Thursday, December 5, 2013

Speech Night at St. Luke's

Last night we held the first annual speech-giving night at St. Luke's Homeless Shelter.

It was pretty fun.

Our community group brings dinner once a month to the men at St. Lukes, and the best part is that we stay and have dinner there too -- not just dropping off food. Last month, I got in a conversation with one of the men, Andre, about Toastmasters.

Little known fact: I am in Toastmasters International. Actually, I'm the secretary/treasurer for our club at work. If you aren't familiar with it, Toastmasters is a public speaking club, and it's one of my favorite monthly meetings that I attend. I get to both give and hear and evaluate speeches about all kinds of things that are far from the typical workday conversations. I've heard speeches about mountain climbing and giant fruits, donating your hair to charity, and the difference between the terms "nerd," "dork," and "dweeb." (Oh yes, there are differences.)

When I brought up Toastmasters last month at St. Lukes, Andre was intrigued. He and I decided to both come prepared last night to give a 3-5 minute speech. Well, because of a little bit of forgetfulness and a little bit of stage fright, we instead decided to each give a 1-3 minute speech on a random topic. The next few minutes were the most fun I've had all week.

And it's on film!

And here we go.

My topic? The greatest basketball player of all time.

Oh Lordy. (FYI, the speeches have to be broken up in separate clips... I didn't have the software on my lap top to splice it all together... Next time! And I think you have to watch them on an actual computer and not an iPhone or tablet.)


Aaron Bird? Know him? Sort of like Aaron Burr? As in, Thomas Jefferson's vice president? Yea...

Aaron Bird, Larry Bird. TomAto, TomAHto.


Then, Andre was up. He got the topic of "Outer Space" and ended up talking about space travel.

Pretty good I think!

And then Anna went. Her topic was "riding a bike."


Cute Anna. She makes me want a twin!

Next up was A.J., and his topic was...

Wait for it...

"The realistic influence of Star Trek, the TV series." What??? I am SO GLAD I didn't get this topic.

I think A.J. is a born natural. He worked in youth ministry for 20 years so I'm not surprised... it's not easy captivating the young minds of tomorrow.

My next topic was "Lime or Lemon?"

This was not easy!

I guess lemon takes the cake. And yes, citrus fruits are effervescent. No doubt.

Last but not least, A.J. finished the night with the topic of "food." Here is the last half of his speech:

"I highly recommend food."

Man, so do I!

It's a real treat to get to spend time at St. Luke's each month, and I think last night was one of the best nights yet. Anna had to leave early to get to a Christmas party on the Hill, and she said this to me later: "I couldn't help thinking about the juxtaposition of my night. Starting at St. Lukes and then going to a place where people want to be seen and are caught in the DC ladder climb -- this was eye-opening. It really put things into perspective for me about what truly matters and what Advent is really about."

Tis the season.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Kennedy Walking Tour in Georgetown

Last Friday, November 22, 2013, was the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination at Dealey Plaza.

I remember going to the Sixth Floor Museum as a junior in high school in Dallas with my friends Leighton and Beth on an assignment for our AP US History class. Leighton was rushing through the museum, glancing at everything just for a quick second while Beth and I slowly and deliberately read the first panel. Leighton then ran over to us and said "Hurry guys! We have six floors of this stuff!" Oh Leighton -- history major she was not.

(It's called the Sixth Floor Museum because Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy from the sixth floor of that building, the Texas School Book Depository....... not because there are six floors of the museum.) 

It's not a typical choice, but if I could go back in time, one of the days I'd go back to is November 22, 1963. Just to feel the shock waves pulsing out from the center of the nation where the tragedy took place. Just to be an observer of the very event that would mark an entire generation. My dad was 16 in November 1963 -- the exact same age I was on September 11, 2011. I will never forget the shock of that morning when I first heard about the plane crashing into the tower as I sat in my 2nd period geometry class, and as it became readily apparent as the morning progressed that America had been attacked by terrorists. Peace had been ripped apart and trampled upon, regard for human life and welfare had been casually tossed aside, and not a soul in America wasn't affected by the news of that day. And although it was only one man on November 22, 1963, I think our nation felt the exact same way that day -- maybe even to a stronger degree. After all, Kennedy was not only the leader of the strongest nation in the world, but he was an a man extremely admired and a symbol of both American prosperity and morality. 

