Sunday, January 27, 2008

Tak for Mexico!

Danish tradition is that after any type of social gathering, no matter how big or small, you always call the next day to tell the host "tak for sidst" (thanks for the last). I think last night's gathering calls for a little alteration to "Tak for Mexico"...

Daniel and Slyvie had a dinner party to celebrate successfully moving into their fantastic apartment...which, as any of us expats can certainly appreciate, was no small feat. Our hosts used to live in Casablanca and treated us all to Moroccan Babouches (aka slippers) to welcome us into their home. Cesar and I lucked out with the "hotel editions" sporting Marriott and Continental sets:
Sylvie (with maybe a little help from Daniel) cooked a delicious 4 course meal that we enjoyed in typical European fashion...over several hours complete with fabulous conversation.

Earlier in the week Virginie, Daniel and I had been talking about games over lunch and as anyone who knows me an imagine, I became pretty passionate about telling them about how fantastic Mexican Train is. So, to prove to them that I'm not completely crazy I brought it over. I should have known better than to kick off a game at 1:30am...but I had lost track of time and also figured that we'd just play a few rounds not an entire game. But, then 5am rolled around and we were just finishing the game (yep, that's right...Christy Parker stayed out past 5am, I've got 5 witnesses to prove it!).
It couldn't have been much more of an international mix: Two regions in France (Brittany & Burgundy), Spain, Japan, and Romania. As you can probably predict I am thrilled to have brought Mexican Train to the world :)
At the beginning Cesar and Virginie didn't really trust each other...but as the rest of us can attest to it was practically a team effort in the later rounds.

Notice the empty coffee pot on the table...I'm not sure we could have kept going without the caffeine, though Daniel assured us it was very mild.
The final standings* were:
1. Wataru - 260 (we're all convinced he was counting dots)
2. Sylvie - 281
3. Christy - 321
4. Cesar - 379
5. Virgine - 393
and...our big loser....showing us his all too typical stack of remaining dominos...Daniel with 462.
*note: we did not play the round of double twos, which Daniel claims is an automatic disqualification of all above results.

Two amazing women

My mom and my grandmother have recently spent/are spending a lot of time in hospitals, which is thankfully something our family has very little experience in.

My mom had heart surgery last week to repair two valves. She just might have set some hospital records in terms of how fast she has recovered with basically no complications. Less than 24 hr after sugery she was up and sitting in a chair (already tired of being confined to a bed) and soon after was walking the hospital halls. She's been discharged and is now adding stairs to her walking routine and decreasing her pain medication daily. Whereas most people ask their doctors when they'll be able to walk a mile, my mom was instead asking when she would water ski...the doctor told her she'd be ready once the ice melts! I admire her determination, initiative, and the discipline she had previously instilled in her excercise and diet which played a huge part in her quick recovery.

Mom and I in Punta Cana, January 2008

My Granny has been in a nursing home since about October slowly to sucumbing to old age and congestive heart failure. She's become such a constant in my 28 years that I sometimes forget the fact that she is 99 years old and that this time would come at some point. She's taken a turn for the worse over the past week, but continues to defy the odds and shock all the doctors with her ability to perservere and still visit with family and friends during this time. While it is hard to be away now, I am incredibly thankful that I was able to see her everyday I was home over Christmas and spend some time celbrating her life. To see all the pictures of people that have been there to visit with her, all the cards pouring in, and the flowers and chocolates scattered throughout the room, I can't say I was at all surprised however I was struck by the impact she has left on so many people in the community. Her perserverance in and spirit for life have helped shape me and I am so blessed for being able to spend so many years with her.

Granny keeping dry at Mom & Dad's 40th wedding anniversary, Aug 2007

Sun Therapy!

Living in Copenhagen during the winter has its problems...namely lack of sun, too much rain, and howling winds. At the worst of winter the sun was rising about 9am and setting around 3:30pm with most of the days comprising of overcast, cloudy days. So, when my mom decided this summer that she wanted to take an island vacation over the winter, I made sure that it worked into my schedule. Kelly was also able to get the time off and we all headed to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic for 5 days at the beginning of January.

The resort was lush and tropical with lots of peacocks and flamingos struting around, the people were incredibly friendly and hospitable, and the beaches were gorgeous! Though we did have one day of terrential winds and rain, we made the most of it with plenty of card games.

We spent most of our time hanging around the resort, walking and running on the beach, and relaxing by the pool, but we did have a fabulous snorkling expedition where we took "james bond style" 2 seater speed boats out to a reef to see some absolutely goregous fish.

Thanks for a great vacation Mom and Dad!!!

No better way to start 2008!

From Chicago it was off to Denver for 4 days of vacation with some pretty amazing people!
Amanda and Derek picked me up at the airport and we headed back to their house to enjoy some take out BBQ. Amanda was a roommate of mine in DC, she and her husband Derek moved to Colorado from Philly about a year ago and I hadn't seen them since I had been up in Philly running a half marathon a few years ago. It was fantastic to see them..unfortunately we didn't break out the cameras for "blog documentation purposes!"

Derek and Amanda graciously shuttled me over to Emily and Brad's. We met up with Andrea and Richard, who brought with them Brooke and Lee who had flown in from Dallas, and all piled into to the cars and headed up to the Lewis mountain house in Keystone...making it up there just in time for kickoff of the Meineke Car Care Bowl featuring our favorite Demon Deacons.
I was thrilled to watch the Deacs beat UCONN 24-10 in my first and only game watching of the season!!!

Brooke, Andrea, Emily and I turned this trip into an unofficial "girl's weekend" which was fantastic for Brooke and I who missed last year's annual Memorial Day event...we wished the rest of you girls could have joined us in Keystone!
Andrea, Richard, Brad, and I braved the high winds and somewhat icey conditions for an afternoon skiing on Keystone Mountain. To my plesant surprise, my downhill skills hadn't gotten too rusty and I was almost able to keep up with the Denver natives. You really can't beat an afternoon on the slopes followed by an evening in the hot tub enjoying hot chocolate & baileys while watching the snow fall over the mountains!
As usual we played a lot of games (Mexican Train, Sequence, Celebrity) and ate a lot of food..but balanced that out with some mountain walks with Deac and a sledding adventure.
New Year's Eve 2008 was spent enjoying a fantastic meal, heading down to River Run to watch fireworks, and.....
.... celebrating Emily's 29th birthday with chocolate fondue!!!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Christmas in Chicago

Time to start getting caught up on my blog! I was home for Christmas and was able to spend most of that time with Mom, Dad, and Kelly as well as daily visits to see Granny. Kelly organized a great Christmas in Chicago for us that included Christmas Eve Tea at The Drake.

We slept over at Kelly's apartment and then had a fantastic Christmas brunch before opening presents. Then it was off to see Granny, have dinner with Uncle Ron, Bubba, and Kathy, and then the traditional cookies and gift exchange with Sue, Sterling, and Jen.

Though I think I spent more time in a car over those 4 days than I have in the past 4 months, it was great to be able to relax and spend so much time catching up with family and friends!