Isella Visit - Oh, I mean Thanksgiving too!

We had EVERYONE over the Thanksgiving weekend starting off with Joy's mom and brother (Ben) who came down Wednesday. My parents also came down early and crashed at a nearby hotel. We had a Kurian sighting and got the latest on his SF adventures. Thanksgiving Day was a blast with Randy and "Nanner" (my name for Joy's grandmother) driving down from ventura around noon... and the fact that the Cowboys won didn't hurt the day either:).

Did I mention that my WIFE did an AWESOME job with the turkey this year? And did I also mention how incredible Nancy, Carol and Nanner helped pull off such a great feast? Thanks women - it was sooo good.

Games, food and a memorable Thanksgiving "thank" session over speakerphone with Jordan and Lindsey (who are in Maryland) filled our day. God is good all the time but it was fun thinking about it together. Randy and Nanner had to head out after some serious "speed uno" and an attempt at learning how to play Halo 3:). I am proud of you Randy.

Tony, Wendy and Isella arrived on Friday morning and got to hang with Nancy and Ben before they left back for Ventura. The rest of the weekend was hanging out with the Kerr/Gap side - doddling Isella, seeing movies, working out together (with Tony and Wen) and even going to Saddleback Church on Saturday night.

The Kerr/Gap entourage left Monday morning for the "short" drive up the 5 back to NorCal. It was a great weekend - Joy and I had a blast with our families we love and appreciate them so much for making the trek!


Maryland Trip and 2 yr Anniversary!

We have a TON of picts so be forewarned (and they are out of order-sorry!)


We had a great time with Jordan and Lindsey! Arriving Thursday Night at Baltimore Airport, we spent all day with him dropping off his Audi in Alexandria and taking the metro to the "Mall" where we went to the Natural History Museum, the Art Museum (lunch), the National Archives (Declaration of Independence) and finished strong at the Air & Space Museum (my fav).

There was so much to see but didn't have the time so we have an excuse for another trip to see the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Holocaust Museum, etc.

We met up with Lindsey on Friday night (she has to drive so far to work she sometimes stays at a coworkers house to alleviate the commute!) and had an awesome Italian dinner at Carrababa's (sp?).


We "chilled" all day on Saturday - the girls went shopping and so Jordan and I were FORCED to play Halo 3 for 5 hrs... it was rough. I even took Charlie for a little walk at night in the neighborhood - yeah, it was cold and Charlie liked to sniff everything every 5 feet - good times.


Sunday we went to Bay Area Community Church in Annapolis and met up with Jordan and Lindsey's friends. We grabbed a bite at "Pusser's" - our waitress was so sweet and she even asked for prayer as she saw us pray before our myriad of seafood platters. Turns out she needed some encouragement and so we connected her with Bay Area Community - it was very cool.

Finally, Jordan and Lindsey gave us a drive through tour of Annapolis (beautiful naval town due to the academy) and brought us to our bed and breakfast spot at Fell's Point in a historic district of Baltimore near the Inner Habor. Praise God, for once, the internet investigation of a location to go to a bed&breakfast worked out! I had no prior reference - just picked it after some research online. Celie's Waterfront Inn - it was a great little charming place. Simple but with personality and it is located in a cobblestone laden, colonial feel street right near the water.

It wasn't Maui or anything but it was cool. There are a lot of taverns and random eateries all over that area. We even got to see a Naval ship docked in the harbor, playing music on Monday morning - we thought it was a US vessel though I believe the flag was South Korean - not sure.

But with Jordan and Lindsey still with us on Sunday afternoon, we walked around and landed on Bonaparte's Cafe which was a french boulagerie - we played speed uno's and drank coffee - Jordan finally vindicated himself as he was on a hefty losing streak until then.

We said our good byes and later grabbed dinner at a GREAT Mediterranean restaurant called Mezze. Food was awesome and the ambience was warm/fun and contemporary. We loved it.
We asked the waitress if there was a movie theater around so we walked over to the Inner Harbor area and saw the movie "Lions for Lambs" with Cruise, Streep and Redford.

We both enjoyed the movie, recognizing that it was designed to motivate people to vote or simply get off their passive seats and be involved in finding your stance on present matters in the world. It seemed to give arguments for and against both sides of the war in Afghanistan but it had some other interesting character interactions - with Redford as a college professor talking with a disillusioned but apparently gifted political science student, two ethnic minorities deciding to "be a part of the solution" and signing up for the military and Cruise as a young congressman or senator articulating his vision to Streep (a reporter) for modifications in waging a successful military strategy overseas. It was interesting.


