August 30, 2010

Back Home

We are back home. We left Illinois on Wednesday and stayed the night in the hotel. We had an early flight back on Thursday so staying close to the airport was nice.

Rest Area

Arch Drive-By Picture

Gabe's parents met us in St. Louis and we went on the Budweiser Brewery Tour. Alex really liked looking at the horses.

Horse on Brewery Tour

We had dinner in St. Charles. It is a neat little historic town.

Alex really liked this bike rack.

We had fun walking by the waterfront and exploring the park.

We flew back on Thursday and we are attempting to catch up on everything that happened while we were gone.

August 24, 2010

On the Road Again

We are in Illinois. We flew into St. Louis in Saturday. After making a quick stop at Archiver's we headed to my parent's house.

Alex on the plane.

Sitting on the pig bench outside of 17th Street Bar & Grill

Gabe really likes the ribs that he gets there.

Alex really likes playing the Huggies diaper box. We pushed him around and he drove the "race car".

My brother's awesome new car.

Alex and Maddex playing some tunes.

We had Alex a birthday party at my parent's house. We had BBQ, chips, coleslaw, and yummy cake.

The birthday boy!

We are off to St. Louis tomorrow and then back to Arizona on Thursday.

August 13, 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

We took the train from Paddington Station to the airport. Our flight was uneventful...which is a good thing.

Alex and the Beefeater statue in the airport.

Sleeping on the airplane with Hans. Hans is the bear we bought in Denmark. Alex grabbed it in the store and would not put it down.

August 12, 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

After arriving in Dover we took a train into London. We walked all over.

White Cliffs of Dover

The train to London

We had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.
The guitar that started it all.

This Alex's first trip to London, so of course he needs a picture with a phone booth.

Buckingham Palace

Next up: The United States

August 11, 2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Amsterdam is definitely a bicyclists town. There are bike riders everywhere!

View down a waterway.


Rembrandt's House

Stopping for lunch at Hoppe.


Amsterdam's narrowest house (6 2/3 ft. wide).

Buddhist Fo Guang Shan He Hua Temple

Alex and a cow statue.

Next up: England

August 9, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Today we spent the day at sea. Alex had a great time dancing around the common areas and clapping to the music.


Next up: The Netherlands

August 6, 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

Today we went to Copenhagen, Denmark. It is a great town for walking.

Mermaid statue by the waterfront.

The Kastellet was a fun place to visit. It is an active military area, but you can walk through and see all of the neat things.

Church at the Kastellet

Windmill at the Kastellet

Alex and an Anchor

Statue of King Frederik V placed in the center of the square at Amalienborg Palace.

Part of the royal residence in Copenhagen, Amalienborg Palace.

Guard at Palace.

The marble church has the largest dome in north Europe with a span of 31m.

Next up: Day at Sea

June 22, 2010

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Today was a day at sea. We played Bingo and lost.

Alex loves having jelly (Jello) for dessert every night. Our waiter always brings him some even if we forget to order it.

Next up: Denmark

June 21, 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Today we went on the city tour of St. Petersburg, Russia. They were having their city celebration. St. Petersburg is 107 years old. Police were everywhere. The were literally lining the streets. St. Petersburg is comprised of 47 islands and has 60 bridges connecting them.

Nicholas I statue in St. Isaac's Square

St. Isaac's Cathedral

The Winter Palace (part of the Hermitage)

Peter and Paul Fortress. The royal families are buried in the Cathedral that is located here.

Spilled Blood Cathedral

We went to the "Red October" gift shop. It is also the name of a good Tom Clancy book that was made into a movie. They were serving free coffee, tea, and vodka.

We had lunch at a palace and we watched Russian entertainers.

Russian Folk Band. I had my training in Russia.

The next stop was the Hermitage. Our guide told us if you spend one minute at each piece of art, it would take eleven years to see everything.

One of the rooms.

Alex liked looking out the windows at the city celebration.

Alex in his new hat.

Next up: Day at Sea

June 18, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

We keep changing time zones and at this point we are +10 hours from Arizona. Tomorrow we will be +11 hours from Arizona.

Alex and some "locals".


Alexander II Statue in Senate Square. The statue was built in the Russian tsar's honor after the annexation of Finland.

Alex's favorite thing to do in Finland.

Lutheran Cathedral at Senate Square.

Church's organ.

Russian Orthodox Church

House of Scientific Studies
The solid bronze frieze pays homage to Alexander II's generosity. In 1809 after Finland was annexed, he promised to retain the Finnish laws and religion.

Russian Orthodox Uspenski Kathedralen (cathedral)


Burger's House dates from the early 1800's and it is Helsinki's oldest remaining wooden house.

Kaisaniemi Park is on the waterfront and until 1830 was a marshy bogland.

Botanical Gardens of the University of Helsinki founded in 1833

Helsinki Railway Station

Next up: Russia

June 17, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

We started walking into Old Town from the ship.


Part of the Royal Palace (it is huge). The trees look like we photo-edited them in to the picture.
Statue and I believe the location where Gustavus III was assassinated during a masked ball in 1792.

Swedish Parliament

Fisherman bringing in his net.

Riddarholmskyrkan church has been the burial place of the Swedish kings for four centuries. It is on Riddarholmen island (Island of the Knights).

Cast-iron spire of church.

Stortorget (Great Square)
Location of the Stockholm Blood Bath of 1520. Christian II of Denmark stacked the heads of Swedish noblemen into pyramid. We actually walked back here again and had lunch on the square.

Also on the Great Square is the the building where the Nobel Prize winner in literature is chosen by the Swedish Academy. Here is fun little fact, in 1976 all of the Nobel Prize winners were from the United States.

Church that is the location of coronations, royal weddings, and king christenings. The original St. George and the Dragon sculpture from 1652 is located here.

Alex playing in a park.

Royal guard, Alex, & Gabe

Replica of St. George and the Dragon sculpture.

Some of the buildings along this street were built around the mid 1600s.

Mårten Trotzigs Gränd (the narrowest street of steps in Gamla Stan)

Entrance into Tyska Kyrkan, a 17th century German Church.

Lunch on the square.

Royal Horses

Alex at dinner.

Tonight we watched a magician. Alex loved the act, but after about 20 minutes he was ready to leave and did not want to stay any longer.

Next up: Finland

June 16, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Today was a day at sea. We played a trivia game and walked around the ship. We met some nice Canadians today. We also found some Americans and talked to them during a buffet. We have been going to tea time. They have cookies that Alex really likes.

While we were listening to music, Alex made friends with some ladies from Spain.


Alex loves looking out the windows on the ship. Today we could see some of the Swedish islands. As usual, he fell asleep during dinner.

After dinner we listened to some music. Alex found a waitress from Brazil that is now his girlfriend. :)

We also watched the beginning of an opera. Alex loved it, but he wanted to go to the front of the stage with the singers. So, we had to leave.

Next up: Sweden

June 15, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

After lunch we left the cruise ship to explore Kiel.
Kiel from cruise ship.
Protestant church in Kiel.

The Alex restaurant.

We walked around this lake.

We think this was a courthouse.

Fun fountain.

This reminded me of the Mouth of Truth in Rome.

We also went inside of a couple of churches. One was Catholic (St. Nikolaus) and one was Protestant (St. Nikolai).

Here we are with our very large German sausage.

Ernst Barlachs sculpture the "Mind Warrior".

Just in case you aren't sure, you shouldn't do this in public on the side of a church. It just might get confusing sometimes.

In the gardens.

Fun statue. We thought the guy looked "very German".

Alex loved watching the Harbor Seals (or Seahunds).

Next up: Day at Sea

Monday, May 24, 2010

We all slept great last night. Gabe and I had been up over 35 hours. We got up at 9:00 a.m. local time and Gabe brought us all breakfast back. There is now a 9 hour time difference between here and our home time zone. This changed from 8 hours yesterday.

Since today was a day at sea, we wondered the boat. Alex loved all of the areas with live music and he would begin dancing whenever we would enter one. We also met some nice Germans today.

Alex watching the waves from a window.

Tonight was formal night, but we had a late lunch and we went to tea time at 4:00 p.m. Our seating time for dinner is 6:15 p.m. Even though it was a formal night, I couldn't manage to eat very much after all of meals earlier in the day. We are on our way to Germany. Our original itinerary listed our port of call as Rostock. However, the weather is not cooperating and the port there is closed. So, we are stopping at Kiel, Germany instead. It should still be fun, but unfortunately all of my research was on the Rostock area. We will use our GPS and a map (in German) to help us find some fun things to do. Since our Alaska cruise worked out so well with us walking around the towns on our own (and not taking expensive excursions), we have decided to try it on this trip as well. The only country we will taking an excursion in is Russia. Since we did not get the required visa to get off of the ship, we opted to do an excursion to the Hermitage instead. Especially after we realized that the excursion and the visa were essentially the same price.

Next up: Germany

June 14, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

We arrived in London today. After gathering our luggage, we picked up our rental car and started heading to Dover. We were cruising along and came to a dead stop along the major highway. After hanging out in our car for about a half an hour, we noticed people starting to get out of their cars. It was a divided 6 lane road and there was no traffic on the other side of the road either. So, people were playing soccer where the oncoming traffic should have been.

Alex chilling in his carseat in a car that is not moving.

Alex and Stephanie hanging out on the highway.

We hung out in our stopped car for about forty-five mintues. We noticed cars behind us backing up and driving on the shoulder. Gabe checked our GPS and noticed there was a road about a quarter of a mile back. It turned out to be a service road, but it worked out great. It did add 30 minutes onto our driving time, but the road block was there for another forty-five minutes. Thank goodness for our GPS. It allowed us to drive on unnamed roads to get to our destination on time.
One of the roads we drove on. There were several that looked like this.

We kept seeing the yellow flowers in the fields. It reminded me of Sting's Fields of Gold.

We stopped off in Canterbury to buy some diapers for Alex. It was "The Canterbury." I love Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, so it was neat to get to see Canterbury.

We drove to Dover and saw the White Cliffs and Dover Castle. We only had about 15 minutes to hang out at the castle instead of the hour or so we had planned, but we decided to go anyway. We were impressed with how well preserved it is. We could have easily spent a couple of hours there if we had the time.
Dover Castle
Alex and Gabe.

Dover Castle

We dropped off our car at the car rental place. They were closed. This turned out to be a problem when we needed to call a taxi. Gabe went to a bait shop and the guy called a couple of taxi companies. Unfortunately, we didn't get a taxi. Luckily, there was a guy from South Africa dropping off his rental car. His daughter, who lived in England, gave him a couple of taxi numbers just in case. Well, they turned out to be great. He called a taxi for all of us and we made it to the cruise ship.
Castle from a distance.
Castle and some of the White Cliffs from our cruise ship.
Some of the the White Cliffs of Dover.

Dover Castle and White Cliffs of Dover.

Once on the ship we walked around a little. Once our luggage arrived, we showered and got ready for dinner. Alex was too tired to eat even though we ordered him food.

Alex slept through dinner.

Next up: Day at Sea

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Gabe, Alex, & I were up at 5:00 a.m. and at the airport for our 8:00 a.m. Flight. Alex is usually up by 5:00 a.m., but today he decided to sleep until 5:15 a.m., when we woke him up. Our airplane time wasn't too bad. I bought a water bottle at the airport and it proved to be a great piece of entertainment for Alex. He also drank a lot of water from the bottle.

