Stockholm 2012

9 07 2012

Christine and I spent 4 days in Sweden this summer. Swedish meatballs, tourist sites, discovering the origins of the Nobel Prize, hotel accommodations in 1924 luxury yacht moored in the “Gamla Stan” or Old Town of Stockholm.

Canal du Midi – Windstrup and Watkins Spring Vacation 2012

15 04 2012

For the longest time I have wanted to explore the Canal du Midi in France. I remember seeing something about it on TV in the late 80s thinking that I want to do that someday. Might have been the BBC cooking show Floyd on France or some other PBS show at the time. I had no idea I would eventually live in the country not just vacation there. After living in France for 10 years while discussing my younger man’s dream with some friends over dinner I discovered other compatriots who had similar dreams. We discussed it a bit and decided on the spot to just do it. What a wonderful opportunity to discover the mysteries of the canal and the charm of the connected cities together aboard the same “Le Boat”. We all took pictures and I took a ton of video. Click on the image below to see the edited and loosely narrated video of our adventure. Or if you want to simply see our photos in a slideshow click here on the photo book slideshow.

New Year 2012

1 01 2012

We went to the Netherlands to to bring in the New Year with friends. Started out in Holland and the capital city of the Netherlands. We went on a canal boat trip, the kids ice skated, we grabbed a few good meals, and Gabrielle insisted we go shopping. On the way out of Amsterdam we went to an open-air museum for a nice diversion out of the hustle and bustle of the city. Then just about hour away we met up with our Dutch friends. Ivo and I took the kids to blow off fireworks and find some geocaches. Debby and Christine spent the day together catching up on things, sewing, and getting ready for a proper New Year celebration. We all had a great time and very memorable experience. Thanks guys.

Spring Break 2011

15 04 2011

We went “skiing” in Morillon, France for spring break with the kids. The skiing is in quotes because we did little actual skiing. We have been going skiing every other year for some time now. We go to the same station and stay in the same chalet. We thought we were “pros” now because of our routine and the fact we purposefully go end of the season to avoid crowds and take advantage of the warmer weather. Well this year we outsmarted ourselves because the weather was so unseasonably warm all the lower altitude stations were covered in green and obviously closed. We did manage to get in a couple of runs in at the higher altitude Flaine station. Skiing or not vacation is still vacation so we took advantage of the marvelous weather by hiking and geocaching. We were able to find 3 persistently stubborn goecaches in the Haute-Savoie. (Land-is Joux-Plane, Les Tines-Sixt, Cascade du Rouget) On previous trips we looked for all these but no joy… This time with not a lick of snow they were not as elusive. We also visited the Musée de l’horlogerie in Cluses, did some shopping, went to a traditional restaurant for some hearty mountain food, and the kids got in some treetop adventure park fun. All in all a nice break from the school and work routine.

Summer Vacation 2010

12 07 2010

This is my second attempt at video editing or maybe my third. Below is a link to a substantially condensed version of the original 2 hour “director’s cut”. Knowing that nobody wants to watch other peoples home movies especially at feature film length I edited this down to a viewable but still riveting 14 minutes. As usual I went out of my way to add some interesting commentary.

I made this masterpiece with iMovie. Not being pleased with the various Linux video editors I tired before I used this project to justify my purchase of an iMac. A move in hardware and software that I do not regret.

Summer Vacation 2009

14 07 2009

This is a quick slideshow of our Summer vacation camping in Millau France.

Scottish Vacation 2008

4 11 2008

Wednesday, October 29th
We started early with a joyful trip on the RER B line from home to the airport. We went from Paris Charles de Gaulle to the Edinburgh Airport. Upon our arrival we were quickly reassured with the sound of our favorite language. English. On to the Avis Rent-A-Car counter. We opted for the Renault Espace IV minivan since there were 5 of us. The sunroof was novel. After an intense first few minutes of figuring out how to drive on the left we headed off to discover Scotland. Despite GPS navigation we couldn’t find our first hotel, a Holiday Inn Express, right away but that allowed us to stumble upon Ocean Terminal Shopping Center complete with tourist attractions and restaurants. From inside the mall is the entrance to Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia. It was well worth the visit. If interested there is a brief write-up on the Undiscovered Scotland site. I wonder if the Queen really played Solitaire in the State Drawing Room. We had dinner at Potters only a few storefronts down in the mall. This was the fallback restaurant since the one Gabrielle had chosen was already closed at 6PM. Grandma had the Béchamel sauce lasagna and loved it. We retired to our hotel just across the street where the kids spent the night in Grandma’s room and playing games to the wee hours of the morning I imagine. This was by far Gabrielle’s favorite hotel and shopping mall combo.

Thursday, October 30th
We had breakfast at the hotel. Everybody loved the continental breakfast especially Christine. They had “packaged goods” cheese that was a big hit with the kids. Grandma put some in her purse for later as all good Grandmas should. David developed solid toaster usage skills in the self-service buffet environment. Then off to visit Edinburgh Castle. The TomTom GO 920T made quick work of finding a parking garage close to the castle. Actually finding the entrance was another story. We had to cross Princes Street Gardens and tackle The Mound on foot. We enjoyed the visit though knowing more of the castle’s history would have helped. As a means to that end I bought the obligatory guide book so that I can learn as I often do after the fact. We had lunch at the Redcoat Café in the castle which had a spectacular view of Edinburgh’s New Town area and the gardens below. The firing of the One O’Clock Gun just outside the café marked our departure to the Oban area. En route we had lunch at The Green Welly the self-proclaimed “Perfect Spot for a Halfway Stop”. Grandma had Scotch broth “Gramppy” soup as she called it reflecting on her childhood. They were also giving away hot pocket like things which we graciously accepted. Not a bad spot for a stop even with the gift shops and all. After putzing around in the highway oasis we realized that it gets dark early this time of year. We had some difficulties finding the Cuilfail Hotel in the rural darkness though the view of the night sky was stunning. We adults settled with a pint of beer in the inn’s “authentic village pub” complete with a lovely fireplace, friendly patrons, and staff.

