Monday, July 30, 2007

10 years ago . . .

It was strange and wonderful being back in my hometown of Houston for my 10 year high school reunion this past weekend. 10 years ago I graduated and moved away (probably for good). It's a fun town, more so than it probably gets press for and it was so great to see so many people I had gone to elementary, middle and high school with. My family never moved in my 18 years at home so I was always in the same school district with some of the same friends, some of whose parents also haven't moved. : ) It was great to see how successful so many of them were and also how much so many of them had overcome. It made me feel blessed in my own right, but also special to be a part of such a great group of people. It was also fun to find out how many of them are living in this area so I really want to get together an Alief/New-England reunion sometime before we move. New Years anyone?!

One of the very different and great things about Alief is that it is so equally diverse. There is no real majority of race and a couple of nights ago I was standing next to my Chinese, Hispanic, Black, Arab and Indian friends almost in amazement that we were all so close and actually all in the same room. I seriously think the last time I was in a room that diverse was probably when I had my driver's license picture taken a few years ago and I was in Houston then too! I feel fortunate to have been able to attend a high school like that because I got the chance to learn so much about so many different people, races, religions, cultures, etc. It was more of an education than I bargained for and I will always be grateful that when a lot of our friends were moving farther out into the suburbs, we stayed in the shadow of Houston (just outside the city limits) in what became a more diverse area every year.

One comment that was fun to hear from the people who had moved away from the state and come back to visit, was how friendly Texas was and how they missed it. I was surprised to keep hearing it from different people in different conversations throughout the two night reunion. I wasn't able to attend the final family get-together on Sunday because I had to catch an early flight home, but I'm so grateful that my husband supported me going. I had a wonderful time and had a blast catching up with some very old friends.

Monday, July 23, 2007

another New England saying, Holy catholic church, one body, one Christ

As I was on the plane to Kansas (last May)(well to Detroit since that's where my layover was) for a former roommate and bridesmaids wedding, I sat next to a lady in a Catholic missions group. The group was on the plane too. She referred to New England Christians as the "frozen chosen". I thought that was hilarious, but pretty accurate. New England is a very challenging area spiritually (to put it delicately). It's interesting too because this is where the nation began and so many great men of the faith lived and attended church here. Anyway, times have changed. Now it's a very liberal area for the most part. The New England Christians I have met are quieter about their faith and not very evangelistic. However, the show their faith in other ways such as serving and helping the people and community around them. They are there for you when you need them most. They have a quiet, commitment to their friends and their church. I'm not referring to just Protestants in the area, since it's a predominantly Catholic area, I'm referring to ALL Christians. I have met some wonderful Catholic brothers and sisters in our neighborhood as well.

Which reminds me of something I believe and have wanted to convey for a long time. I just want to express the importance of our responsibility as Christians and Protestants of any denomination to support our Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ. Their church has gone through some difficult times as we all know and this has done a lot of damage to their witness and shaken their faith. I've talked to several people who have dismissed going to church at all (and believing in anything related to church) because of what's happened. So this is when we need to pray for them and for the Catholic church because we're really a part of the one Holy catholic (lower-case) church under one Lord and one Saviour, Jesus Christ.

I watched the replacement process of the pope pretty closely and was excited that they elected a conservative pope, Pope Benedict, to follow John Paul II. Because of the influence and power of the Catholic church and the stance that they have on certain issues such as abortion and homosexuality, I thought this was important. We need to remember that we are on the same side when it comes to these issues, even if we disagree about how to worship or on the leadership of the church etc.

I was disappointed when Pope Benedict issued a document a couple of weeks ago saying that the Roman Catholic church was the only true church and that Orthodox churches were defective and that other Christian denominations were not true churches and thus, don't have the means to salvation. This really ignores that we all serve the same God. He asserts that Jesus only created one church, but we believe this is for all who believe that Jesus is the Son of God and died and rose again for our sins.

Despite that however, I still believe we should, with full knowledge of our disagreements and differences, choose to support each other in our common missions and goals whether this be a political or moral stance, or simply to help people begin a relationship with Jesus.

busy July

Wow, this month is flying! I just finished an incredibly busy week leading VBS singing and reviews at the beginning and end of the day with a friend. It was so fun to be up there in front of all the kids doing motions to fun songs and recapping the days' stories and Bible points and verses. Too bad we will have moved the same time next year. Maybe we'll be moved in enough so I can do it again though. SO much fun. We even did a recap on Sunday for the church. We had the kids come up and do a couple of songs, then retold a Bible story from the passed week. The kids love watching the wall of Jericho fall down! :)

Anyway, this Thursday, my gracious husband is watching the kids so I can go down to my 10 year high school reunion. Then when I fly home on Sunday, he drives 10 hours down to Dalgren, VA to begin classes there for 2 months. So we basically have 3 days left together until he's gone, except for any weekends he's able to fly up and visit. I'm hoping some of his family will come visit. Also, I have my sights set on September when pre-school starts because that will be different, fun and exciting and it will begin a whole new schedule for us. I already plan on going over a little pre-school book with him just to start home lessons during Ben's morning nap, just to get him into a routine and try to get him ready. Also, I'm hoping our little lessons go well so that he might enjoy home schooling later on if I decide we need to do that.

