Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My Kitties are GONE!!!

Well, it had to happen sooner or later...I knew I was heading back to the States someday in the future when the kittens were acquired. But now that I am leaving here in less than a week....woohoo....I knew the kitties must go to new homes.

So Hayley went last week to the home of one of the youth pastors from church...I will miss her furry little face!! She was such a cute and cuddly little friend to hang out with when I'd head home to my apartment. But I know she will be loved and cuddled plenty as Tudor and his wife have two small children...and he is a big fan of kittens himself.

Starbucks hung out with me a bit longer...she just went to a new home two days ago. Some girls from Ella's church said they wanted a kitten...so they came and picked her up on Monday. Poor little thing was so scared to leave with them but I could tell that they would take good care of her...and maybe even treat her to popcorn on occasion!!

So now I am "home alone"...with no meowing and purring going on around me...wah!!! But I know that it is okay cause soon I will be a nanny with a cute little kiddo or two to take care of and will be near my loving fiance too!! Then come November... well...let's just say I won't need a kitten to keep me company in the evening anymore!!

I head out from here on Monday and fly back to the States from Bucharest on Tuesday...so in less than 6 days...I will be saying hello to my Someone face to face once again!! Can you believe how quickly all of this has happened? It still amazes me sometimes!!

PS....For those of you with a special interest in my kitties (Liz)...here is a link to some pics!!

http://www.ringo.com/explore/member/album.html?albumId=40067302

Currently Listening To: Crazy In Love by Beyonce

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Things Change....Life Changes!!


Well....I know this is a bit late...and most of you who read my xanga blog already know this...but I am an engaged woman now!!

On Friday, April 28th...Brack asked me to marry him and I said yes...of course!!

The whole story is on our new blog... www.xanga.com/brackandjulie

This means that my life will be changing in many different ways. The first thing is that I will be leaving my beloved Romania next month and heading back to my home state of Texas.

I will really miss the fun and friends I have made here and I hope they know that they will always hold a special place in my heart. To me...Romania will always be my second home and I will never forget it and the impact it has made on my life!! The friends I have made here...both while here with my family, on various summer trips back, and especially this last year...will always be remembered with love and I hope to never lose touch with them!!

The move back to the US in early June will be another change...as I will be finding a place to live and a job in the DFW area....and also begin to plan for a fall wedding!! Thank the Lord that I will be able to buy my car back from the family friends that bought it from me last year...that will be one less thing to worry about when I get back.

Another change is that I am an aunt again...little Luke Aidan was born to my brother John and his wife Dayana on May 4th...a big boy with a big smile and chubby cheeks!! I look forward to being able to spoil him a BUNCH...along with his cousins Lydia and Josiah!!

Another change is that my family and I are basically switching places and it will be another 4 years at least till we are living on the same continent once again!! My mom and dad and the three youngest arrived in Romania yesterday and are getting settled in. They will be working with another missionary family and their children's home.

I have no idea when the whole family will be once again on the same continent together...as my brother Steve and his wife Syrena will be in Korea till next fall and we are still waiting for my brother John's wife Dayana to get her visa so that she and little Luke Aidan can get to the States!!

As I sit here typing this in a net cafe halfway around the world from Brack I can't help missing him and hoping to see him...but I will spare you my gushiness this time...as Brack can be gushy enough for the both of us!! So I will just close this out before I do start gushing...or boring you all with wedding plans!!

