Sunday, December 30, 2007

In Which Samantha Becomes a Travel Doll

On December 22nd, I was permitted to embark on a great adventure - being a travel doll! Up until now, I had only ventured outside the house to nearby parks in the area. This time, I got to go on a vacation for a week! We crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and drove down the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. When we neared the mainland side, we stopped at the "visitor's center" island and shopped in the gift shop. Some people were brave enough to venture out onto the fishing pier, but it was threatening to rain and was pretty chilly, so we only took a photograph of it. A large freighter was leaving the Chesapeake Bay as we watched.
It seemed like the bridge went on and on for a very long time. It even has 2 spans of tunnels, under the shipping channels. There were a lot of gulls landing on the bridge. Here's a view of the parking lot on the island and the bridge.
Little birds were used to all of the people who stopped on the man made island/visitors' center, and would walk right up to our cars!
On our first day in Jacksonville, North Carolina, we went to the grocery store and an electronics store to get a few things. On the way, we stopped at the Beirut Memorial. Because Camp Lejuene is in Jacksonville, the community treasures their fallen heroes. There are 273 names and the words "THEY CAME IN PEACE" engraved on the walls of the Memorial. In addition to the inscribed names of those who died in Beirut and those who have died since of injuries from that blast, there are the names of three Marine pilots from the community who were killed in Grenada.
The two broken walls, which depict the crumbled walls of the bombed headquarters building, flank a soldier cast in bronze that wears real dog tags. It was a very moving memorial to see.

On the same site was a beam from one of the Twin Towers and a memorial to those who worked to rescue victims on September 11th.
On Christmas Eve, it was very warm day, so we headed to the Wilmington beaches. We went to Ft. Fisher. The Civil War's Ft. Fisher vistors' center was closed because it was always closed on Monday - I bet the people who work there were glad that they didn't have to work on Christmas Eve! We stopped at the fountain outside of the Ft. Fisher aquarium for some photo opportunities. I found a shrub with bright red berries that seemed very Christmas-y.
Here I am in front of the aquarium. Jen has been to 3 of the North Carolina aquariums now, and she says that they all have similar fountains. We didn't pay to go inside this one - everyone had already seen the inside of other 2 NC aquariums they'd visited on other trips, and they were very similar. We wanted more time to see the beach.
When I first saw the Atlantic Ocean, I was stunned by the vastness of it. It is hard to imagine how big it really is.
I got to sit on a sand dune and watch the beach-goers activities.
It was a bit chilly, but some people still ventured along the shores to collect sea shells or just walk in the sand. There was even a surfer, but he was wearing a wet suit. I could not imagine being in the ocean in December, even if we were in North Carolina.
It was really surprisingly warm - in the low 70's. It was just the gray sky that makes it look so much colder in the pictures. The wind blew pretty steadily, and that put a slight chill in the air.
Here I am, standing on the beach for a photograph.
There was a boardwalk through the dunes to the rangers' station. The rails along the boardwalk seemed just the right size for a person of my stature.

The wind-torn trees in the background were intriguing to look at. We could see even more of them from the road, and wondered just what they are.
On the way back towards home, we stopped at a beach shop, where I got to pick out a Christmas present/souvenir. I now have a Carolina Beach guitar that is just my size. It even came with a stand! Here I am back at home in Maryland with my new guitar.
The rest of our trip was pretty uneventful. We mostly just hung out at the grandmother's house with occasional trips to visit other relatives or to pick up odds and ends at the store to fix special dishes for dinner. It was a great time. I hope I get to be a travel doll again someday.

- Samantha

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Gifts

It is almost Christmas Day. The house is decorated, carols are playing and cookies are baking. The television blasts commercials for last minute "holiday" shopping. The email inbox is full of advertisements that tell us it isn't too late to order, if we do so right away. We are bombarded with messages about the "spirit of giving" and how it is better to give than to receive. People fret about what is under their Christmas tree: did I get the perfect gift for so-and-so? Will the kids be disappointed? What is inside that box that has my name on it?

But here is the most important message of all: Christmas isn't about decorations, parties or even the gifts you give - it is about the gift you have already received!

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. (KJV - Luke 2)


For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (KJV - John 3:16-17)


May the Peace and Blessings of this wonderful gift touch your heart and bring you Joy this Christmas-time!

-Jen and Samantha

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Nutcracker

Jen: Hi Samantha, what are you and the root beer girls doing?

Samantha: Well, Amy and Wendy were telling me about how last year at Christmas time, you and W. went with your uncle to see the Nutcracker ballet at the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore, and I've read about a friend who helped costume dancers in the Nutcracker in Georgia, so we were wondering what it's all about. We went downstairs and found the book, and I told them I'd read it to them.

Jen: Oh, the Nutcracker is a great story. M. was reading another version of the story in a library book from school. It's so nice of you to read to the little ones. Well, enjoy it!

Samantha: Thanks, Jen. We will. "Clara started cheering on her beloved nutcracker and the wooden soldiers. They fought valiantly, but the mice outnumbered them. As Clara watched , her brave nutcracker raised his sword, ready to attack the mouse king...."

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Samantha's First Snow

It snowed all day yesterday. Jen was at work and it took her a long time to get home because everyone drove so slowly - it was very dark. Today, I got to go out and see the snow before she went to work. It was very cold, and I wished I had some boots! At least I have a nice, thick sweater to keep me warm. The whole world was coated with white frosting - it was all so pretty and magical to see. The weatherman says this won't last very long - it is supposed to rain tomorrow and be in the 50's this weekend.

I'm glad I got to see the snow before Christmas! Now I can sing along with "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas..."