Thursday, July 30, 2009

Doofy Husbands

OK, Sarah drops the F bomb in the first line, but this video is so true. If I based my perceptions of men on commercials, I would think single men were sleek and clever with good cars, while married men are slightly dumber than dogs.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kiss Your Hubby Today

I've been talking with Wambua about women in Africa and around the world. Golly gee I've got a good man. He:
  1. Hasn't abadoned me.
  2. Comes home at night sober.
  3. Doesn't have 2 other families or at least a mistress and some kids.
  4. Doesn't expect me to work all day then clean the house, do the laundry, cook dinner, and care for the kids all by my lonesome.
  5. Values me as an equal.
  6. Respects my intelligence.
  7. If we have a daughter, I suspect he won't feed her less than the boys or restrict her ability to go to school.
  8. Puts what he sees his responsibilities are as a husband as a priority before his reputation as a man--i.e. he's more worried about what is right than about looking macho for the men.
  9. Doesn't sit at the market all day yapping while his woman does all the work.
  10. Loves me.

These might seem like really weak reasons to celebrate my man (that he hasn't abandoned me? How much of an accomplishment is that?), and believe me he's got plenty more virtues to praise, but there's a lot of men in this world who don't value women or treat them right.

So all ya married ladies, if you've got a good man who loves you respects you and treats you as he ought, don't just put ya hands up, go kiss your hubby today. (Sorry, I have "All the Single Ladies" in my head.)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ways In Which I'm Not That Cool

Recently, I have been accused of being too cool for school. My accuser, Sarah, is someone who really knows better, but I feel the need to defend myself against her barbs. I also have become a stumbling block to a dear friend, Liz, so glamorous my life does seem.

So as to put no obstacle in my sisters' way, I will endeavor to illuminate for you all the ways in which I really am not all that cool.

  1. I have Indian jungle rot. When I was in India, I got infected mosquito bites that left me with some lovely leg scars. Periodically, the jungle rot (manifested in a lovely leg rash) breaks back out again if I shave. This leads me to number 2.
  2. My legs are usually hairy.
  3. To say I have the nails of an 8-year-old boy would be to insult boys everywhere. I bite my nails to the quick and have no intention of stopping. My toenails don't look much better.
  4. Sometimes I eat my cereal with cream.
  5. You don't even want to know what kinds of horribly embarassing names I shamelessly call Mike, such as googley pants. Seinfeld has nothing on me.
  6. I don't listen to music. Noise bothers me.
  7. I don't like parties. I'd rather be at home eating cereal with cream and reading Centennial. I don't even sit coolly at home watching cool shows like SYTYCD, because I'm not cool enough to have cable. Not even bunny ears.
  8. I own every Star Trek, Star Wars, and LOTR special edition movie. Granted, this is my husband's uncoolness, not my own, but I'm pretty sure it's infectious.
  9. I don't have a cell phone. Well, that's not quite true. I have the cell phone my sister used about 10 years ago that she gave me out of pity for my hopeless coollessness. Said chunky cell phone is hooked up to my parents' cell phone plan for emergencies. So a. I'm uncool that I don't have a cell phone and b. I'm super uncool that I'm 31 and mooching my parents' minutes. This also means I don't text, which means that cool kids are pretty much at a loss as to how to relate to or communicate with me.
  10. It bothers me when people say "who" when they should say "whom."

P.S. Ian reminded me of one more way in which I'm not that cool.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Foster Development, Not Dependence

Do you want to read a dry article I wrote on development theory? You do? What a happy coincidence. I just so happened to write one recently for Compassion's blog

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wambua and the Politicians

Right now, we have a visitor from Kenya staying with us, Wambua. He was sponsored by Compassion as a child, then was part of the Leadership Development Program, which allowed him to go to university, and now he has won a scholarship to study at Moody in Chicago. 

