29 November 2008

A New Twist on Black Friday!

Instead of going shopping with the mad crowds, which is pretty impossible being in Germany anyways... we went to Velkenburg, Holland to the Velvet Cave. They have a Christmas Market set up inside the cave, which was once used as a shelter during WWII for US soldiers, Jews, and locals, as well as an escape passage from the original castle. This was our first trip together since Gabe's homecoming!! :)

Here are a few pictures from our trip:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2113936&l=75634&id=25104255

22 November 2008

Thanksgiving!

Well, our plans for Thanksgiving have fallen through... so we'll enjoy the day together, and then we're going to Holland!

There's a USO trip that sounds incredibly interesting and fun! :)

Christmas Market in Valkenberg Caves, Holland
A Christmas event for visitors of all ages, never to forget...! Under the Castle of Valkenburg is the Velvet Cave, a labyrinth of passages over a thousand years old. Once used as an escape route, they enabled the knights and their warriors to secretly vanish from the castle, and attack the enemy from behind. During the German occupation in World War II, the cave served as a shelter for Jewish people, locals, and American troops. Now, Christmas transforms this underground world with twinkling lights, magic illumination and music. You can shop at stalls with quality Christmas items, and watch demonstrations of Old Dutch handicrafts. Visit the garden in the heart of the cave, to have a bite to eat and try the famous Christmas "Gl├╝hwein".
(description from http://www.uso.org/rheinneckar/default.cfm?contentid=218 )

I am looking forward to traveling with Gabe, in Europe, for the first time since the deployment!!

08 November 2008

HOMECOMING!!

As most of you know, Gabe has been in Afghanistan for the last 15 months. No, he doesn't come home on weekends... no, I don't go visit him, or live there with him... he's been there, and I've been here. :)

Needless to say, it's been a long road with lots of obstacles (which is pretty typical seeing as how Afghanistan is a war-zone!).... but he's home now!! This first week he has reintegration training every day for half the day. The second half of the day is ours to enjoy!

Due to the time difference, I'm not sure when we'll start making phone calls back home. Right now it's about 3 a.m. for most of you!

Both Gabe and I are still in awe of the fact that it really ended. It felt like a never-ending experience, with no light at the end of the tunnel, and then yesterday we were thrust out. In no way is that a bad thing!! We are both excited to be together, to start living our lives TOGETHER again... He's Home!! Praise God!!

We love and miss everyone!!! Please continue to pray for us as we walk through this reintegration process.

THANK YOU everyone, for praying us through this deployment!!! Your love and prayers were felt daily!! They saved Gabe's life on MANY occassions. Thank you!!!

14 September 2008

Welcome to the World, Jake!!




Jacob Hayles McLendon was born on Sept. 12, at 3:01 p.m. He weighed 8 lbs. 10 oz, and is 21 inches long. He's got a full head of hair, which is strawberry blonde, blue eyes, and is just too adorable!!

It's officially... Aunt Lisa and Uncle Gabe!! :)

08 September 2008

On my way stateside...

Hey Everyone,

I'm on my way back stateside here in a few hours! I'm looking forward to seeing everyone!! It's been too long!! My first stop will be to DC where I'll get to hang out with Justin, see Cindy & James, Mike & Sarah, and the Boohers!!

Then I'm off to Destin... Ashley should be having little Jake around the time I arrive, so that will be very exciting!! There, of course, I'll be with family and friends... my grandparents, the McLendons, my brother and sister and their spouses... plus the church family I grew up in! :)

I will be making a brief stop in Alabama to visit Gabe's mom, and my Aunt/Cousin... and then my dad and I are heading off to ATL to shop for special shoes for my special feet!

And last but definitely not least... I'll be heading to Tallahassee to see my brother at grad school, and then of to UNF to hang out with the Jax crew!! Eady, Bean, Megan, Vicki... I'm looking forward to lots of randomness!! Andrew, Nate, Justin, Elliot, and the rest of the gang ... I'm looking forward to playing sports with you guys again, and catching up!! Good times shall be had! :) I'll be in Jax for a week... and then back home to celebrate my birthday!!

That's right, I'm turning 26! So, I'll be back in Destin for the festivities! Then back to Germany to prepare for HOMECOMING!!!!!

26 August 2008

Your husband has been gone too long when...

