Long Time in Between

It’s been months since I’ve posted, and so much has happened in that time.  We were matched to adopt a baby girl due in June, but that match fell through at the last-minute.  We’ve been traveling (Colorado most recently) and trying to live our lives as a family of two, but it’s hard at times.

We’re back on the adoption wait, hoping for a match soon.  I have a couple of trips planned coming up (FL to visit a friend and KY with my bestie), so that helps pass the time!  I’ll try to get back on here and post more often, especially with all my crafts and home remodel stuff!

Oh!  And also training for triathlons now!  I completed my first one in early June and I have two more that I’m already registered for!  It’s hard work, but helps me focus my energy, so that’s good!  I’ll post more on those at a later date!

Missed you all, hope you’re well,
K.

The Lone Star State

I haven’t really been talking much about work lately.  Last year, I moved out of a role in Program Management, and into a role in Sales and Marketing, as an Account Executive working with our Off-Highway customers.  While living in Europe, I worked as an Account Manager in On-Highway, so I was familiar with the work and was really excited to advance my customer interactions and commercial knowledge.

However, in mid-November, my company announced that we’d be doing workforce reductions (a.k.a. “layoffs”).  This was the third layoff that I’d experienced with this company, so I knew that things were going to be in flux for awhile.  I wasn’t too worried about my position (though, anything can happen), but I knew that my group would probably take a hit.

So…imagine my surprise (and actually, I was shocked as hell), when I got pulled into a meeting with my boss and the General Manager to be told that, due to the layoffs, I was being moved into a new position, BACK into Program Management.  So…here I am, 1 week before Christmas, and I’m being told that I’m leaving the role that I just moved into a few months prior, to go back to a role that I’d left.

I won’t lie…it took a day or so for me to wrap my mind around it and to get into a positive mindset.  I was worried that I’d be overloaded like I was in my previous role, and the customer that I was going to be working with was notorious for being highly demanding.  Frankly, I was terrified my life was going to suck.

I’m happy to say, after a full month, things are going fairly decently!  I’m currently in Texas at a face-to-face meeting with the customer, and I’m feeling fairly settled.  It’s a lot more firefighting than I did in Account work, but it’s exciting.  The program launches in 2017, so I will be on this team for a year or so…and after that, I’m not quite sure.

That’s a little bit about what’s going on in my life currently!  I’m super excited because, on Friday, I get to spend the weekend with my BFF, L!  We’re going to drive to Waco and go to Magnolia Market (from the HGTV show “Fixer Upper”) and I can’t wait!  Plus, I will say, Texas has some AMAZING food!  Plenty to enjoy in this great state, for sure

Much love,
K.

Inked! My First Tattoo

IMG_0189For the past decade (at least!) I’ve been wanting a tattoo.  While the ideas have shifted on what I’d get, the desire for body art hasn’t disappeared.  J has three tattoos, so I knew he’d be supportive, and his advice was to find something that meant something to me, so that I wouldn’t get tired of it.

After living in Japan and the Netherlands, I knew that I wanted something to commemorate our love of travel.  J and I LOVE traveling and take the opportunity to see someplace new any chance I get.  With that in mind, I started researching tattoo artists that had styles I liked.  A dear friend, A, recommended a place named Firefly Tattoo, and a tattoo artist, Dina.  As soon as I saw her work, I knew that this was who I wanted to do my tattoo.  Her style was so feminine and colorful, and the designs were so well executed.  I contacted her and we started putting together ideas, and a few days before my appointment she sent me a sketch of what we talked about.  It completely blew my mind away!  It was absolutely gorgeous and I couldn’t wait for her to do the actual tattoo.

Yesterday was my tattoo, and the actual tattoo time was a little over an hour.  Dina was so funny and put me immediately at ease (I was a bit nervous, not knowing what to expect).  We got down to business and before I knew it we were finished!  I’m going to add the coordinates of where we lived in Japan and the Netherlands to this tattoo, once it heals up, and then I can add to it if we ever move again!  I love the idea of having a little piece of where we’ve lived to show the world!  I’ve heard that once you get one tattoo, you’re hooked, and I can totally see why.  I’m practically planning my second one already!

Much love,
K.


