Holy Thursday – In the Garden with Jesus

Well, now, I’m just tearing through our trip with two, whole posts in one week. Check out parts 123456, and 7.

We’d just finished Holy Thursday Mass at the Notre Dame Visitor’s Center. Our kids were really starting to tire. So, we found a place to have our own last supper before we carted the younger kids off to bed. IMG_2701

We decided that our very best bet would be to put the younger kids to bed and go to the Garden of Gethsemane in shifts. My sister, oldest boy, and I took the first shift and headed over to the Garden and the Basilica of the Agony.

This was by far my favorite church. It is gorgeous and covered in mosaics. It is the Bible alive in color and movement. The whole history of salvation places out from the altar to the ceiling to the floor. It was incredible. It was also very crowded. We did not find room inside the church, so we sat by the gated Garden. We all agreed that this was the best part of the visit.

Strangely, the green lights did not detract from the feeling that you were there. It was dark, these olive trees are free from the otherwise centuries of building and “preserving” that have happened at the other sights. You could image Jesus in sorrow and the sleepiness of the disciples.


An interesting fact about the Garden of Gethsemane that I was not previously aware of: these are the oldest known olive trees in scientific literature. They were carbon dated to 1092 to 1198. Moreover, they are all genetically related, having been planted from the very same parent plant. It is speculated that people in the 1000s took steps to preserve the Garden and the original trees. I will say it again – these are the oldest recorded olive trees ever and they are in very healthy condition.

We prayed by the Garden until around midnight when we returned and let my dad and husband take the night shift. They went in the procession to the upper room and the cell where Jesus was held overnight after his encounter with the Sanhedrin.

Before we left, we visited the grounds of the Church of the Tomb of the Virgin Mary, which is also called the Church of the Assumption even though it should probably be called the Church of the Dormition, but it can’t be since that title is taken, ironically enough, by the Benedictines. At any rate, it is a lovely tradition to think of the Theotokos heading out from Ephasus to live her last days out near the Garden of Gethsemane and after having been there, I think it’s where I’d go, too.

Good Friday or Great and Holy Friday is coming up!

Israel At Last

The continuing the saga of our trip can be found in parts 123456, and 8.

We hit Amman at rush hour…just kidding. Every hour is rush hour in Amman. Thankfully we had my dad who took to this insanity like a fish in water.

Actual picture of traffic in Amman.

We only got lost a few times before we finally found a Burger King with wi-fi where we had a nice, American lunch and got “directions” from our phones. The directions got us within a few blocks of the hotel that we used for returning the rental van – dent and all. The concierge was very helpful and called a car to take us to the border office even though we weren’t guests of the hotel. I think he just wanted us and our baggage out of the breezeway. We were looking a little rough after our hike through Petra.

There are some disputes (understatement) about whether the border at the Allenby Crossing / King Hussein Bridge is an official border because the land on the Israel side is actually occupied Palestine. I decided against taking photos because there was a lot of checking for bombs and generally high security. Also, there are a lot of signs telling you not to take photos. The curtains are actually pulled once you get on the bus to go through no man’s land.

Notable things about this crossing: 1. We had a very stern-looking guard checking everyone on the Jordan side. I’d learned that our girl with the Arabic name and the super blonde hair was able to generate celebrity status just about everywhere, so I put her passport on top. The guard burst into a grin when he saw her name and became very accommodating, making our crossing super smooth. 2. When you do get to Israel, you have to take a cab to Jerusalem. I thought I was being very clever by just taking a cab when we got there….I was not. I should have just hired a driver. It’s a 30 to 45 min drive into Jerusalem from the Israeli terminal and, surprisingly, no one is willing to negotiate the cost of the cab. If you are alone or in a small group, you could split the cost with others and that might be cheaper. However, if you travel in a group of 7, like we did, just hire the car.

We got into Jerusalem and checked into our hotel. Joy of joys! You can drink tap water in Jerusalem. I had no idea how much I’d missed tap water. I just stood in the bathroom gulping water and reveling in yet another privilege that we Americans enjoy.

