Thursday, December 29, 2005

Snow the Crazy Germans

I LOVE the snow. It is beautiful and makes the world beautiful. I love it falling on my head and in my face. I love taking walks in it and slushing around in it. I even LOVE dusting the snow off my car. OK. I love the snow.

I am even learning how to drive in the snow and it is kind of fun and I am getting good at it. Don’t press the break, ease off the clutch, turn into the spin.

Yesterday I had to run some errands, stop by the chapel, do laundry, go the post office, etc. It had snowed the night before and was still snowing a little in the morning. I took the broom to the car and dusted what seemed like 12 inches off the top and hood. I scraped the ice off the windshield. I warmed up the inside and began my journey. Well, it wasn’t a long one because I got stuck backing out of my driveway! Now my BMW is a rear wheel drive car, so technically I shouldn’t have had a problem, but never mind that. I got stuck half on the drive and half on the street. Oh joy. I tried the rock maneuver that Dave taught me, but to no avail. So there I sat, 7+ months prego and stuck.

I got out of the car, walked around it, kicked a big ice chunk out of the way and tried again. Again nothing.

Dismayed I went back into the house and called Dave. After a pep talk I went back outside. ONE of the good things about Germany is they have this thing called “streugut” I am probably not even spelling it right, but they have these BIG cans sitting on the side of the road full of gravel. There happens to be one can outside our house, so I put my gloves on, dug into the streugut box and began to dump it in front of and behind my tires to get some traction. Now all of this in general wasn’t a bad thing. What made it bad was there were these 3 older German men sitting up the street laughing and talking about me in German. Two of them even walked right past me…an obviously prego lady…and made some dumb comment in German to me while they mocked me. Believe me, I had some choice words for them…hmm…do you know what this means in English!!!!!!! So I take about 20 minutes to lay down the gravel and try again. To no avail. I was about to give up and go inside defeated…the laundry would have to wait another day…when a “nice” German came by and helped rock me out of the driveway. Saved! He didn’t totally redeem Germans in my eyes, but at least he wasn’t as depraved as the other two.

One more thing I didn’t mention about this whole situation. For some reason the Germans don’t plow the snow in our village. Not only is it hard to get out of our driveway, but then we basically slip and slide all the way down the hill to the main road (hope no one is coming). And if you are out and it starts to snow…forget about getting the car home because you can’t get the car up the hill. It is silly because we don’t live on a steep hill, but because they refuse to plow I end up walking, and Dave ends up digging and pushing the car up the hill.

So there you have it. I love the snow. I could really do without the Germans sometimes. And I would love the snow even more if they would plow our road.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Christmas!

At the beginning of December the women's ministry of the chapel (Protestant Women of the Chapel) collected toys and toiletries, put them in shoe boxes and wrapped them. They were to be sent to husbands, John in Afghanistan and to Jay in Iraq. When the soldiers go out they were able to take the presents with them and pass them out to the children. On Chrismtas Eve Jay took his boxes passed them out to the children. Here is one pic of Jay passing out gifts.

Yea, it is Christmas! We woke up early made a nice breakfast of scones and bacon (for Dave) and peppermint tea. Afterwards we took turns opening presents. You can see Dave with one of his first presents, under shirts.

I bought him these shirts a couple of weeks ago because he needed some new ones, but he refused to open them insisting that it had to be a Christmas present. So now he has some much needed under shirts.

Dave's parents sent some adorable clothes for Cubby. She is going to be styling as soon as she arrives!

After presents we attended Chapel and were blessed to hear a wonderful Christmas message delivered by CH Woodbery. He did a wonderfull job of presenting the Gospel and it was just what Dave and I wanted to hear. After Chapel we joined some friends for a wonderful Turkey dinner and a game of Imagineiff and Canasta. We then returned home and were able to talk to both of our families and then end the day with "Christmas in Connecticut".

30 Weeks

I am now into the final stretch, the last 10 weeks! At the docs this last week Cubby weighed in at 3lbs 6oz. She apparently has been munching on some good holiday cooking! I have finally popped and am now in need of some maternity shirts. Fortunately I received one for Christmas and a couple more are in the mail. She is certainly getting big and sometimes gets a foot stuck up under my ribs. It doesn't hurt yet, but I know that it will as I continue to get large.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Deliver Us

Our chapel had a wonderful time celebrating Christmas with a special program called Lessons and Carols. For Dave and I Lessons and Carols has become a Christmas tradition as our church in Atlanta, Intown, always has a Sunday dedicated to it. For those who have never had the wonderful pleasure of attending a service it goes something like this: A scripture reading, a Christmas Carol, A scripture reading, a Christmas Carol. You get the idea. The scriptures generally begin in Genesis and then jump to Isaiah and then the gospels all centered around the story of Jesus coming to earth.

For our service at the chapel Dave performed special music. He broke out his hammered dulcimer and played and sang the song printed below. It was very powerful and beautiful.