Jim Denison, a pastor and writer in Dallas, wrote this about the assassination of JFK on the Denison Forum last week: 

Landon Jones, the man who coined "baby boomer," said of the tragedy, "For the Baby Boom children, this was the most mesmerizing moment of their youth.  Time was frozen."  According to historian Todd Gitlin, "The educated young felt [Kennedy's] call, projected their ideals onto him.  His murder was felt as the implosion of plenitude, the tragedy of innocence.  From the zeitgeist fantasy that everything was possible, it wasn't hard to flip over and conclude that nothing was."

Author Stephen King believes the tragedy ripped away the veneer of an ordered world, leading to "a universe of horror and loss surrounding a single lighted stage where mortals dance in defiance of the dark."  According to Steven Spielberg, "Kennedy's assassination started a chain reaction—a kind of house of cards started to come down, not immediately but gradually over the next decade."  Count what came after Dealey Plaza: the Vietnam War and protests, Woodstock and the sexual revolution, Watergate, postmodernism.

America pre-1963 feels united and purposeful, a Norman Rockwell family around the Thanksgiving table.  America post-1963 feels chaotic and reactionary, a Jackson Pollock drip painting.

Kennedy's assassination changed America forever. It's pretty monumental. 

Where am I going with all of this?? Ohhhh well I was a history major, you know. And I also was a U Guide at UVA. Giving both historic and admission tours is most definitely one of my fondest memories from college. So in honor of the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination, I took Michael on the Kennedy walking tour in Georgetown this past weekend. We loved it. And I kept going all googly-eyed over the homes that John and Jackie met in, lived in, and mourned in. The best part is that the homes are all within a one-mile radius of our little apartment. Joy! 

We went the unconventional (more like lazy) route and instead of walking to the houses chronologically in the order that the JFK lived in them, we walked geographically: from closest to farthest away from our apartment. Surprisingly, doing it this way turned out to be pretty fun because it was like putting together pieces of a puzzle as we had to remember where he lived first, second, etc. However, for the sake of this post, I've posted these pictures in chronological order. (If you want the easier walking route so that you aren't back-tracking all over Georgetown, I added that at the end.) 

Tour time. Here we go!

Here I am outside of 1528 31st Street NW. Kennedy lived here while serving his senate terms from 1946-1949. It was here that he began his presidential planning.

And here I am outside of this gorgeous house at 1400 34th Street NW. Kennedy shared this home from 1949-1951 with his sister, Eunice (what a name), before she got married. The back, upper deck of this Georgetown mansion is to die for!

This little love shack at 3260 N Street NW is where Jack met Jackie at a dinner party. Kennedy rented it from 1951-1953 while running for Senate.

And here we have a little townhouse the Kennedy's rented and lived in right after they got married. This home, 3321 Dent Place NW, happens to be about 100 yards from where we live! Gosh, I love that. Jack and Jackie only lived here for five months from 1953-1954 before they had to go back to Massachusetts because of Jack's back issues. Our neighbors, sweet John and Eleanor, remember the Kennedy's living here. They have told us stories about how Eleanor's parents used to sit with the Kennedy's butler and maid and share neighborhood news. How cool is that.

This little gray house at 2808 P Street NW is where Kennedy wrote Profiles in Courage and developed much of his presidential campaign in 1957.

From there, they moved into my favorite house! This green-shuttered beauty is where the Kennedy clan lived from 1957-1961 as the presidential campaign progressed. After this, they moved to the White House. I think this house at 3307 N Street NW is so purdy.

Finally, this home at 3038 N Street NW is where Jackie mourned her husband's death after his assassination.

And lastly, for dinner, we went to Martin's Tavern, the iconic Georgetown pub serving presidents for the past 78 years. Martin's has it all -- history and great food and drink -- we had salmon and shepherd's pie and Blue Moons. Heavenly! As a congressman and then senator, Kennedy used to sit in Booth 1 and read the newspaper while enjoying Sunday brunch. And it was here, in Booth 3, that Jackie accepted his proposal on June 24, 1953.

Love and happiness. Well, at least for a little while for Jack and Jackie.

And so concludes the tour! I do hope you enjoyed it. We sure did. It's pretty fun to live in a town where history abounds.

Our trusty map we used.

That little house is where we live -- hee hee.

Our list.

So high-tech, I know.

If you want to do the tour and walk it in a way so that you aren't zig-zagging all over the place, the numbers above correspond with the numbers on the map. You can pick your starting point based on what's easiest for you. Capiche??

