Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Snow" in Tennessee

I talked to Poppop today via Skype which was SO wonderful! He told me they have 8 inches or so of snow and I know Nebraska and Michigan get a lot so I thought you would get a kick out of our snow. Here in Tennessee even the mention of ice or snow crowds the grocery stores and closes school. School was closed Tuesday when we had ice...though it was on the trees and not on the roads. Then today it was closed for this bit of snow you see in the pictures. (How different from Peoria when we had 17 inches and hardly anyone blinks!) Our kids, especially Emma, got so excited she went out right away. You could see blades of grass through the snow, but it was still great sledding! She cracked me up when she came down and had on her protective goggles for science! Our German Shepherd, Hope, got her first look at snow and LOVED it. It was hard to catch the snowballs when they were thrown...though she wanted to....because they blended in!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hello Everyone

Hello everyone, I am so glad to be able to blog with you all. Thank you Grandpa for setting this up! I have really enjoyed reading eveyone's posts and seeing pictures as well. We just celebrated Felicity Eileen's first birthday this past Saturday, the last year has flown by! I attached a few photos of the weekend.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Before the inauguaration

Last Sunday I drove into DC to drop my Mom off at the train station. After her train left I wandered over to the the capitol which is just a few blocks from the station and took this shot. There was a lot of excitement in the air and even more security. On the way back I took a different route and stumbled across the memorial to Japanese interred during WWII. I never knew there was one. It was a moving tribute, surprisingly hidden away on an obscure street corner...
This blog has realy widened family communications, although I thought it would get more action than it has. I have no idea how many read the postings and comments. Maybe the requirement to open a Google account to make comments is a deterrent, and to make an actual posting requires asking for and getting permission from me. Even so, it's been great to read the postings and see the pictures. Now there's an additional communication vehicle available - Skype. In the last few days I've talked to, saw and was seen by Robin and Ryan, Sarah and Andy (I also saw Erin) and Megan and Steve. Previously I've had other sessions with Megan and Steve, Pat and Steve and just Steve, and Mike, although his or my equipment wasn't working too well that time. For anyone else with the right equipment, I go on line every night except Saturday at 7:30 for about five minutes. To get involved, you need a webcam and the software installed on your computer. If you have a new computer, it may already have a webcam built in. Sarah's laptop does so they used it when we talked. Anyway, this a great way to communicate. Anyone interested can get information from Megan or Andy.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I am at Leigh and Jon's house for Felicity's 1 Birthday.It has been alot of fun .We have watched her open her presents and eat her cake,well play with the cake.She likes playing with all her knew toys.She had alot of fun on her first birthday.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Here are the Hills - a great homeschool family from St. Louis that we met on the pilgrimage. They were on our bus and we really hit it off with them. Mrs. Hill stayed home with their other 4 children. Great hats! We're still in contact with them, especially Anya. The younger one here, "the Rock" (Russell), calls John every once in awhile to make him feel worse about the Detroit Lions.

(sorry if things are out of order - we're new to this!

This is a church built over the place where Jesus spent Holy Thursday in the pit chained up. It is right next to the Holy Steps where Jesus was dragged up that night.

This is the Garden of Gethemane where Jesus began his passion.

I'm sitting on a wall overlooking Jerusalem.

As you saw from our Christmas cards, Jonh, Anya and I went to the Holy Land in November. As Mike can attest to, it was amazing! To be that close to where Jesus was born, lived and died made it very hard to leave. I felt very drawn to those areas. Here are a few pics.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A week or so ago I picked up some things that had accumulated on the table in Peg’s room. I put them on the chest in my room and just this evening decided to go through and discard most of the items. Thought I should save the message on the card I gave her on her birthday. This poem was on the cover:

It’s an uncertain world
That we live in
where so much keeps changing so fast,
And things that we thought
we could count on
too soon become things of the past,
So with all my heart
I feel grateful
For the one precious part of my life
That’s there for me always, no question –
My wonderful, beautiful wife.

