Sunday, November 30, 2008

In Limbo...

This week I feel like I'm in a strange state of limbo. The Christmas season is beginning, but I'm also getting ready to leave for a 10-day vacation on Thursday, right in the center of the holiday season. I tried to do some shopping this weekend, but ended up just wandering around a lot and only got a few things. We're partially finished decorating the house and setting up the tree (which I'm supposed to be doing right now) but just can't bring myself to get in the mood. I think part of it is that the kids aren't in town this year. Kevin won't be home at all and Amy & Andrew won't be here except a couple of days right after Christmas. In my mind I know that they're grown now and this is an inevitable season of life, but I still miss spending time with them.

Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about our trip (to Maui-how can I complain!), but it's not at a time that I would have chosen and it's with co-workers that I don't know that well. They're all wonderful people, but to think of spending 10 days with casual friends is a little daunting even for someone like me. Imagine what it's like for Terry, who barely knows any of them and isn't crazy about mingling with new folks in the first place. I'm looking forward to getting to know them better and finding out what they're really like away from the office. We'll also have some good chunks of free time alone intermingled with the group activities. Plus, I'm sure we'll have tons of fun and make some great memories and grow closer as a group. It just feels like a strange time to be away from home when this is the time that we usually enjoy lots of gatherings with friends and family.

I'm sure no one feels sorry for us for "having" to go to Maui, and as I said, I'm really looking forward to a wonderful trip. Just pray for us as we prepare our home for the holidays and prepare our hearts for our time away.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Kuwait rewind...
My sister pointed out that I missed posting her entry about Bangor, Maine and since it was one of my favorites, I'm going back to post it. This was when she was on her way from the U.S. to Kuwait. Read the description below, then watch the video. She's not in it, but it's an example of what she's talking about.

November 7th, 2008
After leaving Fort Benning, Freedom Hall, we flew to Bangor, Maine. Upon departing the plane and entering the terminal we encountered a long line of people shaking our hands and offering free cell phone calls home. Men and women of all ages, even a little Cub Scout volunteer to greet the incoming and outgoing soldiers coming in and out of the theater of operations.

As I walked through this line of well wishers I began to cry for the second time today. The dedication of this group of volunteers is astounding. Most all military soldiers depart and enter the US through Bangor Maine. So this is the last and first thing we see in the United States. This group of caring people who have been meeting all planes, every flight, every day for over five years. They call themselves the Maine Troop Greeters. After shaking all their hands, we were invited to the greeters little office in the terminal. There they provide cell phones to call home and say good bye to family and friends before leaving the US. What a gift!!!

Inside their office they have snacks, candy, sandwiches, etc for free for all soldiers and Department of Defense personnel. I called home and left a message and then called my mother(of course). I listened as some of the officers tried to make a donation to the greeters. They refuse any offer of contribution from all soldiers. Their funds come from outside the military circles.

After a couple hours we were loaded back on the plane, all weapons were counted and we were on our way. I would not encourage anyone to contribute to any cause besides the Red Cross, but if one is so inclined to give a little more this would be a good place to contribute. imagine every plane in and out of the US filled with soldiers and support on their way to who knows what, is offered a warm heart, a call home and a full belly that shows them that the people care and are supporting them on their journey. A gift from the heart to the heart. These things make a big difference in a soldier's journey. Some citizens may not support the war, but we absolutely must continue to support the troops. I must admit that prior to this journey I was not always proud to be an American and I was reluctant to affiliate myself with the military. Today, after my experiences these last 7 weeks, I can say that I have great hope for these United States of America and that the soldiers in our military are great people, each individually bring honor to our country and our lives. God Bless America!

Note from Nancy: Isn't that amazing! You can read more about the Greeters at the web link above.

By the way, I've been posting more than usual lately, and I know everyone's been busy, so be sure to scroll down to see if you've missed anything. I miss seeing your comments.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

I hope your day was filled with the joys of family & friends!

We had a relatively quiet day, compared to other years. We had only 7 here for dinner compared to 20 or 30 in the past. Amy & Andrew are in So Cal, Kevin is in the Middle East, my sister, Sharon is in Kuwait, Ashley & Russell were at Ashley's parent's house, Lisa was with the Strattons and Hope & Steve were with Steve's family.

So dinner time was Terry and I, my mom, Diane, Pat, Sharon's boyfriend-Steve and Sharon's son, Dustin. It was a nice group. Dustin was kind to put up with us older folks with no other young people around. He's growing up to be quite a handsome young man (see below). He's in ROTC right now and wants to be a pilot someday.

