Sunday, December 21, 2008
We finished back where we started, at the Seattle Center. I beat my previous ½ marathon time by two minutes, finishing in 1:49:07. Kristin nearly matched her previous personal best, despite the challenging course. Overall, the run was a blast, but I think we will take the winter off from running. Now is time to ski!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
The rain picked up again as we drove out to Neah Bay. The winding road seams to hang out over the water in places and really makes you feel like you are driving to the end of the earth…or at least the northwestern-most end of the United States. We capped off this portion of the trip with the best smoked salmon I have ever had! That night we camped at Lake Crescent. We got the last site in the campground, presumably because it was extremely rocky. The rain returned in spurts, but soon cleared up. It was warm by the fire and we stayed up late watching the fire dance across the coals. On Sunday, we drove into Port Angeles, hoping to see the incredible view of the Olympic Mountains from Hurricane Ridge. We soon learned that all we would see up there is the inside of a cloud, a view we have seen many times before and is not worth the 17-mile drive. Plan B was Dungeness Spit, an odd bit of coastal geology. The river current and the ocean tides combined to form a spit of land five miles long but less than 150 feet across at high tide. The inner bay attracts a great number of migratory birds, of which we saw exactly zero (they are all nesting up north). We enjoyed a nice, if loud, walk along the spit before heading for home. We eventually returned to reality, smelling of campfire and salmon. The rain stopped and the clouds parted as soon as we left the peninsula. We soon realized we had missed a beautiful sunny weekend. Oh well, at least we have a souvenir to show for it!
Friday, July 18, 2008
The locale for this fourth fete was Lake McMurray, Washington in the Sons of Norway Pavilion. While this party had a very laid-back vibe, I still was able to wear my wedding dress one more time, possibly setting the record for "Most times wearing a wedding gown (when marrying the same guy)."
Jon was a trooper for also wearing his suit one more time. He kept it casual, though, by going sans socks.
Normally wearing a suit in June in Washington would be no big deal. However, when we were making final preparations for the big event, we came across a very alarming piece of information. The National Weather Service had issued a weather warning for our weekend of camping and celebrating.
Coming from the Midwest, I'm completely used to all kinds of crazy weather, especially in the summer. From tornadoes to flash floods to severe thunderstorms to heat indices in the triple digits, you name it, Missouri has it. However, in western Washington, the temperatures were holding steady in the 70s on a warm day and I hadn't yet seen a single lightning bolt.
Needless to say, we were intrigued, so we opened the alert on the computer and this is what we found:
Warning: EXTREME Heat!
Temperatures were expected to reach...wait for it...the mid-80s. Gasp. Obviously, we laughed when we read it. Guffawed, really. As did most of our out-of-town guests, also used to hot--often humid--summer weather. (The native Washingtonians, not as much, because it was legitimately hot.)Okay, so it was a bit stuffy in the pavilion, but that just encouraged people to take a dip in the lake or play bocce ball outside, which is what we'd been hoping for in the first place. The sun shone all day long and the environment was incredibly festive.
Like nearly every other event we host, this one also centered around food. We thought we were pretty clever by getting food from a local brewery under the guise that we would warm it up ourselves. It was a good idea...a great idea if there hadn't been quite so much food. We picked up trays full of ribs and barbequed chicken, mashed potatoes and potato salad; buckets of green salad; and tub after tub of beans and barbeque sauce. (In fact, we still have ribs and chicken in the freezer if you want to come over.) Thank goodness we had the "A-Team."
My mom makes a living from cooking for large groups of people and one of our dear friends is like freaking Wolfgang Puck/Emeril/Bobby Flay/Rachel Ray, so the kitchen was covered. They did such an amazing job, in fact, that one of the other guests complimented "our friends at the brewery." I'm not sure he believed me that they were ringers we had enlisted ourselves.
In addition to these two, we once again were blessed with the help of friends and family. There is no way we could have pulled off yet another reception without them (you know who you are). How else would we have gotten the pavilion set up in time, went shopping to pick up last-minute items, taken pictures, and cleaned up by ourselves?!? And that's only a fraction of the help we received. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have such incredible people in our lives.
