Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Headed Home

Good morning faithful readers. You have been so kind to comment on my Louise stories. I think we have the makings of a sitcom or a daytime drama, I'm just not sure, but alas, all good things must come to an end and so we are on our way home. Iowa did not disappoint, but there's no place like home(click your heels 3 times). No exciting stories from the last half of our trip. We were with Louise's parents so of course she had to tone things down a bit. To tell you the truth, I was glad for the break. It was not easy to keep Louise in line. She is a wild thing and with every passing day I doubted that I was woman enough for the job. Louise's family is quite pleasant. Her dad took the broken headlight really well. He still let me fly home at his expense which I thought was quite generous of him. It coulda been an even longer trip home should he have chosen to make me ride the bus. It was really a wonderful visit. The weather became just beautiful and we sat outside two afternoons in a row. Louise's mom is such a good cook that I ate like I was skinny. Vacations are like that, don't cha' think? Eddie and I always pretend on vacation that we are healthy, wealthy, wise and skinny. Needless to say, I am none of the afore mentioned adjectives, but I sorta like playing make believe in case you hadn't noticed. Had a great time with the kids in Iowa too. I love that vacations give you a chance to play with the kids without worrying that you should be doing something else. I was missing my gang about then. One of Louise's nieces got a flu bug and the power of suggestion is strong I tell ya. Last night I woke up and just knew I was gonna be sick. Didn't happen, still hasn't, but I'm watching for it. One more funny thing happened, but it was between Eddie and myself. I have been texting him all through the trip. Right before I left my son(who turns 18 next month! How can that be? Makes some of you feel your age now, doesn't it???)taught me how to use T9 texting and so one night I was leaving David a text and I asked him to "kiss the kids for me" but, it texted "lips the kids for me". Apparently the word kiss and lips use the same keys. The next morning he texted me back and asked "what does lips the kids" mean? I laughed and laughed. Around our house that kind of mistake makes a classic that will be repeated for the next 40 or so years. So, hey, have a great day and don't forget to lips your kids! love, Jackie Sue

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Watch For Deer

I'm sure you all are waiting with baited breath for more Louise stories. Well, I
have some. After our 3 hours of sleep we were on the road heading through Tennessee. It was absolutely beautiful. Louise's brother and his girlfriend got on the road a little later than us and we had so much fun NOT telling him our location. For Louise and I it was "the amazing race." Her brother drives racecars so we were sure he would beat us home. Never the less we were willing to go the distance and give it our best effort. Texting back and forth, never giving our exact location, and torturing him with our progress was our warped idea of fun. The roads we traveled were full of cops. They were everywhere. I had to beg Louise to slow down 'cause I sure didn't want to spend any time in the slammer this trip. We thought we were caught once, but we managed to lose them. Seriously though, Tennessee is absolutely beautiful this time of year. The drive through the mountains was picture perfect. Kentucky was equally as beautiful. We traveled just a little bit through Illinois and then into Missouri. Did you know they have huge deer there? I didn't either, until one decided to run in front of my car. My life flashed before my eyes and my pain and panic word slipped through my lips as we connected with the deers hind quarters. It was quite frightening! The deer kept right on running, in spite of our impact,and we kept right on driving. The shock really set in after it was over. Of course it happened so quickly. I immediately apologized to Louise for my use of a very mild four letter word. Thankfully she forgave me(truth be known, she howled with delight at my use of such slight profanity). We drove on hoping that the huge deer was ok. Shortly after this memorable event Louise texted her husband and he immediately called full of concern. We hadn't even thought to look at the car for damage and so he encouraged us to do so. After a while we found a place to stop and discovered that that deer had broken our headlight and scratched some of the surrounding plastic on the car. For the remainder of the trip I "saw" deer out of the corner of my eye. In case you've never hit a large mammal, I wouldn't reccommend it. I hit an otter once. That was quite an experience, but honestly, I love animals and try to avoid hitting all of them. I think the people up north ought to train their deer to stay off the highways, don't you? If in Florida we can train whales to jump for fish, you'd think they could train some sweet little deer. You know, us southerners are quite resourceful though. Thankfully we made it home without any more horrific experiences and we even beat Louise's racecar driver brother. Not by much of course, but even 5 minutes is a win. Iowa is cold and rainy and Louise's parents' home is livable. It sits on a corner lot with huge trees and my favorite: birds. TONS of them. So, I guess I can manage to stay here. Well, we are off to a baby shower for Louise's sister. Yep, she's pregnant again. Wow, who ever heard of having 4 kids? Guess I better head out in that ratty ole deer hitting car of Louise's dad's. Life here in Iowa is tough. I'm telling ya. TOUGH!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Road Trip with Louise

