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!
    Microsoft Word - Document1
  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.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride to the Dead Sea

And I’m back. This is part four of my documentation of my family’s trip to the Middle East. Check out parts onetwothreefivesixseven, and eight. We were just saying goodbye to Dubai and heading off to Jordan.

We loaded into a couple of taxis and headed off to catch a bus from Dubai to Abu Dhabi courtesy of our airline. We had to check into our flight at the bus terminal. There we were told that my dad couldn’t check in because his ticket was under my last name and not his. Um. Sure enough, through reasons I’ll never completely understand, his last name was not correct. The lady reassured me that it would all be fine, “Madame,” we would be able to fix it in Abu Dhabi.

We loaded onto busses and my daughter was super pleased to find that the busses were equipped with seat belts.


Safety First!

When we got to Abu Dhabi, my dad and I headed to the airline’s headquarter office. There we were reassured that it would be no problem, “Madame,” we should simply head downstairs where someone would change the name for a small fee. Great! At the downstairs office, we were confronted with a young person who continually reassured me that there was no problem, “Madame,” but who never seemed to be actually accomplishing anything. Time ticked by and by and by and by. After several consultations, he looked up and told me that he had successfully canceled the ticket but that he would not be able to put my dad on the flight because the flight was booked.

went completely ape took this news calmly and stressed the importance of not leaving my dad in a different country. In the meantime, I began getting frantic texts from my sister and husband that our plane was boarding. I’d still not gone through security. After being told that they were very sorry, “Madame,” but that there was nothing they could do and that they might be able to get my dad to Jordan in a few days, I jumped up on the counter and slammed my hands down on the desk while shrieking that they would be getting my dad to Jordan today or else gently explained that a few days was not going to do it. They looked at each other and then figured out a way to get my dad to Jordan. He did, however, have to stay for 9 hours in Abu Dhabi until the late flight. I tore through the airport, like the crazy person they all thought I was, and jumped on the plane at the very last minute.

When we landed in Jordan, we picked up the rental van that I had intended for my dad to drive. I was still pretty upset about my dad. The rental guys told us that the van was manual. I knew I didn’t want to drive and my husband stepped right up to the plate. I vaguely wondered when the last time he drove standard was, but brushed it aside. My sister, who’d been living in the Middle East for about a year and driving standard the whole time, offered to drive. But my husband was super excited about driving.

We loaded into the car and my husband pulled out of the space…and hit another car. Then he stalled out on the speed bump. Then he ground the gears when shifting. He took a 180 degree turn at high speed with squealing wheels and the swerving and my screaming. It was incredibly scary. After an hour and a half of the most terrifying ride of my life, we arrived at our resort where everyone fled in different directions to decompress. Fortunately for us, the resort was at the Dead Sea and it was incredible.

Mr. Toad and the kids cooled their heels by the pools while I added my dad as another authorized driver and arranged a private car to bring him to the resort in the middle of the night. We weren’t about to risk another ride with Mr. Toad.

We really did have a wonderful time at the Dead Sea. It was an incredibly nice resort. March seems to have been the off season, so there were hardly any people there. My dad was delivered safely to us in the middle of the night and we spent the next morning lounging around the pools and enjoying the Dead Sea.

We had originally planned to head to Petra that morning, but we changed our plans and booked a hotel in Petra for that night. This allowed us to hang out at the Dead Sea and then hit up the Baptism Site of Jesus before heading south. It was a good plan as you can see from our happy faces.


“We will miss you, Dead Sea, but Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan is calling!”

To be continued…