Jersey Shore Meets Golden Girls Meets Gaza Strip

So I have been thinking about this post all weekend.  Been wanting to write about what I witnessed here at the Embassy Suites in Piscataway.  Just not sure how to say it…

On Friday our normally quiet, business friendly hotel turned into the meeting ground for several groups.  About 100 orthodox Jews observing Sabbath, the annual gala for a group composed of senior women, and the host to many predominately teenage girl parties and bachelorette outtings.  The hotel was sold out.

There were Jewish men walking around in their black coats and prayer shawls with their impressive shtreimel on their heads.  The beautiful wigged women were taking care of many children while the kids ran around the hotel in their stockinged feet, boys with shaved heads and curls over their ears.  The kids were quiet and respectful, but they were everywhere. 

Because they were observing Sabbath, they were not allowed to do any work or use anything that required electricity or power.  Let me break that down.  They could not go in and out of their rooms that were locked because the locks are electrical.  So they taped the lock so it wouldn’t lock and left the doors open.  If they dropped food or trash, they didn’t pick it up.  They also did not flush toilets and requested that the staff come around and flush for them.

The men stood around on the open atrium and read the Torah as the women sat with the children and taught them.

They brought in all of their own food to be sure it was Kosher. 

That being said….the children had so much fun and not bothering anyone.  They kept to themselves, expect for Hiram, who was almost two, and was obsessed with Eli and vice versa.

But the Golden Girls didn’t like it.  They complained.  Wanted them gone.  They didn’t like the fact that the Jews were sitting in the atrium lobby talking and laughing.  They didn’t like the kids running around and making messes. 

We talked to the president of the group and she let us know that she wasn’t happy.  Our kids didn’t bother her, but the Jewish kids did. 

Then there were the groups of jersey culture kids (think Snooki) running around the atrium in bikini tops and towels.  They didn’t seem to have much parental control.  They were here to party and the Jews and Golden Girls weren’t going to stop them.

I even saw a young guy walking in with jello shots.

And here is what struck me over and over.  Each of these groups have been historically hated and discriminated against.  The Jews have been persecuted since Egyptian days.  They have a bad reputation and are many times misunderstood. 

The Golden Girls were old and without giving away what group they were representing, they are sometimes misrepresented in the media and their loved ones treated poorly,

The birthday kids and bachelorettes  were predominately African-American.  They are possibly the most discriminated people in America.

The three DIFFERENT groups all treated each other with disdain.  Without acceptance.  NO tolerance.

Why?  Because they each did not fit in to a mold that is deemed acceptable to them.

It seems to me, that groups that are discriminated against should also love and show respect to other groups that have felt racism and bigotry.

I would think they would stick together.  That they would understand how hard it is to be part of a minority group.

But I didn’t see that.  And it made me sad and wonder, what is going on?

New Jersey is a melting pot.  I have met so many different types of people just since living here.  People that I never would have had a chance to talk to if I was still living and raising my kids in Kentucky.

So how do we change?  How do we become more tolerant?

A saying that we quote over and over to our kids is this…


The people this weekend?  They are different.  They didn’t look like our family and they didn’t eat the same foods or wear clothing like we do.

But they aren’t wrong.  Their just different.

And if everyone could just remember that and accept that idea, this world would be a little bit closer to peace.

I sat down with one of the Moms on Friday night.  She was waiting to go to her room and light the candles for the start of Sabbath.  She had four daughters, the oldest was 5 and she hoped to have 8 or 10 kids.  She said being a Jewish woman was hard.  It was much easier to be a man.  I felt for this woman.  I immediately liked her and felt that she liked me.  She had never met anyone from Kentucky, so she learned a few things from me. 

It was fun.  My Sarah helped her little Esther open a popsicle and her little girl Leah shared her popcorn with Eli.

There was no animosity between us.  Just acceptance and a genuine interest in each other’s lifestyle.

I don’t ever want to be afraid or too stuck in my world to notice differences around me.  To realize that God created every man unique yet in HIS image.

We are commanded to love one another.  Not just the ones that sound and look like me.  But OTHERS. 

And up here in Jersey, we are striving to do that one week at a time on our crazy Nopad/Nomad adventure.

Billy tells a few jokes.

My super funny nephew.

markallenwhite's blog

Billy has started telling jokes.  I captured a few on video today.  The first one is pretty good.  The last few are probably inappropriate but I don’t care.

[vimeo 62016465]

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Not feelin’ it this week…

I haven’t posted for a few days because, frankly, it’s been a crappy week.  Okay, yeah, I said it.  Not every day in Nopad-Nomad world can be great.  Here’s why.