Alex and his waterbottle.

Next up: England & Embarkation

March 30, 2010


I managed to complete July 2009 in our yearly scrapbook. Only 5 months to go! Friday I went to a local scrapbook store with Johnna. There are several things that I will probably go back and purchase once I start to scrapbook our vacation.

Saturday Alex went to another Easter Egg hunt. He had just as much fun on this hunt as he did the first. He also really enjoyed the slides.



Monday I had lunch with some friends and after dinner, Gabe, Alex, and I went to the park. Alex loves both the swings and the slides. The weather here is great! We have been grilling out and going to various parks a lot. I think we might start eating dinner outside again.

Well, I quite a few more things to accomplish today before Gabe gets home. I guess I am going to add deleting spam from my blog to the list. I have around 600 pieces of spam to, fun, fun. After I finish all of my computer work, I am going to move on to something a little more fun than deleting spam. I am going to work on planning our trip. Gabe and I try to plan it in the evenings, but we are both too tired and end up staying up too late. So, if I can get the majority of things figured out today it will be a good thing.

January 16, 2010


On Tuesday we went to the Lakeview Museum of Arts & Sciences. There were a lot of interesting pieces of art. Alex had a fun time playing in the science section.


After the museum, we headed out to the Luthy Botanical Garden.

On Wednesday Alex and I went to my parent's house. Gabe's parents met my Dad half way and Alex and I switched cars.

Alex liked playing the piano.

On Saturday morning we left early to catch our flight back.


We are back in Arizona and now we have to unpack!

January 11, 2010

Not 70 Degrees

We spent Friday getting ready for getting ready for my Southern Living at Home Party and getting ready for our trip to Illinois.

We left for the airport at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday morning and by the time we made it through security and the security check for all of my liquids for Alex we walked to the gate right after our group had been called. Alex was okay on the flight. We received comments on how great he was. We had lunch at Pancho's and we stopped by my old place of work before heading to Gabe's parent's house.

Alex and a suitcase at the airport.

Yesterday we all went out to a German Restaurant for dinner to celebrate Gabe's birthday. Today Gabe's sister and I made cookies. Okay, we were both supposed to make cookies, but it ended up with his sister making the cookies and I held Alex the entire time. Tonight we celebrated both Gabe's sister and Gabe's dad's birthdays. I will be heading to my parent's house soon. Alex will be going with me and Gabe will be staying so he can work the rest of the week.

On a side note, I think that Alex misses the 70's.

October 3, 2009

Las Vegas (Saturday - 10/03/09)

Today we walked around the strip before taking Gabe's parents back to the airport. Their flight left a few hours earlier than ours.

Bellagio ceiling

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The "Welcome to Las Vegas" Sign. Ironically, this was on our way out.

Gabe, Alex, and I headed out to Ethel M. Chocolate Factory and toured the factory and enjoyed the free chocolate samples. There is also a neat little cactus garden that you can walk through. Just in case you are wondering, the "M" stand for Mars...maybe you have heard of that little company.

We stopped for lunch and then drove out to Hoover Dam. For a brief moment, we were back in Arizona before heading back to the airport to fly home.

The flight home wasn't too bad. Luckily, Gabe doesn't work tomorrow so we can relax.

October 2, 2009

Las Vegas (Friday - 10/02/09)

Today was busy and fun. I headed off to classes in the morning. Gabe and Alex met me for lunch and a gondola ride in the Venetian. It was really fun, plus the water was clear and clean (unlike the water in the canals in Venice...they were gross). When we were in Italy a few years ago, a pair of my tennis shoes became wet with the water of the Venetian canals...they smelled like sewer after that I never was able to get the smell out of my favorite (discontinued) tennis shoe. I digress...

Gondola Ride

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Gondola Ride

After lunch, I went back to more classes. Once they were over for the day, we all went to the Shark Reef Aquarium. Alex liked watching the fish swim around.

Jelly Fish.jpg

After we had dinner, we put Alex to bed and Gabe's parents watched him while we went to see Criss Angel: Believe. I recently started watching Criss Angel: Mindfreak, so I really wanted to see his show in Vegas. Umm...I think I should just keep watching him on TV...or maybe not. I am glad that I went, but I was a little disappointed. Anyway, Gabe and I had really good time out together.

October 1, 2009

Las Vegas (Thursday - 10/01/09)

Today was another day full of classes for me. Gabe, his parents, and Alex all went to have their pictures made. This was their Grandparent's Day present. I will post some of the pictures once I get the CD. They also went to the MGM hotel to check out the lions.

When I rejoined the group, we went to the Fremont Street Experience. We had a yummy dinner at Tony Roma's restaurant and then we watched the laser light show. I also did a little shopping. I bought thank you gifts for the people watching our dogs and I bought us a Christmas ornament.

Fremont Street

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Alex loved the laser light show.

September 30, 2009

Las Vegas (Wednesday - 09/30/09)

We left for Las Vegas today. I have a conference to attend. I still need a few TQ CE credits. Basically, it amounts to listening to a 2 hour lecture and taking a test to see if you actually paid attention and learned something. I have quite a few hours I will be attending.

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Alex on the airplane.

Once we checked into our room, I changed clothes. Gabe, Alex, and I grabbed lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe and then I went to class. Gabe & Alex headed to the airport to pick up Gabe's parents and then to Target to get some necessary supplies (i.e., diapers, baby food, etc.). I joined them again in the evening and we went to the buffet at the Wynn for dinner. Since this is our hotel, we didn't have to go very far for dinner. I think I got my monies worth at the dessert portion.

I was pleasantly suprised when Gabe's mom gave me several baby blankets for Greyson's Gift. Be sure and check out the website and/or my original entry to see how you can help.

August 6, 2009

You Sunk My Battleship

While we were at the beach on Tuesday, I managed to get sand in my camera and it was no longer functional. So, Nicole snapped this picture of Alex on the beach for me.

Alex on Beach.jpg

Tuesday night we played Scattergories. Andrew won, I came in second, and Ryan was third. We all had a blast playing the game together.

Scattergories 1.jpg
Gabe, Tony, & Maren

Scattergories 2.JPG
Barby, Ryan, & Andrew

On Wednesday, Gabe, Alex, & I went to Brookgreen Gardens. They have over 1,200 sculptures along with a zoo.

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Cool Lion Statue

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This spider was HUGE. Gabe managed to take this awesome picture.

Birds in the cypress swamp.

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Cypress Swamp

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Alex & Gabe

We decided to get some boiled peanuts and an icee. We had to go to 5 gas stations to find the icee and three to find the boiled peanuts. Tony was the biggest fan of the peanuts.

Last night Ryan grilled again and we relaxed. Before dinner we had to make a run to the store. Alex was out of formula. So, for the trip home we decided to try something instead of powder and we purchased the ready-made formula. So far it is working great for travel. No mixing the powder with water, just pour the formula from the can and it is ready to eat. In fact, I am making one now.

This morning we had breakfast, Ryan snapped a few photos, and we started heading toward the airport.

Ryan, Stephanie, Tony, & Andrew

Esther, Alex, Caden, & Maddie. Yes, it is the world's ugliest couch.

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Group Shot

On the way to Raleigh, we toured the Battleship USS North Carolina. It was pretty cool, but I wouldn't want to actually live on it. It was basically like a small compact little city. There were 2,000 people on the ship and they were all fed in an hour! That is really fast food. There was a dentist, cobbler, bakery, projector room, and all kinds of neat little areas. Wilmington North Carolina is a neat little town. We walked around the downtown area and had lunch at Slice. The pizza was really yummy. Then we went to a fudge and ice cream shop.

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Alex steering the Battleship.

I will say that the individuals that work at the Raleigh-Durham airport were all very nice. National drove us to the gate when we dropped our rental car off instead of making us take the shuttle because we had a baby. The check-in people were nice. The TSA employees were especially helpful. I actually spoke with the supervisor and filled out a comment card I was so impressed with their willingness to help. I really like North Carolina.

We are currently flying on the plane to Dallas. The guy next to us on the plane is really nice and is especially understanding of Alex. He is pretty interesting to talk to too.

Gabe is going to work tomorrow, but at least the weekend isn't too far away. I am really excited to pick up Alex's 9 month portrait CD tomorrow. I guess it will be time to update our pictures again.

August 4, 2009

Krispy Kreme

Yesterday Gabe and I drove around Myrtle Beach. We found a Krispy Kreme with freshly made warm doughnuts until 2:00 a.m. So Gabe and I each had a warm Krispy Kreme doughnut. Writing about it now makes me want another one. We came back to the house and grilled. After dinner we went for a walk.

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Alex modeling the Krispy Kreme hat.

Today we drove around Myrtle Beach and we went to the beach at Myrtle Beach. We also went to a scrapbooking store and I bought a couple of things. We came back to the house for lunch and then we walked out on the pier and went to the beach. Alex still likes splashing in the shallow areas of water that form when the tide comes in. However, he does not like going out in the ocean. He screams the entire time. He played in the sand a lot.

Myrtle Beach

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Surfside Beach

We are relaxing right now.

August 3, 2009

Hard Rock Cafe

We did go to the seafood buffet last night. The deserts were very yummy. After dinner we ran to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things. We came back to the house and had a Wii Party. We played Mario Party 8 and I won by 7 coins.

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Esther & Tony

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Alex & Maddie

This morning we went to Broadway at the Beach. There is a Kiss Coffeehouse that Andrew was really looking forward to seeing. We walked around the 1.5 mile loop of restaurants and shops. I found Alex a book to commemorate our vacation. We had lunch at Hard Rock Cafe and I had Twisted Mac and Cheese. This was the neatest Hard Rock I have been to. It was shaped like a pyramid and the inside was Egyptian in theme. After lunch we walked around a little more. We are currently watching Beowulf and we are heading out to the beach soon.

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KISS Coffeehouse

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Alex & Caden

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Stephanie with Twisted Mac 'n Cheese

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Inside Hard Rock

August 2, 2009


Yesterday was crazy. We were delayed three hours on our flight from DFW. Once we arrived, we sat on the plane for a while waiting on a gate. So, instead of arriving at Myrtle Beach around 10:00 p.m. we showed up at 2:00 a.m. Everyone was in bed. We quickly jumped in the shower and went to bed after 3:00 p.m. Alex didn't want to go back to sleep.

We were up this morning at 7:00 a.m. (4:00 a.m. Arizona time). Alex decided the sun was up and it was time to rise and shine. After breakfast, we headed to the beach. We had a blast. Alex didn't like being in the ocean, but he loved splashing around in the water had had collected in a shallow area.

Alex Beach.jpg

Nicole and I rode the waves like professionals. Okay, really we let the waves crash into us, but it was a lot of fun. Ryan and I built a sandcastle.

Alex Crawling Beach.jpg

We came back for lunch and now we are all relaxing. The little guys (and some of the big) are taking a nap. I think we are going to a seafood buffet for dinner.

