Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Holy Experience

Since Seth and Taylor are in bed already (record for Taylor Ince!), I've been stumbling around the blogs I follow but only Angie has written, and it's short.  She leads me to a new site (in)courage and oh, am I in trouble.  She has relocated her book club, Bloom, that she does with Jess over there, so I went to check it out.  The problem?  Lots of good writers with links to their personal blogs all found in one place.  I had to come up with some sort of arbitrary limitation for myself to avoid breaking my new year's resolution to be in bed by 10 (it's 9:51). Because those of you who follow blogs regularly know when you find a new one you like, how hard it is to stop pushing "older posts." Crack.  That is what it's like non-blog addicted people. (No I don't do drugs, just love to read is all, and as a mom of a busy 7 month old, all I have time to read is blogs and my Bible. So I narrowed my search by only looking at the blogs of those who have abnormal amounts of children.  Read: 5 or more.

Don't misunderstand me; I don't mean this in a rude way. I am totally fascinated with large families.  We would love to be blessed with one ourselves eventually.  Taylor jokes that it's because I am obsessed with names.  Kaitlyn would wholeheartedly agree with this as well - she was subjected to many late nights when we were kids to playing the name game.  So what if I have our next 5 children named already?  It's the only part of my life that I have actually planned ahead for.  Only thing is each time I get pregnant, the Lord gives me a new name (sidenote: isn't that a glorious Truth?) - Seth was to be Jack; Tristan was to be Jack.  Think He is trying to teach me something?  Maybe some day I will have a Jack though it's been demoted recently for more Scottish sounding names.  No, I am not pregnant.

I digress.  Back to the reason I wrote this post.

Ann Voskamp.

She made the cut because:

a. She has 6 kids
b. She's actually the author of the next Bloom book club book, One Thousand Gifts
c. She went on a Compassion International Blogging trip with two of my old school (not old school - you know what I mean!friends that I kind of sort of keep up with, so we basically know each other already (Ann, not my old school friends)
d. When in college, my T Bar M women's director had the same last name

Men, if you haven't figured it out yet, it's all about the personal connection.  No matter how far removed it may seem.  Am I right girls?

Anyway, amazing choice, because as her blog is named, it was truly A Holy Experience.  Check it out and be blessed.  Susannah, I think that you would especially love it.

Also, go read an excerpt of her book and dare to tell me you are not going to join the book club tomorrow.

It also doesn't hurt that her book cover adds another hint to my new blog design/name...

{Image from}

See!  We're practically best friends already.

Ahh! 10:01 - no time for editing.  This blog post is undoubtedly another confirmation that I need to get in bed by 10.  Please forgive if it makes absolutely no sense.

Here is a pick of Seth to appease:

(What I should be doing)
Night, y'all.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Under Construction

After noticing some of my friends' new and improved blogs, I wanted to know how to make mine cuter and more, well, me.

Here is a snippet of my initial email to Carolyn, my wonderfully talented and patient blog designer:

Nov 2010

OK so I just found out what I am asking my husband for for my b-day - a new blog design!!  I am so excited it's kind of pathetic.

Hi Carolyn, let me introduce myself.  I am Robin Ince - friends with Christi B and Elizabeth D and am in love with their new blog designs which incited me to envy, so I thought I would remedy that by talking to you.  Will you make my blog "snazzier"? It is sad and in need of a major face lift!

My husband (Taylor), 5 month old (Seth), and I recently moved to Edinburgh, Scotland - doing the culture shock thing like you except they apparently speak English here, and I still can't quite understand them!  I started my blog when Taylor and I lived in Charlotte, NC while he was in seminary to keep our family updated on what we were up to.  We've since moved to Scotland while Taylor pursues his PhD, so now the blog has become my weekly update for not only our moms, but also our friends.  It's mostly about the particulars of life (unless Taylor contributes - then it's way more intelligent sounding).  Can you help me?

Looking forward to hearing from you,

In all of the emails to follow, and there have been many, Carolyn has begun to create a new blog design that is unique and easier on the eyes than this Blogger template I am currently using.

Not surprisingly, I have been over-thinking the design ever since my turn has been up.  If you remember my first blog post (I cringe to even think about it), I talked about my neurosis tied to beginnings.  I love the do-over aspect of beginnings, but I also feel the pressure for new beginnings to be perfect.  This new beginning has been no different. Here is my chance!  I can re-vamp my blog exactly how I want it to be.

