Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Eagle Scout

Although Active Sons successfully passed his Eagle Board of review in January, it wasn't until his April 29th Eagle Scout Court of Honor that he was awarded the Eagle Scout rank. Active Son shared his Court of Honor with a fellow Eagle Scout--good thing, too, as planning the COH was almost like planning a wedding (invitations, programs, venue, speakers,photographer, gifts, cake, etc.) and I was able to share planning responsibilities with another mom.

In a time in which we don't often celebrate rites of passage for a young man, it was a joy to to see Active son affirmed by other men and leaders in his community for the steps he is taking towards preparing himself to be a leader and servant in his community.

Active Son receives his Eagle Scout neckerchief

All the Eagle Scouts present at the Court of Honor, saying the pledge

Delivering his speech to award his mentor pin to the person who had most helped in along the path to Eagle, Active Son quoted former slave and educator Booker T. Washington, whose biography he had recently read:

"The older I grow, the more I am convinced that there is no education which one can get from books and costly apparatus that is equal to that which can be gotten from contact with great men and women."

Active Son acknowledged not only his mentor, but others who have had a significant influence in his life.

For my part in the ceremony, I had only to receive my 'mom pin' and stand next to Dear Husband as he read a tribute which he had prepared for the occasion:

Active Son. Congratulations on the achievement of Eagle Rank. When you joined Cub Scouts years ago we did not know all that would be involved to complete this high rank. If I had known, to be honest, I would not have believed that you could do it for it has proved to be a journey fit for a man. Looking at a boy, I was indeed short-sighted. How did it happen?

Scouting has contributed to the development of your abilities. You have always tended to be active and athletic. Scouting has given you a place to learn and develop in recreational activities as well as knowledge of the outdoors and many areas of interest. As an athlete, scouting has instilled a confidence in you to lead others. Your budding coaching career is the fruit of this.

Scouting has contributed to the development of your character. You have always enjoyed and appreciated people. When you wanted to join Scouts it was initially to be with your friends. Through Scouting, you have grown to be more loyal in your friendships as well as feel the importance of kindness, courteousness and cheerfulness. You have seen that it is not only to your parents that you need to submit, but to other leaders as well. Older scouts have set a good example for you which you then have followed.

Scouting has contributed to the development of your soul. You have always feared God and been responsive to spiritual things. You like to go to church, youth group and Bible Studies as well as serve others. Scouting has highlighted the importance of reverence for God. With this support, you have grown in your understanding of the Scriptures, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the goodness of life with Him.

These are ways your mother and I have seen you grow from a boy to a man through your Scouting experience. You have done an excellent job at completing the Eagle Scout Rank. May this be the first of many achievements you attain in the development of your abilities, your character and your soul. We are very proud of you our son, Active Son.

Four Eagle Scouts of Troop 806

Next year Active son will have the unique opportunity to share the position of Junior Scoutmaster with a fellow Eagle Scout; the current Scoutmaster will oversee the Junior Scoutmasters as they lead the troop. Congratuations, Eagle Scouts and congratuations to Boy Scout Troop 806, which has advanced seven Eagle Scouts since it was chartered six years ago.

(Thanks to Ashley for the pictures!)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Artist Son

Artist Son turned 14 last week, and because his birthday falls during our family's high season for activity, he is the only one who didn't receive a birthday tribute on my blog last year. As it is, we've only half celebrated his birthday, with the rest of the celebration on hold until life slows down a bit at the end of the month.

This has unofficially been the year of Artist Son's 'coming out'. Ever the quiet, philosophical, focused child, we, his family, have long delighted in his thoughtful, contemplative nature. Among us, he has long held the reputation as the one who uses the fewest words to say Really Wise Things. And now that he is maturing and and stepping out into the community others are beginning to notice what we've known all along.

Last year he was content to stay at home, but this year he decided he would like to get involved in a couple of small group bible studies. I've received comments from surprised adults who had never really heard Artist Son say much before, that he is the initiator of thoughtful, meaningful comments and interaction. I've observed him become a valued member of the youth group and music team, and he has splashed onto the (very) local art scene by receiving his first commission. He works diligently at his studies and organizes himself so that he has plenty of hours to devote to his art; drawing and painting are slow and careful work. We are so thankful for the aesthetic beauty which Artist Son brings into our lives.

Happy Birthday, Artist Son! You have long been a blessing to our family and it is with joy that we watch God make you a blessing in the lives of others.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


I usually am inspired to post a recipe to my blog when I make something and people other than myself declare its goodness. Such was the case of the Chocolate-Pudding Cake I made this weekend.

Friday was Artist Son's birthday and as he planned to spend the night at his Guys-Small-Group-Bible-Study leader's house with the rest of his small group I offered to make a cake. Artist Son's pick: Chocolate-Pudding Cake. And since on the same evening we were hosting Active Son's small group at our home I made two cakes. Later that evening Active Son reported that one of his friends had exclaimed after eating a few bites of the cake, "this is the best thing I've tasted in my life!" Wow! Quite a compliment, however I defer the compliment to my easy, no-fail recipe.

This recipe makes a generous 9x13 size dessert, however you can halve the recipe for an 8"x8" pan. Very easy, very delicious. Even more delicious served with ice cream.