That's one of our plans now if we move back into our house in Norfolk. The public schools in our area are not good and we knew that moving in, but we had small children and knew we'd move before they would attend school. We didn't count on really loving that house though. :) So if we move back there I'll either put him in private school at Norfolk Christian or home school. The other option is buying another house in a good school district and letting him go to public school. I really like Norfolk Christian though, it's just a big investment. It's actually a very reasonably priced private school associated with the church we attended while we were in Norfolk, Tabernacle Church. Several of our friends attended and one of our friends teaches there. I think it's worth it, we'll just have to budget for it if that's what we decide to do. Who knows, our orders might change and we might not even be stationed in Norfolk. I really love the Norfolk, Virginia Beach area though. We'll see!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

we're home!

what a whirlwind! We went to Europe and back in less than a week. Everything worked like clockwork, barely, and we made it! In fact, I was laughing at what a checklist might look like for what we did so here goes . . .

(oh yeah, we drove to Newburgh, NY on Wednesday afternoon to be near Stewart AFRB and catch our Thursday flight to Dover)
1. Thursday: catch "ify" mac flight to Dover then find out flight to Ramstein has been cancelled . . . check
2. surprise Dover AFB staff and try to fit on different plane going to Ramstein, Germany . . . check
3. 6 AM Friday morning: make it to Germany on a noisy C-5 (wearing earplugs the whole way) watching a sunset and sunrise (really cool) over a 7 hour flight and take taxi to nearby train station (by the way, "try to communicate in German" should be at the end of some of these next few) . . . check
4. buy correct passes/tickets for traveling through Germany and on to Prague . . . check
5. catch four trains, make all connections (usually late), poorly order lunch on train, sleep on train (barely), sit in wrong seats reserved for same people twice . . . check
6. get passports stamped when crossing Czech border (tense, but fun!) . . . check
7. end up in Prague and figure out how to take metro to our stop to meet Will's family . . . check
8. arrive w/i half and hour of the rehearsal dinner, meet Andrew and family for first time (Elanor's fiancee), surprise everyone that we actually made it . . . check
9. call mom back in RI with Will's Aunt's blackberry and cry b/c I miss my kids (that actually happened 3 times over the course of our trip) :) . . . check
10. Friday night and Sunday morning: attend rehearsal dinner, relax Saturday morning, walk through Prague (touristy part), get awkward pedicure and manicure from lady who barely spoke English, learn a bunch of Czech words, get Czech money (crowns) . . . check
11. attend beautiful, and very different Anglican wedding at 7 PM and see Elanor and Andrew ride off to reception in horse drawn carriage . . . check
12. attend reception and get to bed at midnight suffering from jetlag :) . . . check
13. Sunday: finish gift shopping Sunday morning after sleeping late and finding a French Czech restaurant to have breakfast at . . . check
14. train back to Germany, not able to buy ticket at all at first and irritating Czech attendant when we only have Euro's to pay for it . . . check
15. stop in Munich late for the night, no place to stay, hungry, figure our how to use pay phone and call hotel, take taxi to hotel, arrive at 11, walk to dinner a few blocks away (still open thank the Lord) and finally sleep at 1 . . . check
16. Monday: walk through Englisher Garten (largest inner city garden in Europe) get rained on twice, figure out metro system back to huge Deutche Bohn (German train) station where we had Burger King and sank into our private first class train room for long trip back to Kaiserslautern train station . . . check
17. after 2 or 3 train changes arrive in Ramstein, taxi back to base and sign up for mac flight leaving on Tuesday . . . check
18. Tuesday: after staying in cute hotel in town of Ramstein and having a nice meal at a local restaurant the night before, we taxi to Ramstein base at 8 AM to stand in line and hopefully catch a potentially very full flight back to Dover, DE . . . check
19. make it on flight, whew! (note: when flying space-A on a free military flight, you are not guaranteed a seat. You are given priority in travel based on your Class and when you signed up for the flight. We are Class 3 (active duty) and signed up for the flight 5 days before when we arrived. There were 99 seats to fill and a large room full of people to fill them, thus the thrill of "making" the flight!!) . . . check
20. arrive in US on Tuesday afternoon and fly to Providence, RI on a delayed flight (now 2 AM Germany time and we are tired!! Germany is 6 hours ahead of East Coast time) . . . check
21. friends pick us up at Providence airport and we arrive safely home in Middletown at 9:30 (now 3:30 AM German time) ugh! but soooo happy to hold sleeping children and see Mom!!! . . . check
22. Wednesday: drive back to Stewart AFRB to get car where we left it, see West Point and beautiful Hudson river valley along the way . . . check