Eli has been crying almost non-stop since Saturday evening. 

It’s been torture for all involved.  He stands and screams, he sits and cries, he sleeps and moans.  Combine that with a small hotel room, two teenagers, a very energetic six year old and an exhausted Mom and it doesn’t come out too pretty. 

Sunday night, I called our pediatrician in Philly and asked what I should do.  She recommended that I take him immediately to the nearest urgent care. 

We found one on the internet that was 9 miles away and in a shady part of town, but at this point I didn’t care. I left the other three with Gary loaded Eli up in the van and took off. 

The clinic was dirty and packed, but the doctors and nurses kind and efficient.  Eli had a fever of 103 and a raging ear infection.  One antibiotic later, we were back to the room where he continued to cry all night and all day yesterday.

He slept fitfully last night and is sleeping now.  Needless to say, I’m done!

Having a sick kid is hard.  Being a Mom is hard.  But being a Mom in a hotel room with people on either side of us trying to sleep while some  kid is screaming is agonizing.  I feel bad for them.  We apologized to them.  They wouldn’t look at us.

I guess I’m feeling a little homesick today.  I would kind of like my old life back.  Just for the day.  Isaiah would be at Gwyn-Nor and Sarah at Pennbrook.  Samuel would be in the study doing school and Eli and I would be on the sofa watching Choo Choo on Netflix. 

If he screamed, I wouldn’t worry about the neighbors.  He could have lots of distractions.

So, it’s pity party week at the Hyatt House (we’re trying a new place this week, and I sure am missing Embassy Suites).  Feeling a little gloomy.

Not everyday can be rainbows and sunshine.  But I hear that Spring is just around the corner, so I’m claiming that God will make all things new…and heal my precious little boy (and move the neighbors to another room).



Patience is a Virtue…or something like that

We are in the middle of our 7th week without a pad.  I’ll admit.  I really love being nomads.  We get up in the morning, eat breakfast, come back to the room, tidy up, do some school, go out to lunch, take an afternoon nap or swim, Gary comes home, we order in or go out, watch tv, then bed.

Yep.  It’s the life.

Imagine that you have NOTHING on an agenda.  No house to take care of.  No bills to pay.  No errands to run.  No orthodontists appointments or playdates.

That’s my life.  I’m really getting spoiled. I actually read two books last week.  I can’t remember the last time that happened.

Last weekend we took the kids back to our home church, so they could attend winter retreat with their youth group up in the Poconos.  Since they were gone all weekend, we got the opportunity to stay with my brother Mark and sister in law Jennifer.  It was so nice to be in a “home” for the weekend.  Jennifer made a great dinner and a wonderful breakfast.  We ran around alot, ate at our favorite restaurants (Pho and More and Nadia’s French/Thai Cuisine), and watched Billy and Isaiah play so hard they couldn’t stay awake at night.  It was especially funny when they thought it would be a great idea to shoot arrows at the cat and feed him lots of treats to get him to come upstairs. 

It was a really fun weekend and we enjoyed seeing everyone.

But the big news is that we have finally bought a house.

Let me back up….

We sold our house in North Wales on January 28.  We had nowhere to go, so decided to be brave and be nopad/nomads  while our things were in storage for three months. 

We’ve been looking at listings with our fearless agent, Liz.  We’ve looked at over 90 homes! 

But we felt like God was telling us to rent, so we started looking at rentals.

Last Monday, Gary and I met with our agent and another agent to rent the perfect condo in the perfect neighborhood.  We had our checks made out, forms filled out, documents signed.  But we just didn’t feel right.  God kept throwing up little road blocks that we just couldn’t ignore.  Then at the last minute, right before we handed over the money, the listing agent asked us for a document that we were not able to provide.  She wanted some confidential information from Gary’s employer.  The meeting became stalled and tense.  We all sat at the boardroom table looking at each other until finally she said that she would have to talk to her client (who was living in India) and get back with us regarding the document.

We left the meeting edgy and confused.  What had just happened?  What were we doing?  It seemed so right…

We waited for a day and a half and did not hear anything.  We gave them a 5:00 pm deadline that came and went.  At 5:02 pm we cancelled our leasing contract and walked away.  And then we breathed a sigh of relief.  Did we dodge a bullet? 

Gary and I started reevaluating our decision to rent.  Was it the right thing?  We felt sure that God was telling us to rent, but maybe He just wanted us to see it wasn’t right for us.

Again, we wrote out a list of what we wanted in a house.  We were both determined to downsize.  We wanted to live in a condo community with no outside maintenance required.  We wanted to pay cash.

