Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Monday we had a great morning around the house- after a great "french" breakfast, the kids hit the pool, the adults (minus Jon-Michel, who had to work) hit the small villlage of Biot. After yet great french lunch we bid adieu and headed west to St. Margharita Italy- near Genova for the night. We had a whale of time finding Hotel Europa. We did find a Hotel Europa but this one was a 4 star one in apparently the wrong town. We finally found it, had dinner and went to bed.
Tuesday we drove on into Florence, with a stop on the way in at Pisa- to see the leaning tower, and tour the baptistry and cathedral. It's simply amazing that we found it without maps and or direction signs- we just kind "felt" our way there. Let's see- find the town, find the old part of town, look up! We had lunch and toured and shopped before heading on to Florence.
Our hotel in Florence was right in the middle of old town- right in front of the Duomo cathedral. That is great for a location, tough for finding it and driving a car to it. We did pretty well after I decided to cave in and activate a data plan (with GPS) on my IPhone. That did make it considerably easier.
Today Wed. we hit the famous Uffizzi museum early at 8am because it is typically sold out and has humongous lines if you don't have rsvns. We didn't. We got into the museum on the second shift of walk-ins however and according to the kids, they have now had a lifetime supply of midevil art and sculpture. We also walked over the Pointe Vehicco to the Petti Palce- the home of the famous DeMedici family. They thought the palace reminded them of our house- NOT. Had lunch and kind of took it easy this afternoon- some shopping, gelato slurping, etc.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Saturday we were up and at’m and heading for Earhart (yes- Amelia's) dorm at 8:00- Sam's check-in time slot. We were one of the first ones to move in because we had lots and lots of volunteer help hauling his stuff 3.5 stories up to Rm 409. We started unpacking, making the bed, & getting the room set up. By 10:30 it was pretty well put together & we were starved so we walked over to Union to get some breakfast. Then, as all parents w/students do- we headed to WalMart. By the packed nature of our car, I thought we pretty much brought everything he needed but $200+ later, I guessed we didn't. I labelled it as Sam’s Xmas-in-August event. (Lately he's seemed to have a lot of Xmas's!) We had to stop at the bookstore also to buy Purdue tshirts for everyone. With the frig and all of his dorm storage slots all filled up, I thought we were done. Nope another stop at Target for more! Alice & I attended the parent orientation session on campus at 3 then we hung out on campus & at dorm until we went to dinner at Lafayette Brewery downtown at six. Sam had some activities in PM so we headed back to the hotel.
Sunday we headed back out to campus to exercise and then back to the hotel to shower. Sam was understandably not interested in showering with all the chaos at the dorm. (Lots of parents were checking out the restrooms during move-in) His roommate- Greg Self arrived and moved his stuff into the room while we were cleaning up. Greg is also an Engineering Honors student from near Charlottesville VA. He & his mom flew out so he only brought a couple suitcases of clothes & personal items with the intent to buy everything else he needed here. Sam got a hold of Greg & he & his mom joined us for lunch at Triple XXX - this legendary hole-in-the-wall restaurant near the Purdue campus. (It's name sounds like a strip club!) It's a pretty unique place- there are no chairs and tables- just bar stools & counters & it had good and cheap food. They have been featured on "food network" & are famous for their homemade root beer, peanut butter topped hamburgers, & other signature items.
We dropped Sam back at the dorm then Alice and I took off for Indy to see our college friends- the Porters. We had a great evening at Porters with great food and great company and didn't get back to Lafayette until 11:30PM. It couldn’t have been a nicer visit.
