Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Hey, all!
I am in the process of upgrading my blog. I have made a new one, and I am trying to figure out how to merge the two. I will keep you posted.
Here is the new address...

Friday, 25 July 2008

                                                                                                 A little place we call Club Malibu in British Columbia. I have just recently returned from a month as a work crew boss from this breathtakingly beautiful locale. I met some fantastic people, and the Lord stretched me in unexpected ways. I owe you all a major update, but I did want to give you a few snapshots of camp, the fab work crew, 80's night, and the lodge at night.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Just a taste of Colorado for you. I tried to find a chipmunk running around to get a picture of to enhance my last story, but to honest, I was a bit gun-shy. Oh, and this is my new fun friend, Mallory!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Ok, so are you ready for this? I am fairly sure I can answer for you all when I say, "No, you are not". This morning, yes, this morning I was awoken by a chipmunk running across my head. Yes, this is what I said...a chipmunk. At the time I thought it was a rat. I am still not 100% convinced that it was not a rat, actually, but other sightings later in the day were of a chipmunk in the house so I guess I have to go with it. This rodent woke me from a dead sleep by running across my left ear. (I am laughing right now just thinking about it. I cannot truly believe it happened still.) I swatted "it" away and got out of bed to go into my other housemates room calmly, completely groggy. I opened their door and said quite calmly, "I am not 100% sure, but I think a mouse just ran across my head". "What?!", they both squealed. Still trying to fully wake up and come to terms with what had just happened, I tried to decipher if it could have been my imagination or just my hair in my face. No, I concluded. It felt a bit like a spider of something because of its quickness but had a bit of weight to it. Definitely a mouse. Marilyn, one of my roommates, and I braved re-entering my room, and she began to put my sofa bed back together. I had stacked the cushions over in the corner of the room when undoing the sofa bed. Marilyn peered into the sofa and saw nothing as we both chatted about how ridiculous it was that we were looking for said mouse, as if we knew what to do with it. We had both just confirmed that we would scream and run if we did find it Marilyn picked up a cushion, there it was! It moved in what could only be called a scurry across the cushion and disappeared. We followed suit and scurried screaming into the other room. I decided the safest place was standing on Marilyn's bed. OH MY WORD! Needless to say, I have found a new place to lay my head tonight.
As I walked around camp today, people continually asked me to tell the story and inquired about my well-being. : ) So hilarious...and completely...shiver/shudder-inducing. Later in the day, the people staying upstairs spotted him in their bit of the house, trapped him, and he got out away out of the house. I drug some summer staff guy who worked in the kitchen down to the house later in the day with me to watch me pack my suitcase. Just a couple of hours ago, I heard Mr. Chipmunk had returned to the house. I knew better than to stay down there. : ) Just had to share. If I see one and can get a good picture tomorrow, I will post it. I mean, it is not shocking to have critters running amuck when you are at camp in the middle of the nature. I see them around camp all the time, but running across your face? No thanks! Ha! : )

Thursday, 12 June 2008

A night at my brother's house last night to see the kiddos. So fun.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

So, Sunday, I turned over a new leaf in London. I drove. Yes, on the left hand side of the road. I have driven once a day for the past three days. Strange. Shaky. Strange. Now, I must confess that these journeys have been a mile at best down a very straight stretch with only one roundabout. But, I mean, seriously, crazy to be on the other side of the road and in control of a motor vehicle. I only ran up on two curbs and it was only for a brief moment each time. My depth perception issue that I have is not sure how to maneuver with everything flip-flopped. It is an entirely new way to look at things. I feel less like a 15 year-old while I am in the countryside these days. Now, I am not going to necessarily make a habit of driving around Kerry's Bluegeot (Peugeot that is blue), but it is nice to know that if I need to transport myself, I am capable. The necessity these past few days has been to take care of Brooke and Tate's lovable golden retriever, Pacey, while B, T, Asher, and Kerry are away in Paris. And, yes, Pacey is called Pacey because of Dawson's Creek. Yet another reason why I knew I should move here and work with these people when I came to visit 2 years ago to check things out. 1.) Brooke and Tate spoke about the characters on Friends as if they were a part of their lives, intermingling quotes in normal conversations. Ex: Tate: "I mean, I don't know why we are even talking about this. It's a moo point." Me: "It's like a cow's opinion". Brooke: "It doesn't matter". Truly, at that moment, I knew. I knew this could work.
2.) Dog named after Pacey, the far superior character to Dawson who gets the most cred due to the creek being possessed by him in the title. Whatever.
You guys miss me, don't you? Be honest. My random stories...I know. Well, I'll be home in a matter of days. Get excited! : )
word/phrase of the week: "sussed it out"...meaning someone has assessed something. "Yeah, I sussed out the people at the party and figured out it was not my crowd."