Deliver Us
By Derek Webb

Our enemy, our captor
Is no Pharoah on the Nile

Our toil is neither mud, nor brick, nor sand

Our ankles bear no calluses
From chains yet Lord we are bound

Imprisoned here we dwell in our own land

Deliver us
Deliver us
O Yahweh hear our cry
And gather us beneath your wings tonight

Our sins they are more numerous
Than all the lambs we slay

Our shackles they were made with our own hands

Our toils is our atonement
And our freedom yours to give

So Yahweh break the silence if you can

Jerusalem, Jerusalem
How often I have longed
To gather you beneath my gentle wings


Last year we had snow on Halloween and then it didn't really snow again until February. THis year it is another story. It snowed for 4 days over Thanksgiving leaving about 8 inches of snow here. And then Saturday night it dropped a couple of inches, and it has been snowing all day today! We went for a walk yesterday but had to really bundle up. We live out in the country and our house is on a hill near some farmland. The wind was so cold, but we survived and it was nice to get some fresh air.

O Christmas Tree

Only those who know Dave well will believe this story, but I swear it is true.

Last year we found out about this wonderful tree farm in a little village called Fohren Linden. The village has two farms owned by the same man, one is about ½ km outside of town and the other is about 2km past the first one. We went to the second one last year because it had better trees. We hunted for about an hour, found our tree, cut it down and paid 5 euro for it (about $6).

This year we have had a lot of snow, so when we went to the little village, which now is right next to our little village of Mettweiler, we were able to get to the first farm, but could not get to the second. The second is up a hill on what Germans call a “farm road” which basically means in the winter it doesn’t get plowed.

Dave was convinced that we had to go to the second farm because last year he saw a tree that he was SURE was going to be perfect this year. So, Dave and I hiked up the snowy, hilly and icy road for a mile to get to the second farm. He walked straight to the tree he had seen last year, chopped it down and then dragged it (by this time it had started sleeting) back down the icy, snowy hill to our car. Amazingly I made it without dying or falling. We paid the 5 euro for our tree and now we have a perfect tree in our living room.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Prego-27 Weeks

Here I am at 27 weeks prego. I am 2/3 of the way done with only 13 weeks to go. Cubby and I have started to have conversations about her birth weight. She currently weighs 15oz which is great. A small baby coming out of this body is FINE with me!

I am officially in my third trimester and life is good. I am now reporting 7 weeks without loosing my dinner, and I am not too huge yet.

Yesterday I swear she woke up to the alarm. As soon as it went off she did 2 somersaults...or something that felt like somersaults. She continues to be our little dancer, and we look forward to meeting our little spirited daughter soon.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Our Little Thumb Sucker

Here she is, at her 26 week ultrasound. She was just sucking her little thumb the whole time. When the doc went in to get a close up of her face she covered her head with her arm (she has done that at the last 2 ultrasounds), so we think she is either sleepy, or a bit dramatic (wonder where she got that from).

Monday, November 28, 2005

Winter in Germany

Thanksgiving evening it began to snow and it didn't really stop until the Monday after. In total it dropped about 8 inches. You can see our little town of Mettweiler covered in snow. Isn't it cute?

On Monday it snowed so much we ended up being snowed in. The plows couldn't get to our town because of construction so Dave stayed home from work and worked on this little snow fort. He finally knocked it down yesterday because this crazy German grandmother didn't like it. Long story!

We went on a walk while it was snowing which was fun, and here we are in TONS of snow.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Strasbourg Christmas Market

Every Christmas in Germany and other parts of Europe the towns and cities open up little markets where you can go and purchase little trinkets, ornaments, etc. for presents. Every town and village in Germany has at least one day before Christmas for their market. Some larger cities have their markets open everyday from Thanksgiving until Christmas.

One of the big markets in the area is in Strasbourg, France which is about a 2 hour drive from us. Strasbourg is a wonderful city and we thought it would be fun to visit their market this year. Saturday we piled into the Cubby Mobile and a couple other cars and 11 of us headed down to Strasbourg.

As you can see from the picture they have little stands all over the main square of the city, in this case, right under the main cathedral. Christmas market food varies from region to region, but in Strasbourg they had crepes, waffles, pretzels, and gluwein (basically similar to spiced apple cider only with wine).

Friday, November 25, 2005


We had a wonderful time celebrating Thanksgiving this year with 12 adults, 2 children and 4 babies. Dave cooked the turkey and we made a few misc. items while everyone brought something to pass. We had food coming out of our ears. Of the adults 7 were women whose husbands are now deployed. During the meal Dave made a rule that everytime someone said "like" they had to name something they were thankful for. Let me tell you, we had one VERY thankful meal! After we had finished eating we pushed our chairs back and sat around talking and playing an exciting game of Bop-It. TO name our desserts alone you can imagine what we had for dinner- pumpkin pie, carmel apple pie, pumpkin frosted cake, chocolate cookies, ice cream, chocolate cheese cake and banana frosted cake. We hardly touched the desserts, but the ladies were nice enough to leave some of them for Dave.

We were certainly thankful to the Lord for many things this year, especially for our large house that enabled us to comfortably feed a large group of people. We are thankful that we were able to serve the ladies in this special way. All of them repeatedly thanked us for opening up our home making it possible for them to celebrate with friends.

Picture: Sara and baby Ellie trying to figure out Bop It.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Saying Goodbye to 2BCT

If you had asked me in April 2004 what 2BCT was I wouldn't have had the slightest idea. But now as we say goodbye to our good friends, fellow believers, brothers and sisters in Christ who serve our nation and fight for the freedom of others with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, it is more than just an unknown acronym. 2BCT represents more than 4,000 soldiers who will soon be leaving Baumholder. A small cross-section includes 4 men from our community group, Chaplains who preached and taught us the truth of the gospel, fellow dentists, husbands of co-workers, and many, many friends.
The fact that your new friends embody sacrificial friends who will place their life on the line for the well-being of the oppressed in Iraq and the unoppressed in the United States sobers quickly. The community group men I have grown to love, respect and confide in are going to engage bullets, explosives and pain for my sake. Sounds much like Christ to me. I encourage you to thank every soldier you meet in everyday life, especially at your local international airports.

