Category: Travel

Spring break in KC!

By , March 11, 2017 5:40 pm

I’ve been to Kansas City every month this year! Craziness! In January we went to meet Baby William. In February I went with my parents and my maternal grandma, so my grandma could meet Baby William. And this month, we met Gina, Steve, and Luca there for the beginning of Luca’s spring break!

After all that, it feels odd not to have the next trip planned. Maybe we’ll go back for a Royals game this summer?!

We had a good mix of hanging out and being out and about on this trip. On Sunday, we went over to my snister’s to see her, Will, and William.

And on Monday and Tuesday, we played tourist! On Monday we rode the new streetcar,

and checked out the River Market, Crown Center, the Hallmark Visitor’s Center,

Showing off their Emmy for their show Steve & Steven

and Union Station. Luca loved the train exhibit at Union Station. And bonus – all of Monday’s activities were FREE! And surprisingly, after coming to Kansas City for years, I hadn’t been to any of them except the River Market.

Encouraging Luca to make the “honk” signal at the train conductors on Freight House Pedestrian Bridge

On Tuesday we went back downtown to go to the Liberty Memorial (there is a fee to go up in the tower),

View from the tower

to the Money Museum (free and they give out FREE (shredded) money),

and later in the day, to The Plaza.

We saw a lot! We also ate A LOT. A lot a lot. I think I should feel hungry again in a few weeks. Ha. Happily, we walked a lot when we were sightseeing, and we also went on walks from Steven’s dad’s house (where we all stayed), and went on a few runs. I was grateful to move so much – I feel like a slug if I sit around for too long!

It worked out that Steven’s brother, Andrew, got to hang out with us quite a bit on this trip, which was fun! And Steven’s dad was able to join us for everything (in case you were wondering who that guy was in the pictures, ha ha)! I love how our families blend together!

And I love spending time with my otra familia (Gina, Steve, and Luca). I’m happy they took time out of Luca’s break to go to Kansas City! Hopefully we’ll see them next month in Texas for Luca’s birthday!


By , December 19, 2016 5:29 pm

Gah, December has been such a whirlwind, right?!

Two weekends ago, I had a four-day weekend in Texas with my otra familia:

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This is the third year in a row I’ve gone with Luca to see Santa!

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Steven couldn’t come, but we FaceTimed with him, and sent him some photos (including drawings by Luca).


I got to go to Luca’s school and have lunch with him.


Family pic!

Then after a short (and BUSY!) week (work, work holiday party, dentist, celebrating with Anne and Terry, house prep and shopping…), I had a four day weekend here celebrating an early holiday with Steven’s family:

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Carbs, carbs, carbs

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Me and the boys!

Up this week? Another celebration, Steven’s birthday, and Christmas with my family! I am having a lot of fun but I am so freaking worn out! I am definitely sleeping in on January 1st! (<— just kidding, if it’s nice, I will probably get up and run!)

The best thing about work travel…

By , November 29, 2016 6:40 am

(Or any travel)

… is the opportunity to run someplace new!


I’m in Cincinnati for work and had time for a short run this morning. And bonus – I’ve never run in Ohio before so I get to add that to my “states run in” list (I also ran through Kentucky today, but I’d run there before, also on work travel).

I wasn’t sure how safe it would be to run alone, but I talked to the front desk about it, and they said it was safe, and then I saw A LOT of runners out – yay! I wish I would have had time to run farther!


Now, let’s hope my work day goes as fast (and is as enjoyable?) as this run did (was)!


Random Thoughts Thursday 115

By , November 3, 2016 6:23 am
  • It’s awesome the Cubs won the World Series! They’re not the team I follow, but them winning has made so many people happy, and that makes me happy! All that being said, I’m making sure I’m NOT working downtown the day of the celebration parade (if there is one), ha ha.
  • It’s totally fine not to be interested in following mainstream stuff like the World Series, and to say it’s not your thing. There are plenty of things lots of people like and get jazzed about that I have no interest in! But what’s not cool is being a complete sourpuss about it. Newsflash – you aren’t special if you are moody about a thing that a lot of people like when they are all excited about it. It just makes you, well, moody. And makes it seem like you can’t enjoy other people’s happiness and feel left out. Grow up!
  • We don’t have antenna (or cable) and couldn’t watch any games at home but got to see Game 4 because we were at a hotel, and part of Game 7 at Red Robin (and we listened on the radio at home after that). What a series! The last game was a real nail bitter!
  • We were at a hotel last Saturday because Steven surprised me with a night away on Lake Delavan in Wisconsin! It was so sweet he planned all that and surprised me, and recognized that we both needed a break. We had a great time!

