Friday, May 30, 2008

Too far between

Last night I was going to put together a short video collage of the clips we took of the girls (1 and 3, at the time) "dancing" their little hearts out at our family reunion in Orlando last fall.  I did that, but as I was watching the clips and looking through all our pictures from that week, I began to really miss the fun time we had, all together, which are very few and far between, playing games, dancing, singing, relaxing, laughing, Titi Edna cheating at blitz…  I started to get that really sad feeling I had for the first hour when we drove away, heading for home. I don't know when (or even if) we'll get to see Abuela again. So this video contains the dancing clips I originally set out to put together, but I also followed it with a short slideshow of our time together.  I hope we see each other again soon.

You can view the video below, or click here to download a high quality version (~75MB) to play back locally on your machine (right-click the link in your browser to save the movie file locally).

The first couple of dancing clips are a bit dark, and the video clips were taken on our old digital still camera, so they’re a little choppy - sorry about that.  The slideshow begins around 3:30 into the video if you want to skip the dancing videos.  If you want to re-read all about our reunion, you can find my entries under October 2007 and November 2007 in the "Blog Archive" sidebar section.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

These boots were made for... everything

Beth & the girls went to a shoe store yesterday. One of my friends in the choir manages the store, and he was kind enough to give them full service and a nice discount.  While the girls got a few pairs of new shoes, their favorite item by far was their new rainboots.  They wanted to wear them out of the store and in the car back home.  This morning they insisted on wearing their rainboots with their outfit for the day.  They love those boots - now we just need it to rain so they can go splash in puddles.

This evening we played a little bit on the porch with sidewalk chalk and bubbles (in our boots, of course).  Anna wanted a chalk outline of her whole body.  After I outlined her and Cara a couple times, I took a rest, and the girls continued outlining each other.

New games

Cara hand-feeds a hungry, hungry hippo
We got out some games recently that Beth got at yard sales.  One was Connect Four.  The girls just like to fill the thing up with all the pieces, then move the switch to dump them out, then repeat. And repeat.

We also got out Hungry Hungry Hippos.  That was a big hit.  Cara likes to hand-feed the hippos.  Anna likes to talk to the hippos, sometimes giving them their "food" by hand, but mostly dumping all the marbles into the middle and making one chomp and chomp furiously.

Cara still likes to eat all her food with her fingers, whether it be spaghetti, corn, yogurt, or ice cream.  Anna still loves to wear her pink snowman slippers to bed (the one Titi Edna and Abuela gave her in Orlando), regardless of which set of PJs she's wearing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Israel Tour 2008 - Part 6

Dad on the Sea of Galilee shore
This is Part 6 of my account of our tour to Israel with The National Christian Choir.  This entry begins with our visit to various sites around the Sea of Galilee, including the Mount of Beatitudes, Tabgha (feeding of the 5,000), Capernaum, and the Jordan River.  To start at the beginning, click here.  All my Israel pictures and videos are in the photo gallery under Vacations and Trips, then 2008 Israel.

Day 4 - Sea of Galilee

We started the day bright and early, as usual.  After breakfast at the hotel in Nazareth, we piled into our six coach buses and headed for the Sea of Galilee.  The trips really were not that long wherever we traveled in the country - it's just not that big.  Probably the longest we sat on the bus was an hour, and that's when we traveled from the northern part of the country to the southern part, by the Dead Sea.  But they obviously didn't have the luxury of vehicles 2,000 years ago, and I have a new understanding of how difficult the various journeys described in the Bible must have been.  The scenery was very pretty - tall hills, deep valleys, covered with green grass and lots of rocks.  Pretty to drive by, but I bet a pain to walk over to get from here to there.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Career choices - 1st edition

Yesterday Beth asked Anna what she wanted to be when she grew up.  In what I'm sure is only the first of many interesting career choices we'll hear from the girls, Anna replied, "I want to be a jello maker!"

Staying put

Well, after much discussion, thought, and prayer, we made the decision to pull our house off the market for now, so we'll be staying put in the DC area for awhile longer.  We probably should have tried a year ago at the latest before the market turned so sour for sellers.  The market is completely saturated with so many homes in foreclosure and with people in trouble needing to sell their house… combined with a much smaller set of viable buyers due to the credit crunch, prices keep dropping and dropping, lower than we were willing to go, and we were also not willing to dump any more money into the house to try to make it stand out any more in the sea of homes on the market. All the advice is that if you don't have to sell now, don't.

So we'll sit and be patient.  Who knows how long it will be.  We're disappointed that we can't move closer to Beth's family now, but we're ok with it.  We're thankfully not in a position where we have to sell, I have a good job, the girls are happy, and even though I wouldn't have plopped down the money if we weren't trying to sell, at least we now get to enjoy the new silestone countertop, sink, faucet, and laminate flooring in the kitchen.  It does make the kitchen much more pleasant - I hated, hated the old baby blue counter and old, stained vinyl that we put up with for over two years.

