From a first time blogger, thoughts about life from an American missionary now living in the US after years in Russia and doing a lot of back and forth. Family stuff, Christian content, sports innuendo and lots of quotes from good books.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Haircut Day

Definitely true and probably odd but...I try to only get my haircut in Novosibirsk. Seriously, I plan my haircuts around when I'll be in Novosibirsk. I only get 2-3 haircuts a year in the States and the rest are in Novosibirsk. I just love the way they do it here. I even bring my friends (Rob Scott, Jim Pack, my father in law, David Hennessey...wait he has no hair to cut) when they come here. We have a friend, Marina, who has cut our hair since we moved here in 2000. She's a good friend and has always been able to make my boys looks great (not a huge thing) and me not bad either (a monumental challenge). Amazingly, I get here a shampoo, cut, style, and blow dry for about $6. Try that at a boutiquey kinda salon the States! She even asks how Jim and Rob and the others are whenever I come in. Yesterday was haircut day here in Novosibirsk and we all are thankful for it.

The proof is, I hope, in the pictures.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Hello from Weisbaden!

Instead of spending the whole day in Frankfurt waiting for our flight to Novosibirsk in a hotel asleep we hopped a train from Frankfurt Int'l Airport and headed to Weisbaden for lunch. It was fun. The boys loved it. Mom did too. Here's a picture of them in front of the train station there. Being that my German is not that great I bought the wrong kind of tickets from the auto ticket machine. We were caught with them on board and the fine was 40 euro per person. Ouch. The guy could see I was sincere in my mistake so he waived the fee. 160 euro is about what I make in half a month so I'm glad that was not part of our Germany experience.

When we got back to Frankfurt we went and slept half the day. Here's an exciting picture of that (Benja makes a very uncomfortable bed mate).

That evening it was back on the plane for our 7 hour flight from Frankfurt to Novosibirsk. S7 Airlines has recently come into the 21st century with some Airbus aircraft and we got to fly on one of those. I had an exit row seat which was as good as First Class in my book. What do you think about lime green livery of S7? Catchy in a disturbing sorta way I think...

When we got to our flat Benja and Nate played with Oxcana (world's greatest nanny and an amazing friend of our family) for a few hours and then this was the result from about 2 p.m. till 8 p.m.

So, we're here, we're happy (missing Traci, Aidan and Anna a lot though), we're resting and looking forwards to the weeks ahead.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What Are You Thinking Lufthansa?

I have written on this blog before about what a great person I am to have as a loyal and happy customer. Simply put, I LOVE to brag on companies I love doing business with. I brag regularly to friends about Chick Fil A for the values they uphold, the way they have practiced generosity towards orphans and at risk kids, and the place it's been for my brother to grow up as a business owner. I could say many of the same things about Vision Forum, LL Bean, Best Buy, and T Mobile. In at least one instance each of these companies has gone beyond their standard rules of operation and compensation for me in a situation were I was "done wrong" in some way by them. It might have been a faulty product, shoddy customer service, unclear rules, or some oversight on their part. I'm pretty understanding about "stuff" happening in business. I worked in customer relations for two years and know that there are times when a customer experiences inconveniences that are no fault of the vender. However, I don't understand at all when a company "does me wrong" and won't go to acceptable reaches to a) correct the situation and b) give me a reason to not even consider looking to take my business elsewhere.

At the same time I am also a terrible person to have as an unhappy customer. I talk just as much (some say more) about the companies I am not happy with as I do the companies I am happy with.

Well, Lufthansa German International Airlines now joins my list of companies I will no longer do business with. That's a shame too both for them and me. Due to oversold flights I and my family traveled on in 2006, Lufthansa paid out more than $6000 cash to us for flights we were voluntary bumped off of. That, along with the great on board service they have provided us and the easy interline ticketing from a Russian airline we fly from Novosibirsk to Frankfurt, is why it is a shame for me and my family. It is a shame for them because I travel a family travels a lot...the organization I work for sends lots of people to Russia and Ukraine year round and Lufthansa flies to a lot cities in both of those countries. None of that money though will go towards them because of the laughable way they handled a customer service dispute I filed with them in late 2006.

No need to bore you with the details of the case (email me if you want me to send you the letters I sent them and their responses to me) other than to say when a family of 5 traveling with 3 small children have their itinerary cancelled by the airline they have confirmed tickets on and that cancellation is discovered by the passenger and not the airline and then they reroute us on another airline with a stop along the way, a lost bag, and a missed hotel reservation in our layover city I am of the opinion that something above the bare minimum should be done to make that customer right. It has not and I am choosing to take my business elsewhere.

Indeed, there is a better way to fly and that way is...Delta Air Lines.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Nate Loses A Tooth!!

It was inevitable. It had to happen. It finally did. Nate lost his first tooth and did it the night before he, Benja, and I were in a wedding together. It'll add another depth of cuteness to the wedding party photos for sure.

Ain't he handsome?!

Here's another. I like this one. Special thanks to Tim Dunn for taking these pictures and being nice enough to share them with me.

Friday, June 01, 2007

More fun with boys...

There continues to be some great family days these days. While Anna is the center of the universe right now I just feel very, very, very close to my boys. They feel it too. I traveled so much this spring. Nearly 45k miles in less than 3 months all over the U.S. and to Russia and back twice. It was not easy on the family or fun for my children (and definitely not for my wife). With that behind us now and hopefully not to be repeated for a loooong time, attention has turned to our kids. A few fotos...

Aidan goes airborne though none of us were really sure why... . Apparently little boys just feel the need to jump every once in a while. Wait a minute - maybe? I've got three sons. Of course they feel need to jump...and run, and hit, and tackle, throw, duck, twist, turn, spring, launch, lurch, and lunge. Gotta love little boys.

Keeping on the theme of little boys and levitation, Nate, Benja and I have been learning baseball the last few weeks. We made a makeshift field in our front yard (not worthy of a picture trust me) but recently graduated to a local park's football field. Better grace, more open spaces, and lots of room for Dad to smack it and let them run after it as I "scurry" around the bases (picture a 6-8 guy walking really, really slow not even bothering to drop the bat. Now slow that down another 2 or 3x. There ya go). Here's Nate sending me one of his heaters. Note he's airborne too as he puts his all into the delivery...

Benja is gazing off at something in center field apparently...
Anyway, no real point here other than I'm really enjoying my sons these days amid all the excitement of "girlgate 2007".