Okay. Another 720th EOD wife and I went shopping today. We just need to get away and take a breather. Well, as we're shopping we came to the candle section... a section we're quite fond of!!

So, as we're smelling the candles we start to realize that all the candles remind us of one smell. What is that smell you ask? It's MAN. That's right... the "just out of the shower, fresh deodorant smell" that is MAN.

What candles smell like man you ask... well there's leather (but that's a given!), cottage breeze (not kidding... I've got 2 candles next to me and I'm loving it!), ... black cherry, beach walk, autumn gold, dune grass, evening air ...just to name a few. It's sad. It's sad when you buy candles just to have a man's smell in your house again!

SERIOUSLY, we need our husbands home!!! Please bring our unit home... now would be great! :)

18 August 2008

the pictures you've been waiting for!

Okay... so, here are the pictures from my Italy excursion with Vicki!!! My 4000+ pictures down to about 300!

to jump start our fun....
Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, Amalfi
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2101678&l=da458&id=25104255

now, vicki was still in school, so back to.... ROME!
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2101685&l=b0763&id=25104255

and more... pretty much all Colosseum, little Vatican...
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2101691&l=6ffc3&id=25104255

and more.... the Vatican... and Rome at night...
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2101701&l=58e7f&id=25104255

And to end it all... a hike... Cinque Terre...
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2101703&l=e6fd7&id=25104255


ENJOY!!!!

08 August 2008

On the subject of re-enlistment...

Whether we re-enlist or not, it's undecided due to new circumstances. This is one thing I know to be true, that the heart of a soldier is strong. It feels a strong sense of duty and pride for country and fellow soldiers.

The best way to sum things up, the best way that I've heard all these feelings put is the very last monologue in the movie Home Of The Brave. Even if you never watch the movie, please read the following and know that it's true to the core of the men and women who serve you, your country, your rights.

“Dear Mom and Dad, I know you don’t understand why I reenlisted. It’s confusing and scary for all of us. I know that. But I have to go back. I don’t want to die, and Jordan didn’t want to die either. And maybe when we went over there the first time we didn’t know what we were getting into. Maybe the leaders of our country didn’t know what they were getting into. Maybe the people don’t want us there. Maybe this whole thing is making it worse. But even after all that I can’t stay behind knowing there are soldiers over there getting attached every day and dying every day. I don’t feel like it’s wrong of me for wanting to go back over there and help them.* It’s a hard job being a soldier. Not just for me but for the people we leave behind. To both of you, girlfriends, kids, husbands and wives, we all carry scars of war. But I know that if I do my part then maybe we’ll get out of there and get home to the people we love just a little bit quicker. I hope this can make sense to you because it makes perfect sense to me. These are my guys and I need them, just as much as they need me. I’m not trying to be noble and brave, but I feel if I don’t go then I failed Jordan, Jamal, and all those who went over with me and sacrificed so much, and that’d be worse then never coming home at all.* I know you aren’t happy with this. But I also know that you love me. I’m going back. And I’m going back to do the best job I know how. And get back to you just as soon as I can. Pray for me.”
*emphasis mine

Italian Excursion...

Oh the joy of visiting friends!! Pure bliss!!

Vicki has been studying abroad in Rome for 6 weeks, so her last week I went down to visit! And oh, the adventures that were had....

