Monday, December 31, 2007

With or Without a Burka

As many of you know (most of all my husband) when there is an event looming in my future, my most favorite pastime is planning. He says I like to plan and plan and plan, then when the situation shifts, no big deal, it’s more reason for me to re-plan. It’s true. I do love to plan. And I would have to agree that among activities I would list as hobbies, planning tops the list as my favorite. Not only do I like it, I think I’m good at it.

By the way, WHAT did we do before the internet?

But I digress. In the near future we are taking a trip to India to visit Conrad’s family. This keeps me busy with packing lists and visa paperwork alone. BUT we are planning on stopping in the United Arab Emirates to visit my brother-in-law for a couple of days and that planning is also very fun!

So I have spent quite a bit of time researching things we might want to do in Dubai. If you ever watch the Travel Channel, you know that Dubai has become one of the premiere vacation destination in the world. And they have everything from unprecedented indoor skiing, huge malls (no taxes in UAE), 7 star hotels, and Bedouins.

So, I have narrowed down a list of things I’d like to do while in Dubai. (Isabelle, my mom, and I stopped in Dubai last fall, during Ramadan, to visit Alfred, but we only stayed a few hours and it was overnight! We saw a lot of the city and city life because it was so alive due to the holiday, but still there is so much more!)
•Visit Bedouin village/market etc. It seems like Middle Eastern culture at it’s purist. Can we find such a place? I dunno. Am I the only person who thinks even “Bedouin” is an intriguing word?
•Eat Middle Eastern Food (what is this? Like Lebanese food? I am feeling profoundly ignorant in the area of international cuisine)
•Take home something purely Arabian….that’s not a carpet….or a burka.
•Ski/snowboard/toboggin at the indoor ski mountain. Come one…where else can I snow the middle east??
•Stay at a NICE hotel and get a massage. Oh ya…enough said.
•Visit the man made island of the Palm Jimira. This has been called the 7th wonder of the world, can be seen from space, and the mass amounts of real estate on this property sold out within 72 hours of opening sales! Seriously!

Now, my remaining thoughts are, how do I fit all of this into two days? How do I prioritize? And of course, how do we pay for all of my grand plans? If you were going with us, what would you want to do?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Someone Famous Read My Blog?!

I was so excited to get an email back today from Lisa McKay, the author of the book I mentioned a week or so ago, My Hands Came Away Red. And I thought I'd post her note (I hope you are okay with this Lisa, if you are continuing to read!) But I was just super excited.

Dear Danielle,

Thank you so much for writing to me. Sorry for the delay in reply - I've been away and am just now catching up on email before leaving again on Saturday, then to Australia in Jan for almost a month (hooray!!!). It's so much fun to get glimpses into the fact that people are reading Hands and liking it. I had never written to an author just to say that I liked their book before I published this one (I will now though) and so hadn't really thought that I'd hear from people. It's been an unexpected joy, and helps inspire me to keep working away on book number two (which I've just started).

My hands came away red has just gone to reprint too, which makes my editor very happy (since he took a bit of a risk with this book I think, since it's not exactly typical faith fiction). And since I'd made the decision before I even got a publishing contract to give all my author royalties from the sale of this book away, the charities I'm donating too are pretty happy too. And me, I'm thrilled people love the story that is so close to my heart and my life.

So thanks again for writing. I’m SO glad you enjoyed the book, and hope you’re having a good week. Do keep writing. It took years and years for Hands to crystallize for me, but the journey was part of the fun.


PS. Thanks also for mentioning Hands on your blog! That's fabulous!

I actaully heard Lisa on a Moody Radio Talk Show, which was what sparked my interest in the book, and I know she Australian, but in my head she sounds just like my South African Friend, Heather :)

And, of course, I had to add a picture of Isabelle with her new toy, which she LOVES, from Aunt Jona and Uncle Eric. By the way, that "backpack" is actually one of those toddler harnesses. The bear's "tail" is a leash. Put it on the list of things I said I'd never do, put my kid on a leash.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Excitement

Christmas was a whirlwind this year…but great! It started off Saturday with Christmas at my Dad’s side of the family. This is our first Christmas without Papaw, but in spite of that, it was good. As everyone was asking me what to get Isabelle this year I said books books books and boy did she get books! She would open up one and she wanted to sit and read it and didn’t want anything else to do with another gift!

On Sunday we went to church with my parents, then out for brunch. Then we took a LONG nap and went over to my aunts for cookie baking. My Aunt Becky and Uncle Mike from California just came in so we wanted to spend some time with them (in actuality, I didn’t bake one cookie!) Then we sent Isabelle home with my mom and dad and Conrad and I went to a movie! I can’t remember the last time we did that!

On Monday we lounged around all day long doing nothing in particular before we went back to Brenda’s for the Christmas Eve party with my Mom’s side of the family. My Uncle Thornton has 10 or so grandkids so the house was packed with kids running in circles just biding their time until present time. Isabelle joined the gang and I’m sure she ran a full two miles that night! Some of the older boys were looking glum as presents were passed out and they didn’t seem to be making out like everyone else. I think the let down was part of the plan. Pretty soon Grandpa Thornton took them out to the garage where there where big shiny bikes waiting for them! They were pretty excited!

