Thursday, May 31, 2007

Smiley Teeth and Roses

Very quickly, before the wee babe awakens, a recap of the last week or so! Here we have a big grin by Chloe... and do you see the little toothers poking out there on the bottom? I don't think she knows what to make of these hard things that suddenly showed up in her mouth (three months early and more), but she's been pretty cheery throughout. Last weekend, we went on a little excursion to Tsurumai Park to look at the roses. We stopped at McDonald's for breakfast on the way. Chloe's checking out the passers-by. Chloe and I in front of some of the roses... A family self-portrait! And of course, I need to include at least one rose shot. I wasn't thrilled with how my pictures turned out here and need to fiddle around with them a bit more. Maybe I'll post more later. That's all the news for now!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Ode to Unchi

Unchi being the Japanese word for poop. If you don't like poop-talk, this isn't the post to read. But first, an explanation of the photo (although really, isn't it already worth a thousand words?). This was taken just hours before Chloe's baptism. (I wanted to post it then, but somehow it just didn't thematically fit.) Do you see the cute little sparkling-white outfit behind her on the bed? Right, so good timing, Chlo-chan! Anyway, in addition to the prodigious amounts of poo you see here, be sure to notice the grin on her face. Chloe loooooooves to poop! Or loves having pooped, anyway. It happened earlier this week. Mike had already left for work, and I had just finished feeding Chloe. I was laying in bed and she was sitting on my stomach, jabbering and laughing and trying to grab her toes. I looked out the window for a moment, considering whether I might be able to put her back down and sleep just a little bit longer, and when I looked back I knew just the briefest moment of horror... In an instant Chloe's face had turned beet-red and she gave a great grunt! followed by an explosion of unchi straight out the sides of her drawers. I frantically looked around for something to help mitigate this growing disaster as the warm yellow goo-fest flowed across my stomach and ever-closer to our sheets, finally nabbing a burp cloth which will never be the same (alas, not quite in time for the sheets). And as I laid there, absolutely covered in poo, with a baby on my belly absolutely covered in poo, this poo-covered baby laughed. And laughed. And laughed. Not grinned, not chuckled, but laughed a great belly laugh of the sort that is typically reserved for Mike and his funny faces and farting noises, the kind of laugh that I can never get out of her. Whether it was the look on my face or the fun feeling of all that stickiness around her, Chloe thought the whole situation was absolutely hysterical. And in spite of it all, I have to admit that it was pretty funny. Ahhhh, unchi. One of the most unexpected delights of parenthood. In non-unchi news, Chloe has had quite a week, getting both her first shots and her first tooth. She's working on number two even as we speak. Apparently she missed the memo that recommended she give her mama a few more months of that gummy smile. :)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Children at the Lord's Supper

Those of you who are of the Christian Reformed persuasion may have heard of last year's Synodical decision to allow baptized children to partake of communion. My own initial reaction to this wasn't altogether positive - what about that place in the Bible where it says that anyone who takes part in the Supper without "recognizing the body" eats and drinks judgement upon themself (yes, themself - it's time to bring the third-person neuter pronoun back to the English language!)? Last week, however, I received the latest copy of the Calvin Seminary Forum, which is devoted to this issue. I actually think it's the best issue I've read to date, and if you'd like to check it out (which I highly recommend) it's available online here. In summary, the several articles note that current biblical interpretation of the text I mentioned above more likely refers to horizontal relationships among believers - the earthly body of Christ - than vertical self-examination before God prior to participating in communion (see Jeff Weima's article for more on this). One of the reasons kids were often barred from communion in the Reformed tradition is because it wasn't thought that they could engage in proper self-examination until a certain age. Even more interesting to me was David Rylaarsdam's article tracing evolution of this meal and the slow divorce of baptism from the Lord's Supper. Initially, everyone who had been baptized took part in the Lord's Supper - even the smallest infant received the wine sucked from the finger of the priest. During the Middle Ages, however, the doctrine of transubstantiation developed; that is, the teaching that the bread and wine are miraculously transformed into the actual body and actual blood of Jesus Christ. As this teaching developed, people became concerned about kids' natural messy habits - what if a child slobbered into the real and actual holy blood of Christ??? (As an aside - it doesn't seem to me that the Jesus who rebuked his disciples for turning away children would get terribly upset about a kid drooling into his blood. I think that this is a symptom of the overdivinization of Jesus - of overemphasizing the true divinity of Christ to the point that his true humanity is neglected, ignored, or, for many practical purposes, forgotten.) Later in the Middle Ages, even adults were kept from the cup for fear of spillage. The people received the body (bread) alone and the priest took care of the blood (wine). The Reformation rejected the doctrine of transubstantiation which had started all of these restrictions on the Lord's Supper to begin with, but by this time the tradition was entrenched. It doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone that children ought to receive the Lord's Supper. The original tradition had been lost. From David Rylaarsdam's article: "Synod's 2006 decision returns us to Augustine's sentiment, summarized well by Max Johnson: The Christian life, from entrance into the covenant community onward, is rooted in the graciousness of God, the God who through the Word and sacraments 'always acts first, always acts in love prior to our action, leading us by the Holy Spirit to the response of faith, hope, and love within the community of grace' (Rites of Christian Initiation, p. 376)." If you're interesting in reading the comments of others on this, check out the Schemper father-daughter duo on Don't Flay the Sheep and Pseudonymous Hieronymous. And don't forget to check out the Forum! I'd be interested in your comments, as well.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mind-Blowing Mortgages

