Modern Day Pilgrims

Sunday, October 31, 2010

USS Harry S. Truman

Yesterday, Chris and I had the privilege of touring the USS Harry S. Truman that is currently docked in Bahrain for the next couple of days. We weren't able to take Charlotte because she was too young, so you won't get to see any pictures of our cute little punkin this time around. We had a nice time and it was awesome to see with my own eyes what a Naval ship looks like on the inside. Even though it was the size of a cruise ship, it didn't look anything like it on the inside! I can see why our brave soldiers get tired of being at sea for so long at a time. They definitely don't have near the luxuries we do, nor is there life even comparable to a cruise!

Here's some pictures from our tour:

There was a small room dedicated to Harry S. Truman, the ship's namesake. This picture shows what the oval office looked like while President Truman was in office. Apparently, there was a lot of construction while Harry S. Truman was president and he was tried of looking at it, so he hired someone to paint a tree mural to put behind the oval office windows. And did you know the S in his name doesn't stand for anything? He wasn't born with a middle name, but when he was running for office, advisors told him a middle name would make him sound more distinguished. His middle name was literally the letter s. Here is Justine pretending to sit in one of the chairs on the mural!

This is a carbon copy of the letter President Truman signed giving permission to drop the Atom bomb. You should be able to click on the picture to view it bigger.

A collage of pictures inside the ship and a few decals painted onto the planes.

Chris and I posing in front of a plane. We got in the mood to watch Top Gun after touring the ship and I think we will soon.

"Give 'Em Hell" is the ship's motto. Harry S. Truman never actually said this, but one time during a speech by Truman attacking the Republicans during a 1948 presidential election campaign, a supporter yelled out, "Give 'em hell, Harry!" Truman replied, "I don't give them hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's hell." Thus, "Give 'em Hell!" became a popular slogan for Harry S. Truman amongst his supporters.

The chain on the ship and some pictures from the flight deck.

The air traffic control tower. It's amazing to think that this ship is its own functioning airport.

Sammy and Justine in an air traffic controllers chair.

Justine in an air traffic controllers chair, typing on a computer, another picture from the flight deck, and a picture Justine took of me.

A view from the balcony of the ship. I loved how they arranged the planes for us tourists!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

3K Fun Run

This past Wednesday, our family participated in a 3K fun run at the Navy base. I used to run 3 to 6 miles every day and I regret stopping. I don't have the endurance I used to! And when I do run, I usually do it inside on a treadmill. Running outside in the heat and humidity adds an extra challenge. Nonetheless, when I heard about this event, I asked Chris if we could do it. I'd love to make running a normal part of my workout regime again. 3K is only 1.89 miles...that should be like getting back on a bike, right? All the sailors were talking amongst themselves and I heard comments like, "3K is nothing!" or "Dude, it's only a 3K run." Bleh. I wasn't going to let them rob me of the joy I'd have in finishing.

Chris was a good sport and ran the whole thing with me at my pace even though he could've kept up with most of the sailors. We ended up doing the 3K in 20 minutes or so...give or a take a couple minutes. ;-) But we never stopped, thanks to Chris's encouragement, and we kept a steady pace throughout. Since we weren't going at a fast pace, Chris pushed Charlotte along on our Quinny Buzz. It's not technically a jogging stroller, but it held up okay - not that I'd want to try it at a faster pace. I think Charlotte enjoyed riding along and feeling the breeze on her face. We got t-shirts afterwards and they even showered us with free bananas, orange slices, and water. We may or may not have snagged a few bananas for later....

The Navy base has a lot of these fun runs, but they're usually at 0630. I hope they do more of the night runs because it was a wonderful and fun thing to do as a family. Here's a couple pictures from the night:

Ready to go!

Charlotte would've tried to run it with us if we had let her. She loved walking all over the place before the race began.

The 3 of us after the race was over.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Senator and the Ritz Carrolton...All in One Day!

Today was not our typical day in Bahrain. Our typical day consists of Charlotte playing inside because it's too hot outside and getting bored and whining for Mommy's attention all day because she's tired of being cooped up in the house. All the while, Mommy's getting annoyed because she's trying to either work from her computer or get things done around the house and she's having a hard time because of Charlotte's incessant whining. I like atypical days like today. They're refreshing and recharging. I feel like we had a mini vacation today that was only 10 minutes from our home. Why?