A Little Dash of Crazy…

I realize that my blog posting has been regular sporadic at best, which isn’t something that I had ever planned on.  But, as we all know, life has a way of going against even the best laid plans.

bestiesAfter Easter, things were fairly smooth.  I was working on a couple crochet projects (sadly, my Crochet Challenge blanket has taken a major back seat), and planning for my trip to Texas to visit my dearest, most bestest, friend.  I wanted to finish at least one blanket before I left (which I did…more on that in another post) and then have a weekend of relaxation with L.  I left for Dallas last Thursday, ready to relax!

Friday morning, all hell broke loose.  My mother called me while I was in the shower, to let me know that my father was in the hospital.  He had fallen the evening before and shattered his elbow, and now had to have surgery to repair it.  Both of my parents are older in age, and my father has Parkinson’s and early stages of Alzheimer’s, so any sort of disruption to his schedule hits him pretty hard.

Dad went into surgery and came out just fine.  Unfortunately, he was very weak (partly due to surgery and partly due to the Parkinson’s) and the anesthesia really caused problems with his mental comprehension and memory (due to the Alzheimer’s).  He was very confused and thought my mom had sent him to a nursing home and left him there, and was understandably upset.  After a few days, that calmed down quite a bit, which we were all grateful for.

Mom told me to stay in Dallas and spend time with L, so I stayed until Sunday.  Monday morning, I drove back home to see my father, who was still in the hospital.  By the time I got there, he was doing better, but still not great.  He was much more steady on his feet, which meant he could go home much more quickly than we had anticipated, but his mental comprehension still wasn’t great.  He wasn’t sure who I was, and at one point thought my best friend, L, was his daughter.  I can’t even begin to describe how absolutely heart breaking it is to know that my father will one day not recognize me.  I try not to focus on it, as we’re not there quite yet (I’m still convinced his lack of recognition was due to the pain medicine, etc.) but it’s hard to know that it will eventually happen.  I know we all grow older, but it’s still like a knife in my gut.

dad and iLast night, Dad was finally released from the hospital.  For awhile, we were concerned that we’d have to put him in assisted living for a short amount of time, but we managed to arrange for in-home care for him.  I am so thankful for that, because I really think he’ll do much better in his own home and his comfort environment.  Plus, it makes it easier on Mom, so she won’t have to run back and forth.

Overall, it’s been insane in the past week.  To top it all off, I managed to pick up some sort of sinus infection while on the flight home (or the hospital), and now have zero voice.  I’m looking forward to the weekend, where I can just sleep for as long as I want, and hopefully get better!  I promise that my next post will be an update on all my crochet projects, which will be a much happier post!  Until then…have a happy Wednesday!

Much love,
K.

30 Days of Blogging: Bucket List

These days, everyone has a bucket list.  You know, that list of things you absolutely want to accomplish before you die…the “bucket list.”  I have no idea where the name came from, to be honest, and I don’t even have a list to name, bucket or otherwise.  But, this question came up, and it made me think about some major things I’d like to accomplish in my lifetime.  Admittedly, most of mine are centered around travel, because it’s such a huge part of J’s and my life.  I tend to think in terms of places to see and experience, so these three bucket list items are concerning travel only.  I’ll save the rest for another time!

1.  Hike Kilimanjaro

kilimanjaroJ and I have talked about hiking Mount Kilimanjaro for a few years now.  Up until now, I’ve never been in good enough shape to even contemplate the hike, but now that I’m more active I’d really like to give it a go.  We’d like to fly into Africa, acclimate to the time difference for a few days, and then start the hike up the mountain.  After that concludes, we’d like to spend a week on a safari, just seeing the various animals and really experiencing Africa.  Plus, I’ve also come across a place in Kenya called the Giraffe Manor, and I’d love to stay there and see all the giraffes!  It would nearly wipe out our vacation for the year, but I think this trip would be worth it.  Definitely an experience of a lifetime!

