Easter out west

Posted by Katie on August 29, 2011
Easter, Travel / 3 Comments

This is how Dave and I celebrated Easter earlier this year.  Don’t worry, it wasn’t as sacrilegious as it may seem.

#37 through #39 – different approach.

Posted by Katie on April 10, 2011
101 in 1001, Travel / 5 Comments

#37 – Make an extensive French flash card collection.

#38 – Memorize every last French flash card.

#39 – Hire a French tutor to work with me once a week (6 months).

I’m taking a different approach to getting my French up to speed, and Dave is coming along for the ride!!  We found a native French speaker who has been coming to the apartment once a week to help us out.  One of her first comments to me, “Flashcards are boring!”  She spends an hour talking to me, and correcting my goofy grammar, and she spends an hour teaching Dave the basics. 

I know French much more as a spoken language than a written one…this comes through two summers of total French immersion in Quebec 10 years ago, as well as a customer service job speaking French on the phone.  Revisiting the basics through Dave, while spending time each week just talking in French, have been really valuable and fun. 

Dave’s homework is focused on memorization, while mine is focused on reading and writing things I am interested in, focusing on improving spelling and grammar.  I’ve enjoyed doing this with Dave, and our different talents in life help each other learn.  That’s to say that I just say anything in French to get my point across, while Dave focuses on spelling and pronouncing thing correctly.

The goal is to take our summer vacation in Quebec in 2012.  It would be wonderful to introduce Dave to that time in my life, as well as reconnect with the family that I lived with.

California for the holidays!

Posted by Katie on January 30, 2011
Christmas, Family & Friends, New Year's, Travel / 2 Comments

In what was a very lovely break from work and winter weather, and a wonderful chance to visit with family, Dave and I spend Christmas and New Years this year (or last year, or whatever) in California with his family.

Christmas and New Years were both very properly celebrated with chocolate and wine and ham and lots of goodies.

Touristy things were visited.

The Hollywood sign from Griffith Observatory.

Sunny and smoggy downtown LA from Griffith Observatory.

Personally the most exciting touristy thing over vacation was getting the change to see a gray whale migrating off the coast.  At Point Vincente, volunteers track the whale migration.  This time of year the whales are heading south to birth their young.  We had been to this spot before for whale watching, but despite our previous hours of patience, had not actually seen anything.

This time around we were treated to a gray whale upon our arrival.  I know it looks small…it’s cooler in person.  Really.

Christmas presents were played with.

No, this isn’t a picture of the family contemplating the skies or the meaning of the Korean Friendship Bell.

They’re checking out Dave’s kite, with it’s 9′ wingspan and 50′ tails.

Quite honestly, I’m shocked that the kite didn’t fly away or launch one of us into the Pacific Ocean.

But the most important we got to do in California was visit with lots of family and friends!  I only wish we lived closer so that we could visit more often.

Now we’re both back in the swing of work, and almost over the colds that we got after returning to Chicago.  Blah.

View from the sky

Posted by Katie on January 09, 2011
Travel / 4 Comments

We were lucky enough to see the Grand Canyon on the way home from a recent trip to California.

#78 – Done

Posted by Katie on September 21, 2010
101 in 1001, Travel / 1 Comment

#78 – Travel to visit Brian and Katrina.

No, I haven’t disappeared from the blog world.  Things have just been happening outside of the blog world, that’s all.  I should probably blog about them.

We recently took a trip to Wisconsin and Minnesota for the long Labor Day weekend to visit my brother Brian and his lovely wife Katrina.

We got to see their new house.  Please note, and give Brian credit for, the meticulously cared for lawn.

Of course a trip to the Minnesota State Fair was in order.  A few other people showed up.

We got to see the famed butter sculptures…

Eat lots of things on sticks…

And enjoy a classic haunted house.  Good times.

We also spent some time hiking, and thoroughly enjoyed being out of the city.

Thanks for a great time!


Posted by Katie on July 29, 2010
Travel / 1 Comment

During our recent trip to Virginia, we took a family field trip to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.  I would have previously only asked to go the Smithsonian, but my public school education did not inform me that there are quite a few museums in the collection of Smithsonian Museums in Washington DC.

And on our field trip, we got to see the Hope Diamond.  Pretty, sure.  But the experience reminded me of the time I visited the Louvre in Paris and saw the Mona Lisa.  Did you know that the Mona Lisa is only 30″ x 21″?  I didn’t know this fact until I was standing in front of the painting in Paris, shocked not to see a mammoth work of art in front of me, but a swarm of tourist huddling around a small portrait.