By Monday I finally realized why Alice wanted 4 days to drop Sam off at school. If we hung around long enough, we would become bored & tired of one another and Sam would be truely ready for us to leave & that was just about the case! At 7:30AM we dropped by the dorm, said good-bye and headed out on our 10 hour return trip. It went ok w/us arriving home at 5PM to our remaining (& abandoned-for-4-days) children.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Thursday; I thought, due to the late arrival that everyone would sleep in but was surprised when everyone was up around 9ish. I never sleep well the first night in the mountains but surprisingly I slept pretty well although it was hot in the room even with our window open. We headed out for a hike about 10:30 and hiked for about 1:30 hrs up the trailhead above our condo. Needless to say, none of us had yet adjusted to the altitude so I felt especially winded as we climbed up the mountain. I mentioned to Alice numerous times that I really didn’t want to have my heart attack on day 1. nor burn myself out going too long or hard the first day. At one point we climbed down this massive vertical face and all I could think about was climbing back up it on the way home. Alice commented that she should have brought cheese to go with our whining but finally relented and we turned around. The climb back up and out wasn't as bad as I thought it would be but I'm pretty sure I maxed out my pulse rate more than once. At one point Max took a break and sat on a log and apparently his cell phone fell out of his pocket. Luckily he realized it not too much later and was able to go back and find it. That would be his #2 lost phone in Colorado as he lost his phone while at a CO. church camp earlier in the summer. We all survived, cleaned up and went for lunch in Frisco at Alice’s new favorite Mexican place- Hacienda Real. We did some shopping on the way home and then vegged, swam, tennised, etc. back at the condo.
Friday our day began again with a 2 hour walk on a different trail up to a moutain Lilly Pond. I huffed and puffed as usual but other than the hard vertical climb at the beginning this trail was easier. Still manged to get the ole heart rate up there quite often & was breathing pretty hard.
Cleaned up and we headed over to Frisco to eat & rent bikes. Alice, Sam and Molly took off for Dillon- about a 6 mile ride and I hung with Max. Max has never really rode a bike- esp. for any distance so I was greatly concerned with how he would do. (Yes there is certainly some parental guilt here for the always-cheated 3rd born!) Despite a rough start with frequent stops and minor crashes, he did really well. The longer he went the more comfortable he got. We made multiple loops around Lake Dillon lakefront & it was pretty nice. Max thought that he deserved some treat after putting up with us biking so ice cream did the trick! Alice fixed dinner at the condo and we went down to the pool and watched a movie in PM.
Saturday we once again went for another hike on yet a different trail and although we intended to go for only a short walk, it didn’t quite work out that way. Every turn seemed to take us farther away from the condo. We finally figured out how to get back and 2 hours later made it. We intended to go "short" because we had to leave at 11AM to drive over to meet up with Alice's cousin- Lee in Nederland Co- near Boulder.
The forecast we looked at before we headed out said that it would rain 5 of the 6 days we were going to be out there. Fortunately, rain the mountains is pretty spotty and up until this point, we had lucked out. Sunday however, it rained and rained and rained. We decided hiking would be miserable so went for brunch then shopping Nike, Coach, Timberland, Old Navy, Bass, Sports Authority, Adidas, Ralph Lauren, etc. Everyone got new tennis shoes and something else Max found a new favorite store- Zumiez, which had a lot of skater stuff (even though he really isn't a skater as such)
Monday we headed over to Breckenridge's Peak 8 amusement area where they have the alpine slides, bungee tramps, climbing walls, mazes, putt putt, etc. It's kinds of a ripoff, in my opinion, but the kids had fun so that's really all that matters. Alice had wanted to have a picnic all week (for some reason) so we stopped in Frisco by a lake for a picnic then back to the condo. It started raining as soon as we got back to the condo and continued on & off after that. Met up for dinner with the Schoenrocks from JC who were out at their place that weekend. We ate at an Italian restaurant in downtown Frisco Tuscato's. It was very good and we had a good time.
Tuesday, we left about 9:45CT and got home about 6PM. Nice, uneventful return trip home. Our 2005 Honda van did turn over 100,000 miles at Ks mile marker 44 on this trip. That averages about 22,222 mi's per year. Ouch! Alice wants the van to last a couple more years but not sure, at this pace, that it will.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Time for another dreaded update...you're thinking...already? Hope that all is well with you and yours!
