Sunday, August 23, 2009

Vacation: Michigan

The vacation continues with a week in Michigan. This week, I spent my time meeting friends for a meal, or just hanging out in real time to catch up life. There weren't really any huge events or landmarks visited, just simple pleasures shared with good friends.

This is the kind of post that I write just so I can remember everything... feel free to come along for the ride!


Rain today in MI, like in IL yesterday. I kind of forgot that it rains in the midwest in the summer. Ooops!! Oh, well, I won't melt (as my mother was fond of saying when I was a kid.) When the weather cleared in the afternoon, my friend Sarah and I loaded up her kids and headed over to Calvin College for a walk around campus. It was amazing how strong the memories returned as I walked among and through those familiar buildings! Other Calvin-ites will recognize this spot:

After our walk around the familiar campus, Sarah took me to the Grand Traverse Pie Company, a new addition to 28th Street, for pie and cherry coffee. Yumm!!


Enjoyed a leisurely lunch and wander through Meijer Gardens this afternoon with my friend Ruth, a former co-worker. The Gardens have become a favorite, it seems that every time I'm in town, I meet her there!

Later, I met friends Dave, Beth and their almost 1-year-old Jonah for dinner. Sadly, I completely forgot to take a picture (how did that happen??) but I really enjoyed meeting Jonah for the first time and the tour of their first vegetable garden. I really enjoyed the fresh zucchini for dinner!


This is where things got a little busy trying to squeeze in as much as possible! And, it would seem, when I forgot to use my camera. A friend from Florida, Jon, happened to be in town also, and we managed to meet for breakfast, an unexpected surprise!

Later, I drove out to Ada to meet other former co-workers Phyllis and Twila for lunch, then wandered around at Baker Publishing to say hi to many, many others and see what's changed since I left 6 years ago. I'm sure I will forget somebody in this list, but it was great to talk with Sara, Debbie, Nathan, Dan, Pat, Kristin, Kara, BJ and Steve.

In the evening, I went to Holland Tunnel Park with Sarah, Kevin and kiddos and met Beth & Joe there also. And of course, what trip to the beach is complete without a stop at:


... started early with a walk and breakfast with Tracie, then an afternoon with Kathy & Jeff and kiddos. Again, no pictures, but a relaxing day just catching up with friends!! After dinner, I headed out to Grand Haven to Rob & Joanna's to spend the next two nights.


On Wednesday at the beach, the lake was calm and still and made for perfect swimming conditions for the kids in the group. Today, strong winds were blowing in, creating surf and waves bigger than I think I've ever seen on the lake! The waves were crashing over the Grand Haven pier and sometimes splashed as high as the lighthouse out at the end. Joanna and I braved the wind for a walk out to the beach to take a look. Joanna took this photo for me, one of my favorites from the whole trip!

After getting completely windblown, I met my friend Heather for lunch. Heather and I used to work together, and we were roommates for a year. She picked the Kirby Grill, where we mutually agreed to indulge in the Goat Cheese Fondue.

In the evening, we enjoyed a Grand Haven tradition - Pronto Pups (kind of like a corn dog) - and an ice cream social. Unfortunately, an error in the local paper meant that Joanna and I missed the Musical Fountain, and an lapse of brain cells on my part means that although I had my camera with me a lot, I forgot to get a photo of Joanna or her family, which is a big bummer. Hopefully they will still send me a Christmas card, and then I'll have one!


Saturday morning I left GH for Holland, and spent the weekend hanging out with Beth & Jeff and Beth's family. I had lunch with her and her sisters, then we did some shopping and later her parents hosted dinner for everyone. I spent a lot of time with Beth's family during college, and it's always so fun to see them all!

Sunday we went to church at Mars Hill and then had lunch at Culver's with Jeff's brothers and some friends. The food was super-yummy despite me not getting to have my favorite Cheese Curds, they were unavailable due to a recall. In the evening, I was able to connect with Sarah & Joel, who I met when they lived in CA for several years and now live in Holland, just a 15 minute walk from Beth's house!

Beth and I haven't spent so much time together since we were last roommates in 2003, so I'm afraid that we were pretty silly at times, and her husband could do nothing but roll his eyes and laugh at us. We had a great time, though, and even squeezed in a late-night trip to Me*jer.