Other than watching me try to eat ribs whilst wearing a wedding dress, there weren't really any formal activities.
We were, however, able to recognize a few special individuals. Jon's dad and his wife were awarded with the "Trifecta Award" for attending three out of four of our wedding extravaganzas. (A private ceremony was held to honor a lovely couple who also achieved the "Trifecta" back in Kansas City. I guess that means we still owe my younger brother who can boast the same...) And then finally, the only person--besides Jon and me--to attend all four weddings received the "Wedding-a-thon Award." Congratulations once again go to my mom for such a wonderful achievement.
The remainder of the day was spent eating cake, killing a pony keg full of fresh root beer, and catching up with friends and family, which was followed by another night of camping by the lake. Quite a nice book-end to all this wedding business. I think it's safe to say that we're done and done. Although we were talking just this morning about going to Vegas and getting hitched for the fifth time...
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
I wish. And Jon wishes even more. But thanks to our overly-generous family and friends, we found ourselves with an abundance of gift cards and dinero (thank you again—too much, too much!). So, back to “B Cubed” once more. Since the store offers a discount to complete gift registries that expires after a certain period of time, we had a limited window to cash in. So even though it was a beautiful, warm, sunny day (seriously), we decided to go shopping last week.
In retrospect, perhaps we shouldn’t have attempted such a feat the day after getting lost in IKEA for 3 ½ hours. A much more enjoyable and delicious shopping experience, yet no less overwhelming. We stuffed Jon’s “old man car” with boxes full of put-it-together-yourself furniture and frozen Swedish meatballs and Bond-Ost cheese.
On one hand, I suppose you could say that we were in shopping mode. On the other hand, we had a very low tolerance for making decisions and making purchases. We also should have gone to the store more than 90 minutes before closing time. For that reason, we decided to divide and conquer. Jon tackled the cookware and knife sets while I grabbed a cart and “the list.”
I was in the zone. Fulfilling all of my Supermarket Sweep fantasies, I tore around the store, filling the cart with cookie sheets and trouser hangers. I could not be stopped. My packing gene kicked in as I wedged cake pans and kitchen rugs in between boxes of cutlery and picture frames. Face flushed with exhilaration, I rescued Jon with ample time to spare, so about 15 minutes prior to the store’s closing, we rolled up to the customer service counter.
We must have been their worst nightmare.
The staff was extremely nice and helpful. It wasn’t their fault that the computer rebooted smack in the middle of the massive transaction, which included a special on-line order. There we stood, with the doors locked, and other staff members cleaning up for the night, while the manager and assistant manager started over from scratch, scanning item after item. I felt horrible that even though the store had closed 30 minutes earlier, they were still trying to get us straightened out.
This time, Jon was not the only one who left the store with a glazed overwhelmed expression. At least we have some new cookware to console us.
[Addendum: The madness has not stopped. Since originally writing this yesterday, we have continued to be tracked by the massive BBB empire. When I came home from "work" this afternoon, there was another box outside the door. We excitedly tore into the packaging...only to discover that it was really a "Get Well Soon" gift for some lady in Illinois. Rather than receiving her completely appropriate gift of a comfortable body pillow, she is probably wondering what the heck to do with a 14-piece set of stainless steel cookware...]
Before you start to think that we’re just selfish and greedy or hopeless romantics who can't stop getting married, please bear in mind that our motivations are purely altruistic. We want to be able to share this experience with people all over the country, all over the globe, really. While the wedding in Bamberg was amazing, I don’t think I would have been able to bear not having my grandparents and other family members present at some wedding-type activity; Jon feels the same way. Hence, a party…er, reception, in both of our hometowns remedies that conundrum. What a difficult cross to bear.
Thanks to video technology, we were able to show highlights from the wedding in Bamberg so that guests would feel like they were there. (And thanks to having too much time on my hands due to unemployment, I was able to put together a slide show of pictures and video as well.) Everyone else came for the cake.