A senator from the states is doing a mideast tour right now and landed in Bahrain yesterday. You know what that means: Chris is working and I won't see him again until tomorrow after the senator leaves. The Senator is staying at the Ritz Carrolton; therefore, Chris got a room there, too. Who was it, you might ask? Scroll down to the bottom to see or keep reading and see if you can guess from my clues. He was a super nice guy and someone who I actually respect. I don't agree with him on everything (like his social views), but he actually sticks to his beliefs even if it means ticking off either side. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this man has gumption. Instead of playing politics, he tries to vote upon his beliefs and even switched parties from Democrat to Independent to stick to his convictions. He has been on both sides of the presidential election spectrum...once as a vice presidential running mate for a crazy loon of a Democrat and then as a staunch supporter of John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. Have you guessed who yet? We met Senator Joe Lieberman!

I hate not seeing Chris for 2+ days when politicians come into town, but getting the opportunity to meet them helps make up for it. Note that I didn't say it does make up for it; it just helps. A little bit. A lovely thing about Chris's job is that I can more easily finagle my way into meeting politicians than other people because of the tight schedule they're always on. A "meet and greet" isn't always allocated on the schedule. Chris, however, is the keeper of the schedule and can always figure out when would be a good time to squeeze a meet and greet in, with permission, of course, from whoever the visiting politician is. All I have to do is be flexible and go where Chris tells me. Today, I was told to wait outside an elevator in the Ritz Carrolton. And it was there, outside of an elevator, where I met Senator Lieberman.

He was so nice and I immediately told him what I said above...that I respect him because he sticks to what he believes in even if it means ticking off either side. He laughed, said thank you, and said he has managed to offend just about everyone. I told him that was okay, because it means he's not playing politics and that's how it should be. I then told him I wish there were more politicians like him who were willing to stick to their beliefs and not play politics. Chris said I did real good and that Senator Lieberman really seemed to appreciate what I said. I didn't know until I got home and looked up his wikipedia page that he only has a 25% approval rating and 67% disapproval rating in Connecticut. I can see why saying something like that might encourage him and lift his spirits a bit, so I'm glad I said it.

He also doted on Charlotte a little bit and said that in 1988 when George H.W. Bush was vice president and about to become president, Lieberman was being sworn into office and wanted to get a picture of George H.W. Bush with his daughter, Hani, who was about Charlotte's age at the time. He said Hani screamed as soon as he put her in Bush's arms. Haha! He said Hani eventually came to love him, though, later on as she got older. Charlotte didn't cry or anything, but she was sure wiggly and we had a difficult time getting a good shot. Oh well. It was past her nap time. At least she wasn't blocking his head like she was when President Clinton came to town. We made sure to hold her this time to keep that from happening.

Anyway, I've been blabbering about meeting Senator Lieberman that I'm failing to explain all the other pictures below. Because Chris has a room at the Ritz, that means we can "legally" visit the Ritz as guests! So this afternoon before meeting Senator Lieberman, Charlotte and I enjoyed the beach and pool. It was a lovely afternoon. Their beach is gorgeous. It was a lovely, soft white sand and very well kept. No trash, cigarette butts, or sharp objects to watch out for. The water was low tide, so that was the only negative. We had to walk a bit just to get to the water. But if that's the only thing I can find to complain about, then it was a great afternoon!

a private island of the Ritz Carrolton. I don't know if this is for parties or what, but it looked nice.

Charlotte loved throwing sand up in the air today. She got it ALL over her hair, and even with a bath, I still haven't gotten it all out yet.

another view from our side of the beach.

Yep, she ate sand again. Lots of it.

Chris surprised us while we were in the pool. He was able to stop briefly and say hello because they were ahead of schedule and stopped by the Ritz for a few minutes. Charlotte was ecstatic to see him because she hasn't seen much of him these past couple of days. She screamed and cried when he left. Poor girl. He better make it up to her this weekend! Here's a picture of her wet kisses. She likes to kiss with her tongue sticking out. It's hilarious and very slobbery!

Attempt 1 at a picture.

Attempt 2...probably the best we got because Charlotte is at least looking in the right direction.

Just not wanting to cooperate...

"All done"...oh well, we tried.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Hearty Dress

Remember this dress? I took this picture when Charlotte was just 2 months old.

But somehow it still fits! And no, it's not because Charlotte is petite. My baby is in 24 month clothing at 12 months old! Yikes! Yes, it is a little snug, but I love this dress because it's so roomy and Charlotte was able to get lots of wear out of it...unlike most of her clothes. Yay!

A Dress for Justine

Justine's 7th birthday was last Wednesday and I meant to do a blog about it the next day but I've been a little busy. Two days before her birthday, I had the idea to make a dress as a birthday gift, along with a few books we had already bought her. I looked through my patterns and my highest sized patterns went up to a 6. Justine is a 7. So I chose a pattern that went to a 6 and redrew the pattern to *hopefully* be a size 7. I felt like I was really winging it, and I knew it may not turn out, however disappointing that would be. I ended up spending the day before her birthday relentlessly sewing until I finally finished. I know; I'm crazy. I should've thought about this sooner than 2 days before her birthday. Oh well.