August 1, 2009

On Our Way

We were up bright and early this morning to catch our flight. Our first flight was delayed due to weather in Dallas. So, we were late arriving, but our connecting flight to Raleigh was delayed as well. Alex is a pretty good little flier. The other passengers are always impressed with how well he flies the friendly skies (boy do I hope that I didn't just jinx us). I seriously considered bringing ear plugs for the surrounding passengers, but we have been pretty lucky so far. Our flight to Raleigh left two hours late. So instead of arriving at Myrtle Beach around 10:00 p.m., I think we might end up arriving around midnight. I hope that someone is still up to let us in the house. Nicole, Andrew, Ryan, Barby, Tony, Maren, Gabe, and I rented a house for the week. We are all returning home at different times. Our trip is going to be cut a little short and we heading back to Arizona on Thursday. The tickets were $700 dollars cheaper this way. One couple will leaving on Friday and the other two will be leaving on Saturday. I am actually writing this while flying to Raleigh. I had hoped to publish it while in the air (American Airlines now has WiFi), but I don't want to pay $10 to use the internet for the remaining hour we have left on the flight.

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I am ready to fly! Actually, on this flight, we were lucky enough to have a seat for him, so he rode in a carseat.

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Having fun at the DFW airport.

June 5, 2009

Random Things

Whew! I just finished posting all of the entries from Alaska. There were quite a few. I published so many that they are not all visible from my sidebar. So, if you would like to read about all of our adventures in Alaska (you know you want to), just click on "May 2009" under "Archives" on the right sidebar. You will be able to access all of the Alaska entries from there. You should be able to see the new posts from June, but in case you can't you can always click on "June 2009" under "Archives".

This is going to be a random post. Gabe, Alex, and I all went to the drive-in to see Angels and Demons. I like the book better. The drive-in is definitely somewhere we will be going again. It is only $5 a person, you can take your own food, and it is a great way to watch a movie with Alex.

When I came back from our vacation I had two wonderful swap packages waiting on me. They will each get their own entry (hopefully tonight, but maybe tomorrow).

I have all of the pictures for the "house tour", but since I have already posted so many things today, I might wait and put it together tomorrow.

I will be posting Alex's 6 month pictures soon (probably tomorrow).

While on vacation I read James Patterson's next installment in the Women's Murder Club: 8th Confession. It was a really good book about a killer that goes after the wealthy. Currently I am reading Why Do Men Have Nipples? Both Alex and I joined the summer reading program at the local library. Maybe the extra encouragement will help me with the Spring Reading Thing Challenge as well.

My Google Reader had 1000+ entries in it when we returned from vacation. It is going to be a while before I am caught up. Which reminds me, Nicole, does our beach house have WiFi?

I have been reading where quite a few people are participating in No Spending Challenges. I am going to do my own and feel free to join me. For the next two months we are going to give ourselves a monthly budget: $160 for food, $40 for entertainment, and $200 for Alex's food (formula is expensive). We will still pay for gas and bills, but we are going to attempt to curb excess spending. I will let you know how it goes.

June 1, 2009

Seattle & Tucson

We left for the airport really early. It is a good thing that we did. There was a problem with the computers at the airport and we were at the ticket counter for over an hour.

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We were in Seattle, so here I am at a Starbucks with my Light Carmel Fappuccino.

Gabe's parents picked us up at the airport and we went out for dinner at Solaris. Now to start the unpacking. Luckily, Gabe has tomorrow off from work.

May 31, 2009


We got up this morning and had breakfast on the cruise ship. Once we disembarked (Alex saved us around 1.5 hours of standing in line) we headed to our hotel (Fairmont Waterfront) in Vancouver. Our room was not ready (we were given the option to upgrade and get into a room immediately...we declined), so we decided to go to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Then we realized that we only had two bottles and they were both dirty. Gabe walked outside to see if he could find the Taxi driver (the bottles were left in the taxi). Unfortunately he could not be found. The bottles were in a pocket on the stroller. Gabe told the driver to put the stroller in the front seat, but he insisted on putting it in the trunk. So, the bottles must have fallen out in his trunk. Well, it was time for Alex to eat and I needed to clean him some bottles. I asked if there was somewhere that I could clean bottles and explained to them that the ones that were left on the taxi were the only clean bottles that I had. They were very nice and put us in a room right away (the upgrade that we declined to pay for earlier). So, we ended up with another hotel upgrade for free. I washed Alex's bottles and we headed off to the bridge.

We explored the bridge and the surrounding park. It was a lot of fun.

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Totem Poles at the park.

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Gabe & Alex on the Capilano Suspension Bridge. You can't tell from a still picture, but the bridge sways quite a bit.

We returned back to Vancouver and went on a city tour. We would have liked to went to the art museum (there was a special exhibit on Rembrandt) and the Chinese Garden, but we just didn't have the time.

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Steam Clock

We had dinner at Steamworks. At a little shop, I had a very yummy gelato, Strawberry, Mint, and Basil. It sounds gross, but it was really good. After walking around the town for a little while we headed back up to our room. We have to get up around 5:30 a.m. to catch our 8:45 a.m. flight.

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Gabe & Alex at Steamworks

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Our hotel's herb garden. They use the herbs in the hotel restaurant.

May 30, 2009

Second Day at Sea

Today was a day at sea. This was the final art auction. I won a $500 bid credit but I did not buy anything during the auction. Instead we went to dinner and after eating we went to look at the art again to choose something to purchase. I always like having a day at sea to unwind before returning back to the home port. Tomorrow morning we will be back in Vancouver.

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Alex really wanted his dad's water glass.

May 29, 2009

Ketchikan, Alaska

Today we were in Ketchikan. Before getting off of the boat, we went on a tour of the galley and played some trivia (and we won!). As the person in charge of the trivia said, we won a fantastic plastic prize. We ended up with some lip balm, a luggage tag, and a pen. It would not be a day on the cruise ship without attending an art auction. We won a free piece of art in a raffle. Even though I have already spent my art budget, I still like going to the auctions.

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Galley Tour

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This is not the best picture of me, but I love the expression on Alex's face.

In Ketchikan, the salmon capital of the world, we went to The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. At one point they used very loud chainsaws, so they brought Alex a pair of ear muffs to protects his ears. He is not fond of loud noises, so every time the crowd clapped, he screamed. After the show we walked around Ketchikan.

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Alex and his hearing protection during the lumberjack show.

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May 28, 2009

Juneau, Alaska

Today we spent the day in Juneau. We went up Mt. Roberts and hiked around. We also walked to the state capital and the Governor's house.

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This eagle lives on Mt. Roberts. She was shot through the wing by a hunter and fell to the ground. The impact caused a retinal detachment in her left eye.

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Hard Rock Miner statue.

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Alaska State Capitol

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Governor's/Governess's Mansion

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Tlinget story of creation painted on City Hall.

Afterward, we took a bus to Mendenhall Glacier.

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Path from parking lot. You don't have to ask me twice to yield the right of way to a bear!

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Mendenhall Glacier.

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Pretty scenery.

We came back to town and walked around some more. This time instead of venturing out into Juneau, we stayed near the cruise ship area. I miscalculated the number of diapers that we would need for the trip and we were running out. I brought 200. We would be gone for 10 days (really 9 if you consider that the first and last day of our trip we would only be away from home for about half of the day). Alex goes through 20 to 30 diapers a day. I budgeted 20 per day...big mistake! I am not sure what I was thinking. So, we purchased 56 diapers in Juneau for $30!!!! I pay $2.00 for a 40 pack here (I watch the sales, use coupons, and stock up when the price is right). So, instead of paying my normal 5 cents per diaper, we had to pay almost 50 cents! I was not happy with myself.

We were back on the cruise ship in time to get ready for dinner. Tonight was another formal ninght. Gabe had lobster and I had a very yummy beef wellington. We both had Baked Alaska for dessert. Tomorrow we will be visiting Ketchikan.

On a side note, tonight after dinner a lady thought that Gabe had a Scottish accent. I am not sure where that one came from.

May 27, 2009

Hubbard Glacier

Today we saw Hubbard Glacier. All of the icebergs were pretty neat too. I have a lot of pictures of ice. I guess the good thing about a digital camera is I don't have to print them. The cruise ship navigated through some pretty icy waters so we could get as close as possible to the glacier.

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Stephanie on the way to Hubbard Glacier.

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Hubbard Glacier. The picture does not give an accurate idea of the size. If I remember correctly we were still at least two miles away (I think it was four miles).

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Ice our cruise ship went through to get us even closer to the glacier. I am glad we didn't relive Titanic at this point. There were some pretty big icebergs in the water.

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One of my many iceberg pictures.

May 26, 2009

Sitka, Alaska

I forgot to take into account the hour time change and I was ready for my spa appointment at 6:50 a.m. As I was leaving, Gabe reminded me of the time difference. So, I got back into bed for an hour. The massage was relaxing and I really liked the hot stones. After my massage, we went to breakfast and managed to get some decent pictures of the Alaskan scenery.

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I love Alaska!

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Gabe & Alex on our balcony at Sitka.

We arrived in Sitka and walked around the town. Totem Square was neat. St. Michael's Cathedral had some interesting art work. One of my favorite places in Sitka was Castle Hill. It was the location where Russia turned control of Alaska over to the United States.

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Stephanie & Alex with totem pole in Sitka.

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Prospector statue

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Castle Hill

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Sitka scenery

After dinner, we purchased another piece of art.

May 25, 2009

First Complete Day at Sea

I went to a port talk and then we had a late breakfast at the buffet. I had some bacon...yummy! I don't normally eat bacon, but when we are on vacation I do. I think I will be having fruit and yogurt the rest of my trip (I want my jeans to fit). Because we ate so late (around 10:30 p.m.) we skipped lunch.

Around 11:00 a.m. we went to the Captain's Celebration for individuals celebrating anniversaries or honeymoons.

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Captain's Celebration

We went to the art auction and purchased some art. Art auctions are one of my favorite things about a cruise ship.

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Ready for dinner.

Tonight was formal night, so we dressed up and went to dinner. Afterward, I went to the gym and when I returned, Alex was sleeping. I have an appointment at the spa tomorrow for a hot stone full body massage at 8:00 a.m. (Thanks to Gabe for booking the appointment!)

May 24, 2009

On the Cruise Ship

Today we were up and ready to leave our hotel (River Rock Resort) by 11:00 a.m.. After check out, we took a taxi to the superstore (A.K.A. Safeway) to buy some bottled water for Alex's bottles. There was a slight issue when we went to pay for our purchase with our bank/credit card. It can be used as either a debit or a credit card. They were really confused that it had both VISA and debit printed on it. The cashier talked to the manager and came back and told us that they would not take the card. Basically, they decided it was not a debit card because VISA was printed on it and it was not a VISA because the word debit was printed on it. So, we just used our American Express.

The taxi took us to the pier. Getting on the cruise ship was made a lot easier because of Alex. We were given priority treatment and we did not have to wait in any lines. Once we boarded the ship we had lunch at the pizza/pasta buffet.

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Gabe & Alex relaxing on our balcony.

The emergency drill wasn't too bad with Alex. Gabe carried him so they let both of them finish the drill without a bulky life vest (I had to carry both of theirs while wearing mine).

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Stephanie & Alex hanging out on the cruise ship.

Dinner was nice and we had our own table. All of the workers seem to love Alex and they all volunteer to watch him. We watched a little bit of the show tonight (it was a preview of all of the acts for the week). Now we are back in our room. Tomorrow is a day at sea. We might swing by the art auction.

