Monday, December 22, 2008

Snow Day!

Chicago has had a lot of snow already this December (over a foot!) and what better way to enjoy the snow than go sledding with your cousins? Paul brought over his adorable 4year old Ali to join Rachel, Kellie, and Riley at the local sledding hill.

I decided I was warm and toasty in the Freese house so passed...though I did regret missing out on the Freese cousin tradition of pouring rootbeer on snowballs for "snow slushes!"
Ali kept her rosy cheeks long after she got back inside and changed, but she didn't seem to mind and spent the rest of the night entertaining us by dancing along to Christmas jingles and throwing snowball ornaments at us.

Third time's a charm

The Demon Deacon's football team played their way to their third straight post-season Bowl game - Orange Bowl in 2007 (what a great New Year's in Miami!) and the Meineke Car Care Bowl in 2008 (watched via satellite location in Keystone, CO!).

Who doesn't want to start the morning with tailgating along side the Anacostia River with Almost Gold?? GO DEACS!!!Cheering with Sheila, Marge, and Kristen!Wake beat Navy 29-19 (after a shaky first half) - great job boys!

Chamberlin B&B

During my trip to DC I spent one night at my favorite Falls Church B&B - Stacey's house!
I love what Stacey has done with the guest room (and house...though she does need to work on populating the great antique picture frames) and she has perfected her B&B set-up with candles, notepads, and vases - I was very much looking forward to the box of Bliss products that always awaits!And for the second "B"...the customary trip to the Original!


This past weekend I headed to DC to cheer on the DEACS and visit friends! With so many people to see and so little time, I of course made an "agenda" and stuck to it pretty well.

First up, I stopped by the Hursts to visit Ashley, Megan, and Uncle Paul. Ashley is so much bigger and more active than she was when I met her in July, crawling all over the house and using her huge muscles to pull herself up and stand.
Then I headed to Carpool to meet Kara, Sheila, and well as cheer on the Deacs (#10 ranked basketball team) beat Richmond. GO DEACS!
The "main event" was on Saturday - WFU vs Navy in the inaugural Eaglebank Bowl at RFK.
Afterwards I headed over to Herndon to see the Kims - Amie, Alex, Sophie, Mason, and the newest addition - Ava. Sophie loved her pom pom...forget about UPenn, this girl is bound to be a Demon Deacon if Aunt Parker has anything to say about it!
Then it was off to the Chamberlin B&B...separate post to come...for a relaxing evening with Stacey. Sunday morning I met Katie at McLean Bible Church and enjoyed a GREAT message by Lon!So great to be able to see so many of my favorite people - can't wait to come back soon!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Zoo Lights and Quartino's

Tonight I met up with my family and our friends Bobby and Susan for one of my favorite "Chicago events" - the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights. The Lincoln Park Zoo lights up the park, has Christmas music playing, and all kinds of special events (like ice sculpture carving) during the month of December. My camera doesn't do so good with night photography so take a look at the link for better shots.Then it was off to Quartino's for dinner. One of the many benefits of my sister being in the event planning business is that she always has amazing dinner suggestions and tonight was no different. Quartino's is an Italian place that specializes in sharing plates that are between tapas and family style. The food was excellent, the atmosphere was great, and the company was fantastic!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Not tolerating incompetance

Disclaimer: I am sorry to any of you who have friends and family that work for Chase bank. This is not directed at them, just some of the morons who work for the same company - there are bad eggs everywhere!

Okay...why I am I on my soapbox? Well, I have told many of you about my bad experience with Chase bank trying to arrange an international wire transfer. But, I refrained from broadcasting my frustration out to the blogworld. Basically, I was not able to arrange a wire transfer without being in the USA, I could not give my sister power of attorney without being in the USA, and then when I gave the money to my sister to do the transfer for me she had to go back 4 times because they kept doing it wrong. UUUGGGHH!

Today I checked my credit card balance - a Chase account - and saw that my November automatic payment has been returned and thus I had a fee of $39 for the returned payment, a late fee of $39, and a $95 balance fee. I checked the account that I have linked to my Chase account for automatic payment and there is more than enough money to cover it. So, I have mailed Chase explaining the error of their ways and asked for their assistance in clearing it up. I don't see why they wouldn't, but if they don't you better believe you will hear about it!

I have also signed up for, and been approved by, American Express!

Okay...stepping down form the soapbox...thank you for listening/reading....

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My new home!