Isabelle’s presents were stacked up over her head! Again, the first present was a book from Aunt Sheila and I couldn’t get her to open up anything else! Eventually she did and we had fun with all of the books, toys, and clothes…boy did this girl get clothes! Thank goodness because she seems to grow out of stuff so fast

Christmas day we opened presents around noon when my sister and her husband arrived. Again, Isabelle made out like a bandit! Then everyone came over at 2ish for Christmas dinner. It was good and we are officially sick of eating today!! It was nice to see Terry…who is a regular blog visitor and who we don’t get to see regularly!

We got to talk to most of Conrad’s family and we can’t wait to see them in January! I wanted to get some pictures posted so everyone in India could see Isabelle! Merry Christmas friends and family

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Queen Christmas

Okay, everyone must be busy with the Christmas season, or everyone is wearying of checking my blog when I NEVER update anymore because I’m not feeling the love here. I’m trying…really, I am. I’m still a little shaky, but mentally gearing up for the family Christmas marathon that starts on Saturday. And we must be feeling better because we are brining THE entertainment, the person FOR whom Christmas trees were put up for and presents were wrapped for, and stockings were hung for. Me? Ha! THE grandchild.

Each and every year my sister and I would argue over when we were going to open Christmas presents with our immediate family. I would fight for Christmas Eve night so we could then sleep in the next morning…ever pragmatic. My sister, wanting to hold on to the joy of Christmas morning as a child, fought equally hard for opening presents Christmas morning. Eventually, my dad would dub one of us “Queen Christmas” that year and we would get to decide when we opened the gifts. Of course, the problem came when we could never remember who was Queen Christmas last year and who gets it this year? Like usual, I’m sure Jona got her way most years!

All of that to say, I hope Isabelle enjoys being the undisputed Queen of Christmas this year. Too bad she is too young to enjoy the power.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My Hands Came Away Red

I just finished this great book called “My Hands Came Away Red.” If you are in the market for a great novel, I would suggest this one. In fact, I even found the author’s website and sent her an email telling her how much I enjoyed her book and how she has inspired me to write more.

I guess it wasn’t just that the book was sooo soak-in-a-hot-bubble-bath-and-read-for-two-hours great (although it was) but that the author was really speaking from a perspective that was so similar to my own. The book is about a group of teens who go on a short term missions trip to Indonesia and end up in the middle of a war between Muslim and Christian villages. They are cut off from everyone, and trekking through the jungle for weeks trying to get home. It’s heart wrenching, mostly because it’s based on some very real facts.

I loved the fact that the narrative voice was a 17 year old girl, but I didn’t walk away feeling like she was a 17 year old. She felt much older. I loved that after I read the book it made me want to write! It made me want to write books about adventures in missions. It gave me an idea of HOW to write this kind of book….to inspire, without coming off preachy. Can it be done…twice? One never knows…one never knows.

So, if you were going to write a book about something…what would you write about?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Back from the Abyss

I know I have been very absent from blog world for the past week or so. I have a good excuse..the flu…or some other undetermined winter sickness, from which I will graciously spare you the details. Sufficed to say, I am feeling somewhat better after a few days of antibiotics. I have been sick and usless for the last week. Today I am at work, feeling about 50% better.

Unfortunately, I don’t have much to write about except the enormous amounts of stupid television I watched over the past few days. It seems like my daughter and husband have escaped the sick train, but Isabelle has something else going on with a heavy cough. She continues to run in circles at about 12 miles an hour, so I guess she’s not feeling too badly!

On a happier note, we went to the mall this weekend. I was still not feeling well, but sooo tired of being sick and laying down. The mall was fine. Since the weather was not great, it wasn’t as packed as it would have been. My sole goal at the mall was to find a Christmas outfit for Isabelle. I was a little surprised that all of the kid’s Christmas clothes were cleared out already. Luckily I found a little something I liked at Gymboree. And Isabelle looks cute in anything! So…she’ll he wearing this little dress to all of our family Christmas parties. So, if you, family, are reading this…don’t feed the kid anything messy. This one outfit has to last! Not that I can’t wash it…but we do have one party right after another after another!

Here’s a picture of Isabelle last Christmas in the outfit that her Opa bought her for Christmas. Hmmm…trying to stay away from the red polyester santa suit this year, tho.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Close to Home

Yesterday an unknown shooter opened fire in a YWAM base in Colorado killing 2 and wounding 2 more young missionaries in training. Later on Sunday, right after the morning service, a shooter opened fire in New Life Church in Colorado Springs, right near where parents were picking their children up from Sunday School. He killed several people there before a security guard killed him.