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Softball season wrapped up officially yesterday with a 5th place finish at ISSTs (International School Sports Tournament). Our performance was worthier of a much better place in the hierarchy in my opinion, though. We had a very challenging draw in our pool of play. I am extremely proud of my girls and how they played. We had a great time, too! I will miss them greatly over the summer. I am now checking of my rather large to-do list which will wrap up my school year. I leave for the states in 9 days.
A few pics...CJ, one of my sball'ers, the team minus Micaela who I believe may have been taking the picture, St. Johns' Wood High Street-the crosswalk where I saw Sir Paul strolling not long ago, and the cutest little boy maybe in the world, Asher, Brooke and Tate's son, who I just adore. :)

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

(The softball team at our team dinner and a bit of a relay at our Wyldlife cookout.)

Travel stateside commences in less than a month. I will be flying to Arkansas on 10 June where I will stay long enough to get my internal clock adjusted back to American time, unpack, and re-pack. My next flight takes me on 14 June to Colorado for a week to visit YL family camp, Trail West. The week in CO will be a great one undoubtedly, as I rest from this year that has been...less than restful, and get the opportunity to see family camp done YL-style, which I know will be with utter excellence. I feel TW could hold a bit of potential for me in the future perhaps with summer assignments and such. We shall see. : )
Next, I will journey to Seattle to meet my assigned team and work crew kids who I will spend the next month with at another of our YL camps, Club Malibu in British Columbia. I will be a work crew boss overseeing high schoolers who are volunteering a month of their summer to serve their peers who come as campers. I have had only one assignment as a WC boss prior to the upcoming one, and it was one of the best months I have experienced. Needless to say, I am beyond excited. After a month at Malibu, I will return to Arkansas to spend much anticipated time with friends and family for a couple of weeks before heading back to England to kick off the fall with Wyldlife camp in Wales.

Sounds like quite a lot, yeah? Yes, but a good lot! Camp is one of my absolute favourite places to be. Time working at YL property does take a vast amount of energy, but it invigorates my spirit with joy, community, attention to detail, and a tangible view of a job well done, in a way that I am so looking forward.

As I pray for energy and focus for these last few weeks in England, I strive to rest in between each task as to claim His power and hand in all I do. I long to claim that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. As I rest in his promises, He is able to strengthen. I
This year has been an amazingly blessed one as relationships have deepened with kids and parents alike. The Lord has met me in such mighty and finite ways that my mind and heart reels. In the midst of His work and blessing, this human is tired. Having moved here and there for the majority of the year and not having a haven in which to nest is beginning to take its tole on my being. Maintaining work with my high schoolers (FWEL and softball),beginning new ministry with my middle schoolers (Wyldlife events), furthering recruitment of adults who share vision for the ASL community (committee forming), looking for more donors to fill in the gaps in my budget, and continuing to learn how life in England differs from the states brings me to the end of the school year looking forward to some time away.
Ok, enough depth for a bit. I know you are looking from some uniquely British interactions and Kym story-telling... I aim to please. : )

So, the spring in England brings sun and sport. As I am living currently in Surrey with Kerry (fellow staff friend) and commuting into the city daily (about an hour by train and tube), I find myself being even more acquainted with public transport. On any given Saturday, I find the train filled to the brim with rugby fans on their way to Twickenham to see England scrum and try. Twickenham is on my route into the city. Packed trains standing shoulder-to-shoulder with loads of people is not generally the scenario I am looking to spend a tremendous amount of time within, but I must say in some ways these weekend days are quite pleasurable and smile-inducing. Everyone is unbelievably friendly and chatty, smiley even. For those of you who have spent time in England, you will know firsthand that most people avoid eye contact completely and typically only break a smile at dogs or babies.
My journey began on the train standing in between two blokes proudly sporting their red rugby shirts toasting each other with Magners (cider beer). All spectators on their way to the match clutched their Tesco (grocery store) bags filled with Carlsburg, Fosters, etc.-beer) and chatted with every new passenger that boarded about the fact that heat was on on the train when the temperature outside was at least 20 degrees C. "Just like England", one guy said, "heat on the trains when it is hot outside and air conditioning on in the winter". All around him affirmed his statement, including myself. (It really is true.)
Fast forward to the second bit of my commute on my journey into the bit of London called Soho where I was meeting three friends at one of my new fave places, Hummos Bros. As I sit on the tube, a group of Birmingham football fans join my carriage. They are all singing boisterously what I can only assume one of their many team songs. (I heard at least 4 between the time they boarded and left.) I had my ipod on, so I did not anticipate any chatting with these obviously friendly guys. I was flanked from both sides from the group, but I was not bothered. One across from me spoke loudly as to drown out my music, "Don't worry! We really are quite nice blokes.", smiling. This cued the gent sitting to my left to ask me what I was listening to. ipod now placed in my bag, as clearly we are becoming friends, whether I would like to or not. : ) Dave, the inquisitive one on my left, continues to ask me questions about where I am from and asks me if I have ever been to Birmingham, Alabama (which is how I realized he and his mates were from B'ham locally). The combination of his mates singing and his rather thick accent made our conversation quite challenging, but the next stop turned out to be theirs. As they left the tube, Dave shook my hand, leaned forward and kissed my cheek goodbye as he said with a thumbs-up, "PROPER!" (For those of you, he was not dreamy. He was probably 50 and just a nice man.) I smiled all afternoon. I love England. Where else would that happen?

Monday, 21 April 2008

Happy to report that the sickness has gone. I am currently sitting, as you can see, in the staff lounge at school awaiting three o'clock, otherwise known as time to load the bus for the trek out to softball practice. I am also pleased to announce, speaking of softball, that we won our first game last Thursday by a score of 37-nil. (That means "nothing" or "0", for all you non-Europeans. We say "nil" over here. There is a bit of local flavour for you.) I am loving my new computer which enables me to take pictures as you see of myself sitting wherever I am. Technology is amazing.
I spent last week babysitting for two different families with two very different family dynamics. The first job required me to just be a present adult with two kids, ages 13 and 16. Easy peasy (bit of England, for you). The latter part of the week had me playing every video game on the Wii known to man with a 6 year-old while his 12 year-old brother entertained himself by playing computer games. I was worn out from game-playing by the time I left yesterday. Oh, the energy of youngsters! Amazing how the kiddos change as they age. I saw it firsthand this week. When they are little, they want you with them doing everything! As they grow up, they are more content on their own. I had a great time with all the kids, but I must say that I am glad to have my own world back in my control. Interesting how I have felt so adrift this past semester when in fact I am quite in control of my world more than I realized. God is good and faithful to bring perspective...all the time.
I don't know as I have much to report of any interest in regards to British-isms this week. As mentioned, I have been playing "mom" to kids, playing footie (a.k.a. soccer), and coaching softball.
We did have a committee meeting this morning with some moms that I know, as well as a few moms I met for the first time. I feel good about gaining more direction from our chatting about the community and needs of their kids. I just so love the times I get to gather with people thinking about common goals to gain perspective and direction. Such meeting energize me and clarify my path.
Cheers, and I will speak to you soon!
I need to update you all on my very exciting summer plans!

Saturday, 12 April 2008

I have the flu. Yes. Never have I ever had the flu, but it is official. Actually, I should change that wording. The flu has got me. When I came home from practice on Tuesday evening, the fever kicked in. For the next two days, I was buried in the duvet watching telly, sleeping, coughing, and sleeping some more. As Friday arrived, I felt well enough to exit the flat. Today I even ventured back into the city to check in with some families I will be babysitting for next week. (I have moved out to Surrey with my colleague, Kerry, for the rest of the school year, the next 6 weeks.) The train ride back to Surrey put me to sleep straight away. Clearly, my body is not healed, though I am feeling a bit better and the fever seems to be gone. I do not know of flu and cold season is hitting where you are, but take it from me... do all you can to keep it from "getting you". Drink your OJ. Flee from those who have even the slightest cough or sniffle. Get plenty of sleep. I hope you are stay well this spring season of crazy weather and potential infection! : )

Monday, 7 April 2008

Will wonders never cease?! It snowed yesterday! The morning reminded me of being home in Arkansas in the winter. I was awoken by a text from Courtney that simply said "SNOW, HUGE SNOW!" I immediately parted the blinds above my bed to see kids throwing snow at one another dressed in so many layers they might have walked right off the set of "A Christmas Story". They looked at me rather peculiarly as I looked out, making be believe my squinting, big-haired self must look rather strange peering between the shades. I jumped out of bed, grabbed my camera, and gleefully snapped photos of the white blanket that covered the ground. Beautiful. As the morning unfolded, the temperature warmed, and the snow melted fairly quickly. But all day long as we went about the day's adventures, the remnants of the sheet of white loveliness that had covered the green were scattered around...a dusted rooftop, a leaning snowman, branches sprinkled in white. The aftermath of the cold front is that I now must confront the chilly winds in a matter of an hour or so as we head to the field for a bit of softball practice. Not so excited about that shivering that is to come, but I love snow, especially when it is so sparse here. It makes me feel like a little kid, and I am ALWAYS in favour of this feeling. : ) May we never lose our "kiddo" inside us.
We had quite a gang at FWEL this past week, and we had a blast playing one of my fave games, Samurai. If you have never played it, ask me next time you see me. I'll teach you. I laugh so hard listening to people scream their own versions of "YAAAH!"
Cheers, friends! Miss you mucho!

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Back from Bulgaria! We had a great time building playground equipment and painting equipment that desperately needed attention. Here are a couple of pictures of my cabin girls. These girls go to TASIS (all except for one who attends school in Milan, Italy now after having moved from TASIS), one of our other London international schools where we do Young Life. I am so blessed to be called in as an extra leader. The Lord used this week to shower me with blessings, laughter, and great new friendships!
Softball season is now in full swing...pun intended. : ) I am currently working on my plan for today's practice. Be back soon...

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Cheers! Fantastic news... my new computer has arrived! It was delivered to me late last night by some wonderful friends! It is going to take me a bit to transfer all info from old to new, but I had to share as I am so excited! The world has re-opened to me, literally! I love it, and I know a fraction of its capabilities thus far!
You will see some pictures here of my last Wyldlife event...bowling and pizza. Big fun!
I leave on Saturday for our annual Service Project. We are going back to Bulgaria this year to do more work in and around orphanages. Though, I do not have any friends coming with me from central London, I have been asked to go along to help out as an extra female leader.
Have you heard of Rob Bell? If not, check him out...podcast on itunes under Mars Hill Bible Church.
I looked at another flat today. It is quite small, but it might just work. I will keep you posted. I am ready to properly unpack. No question.
Softball officially begins practice when we return from break on 31 March. The season is going to be full of lessons, hard work, and insights, I can forsee. My girls are fantastic, and I look forward to getting to know them all a bit better.


Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Hiya. It has come to my attention that my last couple posts about flats may be a bit confusing. Thought I'd take a moment to clarify.
When I left for the States in January with Mom and Pop, I had moved out of my flat in Camdentown...the one with the blue door marked 9 in a past post. When I returned in late January, I stayed a few weeks with my friends, the Hendersons, a.k.a. Micaela's family. As of a couple weeks ago, I moved in with my friend, Claire, and her family. I plan to stay there until I get a flat or through the end of March, whichever comes first. Last week sometime, I thought I found a flat to move into permanently and put a bit of money down for a holding deposit. After a few days of considering, gathering advice, and praying, I felt a bit ill at ease about taking said flat. I wrote the "I found a flat" post the day of putting down that money. At the time I was beyond excited about the location of this flat (in the neighbourhood of my school) and the prospect of being able to settle into a new nest. Like I said, I just began to feel uneasy and hesitant about making that move for several reasons. So, I passed on that flat, and I will continue to look while I very much enjoy my time over the next handful of weeks at Claire's.
I know many of you are anxious to see pictures as I have not posted any in quite awhile. I am closer and closer to remedying my lack of computer problem, so please be patient with me. All my pictures are trapped on my old computer which has opted out of connecting to the internet indefinitely.
Despite the absence of image, I will tell you we had our second Wyldlife event this past Saturday night. We went to see National Treasure: Book of Secrets and then to Nando's, one of our favourite Portuguese restaurants, for dinner. We had a smaller crowd this time around which enabled us to truly get to know the kids a bit more. Jess (my volunteer leader) and I greatly enjoyed sitting over dinner and chatting with this handful of kids.
Young Life (F.W.E.L.) continues to take shape on Thursdays. We have recently started discussing "Blender Questions". Everyone writes a question about life on a notecard anonomously and places it in the blender. I pull these out and choose which question we will discuss each week. It is quite interesting to see different perspectives and to hear insight from several of my friends. I look forward to digging in even deeper as the weeks progress.
Thank you friends for continuing to love on me and support me as I step. through life in London. I assure you your prayers are felt and appreciated beyond words. I am overwhelmed to be living here. I am overwhelmed by your friendship. I am blessed. God is good.


Thursday, 21 February 2008

Ok, I pulled the plug a bit too early on my finding a new flat. I did find one, yes, but I have reconsidered and believe that I need to hold off for a bit longer to make a permanent move. In order to be financially responsible, to wait for a place that I feel a bit more at home in (if the place were not in the location it is in, I would not have considered it for a few reasons), and to overall just feel more at peace about it, I am going to wait and pray for the correct timing. As my wise Pop has told me countless times, just because an option presents itself, that does not always mean you are to take it. It simply provides the opportunity to choose. : ) I agree. I will keep you up-to-date on the latest.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Today I found a new home! I move in next weekend. God is good. I will once again reside on the high street in St John's Wood...the perfect location for me. Fantastic.
On the flip computer is barely breathing these days. I can charge my ipod and look at my documents. Any other functions sends it into an scary array of warning messages and dos prompt screens. No internet connecting...too much to ask. And somehow it has erased its audio drive, so I have no ability to have sound. I believe I will soon put it to rest permanently, as I am unsure how to bring it back from such a deep malfunctioning world. I need a new laptop as my old faithful is dead never to be repaired, I fear. I have hijacked my friend Claire's computer while she is at school to do some work and update you guys.
Sigh... I am excited to move into my own space again, truly. I will be sad to leave my families, though, I must say!
Must maximize this computer time with some more work, more soon...

Friday, 8 February 2008

Nomadic...\nō-ˈma-dik\;roaming about from place to place aimlessly, frequently, or without a fixed pattern of movement.
An odd sort of reality and sense of normal these days living in London... Depends on the angle of perspective within me in determining blessings in the midst of such movement.
Since my introduction to YL some fourteen years ago, my abilities to both adapt and adjust have increased immensely. We, in the Young Life world, spend quite a bit of time in camp-like situations and learn how to survive with little surprisingly well. : ) I must say that these skills are most certainly ones that have been significant in molding my "default", as I like to call it. (Or, I also think of 2 Cor. 5.17..."the old has gone, the new has come." I believe as the Lord settles deeper into my heart, He continues to fashion the "new" within me.) In my life as a nomad at present, I am finding how true it is that the Lord is faithful, as He continues to provide blessing without fail. ("No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 1 Cor. 10.13.) Were I to be transparent of the current "temptations" that abound all the more without a consistent nest, it might be what we would deem a "laundry list". Though I do value transparency and honesty, I will spare you the entirety of my catalog. As mentioned in entries previous, having my nest to live in and in which to retreat is a key component of my health.
"O LORD, you have searched me and you know me." (Ps. 139.1)
And He does. (full stop)
And now back to the view from which I choose to look into my current lifestyle, where I spy an advantage to unpredictability...
He is quite aware that hopping to and fro from house to house is not my most desired way to live; however, He also knows and is assured of what and how much I can handle. One of the other things he "knows" (and created in me) is my desire to live life with people and to grow deeper in relationship. Without this need for other peoples' shelter, life for me would have continued to be a bit more solitary. (The other laundry list I can make you is one of blessings I feel drenched in as this winter unfolds.)
The news this week...I am, indeed, the varsity girls softball coach for the upcoming spring season. A bit anxiously, quite pensively, and excited exceedingly, I step up to this task. Our season begins with tryouts the last week of March. The girls keep telling me that they are pumped, and I am formulating a plan that I hope will lead us to victory and loads of fun.
Some of you may have seen (and if you haven't, go check it out) that Young Life has gone through a re-branding recently.
Our new tagline? "You were made for this." I dig it. This afternoon as I laid down for a quick nap on the couch, I put the book I had been reading on the floor. The new logoed sticker I was given at our All-Staff Conference fell out of the front of it. As my eyes moved across the tagline, I thought,
"Yep, I was made for this". The grammar-minded part of me has a hard time with the open-endedness of this sentence. But, you this case, open-ended is spot on. Wow, the laundry lists just keep coming, as I think of all the definitions of "this". Specifically, today, I thought... "this" equals building relationships with kids, knowing more about the Lord's character, and showing up to take steps.
"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10.10)
"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."(John 15.11)

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Hiya. Though I typically try to avoid leading off any writing with an apology, I do feel it necessary in this case. I realize that my last post was in mid-December prior to the holidays, and I am sorry for my absence. Quite a bit has unfolded since then, and in my chaotic world, though I have thought countless times about sitting down to record events, it simply has just not happened.
Firstly (as they would say here in England), my laptop has died, I believe. At present, I have a computer savvy friend trying to bring it back to life, but I must honestly say that I have little hope. Therefore, you will be lacking a pictoral view of life since December here in this post.

So, Mom and Dad journeyed across the pond for both Christmas and New Year's Day. We had a great time walking and riding around London seeing the sites and taking may pictures courtesy of Dad. Our two weeks here was capped off by making our way down to the Thames to see the fireworks to ring in 2008. Wow! We stood on Waterloo Bridge for three hours in the cold and drizzle to hold our spot in order to have the best view possible. It was quite a show to behold, though a touch frustrating that the cloud cover overhead was quite thick. It acted as a blanket and held all the smoke from the fireworks down making it impossible to see the brightly colored lights being shot off of the London Eye, which was disappointing at times. The real adventure began as we tried to make our way home from these festivities. May I skip to the end and say that we stepped foot inside my flat at half past four in the morning?!! Yes. We walked, and walked...jumped on a bus, sat waiting for traffic to move, went down to wait for the tube and then opted out due to crazy drunken folks and train on another bus, walked home. (Sigh), my body is tired just re-living it here for! "Once in a lifetime", became the mantra of the night amongst us all-me, Courtney, Mom, and Pop.
The parents Brinkley and I returned to Arkansas on the 2nd of January. I made a quick trip to Fayetteville where I got to see a group of you guys at Angie and Jenny's ONE NIGHT ONLY gathering for me. I was so blessed by that time as I cried with laughter at each person there. Oh, how I miss my friends! (I am sure I will return once again to this sentiment in the near future to tell you how I continue to learn daily the importance of much more applicable and tangible are so many bits of Scripture these days!) You are all hilarious in your own way, and I love that I know you all well enough to understand what makes you tick. Thank you for being my friends and for being so excited to see me! It delighted my soul, and I only wish the time could have been longer with each of you. : )
From 6 January to 13 January, Orlando hosted me and around 3500 of my Young Life colleagues from literally around the world. We had a fantastically enriching, and of course, hilarious week at our all-staff conference we have every 4 years. What a treat to see the sun after being in England where the light is sparse! I got to see staff friends from years before and spent time with my fellow England staff family away from tasks in our normal world.
Finally, I flew back to Arkansas for a few days to sort out some financial matters both in my YL world and in my personal sphere and to see my sweet nieces a bit more before journeying back to Londontown.
In retrospect, I must say that this most recent time away from London felt a bit rushed and not as restful as I would have hoped. I needed more time in Fayetteville, but I will be able to make up for that lack of time this summer. I suppose the holidays rarely are completely laid back and restful, are they? Loads of people to see and much travel to be done is the typical story for most of us. I hope your holiday time was filled with laughter and good times with your friends and family!
We will call this the catch-up post. A more current one to follow...