Friday, December 28, 2007

Budding Photographer

Ally got a Vtech Kidizoom camera from Santa us for Christmas, so what does she do with it? Takes four pictures of her foot, of course:

Must've had the camera upside down for the last one. After a while, she got the hang of it. Now she needs work in picking better subjects:

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

From our house to yours.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Yes, Ally, There is a Santa Claus, But...

I don't know how old I was when my belief in an all-knowing, all-seeing bearded man in a red suit, able to discern who's been naughty or nice, went up in smoke. I don't remember it being especially traumatic, it just seemed like another rite of passage. I still got gifts at Christmas time, and that's all that mattered.

When I became a parent, I knew old St. Nick would have to be dealt with. At the same time, I didn't want to be dogmatic about it. At least I'm not as radical about it as this guy.

Here's my problem with the whole Santa thing: As a Christian, I don't want to imbue the guy in the red suit with attributes that rightly belong to God. I don't have an issue with my daughter thinking of Santa as a fictional character who shows up in stories around Christmas time. What I don't want her thinking is that he's a real person, because later on, the result might be disappointment and confusion. She may wonder what else we've been lying to her about. I distinctly remember a comedian recalling this time in his life by remarking that when he found out Santa didn't exist, God and Jesus didn't stand much of a chance.

So what do we do? Well, unless we went to live in a cave, we knew we couldn't shield Ally from Santa all throughout her childhood. I knew Ally would have friends and family who took Santa Claus very seriously. We simply choose not to put too much emphasis on Santa's gift-giving qualities, his omniscience and his ability to violate physical laws of space and time. Instead, we try to portray him as a fictional character who symbolizes a giving spirit, the spirit we're supposed to have as Christians. I like the way the author of the article below from Christianity Today puts it: an attitude of "benign neglect".

We also try to focus on what we're really celebrating at Christmas. Not the fact that we can be hyper-consumers who contribute to the retailers' bottom line but that God Himself became incarnate as a baby, grew up and lived among us.

The following article was published in Christianity Today in 1999. It neatly summarizes how we feel about the Santa Question. I commend it to you, dear reader, along with our wishes for a happy and blessed Christmas.

The Santa Question

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Well "DUH"!

64% Say Holiday Season Should Focus More on Birth of Jesus
Sixty-four percent (64%) of adults say this holiday season should focus more on the birth of Jesus. A recent Rasmussen Reports survey found that 27% disagree, believing there should be less Christian emphasis. That’s up from 17% in our survey conducted this time last year.

Overall, most Americans (91%) celebrate Christmas with their family. Of those who observe Christmas, three-fourths (75%) celebrate it as a religious holiday. A fifth (20%) commemorate a secular Christmas.

Eighty-five percent (85%) believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God sent to Earth to die for our sins. Just 10% disagree and 5% aren’t sure. An interesting partisan divide occurs in this question.

Most (77%) Christian celebrants also believe that Jesus Christ was born to the Virgin Mary. Thirteen percent (13%) don’t think the miracle occurred. More women (81%) believe Jesus was born to a virgin than men (73%).

Meanwhile, 84% think that the person known to history as Jesus Christ actually walked the earth two-thousand years ago. Only 5% disagree.

Of course, even among those who focus their holiday celebration on the birth of Christ, many caught up in the shopping frenzy associated with the season. With just one week to go, 29% of Americans say they’ve already finished their shopping this year. Twenty-eight percent (28%) have yet to begin.

A separate Rasmussen Reports survey revealed that 57% of Americans say they will attend a Christian service on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day this year. The same survey also found that 67% prefer stores to use the phrase “Merry Christmas” in season advertising rather than “Happy Holidays.” And when it comes to Christmas traditions, 67% will decorate their homes for the holidays, 25% will be traveling out of town and just 13% plan to go Christmas caroling this year.

Most Disappointing E-mail Ever


I'm sorry, but it appears that your order has been lost in shipping.


