Friday, December 16, 2011

Dear Traveling Girls

{yes, believe it or not, this was taken at Galveston}

Dear traveling girls,
I would have posted sooner, but I kinda misplaced the camera, and since there was no maid--sister-- to keep track of it for me, I forgot it. But I got it back, don't worry, would I be writing to you if I hadn't?
All this to say, that some of the pictures will be blurry since they were taken with Dad's blackberry.
SO, last Friday, we went to Galveston for the day, and we brought Lizzie with us!
We started off going to a subsea drilling & oil museum...yeah, only people who work for the companies involved in that stuff, go there. But there were actually some interesting parts. After that we had lunch at Starbucks, and then went shopping/sight seeing downtown. We visited a candy shop, surf shops, boutique shops, and ( my favorite) antique shops.
Even though we don't have any pictures, the antique shops were fantastic, however, expensive! One of the antique shops had-- what I call-- a dream land of dress ups!! Beautiful dress ups, scarves, gloves, hats, etc. It was literally like a dream come true! And there were also some Lucky Indian Buffalo Head Nickel coins from the 20s that the lady showed us, plus marvel comic books which I would have bought ( if I knew what to buy), and old, old children toys. For example, mom recognized one of the old aluminum doll houses, the kind she used to play with...yeah, that kind of old. :P
The shopping extended to other parts of the building which as it turns out was an original late 1800's hotel with all the rooms in their original state!
All this to say that I was proven wrong, there is actually some neat places in Galveston.

These are just few of many pelicans that were resting on the rocks.
Lizzie and I could think of only one quote:
Marlin:[looks up] That's not a duck, it's a... PELICAN.
-Finding Nemo

Exclude the odd eyes, this shop was really nice.

Not really, but that's what I thought.

A recycled-paper dress!

I thought of our dear friend the Naquins, when I saw that. :)

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It was pretty windy!

First thing I thought when I saw this thing, was, " Look! A huge shadowbox!"

Though I have not obtained the photos yet, I'll be posting soon about a certain concert we went to on December 11th!

Caro :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mica!

Dear dumpling--uh, I mean-- Mica,
I'm aware that it is no longer the 14th in Dubai, but it is here!
Well, no special entitlements come with turning 18...19, except the fact that you get to add bigger number to your age [insert cheesy smile]!
You are a special, dear friend and sister, but different from Elena or Nicole!
Like the shop owners in Dubai say, " Same, same, but different."
Love you!
Happy Birthday!

Very, very long ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

Mica and Dad!
Do they ever change?

With friends, at one of our last days at the beach in California.

For one of Mica's birthdays, we tried to surprise her by having the Webbies come for a day trip.

Mica, Hope, and Luke, while the Neal's stayed with us.

NYC, with our dear friend Joanna!

[somewhere in 2010]

John and Mica
During a tight schedule of filming, editing, and basically making an entire movie before 2p(our film class), we managed to fit a mud war in...somehow.

Dom and Mica.

Ms. Producer!
Mica had just received the shirts for her film, Filmodus Operandi.

Oh, and Dad says happy birthday too!
Caro :)

P.S Dear Reader,
By now, you must realize how excruciatingly Painful it is
to choose only 10 pictures, from ten million. If you haven't guessed this, then let me tell you,
yes, it is painful.

Friday, December 9, 2011

(really) wish you were here

Dear Dad, Mom, Nicole, and Caro,

First off, I need to apologize for the grave lack of photo's, blog updates, and skype sessions (our recent 2am time not included); honestly, it's been difficult to set aside the time and the words to describe our time here---believe me, our five hour car trip to Uncle Randy's house will be filled with what we lacked to tell you here!

It's so odd to see our departure date approaching, Mica and I both feel as if this is home mostly owing to the generous and sweet hospitality extended to us by the Neal's, we've been brought into their family so well, each piece of advice or wisdom they have shared is very much in line with what you would say, 
they've made us feel very much at home here and we're so thankful for the way in which Mr. and Mrs. have temporarily grafted us into their loving home.

As you know, Joy cried her eyes out  filled the room with tears lost her marbles had quite a bit of a shock when Matthew came home and hasn't been the same since. Thankfully she has also taken quite a shining to Mica, they really are like two peas in a pod and I think it's a comfort for Joy to have such a friend during this difficult time in her life. Since she still is able to fly for free, Joy may be coming home with us for a bit, so please get the bed ready for her.

Recent Quotes in the Neal Home

(Faith walks up to me, halter top in hand) "Elena, do you think this top is inrepropriate?"

John: "Elena, if you could, do you think you would blow mouth out of your fire?"

Mrs. Jackie: (in a sing-song voice) I'm going to loose my marbles!
John: What marbles, Mom? Do you have marbles?

(Miss Grumpy-Pants, aka Hope, sits with her arms crossed in her high chair) 
Me: "Hope, what side of the bed did you wake up on this morning? I don't think it was the right one."
Grace: "Oh, she woke up on the right wait, I think it was the left side."

More to come...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011!

Well, I thought I would share with you my thanksgiving in Burnet, TX.
BUT, instead of drowning you with pictures, I thought ahead, and decided I would make a slideshow.
Warning: There are many cute children in this film.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Caro :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Elena!

Dear Elena,
I. Love. You.
I can't believe that you are finally 21! It seemed like just last month that people were asking what grade you're in(inside joke).
So, now you can (legally) order alcohol at restaurants, get your CHL, and buy a hand gun--I think.
Sorry that I didn't post this sooner, but I haven't had immediate access to the computer till recently.
But anyway, I wanted to let you know that you are a special sister, friend, and example to me!
Hope you have-- or had-- a blessed birthday!
And I also pray that you will come home safely to us.
Love you!