The above photo is that of a 75mm cannon just as the blank round explodes from it containment. It's often difficult to describe sound, but imagine yourself very near the fireworks on the fourth of July. Many of you love the small white balls that are entirely for sound excitement as I do, now take that explosion and that is what is going on here. What you do not know can be a detriment to you, because in this instance the cannons are not firing for celebration but firing for the sole purpose of saluting fallen soldiers from Baumholder. Every five seconds these cannons went off totalling 18 cannon blasts, each person Killed In Action within the past year.

Just as these men and women passed and have been remembered so the smoke from the rounds fired hangs over the heads of each of the deploying soldiers. None of them is safe. None of them have not considered the nearness of death. None of them will return the same. You have to know that God has interceded on your behalf. The smoke still looms but the Son still shines through giving us hope beyond our life. I think the heaviest things in our lives are what shape us most.

Pictured above: Jim and Kristen Hannigan (standing), Rich and Jan Phillips, Grant and Jessica Flynn, Jon (with baby Ellie) and Sara (sitting below) Adams, Karie Costin (with baby Ben), and Dave and Ami.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

22 Weeks

Here I am at 22+ weeks. I am finally starting to feel better, and the doctor was happy at our last visit because I had gained 1.5 kg. This is probably the last time I will ever be happy about gaining weight! I am finally starting to graduate out of my own clothes and into "maternity" wear, but I am sure I will rapidly catch up in size and soon I will be as big as Montana.

We also found out at our last visit that we are having a little girl. We are so excited and look forward to her arrival sometime in the beginning of March. Everytime the doc went in to take a pic of her face she would throw her hands up over it, so it is possible that she will be a little like me...overly dramatic. Hopefully we had just interrupted her nap and it has nothing to do with a dramatic nature. She has been kicking up a storm these past two weeks and it is so fun/really freaky to feel her moving all over the place. I am so used to any rumbling in my stomach to be bad that it is nice to get used to a good rumbling with her movements.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Meet Amos and Davida McNay

For Halloween this year Dave dressed up as a pregnant lady (Davida) and I dressed up as the beer belly husband (Amos).

Cubby Mobile

Well, Otto, our '84 Mercedes Benz 190E is on its last leg. It has been smelling of fuel for several months and Dave has been unable to fix it (short of taking the carburetor apart and putting it back together).

So, we have recently upgraded to a '95 BMW Wagon 525. Oh it is so nice! Now our little Cubby can breath easily even when I am driving around. We are still looking for an appropriate name, though I am calling it "Cubby Mobile".

We were able to fully put the Cubby Mobile to use when we found our crib this weekend. There are so many families here with young children that Dave has been sure he could locate a used crib farily inexpensively. And the Lord provided in a round about way through one of his favorite patients. I heard about the crib through one of the women who attend PWOC, and when we found out it was one of Dave's patients who attends the local chapel we were even more pleased. Now the little one will have a place to lay her head.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Puking Pumpkin

We have attended several Fall Parties which has been so fun because Fall is my favorit time of year. At one party we brought 2 pumpkins to carve, but I ended up not feeling all that well, so Dave carved my pumpkin into this..."Puking Pumpkin" in honor of me. Everyone thought it was hilarious. As a side note, Puking Pumpkin turned into over 15 cups of puree pumpkin that I used to make several pumpkin pies.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Open Door, Throw Out Rope

Three years ago I flew from Bucharest, Romania to Sofia, Bulgaria. I actually flew a Bulgarian airline, and if anyone has actually flown an airline that isn't American (I am not talking British Air people) you will find it always an adventure. All the instructions were in Bulgarian. Since I have flown a lot I just imagined what the words meant..."Life jacket under seat cushion"...etc. I ended up sitting in an exit row and as usual there were instructions about what to do in an emergency. Usually it says something like "In case of emergency open door and wait for raft to inflate" or something to that nature. I am not sure what the words said in Bulgarian, but underneath in little letters it was written in English "In case of emergency, open door and throw out rope." Throw out rope? Good grief!

This past week Dave and I went on our last childless vacation (Lord willing). We booked a week at an all inclusive resort on the Turkish Riviera. I know, I know, none of you even knew that Turkey had a Riviera! In any case we flew MNG Air (which is Turkish) from Frankfurt to Antalya. As we flew I was remembering my experience on the Bulgarian airline. This airplane was an old American plane (hopefully not discarded for mechanical reasons) so most of the writing was in English.

It wasn't until we arrived in Antalya that our true emergency began. I know that we have written before about experiences with travel agents. We did book this trip through a German travel agent and it so happened that everyone thought we were German and so either spoke to us in Turkish or in German. We understand that we are ignorant Americans who understand pluma es en la puerta?