They did make it right by sending a duplicate order via UPS overnight, but it didn't get here on Saturday, so it looks like Ally's Jungle Book DVD, Jesus Storybook Bible and Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragon Boats books are going to arrive just in the nick of time.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

We Interrupt This Hiatus to Bring You an Important Message

I’m breaking my self-imposed month of slackdom to, first of all, let you know that I’m on a self-imposed month of slackdom and to comment on a couple of stories making the news. Oh, and because I’m feeling snarky today.

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black

Starring Pete Rose as the pot:

NEW YORK -- Pete Rose thinks players who use steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs are "making a mockery" of baseball.

The career hits leader, banned by the sport for gambling, weighed in on the Mitchell report in an interview with Dennis Miller that was slated to air Wednesday night on VERSUS.
Uh huh. Kind of like betting on baseball games in which you were managing one of the teams. Don’t worry Pete, the juicers will get their due, if not now in the court of public opinion, then when it comes time for Hall of Fame selections. Ask Shoeless Joe Jackson how that’s working out. It could be that we may never see elected to the Hall of Fame: 1) the player with the third highest career batting average (Jackson), 2) the player with the most hits in a lifetime and 3) the player with the most career home runs. That’s because the Hall of Fame has certain standards. Unlike show business…

As if One Train Wreck Wasn’t Enough.

Britney Spears’s sixteen-year-old sister, Jamie Lynn, is “shocked” to find herself pregnant:

The star of the TV comedy series Zoey 101 told the magazine she was pregnant to her longtime boyfriend Casey Aldridge. "It was a shock for both of us, so unexpected,'' she said. "I was in complete and total shock and so was he.''
Sounds like Miss Spears, whose TV show will be added to the list of those my daughter won’t be allowed to watch, should probably have someone explain to her the birds and the bees. It probably shouldn’t be her mom, who thinks she’s only fertile outside of curfew:

Lynne Spears, already grandmother to Britney's young sons, said: "I didn't believe it because Jamie Lynn's always been so conscientious. She's never late for her curfew. I was in shock. I mean, this is my 16-year-old baby.''
No word on how this will affect Lynne Spears’s contract with book publisher Thomas Nelson to write a Christian parenting book. Doubtless she will emphasize what not to do in bringing up girls.

UPDATE: Thomas Nelson, realizing she’s not an expert in the topic she has chosen to write about, has wisely put the publication of Lynne Spears’s book on hold. Smart move.


Part of the reason I’m taking this time off, aside from being really busy with other things, is to think about where I want to go with this blog, if anywhere at all. As part of the re-tooling, I’m considering adding more sarcasm. It comes easy to me and I’m really good at it. What do you think?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

China Adoptions to U.S. Down by Over 1000

Not a real surprise, but now the numbers are out for FY 2007:

Foreign Adoptions in U.S. Drop
NEW YORK (AP) — The number of foreign children adopted by Americans has dropped for the third year in a row, a consequence of tougher policies in the two countries — China and Russia — that over the past decade have supplied the most children to U.S. families.

Figures for the 2007 fiscal year, provided by the State Department on Friday, showed that adoptions from abroad have fallen to 19,411, down about 15 percent in just the past two years.

It's a dramatic change. The number of foreign adoptions had more than tripled since the early 1990s, reaching a peak of 22,884 in 2004 before dipping slightly in 2005, then falling to 20,679 in 2006.

"A drop in international adoptions is sad for children," said Thomas Atwood, president of the National Council for Adoption. "National boundaries and national pride shouldn't get in the way of children having families."

Adoptions from China, the No. 1 source country since 2000, fell to 5,453. That's down by 1,040 from last year and well off the peak of 7,906 in 2005. Two main factors lie behind this: an increase in domestic adoptions as China prospers and tighter restrictions on foreign adoptions that give priority to stable married couples between 30 and 50 and exclude single people, the obese and others with financial or health problems.

The tighter restrictions didn't take effect until May 2007, but those dossiers haven't even been reviewed yet, much less referred a child.