Canada for the Night

Saturday wasn't too bad. We left for Canada around 3:00 p.m. Flying first class was awesome with Alex. The additional space was great! The flight did not have a full meal, but it did have a snack of bacon wrapped beef tenderloin and a salad. I discovered that I really like Jones' Cream Soda.

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Alex & Gabe sleeping on the plane.

Alex was pretty good with flying. We arrived at our hotel around 1:00 a.m. We were upgraded to the two bedroom/three bathroom penthouse. There was also a living room, dining room, and kitchen area. The balcony overlooked a bird sanctuary. If we had more time in the room, we could have enjoyed the fireplace.

May 23, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I have about seven entries that are almost ready, but not quite. So, I will post them when I get back from Alaska. We are leaving today. If I get a little extra time, I might be able to post one or two entries before I go.

March 23, 2009


I finished my Yahoo! bracket. I am doing okay. I am a sucker for U of I every year. I am not going to be a sucker for them next year...I say that every year.

I finished reading Breaking Dawn last Tuesday. It was a decent way to end the Twilight Series (I am assuming it is the last book). I won't say anything else just in case someone out there isn't finished with the book yet. The new James Patterson book Run for Your Life is next on my list. It is the second book in the Michael Bennett series.

Gabe went to Phoenix last Thursday for the First Robotics Competition. He has been working with a local high school to help them prepare a robot for the competition. The bus left at 5:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. So, Alex and I drove up separately. We stopped at Ikea on the way up and arrived at the competition around 4:00 p.m. Thursday was a practice day. Around 8:00 p.m. we all went out to eat at The Old Spaghetti Factory.

Friday was the first day of competition. Alex and I waited until 1:00 p.m. to go to the competition. Before heading to watch the robots, we went to the Irish Culture Center and went on the guided tour. The competition was a lot of fun to watch. We went out to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner and I had Twisted Mac and Cheese...yummy!

Irish Culture Center

Saturday Alex and I headed back in the morning and everyone else went to the competition. We stopped off at Target and bought Twilight. I was hoping to watch it Saturday night, but we never got around to it. Gabe's team made it to the next round of competition that was on Saturday. Unfortunately they didn't win, but they did get a bronze medal. I think they all did a great job!

Alex Picture

Last night around 9:00 p.m. we sat down to watch Twilight. We didn't actually make it through the movie. We both fell asleep and went to bed at 10:30 p.m. I am hoping to watch it tonight. I will make a comment that the actors in the movie do not look like the characters in my mind. The closest is Victoria, but in the movie her hair is not nearly red enough.

March 9, 2009

New Phone

I don't really have any cool pictures to post with this entry. This is unfortunate, because I am not a fan of blog entries without pictures. The reason for the lack of pictures is we didn't do a lot this weekend. We managed to knock the "to do" list down from around 120 things to about 60 or so, so that was an accomplishment.

Oh, I did get a new phone. It actually came in the mail today. My contract was up and this one is a pda too. This is a very good thing since my palm pilot has been on the fritz lately and had managed to loose all of my data twice. The last time it reset back to 2004. I gave up on it at that point and started using paper to keep track of things. I *might* give it another chance later on.

Another thing we have been doing a lot of lately is figuring out travel/vacations. We booked our cruise to Alaska on Norwegian Cruise Line. A little extra searching and Gabe found an even better deal on Celebrity. The overall cost is about the same, but the Celebrity cruise was a nicer one (it was 40% off). We haven't cruised on Celebrity before and it was primarily due to the price. So, we booked the Celebrity Alaskan cruise and canceled our Norwegian cruise. This changed our departure port from Seattle to Vancouver. We also managed to find first class tickets to Vancouver using our frequent flier miles. This is a really good thing since the tickets are around $2,300 if we purchased them. Just in case you are wondering, if we had to purchase them we would definitely buy coach!

Dancing with the Stars is back on for the eighth season starting tonight. I wonder how Steve-O managed to snag a shot on the show. Anyway, I am looking forward to the show.

American Idol
is really starting now. The final contestants were chosen and this week, in my opinion, the real competition starts. Danny is my favorite. I must say I am glad that Tatiana is not going to be joining the show this week. Her drama was too much to handle.

Alex is going to the doctor today. It is time for the 4 month shots. I hate the appointments when he has to get his vaccinations. I know they are necessary, so I make Gabe come along to those appointments. While I am thinking about it, I am going to grab the baby Tylenol and throw it in the diaper right back.

Did you miss me while I was gone? That took a little longer than I expected. In addition to the Tylenol I also took out the trash, did some dishes, replaced the car seat cover that I washed, and cut myself a piece of chocolate cake that I made yesterday. I still need to grab the laundry.

Anyway, I just wish that I could explain to Alex what was going to happen at the doctor's office when he receives the vaccinations. I would feel so much better about the entire situation if he could just understand what is going on.

February 24, 2009


Yesterday was wonderful weather for February. It was 91 degrees! We had dinner outside on our patio and then we went for a walk. It think we are going to start eating outdoors more often. It was really nice.

Gabe booked our vacation last night. We usually go to Europe in February, but we opted not to go this year. Instead, we are going to Alaska at the end of May. Neither of us have been, so it should be quite an adventure. I have a friend that went on an Alaskan cruise and he suggested getting a balcony room. Usually we just get a room with an ocean view, but this time we booked a balcony.

I also finished the quilt I was working on! It was finished while watching Still Waiting. It was the sequel to the movie Waiting. I am not sure why I rented it, because I didn't really even like Waiting. It made Waiting look like an award winning movie. It was a pointless movie about two competing restaurants and the people that work there.


I made this tie onesie for Alex. I was going to wait to post it on my blog, but I already emailed a picture to Brandi (I asked if she wanted one for her son, Maddex).

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Tie Onesie

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Close up of "tie"

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Alex modeling the onesie.

January 3, 2009

Back in AZ

We left my parents house around 12:30 p.m. to head for St. Louis. After driving to the airport, returning our rental car, checking in with the airlines, going through security, and finding our gate, we had a couple of hours before our flight. One nice thing about traveling with a baby is priority seating. We arrived at the Tucson airport around 11:30 p.m. The luggage arrived around midnight and we were home around 12:30 a.m. After bringing everything inside I managed to take a bath around 2:00 a.m. I think we finally went to sleep around 3:30 a.m.

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Alex on the airplane.

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Speedramp into the wall at the airport in St. Louis.

We picked the dogs up from the kennel today. They are happy to be back home.

We are really hoping that Alex does not get sick. Maddex (Brandi - my niece's baby) is in the hospital. He is dehydrated, has pneumonia, strep throat, and if that isn't enough he also has an ear infection. Maddex is only 7 months old. Please say a prayer for his quick recovery.

Well, we have quite a few things to do today (we aren't going to get them all accomplished).

January 1, 2009


Nothing too exciting today. I have been packing for most of the day. Tomorrow we are leaving for St. Louis to fly back to Arizona.

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Gabe and me a few moments after midnight on New Years Eve.

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Alex a few moments after midnight.

December 31, 2008

End of 2008

Monday, Gabe, Alex, my mom, and I went to Indianapolis to see my Grandma. We stayed for a few hours and had food from Taco Bell. My Grandma really likes Taco Bell, so when Gabe and I go up to see her we always have food from there. We made it back to my parent's house pretty late (around 11:00 p.m.). I managed to read about half of the new James Patterson book Cross Country. Gabe gave it to me for Christmas. So, I used the light function on the Itzbeen to read the first portion of the book. Maybe I will get a chance to finish it before we go back. I have quite a few books to read. I read The Tales of Beedle the Bard while driving from Peoria to my Parent's house. It makes me miss Harry Potter. After I catch up with the Twilight series, I might read the Harry Potter series again. Oh, it looks like they are going to make a movie out of New Moon, the second book in the Twilight series. I still haven't seen the first movie yet.

We were going to get our eyes examined yesterday, but my old eye doctor was off. So, we stayed home and relaxed. My brother and his wife came up for a little while.

Since my eye doctor was off yesterday, we decided to go today. Both Gabe and I had our eyes examined. Alex came along to watch. We wanted to get our hair cut, but we barely had time for our eye exams. We had an appointment with a photographer for my entire family to have a group picture and then everyone could have whatever combination of photographs that they wanted. However, even more people are sick, so it was canceled. No picture this year :(
There is always next year.

Our New Year's Eve plans were canceled since the picture was canceled. People were supposed to come over and eat/play cards/play games, but since everyone was sick it ended up being Gabe, my mom, my Dad, Alex, and me. I really hope that Alex doesn't catch whatever is going around. Luckily, my parents, Gabe, and I seem to be avoiding it so far...hopefully I did not just jinx us.

December 28, 2008

Baby Shower & BBQ

Yesterday, Gabe, my parents, Alex, and I went to lunch at 17th Street Bar & Grill. My mom had a few things to pick up in a town about a half an hour from where they live. She had a baby shower for some of our family members and friends. So, today we saw quite a few of my family members and a lot of them met Alex for the first time. We had a really yummy cake and cookies.

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Alex cookies

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Diaper cake that Brandi made.

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Gabe & Alex at the shower.

We came back to my parent's house and watched the Gridiron Gang. It is about a probation officer that decides to start a football team the inmates of the juvenile detention center. Some were in rival gangs. They all had to play together as a team. It was a great movie.

December 26, 2008

Everyone seems sick

On Christmas Eve we headed down to my parent's house. We celebrated my Dad's birthday at my brother's house. My sister and sister-in-law made dinner. Afterward we came back to my parent's house.

Christmas morning people came up for breakfast and we opened our ornament exchange gifts. My brother didn't come up for Christmas this year due to a severe illness that started after we left his house on Christmas Eve. I spoke with him today and he is still sick. We opened presents on Christmas Day and everyone went home. When people came back for dinner, Brandi's husband (Doug) did not come back up. He stayed home sick. While eating dinner Shane's son started throwing up. I am hoping that Alex does not get sick. It seems that everyone has whatever is currently going around. My Uncle Marty and his family also stopped by last night.

This morning my cousin, Kara Beth stopped by to see Alex. Gabe and I have been relaxing. The weather here is nicer than the weather was up north.

December 23, 2008


Alex's eye is much better. Unfortunately he does not like the eye drop in his eye every three hours.

We dropped the dogs off at the kennel on Friday and we flew out to St. Louis on Saturday. Alex ended up with half of my suit case and part of Gabe's suit case. So, when we arrived at the airport we had two large suit cases, a medium suit case (that Gabe emptied and packed into the other bags), a car seat, a diaper bag, two carry ons, and a baby. We could barely carry it all. It is a really good thing that Gabe left the medium suit case in the truck.

We flew Frontier Airlines and they were all very nice. The lady at the check in counter said we could check any baby items for free and to keep it in mind for our next trip. It is nice in thought, but I don't think that it is that practical to pack any more stuff around. Going through security was much easier than I had anticipated. The TSA worker was very helpful and came over to help me through security. I sort of think he saw me and thought "oh great, she is really going to slow things down." :)

Alex was great on the airplane. He slept the entire time we were flying. I hope that he is just as great on the trip home.

