Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Movin' on up

Just a quick note... Pretending that you care what time my ultrasound appointment is on Thursday, I wanted to let you know that it has been moved up to 8:15 a.m. from 3 p.m. I'm starting to think Dr. Butler doesn't like staying in the office all day if he could get done with his appointments earlier. I'm going to have to scold him about that.

I'll have to miss a few more hours of work, but at least we'll get to go sooner! I certainly won't complain about that. I'm glad they didn't have to move my appointment to a later date!

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Week 19

It’s about time I broke down and posted a belly photo. Until about 3 weeks ago, I didn’t have much to speak of but all of a sudden, hello!

This is way TMI, but as of yesterday, I even noticed that my belly button looks different. For some strange reason, the thought of my belly button flattening out is a little bit scary to me. Maybe I’m afraid that it won’t stretch like the rest of my skin or that it will come untied?

I’ll be 19 weeks tomorrow, and babycenter.com tells me the baby is about the size of an heirloom tomato (6 inches head to bottom and 8.5 ounces). Is it just me, or does 6 inches seem a little large for a tomato?
Our second ultrasound is scheduled for this Thursday, April 2. I’m glad it didn’t fall on April Fool’s Day! So hopefully, if a certain small someone cooperates, we’ll know whether Salad is a he or a she on Thursday!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Cheeseburger in paradise, with a cold lemonberry slush

Have you ever said the blessing all the way through a meal? I sure did today.

My lunchtime fare this week has consisted of Lean Cuisine-type dinners and leftovers from home. Most of the time, these kind of meals are all right with me. They're fairly healthy, convenient and inexpensive. And I would get tired of eating out all the time.

But then to my own fortune, I left my Lean Cuisine and last night's leftovers in the fridge due to the distraction of driving to work in stormy weather. (Even though Gunter did an outstanding job last night cooking chicken quesadillas.) To me, that meant only one thing -- I must go out. Really, it's my only option.

Out I went with a single-minded passion for a cheeseburger. I've wanted one for a few days, but I've used restraint.

So as I devoured my long-awaited Sonic cheeseburger with all the fixins, I ate with my eyes closed to fully enjoy every bite. Cheeseburgers for lunch might not seem like a good way to take care of the Holy Spirit's temple, but it certainly stimulated my sense of thankfulness and my prayer life. "Thank you, Lord, for this Sonic cheeseburger."

I know not everyone got a Sonic cheeseburger for lunch today, so I thanked God for mine all the way to the last bite.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spring green

I don’t know about y’all, but I’m starting to get spring fever. I’ve noticed some urges developing that I didn’t have just a couple of weeks ago. I have a mysterious desire to buy new spring clothes (not surprising, but potentially dangerous), do things outside and go to the beach!

Even more surprising, I’d like to spend my Saturday cleaning out our junkroom(s), one of which will turn into a nursery. Now, how much sense does that make? If I were smart, I’d put it off until I was so big I couldn’t move and let other people clean out my junk. That, along with at least the beach trip, will probably have to be put off momentarily for more pressing projects (e.g., Israel presentation Sunday night and VBS clinic next month). Maybe my enthusiasm will not have faded by then.

About this time every year I get a hankering for plantlife, to cultivate happy green and flowery things around my yard. The funny part is, either I did not inherit the green thumb from my mom, Aunt Pam, Dear Grandmother and PawPaw, or it just hasn’t budded yet. So every year I start out with mostly hand-me-downs from the real gardeners, which is sad because these plants go from an environment where they’ve been loved and cared for to a place where they completely fend for themselves, exposed to all the harsh elements.

I never cease to be amazed by how resilient plants actually are. I have learned that certain petunias and mums can morph into types of winter cacti, going months with no water and withstanding hard freeze after hard freeze. They’re like Lazarus. Every winter, I think I’ve surely lost them. I’m not the expert horticulturalist, but in my mind, brown and rotten = dead. And yet, when I arrived home from Israel, there they were, in as much green glory as they could muster, fighting back the brown twigs left from last year.

I’m just not sure what I’m going to do about the wooden barrel of ivy that has persisted through a covering of clover weeds and a giant ant bed.

And those are the plants I have displayed near my front porch! You don’t even want to know about the ones on the back porch.

Victims I’ve collected so far this spring: a snowball tree and a red crabapple tree from Pam and Grammama, and mums from Mama. I asked if the snowball tree could be dug up and transplanted the next time we move, but the poor thing probably won’t live that long anyway.

