Thursday, November 29, 2007
The rules of the road are as follows:
1. GET OUT OF MY WAY
2. Anyone can do anything at any given time
3. Those lines painted on the roads are purely cosmetic, there is no purpose for them whatsoever
4. The person who pulls the furthest into the intersection first has the right of way
5. There is no such thing as a crosswalk, the entire road is a viable option for crossing
6. You MUST go at least double the speed limit
7. You MUST slam on your brakes and come almost to a complete stop when Polizia are spotted
8. Seat belts are purely optional. In fact, children are not allowed to use them. They are required to be up and about the cabin of the car at all times, smiling and waving at other drivers.
9. It is illegal to have any less than 6 inches between you and the next car, this is reduced to 2 inches when stopped
More to follow, as I find them...
I don't think Italians could draw a straight line with a ruler...for all their art and architectural history, I've yet to see a level building
Italians would put the worst American rednecks to shame with the things they burn/bury in the yard/throw out the car window
Driving in Italy, what can I say? *see my post on this topic below*
The tighter the clothes, the better...this especially refers to those who are overweight
Italians have never heard of city planning. Everyone parks in the roads (which are already barely big enough for two cars to pass) and big trucks with deliveries often block entire lanes of traffic.
Italians don't use dry wall in their homes. They are concrete walls which are impossible to nail anything to.
Friday, November 23, 2007
We thoroughly enjoyed our Thanksgiving Day together. It was just the two of us, with loads of food, and it was nice and relaxing. I couldn't help missing family though. Thanksgiving being the beginning of the holiday season, it really makes it hit home harder that this will be my first year away from family during the holidays. I've been okay with birthdays and all, but the holidays are just completely different.
I think we're both getting more and more anxious to get back home for a visit, as we were talking all day yesterday about what we want to do when we get there, things we want to take with us, and things we could only get in the
All day Wednesday and yesterday, while I was prepping and cooking our big meal, I kept thinking of how Thanksgiving back home would be. My mom had told me that my immediate family was traveling down to
Since I’m from a large family, Thanksgiving usually includes a lot of people. Even if it was just the ones who lived in the same town, it was still six people, including two tweens, so it definitely wasn't quiet. When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was the stereotypical huge affair that you usually see in the TV specials. My mom was one of twelve kids, and usually her oldest sister hosted, and there were constantly people coming and going, kids everywhere, and hugs and kisses all around. I miss those holidays.
Neal didn't seem to miss a beat with our quiet day. I guess it's partly been ingrained in him, given how many holidays he's missed out on from being deployed or working and not able to get home. But he's also an only child, so the quiet holiday dinners are more common and familiar to him.
I really did enjoy the time we got alone, him helping me cook, sitting at the table and nibbling on what was left on our plates after we filled up, and enjoying a glass of wine and a game of cards together. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect, romantic, or special Thanksgiving. It was just very weird, and probably one of those things about being married now (especially being married to a U.S. Sailor) that I will just have to get used to. New marriage, new family, new traditions.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Our little girl is named Ambar. She is from the Dominican Republic, and will be eight years-old in March. We have received three letters from her, and they are the most precious letters a person will ever receive. She is so curious about us, tells us about her family, asks us questions about ours, and it is just the sweetest thing to receive. We've sent her letters as well, along with a picture of us, and it is an amazing blessing to know that this little girl will have a better life because of our small $32 a month. Through Compassion, we were also able to send an extra donation so that Ambar and the other children in her school will receive gifts for Christmas.
If you have ever considered donations to a ministry, I would highly suggest Compassion. They are very transparent as to where they spend their money, send regular updates on special projects they are doing (for example, right now they're doing a special project in Africa to help mothers and babies who are HIV positive), and are highly recommended by several national groups. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me, or to view their website.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
While that statement can obviously be taken way beyond common sense, I agree with it for the most part. Looking back on the many decisions I made, things I did, people I befriended, etc. I realize that it would be a very sad life for me to constantly be focusing on those things that I should have done differently. After all, those things got me to where I am today. And it's a great place to be.
While it's never fun to look back at things you'd rather forget about, I think that those things make a person who they are, and there are many life lessons that can't be learned otherwise. It brings to mind how awesome God is, that he is actively involved in things being just right for our good. No, I don't like some of the things I've seen/done in life, but God allowed them to happen so that I would learn something, or to put me in a place to meet someone, etc.
I once met a girl in a desperate situation. I was on my way to a friend's apartment, but was running late from work. I was supposed to go to the bank to make a deposit that day, but had missed their hours and had to use the ATM instead. I didn't like making a deposit that way, and seriously considered just waiting, but I didn't want to have a lot of cash on me, so I went. While I was there, a girl with an infant in her arms walked up to me and asked me to take her baby. I was shocked, but asked her why.