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  • Thanks for voting for Data in our veterinarian’s Halloween costume contest! He got second place, and will receive a $20 gift card to PetSmart! Should I use it to get him something fun, or more food for all the cats?


  • The election is making me feel so anxious I decided to vote by mail this year, because just thinking about making it to my voting office on Tuesday was stressing me out.
  • The last time I posted about the pond level, it was almost gone. It actually did completely go away in August/September. But we’ve had so much rain in October and November (5.50 inches in the last 30 days), it’s back, and in a big way!

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Link to Random Thoughts Thursday 114

Random Thoughts Thursday 112

By , October 13, 2016 6:15 am
  • In 2013, I was in Salt Lake City with my mom and we decided to visit the Salt Flats. We took a rental car there, and made a video of us driving on the flats to share with family and on the blog. Oh, and the rest of the internet, on YouTube. Buah ha ha, it was humorous to see someone took the time to write this comment on our video, just a few days ago! I apologize that me visiting the Salt Flats was so lame for you, random YouTube commenter! (What’s even funnier to me, is that my caption for the video was “Driving the crappy rental car on the Salt Flats on 4/21/13” – I didn’t imply I was breaking land-speed records, ha ha ha.)


  • Callie is such a flirt!

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  • I am getting close to finishing Christina’s baby blanket! I think I’ll finish the knitting part this weekend and start blocking it (I actually started over with this blanket and saved the first one to practice blocking on, so I’ll do that first).


  • I’m running a 5K tomorrow. When I signed up for it I was planning to run it for time, but I am not in shape for that, so it will be for fun. I hope to run around a 8:00 min average pace. We shall see!

Link to Random Thoughts Thursday 111

Random Thoughts Thursday 111

By , October 6, 2016 6:43 am
  • I ordered the invites for my snister’s baby shower! I hope they turn out good (mostly, that I understood the bleed guidelines correctly).


  • I “decorated” for Halloween again. Can you find it in the picture? Ha!


  • As part of the work trip I am on, we checked out a bit of ArtPrize (a large international art competition spread across town and open to public and expert jury vote for top prizes) in Grand Rapids, MI. There were a lot of cool pieces! I really liked “Victory (huge figures made out of chairs), “The Smoke” painting (a neat painting of smoke with seven women hidden in it, which was supposed to have an actual smoke machine with it), and all of the beautiful Michigan sunset over the lake photographs. I love that there is a such a huge variety of mediums and styles – it really makes it so there is something to interest everyone.


  • I was worried this work trip would be exhausting from being “on” and around people for two days. Luckily, I can be myself around my coworkers! So, it’s not exhausting in that sense, thankfully!

Link to Random Thoughts Thursday 110

There’s always that one thing 

By , October 5, 2016 10:25 am

Every time I travel (or even bring my gym bag to work) I forget one thing, despite making lists and keeping my travel stuff together. The game is “what will it be this time?!” Ha.

This trip? A lint roller!

Eek! I didn’t even think of it! 

I look like this because I’m knitting in the car.

The lint is worth it. I haven’t had time to work on the baby blanket at all and can get a lot done during the drive!

Final thoughts on the last frontier

By , July 7, 2016 5:32 am

We’ve been back from Alaska for a week now, and I think I am done with my touristy posts, but here are a few final thoughts that didn’t fit in to those (somewhat) focused posts!