We arrived at the Antalya airport 2 hours later than expected and by the time we found our bags and the bus it was 0245 (that means in the morning!). We dragged our weary bodies on the bus and waited. We were on the bus headed to Topkapi Palace in Aksu. Soon about 10 other Germans joined us and a Turkish man came on board and in perfect (I imagine) German began his speech. As he talked he handed out a brochure (in German) for Venezia Palace. We asked for something in English, but he didn't seem obliged to help us. He continued on speaking for several minutes and Dave and I began to pick out several key phrases. The Venezia Palace was a 3 minute drive from Topkapi. The other thing we caught was that there was going to be some meeting at 1230 the next day and it involved food. He finished and got off the bus. Dave and I looked at each other. Dave is usually the better one at understanding what is going on, and his assessment seemed reasonable. He figured that this was some sort of promotional thing, if we wanted we could go and eat lunch and get a tour of the Venezia Palace tomorrow. It seemed reasonable and since we had failed to get anyone to tell us what was going on in English figured that was the answer.

Imagine our surprise at 0330 when we turned into the driveway of what looked like the Venezia Palace. We were taken off the bus and deposited in the reception area. Everyone else was checking in, so we figured we should follow. When we got to the desk I said "Is this the Topkapi Palace? We are suppose to be staying at the Topkapi Palace." The Turkish man smiled and said "Do not worry my friend." OK...whatever the heck that means! We get our key and drag our exhausted bodies up to the room where we again tried to figure out what was happening while we waited for the bellman to bring our luggage.

I was angry...not a good combo...tired...pregnant...angry. We had paid for a vacation in a great resort that had all the ammenities. I was suppose to be able to get a free haircut at the Topkapi and if I couldn't get one here someone was going to hear about it!

As we were waiting for our bags, Dave discovered that our key card said it was good from 10/1 until 10/2. That seemed to mean we would be there for one night. That made me even more upset. No one told us we needed to check out. It was nearing 0500 and there was no way I getting up before 1400 (2pm). Our luggage finally made it to the room after 0500 and Dave handed the bello boy a tip as well as a note for the reception desk. It asked them to simply explain what we were suppose to do and to slide the note back under our door, so we would know if we needed to check out in the morning or not.

At 0730 Dave got up and checked for a note, which of course wasn't there. He called down to the desk and found out that yes, we did need to check out at 1200. I finally dragged out of bed at 1000. We got ready, repacked and went to check out and find some breakfast. As we checked out we were informed that there were not any restaurants open at the moment.

OK, do I need to refresh anyone's memory that we have a tired, angry pregnant lady here. Who currently struggles with all-day-sickness even in her 19th week of pregnancy. And I haven't eaten since 6 o' clock the night before. I lost it and informed my husband, in no uncertain terms, that if he knew what was good for himself he had better find me something to eat. I then proceeded to sit down near the front desk of the hotel lobby and sulk. Open door...throw out rope!!!!!

The whole time Dave was gone I tried to convince myself that it was going to be OK, but I just couldn't. I felt at any moment I would blow. Probably not only chunks (of nothing since I hadn't eaten) but also tears. My eyes were red and brimming with tears when Dave walked back with a glass of water and a bag of nacho cheese doritos. So I did the only reasonable thing I could at that point. I began to sob. Yes, shaking sob right in the middle of the hotel lobby, right near the front desk while hundreds of people were checking out.

I have never been in Dave's position, but he said, as people walked by or turned to look, he got the "What the heck have you done to her?" stare. The "what a jerk" stare.

I finally got control of myself while poor Dave assured me it had to get better. I was ready to get back on that MNG flight to Frankfurt. We loaded the bus to Topkapi Palace and lived 6 days happily ever after. No more crying! And I did get my promised hair cut.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

17 Weeks and Counting

OK, so here I am at week 17. Dave used some photo techniques in the first picture to make me look larger than I really am. The second picture is more acurate to my size. I wish that I was a little larger than I am because this past week many ladies made comments that I looked about 12 weeks pregnant. Though I should have taken it as a compliment, two things ran through my head. 1-There is something wrong with Cubby, the little one must not be growing properly, etc. 2-I am not as far along as they told me and I am going to have to repeat weeks 13-17. Neither option sounded appropriate to me. I did, however, have my 17 week appt on Thursday and both Dave and I were able to see our healthy little Cubby moving around in my tummy. Now I am just thankful that I am small, but know that the days of becoming large are around the corner.

My major accomplishment for this week has been keeping down the vitamins 3 days in a row! I am hoping my next major accomplishment will be to keep enough down to actually gain a few pounds! All in due time I know.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Chicago Cubby Surprise

I doubt that the picture needs much explanation. That little baby is swimming (dancing in praise to our Lord!) around in Ami's tummy! Surprise!

We certainly have had a fun time rejoicing and marveling over the Lord's timing and sense of humor. We had planned on traveling and seeing the some more of the world, but this littlest McNay just couldn't wait!

Things have slowed down significantly for me because I am struggling with "all day sickness". Fortunately, I had given my notice at work before we even found out about the baby and so I only had to work a couple of weeks while feeling poorly. At present I read, sleep, eat (me too), sit on the couch, and go out for occasional PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) meetings. Things will pick up a little in the fall as PWOC kicks off September 12, but we are still trying to keep life simple. I am currently 13 weeks along and hoping for a break in sickness at 14 weeks (me too), but we can't count on anything. At least we know that I will be feeling better sometime around March 5 (me too).