I got in incredibly late on Saturday night, so Vicki and I just sat up and caught up, repacked to get ready for our trip and then crashed. Early Sunday morning we got up and took a train down to Sorrento. Since Sorrento is rather expensive, we stayed one train stop away in San Angello. Upon dropping off our bags, we went back to Sorrento and explored. We actually came across a processional, and evidently it was a celebration for the Virgin Mary. They came past the restaurant we were eating in, and so afterwards we happened upon the church they ended up in, so we got to listen to a little bit of the teaching. The rest of the evening was filled with simply enjoying the sights, people watching, and trying to figure out why there were fireworks at random times during the evening! Oh, I almost forgot, on our way down to Sorrento, we stopped in Pompeii and explored the archeological site!! We actually wandered off the beaten path and truly enjoyed getting a feel for the city.
On Monday we got up early and took a boat to Capri. What an absolutely gorgeous island! The cliffs, the water, the rock formations! Since there really is nothing to the town you arrive in, we decided to try to see the Blue Grotto... and ended up getting a full boat tour of the island. When we got around to the Blue Grotto it was actually too choppy to get in. So, we finished our boat tour, and ended up renting a boat of our own to explore!! We tried renting scooters but the guy wouldn't rent them to us... he basically said that it was too dangerous for two girls. :( Sadness. Oh well, we had a blast out on the boat by ourselves!! Just Vicki, me, and the open sea!! That pretty much ended our day... we meandered around the town, but our boat adventures captured the majority of the day.
Let's see... Tuesday we got up and headed to Amalfi! Again, we took a boat there, and spent a few hours just walking around. We did some shopping, enjoyed lunch, and of course, tried Lemonchello. I can say I've had it, and did not enjoy it! ;) The taste was too much for me. As the afternoon came around, we made our way back to Rome. Where Vicki introduced me to the basics of Rome... the Vatican, gelato, and the Colosseum at night! AMAZING! I was giddy with excitement walking down the street towards the Colosseum. Almost to the point of skipping! I absolutely adore Rome at night!!
Wednesday and Thursday were filled with sightseeing in the fabulous Rome!! Saw the Trevi fountain, Spanish Steps, Capitoline Hill, Palantine Hill, Roman Forum, Colosseum, Trajan's Forum, Piazza Colonna, and Villa Borghese. Oh, and we went out to Gandolfo, which is where the Pope's summer home is!
Friday I spent the entire day between the Vatican Museum and the Vatican. That evening was the study abroad programs final dinner... so we enjoyed dinner out and walked the hill to a fountain overlooking the city!
Saturday we headed up to the Cinque Terre area. We had a campground in Deiva Marina. That afternoon we went swimming in Monterosso, then enjoyed dinner on the shoreline.
Sunday we hiked the Cinque Terre... from Monterosso to Riomaggiore, which is the harder way, and I must say, the most enjoyable!! The first two sections are the toughest, but oh do they provide incredible coastline views!!! That evening we headed back to our favorite of the 5 cities, Vernazza... it's a cute little fishing town on the water, there were locals out with their children, fishermen out on the jetties,... it was too picture perfect! Vicki and I had dinner and then went and layed down on the jetties ... the sky was crystal clear and the stars were out in masses! We actually saw quite a few shootings stars too!!
Upon going back to Rome on Monday, we spent the evening at a festival in Castel S. Angelo. There was live music, incredible views of the city, and all around good times.... and from the top of Castel we could see one of the markets that we frequented. The market was much larger this particular evening and they were playing ping-pong/fussball, and all sorts of games in the street. So, we played ping-pong in the streets of Rome at midnight, just for fun!!! We had so much fun!!!
Our last day, Tuesday, we took it easy. The morning was spent shopping and buying last minute souveniors, and the afternoon we spent at a local park, Villa Pamphili. We took books and some wine out to the park and rested. It was so peaceful! The people watching was wonderful too... seriously, there were grandpas playing cards in the park! That evening we went to Piazza Navono and had dinner. This quickly became my favorite piazza! It's filled with street musicians playing for those eating dinner, artists selling their work, and it's visually the quentiessential Italy! After dinner, as our last thing in Rome, we went to the Trevi fountain. We threw our pennies (Euro) in, took lots of pictures, and then said our good-byes to Rome!

This is definitely an abbreviated version of our trip... but Vicki and I had an incredible time!! Good times were had by all!! :) I will post pictures just as soon as I can.... I took almost 9 gigs worth, so be patient!

Highlights for me: boating in Capri, Colosseum/Vatican in Rome, the hike, and Vernazza!

12 July 2008

The London Experience!

On Sunday morning I arrived in London at 0640, which personally is way too early, though it gave me ample time to explore the city that day. After dropping off my backpack, I walked to the London Bridge, where it started pouring down rain. So, instead of going up in the bridge, I enjoyed a bit of hot tea. After the weather cleared a little, I took the London Bridge tour, then meandered over to the Tower of London and spent hours attempting to take it all in. At the Tower of London they have the crown jewels on display, which was overwhelmingly beautiful! It's not every day that you see a 530 carat diamond! Once I finished at the tower I made my way back to my hostel and checked in, showered, and got ready to meet up with my high school friend, Alysia. She took me out to a great pub where I tried the steriotypical British meal, fish and chips! After dinner we walked the city, quite literally! We explored Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, the Mall, James Palace, Buckingham Palace, St. Jame's Park, the Horse Guards, Whitehall and the gov't buildings, Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Westminster Bridge, the Globe Theatre, Jubilee Gardens, Millenium Bridge, the City of London, and St. Paul's Cathedral. What a beautiful, historical, royal city!




