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December 26, 2007

Merry Thankful Christmas

In the midst of a Christmas Colorado snowstorm
A foot of additional snow in the past 24 hours
Great prospects for skiing tomorrow
For now, cozy inside the warm house
White views all around over aspen and fir
Candles flickering on the mantel
Happy children playing
Two grandmothers busy in the kitchen

Considering the grace born in Bethlehem
Inhaling the redemption in the manger
Drinking deeply of forgiveness

Thankful for many varied and great blessings
Laughter, Nourishment
Health, Love, Peace
Family, Fun

Merry Christmas to you.

December 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Made it Safely into the Rockies

Thanks be to God, all seven of us are now safely together in the same house in the Rocky Mountains. Coming in three parties from both coasts of the U.S. and also Europe, we all arrived one day later than planned, all had a flight cancelled, and yet all ended up hugging each other and rejoicing in God's protection and provision, yesterday afternoon.

We drove up through Vail Pass and Glenwood Springs, having stopped to pick up a Subway lunch (yum, a foot-long seafood on whole wheat with green peppers and lettuce and also tomato on David's half) and went straight to the airport in Aspen after our 4 hours on the road; and all three of our suitcases were there waiting for us. I love how small & friendly the Aspen airport is; I walked through the double sliding glass doors, spotted our bags sitting on the carpet nearby, and walked out with them. Slightly worryingly easy and unnoticed, but as David said, it would be bad karma to steal someone else's luggage.

Then it was up to the house to drop off stuff and verify what ski gear we were lacking, and off we went to rent skis for the kids. We passed the three grandparents on the road, as they were coming back with groceries and Christmas shopping bounty, but they didn't see us. We called them and arranged how we were going to return the rental car and so on.

Finally we had all greeted each other in person and had dinner together, played a rousing game of Hilarium (which we discovered works just as well with seven people, even though it proclaims itself for 3 to 6), and 4 hands of bridge, and it was time for bed.

Then began the LONG night during which altitude and jet lag combined to prevent the kids and me from sleeping much at all.

Never mind, in the morning we were raring to get out there and ski. Three generations of simultaneous skiers, a true delight in God's beautiful mountains.

December 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 23, 2007

Denver Sunrise

DenversnowWe have been thoroughly happy with this hotel that United Airlines put us up at last night. They gave us TWO HOT TUB SUITES, with high-speed free internet, and complimentary buffet breakfast with MAKE YOUR OWN FRESH WAFFLES...ok, that's pretty good for a free hotel night! Also, complimentary sunrise views of the mountains with pink clouds, and snow on the ground but not the roads. After a good night's sleep, we are happy campers. That is to say, the kids slept very well (like a log, Emily said), and considerably longer than the adults. David's at the airport picking up a rental car and getting a refund on our unused flight leg.

FrostyberkshiremorningThis last photo is from back home in Berkshire, England - a frosty morning over the school soccer pitch, earlier this week. It's been really cold in England (but no snow yet).

Ah, my dear love is back safely, and we're off on the next phase of our latest adventure! Grace and peace to you today! "Blessed are all who take refuge in Him." (Psalm 2:12)

December 23, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Waking up in Denver

So last night our flight was supposed to leave Denver at 8:18pm and get into Aspen at 9pm.

By 9:20pm they had officially cancelled the flight.

By 11pm they had figured out what Denver hotel they were going to put us up at.

By midnight we had tucked the kids in bed and got in ourselves.

Because this was 7am body time, David and I were only able to sleep until just before 5am local time (pretty good, actually, since it was midday UK time).

Today we're going to try driving up to Aspen. If we can wake the kids. They are zonked after being up 23 hours in a row yesterday.

My eyes feel like they've been stirred with a wooden spoon.

But there's snow outside and pink tinges the Denver dawn clouds.

Two days until Christmas!

December 23, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Hello from Denver International Airport

Yes! Another airport with free wi-fi! The other one that I know of being Richmond, Virginia. This is a new development for Denver, I believe - and it's not as classy as Richmond, where it was free, easy, and a very fast connection. Here at DIA, it's "sponsored" (meaning one has to view a 30-second ad at the beginning and agree with a user contract), there's a thick band at the top of the web window taken up by extra stuff, and it loads at the pace of a snail carrying a boulder on its back. But hey! It's here and it's free. So I am thankful. Plus in so many other ways I love the Denver airport. Spacious, open, good food choices (Pour la France and Mexican stuff, for example), and entertaining moving walkways right by the boarding gates :-).