This is his first trip outside Kenya, and Mike and I are getting to experience his initial reactions to this strange country firsthand. One thing he is startled by is the variety. The variety of cereal, to be exact. But not the variety of cereal at Walmart. The variety in our pantry. Mike has a serious thing for at all times having a minimum of 23 boxes of cereal in the home, just in case, you know, a pack of voracious velociraptors invade our home and we have to appease them. 

He was also a bit shocked by our home. We have an average American home, I would say. It's very nice in my opinion, but you know, strictly middle class. Upon viewing it, Wambua said, "This is a home of politicians!" Meaning, if we lived in Kenya and had this home, we'd be the elite class. "These are the couches of politicians," he also said. They're just from SofaMart, I thought. And here I was, worried that he'd be disappointed he didn't get to stay in the home of one of the big VP dudes here who have VP homes. Perspective is a funny thing, isn't it? 

Regarding his room in the basement, he said, "When I saw this room, I thought it must be the main part of the house, it's so nice, and now I see it's just the basement." 

Upon talking a walk at Blodgett Open Space that night, and seeing the large homes lining the trail he said, "Americans like the nice life and to be comfortable." To which I thought, "Who doesn't like that?", which just shows that I'm American. 

In any case, we are enjoying hearing his mellifluous voice speak on such things as politics and cereal and comfort. If only I can convince him to record our answering machine message.

Proof of How Tough I Am

I've been biking to work this summer. It rocks. Besides getting muscles similar to Van Damme, my namesake, I'm getting to bike with 3 great women and getting lots of bragging rights. This picture was taken in the locker room at work, expressly for bragging rights. 
We biked in to work on Tuesday, the day after, unbeknownst to me, the biggest storm of the year hit Colorado. The trail was very wet and muddy. I purposefully went through multiple mud puddles and tunnels of water, for the sole purpose of showing off my mud at work afterwards. Unfortunately, the mud all washed off in the shower, so these pictures will have to do. I even got it on my neck, just for effect. 

Monday, July 20, 2009

Stuff and Things

A little update on us. We went to the Sunbird Restaurant on Sunday for our anni. They made us flaming bananas foster, which was the highlight.
Then we got our new basement windows put in.

And, I spent my birthday money, and got crazy granite tiles for our kitchen countertop. They're greenish blackish with gold and silver specks in them. Very pretty. Now Mike has a lot of work ahead of him, as he has to stain our cabinets and then lay our countertops!

The Prodigious Van Schooneveld Clan

Or, "Why there is no pressure on Mike and I to have kids."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

An Anniversary Card

I'm that man who always forgets to buy cards for his wife on anniversaries...except that I'm a woman. Luckily, my husband thinks that the greeting card industry is a racket and finds expressing emotions through the words of a corporation creepy.

Last year to express my love for Mike, I posted this excellent video, which I'm still proud of, as he'll always be the Ron to my Hermione. (He gulps a lot.) I also wrote him this blog. And this blog. Wow, are you sick to death yet of hearing about him?

Nonetheless, for my 6th anniversary present, I shall give him the gift of embarrassment (my embarrassment) by posting here a poem I wrote for him on the grassy lawn of the Charolais house before moving away from him to Amsterdam.

You, my friend,
are the particular embodiment
of a thousand songs, dances and tales.

And, lucky me,
I just happened upon you,
a solemn hymn, a merry jig, a classic epic.

You, like an imp in a pimpernel, startled me--
a small, glimmering reflection
of the undying universal light.

The yellow twinkle of fireflies
dancing and darting in the twilight
of leafy green shadows.

The rich froth of
warme chocolade
met slagroom
on my lips.

The smell of the
salty sea air that
wistfully whips my air.

The long, low call of
a train at night,
signaling desire and a faroff place.

Love you, Mikey.

Friday, July 17, 2009


I've been thinking of writing a blog for awhile for Compassion but have never gotten around to it. Now Chris wrote a similar one, so I don't have to.

But he touches on something I've been noticing in myself.