Whew! what a trip!! My Mom did a wonderful job with the boys, I swear they didn't miss us. :) She flew out on Friday and I began VBS as a singing/drama leader this past Monday. We're still going!! Will leaves July 31 for a 2 month school in Dalgren, VA the same day I return from my 10 year high school reunion in Houston. This summer is flying by! Thanks for all the prayers of safely while we were gone. I'll post pics when I can. Germany was absolutely beautiful country! I wish we could be stationed there for a little while so we could learn the language and culture. Taking the train around really enabled us to see so much and the public transportation system in Europe is so incredible, it's amazing (and probably a shame) we don't have the same thing in place over here. It was so easy to get around and once you were on a train you didn't have to worry about driving and you had time to talk, or rest, or sleep or read . . . it was wonderful!! :)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

waiting . . .

Well, our mac flight was canceled today (which is completely common for mac flights, that's why they're free) :) so then we spent a few hours in the morning trying to buy a last minute flight+hotel deal and the website wasn't letting us through. After a few hours on the phone and trying different things, Will finally had to take a break. That was all before 10 AM this morning. So then I called another base and found out they had a flight to where we need to go later on this week. We're going to try to catch that one, and all the trains to take us to Prague after we get to Europe. Getting back here should be less challenging, but just as interesting. We'll see. :) If it comes down to the wire, we'll buy me a ticket home and Will will follow later on a free flight.

All this going back and forth between commercial and military/train travel has been a bit stressful, but we're easing into the drama. It will be quite a story for later though, that's for sure! :) We're trying to take things one step at a time, not taking anything for sure, or granted and if we make it, wonderful, if not, well, we really tried. I know Will would be more disappointed than that though since it's his sisters wedding, but we were never sure we would even make it in the first place.

Anyway, we're both nearly packed in our hiking backpacks and feeling more prepared now than if we had left this morning. Plus, we don't have to pack as many clothes since we're leaving later so that's a plus too. Oh yeah, and we get to spend more time with my mom and leave her here for less time alone with the boys. I'm going to miss them so much!

Well, time to start our trip again . . . tomorrow :)

Sunday, July 01, 2007


Oh yeah, another thing we did this past week was get a new mattress. We have had a hand-me-down one since we got married that was well-worn before we got it. We opted for a Simmons Beautyrest Plush top in a King size. :) The thing is 15 inches thick!! Anyway, it's so comfy and we're sleeping and feeling so much better on it. Mattresses can make a huge difference in how you feel and I'm so glad we finally got a new one.

We went with a King because we enjoy snuggling with the boys in the morning, but we were always getting trampled on before if they decided to start moving around. Plus, we plan to have more kids and thought it would be fun to have the space as a family. We wrestle, and tickle and play on the bed so it's like a soft, social gathering area at certain times of the day in our house. :) Also, my circulation has been bad since I was a kid. Limbs would fall asleep in elementary school if I sat the wrong way. So now, it's nice to be able to stretch out at night and not poke Will. Yes, I'm one of those people who can't touch anyone if I'm trying to sleep. Unless I'm really tired and we're snuggling. That works.

Before we got it Will said the only reason he slept on our previous mattress and not on the couch was because I was there. Now he actually looks forward to going to sleep. Amazingly, it also makes it easier to get up in the morning, because we feel so good! Time to go try it out again for the second night while I wait for Will to get home from the Boston airport with my Mom! YAY! zzzzzzzzzz

one by one

my goodness what a busy summer we're having, and I don't even have kids in school yet! Will and his friends made it home last Monday from their boat trip. We spent all week running errands and doing chores since he had the week off. We also, just enjoyed some downtime. I'm not sure we had time for the downtime, but it was nice to relax anyway and be together after the busy weeks we'd had before with Will graduating, and the boat trip etc.

I busied myself getting the house in order for a trip to Prague, Czech Republic this week. Will's sister is getting married over there this Saturday, July 7 to a guy she met at Abilene Christian U who's from Ohio I think. They're over there on a year long mission trip. I haven't said much about the trip because I wasn't sure if we would be able to go, but pieces are falling into place and it looks like it will happen. We're going to try to mac-flight (military space-available) out of a nearby reserve base over to Ramstein in Germany, then take trains over to Prague. All of it is a little tricky with security measures, timing, luggage (backpacks basically) not to mention language and exchange barriers. It will be an adventure for sure! My mom is flying in tonight to take care of the boys for us for 2 weeks. Hopefully we'll make it back in time to spend time with her before she leaves though.

Bon Voyage! (I'll have to look up how to say that in Czech)