31 July 2014



In honor of my nephew's 18th birthday last week, and leaving for college in a month, here's one of him and me when he was just a wee little gummy guy.

30 July 2014

The Beach


Twice a week, H&C play tennis out by my parents. Afterwards, we hang out, grab some lunch and hit the beach. It hasn't been particularly warm this summer, so there hasn't been too many people at the beach whenever we are there. Heck, I've only been in the water once myself, and it's one of my favorite places to be! Today when they finished practice, they still needed some lake time even though it was only in the upper 60s. We had the entire place to ourselves. Nice!

27 July 2014



My nephew turned 18 today. That's insane. He's such a nice guy, with an awesome sense of humor. I'm so excited for the year ahead of him. Happy birthday J!

Day Tripping


We were supposed to go out of town this weekend. However, due to some scheduling conflicts, we ended up having our Saturday free. We loaded up the car with the kids and the dogs, and headed northwest for a little road trip. Brian was mentioning our plans to a coworker, who told us about a route to take through Amish country. I have to be honest -- I had no idea this even existed here! And only a couple hours away from our house. Our first stop was the Salemville Cheese Factory, where we picked up some delicious cheese curds and award-winning gorgonzola. Their smoked blue cheese was pretty amazing too. Next time. From there, we went to the Pleasant View Bakery. We may have gone a little overboard on our purchases, but honestly, everything we've tried has been amazing. My favorite thing so far is probably the pretzel we ate as soon as we got into the car. Finally, we went to the Mischler's County Store. I can't wait tour around this area again. It's beautiful. After leaving Amish country, we continued west to visit our lake lot, which was only another hour away. Our neighbor let us borrow his pier so H&C and the dogs could go swimming. Gretel is absolutely hilarious. She was in the water as soon as she could reach it. And didn't stop the entire time. After riding in the crate for most of the day, she sure deserved it. Finally, we drove out to my sister's house to celebrate my nephew's 18th birthday. How crazy is that? I can't believe it's only a few weeks until he heads off to college. We all were exhausted when we finally got home again. But it was such a great day.

24 July 2014

Double Date


One of the great things during the summer, is that once a week, my parents take the kids overnight. It is such a treat -- for all of us, I think. Once school/soccer/etc is on, we really don't have a lot of free time. So Brian and I try to make a point of going out a bit while we have chance. Tonight, we went out with Scott & Ali. I seriously cannot remember the last time this happened. We stopped by to check out their new house, then went to Cempazuchi for dinner. Delicious. And so much fun. It was a great night.



This photo was taken in the spring of 1988. It must have been at the final get together of my AFS Hamburg group. My besties that year were Cece, who's standing next to me in the purple, and Diana from Scotland -- second from the left in the back. We were kind of inseparable. Cece and I got to see each other in NYC a couple years back, which was awesome. Diana, however, now lives in Australia, making the journey a little bit harder. Before she moved to Australia, she visited me during her travels. Once when I was living in Milwaukee (we actually took the train to see Cece, who was living in Chicago), and once when I was living in Chicago. We may not keep in touch as much, but I love that we do. I made some amazing friends that year, for sure.

21 July 2014

16 Weeks


We've officially had Gretel for half her of life. This 4-month old is currently 34 pounds, and looks like a fawn when she walks. Her paws are larger than Storm's and so is the bottom part of her legs. I think she's going to be a tall one. Speaking of Storm ... he's her favorite. She wants to be where ever he is. He's really great about it, and even lets her nap with him from time to time. We finished puppy class this week. I'm not going to say she passed with flying colors, but we all learned from it. She's really a very good dog. I guess we'll keep her ...

20 July 2014



You might remember our epic day in Chicago last summer when we took M and the Elsmo's French student around town. Well, Leif & Melissa, and Chris & Penny are hosting students again this summer, and invited us to join them. We had planned on coming down for the day, but with the funeral yesterday, decided to spend the night in Chicago. Lora & Bill booked their hotel through hotwire and ended up at the same place. How great is that? Unfortunately, we were not able to check in until really late, and when we showed up, they informed me that there were not any more two bed rooms available ... so they had to upgrade us to a penthouse suite. Shut the front door! That stuff never happens to me. Brian didn't hear what was going on when I checked in, so I surprised him and the boys. They almost fell over when they walked in. It was insane in the best way possible. In fact, we ended up picking up food, and Bill & Lora joined us at our dining room table. I had reserved the room with a breakfast option (which was no extra cost), so the boys even got to experience room service. Not a bad place to do it. We were very comfortable there, and really, could have stayed all day. But we had other places to be -- namely, Navy Pier to meet up with our crew. Bill & Lora joined us, along with Amy, Graham and their girls. There were 21 of us total. It was so much fun and absolutely fantastic. We rode the ferris wheel. Took in the sites a little bit. Then hightailed it to the water taxi which took us to Chinatown, where we enjoyed a fantastic (slightly excessive -- thanks to us eating a good amount of the kid's food, which somehow came to our table instead of theirs) dim sum lunch. Unfortunately, we had to head back to pick up the dogs right after. We were sad to have to part ways. It was a great day.

Last week, our friend Scott's father passed away. Brian grew up around Scott and his family and they really hold a special place in our hearts. Dick had health issues for a number of years. He fought, and won the battle many times, but finally had enough. Ali wrote a lovely post about him. He really was a kind and amazing man. On Saturday, we drove down to Peoria to celebrate Dad Schwebel. After a very nice service, we went over to Scott's parents house. It was under unfortunate circumstances, but sure was great seeing this group of guys together.

17 July 2014

Tennis, Anyone?


Back in high school, tennis was my thing. I played a lot, and loved it. I'm not sure why, but along the way I kind of stopped, and I really haven't played much over the years. My mom invited me to guest day at her club, and my first question was, "Are you sure about that?" I think I freaked the pros out when I mentioned I haven't played an actual game of tennis in probably 10 years. Maybe more! I mean, I've hit the ball around, but haven't served or kept score in forever. We ended up having a fantastic time. And even won two matches, tied one, and lost one. I may have forgotten where to stand, struggled with my serves, and been told my style of doubles play was old-fashioned, but we had a great time. Thanks for the perfect day, Mom! (P.S. My mom has quite the reputation of being a total jock at the club. She is, but it was still pretty funny.)



Back in the day when I could actually get up on a wake board. Or should I say, back in the day when I would actually attempt to get up on wake board? This was 17 years ago during a stay on Little Spider Lake with Brian's family. Brian grew up going to this same lake, to the same house we stayed in. The last time were were there was five years ago -- and despite the cold weather, we still talk about it as one of the great vacations.

14 July 2014

Water Dog


We've been meaning to buy a little plastic pool for Gretel, but just haven't been able to find one. I decided to fill up our metal drink bucket and see what would happen. A few ice cubes and toys, and our water dog Gretel was in heaven. Storm even got in the mix a little bit. Check out how big she is getting!

13 July 2014

World Cup - Yay Germany!


While catching frogs, my friend texted me and said she was bringing her son down to Three Lions to watch the Germany vs. Argentina World Cup game today. I would have loved to go to the Nomad block party, but knew it would be way too crazy. This was a really great -- more family friendly -- option for sure. It was a perfect idea. The boys ran into past and soon-to-be soccer coaches, and even got to play a little futsal and street soccer. Even better -- they met up with friends who took them home after the game. It was a fun day. And Germany ended up winning in overtime 1-0. So exciting.

Catching Frogs


I asked H&C if they wanted to take the dogs on a hike to Lion's Den Gorge this morning, but didn't have any takers. They said we could leave Gretel at home and go to the nature center to catch frogs though! Better than nothing. We hiked around the lake, spotted a momma duck with her babies, a bunch of turtles, and even caught a couple frogs. Success.

15 weeks


Gretel has always been an active puppy, but this week, she seemed to hit a new kind of crazy. Wow. We switched over to a harness for her, so walking has been going a bit better. I've been taking her out a lot, which seems to tire her out. At least for a little bit. She was making me crazy the other night. I found her ON TOP of the kitchen table. But she slept from 10:30 pm to 7:30 am, and by the time she woke up, I'm happy to report, I was excited to see her. She's added a new bit of chaos into our world, but we really do love her. One thing that makes Gretel happy is water. We were hanging out on the beach after tennis this week. She was going nuts -- until I let her climb down the rocks and just sit on an algae covered rock. I also took her swimming a little bit, which was pretty adorable. And, it totally wore her out. Sweet.

12 July 2014

Bastille Days


Despite the fact that there was chance of rain and it was gloomy all day, we decided to go to Bastille Days. It has always been one of my favorite festivals. Of course, back in the day I would have stayed to watch Vic + Gab at 10pm tonight. But instead, we went at 10:30 am before the crowds came. And we were home by 1:00 pm. That's ok -- it was fun. The boys got to eat their way through the festival, which made them happy. Beignets and crepes. Lemonade. And frog legs -- which C had been talking about before we even got in the car. He loved them. H thought they were fishy. Funny.

10 July 2014



The summer after my freshman year in college, my host-family from Germany came for a visit. During that time, they rented an RV for three weeks and the five of us toured the USA. Milwaukee, Wisconsin all the way to Los Angeles, California. It was really quite amazing. (1989 -- 19-year-old me at the Grand Canyon).

08 July 2014

Inspiration Files :: Railway Cottage

This former railway house was built in 1867 and is located in The Netherlands. Lovely.

Before & After Photos :: Architects ZW6 Interiors :: via Desire to Inspire