We've had a temp processing photos for us lately. We receive huge numbers of photos from the field, and each one needs to be loaded into a database and tagged with a bunch of info. It's kind of the perpetual headache, getting it all done, so daunting is the task.

I saw the temp in the break room one day and asked her how it was going. She said it was good, she was liking it, but that some days she just has to stand up and walk away from it. I assumed she meant the work was tedious. I responded, "Yeah, sometimes your eyes do start to cross looking at so many files!"

She said, "No, because the pictures are so hard to look at."

What I considered tedium, she had a hard time looking at without crying. What has happened to me?

Later that same day, my sister dropped by Compassion for the first time for a tour. I took her around to all the tour spots and pictures. Looking at the small "model" poverty home, she seemed surprised how many people might live in that small home. It took me off guard; I took it for granted.

Then we moved on to a big picture wall, on which there is a picture of a typical neighborhood in Manila, Philippines. The homes are stacked one on top another like a playing-card house, and are just as precarious. The alleys are narrow where children crouch to bathe. The water's edge on which their card homes are perched is littered with the detritus of plastic bags and apathy.

I look at this every day. This is normal to me. It doesn't phase me.

But Tara looked at it and seemed horrified. What my eyes brushed over unaffected, hers set on and stuck.

What has happened to me? Some amount of self-protection is necessary in my job. I couldn't get much work done blathering in my cube all day. Each day, I get a face full of poverty and read stories that make grown men cry. But will my unaffectedness eventually lead to apathy? Like the people who live in Manila's card houses who are used to what makes others shudder and don't even try to get out anymore?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Baby Got Book

Why has no one ever told me about this before? I can really relate to this. Mike and my first date was placing biblical figures on a felt mat.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Verbal Incontinence

Yesterday, I knew what it felt like to be on American Idol.

At work, they were having auditions for a small singing group to occasionally lead worship for chapel. I like singing, so I thought I'd try out. Now, I swear I can sing just a little. I have the foofy dresses with bows on the butt from high school show choir to prove it. Not a beautiful voice, but I can stay on key...I thought.

Then I go into this audition yesterday, which, by the way, they set up right next to the cafeteria at lunch time with the doors open, thank you very much. I get up on stage to sing Amazing Grace, and wow. Let me tell you, it was like one of those awful American Idol auditions. The one in which the singer sings totally off key and you want to squint your eyes and turn your head and make it stop. Then after this performance, they say something like, "I swear I'm normally better than this," and you think to yourself, "Yeah, right, delusion-o."

That was me. Verbally embarrassing myself. And now, today, I have a whole new slew of verbal embarrassment waiting for me. I was interviewed for an article at Compassion, and at the same time they interviewed me, they took an audio-recording of me talking about my "best day" at Compassion. I didn't really know what it was for at the time and, although I abhor the sound of my recorded voice, I did it.

I didn't really know what to say and was a bit unprepared, so I just went on and on and on. I figured there is editing for that kind of thing, right? Nope. It shows up on my work's internal home page, and I hope that no one will notice it squished down in the corner. Then today, I check Compassion's external blog and what, oh what do I hear?

Oh yes, my verbal embarrassment in all its glory for all the world to hear. I'm solaced at least by the fact that after about the first minute of me going on and on and on and saying absolutely nothing, people will think to themselves, "will this lady just get on with it?" and move on. And to make everything better, there are these handy little rating buttons on the blog, o cruel world, so that all the world can vote on how they feel about my unwilling verbal incontience. Awesome.