We are calling the little one Cubby (or Walnut is my favorite) because the baby will certainly have to be a Cubs fan-sorry Jeff- since the little one is a Chicago baby. I don't think we will go as far as naming him/her Sosa, but it is fun nonetheless. Though Cubby is an American (me too) he will be born in a German hospital in Idar-Oberstein (or in the car on the way there). They have a great staff and facility and we are pleased with the care I have received. I met my doctor and the Chief Doctor today, they reviewed my massive medical records/history and both marveled (and me boys can swim!) that I was able to so "easily" carry this baby. We are thankful to the Lord and revel in His goodness to us, and continue to pray for Cubby that he will grow to love and serve the Lord.

(Dave is intalics)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Thoughts on Hospitals, Singleness and Military Life

Today I accompanied a friend to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. She has been needing to have her wisdom teeth pulled, but like most of us has been putting it off for a rainy day. Today happened to be that day.

We left early this morning, checked into the OR and I sat in the room with her while nurses and doctors scurried around. A Chaplain came in and sat with us for a little while. He prayed for her and wisdom for the doctors. It was especially nice to hear his prayer which was sincere and heart felt and I felt ourselves enter into the throne room of the Lord.

I sat with her and held her hand as she got the IV and gathered her belongings as they rolled her away. I proceeded to the waiting room where I had the rare privilege of watching the whole Dr. Phil show. It was great.

The oral surgeon came in an hour later to let me know she was out of surgery and in recovery and after a little while a nurse came in and took me to see her. There she lay, completely drugged up with these gauze strings hanging out of her mouth, what a beauty! I held her hand and told her all about Mary Lou Retton's appearance on the Dr. Phil show. I gave her kleenex to wipe her face and assured her she wasn't drooling. I walked her around the post op room to get the anesthetics out of her system, called the nurse when she needed assistance, packed up her stuff and drove her back to our house where she will stay tonight. I even pulled off the side of the autobahn and pulled out a handy ziplock to let her vomit. Not only that, I checked the vomit in the bag to make sure there wasn't anything there that shouldn't have been there. I have now made the patient chicken soup and put her to bed.

Today I had to reflect. I was standing with her, in the place of her husband. Her husband is out in the field training and will eventually deploy to Iraq. I was there, but hardly a decent substitute. I am sure this will be one of many opportunities I will have this coming year to stand with a woman from this community.

Today I was glad I was in the place of caregiver. This is probably the first time I have sat in that seat. The first time I was the one who was able to comfort someone in a hospital bed. I can't help but think to my own hospital stays which unfortunately are too many to count. Four years ago I was admitted for four days and it was miserable. My roommate drove me to the ER and stayed with me the whole first night. I had misc. visitors over the following days. The visitors were wonderful, but it is really lonely in a hospital room when you are all alone and family is thousands of miles away. On the fourth day I was finally able to call a friend who picked me up and drove me home.

Last February, while swallowing a pill, it became lodged in my throat. After a day of achy throat I was convinced that it was still stuck and Dave took me to the ER. We spent our first Valentine's Day as a married couple in the ER. At first I didn't find it very romantic, but by the end it became one of the best memories of my married life. I wasn't alone. I was in the hospital and there was someone else with me. And not just a friend who cared, but someone who loved me and who would be with me the rest of his life. What a difference, I just cried as we sat together waiting and waiting. What a gift the Lord has given to me.

My heart is glad that we are here and that the Lord has given me a unique opportunity to stand in the gap for some of these ladies whose husbands are gone. But my heart also aches for them as they go through things in life without their husbands present. I suppose the hope for that ache is that the Lord is good and compassionate. He saw me through many nights in lonely hospital rooms, and he will see them through their lonely times too. I cannot offer them a solution, I can only offer them the bit of hope that I find in the Lord, who cares for us more than anyone in this world ever could, and who never, ever, ever leaves.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Ode to Christine Wiegert and All Valley Girls

The summer of 1993 between my junior and senior years in high school I spent 3 months in Mozambique, Africa. Recently I stumbled upon some letters that friends and family sent to me while I was away. It was fun to reminisce with some of them, and others I just couldn't quite remember who they might have been talking about. This letter, however, is one of my favorites. One of my best buds from high school was Christine Wiegert. Chris writes just like she talks so it was always entertaining to receive her letters. This will be funny to those graduates of NPHS, to anyone who knew and loved Chris, or to anyone who is or was a "Valley Girl". Welcome to my high school experience, and by the way if anyone knows where Christine ended up I'd love to know. One last thing, if this letter happens to mention you- sorry, the folks that she did mention I can't seem to remember, it even took me a moment to remember Chad Allen-Hello! (I will write in parentheses if there is anything that needs to be explained).


Ami Bud,
I Miss You. I Wish You Were Coming Back Sooner!
How is it going these. You better be taking very good care of yourself. Don't let anythings happen to you. Crap man-Ami expression- I miss you. I wish we were going tomorrow to pick you up. Oh, I have something for you when you get back. I know you'll like it. Oh know, my mom just walked in the room and she is in a bad mood. She's sick and when she's sick she's in a meany mood. Just writing this letter is making me even more Ami sick. like Home sick- hardi-har-har.