Monday was a rather rainy day for the most part. Since Sunday had been such a long day I enjoyed a bit of sleep and made it out to Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guards. I did not realize that it was to last so long, as I had arrived the recommended 30 minutes early and stayed till noon! It was worth it though, to see the pomp and prestige! From there I was famished and needed some water, so I walked Constitution Hill to Hyde Park Corner, saw the Apsley House and Wellington Arch where I found a street vendor! All I cared about at that point was water. I hadn't eaten/drank anything so far, and I needed to at least hydrate. It was at this corner of the city that I realized just how much the Britian's honor their heros, their soldiers, those that have fought for country and king, for freedom and for honor. Well, after meandering for half the day, I decided that it was too rainy and miserable to walk the parks, and figured Harrod's has to have food... so why not?! It's supposed to be an incredible shopping experience, right? I must say, I was impressed! First of all, I'm not usually the one walking through sections of Gucci clothing, much less children's sections of Gucci clothing! Their toy section for children was incredible!! Oh and their prams, IMPRESSIVE! Though, 5,000 GBP ($10,000!)... that's insane! But at least their pretty, right? ;) Anyways, I was definitely impressed with the store! Even more so by their restaurants. You actually order everything to-go, but it's fresh pasta, salads, sandwiches, sushi, anything you can imagine! I actually ordered a few things that I'd never had before (in the Oriental section) and took it across the street to Starbucks for a hot chocolate and lunch! :) Then my day got interesting... I got lost! :) I tried to get from Harrod's to the Victoria and Albert Museum, which is supposed to be on the same street, right? Yeah, well, I followed the signs instead of instinct and went on a 2 hour detour... though I did manage to find a few embassies along the way! It was quite the enchanting walk! I did, eventually, find the V&A which had a few things of interest. At this point in my European tour I'm officially overdone with sculptures and paintings, and just wanted to get my ADD fix and see pretty, shiny objects,... so I found the jewelry section! :) Imagine, a 2 story room filled with beautiful jewels! There were quite a few impressive pieces throughout. Also, they had on display the history of fashion. That was quite the interesting venue; between Princess Diane's dress, to the 1700s style clothing, all the way to present day. After getting that fix, I met up with my friend, Alysia, and toured the iron works section, the stain glass and church history area, and then went to see the Raphael's. Eight paintings that left one huge impression. Even though they were originally done as guides for a tapestry, the artwork, the detail, they are worth seeing. Now, time of the the nightlife of sorts... for dinner, Alysia took me to Brick Lane. This street is known for it's Indian food, but it comes with a little adventure. The workers stand in the doorway of each restaurant and try to grab your attention with deals; you barter for the best price for your dinner. We ended up with free sodas and 20% off our dinner! I would have gone down there just for the experience, but the food was actually really good too!! Since it was still rainy, we took a double decker buss and rode around the city. It was a wonderful, and cheap, way to enjoy the city! A great way to end day two!


Now Tuesday; Tuesday was an experience! We got up early in the morning and caught the train out to Windsor Castle outside the city. Of course the tour is only a small section of the castle, but it's still where the queen stays when she's in town. My favorite part of the castle is the church. St. George's Chapel is architecturally a gorgeous chapel, but the history that it contains outweighs anything I've seen to date. http://www.stgeorges-windsor.org/welcome.asp After enjoying the town, and finding some amazing chocolate (thanks Alysia!), we headed back to the city where we went our own ways for a few hours. I took that time to St. Paul's Cathedral where I was again, blown away by the architecture. The ceiling was absolutely gorgeous! I did go to the top and see the city; though it was quite windy. The view was wonderful!! After my St. Paul's experience I met up with Alysia again and her flatmate, who happens to work at Parliament. So he took us to work! :) We actually got to go in Parliament, but not just in where tourist go, but into the House of Commons to watch Parliament in SESSION! Where they quoted our Constitution! This is where "Hitherto" comes in... a guy who looked asleep suddenly became quite animated come time to debate the bill and actually used about 5-6 old English terms in a perfectly comprehendable sentence! We were just in amazement that he used the word "hitherto"!! Who says that? I guess they do! :)

Okay, since it's taking me so long to write this and I've got another adventure to add... I'm going to make this short and sweet! :)

For the rest of Tuesday, I went to Knotting Hill, Kensington Palace Gardens, and walked the road (which has all the embassies!). I enjoyed Hyde Park; the Round Pond, Serpentine Lake, the Flower Walk, Rotten Row. At that point I headed back to the main sites... Piccadilly, Trafalgar Square, and Leichester Square and just enjoyed people watching!