P.S. Extra points to the one who can identify this quote: "I don't need to be set up on a blind date with a verbally incontinent spinster who smoke like a chimney, drinks like a fish, and dresses like her mother.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Birthday Weekend

This weekend, I pretended I wasn't an introverted hermit and we had quite the party weekend. Now that we have floors, there was no excuse to put off a homewarming any longer, so we threw a home-heating/Amber birthday party Friday night.
There were 23 of us, a much larger group than I'm used to, so I worried that I would have enough food, but I think it was fine. I had some work people and some new friends from church. We felt loved and special that there were that many people who wanted to come.
Then Saturday, my lovely family came down and ate my leftovers. :)
And went to the Flying W Ranch for dinner. It was pretty darn cheesy, but something I can now say I've done.
Then on Sunday, my actual birthday, Mike took me out for breakfast at Adam's Mountain Cafe in Manitou Springs. Then we went on the lantern tour of the Cave of the Winds, in which your way is lit by a candle in a bucket. It was neat.
Not wanting the fun to be over, we drove up past Woodland Park and hiked around some idllyic lake. Then dinner at Pizzeria Rustica. Good pizza! Very similar to our favorite, Proto's.
As Liz and my great-grandmother would say, a good time was had by all.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Reasons 31 Is Cool

This past year, I've been exceedingly thirty, flirty, and thriving.

This next year, starting Sunday, I will be 31. Thirty-one. Sounds boring, doesn't it? I feel asleep just writing that last sentence.

I was really fun in my twenties. (I wrote that line and posted that link purely so that my coworkers can be reminded that last year they got me donuts for my birthday...I was also given a video placed on YouTube of my husband dancing the hula as a frshman in college. (Please note that the thumbnail pic from the person who posted the video seems to be a pic of my husband in the shower.))

Back to my point. Twenties were fun. Thirty was awesome. So I have to find a way to convince myself 31 rocks. Consider the following:
  • 31 Flavors of Ice Cream at Baskin Robbins. I'm going to eat copious, indictable amounts of ice cream this year.
  • It's the day of Halloween, my 3rd favorite day of the cider, crunchy leaves underfoot, caramel apples...
  • It's the number of people (times a million) who watched the Jackson memorial. Kismet.
  • It's the channel I grew up watching the Simpsons on.
  • It's the number of a really cool Proverb that tells me that, as a woman, I should wear purple linen, be in real estate, grow my own wine, and hold a distaff. (Where am I going to get a distaff from?)
In conclusion, 31 is the new 21. Watch me rock this.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I'm Fat

I like to maintain a snide distaste for all things pop culture in order to foster my delusions of intellectual superiority. Therefore, I have not been watching any Michael Jackson coverage.

But I realize that had we never had Michael, we would have never had so many great opportunities for parody.

I would like to post an excellent video here, but Weird Al persists in his own snide distaste of misuse of his content online. So if you'd like to see one of the biggest reasons I'll miss MJ, click here.

Ham on.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Menu Planning

So, I'm having a little party here on Friday. Mike and I pulled out all our newly inherited crystal and such (from my grandmother and his grandfather). I'm now trying to figure out what to make. I don't know how to cook for this many people! I'm used to having small little parties. So please tell me what you think of this for 20 to 25:
  • Veggies and Dip: Muhumara dip, artichoke dip, and olive tapenade with crostini and crudite (carrots, celery, snow peas)
  • Curry chicken salad mini sammys
  • Tomato bruschetta
  • Frozen watermelon pops
  • Cookies (banana chocolate chip and sugar cookie)
  • Coconut Key Lime Pie cupcakes
  • Wines

Kind of random, I know. It's based on what I felt like making and eating myself (and what I already have). Is that enough variety for a party of 25? Just don't know...

Sunday, July 5, 2009


This weekend, Macy's was having a big sale, so I went shopping for the necessities of a trip to Hawaii. These were 50% off. Score! (Mike thinks it is very weird that I took a picture of bikinis in trees. But I'm going to write a gripping novel called Bikinis in Trees.)

As you've heard over and over again, I was not born with bikini-tummy, and I always need some gimmick like this or this to help me motivate myself to get fit. (Wow, I'm really noticing a trend here in my old posts. Can we say obsessed? Or maybe just fixated...)

So these bikinis will be my motivation for the next 3 months. I've been hiking a bunch in my neighborhood, coupled with butt-kicking bike riding to work. If I don't double my calorie intake because I'm so exhausted, I might actually get fit for Kauai.

