DIY Dedication

When we left DC, we left behind the best church I have ever been a part of. I started attending All Souls Unitarian Church when I was 18. In college I used to trek over to Columbia Heights on public transportation on most Sundays. It took over an hour, but it was always worth it. When I returned to the city after Peace Corps we looked for an apartment in that neighborhood so we could walk to church. Adam and I became official members together in 2008. We attended that vibrant “ diverse, spirit growing, justice-seeking” community until we moved at the end of 2010.

All Souls is the part of DC that I miss the most. It has been almost 5 years and I still think of it, long for it and miss it most Sundays. I mourn the loss of that community for our children and ourselves. We have made several attempts to get into the local Unitarian church in Chapel Hill, but it has never come close to the experience we had in DC.

Because we are not members of a church in North Carolina we had to take the issue of Calvin’s baptism (or dedication as Unitarians call it) into our own hands. Fortunately, we could still have a very Unitarian ceremony of our own making. Which is exactly what we did in our backyard a few weeks ago.

Here is the script we used. Calvin’s Opa and Oma flew in from Colorado to officiate, and our community and closest friends gathered to witness.


Dedication of Calvin Henry Good

Opa We gather today to give our welcome, thanks, and support in an act of dedication of Calvin Henry Good. We welcome this child with joy and wonder at the miracle of life, and embrace him as a member of the community of humankind by formally giving him his name. We humbly thank the Spirit of Life, which brought him forth and bestowed him upon his family and the world for a blessing. And we pledge our support to his parents, brother, godparents, grandparents, family, and friends, recognizing that we all have the power and responsibility to shape his world.


Opa: Adam and Kat, what do you name this child?

Adam and Kat Calvin Henry Good

Opa:  Calvin Henry Good, your name is one that your parents chose because of its lovely sound and meaning. Although Calvin from the Latin and French technically means “bald,” we choose to interpret that as open and uncovered to the best parts of the world. Let nothing come between you and this great adventure we call life. (KAL/CAL) originated from the Sumerian language from ancient Mesopotamia and means “highly esteemed or valued” or “precious” and (VIN) or (YEN) originates from the Dravidian Ugor-Finn language from the same period and means “sky, high, chief god. ” You are our “precious sky” cherished and full of possibility.

We hope you embrace the world with wonder, curiosity and the mischievous spirit of your most well-known namesake: Calvin and Hobbes. Your name Calvin Henry Good has also been in your family in some form for some time.  Your great-grandfather was called Henry and you were named for him. You will carry his name into the future.  Your last name is Good in all sense of the word.  All of these names connect you to your family and the past, the roots that will hold you close.  And from now and into the future, the names will become what you make of them.  May your life make them a blessing to the world.

Charge to the Parents

Opa: Adam and Kat, Calvin, is not only your son, but also the child of Life itself.  To you is entrusted the sacred joy and privilege of guiding his life in all its possibilities and teaching him to recognize his own path, hoping that he will find his own truth and live his life according to his ideals.

Do you, then, promise to the best of your ability, by your example, your teaching and your affection, to raise Calvin in the ways of truth, beauty and love?

Parents We do.

Opa:  What godparents have you chosen to support you and Calvin as he grows?

Parents: Daniel, Brenda and Maggie


Charge to the Godparents

Opa Daniel, Brenda and Maggie, you have the solemn and happy duty to be Calvin’s godparents.  He is very lucky to have you to learn from, and celebrate with, and trust.  Do you promise to give him and his parents your love and support, nurturing him in freedom, and teaching him by your example to live a good and happy life?

God-Parents:  We do.


Opa: Now Calvin’s Parens and Brother will bless him.

(Adam touching a bit of earth to C’s feet)
Kat: With earth, which is solid, we bless you.  This earth is your home.  May it symbolize your growing strength and stability, affirming your roots, grounding you in the realities of life.   Embrace life and live fully.

(Ellis fanning Calvin gently with a feather)

Adam: With air, which is free, fresh, and renewing, we bless you.  May you always feel free and adventurous, and go wherever your heart desires.  May your imagination be wild and new.

(Adam holding up a candle)
Kat: With fire, which is as bright and illuminating as your mind, we bless you.  Think with great care, and learn to trust your mind as a tool to guide you in wisdom, courage, honesty and compassion.  Balance your mind with the warmth of your heart and the intuition of your spirit. Like this flame we acknowledge the spark of the divine that resides within you.