  • Everyone enjoyed having the extra daylight (due to the very late sunset and very early sunrise) and it kept us energized to stay up later and do more. It was perfect for vacation! However, at any given moment you had no sense of what time it was (so we rarely ate at “normal” times). You’d think it was 3:00 pm and it was really 8:00 pm. Or the opposite. And we definitely hit an afternoon slump every day from staying up so late. It was nice, but odd. We probably would have become more used to it, if we stayed longer.
  • And… staying up so late there has really affected me and Steven back home, three hours ahead in central time zone. We’re having a hell of a time getting back to a regular sleep schedule. We’ve been staying up way too late and having a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. Getting back to a regular work schedule this week will help… I hope!
  • As is usually true on most vacations… it was nice to spend so much time walking! If only my daily life was like that. It definitely will never be, with where I live.
  • A few people warned me the bugs would be horrible but they weren’t. Alyssa’s mom attributed this to the weather.
  • The weather was AMAZING. It was never warmer than low 70s, and there was never high humidity or a high dew point. You could be comfortable most days in shorts or jeans, and short sleeves or a jacket. Perfect.
  • I LOVE the outdoor culture there – the hiking and adventurous aspect of it. However, I would never fit in with the hunting/fishing/etc. portion of that outdoor culture. It was (understandably) very prominent there.
  • I completely forgot about what was going on at work while I was there. Success! A family member brought work up and asked me about it, and I responded “I am on vacation and trying not to think about it… and truly can’t remember [what my projects are].” Hope it wasn’t rude, but eh, work’s not my life and it was nice to have a break from it! It’s not something I talk about with most people. I try NOT to talk about work, even when I am not on vacation.
  • As I mentioned, I was sad to come home, and a lot of that was feeling like there was so much more we would have liked to do there. I am determined to get back some day!
  • File this under “duh,” but some things (mostly food – at restaurants and grocery stores) were more expensive, because, duh, it costs more to get them there. It was actually a good thing I packed so many snacks after all, ha! I thought we got really good value for the things we did though (minus the aquarium in Seward, but those places are always expensive).


View of Eagle River from Mt Baldy

Independence Mine Historical State Park

By , July 5, 2016 6:26 am

While I was cycling in Anchorage with my dad and brother-in-law, Steven was visiting Independence Mine Historical State Park, outside of Palmer, with my family.


Independence Mine was a hard-rock gold mining operation that ran from 1897 until 1950. Sixteen families and over two hundred workers called it home, and occupied its 16-22 (sources vary on the number, ha) buildings. When operations ended in 1950, it was presumed they would start up again, but they never did – leaving the buildings somewhat well preserved. It was designated as a state historical site in the early 1980s.


The preserved apartment house


And… a not so well preserved house

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There are plaques put up explaining what certain buildings are, and how hard-rock gold mining worked (you blasted out bits of rock then tested it for gold)… but basically, it’s a old gold mine turned playground. Ha! I bet my nephews loved it. There’s 1.5 miles of paved trail throughout the site, but several miles of hiking trails that lead to alpine lakes and great views.

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The terrain was what Steven commented on to me the most. He said it was a lot different than what we had seen in other parts of Alaska – it was more rocky, and it made him think of the Lord of the Rings movies. I can see that!

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He toured the mine a bit, then took a hike up a step hill to get some of those views.

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Seriously, Alaska, is any of you NOT stunningly beautiful?

I think it’s really cool that this mine was turned in to a historical site for all to explore – you definitely remember more getting up close (and even going in the buildings) that seeing it from afar!


Nick and Alyssa’s Wedding

By , July 2, 2016 10:11 am

It’s hard to believe it’s already been a week since we were in Sterling, Alaska for Nick and Alyssa’s wedding! And we’re actually off to another wedding today!

A few people have been asking me if I was going to post some wedding pics, so here ya go!!!


Remember the story of when we went shopping for Alyssa’s wedding dress?

I don’t recall if I’ve told the story of how Nick and Alyssa met. They were both working at places that sold Michelin tires and were sent to South Carolina for Michelin training (in fall of 2013). They connected at training, but Nick didn’t get her number or anything. So when he got back to Iowa and couldn’t stop thinking about her, he emailed the places in Wasilla, AK (her home town) that sold Michelin tires and said “If a girl named Alyssa lastname works there, will you have her call this number?” And he only knew her last name because he saw it on her certificate of completion for training. Creeper! Ha!