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Our Story

Narrator: So, you guys have a pretty interesting story... let's hear it... how did you two meet?
Brack: Well, that's a story all on its own, really. I've been a moderator on an interactive website for former and current ATI students for about 2 years now...
Julie: And I only joined the site about 3 months ago.
Brack: Yeah, she joined the site, then made some comments that caught my attention, so I checked out her bio and asked some of my south Texas friends if they knew her... Nobody did, so I just had to wait until I got a chance to respond to one of her posts...
Julie: Little did I know he was doing all this "detective work" on me...
Brack: Haha... yeah...
Narrator: Wow... so when did all of this take place? When was the first contact made?
Brack: Well...I was actually keeping an eye out on Julie's posts, and noticed a comment that she made on a thread about how the moderators were out there watching... I commented that we were indeed, and that was pretty much the start of our relationship.
Julie: Well, I didn't really consider it the start of the relationship, but it definitely got my attention... WOW! I had drawn the attention of one of the moderators to my little thread... and I'd only been on the site for a month!
Brack: Except that it wasn't the comments I was watching...it was her...
Narrator: HAHAHA! That's awesome. So when was that?
Brack: That was the evening of March 5th. After that, we just started going back and forth quite a bit on that thread and the song thread. After some decent flirting, I went to bed, and when I got up the next morning, I found out that she'd added me to her contact list on Yahoo and MSN Messengers.
Julie: But actually, it was the morning of March 5th that we had "first contact", when Brack guessed a song that I had posted lyrics to. It was the song "1985" by Bowling for Soup, which got us in the 80s mood... and we went back and forth on that. Of course, Brack was giving me a hard time about having to Google some of the lyrics. My excuse was having been an ATI student or out of the country during the eighties, and that I am only now starting to catch up!!
Narrator: OK, so you had some clever banter going on in the Name The Song thread, with some interaction on a few other threads... So that's how all that was!! So then how did you guys transition from going back and forth on threads to deciding that the conversation, or, rather, the relationship, was going further?
Julie: The RELATIONSHIP? All I know is that, after staying up all night bantering with Brack (and remember: I was eight time zones ahead of him) and then teaching English and doing a follow-up program with orphans all day the next day...I REALLY had to crash that next night. But I did get up early the following morning to get on Messenger and the Crossings to see what people were up to. I didn't have to be at work until 11:30 that morning, so I thought I'd get a few good hours in before people Stateside headed off to bed. First thing that pops up on my screen, though, is a message from "tehSaint" asking me, "So, did ya sleep?"!! And that was the beginning of that, although I certainly wasn't looking at it as a relationship yet...but I think Brack already was...hehehehe
Brack: Ok..yeah...from the get-go, I was pretty interested in Julie, and if it took asking cheesy questions and answering song lyrics to get her to talk to me, I was fine with it.
Narrator: But, still...we want to know how the transition occurred.
Brack: Well, a few days after we began to talk on messenger, Julie asked me where I thought all this talking was going. Of course, the ultimate end isn't something you typically want to bring out in conversation with a girl you've only flirted with for a week or so, but, regardless of my former inhibitions and total lack of desire to commit to anything - I decided to mention the possibility of marriage.
Julie: Of course, it took him a while to get the "M" word out!!
Brack: I say it now with relative ease...hehehehe
Narrator: WHOA! One week into chatting over instant messenger, and the word "marriage" comes out?!?! Isn't that just a little premature?
Brack: I don't think so. Honestly, I wasn't interested in forming some vague idea of a relationship with someone that never went anywhere and never matured. There were never any games between me and Julie - we were just ourselves. That translated into a lot of trust and comraderie that you would otherwise miss out on in the beginnings of the relationship.
Julie: And I certainly think that the fact that we chatted for two months, well, almost, before meeting face to face, really helped in the forming of the relationship. I know it sounds weird, but all that talking...
Brack: A little over 160 hours in the first three weeks, by the way...
Julie: Yup. All that talking, without the physical stuff getting in the way definitely helped us get to know each other better, I think. A lot of couples who have that "face time", going out on dates, smooching (hehe), etc. kind of miss out on really getting to know so much about each other when they let that physical side of the relationship get started so soon. With Brack and I, well, we really learned a lot of things about each other. You know how they say that opposites attract and all that stuff? Brack and I are just so much alike it's crazy.
Brack: And it was the similarities that allowed us to discover more about each other, because we were able to bounce off those similarities onto other subjects, giving us a pretty wide variety of things to discuss.
Narrator: What similarities? Just what is it that makes you guys "click" together so well?
Julie: Well, let's see...we're both the oldest in our family...
Brack: Both left-handed...
Julie: Both casual people...we live in our Docs...hehe...
Brack: Both of us have the same spiritual gift and the same love language.
Julie: Wanna know something funny?
Narrator: What's that?
Julie: Well, I saw a picture the other day of Brack...from WAY back...your typical ATI picture.
Brack: Except the bright shining eyes part.
Julie: The suit, the ATI pin, the serious expression...
Brack: Wow!! She didn't even list the GLASSES in the first three things...