I had heard that when you have a reception after a “destination wedding,” the mood is much more casual and relaxed. True. However, this was the stage that involved most of the planning that turns ordinary women into “BRIDEZILLAS.” Venue, photographer, caterer, DJ, cake, decorations, flowers, hair, etc. Even though I didn’t feel that way, I totally understand why couples are ready to just have the whole thing over with when they start getting into the nit-picky details.
We were very fortunate to find great vendors (wedding lingo—I read too many back issues of Modern Bride), so if anyone in the KC area needs recommendations, I would be happy to share. Perhaps it wasn’t the fanciest or classiest affair, but since we still haven’t figured out the validity of charger plates or seat covers, we were really only concerned that our guests had fun. In that we were successful, I think. And if not, everyone we know is too nice to tell us otherwise…even those who got stuck cleaning up afterward (a huge thanks—you know who you are!).
Speaking of help, now is the perfect time to “publicly” thank everyone who helped with the reception. Thank you to my lovely cousins, friends, and assorted relatives who came early to help set up—there is no way it would have gotten done without you. Thank you for arranging a beautiful bouquet, decorating a May Pole-esque cake, doing my make-up, taking care of the adult beverages, and for dancing the night away. Thanks also to those who gave advice along the way and answered all of my ridiculously wordy questions. And of course, thank you to everyone who attended, especially those who traveled long distances. We really can’t express our gratitude enough, although we will continue to try.
It probably sounds redundant by this point, but we truly had a phenomenal time. I didn’t sit down the entire night and I didn’t want to stop and eat (a momentous occurrence), both of which are excellent indications that much fun was had. Okay, so it wasn’t exactly perfect—our first dance song was played sans words, we didn’t get to talk with everyone who was there or long enough to those we did get to talk to, the projector wasn’t quite loud enough, we almost forgot the blessing—but we don’t really roll that way (no matter how much of a perfectionist I am).
If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past few years, it’s that you can’t plan everything. Life is just going to happen. You have to embrace the good and learn from the bad. (End touchy-feely, philosophical wandering.)
For instance, how could we possibly plan for my younger brother to don homemade lederhosen, dance his way across the room, and do an impromptu polka with my grandma while we sang “Happy Birthday”?!?
Did we have any idea that the dance floor would fill up with people mimicking Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and McDonald’s when the DJ played the “Burgerdance” song (a favorite at German fests)?!?
Would it have been reasonable to expect all of the grandsons and grandsons-in-law to serenade Grandma with a touching rendition of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’”?!?
Could I have hoped for my grandpa to grace us with a more perfect blessing at the beginning of the night?!?
We certainly had no idea that we would be hoisting the tables in the air as we (well, really only Jon knew the words) sang and drank along to the German “Holzmichl” song…
You would think that after all that planning, preparation, and fun, we would be experiencing a bit of a let-down as we returned to “real life.” On the contrary. We have another reception to plan!
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Monday, April 7, 2008
Fortunately, a friend from home who relocated to California seconds after graduating from college had some time in her schedule to accomodate a guest. This was a great opportunity to finally visit sunny San Diego like I'd been promising for years. As if that wasn't a good enough trip, she then suggested that we drive to Arizona for a couple Royals Spring Training baseball games. (She informed me of this possible plan via e-mail, which I received while still on the Spanish honeymoon. It was hard to contain my excitement, but I figured I better since I was in Spain, after all, with my new husband.) The added bonus of the trip is that we would be meeting up with another friend whom neither of us had seen since high school; they had recently become "Facebook friends."
I have really been dragging my feet with this whole Facebook/mySpace thing. I know these social networking sites are a great way to stay connected with old friends, but I'm really nervous that all my adolescent students would be able to find my page. Not that I would post anything, um, inappropriate, but what if a friend of a friend did and it was linked back to me? Plus, as I am back in the job market, the same reasons apply. (Yes, I am aware of all the privacy settings and know that everything would be just fine.) However, the real reason that I am resisting is because I'm pretty confident that I would quickly become addicted.