Unlike most kids, Justine was happy to receive clothing on her birthday. Seriously, I think she's the first kid I've ever met who seemed genuinely happy to receive clothes. That's my kind of girl! She was even nice enough to try it on for me, and I was so thrilled it actually fit. It ended up being a bit big so I could've made the size 6 afterall, but it fits proportionately, which means I modified and sewed the pattern correctly. Wahoo!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I've been waiting for this for a long time. I can finally put Charlotte's hair in pigtails! I tried it this morning, and if you look at her eyes, you can see she wasn't real happy about it. She was a good sport and smiled for the camera, anyway!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

1st Birthday Party

Yesterday was Charlotte's first birthday party. We did a brunch party with a zoo animal theme. Charlotte loves stuffed tigers, so that was the inspiration for the party and for the cake. We had about 40 people show up and we all had a great time. We thought we wouldn't have much food since we told everyone it was a brunch, but we had PLENTY of leftovers. We ended up giving tons away and we still had enough breakfast casserole for Chris and I to have generous helpings this morning for breakfast. We're really thankful for our friends here, specifically Terry and Jill. They came over an hour early to help with last minute things. Without their help, we still would've been running around trying to frantically get things in order at 10. They even stayed after to help us clean up. We just love them and I keep telling Jill they aren't allowed to leave this summer when their tour is up. We are really going to miss them. :-( But I's some pictures from Charlotte's special day:

Round two on the cake....

And this time I made a mini cake for Charlotte with leftover batter I had from making the big one above.

Charlotte before her party. She didn't stay this happy, unfortunately. The dress she is wearing was made by me. I saw the fabric at JoAnn's and thought it would make a great birthday dress. It says "Happy Birthday" all over it.

Charlotte showing a side view of the dress I made her.

Charlotte with her friend Shahin at the party.

I'm not sure why she's making this face, but it's cute!!

Charlotte was tired, crabby, and did not like it when everyone sang happy birthday to her. Even Daddy holding her hands and telling her it was okay didn't help.

All better now that I have some sugar in my system!

A family picture at the party.

Charlotte loved playing with the balloons!

Once again, Justine helped Charlotte open all her gifts. We specifically told people to not bring a gift...I don't think a single person showed up without one. Oh well. We are very blessed.

Daddy helping Charlotte with a puzzle she got.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

First Birthday Extravaganza!

Here we were dreading Charlotte's first birthday and it's already over! We had a super fun day filled with toys, sweets, and good friends! Our good friends and Charlotte's surrogate Aunt, Uncle, and cousins came over for cake and to watch Charlotte open gifts. She wasn't nearly as messy with the cake as I had thought/hoped she'd be, which is surprising since she absolutely makes a mess of everything else she gets herself into. The birthday celebration isn't quite done yet. On Saturday, we're having close to 50 people over for a birthday brunch. Oh boy. This weekend is going to be pretty crazy getting everything ready! I hope it will be a lot of fun. Below are lots of pictures from Charlotte's big day and at the very bottom are two videos. Unless you're a grandparent, you'll probably find the videos very dull, but hey! Maybe I'm wrong. Enjoy!

Charlotte cuddling up with her blankie!

Excited to open gifts and see her new toys!

A glimpse at the decorations for her birthday. We are so thankful to have her in our lives.

She came walking out into the living room with a broom. I guess she wanted to help Mommy clean?

The bow on her head is from my sister, Heather. She made it. Isn't it cute?

I found Charlotte laying on the weights relaxing. The look on her face is priceless. I'm not quite sure why she was doing that!

This is better!

Eating her birthday cake.


We enlisted Justine to help Charlotte open her gifts. Charlotte tried with the first one but was more interested in her sippy cup full of milk.

What did I tell you? At this age, it's all about the sippy cup.

All the presents Charlotte got, minus the other beautiful bows, a bow holder, and a few outfits my sister and brother-in-law sent us. We got those over a week ago, so I just spaced adding them when I took this picture. Sorry!

And now for the videos:

Below is a general video from yesterday. It shows her throughout the day, eating her cake, and trying to open presents:

This morning, Jill (Charlotte's surrogate aunt) brought over her birthday present because they couldn't fit it into their car last night with the whole family. It's this awesome slide that Charlotte is in LOVE with! I'll be glad when she can learn to climb up the ladder because I can't put her back at the top quick enough! It's sort of a work-out!