Well...temporarily my new home since I am a vagabond right now! I am living with the Freese's - a family who lives near us up at Lake Geneva and also has a house in Lombard, conveniently the same Chicago suburb that my office is in. It has been fantastic to not have to worry about any housing stuff at the moment and live with a super fun family!
The Freese's are HUGE Bears fans and my first two Sundays have been lazy afternoons spent on the couch watching football. My room - -
Riley is one of the most relaxed and lovable dogs I have ever met. She is great to cuddle with and lay on the couch with...she even uses the pillows!
Kellie is a senior at Glenbard East and Rachel is a junior at Carthage College.
Added bonus...the house is all decked out for Christmas!

Reunion Trifecta

This weekend was my first weekend in the city and it was a great one! Friday night I headed downtown to meet Kelly (my sister), Lauren (my sister's friend since they were 5), and Dan (Kelly's "new" boyfriend..not really new, but new for me!).

On Saturday I met my good friend Jill - who I have known since junior high - for a delicious lunch.
As Jill and I were finishing up, Amy called - perfect timing! Amy and I lived in DC, then she moved to Chicago, and she recently moved to Minneapolis but was back in town for the weekend. She suggested a fantastic coffee place called Intelligentsia!
Finally, I met up with Jenny who I worked with in DC for a few years. She is now in PT school in Chicago. We went to Dinotto in Old Town which was delicious.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Gobble Gobble!

I haven't been home for Thanksgiving very much since graduating from Wake. As any American knows, travel over the Thanksgiving holiday is a nightmare, so while living in DC, Kara and I would have our own Turkey Day celebration and then in Copenhagen we would scrounge around trying to find proper ingredients. So, it was fantastic to start out my "relocation" to the USA with Thanksgiving at the Lake.
After breakfast, Kel and I went on a run to enjoy the gorgeous day. Later we went for a walk with Mom.
Then it was time to shoot the Parker 2008 Christmas card!
And finally, the main event! Everything was fantastic and we of course all ate too much!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Answered Prayers

Before I left for Copenhagen, I prayed that God would use that time to deepen my faith and show me His glory in new ways. In typical "God fashion' He did this in powerful ways that I could have never even dreamt of.

He put me in some trying situations at work that broke down my dependance on myself and showed me that every success is a gift from Him. Yet, He also put me in work situations that let me shine using the talents He has given me.

He gave me a church home filled wth believers of more nationalities than I can count, each of whom has shown me a new dimension of faith in and worship of God.

He enabled me to pursue one of my true passions - travel. I saw so many facets of His hand over creation. The beauty and diversity I have seen is truely breathtaking and awe-inspiring.

He has shown me His character of steadfast love and provision and "proven" to me that letting Him direct my path reaps far greater benefit than anything I could ever come up with.

He has surrounded me with compassionate and supportive people - some of whom share my faith and some of whom do not, but all have enriched my life deeply.

So now, as I prepare to leave this windy city for the Windy City of Chicago and start a new chapter of my life, I can think of no better way to begin than by repeating that same prayer that God will strengthen my faith and show me His glory...and extend that prayer to all of you as well.

Last Day in Copenhagen

I cannot believe that it is already my last day in Copenhagen. It was a packed but very fun day...
1. My last morning training class at Charlottehaven...Brian of course made it a workout I will not soon forget...ouch!

2. The movers were to come at 8...but when I got back to my apartment at 7:30 some movers had just arrived, so I introduced myself. We had gotten all the way up to my apartment and I had explained what needed to go, when we discovered that they were actually moving Maggie, my neighbor who also works for Maersk, one floor below! My movers showed up about 30min later and were amazingly done in less than 4hr.

3. Then I headed, by foot since I packed my bike, to meet my LEAP team for lunch. Thanks for the great Dansk design voltives and Pilgrim neckalce!! wink wink ; )

4. After taking care of some administrative things I needed to do, I headed to the Lakes for a coffee. It had just started to snow, but I sat outside under the heat lamp with a blanket...along with all the babies!5. Then I stopped by the Skeltons to say goodbye to some fantastic friends!

6. Lastly it was over to Cecilia & Gutavos where I am spending the night. They were the proud recipients of lots of my "leftovers" it was almost like Christmas. ...tomorrow it is lunch with Katie and then off to the Windy City!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hej Hej Kobenhaven

On Friday I had my going away party at Cafe Sommersko. Thanks to all of you who came, it was GREAT to see you...hope to see you soon in Chicago, Copenhagen, or anywhere else!

Xioayen....Thanks for the Dansk design gift CENSALBPO!!
Lawrence and Alister...Kati, Mattias, and Niels...
Asa, Katie, and Jason...
...and then my camera died... :(

Big Boy!

