Donna Crawford
Redondo Beach, California


I was born in North Carolina and lived there until I was about 2 or so.  My father was in the military, so we moved every year or two.  We lived up and down the east coast, in Arkansas, Germany and Kansas, before he retired in 1980.  I attended Manhattan High School (in Kansas) and college and law school at the University of Kansas (Go Jayhawks!!).

I've lived in Alabama, Georgia, Texas and California since leaving my parents' home.  I currently live in California with my husband Kirk (even while we were on our RTW, we considered California as home). My family and friends are scattered all over the place, as you can imagine.

My husband and I are highly involved with our church, locally. I have lots of hobbies, including cooking, HAM radio, reading, travelling, bzflag, and sports/outdoor activities. Although I love to watch Jayhawk Basketball, I generally prefer to participate. Some of my favorites are beach volleyball, scuba diving, cycling, rowing, swimming, snow skiing, tramping, surfing, off-roading, etc.

My travels over the last few years have taken me to Costa Rica, Hawaii, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and most recently, on a 15-country, 1-year round-the-world trip.

Feel free to drop me an email to let me know how you're doing, or any other suggestions you have for these pages! And be sure to sign my new Guestbook!

Recent Articles

Saturday, February 2


Happiness is a Warm Bed

No offense to the Beatles, but it's true - Happiness is a warm bed (not gun).

We've lived in this apartment for over 4 years now. It's small but in a great location and really liveable. But it has a really weird design that makes winter a little less than fun - the "heating" is by heating coil - which are in the ceiling. Now what moron though of this idea? I think everyone I know - even small kids - know that "heat rises". So if we turn our heat on, the attic gets nice and toasty but we've wasted a lot of money for no benefit. We don't even get the advantage of having our neighbors turn *their* heat on - directly below us are the garages.

I've been known to wander around the apartment all bundled up, trying to stay warm. At night, as long as Kirk is home, it's no problem. However, when he's on travel, I've tried various methods - a space heater (that has since stopped working - from overuse probably), wearing as many clothes as I can bear and putting every blanket in the house on the bed, giving up on the comforts of the bed and sleeping on the office floor (the office is generally a good 5-10 degrees warmer thanks to all the equipment that runs in there). None of these solutions is particularly optimal.

This year, right after Christmas, Kirk went out and got us a new present! He brought home an electric blanket! It's really snazzy - not like the electric blankets I remember from my youth (there was never one in my household, but friends and family sometimes had one); it has 2 sides, and 2 separate controls, a wide range of heat settings (the highest I've gone is 6, but generally it's on somewhere between 2-4), an automatic shut-off function after 10 hours, and a preheat function.

It's been ridiculously cold this last month, but recently Kirk headed out of town for work. One of the things I dread most about these trips is trying to sleep and stay warm. Our new electric blanket has changed this - there's nothing quite like wandering around a cold house, getting ready for sleep and then crawling into a nice warm, preheated bed! What can I say other than "Yay!!"? Well there's always "Thanks babe! You're the greatest!"

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Wednesday, August 29


In Memory of...

I find that I haven't written here in a long time. There's much I could have written about, I suppose, but nothing that really inspired me to take away from doing and turn to writing.

Today, however, has caused me to take a deep breath and pause. And so here I am. Two very important people died today - my father-in-law (Fred), and my friend/coworker (David). The first death was long-expected, the second (which occurred about 3 hours before my father-in-law's death) was quite a shock.

I was at the hospital, visiting with a friend whose brother has been in ICU for a week. About an hour after I arrived, I had a rather odd call - someone was looking for the pastor who had just left. David was found unconscious in his car in the middle of a busy intersection and was being rushed to a (different) hospital. Less than an hour later, he was gone. He left behind a beautiful family, who are surely even more shocked than I am. I saw David briefly this morning, meeting with one of our church members for coffee. He looked fine - the same as always - concerned, interested, humble. The consolation I have in all this is that I know David is with the Lord now - he's happy, rejoicing, even as his friends and family grieve the fact that he is no longer with us.

I had just come home, beating my husband home by about 15-30 minutes. We recently got an air conditioner which we have in the office window - that way we have at least one room in the house that is tolerable when it's hot outside. Today it was hot. I arrived home and immediately went into the office and turned on the A/C. My phone was in another room, unfortunately with the ringer still off (from being at the hospital). I missed the 4 calls Kirk made trying to reach me on his way home. As he was driving home from work, he received a call - his father had died. This death, though still not welcome, was not surprising. He had had alzheimers for years and had been steadily declining for months. However, even when you expect the news, it is still somehow surprising. We drove down to Orange County to spend the evening with Kirk's mom, say good bye to his dad. Kelley (one of Kirk's sisters) came down as well.

I'm still processing the events of today - and may be for some time to come. Kirk's mom will be facing a lot of changes and transition. Darlene (David's wife) will be facing the same - but without having the benefit of months, even years, of preparation. Please pray for these two families. And take the time to call, hug your parents, your friends, your family - don't miss an opportunity to tell them how important they are to you.

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Monday, May 7


A Night Out

Kirk was due home late Thursday night. When he called me Thursday morning, I was surprised he was up so early after almost 2 weeks of the night shift. In fact, he told me, he was not up early - he hadn't gone to sleep yet. Any other morning, I wouldn't have been surprised, but in this case, I knew he had left work around 11 or so the night before.

And so he told me... apparently there was a road block on Kula Highway, and the police wouldn't let him go through to his house. Right next door to where he was staying, some guy was in the midst of a standoff with police after having shot someone!

Today, I went looking for the news story, which I found and am reprinting here. The story is from The Maui News:
Man shot; standoff follows
By LILA FUJIMOTO, Staff Writer

KULA – Police arrested a suspect in a shooting that injured a 43-year-old Kula man, after evacuating several homes Wednesday night and closing a portion of Kula Highway amid reports of multiple gunshots fired at a Kula residence.

The suspected gunman, identified by police as Mark A. Martins, 53, surrendered early Thursday after a 7 1/2-hour standoff with police at the cluster of houses on a property along Kula Highway about 1 1/2 miles from Rice Park, police said.

The victim, whose injuries weren’t life threatening, was taken by ambulance to Maui Memorial Medical Center shortly after being shot twice – in the arm and leg – said police Capt. Milton Matsuoka of the Criminal Investigation Division. He said the victim was later flown to Wilcox Memorial Hospital on Kauai.

Matsuoka said police responded after receiving several reports of multiple gunshots at 10:40 p.m. Wednesday.

Kula resident Kainoa Texeira said he was among seven people including the victim who were at a barbecue outside one of three residences on the property when the suspect, who was a tenant, showed up with a gun.

“He started shooting at us,” Texeira said. “We were all by the van. He just came, started shooting the gun.”

Texeira said the man had a pistol.

“We all scattered,” Texeira said. “We ran.”

As they gathered evidence and talked to witnesses at the residence Thursday, detectives placed at least a dozen yellow evidence markers on the pavement near a white Chevrolet van, which appeared to have bullet holes in its side. The van was parked on a driveway near a house at the back of the property.

Residents said the man identified as Martins was living in the same residence as the 43-year-old shooting victim, whose mother owns the nearly 1-acre property.

The landowner said she was in another residence with her 10-year-old grandson when the shooting started.

The boy described hearing 20 gunshots in rapid succession, followed by a pause and four more gunshots. When the grandmother and boy ran off the property and sought shelter under a tree, his father was waiting, holding his left arm to try to stop the bleeding, the boy said.

“He just said it hurt.”

The landowner, who asked not to be identified, credited police for keeping residents safe.

“They protected us behind a police car. They blocked the traffic,” she said. “We didn’t have any idea where he was.”

She described the suspect as a “loner” who kept “totally to himself.”

“Something’s wrong with him,” she said. “He was not in his right mind. I feel sorry, but by the same token, I’m so furious.”

She said the suspect had “been weird for about a week” before the shooting.

“His rent was about to be up,” she said. “I just kept saying, ’What’s wrong? Why has your attitude changed so drastically?’ He just seemed enraged all the time, all this pent-up anger. It was scary.”

Those at the barbecue included the victim’s brother and a friend who had arrived Wednesday from the Mainland for a visit. They ended up sleeping in a van after police evacuated the residences.

Along with Wailuku patrol officers, detectives, traffic officers and the police Special Response Team were at the shooting scene. In all, about 30 police officers responded, with police negotiators persuading Martins to surrender at 6:15 a.m. Thursday, Matsuoka said.

“They were able to get him to give up,” Matsuoka said.

Police closed Kula Highway between Cross Road and Polipoli Road at 11:15 p.m., reopening the road at 7:45 a.m. after Martins surrendered.

Police recovered a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun, Matsuoka said.

Malone Iyekar, who lives with two others in the main residence on the property, said he had gotten up to go to work at 4:30 a.m. Thursday when police officers had him and his roommate leave the house.

The roommate, Dominic Chiengyan, said he saw officers in camouflage clothing on the roof of the victim’s residence and other parts of the property in the dark.

Martins was being held at the Wailuku Police Station on Thursday.

Charges of attempted murder and reckless endangering as well as other possible charges were pending against Martins, Matsuoka said.

“It’s an ongoing investigation,” he said.

Police said Martins has numerous prior arrests as well as convictions for two counts of keeping a firearm in an improper place, first-degree reckless endangering and third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug.

According to court records, some of the convictions arose from Martins’ arrest for firing shots at Nakalele Point the morning of May 15, 2000, while dirt bikers were in the area. He reportedly yelled and swore at the dirt bikers, telling them to “get off my f----ing land.” The land belonged to Maui Land & Pineapple Co.

Witnesses reported hearing six to eight shots.