Yikes! Would you like an all-too-clear view of how much even our "good" debt costs us? I was playing around with this mortgage payoff calculator online today. Seriously, check it out! I plugged in these numbers: $150,000 house 30-year mortgage 6.38% interest rate In thirty years, this $150,000 house will have cost a whopping $337,063. Paying just an extra $50 a month will save $29,548 over the life of the loan.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Gratuitous Cuteness

And finally, some cute baby shots. I don't think that any commentary is necessary. :)


Later in the week, we went on a tour of motorcycle shops around Nagoya. We saw this funny tire cover on the way there. It says: "It's an outdoor sport that has recently started to shine. Outdoor sport is the science to raise spirits. To choose sports for fashion or your personality. The basic idea is to enjoy yourself. That is important." Do you think they sell these in the States? :) Mike found his dream bike right away - It's a Yamaha, um...well, it's a Yamaha! He went online to find out more about it when we got home, and guess what? They're only sold in Europe and Asia. That seems to be a trend with vehicles... curious. Rrrrrrrrrmmmm, rrrrrrrrrrrrm, rrrrrrrrrrrrmmmmmm, rrrrrm, rrm, rrmm! Even I'll ride a motorcycle when it has the kickstand down! Chloe and I are again helping California John make his escape! Chloe has made some career decisions early in life.

Camping Trip - Day Two!

Day Two dawned really, really cold and rainy. It started raining around 5:00 a.m. and only got heavier as the day progressed, though the weather did break long enough for us to break camp late in the afternoon. When we left that afternoon, the car thermometer said that it was 10C - which is about 50 F. Chilly! But we enjoyed our day sitting under our floppy rain tarp, huddled around our little charcoal grill, drinking coffee and eating hamburgers. Except for Chloe. She didn't get any hamburgers. Above - the view in the morning. Too bad rain doesn't photograph better. Mike's getting us some water from the kitchen. What a nice guy! All bundled up and nowhere to go! Chloe spent most of the day in one of our laps snuggling with her sleepy bear and complaining about that darn hat we'd put on her head. Daddy and baby enjoying the beautiful day. :)

Camping Trip - Day One!

Monday dawned bright and sunny - perfect camping weather! We headed out early enough to make it to McDonald's for breakfast - yum! - and drove out into the hills. We went through lots of interesting little old towns on the way, and past a HUGE dam - I should've take pictures of these! The lake is actually a really, really big dam pond. Anyway, this was the view from our campsite! Mike's hanging out...ahhhh, finally, a chance to relax! Chloe seemed to have a great time! Blowing tree branches are always a big hit, and she really seemed to like her first encounter with a campfire, too! I couldn't get her to sit normally on my lap - she kept maneuvering to get a better look at that cool fire... This is the "kitchen." The other campground we went to had one, too. It looks like it's basically a place where you're supposed to prepare all your food. What was interesting as we were looking for campsites this time (okay, Mike did all the work), we found that many places wouldn't allow you to have a campfire or even a grill at your campsite - you had to actually cook your food in the kitchen! One of the things that made this campground a winner was that we could have a fire at our campsite. The weather forecast for our camping time wasn't so hot, so I ran out and bought a sun/rain shelter before we left. Hmmm... does this look right to you?? We thought that this was supposed to be really simple to put up and couldn't figure out what we were doing wrong - until we noticed that the frame was 220 cm and the tarp was 250 cm. Oops! It kept the rain off, but I still need to return it.