Monday, April 25, 2011

Across the Pond

What do you think the of the Royal Family?  Are they merely figureheads?  Are they necessary to the identity of Great Britain?  Are they just an expensive way to help the British feel some particular way about themselves and their country?  All of the above?

I don't know.  I'm just an American who has never been to Europe.  Shoot....I've lived in all 4 U.S. states that border Mexico and I've never even been there!

One thing I know, however, is that I've always been intrigued by Great Britain.  It's a place I would really like to visit.  My interest is not just in the gossipy portion of the Royal Family but more so in how the family itself reacts to having such a public life.  I remember learning about Princess Diana as a child and really loving her grace and how much she loved her sons as well as her work as a humanitarian, despite her hatred of the press, who always hounded her.  I teared up when I watched her funeral as a 16-year-old.  I remember learning a little about how the British Parliament differs from our own government - and liking their system better.  

Especially the wigs.  I wish they wore those more often these days.

I also have a deep appreciation for England's rich history.  Our history as Americans is amazing but nothing in comparison with the long time span of crazy history that Great Britain enjoys.

It is this great history that leads Great Britain to this week: the marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton. 

With the exception of winning the bid on the 2012 Summer Olympics (now 459 days away!), it doesn't seem like there's been much news coming out of England.  At least none that has caught my attention.  Seeing the whole country so excited about this wedding has been cool and seeing how that excitement has spread globally is also pretty neat.

In making public my intention to watch the festivities, I know that I will get lumped in with a lot of people who are watching the wedding for different reasons (celebrities, fashion, etc.).  But more than that, I'm interested in watching a truly cultural event of one of the oldest cultures of the Old World. 

So there you have it.  Next exciting British event to be watching for in the future (other than the Olympics!)?  The coronation of the next King.  That'll be an event to see for sure.

Keep it Real!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Long Time in the Making...Let the Countdown Begin!

Meet my backpacking pack:

Forgive the sterile web photo.  Mine is buried in the bottom of a closet and I have absolutely no desire to unearth it for a blog photograph.  Deal with it.
Although she hasn't gotten as much use as I'd like, this pack and I have been together for a few trips since 2005.  

She's been pretty good to me with one exception.  She's been mocking me since 2006 when she got to go to Ecuador and I did not.


It was the summer I was dating Leni and he and his family were going to Ecuador for two weeks.  It was the first time Leni had been back since living there as a member of a missionary family when he was younger.  There was to be a backpacking portion of this trip for which they were short a pack.  So I happily loaned mine out.

Flash forward to last summer.  Leni and I had just paid off my car.  Some number crunching revealed that if we continued saving the amount I'd been making in monthly car payments, we could finally afford a trip to Ecuador during summer 2011, when we knew some members of Leni's family were already planning on going.

Back then, summer 2011 seemed so far away.  The plans for financing the trip were in place but it was much too soon to start any other type of planning.  So we waited.

Well, here we are now in April for a trip that starts in June.  It's starting to feel real and we've slowly started to take some steps to plan this 2 week trip out!

I got my passport back in February.

Also in that month, we purchased plane tickets.

Currently, the family is in the process of planning how the trip will look, day by day, when we are down there. Kind of crazy but fun planning an international trip for people from 3-4 households!  Usually when I go on trips I'm the planner but not having the experience that some of these other folks have in traveling to this particular locale, it's being handled by others, which I'm finding relieving and ever-so-slightly stressful all at the same time.

Days left before the trip: 63.  We depart June 17th and will be back on July 3rd.  

That darn pack has just a little over 2 months left of the mocking.  Hope she enjoys them.

Keep It Real!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Home Improvements II

We've been getting some stuff done around the house lately!

Back in the summer after we got the house, there were some projects we wanted to take care of quickly, as I posted about.  These spilled over a little into the fall but our time was quickly consumed with football season, skiing, holiday trips, etc.

But the weather is getting warmer and it has been motivating us to get back in that "what needs to be done around here" frame of mind.  Here's what we've been up to:

Painting a bedroom.  It was previously occupied by very young and rowdy children and had marks and holes ALL over the walls.

Before: doesn't show really how bad it was
After!  Paint: Touch o' Lime

We didn't do the next project ourselves but we saved money for it for months and months.  The house needed a new roof when we bought it.  We got bids in the late summer and fall and got on a contractor's schedule for "sometime in the spring".  Well, the time came and now our savings account is MUCH smaller :)

Next came the pantry.  It had become more of a room to pile junk in and it was ridiculous.

So I shopped around and found a couple shelving units at a good price and let them do the work they were meant to do!
So what's next on the agenda?  I've got a couple doors I'd like to paint.  Another room to perhaps paint.  We'd like to plant flowers for a little color outside.  We're working on a plan for some window treatments.  One room needs new carpet.  Several windows need to be replaced.  Jeez...overwhelming for sure!

Keep It Real!