We wrapped up our weekend, took a taxi to the BWI airport that was driven by a great guy named Isaiah who had only been in America for five years from Ethiopia. He was such a good hearted and positive spirited person - he shared about his newfound love for American football, his bouts with considering being a nurse and realizing he hates hospitals. Now he is trying to finish his degree in dental hygiene - hilarious.


Pardon me: Iraq and Bin Laden

Pardon me for the seemingly "random' nature of this entry in light of my wife's previous Halloween post but I have to mention something I have thinking a lot about lately: Iraq and Bin Laden.

What is REALLY going on? HOW did we get here? Where did Bin Laden come from and what's his problem anyway? HOW did we decide to go into Iraq anyway - I mean, what were the detailed sources of evidence (and lack of) that we purportedly had?

I have watched CNN. I have read the paper. I have discussed the subjects with friends and aquaintances but even after a few years of Bin Laden and Iraq becoming household names, I still haven't felt informed enough to have a grasp on these two subjects.
Oh I have EMOTIONAL opinions about them but not detailed understandings where I could speak with even pseudo authority.

So, I have read these two books over the last two months and I HIGHLY recommend both of them in getting a grasp of the subjects aforementioned.

I found myself saying "AHA" or "OHHHHH" as the journalistic testomonies illuminated the leadership decisions, flops and lessons in the US deciding to invade and through the occupation of Iraq.
Suspend your rightist or leftist judgements. This book is about costs - not that avoiding costs was/is the solution to Iraq, but that the costs of poor planning, communication and leadership have contributed to the present mire. A key takeaway for me was the profound leadership errors - large and small - made by good people who, at pivotal times, made decisions not taking into account their own blindspots or mistaking humility with cowardice. Not all of the book was negative - there are some refreshing examples of military and civilian leaders that responded in this fog of uncertainty - with courageous leadership and tremendous sacrifice. A very helpful read.

As for Bin Laden, this books is so much more than just about him. It provides the overall worldview and context that led to 9/11. I could NOT PUT IT DOWN - little did I know that the Al Qaeda belief in takfir - 'a license to kill' interpretation of the Quran - found its inspiration in the writings of Sayyd Qutb in the 1940s as he visited the U.S. - specifically Greeley, CO of all places! Like most of history, stuff just doesn't happen but is a culmination of individual choices based on beliefs, socio-economic events or conditions, disasters and paradigm shifts - this is a tragic and fascinating account of the emerging extremists the US faces.

I don't know if I can say 'enjoy' but definitely 'dive in' and be better informed - it's worth it.


A substitute in Mrs. Kerr's class

A little late...but definitely worth it! On Halloween the students were definitely surprised to see a strange but familiar person come hobbling up to the classroom. Students and parents alike were whispering "Is that Mrs. Kerr?" "It is Mrs. Kerr!" "No, it's not!" She stepped up to the very curious students in line for the day (stifling a burst of laughter) and said: "Is this Mrs. Kerr's class?? I'll be your substitute for the day."
Yes, it's true, I dressed up like an old lady for Halloween and surprised not only my students but my entire staff and parents! The inspiration was the gray wig I was given several years back and a pair of old reading glasses. The rest just came together the night before (with a little help from my friend Christy). The makeup was one of the best parts since I made my skin super pale and used eye shadow to exaggerate lines of aging all over my face. Erin was out of the house bright and early that day, but nevertheless, I was literally cracking myself up getting ready in the morning. My ultimate goal was to remain in "substitute" character all day long and I did well until my students realized it was me (10 minutes into the day!) For the parade, I had one of my students, Brett (who dressed up as a girl) escort me around the school since I was quite feeble and unstable...luckily I had a cane!
The day was unforgettable and I couldn't stop laughing. Finally, at the end of the day Colton said "Enough already Mrs. Kerr! We know it's you! You can take your wig off now!" Hilarious! Oh, and the icing on the cake was getting to visit my sweet Jessie at her home after school where I acted in character saying: "I've aged a bit since you last saw me." To which she replied: "I know it's you Mrs. Kerr!" between precious chuckles and smiles. -Joy