Steve was so sweet to bring Diane and I early Christmas presents (which he didn't need to do) but he's going to be out of town at Christmas and said he wanted to. He got us each beautiful serving dishes that we can use for entertaining. I can already picture when I'm going to use mine. Steve's so thoughtful. Sharon finally has a great guy! He's the one in the blue shirt talking on the phone. I wanted to get a picture of him on the phone to send to Sharon so she can see what he looks like when she's talking with him.

There are also pics here of Mom, Diane & Pat.

We were thrilled to get a phone call from Kevin early in the day too!!! We had been trying to figure out a way to connect with him, but weren't sure that it was going to happen. We had a chance to talk to him for a half hour. It was so great to hear his voice! We got to find out a little bit about what it's like there, although he can't tell us what he's doing. He says he might be moving to a different location, so he doesn't want us to send anything for Christmas until he knows his new address. I may send a few things anyway, just on the chance that he'll get them at Christmas. I'd hate for him to be without anything to open. We miss him.
Sharon called too and I got to talk to her for just a few minutes. She's a bit homesick and wanted us to take lots of pictures and send them to her. I'll be printing out some of these and others from our day together and sending them to her. We missed having her here with us.
We tried to call Amy & Andrew, but only were able to connect with them for a few minutes. We missed them too!
Ron & Bunny stopped by for a little while in the evening and we got to catch up a little bit on them and the family. It was great to see them.

Here's a picture of our nearly 24 pound turkey. I have this amazing recipe where it cooks overnight and turns out delicious...and it was!
This Grandma Perkins Pumpkin Patch sign always reminds me of Thanksgivings with my own Grandma Perkins and the extended family in Ohio. We would have tables and tables of people and food and homemade pies. I had so many cousins that I really barely knew many of them, but we'd all get together on Thanksgiving at my grandma's house for dinner and visiting. My uncle would sometimes go out and hunt rabbits after dinner (poor rabbits) and the cousins would all hang out together outside while the aunts and uncles would catch up on the latest family news.
I'm so thankful for all the blessings that God has bestowed on me thru-out my life and especially what he's sent our way this year. I trust that you're able to consider all the big and little things that God has allowed to happen or has protected you from in 2008 and thank him for his loving care. We serve a gracious God! Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy 24th Birthday, Miranda!

We interrupt the Kuwait updates for a very important event. Miranda's birthday and bon voyage party! We were privileged to be invited and are blessed to be able to share life with this sweet young woman.
What a fun party too! Her mom, Linda spent countless hours making so many delicious treats for everyone to enjoy. Take a look at that table!

She also served awesome fresh-baked bruschetta in 3 flavors. One with fresh basil, tomato and mozzarella, one with brown sugar, cinnamon, sliced pear and brie (I think that was my favorite) mmmm, and another with cranberry sauce and bleu cheese. It was good, but I'm not a bleu cheese fan, so my least favorite. She did an amazing job with everything, food and presentation. What a treat!

After a bit of mingling they had everyone go outside and several people spent time affirming Miranda and letting her know just how much she is loved. This is always so touching to watch and be reminded of the unique qualities that God has given to the guest of honor. I would love to share in the affirmation, but I get so emotional just watching, that I'd never be able to articulate how I feel about the person. I just have to do it in writing, otherwise no one would understand a word that I said.
Miranda is a special young lady! Intelligent, funny, sweet, kind, caring, and a lover of God. She's independent, talented and self-confident. I hope she was reminded of all those things and so much more on Saturday. Here's a picture of her proud parents, and they have every reason to be.

We're so excited that she is getting the chance to go to college near London for a semester. What a great adventure! I wish I was going with her or at least going over to visit. We'll be praying for a rich and wonderful time for her there.

We love you Miranda! Happy Birthday and Bon voyage in the coming months!
My sister in Kuwait - part 2

Written Nov 14 - In the first few days at Fort Benning we continued through the various stages of processing. We had meetings with lawyers, chaplains(not a very nice one) security, finance, medical plus vaccinations for anthrax, typhoid, flu and small pox. We were issued uniforms, gas masks, Kevlar helmets, bulletproof vests etc. We attended trainings on IEDs, Geneva Convention etc. etc. etc.