It turned out that she was heading back to her parents' house after being kicked out the year before. She had gotten pregnant, and because she wouldn't break up with her boyfriend and have an abortion, her parents kicked her out. Unfortunately for her, she realized too late that her boyfriend was not all that interested in being a father, and abandoned her just after the baby was born. She had no friends, and had no choice but to go home. But she felt that she couldn't take the baby with her, and was trying to "give" it to someone. I tried to reason with her, telling her that her parents must be horribly worried about her, and will just want to know that she is safe. I told her they wouldn't turn them away, but she was adamant. She told me that if I didn't take her, she was just going to leave her somewhere.
I ended up taking the baby. Knowing how it would look if I then gave her money, I offered to buy her a meal before she left. I was secretly hoping that I could stall her long enough to come to her senses. But she refused, and the "deer in the headlights" look in her eyes told me that she really would just leave the baby. In the end, her bus came, and she got on and left. I knew one of the police officers in the area, so I reported what had happened to him. I then had to hold the precious little girl until Children's Services came to take her. I asked if they could inform me of what happened to her, but because of privacy dealing with children, they couldn't. I really wished I had been at a point in my life to have adopted her myself. But it wasn't in God's plan.
It broke my heart to see this girl. Yes, I was sad for the baby, but her mother weighed more heavily on me. What must her experience in life thus far have been like to convince her that she had to abandon her baby in order to survive? She had to be in denial, given her actions. What guilt must she be living with now. I often think of this girl. I wonder where she's at, if she's managed to make a living for herself, and I pray that God will heal her heart from such a rough life. This experience for me was one of the biggest lessons in God leading you to the right place at the right time. Who knows what she would've done with that baby girl had I not taken her? It was a horribly traumatic experience, but if I learned anything from it, it was how much God loved that baby girl, and how much he trusted me.
I am still learning the lesson of God's timing. And every time, it still amazes me.
Monday, November 12, 2007
We spoiled that kid to death! She was another redhead, so she and Stephen have always had a special bond. She was the sweetest baby you'd ever meet - not that I was biased. She has always been the social butterfly, and the sing-song creative one. She loved listening to music, dancing (dad used to dance in the kitchen with her), and always got tons of attention wherever we went.
Karen's compassion is unparalleled. She has always been sensitive to everything around her. She used to cry at sad movies and shows. We had to fast forward through parts of "Lady and the Tramp" for a while because she would start crying when she saw the puppies and dogs in the pound. To this day, she is so compassionate, she will start tearing up when someone else is sad.
Karen is a huge blessing to our family, and to anyone around her. I still remember when she was around 3, she went through this phase of asking people, "Do you know God?" Mom and Dad were trying to teach her that some people know God and some people don't, and she just started asking people. It was adorable, and completely endearing. She was our little evangelist. And every now and then, you could tell God used her to ask the right person, to get them thinking. You never expect something like that out of such a young kid.
When Karen was dedicated, several people said that she would be a peace-maker. To this day, she has lived up to that. She can't stand disagreement and tension, and will do whatever she can to stop it. It works hand-in-hand with her compassion. It's amazing to see God in her, and how he works through her. People are always complimenting my mom on both of my little sisters, and how different they are. It's so obviously God in them.
Karen's now in the fifth grade and going to her first year at private school. My mom says it's been quite a transition, and she's had a hard time with her social tendencies. Something tells me that she'll level out and thrive there though. If anything, hopefully she'll be that evangelistic influence while there.
Karen is so special, and I hate that we've had to miss out on this last year of her and Sarah's lives. I can't wait to go back home and see them. I have learned so much through those girls, and I'm certain that God has used them in my life in many ways. If anything, I understand a little more the heart that a mother has for her children. Even though they're not mine, I can only imagine the love I will have for my own children, just based on the special place in my heart that those two have.
Happy Birthday Karen! I love you!
Sunday, November 11, 2007
I used to love working out, and every time I do, I love the high that I get. I've also determined that though I've never been a runner, it's high time I become one. I've been attempting off and on through the summer, then sprained my ankle (I refuse to give up!), but I'm finally back to it. I still have to be careful with the ankle, but I'm doing fairly well.
Starting out, I weighed 160lbs at my heaviest. I'm finally down to 150, but it's taken two months to get that far, and it's time to kick it into high gear. My measurements and everything are below.
Starting out (10/23/2007) :
Weight - 153
Waist - 37
Hips - 40.5
Neck - 14
BMI - 27.1
Weight - 150.5
Waist - 35
Hips - 40
Neck - 13.5
BMI - 26.6
Goal: (by my 27th birthday, 03/30/2008)
Weight - <130
Waist - <30
Hips - <38
Neck - <12
BMI - <23
My other motivation...