(Kat touching water to his heart with the rosebud)
Adam: With water, which is as clear as your spirit, we bless you.  May you always see clearly and be able to hear the still small voice inside.  May you always be able to trust your feelings, and enjoy growth and change.

Kat: And finally Calvin, we bless you with this flower. May your life unfold in beauty like the rose. We are very happy to welcome you to the world!


Charge to the Community

OmaNo child grows up outside the influence of his community, and no parent raises a child alone.  If our hopes for Calvin are to blossom, we must water them with love and commitment, creating the community for him that we wish to see flourish in his time.

Do you promise to freely and wisely love this child, to offer him your steady presence and best selves, to nurture and sustain him and his family as they learn and grow and change together? If so then say “We Do”

Everyone:  We do.


Oma:  Now please join me in concluding this ceremony with a responsive reading. I will read the plain text and everyone can read the bold text together.

It is our belief that children are not born in original sin, but rather in original blessedness.

By this service of dedication, we commit ourselves to the nurture of this child

Are you ready to dedicate yourselves to Calvin?

We are prepared. We dedicate our minds and hearts to this child and to his parents.

Will you strive to love and cherish them in times of struggle as well as gladness?

We will love and cherish them always.

We acknowledge the divine spark within each child.

May we be worthy guardians of this young life. May we build a community in which he will grow old surrounded by beauty, embraced by love and cradled in the arms of peace.


Seize the Second

I’m not sure about you, but the second I saw the second pink line on my pregnancy test, those little voices questioning if I was a good enough mom started popping up. Sure, I was self critical before but aside from the cat, it didn’t really matter if my decisions were up to snuff. Eric, being a capable adult in his own right, could surely survive if I botched something badly. But, your child…it’s a different story. And, for me, I don’t just question the stuff that directly impacts Luke in the day-to-day, I question the way I role-model life and if it’s a standard I want for him. No pressure  there!

I know a few things about my “best self”, she would say far less offensive things. Wouldn’t lose her temper at her toddler when he spits out his food. Probably drink less coffee, dress better and be more focused. Send gifts and birthday cards ahead of time. She would blog AT LEAST once a week. She’d take better care of the environment and eat locally if not self-grow the food her family eats. She’d read more, craft more and most definitely exercise. Volunteer, being politically engaged and donate a lot more money. Plus, you know, keep up the job, the great relationship I have with Eric and stay close with family and friends. No sweat.

photo 1Most of the time, it all alludes me. It’s hard to keep up with the laundry, hold down the job, deal with LA traffic and not lose your cool when your kid has tested every last nerve. But, that’s the journey we’re all working on, right?

Still, there are some times, when the wind blows in from the east and the stars aline just so when you have an opportunity to do just that. To be your best self, even if just for a moment.

Our day trip to Underwood Family farms last weekend spurred a chain reaction of events that led me to live my best self’s life for a few hours and I just had to share. photo 2

First of all, Underwood is perfectly set up for kids. The whole thing is fenced in so there’s no where for the kids to go. There are play trains and jungle gyms. Hay bails and slides. There’s a petty zoo, pony rides and lots of goats. And, for additional fun they have acres and acres of fields that are open for picking. We played, had a picnic and took a tractor ride. Then just before Luke got good and tired, we popped into the fields to pick some strawberries.

We ate strawberries in the field, filled a basket and pulled Luke around in a big red wagon. We picked purple peppers and pasilla peppers, and beets.

Here’s the thing about beets though–and you probably know this. Fresh from the ground, the beet to green ratio is even crazier than when you buy a bunch at the market. And, it’s always killed me to throw out all of those greens. I knew I’d have to come up with something to make out of those greens or it just wouldn’t feel right.

Last Sunday night, while Luke and Eric played. I roasted beets, sautéed half the greens and made a pesto from the rest (mixed with our own grown basil). All week I enjoyed the rewards of our efforts but this weekend it went to a whole new level.

Our local pizza place recently closed. And, we tried some of the national chains but they really frustrate us. We make our own pizzas now and again but we’ve been making them way more often lately. (And with pre-made whole wheat dough at TJs for $1.19, how can you not!) It’s healthier and cheaper.

photo 1photo 2

Tonight I made a pesto pizza with chicken, onion, mushroom and more basil from our container garden. It was delicious but it tasted all the better because it brought together so many of the things I aim for in life. Eating healthier, cooking at home, growing our own food, and sitting around the table with the guys I love.