We stopped at Sam's to pick up some diapers before arriving at his parent's house. The weather here definitely reminds me of winter. There is snow on the ground and ice on the trees. The roads were basically fine though.

Ice and snow

On Sunday, Aaron came to Peoria. Originally we were going to go to Chicago to the German Village, but the weather was too bad to take Alex. Instead, Aaron came to see us. We went to Folepi's Village and saw the Festival of Lights floats. Luckily the village was inside and we were able to see the floats from the comfort of our heated car.

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The cacti followed us to Illinois!

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Aaron, Gabe, and I came back and we all had dinner. Aaron had to leave since he had a long drive back to Chicago and he had to work on Monday. Laura (Gabe's sister) and Nate (Laura's boyfriend) came over we opened our Christmas presents and watched old family videos. Gabe and I also wrapped all of the presents on Sunday morning. It was like a little Christmas for us too, since most of the packages had been shipped to his parent's house months ago.

On Monday, I watched while Gabe, Duane (Gabe's dad), Troy (Gabe's brother), and Shari (Gabe's sister-in-law) all played Settlers of Catan. The Gabe was put on hold around 5:00 p.m. Gabe, Duane, and I went to a military supply store to buy some MRE's for my brother for Christmas. We had ordered some from a site on the internet, but I was really disappointed in them. They were only the entrees and not the complete meal that I was expecting. It is all fixed now (I still need to wrap them though). We stopped by Laura and Nate's place on the way back and then we headed to Sam's to pick up some chickens for dinner. After dinner, the game playing resumed.

Today has been pretty laid back. Troy, Shari, and Sophie (Troy & Shari's daughter) headed back to their home. I think we are going to watch a movie tonight. The snow is much nicer when you can enjoy it from the comfort of a heated house. Gabe and I also need to pack. We are going to leave tomorrow and head south to Southern Illinois to see my family.

I think that we are crazy for coming here for Christmas. We should have had people come to sunny Arizona instead!

P.S. I will most likely add pictures in early January.

December 17, 2008

Arizona Christmas

We had our Christmas in Arizona tonight.

Alex "talking" on his phone book.

Me and my collection of books from Gabe.

We have to take the dogs to the kennel tomorrow. Unfortunately, we can't bring them with us to Illinois. The weather there is too cold for the dogs to transported in the winter and the summers in Arizona are too warm for them to fly out of Tucson. So, it looks like they will primarily be staying in the sunny state of Arizona.

We still aren't packed. I guess we will do it tomorrow. Our flight leaves on Saturday morning.

February 27, 2008

Segovia (9:38 p.m. 02/27/08)

This morning we took a bus to Segovia. The ride was pleasant and we were able to see a lot of the Spanish countryside. When we arrived in town we walked to Roman Aqueducts. They were huge...a true engineering marvel. The Aqueduct can still carry a stream of water and they were used as recently as the 19th century. Next, we walked through the narrow city streets and went to the cathedral. After that we went to the Alcazar and walked around. We grabbed lunch and looked through some of the little shops. I actually found a pretty good deal on a damascene bracelet (in Madrid it is 3X the amount that I paid in Segovia). Once we came back to Madrid we walked around the city. We listened to several street performers and perused through a few bookstores. We attempted to find an outdoor market, but it is currently closed for renovation. So, we went to a supermarket and picked up a few items for dinner in the hotel room (we are getting tired of eating out). We had some very delicious olives. I want to go back tomorrow and buy some more. We watched a little CNN, an Italian show, and a German show. The German show proved to be the most interesting tonight. It was about uncontrollable kids. They would stay the night in the desert in an attempt to reform them. I make my own commentary (I don't know how to speak German). We are about to start watching Grey's Anatomy.

February 26, 2008

Toledo (11:26 p.m. 02/26/08)

Today we were up early to catch the high speed train to Toledo. We arrived at the train station and took a bus to the Plaza de Zocodover. Public executions were once held here and individuals were burned to death until the townspeople complained. Then it was moved to the edge of town. We headed out to the Santa Cruz Museum. It is currently free since they are not "officially" open. They are remodeling. The collection was small but nice. They house 15 El Greco's. There is also a tile museum that compares tiles across the different regions of Spain. The cathedral was large. The treasury has a glass sculpture from Toledo, Ohio (sister city). Thanks to Rick Steves' guidebook we found a sword shop that is family owned. I asked them if they were currently making swords. The guy took us in the back and showed us the guy making them. The final thing that we did in Toledo was take a city tour. The city walls seem well preserved.
We are watching CNN and I they are talking about the snow in Chicago (with 2 hour airport delays). It is in the 60's here. I guess I will be back to the snow soon enough.
Back to our trip...when we came back to Madrid we went to the Plaza de España. There is a statue of Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, and Cervantes in the plaza. I last read Don Quixote several years ago in Spanish class in Spanish. I am really tempted to pick up the English version and read it on the plane ride home. From what I remember I enjoyed the book. The Temple Debod was next on our list. It is an actual Egyptian Temple that was brought to Spain piece by piece. It is a gift from the Egyptian government to Spain for their assistance in saving several monuments when the Nile rose above the Aswan Dam. They were closed when we arrived, so we went to El Corte Inglés and had lunch. Then we went back to the Temple. It was a lot of fun walking through the temple. I really enjoyed all of the hieroglyphics. I have always wanted to go to Egypt...I have been to a temple so I guess that puts me one step closer. J Dinner tonight was at a buffet that reminded me of Sweet Tomatoes. We had churros con chocolate for dessert. I don't think that I will be having them again, but I wanted to try them. We walked around the city for a little bit and now we are back at the hotel room watching CNN. The big news is that the New York Philharmonic played a concert in Pyongyang, North Korea. The story comes on about every five minutes.

February 25, 2008

Stradivarius (9:16 p.m. 02/25/08)

We headed out for the Puerta del Sol this morning. We stopped along a few plazas along the way. Puerta del Sol is the geographical marker for the center of Spain. There is also a statue of the Carlos III and a bear (the symbol of Madrid) reaching for a strawberry tree...yes, I know that strawberries grow on bushes. I think that something might be lost in the translation (it is a madroño tree). We went to the oldest restaurant in the world (according to the Guinness Book of World Records). We went to the Playa Mayor. We stopped off at the Museo de Jamon. The next stop was the Palacio Real (Royal Palace). Compared to some of the other palaces/castles that I have been in, this one is in spectacular condition. My favorite thing here was the Stradivarius Room. If you are lucky enough to play for the queen, then you are lucky enough to play a Stradivarius. If you are looking for a complete quartet of Stradivarius' instruments, this is the only place that you will find one. After leaving the palace we walked trough the Plaza de Oriente. There are statues of Felipe IV and early kings. The statues of the early kings were originally meant to sit on the roof the palace, but they were too heavy.
Next, we went to Parque del Retiro (Retiro Park). We walked the length of the park. Some of my favorite things were the monument of Alfonos XII, the artichoke fountain, and the wonderful weather (everything was green and the flowers were in bloom). We also saw the statue of the fallen angel. I think that this is the only statue of Lucifer.
The Centro de Arte Reina Sofía was next on our list. We looked at a TON of art by Picasso and Dalí. I was really excited about seeing Picasso's Guernica. It was much larger than I had anticipated. The museum is huge!
In order to get a head start on our trip for tomorrow we went to the train station to purchase our tickets to Toledo. Gabe saw a KFC and wanted to eat there for dinner. He had a chicken sandwich that they called a "Kentucky Supreme Hamburger". In fact, everything that they called a hamburger was a chicken sandwich. I can just imagine a lot Spaniards ordering a hamburger in the United States and being very surprised when it is not chicken. (It is probably their term for a type of sandwich regardless of meat.) Now we are back at the hotel and we just finished watching a Spanish game show. It was very entertaining. I am watching a German channel now and I don't like it as well. I think that I am going to go back to a Spanish Channel.

Hard Rock Cafe (12:01 p.m. 02/25/08)

This hotel does NOT have free internet, so this may be my last published entry for a while. Of course, I will officially publish all of them when I get home at the very least. Gabe finally "fixed" the DVD player enough to finish watching The Prestige. It was a decent movie, but it could have been because I was stuck in an airport. We flew to Madrid and checked into our hotel. We are staying at the Best Western Atlantico. Best Westerns here aren't like they are at home. They are actually really, really nice. Some of the common rooms are amazing with all of the marble as well as our bathroom. I will attempt to post pictures sometime. We went to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. I ordered my Twisted Mac and Cheese. We took the Metro to get there since we were leaving so late at night. The Metro here is very clean, especially compared to The El. By the time we made it back to our hotel it was 12:25 a.m. here, and we were both very tired. So, we went to bed. Gabe was apparently up before me, showered, and purchased internet to really fix the computer. So, no more movieless waiting in the airport. Well, I don't know how much time I have left on the internet, so I am going to end here. I need to get ready to head out anyway.

February 24, 2008

Airport (5:27 p.m. 02/24/08)

We are currently sitting at the airport in Granada waiting on our flight to Madrid. This morning we went to the Alhambra and walked around. Actually, hiked to the Alhambra is probably a more accurate statement. The 30 minute hike was up a very, very steep hill. We walked around for quite some time before we found the ticket counter (we arrived at the opposite end). The length of the entire grounds is about half a mile. We had to walk the length at least four times before we figured out where we were going. FYI: if no one is taking the "short cut", you probably shouldn't either. The palace was very interesting with very intricate carvings and tile work. We climbed up the Alcazaba and walked around the wall. The walk down the hill and through the town was little more enjoyable than the journey up. We hung out at the Plaza Nueva until we grabbed a taxi and headed to the airport. We had our fingers crossed that by arriving at the airport a few hours early we would be able to take the earlier flight to Madrid. We actually could have if we were willing to pay a change of ticket fee of about $300...per person! We decided to hang out at the airport and watch DVDs. The laptop is on the fritz and doesn't want to play any m movies. So, we are part of the way through The Prestige. Hopefully Gabe can get it working before our trip back home.

Moorish Quarter (9:09 p.m. 02/24/08)

I forgot to add this to the entry from last night. On the way back from dinner, we walked through the Albayzín (the Moorish quarter). It reminded me of what Morocco street vendors would look like. Gabe said that it was like his trip to Morocco, but in a safe area :)
We passed a Hookah bar while walking through the streets. Take a look for a funny story on Smiling Through It All. Now I REALLY need to pack!

Comida (8:54 a.m. 02/24/08)

We are getting ready to leave this hotel and head out to the Alhambra. We have already been downstairs for breakfast and now we just need to pack out our stuff. I had a banana from the Canary Islands. They are a little different than the bananas at home (smaller, uglier, and sweeter). I also had something that they just call melón. I think that it is similar to a Crenshaw melon, but not the same. After the Alhambra we will be heading to the airport to fly to Madrid. Well, time to get packing!