Let's see... then on Wednesday it rained ALL day long! So, I went in Westminster Abbey, which is an ADD persons nightmare! It's overwhelming and there is no order to it! Still absolutely incredible though! I found the Cabinet War Rooms... didn't go in because I was running out of $$ and it was another $25 to get in! :) So, I'm happy to just say, I've been to the site. Instead, I went to the Imperial War Museum and got to experience bunkers and trenches through the museum! I could have spent all day in there... there is so much history jam packed in! For a lighter note I went to the British Museum (oh, all the museums are free,... churchs cost $25!). Then to top off my trip I headed over to Covent Gardens and enjoyed the street entertainment, and had dinner with my friend!

London was absolutely brilliant!! Thanks for an amazing time Alysia!!!

10 July 2008

Hitherto, this destination had yet to be explored...

LONDON!!

At a later date I shall explain the "hitherto" in the title! Tomorrow maybe. Tonight, I'm exhausted, but wanted to post my pictures for everyone, and an article that again shall be explained later.

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2096687&l=cc673&id=25104255

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2096689&l=29edc&id=25104255

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/7494960.stm

To say the least, London was amazing!! I absolutely loved exploring the city for 4 days, and catching up with a high school friend, Alysia!

30 June 2008

Coming Home!

I just booked my flights!! :) I'll be coming home for a month this fall, and can't wait to see everyone!! If I don't get to see you this go around... Gabe and I will be back next year!! :)

I'll be visiting DC, Destin, and Jacksonville (and maybe Birmingham).... so let me know where you'll be, and hopefully we'll get to catch up!!

We love and miss everyone!!!

27 June 2008

Fellowship and Lessons Learned

Oh how I've missed Christian fellowship. Being in Germany makes you incredibly thankful for the little things in life, as well as the things you never realized you truly need. Christian fellowship is something that I've taken advantage of over the years, not realizing the necessity that it is. I need fellowship. Every part of me, to my core, needs to be fed and spurred on by fellowship.

This evening one of the ladies of our chapel invited the "4 Polish gals" (2 of us are married with deployed spouses and don't plan on kids any time soon; 2 are single soldiers who graduated from college the same year as me) over for dinner. We all headed over there around 1800 (6 p.m.) and only left at 2230 due to work tomorrow morning. We discussed everything from movies with Christian and atheist undertones, to books, the mission field, and culture. Overall it was a lively discussion that challenged each of our ways of thinking. We all come from different backgrounds, are in different places in our Christian walks, and have studied different things along the way. It was so much fun to be a part of those discussions again! It got me reminiscing about college and going out to Barnes & Noble, grabbing coffee and a pile of books, and just talking with Eady or any one in the Jax crew. This is where I'm supposed to be. I know it!

I tried so hard to make things work and truly make each of the ladies in our FRG my friends and maintain fellowship with them. There was a hard lesson learned there. Fellowship belongs among Christians; it's to encourage and challenge us in our walk and our faith. You can't have fellowship, true Christian fellowship, with non-Christians. It's just not possible. So, I will always be there to listen and encourage them, to be a friend, but my home is at the chapel. My heart is with the Christian body. My love is for Christ.

25 June 2008

Our travels...

I posted about my travels, and since I started it while Vicki was here, it posted as if I finished it that day...... so look at the post under the Pictures!

24 June 2008

Pictures!!

So, I just figured out how to share all my Facebook photo albums with ya'll!! Hopefully everyone will be able to see the pictures!!!

