Tuesday, December 30, 2008
We live in an apartment complex with a demon dog. A real demon dog. He's terrifying. He's a beagle. And not a cute beagle either. He's a snarling hateful thing. Let me tell you about him.
Every day, when I go out for a walk or for a drive, I see this threesome: A dark round woman, a sweet blonde girl, and a demon dog. The round woman seems often to be in a wheel chair, which simply makes the trio more bizarre.
The dog is squat and always, at all times, because he is a demon, has a big black muzzle on his blunt nose. I would like to show you a picture, but if you see this dog, you do anything but try to get closer.
The muzzle, though adding a distinct and fitting Hannibal Lector-look to the dog, does nothing to stop his growling. Mike and I will trip gaily off to get the mail, and suddenly hear the most menacing growling you've ever heard. Then it turns to sharp barks. You see the three in the distance, and the woman tries to reel him in tighter on his leash. As we get closer (this is before we learn to simply turn and run), he starts lunging, paws swatting at the air furiously, barking and trying to get at our liver to have later with some Chianti and fava beans.
The woman laughs hysterically in her wheel chair. Each and every time. She has great fun watching her dog try to eat the innocents. The little girl sweetly and calmly entreats him, "No, demon dog! Down! Be nice, demon dog!"
This dog will stop at nothing to get at you. He knows no fear. When I drive by in the morning and by at night, he lunges at the tires of my car, trying to puncture them, burst through the car window, and suck out my soul like a Dementor.
One Sunday, I was innocently working at the nearby coffee shop. Pondering deep things, no doubt. When suddenly I heard his evil growl. No mistaking it. He was tied up outside, scheming how to burst into the coffee shop and take our souls. I looked up and saw the sweet blonde in line, saying to a little boy next to her, "Oh no! He's not mean. He just does that when he wants to play. He's just playing! Tee hee!" How sweet.
We were all trapped in the coffee shop for several more hours, as no one would dare open the door to the horror that waited outside. Mike and I have, in fact, been trapped in our apartment for several weeks now. We're living off of jelly beans and Diet 7-Up, too afraid to leave with the beastie barking at our heels.
Monday, December 29, 2008
When it comes to life choices, one can get oneself in a mess when she either chooses to do something because she can do it or because she thinks she ought to do it. And many choices seem to be made on can or ought.
Just because one can do something doesn't mean one should do it. I think our upwardly mobile society has a hard time with this when it comes to so-called career advancement. It's obvious that just because one can be a custodian doesn't mean one should be one. But if you change that to a title of prominence or money or power, it suddenly becomes more difficult. If one can become an executive, with all the opportunity it affords, how could one turn it down? If God has imbued the person with skills that might make her a good executive, it doesn't always stand to reason that she should be an executive. God may have made her with the ability to do a great many things well. It seems the "can" can be used as an excuse to disguise a choice made based on money or sheer ambition, which never seems to make one very happy.
That's easy enough to say, and sounds very noble. But the more sinister tendency is to do something because one feels she ought to.
Even if one has no skills for a noble task, one feels she ought to do it simply because it must be a good thing to do. She has no skill for languages or cultures, but feels she ought to become a missionary because it is such a noble thing to do. She has no patience for sick people, but feels being a nurse is the proper thing to do. But, as Sayers says, no matter how noble one profession seems, if it's not her task to do it, she will only make herself and everyone around her miserable if she tries.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
But I at least can take some solace in her example. She is a woman who defied the conventions of feminity in the early 20th century, and chose to be who God made her best to be, a working woman and a writer.
I think Mike and I partly get along so well as neither of us always fulfills the role of a "good" man or a "good" woman. He has a distaste for football, he prefers poetry to engineering, and he doesn't break the 5'7" barrier. Although Mike thinks I make an excellent example of the female species, I also don't always satisfy the demands of femininity of some. I have many an outlandish ambition, and I seem to find myself a childless career woman.
And so, I find a friend in Ms. Sayers, who was one of the first female graduates of Oxford and had to fight for the respect of rankled men and scandalized women.
In her essays, which I am reading, she takes such a sound approach to the issue of women and their rightful place in society: Women are human. Just as men aren't first men, but human beings, us women too turn out to be first human. A very practical approach to practical life matters.
When making choices of life direction, she would propose the first question to be not, "what is proper for me as a woman?" but "who did God uniquely create me to be?" How refreshing. Here is my favorite quote.
