Friday, May 29, 2009

What started out as a trip to a small Dutch town...

...ended up as an attempt to purchase and consume as many treats as possible in a one hour window.

Our first stop of the day was in Alkmaar, which is known for a popular cheese market. The travel guide called this town the "Wisconsin of Holland," because they're passionate about both beer and cheese there. I can attest to the cheese part. And what's cheese without bread? And why not throw in an apple tart? And they were selling REALLY BIG stroop waffles on our way out of town. Oh, and we had to try authentic boterkoek, right?

But let me just tell you, I'm in love with small town Holland. I want to move here, ride a bike, and eat lots of cheese forever and ever. Oh, and live in a house that looks like this:

Or this:

Yup, I like it here.

New Sunglasses

Dad: You look like my aunt. (This wasn't a compliment - she is old and rather heavy)
Ben: No, you look like an ant. Like - the bug.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Infamous Eiffel Tower Pose

Anyone remember playing charades in college, when Josh performed this one?

And this was the scene when we were there:

Me: C'mon Josh, do the pose for me.
Josh: Oooooookaay. Just this once.
Me: C'mon Dad and Ben, you're in this picture too.
Dad & Ben: [groan]
[I quick snap the picture]
Ben: That's the worst thing I've ever done.

The Parisian way to carry groceries

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Big Birthday Surprise

Want to know what surprise looks like on a newly-minted 50-year-old?

Like this:

My dad pulled it off! A true surprise party - a rockin' one.

A couple of months before my mom was to turn the big 5-0, my dad, cousins, and I started scheming about what we could do. Chicago? No, then we couldn't have very many people there to celebrate. A big party? Eh, that's okay. But then my mom will feel like she has to work. But a surprise party? Perfect. And way more fun.

We made reservations for dinner for six, leading my mom to believe that was it. And by the time we left Bonefish Grill, she was thinking she'd had a pretty good birthday. Unbenknownst to her, friends and family were starting to gather in her backyard while we all were at dinner.

My dad and Josh had left detailed instructions, and a couple of aunts set everything up.

It was a fantastic evening, with the last of the guests leaving at 2:00 am!

Even baby Aiydan and his mom were there to celebrate.

Nice job, Dad!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Goodbye Bloomington


Did we really just close this chapter? But we just moved there - to the land of Chick-fil-A, Hoosiers, the Kelley School of Business, and Mother Bear's Pizza - didn't we? I had no idea how much I'd enjoy this experience, and am so thankful God led us here a couple of years ago.

It has certainly been great for Josh, too. You know, the whole reason for coming! I know he values the education he has received - both in the classroom and out of it. In addition to his classes in marketing, finance, etc., he has had significant opportunities to network with recruiters, business professionals, and other students. (Hm... I should get him to blog about his experiences here sometime.)

In short, we loved it there.

But the best part by far? The people. I've never known such a group of people - sweet, diverse, talented, warm, and generous - and am privileged to call them my friends.

We spread out "goodbyes" over a couple of weekends.

First we enjoyed an authentic Indian lunch with our friends Rimjhim and Sayak. Delicious!

Then night we went out for ice cream with some of our best friends.

We had a blast at Amber's baby shower (she's the one in the blue):

Cheers to baby LaRue!

And on to a Partner's Club farewell party. I'm thankful a couple of first year MBA families will be joining us in Columbus for the summer!

And before we knew it, we were here:

(We felt like we graduated, too!)

And then there are many, many other friends who we didn't get the chance to formally say goodbye - friends from all over the country and across the world.

To all of you: I will truly miss you and I wish you the very best in your future adventures. Our door is always open for visitors, and I hope our paths cross again soon. Much love to you all.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Bathroom Counter

Can we say in transition?

This is my bathroom counter top. It speaks volumes about our life right now:

1. It is a complete mess. And my bathroom counter is never messy unless we're moving or something.

(You didn't buy that for a second, did you? I didn't think so. Moving on.)

2. My darling travel cosmetic bags are out, and that usually isn't the case when I'm, you know, at home. But since my toiletries are located in about five different places, none of which are in my bathroom, the travel bags do the trick for now.

3. There is a beach towel on the floor. Same song, second verse for #2. I'm not sure where all of our normal bath towels are at the moment, and beach towels work quite well for drying off post-showers.

4. Then there is the general intermingling of power tools, painting supplies, makeup, a contact case, a screwdriver, an electric shaver, and the plastic bag of liquids they gave me at the Portland airport last week. Since we're working on all kinds of little projects, tools seem to be scattered throughout the house. Case in point.

Yup, this is life for the next little while.

We wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wood Love

Our wood floors are 80% in and we couldn't be happier with our choice! We ended up choosing the Brazilian Teak and we don't regret it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


We've been hard at work these last two weekends, along with the help of our parents. Here's a little taste of the fun we've been having:

Getting at some hard to reach places:

Tearing up old carpet...

And all kinds of little tacks, staples, etc.

This is how you work from home when you don't have furniture:

My mom sadly spent countless hours painting trim, only to discover that night that she'd used the wrong paint.

My dad convinced me that painting the ceilings would be a good idea - and I'm glad he did! The new paint up there brightens up the place.

Choosing a green for our kitchen is harder than you might think. Too dark? Too yellow? Too gray? Too bright? Not bright enough?

And there are some really ugly tans out there.
We set up a make-shift paint shop in our garage to take care of oodles of base trim. A ladder can double as a saw horse, right? As can TV tables and the random Japanese metal structure we found in our backyard.

Dad Brown rocking the mini-roller.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Well, We're In


Hand over the keys, baby.

Homeowners for the first time.

Hop in the car and head to Lowe's. Or Target. Or Meijer :). Several times per day.

Hit head on light fixtures because there are no tables under them.


Oh my goodness, what are we doing to do with so much space?

Obsess over paint chips.

Offer to pay the neighbor girl to mow our yard.


Uh, where do we start?

Up comes the old floor.


Select the right color of paint after many trials.

Sleep in our own house for the very first time.

Spend quality time with parents, who thankfully know way more about home renovation than we do. And who graciously spent the weekend with us, working on the place.

Spread new paint on walls and lots and lots of oak trim.


Eat the cupcakes the cute neighbor kids brought by. (There were 7 of them and they spelled WELCOME.)

Enjoy making the place our own.

Experiment with paint colors. Thank goodness for the $5 quarts you can pick up at Sherwin Williams. We'd otherwise have painted the walls terrible shades of mint green and flesh-colored tan.

Examine arms and hands on a business trip and discover that there is still bits of paint on them. Classy.