I really will try, though, I promise. With all the rain we're getting, maybe they won’t drown in their temporary bucket home before I can plant them.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sudden Slumber Syndrome

I think we’ve gotten back into the swing of things. We cooked last night for the first time since being back (overindulging in cravings will catch up with you when those cravings include cheeseburgers, pizza and Southern fried chicken). I’ve had two good days back at work, and I did pretty well after not working for 2 whole weeks. During my time off, I became a liberated woman – no purse, cell phone, PDA or computer for about a week and a half.

The 7-hour time change didn’t seem to treat us too badly. But it’s obvious that I remain physically unable to stay awake past 9:30 p.m. I tend to nod off around 7 if I’m sitting still. I’m beginning to think I have some sort of medical condition. It can create some pretty embarrassing situations.

I have been known to fall asleep with company at our house, as our friends the Stanleys have witnessed on more than one occasion and my in-laws saw first-hand Friday night. I mean, sitting straight up on the couch having a conversation. One minute I’m talking, and the next, my eyes have rolled back into my head.

It’s like Cinderella rushing to be home by midnight or her carriage turns into a pumpkin, except my time ends at the stroke of 9, and I’m the one who turns into the vegetable. “I’m sorry, friends, but you have to leave now. It’s almost 9:00 and Bethany won’t last much longer.”
This problem makes for some romantic date nights, too. We go out to eat, we come home, put in a movie, and within the first 30 minutes, I’m snoozing and Gunter is up by himself. He tries to help me stay awake, but that’s when I start talking crazy and getting unruly. Thank goodness he loves me anyway. The only way to prevent my sudden slumber syndrome is if I stay busy for the duration of the movie. No relaxing for me. Instead, I’m folding laundry to stay awake.

Gunter doesn’t understand it, and I don’t either. I always know it’s coming, but I am powerless to fight it off. I don’t want to fall asleep, but it’s completely involuntary. Does anyone else have this problem? How do you live a normal life?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Shalom, y'all!

We are back! South Alabama has never looked so good. When we got back to U.S. soil, I was inspired to sing the National Anthem with new words, motivated by how glad I was to be back as well as sleep deprivation (precisely 53 hours without a bed or a shower). I don't remember my rendition exactly, but I know it included cheeseburgers and English-only road signs.

I regret I was unable to update while we were in Israel. Whenever we had a spare minute at our first hotel, so did everyone else, and the Internet was overloaded. The next hotel charged $8 an hour for Internet use, and y'all know I'm just too cheap for that.

We really appreciate your prayers for us. Everything went so smoothly, it could have only been God's mercy at work. The only bad incident the entire trip was when a car in a parking lot bumped our 71-year-old guide on the last day. Seriously, people drive within inches over there, and sometimes, they choose to close even that small gap.

Our time in Israel was altogether enjoyable and enlightening. Best trip we've ever taken. It wasn't at all like I imagined it would be. The country was gorgeous! Galilee was very green and mountainous. Everywhere we looked, we saw flowers, trees and farmland -- grapefruit, apples, mangoes, bananas, olives...

This is the cliff near Nazareth the angry crowd tried to throw Jesus from, but he passed through their midst (Luke 4).

Here is the view of the Sea of Galilee from our hotel. Notice the rainbow in the center.

Even the desert around the Dead Sea and Jerusalem was beautiful. We thought we were done with winding roads, but that part was mountainous, too.

We took a boat ride on the smooth Sea of Galilee and were baptized in the frigid Jordan River. We scaled a mountain to Herod the Great's fortress at Masada and worshipped in the Garden of Gethsemane. We read Psalm 88 in the waterless cistern where Caiaphas held Jesus the night before His crucifixion and visited an empty, borrowed garden tomb.

One of our favorites was the ruins of Bet She'an (see 1 Samuel 31). It was uncovered less than 20 years ago, and the hill in the background is yet to be excavated. We did a little excavating of our own in the areas that had already been picked through and brought home some pottery that is at least 1,200 years old.

I won't weigh the blog down with all the details. You should go experience it for yourself.

Though I enjoyed visiting the places Jesus ministered, my favorite sites were those God still has major plans for. I was especially moved at the Temple Mount and Western Wall. Though the Dome of the Rock mosque now sits there, it was amazing to stand near the place where the Holy of Holies was, where God interacted with His chosen people and covered their sins each year before He provided His eternal sacrifice -- near part of this same mountain where He provided a substitute sacrifice for Abraham's son Isaac.