"When the pioneers of university training for women demanded that women should be admitted to the universities, the cry went up at once: "Why should women want to know about Aristotle?" The answer is NOT that all women would be the better for knowing about Aristotle--still less, as Lord Tennyson seemed to think, that they would be more companionable wives for their husbands if they did know about Aristotle--but simiply: "What women want as a class is irrelevant. I want to know about Aristotle. It is true that most women care nothing about him, and a great many male undergraduates turn pale and faint at the thought of him--but I, eccentric individual that I am, do want to know about Aristotle, and I submit that there is nothing in my shape or bodily functions which need prevent my knowing about him."
When considering my life and what is right for me, it makes very little sense to consider only what is generally thought best for Sally, Lisa, and Jane, with whom my biggest similarity may be anatomical. God created me as an individual with individual skills and talents and offerings. And I am lucky enough to be married to a man who agrees, which is one of the ways he bagged me. When I told him of my fear of marriage, of losing opportunity to exercise my, albeit small, intellect and creativity, he said, "What if it could be like this: Two people sitting at the table drinking coffee, discussing what they were learning and reading and considering; two people challenging one another and stimulating one another as individuals."
What a man.
*I give all credit for the very clever title of this post to Mike.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
So, today, you get to play House Hunters with Mike and I, yelling at your computer screen which home we should choose. The homes we like are all within 5 minutes of each other, in safe neighborhoods and good school districts, and taxes are similar. Here are the three options:
1. The 1,300 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath in Oak Valley Ranch on Aspen Glen. This home is in a beautiful location in northwest Colorado Springs. Some friends of ours live 3 houses down. It's a block from a park and tons of nice walking trails. The yard is big and beautiful and I love the kitchen and feel of the inside. This home is less expensive than the other options. The downside is that the 2nd and 3rd bedrooms are pretty small and have small windows.
2. The 2,500 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath near Ute Valley Park on Chokecherry. This home is much larger than the Aspen Glen home and has as much square footage as we'd ever need. It's blocks from Ute Valley Park in northwest Colorado Springs, a huge park that we love to explore. (This is where we ran into the rattlesnake.) This home has a great kitchen and probably has much better resale value. The downside is that the neighborhood feels much more suburban and city, a bad thing for us, the homes are much closer together, and it has a teensy weensy yard.
3. The third option is to wait in hopes that another home will come onto the market in our very favorite neighborhood, Mountain Shadows Parkside, in our price range. (Here's the home I desperately wanted to buy there, but some stinker got it first.) This neighborhood is by far our favorite, as it's so mountainy and removed, but the downsides are that there aren't fenced yards, it's potentially more expensive, and we don't know when another home will show up.
So which will it be?
Forthwith, due to imperative milestones for optimum productivity and the aforementioned danger of corporate takeover, I will be eschewing such targeted ambiguity and diversify my communication portfolio.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Silas Kithinji Mwaniki, that is. Silas lives in Kenya, and he just turned 6. His mom and dad are farmers. He lives in a town near Nairobi called Kirima where there are 4,500 people. Typical homes where he lives have dirt floors and mud walls and mud or grass roofs. They eat maize and beans to survive. Malaria and AIDS lurk in his neighborhood. Typical farmers earn about $15 a month to pay for food, lodging, medicine, clothing, and anything else they need.
If you would like to sponsor little Silas, you can do so for $32 a month through Compassion. This would mean that Silas would get medical attention when he needs it. If he gets malaria, he can go to the doctor. It would mean that Silas could go to school. Often, what keeps children from going to school in Kenya is that they can't even afford the books or uniforms or fees to get in. It would mean that Silas would go to a place where he would get meals and have a safe place to play. It would mean he would receive health education--how to keep himself free of AIDS and malaria.
And it means he would have a sponsor, you, who would write him letters and say, "You're special. You're worth something. God has a plan for you." So many children don't hear that, and don't dream that they can be the ones to rise out of poverty and change their nation. Because this isn't about a handout. It's about giving a child an opportunity to become whom God meant them to be and to be the ones to change their surroundings.
Children need a chance. I promise you some of the world's greatest doctors and politicians and social workers and nurses are hiding in a slum in Kenya, unaware of who they are and what they can do. Sponsorship gives them a chance to find that out.
I read the stories every day of how sponsorship really can change one life. To make Silas believe in himself. To help him to go to school. To give him medicine when he's sick. To tell him that someone out there is thinking of him and praying for him. To tell his parents there are other Christians out there who care about them, are praying for them, and want to help them even though they've never met.
