Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year from Ft. Meade, Maryland

We’re still here at Ft. Meade, MD where our RV has been parked at the campground for almost 2 months. It’s hard to believe, and we certainly hadn’t planned on remaining this far north for so long. Our main reason for remaining into January is for follow-up doctors’ appointments for Ben. We have a meeting with his Pediatric ENT on Jan 7 to discuss a surgical procedure at Walter Reed Hospital. This will hopefully prevent orbital cellulitis from flaring up in his left eye again.

In the meantime, the boys have put their noses to the grindstone and worked hard at school. With chilly weather, we’ve spent most days in the RV focused on home schooling. I suppose this is why we haven‘t blogged much lately, since there hasn’t been too much change and excitement. I’m really proud of the four boys. Their writing skills are improving, and for the most part, they manage their time well. They can work through 1.5 to 2 lessons per day if they set their minds to it. At the same time, they’re well aware that most kids are on a 2-week Christmas vacation currently while the Besch Boys are busy at school. Yes, they complain and ask why we can’t be a normal family, going to normal schools. I think they realize the benefits, but it’s their job to complain about something, right?

We’ve had a number of highlights over the last few weeks. We had a terrific visit with our friends Chris, Kathy, Jack, and Alex Tone. Christ returned two months ago from a year-long deployment in Afghanistan. We decorated Christmas cookies, enjoyed a delicious meal prepared by Kathy, and shared many stories. We’re so glad they’re united together as a family. In June, they’ll move to Heidelberg, Germany for Chris’ next Army assignment.

Chris and Suzie Miltner invited us to a divine dinner at their home nearby just before Christmas. Their dogs, Jack and Millie, are the softest dogs I’ve ever petted! Chris shared his secret of using Prell shampoo on them! The kids really enjoyed running in the backyard with the dogs. Chris and Thom worked together before at the TIG’s office in Crystal City, VA. He and Suzie invited us over 5 years ago during that crazed stage of packing/cleaning/departing. It was nice to spend time and catch up again. Thanks for loaning us “It’s a Wonderful Life,” along with an Anne Frank biography.

We spent 3 days with Eric, Terry, Erin, Logan, Lauren, and Duncan Besch for Christmas. What a fantastic time! The kids were a little worried that Santa wouldn’t find us there in Frederick, MD, but he did! Our boys understood this wouldn’t be a big holiday season for gifts, because of our unique year on the road. So they each asked for one special gift. Each of our boys was delighted to find his special gift, along with a few others. We enjoyed celebrating with our cousins, and going outside to play in the park in the crisp, cool weather.
Eric cooked up an amazing and memorable “quail, inside chicken, inside duck, inside turkey” masterpiece! More than ever before, I enjoyed being in a warm home with the decorated tree, stockings hung by the chimney, and loved ones. It’s the first year since we’ve been married that we didn’t buy a gazillion gifts and get caught up in holiday stress. Simplicity at Christmas time is a beautiful thing. We enjoyed going to Cornerstone Church the Sundays before and after Christmas, along with attending Christmas Eve service with Eric’s family. Sitting at the Zelnosky dinner table while Sharon read the advent prayer was a joy. Treasuring the drives through lit-up neighborhoods, there was truly the feeling of good will and appreciating our blessings. Celebrating Christ’s birth is what this season is all about, and it was easy to do this year. This lesson is one I will remember for future Christmases.

Our good friends John and Juliet Brundige came up from North Carolina with their beautiful four children for a couple days. We explored the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum out by Dulles Airport. We’ve been to the one in Washington DC before, but not this one. Juliet’s friend Kurt and his two children were part of our group, along with Eric and the cousins. Off we all went with 14 children in tow! The kids loved the Blackbird, Space Shuttle, astronaut suits, Concorde, experimental aircraft, and IMAX pilot movie. That evening, Kurt was brave enough to invite all of us over for pizza. It was wonderful meeting his wife Kari, and once again being together in a beautifully decorated home during the holidays.

We decided to ring in the New Year by attending a party at the local roller rink. The six of us roller bladed from 9pm until 1am! They served everyone breakfast at midnight, and had a TV tuned into the ball being dropped at Times Square. We had a great time, and the kids were full of energy right up to the end. I finally realized a personal goal by learning to skate backwards, as well as flip around from forwards to backwards and visa versa (it wasn’t always pretty). Of course all the boys, including Thom make it look so easy when they do it, but they kept encouraging me. Wheee!

Yesterday was a special day. Our friends Lisa and Frits were visiting Lisa’s family in Virginia. You may recall that we visited them at their home in Switzerland last month. So we linked up at their hotel, with the kids swimming and the adults visiting. Dianne Del Rosso joined us as well. Dianne and Lisa served as young Army officers together for many years, and both attended our wedding. We haven’t seen Dianne in years, and neither had Lisa. It was great meeting Lisa’s Mom and Dad, brothers and families. Our boys shared stories with Lisa, and then played with Frits.

Later, Dianne joined our family as we headed over once again to visit Pancho, Veronica, and Francis Kinney. We wanted to see their daughter, Anita, who was only home a bit longer for the holidays. Sure enough, we caught up with her the night before her flight back to Oregon. Another great visit (thanks for dinner again, Pancho!).

One day after school, Thom took us to the Cryptology Museum adjacent to NSA only a couple miles from here. The boys learned about decoding, espionage, and cool spy stuff. We may try and visit the new Spy Museum located in Washington D.C. before we depart. There are so many things to do here. We’ve driven through the Capital a few times and they’ve had a chance to see The White House, Washington Memorial, and Jefferson Memorial. It would be nice to spend one day visiting the sites….maybe we’ll fit it in after Ben’s doctor’s appointment on Wed!

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