It always surprises me when I find a card that seems to say what I would like to say. It proves, I guess, that people who write the messages have had similar life experiences or are exceptionally good at expressing the feelings of others . Of the words above, “there for me always, no question –“ are perfect, and I believe her children would also say of their mother, “She was always there.”

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A new voter in Virginia

In the middle of our current focus on welcoming Erin into our world we had another family celebration this week. After a 4.5 year wait, Sarah was sworn in as a US Citizen on Tuesday. We were surprised things moved so quickly. She had her civics test in the morning, and was sworn in with 70 other brand-new Americans in a Homeland Security conference hall in Fairfax Virginia that afternoon. The ceremony involved the oath to defend the Constitution, a taped video from President Bush, an American video montage set to Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be American" and ended with the Pledge of Allegiance. Thankfully, my Mom has been with us all week and was able to watch Erin during the hours we were away from home. Erin beat her Mom to citizenship by almost a full week. Sarah was sworn in at around 4:30 pm, just over an hour before Erin was 1 week old.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Visit with Andy, Sarah, and Erin

We drove to Arlington this past weekend to see Erin, all 5 lbs and 9 ozs of her. She is tiny and cute.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Erin's Arrival

Sarah and I have had quite an adventure over the last week. Last Friday we scheduled Sarah to be induced at midnight on Jan 6th, because it looked like Erin was trying to put as much distance between her and 2008 as possible and we needed to help her get on her way. That evening contractions started on their own and continued for 4 days but never progressed far enough for us to go to the hospital. It was exhausting for Sarah, so our doctors brought Sarah in for monitoring on Tuesday afternoon, and decided to admit her after seeing that Erin’s heart rate would drop every time Sarah had a contraction. They were worried that Erin could not tolerate labor and admitted Sarah for immediate monitoring. It turns out that Sarah has what one nurse described as “a ridiculously long umbilical cord”, and our little acrobat had managed to wrap it around her neck 3 times!

After a short stay in the hospital the doctors made the call that a caesarean was needed. It was not what we had planned, but we realized this was just the first of countless times we will need to go with the flow as far as Erin is concerned. This week has been a not-so-subtle lesson that we are no longer in control! I was able to be there when Erin entered to world. One of the photos below is a self-portrait of me excited before going into the delivery room. Grandpa said in an e-mail that I now understand why this is called a “blessed event". It was that and more. What an overwhelming experience to be surrounded by the love of friends and family in the run-up to her birth, and then be confronted by this little ball of wonder who will call me Dad! We have enjoyed this precious time with her these last few days as we all get acquainted. She and mommy are both doing well.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

She's Here

Erin Maya Murphy arrived at 5:41 PM on January 6, 2009, weight 5 lbs. 14 oz. According to the proud father, "she's really cute." They had to do a C-section because the cord was wrapped around Erin's neck 3 times.

We will go to Arlington this weekend to see grandchild # 4 and Dad's great grandchild # 15. If you want to send a card of congratulations, their address is:

2645 S. Walter Reed # C
Arlington, VA 22206

Happy New Year to all, and welcome to this world Erin Maya.



Monday, January 5, 2009

A story for the new year.