 

2.  Visit Israel

Jerusalem-Israel-Dome-of-the-Rock-R-Duran-best-picture-galleryI have wanted to visit Israel for as long as I can remember.  When we lived overseas, we had discussed booking a “Holy Lands” cruise that hit up a few spots in Israel, but the cruise was eventually cancelled due to unrest in the region.  I’ve been fascinated with the Middle East for years, even going so far as to study Arabic for my undergraduate degree, and Israel would be such an amazing place to visit.  The history, religion, food, culture…I absolutely cannot wait!  I only hope that things settle down there soon and that there is, finally, peace in the region.  I have hopes that it’ll happen, at least in my lifetime, and I would love to be able to visit and take our children with us.  J is also incredibly interested in seeing this area of the world, plus there are some amazing scuba diving spots in Israel, so it could really be a well-rounded trip (culture, diving, eating – for me, and sightseeing).   Plus, J is huge into photography, so I think he could really get lost in the opportunities for amazing pictures in this area of the world.

 

3.  Hike Petra

PetraThis goes hand-in-hand with a visit to Israel.  Since we no longer live overseas, if we were to take a trip to the Middle East, we’d try to get a lot of things accomplished while there.  J and I both love hiking, and we would absolutely love hiking Petra.  We’d like to hike in at night, so that we can see the sun rise over the monuments, which I think would be stunning.  This was another trip that we had planned while living overseas, but due to instability in the area (though not in Jordan specifically), we cancelled our trip.  However, this is at the top of J’s list, so I doubt we’ll have any trouble getting there in our lifetime.  I think this would just be a 3-4 day add-on trip to Israel, and along with that we’d probably try to see the Egyptian pyramids, so I’d like to end up spending 3+ weeks in the Middle East, altogether.  There are still opportunities for our jobs to take us to Dubai (I’m holding out hope), but so far nothing concrete has come up.  If so, I could see so many things that are on my list…it would be fantastic!

So, there are three of my “bucket list” items.  Even without a physical list, I feel like as soon as I mark something off my mental list, it’s filled up with five new things.  It’s definitely a never-ending list that is constantly changing, but I think I prefer that because if I ran out of things to see in this world, then I’d be at a loss.  What are some of your “bucket-list” items?

Much love,
K.

Friday Favorites…Cities of the World!

One of my favorite things to do is travel.  I guess you could say it’s one of my biggest hobbies, aside from crocheting (yes…I crochet.  Yes…I have cats.  Yes…I am married).  While we lived overseas, we were very fortunate in our ability to travel easily throughout Europe, on a relatively small budget.  In addition, our jobs allow for us to travel for work, to some pretty amazing places.  So, I thought I’d share with you my top 5 favorite cities outside the US!

 

1.  Barcelona, Spain

barcelonaThere’s something so sensual about Spain.  Maybe it’s the food, or the copious amounts of sangria.  It could be the fact that it’s an entire country of people who truly understand and embrace the need for a good nap every day (siesta, anyone?).  Maybe it’s the music, and the way it swirls and caresses you late at night, as the humid breezes pass over your skin, heated from hours of dancing in the crowds.  Or the language, the way the romantic words roll off your tongue.  Regardless, there’s something about Barcelona that sucks me in every time we visit it.  We always discover some new restaurant, or hit up a new park with amazing artwork.  I’ve been inside La Sagrada Familia multiple times, and each time I’m hit with a sense of peace and tranquility unlike any I’ve ever experienced.  Plus, the beach is stunning, the tapas are plentiful, and the people are incredibly nice and welcoming.  What more could you want?!

 

2.  Normandy, France

NormandyDespite its bloody history (D-Day beaches weren’t fun for anyone), Normandy, France has a lot going for it.  Obviously, for those who love history, the area is ripe with WWII tours, artifacts, museums, and personal encounters.  While we were there, we did a D-Day tour, along with a “Band of Brothers” tour that hit up several of the battle fields that were shown in the television series.  Apart from the historical significance, there are other perks to the area as well.  The French food and culture is plentiful, without dealing with the crowds (and prices) of Paris.  Also, the area is famous for its Calvados, which is an apple brandy made in the region.  One of my favorite desserts of the area, aside from the amazing pastries, is the local vanilla ice cream, covered with calvados and carmelized apples.  It’s warm and cold, and makes the lips tingle oh so nicely!  If you do happen to head to the area, be sure to stop in Bayeux, home of the “Bayeux Tapestry” which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England through the Battle of Hastings.  We didn’t happen to catch it while we were there, much to our friends’ dismay, but I’ve heard it’s pretty neat.