And the next day, unexpectantly, God handed us the perfect place.

The listing had been on the market since September, yet I had never seen it. 

I think God was holding it for us for when the time was right and we knew that it would be okay to live in a small space. 

It’s a duplex and we can pay cash.  We will continue to be debt-free, which has been our goal since marraige.

It’s in one of the best school districts in New Jersey and it has everything on my must-have list.

It couldn’t be more perfect.

I don’t know why God has been putting us through this fire.  Selling our house was a nightmare.  Anything that could go wrong, did.   But I know that He sees the whole picture.  He sees the beginning and the end. 

I believe he has put us in a hotel right after selling our house, so that I could see that downsizing to a smaller home would be okay.  A condo will feel like a mansion after this!

We will continue to trust God.  We thank Him for the roadblocks and uncertainities because I’ve learned that that’s all I can do.  HE is in control and it’s never been clearer to me.





Did you know that Thomas Edison was the person responsible for everyone in the world to say “Hello?” when answering the phone?

Did you know that the first recorded voice was Thomas Edison singing “Mary had a little lamb”?

Our family visited Menlo Park today. Menlo Park was the site of Thomas Edison’s research and development center. Many of his patents and inventions were developed on this spot. In fact, he still holds more patents than anyone ever! It was so exciting for Gary to visit this place. As a person who works in R and D, it was exciting to learn that Edison was one of the first people to develop an area dedicated to researchers from all different kinds of backgrounds. Physicists, mathematicians, chemists, engineers… I bet he even had a statisticians or two.

This small museum sits on Christie Street which was the first street anywhere in the world that was lit with lightbulbs. Interestingly, when Gary was working for ICON, he had a meeting at a pharma company, Daiichi, just across the street from this museum.

We thought we were going to the Thomas Edison National Park museum, so we were a little surprised when this small museum was where we ended up. But we were soon very delighted to meet the knowledgeable docents.

When telephones were first introduced, the greeting “Ahoy” was used. Edison didn’t like that word, so he began saying hello. Also, Edison was practically deaf. He used morse code on the palms of his wife’s hands to communicate. He even proposed to them through morse code.

It was a great museum and we are glad we went to the wrong place. On our next free Saturday, we plan to go to the national park (and get our stamp, for those of you that collect National Park stamps like my family does).

We left the museum and drove to Starlark Diner in Edison. This diner has been featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Drives. Jerry Seinfeld also filmed a webisode at this place. Gary and I had the “Thanksgiving Sandwich” which is exactly like it sounds. Sarah had the Chipotle pork sandwich, and Samuel had the city sandwich which was a Reuban/Rachel combined. We all shared the warm pineapple upside down cake and fought over the last morsels like we were animals.

Our outing was topped off by a quick trip to Costco which was so packed and crowded we may never go back.

We’re back to our room now resting up and getting excited about our day tomorrow.

The adventures continue!

Week Five in the Books!

We’re wrapping up our fifth week without a PAD and it’s still at the Embassy Suites.  We’re staying here for the weekend, although we do have a couple of big outtings planned.

I’ll leave ya hangin’…

Our week has been pretty uneventful.  We got in late Monday night and it has taken the whole week to get back into the swing of NOPAD living.  I haven’t really gone to the store yet, so we’ve been eating soup, take out chinese, and pizza this week.

I take the kid’s leftovers from breakfast (french toast, bacon, pancakes) and they are always excited to eat them later for lunch or dinner.  And I’m not just saying that.  It’s true!

We went to our library and made the amazing discovery that we could check out 100
BOOKS!!  When we moved to Pennsylvania, our biggest letdown was the library.  Especially since we had left an amazing one in Ohio.  So to find out that we could check out 100 (including movies and games at no extra charge) items was HUGE!!

I also got a frequent shoppers card at ShopRite and got my first haircut in New Jersey.

And I don’t look like Snooki.  (Couldn’t resist).

We have been making friends with the hotel staff and today we got a behind the scenes tour of the Embassy Suites.  The kids wrote out five questions each to ask Paul, Manager of Sales.

Their questions ranged from recycling to laundry to how much coffee is served daily (almost 50 gallons!). 

We also toured the hotel kitchen where we met Chef Joe.  He told us about food prep and serving.  Sarah even got her picture made with him and it was posted on the Facebook page for the hotel.  We got to see the offices and where all the laundry is done.  I couldn’t help but be a little bit jealous of those big washers and dryers.

The staff has been so kind to us and we have really enjoyed getting to know them. 

