues until Epiphany. So, we actually have until January 5th to celebrate and enjoy the tree, the food, the cards (receiving AND sending!), the presents, the carols, everything.

So, in the spirit of a great holiday song, I will chronicle our season within the framework of the 12 days of Christmas. Stay tuned!

Dec 20, 2006

The Best Dad in the World

Poor, poor Wunchie

Lately Miranda has been coughing, a lot. Over Thanksgiving, she battled a double ear infection and pinkeye, but we thought we'd turned the corner. But this cough has stayed, and stayed, and stayed. So, we've taken her to the doc, diagnosed a probable sinus infection, and are back on amoxicillin. So far so good.

The thing is, she sometimes coughs so much that she throws up. Not often, and not much throw-up, but still enough to break my heart. We had a small regurg episode after dinner, but she seemed to recover well. So last night, we tried to give her some cough medicine before putting her down, in hopes of giving her a better night's sleep.

This morning when I was giving her the morning milk, I thought she smelled... funny, and unpleasant. Kinda like throw-up. Did she get some in her hair last night? Did I miss some during her bath?

So she finishes her bottle and I reach into her crib to replace the paci... and encounter the dried remains of throw-up. On the sheets, on the sleeping wedge, on her blanket, on the plush dog she snuggles at night. Sometime between bedtime and getting up, she coughed enough to vomit. We didn't even know, and I have no idea when it happened. My poor wunchie spent some part of last night lying in throw-up.

Oh sweetie, I'm so so sorry!

Dec 18, 2006

Advent Week 4: Conceive

Here is this year's post for the fourth week of Advent, Conceive. And here is the link to last year's reflections.

Our 2006 Christmas Letter and Picture

For those who don't make the semi-short list, we apologize and offer this picture and letter. Merry Christmas!


Christmas 2006

Dear family and friends,

How amazing that another year is drawing to a close. We are thankful for all it’s meant to us.

Our work with Communality continues to be both enjoyable and challenging. As we complete eight years of involvement and service, we are both honored and humbled to count these folks as coworkers and friends. Billy had a busy time coordinating the startup of our community’s new project, the One Horizon Foundation. It’s devoted to mobilizing cooperative action for the common good. Feel free to check out the website, He also continues with the administrative and pastoral work at Communality, and has joined the University of Kentucky’s Institutional Review Board. From Bahamian incorporation guidelines to research proposals, there’s always interesting reading in his backpack.

Maria continues to work with our community, coordinating its involvement with the New Monasticism movement. She also traveled to England in July to resume her doctoral studies in theological ethics. She’s really enjoying her work but looks forward to its eventual completion. You can follow her thoughts on work, motherhood, and other tidbits on her blog,

Miranda did more things than can be listed here, but the highlights include learning to walk (and scamper!); learning various words, some sign language, and unmistakable body language; spending more time with family and friends and seemingly enjoying her bits of independence; starting “preschool” and doing well there; and finally, finally sleeping through the night! She loves swings, slides, and swimming pools; dogs and cats; wheat pasta, cottage cheese and grape tomatoes; Baby Einstein and Teletubbies; reading “My Little Fire Engine” and “Rainbow Ride”; and dancing to classic country and Stevie Ray Vaughan. We are enjoying parenthood more than we could have imagined, despite its many challenges.

John completed one year of employment at Gattitown USA, a pizza and games parlor here in Lexington. He has done well overall and we are proud of his dedication. He continues to befriend everyone he meets and enjoys playing with Miranda. Soon he may be teaching her soccer!

Ellery and her husband Creig have a very active house with their girls Lauren and Ava; when we visited at Thanksgiving, it was tons of fun. Ellery has restarted her classes in interior design, and Maria is looking forward to getting lots of free advice when we finally get our new house. Creig’s business is going very well, although he had to take a few days off to deal with a ruptured appendix (ouch).

Maria’s mother Mary is enjoying Denver and continues to do well in her job in home sales. (Someone said she’s the best associate they have… just a rumor we heard!) She did manage to get to Texas twice in October, a goal we’d all do well to emulate. J

In between his oil contracts and her ordination studies, Maria’s father Bill and his wife Pat are staying busy coordinating the renovation of Canterbury House, the Episcopal campus ministry at Texas Tech. They traveled to the Antarctic in 2006 and are headed to Greece and Cyprus in 2007. Those passports are smoking!

We have been blessed to have Billy’s sister so close and have enjoyed watching Miranda bond with “Aunt Tracey” and the kids. Our niece Jessica began her college career this fall at Lindsey Wilson College and is doing well. Her brother Travis also entered his freshman year of high school. We are really proud of them, but we must be too young to have them in the big leagues… right?!

If you are ever in Lexington (and if we ever get a new house!), please know that our door is open, as is your invitation to stay. And as 2007 approaches, may the peace of the season be yours.

Love, peace, and blessings to you,
Maria, Billy, Miranda, and John

Dec 14, 2006

Bum Steer Indeed!

I love, love, love the magazine Texas Monthly. It's just fabulous. Even as we're trying to simplify our lives and eliminate what we don't need, I'm sorely tempted to resubscribe.

Thanks to Will for giving the blogosphere and early heads-up to this wonderful issue of TM, and especially its Bum Steer of the Year! I myself love to hunt, but I think I'd give this guy a wide berth.

PS -- I"m trying to figure out what it says about me, that I posted the last 2 items on the same day.

Advent Week 3: Patience

Here's a link to our community's focus for the 3rd week of Advent, patience.

Dec 5, 2006

Advent in our community

Our community is entering another year of celebrating Advent together. Some of our folks have done some great posts about the weeks and themes of Advent as we're experiencing it, which I'd like to share with you:

There are also some links to posts from last year's Advent observations, if you're interested. I'll keep posting the links as they arrive.

Hope you feel the expectation of Jesus' arrival with renewed joy this year.

Dec 1, 2006

Miranda's lullabies (part 2)

This is the other song I've been singing lately to the Wee Wunchie. It speaks of adventure and laughter, and seeing beauty in your beloved, and providing warmth and comfort. I try to sing it over her as a kind of benediction, hoping that I provide to her all these elements of a good life.

If I were a feather bed
And in your house so fine
I'd hold you in my arms each night
Keep you warm in the wintertime

And if I were a big wool rug
Just a-sittin' in your front hall
Well, I'd tickle your feet, and make you laugh
If you stepped on me at all

If I were a breath of wind
On your cheek as you walked by
I'd pick you up upon my back
And I'd teach you how to fly

If I were a drop of rain
Trickled down your chin
I'd run right up, and kiss your lips
And I'd kiss them twice again

If I were an old banjo
Felt your fingers on my strings
I'd sing the sweetest little song
A banjo e'er did sing

And if I were a hair ribbon
Color it was blue
I'd be ten times as beautiful
Cause I'd be wearing you

If I were a feather bed
In your house so fine
I'd hold you in my arms each night
Keep you warm in the wintertime