February 23, 2008

Granada (1:13 a.m. 02/24/08)

We arrived in Granada via the bus. The ride was about 2.5 hours. We checked in our hotel and headed out to see some sights. Our first stop was the Capilla Real (Royal Chapel). Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand's tombs are in the Chapel. Isabel's head makes a significantly larger dent in her pillow than Ferdinand's head. It is attributed to the size of her brain in relation to Ferdinand' least that's what her fans say. The treasury at the Chapel was on of the best ones that I have seen yet. It didn't have a huge volume of items, but the quality was spectacular. Of course, there were items like Isabel's crown (adorned with pomegranates), her scepter, and Ferdinand's sword. However, the items that interested me the most were relating to Columbus. When the king and queen ran out of cash, they gave Columbus jewels to sell in order to finance his voyage. The very ornate chest that housed the jewels was there. Queen Isabela collected the first sizable art collection by a woman. It is also located in this room. The collection used to contain 200 works of art, but after Napoleon the collection contained only 30. Still, they were impressive and included Botticelli as well as other artists. Fun fact: granada is the Spanish word for pomegranate.
Next, we headed to the Cathedral. It is huge! An interesting tidbit is that the 18th century, the bishop had the interior of the church painted with lime. This was done to help decrease the spread of disease. People liked the white, and the color stuck. This is a Renaissance church. There is only one other located in Spain and it is found in Córdoba. For dinner we ate at a Turkish restaurant and had kebaps. They remind me of a giro or schwarma. I think that I am getting ready to go to bed. We are going to the Alhambra tomorrow.

Córdoba (11:41 p.m. 02/23/2008)

We left at 8:45 a.m. (1:45 a.m. CT) to catch our train to Córdoba. The train ride was really short (less than an hour) and pleasant. Once we arrived, we deposited our luggage in the bus station lockers and started out walking toward the Mezquita. The stroll took us through la juderia, the Jewish Quarter. It has a lot of narrow winding streets with white-washed buildings. We ended up finding finding Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Castle of the Christian Kings) first. We paid our admission and wondered through the palace and gardens. We climbed Las Torres for views from the top of the fortress walls. We stopped off for lunch at a sandwich shop. We each had a delicious sandwich with Serrano ham and Manchego cheese. Gabe also ordered us a tapa of olives. We continued our tour of Córdoba by heading to the Mezquita. There, we saw amazing double arches over the red and blue marble columns. There are 850 of these columns. Again, another Arabian Nights feeling. The Mezquita started out a Christian Church, then a Mosque, then a Christian Church again. We started the walk back to the bus station and stopped off at a shoe store that was going out of business...I didn't buy anything. Actually, we haven't bought much on this trip. So far we have purchased three postcards and an oil painting from a street artist (in Sevilla). We continued our journey by taking the 2:00 p.m. train to Granada.

February 22, 2008

Olé (11:30 p.m. 02/22/08)

The weather here has been pretty the 60's. Anyway about it, it has been much warmer than where we came from. We went to a flamenco show tonight. It was pretty entertaining. After the show we went out for dinner. We had tapas. Now we are back in the hotel room getting ready for bed. Our train leaves at 8:45 a.m. tomorrow morning for Córdoba. Time to repack the bags!

Cathedral, Giralda, and Alcázar (3:05 p.m. 02/22/08)

We have been up since 9:00 a.m. (2:00 a.m. Central Time). We started today off by wandering around the Barrio Santa Cruz (Jewish Quarter). Some of the buildings are so close to one another that they call them "kissing buildings". Both pedestrians and cars zip through the very narrow passages. However, some are so narrow that cars cannot fit. We stopped off at a cafe for breakfast...a chocolate filled croissant. We headed off to the Cathedral and the Giralda Bell Tower. The Cathedral is the third largest in Europe and houses what they claim to be Christopher Columbus' remains (the Dominican Republic makes the same claim). The climb to the top of the bell tower provided some pretty unique views of the city. Next we went to the Alcázar. It is a palace built in the 10th century by the Moors. It is the oldest royal palace in use in Europe. The tile work was amazing and made me feel like I was in Arabian Nights (or Morocco in Epcot). There are orange trees everywhere around here. We had lunch at an outdoor restaurant. I had paella. It was really good and very filling. We are back in the hotel and we made a couple of quick calls home. We are going to watch Flamenco tonight...we might head out again shortly and do some more exploring.

February 21, 2008

Sevilla (11:12 p.m. 02/21/08)

We are at our hotel in Sevilla. Our hotel has free internet! So, I can actually post for the next couple of days. Initially the hotel room that we given was for Steve someone. Gabe thought it was a really good idea that he purchased the upgrade considering the size of the room. Come to find out, it wasn't our room. So, Gabe went downstairs and came back up with the correct room key. We are staying at the Hotel Amadeus and they don't speak English here...I am lucky to have a translator. After arriving in the correct room (it is larger than the first) I jumped in the shower. I had been wearing the same clothes for a really long time. After my shower I started researching places to watch Flamenco. We still haven't decided if we are going to watch a show tonight or tomorrow.

España (6:54 p.m. 02/21/2008)

We have arrived in Spain. Now just for another short stay at the airport and we will be on our way to Sevilla. There is a LOT of security here...and in London too. In London there were police walking around with semi-automatic machine guns. Three of them went up to a guy that was standing in the line next to us while we were getting our boarding passes for Sevilla. It all seemed to end ok. We have been through security three times so far. Every time that we landed we were filtered through to the unsecured area and thus, we had to pass through security each time. At least the airports are secure...I hope. So far nothing too exciting has happened...other than I am finally in Spain. I am ready for my third flight. Actually, taking three flights in a row hasn't been as bad as I thought that it would be...I am sure that I will not complain when we finally reach the hotel though.

London (12:59 p.m. 02/21/2008)

We are waiting for our flight to Madrid in Heathrow currently. Last night Aaron dropped us off at the airport. Our flight left on time and we made it to London a little early. After passing through security, again, in London we purchased the British version of the Half-Blooded Prince. I will get the final book once it is available in soft cover. So, I guess that means we will have to take another trip through LHR. Yes, Brandi, if you are reading this I purchased a copy of the book for you too. Once we get to Madrid, we have one more flight until we reach our final destination of Seville. We left around 10:00 p.m. last night (on the 20th) and it will be around 10:00 p.m. on the 21st before we make it to Seville...a lot of traveling and time spent in the airport.

February 4, 2008

Second Bag

I guess it was only a matter of time before airlines start charging for baggage. RyanAir, which services Europe, has extremely cheap airfare, but charges for all luggage. If It helps to keep ticket prices down I guess it is okay (but they aren't as cheap as RyanAir)...I will look at it as a pay for your own jet fuel charge.

December 23, 2007

Christmas Stuff

Well, I haven't written anything for a while and we have been here it goes. Thursday morning I had an appointment with the dentist and Gabe worked. Gabe took half of a vacation day and after my appointment we left to go to Peoria to see Gabe's parents and sister for the holidays. We had lunch at Avanti's and then went to a green house. We all headed back to the house and met up with Laura (Gabe's sister)...she had been at work. We celebrated Christmas and then watched Ball's of Fury.
Friday we went to Cyd's for lunch and looked for Bald Eagles, but we didn't see any. We drove home and started doing things around the house again. I took a shower using my new gingerbread cookie scented bath wash. I smelled like a cookie and I considered taking a bite out of my arm :)
After work yesterday Aaron came over and we had dinner. Gabe made his stuffed mushrooms...they are one of my favorites! Gabe and I also celebrated our Christmas together yesterday evening.
This morning we woke up and the power was out. The beeping of our power supply sent Elsa into a seizure. This generally happens when the power goes out. I guess she likes her electricity (and hates the beeping noise). The power came back on and we started working on putting things away and finishing up Spain stuff. We now have a place to stay on every night of our trip. We have a few errands to run today...I will see if I can pull Gabe away from the Wii. I am really looking forward to watching some DVD's that I received for Christmas...maybe that can be on list for tonight.

December 19, 2007


We have been staying up late to finish working on the house. We are officially finished with the items for 2007. A lot of our time is now getting focused on finishing up with the planning for Spain. I am really getting excited about the trip. Sometimes I feel like Gabe and I could be travel agents if our current careers don't work out :)
I have been tired this week and I was looking forward to going to bed early last night (instead of our usual 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. lately). Well, we stayed up until around 2:00 a.m. making fudge and cookies for my co-workers and our neighbors. We still need to deliver the ones for our neighbors...maybe tomorrow. Maybe we can get to bed early tonight.
Other than planning for Spain, I am currently staying busy doing laundry and working on quilting projects. I have four going on right now.
Off to Blockbuster to return some movies.

November 23, 2007


We arrived at my parent's house a little after 1:00 a.m. We finally went to bed around 2:00 a.m. My family came up and it was good to see everyone. Gabe and I went over to Brandi and Doug's and saw their house. We gave them their wedding present (a Flavia machine). Brandi was really excited to get it. She would drink chococcinos when we lived in our apartment. The apartment complex had a free Flavia machine. My parents, Gabe, and I tried to play Deal or No Deal on the TV, but the DVD kept resetting itself halfway through the game. Kyle came back over and we ended up playing 1 vs. 100. We are on our way back now (I have to work tomorrow). We should be back around 5:30 p.m. tonight...hopefully I can get some stuff done.

October 26, 2007


So, after doing laundry and picking up the house I finally went back to bed. When Gabe got up on Thursday he was trying to figure out when I had done everything, because he didn't remember it all being done before he went to bed. I guess I didn't keep him up after all.
I worked on the house on Thursday and our groceries were delivered. We went to Lowes again to look at vanities and paint chips. I think we have made decisions about several items that we need to purchase. Today we went and had our pictures taken for our Christmas cards. I really need to quit procrastinating and steam some border off a bathroom wall. I might actually be able to finish one of the bathrooms this weekend.
Gabe and I watched Ugly Betty last night. I really like the show, but Henry is starting to bother me. I want them to be together. He just needs to get his head on straight, make a decision, and stick with it. I am still trying to figure out how likely it is that the producers will let Henry and Betty be together and be happy.
We purchased our tickets to Spain a few days ago. We have been saying that we are going to go for a while now, but we actually bought the tickets. So, we are definitely going now. I have several travel guides, so the rest of the trip just needs to be planned out. Well, I guess that I really should get something done.

October 15, 2007

Laundry...almost done

I am really tired and I am getting ready to go to bed. I have one load of laundry left. Boy did we have a ton! Since Gabe is in California I didn't cook dinner. I actually had pancakes. I told him that he needed to eat dinner with me because that way I would eat a healthy meal. Either way, I don't think that I would have pancakes every night. He comes home late tomorrow night. I work until at least 7:00 p.m., so he should be home a few hours after me. I am really looking forward to getting a day off on Thursday.

Busy Morning

Let's see, I went to the grocery store last night and returned home around 12:30 a.m. I put all of the groceries away while Gabe packed his bags. He left for California at 5:00 a.m. today. He is going for a work conference. This morning I got up and went to my doctor's appointment for a flu shot. Then I headed to the town hall to buy garbage stickers, the library to return a book, and the post office to mail a few things. So far I have done 6 loads of laundry and I would say that there are 4 or 5 more loads, but hey, we have towels. Now I have to get ready for work...I need to leave in about 15 minutes.

October 14, 2007

Back from Wisconsin

We are back from Wisconsin. Now back to the house stuff. The tiles are down in the laundry room and Gabe is working on the trim. I need to go to Home Depot and buy a different outlet cover. I also need to swing by the grocery store if we would like to eat. We will see how things go. I have a lot of laundry to do.