Also, I would LOVE to give you a tour, if you'd ever like to do one. I'd include tons more tidbits than I've written here, and can also recommend what to eat at Martin's (or pretty much any local restaurant) and where to get some good deals while shopping. (Kidding -- good deals and Georgetown do NOT go hand-in-hand.) If interested, please email careybeth (dot) catalino (at) gmail (dot) com!

I didn't say this up front, but this post is going into the "Things I Love About Georgetown" bucket. So that would make this TILAG numero dos! (Here is #1 in case you missed it.)

We're off to New York City -- happiest of Thanksgivings to you!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tilly and Tony's Wedding {in which we highlight a time well spent}

These two goofballs got themselves lawfully wedded a few weeks ago.

A happier time was never had.

(Don't miss the baby bump on the left in the above photo. Amazing!)

Barbie even made an appearance at the nuptials.

She is so cute.

My handsome date was looking handsome.

And I just had to include this picture since there is nothing cuter in all the world.

Then there are these girls. There is a Nashville, Charlottesville, DC, Houston vibe going on here.
Ok --  this is how we know each other. From left to right, girl 2, 3, 4, and 5 all were best buds at UVA. Girl 3 went to med school and now residency with girl 1's sister in law. Girl 6 married girls 2, 3, 4, and 5's friend from UVA, and girl 7 married girl 5's husband's friend from Duke, and those husbands also went to school with girl 1. Girl 5, 6, and 7 all lived in DC together, and girl 5 and 6 still live in DC together. But also girl 1 and 7 used to live in Charlottesville (girl 7 still does,) so they were buds there. And girl 3 and girl 4 live in Nashville with girl 1 now. And girl 2 married girl 6's husband's really good friend from UVA. And girl 7's husband used to live in Houston with girl 2 and her husband, who still live there. Ok, so, how do we know each other and who lives where??

Ready go!

Confused?? It makes sense to me! The world is small.

Let them eat cake.

Full hearts. These are my bossom buddies, give or take a few missing faces.

Oh and lest I forget, there is a newbie addition to my frands who I love so much (both my frands and the newbie.) Coming in at 24 inches is the adorable Miss Chandler Lewis. She is my favorite eyebrow-less child I have ever known.

Chandler's got some crazy aunties and by that look on her face, I think she knows it full well. Ohhh sweet baby, you are loved.

Oh sweet friends, you are loved.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Caught in the Act

Oh Lordy.

I got caught doing what I love most.... vegging on the sofa after a hard day's work.

...with a tin of popcorn.

Deer in the headlights.

How embarrassing.

Do not do what I do.

But do make time to "lay like broccoli" like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, except for the whole hooker thing.

Vivian: Let's watch old movies all night... we'll just veg out in front of the TV.
Edward Lewis: Veg out?
Vivian: Yeah. Be still like vegetables. Lay like broccoli.

I don't even care. I am so happy.

You totally win if you know that I actually quoted a movie quoting a movie just there. I'm tricky like that.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Acts 9


Why??? Why do I do it? Why do I make promises and then have to follow through with them??

They say yes with their mouths but their hearts are not with me... Doesn't Jesus say something like that? I think so.

And so. And so I must follow through and write about Acts 9. Even though I feel like my heart is not there right now. I would so much rather write about something else, something more "fun," and not have to write about the wonderful passage that is Acts 9. Here is a lesson to learn: if something is on your heart, you should write it down right then and there, and not belabor it or waste time or say "I'll get to it later" -- because you know what? The later is now the NOW. And here I am complaining about how I said I would write about Acts 9, and it's been 17 days and I still haven't done it.

So, here we go. I am saying yes with my mouth but my heart is not in it... but I have a prediction.

It is this: that by the time I am finished writing this post, my heart will be all in.

Let's get started.

Acts 9 -- I've been reading Acts in my morning QT lately. Acts is the New Testament parallel to the Old Testament Judges. In Judges, the cycle of turning away from the Lord is repeated over and over, and Israel's oppression and idolatry gets worse and worse. Bottom line? It's a low point in Israel's history. The phrase "and they again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord" is on repeat the whole time. Geez louise, that stinks. But thankfully there is the NT and there is Acts! And Acts tells of the total opposite -- it tells of people turning away from idolatry and sin and coming to know Christ in crazy numbers despite trials and persecution and stoning and prison and ship wrecks and... it's totally glorious. And Acts 9 tells the story of Saul's conversion.

Saul. I don't know of a better example of a life transformed than Saul. A man who "breathed threats and murder." A man who was on a mission of imprisonment. If Jesus can change Saul, Jesus can change anyone. I mean anyone.