Chocolate Pudding Cake~
If you're not familiar with pudding cakes they require faith. You pour hot water over the batter before it goes in the oven. Then it forms a cake-like layer on top of a think creamy sauce as it bakes.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (divided)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups hot water

1. Heave oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Put flour, sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa, the baking powder, and salt into an ungreased 9 or 10inchx13 baking pan. Stir with a fork to mix well. Add milk and oil. Stir until well blended.
3. Sprinkle brown sugar, remaining 1/2 cup cocoa and the chocolate chips over the batter.
4. Mix vanilla with water and pour evenly over top.
5. Bake 30-35 mintes until surface looks dry and brownie-like.
6. Makes more servings than you probably need to eat so invite someone over to share this!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Reuters photo by Ali Jarekji

"Children hold black balloons in a rally to mark ‘Nakbeh’ outside the United Nations office in Amman on Wednesday. Palestinians mark ‘Nakbeh’, or catastrophe, as a day of mourning for the establishment of Israel in 1948 after which an Arab-Israeli war brought the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians." Jordan Times, Thursday, May 15

I didn't don a black and white checked keffiah (scarf) in commemoration of Nakbeh Day, as I noticed some youth in our neighborhood had done however I will link to this article by world famous conductor, Daniel Barenboim, brought to my attention by Oldest Daughter. Barenboim, a Russian Jew, was raised in Argentina and Israel and is the 'only Israeli in the world who can show Palestinian passport at an Israeli border crossing'. Together with intellectual and close friend, the late Edward Said, Barenboim began the West-Eastern Divan, an annual orchestral music workshop which brings together Israeli and Arab musicians in an effort to promote peace through understanding. (Oldest daughter at one time hoped to participate in this unique workshop/orchestra and even successfully auditioned for it, however, in the end she wasn't able to participate as she is neither Israeli or Arab. Some of her musician friends have enjoyed their participation in it over the years.)

Barenboim proposes a two-state solution. I share Barenboim's short-term pessimism, and I hope, long-term optimism. And, like Barenboim, and I am both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli. I don't think the two designations must be mutually exclusive.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Family Affair

On Fridays in April and May, the mostly likely place to find most or all of our family is on the ball fields. With Dear Husband as Commissioner and coach, Active Son as coach and player, Artist Son as player and sometimes ump, Oldest Daughter as Team 'Mom' for the team Active Son coaches, Tayta as player, and yours truly as faithful fan and the-one-who-attends-to-miscellaneous-details, we are usually out of the house by 8a.m., returning home after the Seniors' game in the late afternoon.
The Commish advises a student umpire

Tayta gets a hit for Team Cinnabon and is a valued defensive player in right field

Artist Son makes a call, umping his first Coach Pitch game

Active Son gives running instructions to his player on 3rd base

Team Mom mans the dugout and keeps the players organized

Artist Son helps his team at 2nd base and, after a hit, makes a run for 1st

Coach Dad gives the Secret Signs

This picture isn't out of focus; that is dust, and lots of it. We return from the field tinged a brownish grey and I learned long ago that is futile to buy socks for my players in any color but black.

Active Son pitches his team to a 4-3 victory

Friday, we were able to return home with a good amount of victory satisfaction: Active Son's Kid Pitch team batted like never before to beat a formidable rival and Active Son was on his pitching game through seven innings of a tight game. And, if anyone tunes into Al Jezeera, watch for a feature spot on Amman Little League Baseball; their reporter and camera men were at the fields on Friday to shoot some footage and interview one of ALLA's coaches and a couple players. Perhaps baseball will continue to gain a following in the Middle East.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Field Guide to Jordan

Most unusually, I found myself home alone one evening last week, with nothing that had to be urgently accomplished within the next few hours, so I headed off to a local bookstore for some book browsing--something I hadn't allowed myself the luxury of for months. As I arrived at the check-out counter, I noticed the book below; it took me about 10 seconds to decide to add it to my stack of purchases.

Field Guide to Jordan

This newly published field guide to Jordan is all around brilliant and is just the kind of book I wish had been available ten years ago. Kudos to author and photographer Jarir Maani and to the extended Maani family, an obviously talented and artistic clan judging from the photo and illustration credits (Annes Maani, Sari Maani, Sinan Maani, Habeeb Maani, etc., etc.)

The guide is divided into five color coded sections: Geology, Archeology (by period), Environment, Flora, and Fauna and is packed full of beautiful, high quality photographs. Considering that the only other guide to birds in Jordan cost about JD 30 ($44), I was very glad to find this broader guide for a mere JD 15. The guide has already been thumbed through by various members of the family, has helped us identify a bird we saw in Wadi Dana in March, and has been taken to bed for night-time reading by 13yo nature-loving son. Highly recommended.

--Edit-- Wow! The Field Guide to Jordan just got better. The producers have created a great website for the guide. Go here for the press release and here for some great images found in the guide.

Friday, May 02, 2008

To Obie or not to Obie

That was the question. And last week, Oldest Daughter answered it in the affirmative, deciding to accept Oberlin Conservatory's offer of admission. Much relief and rejoicing has come with the making of this decision and we continue to thank God for all the ways he has provided and continues to provide for Oldest Daughter and our entire family.

Oldest Daughter received offers of admission from three of the four schools at which she auditioned and from those three she narrowed the decision to Eastman School of Music and Oberlin Conservatory. Originally, Eastman was her first pick school, though during the last couple of weeks of the decision process Oberlin rose in her estimation and the full tuition financial package they offered clinched the deal.

And, since the decision has been made we all find ourselves excited about the opportunities God continues to graciously provide for Oldest Daughter. Via facebook she has already met other 'Con' freshman, some of whom share her faith in God and one young woman in particular, a fellow Con student, who is looking forward to being her roomate. Additionally, Oldest Daughter has received a scholarship to attend a faith based chamber music program at Oberlin this summer so she will have the chance to spend some time on campus, get to know some of the faculty and meet a few other Christian Con students before school begins in September.

Thanks to all of you who have prayed for and encouraged us throughout this wild ride!