 

3.  Kyoto, Japan

Himeji-joJapan is full of amazing sights, sounds, tastes, and experiences.  It was hard to pick just once place as a “favorite” from this country, because, on a whole, this country is pretty darn amazing!  I was fortunate enough to live here for 5 weeks during summer break after my second year of law school.  J was sent on a short-term work assignment, and had been traveling back and forth between the US and Japan, and I got to go with him for one of his longer trips.  The last week I was there, we spent the week backpacking through the country, hopping train after train and seeing a lot of different cities.  My favorite, though, was Kyoto.  It used to be the imperial capital of Japan, and is full of temples and shrines, close to mountains and forests, and preserved from much of the destruction of WWII.  While we toured Kyoto, we stopped in many of the shrines and temples (though nowhere near all of them), saw several Maiko (apprentice Geisha), toured Himeji-jo (Himeji castle), and ate more Japanese food than I care to remember (I think I asked J to just roll me to the plane when it was time to send me back to the US).  This area, literally, made me fall in love with the country, and I would definitely move there if it were a possibility.  I’m hoping to make a trip back along with J, as he still travels over there for work.  Maybe then I’ll find a new favorite city!

 

4.  Marrakech, Morocco

riad knizaOf all the places in Europe we travelled, Morocco was J’s favorite.  It was definitely at the top of my list too (as is evidenced by this list), and I found Marrakech to be completely unlike any other place we traveled.  I absolutely love to visit countries with Arab influences, and this place was a perfect mix of Arabic culture, French/European influences, and North African tastes.  Walking through the winding alleys of the Medina was almost sensory overload.  Every way you turned was a spice counter, a fresh chicken stall (and by “fresh” I mean, “still alive”), a craft and metal works shop, or vendors selling rugs.  The smells range anywhere from overpower (umm…fresh chickens?) to sweet and delicate (a lot of the stalls sell fresh Moroccan sweets in the morning), and everywhere is an explosion of color.  While we were in Marrakech, we stayed at a Riad that was incredibly nice.  The Riad Kniza was like an oasis in the middle of chaos…the streets and alleys would be frantic with activity and people, then the minute you walked inside the Riad’s doors, it would be calm and tranquil.  While there, in addition to hours spent sightseeing, we did a cooking class at the Riad, and then had a couples massage and a traditional hammam (Turkish Bath), before moving to a Kasbah in the mountains for the second half of the trip.  Marrakech is definitely a city I’d return to, as there was so much to see and do, and there was no way to see it all during our trip.  Since J loved it as well, it should be too hard to drag him back there!

 

5.  Tromso, Norway

TromsoLet me preface by saying Norway is absolutely GORGEOUS!  We traveled to Norway twice, once to Tromso and once to Flam, and I can’t even begin to describe the natural beauty that just permeates this country.  The views of the fjords and the mountains are breathtaking, and you can’t help but just feel at home with nature while you’re there.  We visited Tromso, which is located in the Arctic Circle, in February 2011.  We made the trip was in order to see the Northern Lights and weren’t disappointed!  We did a lot of sightseeing around Tromso, which isn’t that large, but had a lot to offer!  We drank beers at one of the oldest pubs in the city (there was a stuffed bear next to the door, I didn’t ask questions), went dog sledding, had lots of fondue, and walked across the border to Finland at midnight.  The Northern Lights were amazing to experience, and while they weren’t “dancing” a ton, it was still beautiful.  We also did a half day of cross-country skiing, which is a LOT of work (but a great bit of exercise).  I’m not a big fan of skiing, but as long as I’m not going downhill, I can handle it.  Cross-country skiing is definitely my kind of skiing.  While we were driving back from our Northern Lights excursion, we came across Tromsdalen Kirke, which is the Arctic Church in Tromso.  It was all lit up in the dark sky, and really stood out against the black backdrop of the mountains.  We were only able to go for a long weekend, but we managed to pack in quite a lot in four short days.  While Scandinavia is incredibly expensive, we’d go back in a heartbeat.  It’s definitely worth saving your pennies for a trip, if you like the great outdoors and nature!

 

So, there you have it, my Five Favorites…Cities of the World!  I hope you enjoyed it, and if you have any questions about any of these places, I’m happy to answer them!

 

Much love,
K.