The next morning we had a delicious breakfast and headed out to enjoy the city. We had to stay in the new city because we had security clearances and whatnot to keep uncompromised, but we were just a couple of minutes from the old city. Jerusalem is beautiful with many lovely parks. The kids had a great time tramping around in the nearby parks while we waited for the other half of our group to wake, eat, and be ready to explore the old city.

We wondered around the old city and it was just overwhelming to be there. The history of this city and its persistence…to think that people have crowded these tiny streets, selling wares for thousands of years. You really get the sense of antiquity.

My dad was over the moon about being in Jerusalem. We saw very little of him because he was out prowling from early morning to late at night. It’s really cool to be a pilgrim in Jerusalem during Holy Week.

We did find him for lunch. My son loved being at the Western Wall and wore his complimentary yamaka for the rest of the day.

This was Holy Thursday, so we headed to mass at the Notre Dame Visitor’s Center. The Center is lovely and you run into some great people there.

That’s all for now. I will come back to tell you all about our favorite parts of the trip, including visiting the Garden of Gethsemane on Holy Thursday night.


SQT – Staycation Aspirations

Oh, hello Seven Quick Takes, it’s only been a year or so since the last time I joined in Friday Fun with Kelly.


School’s almost back in!!!!! Errrmergerhd Erm So Errxcited. (Showing my age a bit.) I really am. Summer is always such a…chore. I thrive on order and routine. Summer is very disorderly and lacks routine, so I’m totally over it by August. Since I didn’t leave the country this year, I have enough vacation to take a staycation with the kids for the final week of summer…which means that today is:
praising-squirrel-1-workday-til-staycationSo, seven staycation aspirations? Are you in?

  1. I’m kind of a workaholic and won’t actually not work at all for a week. It’s just not in the nature of my person or my job. I already have one very early deposition on Monday morning that I’m telling myself is okay because it’ll be over before the kids even wake up for the day. And on Tuesday I’m going to move a bunch of settlements through a rolling docket. However, I expect to be finished fairly early. That means I can set the goal of no email for half of Tuesday, all of Wednesday and a good deal of Friday? This is cheating, right? Fine. Let’s set the goal of no checking work email until after 2pm Monday-Friday. Yes! I can do this! No phone calls either! ¡Si, Se Puede!
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  2. Day tripper, one way ticket, yeah! We’ve never been out to the Quarai Ruins. We love ruins and audiobooks, so I think this will be a great day trip for us. We’ll take a picnic and then find some little cafe/road stand to supplement our lunch.Unknown
  3. Making apple butter/pie filling. My boss has an apple tree that is dying and he’s looking to unload some apples post haste. This weekend just happens to be the Feast of the Transfiguration, so we can get our free apples blessed and then put them up together.

    21, Modern 1, Icon of Transfiguration, by Alexander Ainetdinov
    Icon of the Transfiguration – You can’t see it, but I’m pretty sure Elijah (on Jesus’ left) has a box of apple butter. #liturgicalliving
  4. Just keep swimming. My kids love to swim and I like it pretty well, too. We’ll hit up some pool, somewhere, someday…this coming week.

    I’m simultaneously grossing myself out and cracking myself up.
  5. Museum and Coffee Day. I was downtown this week and was surprised to find a museum I’d never heard of: The Telephone Museum. I think we’ll hit up that one and a couple of the on-campus museums that are FREE! Then we’ll go get espresso at one of my favorite cafes.
  6. Movies and Food Downtown. Our city has some really great summertime activities. We’ve missed all the Shakespeare plays, but we can still catch The Little Mermaid, live music, and terrific food trucks. We’ll hit this up for sure.

    Me, after a week of staycation. Did you know that doing nothing leads to a trim waistline? Srsly.
  7. Did I mention I’m a workaholic? Instead of thinking up another fun thing to do, I’ll make this one a chore. We have to finish the summer math/reading projects and buy a couple of backpacks, lunch boxes, pencil pouches, water bottles, and one belt. The kids will hate it, but I’ll be able to check things off my to do list.

Come at me, people. What do you do on staycation?


I’m ever so slowly getting the rest of this amazing trip recorded. It completely shocked me to realize that the last post was…gulp…a year ago. I don’t know what happens to my time. Check out part 1part 2part 3part 4part 5part 7, and part 8.

