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.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A look back at 28

What a year!
I really like to take some time around my birthday to look back on the last year.  Its amazing at everything that happens in a year... and looking back on how my 28th year passed is nothing short of that. 

28 was spread across 11 different countries.  It was filled with heart lows and highs,  new ideas for next steps, and quite a bit of reflection.

I am very grateful for the relationships that have shaped the trajectory of my time over the last 12 months.  28 was a year of reunions for me - I was able to reconnect with old friends in all corners of the earth.  
I had the chance to work with some phenomenal people.  
I got the chance to pour my heart out in all sorts of different ways, 
and new doors have opened up for the year ahead.

Thankful for the bricks this year added to the foundation for whatever is ahead!

  • 28 started with a lovely birthday party thrown by my girlfriends in New Haven
  • Then a trip in to NYC for a special brunch with some of my special ladies, 
  • And ended with a trip home to Idaho for Thanksgiving 
  • and Christmas tree-trimming with Grandma
  • December kicked off with a trip to Ecuador for work, and afterward I had the chance to meet up with  my friend Kate and play in a the lovely village of Banos and Quito

  • Then back home for Christmas, and a post Christmas snowy cabin mini-family reunion in McCall.
  • New Years Eve was spent in a cabin in Vermont with some of my favorites, 
  • and we wished in the new year with sky lanterns over a frozen lake.
  • January kicked off with a trip to San Franscico to work on a video project and spend some time with Mateo and Benjamin
  • Then I was off to Paraguay for the second year of camp there

  • On the way home from Paraguay, I stopped in El Salvador to see my dear friend KC who was serving in the Peace Corps.  We caught up, dreamed dreams, met fun new people, and played on the beach.

  • Then it was home in New Haven for a few weeks in March to reconnect with friends and life!
  • And enjoy the blooming cherry trees

  • April was chock full - our annual Gala in New York City and the unleash of our new organizational name.
  • Then I was off to Vietnam to train childcare workers for a couple of weeks
  • and to Cambodia for a planning visit
  • Then I hurried back home for the Unite for Sight conference in New Haven
  • and a day later, ran off to California to translate for my Paraguay team who was visiting the Painted Turtle.
  • I ended the month at home in Idaho with my momma.
  • May brought reunions and my friend Tamar's wedding in upstate New York.
  • And then I was back to Vietnam, but to Hanoi this time, for a camp season with our team.
  • After several weeks in Vietnam, Rachael and I took a vacation to Luang Prabang, Laos.
  • I got home in time to celebrate my dear friend's birthday on Block Island, Rhode Island,
  • And then headed to York, Pennsyvania to my dear Rosa's wedding.
  • I celebrated the 4th of July in New Haven with dear friends
  • And then headed home to Idaho to celebrate my 10 Year High School Reunion - wow!
  • Then I spent a week on the Main Salmon with my parents.
  • I flew straight from Idaho to Cambodia for our camp season there.
  • August was full of Cambodia - camp, and then a quick visit to Angkor Wat before heading home.
  • Labor Day weekend I spent on a tour of dear friends - NYC with Mateo, 
  • and DC to visit Elisa in her amazing new life there.
  • Then I headed to Paraguay for a work trip
  • On the way back from Paraguay, we stopped in Colombia to meet with potential new partners, and I got to see my dear friend Kate at her home in Bogota.
  • October started with a quick trip to a new city - Philadelphia - with my dear friend Eben, in what's become an annual tradition.  
  • Then a magical weekend up in the chilly Adrirondacks.
  • Toward the end of the month, I met my family in New Orleans and spent a wonderful weekend playing together.
  • And then I made it home just in time for Super Storm Sandy to smash into the East Coast.
  • So we were hunkered down for a stormy Halloween this year
  • November, took me to Budapest for our fifth annual Network Meeting,

  • And then a vacation to Munich and Prague, which is where I got to celebrate the beginning of my last year of my twenties.