Last night I went to book club, where we discussed all the people we know who have been laid off recently. It was a good reminder to be thankful for what we have. We also discussed the people who have things so much more difficult than we do. When we go through a recession, we have to perhaps get rid of one car, eat out less, and stop shopping for a little while. But the poor starve. I'm not trying to sound like Sally Struthers or anything, but I read things every day in my job that could make your blood stop. I hate to think I'm getting immune. I can read true things that are happening and just move on and not shout out and do something.
Even though it's hard right now, let me know if you think you would be interested in sponsoring Silas. Pray about it and ask God if it's something that would be a good idea. I don't think you would regret it. Email me if you're interested: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, December 14, 2008
And welcome to:
The 3rd Annual Van Schooneveld Christmas Quiz
- The name of Michael and Amber's new little bundle of baby joy is
a. Adelaide May
b. Anaximander Xerxes
c. Rainbow Sky
d. They have not yet received clearance from NASA to procreate
- What are some of the companies Mike is freelance editing and writing for?
a. Teen Beat, Tiger Beat, and Time
b. The Evil League of Evil
c. Jet and Vibe
d. NavPress, Waterbrook Multnomah, Group Publishing
- Amber wrote a book this year called
a. 101 Ways With Jello
b. Natural Childbirth: How Morally Superior Does It Make You?
c. Hope Lives: A Journey of Restoration
d. Donut Days: A Walk Across America for the Ultimate Donut
- Michael and Amber are living in
b. Colorado Springs
- They took a pleasant summer vacation
a. camping near Aspen
b. rappelling in Zion
c. sleeping in Kauai
d. ecotorrorizing New Zealand
- Amber is still working at Compassion International as a
a. Constituent Segments Marketing Manager
b. Field Assignments Program Manager
c. Barista and Singing Telegram
d. Bleeding Heart
- This year, the Vannys are looking to buy a new
b. smug hybrid car
c. set of teeth for Michael
- Amber got to travel with work to a. Kenya
b. Canada and New York
c. Haiti and Dominican Republic and Boston
d. Burkina Faso and Togo
- Michael and Amber coauthored a book that will release in June about
a. Coping with Being Incredibly Awesome
b. Praying for Countries in Need Around the World
c. How to Cheat at World of Warcraft
d. How to Read Good and Do Other Stuff Good Too
- This Christmas season, the Vans are thankful for
a. all the bakeries in the Springs
b. the gift of our Savior
d. All of the above
Your Score: How Many Did You Get Right?
0-2 Stranger: Hey, stranger, we need to catch up.
3-5 Frenemy: Although you're our friend, you don't know much about us. You need to stop acting like a frenemy and be our real BFF.
6-7 Business Associate or Acquintance: Let's do a power lunch.
8-9 Real BFF: You're the Nicole Richie to our Paris.
10 Mom or Creepy Stalker: Which are you?
Friday, December 12, 2008
What is that? I mean, it's even too heinous to wear to a Rennaissance Fair! And that is truly saying something.
We had our Christmas banquet for work last night. Banquets give me a chance to wear all the nice things I inherited from Mike's grandma. So I wore that necklace and her white fur and brought her beaded purse from India.
And now, as if showing you the above bridesmaid pic wasn't enough of a gift for you on this Friday, it's time for Friday Video! Here's a clip from one of my new favorite shows.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Here is my sophomore homecoming. I was dating a senior. Pretty cool. But look at me, I'm a baby! What were my parents thinking? They should have locked my in my playpen.
And the mother of all dresses, my wedding dress. I'm still considering sending it to Rwanda...Just stalling. Now I have to go find something to wear.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
One of the big reasons Mike and I want to move to the west of town is the food. You should have known. Here are a few of my favorite places that will be closer. Finally, I will be able to maintain my Aurora physique with some real booty food.
- Agia Sophia: This place had to be created with me in mind. They always have on the low music of monks chanting. They serve fresh homemade soups and great hummus and dolmas. The walls are lined with dusty copies of Tolkien and philosophy and Little House on the Prairie that you can buy or sit and read. It's in an old Victorian building in Old Colorado City. It's a non-profit of the Orthodox church, so there are Russian and Ethiopian rooms, and all the decorations have an old world mystique going on. (OK, dolmas are admittedly not booty food, but this place is my mind food.)