I'm not a gossip...exactly. I just have an intense curiosity for knowing what's going on in other people's lives. It's not a malicious desire and I'm not interested in spreading rumors. But I do like keeping in touch with people and hearing about what they're up to. Unlike a lot of people, I am pumped about my ten-year high school reunion and am bummed that I missed the five-year. It's always fun to get updates about people and I'm glad that the Facebook crowd is keeping me in the loop. Everyone I know who is part of that exclusive club, from high school friends to college friends to Germany friends, is pretty persuasive, so don't be surprised if I crack one of these days and ask to be your friend...
But I digress. Only about a week after returning from the honeymoon, I hopped on another plane, this time to San Diego. I'd never been to that part of California, so I definitely had the wide eyes of a tourist. It's beautiful. I was shown all over the city, both by car and by foot. That night, we met up with another friend neither of us had seen since high school who also lives in San Diego now. Another point for Facebook.
The first game we attended was at the Royals home field in Surprise, Arizona. They dropped a heartbreaker to the Padres in the 10th inning. But the game wasn't a total wash, as I got to re-connect with some college friends. That was truly the theme of the weekend. I'm not trying to make it sound like I have a ton of friends or anything...it's just that it was really cool to meet up with people in various parts of the country (or world, in the case of the honeymoon).
On Easter Sunday, after church at the Cathedral, we headed out to the stadium where the Royals faced the White Sox. The boys in blue racked up enough runs in the early innings that they were able to hold on and defeat their Chicago rivals by a score of 6-5. They were surely spurred on by our cheering...and good-natured heckling.
The moral of this story is two-fold. First of all, don't count the Royals out yet. And secondly, do whatever it takes to stay connected with old friends. Even if it involves a huge sacrifice, like taking a vacation down to California and Arizona.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
The morning after the wedding we picked up our weary travelers at 6:00 am. I don't know what we were thinking, scheduling a flight so early the day after getting married. Regardless, we drove down to Munich, desperately trying to translate radio reports about the Muenchen Flughafen ("airport") and a strike. Evidently the baggage carriers went on strike--we actually saw them protesting--which had us very worried about the status of our flights. Luckily for us (and unluckily for lots of people), only domestic flights were cancelled, meaning that we left the gang at security and went to catch our flight to Spain.
Sevilla (Seville): Totally exhausted from the week's festivities, it was a pretty quiet plane ride. We changed planes in Barcelona and continued on down to Seville, the sister city of Kansas City (the Plaza is modeled after its Spanish counterpart). Our honeymoon started off on a great note as we both fell asleep face down on our matching twin beds.
Cadiz: Since we'd planned to take the night train up to Barcelona, we decided to spend our next day in another town that was also on the train route. The real draw to this city was that it was on the coast, and while it was too cold to actually go in the water (which didn't seem to stop the overweight elderly gentlemen in Speedos), it was really nice to walk on the beach. We very nearly spent the entire day in a cafe, however. Since the town isn't very large, the train station didn't have a place to store luggage. Neither one of us was interested in hauling our stuff around all day, so we tried a couple of hotels before learning at the Tourist Information center that the bus depot was the only place with a room to store luggage. Making grammatical errors left and right, I was finally able to communicate what we needed to the right person at the right place, and the day was saved. The weather was again beautiful--the sun slightly toasting the fair Scandanavian skin we both share--so we spent the majority of the day walking around and enjoying the scenery.
[Check out their blog for more great food and wine info: http://bobrothersbythebottle.blogspot.com/]Montserrat: According to our What is Montserrat? book, it is a mountain, a monastery, and a spiritual community. It is also really cool. A relatively short train ride from Barcelona, Montserrat was a nice little day trip. We rode the aerial tram/gondola to the top where we explored the grounds and cathedral. We then rode a funicular train to a smaller chapel on a different part of the mountain. More than just a funny word, a funicular train is one that goes up and down a hill...in case you're like me and had never heard of that word until just now. At any rate, we followed the trail, which contained statues representing each of the three sets of Mysteries (Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious) that are prayed as part of the Rosary. At the end of this trail was a small chapel. The whole place had an aura about it that was incredibly peaceful and spiritual. It's not surprising that the monks chose to locate their monastery in this place...that and the sighting of the Virgin Mary that truly prompted them to settle there.
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