In the previous post, I wrote about how I've been reminded lately to open my eyes to the simple wonders in my everyday life. It was while thinking about this that I noticed how much sight, seeing, vision, and eyes had to do with Saul's conversion.

Now I know what you are thinking. "No duh... Saul goes blind for a few days... we know the story. Moving on." Well, to that I just say: slow it down. Breathe it in, child. There is much to be discovered in a passage that you think you know well. There was for me, at least. Take note:

  • 9:3 - A light from heaven flashed
  • 9:7 - men with Saul "seeing no one"
  • 9:8 - "Although his eyes were open, he saw nothing."
  • 9:9 - Was without sight for three days
  • 9:10 - Ananias had a vision
  • 9:12 - Saul had a vision of Ananias who would lay hands on him "so that he might regain his sight."
  • 9:16 - "For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name."
  • 9:17 - The Lord who appeared to Saul has sent Ananias "so that you may regain your sight."
  • 9:18 - Scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight.

The physicality of Saul losing his sight was humbling. He had to be led by the hand. He was physically unable to do anything without assistance. He didn't eat or drink.

But what about the metaphorical loss of vision? Saul was already blind, but now his outer physical blindness matched his inner spiritual blindness. Saul literally was blind to the Lord and his loving-kindness. He was blind to the Lord's call, despite his knowing that it was the Lord who called him that day on the road to Damascus. And aren't we all that way too? Without the Lord opening our eyes, aren't we all blind, groping about aimlessly, trying to figure out how to live without sight?

But how can we live without sight??

Open my eyes Lord, that I may see, like it says in the Psalms. Open my eyes to the simple joys of this life, open my eyes to the beauty of creation (case in point: last night's sunset), open my eyes to the suffering in my city, open my eyes to see my deep-rooted character flaws, open my eyes to see how much I am loved by my King. There are thousands of ways that my eyes need opening. Just like Saul.

I was thinking a lot about the meaning of verse 16. God says, "For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." We know two things about Paul (formerly Saul) from other places in the Bible: that he had really large handwriting (Galatians 6:11) and that he suffers from some form of physical problem (2 Corinthians 12:7).

I'm pretty sure (and most people agree) that Paul's thorn in his flesh is his impaired vision. And I'm thinking that his impaired vision was likely from the light from heaven that flashed around him on that fateful day. And it's something that would keep him humble for his whole life. Something that always would bring him back to the Damascus road. Every time someone asked Paul about his poor eyesight, he probably told his conversion story. How he "breathed threats and murder" against the very God he now served. How he once denied the very cross that he now preached to the world. And how his eyes had been opened, literally and figuratively, by the Holy Spirit.

I want to live with my eyes open. I think they are, but I also know that sometimes the world and its worries can make them shut... or at least make them flutter and squint.

But I know this is true -- that I can say, with Paul, and like the man born blind:

"One thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see."

Saturday, October 19, 2013

One Thousand Gifts

Have you heard of the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp? The girls in my Bible Study and community group, and life in general, have DEFINITELY heard me talk about this book....way, way too many times. But I can't help it. It's just one of those reads that lifts your soul and reminds you that we have but one life to live -- so why not live it well??

The book, which is essentially the author's reflections on thanksgiving, and grace, joy, trusting the Lord, and spreading grace to others, is set on a rural farm in Canada. Ann is literally folding laundry or washing dishes or feeding her family or going to doctor's appointments the entire time. That's it. That is pretty much her life. But she has discovered the secret to it all: thankfulness (Eucharisteo) that leads to a life of joy. 

I've started to do this -- training my heart to be one of gratitude. A grateful heart. Having a heart of gratitude sure does bring in the joy and the peace, and makes me keenly more aware of God's grace in my life. 

The main way to turn your heart into a grateful one is to begin to open your eyes to see the simple wonders that are in everyday life. I remember a distinct time when I did this on a regular basis: it was when I came home from a semester in Argentina and was utterly and completely high on life. I had just gone through a low valley, full of mourning and sorrow and confusion, and had just begun climbing the mountain back to contentment and joy. I was ecstatic to be back with my best friends for my fourth and final year at UVA. I was healthy, I was whole, I was aware of the immense blessings in my life. 

I was in love with everything. 