We recently saw a fantastic show at the JC middle school by a international musical group called Barrage. If you ever have a chance to see them, do so...they are terrific. Barrage is a professional group consisting of 5 violinists, a bass, guitar and drums who play a variety of types of music. They came to our JC Middle School as part of their musical outreach program- doing an afternoon workshop for JC's string program (now over 100 students) and then performing that night. We found out about them from someone who had seen them perform at McCain auditorium and they told us not to miss it. They were right- they were terrific.
The weekend of the 24th Molly and Alice went back up to KC for the KC Coed gym tournament. This is a huge meet- probably about 600 competitors from 5 states. Molly's session was Saturday night- 5-8:30PM. She did well winning the all-around with 1st in bars and floor, 2nd in the beam and vault. Her trophy was a bobble-head gymnist- a little different & pretty funny looking. We've seen her head do that a few times (bobble) so it's fitting.
Last Monday the high school hosted their annual Academic banquet. I think it's great that academic achievement gets some spotlight. There were 279 out of the 1600 students at the high school with a 3.5 or better gpa and probably 800 in total attendence at the gym. Sam and Molly both made it across the stage without tripping this year. We were so proud of their walking skills.... (& their grades too!)
Last week was my Small & Rural agent ins convention. I've always wondered how this convention does so well- It's in the dead of winter, requiring travel in sub degree weather, ice & snow; it's held at a tiny, semi-ancient (circa 1970) Holiday Inn in Salina, and over 1000 agents, company & exhibitor folks show up. What's with that? The association is still not quite sure why this event is such a hit every year but they sure aren't about to change anything. I think it does well because nothing else is going on in late January, it's centrally located in the state; it's heavy on educational classes (so lots more agency employees are there) and it's cheap. It is also proof that people attract people and it is probably the only opportunity during the year to see fellow agents and company folks. One big ole party.
This last Saturday I drove down with Mom to Blackwell OK to pick up her new car. It's a 2006 Buick Lucerne, previously owned by her brother (who never keeps a car longer than 2 years or so - if that long). Her Lexus is a 2001 with 82K miles so it's getting older; the Buick has front wheel drive = better driving on ice and snow; has more room for her and her friends; can be worked on locally instead of having to take it to KC or Wichita & suspect that parts are cheaper and easier to get. But it's fairly clear that mom still loves her little Lexus, so think she's having a couple second thoughts about it. The Buick fits in her garage but it's pretty snug. I'll give it a little time- maybe it's just adjusting to change. In the meantime some of her grandsons are all pretty interested in her Lexus!
We watched the Superbowl last night. Wanted the Cards to win but frankly didn't really care that much who won. Was glad that it turned out to be a pretty good game as the first half looked pretty lopsided.
Sam and Max are getting ready for tennis season. Both are taking group lessons over at indoor courts (Cottonwood) in Manh. Molly is in the thick of gym season and will be gearing up for track season in the near future. The K-State pole vaulting team works out at Molly's gym so Alice talked to the K-State coach the other night to see if she could get some help. He said he couldn't do anything because she could be a recruit (we all kind of laughed at that one) but he thought that some of the student athletes might be able & willing to help her. We're certainly not thinking this as a college career - we just want her to be successful, in her own mind, at it.
I start another non-paying job tomorrow...(unfortunately I seem to be really good at getting these..I think it's call sucker!) KAIA asked me to be their rep on the Ins Commissioners Producer Advisory Board. The PAB consists of agents, company and department staff to discuss legislative, consumer and other statewide insurance related issues. In other words alot of hot air w/ probably nothing ever decided. (ha) We'll see.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Happy Anniversary today to the Wheats! No 58 today, I believe. I think their good daughter (Alice) went over and took them to lunch today. (Just kidding Mary!)