The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas, just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through. Instead of throwing the man out, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the heater and warm up. "Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude," said the stranger. "I see you're busy, I'll just go." "Not without something hot in your belly." George said. He turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. "It ain't much, but it's hot and tasty, "Stew ... Made it myself. When you're done, there's coffee and it's fresh." Just at that moment he heard the "ding" of the driveway bell. "Excuse me, be right back," George said. There in the driveway was an old '53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked. "Mister can you help me!" said the driver, with a deep Spanish accent. "My wife is with child and my car is broken." George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold, the car was dead. "You ain't going in this thing," George said as he turned away. "But Mister, please help ..." The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting. "Here, take my truck," he said. "She ain't the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good." George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked back inside the office. "Glad I gave 'em the truck, their tires were shot too. That 'ol truck has brand new ." George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The Thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. "Well, at least he got something in his belly," George thought. George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the the block hadn't cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator. "Well, shoot, I can fix this," he said to himself. So he put a new one on. "Those tires ain't gonna get 'em through the winter either." He took the snow treads off of his wife's old Lincoln . They were like new and he wasn't going to drive the car anyway. As he was working, he heard shots being fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, "Please help me." George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention. "Pressure to stop the bleeding," he thought. The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound. "Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin'," he said, Trying to make the policeman feel at ease.. "Something for pain," George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. "These ought to work." He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills. "You hang in there, I'm going to get you an ambulance." The phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your car." He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio. He went back in to find the policeman sitting up. "Thanks," said the officer. "You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area." George sat down beside him, "I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain't gonna leave you." George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. "Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through 'ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time your gonna be right as rain." George got up and poured a cup of coffee. "How do you take it?" he asked. "None for me," said the officer. "Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city. Too bad I ain't got no donuts." The officer laughed and winced at the same time. The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun. "Give me all your cash! Do it now!" the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before. "That's the guy that shot me!" exclaimed the officer. "Son, why are you doing this?" asked George, "You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt." The young man was confused. "Shut up old man, or I'll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!" The cop was reaching for his gun. "Put that thing away," George said to the cop, "we got one too many in here now." He turned his attention to the young man. "Son, it's Christmas Eve. If you need money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pea shooter away." George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry. "I'm not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son," he went on. "I've lost my job, my rent is due, my car got repossessed last week." George handed the gun to the cop. Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and t hen. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can." He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. "Sometimes we do stupid things." George handed the young man a cup of coffee. "Bein' stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out." The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. "Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm sorry officer." "Shut up and drink your coffee ." the cop said. George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn. "Chuck! You ok?" one of the cops asked the wounded officer. "Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?" "GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?" the other cop asked as he approached the young man. Chuck answered him, "I don't know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran." George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other. "That guy work here?," the wounded cop continued. "Yep," George said, "just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job.." The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, "Why?" Chuck just said, "Merry Christmas boy ... and you too, George, and thanks for everything." "Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems." George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box. "Here you go, something for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day." The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. "I can't take this," said the young man. "It means something to you." "And now it means something to you," replied George. "I got my memories. That's all I need." George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car and a truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. "Here's something for that little man of yours." The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier. "And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that too," George said, "Now git home to your family." The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. "I'll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good." "Nope. I'm closed Christmas day," George said. "See ya the day after." George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. "Where'd you come from? I thought you left?" "I have been here. I have always been here," said the stranger. "You say you don't celebrate Christmas. Why?" "Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn't see what all the bother was. Puttin' up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin' cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by myself and besides I was gettin' a little chubby." The stranger put his hand on George's shoulder. "But you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor. The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and not take any for himself. "That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man." George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. "And how do you know all this?" asked the old man. "Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again." The stranger moved toward the door. "If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned." George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room. "You see, George... it's My birthday. Merry Christmas." George's mouth dropped. And the man...well, the man just clean disappeared.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Hope this finds you all ready for 2009. It's a big day for you, Whitney, although I doubt if you get around to reading this today.

All is quiet here. There was a New Year's Eve party yesterday afternoon, but we didn't attend. After her lunch, I thought Mom looked like she wanted to rest.

Here's another interesting story about music. I asked Chaplain Jensen if he had heard the Gaither words to Finlandia. He said he hadn't but there are two hymns to that tune in the new Lutheran hymnal. That prompted me to buy a copy. The first verse of one of these, 792:

When mem'ry fades, and recognition falters,
when eyes we love grow dim, and minds confused,
speak to our souls of love that never alters;
speak to our hearts by pain and fear abused.
O God of life and healing peace, empow'r us
with patient courage, by your grace infused.

The other hymn, 887, is a national song with nice words, but the words I quoted above prove again that others have experienced what we are and may also find solace in song.

Twins' trikes

Sally and I got Mike and Tara's twins Virginia Tech tricycles for Christmas. Michael III is on the left and Andrew on the right in both photos.