Well, we've been on the road for 27 hours now. It's supposed to be a 21 hour trip, but my friend and I, we like to take our time. It's not like we are in "The Amazing Race"or anything. Although, we are racing my friend's brother and not telling him where we are so it feels a bit like the amazing race. He's a tad bit competitive so we are having fun letting him believe we are ahead of him when in reality he's probably ahead of us, what with all our stops at the Harley Davidson shops and such. Last night was fun. We stopped at a little convenience store to potty up and the clerk there was quite the looker. He asked us if he couldn't join us to be our chaperone. We quickly agreed that he was just what we were looking for. Well, actually, my friend, let's call her "Louise" just for fun, was ready to move over our bags, but I talked her out of it. She's not from the south so she didn't know he was just being polite. Louise, she's quite the looker herself and oh, that husband of hers. Last Sunday he caused quite the stir amongst the congregation when he left his second button unbuttoned on his dress shirt. Most of us could hardly concentrate on his sermon! Well, after our visit at the Citgo we continued on our way. It was quiet on the roads at 3am. Just us and the truckers. We saw one trucker who had a sign on his truck that said "be a flirt, lift your shirt." Louise and I, well, we just couldn't believe that. I told her to put her shirt down right now! Thank goodness she has me for a stabilizing force in her life on this trip. Well, at 3:50a.m. we pulled into the Ritz...ok, I lied, it was the Comfort Suites. Well, Shawn, the little desk clerk was most happy to assist us with a room. He sent us next door to the Quality Inn where the manager lady proceeded to send us back to Shawn who finally got us a room. Did I mention it was 4 in the morning and we had been driving for like 3 days already???? We got checked in and believe it or not our key didn't work. So, Louise went back down and Shawn fixed the key. Louise came back and the key still didn't work. Louise went back down and this time ol' Shawn came with her. Well, he couldn't get the key to work either, but his master key worked so he let us in. I kid you not, Shawn came back two more times before we could go to sleep. It is now 4:30am and we still don't have a key that works. Finally, we just shut the door and went to bed, knowing that Shawn could come in and get us anytime...that's the stuff Lifetime movies are made of. Well, in spite of that fact, we had 3 blissful hours of sleep...up by 8 and down at the restaurant by 8:55, just in time for that free breakfast. Yum yum! There's nothing like hot waffles made on one of those fancy flip waffle makers. Course Louise didn't know how to operate one of those highly technical machines, so her waffle was only cooked on one side. She doesn't usually stay at such high class establishments. Anywho we are on the road again and having a delightful time. So far today only 6 cups of Starbucks and 3 Big Macs each. We'll be sure to update you again soon. Pray for me, with Louise anything can happen.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

On the road again...

Can you believe it...I'm traveling again...this time by car. My friend, (who shall remain nameless to protect her reputation, should any of our escapades get ugly) and I are on the road to Iowa. At 21 hours it's the longest car ride I've ever attempted. We left my house about 6:15pm and were hoping to drive through Atlanta by this evening, but already we've had some mishaps. My friend's dad provided the car for us to drive, and though it has XM radio, it has no extra cigarette lighters for my computer adapter which is quite concerning. We might actually have to be offline for a while and anyone who knows me knows that I could go into "no online shock". We are trying to get all our blogs read even now so that should the need arise, I will be able to turn this off without any sort of breakdown. My friend is quite the computer hound too, but still she is doing better with this than me. Also, we stopped by Cracker Barrel to have some dinner and would you believe it, no blackberry preserves for my bisquits! I ask you, what is the point of going to Cracker Barrel if they don't have Blackberry preserves? My evening was nearly ruined. Thankfully, the blackberry cobbler hit the spot. Well, we see a Dairy Queen up ahead and I'm feeling like a blizzard so we better stop. I'll post again soon, if the cigarette lighter is free. Take care. love, jackie sue

