Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Happy Thanksgiving

Since David and I got married, we've rotated major holidays with our respective families -- Thanksgiving with one set and Christmas with the other, and then flipped the next year. So this year, we spent Thanksgiving with my family down in Raleigh, NC.

As always, there was good food aplenty:

My youngest brother Eric, my mother, and my middle brother David -- plus the
mashed potatoes and garlic green beans I made!

My dad carving the turkey; Eric always starts Thanksgiving dinner with the drumstick

And after dinner, my dad got to play master of the house, spreading his largesse to the lowliest members of the household:

Feeding the bones to the dogs: Puggy is the big guy eating from my
dad's hand, and Pretty is the slightly smaller dog half in the foreground

On Friday, we spent most of the day in downtown Raleigh. I spent most of my childhood in Raleigh, and know my way around most of the town, but I never really did any of the "touristy" things or visit any of the museums until I brought David home and got to show him around. My family got in on the touristy fun this year, starting with a walk around the Capitol grounds:

Me, David, my mom, my dad, and Eric, in front of the NC Capitol -- the statue depicts
the three US presidents born in NC (Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, and James Polk)

And we capped off the day with a visit to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. Here's a representative sample of the conversation in my family:
MOM: "Go in front of that display, you three, and I'll take your picture."
**We good-naturedly pose, for the zillionth time, for a picture.**
MOM: "It'll look like you're really at the beach!"
MOM: "Oh shoot, I got the lights in the picture..."

Sure, it kind of looks like we're really at a beach, right?

All in all, it was an enjoyable holiday visit with my family -- I'm glad we could make it down this year!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Flying Visit to Dallas

Just got back in last night from a flying visit to Dallas -- a dear friend of ours got married there on Sunday night. David's oldest brother, Donald, is also out in Dallas, doing a Ph.D. at the University of Dallas, so we decided to make a quick weekend trip of it.

It was my first time in Texas, and David's first time west of the Mississippi (barring a quick layover at LAX), so we were excited to be there! We were really only there for half a day (flew out on Sunday morning, arrived at around noon, then flew back home on Monday morning), so we didn't get to see much... And I have to say, Dallas as a city wasn't terribly exciting. At least, not the parts that we got to see, on our way from the airport to the West End. Here's the view from our hotel window, mid-afternoon on a Sunday:

As Donald's South Korean friend would ask, "Where are all the people??"

And what's up with the parking lots? The one where we parked, and at least two others on the street we walked down, had no parking attendants or meters. Here are David and Donald trying to figure out how to pay for our parking:

Turns out, you're supposed to insert bills and coins in the slot corresponding to the number of the parking spot you took. Much laughter ensued as David tried to fold the bills into small enough pieces to stuff them into the slot:

But I digress. The main reason we were there was to celebrate the wedding of a close friend of ours -- Tony is another PEF alumnus, and I also overlapped with him at law school, so I'm really glad we were able to make the trip down to be at his wedding! It was a beautiful and moving ceremony:

And the reception was similarly gorgeous -- it took place on the 69th floor of a skyscraper, with great views of the city at night:

Plus, it was so great to catch up with old friends! It was a slightly different friend circle than the one that shows up at the weddings we've been to in the past few years, and there were some people there that we hadn't seen in years. Including this wonderful couple, who are expecting baby #2 in March!

Good times were had by all. :) Congratulations again, Tony and Julie!!

So we're back in NJ for a day, and then we're flying off tomorrow morning to NC to spend Thanksgiving with my family... Who knew we were such jet-setters?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

PEF Missions Conference 2008

Every year, PEF hosts a missions conference, inviting some of our alumni who are out on the missions field to come back and share about the work that God is doing around the world. It's always really cool to meet some of the missionaries that we're supporting, and to be encouraged to think more concretely about doing "missionary" work, whether we're called overseas or Stateside.

This year's theme was near and dear to my own heart -- "Vocations to the Nations," focusing primarily on using our professions as an entry point into closed countries. It's important to have both a legitimate business reason to be in the country (not just a front -- one of the speakers likened these fake businesses to Mafia fronts for drug laundering purposes), and to also be actively seeking to disciple others and spread the good news. Real tent-making, in today's global economy, means being a real part of a local economy, making business decisions in a counter-cultural, God-honoring way, and sharing the gospel both in the context of your business life and in your personal connections with other locals.

And let's not forget that all of the same principles apply whether our missions field is a remote village in Central Asia or a law firm office in Central NJ... I'm struggling to figure out how my job can be more of a vocation/calling rather than just an occupation. I want to be a light in my office, but I'm still unsure of what that really looks like. I pray that I can be a voice of encouragement and hope amongst the complaints and fears of a down economy -- but surely there's more to it than that. Please pray that God would give me opportunities to speak His truth in ways that are meaningful to others around me -- that I would be both bold and sensitive.

Anyways -- the other reason I wanted to blog about the conference was to post pictures! (Click each picture to enlarge.)