I started Inces in Edinburgh at Taylor's behest, knowing that we were moving to Edinburgh in the near future (how near was still up to Lord and for us to wait it out in faith!), and the fact that we're now here, far away from most of you, is still the main point of my writing, but I wanted it to make it mine.  I never liked the name Inces in Edinburgh, but it seemed to fit our purpose for this family blog.  And let's be serious, Taylor has written 3 posts out of 50, and we're not going to live in Edinburgh forever (most likely).  So I wanted to unveil this new look, with a new name, and a new feel.

Here are a few hints at what is to come once this renovated blog is finished:

1.  This is the main inspiration - thanks Jax!

Nest Sentiment Lumbar Pillow, 12 x 24"
   {Photo from}

{My Dad emailed me this - quick where did you get it?!}


"Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.  Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise!"  Psalm 84:3-4

4. My boys

So stay tuned...the reveal will happen soon!


Friday, January 28, 2011

Mama Italiana: Numero Due

We made it to Hotel Leonardo.  Only problem now?

No crib.

I know what you're thinking, and no, this was not due to our lack of planning.  And surprisingly, I didn't freak out.

You see, I am a textbook first child - a complete and total rule follower.  But in addition to that, I battle being a worrier (this is where my hypochondriac tendencies kick in as well).  At home, Seth's crib has no bumpers, a really firm mattress, a sheet stretched within an inch of its life, and don't even think about putting a blanket or stuffed animal in there with him.  Funny how a blizzard (and not to mention a run-in with a crazy lady) can make you less picky about your child's sleeping environment.  Our options were narrowed to him sleeping on a pallet on the floor, in the bed with us, or in his stroller which almost lays completely flat.

The stroller won.

He actually slept better than he had in weeks.  Praise the Lord!

Refreshed, we met our shuttle arrangement the next morning at 7:30 for our 10:10 am flight thinking of course this would give us plenty of time.

Here is a picture of the line to check in:


It's hard to tell by the picture, but let me just tell you, when an airport employee is walking down the line whilst filming it with his iPhone, you know it's bad.  Really bad.  Not to mention the 10 minutes it took us to walk to the very end of the line.  But here in this very line we meet our highly anticipated "Mama Italiana."

At this point, we had been standing in the ridiculously long line for about fifteen minutes.  Our snail-like progress was such that we might make it on time to our flight, but it was going to be close.  We're talking Home Alone close.

Another airport employee, Helga (seriously, that was her name), had broken the line in two to create a walkway for those who needed to get to the ticket kiosks located on the other side of the line.  This was quite a big job because people who had just shown up to the airport would try to line up at the break in the line because surely the line couldn't be longer than that.

It was.

And we happened to be first in line at the break.  Front row seats, for Germany vs. Italy.

Now I am very competitive, have a strong sense of justice, and like I mentioned before, am a rule follower (Read: bad combination in this type of situation).  As you can guess, my first-child tendencies to obey were duking it out with my sense of fairness in an inward struggle on whether we should jump the gap to preserve our place in line.  After sizing up the very formidable Helga,  first-child won.  Though I watched everyone who walked by with suspicion until Taylor told me to take it easy.

Taking my attention off of the line ahead of us to respond - OK, let's be honest, to react, in a whiny voice I might add, "but Taylor, Helga isn't paying attention.  Somebody might cut! And we'll miss our flight all because of them!"

Did I mention that I get very high strung in stressful situations?

Taylor just shook his head knowing that arguing with me was a losing battle, and so, resorted to the best distraction method he has when I get like this.

"Look at Seth, he just made the cutest face.  Isn't he the best baby ever?"

Yes.  Totally asleep.

Realizing his ploy, my eyes darted back to the end of the line in front of us.  And low and behold, my worst fear was realized.  There in front of us, wagging her perfectly manicured index finger at Helga who towered over her by at least a foot, stood a sixty-something, stylish Mama Italiana rattling off in Italian.  Mama and her husband had queue-jumped right under Helga's nose (shocking, I know) and flat out refused to budge, pretending they had no idea what she was saying to them.  Each toted a cart piled high with designer luggage, and they were firmly planted in their new place in line -- the end of the line as far as they were concerned.