Julie: I was getting to that. That wasn't typical ATI, though. He had these geeky glasses. Anyway, come to find out, we had actually both been at the same homeschool conference way back in '92 at Knoxville!! Of course, I probably wouldn't have hung out with him then...he was kinda geeky!! hehehe
Brack: And it's taken ALL this time for me to find her. hehehe
Julie: Yeah, yeah...
Narrator: So, we've established that you guys waited a week of talking before discussing marriage. And you put off getting engaged until you actually saw each other in person?
Brack: Actually....at one point, Julie had to ask me if I was on a knee...LOL!
Narrator: That was before you guys met?
Brack: Yeah - we were just chatting over messenger, so she couldn't actually see me...it was pretty funny!!
Narrator: So you met in person when?
Julie: On Wednesday, April 26th, and I didn't even say "I love you" until later that night...couldn't believe his reaction!! Come to find out, he'd decided to not propose until I'd said that.
Brack: There was a lot hanging on those three seemingly small words!! I was stressing pretty heavy...haha!! Of course, I already had the ring. We had discussed promise rings, styles on engagement rings, things like that, so I knew exactly what I was after, and Thursday, April 20th, I went and got the ring.
Julie: My guy is a sneaky guy!! He told me to bring some dressy clothes and be ready for a night on the town on the Monday before I headed back to Romania, so I figured if anything was going to happen, it'd be then. I knew he was going to talk to my dad that first weekend, so that was no surprise...
Brack: It was something of a surprise for me, though!! I knew I wanted to talk to Mr. Seale, but how that came about was rather interesting. We made it out to Julie's family's old farmhouse out in East Texas on Thursday, April 27th, and everybody is just kind of chatting in the living room, when, all of a sudden, and pretty much out of the blue, Mr. Seale looks at me and asks, "So, have you asked her yet?" Julie turned beet red, and buried her face in my shoulder, as I very calmy replied, "No, sir. Figured I'd talk to you about that first." Then he replied, "So, would you like to go grab some coffee or something tomorrow?" To have it put so bluntly actually was a lot less nerve-wracking than I'd expected it to be.
Narrator: So that pretty much put aside any nervousness on your part, then? Just knowing that he was already thinking about it?
Brack: It SHOULD have!! But the scope of what I was doing really hit home, and I was pretty nervous until after I'd proposed.
Julie: So yeah...he went on into town with my dad the next morning. I knew that he was asking my dad's blessing and such....but still I was thinking that if he proposed on this trip that it would be when we dressed up and went out a couple days before I left, so I thought nothing of it when Brack asked me if I wanted to go on a walk whenever they got back. We had gone on a walk the day before...it is just something you do when you are in the country...you go for walks!!
Brack: Well, before we get to that. I'd had in my mind that today would be the day, so early in the morning, I'd gone out to get the ring out of my backpack. I didn't want it just loose in my pocket, though, and I didn't want to carry the box with me, so I took the battery out of my cell phone, wrapped the ring in a tissue, and put it in the back of the phone. It was pretty secure in there.
Narrator: So you had the ring the whole time, even when you were talking to her dad?
Brack: Yup. I wasn't sure if I'd have time to just nonchalantly wander out to the car without anybody wondering what was going on.
Julie: Me being as clueless as I was, I wouldn't have noticed anything!!
Brack: Yeah, but the guy isn't really thinking logically at that point, I've discovered!! hehehe
Narrator: Ok, so you guys went on a "walk". Please, continue...
Julie: We walked across the meadow and back into the old pine orchard...
Brack: Well, before we got that far, her mom told her little brother Andrew to not follow us out there...
Julie: Which he took as a challenge to change into his camos, put dirt on his face, and grab his camera and follow us...
Brack: Yeah, there were a few "pre-engagement" photos that he managed to snap...
Julie: But we confiscated his film!!
Brack: So during this time, I'm trying to get the ring out of the cell phone. I get the ring out just fine, I just can't get it away from the tissue!! In fact, at one point, I get the ring and tissue in my hands, and I'm trying to hug her, but not let her know that I've got anything in my hands. Then she reaches back and grabs one of my hands, fortunately not the hand that had the ring in it, and leads me on further into the pine orchard. Finally, I get the tissue separated from the ring, and hooked over my finger, and I just started shaking...
Julie: I had my arms wrapped around his waist, and just felt him shaking, and mentioned something about it...
Brack: I figured at that point it was now or never...besides, we were in this spot that had no visible cow patties and a nice floor of pine needles...so I answered and said, "Well, that's probably because I've still got to..."
Julie: Then he dropped to BOTH knees, I guess he was begging...
Brack: I was...
Julie: And said...
Brack: "Will you marry me?"
Julie: I was speechless, which is not a common occurence!!
Brack: She did manage to get a "yes" out...
Julie: I gasped it out...
Brack: And that's when I brought the ring out and asked her if she'd wear it. I never actually got anything more than a tear-filled head nod (which I prudently decided to interpret as a "yes")!!
Julie: Then I really started crying...
Brack: It probably wasn't more than a minute or two...but it really felt like it was at least five minutes. All the nervousness and trepidation was gone...life was awesome, and I know that the memory of that moment will last forever in my mind.
Julie: My sentimental guy...you gotta love it!!
Narrator: Wow. So that's the story, huh?
Brack: That's the story.
Narrator: Sap.

Operation Christmas Child: A Rebuttal to Unsolicited Advice

Since that blog post (of what one person thinks you should and shouldn't send) is making the rounds AGAIN, I thought I might sha...