So, we’d had dinner in Al Shabq and made our way into Petra where we checked into a hotel that was perched on the side of a mountain and had the most spectacular views of the city.IMG_2374

After an early breakfast, we headed into Petra, which was AMAZING. I really can only photo dump because words will not do it justice.

It’s about 2km from the visitor’s center trail head and down through the Siq. The Siq is incredible as you can see below.

The Siq is an opening between cliffs that winds for about 1.2km back into the mountain range that is the city carved of stone. Long, long ago, camels and other pack animals wound through the Siq – which means market – laden with goods.

In those days, this narrow passage would have been lined with vendors selling their wares. The entire passage has rather wide grooves through which water for the city ran from reservoirs just at the beginning of the Siq.

Of course, there were those who found it easier to just perch above their market place so there are steps up onto higher vistas all along the way.

The Siq is a wonder, but then you wind through the rock and are greeted by:


Indian Jones? It really is a most awesome sight. Now we were in Petra for certain and we were amazed to see how extensive the grounds are.

Everywhere we went there were people offering various things for sale. There was the wi-fi enabled donkey (not really, but it did get me to stop and listen to the pitch) and other unbelievable advertisements. We eventually let the kids have a ride because I just love negotiating.

The amount of engineering that went into the place blew my mind.

There is a Byzantine church ruin on the site as well. I LOVE seeing these ancient churches that are built in the same pattern of my own, beloved parish.

We spent hours poking around, climbing up, hiking around, and, of course, arguing about who sits in the forward position on the camel. It was a great day!

After leaving Petra, we drove up the King’s highway to Amman where our adventures were to continue as we crossed into Israel.

{7QT} Football, planners, and deadbeat tooth fairies


  1. Football is coming! I’m so excited for the beginning of the football season. High schools are back into practice. I’m tinkering with my draft board for my fantasy league…trash talking is in full swing. #mostwonderfultimeoftheyear


  2. I have been thinking about this book a lot lately. It is one of my go-tos for finding the motivation to pull all the frazzled ends of my life back together. I have read this book at least 10 times – so much that I’ve got a good deal of it memorized. It is a solid, practical book for organizing your life to serve the purpose of glorifying God in your work. This is not a book for a woman who has a job outside of the home, or for mothers, or for young women, or for old women. It is a book for everyone and I find so many of her hints reflected in the lives of women I admire. It’s an easy read and it is relatively inexpensive online. I highly recommend it.
  3. I was reading about Ivanka Trump the other day because she is my favorite person. If you don’t understand this, I dare you to look through her Instagram and not like her. Also, this article. This is all a rather long introduction to tell you about my new Moleskine planner. Ivanka recommended it and I pretty much love all of her recommendations.
  4. Anne Ortlund (book in take 2) recommends a rather elaborate notebook system. It’s a lot more than those of us with laptops and smartphones will ever need, but she was writing in the 1970s. Lately, however, I was finding that even with merging my calendars and putting my assistant completely in charge of all of them, I was still getting caught off guard. How does this happen? I decided that I needed some sort of system that would let me kind of see the big shape of my days and also provide some place to keep my running to-do list. Enter…6490357725_22997cbcb1_b
  5. TA-DA!!!!!! Isn’t it great?! Okay, this may not be THE solution for everyone and keep in mind that I have a very detailed electronic calendar and a rather extensive work to-do list which are maintained with the help of my assistants. This little thing is just to let me jot in activities that are outside of normal. 6am deposition? Into the Moleskine it goes. PTA meeting? Into the Moleskine it goes. Work reluctantly taken home for the weekend? I’ve got a running to-do list on the blank page next to my week. I’m using this for all the crap that happens during the day that I never remember. For instance, I took a rock to the window during my commute the other day. At the very next stop light, I made a note to tell my husband about it. It’s helped me more coherently plan my weeks and keep track of those the random things I’m always kicking myself for forgetting.
  6. They have so many formats. I’ll bet you can find one for yourself. And colors! And ribbon markers! And elastic do-hickies so that the thing stays closed when it bounces around in your purse! And little hidden pockets!
  7. My girl lost a couple of teeth. The tooth fairy forgot to come the first night for the first tooth and such tears. I felt horrible. She lost a second tooth yesterday and I was determined not to forget. (I made a note in my Moleskine.) I glanced at my to-do list last night even though I didn’t go to bed until almost 2am after staying up to finish work that I didn’t want to do any earlier on my Saturday. There it was, “Tooth Fairy.” I ran back to her room, collected the tooth, slipped a bill under in its place, and went to bed with the comfortable knowledge that I am the best. I really wanted everyone to high-five me, but that would ruin the magic of the tooth fairy. So, y’all, I’m just going to let the internets know right here and now that, thanks to Moleskine (not a sponsor, they can use Ivanka for that), I’m like a saint, mom of the year, and Wonder Woman all in one. From now on, think of me as looking exactly like this:5119107-screen+shot+2016-03-27+at+5.07.05+pm.png