I distinctly remember walking from my apartment on University Circle to two buildings down to visit friends at their apartment, and was struck -- no, I was utterly captivated -- by the brightness of the purple flowers that were growing near the sidewalk. I actually am pretty sure they were weeds... but what does that matter? Yellow bees were swarming in and out of the purple buds. I couldn't believe the colors. The beauty of that small moment. How had I never noticed this before? I felt like a child seeing purple flowers and yellow bees for the first time in my life. And I'm sure I thought my favorite saying, something that I think I'd like to have on my epitaph one day....

Will wonders never cease. 

Will wonder never cease! 

Reading One Thousand Gifts has brought this feeling back to me. A sense of gratefulness and joy. The feeling is always there, but sometimes it lies dormant, buried deep -- covered by worries and work and busyness and selfishness and laziness. Sometimes I just don't want to open my eyes to the small wonders in my everyday life. But what kind of life would I be living then? What kind of person would I be? Well, I'd be anxious and mean for starters. And I would be neglecting the reason why I live -- to glorify God and enjoy him for all eternity. 

Say what? Yes. That is the reason why I live. And why you live. Will wonders never cease. 

I sat down to write this post about my reflections on Acts 9 -- the story of Saul's conversion on the road to Damascus. But I started writing, and I guess I needed to give this explanation first about what has been stirring in my heart these days. I love that, about writing. You don't really ever know where it will take you. So... if you want to, read Acts 9, and hopefully I will rally my lazy soul and soon write about what I have learned from that one passage. It's about having your eyes opened. No, it's about the Lord opening your eyes. 

"Open my eyes Lord, that I may see..." Psalms 119:18

Speaking of amazing wonders, here is my mom holding the new baby boy of one of my best friends.

I'll say it again, because really, how could I not:

Will wonders never cease.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Georgetown Cupcake and Things I Love about Georgetown, a Series!

I'm going to start a little series on the blog. It's called TILAG.

Yikes. That just sounds awful. Maybe I'll just call it like it is:

"Things I love about Georgetown."

As if I don't talk about my hood enough... but consider this the inaugural posting of the series. Let's begin!

I need to address something exceptionally important in my life that causes both befuddlement and amusement on a pretty consistent basis.

Let me set up the situation for you: everyday*, I drive home from work. I cross the Key Bridge and turn right on M street, quickly get into the left-lane, and take a left on 33rd Street NW -- the street where we live and the street that we love.

And everyday, there is a horde, a buzzing swarm, a listless mass, a humming host, a grand MULTITUDE of........ people!

Standing all in a line. Waiting for a taste of maple, or maybe honey banana, or PB Fudge, or perhaps salted caramel, or strawberry, or how 'bout chocolate coconut. These flavors and more, all baked into little cupcakes and packaged in a pink box.

Alas, I share my street with none other than Georgetown Cupcake (aka DC Cupcakes if you are familiar with the show... I am not.)

To set the record straight once and for all, Georgetown Cupcake is good. But it is nothing compared to what you could make for yourself at home. It is nothing compared to my friend Leighton's mom's carrot cake with cream cheese icing (one word: DECADENT) that could easily be made into cupcakes. It nothing compared to Sprinkles which is a mere two blocks down M street, and it doesn't even come close to touching my friend Jennifer's Coca-Cola cake cupcakes. And don't even (don't even) get me started on Baked and Wired. For the love of all the best coffee shops in the world, don't get me started on Baked and Wired. Just go there. Just go! Only don't go. Because I don't want to see you there. It's my tucked-away haven.

But hey, if cupcakes are your thing, and you like waiting in line, than Georgetown Cupcake seems to be the place to be. I actually have never set foot inside the shop, but I can attest to the friendly faces who direct the lines and talk about the daily flavors to the bukoos of people waiting for their sweet treat.

And I can also speak about the cop.

There is a cop.
The cupcake cop.
The cupcake cop who watches over the cupcake shop.
His name is Bop.
He owns a mop.

Na, I'm kidding about those last two lines.

Anyway, this cupcake cop. He keeps the peace, let me tell you what.

Let's zoom in.

I'm shaking in my boots!

But the cop is always there. I mean always. Well like almost always. Is what I mean. But he is there! And I think he is paid to just... you know... make sure Americans don't eat too much? Nope. Catch the wayward cupcake thief? Surely not. Make sure determined cupcake consumers don't get hit by cars? Probably so. But I really don't know...

I think he gets paid in cupcakes.

This line, this endless line of people. Even if I do think they are crazy for waiting so long for baked sugar and flour, it sure has become something I look forward to seeing everyday. Why? Well, because I love my neighborhood! I try to avoid the crowds, but I love my hood.

