Sunday, December 27, 2009

Beta Day: 2009

It’s been two years. We still think about Beta almost every day, wondering what our life would have been like if he was here. Like we’ve done the last two years, we’ve spent today spending time as a family, and tonight we’ll make a special dinner to celebrate his short life.

We also have an announcement that we’ve been saving for today. Over the last couple months, we have been starting to seriously consider international adoption, for various reasons. This last week we started the application process with an organization called Loving Shepherd Ministries that helps to match families with adoption agencies. This doesn’t mean that we are definitely going to adopt, but it is a big step in that direction.

--The Oglesbee Family

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's Grading Time!

We're in that time of the semester when Eric has a lot (really, really, a LOT) of grading to do. Something like 100 homework assignments, 21 projects, 51 papers, 25 portfolios, and 57 tests have come and gone across his desk in the past two weeks, in addition to writing three exams from scratch. Because of this, he really hasn't had much of a chance to spend time with Ian. One solution? Grade together!
(Ok, so this picture was actually taken back in September, but it's especially applicable this week!)

Thankfully, today is the last day of the semester, and Eric hopes to have all this grading finished by tonight so we can enjoy a weekend together before trekking to Louisiana next week. I'm certainly ready for it to be over!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

the Advent Conspiracy

Three years ago, during Ian's first Christmas, Eric and I started rethinking how we wanted to celebrate Christmas as a family and how we wanted Ian to understand the whole holiday. At eight months old, he had piles of presents so large we literally had to rearrange his bedroom to make room for all the toys, clothes, and books he received from loving and generous family members. While we were thankful for the displays of affection, we couldn't escape the lurking feeling that something was just not complete about the Christmas process we were experiencing and had experienced up to that point. Our parents (who are all very wonderful people) did make attempts to "keep Christ in Christmas" by doing things like reading the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke before our gift-giving extravaganzas and attending Christmas Eve services at our churches, but the reality for both of us was that, as kids, Christmas was more about getting what we wanted than it was about worshiping Christ and loving others. Maybe that was partly due to our lack of maturity, but a big part of it was also that we really didn't know how else to go about it. Even as newly-married adults, we slipped right in to trying to meet the expectations set for us by our culture: buying an abundance of gifts for pretty much everyone we knew. While the attention shifted away from "me me me" (at least on the surface), it was still a rather emotionally and economically stressful experience every year, with very little focus on the miracle of Christ's birth and our opportunity to share His love with the world, except for four or five Sunday mornings at church. This really started to bother us. We asked ourselves things like: "How much do we really need to give or receive? How can we teach Ian to be truly generous rather than succumbing to societal pressures of feigned generosity? How can we teach him to be content with what he has? How can we teach ourselves these things?"

So the past three Christmases have been a gradual alteration of our Christmas practices. We're not exactly sure what we're aiming at, but we do want Ian not only to see us being generous, but also to get to experience it himself. And we want the focus of Christmas to truly be on the incredible miracle of Christ's incarnation and the profound effect that has on our lives. So we're doing things like having nightly Advent devotions, talking about our waiting for Christ's coming, both the first time and the upcoming second time. We're limiting the number of our gifts to each other to one meaningful gift and giving our loved ones gifts that are relational in nature, so as to foster peace and goodwill among one another. We're spending less on ourselves and more on people who are really hurting or without basic needs. All in all, we're trying to find more ways to love others around us as an outpouring of the outrageous love we've received from Christ.

And, of course, we're still working out what that all looks like. Thankfully, about three years ago, a small group of pastors around the country started thinking the same things and asking the same questions, unbeknownst to us. They formed this movement called "the Advent Conspiracy," and encouraged their congregations to focus on four ideas during the Christmas season: worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all. With the money leftover from what they didn't spend on extra gifts, they pooled their resources to dig wells for people who didn't have fresh water. Over the course of four Christmas seasons (and the time in-between), people have been hopping on board and the movement has been growing. So much so, in fact, that even our little church in South Bend, Indiana is discussing ways to implement these ideas, and our pastor is teaching them from the pulpit. Both CNN and Time Magazine did pieces on what's going on. Through hundreds of churches, millions of dollars have been given to help the poor, and ideas are flowing about ways to be intentional and generous with our gift-giving. What I love about them is that they're not taking a single penny for themselves. They're a movement, not an organization. They exist merely to facilitate the implementation of true generosity and the exhibition of Christ's love for us.

Anyone else out there interested in joining the conspiracy?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity of making and hosting my fifth Thanksgiving dinner....well, my third actually on Thanksgiving. The other two were for friends or family around Thanksgiving, but it was my fifth attempt at the meal overall. I think it was a success, no matter which way one defines success. Not only did the food turn out well and on schedule, but we also got to spend the day with both sets of parents and some of our best friends in the world, the Dunn's. I really couldn't have asked for a better day!

For you foodies out there, here was our menu:


Roasted Pecans and Pumpkin Seeds
Butternut Squash Turnovers
*Hot Mulled Cider

First Course
Creamy Carrot Soup
Ezekiel Bread
*2007 Toasted Head Chardonnay

Main Course
Roast Turkey with Fried Sage and Pecans
Bacon Onion Stuffing
Garlic Rosemary Mashed Red Potatoes
Fresh Green Bean Casserole
Jellied Cranberry Sauce with Apples
*2007 Foxglove Zinfandel

Chocolate-swirled Pumpkin Pie
Regular Pumpkin Pie
Latticed Apple Pie
*Espresso or Hot Rooibos Tea

In the menu planning, we went for traditional and simple dishes, but with new elements for flair and interest. We used a different rub on the turkey that was comprised of pureed fried sage and pecans mixed with butter. It was heavenly! And for the pumpkin pie, I tried my hand at completely from-scratch pies (ok, I didn't grind my own flour or make my own butter, but I did use homemade pumpkin puree and real cream), one of which had melted dark chocolate swirled into it. It was Eric's pumpkin pie dream, and I'm sure I'll be making it again. Also, I tried an actual mold for the cranberry sauce, and used a recipe that called for apples, which have natural pectin in them for jelly-izing. Garnished with rosemary springs and fresh cranberries, it was beautiful!

If there are any recipes that you're curious about, feel free to ask, and I'll send them to you!

And for you curious family and friends out there, here are some pictures from the day...

An example place setting

The table

Ian taking a break by the fire

One of the teacups Eric got me for my 30th birthday (Yes, I turned 30 last week!)

The main course spread buffet-style

The pies, the middle of which is a chocolate-swirled pumpkin, an experiment for this year that I think will become a staple in our family!

I'm so thankful that we live in a place and have the kind of life that we can celebrate with our family and friends in such an elaborate and enjoyable way. We are truly blessed, and I pray that God gives us more and more opportunities to share our blessing with others. I was certainly glad to cook and prepare this meal for my loved ones...not a single moment of it felt like work or drudgery. Thank you Mom, Dad, Nate, Pam, Jeremy, Andrea, Talisin, Kessie, Eric and Ian for giving me the chance to serve Thanksgiving this year!