Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas in Maryland - 19 December 2008

Merry Christmas everyone! We caught a flight out of Ramstein, Germany on Dec 2. Although you don’t always catch the flight you want, flying space A is the way to go! We had to wait about 10 hours at the air base before getting on a flight. During that time, we talked with quite a few soldiers going to/from Iraq and Afghanistan. We also worked on home schooling. We arrived at Baltimore and stood in line for customs, listening to the cheering of a supportive crowd out front at BWI. Thom said volunteers come to welcome every flight with soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. I felt so patriotic and proud walking with our soldiers through the fanfare!
Since then, we’ve been busy with school, school, and more school. The boys, especially Will really miss public school! They say this is a lot harder and more demanding. Thom and I remind them about our great experiences and opportunities, but how quickly they forget when it’s time to catch up on geography, history, composition, reading, grammar, etc. We brought math with us to Europe, so they were ready for testing in that subject upon our return.
After a week of school, Ben gave us another fright. He complained that his eye was hurting…his left eye. Some of you may remember that last May, he required emergency surgery on his left eye after being air medivaced from Fairbanks to Anchorage. Here we go again??!! Sure enough, he developed a mild fever and his left eye began to swell. We took him to Bethesda Naval Hospital here in the DC area. They hooked him up on IV antibiotics and drew blood samples for lab work. Next he went to Walter Reed Hospital where they have a pediatric ward for overnight patients. He spent 3 nights there, in order to continue the IV antibiotics. Luckily, the swelling and discoloration disappeared and he’s now “at home” on a month’s supply of oral antibiotics. We have 3 follow-up appointments, primarily to determine what must be done to prevent this from recurring. It appears that his left sinuses don’t drain properly, and he has a small opening into the left orbital eye area. So now he’s gotten orbital celulitis twice when he gets congested! Thom and I have been very impressed with the doctors, and their keen interest in Ben’s health. They want to solve this issue. We’re thankful that we were here in the DC area when this emergency arose.
So, we returned to our RV and tackled more school. We parked it over a month ago at Ft. Meade’s RV Park in Maryland. It’s nice to have the commissary, laundry facilities, and full hook-ups. We’re also located close to so many friends/family in the Maryland/DC/Virginia area.
We visited with Pancho, Veronica, and Francis Kinney twice now, and Pancho was kind enough to loan us an extra car during our hospital travels. Thanks Pancho! We’ve also visited again with the Zelnosky’s and Kieta’s. Now we’re on our way south to see Kathy, Chris, Jack, and Alex Tone in VA.
Robby and I joined Cornerstone Church in an event this past week serving the Baltimore community. We helped serve dinner to approximately 400 men through a charitable group called “Helping Up Missions”. The recipients were very appreciative, and knew we were all volunteers through church. Many teenagers like Robby served along with the adults, and it was good for all of us. It puts everything in perspective to see others in such need. God has blessed us with so much. Afterward, Robby and I walked along Baltimore Harbor and had one of the best conversations ever. He felt good to have served others, and of course he had a lot of questions about how people end up in such poverty. An artist was painting pictures of boats, and asked if we could possibly spare anything since he was desperate. So Robby picked out a colorful drawing of “The Pride of Baltimore” and gave him $10. The artist seemed genuinely appreciative. Again, more eye-opening experiences.
This Christmas is very different from any we’ve ever shared as a family. We’ve prepared the kids that they won’t receive loads of presents this year. First of all, we have no space to put them! Secondly, this year is all about doing things, not buying things. Most importantly, the holidays should be focused on love, and sharing with others, not on receiving a long list of gifts. We’ll spend Christmas day with Thom’s brother, Eric and his wife, Terry, and their 4 wonderful children. They live about an hour from us, and our boys are counting down the days. They can’t wait to see their cousins!