So TILAG (mmmmm?) #1 -- Georgetown Cupcake and the Cupcake Cop. Sure signs that I am nearly home.

(*everyday is a loose term. I don't go to work everyday since I sometimes work from home. Glory, glory halleluia!)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Happy Campers

One of my most dear friends in all the world came to town this past weekend!

Elizabeth is a LOVER OF LIFE and adventure and the full experience and living in the moment and basically she is amazing and I love her. 

In the spirit of true adventure, we went on a little "jaunt" through the woods. Which ended up meaning that we hiked from Virginia into West Virginia. Who knew? 

Elizabeth just so happens to be a 3rd grade teacher in Dallas, and like all 3rd-graders growing up in Texas, you learn your Texas history. Michael, wise one that he is, saw his opportunity to learn about the great state that his wife was raised in, and asked Elizabeth for a history lesson. 

We talked Texas history for an hour. It was unexpectedly wonderful. 

What was unexpectedly not wonderful was taking "nature breaks," as Michael called them. These were times when we took a break and admired bugs. 



I protested and adamantly declared that I saw no need for such crass investigation. But alas, I was outnumbered. Elizabeth happens to love bugs, nature, flora, fauna, you name it. She teaches her kids about it. A bold undertaking, if you ask me. 

Can we take a moment and pause to admire Elizabeth's hair? Good Lord, she has amazing hair. 

I have hair envy. 

Moving on. 

They are investigating a black and fuzzy caterpillar. 

(This is code for "they are pyscho.")


Anyways, Texas history and nature breaks aside, we finally made it to the top! 

Ahoy! (I sail!)

Later that night, we went to see Bastille. It's an electronica pop band from England that Elizabeth introduced me to. Here's a brief clip from their song "Home." 

(Who knew I could upload videos to the blog?? Big news.)

They are good. I mean really good. It's hard to pick a favorite song, but Overjoyed is definitely one of the best. Give Bastille a listen. Tonight's show in New York was their last stateside stop for a while, but they'll be back, and they will sell out even faster than they are now. 

What's happiness to me?? New tunes! No bugs! And old friends. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cappadocia and Ankara

Ohhh my, how time flies. I don't know what has gotten into me recently with my lack of blog posting, but I don't like it! And I think it has something to do with what Glenn (our pastor) is preaching about at church: COMPLACENCY.

Ugly word. It creeps in and settles right on down and the next thing you know, you've wasted an hour (an hour??!) on Instagram and not doing what you really should be doing like cleaning, or sleeping, or enlightening your mind by reading, or working-out... or really ANYTHING productive. 

Instagram. I love-hate thee.

For today, I'd like to close the chapter on Turkey (at least for now) by posting a few more pictures from the rest of the trip in Cappadocia and Ankara. The tour guide in Cappadocia kept calling our group "my dear guests" the whole day we spent with her. Why not? I liked it. So -- please, my dear guests, step a little closer and enjoy these pictures from a country that is far nearer to my heart than ever before.

We arrived in Cappadocia way late at night after a 15 hour bus ride, and woke up to the COOLEST courtyard, and basically the best (if not most eccentric) hotel ever!

Walking amidst the fairy chimneys

Dave: action shot
Dave: in Cappadocia

Like mother, like son.... Lisa and Conor are twinsies. 
The smiling rocks of Cappadocia

Lucy, as seen looking out from a "kitchen" in the rocks
Lots of neighbors close by if you lived here... 
Back at the hotel. I love it. 

Can't get enough... 
Anitkabir, Ataturk's Mausoleum in Ankara. The guy was LOVED by the Turks and still is today.   
Stephen and his French press 

Ankara, as seen from the top of Atakule

Dave, Duyal and me at the top of Atakule
Ice cream at Kugulu Park. So needed after walking ALL OVER Ankara!

This is our subway picnic. We navigated a huge grocery store (like a super Target only bigger) and then ate our snacks on the subway platform, the only place we could find shade and not totally stick out like sore thumbs. We found shade, but I definitely think we still stood out... 

Jordana got a haircut in a Turkish salon! Brave and beautiful lady. 
Ann Woods, Lucy and me. Best roommates ever. No seriously -- we survived drippy faucets and doors on no hinges and used soap and sleep aids and FC Barcelona bedding (??) and prank calls from the concierge and ear-plug lessons...just to name a few things. Love these ladies!