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Celebrating One Year With Ellie

We have been together as a completed family for exactly one year today. It's hard to believe, but it's been a year with Eliana Joy Lin. We celebrated last night with everyone, but Sarah(did I mention that she'll be home in 5 days???). We ate Chinese food and watched "I Gotcha Day" videos. I LOVE gotcha days. It feels the same as a biological delivery to me...emotionally that is. One moment there's no baby, the next there is. Ellie was such a little peanut with a really bad haircut, but totally adorable. It was fun to watch her watching the video. We finished off the night with yummy cake. I must repeat what I've said many times before, I am one blessed woman. God has given me more than I knew to dream for. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Huge blessings to my travel group...they are the best. Love, js
Celebrating One Year With Ellie

London Photos

Just a few :-) of my photos from London.
London photos

London Part II

Well, here it is, almost 2 weeks later and I'm finally feeling like I can somewhat articulate my trip. It's pretty sad that it takes me 2 weeks to recover from a trip these days, but I gotta say that it was a busy 8 days there and super busy when I got home. Before I tell you about London I will answer the question that many of you have asked, "how did they do at home?". The truth is that they did great, but they missed me...a lot. I have to say that I love the fact that David and I have become such a team. It has taken many years to accomplish that, but the Lord has taught us to rely on one another and when one of us is missing we feel it. I love that the Lord takes the prayers of our hearts and accomplishes them almost without us knowing it and then one day we recognize what only He could do. That is what this trip showed both David and me. God has made a team out of two very independent people and that is miracle of no small proportion.