Pisa/Florence:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2094689&l=411f3&id=25104255

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2094691&l=815a4&id=25104255


Paris with Vicki: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2094682&l=d150b&id=25104255

Polish Mission Trip: 2 albums...
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2093273&l=278f0&id=25104255

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2093275&l=e8804&id=25104255


FRG trip to Garmisch: Skiing in the ALPS!
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2093268&l=9ea33&id=25104255

Strassburg/Cologne: http://www.facebook.com/album.phpaid=2093218&l=40b44&id=25104255

R&R Travels: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2093216&l=69893&id=25104255

Gabe in Afghanistan: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2090994&l=da3a3&id=25104255

Thanksgiving in Paris: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2073144&l=7d6ac&id=25104255

Traveling Europe with my family, birthday trip: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2067922&l=af9fb&id=25104255

Belgium: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2065766&l=216f9&id=25104255

EOD promotion and ball: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2061911&l=10bfc&id=25104255

Neuswanstein castle with Gabe: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2061910&l=df1b0&id=25104255

Paris with Gabe: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2060665&l=c5a6b&id=25104255

Roy & Eady's wedding: 2 albums

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2057951&l=f825a&id=25104255

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2057952&l=5b078&id=25104255

OUR HONEYMOON: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2037175&l=6b003&id=25104255

OUR WEDDING:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2034706&l=e5187&id=25104255

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2034707&l=379cd&id=25104255

Kat & John's Wedding: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2019127&l=3d828&id=25104255

... College photos...

My football bridal shower: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2016191&l=7133c&id=25104255

Spring Break: New Orleans: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2013725&l=e45a9&id=25104255

Hiking in SC: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2013165&l=111b6&id=25104255

SuperBowl Footall: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2010953&l=3cf72&id=25104255

JCL LifeGroup: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2006360&l=64e74&id=25104255

18 June 2008

Traveling with Vicki...

Vicki and I had an amazing time in Paris! Even though this was round 3 for me, we experienced and saw so many unique things that set this trip apart.

Paris was amazing!! We walked the entire city over, and soaked in atmosphere! Let's see... we spent hours in the Louvre, walked Champs-Elysse, saw the Arc de Triomphe, went to the top of the Eiffel tower, went to Versailles, the Catacombes, Saint Cruix, Notre Dame ... even experienced mass there! Took pictures with French guards, listened to 3 men on bikes singing opera, enjoyed fire blower up on Montmarte, found little gardens hidden around Paris, SAW PRESIDENT BUSH!, learned a few French words :) , ... we walked the whole city over, and experienced everything that we possibly could in 3 days time. Even took a side trip and found Juvisy....... that was not planned; granted neither was sprinting around the city the last 2-3 hours because we were late catching the train/plane! :) We did make our flight with 10 minutes to spare only for it to be delayed after we got through security ... :) Ahh, life!


Florence is definitely in the rankings for one of my favorite places on earth!! Pisa, on the other hand, is no where near that category. The only thing to experience and see in Pisa is the leaning tower. Once we saw that we walked the entire city trying to find other things... and came up with nothing. So, 6 a.m. the next morning we left and fell in love with Florence!! There's SOOO much to see and experience in Florence, and somehow we always managed to run upon cultural experiences that just added to our trip! As for sightseeing.... we went to the Accademia, Duomo (the museum, church, and bapistry), Uffizi, Ponte Vecchio, Pitti Palace, Santa Croce, Piazza Michelangelo, San Marco, Giardino di Boboli Galleria del Costumes.... and probably much more than that. It was an overwhelming indulgence of religious art, scultures, architecture and culture. In 3 days there I took 1300 pictures and we weren't allowed to take picts. inside the museums! The pieces that we were able to see are remarkable! I stood in front of work done by Leonardo da Vinci, Dante, Rapheal, Donotello, Michelangelo... and so many others! Vicki and I enjoyed flexing our Christian knowledge as we walked through the museums. At every corner there was another puzzle... who were the saints being represented, why was it portrayed in such a way, what Biblical story are they referring to.. and so forth. Most of the time, between the two of us, we could at least figure out the story and people represented. The one saint that we just couldn't figure out, though we know how he died, is St. Sebastian. Evidently he was repeatedly shot with a bow and arrow because every single painting, without fail, portrayed him dying in such a manner. We had such a good time attempting to be a local, and yet also enjoying being a tourist! Of course, since we were walking so much, and hiking up the hills daily we opted for gelato each afternoon!! :)

Needless to say, we enjoyed the experiences...

12 June 2008

Facebook and more...

To all my friends and family on Facebook,

I just added 5+ photo albums to my profile. It's a record the traveling I've done here in Europe of my own accord. There's also an album full of pictures that Gabe! So, check it out!


