Thursday, April 23, 2009

All you need is... LOVE

A few bits of love for the evening...
Being a newlywed is wonderful. I come home sometimes to surprises... like this beautiful orchid.

We've also been blessed to have two sets of parents as our family. I know there's a stigma about in-laws... but we really like ours! It's wonderful having my parents close and being able to see them occasionally and hang out... and we receive cards and phonecalls from the Wilson's in MD-- the card drawing is a standard Steve trademark and the writing is infamously Kay's. My parents have even received cards with the drawing!

With Love, B.

Take a ride in the time machine... enter... Fourth Grade!

Today was Open House-- usually known to teachers as a dreaded day because of all the intense prep work for one hour of show. The only reason I am okay with it is because the kids get to come back and take pride in what they've worked so hard on (with me as their teacher, I can guarantee there's been little slacking-- as many of you might have already guessed).

Get your eyes ready... because I took a lot of photos! It's my third open house, and my last one for awhile... and certainly the last one in California! (note all of the CA stuff... 4th grade in all states of the U.S. teach heavily on state history. Looks like all that CA knowledge is becoming void after this summer!)
Here's the geeky door. I'm not sure if it's evident, but their faces are actually my kids' real pictures. We add humor to our jobs as much as possible.

My opening sign. No, nobody ever reads it... considering I was asked if they could take any of the work home about 5 times.
Yes, I baked cookies. I'm a show-off sometimes. :)

I hope you enjoyed your journey. Please step back into the time machine... enter your age and press enter. Don't even think about lying about your age. ;)

With love, B.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Special Delivery to Vincent Park

We often come home from work or our weekend adventures to packages on our doorstep. The mailman, Tony, or our neighbors/landlords sometimes assist in the matter by attempting to "fool" suspected theives by hiding such packages under flower pots. While we don't feel anyone is being fooled, we haven't missed a package yet.

Courtesy of Ray's parents, the Maryland Wilsons, we receive a package every now and again just to show they love and miss us. Here are some of the most recent surprise gifts we've received and Ray testing them out well.

Beer Bread-- yummy! Oh, and the loaf pan it was baked in was a surprise gift a year back. 
And here we have a Frommer's book about Germany. Ray almost lost his lunch reading about some of the foods described in the book. I will skip those pages and focus more on the aesthetic beauty of the culture and people. No package is ever complete without chocolate. Clearly, we are not deprived of the cocoa bean.
Until next time... with love, B & R

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Adventure Begins!

We've decided to start a blog as a way to communicate with our close friends and family along our journeys. To those who may need some catching up... we've been married for just over 8 months and have recently learned of our exciting future: Ray (Elliot to some), has been given the opportunity to work for a great mentor and close friend from his Air Force Academy days, Mike. This extraordinary opportunity will lead us to the Southwest suburbs of Chicago, IL where we plan to reside indefinitely. But, before that excitement can begin, we are being asked to move to Germany to work (still part of the same company), learn Deutsch, and learn the European culture as it relates to running the global business. We're excited!

Now, on to the fun stuff with pictures! We visited Illinois this past week during my Spring Break to become acquainted with the area and scope out a possible town for our future. Below are some of the fun times we had throughout the week.

This is a picture of the water tower located in our (hopeful) future hometown of Naperville. We loved this town. In 2006, and other years, Naperville was rated #2 in Money magazine's annual list of America's best small cities to live in.

This is a picture of the 6 km riverwalk that runs throughout the town. Of course, houses along this riverwalk are in the multi-millions range. But the good news is, those people are paying taxes for the schools our future kids will go to. J

Speaking of schools our (future) kids will go to (or a school I could teach at!), they may go to this one?!?

Californians may laugh at the tagline under this Trader Joe’s sign. It’s as if they had to convince the residents to shop there. Really, it’s unique. For me (us)… it’s on my list of must-haves in a new city.

There are a few insane community pools in the center of the city. One of them is craggy and made to look rustic. Of course, they’ve been drained since it still hasn’t stopped snowing (and it’s April. Wish this CA girl luck!).