About my trip...Friday morning I got up and went down 6(yes that's SIX)flights of stairs for my traditional English breakfast which I very much enjoyed. After breakfast I climbed the stairs back to my room....only my room was not at the top of the stairs. I was in room 11 and the numbers at the top of the stairs were in the 20's. I was huffing and puffing and I swear I looked around like "is this a joke? How could this tiny hotel have two sets of stairs?" So, I crawled, I mean walked down the stairs only to find that yes, I had climbed the wrong stairs. Amazing. So, I hiked myself up the right stairs for the last time.(I wish I had taken some photos of those stairs, but I didn't) I checked out of the hotel, leaving my bags for Antonio to retrieve :-) Off I headed, by myself, to try to ride the tube and find the place to pick up my London pass. One thing about being in a city where everyone rides the tube and walks, they think walking blocks to a tube station is no big deal, so several times I would be told, "oh, just go to the such and such station and get on the tube, its right down there" and then I would walk and walk and walk and finally get there. Well, my first experience on the tube was like that. I walked a LOT and finally got where I needed to be, then I got back on the tube and made it back to my hotel which was a HUGE accomplishment. The best L25 I spent was on the taxi ride to my new hotel. There was no way I was going to struggle through the tube stations lugging my luggage again!
After getting settled in my new luxury hotel Sarah came to meet me for lunch. That evening we saw the Lord of the Rings musical for Sarah's birthday. It was the most amazing show! I'm not really a LOTR fan, but this show was so phenomenal. I highly recommend it. That night my friend, Leslie and her daughter Rebecca arrived around midnight.
On Saturday it was off to shop at Portobello Road. That is London's idea of a huge flea market. Huge amounts of booths, food and people. Truly a shoppers paradise. Big problem...I'm not really a shopper. I'm what you call a spender and since I didn't have any money to buy any stuff it was just a lot of walking for me. But, if you want to spend lots of money I would suggest a visit to Portobello. That afternoon it was more walking in a park near our hotel. By the end of that journey I was one tired pup. That night we celebrated Sarah's 21st birthday at a marvelous little Italian restaurant.
Sunday morning was wet and dreary and we attended a Spirit filled church service. It was so sweet and international and just what my weary soul needed. Sarah attends this church on a regular basis, but still we got lost. When we finally found the church God met me there in a very real way. It was just precious. After church I told Sarah I was so glad she persevered and didn't give up. I would have quit looking and missed the wonderful experience God gave us. There was a couple there who gave their testimony. The wife was in a wheelchair and she shared about her active life before the brain tumor. She talked about God's faithfulness through all the changes in her life. Her sweet husband shared about the struggles as the primary caregiver, but then he said "this is what I signed up for...better or worse, in sickness and in health". It made me weep then and brings me to tears as I remember it. I want to know God's goodness so well that I never question Him. The other sweet thing for me was all the Asians in the service. I just loved it. After church and lunch Leslie, Rebecca and I headed to the Imperial War Museum. Another spiritual experience for me. This was such a surprise to me. I LOVED this museum! It was all about the World Wars. A person could easily spend all day in the museum and I had about 3 hours. I visited the Children's Museum which was about the children that had to be evacuated from London during the World War II(like the characters in the Narnia movie). I was near tears from the beginning. It was amazing. After that I went to the Holocaust exhibit. I felt like I was on hallowed ground. Seriously. That night it was dinner at Wagamama's Chinese restaurant. Not my favorite, but hey, we had a bogo coupon so that's where we ate.
Monday had us visiting the London Zoo. Surprised? Not if you know me. My favorite was the butterfly display. Again, no big surprise there. The butterflies were amazing. I tried to get photos, but I doubt they turned out. It was really humid in there. That afternoon we visited Kensington Palace. They had a tribute to Princess Diana which was really neat. I took pictures there before I got caught. Actually, I had no idea that I wasn't supposed to take pictures there, but the little guy that told me to put my camera away clued me in. Apparently I have some "bootleg" photos. Lots of them.(They didn't catch me until the end of the tour.) That evening it was Westminster Abbey for Evensong(boring, sorry, but boring)and then off to see "Wicked". My second great show in London. It was amazing. We ate pizza at 11pm just for fun.
Tuesday was our day trip to the country. We visited Winsor Palace(sorry no photos-they made it clear at the beginning), the Roman Baths in Bath, and Stonehenge. It was a long day, but my favorite. I loved the countryside dotted with sheep, rolling hills and farm houses. It was beautiful. We arrived back to the hotel in time to meet Sarah for dinner at a local pub. I made the huge mistake of ordering a burger....mad cow disease anyone? The burger arrived at my table and after cutting it I smelled a really rotten smell. Seriously like rotten hamburger. I can still smell that smell. It was horrible. I told the waiter that I thought it was bad and next thing you know the manager shows up acting all offended b/c I didn't like the burger. I wasn't rude at all, I promise, I just wasn't going to eat it. He gave me a chicken sandwich to go, but I couldn't eat. The smell had totally ruined my appetite. Oh well...I was ready to go home anyway.
Wednesday found me on the train for Gatwick airport after a lovely chat with my cabbie. The airport was really crowded and so after a long wait to check my bags I headed to security. During this trip I realized again that I forget to enjoy the journey. All I want is to arrive at the destination. Once I'm where I'm supposed to be I am fine, but I am not able to relax until I get where I'm going. I'm thinking God might want to change this in me. I'm sure Sarah would. Well, as I am headed into security I'm getting toward the relaxed mind frame when suddenly there is some drama. They found my bootleg photos of Kensington Palace...just kidding. Actually they said I could only take one bag as my carry on INCLUDING MY PURSE. What? Who ever heard of a woman's purse counting as a carry on???? Well, I tried stuffing my purse in my carry on, but it made my bag too big to fit in the allowed space. The guy in security said I could go check the bag I intended to carry on. I said, "go back and wait in that long line again?" He said, "yes." I said, "You have to be kidding. I flew in here with these bags." He said, "well, you haven't flown out." I told him I would repack the bag. So I stopped right there and began to repack my bag.(At that moment I knew David would've been so proud of my ingenuity)After spending a little while repacking my bag they let me through without remeasuring it. God was gracious. Those Brits weren't. What a negative impression to leave on a tourist. I was happy to make it through with all my stuff and very thankful to be heading home.

Well, that is more than I'm sure you wanted to know, but there it is. My London trip. It was a great 8 days and I'm so thankful for the experience and to be with Sarah on her 21st birthday. As it stands today she will be home in just 5 days. Yay! Thanks for reading. May you find God wherever He has you. Love, js