The other day I was in the post office and I saw Carson Goldberg and I think he was trying to talk to me and I didn't stop to talk to him. I didn't mean to and I felt really bad. He might think I was rude but I didn't mean to. You know how it goes. Remember with Jeremy Sands in the school parking lot and you just hopped in the car. You didn't mean to either. Oh Oh I got a flashback when I said "hopped in the car". It made me think of me hopping out of the car as fast as I could, away from ELVIS (a guy Chris didn't like but went out with a few times). He stopped the car, parked it, and then I flew out and ran up to my door. Thank goodness. You were SOOOO very right about him. I have been so picky about guys lately. Actually I don't even want one now at all, UNLESS he's BUFF, CHRISTIAN, VIRGIN, HANDSOME, SWEET. Sounds good, huh Ami.

Oh I wish you were here just now and we could be talking about dorky guys, etc. I've thought about it and have absolutely concluded that God is DEFINATELY saving you for some rad guy at college. I'm very sure. It's because you are such a special person and he doesn't want non-special guys to go out with you. You are too valuable. God loves you soooo much.

I've been doing some stuff for me dad's job and I have gotten a lot of money so we are going to go out to some really good place to eat. We are going to have so much fun when you get back.

Ami, it's so weird but all the things you've said to me before are finally clicking in my head. Like when you said that driving isn't really that important. I can see that now. Next year I'm going to try not to care at all what people think. We can walk home from the football games on the sidewalk with pride. We can stand up tall and show off our quarter to the on-coming teenage traffic on our way to Albertsons to call out parents. Yeah right! Well actually, maybe I could but it would be hard not to care at all what people think but I'm working on it. (Neither Chris or I were able to drive our junior year. We both had really long hair, so after school events we would walk down Reino Road with our hair covering our faces, so people couldn't see us, to the local grocery store where we would ask our parents to pick us up.)

Oh Ami you are such a great friend. I sure hope you are having a lot of fun. I also hope that God is helping you experience some great Christian moments.

Oh Oh I got another flashback. That was so hilarious when after you swallowed your pill with water and banana I was in your room and you were in the kitchen and at first I heard someone mumbling something and then I heard it louder.
"THANK you Jesus, THANK you. THANK you LORD" "Thank you so very much JESUS." (I vaguely remember this happening, I have a hard time swallowing pills and I think that I had a particularly hard time getting this pill down) That was so funny at first I didn't know what you were doing. That was so funny listening too but it was also so special because it shows your special relationship with God. Don't worry I do stuff like that too. Actually it's so neat though. God values you soooo much.

Oh you know what, I'm going to tape Dr. Quinn for you so we can watch it and look at CHAD ALLEN-HELLO!

Well, I'm going ot bed, Love always, your best bud,
PS I'm so glad that we are both Christians and Best Buds

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


While in London, many things attracted our attention. The library of London housed many items of great value such as the Magna Carta, some original writings of Galileo and Da Vinci, and many early Bibles. In the Hans Christian Andersen area we coughed up some money to do a three-dimensional child rendering. They can practically guarantee that a male child born of Ami will look much like this. I can say the young toddler will need a bro not unlike myself. As well, his legs and arms are a spitting image of his father's. Somehow the thought may burrow into your mind concerning the graphic nature of this photo. Please do not be concerned, this is very common in Europe, and in fact this figure is in the children's section of the library?!?!?

Travelling continues to be our escape, but I would have to say that our home remains such a haven. Quiet invades our house very often, at the moment all I can hear is the ticking of the clock and a tractor in the distance. I realize this still comes and goes, but silence calms. Too often we find ourselves trying to fill our days with places, people, tasks and noise. Please find a suitable place for peace and solitude, I strongly feel God has created rest for both our good and His good for us.


Crazy Travel Agents

Dave and I went to London a few weeks back and had quite an adventure. Besides being a little nervous of the public transportation (which we did use a fair amount of) we had a couple crazy experiences with our tickets.

One of the women that Dave works with booked this weekend in London for her and her husband (who was suppose to arrive back from Iraq in July). At the end of June she asked Dave if we would be interested in their tickets because they decided to go back to the states instead of going to London. The tickets, so we were told, included the following: 2 nights at a nice hotel, 2 2-for-1 dinners at the hotel restaurant, and 2 tickets for 2 shows (Chicago and Phantom of the Opera). We jumped at the chance since we hadn't been to London yet and it was a good deal. We never would have booked something like this on our own, but thought it would be fun anyway.

From the experience we learned a couple of lessons that we would like to pass on:
1. If you book from a travel agent, make sure the tickets and itinerary are in English (unless of course you speak another language, like say German).
2. If the tickets are not in English make sure that you know exactly what you are getting.
3. Make sure that you have exactly one ticket for each item you are to receive.

This is what we ended up with:
1. 2 single beds, instead of a double bed.
2. The first dinner we had a kind of 2-for-1, as they didn't tell us that whether we get an appetizer or not we will be charged for one.
3. The second dinner they refused to give us 2-for-1 because we didn't have a ticket for another dinner. The ticket that we had used the night before of course was in German which no one understood.
4. Our tickets to Phantom did not note the theatre it was playing in, or the time, so we had to track down that information.

Lastly, you must just know that London is very expensive, and they charge to get into their churches (which I think is sacrilige). We ended up only going to their free exhibits- British Library, the British Museum and the National Gallery. I can recommend each of them highly, though my fav was the library. I am not sure how they got the Guttenburg Bible from the Germans, but it is cool to see.