Random Post…Significant Memories

A friend of mine posted a blog post on significant memories, and it seemed like such an intriguing idea that I thought I’d do the same.  Memories have always meant a lot to me (as I’m sure they do to most people), but the topic of memories because even more important to me after my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago.  Knowing that, eventually, his memories will fade and his concept of reality will be in flux is hard for me to imagine and accept.  It makes me even more aware of the need to document my life, in photos and words.  That way, should I ever be faced with something similar, I have a piece of my life to look back at.

I can think of several significant memories, so it’s hard to really pare them down  Some of my strongest memories are from very defining moments in my life.  I remember the day I found out I was adopted, while sitting on the kitchen floor watching my mom iron shirts.  I remember receiving my acceptance to college in the mail, and running over to tell my best friend.

dominican boatBut, I would say my most significant memories are snapshots of important events in my life. One major one was my first trip abroad, on an archaeology dig after my Freshman year of undergrad.  We spent 15 days in the Dominican Republic, digging in the mornings, working through our finds in the afternoon, then living it up in the evenings.  I made some very lifelong friendships during that time, that I’ll always keep close to my heart.  In fact, one of my friends who I met on the dig is currently living in France, while another lives north of me.  When the friend living in France comes home to visit family, we’re all three going to meet up (it’s the two ladies with me on the boat, in the photo to the left)!  It will have been over ten years since we were all together!  I’m so excited to see these ladies, as they are phenomenal women and great friends!  That was my first real experience with travel, and from that moment on I was hooked. That trip really opened up a lot of amazing doors for me, and I’ve been forever grateful for my friends who pushed me into taking that step to go (even though I was terrified).

Wedding 11-25-2008 7-03-15 PMAnother significant memory was the day J proposed. He took me to one of the gardens that was owned by a local, very wealthy, family in town.  It’s in the middle of downtown, and walled off by brick walls all around the perimeter (it’s very “The Secret Garden” like).  He proposed in the garden there, while we were walking around photographing the flowers, and later we even came back to have our engagement photos taken there. We’d only known each other a little over four months, but I already knew he was the one for me. Eight years later, and I’ve never looked back. He is my other half, and no one else on earth pushes me to be a better person and to be more ME than he does. He’s amazing, and I thank God for him, daily.

graduationA third memory that really sits in my mind is my graduation from law school.  It was a long four years to finish my law degree and master’s program.  I hated it at the time, but looking back on the amount of work I put in and the time I spent to finish, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished.  This was also when I first started dealing with my depression and anxiety, so knowing that I overcame that while working so hard on the degrees makes me feel like I grew and learned so much during that time.  Not just academically, but personally.  I grew into an adult who was self-confident and capable of meeting challenges head-on.  That knowledge has helped me more than anything in my career and personal life.

stbFinally, my last significant memory (that I’ll post about, at least) is the day I was baptized and converted to Catholicism.  It was such a sense of homecoming and peace, and for the first time in a long time, I felt that I was exactly where I needed to be from a spiritual perspective.  I spent several years as a member of my parents’ church, and I never had a feeling of happiness or energy while worshiping there.  I left that church during high school, and never really looked back.  It wasn’t until I met my good friend, T, in the Netherlands, that I started really searching again for answers in religion.  She introduced me to Catholicism from a personal perspective, and over the years I’ve been drawn closer and closer to the faith.  Sadly, I don’t have a photo of myself during the time of my baptism and confirmation (there was SO much going on), but I do have a photo of our chapel and the gorgeous stained glass works that decorate the area.  Sometimes, during mass, I feel drawn to those stunning windows, and immediately feel peaceful and happy, regardless of what is going on in life.  I only hope that my faith continues to sustain me, especially as my father’s health fails.  Undoubtedly, I’ll face many more obstacles in life, and hopefully I’ll find solace and hope within the community that I’ve discovered.

So, there you have it, some significant memories of my life!  I really enjoyed writing this post and sharing with you all some of my experiences, and if you have any questions (or want to know anything about me I haven’t covered), please feel free to ask!

Much love,
K.