In our little community of friends and family, MANY of them are YWAMer’s or were YWAMer’s. And I have many many friends who go to New Life and are even on staff there. I have no idea how everyone is.
Pray for these folks today.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Merry Tossmass

This month my section at work is hosting our bureau’s retreat. We have several educational speakers surrounded by a lot of fluff…you know food, gift exchanges, and ice breakers (can’t you hear the employees shiver when they hear that breaker? Or is it just us from Teen Mania Land who shutter? Better yet…try “team building” and watch the nervous twitch in my eye.)

Anyway, as we threw around themes for our “Winter Retreat” We unanimously decided on a “Vegas” theme. But that took all of 2 minutes to be shot down. Later we decided that we would make it a western theme, focusing on the finer points of HATS to avoid the offense, side story of cowboys and Indians (or native Americans, as we call them these days). We were calling it our Holiday Ho Ho Ho Down. But it was shot down because “Ho” could be construed as too close to a certain holiday that begins with C (or offensive to a morally loose woman).

Everything we did was methodically picked through by the management team to decide what would and would not be offensive…and systematically thrown out! Now, I want to add that we don’t have one Jew or Muslim in our entire bureau. Most are committed or nominal Christians. Several agnostics, and a bunch that don’t give a rip. I have a lot of upfront time at this particular bureau retreat. I’ve decided to have a shirt made that say’s “Go ahead, wish me a Merry Christmas!” …or “Merry Tossmass.”

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Five Love Languages

I was reading my friend, Beth’s blog about how her and her husband Dave do Christmas gifts. I thought this was hilarious! And it got me thinking about Love Lanuages. You guys have probably read the book that states that each of us speaks a primary “love language”. And when we show people that we love them, we speak to them in our love language..when actually we should be speaking to them in thiers!

For example, my mom is Acts of Service. When she wants to show you she loves you she’ll come and clean your house, make special meals that you like, or baby sit your child. My sister Jona is Giving & Receiving Gifts. She will buy you lavish and thoughtful presents and sends cards with genuine expressions of love hand written in them. My dad, my husband, and I are all Quality Time. We would rather spend time together than just about anything. The author of the book talks about how relationship problems always occur when you try to fill up your spouse’s (or other family member) “love tank” using your love language and not theirs.

Now this brings us back to Christmas…in the U.S…we all start speaking the love language of Giving & Receiving Gifts. In India, you really don’t buy gifts for people for birthdays or for Christmas. So since we’ve been married, I have tried to indoctrinate my husband into the season of this particular love language. I have been none too successful.

Of course, I have always been in the same mindset of Beth, there really is no need to make your husband buy you a “thoughtful” gift. This is a really rather difficult task for a husband. I think if we, as women, are going to be picky about our gifts, then we should be also be helpful…so for the love, don’t make it a federal case…by your own dang Christmas present, wrap it up yourself, or at the very least, give him the exact link to the website and item you want on the web. Have you EVER met a man who’s love language is Gift Giving??

So Honey, when you read this today, I want like this, or this, or this always fit’s just right! Better yet, I’ll get it myself at the mall tomorrow! Love you!

RETRACTION: “Anonymous” from yesterday’s post also apologized for the snippy comment made a couple of months ago. Apology accepted “Anonymous.” Besides, she/he was apparently talking in jest..I just didn’t get it! By the way, who are you????

Monday, December 03, 2007

Mall Rats

We had a rather exciting weekend this weekend. Okay, rather exciting FOR US. A few months back I had posted, asking my faithful readers to please comment on my posts, and some “Anonymous “ commented, “We would if anything significant every happened in your life.” Now that was uncalled for. I never claimed to be anything but a Mommy Blogger.

As I was saying, exciting FOR US. Saturday we took Isabelle for her first overpriced haircut. That was exciting, as the salon had a slide and looked way more like Chuckie Cheese than a hair salon. Isabelle sat in the little fire engine and watched her first Barnie movie. And the salon lady snipped one or two little curls off, advised me on whether or not we should go with bangs for Isabelle (she said no, because she already has a small forehead) and tried to sell me “product.”

We then ventured to the mall. I love taking Isabelle to the mall…on two conditions. One: Conrad is with me. We definitely need to two on one her. Two: I have no tasks to accomplish. Because I am sure to be disappointed with my lack of accomplishment, if I go with a list. Those conditions being met, we had a good time at the mall.

We went into Macy’s and wondered around looking at the sales. Isabelle was mildly amused with all of the people, but as we reached the big doors going into the mall, she began to run. All of the sudden, she stopped at the entrance and just starred out, mouth open. She was in awe of the lights, decorations, and bustle. We tried to steer her back to a sales rack, but she would have none of it. And really, having no solid agenda, we were more interested in her reactions than the $9.99 shirts, so out we went.

We even went to the play area so Isabelle could play with all of the little Indian kids. By the way, have you ever noticed that there are always lots of Indians at the mall, all of the time? On a side note, Conrad and I have talked about it and decided that it’s because Indians are accustomed to lots of people around all of the time and comfortable at malls. It’s warm, safe, and lot’s of people. After a while, Malls drive me nuts! The crowds, the noise….ick. But my husband and daughter…true Indians! They love the mall!