Picture: in front of the British Museum

Monday, August 01, 2005

On Sheep and Begonias

May I remind the world that I grew up in suburbia Los Angeles, and beside a brief stint in Wilmore, Kentucky have never lived in the "country". I don't actually think that Wilmore counts because it has 2 traffic lights, even though they begin to blink at 9pm.

Since moving to Germany I have had a beginning intro to country life. In Kentucky I began my "red neck" training where I completed level one. In Atlanta I graduated to level two once I had fished and experienced Stone Mountain's laser show. I must warn, however, that red neck training doesn't completely prepare you for country living (and I am not talking about the magazine here folks).

One of the things that endeared me to our new home was that it bordered a pasture where sheep roamed. I thought it was cool to look out my bedroom and living room window to see the sheep roaming around the fields. I was not prepared, however, to have my yard invaded by sheep.

Last Thursday the bleeting seemed to grow closer and louder and I soon realized that a couple of the sheep had somehow climbed through the fence and into our yard. I went outside and looked around to see if any other neighbors noticed and if the owner was anywhere to be found. The other neighbors didn't seem to think it was a big deal so I went back inside, assuming eventually the owner would notice and fix the situation. An hour later I was totally invaded. Our doors were banging and our windows were rattling as they banged into each other and in to our house trying to east up every scrap of grass, weed and flower. This is where I got a little freaked out. I didn't want to go outside for fear of being trampled. The other bad thing is that Dave and I just recently watched "The Village" (which has large sheep like creatures) and even though it is all a movie, I started to get really scared. I called Dave and he had no suggestions, so I waited it out.

The owner finally came and rounded up her sheep over the fence and I went out to assess the damages. Apparently sheep like begonias because they ate both of my begonia flowers clean. If I had known that in their banging around they were eating my "prize begonias" (do I sound country now?) I would have given those sheep something to be scared of! In any case, I now know that sheep will eat anything and if there is anything worth saving in the yard I better do it quickly (I also know where the owner of the sheep lives).

Our yard (notice the clothes line) and the sheep where they belong
Our yard invaded
what is left of one of my Prize Begonia.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Adriatic 92-05

In 1992 I traveled to Albania with an organization called Teen Missions Int'l (shout out to Daniel Kuder and Summer Meyers Gross, the only two teammates that I have managed to keep in touch with). For those of you who don't know where Albania is, it is just across the Adriatic from Italy and is surrounded on all sides by the former Yugoslavia. We spent all 2 months in the capital of Albania, Tirane, but we took a day trip to Durres which is on the shore.

I have two vivid memories from our trip.
My first memory is that a girl names Heidi had a little too much red koolaid before we got on the bus and puked all over Daniel (is that right?).

My second is that bomb shelters lined the beach. We took full advantage of the shelters as they were fairly comfortable to lay out on.

At the beginning of this month Dave and I headed to Slovenia, which is a little country sandwiched between Italy, Austria, Croatia and the Adriatic. We had a wonderful time and on the trip spent 3 days in a little town on the Adriatic called Piran. Fortunately for us there was no puking and no bomb shelters! We had a wonderful time snorkeling, eating fried calamari, and enjoying the views of the shores of Italy and Croatia.

Us in Piran, Slovenia
Albania Team in Durres 1992

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Baumholder in People Mag

In April of 2003 soldiers stationed in Baumholder, Germany began what they thought would be a 12 month deployment to Iraq. Obviously, when they left, many families went without having a dad/husband or mom/wife around for a long time. This wasn't a "Honey, I'll be home late from the office tonight" or "I'll see you next week" kind of thing. This was say goodbye and I hope to see you in one piece in a year kind of thing. Around 5,000 soldiers from Baumholder went to Iraq that year and they lost 29 soldiers. April 2004 was suppose to bring the soldiers home, but to the surprise of many, the soldiers were extended for 120 days. We happen to arrive in Baumholder the week this extension was announced. Great timing! I think that this was the lowest point of morale in Baumholder’s history. Eventually families recovered and were able to welcome their soldier home in July/August of last year. Now, a funny thing has happened in Baumholder, we have a lot of ladies who are expecting and lot of newborn babies…you do the math.

People Magazine came to Baumholder and did a photo shoot about 2 weeks ago. This article is suppose to run on July 4th and is suppose to be entirely about Baumholder. If there is a picture of all of the expecting mothers you will be able to see at least one of my buds, Sara Adams. The article also might quote LTC Mike Money who is a Nurse Practitioner at the Health Clinic. Mike and his family attend the chapel and are very involved. They also happen to be members of a PCA church in San Antonio, TX. Keep your eyes peeled and let me know if you find anything cool!

The picture: The fences that line the perimeter of Baumholder Post were decorated just like this last year when the soldiers came home.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

All Is Well

Life in Germany is crazy. Upon arriving to this country I really thought that there was no way I would survive. We found ourselves stuck between two cultures that were completely new and unknown to us, the German culture and the military culture. In some ways both of those cultures are just as new and unknown today as they were when we stepped off the plane April 16, 2004, but we are making some progress.