Another one of my requirements: Chipotle. Ray was also excited to see a Five Guys burger place-- as he remembers it back home it Maryland.

Here is Ted Turner's restaurant in downtown Naperville. We were joking that Ray would take my dad there (they sell plenty of meat) and I'd take my mom to Noodles and Co. just around the corner. I'm not sure that's a fair trade off, but we'll see...

We were naïve to think these were cute geese… until we met with some of Ray’s current business clients for lunch and were versed on how “messy” those animals can be.

We woke up to this one morning! Did I mention it’s April?

We had the opportunity to sit 3rd row at a Chicago Bulls game and it was awesome! We also won 2 Big Mac hamburgers from McDonald's because they beat the Knicks with over 100 points. Ask Ray how happy he was after eating both of our Big Macs. J

Pizza! Giordano’s is one of the big chains here and there happened to be one in downtown Naperville where we spent many of our days exploring. This is a "small" pizza. We didn't even come close to finishing it.

Standing in front of Giordano's Pizzeria in Naperville. Notice the hand wave.

We took the train downtown one day (approx. 30 minutes of no-driving bliss!) and visited the Sears Tower, saw Blue Man Group perform (loved it), Millennium Park, visited Navy Pier, and the Magnificent Mile. Below is the "Metra" -- my personal favorite for it being "feminine" -- I know Samantha will agree!

I'm not a scrapbooker... so here's my attempt at "saving" our memories as a photo. Bulls tickets, Blue Man Group tickets, and Skydeck (Sears Tower) tickets.

Here we are in Millennium Park. This is the Crown Fountain. While you cannot see it from this angle, it projects pictures of people and it is ever-changing. It's really a sight to see.

Here's a better shot of one of the projections.

Here we are being reflected in the "cloud gate" (aka - the bean). I think this is the iconic 'visiting Chicago' picture. Raise your hand if you have one of these of yourself!?

Being a true geek at heart. I was attempting to make fun of all those touristy photos and ended up making a ridiculous one myself. Credits to Ray for the photo shoot.

Atop the Sears Towers. Apologies for the darkness. We were having flash issues at 99 stories high.

Now for the randomness. In all albums, we manage to take pictures of purely strange discoveries on our expeditions. Here they are for our April 2009 Chicago Album:

Random bug discovery found in the morning hours. He found a new home in the toilet shortly after discovery. Feel free to educate us with a science lesson.
An airplane hangar is what you're viewing. That's right! We turned down a road in our efforts to "get lost" and discovered a small culdesac community of houses with oversized garages that were used as hangars for their private planes. Their backyards all backed up to a runway too.

This picture was on the wall of the pizza restaurant we were eating at earlier in this posting. It's pretty clever. If you click on it, you'll get a better view and might be able to read the writing.
Check out the street sign. Have you ever seen a see-saw street sign? We noticed that the town of Naperville is particularly "showy" with their ammenities. Apparently see-saws are top on the list of attractions.
What kid wouldn't want to get their hair cut while sitting inside a toy car? How cool!

Any and all people who want to come visit us may be going here. We were super excited about the delectable chocolate options in and around the city.

Finally, a top-ten observation list about Chicago and the surrounding city areas, written by us:

1. They sure do love their McDonald’s in the Midwest. By far, there were more McDonald’s than Starbuck’s or any other fast food chain.

2. There were almost no Indian food restaurants to be found in a 30-mile radius from the city. Mexican food was a bit sparse too.

3. Vons/Safeway=Dominick’s and Albertson’s=Jewel Osco. Even the radio commercials feature the same lady advertising.

4. The highway drivers are just as crazy as Los Angeles, but on the local streets, they are much milder.

5. Road construction and potholes appear to never end.

6. It really is windy.

7. The city is way cleaner than we expected.

8. The city life is similar to New York, except the people are nicer.

9. Many people have swimming pools. Too bad there are only 4 nice months a year to use them (and that's being generous).

10. Don't bother to eat a "small" deep dish, stuffed pizza alone. You will fail.