Helga finally regained her composure and in English tried to explain to Mama that they had cut and that the line is actually all the way back there.  Mama proceded to speak back to her in Italian again. They go back and forth like this for awhile, voices escalating, stepping closer to one another until Helga finally gives up and comes over to us saying something in German that must have been something like, "can you believe these people?" But as I still don't speak German and was too amused by the Italians to care that they just cut in front of us (OK, I cared a little. Rome wasn't built in a day, eh?), I just smiled and acted like I knew what she was saying.  

Believe it or not, the whole ordeal actually helped me to relax.

We finally got to jump the gap, and Taylor leaned over to tell me he was going to try to speak with Mama using Spanish.  I looked at him incredulously.  Bad idea jeans for so many reasons.

"Hey, they're both Latin based - we might be able to understand each other!" he defended himself as I tried to persuade him not to speak to the reason we would probably miss our flight.  He couldn't overcome the combination of his sanguine personality and extreme love for latin-based languages and began speaking to her. 

Mama's face lit up the second he opened his mouth, and before he even finished, she got going a  mile a minute in Italian pointing now and then back at Helga and shaking her head dramatically with disgust.  Taylor and I both kind of laughed because he couldn't understand a word she was saying. Though naturally, it didn't stop them from becoming fast friends.  We figured out that they were headed to Dallas (of all places!) to see their daughter and her family.  Their flight was to take off in 20 minutes.  Sick of being at the mercy of the ridiculously long line, Mama accosted every airport employee that walked by, and Taylor attempted to translate for her.  We received the same frustrating answer every time.  

"If you miss your flight, they will reschedule it when you get up to the ticket counter." 

I looked ahead at the massive line stretching out before us utterly appalled by the inefficiency.  The German people (well Frankfurt airport employees anyway) had let me down.

Outraged, I complained, "So you're telling me, those of us who might have a chance to make our flight are having to wait while other people who have already missed their flight hold up the line to get re-booked?  Why.  Are. We.  In.  The.  Same.  Line?!"

OK, you're right, I whispered this in Taylor's ear instead of asking the airport employee, but still! Germany had let me down.  But Mama wasn't going down with out a fight.

We were next to the ticket counter by now, but hadn't even made it to the snaky part of the line that you normally get in when you first arrive to the airport.  All of a sudden, Mama spotted an open agent at the ticket counter adjacent to us and made a break for it.  She had the velvet line maker (velvet line maker?! You know what I mean, right?) unlatched and was hauling her oversized luggage carrier to the agent before you could say spaghetti.  And the agent turned a blind eye and began checking her in!

Mama motioned to Papa to follow her, and dumbfounded, we witnessed Mama and Papa successfully check in.  All of the people she just cut in front of were either oblivious or staring in shocked admiration diffused of any anger over her jumping ahead.  She just had that effect on people.

With a mixture of awe and sadness we watched them give their last piece of luggage to the agent expecting them to start making their way toward security when we saw Mama, waving furiously for us to come over.  And you know what?  She worked her magic for us too. 

Because of Mama, we made our almost completely empty flight to Houston.  

Seth even got his very own seat.

Grazie Mama!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mama Italiana: Numero Uno

Happy 2011!  Forgive me for being MIA lately.  For some reason I have no muse in Houston.  It's not like I even write about anything Edinburgh-ian when I am here, but somehow being away from my hometown turns on my blog material radar.  I also think it has to do with the fact that I am with the 9 people who actually read this blog when I am in Houston, so I just talk to you face to face instead.  It's just easier that way.  And more fun.

So instead of a boring recap of what we've been up to the past month (since you already know - except you, Jenni - miss you!), I've narrowed the blog posts down to a couple-three (that was for you Tay) to catch you up.  We'll go in chronological order...

It was a dark and stormy night (what?! It really was!) as we landed on the snowy tarmac.  I know, right? Yikes!  Except for the fact that we were flying to Frankfurt on Lufthansa - probably the safest airline to be on in those conditions.  I mean, those Germans?  Precision.  I have to admit though, I was a little freaked when I looked out of my double paned window as we were making our final descent and saw snow furiously blowing past so hard that Taylor leaned over and asked incredulously, "what is that?"  It was like we were in Star Wars  and those little white dudes were shooting at our spaceship (Lils and Lizzie would be very saddened by the poverty of my Star Wars vocabulary. Jason, you have trained your young Paduans well.).  Not ideal traveling conditions to say the least.  And for this timid traveller, not a great precursor to the 10 hour flight that lay ahead.