Our first speaker, Brian Fujito '00, speaking on using business skills to spread the gospel

The dinner portion -- three tables (Business & Engineering, Medicine, and Non-Governmental Organizations), each hosted by missionary alumni

Hosting the NGO table: Lisa Frist '06, who worked for two years with Samaritan's Purse in Mozambique

Hosting the Medicine table: Kenny '92 and Wendy '93, medical missionaries in China

The money shot: Danielle, Elizabeth and Rachel with little Timothy, the youngest of Kenny and Wendy's five children (imagine the excitement caused in one-child China by this brood of five blond blue-eyed children!)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Baby, It's COLD Outside... let's reminisce about the good ol' days of summer, by posting some never-before-published pictures!

(I wish I could say that this was part of some grand plan to extend our summer vacation experiences, but really, I've just been too lazy to upload these pictures from our camera until tonight...)

Family Reunion at the OBX
Back in August, we took a week's vacation with David's extended family to celebrate his grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary. It was a beautiful week of sunshine, relaxing, and time with family, down in Corolla, NC.

Sixty years married! Grandpa and Grandma McMillan, opening their anniversary gift from their children and grandchildren -- a digital photo frame.

The beach house we rented for the week; the pool in the backyard, where the more adventurous cousins played volleyball (Miriam, Philip, Donald and Kyle)

David's parents admiring a pretty good sand pyramid (complete with sphinx!); David's dad, ever the biologist, examining a new specimen

Sunset on the dunes; us at Kitty Hawk
(that's right, North Carolina was first in flight, not Ohio!)

PEF Beach Retreat
Some of our favorite pictures from the annual beginning of the school year retreat at Ocean City -- the last hurrah of summer.

Most of the group, after riding the carousel on the boardwalk

Huge waves on the beach; students playing Bananagrams on the front porch;
Lydia, age 5, Bananagrams adviser to the stars

The non-undergrads on the retreat -- staff, staff spouses/family, graduates

It's only November, and I already can't wait for it to be summer again...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Life's Little Joys

The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.
-- Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)

The "common thing" that is bringing a smile to my face right now? Fixing the annoyingly ungrammatical "1 comments" bug in Blogger!

As I was contemplating starting a new blog, I was attracted to all the very pretty, very personalized blogs I was seeing out there. I started doing some research to see what (free) options were available, and came across one particular gem of a website, Blogger University, which compiled lots of simple and useful hacks and coding tweaks, designed for use on the Blogger template. I highly recommend this site, for those of you who want to make minor changes to the basic template, but have zero HTML/XML knowledge.

After learning how to customize the header with my own image, and figuring out how to add that cute little teddy bear favicon to the status bar, I was absently clicking through various other options, when I saw it. A fix to the one thing that had always, always bugged me about the basic Blogger template. "Fixing the '1 comments' bug in Blogger Beta."

Maybe it's just me and my OCD need for grammatical perfection, but it bothers me that the Blogger template is programmed to always list "n comments." This works just fine when you have zero comments, or two or more, but if you only have one comment posted, you're stuck with "1 comments."

Making the change was super easy. So easy, in fact, that I wonder why Blogger doesn't just do this automatically...

But I'm going to choose to extract happiness from the fact that I fixed the bug. Woohoo, no more cringe-inducing grammatical errors!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Origins of "Keddiebears"

So after a long hiatus, I've decided to rejoin the wonderful world of blogging. And this time, I'm dragging David along with me! We'll see how often we update this blog -- much of my time is taken up with my job, and I can't imagine that that will make for interesting blog fodder ("Went to the office today. Did a lot of stuff that I can't really talk about for fear of breaching attorney-client confidentiality."), and the same can be said for David ("Had a Bible study today. Can't say much about the content, because the guys trust me with their confidences."). But we'll try to come up with more interesting posts than that. :)

For starters, I should explain the whole "Keddiebears" thing. I mean, obviously, it's a cutesy nickname, and a silly play on our last name. But there's a reason why I'm not ashamed to name our blog "Keddiebears," and share it so openly with the public -- this particular nickname has already been outted and openly perpetuated by our dear friends...

Back when we were just engaged, I had a penchant for coming up with silly nicknames for David. (Oh, who am I kidding -- I still do that to this day!) I accidentally let "Keddiebear" slip out in front of David's roommate at the time, Jason. The poor guy witnessed a lot of my cutesiness during our engagement, though, so I didn't think too much of it.

Jason was David's best man, and stood up to give a little toast at our rehearsal dinner. At the end of it, he said something along the lines of "You know you're a fifth wheel when you walk into your own living room, and hear Christina calling David her 'Keddiebear'!" Much laughter ensued, and we took it all in stride.

Apparently, our minister, who was at the rehearsal dinner (and is David's boss, and a dear friend of ours), didn't think that we had had enough public humiliation... Part of the wedding homily he delivered at our ceremony was a charge to us to remain committed and loving towards each other in the hard times as well as the good. In the middle of this charge, he looked at me and said, "Christina, there will be times when David seems more like a grizzly bear than your Keddiebear!" Again, much laughter ensued -- this time from all of our family and friends who were at the wedding ceremony.

Included among those friends were several undergraduate students who were a part of the campus ministry that David works for (the Princeton Evangelical Fellowship, or PEF). One of the '08 guys, Frank, was particularly tickled by this nickname, and took every opportunity to use it with David. When this class graduated, they presented the PEF staff with personalized aprons. Guess what figured prominently on David's apron:

So, we're pretty much resigned to being known around these parts as the Keddiebears. But hey, it makes for a cute blog title, right? I knew there would be a silver lining somewhere... :)