I don’t think it’s possible to be your best all the time. But I do think it’s a good idea to be aiming higher and seeking out the life you want to live. Because  when you get it, even if just for a moment, the rewards are worth all the work.


What I Know Now

Happy birthday to one of the dearest people to me on this planet.

photo 1Kat, had I known that we would be kicking off a life-long friendship, I would have smartly start our conversations after our Introduction to Literature class freshman year, instead of being shocked to see you—who I considered the smartest mind of any of my peers—with the dance team at a Delta Chi house party.

But of course, I also couldn’t know that you would–at my request–chop off my hair in a hotel bathroom in Virginia Beach a few months later.

That our largest fight would be due to me rearranging the furniture in our sophomore year dorm room.

That we would be together on a fateful day in September of 2001 where the world seemed to have shifted on its axis.

That we’d sit on your bed and cry when Dawson’s dad 3

And that whether divided by states or by continents, yours would be an opinion I would seek out on all of my life’s significant decisions.
Nearly 15 years later, with weddings, pets, careers and babies, there’s absolutely no way I could have known how valuable your friendship would be to me.

And, I don’t know now, where the future will take us. Whether we’ll ever live on the same coast, let alone in the giant farm house we used to joke about inhabiting – enjoying life as old ladies who knit, read and drink gin on Tuesday afternoon.

What I know now though is that I wouldn’t trade anything for the years we’ve had together and the fun times that are sure to come.

photo 2Our shared love of a good story is, I believe, a pivotal point for this friendship. And what are good friends anyway, if not the keepers of your life’s stories. It doesn’t matter to me if no one reads this blog but you, me and our moms (Hi moms!), I’m thrilled that there is something keeping us together that is uniquely ours and a record of this friendship I treasure so much.

So, I hope you have the most beautiful, relaxing day with your guys, and an amazing year. If I have my way, I’ll be hauling my butt across the country to get a look at your gorgeous face in person in the very near feature.
Much love,

Strapping Upgrade

I scored these great little binoculars at the thrift store for a buck fifty. They work great and have a nice weight to them, but the strap was boring and broken.


I drew some inspiration from an earlier upgrade I made using a belt. We have what I think of fondly as the “parent camera.” It is the Canon ESO Rebel T1i. Look around the next time you are at a zoo or museum. If a parent isn’t using a smartphone to take pics, they are almost guaranteed to be using this camera.

It is a great camera. It has taken 5 years worth of great memories for us, but I never loved the strap and I also feared we would get ours mixed up in the sea of matching cameras. I briefly looked into buying a nicer strap before I remember that I know how to make things.

I decided to add a belt to the strap and low and behold I had one that was just the right width. All I had to do was stitch it on and you can’t even tell.


So back to the binoculars. They are smaller and lighter, so I decided to replace the strap altogether (rather than adding on to the existing strap as I had done with the camera).

This was a very straight-forward sewing project, but it is amazing how a little refresh can make something old feel new again. I just took a belt and machine-stitched it to the D rings that came with the binoculars. I folded the belt in half for a skinny strap and I think it came out great.


Ellis approves!


Cherry Picked

Last week was one of my favorite days of the year. Cherry day! There are five cherry trees behind our house and once every year (or two) they turn bright red with fruit and there is a two or three day window to pick fresh tart cherries before the birds get ‘em. This year we were able to pick two days in a row.



We made it back to the house  with plenty of cherries (even after the little one had his fill on the short walk home). I learned you can pit cherries with a paperclip, which actually works!



I always make a pie. Which I did again this year. I don’t have time for crust so I just use store bought. I also threw a handful into brownies and they tasted very good, but they definitely got lost a little bit in all of the chocolate flavor.


But the most exciting creation of cherry day was homemade maraschino cherries. There was a rumor floating around that maraschino cherries from the store are classified by the FDA as decoration instead of food. Snopes says this is false, but even so, nothing beats the real thing. So Adam picked up some fancy maraschino liquor (Luxardo) and I boiled my cherries with it and got to soaking. Now I can have my Manhattan with a homemade cherry, which makes this country mama very happy.