Anyway, back to Frankfurt with some back story first.  Taylor and I are not good with details.  I have said this before. Administration is not our gift.  You should see my desk right now. I would take a picture, but then I'd be embarrassed.  All of that to say, when we booked our flight back to Houston for Christmas Break, we called Continental, and let them do it for us.  Big mistake.  After a lot of rigmarole with making sure Seth's name on the ticket matched his passport, "Beth?  I thought you said he was a boy?," securing the bassinet seat at the bulkhead, " I wouldn't put my baby in one of those.  They're kind of flimsy," and avoiding any unwanted weather delays,  "New York in December is too risky," she connected us through Frankfurt instead. . .the day before we were to fly to Houston.  We didn't realize this until our flight confirmation was sent to us a few weeks before take off.  


So there we were knee deep in snow not on US soil where at least we would have been in the right country had we missed our flight, but in Frankfurt. Germany.  Where they speak German. Thank you Continental Airlines; we have learned our lesson.

Trying to stay positive, I remarked that if anyone could keep their airport open in a blizzard, it would be the Germans.  Unconvinced, we trudged down to passenger pick-up to catch our hotel shuttle.  At least we had already booked a hotel room.  We had opted for the Hotel Leonardo in town location instead of the airport location because since we were getting in at 4 pm and not leaving until 10 am the next morning, we might as well enjoy the city a little. Ahaha ahahaha ahahahahahaha.

On our way out to the shuttle pick-up area, we were accosted by a woman completely off her rocker who kept stepping closer to me saying, "your baby looks like a real baby not a toy. I love him."  Until her family noticed she was encroaching on my personal space and basically yanked her back to them.  

Bienvenidos a Frankfurt.  

Then, our shuttle never showed up.  


By now the snow is blowing even harder.  It's getting later.  It's getting darker.  It's getting closer to dinner time for Seth who is in angel-baby form just chillin in the Baby Bjorn looking around at all of the people, not making a peep (Seth, not the people).  Wearily, we try to find a telephone.  I spot an information booth, and Taylor quickly makes his way to an agent who calls our hotel.  No answer.  


After unconvincingly apologizing, information Hans dismisses us.  Now what do we do?

Taylor decides to change some pounds for euros to try phoning Hotel Leonardo from a pay phone himself.  First of all, ouch! 4 euro (and $9) later, still no answer.  


By now it is Seth's dinner time, the airport is swelling with people who have missed their evening flights due to weather delays, the pay phone lines are lengthening, hotels are filling to capacity all around the city, and I am envisioning us sitting on the cold floor of the airport, trying to stay awake all night so that a crazy lady doesn't steal my baby while I sleep.  


Seth, however, is still chillin.  Taylor and I?  Not so much.

We return again to information Hans to ask about the airport hotel.  It's the Sheraton and will be 150 euro.  Done and done.  Taylor was trying not to calculate 150 euros into dollars lest he pass out, and I was rejoicing that my baby would have a not only a safe place to lay his head, but a luxurious one.  


Walking across the sky walk to the hotel was like waking up from a bad dream.  We were so weary and the hotel was so posh.  Taylor got in the long line at the reservations desk, and I sat down to make Seth's bottle.  As he returned, I figured his grim face was due to the calculated exchange rate.  It wasn't.  He broke the news, "we're not staying here." 

"What!  Why not?  We decided!"

"359 euro."

That even shut me up.

"They jacked up the price due to the weather I guess.  I am going to try to call Leonardo again."

Thankfully the concierge desk didn't have a line, and the girl behind the desk was actually happy to help us.  Almost at once, she was off the phone with Hotel Leonardo,  telling us the shuttle would be waiting for us under the Sheraton porte-cochere in five minutes.  


Part Two will come later.  Don't worry, Mama Italiana will make her debut then.  She likes drama.  But for now, I think I have reached my word limit on Blogger for this post.  I hope you're not disappointed that there aren't any pictures, but I'm pretty sure I maxed that out on my last post.