I went to visit my main man Bo Skelton the other day. I haven't seen him in about a month and now he is 4months old...crazy how time flies!No question about it...he is not the milkman's baby!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Jumeirah Jane for a Day!

For my last day in Dubai I decided to pamper myself...not that I hadn't be doing this already throughout the trip...but I decided to go out in "Jumeirah Jane" style. Jumeirah Jane is the nickname given to women who spend their days at the spa, pool, beach, shopping, etc.

After seeing Virginie and Cesar off to work, I headed down for breakfast for the "taxing" day ahead...omelette with fresh herbs, latte, and a banana-honey shake while reading the paper outside. Then I went to the gym and worked out for an hour, followed by a quick steam room, and 45min at the pool. From there I went to Vanilla, the spa in Virginie's building, and got a manicure and pediure. And then it was next door to the Fairmont Willow Stream Spa. I got a 2.5hr "Time Out" treatment -
A cleansing and rejuvenating experience, Elements in Harmony draws from restorative powers of fire (self-heating mud), earth (spa peeling massage cream), air (relaxing serum) and water. After a gentle stretching and pressure point massage, the body is brushed using loofah to stimulate blood circulation and to remove dull surface skin cells. An application of marine self-heating mud along the spine and feet, enable a deep detoxification and relaxation of stressed areas, followed by a therapeutic body and scalp massage. A reviving eye mask will bring radiance and freshness and reduce the appearance of fine lines, dark circles and puffiness. Cleansing, toning, and exfoliation of the face, including a facial massage will complete the experience.
It was fantastic! Afterwards I relaxed in the relaxation room for a while before getting a light lunch at the hotel.

Then it was back to the Madinat Jumeirah (where I had been taken my second night in Dubai).
I sat on the terrace of Bahri Bar and had a coffee as the sunset. Then took the abra over to another part of the hotel to meet Virginie for our haircuts.Looking good post haircuts!
We met Cesar after his Arabic class for dinner at Centimeter, a fabulous outdoor restaurant at the Madinat Jumeriah.
A completely unposed pic...
Lastly we went to Qd's at the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club for sheisha. TUSIND TAK Virginie, Cesar, & Josh for an amazing trip to Dubai, I hope to be back soon! 6

On Tuesday I started the day at the Jumeirah Grand Mosque for their "Open Doors, Open Minds...Creating Ambassadors of Peace" tour. It was excellent and I highly reccomend it. I was very surprised to see how similar Islam and Christianity are. Islam religion is extremely tolerant and peaceful with other religions, some of the more interesting things I learned:
- Once a Mosque, Church, or Synagogue has been built it is considered a House of God and cannot ever be moved or torn down, no matter what development is taking place around it.

- When Muslims say the name Muhammad the follow it with "peace be upon him" - they do the same when they say Jesus or any of the Prophets.

- They believe in much of the Bible (i.e. Adam and Eve) but they believe Jesus was prophet, not the Son of God.

- The 5 pilars of Islam are:

1. Profession of Faith (there is one God and Muhammad was His prophet

2. Ritual Prayer (they pray 5 times a day, we were explained what they are saying and what the different movements mean)

3. Alms giving (2.5% of their earnings are given to those in need)

4. Fasting during Ramadan

5. Pilgramage to Mecca once in their lives

The women in this region typically wear black simply because they can use really thin black cloth and it will still be opaque wheras if they wore white they would still need to cover up with more cloths underneath. Women do not have to wear the "coats" or burkahs, except in the mosques, it is purely an individual choice. Some women in the Emirates region wear mask type things, this historically was done both a form of "sunglasses" in the desert and they also put a special clay underneath that gives them a daily facial.
I absolutely loved the Mosque tour, it was incredibly intestesting and helped clear up a lot of the misunderstandings I had. Please visit the Center for Cultural Understanding for more information, it is really well done.To get around the Dubai Creek area you take Abras...each ride is 1dirham (aobut 30cents) and they function essentially like a metro system...though a little more chaotic!
Souqs are market places, there a special souqs for different goods. First I went to the Textile Souq...The Gold Souq...
The Spice favorite, all the great smells and spices of every color.
About a month ago I went to a lecture by our Legal group regarding the US Export laws and learned that basicaly the US and "US persons" (if a Dane is in the USA, he is a US Person) can have zero interaction with Iran. Hope that Josh and I aren't breaking any laws...
Despite the fact that we had ordered the platter for 3 instead of 4, Cesar was still a little nervous about the quantity of food...
After dinner we went for a long walk on the beach and checked out the ever-growing skyline of Dubai.