Plus, I'll get to remain with The National Christian Choir for awhile longer - next year is the 25th anniversary season, so there will be some exciting things we're doing.  Our recording this year is a new Christmas album.  In July, we're giving a concert at the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, VA, to open the 300th annual Church of the Brethren conference (7,000 people). And we're ending the season on May 5, 2009, with a special 25th Anniversary Concert at the Strathmore Music Hall, accompanied by full orchestra. The concert will consist of the top 15 or so songs that current singers, alumni, and partners have voted as their favorites from a list of all songs the choir has ever sung, and we saw the winners last rehearsal (among the highlights for me will be The Mind of Christ, No More Night, The Majesty and Glory of Your Name, Psalm 95, Creation Hymn, You Are My Hiding Place, Midnight Cry, and Hallelujah Chorus). It will be a very moving concert, and it will also be recorded live and released as next year's recording.  Hope to see you there!

Megiddo videos

In Part 5 of my entries about the Israel trip, I talked about Megiddo.  I forgot, however, to include links to a few brief videos dad took there.  I've updated that entry, but here they are, too, in case you've been following along:

Monday, May 5, 2008

Back from Kansas City

Beth and the girls came back today from visiting grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins in Kansas City.  They were there for 10 days while Beth helped her parents pull together a yard sale.  She says that the girls played really well and really hard with their four cousins (her brother Sal and wife Dee's kids), and also with her cousin Angela's (and husband Brian's) two kids - I guess that would make them second cousins, maybe? I'm terrible at the family relationship definitions… perfect for navigating Beth's extensive family tree.

Anyway, while it was very nice to have a quiet, clean house for 10 days, it's really nice to have everyone home.  I had to make up some work in my home office tonight - it was nice to hear the girls giggling and playing downstairs…  even if they were jumping on the couch which mommy's told them not to do.

I posted Beth's pictures from the trip in our photo gallery, under Vacations and Trips, 2008 KC Visit.  It looks like they threw Anna a little early birthday party with all her cousins.  I hope to make the move to Kansas City before too much more time passes by that the girls miss with their family there, but the housing market is just not cooperating. It could be that it's just not the right time yet.

If I do say so myself...

As Beth was putting on Anna's new pajamas tonight:
Beth: Do you like your new nightgown, Anna?
Anna: Yes - I'm beautiful!!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Israel Tour 2008 - Part 5

This is Part 5 of my account of our tour to Israel with The National Christian Choir.  This entry begins with our visit to Mt. Carmel, then continues on page 2 at Megiddo, ending up in Nazareth.  To start at the beginning, click here.  All my Israel pictures and videos are in the photo gallery under Vacations and Trips, then 2008 Israel.

Day 3 - Mount Carmel

From Ceasarea, we headed to the top of Mount Carmel.  I believe Gila told us this was the highest point in Israel.  This is also the place where Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Baal (I Kings 18).  Harry again gathered all 300 of us on top of Mt. Carmel to tell the story.  The view from the top of the mountain was beautiful, as was the drive up the mountain.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A Prayer for Anna

A long time ago (2005), when our first child was 9 months old, I put together a little slideshow about her.  In the background, I used a song called The Gift of Children, which I recorded with The National Christian Choir literally weeks before she was born.  The song really expressed what was in my heart as we were getting ready to become parents for the first time, and I wanted to put something together.
I had a link to the video on the crappy, one-page "website" that used to be here at before I made all the updates to put this blog in place.  But once I made the switch, that link was lost, and I wanted to be sure it was available for you to find and for my new friends from the trip to see.
You can now view the video from a couple places:

Israel Tour 2008 - Part 4

Amphitheater in Ceasarea
This is Part 4 of my account of our tour to Israel with The National Christian Choir.  This entry begins with our visit to Ceasarea by the Sea.  To start at the beginning, click here.  All my Israel pictures and videos are in the photo gallery under Vacations and Trips, then 2008 Israel.

Day 3 - Ceasarea by the Sea

From Joppa, we drove about 30 minutes (if I remember right) to Ceasarea.  It took Peter a day to make the same trip.  I didn't think I'd be one to be terribly fascinated by ruins, but Ceasarea really captured my imagination.  Today it is in ruins, with portions being reconstructed, but from what was still there, I thought you could get a feeling for what the town must have looked and felt like.  And I think it would have been another town that I wouldn't have minded living in - maybe I'm just a sucker for the ocean (or here, technically, the sea).

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Israel Tour 2008 - Part 3

This is Part 3 of my account of our tour to Israel with The National Christian Choir.  This entry begins with our visit to Joppa.  To start at the beginning, click here.  All my Israel pictures and videos are in the photo gallery under Vacations and Trips, then 2008 Israel.

Day 2 - Joppa

We have just left the market in Tel Aviv and are headed to Joppa (or Jaffa, as it is also called).  This was one of my favorite spots and is where I think the tour really started to become special for me.  Not just because I had finally gotten a relatively good night's sleep and recovered from the flight, but because we had moved from what I felt was kind of just any other city (Tel Aviv) and into places that really had a lot of history behind them.  Our guide, Gila, really started getting to talk to us about what happened at the places we visited from here on out, and it was neat to hear her read a passage of Scripture then say, "And this is where that took place," or "And this is where he lived."