Well, flights one and two of three today went very well! Thank you, God, for saying yes to our requests that fog not delay our nine-hour flight from London Heathrow to Chicago, and for the continued on-time success in the form of our two-hour flight from O'Hare here to Denver.

Now the third flight, to Aspen, has been delayed a few times (about 90 minutes now I think), so we'll see what happens. But in any case, we are the huge bulk of the way to our destination. We made it across the Atlantic Ocean, across the Great Lakes, across the plains, and if necessary, we could drive the last 4 hours (but we'd rather take the 20 minute flight). It would be a large challenge tonight, as it is already 3:45am tomorrow body time at this point. So I'm rooting hard for our flight to happen.

Yesterday my parents' flight from Washington to Denver was successful, but their flight to Aspen was cancelled, along with all the others but one (maybe 11 or so). They were shuttled there in a van for 4 hours, with one Italian and 3 Germans. They took it all in stride, from what I can tell.

Also yesterday, David's mother's flight from San Francisco was cancelled (due to the same day-long snowstorm which means wonderful things for our ski holiday). But she was able to get a rescheduled flight in today, which was fruitful. So we have three grandparents awaiting us at the house up in the snowy Rockies. Fabulous. Can't wait to get there (*yawn*).

Kids have been great. I got to watch three entire, uninterrupted movies on the long leg - because there were some acceptable movies (to us) for the kids to watch, too, now that they are getting so old (Ratatouille, The Ultimate Gift, Bourne Ultimatum).

Well, my mind is shutting down now. We left our house 19 hours ago...and have been in a taxi, on two planes, on a monorail and various subway-type trains, and a myriad of moving walkways. A bed is sounding really good. 4:10am now - no wait, locally it's only 9:10pm. That's still close to bedtime!

Our flight was just cancelled. Sigh. They are talking about "arranging ground transportation in the morning." I guess it's a hotel near DIA for tonight...I wonder whether we will be able to get our luggage tonight. Hopefully in time for Christmas at least!

December 23, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 07, 2007

Unbelievable Trip (Venice in under 24 hours)

Cimg3858David and I decided to get away for two days alone, as he had a couple of days of vacation he would otherwise lose come January, plus our 15th anniversary is coming up in January. My kind husband decided to take me to Venice! One can do that sort of thing for such a short time when one already lives in Europe.

We didn't realize just how short a time we would have in Venice...you've possibly read some of my other wild travel mishaps. Read on for another impressive set.

We were scheduled to fly from London Heathrow to Frankfurt, Germany, in the late afternoon on Wednesday, and on to Venice that evening, arriving arond 10:30pm. Except our first flight was delayed three times (late arriving craft, then emergency landing of another plane, then clogged air traffic at destination), long enough to make us miss our connection to Venice. Unfortunately, it was the last flight of the evening: the flight crew informed us over the PA system (before we even landed in Germany) of our new flight they had rebooked us on THE NEXT MORNING. To Lufthansa's credit, they put us up in a Sheraton Hotel 10 minutes from the airport, and paid for our taxi both directions, a nice, simple, dinner buffet, and a luxurious buffet breakfast.

Cimg3862Unexpected blessings that came out of this, despite our nights in Venice being suddenly chopped in HALF and reduced to ONE SOLITARY NIGHT:
- we saw a really impressive gingerbread house in the Frankfurt Sheraton's restaurant
- David got to try some Schwarze Johannisbeere jam at breakfast (where else can you do that? Actually, anywhere you can find black currants, but we didn't know what it was at the time and it sounded exotic)
- we were able to see the gorgeously snowy Alps in the morning light as we flew on our rescheduled flight (it would have been dark the night before)
- we were able to see Venice from the air in the morning sun as we flew in

So we arrived in Venice (did you know it's called "Venedig" in German?) by taxi boat on Thursday morning about 10:30am, stayed one day and night, and woke up at 6:15am Friday morning to go home! Wild stuff, but very worthwhile. More posts later I hope on the wonders of the Palazzo Ducale (the Doge's Palace), the pigeons of Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square), the mosaics of St. Mark's Basilica, the Rialto Bridge, the canals, fresh Venetian pasta and Murano colored glass. We covered it all in a dedicated whirlwind of wandering pleasure.

But then the return trip was almost as impressively unexpected as the journey there!