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Don't worry, I spared you from posting other pictures, and decided to play it safe.

Visited the Ima Hogg house--no joke, its a real name-- for your bitrthday.

Visiting with the McNeil's during our North Trip.


Happy belated birthday!

Caro :)

P.S Let's pretend I posted this just a day after your birthday,
not nearly a week after.

Meet Matthew

Dear Familia,

 It is my great pleasure to introduce the newest Neal!

Meet Matthew Timothy Neal, born on November 22, 2011 at 8:09pm, weighing about 6 1/2 lbs.

After spending his first few days in the NICU, Matthew is thriving well on being home with his siblings.

 Mrs. Jackie is so happy to be home and we're so glad to have her back. She is recovering well from the surgery and the days spent at the hospital were restful. Mr. Brock has a week off from work and we're enjoying the time we get to spend together.

I love you!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Dubai {the update}

Mica and I with our sweet friends, Cait and Joel; 
our new friend Vaughn is behind the camera and sadly, there is no photo of him.
We had a marvelous time with them!

Dear Dad, Mom, Caro, and Nicole,

Hello from the exotic Dubai!
As you know, our flight went well (side note for our knitting readers: you can't take your needles on Emirates---I know, I know), we landed safely, and are flourishing in this marvelous, sandy place. No camels sighted yet, but I'm so excited to tell you about all that we have seen so far. I think we told you most of what is below, via skype, but here you have the photo's. : )
Joel, Cait, and Vaughn graciously showed us around the Marina, a fun hangout in Dubai. The night was filled with good laughs, great conversations, and a beautiful walk. It was such a wonderful night and I'm so grateful for that time.

 One of my favorite sights coming into Dubai was actually the view of Kiev at 4ish am, it was the first time I could see anything past the clouds and it looked so lovely; naturally, all that I did see was areas of dotted city lights and...well, that's about it. : ) I also loved the view flying over Turkey and Iran; the mountains were just beautiful from up top and it prepared us for the sandy terrain of Dubai. You'll notice that I'll continually use "sandy" to describe the surroundings (because aside from the roads and pavements, that's pretty much all there is!) but keep in mind that along with this sand, comes the beach. More on that later. ; )
 One day last week, the mother of a lady from church came and prepared/taught us to make a feast of delicious Lebanese food (can you say baklava?!); Ann spent the entire day cooking, instructing, and sharing bits of her life with us. I furiously took step-by-step notes and still need to organize them---such a wealth of first hand knowledge!
Thankfully, she made enough food for us to freeze, so we'll be enjoying the fruits of her loving labor for a while!

 Our flight was marvelous, the first seven or so hours sped past us while the remaining eight hours were split between sleeping, watching more movies, and being enamored with the wonderful service.
After a quick teeth brushing (just for you, Mom!), we made our way to the N's at last! Like weary traveler's coming home after a long journey, plopped our baggage into our "new rooms" and rested; that evening we had our first "Dubai meal" on the beach with the Burj Al Arab on our left, the Persian/Arabian Gulf before us, smells of our delicious shawarma's around, and the sound of the call to prayer in the air. I think it's the calls to prayer and the abaya's that contribute to the Middle Eastern feel of this diverse city, and it truly is diverse! There are very few Emirati's while the rest of the population could be from any country on the map.
 One night, the Neal's took us, as well as Joel and Cait, to a large market called Global Village that was just amazing. There were both handmade and commercial merchandise in each pavilion and you could buy just about anything for a price, a haggled price at that. Each country seemed well represented and it was so neat to "talk" with some of the people behind the counter; I say, "talk" because most of the workers didn't really speak English very well but it was still interesting to get their story and learn a bit about their lives.

 This one's for you, Mom and Nicole. : )
Imagine about five different Yemeni men, dressed in traditional garb, calling and asking for your attention; ("You make me sad when you don't come to my shop!" "A special price for you, my special friend!" "You like this, you like this? For you, a special price, my friend!"). As Col. Brandon said, "The air is full of spices." The Yemen pavilion was probably one of my favorites, next to the African one; both were so authentic and full of different and interesting things. This is a place where I definitely wish that you guys could have come.
 During our visit to Global Village, we ate our dinner here and it. was. so. delicious.
Shawarma's, hummus, fresh pita's, seasoned meats, and intense chiles filled our plates and tummies; we're really enjoying the different foods we've had here (Including our burger's at Fuddrucker's! ; )

 How can we describe the beach? It's just so fun and relaxing each time we go; I always think of our trip to the beach in Cali and it brings back many fond memories of swimming away from the jellies, climbing around the anemone covered rocks, and taking cat naps in the sun---all of which we've been doing here, except for the jellyfish bit, the most frightening thing I've seen in the ocean is a blue, plastic sack which look alarmingly like a vicious fish. While we wait to welcome the Newest Neal, we are planning on a nice, long day at the beach; soaking up some sand and sun is just the ticket and I'm looking forward to hearing the sounds of the water again.

 All of the N's love the beach as well, they plan on making us surfer's while we're here so there is much work to be done (like, learning how to maneuver a board again!) but there is plenty of time to learn. The past few beach days we've been leaping from rock to rock, exploring each nook and cranny and scaring away what fish happen to be there.

There you have a peek of our first few weeks here; tomorrow is a visit to see the Mona Lisa and our first trip on the metro, and I'll probably take a trip to Choithrams to pick up some things for my special birthday breakfast (Morning Sun's on the menu!). Mica and I love each of you very dearly.

Your loving and adventurous, 



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