Thoughts of the torn veil were fresh on my mind as we made our way toward the Western Wall. I prayed there surrounded by women swaying as they read the Torah and crying over their Hebrew prayer books. They are passionate. They have no temple for sacrifices, but they do so much in efforts to follow the Law. They long for their Messiah.

Muslims who visit the mosques just on the other side of the wall are passionate, too. They pray toward Mecca 5 times a day and follow a strict code in hopes of getting into heaven. They also want a messiah to come.

As I stood there at the wall among many who long for Messiah's redemption but don't know His name, I prayed for the revealing of Truth and a peace in Jerusalem that only Messiah can bring.

What a life-changing experience! We're supposed to share about the trip with our church next Sunday night, so I'll post more photos on Facebook after that. As much as I love to travel, I think we'll stick closer to home for a while. I'd like my next big trip to be a day at a beautiful Florida beach. Anyone who vacations at the Dead Sea is missing out. This is not exactly sugar-white sand.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Day 3 - still traveling...

*Disclaimer: Forgive me if this makes no sense. It's almost 9 a.m. here, but it's almost 3 a.m. Alabama time.
Hello from the Vienna International Airport! I got my first glimpse of a country besides the U.S. this morning, and it was Austria. We are sitting in a coffee shop waiting for our flight to Israel. The photo above was taken after our overnight flight.

We fared well on the flight between Dulles and Austria. Smooth ride, food every few minutes and middle-row seats to ourselves. We didn't sleep much, but I feel pretty good. Gunter's dragging a little, but maybe he'll get some sleep on the next flight.

As we desended, it was hard to believe that what we were seeing was Austria. We did see some snow-covered mountains, green farmland and pretty white houses with red roofs, like little villages. Perhaps the coolest were the windmills. I know they're a common sight in the Midwest, but I've never seen one before.
Boarding the plane for Israel in about 30 minutes. More later.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Day 2 - still traveling

It's been a lazy...um, restful day here at the hotel. We haven't left all day. There isn't much around, so we've just stayed here. I'm not really looking forward to the rest of our flying time, but I am about ready to bust out of here and get going.

We should land in Vienna around 9 a.m. their time (3 a.m. Alabama time, I think) and fly out again a couple hours later. It's a good thing I tend to fall asleep early and get up early...just maybe not that early.

*Not my photo.* Just makes you want to break out in a Southern-drawl rendition of "Edelweiss," doesn't it? Wish we had some Vienna sausages (pronounced "Vy-ae-nee" in LA).
Maybe these posts will get more interesting soon, but not from horror stories.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Day 1 - traveling

I heart the Pensacola airport. Seriously, it is such a happy, easy place. The employees have a sense of humor (at least today), the process is quick and painless, and the terminals look like this:

Notice the lack of crowds and stress.

Mama and Daddy Mullinax dropped us off, and Mama and Daddy Dye are supposed to pick us up next Wednesday night. We have it made!

Back to Pensacola. It was about a 30-second walk from the security line to our gate. And ours was no dinky plane. We used the walk-through tunnel instead of the ground and steps up to the plane. I like the tunnels so much better because tunnels = bigger plane than steps. Our 48-minute flight was decently smooth.

Now, we're in ATL, and Gunter has gone in search for Nathan's hot dogs. Too bad our gate isn't near the Chick-Fil-A we saw back in the A concourse.

We're supposed to leave here at 8 p.m., and hopefully, we'll be at Dulles by 9:45 and at our hotel not too much later. Tomorrow, we'll be in search of a watch (perhaps the one thing we forgot), a late check-out and a place to eat.

Our flight from ATL was right on time. The captain said the descent would be a little bumpy, but I was so busy talking to a woman named Kimberly (actually, doctor Kimberly), I didn't notice.

We were walking through Dulles by 10 p.m., got our luggage and rode a shuttle to our hotel. We are a little tired now. We'll have breakfast here, not sure about lunch, check out about 2 p.m. and take the shuttle back to Dulles for 2 more days of traveling!

I pray that this entire trip will go as smoothly as today so we can keep our minds focused where they should be, but God knows best.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Bon voyage!

I have quite a bit still left to do before we leave for Israel, so this might be the last time I’m able to write for a while. I’ll do my best to update the blog while we’re there, but I can’t guarantee that I’ll have time or easy access to the Internet. So if you don’t hear from me for the next 2 weeks, no need to worry. Just pray instead.