Last summer I found a job working at the Army Education Center at Baumholder. I have been working as the Test Administrator. If you have seen the movie Spies Like Us with Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd you will remember the scene where they are taking the test to get into the secret service, that pretty much sums up my job. I administer all sorts of exams from college exams to Army Personnel exams, Language exams to SATs. You get the idea. It has actually been a fun job. I actually recently gave my notice and will finish here on July 29. This past February I was approached about taking on some special responsibilities at the chapel for the coming year. I will be serving as the President of Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC) which is the women’s ministry of the chapel. I am heading up a board of 10 women who will be serving not only the women of the chapel, but hopefully also the chapel and the community at large. This is a huge responsibility and I am already up to my eyeballs in this position. I hope and pray that the Lord will give me strength. Once I quit my job I will have more time to devote to PWOC and to helping the women in this area.

Dave has been busy working at the Dental Clinic. He enjoys his job and the folks that he works with. He has also been busy in many other areas. This past fall he helped lead a Bible Study through Romans. We used Tim Keller’s study and it was so wonderful. The group was very diverse which became challenging at points, but overall it has been a positive experience. This small group Bible Study has turned into a Community Group of sorts. We currently have four solid couples and have two couples on the edge. Dave has transitioned the group and we are now going through the book of James. In February Dave was asked to teach Sunday School at the chapel and began teaching through II Peter, and recently the BSB Chaplain (aka- Head Pastor for you non-military folk) asked Dave to serve the chapel as the Head of Adult Religious Education. He will be overseeing Sunday School as well as small group Bible studies and discipleship. He is very excited about that.

As you can see from the above paragraphs, Dave and I are very involved and committed to our little Baumholder Chapel. It has certainly been an interesting experience transitioning from Intown, where we had attended for years, to the Chapel style of church, but overall it has been a good experience. We have found ourselves surrounded by some solid believers and have had a good time of fellowship.

Our year has also been filled with MUCH travel. This has been such a delight. We “Slept in Straw” in Switzerland, celebrated Thanksgiving with an Italian Feast in Florence, rung in the New Year in Paris, etc. We are in a unique area of Germany because we can reach Luxembourg, France and Belgium all in an hour drive. We are also about 30 minutes away from Hahn Airport where Ryan Air (Europe’s version of Air Tran only on steroids) flies. Many places are accessible that just would not be from the states. It also funny to hear kids talk around here. They say things like, “Do we have to go to Paris again” or “We were just in Brussels last weekend, can’t we go somewhere else.” I hope that we never get to that point, but in some ways I do understand that you can only go to the top of the Eiffel Tower so many times.

The picture: Hills of Germany near where our new house is in Mettweiler.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Where in the World

In February 2004, Dave and I quit our jobs in Atlanta, Georgia because Dave was hired to work as a dentist for the US Army in Europe. Though our paperwork said we needed to arrive in Baumholder, Germany by March 15, our visas did not go through until the middle of April. Last spring we found that we had a lot of time on our hands as we waited for confirmation of our visas.

By the beginning of March I was going crazy, so Dave and I decided to take a road trip. One of my best friends from college had just had her first baby boy, Todd Matthew and I wanted to drive to Cincinnati to meet little Todd. When I asked Dave where he wanted to go he quickly responded with "Banff".

For those who don't know, Banff is a Canadian National Park near Calgary, Alberta. Dave had spent some time out there after he graduated from college, and I have wanted to go there since 7th grade (ever since I read "When Comes the Heart" by Janette Oke) to see the Canadian Mountains and Lake Louise. We had talked about spending our honeymoon in Banff, but Dave opted for a surprise trip to Maine where we spent 10 days watching the leaves turn from green to red.

A couple days after our conversation we were off to Cincinnati via Banff, Alberta. On the way we decided to play a little game with our friends called "Where in the World are Dave and Ami?" Everyday we sent a random picture from a random place and gave a random clue. Everyone who got it right got a point and we got the winner of the game (I think that it was Tubbs) a special gift (I actually think that it was the movie "Fargo" which we bought at a Walmart in Fargo, ND).

In any case, we ended up leaving for Germany on tax day 2004 and since we have been here for a year we have been a LOT of places. We needed a place where we could share our love for places and our fun adventures with others and we also wanted to play another round of "Where in the World." Our good bud, Jess, created her blog a month or so ago, and we became really inspired when my bro, Dan, created his blog to keep us aprised of my nephew, Matthew's, growth (also probably because I beg them to send me pictures about once a week). So here you go, we hope that you enjoy.

The picture: Dave and Ami behind the Banff Springs Hotel.

Jim and Kristen and Air India

In June Dave and I made a mad dash to Chicago for a few days. Our good friends from over here were having their wedding. They actually were married in Denmark in August of 2004, but planned their wedding in the states for June of this year. We had a whirlwind of a trip, but it was lots of fun. Dave was a groomsman, and sang a duet with Lisa Dykstra, another pal from Germany who now lives in Augusta, GA. I helped Kristen get ready and was the gal who carried around her lipstick, etc.

The thing about the trip was that to get to Chicago cheaply we flew Air India (they have direct flights from Frankfurt to Chicago). Now, in light of how much we paid I cannot entirely complain, but sometimes it is just better to fork out the extra money. Let me paint a picture for you. Imagine a plane that originates in Bombay, India stops over in Frankfurt to pick up a few people and continues on to Chicago. Now think about that plane ride without air conditioning. I think you might have it. It might be better in the winter, but I cannot recommend Air India in the summer. In any case, we are glad that we were able to celebrate with Jim and Kristen.

Pics: The Bride and Groom
Ami and Kristen