I am not writing this to minimize great works of art or natural wonders.  Quite possibly, I am simply further revealing my public school education by saying that I was expecting a bigger diamond.

The Hope Diamond is cool.  And with its current 45.52 carat cut, it is actually less than half of its original size.  But I was surprised that wasn’t the size of a small melon…or at least an orange.

What can I say?  I had envisioned a bigger diamond.

The calm after the storm

Posted by Katie on July 28, 2010
Family & Friends, Summer, Travel / No Comments

This summer has been lots of fun.  Travel.  More travel.  Family.  Old friends.  New friends.  Lots to blog about.  No time to blog.

We recently spent a weekend celebrating the marriage of a mutual college friend, while joining in the ten year college reunion that accompanied the wedding.  Turns out we do still have a few things in common with our friends from ten years ago, with one glaring exception…we don’t have four kids.

Mom and two of my sisters just spent a few days with us, visiting Chicago for a little relaxation and shopping.  I’m so glad we’re in a location where people stop by!  Sadly, I’m so behind on everything, that I never actually cooked for them while they were here.  Well, I did make a salad to go with the pizza I ordered for dinner one night, but I burnt the homemade croutons.  Oh well, my family is good about not caring about burnt croutons.

So with all our fun activities and my work schedule, which has included a bit of weird travel lately, Dave and I are looking forward to a vacation from all our summer vacations.

I am happy to announce that for the foreseeable future, I get to sleep in my very own bed.  That’s right.  That’s what makes me happy.

Uh oh, having just typed the last several sentences, I can feel the jinx that I have placed upon myself.  Well, let’s hope things are quieter for a little while!

Meet Daniel

Posted by Katie on July 15, 2010
Family & Friends, Travel / 2 Comments

This is our newest nephew and godson, Daniel.

Dave and I just got back from a five day trip to Virginia to hangout with the Pickles.  We spent most of the time kid wrangling, with a few real conversations along the way.  We traveled for Daniel’s Baptism, and so did Dave’s family.  So the Baptism turned into a mini family reunion.  It was great to visit with everyone, although through all the kid chaos I feel like I missed an important adult discussion somewhere.

The Pickles kiddos are some of the sweetest and most well behaved kids that I’ve ever had the pleasure to be around.  Bravo parents.  Someday I will call you and beg you on bended knees for your secret sauce.

And every time the kids see me, they warm up to me a bit more.  It’s lots of fun to be “Aunt Katie”.

Our summer seems to be turning into a whirlwind of travel.  Tomorrow we’re heading to a college friend’s wedding.  We’re looking forward to the wedding, and the mini college reunion that comes with, but I am starting to worry about the extra pounds and all that maturity (ha!) that we’ve gained since college.  What will we have in common with friends from 10 years ago?  Dave assures me that everyone else has had 10 years to change too!

Proper vacation coverage

Posted by Katie on July 03, 2010
Anniversaries, Birthdays, Marriage, Travel / 4 Comments

I plan on making a digital scrapbook of all our pictures and souvenirs from our vacation, somewhat as a trial run for those wedding and honeymoon scrapbooks I have yet to make…oops.  But until the scrapbook happens, here are more pictures from our recent trip.

Niagara Falls!  We learned that 20% of the world’s fresh water resides in the Great Lakes…with most of it flowing over Niagara Falls.

Journey Behind the Falls.  Yes, we got wet.

Maid of the Mist.  We did take the boat voyage, which is pretty much just like an amusement park water ride.  And yes, we got wet here too.  That’s why I didn’t take any pictures from the boat.

We stayed at a bed and breakfast in Niagara-on-the-Lake, a small town on Lake Ontario right at the point that the Niagara River joins the lake.  It was only a 30 minute drive to the falls, and it was nice to stay away from the tourist traps of the falls.  Plus it gave us the opportunity to explore the local area a bit more, including…

Visiting a winery.

Hiking along the Niagara River.

Biking along the Niagara River.  We are on Canadian soil, with the United States and Old Fort Niagara in the background.

We took lots of time to relax.

Enjoy nature.

And eat lots of gourmet food.  One of the best things about this bed and breakfast was the AMAZING breakfasts.

Vacation was a nice break from reality.  This summer is turning into a hectic one, but it was nice to do something to properly celebrate Dave’s birthday and two years of marriage.

Wait, TWO YEARS?  That doesn’t seem possible.

I know, I know, you’re thinking that you’ve been married for five years, or thirty-five years, but you probably knew what you were doing when you got married.  Dave and I have been completely winging it these last two years.  I’m sure it’s obvious!

Dave likes driving in Canada

Posted by Katie on June 18, 2010
Cars, Travel / 1 Comment

How does the metric system work again?