What We Did on the Fourth

Last year, for the 4th, we had an all-American Bray family get-together. This year, we decided to stay close to home and approach it on the down-low. We had a Mr. Jon the Hart come stay with us. In the morning, we drove up past Divide to hike the Crags. I liked the Crags because
  1. The Donut Mill is on the way.
  2. It's not very hard.
  3. It has beautiful views of the Pikes Peak area.

Here are Mike and I at the top.

Mike and Jon discovered a cave on the way and proceeded to act like Neanderthals. (Or would that be "continued to" act like Neanderthals?...)

We decided to watch the fireworks at the Airforce Academy. We got there ridiculously early and played Plague and Pestilence on a blanket. Then it rained. Hard. And Mike and I hid under the painting tarp we had brought while various passerbys worried for our imminent suffocation.

Then we watched the fireworks, and I revealed to Jon my secret that I never really liked fireworks *that much* and frequently get bored during the shows.
On Sunday, because on the 4th we had no all-American barbecue fare, we baked a delicious cherry crumble, which I will go and eat right now.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Hawaii Bound

Guess what!!!......We bought tickets to Kauai in October!

We've been thinking of it for awhile, because we knew we could stay in Mike's grandfather's condo if we wanted. Tickets had been $600-800 or more, but this week, they dropped and we bought our tickets for $480! That's less than we paid 6 years ago on our honeymoon.

So, yes, we went to Kauai on our honeymoon. (Same grandfather's condo, diferent part of the island.) After that, I loved it soooo much, that my goal was to go there before our 10th anniversary or before babies. We went 3 years later...Now we're going 3 years later again. I'm noticing a trend. We camped for all our vacations in between, so it all balances out, right?

We'll be staying in Poipu at the Lawai Beach Resort for 9 days. Mike's parents will be there the week before us, and we'll overlap for about 4 days. We went with them 3 years ago, and it's fun because they basically go snorkelling in the morning, sit around and read, then go snorkelling in the afternoon, then go to dinner. Could anything sound more relaxing and wonderful? When you've already visited the island, you feel no pressure to run around and see everything, only to eat record amounts of shave ice.

Oh yes, there will be shave ice. Mike and I pride ourselves on being 1. ice cream connisseuers and 2. Shave Ice connisseuers. Currently, I think Wishing Well in Hanalei is the best, but we're going to have to do lots of research to verify these results. We also love to visit all the farmers markets and live off the food there. Like a fresh papaya from the farm with lime every morning. Oh, I'm getting excited.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Young Bucks

I got an email from Mike yesterday. He said, "A couple of young bucks just walked, bold as brass, through our front yard." Below are said bucks.
This evening we took a long walk down to Starbucks, where I used a new gift card to get a Shaken Tea Lemonade. Then as we meandered back up to the house, we watched two little Bambis play. They were up on the cliffs to the right of the road, and couldn't be more than a week old. They were dark and spotted and kept bounded and leaping in circles. And all the world said, "Awwwwwww....."

This afternoon, a huge thunderstorm tore through town, so Mike had to rescue Leanna and I, stranded at work because we'd ridden our bikes. I'd been watching the lightning from my cubicle, and could swear it wasn't hitting things. It was. This is a couple minutes from our house.

Ta Da!

Today is the big day, the release of Mike and my new book, Passport to Prayer: A Journey of Compassion, which is a small group study. Each week is themed on a different country. There are optional recipes you can create to set the mood. Then you learn a little more about that country and the needs in it. There is a Bible study time, in which you learn about what the Bible has to say relating to the issues, and then a prayer time. My prayer is that God will use it to raise awareness, get people considering other parts of the Bible, get people praying, and get people to get involved. 

Mike wrote/edited another book that comes out today, The Confident Christian, which is an apologetic study for youth groups. Mike got to put his huge throbbing brain to use to create it. I pray God will use them for whatever in the world he wants to.