I haven’t been nervous until last night, but I knew it was coming. I don’t feel anxious right now, but I woke up about 3:00 this morning with my nerves tingling. It hit me again immediately when the alarm went off. I must have been dreaming about the trip because Gunter said I was saying strange words and talking about the “Israel house” in my sleep. I can’t imagine how I’m going to feel when the time comes to actually leave.

I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday, and everything looks normal. We heard the baby’s heartbeat and all, so that made me feel much better before leaving the country for 11 days! My next appointment is April 2, and I’ll have an ultrasound that day.

Packing is a big ordeal for me…It’s a complex and detailed process. I began the endeavor months ago by making lists. A few weeks ago, I shopped and accumulated. Then came the pile-making (in the den and bathroom floors). Last night, I narrowed down what I will wear and washed.

In the midst of last night’s efforts, I determined that I will not bring one “normal” pair of pants. Actually, I’m not bringing a single pair with buttons or zippers. It’s a good thing I went ahead and bought those maternity jeans, huh? I’m bringing one pair of maternity jeans, one (or two?) pair of maternity khakis, and the rest are stretchy lounge-type pants. I won’t be in the running for best dressed, but I should be comfortable.

We now have the suitcases we will use, including carry-ons. I get one “personal item” in addition to my carry on (e.g. a purse, laptop case or something of similar size).

Size -- ha.

I went to Walmart and bought a heavy-canvas hobo purse so big, it’s like having a second carry-on. My philosophy is, if it’s allowed, make it count.

Tomorrow is set aside for for-real packing and cleaning house.

We’ll arrive in D.C. late Sunday night, spend the night there and fly to Austria at 7:50 Monday night. We should get to Israel sometime Tuesday. If all goes as planned, we’ll be back in Alabama on Thursday, March 19.

Hopefully, you’ll hear from me again in a few days. If not, I hope you have a blessed couple of weeks!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Diary of a happy white woman

Today, I broke down and donned maternity pants. I had been putting it off because I figured it was still too early, but judging by the button imprint left on my abdomen yesterday (and the fact that I had NO clean dress pants this morning), I knew it was time. I’m not certain that the pants I’m wearing today should even count as maternity pants, though, because I’m pretty sure I could have worn them 6 months ago.

Daddy and Gunter attended a men’s conference Friday night and Saturday morning, so Mom and I put our time without them to good use. Friday night, we ate at David’s Catfish, attempted to make a packing list and then I introduced her to one of my favorite movies, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman.” Quality time.

By the way, I know full well that Madea movies are not the most wholesome. She needs a mouthful of soap, but I'm sure anyone who's tried it on her has come face-to-face with her "piece a steel."

Saturday, we shopped for trip necessities, mainly long-sleeved shirts, stretchy pants and a jacket. I gather that the weather in Israel is sort of like Alabama’s – unpredictable – so I figure with long-sleeved T-shirts, a light jacket and an emergency 88-cent poncho, I’ll be ready for anything.

The folks from Liberty keep telling us to bring at least one pair of long pants for when we visit the holy sites. Weather.com says the recent temperatures have ranged from the 50s to the 70s. Those snowbirds from Virginia can wear shorts if they want to, but we from LA (Lower Alabama) don’t even pull out the capris until the thermometer says at least 80 degrees and sunny.

Speaking of unpredictable weather, it snowed at our house Sunday, and I’m pretty sure Gunter was as excited as any kid on our street. I, on the other hand, am not big on snow. I like to look at it and watch it fall from inside. Being outside in snow = being cold and wet.

We stocked up on travel snacks last night at Wal-Mart. I’ll never be able to pack all that stuff. Actually, I stocked up on snacks, but Gunter only had eyes for some 100 Calorie Pack cupcake things.

I thought you might like to see where we’ll be staying while in Israel. The first part of the trip, we’re staying at this hotel in Tiberius, on the Sea of Galilee. For the next 5 days, we’ll stay here in Jerusalem.

Mom was pleasantly surprised when she saw the hotels. Apparently, she thought we’d be staying in a cave somewhere, “like in Bible times.” Thankfully not. Caves don’t have beds or hairdryers.

Oh, another bit of good news: We’ll tour every day until about 6 p.m., and then we’re asked to stay in the hotel after dinner. The staying-at-the-hotel-in-the-evening part is the news I’m excited about. That means this non-night owl pregnant woman will have time in the evenings to rest and recuperate! Sounds like Gunter will have plenty of classwork to do, but he can handle it. I tend to meltdown in states of perpetual exhaustion.

Getting excited! Will start packing after some of our clothes are clean again.