Friday, February 26, 2010

Doing the Library One Muffin at a Time

We woke up yesterday morning in an Embassy Suites hotel. This meant a big breakfast downstairs. Zeke ate enough to pay for the whole hotel experience.

Then we went swimming again. Then we packed. Then we got in the Suburban to drive to the Minneapolis Public Library, a library supposedly unlike any other. As we walked to the Suburban, Zeke said he was hungry. So, he ate some snacks on the trip to the library.

We parked in a parking structure a block away from the library. As we approached, everyone noticed that there was a Dunn Brothers in the library (coffee shop) - including Zeke.

Zeke immediately said that he'd like a muffin. I ignored his request, and we marched into the library in search of one of the infamous, rolling-stacks rooms.

"I want a muffin, dad," said Zeke as we pushed buttons to make room-length stacks roll sideways.

"I want a muffin, dad," said Zeke as Eli stood between stacks while the rest of us frantically pushed buttons to get the stacks to squish him.

"I want a muffin, dad," said Zeke as we left the stacks in search of the old childrens' book stack room.

"I want a muffin, dad," said Zeke as I played dumb and tried to get a hesitant librarian to take us into the old-childrens'-book stack-room by feigning a desire to know if they had any George MacDonald classics.

"I want a muffin, dad," said Zeke as the librarian decided how to spell MacDonald.

"I want a muffin, dad," said Zeke as I realized that Zeke must be hungry.

"I want a muffin, dad," said Zeke as we left the library and headed for Dunn Brothers.

"I want a muffin, dad," said Zeke as I ordered a blueberry muffin for him and, falling off the wagon (see MANY earlier posts to read about the long journey to become relatively caffeine-free), a double shot espresso for dad.

"Thanks for the muffin," said Zeke as we left the library and raced to get home in time for fiddle lessons.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Wow. It is one of the timeless philosophical questions; like free-will.
I'm more of an arm chair theologian than I am an arm chair philosopher. Probably because I'm older.

When I was younger, I liked to argue. Plus, I had the energy and time to philosophize. Plus, philosophy lends itself better to open-ended, unsettled questioning.

Now, I'm too busy and need to conserve what energy I have. Theology tends to provide systems of thought and final answers that one can either accept, deny or spend time debating.

I believe in providence. I'm pretty radical in my belief that God controls everything. Sometimes, I get a real, down and dirty glimpse of it in the details of the Button family. And it's usually comical. I also believe that God delights in our joy and that this is often humorous.

Marty is in Ethiopia. I am here. She and our good friend Lisa have had in their "possession" two little girls for the past week, as they've waited for an embassy appointment. I, alone, have had in my possession, five relatively big and complicated children (one of whom needs an ever constant and steady hand while peeing) for the past week while we've waited for mom to return home.

Knowing that this time without mom would be great at first and then become like a wagon with its wheels falling off, I did some pre alone-with-dad preparation. About a month ago, I looked into taking the kids to the big water park/hotel down by the mega mall as a way to break up the week and fill up our time. It turns out that this water park is only open on the weekends, and only until 5pm. I needed something mid-week.
So, I changed plans and booked us in the Embassy Suites, a place near and dear to us all. I scheduled our night out for Tuesday night.

In the meantime, Marty and I were also preparing stacks of papers for our embassy appointment, to be on Thursday at 2pm in Addis Ababa. At this meeting, the consulate officer would be deciding whether to grant the girls entrance visas into the U.S. We spent hours filling out forms, checking the forms and then scanning and making extra copies of the forms.

Several days before Marty left, I realized that there was a scheduling conflict in my week-without-mom-survival-plans, and so I switched our hotel night to Wednesday. No big deal as long as we made it home before fiddle lessons on Thursday afternoon.

Marty and Lisa took off for Ethiopia. Emails haven't worked, and besides two hard-to-hear, always-fading-in-and-out telephone calls, the only way to communicate has been through Facebook. Who would have thought?!

This morning at 5:40am, the silence in our Embassy Suite hotel room was shattered by Marty's ring-tone on my cell phone, which, by the way, obnoxiously yells and then screams, "Message, message, messssssaaaaaagge!" In crystal clear clarity, Marty screamed that she had just left the embassy and it went well. Visas granted, mom will not need to stay in Ethiopia another two weeks to solve an indiscriminately determined important-to-the-consulate detail, and the wheels on this parenting-alone wagon will not completely fall off. We chatted a few more minutes, then I went back to sleep, glad that none of the kids woke up.

About two hours later, I told the kids of the good news. Visas granted, mom is COMING HOME!! After the excitement settled, Emma said, "Dad, we were all in an embassy at the same time."

I was stunned. The change in hotel nights, the 9 hour difference between us and Ethiopia, the particular chain of hotel that we ended up in. Sure, it's coincidental. But my theology says that God is so concerned about me and my family that He literally moves the world on our behalf. There are about 5 more stories like that from this week. I'm guessing that Marty will have several dozen to tell when she arrives home.

Marty called at 2:45 pm her time - 5:45 am here in MN.
we were granted visas for both girls.
This was the last legal hurdle.
No one in the next year woke up! The kids and I spent the night at a hotel to help break up the motherless 10 days.

Visas Acquired

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Please Pray

Please pray for our dear friend's son, Ben.

Our dear friend, Lisa, is traveling to Ethiopia with Marty right now. In fact, they just landed at JFK, waiting to board a plane for Dubai, and then Ethiopia.
Lisa lives in FL. Lisa flew up yesterday.

Several days ago, Lisa's son Ben was in a car accident in which he was pinned under a car. Half of Ben's face was severely burned; 3rd degree burns.

The plan was for Ben to get a "special" synthetic skin placed on his face this morning, and then he would return in a week for a skin graft.

We just learned that Ben spiked a fever during surgery this morning. They discovered that the burns were worse than previously thought.

Please pray for Ben's health, and for Lisa, who is about to leave the states. This means no communication for 12 hours.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

55 on President's Day

Yesterday, Ryan Carter and I ran 55.25 miles throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul.
You can see some of the photos we took here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Here We Go!

This morning, in the midst of other details and phone calls, I received a call from my wife. She was violently calm. She had just been told that there was a strong chance that our embassy date would be moved up by two weeks. (We are adopting two little girls from Ethiopia). "Should I buy tickets?"

I reminded her that we needed to have confirmation that our embassy date was in fact moved before rescheduling and buying airplane tickets. Many promises are made in the adoption process. About 20 minutes later, she called back. The new embassy date was confirmed. I was assigned the task of contacting the place of lodging there to move the date. Marty was assigned the task of rescheduling airline tickets and confirming one of the girl's birthdate.

By 3 this afternoon, everything is in place. Our good friend Lisa who is traveling with Marty is still able to go with Marty.

So, even though we have two fewer weeks to prepare, Marty is going to be back home with the girls before she would have even left.

Still, I am parenting for 10 days alone. Well, actually, Sponge Bob and McDonalds will be parenting for 10 days!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Meeting Our New Children

My eldest daughter spent two weeks in Ethiopia recently.

To read some great writing, read her blog. Right now she's writing about the experience of meeting her new sisters.