Random Blog Post: Languages

languageGrowing up, I was always interested in foreign languages.  Accents, foreign places, strange-sounding (at least, strange to my ears) words were all part of the fascination, and I was so excited to get to high school so that I could start studying a second language.  I grew up in a very small town, with little to no diversity, so it wasn’t like I was surrounded by opportunities to learn a second language.  Plus, add to that the fact that I grew up without any spare money (we weren’t poor, but “extras” weren’t really possible the vast majority of the time) taking lessons wasn’t in the cards for me either.

Once I got to high school, I was given the choice of Spanish or German, the only two languages offered at my school.  I started with Spanish I my freshman year, and worked hard at it.  However, I learned the most once we gained a foreign exchange student from Spain my Junior year.  Virginia was hilarious, and we became quick friends.  My background in Spanish helped give me a jump-start, and before long we were talking solely in Spanish, though obviously much of it was Spanish slang.  Once she left, and I went into my senior year, I wasn’t able to take Spanish IV, because it wouldn’t fit in my schedule (the joys of a small school means that many classes were only held during one class period, so if it interfered with something else you needed, you couldn’t do both).

After I made my decision on where to attend college (GO HOOSIERS!), I considered majoring in languages.  I had tested into 300 level Spanish, but wasn’t able to get into a class my first semester.  Instead, I took French 100.  After my first semester of French, I was able to get into my 300 level Spanish class, so I doubled up and took Spanish 300 and French 150.  It was a bit strange keeping two languages that are so similar, separated in my head, but I managed somehow.  That said, at the end of my Freshman year, I decided that I no longer wanted to pursue Spanish or French, and I wanted to focus on something completely different and non-Romance derived.

Which led me to Arabic (and one of my degrees).  Sophomore year rolled around and I had chosen to focus on Arabic.  The Middle East has also been a huge area of fascination for me (from the culture, to the art, to the food and language), so it seemed like a natural choice.  The College of Arts and Sciences at IU requires that you do 4 semesters of the same language, in order to graduate.  I had already gained that with my Spanish credits I had tested out of, but I wanted to keep up with my language skills.  So, I started with Arabic, just to try it out.  After that first year, I decided to add it to my other major, Political Science.  I enjoyed all the classes and really loved learning Arabic, and by the time I had graduated, I had a pretty decent grasp of the language.  I wouldn’t have been fluent by any stretch of the imagination, but I would be able to get around in an Arabic speaking country.

After undergrad, I went to law school, and stopped studying foreign languages (who has time for anything in law school?).  That degree, along with my Master’s, lasted for 4 years, so by the time I’d graduated in 2009, it had been 7 years since I’d studied French or Spanish, and 4 years since I’d studied Arabic.  Shortly after graduation, we found out we’d be moving to the Netherlands in early 2010, which meant Dutch would be my new focus.  For the first year, I had intensive 1-on-1 Dutch language classes with a private tutor.  However, learning Dutch was quite difficult, since nearly everyone spoke impeccable English (and actually preferred to speak English, as it was easier than listening to Americans butcher their language).  So, the immersion that I had hoped to gain while living abroad wasn’t quite there.  I still learned quite a lot, and because conversationally adequate while living there.  While I was in Houston a few months ago for a trade show, I wound up on a bus with 4 KLM Flight Attendants (all Dutch) who were talking amongst themselves.  I could understand 100% of what they were saying, and when one commented on my face with “yes, it sounds weird, doesn’t it?” I was able to respond back (in Dutch) with how I had lived in the Netherlands for some time, and was able to speak and communicate in Dutch, and that it was so nice to be able to hear it again.  So, after that, I realized that I’d learned far more than I’d thought.

J always teases me because he says that I can eat in 15 languages, but I only speak one.  He’s right, somewhat.  I learned quickly that food words (and ordering at restaurants) was an important skill wherever we traveled, so I can order food in a number of different languages.  Overall, though, I’m only fluent in English.  I’d like to go back and continue my Spanish education, since I feel like that would be the most useful for where we live at the moment, but it’s hard to find time with work and other outside activities.  Learning Dutch was probably the best thing for me, as it really gave me an opportunity to learn, not only the language, but the culture and the people all at once.  It was the full package, which was a great experience!

So, there you go!  Languages, and my semi-obsession with learning them.  I still have dreams of living abroad again in my life, so who knows, maybe I’ll learn another one later on!

Much love,
K.