To all my friends & family,

Vicki is coming into town tomorrow! She will be studying abroad this summer in Rome, and is stopping by to visit before heading down there!! We're heading to Paris and Florence this week!! I'll be back shortly after our travels to post an update and some pictures!!

WE MISS EVERYONE!!!!

11 June 2008

CONGRATULATIONS!

To all of my dear friends who have celebrated their relationships and either have gotten married, or will be in the near future. I am sorry that I am missing this big day in so many peoples lives. Know that I pray for each of you, and wish you the best!!!

So, CONGRATS to...

Andrew and Stephanie
Mike and Sarah
Bianca and Will
Kevin and Lindsay

and to Lisa and Caleb (the other half of the Fantastic 4!) for becoming parents!! Welcome Aiden!!!

It's almost the 1 year anniversary for the amazing couples who got married within the first month of my arrival here! Congrats.... Ryan and Megan... Congrats... Roy and Elizabeth!

First 5K!



In December I ran my first 5K! The Jingle Bell
Jog here in Mannheim, Germany!! As most of you know, that's a huge step for me... I am quite proud of myself for finishing, and not finishing last at that! :) Jill and Marshall, and what a blessing that was!! It was 28 degrees when the whole thing was said and done... a rather cold morning to be outside running!! It was a challenge, but a great challenge!!

Congrats to Andrew and Stephanie on their marriage... I missed their wedding due to my move (off-post to on-post), and ran this race instead! Ya'll were my encouragement...

06 June 2008

R&R

The very next weekend, after the Poland trip, Gabe came home for R&R!! Simply put, 18 days of bliss! :) We rented a cabin for a week down in Garmisch, Germany, and just enjoyed being together again! While we were there we hiked around Eibsee, at the foot of the Zugspites (highest point in Germany), in the Alps. Also, we enjoyed a bike ride around through the surrounding area.

Gabe had never seen our on-post apartment since I moved after he was already downrange. So, while he was gone I created a Notre Dame room. Painted one wall navy blue, 2 walls gold... and decorated with all sorts of fun memorabila. This apartment truly feels like our first real home. It's a small place, of course, but it works... it's enough room for us! Perfect, actually!

Since our 1st and 2nd anniversaries won't be celebrated together we celebrated our 1.5 anniversary during R&R!! We went out to Bill and Pia's (a German restaurant, if you come I'll take you)... we were actually the only ones there that night, so we enjoyed their company for a few hours!! In Germany, dinner usually takes 3-4 hours, but we stayed for close to 6! It was a delightful evening!

04 June 2008

Polish Mission Trip

After I wrote the last time, I joined a team going to Poland for a 3 day weekend mission trip. It still amazes me that our mission trip only cost $53, for all meals, rooms, everything. The missionaries stories are incredible! One lady was a US soldier, there's a mother/daughter from TN serving there... the people are just full of love, and God's amazing grace!! The whole mission is a faith-based mission; simply meaning that they don't ask for donations, they just believe that God will provide for their needs and earnestly pray and seek His will! This mission trip was unlike any other I've been on.

During this trip the men and women were separated. The men did the manual labor. Now that's okay, but what am I supposed to do?! The women were in charge of 2 things: VBS for the kids (it was a family mission trip) and sorting clothes. This doesn't seem like much, but over the weekend we helped our kids make enough items to jump start their Polish VBS (500 kids go through there each summer) and we sorted over 50 palets of clothes that were donated. We gathered the big kids and organized/hung-up all of the clothes. Our simple sorting project has led to a whole new trip... the ladies are going back to fix the floor and turn the room into a store. You see, right now there's just one open room full of clothes , but that's where the whole town comes when they are in need.

10 April 2008

Uncle Gabe and Aunt Lisa!

CONGRATS ASHLEY & ANDREW!!!

They are having a baby boy!!! Our first nephew!! They are making us Aunt Lisa/Uncle Gabe!

27 March 2008

Pictures!

Here's a link to a slideshow which has 30 fun pictures of Gabe & LM with their friends and family....

http://s2.photobucket.com/albums/y29/LM73/slideshow/?action=view&current=b67da459.pbw

Team Burkman

This has been a long time coming...

We attempted a full-on webpage, but that didn't work out too well with the move and lack of internet. This will be easier to keep up with! Oh, and we're on-post now and have our internet up and running!! So Skype works again!

I hope everyone is doing well! Know that we miss and love ya'll!!