This weekend will be a noisy one as there is a men’s Christian conference being hosted “Honor Bound” and a college basketball team is staying here.  We will try to stay out of their way.

Off to dinner then some pool time.

Still loving this adventure in our life.



Groundhog Day and Hindus

This week we are back to the Embassy Suites. It’s like the movie Groundhog Day. I keep packing up the same clothes and unpacking them in the same room. Breakfast is always the same and the snacks during the manager’s reception are starting to get monotonous.

Maybe I’m just tired and the kids are getting restless.

But, we did drive for 13 hours yesterday and that was a long time to be together in the car.

Today, I was tempted to get everyone their own room. It’s been one of those days.

Something interesting is going on in our lobby though. And if you are a people watcher like I am, then this is your place to be.

Directly under our room is the “Presidential Suite” (which I have ALMOST talked my way into). A Hindu spiritual leader has rented this room and Hindus are coming to him for spiritual and medical healing.

Chairs have been set up outside of the room and people of all ages are lined up waiting for their prayer time. I have seen small babies with their parents, children in wheelchairs and greatly handicapped, old men and women being helped by their loved ones, and men in funny looking hats.

They sit patiently, sometimes for hours, to be called into the room. I don’t know what they do inside, but I am curious. As a Christian I want to go talk to them and show them a different kind of love. I want to get to know them and find out their story. I want to sit with them. But, I don’t know where to start.

I am praying for them, though. And wondering. What do we as Christians do to demonstrate such a faith that they have? Do we have the same hopeful prayer that they have? What are we doing to help these lost souls?

I guess this is where my thought is going…we don’t need to leave America and travel to another country to show God’s love. The people that do, That’s great! I’m glad! But I can’t leave. But I sure can show love to the people waiting for hope just below our hotel room.

I can talk to them. I can love them. I can ask about them. That’s what God wants from me right now. And while I’m in this state of New Jersey I will make it happen. I will smile with kindness to those around me that don’t look like me. I will hold the door open and let others go first. I won’t honk my horn when the person in front of me takes a milli-second to pull out. It’s what I do best. Being kind to others.

And maybe they will ask me what is different. And then I’ll know what to say. My God is the one true God. He is almighty because he saved me. And He can save you.

Because ultimately, that is what everyone is looking for.

Even the Hindus right under my room.


Week Four–Sunny Vacation

Week Four
It’s been a month! Wow!!

This week we stayed with my parents at their condo in sunny Fernandina Beach, Florida. What a great week!

It was so nice to have home cooked meals from Mom. We cook so much alike, so the kids were loving good comfort food.
Spaghetti, meatloaf, pork tenderloin, bacon, eggs…. yummy!

Sarah is celebrating her 13th birthday this week and we told her to pick something special to do. She picked horseback riding. Amelia Island has the only licensed beach riding outfit in Florida. So I got the honor of going with her. Secretly I have always wanted to ride a horse on a beach, so we both got to check something off of our bucket list. My horse was white and her name was Skye. We rode on the uninhabited beach at Amelia Island State Park. It was so beautiful! The sand was white and the ocean was glorious. It was definitely something neither of us will forget.

We did quite a bit of trail walking. Dad stepped on a snake (and screamed like a girl) and we saw an alligator up close and personal. Gary offered the kids $1 to spot an armadillo. They looked their eyeballs out and we eventually saw one.

Eli was quite enamored with “Poppawl” and wouldn’t let him out of his sight. Poor Dad couldn’t even go to the bathroom without Eli crying and heaven forbid he walk outside without him. Dad sure will miss his little buddy.

Florida is a beautiful state and I’m so glad my parents are happy there. They are loving retirement and the sunshine and we were happy to spend our fourth week there.


Spinning Tires

I will admit it. It’s not easy moving.

Going through drawers, cabinets, shelves, boxes (that are still packed from the last move three years ago).

Sorting and pitching.

That’s been my life for the last few days.

Thanks to my great friend, Amiee, for the fabulous tip to zip-lock everything in every drawer and saran wrap loose items. Makes it easier for the packers and easier for me on the other end. Three years ago my Mom spent two hours unwrapping an entire dish barrel box packed with only 10 candle votives. So, I’m being more concise this time and spending a little more time on this end. The movers will either love me or hate me. I don’t really care at this point.

All of our things are going into storage for three months. So we have a corner in our dining room that is the catch all for everything we may or may not need until then. We’re trying to pack light, but I know from experience how that goes.

So, back to my sorting and moving one pile to another and hope that Eli doesn’t start switching things around on me.

Do I really need all this stuff?