After stopping Martins’ car near Honolua Bay lookout shortly afterward, police obtained a warrant to search the vehicle. Police reported recovering a Remington pump shotgun that wasn’t in a case, live ammunition, spent cartridge casings, marijuana and a toiletry bag containing components of a zip gun.

At the time of his arrest, Martins said he was living in his 1983 Honda. He reported being born on Maui, moving to California with his family in 1959 and moving back to Maui in 1988.

He was found fit to proceed after being examined by three psychiatrists or psychologists, court records show. After being convicted in a December 2001 trial, Martins was sentenced to a 90-day jail term and placed on five years’ probation in that case.

Court records show charges were dismissed in another case related to Martins’ arrest Feb. 15, 2003, at a Kahului storage facility. The police Special Response Team was called to the scene after Martins allegedly threatened another customer with a knife and punctured two storage bay doors. Police said he then entered his storage unit, threatened to blow up the area and refused to surrender, throwing several spent shell casings at officers.

In the Kahului incident, SRT officers had to remove Martins from a vehicle in the storage area, police said.

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Monday, March 19


Mozul Makes Mirth!

So as we were preparing to sleep, I said (jokingly of course) to Kirk "Remind me not to break my shoulder again." He said "ok". Then, of course, he reminded me not to break my shoulder. Then he said, "Honey, remind me next time you go skiing to put 65 bicycle lights on you first."

I couldn't stop laughing and had to leave the room a bit so he could sleep!

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Tuesday, February 27


Breathing Breaks

When I last wrote, I had broken my shoulder, discovered I had bacterial pneumonia and Kirk had arrived home (just). It was such a joy to have Kirk home after such an extended absence, though I wasn't really feeling well enough to truly enjoy his company. He was scheduled to leave town (already) again on Monday but this time, I went with him, rather than spending yet another week apart. While we were in Berkeley, I started coughing, and it rapidly got worse. We didn't return home in time to make it to the doctor on Friday, so I figured I'd wait it out over the weekend, and if I wasn't better by Monday, I'd go then.

Sunday morning, I started coughing and couldn't stop. I was coughing to the point of retching, which, of course, was torture with my shoulder. Kirk took me to the ER where I spent the majority of the day. They pumped me full of more drugs than I could count and had someone come in and give me breathing treatments every couple of hours. The ER doctor came in and gave me a rather unexpected diagnosis - I was healed of the pneumonia, but now was exhibiting asthmatic bronchitis (no, I don't have asthma, but it was certainly what it seemed like).

After several hours in the ER, I was still having a lot of problems, so they admitted me to the hospital. I was fully expecting to be out the next day. Let me just say, Little Company of Mary Hospital is great. The staff was great, the food was ok (which is a BIG deal for a hospital), they were very flexible, helpful and nice. Kirk was allowed to come and go whenever - visiting hours were not enforced. When some of my other friends came by, they were very lenient as well. Kirk spent the entire day with me on both Sunday and Monday (so much for our three day weekend to play and relax).

On Monday, they didn't release me. However, Chris, Holly and Ambre all dropped by at different times of the day. It was really nice to see some familiar faces. Also a good friend of mine, Melissa happened to be working on the ward that day. It was really cool to see her smiling face anytime I got up and went for a walk (which was quite frequent - despite my breathing problems, I do not sit still well).

Tuesday, Garret came by, though I missed him - I was being re-x-rayed (to see how the shoulder was healing). Dina stopped by for a while too. Plus I had my first visit with the physical therapist, Karen. She gave me some exercises to start for my shoulder. Returning phone calls at this point was still rather difficult, as I was as likely as not to launch into a coughing fit while talking.

On Wednesday, I was feeling better. Especially since Kirk had brought me some earplugs and I was actually able to sleep. In fact, I slept so well that when the nurse came in for my 1AM meds and shortly after the respiratory therapist came in, I slept through the entire thing - they weren't able to wake me. I was given the meds, but the therapist saw I was breathing fairly well, and left.

Late in the morning, my mother- and sister-in-law came by with my niece, Amy. We chatted for a while and I was actually released while they were there. Kirk picked me up and drove me home (yay!) and they came over to the house for a while, as I got settled in. I was sent home with an armful of drugs, but it was really nice to be home.

As I write this, I've now started to return to work, even after a full month away. A full day wears me out, so I'm working extra days, but shorter hours. My cough is still hanging on a bit, but it's at least a "useful" cough - I'm coughing stuff out of my lungs. I have tons of emails to return (remember, I type way slower than usual thanks to a broken shoulder), along with some phone calls and letters. I will be starting my "official" physical therapy next week.

Thanks to all of you who were praying for me during this time! It worked and I appreciate each and every one of you! You're awesome!

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Saturday, February 10


The Return!

Yay, Kirk is home! I haven't much else to say but definitely am celebrating! We have lots to do this weekend so long as I'm not too worn out!


Wednesday, November 15


Fox Sports Coverage of My Nephew

Fox College Sports recently did a spotlight on my nephew, Corey:

"Weekly Surf Club Corner with Lolo: With an outstanding history as being one of the nations top surf teams you would think the University of California Santa Barbaras surf team endures grueling practice schedules and rigorous training. However, like all things that thrive in Santa Barbara, the UCSB surf team is laid back and centered on having a good time, focusing more on partying than on practicing. One would think that this team sounds like a bunch of typical surf bums out for a good time, but no one can argue the outstanding success this talented team has achieved. This year UCSBs A-Team ranked second, just trailing San Diego State, in the NSSAs Southwest College Season Event #1, and looks ahead to a promising contest season with sights on reaching nationals.One of the teams newest talents is junior transfer Corey Hartwyk. In his first contest with the UCSB team Corey managed to snag first place in the mens longboard division. This Seal Beach native learned to surf when he was nine, and has been competing for seven years, accrediting his inspiration to Timmy Dorsey, Stormin Norm (Da Hui), John Husak, Surf Bob of Long Beach Surf Club. Corey usually frequents Sands for his daily ride, and when he feels like a bit or a road trip, or actually surf some waves bigger than knee-high, Hartwyk will head down to Rincon. When asked to describe overall vibe of the team Hartwyk stated We have a good team, in the first meeting we were told we?d have more parties than practices-I like that, its not like a normal team, but surfing isnt like a normal sport. When he?s not surfing? Well like any UCSB student Hartwyk says hes either partying, or working to pay for more partying. It looks like another promising year for the UCSB team and with new recruits such as Hartwyk the team is set up to surf a step above the rest, and have the most fun along the way. If you want your team to appear in our weekly spotlight email me at"

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Saturday, October 14


A Day of Extreme Late and Wait

Today was my first day to volunteer on a construction team for the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition house we are building. I received a call on Friday to report for the framing team at 8AM on Saturday. Apparently, there was another team coming even earlier (5AM).

I arrived at the checkin tent, filled out my waivers, received my hardhat and t-shirt, grabbed my tools and headed over to the staging area with my friend, Elaine. Elaine and I have worked in Mississippi together on three different trips. The staging area was mostly empty, to our surprise. We did run into John A (another former Mississippi team member) and he told us to head over to the house. Most of the framers were having breakfast then, as the build was already "behind schedule".

We took a walk up the street and found the canteen area. It was still full of framers, but many were already heading over to the job site. I grabbed a cup of caffeine and then we headed over ourselves. It turns out that it took longer to do the backfill, and the job was over 6.5 hours behind schedule. When the alloted timeframe is only 106 hours to begin with, this is a pretty significant delay. There were a lot of guys laying rebar in the house footprint. To me, that meant the concrete wasn't even down, but surely THAT wasn't possible. At any rate, they were no where NEAR ready for the framers, much less the 50-60+ framers we had on site at the time.

We spent a little time getting oriented and chatting with people who had been onsite for a while. At one point, one of the ABC guys asked us to remove some signage from some fencing near the visitor area. Apparently the fencing provider had not made arrangements to have his signage displayed. It was interesting to stand there, removing screws and bolts, listening to neighborhood people talk about what was going on.

There was a WHOLE lot of "hurry up and wait" today. For me, it's the most frustrating part of construction. Even more so when I knew there was so much to be done, but had a hard time finding someone who could point us in the right direction.

The forms and rebar are laid, ready for the concrete to be poured We did some other random things - one of the neighbors (the neighbors's yards literally become part of the work site) had left his car in a spot where we needed to bring in a fork lift. We tried moving it, but you needed the keys to put it into neutral to move it. One of the team leaders got a forklift in there and moved the car out of the way with the forklift. That same neighbor had had a palm tree very near the border of the property we were working on. The palm had been removed and we spent an inordinate amount of time trying to dig up the roots. I never realized what a mess (and how tough) palm tree roots are. (As a side note, many, if not most, of the neighbors will end up having their property relandscaped when the project is over - it is all part of what the general contractor agreed to take care of when he took on the project).

The concrete is poured and dryingFinally, I realized something - the rebar meant exactly what I thought it meant. The concrete wasn't in yet! A good part of the morning was consumed with the laying of concrete. For this project, they use a special type of concrete - it is actually generally used for highrises, etc. It is much much stronger, rarely (if ever) used for residential builds, but the key - it is extremely quick drying. They poured the entire house foundation, and before they were even finished pouring it, we were already removing the forms from the sections they poured first.

Elaine and I hopped onto one of the concrete teams (what else are we going to do when there is no framing to be had?!) and learned how to pull the forms and tidy things up. It was hard work, but really REALLY nice to be doing something. We also got to see some professionals lay concrete - some using some tools/machinery we had never seen. We both have done concrete in Mississippi, but nothing like this. It was rather cool.

lunch areaWe had finished pulling the forms off the part of the house that had dried and went to grab some lunch. There was a full lunch tent and rest area set up in the back of a house being built a couple of doors down. As I got in the lunch line, someone told me Kirk was there. I was shocked to see him sitting in the lunch area! He had, apparently, arrived about 10-15 minutes before and was eating lunch before he started volunteering. We sat and chatted for a bit. He was mostly finished when I sat down, so he quickly headed off for the job site as I relaxed with Mimi, Karen, Elaine, Kathy and Edie. After a short while, Gary - the ABC Project manager - sat down. We all had a nice chat with him about our project and the show in general.

Finally, it was time to head back to the job site. When we arrived back, many of the walls had been delivered and were awaiting set-up. This is a pretty slick thing - all the walls were pre-measured and preassembled at the staging area. They were delivered, already built, WITH the plywood already attached! All we had to do was put the walls in the proper position, attach them to one another and fix them into place. I jumped in and started helping with this. There weren't enough nail guns to go around and there was an overabundance of people helping, but I did what I could when I could.

Volunteers start to raise the wallsJust as we had finished putting up the exterior walls and were about to start on the interior ones, I got a phone call. It was Kirk - he was in the canteen area and feeling very poorly. He needed to go home. The trick was, he had ridden his motorcycle to the site and didn't feel up to getting home on it, so he needed me to drive him back. A bit of juggling and I got him a ride to the staging area. I collected some of his things from the job site and then walked down to meet him. From there, I went and got the car and drove back to pick him up.

He was pale, cold and clammy, weak. I took him home and he promptly went to sleep. As I write this, he's feeling better a bit. His fever has come down and he is debating whether to go back to the jobsite tonight - the team he is "officially" on is scheduled to start work around midnight or 1AM. Whether he goes tonight or not, he has to get on a plane tomorrow night, bound for Australia. I desperately hope that he is feeling much better and that this was a just a temporary bit of dehydration or heat exhaustion.

As a final note, we are apparently desperately in need of volunteers. If you live in (or near) the South Bay and are willing to spend a few hours of your time on this worthwhile and exciting project, please come down! The check-in station is at the corner of Manhattan Beach Boulevard and Doolittle. At this point, they are asking for willing bodies - even if you aren't on the 'volunteer' list. Come on out! It's quite an experience!

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Wednesday, October 11


An Extreme Week

Well, now that the public announcement has been made, I can post about a rather exciting event coming to the South Bay! Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has chosen a South Bay family for its next project. That means that for a week (beginning today), the South Bay will be host to thousands of volunteers who will, in a single week, demo (destroy) the existing house on the property and build a new, special purpose home for the selected family! It's a massive undertaking, and even more so when you realize that all the labor, all the materials for the home are donated. The volunteer team will work around the clock (24 hours x 7 days x 1 week) to complete the house in the allotted time.

What makes this even more exciting for me is the connection that I am fortunate enough to have to this project! Obviously, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is an ABC program. But how does it work? ABC selects a local builder. In this case, our close friend, Vic Braden, and his company Cornerstone Construction Group, was selected. Vic took on an amazing task 2 years ago - he agreed to, on a strictly volunteer basis, be the general contractor for the renovation of the Morrell House in Redondo Beach (very near my house). The renovation began as a ShareFest project, but for 18 months, Vic and several people from our church gave up every Saturday to restore the craftsman style home to its original splendor. Kirk worked with Vic often. In addition, Vic has been the general contractor on most of the Mississippi Mission trips through King's Harbor Church. The first year that Kirk and I led a team to Mississippi, Vic was our GC. Vic has incredible ethics, amazing talent and he's a joy to work with. He has an incredible heart for God and inspires others daily.

When Vic was contacted by ABC and asked to take on this role, he called the church and had the staff begin praying for him. Ultimately, he agreed to take on the massive project. It's an interesting story Vic tells. He owns a small, local, family-run construction firm. Certainly not the typical profile for the contractors that ABC selects for this sort of thing. Several times, Vic said, "are you sure you have the right guy?!" Every time, the response was "We know who you are, and yes, we are sure!" Right before he got the call from ABC, Vic and his wife Linda were looking at their business. They had just finished a few projects. They had a couple more lined up to start. The new projects fell through at the last minute. Suddenly, they were faced with an empty plate and no real understanding of why. Then ABC called. God's timing is perfect! :) If they had had those projects when they received the call, they could not have said yes.

The way the project works is that ABC pre-selects five families from a general area. The families are notified they have been nominated, but no one knows which family has been chosen. Well, no one except a very VERY few at ABC and the top people involved in the project, the architects, etc. Who is the family, you ask?

Officer Ripatti leaves the hospital after being shot in the chestEarlier this year, LAPD Officer Kristina Ripatti (wife of LAPD Gang Officer Tim Pearce and mother of a young child) was shot while on patrol. She is now paralyzed from the chest down. The house we are "making over" will be for that family. King's Harbor Church and ShareFest both include many attendees and volunteers who are "first responders" - police officers, firemen, paramedics, etc. This particular project is an excellent fit for our participation.

So, ShareFest, Cornerstone Construction Group, a local marketing firm (Beckett & Beckett) and ABC are partnering up to do an amazing work in our small community. In the last weeks, hundreds and hundreds of volunteers are being lined up from the professional trades. Typically building is done on a horizontal timeline. The foundation is poured. When it's ready, the framers come in and frame the house. Then, the plumbers come in. Everything happens in a specific order. In this case, the building is done vertically - the subcontractors will be in the house at the same time, virtually on top of one another, trying to complete the work in the extraordinarily short time frame. If you've ever been around construction before, you know that generally, the subcontractors (or "subs" as they are often called) often don't speak to one another...they view themselves as being in competition with one another. This timeline forces them not only to talk to one another, but even to work together!

In addition to searching for manpower to build the house, CCG and ShareFest have been urgently rounding up suppliers to donate the materials used to build the house, food to feed the hundreds of volunteers, buses to get everyone in and out of the neighborhood, tents for the various headquarters, RVs for the few people involved who have to be onsite 24/7 for the duration of the project, and so many other things. The South Bay (and Southern California in general) has proven a tough sell for many. Many many movies are filmed here and so many companies are accustomed to these requests - they don't want to give anything away. On the other hand, if any of the materials are purchased and not donated, the family may find itself taxed on the home, which does not accomplish the goal. And so, many many phone calls are made, people involved trying desperately to find the few remaining requirements.

Perhaps you are now asking yourself whether Kirk and I are going to be involved in all of this. The answer is, quite simply, "YES!" Kirk is on the "Smart House" team. The entire house will be wired for all sorts of smart things - automated/remote control lights, computers, etc. I don't even know what it all includes, but Kirk is well-equipped to help out in this area. Our friend, Mike, is has a company that puts this sort of thing into houses regularly and he is running the team. Even though Kirk will really only be in town for a single day before leaving again for Australia, he will work his shift - contributing what he can. I have actually already done some work on the project, working on some behind-the-scenes stuff for ShareFest. In addition to building the house, we will be taking donations for the family. At the end of the week, we cut a check to the family for all of the donations we've taken in. (In reality, the donations will keep coming, as will the checks to the family, but for purposes of the show, the family is handed a check when they move back into their new home). In addition, I'm on the call list for several teams, and have been asked to be a "Marshall" (which means a gopher). I'm happy to do whatever I can.

As you can tell, I'm quite excited about this project and am looking forward to seeing what is accomplished in the South Bay as a result. Of course, a house will be built...but so much more is already happening! I will try to post updates as we go along!

The official project website lists much more information about the family, the volunteers and donors. In addition, you can donate from that site and volunteer to help!

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Friday, October 6


Airhead Update

Since I was at the airport picking Kirk up anyway, we went over to the airline we were supposed to be flying on tomorrow. Using the "divide and conquer concept, Kirk went to the ticket counter and used me as the scapegoat (which was totally appropriate since it was entirely my fault). Ultimately, we had two choices - leave on schedule but come back after only 1 day or reschedule. The cool thing about rescheduling is that the ticket agent agreed to let us reschedule for no change fee, AND no additional charge on the tickets (as long as the seat was the same class and fare code, I think), as long as we did so right then. We started looking at our schedule and realized that we probably were going to need to go over Thanksgiving. We gave the agent some dates to work within and quickly discovered even that needed adjustment.

So, now, we leave the Monday before Thanksgiving, and return home the Tuesday after. The cool thing is, that will give us an opportunity to visit my mom AND my dad. Subject to their schedules, we will visit with my mom from Monday to Friday, and then go see my dad on Friday. We'll head back to KC on Monday, as our flight out is rather early Tuesday morning.

So, as my friend Daniel pointed out, I guess there WAS some good in this.

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Thursday, October 5


Airhead Grounded!

Ok, I know I joke alot about being blonde. I am, after all, blonde. But normally, not in the stereotypical sense of the word. I have common sense, I'm relatively intelligent, I can usually figure things out if I try hard enough (or at least I ask a lot of the right questions). This time, however, my blonde hair showed itself in full force and at a particularly bad time.

For the over 4 and 1/2 years that I've been married, Kirk and I have made plans to go and visit my mom a couple of different times. In over 4 and 1/2 years, we've never managed to make it happen. This year, we decided it would be - it HAD to be - a priority for us. So, we took a hard look at Kirk's work schedule, and we booked it. The trip, only three days, was crammed in the one weekend in October when he was both in town, and had an RDO (Friday off) day. It was sandwiched between a trip to Maui (with 4 days buffer before we left for Kansas) and a trip to Berkeley (leaving the morning after we fly home from Kansas).

Circumstances made this trip even tighter. The Maui trip got pushed and pushed and he finally left October 1 - the day he was to be coming home. As I type this, he is on a plane flying home from Maui. We are scheduled to leave at 6AM tomorrow for Kansas, returning around midnight on Sunday. Monday morning, early, we leave for Berkeley, returning on Friday. Sunday evening, he leaves for Australia.

In short, there is no room for error - especially not the error I made. Somehow, I managed to book our airline tickets (but not the car or hotel) to return at midnight on the 15th, not the 8th. Kirk would be arriving home late that night, missing both the Berkeley trip AND his flight to Australia. In short, it is not possible. I spent a long time on the phone with American while they searched for the cheapest available return flight - ultimately finding it would be $600+ PER ticket to change our tickets. That, too, is not practical (or affordable). Kirk is coming home three days early... for nothing.

My mom, who has been anticipating our visit for longer than I can imagine, is going to be severely let down. All because I lived up to the stereotype this once. All I can say is, I'm looking for the "good" in all of this, and I don't see it anywhere.

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Thursday, September 21


Birthday Fun, the Answer Age

Well, birthdays are supposed to be fun, right? I mean, I realize many people get to a certain age and simply just dread turning another year. But birthdays should be a celebration! Well, this year, mine was.

First of all, my wonderful husband was home. For the first time in five years, my birthday managed to fall on a day when he wasn't traveling or otherwise unescapably commited. Last year, he flew to Australia. The two years before were the men's retreat. The first year we were married, he was a groomsman in our best man's wedding and the bachelor party was that night. This year? This year, he was scheduled to fly to Maui the day before my birthday. When told of the impending schedule, he told them that if he wasn't home on my birthday this year, he'd have no home to return to. (He was, of course, kidding; however, the gesture and his determination to be here was greatly appreciated!)

I received a couple of birthday greetings a day or two early. On the night before my birthday, I was playing bzflag with some friends of mine. One is in Germany (Bernie) and one in Utah (Sol). Well, it was certainly my birthdate in Germany - and Bernie was sure to let me know! He not only wished me happy birthday repeatedly, he wouldn't let me sign off until it was my birthday HERE so he could "officially" wish me a happy birthday! Finally, a while after midnight, I said goodnight to Sol & Bernie and got some sleep.

In the morning, Kirk surprised me by setting up a special playlist on iTunes - all containing songs with "birthday", "happy" and "I love you" themes, like "Birthday" (The Beatles), "A Happy Ending" (The Princess Bride Soundtrack), "Donna" (Los Lobos), "The Girl I Love" (Tony Bennett) and "So Happy Together" (The Turtles). It was incredibly sweet and fun! We chatted for a while and finally he had to head off to work. I listened to that playlist all day.

On irc, we have our own channel - it's a small little place (##essy) that a number of bzflaggers and a few other friends visit. Well, Kirk had changed the topic on the channel to let everyone know it was my birthday. Consequently, people were cheerful and fun and we had a sort of virtual party there during the day. One of my GU teammates, romfis, had spammed most of the irc channels along with each team I'm on with a link to the GU Forums, where NTH had posted a birthday topic for me. Kierra did the same on the ducati forums. I was surprised to see a greeting from one of my teammates who, just a few months ago, complained about the posting of "birthday topics". So many people went out of their way to wish me a good day - it was almost a bit overwhelming (but completely and totally appreciated)! I even discovered a voicemail (gah, I picked the wrong day to forget to turn on the ringer for my phone!) from the "Baron clan", in which they, along with my friend Val, sang me a rather muddled, off-key and completely wonderful rendition of "Happy Birthday".

In late morning, Kirk pinged me to say that my birthday present had been delivered. It was shipped to my work address, so he suggested I go pick it up. I was pretty sure I knew what it was. Last week, when we were in Berkeley, tokimi had pinged me to say that Apple had just announced an 80 gb ipod. Now, I've been complaining for months that 40 gb simply isn't big enough. I was hoping for a 150 gb the size of a nano. Yes, yes, I know - it's a bit of a pipe dream, but 80 gb is almost enough to fit about 70% of our current music library (yes, I've been collecting CDs since I was in college - Kirk was happy to marry into so much music). So, when I heard an 80 gb was available, I immediately sent the link to Kirk and said "wow! check this out!" He said "cool! I guess it's a good thing I hadn't bought your birthday present yet, huhn?" So...I was pretty sure I knew what I'd be getting. And I did!

Of course, I immediately took it home, opened it up and started loading music on it. It takes a while to load 80 gb! With the OS and software loaded on the ipod, I had 74.37 gb of usable space. I'm using every little bit and byte. Funnily, it's actually slightly smaller in size than my 40 gb, and the screen is bigger. AND in colour! Now I need a new case, as my old one doesn't fit it properly. Since my old ipod is going to Kirk (his old one died), he will inherit my case too, once I get a new case.

The DUB servers wish SportChick a happy birthdayWhile waiting for my 74.37 gb to transfer over, I played some bzflag. Pimpinella had put up a banner on the dub servers wishing me a happy birthday. (It's interesting how I was turning everything from 16 to 90-something, depending upon who was wishing me a good day! In fact, the answer to my age IS the answer.)

In the early afternoon, my doorbell rang. Now, for the last two and a half weeks (it seems longer!), we have had our lives and apartments turned upside down while they repipe the whole building. They are replacing all of our copper piping. There isn't a single room in our small apartment this isn't affected. We've been waiting for several days for them to finish our apartment (they're done with the repipe, but havne't closed up all the walls), so I presumed that the door was just one of the wallboarding guys coming back to finish up. I was shocked to see a man standing at my door with a huge bouquet of beautiful red roses! I happily accepted the delivery and discovered my wonderful husband had sent them to me!

Kirk and Donna celebrateI knew that Kirk was planning something for that evening - presumably including dinner, so I didn't have to cook. He actually arrived home a full hour earlier than I expected, but then said he had to go run an errand and left. He was home about 40 minutes later. He had a cake and a beautiful card for me! But of course, we were going to have dinner first.

Just as I was almost ready to walk out the door, the doorbell rang (again). What now? It was a delivery for me. I opened the huge box to find ANOTHER flower arrangement...I looked at Kirk quizzically and he shook his head. There was a note - my friends Dianne & Jeff had send the flowers! Cool! Kirk put the flowers in water and we headed out.

I love surprises. It's really hard for Kirk to surprise me - I'm very curious and he's a horrible liar (which is a very good thing, but not conducive to being surprised often). But in this case, I had studiously attempted not to ask him anything about what we were doing, and he had done his part by not bringing it up. I knew it couldn't be too far - we could get there within 15 minutes according to him. We drove down to Hermosa Beach, toward my old house. In fact, a block and a half from my old house! There's a beautiful, well-known little Italian restaurant (called The Bottle Inn) down there that, despite having lived right by it for 18 months and still very close for another another 4 years, I had never been. The menu was divine! It was extremely hard to make a decision, but I finally selected the Risotto Al Filetto and Kirk selected the Conchilioni. We had an appetizer of Calamari - possibly the best I've ever had. It was served in a giant martini glass. The atmosphere was both romantic and conducive to good conversation. We were at a table that was suitably secluded and in a quiet enough location to have conversation without straining our voices or our ears.

I thought we would manage to sneak out the door without any "birthday" hoopla, but (when asked if we wanted to order dessert) Kirk mentioned we were heading home to get some birthday cake and of course, they were back moments later with a small dish of chocolate mousse and loud voices.

After dinner, we took a nice walk along the strand in Hermosa Beach. It has been so long since we've done that, and despite my completely unsuitable (and clacky) shoes, we had a very nice time! All-in-all, it was a fantastic day - certainly the best birthday I can remember ever having! Thanks to everyone who made it so special!

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Thursday, September 14


A Long U-Turn

About once every 4-5 weeks, Kirk and I head up to Berkeley. He has work there at the 88-inch cyclotron at Lawrence Berkeley Labs. Generally, we leave on Monday and come back on Friday. Occasionally, we'll go on Sunday or come back on Saturday. Once or twice in the five years we've been married, we actually came home on Thursday, but that is rare.

I'm fortunate enough to go along with him for two reasons: (1) I have a job that is very flexible and they support me traveling with my husband; and (2) there is equipment that must be driven up and back (flying it on a plane isn't really an option), so I'm able to travel for free if Kirk volunteers to make the drive. It's a really nice situation for us, as we are able to spend the week together. When at the cyclotron, they run on a 24-hour schedule. Kirk is normally on the 4AM to noon shift, giving us the afternoons free.

On Monday, we headed up there as usual. If we are unlucky, we'll hit rush hour traffic heading out of LA. If we are REALLY unlucky, we'll hit it heading into the Bay Area. If we hit any rush hour, it generally means it'll be an 8 hour trip for us (once it took 10! ugh!). It took us about 8 on Monday, even though we hit bits of rush hour on both ends.

When we arrived at the lab to drop off the equipment, Kirk unloaded the car. Then he found out that the cyclotron was broken. Now, normally, if it's "broken", they are looking at a several hour delay - maybe even 24 hours. However, it was "really" broken - so basically it was out of operation until Wednesday. Kirk's first shift was going to probably be Thursday at 4AM. They asked us if we'd be willing to drive back on Saturday instead, which, of course, we were.

We checked into the hotel, got settled, hung out and didn't have to go to sleep at 8PM! Yay! On Tuesday, we spent the day in the hotel room. Kirk essentially telecommuted, getting much done. Around 6PM, he got a phone call. Apparently the cyclotron wasn't "really" was "really REALLY" broken and now the soonest it would be fixed was Friday! Well, Kirk's company only has it reserved until Friday. So there was no sense in us staying. Basically, on Wednesday morning, we packed everything up and drove home. Somehow, we managed to miss both rush hours this time and made it home in a bit over 6 hours!

On the way up and back, we saw some of the fires in the mountains. There are quite a number of them, and some areas that were tremendously burned. A couple of the fires were close enough to the road (or large enough) that we saw open flames going. It made me think of my friend Vic, who is hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and had to detour around some fires earlier this summer.

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Saturday, September 24



Kirk and I were interviewed recently for a travel show. You can listen to the latest Amateur Traveler online.

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Tuesday, August 2


Our Nephew is on TV

Well, our nephew, Corey, has been appearing on a TV show on MTV called "The 70s House". He was recently interviewed by a local newspaper, the Press Telegram. Here's the text of the article:

Retro reality check
MTV: Seal Beach's Corey Hartwyk has a good time in the '70s
By Ryan Ritchie, Staff writer

TIME TRAVELING back to the decade that gave the world bell-bottom pants and 8-track players might sound more like a prison sentence than a vacation. But not so for 19-year-old Seal Beach resident Corey Hartwyk, a contestant on the MTV reality program "The '70s House.' To him, it's just something fun and different to do -- and a "chance to win some free stuff.'

"I never really was into being on a TV show like this,' he says. "I had a full load in school that semester (the show taped in the spring) and I was working a lot. I was getting sick of doing the same old stuff. It's not like I wanted to be a reality TV star or I thought reality TV was the way to get big in Hollywood. It just gave me an excuse to drop school for a semester.'

The program, which airs tonight at 10:30, takes 12 young people and sends them into a competition-style reality show where participants must fully immerse themselves in the clothing, food, cars and vernacular of the 1970s to advance to the next round. Participants who slip up and don't stick to the '70s theme compete in '70s-related contests (the first episode featured two contestants playing the game Operation, the second had contestants answering '70s trivia) and one is eliminated. The winner receives several prizes, including a 2005 Volkswagen Beetle, a trip and computer products.

The show is hosted by comedian Bill Dwyer and Natasha Leggero and features appearances by such '70s icons as Erik Estrada ("CHiP's'), Deney Terrio ("Dance Fever'), Jimmy Walker ("Good Times') and Leif Garrett.

Cast members thought they were entering a reality show similar to MTV's "The Real World' or "Road Rules' and only found out what the show was truly about upon arrival at the house. There they were forced to give up all things modern -- including cell phones, computers and MP3 players -- to get a sample of what life was like during the groovy decade.

"We thought it was one of those plain-old reality shows where you live in one of those MTV `Real World'-style houses or something, and then we get there, and it's all '70s decked out,' Hartwyk says. "I was totally shocked about how everything was set up.'

Hartwyk, who was calling from a vacation home in New Jersey, tells us what it's like for a kid of the '90s to groove back to the '70s.
Q: How did you get involved in the show?
A: Actually, it was completely random. I worked at the Daily Grind (coffee shop) in Long Beach and some girl drove through the drive-through and told me they were looking for people for the show. It sounded interesting and I could compete for a grand prize. I was a little sketchy so I looked it up on the Internet and everything was legit. The next day MTV production called me and I went in for an on-camera interview. Within two-and-a-half weeks, I was in Pasadena shooting the show.
Q: Do you feel like the show being filmed in Pasadena gave you an advantage because you are from Southern California?
A: No, because I wasn't the only SoCal resident on the show. There were people who had moved to L.A., but I was born and raised here, so I think that gave me a whole different vibe than the rest of the cast members because it's way different here than the rest of the country.
Q: Was there anybody who wasn't into the '70s vibe?
A: Yeah. A couple people. Geo (who was kicked off during the first episode) freaked out especially. He hated all the '70s stuff. I think Hailley liked it but she didn't like the food because she's on some crazy diet or something. I think the guys liked it more than the girls because the clothes were fun for the guys, but the girls didn't feel attractive in them.
Q: Did you get to have any kind of say in what you wore? The show makes it seem like they just handed you something.
A: It makes it seem like that but we had a closet full of stuff to pick from. They had a bunch of different outfits that fit us. We had a choice of what to wear, but not on the first episode.
Q: The first couple episodes show you guys leaving the house a bunch. What did the neighbors in Pasadena think? Did you have any interaction with them?
A: We saw them when we were going different places in the neighborhood. They didn't pay much attention to us. They thought it was interesting what we were doing, but we didn't really talk very much to them.
Q: In other reality shows, sometimes the neighbors are upset the show is there.
A: We weren't legally allowed to drink on the show. I think that kept the noise level down a lot. Compared to other shows on MTV, most of those have drinking involved. I think that had a big impact on how we all acted.
Q: Do you think people will recognize you as that guy from the show?
A: Not really. I've been recognized maybe five times and I've signed like two autographs, but it's honestly not a big deal. There's like a billion reality TV stars now. I don't stick out that much.
Q: What was your knowledge of the '70s before the show?
A: I knew a little music and clothes.
Q: How long were you there before you felt like you were used to it?
A: Probably five days at the most. You always know the cameras are there but I adjusted pretty quick. I didn't act too different than how I normally would have.
Q: Did you feel like some people were acting for the cameras?
A: Not acting for air time, but more like being more of a goody-goody than they really are to protect what their family knows about them or their image in their hometown.
Q: What was the hardest part of the whole experience?
A: The thing that irritated me the most was being stuck with people who got on my nerves, because people really started to irritate me after a while. The guys were really cool and I still hang out with three of them a lot, but some of the girls were just ridiculous.
Q: How much did you consider the competition aspect versus trying to be a cool person and somewhat friendly?
A: I thought most of the time I was really fair toward everyone. I was friendly and the competitions weren't much of an issue because I was always pretty confident going into them. But one time I screwed with a girl's head a little bit just because I wanted the upper hand. That's what you have to do.
Q: Did anything ever come back to you in a negative way?
A: No. I felt a little betrayed at the end, but I don't know how much I'm allowed to say about that. Whatever, it's a game and I'm still friends with everybody afterwards.
Q: What were your favorite and least favorite items in the house?
A: I thought the clothing was the most interesting stuff. I loved the clothing. They had so much vintage stuff that I'd love to steal from them. All the other stuff was just material; I could care less.
Q: Was anything a real inconvenience?
A: They gave us microwave dinners a lot and we didn't have a microwave. We had to heat them up (in the oven) and it took 50 minutes. To get full you'd have to eat nonstop.
Q: How do you feel like you came off in the first two episodes?
A: I feel I came off as kind of an outsider and shy almost. I think there's so much going on in the actual game (part) of the show, that they don't show much time just being at the house. I wasn't shy and I wasn't an outsider at the house at all. I was friends with everybody and I was one of the more outgoing people in the house, but when it comes down to how they edit, I come off as the quiet kid.
Q: What was more difficult: The basketball game or the dancing?
A: I'm really uncoordinated at both. Probably the dancing. I'm fast and athletic, s

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Sunday, July 3


Dinner in OC

We just had a wonderful afternoon I Orange County visiting Kirk's parents. After spending some time with his dad in his elder care facility, we had a nice dinner with his mom at El Torito Grill. Then, I got to hear some great stories from when Kirk was a child.

Oh, and by the way, I am making this post from my new Treo 650!

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Saturday, March 5


A Small Matter

On Thursday, February 24th, I was having an "emotional day". What can I say? I'm a girl! I have emotions (and sometimes I show them). But even for me, this seeed a bit extreme and out of the ordinary. Oh, well, whatever.

The day before, I had gone into get my annual exam (read: girl stuff). While in there, they asked me some questions and decided (for safety sake, before getting an xray) they should confirm I'm not pregnant. So, they did a blood test (it's way too early to do a urine test). I called on Thursday to get the results, but the nurse was with another patient, so I left a message. We've been trying for over a year, so while I was hopeful, I didn't really expect to be.

After my emotional outbursts on Thursday morning, I finally heard back from the nurse. She informed me that the test was "positive". My response was "What does THAT mean?" She said, "You're pregnant." WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Now, remember, I'm sitting in the middle of my office surrounded by people (I didn't really shout, but I was shouting non-stop inside!). We scheduled our first pre-natal visit (March 23) and I hung up, took a deep breath, grabbed my cell phone, and with a quick comment ("I'm going downstairs for a minute"), I went outside.

Kirk had to be the first to hear the news and there was noooooooooooooo way I could wait until we were both off work! I called him and we chitchatted for a minute or two, and then I asked if he was sitting down (what a cliche, but it's all I could come up with). Then I told him. "Really?!" "Yes" "Wow!" My amazing husband: the man of understatement (which is a good balance for my tendency to overstate things). We tried to decide right there and then whether to tell people right away - we've never done this and really hadn't discussed what to do.

So, now you know our news.

Now, I'm experiencing all sorts of things, some old, some new, but they have a new name: "pregnancy". There's a cool little pregnancy calculator thing that I found - it helps you estimate your due date. I tried it on mine, but I'm not telling until I get it all confirmed by the doc. Other than being tired a lot, one of the most interesting things I've noticed is that my head will occasionally get dizzy or feel numb. Very strange. But comical since I know why.

Yes, yes, of course, I did some reading once we found out. I've lots more to do, but it gave some nice little basics, which I needed and appreciated. I found everything from a week-by-week pregnancy calender to some basic pregnancy info, and sites and forums galore for pregnant women and even for pregnant women over 35!

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Sunday, December 26


A month of Sundays - the final installment

Yesterday was Christmas - it was both busy and surprising. We had a great time in the morning with Kirk's family. Kirk's mom got a kitten for Christmas! It is soooo cute, I played with it a good bit of time. Kirk's mom, however, wasn't feeling very well - she had trouble breathing and had sharp pains whenever she tried to move.

Kirk and I drove her back to Seal Beach - he in her car and I followed in the Jeep. After we got there, we made her call a doctor. He told her to go to the emergency room. Off we went. While we waited for hours for them to see her and then figure out what was wrong, I sat in the waiting room (they wouldn't let us both back to her room) and played with my new game, Bop It Extreme 2, trying not to annoy everyone in the waiting room.

Eventually, Kirk came out and said we should go grab some dinner while they waited for some test results to come back. He started out looking for a fast food place that was open. It was Christmas night. Kelley had cooked lamb for dinner, but there was no way we had time to go all the way up there for dinner and come back. Nothing was open! Eventually, we found a Dave & Buster's that was open and we sat down and had dinner there. The food was not bad - certainly it was better than fast food!

When we returned to the hospital, Kirk's mom had been discharged a few minutes before, and instead of waiting for us, she drove home! Eeek! We went to the house and beat her there. We waited and eventually she showed up.

The doctors had told her she had bronchitis and pluracy. Ick! We put her to bed and went home (we found out a couple of days later that she also had a broken rib - from coughing too much - that they missed the first time around).

Today, we played with Kirk's ipod and started ripping our CDs. It's going to take a while and I suspect we'll be well over the estimated 10,000 songs it holds.

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Saturday, December 25


Surprise surprise!

We managed to surprise Kirk with a party to celebrate his 40th Birthday Guess who got an ipod for Christmas?! This ipod was specially ordered, thanks to our bz friend, Jim (who works for Apple) and came straight to our doorstep from Shanghai!

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Sunday, December 19


A month of Sundays - Part 3

Happy birthday, Kirk!!!!! Today, my wonderful husband is 40!

After a quick breakfast and goodbyes, we piled everything into the car and headed back to Los Angeles. Luckily, we would be heading across into another time zone and would gain an hour, which would really help our time schedule. We had plans to go to Kelley's house (Kirk's sister) for dinner to celebrate his birthday with family... or so he thought.

We had a nice, uneventful drive home and managed to buy all our gas only at Costco. We were about an hour or so from home and Kirk's phone rang. I braced myself. It was Kelley. She was calling to say that the little boys, Bradley (5) and Jeffrey (4), had come down with the flu and it would be better if we could reschedule for Tuesday. Kirk was on the phone for a little while, dealing with picking a new time/date to schedule his birthday dinner. He took it all in stride.

I sat there debating whether to call home and check our messages. I decided to wait until we got home. We'd be home by 5 at the latest - there was plenty of time. When we arrived, I said "Oh, we have a message!" I played it and Kirk and I heard Steve (the best man in our wedding) inviting us over for dinner that evening with him and his wife. Dina (his wife) is a fabulous cook, so it's very rare that we would turn it down. It WAS Kirk's birthday, and we DIDN'T have anything planned since Kelley had cancelled. He immediately said "YES!" and he called them back to make the arrangements. They told us to be there at 7:30. When he hung up, I asked if he had told them that today was his birthday, and he said "no". So, I called Steve back and advised him that it was Kirk's birthday. I could hear Steve on the other end of the line trying not to laugh too loud.

Then Kirk demands that we go buy him a cake. I asked Steve if we needed to bring dessert and he said it was covered. So I had to talk Kirk out of the cake he so badly wanted on his birthday.

At 7:25, I ushered Kirk out the door and we headed over to Steve's. We arrived on Steve's street and I looked around anxiously. I saw no cars that I recognized and the street hardly had anyone parked on it. I was relieved...and I wasn't. Often when we come to Steve & Dina's the front door is wide open, welcoming whoever happens to walk up. Tonight it was closed. I was talking as loudly as I could, all the while, trying to listen intently for any noises I could hear. I heard nothing.

We managed to surprise Kirk with a party to celebrate his 40th BirthdayWe knocked on the door and rang the doorbell. Nothing happened. Kirk knocked again after a few seconds, and we heard Dina in the guestroom "Just a minute!" A few seconds later, the door opened! RELIEF! There were about 30 people there and they yelled "Surprise!" and sang Happy Birthday. Kirk turned bright red and looked thoroughly shocked.

Guess who wasn't sick?Despite the fact that Kirk's birthday is at a very busy time during the holidays AND that there was another surprise party that same night (Matt was graduating from Law School - congrats, Matt!), we had quite a good turn out. And, of course, Kelley and her family were there to help celebrate! Even Pastors Dan and Chris came. Chris, Rod & KirkChris honored Kirk by dressing like him!

We managed to surprise Kirk with a party to celebrate his 40th BirthdayAnd he even got some cake...his favorite, German Chocolate!

Anita, Garret, Doug, the Berthelets & KathyIt was nice to have such a crowd there! After the food had settled, we went into the front room and Doug played guitar and we sung Christmas carols and some worship songs. All in all, it was a great evening!

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Saturday, December 18


Traversing South

Some of you know (or would know if you've read any of our blogs before) that Kirk and I play on online game called bzflag. We've met a number of people that we play against in person over the last few months. Puppy Power, Dodge_This, High Karate Kitty, Mozul, SportChick, ChincillaWell, it turns out there's a fairly large contingent of bzflaggers in Arizona. On our way to Tucson, we had agreed to meet a whole family of them outside of Phoenix. So, we stopped for lunch and met up with High Karate Kitty, Dodge_This, Chinchilla and Puppy Power. The whole family plays (although not all at once - that would require a LOT of computer power AND a really fast connection. They were very very nice! It's always so fun to put faces to names. After lunch and a lot of chatting, we headed out. We got all the way down to Tempe (where we stopped for some more Costco gas) when we realized Kirk's ATM card was missing out of his wallet. After much searching, we called the restaurant and they had it. We drove all the way back.

Kirk and Donna with her grandfatherNeedless to say, we arrived in Tucson a bit later than we originally planned. But it was no problem. We went straight to my grandfather's house. We hadn't seen my grandfather since before we left for our RTW. An awful lot has happened since then! We hung out and chatted and caught up and then...oh yeah, we went to dinner at Los Margaritas, a great little Mexican restaurant. It was really good to have some time to hang out with him.

Donna & her grandfather in front of Mission San Javier del Bac, which is under renovationOn Thursday, we hung with him around the house for part of the day. He took us out to Mission San Javier del Bac (also known as the "White Dove of the Desert"). I had been there once before with a friend of mine from Dallas; at that time, the interior was closed, as it was being renovated. This time, the interior was open, but portions of the exterior were being renovated. The interior was quite pretty. It was interesting to see a Spanish mission with such influence from Mexican and Native American culture.

On the way back home, we drove by the airplane graveyard. My uncle had taken me there once before, and I figured with the interest Kirk has in airplanes, he might find it interesting. Hundreds (thousands?) of airplanes dating back to WWII to present have been retired in Tucson, and are resting there in a variety of forms of disrepair. For dinner, we went to Chad's, which is a favorite of my grandparents. After Chad's, I talked my grandfather into driving through Winterhaven. Winterhaven is an entire neighborhood where they put up crowd-stopping Christmas lights! It was technically a little "early" in the season to be driving through there (which was probably better - often it's so crowded, they block the streets off to all but foot traffic), but there were plenty of displays up!

Trev & Hannahmarie (she's looking at Donna)The gang takes a photo op at a little overlook on the mountainOn Friday, Kirk and I went over to see Trev & Kristi, his cousins. We got to meet their new addition, little Hannahmarie. She was really sweet! It's so fun to meet a happy baby! After a yummy lunch that Kristi made for us, and a good deal of catching up, we decided to go out for a drive. We all piled into our jeep and we headed over the mountain near their house. Hannahmarie fell right to sleep as we started driving. When we hit the off-road stuff (not REALLY offroad - just a dirt/gravel road, really), she woke up. We stopped on the way back over the mountain at an overlook. It was beautiful, but very windy and cold!

After a quick stop, we all headed down to meet my grandfather at yet another Mexican restaurant. At this one, they made your salsa fresh at your table - made to order! The food was delicious! I was quite glad my grandfather came out to meet us! I felt bad not hanging out with him the whole time we were there. After dinner, we drove Trev & Kristi back to their house. Shortly after we arrived, some Christmas carolers came by! They sounded great and were collecting canned goods for disadvantaged families.

When we got back to my grandfather's, we had a comical series of telephone calls. I wanted for us to stay at my cousin, Marty's, on Saturday night if possible. My great-aunt (my grandfather's sister) was flying down on Sunday and Marty was going to have to drive up to Phoenix, pick her up and then drive her down to Tucson to my grandfather's. I really wanted my grandfather to come to Marty's with us and stay the night. But he didn't seem to want to. I must have talked to Marty and my grandfather 3 times each. Finally, Marty called my grandfather, and voila! He was going to drive up to Arizona City in the afternoon and spend the night with us.

The next morning, Saturday, we had brunch plans up in Phoenix. We packed everything up and headed up there. It's not a bad drive. We met some more bz-friends up in Phoenix at "The Good Egg". This time, we met up with Justin (who is not a bz player), Scipio, Nidhoggr & Theropod. Nidhoggr owns the server that we play the most often on (and assist by admining on). Justin, Scipio, Nidhoggr, SportChick, Mozul & Theropod, digesting their delicious brunch Brunch was delicious. The conversation was wildly diverse and entertaining! In addition to the great conversation and brunch, Nidhoggr gave me a wonderful homemade (by him) collection of soaps and hand creams.

After a great brunch (and another trip to get Costco gas), we headed back south to Arizona City. I had only been to my cousin's house once, but it wasn't hard to find. Marty & Robin have an amazing house. As a California convert, I have no hope of ever having anything so roomy or nice. But it was great to visit with them too. They have several children (the youngest is now in High School) and the place is always bustling with activity. Marty & Robin were actually going out that night to Robin's company Christmas party, but, once my grandfather arrived, they served us a wonderful late lunch (thank goodness) of lasagna and the fixin's. We chatted for a long while until they had to start getting ready to go out.

Kirk & Donna with Marty & his familyAfter they left, we sat around and played games with their kids - like Word Thief and Upwords and speed Scrabble. We had a great time until it was sufficiently late that we really HAD to go to sleep. We were leaving first thing in the morning!

To be continued...

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Wednesday, December 15


To the Grand Canyon and beyond...

Donna meets a horseMonday morning, we tagged our luggage and had our breakfast. We didn't even have to carry the luggage downstairs. Once we notified them we were "checking out", they knew to gather our luggage and put it aboard the train. It was pretty frigid since we were at altitude (1382 feet) and Kirk was glad I made him bring some cold-weather gear.

We took some time to walk around the gift shop a little to scout out what we might spend our gift certificates on. I saw a really nice fleece jacket we could get if we pooled our resources. We grabbed a Starbucks coffee (yes there is a little Starbucks right there in the depot) and headed over to watch the shoot-out. I met a couple from Thailand along the way and chatted with them. It sometimes amazes me how much I miss the variety of accents and cultures from our RTW. The show was pretty corny, but cute.

Kirk boards the Grand Canyon Railroad TrainWe boarded our train and headed out. The conductor (who also turned out to be our server - he served us sodas and such during the trip) was quite funny. We were entertained by a fiddlin' cowboyAbout 30 minutes after we departed, a cowboy with a fiddle came to our car and entertained us for the rest of the trip. He was quite a good fiddler and interacted well with the audience.

The depot at the Grand CanyonOnce we arrived at the Grand Canyon, we were picked up by a bus and driven over to the Maswik Lodge, where we had lunch in their cafeteria. Most of the folks on the trip were only in the Grand Canyon for a day - they were taking the afternoon train back. I had booked us to spend the night. Of course, when I booked the trip, I didn't expect I would have broken my ankle a couple of months before - I expected we'd do some hiking.

Kirk enjoys his birthday surpriseIt was really cold outside and it was nice to get indoors and have some hot food and drink. Afterwards, we piled back onto our bus and they drove us to some of the major viewing points on the Canyon. It was pretty cool to hear some of the history in addition to getting all the wonderful views.

Photo op at the canyonAfter our tour, we checked into our hotel and found our bags had been delivered straight to our room! We relaxed for a bit and then headed over to the El Tovar Hotel for dinner. The El Tovar is an historic landmark and quite beautiful, capturing the spirit of the by-gone days of the European-style hunting lodge. Made of stone, it's perched on the edge of the canyon and has spectacular views from the South Rim. It was built in 1905 by the Santa Fe Railroad and has been called, "the architectural crown jewel of the Grand Canyon." It is also also renowned for its world-class dining room, The El Tovar Dining Room (where we ate). Peppermint Cheesecake"A memorable dining experience in the Arizona wilderness while enjoying breathtaking views of the Canyon." They have an extensive and expensive menu. The food was quite good, indeed, however, a bit over-priced, we thought. We did splurge and have dessert - it was pretty cute!

We made it an early night; Kirk wanted to be up quite early on Tuesday to catch sunrise over the canyon. I tried to wake up when he did, but was a bit late. I was out the door only about 5 minutes after him, but JUST missed the shuttle. Since we didn't have our car with us, we had to rely on the shuttle to get around. I caught the next one, and arrived at the canyon as fast as I could. At the point where I had to change shuttles, I had to walk (hobble/run?) a pretty good distance to catch the next bus; I was afraid I'd miss it, but I just got there in time.

The sun begins to rise over the canyonKirk had been taking photos for a while when I arrived, although the sun still had not cleared the edge of the rim. When it did clear, the view was spectacular! The canyon is beautiful at all times, but it has different hues at different times of the day (sort of like Uluru, which we visited in December of 2002 on our RTW). The canyon lights up with colorThe colors are brilliant

After Kirk's fingers were too frozen to take any more photos, we grabbed the shuttle back and ate breakfast at the Maswik Lodge and checked out of our room (again, we didn't have to worry about our bags). Then we caught another shuttle to the visitor's center. We toured around that a bit, and then headed to the trail that runs along the canyon rim. We walked a good bit of that trail, stopping at a variety of places to take photos. (Do you remember I broke my ankle less than 2 months ago?). Eventually, I was limping so badly I couldn't really walk anymore. We managed to get me to a shuttle stop and we got back on. We went over to Bright Angel Lodge and had some lunch and relaxed a bit. Then we stole one more quick look at the canyon before boarding the train back to Williams.

On the way back to Williams, the train was "robbed". I was actually on my cell phone (my mom had called from Kansas) and said, "Oh, I've got to go...we're being robbed!" Luckily, she didn't think I was serious!

Back in Williams, we spend another night at the Grand Canyon Railroad Hotel. We also had another dinner at Max & Thelma's. The food was MUCH better this time! It turns out, they dumb down the food during the Polar Express because of all the children who are there.

On Wednesday, we had breakfast, bought the great fleece jacket we had spotted earlier (using our gift certificates) and headed back toward civilization.

To be continued...

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Sunday, December 12


A month of Sundays - Part 2

December can be a truly exciting month, with all the Christmas decorations, parties, etc., or a truly stressful one. It's all in your attitude. But when your BIRTHDAY is in December on top of everything else, well, that's just fun!

No, my birthday is not in December, but my husband's is -- 6 days before Christmas. And this year, he had a MSD change (as he likes to put it). You know! MSD...most significant digit? Like changing from 20 to 30 or 30 to 40 or 40 to 50! So, last summer, I started plotting. I wanted to surprise him with something that would help him remember this MSD.

The plans started coming together and I had to figure a way to pay for everything without him figuring things out. With joint bank accounts and a husband who (thankfully) tracks every penny, that wouldn't be easy. So, I told him I wanted to surprise him with something - I wouldn't say where or when and was letting him know that I needed to spend the money. Whew. That worked. But THEN, I found out that if I put the charge on the credit card, the exact thing I had planned would show up on the statement - that's no good! So a friend from work let me put it on his credit card and I turned around and wrote HIM a check. Yay!

Next, I wanted to throw Kirk a surprise party. First, I had to locate a host. Well, generally, the only time we aren't together is when we are at work. That makes it hard to work up an invitation and start mailing them out. There is also the challenge of getting the names and addresses of friends of his - I wanted to invite his family, church friends, work friends AND friends he grew up with. Fortunately, I bumped into Rod (one of the guys he grew up with) a

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Thursday, November 11


Veteran's Day Thoughts

So, today is Veteran's Day. I don't believe I've ever had the day off before. But yesterday, around 2:30, my employer told me that we would be off today! Hooray! There is a temptation to just play around and have some fun.

But today is a holiday for a reason. For the last 228 years, our country has been defended by people who are willing to step up and sacrifice themselves, their time and their family for the ideals that this country was founded upon. Although Veteran's Day, specifically, was created to remember those who fought in World War I, it was later amended (after WWII) to just refer to "veterans", which now includes everyone from WWI to the current Iraqi conflict (although technically, they won't be veterans until they have left the conflict or the conflict is over). So, today, I will remember people like my grandfather (a former Brigadier General in the U.S. Army - he was in action in WWII, Korea and Vietnam), my father (a former captain in the U.S. Army - he was in Vietnam), my uncle John (also US Army), my father-in-law (who flew as a flight engineer in the Korean War), various other friends (like Wes Cochran, Julie Dietrich, Cameron Mandrake, John Schowalter, etc.) and family (like Chris Reid) who are currently serving or have served in the U.S. Military. It is so easy to focus on what's wrong with our military and/or policies (I hear this from folks daily). But don't forget what is right - the sacrifices these young men and women make to protect our nation.

So, I challenge you on this day to think of and pray for those who have served and are serving our country. I can't imagine that there would be any person out there who doesn't know at least one person who falls into that category. It's not about whether you agree with the policies and programs of our government. It's about remembering those who have given their time, talents and even their lives.

Thank you, Veterans! You are our heros!

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Monday, August 16


Busy Weekend

We had a busy, but fun weekend. After the Luau on Friday, I went over to hang out with my friend, Gia, who was getting married the next morning. She had several girls over to her hotel room. We prayed with her and laughed with her. It was a nice time. I didn't get home until quite late, of course.

Kirk & Donna at another weddingHer wedding was at noon. Luckily, I had prepared the potluck dish I was bringing the day before. The wedding was at our church building in Torrance. It turned out to be a really nice venue for a wedding (it was the first one I've been to over there). James & GiaHer Gia, of course, looked beautiful! The wedding and reception were both a lot of fun!

After the reception, we dashed home, where I made dinner for a couple of friends that were coming over. We had a nice time hanging out and chatting with them. We even taught them to play a quick game of palace.

On Sunday, we attended church on the beach for the first time all summer. In the afternoon, we headed over to a birthday celebration for our nephew, Scott. It is so nice to have family close by!

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Monday, June 28


Chicago - Food and Fish

Taste of ChicagoSunday, after breakfast, Kirk and I headed to church. We went to a Vineyard Christian Church that was in walking distance from our hotel. It was a nice service. Then, Kirk and I headed over to the Taste of Chicago, an annual 10-day or so long event, in order to meet up with a few folks who had attended the wedding. Kirk & Donna at Taste of ChicagoAgain, we hopped public transport into the city (but this time we took CTA, i.e., the "L", which is what we wanted). Kirk and I got there a good hour or more before everyone else, so we had time to scout the booths. There was a lot of restaurants represented, but a disproportional amount of fatty/greasy/fried food being served. Jessica, Hilary & DonnaWe did eventually manage to find Hilary, Nick, Roman and several others. We stayed there for a few hours and then jumped back on the L to Evanston where we were meeting some family for dinner. We had a nice dinner with my aunt and uncles and Solomon.

Monday, Kirk and I took our time getting up. Then, we checked out of the hotel and headed in town (with luggage). We stored our bags at Union Station and then headed over to the Shedd Aquarium. Shedd Aquarium is one of the largest in the world. They have an entire section called the "Oceanarium" which specific focuses on such creatures as the Beluga Whale, White-sided Dolphins, Sea Otters and Penguins. It was possibly my favorite section. We didn't have a long time to look around and see everything, but we did quite a bit. There were some pretty neat frogs and the Caribbean Reef section was pretty cool. White-Sided Dolphin

We were blessed when we left. We stayed a tad bit longer than we should have, but then we managed to catch a trolley directly to Union Station without waiting more than about 2 minutes. Once we had retrieved our luggage, we realized the blue line (which we needed to take to O'Hare) had a stop only two block south of Union Station (instead of about 10 blocks east). Our trip home was uneventful.

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Saturday, June 26


A Chicago Wedding

Hilary putting on her makeupSaturday arrived! The day my little cuz was getting married. AND Chris, one of her two identicle twin brothers, had arrived late the night before! We all gathered for breakfast and then people started drifting off in various directions to get ready for the wedding, which started at 12:30 PM.

I had the privilege of helping her get dressed and taking some "getting ready" photos. It was much more relaxed than a month or so ago when another friend of mine was married. Hilary just didn't worry about anything. Once she and her maid of honor were ready, we headed downstairs to meet the rest of the family. Walking to churchThe plan was that we were ALL walking to the church from the hotel, about 1/2 a mile. Hilary had a GREAT time! She got lots of attention and looked beautiful! The weather was perfect!

Roman & HilaryThe big concern upon arriving at the church was that Roman not see Hilary before she walked down the aisle. But everything worked out fine! She was a beautiful bride (aren't they all, though?!). The church was beautiful, as well.

After a bunch of photos, we headed back toward the hotel. The reception was in a beautiful little house right next door, Va Pensiero's Club House. They had hired a photographer only to take photos at the wedding (i.e., at the church), so the rest of the family stepped into the gap and took a bunch more for them.

Donna & PaigeJeanne, Sue & Donna
James, Jeanne & KatieThe food at the reception was exceptional! In addition to salmon and a wonderful chicken dish, they had something called "Sweet Potato Ravioli". Now, you have to understand, I HATE sweet potatoes. So, for ME to say it was really good, you KNOW it had to have been positively amazing! It was an interesting flavor, but one to savor nonetheless. Donna & KirkNick, Hilary & Chris

Hilary and Roman had decided to save up some money for a while (and airline miles) and then head on a honeymoon sometime next winter. So, they were sticking around after the wedding. A whole group of folks went out after the wedding to just hang out. Even though there is a bit of a generation gap for me - both with my aunts/uncles AND with my cousins - we headed out with the younger folk to hang a bit. We made it an early night, though. We were all planning on another big day on Sunday.

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Friday, June 25


Chi-town - a Tower-fix

Kirk spent most of last week in Berkeley. On Thursday, he flew in from Berkeley, took a shuttle to his office, and about 30 minutes later, I met him there and we took a shuttle BACK to the airport.

Chicago SkylineWe were heading to Chicago, where my cousin, Hilary, was getting married. It would be the first time since our wedding we had seen many of our family and in much longer for others. In fact, Kirk met many of my family members for the first time (and I finally got to meet two cousins I had always seemed to miss)!

My dad and stepmom picked us up at the airport and drove us to the Margarita European Inn in Evanston, where most everyone was staying. We checked into our room and met up with a couple of cousins. All in all, we made it a pretty early night, since Kirk had been getting up at 4AM all week, and I was pretty tired, too.

The Breakfast BunchThe Margarita Inn was a bed and breakfast sort of place, so every morning, we would all gather in the little sitting area and have breakfast and discuss what would happen the rest of the day. Friday, which was the first morning we did this, I met my cousin Paige for the first time ever and saw Solomon for the first time since he was about 6 months old! Apparently, Paige thought I looked a lot like my aunt Margie and her mouth dropped open when she saw me.

On Friday, we all decided to go different ways. James, Solomon, Kirk and I all decided to head into the city and do some sightseeing. My aunts and Paige figured they'd do some shopping and girly stuff. We took the Metra into the city - interestingly, we THOUGHT we were on the L, but realized a little late that we had taken the wrong system. No worries -- it just meant we had to walk a tad bit further.

View from Hancock Tower toward the NorthWe decided to make our way up to Hancock Tower. Although Hancock is not the tallest building in Chicago (the Sears Tower is), it has the best views. We paid our fee and up we went.

Now for those of you who followed our RTW, you may remember that Kirk has a bit of a tower fetish. He LOVES going up to the highest point he can. So, he definitely got his tower-fix in Chicago! The views were fabulous and we had a wonderfully clear day. Lake Michigan is so large that it even looks like an ocean from many spots. (Interestingly, when we watched Step into Liquid, we discovered that people actually SURF the waves on Lake Michigan - they are little ankle-slappers and wind-induced, granted, but we got a good chuckle out of it.)

Navy PierThe Navy Pier was quite beautiful from the top of Hancock Tower, as well. We never made it down to the Pier - we had many other things to do and there just wasn't enough time. Perhaps next time. After we had had our fill of Hancock Tower, James and Solomon split off from me and Kirk. They decided to eat nearby. Kirk and I went in search of a particularly well-known place that serves Chicago-style pizza - Ranalli's.

Trolley MapWe had had an interesting time finding our way there. There is a free trolley that runs through much of downtown Chicago. The trick is finding the right one and getting there at the right time. The one we needed, it turns out, ran only once per hour. And we had just missed it by about 15 minutes. We decided to go find ourselves a bus instead. There are free maps all over that you can pick up at the metro stations, etc. that list all the methods of transport (including bus routes). It was really VERY easy to get around! Ranalli's Chicago Style Pizza It was pretty late when we sat down at Ranalli's and we were both starving by that point. The food was, indeed, fabulous.

Afterwards, we headed back to Evanston. I was looking forward to having dinner with the whole family together! It turned out that people were going in many different directions, instead of eating all together. Kirk and I went to the Davis Street Fish Market with my dad and Betty. The food was incredible. Betty got the crab cakes, and after tasting hers, I truly wished I had, too (I'm fiendishly picky about my crab cakes, so I am often reluctant to order them). We all hung around chatting that night. My cousin Katie flew in from D.C. sometime during the afternoon and was staying in the room right next door.

While on the way to and in Chicago, I did a bit of reading. Right before leaving, I had read First Meetings: In the Enderverse by Orson Scott Card - which I then gave to Kirk to read. I turned my attention to Lance Armstrong's "It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life". What a great read! Then I started (and finished about 15 minutes before we landed back in LA) "Lost on Everest: the Search for Mallory and Irvine" by P.L. Firstbrook. In the evenings, Kirk and I would hang out in our room, relaxing and reading a bit. It reminded me of our RTW.

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Sunday, June 20


Weekend Exhaustion!

Well, I am now exhausted! Yesterday, Kirk took Patrick to Go Kart World in the morning. Our church was sponsoring a Father/Son outing in honor of Father's Day. They had a great time. Meanwhile, I stayed home and made a picnic lunch. We then headed up to the La Brea Tar Pits and the Page Museum to have a picnic lunch and explore a bit.

It was a typical "June Gloom" day - rather chilly, in fact. We hung around outside for a bit, and then went in to wander around the museum.

Afterwards, we went down to Laguna Hills to see Kirk's parents. We took Kirk's dad out to a Father's Day Dinner (a day early).

Peter Pan at the Hermosa Playhouse Today, Kirk and I went to church and then to a play put on by the Southern California Youth Theatre, "Peter Pan". Several of the kids from our church were performing. It was really fun - they had even rented about $10,000 worth of high flying gear for the play. You can read more about it on Kirk's blog.

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Friday, June 18


Universal Studios

Today, we took Patrick to Universal Studios. I hadn't ever been to the Universal in California (that I remember, anyway). And it's been at least 12 years since I went to Universal in Florida. Things have changed!

Donna, Patrick & Kirk at Universal StudiosWe arrived about 10 minutes after the park opened, and we started out with a nice little tour around the Universal Studios lot. It was interesting, and Patrick really seemed to enjoy it. Then we proceeded to visit every single ride and show on the lot (well, we DID skip one of the kiddie areas where you get drenched to the bone, and we missed a haunted house, because Patrick didn't wanna go, but we saw EVERYTHING else).

By the time, we were finished, it was about 4:30 - just in time to hit the Friday afternoon traffic heading out of downtown LA (yuck!). We went back down to Seal Beach and met Kelley and her family, and Kirk's mom for dinner at a little seafood restaurant. The food was pretty good.

Patrick came home with us again tonight. He and Kirk are going Go-Karting tomorrow morning.

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Thursday, June 17



Today, we headed down to Seal Beach for the day. Our 12-year-old nephew, Patrick, was in town from Mississippi and two other nephews were graduating from high school. (Incidentally, we also had two OTHER nephews graduating in their respective location - David in Virginia, and John in South Lake Tahoe. We hung out with Patrick during the afternoon. He and Kirk even went out to the field in back of Kelley's house and flew a kite for a while. Corey & ScottWhen Kelley returned from her golf tournament, the adults, Patrick and our littlest nephews, Bradley and Jeffrey, went over to the high school to check out the decorations for Grad Night - an all-night, lock-in party for the graduating seniors. The school gym is completely decorated by the parents. It was pretty fancy and way cool.

Then it was time for graduation. We headed over to the stadium where the ceremonies were held. Some of the speeches were quite good (and funny). We were able to spot Corey and Scott as they came into the stadium. After the ceremonies were officially over, the field was mayhem! At one point, we lost Patrick and then several of us spent the next 15 minutes looking for him.

Bradley has a while to wait for his graduation!Back in the car, both Bradley and Jeffrey insisted on trying on the graduation hat that one of the boys had left us with. We drove over to Scott's mom's house for a barbeque. The food was wonderful. Unfortunately, Scott wasn't able to stay for long since he had to be back at the gym before 8PM or he would get locked out and miss Grad Night.

Patrick came home with us. Tomorrow will be really busy since we are taking him to Universal. All in all, it was a wonderful day!

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Donna in Austria
Click for larger image Austria, August 2003