And she obviously responded to him! I saw Nick quite a bit during this time when he was first texting and calling Alyssa, then taking trips to Alaska to see her (he’d fly through Chicago) and I had never seen him so happy. Aww.

Alyssa moved to Iowa to be with Nick in May 2014. And the rest is history! They’ll continue to live in Iowa (they actually closed on a new house right before their wedding – exciting!).

Back to that Michelin training though. Some of Alyssa’s coworkers from the shop in Wasilla were at the wedding and had some funny things to say about training – “We don’t let women go anymore!” (jokingly) and they wrote in their wedding card “that damn Michelin training.” Ha ha. I can see why a shop wouldn’t want Alyssa to go – she is a hard worker but also a lot of fun to be around!

On to the wedding! The wedding was held at a place owned by a guy Alyssa’s dad works for. I think the guy uses the places for retreats, etc., and Alyssa’s dad has helped build some of the cabins/buildings there. Alyssa’s family let ALL of my family stay in these cabins, giving us a place to stay for a few nights, for free. They also rented us a huge 15-passenger van to get around, and hauled all our luggage, separately, for us. Very, very generous. We’re so thankful to them for making things easier for us (especially when there was so many of us!).

So they gave us the cabins… and they all used campers. As did many of the other guests. Some camped in tents, too!

The ceremony was at 2:00 pm. There had been a chance of rain but there was an indoor backup plan for it. It looked like it was going to be clear so the ceremony was set up for outside, then as we sat there waiting for the start, a few drops came down… but that was it! Phew!


The ceremony was held in the space behind the cabin we stayed in (which is also where Alyssa prepped!), and overlooked the Funny River.


The ceremony was short and sweet. Alyssa was crying when she walked down the aisle, so that made me cry a bit. Ha ha.


Me and Stefano at the ceremony

They did photos after the ceremony. I am excited to see how they turn out! We’ve gotten a photo of me and my three siblings at all our weddings, and I’d like to do something with all of them. Fun fact: all four of us have had outdoor weddings!


Mom, Alyssa, Nick and Dad


Alyssa and her mom and dad


The Bridal party – Jacob (Nick’s best friend), Anthony (our brother), Nick, Alyssa, Kathi (Alyssa’s best friend) and Brittany (Alyssa’s best friend). Nick’s boys walked Chevy (Alyssa’s dog down the aisle).


View of the back of Alyssa’s dress

Alyssa’s mom’s dad is very in to cooking, so he prepped all of the wedding food, with a bit of help. Starting around 4:00 pm, trays of foods were brought out – salads and a variety of local meats (I think caught/hunted by the family) – salmon, caribou, moose, etc. It was amusing for me to see which of my family members would try the local stuff, and which passed.

The whole wedding vibe was very casual, which was fun. It was like we were all hanging out having a huge fancy picnic together… and with some adorable puppies!


Chevy, Autumn, Hooch & Moose


Main building where the food was, and tent over the dance floor.


Me, our nephew James, and Christina

They did the traditional cutting of the cake,

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bouquet toss,


garter toss,


and first dance together, and groom/mother dance, and bride/father dance.

An eagle showed up at some point during the reception, which is a common sight for Alaskans, but we all gawked and thought it was cool. Must be some sort of wedding blessing, right?


The DJ played a few songs after the first dance, then I plugged my phone in (eek – there is some nutso stuff on there) for music. And there was a bit of drinking, games, and s’mores around the fire. And I think some people were even fishing? It was fun – there were lots of options for what to do!

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After 10:00 pm, I took my nephews to our cabin to try to get them to sleep. Ha! Fat chance when it’s still light out until past midnight and they can hear people outside having fun. Poor guys. They tried the best they could!

I really enjoyed spending time with Alyssa’s family and getting to know them (it helps to put faces to names)! I had met her mom twice before, but felt like I really got a chance to talk to her on this trip (well, when she wasn’t running around being the wedding coordinator). I hope I’ll get more chances to see her when she visits Iowa… and I hope we’ll be back to Alaska!

And I’m so happy to officially call Alyssa my sister now! It was exciting when I tagged her in a picture on Facebook earlier this week and her last name was changed! We’ve loved her since we first met her and are thrilled to have her be part of our family.

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