but with my little Moleskine planner clutched to my heart. Happy weekend. Click on over to Kelly’s for much more meaningful QTs.




{7QT} Back to School

  1. The kids are back to school. Just yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. I get so tired of summer. It is awful. It is long. It is unscheduled. It is expensive. Technically, I guess school is more expensive, but whatever. I’ll live the in world I want.
  2. 13880239_10209264457825073_1393963314043087403_n
    They’re such dears to pose nicely for mommy on the first day back. Catch you later, suckers. 
  3. One of my assistants is cutting her hours. I feel like this. #nothappy #ineedyouatalltimesoffice
  4. I did a load of laundry every day this week and it was awesome. I may have found the newest temporary solution to my laundry woes.
  5. I also made my kids do dinner one night and my husband do dinner another night. Color me responsible for only 5 dinners a week.
  6. I went golfing today and am “not afraid of hitting the ground.” This is a nice way of saying that I golf like Happy Gilmore.


  7. In other words, I need some practice.

Pax out, party people. Have a happy Saturday and join Kelly for more better QTs.



Bethany Beyond the Jordan to Petra

So, let’s see….we had just survived a wild ride to the Dead Sea and we were headed to the Baptism site of Jesus.


The Jordan River was so wide at one time, that it met this natural spring. However, now there are about 80 yards between the spring and the river. This is known to be the place where Jesus was baptized due to tradition. It was revered as a holy site from early on and there are the ruins of three churches at the spring dating back to sometime in the 400s. This is also the area from which Elijah was taken in his firey chariot.


We really enjoyed seeing an icon of Mary of Egypt, a saint from the 300s who, like so many of the dessert fathers and mothers, fled to beyond the Jordan for solitude and spiritual growth after her conversion. Her story can be found here.


After you leave the spring, you wind down a path to a Greek Orthodox church just before reaching the Jordan River. The church is dedicated to the Forerunner and it is incredibly gorgeous. My five-year-old was giving me kind of a hard time that day, so I didn’t get great pictures. You’ll just have to take my word for it or google it yourself.


Once down at the Jordan, you get to see the contrast between the Israel and Jordan sides. We felt that Jordan was really very dirty, while Israel tended to be cleaner and a little more modern. The river itself was just a bit of a creek, but we’re used to that since we are from New Mexico. The “mighty Rio Grande” is just a mere slip of a waterway. The Jordan River was similar – small and very muddy.


After another quick peek into the church and poking around in the gift shop, we were back on the road. This time, we were headed to Petra.


Our drive took us right down the coast of the Dead Sea where the Jordan Valley was green on one side and arid on the other.


Then we began our ascent up the Moab Mountain range, which offered us some breath-taking views. Since mountain people like us gotta climb, we had to pull over to run up and down rocks and pose for silly pictures.


As we reached the top of the mountain range, we began to notice the most interesting thing about the trees.


We think we get pretty bad wind in New Mexico. But the wind on the Moab Mountains must be FIERCE.


We were all hungry, so we stopped in Al Shabaq to go adventuring. We had delicious falafel and shwarma. Our daughter was a celebrity…again…with the shop owners asking to pose with her in pictures. We finally made it to Petra after dark and went straight to bed so that we could rise early to beat the crowds. Our efforts were well-rewarded as you shall see in a later post, which at my posting rate, should happen sometime in October. Haha.

Check out part onepart twopart threepart fourpart sixpart 7, and part 8.