October 13, 2007


Gabe picked me up from work today and we drove to Wisconsin for Andrew and Nicole's reception. We missed the ceremony. It started at 4:00 p.m., and I don't get off work until 4:00 p.m. Plus, I don't always get off of work on time. So we drove to Wisconsin and made around 6:30. It was really nice to see some of my friends from ICO again. I had not seen Tony, Ryan, Barby, and Maren since May. I did get a chance to see Andrew and Nicole in September. They had a fall themed reception and it was really nice. The food was really good, and I was really hungry. I did not get to eat lunch (I had a very steady stream of patients on Saturday). I didn't want to stop on the way up for food because I didn't want to be any later than we were already going to be. I am glad that we were able to make it.

August 12, 2006

Train to Chicago

Gabe and I are on the train on our way back to Chicago. We went out to eat at Leonard's for prime rib before leaving. So far the train ride has been pretty uneventful. The most exciting thing occurred when we were passing through a town and someone threw a rock. As you can imagine it just bounced right off and we kept moving. We purchased business class fare instead of coach and I must say that the few extra dollars were well spent. I am going to surf the net some now, after all, it is a 5 1/2 hour train ride.

August 11, 2006

Unloading Part I

We left for my parents today. We had to add a few things to the truck that we forgot last night, but nothing too major. If anyone out there will be moving soon (and I know a few of you will), the post office moving kit has a $50 off coupon for Budget rental trucks. I will say that the Budget trucks are not as comfortable as U-Haul, but they are cheaper. The gas mileage isn't that great either. Just in case you are wondering, and I know that Tony is, they get about 10 miles per gallon. Once arriving in at my parent's, we unloaded the cargo. I honestly believe that 2/3 of our belongings were packed into the truck. At least we will not have as much stuff to move to the suburbs. After unpacking we ordered my favorite pizza...Mimmo's pepperoni and green olives. If we would have remembered our swimsuits we could have hit the pool.

August 6, 2006

Fun Weekend

I realize that the posting has been a little lax lately, but if I am not at school I am packing. Friday Gabe and I left for North Carolina. Noelle, on of my friends, was getting married. We arrived around 11:30 p.m., checked into the hotel, and searched for a Cracker Barrel that the road signs said was only 0.2 miles away, but we never found it. Our choices were pretty much gas station food, KFC, or McDonald's. We went with KFC. I love their potatoes, chicken strips, and biscuits. We ordered our food and after waiting on them to kill, clean, and cook the chicken they finally brought the order out. They then informed us that they were out of biscuits, but they gave us extra chicken strips to make up for it. There were two extra strips and I must say that the individuals that live in North Carolina like their chicken spicy.
We went to the wedding on Saturday and I must say that it was one of the most fun weddings that I have ever been to in my life. Those of you who know me know that I am not a big fan of weddings, but I actually enjoyed this one! After the reception we went back to Noelle and Lee's home with a few other friends and Noelle's family. It was really nice to see her again and hopefully she will be coming to visit next summer...I had to throw that in just in case Noelle is reading this entry. :)
On the drive back to Charlotte we stopped and did a little shopping. It was tax-free weekend in North Carolina so I picked up a couple of free!
Our flight left Charlotte at ~6:30 a.m. today. We left the hotel around 5:00 a.m. (we were only 5 minutes from the airport). We were back at our apartment in Chicago by 9:00 a.m. Gabe and watched T.V. until 10:00 a.m. and then went to sleep for a couple of hours. We hit the grocery store and Target (to pick up more totes, of course). Then we came back home for another packing party. Back to the totes for me.

July 16, 2006

Superman and a Wedding

Yesterday Gabe and I were up early to start the journey to Belleville, IL. One of my friends from college was getting married. I actually received a quadruple bonus. Julie, Mylisa, Natalie, and Al were all there as well. I am sad to say that I had not seen most of them since we were at the same college. I will say that we do talk and email each other though. It was a lot of fun. Some of us even made a pact to call each other at least once a month. We always have a ton of fun together. Hopefully some of them will be able to make their way north to visit sometime soon. We decided to head back to Chicago after the reception. We didn't arrive back at our apartment until around 2:00 in the morning. We were both so tired that I think we were both asleep by the time that our heads hit the pillows. Today we went to the movies with Nicole and Andrew and watched Superman. I must say that it was much better than I had expected. I still think that Superman looked way too young though. After the movie I have just been doing some things around the apartment...hanging up pictures, laundry, etc. Gabe has a project, paper, and final this week, so he has been pretty busy today working on "school stuff". I have four more weeks of school until my next rotation. I must say that I am not looking forward to the act of moving itself, but I am eager to live in a new location. I will miss this apartment though, it is the only place that Gabe and I have lived in together. I think that I am going to do some Sudoku before heading to bed.

July 9, 2006

My name is...

If your name matches the "mystery name", you might just win yourself a trip to Barcelona with a complete stranger. Apparently this poor guys girlfriend dumped him and left him with a non-transferable ticket to Spain. "All" you have to do to see if you get the trip is send him your name, address, phone number, weight, height, and some pics. He is just looking for friendship, but if more happens he feels "that is cool". I wonder why his girlfriend left him. I am just sitting here trying to figure out who would actually send this guy all of their information. If I am going to Spain, I will pay for it myself...or until I get a "real job" I guess Gabe will.

July 2, 2006

On the Way Back

We are on our way back to Chicago. This morning wasn't too crazy. We watched a movie and ate some lunch. On our way out of town we stopped at my Dad's office and picked up some beef from the last cow that they purchased. We now have two coolers full of beef that we are bringing back with us. They have another shipment coming in October, so I have a feeling that we will be kept well stocked. I think that we are going to look for potential places to live this weekend. We only have a few weeks left at our current place and then we will be off to the suburbs. Just thinking about it makes me want to rent the Tom Hanks movie "The 'Burbs". That may be something fun to do tonight.

July 1, 2006

Ahh...the pool

Today Clara thought that it would be fun to bark out the sliding glass window at 6:00 a.m. Normally this wouldn't bother me, but I was really looking forward to sleeping in today. The barking apparently only bothered me, and I went downstairs to quiet her. Gabe stayed in bed asleep. Finally the curtains had to be drawn to keep her from peeking out the window. At least here she will go outside. The sound of the fireworks in my neighborhood in Chicago scare her so much that she won't go outside anymore. She has managed to use the bathroom twice in our apartment because she really just doesn't want to go outdoors. The noises don't phase Elsa at all.
We ordered Mimmo's pizza and while we waited on it to cook Gabe and I hit the pool. It was pretty relaxing.
My mom's kitchen is pretty well finished. She just needs to organize some things. So, my sister and I went through about 5 boxes of kitchen items that she no longer wants. It was like Christmas. We just went through and took what we wanted. Unfortunately there isn't really room for us to bring it back right now, so we are going to get it next time we are down.

June 30, 2006

It's Friday!

We left around 3:30 p.m. from Chicago today to head to Eldorado. We arrived around 8:45. We made really good time on the trip. The first half of the ride I spent proofing a paper for my research project at school. The second half I spent driving while Gabe worked on his homework. We didn't really do much else.
I know that I have said it before (at least to some of you in person), but I really like my low vision rotation at school. It is a pretty neat feeling to take someone that has given up the hope of ever reading again and watching them read a newspaper for the first time in years. It really makes my day when it happens.

June 25, 2006

Recovering from Vegas

Today Gabe and I slept in until 11:30. We were both pretty tired from the trip. Gabe spent most of the day studying for his Monday and Tuesday exams. I cleaned and watched Nanny McPhee. I have wanted to see it for a while. It was entertaining. There is something funny that I forgot to mention. It happened in Vegas. Gabe was "studying" for his Monday and Tuesday exams while I was in classes. He said that he tried to study but he was hungry, so he went to the cafe to purchase a sandwich. Then he said that the slot machines were right there, so he put in some cash. I guess I can't complain too much, he won $200.

King Tut, Take II

Gabe and I purchased tickets to the activities at the Luxor. We watched the IMAX movie Mystery of the Nile. Then we went on a Dracula IMAX ride. I honestly expected to be scared a little more. Search of the Obelisk was the next IMAX ride we tried. We decided to call it quits...none of the IMAX experiences were that great. We decided to try the King Tut Museum. There was a brief five minute movie introduction and then an audio tour guide. The museum would have been a good addition to the exhibit at the Field Museum. Leslie Neilson was the star for the next Luxor activity. We watched Pirates 4-D. It was cute and funny. We went for lunch in the Stratosphere Hotel's restaurant the Top of the World. Tony went with us for the view from the top. We shared a cab to the airport and arrived back in Chicago around midnight.

June 23, 2006

Viva Las Vegas!

Continuing Education classes comprised the majority of my day today and yesterday. I needed 7 classes to make up for my missed clinical assignments. Today, after the classes were over Gabe and I walked down the strip and watched the water show at the Bellagio Fountain. I needed some classic Sinatra to go with would have made me feel like a character from Ocean's 11. We also went to Freemont Street to "Old Vegas". This portion of Vegas reminded me of Vegas from the movies (ex. National Lampoons). The lights were amazing. I did not visit Freemont Street on my previous Vegas trip. We headed to Binions for a $5.95 sirloin with baked potato and vegetables. This is the area of Vegas to find cheap food. We ate around 1:00 a.m. which beats our previous meal time by 2 hours. The past few nights dinner was at 3:00 a.m. We watched the hourly LASER show and took a $2.00 hour long bus ride back to the hotel.

June 21, 2006

Red Rock

Yesterday evening Gabe and I arrived in Las Vegas. We arrived around 11:30 p.m. so we grabbed the rental car, checked in to the hotel (the Luxor), and went to sleep. We did pull a Rachael Ray on the plane ride to Vegas. I chatted it up with a local about places to go and places to eat. She recommended Red Rock, which made me very happy because I really wanted to go there. She also mention Binion's, a hotel in downtown Vegas, or as like to call it, Old Vegas. We drove our rental car the 20 miles to Red Rock. We went on a few trails and snapped a few shots of the scenery. Overall, getting out of the city and walking around with burros and rocks was pretty enjoyable. We tried a taco place called Del Taco. I wanted Tack Bell (no big surprise), but Gabe wanted to try something new. I had the Dan special...a taco and a burrito. Good, but not quite as good as Taco Bell. We went back to the hotel and walked along the strip. While walking along the strip we purchased tickets to Mamma Mia. The show was great. Afterward we went back to the casino. I put one dollar in a slot machine and it came out two, so I quit. I put another dollar in a slot machine and it came out a buck sixty, so I quit. I am $1.60 richer.

May 26, 2006

On my way to get the dogs

We left Chicago around 5:00 p.m. Since it is Memorial Day weekend there is a bit more traffic than normal. Gabe said that he heard a report that this would be the busiest travel day ever. Well, we started to leave and decided to wait a few hours since the way that we take to get to my parents had a travel time of an hour and twenty minutes for three miles. I could run it faster than that! We arrived at their house around midnight and my dad was on his way to bed as we walked in. Both Elsa and Clara were pretty excited to see us. We are going to bed.

May 19, 2006

Back in Chi-Town

Well, the vacation is over and now we are back in Chicago. We checked out from the resort and had lunch...I'll give you a guess where...the Olde Towne Oyster Bar and Grill. I ordered fish, but it wasn't exactly as I had imagined. They left the head on. I am not a big fan of my food staring up at me while I am eating. Afterwards, we walked to the beach and sat under the gazebo on the pier (it is the first picture). We headed to the airport, had a layover in Miami where we purchased some overpriced airport food and found our way back to Chicago. We haven't unpacked a thing yet...I am going to bed.