- Garden of the Gods Market: Oh, the samples! This catering place in Old Colorado City is liberal in their samples. You can go in and try 6 different types of plump cookies. They always have lemonade or coffee waiting for you along with all kinds of appetizers and breads. Mike and I will go there and eat our lunch in samples. The only problem is that the staff are so friendly, that they know us and how often we come to eat their samples. We bought their pear bread pudding with rum caramel sauce for Thanksgiving. Yum.
- Boonzaaijer's Dutch Bakery: A Dutch bakery, in the Springs? Who knew? They make lekker oliebollen on Saturday and sell chocolate letters for Sinterklaas tag. They sell salty licorice and stroopwaffeln and bankets. This is a place I would raise my children on. Gezellig!
- Marigold's Cafe and Bakery: A good pastry is hard to make. Their cinnamon twists are light and flaky. Their chocolate cakes are euphoria inducing. I'm going to get fat. And I'm going to relish it.
- Mollica's Italian Deli: The only place I've found in the city that sell amaretti. You can buy a whole box or just one at a time. If you share a meal (which Mike and I always do), they divide it up for you and give you two sides instead of one. And they have red checked tablecloths. That matters.
- Caspian Cafe: They have one of the best interpretations of Moroccan chicken I've had. And their belly dancer is less scary than most belly dancers. I love the owner who kisses you heartily on the cheek as soon as you arrive. You can watch him and his Greek cronies drinking wine and laughing in the corner all night. It makes me feel cool by association.
I just found out work starts 2 hours late today because of snow. Woohoo! If I lived on the west side, I'd snowshoe my way to some almond croissants! That's how we'll keep from growing truly ginormous, after pastry gorging, we'll have plenty of opportunities for snowshoeing and hiking on the west side. Bootylicious.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Today, I was more happy, or perhaps joyful, than I have felt in a long time. It's been a hard couple of years. It's as though we've been in a valley of shadows and now are climbing up a steep face, just able to see the blue on the other side.
We went to Mt. Cutler. The sky was so deep I wanted to drink it. Tree roots wound like snakes. At the top, I laid my cheek on the cold rock and breathed in that sweet mountain rock smell. The sky the trees, the rocks. I must be a hippy; they made me want to cry. I did in fact. Why can a rock bring me such joy? It's simple and grounded; it's roots run deep. I won't get all sappy and weird on you; but the rock made me happy.
We continued on to have quite a lavish day. We wandered around downtown, looking for the new Sri Lankan place, which was closed. So we walked to our favorite gyros place, which was closed. So we had no choice but to go to the only other restaurant downtown, the Melting Pot. Cheese and chocolate. They too make me happy.
Like children who didn't want to go in after playing we continued to the zoo, whose Christmas lights we had seen from afar. If we had children, we would have blended in better, but we are our own children. We watched Santa feed the hippos, warmed our hands over fires, and the Lion roared so loud and hard at me my heart was jumping for 5 minutes.
On the way home in the car, we sang carols at the top of our lungs. A very good day.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
About three weeks ago, there were four available. Then one sold two weeks ago. And another. And another. And lastly, we found out today that the home we fell in love with on Monday is under contract.
How is it that in this housing market when buyers are said to be masters and interest rates are just right and we have 20%, there isn't one single home for sale in the neighborhood we want to buy in?
I'm pouting and stomping my feet. Boo!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
We visited seven homes, all in the northwest of the Springs. We were really surprised at how big the homes we visited were, and every single one had a basement!
There was definitely a favorite home, and it also happened to be the cheapest. Mike didn't tell me this beforehand, but apparently when he first saw this home many months ago, he thought, "I think that's the one." Then several weeks ago, we called on it and it was under contract. We were sad. But he prayed for confirmation from God that we were going in the right direction in buying a home and that there was a home out there that we could afford. He prayed that somehow this home would become available and we could go see it. Then today we found out it's back on the market.
There's no guarantee we'll get this paraticular home, but the circumstances made us feel good. It was a good first day out.
This picture, by Liz Karanja in Kenya, is still one of my favorites I've ever received. Because I know the story behind it. I'll tell it to you one day.
Hey, and you guys made me famous. Way to click, clickoramas. You also made me famous in October and August.
Monday, December 1, 2008
We got our camera one year ago, and looking back at the pictures, I was amazed at how much we did in just one year. Here are just a few of the small adventures we took.
We explored many high alpine lakes like this one above Independence Pass.
We snowshoed through much new terrain, like here at Twin Lake.
I'm so thankful to live in such a beautiful place where there are still so many unexplored places waiting for us to find them!