Finally came the day when we were ready to deploy with thousands of green duffel bags laid out on the ground plus all personal belongings, the bomb dog came around to inspect everything. The duffel bags were loaded by baggage detail volunteers onto two semi trucks and we were
bussed to Freedom Hall.

Now Freedom Hall is an experience in itself. This is a huge building specifically built to send out the Troops. It is amazing! Very high ceilings with huge flags from every state overhead. Hundreds of very comfortable recliner lounge chairs on each end and 8+ huge big screen TVs above the chairs.

I was laying on the floor because although there are hundreds of recliners it is still not enough for everyone and we as a Red Cross team were sharing a chair. While laying on the floor an old veteran came to me and shook my hand and told me, "Thank you for your service." and I began to weep. I don't know why this makes me cry, but it does and my eyes are leaking as I write this sentence. Across the hall and old military man sat with a tables full of books that he had collected from donations and were given free to anybody in Freedom Hall. This too touched my heart.

After we were there a few hours, they herded us in to the "Ready room", well I was not quite "ready". In Freedom Hall I had a lounge chair, free books and a huge TV with Obama's first speech being aired. I was content to stay at Freedom Hall. It was the best place I had been for some time. But off we went to the Ready room, which is wooden bleachers in a small auditorium...

I will end this today because I must go to work, but next time I will tell you about the trip across the world, it was close to hell, but that is the rest of the story. TATA for now.
Love you all so very much. Sharon

Friday, November 21, 2008

My sister Sharon in Kuwait

I don't think I've mentioned too much about my big sister, Sharon recently, except maybe the fact that she's in Kuwait. She just left the U.S. a few weeks ago to go and work for at least six months for the Red Cross as an Assistant Station Manager over there. I'm very proud of her that she's following her dreams and stepping out of her comfort zone. She's a year older than I am and has left the safe soil of the U.S. for the first time in her life.

Now she's started to send updates on her experience via email. She was supposed to be blogging, but she's new to it and I guess it's just too much to think about with everything else that's going on, so she gave me permission to post her emails. In some cases, I may leave out some of her personal commentary, since this is a public forum and I don't want to get anyone in trouble, but I have been enjoying her journey and thought you might too. She's not sending pictures yet, but I'll see what I can do to get something to look at...we'll see.

This photo above is from a recent trip that the 3 sisters and my mom took to Breckenridge this summer when Sharon had the chance to fulfill a dream of going sailing. Needless to say, you can tell from her expression that she LOVED it!

Here are a few of her updates to catch you up:

Oct 31 Note: Leaving this morning for Fort Benning, Georgia (U.S.) to be issued military gear and then on to Kuwait. May be out of touch for a few weeks. Limbo is a strange place to be. You live in my heart and go where I go. Be well. Be happy. I should be back online by November 15th or so. Write or something. Love Sharon

Oct 31 Activities: Arrived at Fort Benning. Very sparse quarters, 4 to a room with bunk beds and lockers. "Gas chamber" style showers. Lady next to me snores worse then me, if that's possible. Met a guy on the way from Atlanta to Fort Benning that was Arabic translator with Jewish name who was Catholic, born in Iraq, raised in Chicago and now living in Modesto and working for the DOD as a linguist who speaks Babylonian, Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish, and English. Talk about multicultural! Does he know who he is when he gets up in the morning? Interesting people... DOD and contractors make a lot of money out here in the theater. Figure a minimum of triple any normal salary for any job. If you make $50,000 per year as a civilian, the same job with DOD here pays $150, 000. If you're willing to sell your life for a year or more big money can be made quickly, triple any civilian salary plus some. Check it out on or under the Department of Defense jobs.

Nov 1 Activities: Life is strange. This morning they line us up behind the military and we hear, "Attention - left face - march!" and I crack up laughing out loud. I don't know anything about left face or marching, that was not in my training in DC. They like to laugh at our inability to do what they do naturally. I wake up in the mornings and it all seems so very unreal. What happened to make love not war, and here I am living in a barracks with mess halls and firing barrels. One never knows where they will end up. God has a sense of humor, that much I know is true. Population here is one third military, one third DOD civilians and one third contractors.
[Note: if you knew Sharon, you'd know that the laughing OUT LOUD is very predictable. She has a hard time keeping the status quo...she's a rebel against establishment at heart, so following all these rules has got to be driving her crazy.]