May 18, 2006

Call of the Great Outdoors!

No rain today! So, we hit the beach. We stopped off on the way and tried Guava Duff. It is an island dessert and it was pretty good. Pretty much all of the guidebooks say that you should try it while in the Bahamas. After the beach we went to lunch at Johnny Canoe. We then went back into town and looked at a few shops. Now we are hanging out in the hammock under the palm trees at our resort. I have decided that when we have a house I want a hammock in the yard. Tonight we are going back to the Olde Towne Oyster Bar and Grill. We will probably play a few more hands of cards before leaving tomorrow. Oh, and of course we will make our daily trip to the gas station...haven't missed a day yet!

May 17, 2006

Attempted Sight Seeing

With the power back on we decided to venture out even though it was still raining. We grabbed our jackets and took the #10 bus to the stop for Ardastra Gardens, Zoo, & Conservation Center. After the fifteen minute walk we decided that none of us wanted to pay $24.00 to see a peacock and a cow. We decided to go to the $1.00 per person Botanical Gardens instead. The lady at Ardastra informed us that the Botanical Gardens had been closed to the public since 2001. Strike #1 for Tony's guidebook. We then walked to Fort Charlotte. Actually, we found a well worn path and ended up in the moat; not the way one should enter the Fort unless you are trying to take it over (the moat was dry). We made our way to the ticket window and decided to forgo the Fort since it would cost $10 and we just saw a fort yesterday. So, we decided to go downtown to eat at Senor Frogs for lunch. After lunch, the rain started pounding again, so we decided to find a coffee shop downtown. Tony wanted to try Jitters (his guidebook suggested it), but it was nowhere to be found. I even asked a shop owner, but they had never heard of it. Strike #2 for Tony's guidebook. The moral of the guidebook story is check the copyright date before you buy...2003 probably isn't that reliable. With Jitters in hiding, we stopped at a coffee shop called The Daily Grind. I had a great and expensive ($6.00) piece of chocolate cake...yum! Afterwards we headed back to the shops downtown. Tony and Maren went back to the resort & Gabe and I looked at a few more shops and ventured back to the resort. Then Gabe and I went to the mall by the resort...a little too pricey for me. We started playing cards once we returned. We took a brief break and walked to Pizza Hut for dinner. Our waitress was pretty fun. Her belt said "DIVA" and she even let Tony talk her into taking her picture. We came back and picked up our card game where we left off. It rained pretty much all day so we didn't make it to the beach.

May 16, 2006

Rain, Rain Go Away!

The day started out bright and sunny. We went on a walking tour that I organized from internet information. It saved us $80! We started out at Rawson Square - the center of the government in the Bahamas. Then we walked to the library and looked around. It used to be the jail. Maren saw prisoners walking between buildings and right past the present day library. The Queen's Staircase was next on the list. It is 65 limestone stairs and is 102 feet high. There is a lot of lush vegetation around. It reminded me of something that you would see near a Mayan temple. Next we walked to the water tower. It is the highest point on the island at 216 feet above sea level. Next, we went to Fort Fincastle and then to the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas. I prefer the Art Institute in...gasp...Chicago. Our plan after the walking tour was to head to the beach. The rain and lightening didn't agree. We decided to play cards. The electricity didn't agree with that option, the power went out. So, we decided to go and eat at The Poop Deck. We left to walk and it went from sprinkling to raining really hard. We went to the restaurant and before we could place our order the generator quit working ( I do not believe that they were using a Caterpillar would have worked) :). Fortunately they had candles for the tables and the kitchen runs on gas, so were able to order food. After dinner we went back to the resort and went to bed.

May 15, 2006

Paradise Island

Today started with a trip to Paradise Island. In order to make it to Paradise there was an hour long walk including a pedestrian footbridge up a very steep incline. We had lunch at Anthony's Carribean Grill. I still think that Tony should have purchased a shirt. Next, we were off to Atlantis. I was pretty disappointed. It was $30 per person to walk around. So, instead we had Haagen-Daz. we walked around a garden and headed back to the resort and jumped in the pool. The water slides were a lot fun. Dinner was at the Olde Towne Oyster Bar and Grill. I must say that it was the best (and cheapest) food that we have had on the trip so far. On the way back to the resort the hammock called and then the T.V. We are about to play cards. I will let you know who wins.

May 14, 2006

Lazy Bahamian Sunday

Today the weather was bright and sunny, not a rain cloud in site. The 80's that we experienced in the Bahamas today was much nicer than the rainy, gloomy 40's that we left in Chicago. The day started with a bus ride to Cable Beach. We stayed on the beach for several hours. I decided to rent a raft. It was $5.00 per hour, so I decided against renting one. The bad news is that I was informed that the beach chairs we were using were also $5.00. So, we were demoted from the beach chairs to the beach towels for reading. Gabe and I rented a jet ski. He used his smooth talking skills to reduce the price from $70 to $30. Gabe had never been on a jet ski before. I have once before in Florida. It was a lot of fun, but I forgot how much salt water in the eye stings. We swam for a while afterward. Both Gabe and Maren spent a little too much time in the sun and came back from the beach a little "well done". We went back to the room to change and place aloe on burns and then headed out again. Bus rides are really cheap, only $1.00 per person. They are essentially a cab. They pick you up anywhere and drop you off anywhere. We went to the straw market where the vendors are a little too pushy for my taste. Lunch was at Hard Rock Cafe (my choice - I love the Twisted Mac and Cheese). We walked around town and came back to the room and went to the beach near our hotel. I now have a sea glass collection thanks to Gabe. Afterwards we walked to the gas station, yes, very exciting. We purchased a deck of playing cards and a 2-liter of Pepsi ($2.50-ouch). We came back to the room and ordered Domino's. I must say that they do not put nearly enough sauce on their pizza. Then Tony, Gabe, and I watched an episode of Big Love...I don't suggest it.

May 13, 2006

On My Way to the Bahamas!

Today started at 6:00 a.m. We met my dad to take Elsa and Clara to him while we are on vacation. We came back and walked to Tony & Maren's and then we all walked to the train station together. We missed our train by a minute and waited another 15 minutes for the next train to come along. Once at the airport we checked in and waited for our flight. Once in the Bahamas, we took a $22 taxi ride the three miles to our hotel (Sandyport Beach Resort). Click here for pictures of the resort. We initially crossed four lanes of traffic to get to the beach. Walking around the resort we realized we didn't have to cross the highway to get to the beach, there is a walkway under the highway that leads to the Sandyport Beach, and we met Al. Al runs Runaway Boat tours. Though he didn't sell us any tours, he did manage to sell us on his mom's restaurant, Nettie's Place (this is what I would consider to be a Rachael Ray find-getting advice from the locals). We tried conch...I didn't like it. The turkey sandwich and fries were good though. The walk back to the resort was nice and on the way we stopped at the gas station to buy water. Tony doesn't like the taste of the tap water and I don't even drink the tap water in Chicago, so we both bought a gallon. So far everyone is nice. The weather is much better than Chicago's weather right now.

April 27, 2006

On the Road Again

Well, Gabe and I are on the road again. This time we are headed off to Indianapolis to the Indiana Optometric Association Convention. He is actually registered, though I doubt that he will be participating in the continuing education (CE) classes. While I am taking CE classes on glaucoma, retinal detachments, and penetrating keratoplasty he will be in the hotel room working on his paper for school. Once again, I am typing this blog entry while we are on the road. I really do enjoy cell phone internet. It is after 11:00 p.m. and we still haven't had dinner. So far our choices have consisted of McDonald's, McDonald's, and McDonalds. I was joking about getting a doughnut at the Shell Station where we filled up with gas. I am beginning to think that I really should have. I always seem to forget that when you are on a trip with Gabe you don't stop for food. How I wish that I had the carrots from the fridge at home. I did bring water, but that just isn't doing the trick. Today wasn't super exciting. Tony, Ryan, and I began working on our paper for our Third year research project. It is on the effects of zeaxanthin on chronic light hypersensitivity. We began dividing up the work since this quarter is almost over and once we become fourth years we will not longer all be at ICOIEI at the same time. I am hoping that we can complete the paper before next quarter begins but I am not sure that we will make it. I also worked some this morning. Classes followed and then we left for Indiana. I drove the first portion of the trip so that Gabe could do some work. Now he driving and I get the computer. Well, I think that I am going to surf the net.

April 15, 2006

Easter Dinner

We had Easter Dinner a day early since Gabe and I will be leaving to go back to Chicago tomorrow. Due to the lack of kitchen facilities, we grilled and it was good. We also picked up a few items from the deli that did not require cooking (i.e., potato salad, macaroni salad, baked beans, chips, etc.). We actually managed to dirty very few dishes, which turns out to be a handy thing when you don't have a kitchen sink. Before dinner we cleaned up my Dad's truck. If optometry school doesn't work out I could always have a career in the car cleaning industry.

April 14, 2006

Long Drive

We went to my parents for Easter. The drive was long. It was made a bit shorter by the fact that Gabe drove instead of me. It was well after midnight before we pulled in, and everyone was in bed. Both Gabe and I managed to avoid waking up my parents, but Elsa (my dog) didn't. She jumped right into bed next to my mom and woke her up. Just a little side note: the thing that gets me about my dogs is that they will wake me up in the morning and jump/quietly bark until I get out of the bed and then they both go back to sleep. Anyway, today Gabe and I went for a run, went to the deli and purchased items for lunch meat sandwiches, and then we worked on the pool area (i.e., pulling weeds, potting flowers, etc.). It was actually a productive and relaxing day. We then went out to dinner at the new Italian Restaurant the next town over. It was pretty good, but I give it a year. Most of the restaurants in that location don't last more than a few years. So, you are probably wondering why we are eating lunch meat and out at restaurants since my mom enjoys cooking. My mom is having her kitchen redone. She currently has no water, stove, microwave, or basically anything that you need to cook. She does however have a fridge, hence the lunch meat. I am not sure what we will do tomorrow.

February 25, 2006


I just returned from my visit to Ireland today. I brought home the two souvenirs that I wanted. A Celtic-type ring and a sweater from the Aran islands. I am sad to say that after wearing the ring for about six hours it turned my finger green. I am thinking the vendor meant to say the ring was silver-toned, not sterling silver (though I guess it could be a low quality silver). But hey, I guess you can't expect much for less than thirteen bucks. This brings me to my expensive Aran sweater. I was really excited to purchase the sweater. I liked it a lot...until Gabe pointed out that the sweater sheep. I hope that the odor comes out with the wash. I guess if the odor lingers you will know I am near when it smells like a barn is walking towards you. All in all, the trip was enjoyable. I believe that one of my favorite parts of the vacation was driving through the Wicklow Mountains and seeing sheep walking on the road. Hopefully I will be able to get some pictures up soon, but I am still waiting on Gabe (hint, hint). :)

February 18, 2006

Lost Luggage

Have you ever lost luggage while flying somewhere? Ever wonder where it went? Check here, you might be able to buy some of your old stuff back.