Thanks to Mary, Jay & Lucy for putting up with us last weekend. (Unfortunately John was in China) The JC Chamber retreat was at the Sheraton in Overland Park Fri & Sat so we finally had a chance to make our long-overdue trip to KC for the weekend. The kids were out of school both Friday (teacher inservice day) and Monday (MLK Day) but we still had to take two cars as my mtg Friday started at 8:30AM. (What kind of local loonies start a out-of-town meeting at 8:30am?) The possibilities of getting three teenagers out of bed at 6:00AM on an off day is also pretty low. Unfortunately a freak snow storm hit KC that morning so it took me almost 3 hours to get there. KC was the worse part of it, taking me 45 minutes to go the last 8 miles on I435 from I70 to Metcalf. It does remind me that maybe I don't miss living in the big city that much afterall. (Of course the Houstonites and Los Angelians could really school me on what real traffic is all about!)
Friday night we had a chance to get together with DeJesus's (former housemate), Jacobsons and Hoffmans (k-state sigs) for pizza & beer at Jose's new house. It was fun to catch up and amusing to see all the kids hang out together. (2 seniors, 1 jr, 2 sophs & max) Saturday after my morning session was over the Lehoczky's and we went out and played a couple games of laser tag, which was very entertaining. I admit that some days we would like to shoot our kids (& vice versa) so this worked out well. I will certainly remember next time to wear darker clothing as the combat area is black-lighted and I just happened to be wearing a white shirt that day. I think my opponents could see my "glow" coming before I even made it around the corner. After a nice dinner at Calif Pizza Kitchen Saturday night we headed home.
Sunday, we attended the open house & dedication for the $34M new addition to the Geary Community Hospital. Artist rendering & info at http://www.gchks.org/index.php?id=48 I think pretty much everyone in town was there. We couldn't even get into the room where they were doing the program and heard that tours afterwards would take 1.5 hrs (no thanks), so we decided to just venture through it on our own only. We ended up getting dragged into a small group of folks led around by our head surgeon Dr. Bollman. I'm pretty sure we saw & heard far more than the official tour groups were presented in a much shorter time. Pretty nice digs, not that I want to be there anytime soon. (or ever)
Molly's gym competition started earlier this month with a meet in Wichita. She ended up getting 4th out of the 15 girls at her level/age bracket which, considering her lack of gym prep time, is pretty remarkable. She & Alice (& maybe me?) head back to KC this weekend for the KC Coed, which is the only coed meet of the year & huge.
JC Middle School this week was the base of an article in the NY Times. I guess this NY reporter is just going across the country writing stories as he goes. He apparently stopped in JC for gas/food and asked the waitress if any of our schools had a diverse ethnic population that he could use to write an article on the inauguration and diversity and the waitress replied "In JC you could pick any of our schools and get diversity!". Here's the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/21/us/politics/21barry.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Junction%20City%20Middle%20School&st=cse
Can't believe that it's 66 degrees here today. Of course, true to Kansas form it's suppose to be 20 tomorrow.
I had a Marysville Mutual board mtg & Millennium Bank's shareholder/board mtgs yesterday. (You can tell how much I got accomplished at work....nothing!) Marysville has had a really tough 2008 with a double whammy of the worst claims year on record and about a $1.6M hit on investment portfolio. Needless to say it was a tough year and a long meeting. There's frankly not a whole lot one can do about Kansas storms (including the Chapman/Manh tornado this year) nor the financial markets so we are holding steady. By state statute we are only allowed up to have up to 25% of our invmt portfolio in equities, & we thought we were being conservative at having only 10% in equities and yet, we still had this loss. Most of it was in highly regarded, highly diversified mutual funds. But in reality it's a paper loss & we'll just wait for the market to return. We did have one triple A rated bond go bad on us- Lehman Bros. (who would have guessed that that's the only invmt firm the govmt let go bankrupt!)
Millennium Bank is still doing well. With the slowdown in the overall economy we've seen the slowdown at the bank. We are still ahead of schedule and are profitable on a cash flow basis. We are definitely not part of the national "banking" problem as we have zero bad loans and are still looking for borrowers- loaning money to the deserving. I guess MB received the ultimate in confidence boost when mom changed her checking & savings over to the bank. Whew...only took me 2 years to convince her. ha
The kids are having Wii withdrawal as their Wii drive crashed a couple weeks ago. It's been mailed in for repair. It's probably just wore out...kind of like me...