Nov 10 Note from Kuwait: Fort Benning and the trip here were hell, but things are settling down as we get better situated in Camp Arifjan. Camp Ali Al Salem was very spooky and surreal-"The gateway to the middle east". We got here sometime Saturday or Sunday, lost all track of time for awhile. 6am or 6pm ? I could not tell after a while. I am now working 3pm to 11pm shift. I will write more later this week.

That's it for now. More installments to come. Since she's already written a few others, I'll try to post them daily so be sure to come back often to catch up.

Monday, November 17, 2008

More News on those awesome Suns:

For those who aren't basketball fans, sorry about these posts, but this is MY team and there's been a lot going on lately.

Yesterday was Amare's 26th birthday. It's hard to believe that he's Amy's age.
Still no Barbosa...still home with his family (which is understandable).

Last night Shaq was thrown out of the game very early for fouling an opponent hard. It wasn't really intentionally flagrant, just going for the ball and the other guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. He wasn't hurt or anything, just hit the floor awkwardly. The Suns still won! Yeah!

Also in the same game Steve Nash had TWO BLOCKED SHOTS! For those who don't know, Steve is 6' 3" in a land of many close to 7 ' and more. And here's the kicker. When asked about his blocking contributions, Steve said, "That's what I do." Hilarious! He has such a great sense of humor and never takes himself seriously. For those who didn't see them, you have to watch the videos of his Vitamin Water commercials on Amy's blog here.
Love those Sunnies (as Andrew would say)!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

To stay with the wedding theme from the last post, check out the story of our nephew, Jeremiah Hann's proposal to Amber. This happened last year. They're married now.

What a sweet & precious story. It made me cry. Now this is one romantic guy!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mari & Jason's Reception - finally!

Sorry gang, I just realized that I never posted pics from the reception that I worked on. Thought you might like to see how it turned out. The bride and groom seemed to be very pleased with the results and the host couple said it was "a magical night", so I think all in all it was a success.

Here are some photos from set up to close, including the happy couple and the host couple. I wasn't the official photographer, so I didn't take too many pics of the people there. I mainly wanted to capture the atmosphere of the night. It was a perfect location, which made things very easy.

As are most wedding receptions these days, this one reflected the bride & groom. We served Norwegian food for Mari, the bride and Mexican food for Jason, the groom. Norwegian Rakfisk was served, since it's one of Mari's favorites. If you click to enlarge the photos of the signs, you'll see the significance of the menu chosen. We even included homemade salsa made by Jason's mom. Fabulous Food catered the event and did an amazing job. I would definitely use them again.

The dessert island was pretty cool. You can see it here. It has lucite shelves with lights above, so it made all the delicious sweets look really beautiful.

The house was a little hard to find, so we had luminarias lining the way to guide guests down the long driveway.
The Jazz ensemble was excellent. Jason found them and I would recommend them as a great option for music at any event of this kind. The keyboard player put the group together. His name is Ioannis Goudelis and he's from Greece. You'll find the music on his site to have a definite Greek influence, but they played really nice traditional soft Jazz for the reception.
The only glitches all night were some temporary tripped breakers, due to the power we were using, but the guests barely noticed anything unusual.
It was a fun time of celebrating with Mari & Jason!
Things are stormy for the Suns this week after Nash and Barnes' suspensions and other team member's fines.

Read more here.

I was also sad to hear that Leandro's mom passed away. You could tell from interviews with him that they were a very close family. It's been noticeable that she's been on his mind since the start of the season and I'm sure it will be even harder for him now that she's gone. Our hearts and prayers go out to him and his extended family in this difficult time.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Kevin is on his way...

I got an email from him saying he was in a USO in Europe on his way to the Middle East. I'm excited that he gets to visit a new place. He loves to travel. I'm also praying that he'll be safe in whatever he does over there, since he definitely will stick out like a sore thumb with his fair complexion and light hair.

I miss him already and wish we would have had a chance to see him before he left. He'll probably be over there for about 6 months, although we don't have an exact date for his return. That means he won't be home for the holidays. It will be strange without him here.

Can't wait till we can get an address for him and send a care package to share with his buddies there.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Three's a charm!