Here's a fun photo of our goofy selves... right before this was taken, we were exchanging rapid-fire instant messages with each other and therefore laughing a LOT. Jeff just kept looking across at us like we were crazy, and then became convinced when he found out that we were having an electronic conversation while sitting in the same room.

And a last snapshot on Monday before I got on the train to head back to Chicago. I hate goodbyes. But you know you have a good friend when they get up at 0'dark-thirty to bring you to the train station. :)

Originally posted at:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Vacation: Girls Weekend!

For most of the last 10 years - as in all the years since college - a group of my girlfriends has been talking about planning a girls getaway together. Finally, we did it. Not perfectly, since there were a couple faces missing we would have loved to see, but it was a good start.

For me, this weekend kicked off a long vacation between my summer job and my fall classes. It was wonderful to enjoy many hours of girl talk, some shopping, great food (including my favorite Gino's East pizza!) and some of the sights in downtown Chicago.

I love getting to see the famous Cloud Gate sculpture (AKA "the bean") in downtown's Milleniumm Park.

My friend Sarah took this photo of me with the cityscape in the background.

And here's all of us, after enjoying a yummy dinner & dessert at Claim Jumper. From left: Sarah, me, Sarah, Annie, and... Sarah. Yes, really, 3 of the 5 girls are named Sarah!!

Originally posted at:

Friday, August 7, 2009

How are you? No, WHO are you?

You might think from the title that this post was about someone who called the wrong number in the middle of the night. But it's not.

Or maybe it was a random call from one of those poor souls who feed their families by working as telemarketers.... Nope. Not that either.

Instead, I talked by phone this week with a friend from high school that I'm pretty sure I haven't even seen since we walked down the aisle to Pomp & Circumstance in our blue gowns and mortarboards. The title words were hers and they were exactly right: after this many years, we don't really know each other anymore. But we're about to find out, because I'm going to meet up with her in a couple weeks when I happen to be in her city.

Her question has really made me think these last few days. Who am I really? What's different about me since high school...? Since college...? Since I moved to California 6 years ago? What's different about me since last week?

I am not good at answers to these kinds of questions on the spot. This is why I fear interviews. I can always think of good answers to questions with time, so if I can anticipate the questions, all is well. Out of the blue? I come up with the perfect answer approximately the next Wednesday. But the good questions do percolate in my mind.

This one's been fun to think about. I may have a few things to say about the answers ... when I get around to figuring out what they are.

-- Originally posted at:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

HOW far?

I just got home from a fabulous weekend in the Bay Area. I'm exhausted, but it was so worth it. I got to play in the park and go out for yogurt with Luke & Lucy. I visited San Francisco. I went boating on a lake with some of the greatest friends a girl could ask to grow up with. My good friend was the guest speaker at church on Sunday. I had a delightful and indulgent dinner with my cousin at The Cheesecake Factory. It was a jam-packed, so it's no wonder I can't seem to keep my eyes open!

I even managed to bring home a souvenir that also managed to fill a hole in my wardrobe. You see, for literally MONTHS I've been trying to find a basic zip-up hoodie sweatshirt. For months before that, I kept telling myself I would eventually want a San Diego State hoodie badly enough to fork over $60. (Yes, $60. Ridiculous.)

Well, guess what. Despite the fact that even in California, sweatshirts are necessity year-round, I haven't been able to find one. But this I know: "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco" is a reputation gained honestly. For uninitiated tourists, the shops of Fisherman's Wharf are happy to help you out with a modestly priced sweatshirt, fleece or windbreaker. No sarcasm, either. For a $17.99 plus tax, I went home with a warm & fuzzy sweatshirt that I will probably wear until it falls apart. I didn't really fly 500 miles just for a sweatshirt, but as desperate as I was getting... it wasn't entirely out of the question.

As for the reputation of the city being cold in the summer, it was doing its best to change it's image the day we were there: sunny with a nice breeze. I even got a little sunburned. It was wonderful.

This is the only photo I have of the weekend, which my friend Sara took with her iPhone. She also - and this is proof of her friendship - served as my fashion consultant while keeping two kids occupied in the touristy store that was decidedly not kid-friendly. Thanks, Sara! Loved our day, and our weekend, together.

Originally posted at: