Getting to China

Near the end of May, the Nortel folks in Beijing that work the various Chinese accounts requested that we send someone over to discuss with them our network architecture evolution (background: I am the senior manager for Nortel’s GSM/UMTS media gateway product management team, but have a sort of side job keeping an eye on the overall network evolution on behalf of my boss). Two things quickly became evident: 1) that person would have to be me; and 2) the trip wasn’t likely given the SARS travel restrictions at Nortel.

The issue went back and forth for quite some time until the accounts managed to swing approvals from the relavent management types . However, this took place early in the morning on Wednesday June 4th, leaving very little time to pull off the trip given a planned leave date of Saturday June 7. By Wednesday afternoon, we managed to book my travel. On a whim, I happened to ask the travel arranger if she knew of any further arrangements I would need to make. Her answer was something along the lines of “just a passport and visa”.

At that point my admin, who was also on the call, said something like “I forgot about the visa” (as I had), so around 5 p.m. she (my admin) began frantically trying to make arrangements with an agency to pull off a two-day turnaround on a visa to China while I rushed off to get Visa pictures taken. She found an agency willing to guarantee a visa by early Saturday morning (right before my plane was to leave) but they reminded her we needed a letter describing the need for the trip and signed by HR. It was at this point that things got really complex.
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Cries in the Night

A few nights ago, I was awakened from a sound sleep around 2:30am by moans. “Mommy, Mommy!” said the monitor under our north facing bedroom windows. That’s Jonathan’s monitor (if you recall from an earlier post, we have three child monitors in our bedroom.)

I made my way upstairs and found Jonathan sitting up in his bed, waiting expectantly for me. When I asked him what was wrong, he replied, “Mommy, sing The Ducks!”

Background: each night, last thing before we say goodnight to him, either Jay or I sing him the song, “Five Little Ducks”.
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Greg’s Place

Greg Hewlett has a website now to chronicle his battle with cancer. For those who know him, there might be the expectation that it is a retrospective, since he lost a leg to bone cancer in high school. Alas, it is not.

I’ve known Greg since I was a freshman at Rice University. He was a senior that year, and I met him at a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting. That particular night a group of folks piled over to his dorm room after the meeting, and I happened to tag along. Upon entering the room several minutes after he had entered, I crossed over to say hi to him where he was sitting on the couch. Now, to understand this next part, you must know that Greg did extremely well with his prosthetic and had been wearing jeans that night. Quite frankly, I had no idea he had lost a leg (above the knee) to cancer� I merely thought he might have had a mildly sprained ankle that was causing him to limp a bit. Anyway, I crossed over to him as he sat on the couch. He was in shorts now, and had taken the leg off (though I had not seen it and still was not in a frame of mind that this was a man with a prosthetic leg), and it just so happened that the remaining portion of his amputated leg was in the crack between two of the sofa cushions.

I walked up to him and the first words I ever spoke to him (that I can recall, and spoken in total innocence thinking I was playing along with a joke) were, “Dude, you’ve got one leg.” I don�t remember exactly what he said (something like “Yep”) but I immediately realized what I had done. In response, I smiled and acted like I had meant to state an obvious truth� but how I burned inside.

Zip several years forward and I showed up at Town North Presbyterian Church upon graduating from college and moving to Dallas, where I soon ended up in a small group led by Greg. We’ve spent much time together in the intervening years, even taking Greek together prior to his time in seminary. We now serve together on the session at TNPC and continue to enjoy a steady diet of lunches with one another.

There are some friends from my past who I didn’t know all that well yet I wished I had had the opportunity to get to know better. Greg was just such a person, and by God’s blessing I have gotten to know him much better as the years have gone by. When I got the voicemail last week with the devastating news of the severity of his illness, I was at work on an elevator. As the message ended, I simply kept the phone to my ear so that no one would speak to me and tried to keep my balance as the world shifted.

I’ll have more to say in the future, but quite honestly I get choked up thinking about the whole situation and don’t really feel up to continuing at this point.

Our Teeny Ballerina


What fun it was to watch Abigail’s performance in her second ballet recital. In addition to Jay and I, Grammy and Grandy Horne, Nana Brunone, and Aunt Sandy came to see Abigail dance.

After taking ballet for just a few short months last year at our community center, Abigail begged us this year to “get to go back to dancing class”. After some searching (most schools aren’t accepting new students in March) we were able to enroll her for the last 2 1/2 months of the school year at Tuzer Ballet, where she was in a small class of little girls taking 45 minutes of ballet and 15 minutes of tap. To say she enjoyed herself is putting it quite mildly! While it is highly enjoyable for her to attend, we also know the exercise and dancing movement is great for her physically and it is exciting to us to watch her engage in something she really likes to do.

Firefighting According to Abigail

As I tucked Abigail into bed and was about to sing her a goodnight song I got us into one of those deep conversations…

Mommy: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Abigail: A firefighter.

Mommy: Really�why?

Abigail: B/c when fires come to the houses, then I can clean them up and spray them.

Mommy: Oh.

Abigail: But you have to keep the windows closed.

Mommy: Ohhh�why?

Abigail: Because the water, when you spray it, it will ruin the carpet.

Mommy: Indeed?

Abigail: Yes, so when you have a fire at your house remember to keep the windows closed so when the firefighters come and spray the water it will make your house all clean.

Biology according to Abigail

A few days ago, I was trimming Abigail’s fingernails and received the following lesson on how our bodies function.

*Gasp!* “You almost got the blood. I need the blood inside me so it can splash me and I can stay healthy.”

Pause, as she lifted her hand and put it on her chest.

“My heart is beeping. Is your heart beeping, Daddy?”

Three Cheers for Our Lovely Graduate!

Though this congratulations is a bit tardy, the intended recipient will no doubt be forgiving considering the whirlwind of activity which has accompanied the last several days surrounding her triumphant moment.

IMG_1442_small.jpgIt is my distinct delight and honor to announce that after 8 years of hard work and dedication, my little sis Sandy has graduated from college. We are all immensely proud of her and her accomplishments, especially as she has held a full time job for seven out of those eight years in order to be able to continue to economically facilitate her schooling. She has balanced a full time job which often has made very high demands on her time with a the rigors of an undergraduate degree and excelled at both.

Anyway, it was a really full weekend; our parents dropped in from Saudi and our grandmother from Atlanta even flew in for the ceremonies! We have some pictures to share for those interested (to be posted shortly).

Great job, Sandy, we are very proud of you!!! May your ongoing job search be very successful!! That’s the beginning of a whole other story, I’m thinking….

Easter Pictures

Though we’re a little late with this, we wanted to post some pictures from last Sunday’s Easter celebration. After a beautiful and uplifting service in the morning (the highlight of which for our kids was the rare “Children’s Sermon”), we were blessed to be joined by Mom and Dad Horne and our good friends the Clemmons for a bountiful supper and evening together. It was a beautiful day so after dinner the guys hid 50+ plastic eggs in our yard for which the 4 older children proceeded to “hunt”. This was quite an interesting scene to watch as certain of them were very intent upon egg-finding while others quite obviously had more important matters to attend to, such as keeping their cute floppy hats atop their precious strawberry blonde heads! It was such a delightful way to spend our day and we hope you’ll enjoy sharing it vicariously with us by way of the photos.