Cimg3889We took the taxi boat back to the mainland (more later on how my misconceptions about the nature of Venice were shattered - only attached to mainland by a causeway, and not even an island, but rather on stilts in the water, and sinking). Then we walked the 7 minutes with our wheeling suitcases to the terminal, boarded the plane and took off...only to have the pilot turn the plane around and land again in Venice! The de-icers were not working to keep the wings clear, and we could not fly over the wintery Alps in such a condition. They took us off the plane and had us stand in a bus for about 20 minutes while they performed some tests, and then decided that no one was going anywhere in that particular aircraft and dropped us off back at the terminal. A lot of standing around, and then we had to go collect our luggage again. It took so long that I got out my book to read while waiting, since David had gone off to procure a new itinerary for us to get home somehow. Eventually we had rechecked our luggage and had new boarding passes for a later flight to Munich and London again. We texted the babysitter to have her pick up the kids after school (please!). Lufthansa this time gave us vouchers for some free drinks and snacks in the terminal. So, four hours after our original arrival at the Marco Polo airport that morning, we went through security to start all over again. I kind of wished I could have slept in a little later. We had lunch and boarded to try again.

This time we made it to Munich (on Air Dolomiti, a first for me, I think - it seems to be Lufthansa's Italian arm; we discovered that Munich is said "Monaco" in Italian!). Progress! We took a bus to board our connecting flight to London. As soon as we were all seated in the plane, the pilot came on the PA system to announce that the flight was delayed 2 hours and 20 minutes due to bad weather. What??? How can this be happening? After we told our British seatmate about our other travel delays of the trip, he said, "Oh, so YOU'RE the reason this is happening..."

The storms clouds descended and the rain started pelting the windows. Meanwhile, the pilot added another reason for delay: Heathrow's computers controlling gate assignments crashed. However, the delay actually lessened, we eventually took off, and arrived in London ON THE SAME DAY AS SCHEDULED! This was exciting. David used the Iris Immigration System for the first time (my second time), and we got home to our kids (and to relieve the sitter at last!), at 7pm (we were supposed to pick the kids up at school at 3:15pm and take them to our first real British pantomime at 4:30pm).

It was practically unbelievable to me that so many mishaps could happen on the same short trip. But we were together, we were on our own, and the babysitter was both text-messageable and flexible enough to care for the kids until we finally arrived home. They rated the sitter a 9-10 out of 10, on her first time with them! :-) That was the best thing to hear!

Thank you, God, for cell phones, a safe trip, time away together, incredible Venice, a reliable, wonderful sitter and happy, healthy kids. You are an amazing God.

December 7, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

December 01, 2007

Evel Knievel Broke a Lot of Bones before he died

CNN informed me that motorcycle stuntman Evel Knievel died yesterday at age 69. I remember his name from my childhood. My brothers probably had a little action figure of him on his motorcycle draped in the colors of the flag.

I looked Evel Knievel up on wikipedia and discovered, to my amazement, that his stunts were very often not as successful and safe as everyone might have hoped. Over the course of 15 years (1962-1977), as a result of crashing while attempting to jump over numerous vehicles on his motorcyle, his injuries included

- 4 broken arms
- 4 broken legs
- 3 broken collarbones
- 2 broken wrists
- 2 broken hips
- 2 broken pelvises
- several ribs broken twice
- a broken shoulder
- a broken back
- a broken knee
- a broken foot
- both ankles broken at once
- two concussions
- a 29-day-long coma

And that was all on ONE HUMAN BODY! He recovered from many reconstructive surgeries and got back on the bike to break his body all over again, again, again, and again.

Driven? Obsessive? Perseverant? Crazy? A-Type? Risk-lover? Adrenaline junkie? Impressive? High pain threshold? Basically, for me, "does not compute." Because I am generally risk-averse and cautious.

December 1, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Good Second Performance of The Little Prince

CurtaincallprinceeveryoneLast night was the second and closing night of Jason's middle school play, "The Little Prince" by Antoine de St. Exupéry. It went very well. We had a packed audience both nights, which was encouraging. I am so thankful to God for answering all our prayers for good health and plenty of energy (and thankful to you if you prayed [Mom and Helen at least!]. Now after months of memorization and rehearsals into the darkness of these early winter nights, Jason is having a well-deserved rest this weekend. It was so lovely to awaken this morning and find it was Saturday.

Not only that, but there was something outside I didn't recognize: oh! That blue stuff is the sky! And everything was bathed in a peculiar light: oh! It's sunshine! Glorious! Finally, an opportunity to get that car wash that never happened a week ago - it's been rainy since. And hopefully we'll get a walk in later today, after working on the DVD of the play, maybe some Christmas cookies, and definitely some Christmas card work...

Happy December to you!

December 1, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack