Sunday, December 30, 2012

Home for the Holidays

Despite my career and travels, I have been so fortunate to never miss a Christmas at home with my family.  
Whenever I'm driving from the airport and see the wide open spaces and mountains for the first time, I know I'm home.
My mom makes our house turn into a Christmas sanctuary.  Seriously, look at this!  It is like out of a Norman Rockwell painting.
This year, we were so lucky to have all four of our high school bffs home at once.  Being able to catch up all together is so incredible - I love these ladies.
This year, the Fletcher culinary adventure was a Christmas Eve turducken.  Which actually was delicious.
I CANNOT miss an annual viewing of Its a Wonderful Life.
Playing Christmas carols by chime with the ladies.  Look at how amazing they are!
A little snow shoveling, reminding myself I'm an Idaho gal.
Its become an annual tradition to meet my sister in law's family at a cabin in the mountains after Christmas.  This is the beautiful drive up to McCall, Idaho
Snowshoeing with my mama.

Mountain rendezvous with these adorable snow bunnies (cannot tell you how much I love my brother and sis in law)
My brother did a very good job finding a family to marry into.  We adore them.
Our little cabin and not so little icicles  
Sibling love

No trip home could be complete without Grandma's caramel corn
I am a blessed gal.  

Friday, December 21, 2012

Its Christmastime in the city...

The holiday spirit was alive and well in 2012.
A few highlights of celebrations leading up to the holidays:

A few of my dear girlfriends and I ran the Christopher Martin Christmas 5k.  
Ok, ok.  If you know me, you know that was a blatant lie.  I walked.  Not even speed walked, just walked.  And I was still sore afterward.  Don't tell.  Favorite part?  3.1 miles of catching up with fabulous friends, and a morning of being out in the community for an amazing cause.
Our office had a 'festive' holiday attire party, which ended in bowling. 
Photoboothing it up at a friend's holiday party:

Tim and I took a little post-work excursion into NYC to see Christmastime in the city - and it didn't disappoint.
Rockefeller Center
St. Paul's Cathedral choir rehearsing for Christmas Eve mass - impossible not to tear up.  SO SO beautiful

Dancing on the big piano at FAO Schwartz
Make your own muppet center?!

December 21, 2012 - just in case, we toasted.
PS - we made it

Sunday, December 16, 2012

the weary world

my heart joins everyone across the country and globe this weekend as being collectively broken over the lives taken at sandy hook elementary on friday.

newtown is only about 30 miles north of where i work, and though proximity doesn't add or subtract from the intensity of the horror or grief over the situation, it certainly shook me to know how very close to home this all is, and even outside of the news coverage, it has been impossible to forget as it is in the conversations of every person around me, many of whom know someone in newtown.

one of the great and simple lessons i have learned through the journey of my life and career is that children are children everywhere the same.  their laughter, joy, innocence is the same regardless of culture, language, religion, economic level or skin tone.  and the loss of a child is a collective loss of everyone, because in every child there is infinite potential, potential for them to create, to lead, to teach, to travel or put down roots, to create another generation, to change the course of what is ahead.

there is no way to understand this, nor be able to conceive of the loss of the families, the community, and all of us for being robbed of the potential of those 26 lives, so i offer up my broken heart in unity with everyone.  

may this holiday season be a new morning for the weary and grieving, and a chance for us to get our arms around the people we love and give thanks.

"a thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees.. o hear the angel voices."

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thankful in Chicago

This year was a special Thanksgiving, because my little brother and sis-in-law hosted us in the Windy City!  We flew straight from Prague to Chicago to make it in time for the big day.  I was SO excited to get to spend some quality time with J and B, and to get to see their life in Chicago.
When we arrived at their apartment, they had left us welcome bags, complete with all of our favorite treats and little gifts to get us through the week.  SO sweet.
The first night, B and J to us out to dinner to celebrate my birthday - it was incredible, such a fun meal, and so fun to get to sit down all together and catch up.
 While my brother was at work the next day, I had the chance to meet up with an old and dear friend who I met on my study abroad program in 2003.  No matter how long its been, or what all has happened in our lives, whenever we get the chance to meet up it feels like old times.  Love her.
 It was T's first time in Chicago, so we spent quite a bit of time wandering around and taking in the city.  Clearly this brought on deep thoughts.
 We couldn't go to Chicago without a deep dish pizza! 
 One of the coolest things was when my brother took us out on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade.  We got to see it all in action and see where he spends his days.
We had to stop for a Tom and Jerry at the place where they started!
More touring..

The bean reflection!  Can you find us?

 The big day - my brother preparing what became the hit of the Thanksgiving meal... pork belly tacos (I know, we didn't think it would go over either - how wrong we were).
Since we were far away from the rest of our family, we had to do a little Skypey session :)
 We had our meal over at one of my brother's friends place.  It was an amazing spread of food, and sooo wonderful to get to know a few of their friends.

 The week went way too fast, but that just means we need to go visit again super soon.  Love these guys. (Note our red noses - Chicago is COLD!!)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Celebrating 29 In Prague!

The first birthday of my 20s began in Europe, during my study abroad program in Seville, Spain, and the last birthday of my 20s ended in Europe - on a magical day in Prague!
Birthday-eve view
I woke up to mimosas, birthday cards, and a video from friends all around the world!

Birthday breakfast at a lovely little French cafe

Obligatory birthday self-portrait

Very excited to see my favorite 'Indian' band was playing for my birthday!
2nd obligatory birthday self-portrait
A little stop to enjoy some of amazing brews of Prague!
The day was full of a lot of laughter...

And street food.
First bite...
So delicious there are no words.

The annual tradition continues!  My parents found a way to ensure that I got my birthday pizza even in Prague!  PS - Czech pizza is DELICIOUS.
The beginning of an epic birthday-evening stroll
Through the plazas of Prague..

By famous clocks that I can't remember the name of...
And to the accidental find of possibly the best dessert ever.

Not sure what it is called, but for birthday purposes, it was a birthday cake.  And it was DELICIOUS.  Char-grilled dough covered in cinnamon and sugar, and coated on the inside with nutella.

After walking around for a couple of hours, we finally found the view we wanted.  And right when we arrived, the started setting off fireworks.  Coincidence?  Perhaps.  Magical and perfect?  Obviously.

Walking back to our hotel.

For anyone looking for a birthday that is beyond comparison, Prague is the place! :)
Thank you to everyone for the AMAZING birthday wishes - you make my life beyond full.