In honor of finishing my 300th post, I started thinking of the blessings in my life that have come in threes or multiples of 3. Here are some of them:

  1. I'll start by thanking Amy for getting me started on blogging August 9, 2006, nearly 27 (9x3) months ago. Thanks Teegan! It's always a fun part of my week.
  2. I have 3 amazing kids that are so precious to me in every way!
  3. Andrew (and his family) joined our family 3 years ago this week!
  4. Kevin came into our home 24 (8x3) years ago (in the 3rd month of the year).
  5. Amy was our first little bundle of joy (her due date was in the 3rd month of the year, but she decided to wait until April - because she likes to do things in her own special way - but we love her all the more for that.)
  6. I've been married to my wonderful husband just over 30 years!
  7. I have given Terry 3 wedding rings. (he'll have to explain why)
  8. The last ring has 3 diamonds in it, to represent the 3 people that love him most.
  9. I grew up with 6 kids in our family, 3 boys and 3 girls, all of whom are dear to me in their own way. Oh, we had our differences, but I wouldn't have wanted to grow up without any of them.
  10. I have 3 siblings left. We grow closer every year and I'm thankful that they're still in my life.
  11. I have lived in 3 different states: Ohio, Arizona and California
  12. I have had 3 mothers-in-law, each of whom walked with Terry's dad thru different seasons of life.
  13. Currently I have 3 active moms in my life: my own mother, Terry's mom - Carole, and Ginny, Terry's dad's current wife. I'm so thankful for whatever time that I'm able to spend with them in this busy life of ours and always wish there were more hours in the day and days in the week for this.
  14. I had 3 grandmothers on my mom's side.
  15. I have 3 friends from high school that I'm still in touch with. What fun to keep in touch about joys and sorrows over the years.
  16. I have 3 lenses for my camera to capture all of life's memories that we have the privilege of experiencing with dear friends and family.
  17. I have traveled to at least 33 states in the U.S. and hope to finish up with the rest of them soon. I love traveling and would love to be able to say someday that I've visited 30 other countries (or more) as well.
  18. God has allowed me to have many precious girlfriends in my life, but only 3 who have been there for me thru thick and thin for almost 3 decades or more. These are priceless friendships that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. I look forward to sharing life for another 30 years with them. Thank you dear sisters.

That's all that I can think of for now. So what else am I missing that comes in 3's?

Thank you for coming along for the ride on the past 300 posts.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

POST # 300!!!!


I was already working on a different # 300 post, but since it's Amy & Andrew's 3rd wedding anniversary, I thought it best to post about that. I won't be able to write a lot, because I'm working, but didn't want to miss the big day! Here are just a few of my favorite pictures of them together.
#1 - (2002?) Amy and Andrew early in their relationship. It's amazing how young Andrew looks!

#2 - (2003) Amy and Andrew in the snow in Northern AZ. What a cute couple!

#3 - (Early 2005) The day they got engaged. Andrew made her this totally awesome scrap book page that said, "Will you marry me?" and "Say Yes". He had all the details all planned out and it was such a special day for them. We were so honored that they came over and shared their joy with us that day. (You guys need to write about that before you forget all the details.)

#4 - (Nov 6, 2005) Wedding Day! This was one of the best weddings that I've ever been to. So true to the personality of the couple. I still hear comments about what a fun day it was. I love this picture during the ceremony of when Amy was drawing the wedding ring on Andrew's hand with a Sharpie marker, instead of placing a real ring there. Andrew doesn't like to wear rings, so he had it tattooed on later. I'm sure many of the attendees were a bit shocked, but it was so perfect for them and such a fun special moment for all of us to share with them.
We truly love these two and miss having them around to play cards with and hang out with. We look forward to every time we get to see them.

Congratulations Amy & Andrew! We love you both, forever.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

This is post # 299...I'm trying to decide what to do for 300. Any ideas?

This picture is kind of in honor of Halloween. Not too spooky, but we know the holiday is all about dead people. This is the graveyard where Paul Revere is buried in Boston. We only had about 6 kids come to the door last night. Probably because we didn't get home until well after dark, so the little ones were probably already done by then.

In case you didn't notice, I posted a slide show over on the right side of the page of my favorite pictures from vacation. Hope you enjoy them! I'd love to take the time to caption them all, but that would take way too long. Sorry.

Tonight is the reception! We went over last night so the A/V guy (Don) and the Caterer & Lighting guy could set up their equipment and get one last look at the yard. It's already starting to look like a party. I'll head over there mid-afternoon, to work on the last minute prep before the guests start arriving. Terry's going to help with running the A/V equipment so I don't have to mess with it. Don showed him everything last night, so we should be good to go. I really have very little to do tonight. It feels strange not to have a bazillion things to finish up, but that's what it's like when you can pay people to do most of the tasks. It's very nice.

Please pray that things will go smoothly and that the bride, groom and host couple are all happy with the results.