Gotta get back to work.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
I believe we survived Xmas and New Years but not quite sure yet. A few casualties!
Sunday the 21st, we had a traditional xmas brunch with mom at Peking's chinese buffet (ok, so it's not so traditional- maybe in China!) before she got on the big plane and flew to Gail's. We were all stuffed with our favorite dishes and everything would have been perfect if I didn't get a fortune cookie that said "If only you had practiced!".
The Lehoczky's arrived Monday night and we continued our traditional pre-Xmas eating trend- mexican at La Fiesta. Eating at this place truely brought us closer together because they always seat 11 of us at a table suitable for 8. We were one tight-knit family. Hopefully it will be the last time I share a salsa bowl with Max while sitting on his lap (& vice versa) Oh well, it was fun. I am certainly glad that Alice and Mary didn't order the 32oz margaritas again this time.....
Wednesday we did the traditional (are you seeing a trend here?) decorating of the Xmas cookies. Molly, Lucy and Alice did the baking and everyone did their Picasso best design work. Needless to say some of the cookies were very abstract in nature. Alice was doing her best to promote the heavy use of red hots but there were very few takers. We went to Xmas service Wed night and Molly was one of the wisepersons (wise men in non-PC verbage) complete with beard and all. Needless to say we had to remind the boys (w/ heavy threats) to watch what they said to her regarding her whiskers.
Xmas morning was a little more relaxed than in the past because we have 3 teenagers who prefer to sleep in more than opening presents. NOT.. Actually Sam & Max did have to wait around for sleeping beauty to open her eyes despite Max's constant lobbying to wake her up, throw a cat in her room, etc. Everyone came over for Xmas dinner, which was very good followed by opening presents, a late afternoon walk for some/nap for others and eventually dessert (about dinner time). There was a heated apples-to-apples game which followed and Baboc is still trying to figure out what criteria Max used to make his selections. (Hint Baboc, there is no criteria!) I think everyone slept well Xmas night.
Friday we gathered at the Meadowlark video center to all watch Mama Mia, which Mary had received for Xmas. The kids all took the backrow lounge chairs and tolerated the movie and Aunt Alice singing and trying to dance along with the movie. Following lunch the kids all headed to Molly's gym. They had given her a key so she could work out over the weekend when they were closed so they had the whole place to themselves.
Saturday we let the dust settle some- did some work etc then ran up to Topeka to quickly spend some Xmas money. (It burns hotter in some pockets more than others!)
Sunday Kent, Lynn and Diana brought mom home from her flight into KC and we all had some tortilla soup and visited. Monday they went to go see the JCHS Band's final practice before they left for the Cotton Bowl parade and game. We all went out to eat Monday night.
Tuesday, Sam and Molly left the house at 4:30AM to head down and load up the buses headed for Dallas. They stopped in Oklahoma City at the Murrah Bldg Memorial and performed a concert there during noon hour then headed south. They had a boatload of activities including the band competition (they won!), the parade, & the game's half time show as well as a NYE party at South Fork, a trip to a video amusement place, a Renaissance eating place, etc. Needless to say that when they arrived home Sunday at 1:45AM, they were tired.
Likewise, Alice Max and I loaded up the van and headed west to Colorado Tuesday to ski a couple of days & bring in the new year. The young folks down our hall, we determined, did enough partying for all of us NY Eve. NY Eve day was sunny & warm & the snow was good & it was a little cooler and cloudy on Thursday but fun & good exercise none-the less. Max tolerated being an only child for once.
So this weekend has been pretty much been a "collapse" weekend. At dinner time Saturday 2 of the 3 kids were still in their pajamas. We did manage to get the tree and interior xmas decorations down Sunday and will wait for a warmer day to arrive to tackle the outdoor ones.