Friday, October 31th
The hotel was certainly charming but the rooms were freezing cold. We talked a bit with the chef, a colorful man quite talkative about his upcoming vacation in Paris, who made us a wonderful breakfast. Bellies full we were off planning on visiting Oban but due to popular demand we shopped more than visited the city. We went to the Pound Plus variety store where Grandma enjoyed buying us trinkets. David picked a magnetic fishing set. Gabrielle went for a whoopee cushion, and I decided on a Scottish flag refrigerator magnet. Christine had to stop at a clothing store to get David a hat and gloves and a compulsory stop in a book store was also on the agenda. After our shopping tour we were off to the Isle of Skye. What should have been a 3 hour drive turned into 5. We encountered a GPS programming\usage anomaly that we will henceforth be known as “The Ferry Debacle”. Always double check the destination and the feasibility of the route planned by the GPS before unquestionably following the directions. We did get to see more of the country but again we were looking for our hotel in the dark. We found the Hotel Dunollie in Broadford fairly late so we opted for dinner at the hotel. The ladies went to the local pub in the hotel for a nightcap with some Halloween revelers while I got the kids to bed.

Saturday, November 1st
The breakfast buffet at the hotel was delicious for those of us who appreciate real breakfast food and not just jam and toast. We had a splendid view of the water and mountains. A driving loop of northern most tip of the Isle of Skye with geocaching and visiting the ruins of a castle were on the agenda for the day. We drove past the city of Portree noting the different color seaside houses and continued on to our first geocache in Scotland. David found this one “The Wicker Man – Corn Rigs and Barley Rigs” and he and I were pleased to initiate Grandma to the world of geocaching. We continued on to the cache “Quiraing”. This one was up one of the narrowest windy roads in the country. It was placed in a small rocky roadside cliff seemingly isolated. David and Christine decided to continue up the cliff a bit further to enjoy the calm quite of the Scottish landscape only to find a mobile coffee shop selling hotdogs, pizza, and hot chocolate. We had found our lunch spot. David rated his hotdog the best meal of the trip and Grandma was flabbergasted to see concession stand in the middle of nowhere. We continued on to the ruins of Duntulm Castle. I am glad I marked its latitude and longitude from a georeferenced Wikipedia article. It wasn’t visible from the single track road and the weather didn’t encourage us to do any impromptu exploring. We headed back and stopped at the co-op right next to the hotel to gas up and get some supplies. Christine wanted to get candy and of course Grandma needed Coke. The kids and I were thinking chips. Back in the hotel lobby we played Fill or Bust. I had a good lead but the kids vengeanced me and filibustered Grandma to a win. For dinner that night we noticed a take-out fish ‘n’ chips place in town that was seemingly the local favorite so we went for the British fast food classic. I got the grub and we all watched Strictly Come Dancing the UK version of Dancing with the Stars in Grandma’s room.

Sunday, November 2nd
After another decent breakfast at the hotel we hit the road and headed off toward Inverness which took us pass the legendary Loch Ness. We stopped at the Loch Ness Monster Exhibition Centre basically a Nessie tourist trap but mildly entertaining nonetheless. We continued along the 23 mile long loch to find the best geocache of the trip “One Of Our Aircraft Is Missing”. I was pleased to get my hands on the Fox or the Geese Geocoin. Follow its journey to France and beyond. At Inverness we took leisurely walk through the town and we had lunch at the Mustard Seed restaurant before heading on to Blair Castle. Too bad it was closed this time of year. We checked into the Atholl Arms a huge manor house with Scottish plaid carpeting so unlike the modern chain hotels. The kids had a chance play Kings in the Corner before we had dinner in the hotel’s Bothy Bar or “friendly house” bar. They really know how to do a pub in Great Britain. Grandma got to finish the day by watching following day’s elimination round to Strictly Come Dancing.

Monday, November 3rd
We started the day in the hotel’s grand dining hall complete with log and coal fire. It had an elegant hunting lodge for nobility motif. Quite a grandiose atmosphere but the kids, especially David, was troubled by the animal heads mounted high upon the wall. They looked down on us through their boney eye sockets. All part of the ambiance. I had the full Scottish breakfast which included fried eggs, beans, a potato scone and a slice of haggis. Grandma had bacon and eggs. The kids and Christine settled for toast and cereal as usual. On the road again we made a quick stop looking for another cache but the early morning November weather and a barbed wire fence stopped us cold. The “featured” footbridge, forest, and lake made for a nice cache location. We headed on for Perth and lunch at Pizza Hut. We briefly looked around the city where we saw some historic house, a large park, and a bakery visit were two gingerbread men were acquired and consumed. Nearing the end of our vacation all that was left was an hour ride to the airport to return the rent-a-car, baggage check and the security screening. You wouldn’t expect any major issues yet David and Christine each has issues passing through security. David went through with his magnetic fishing pole set that easily set off the metal detector. Complicating things he had an almost full bottle of Fanta in his backpack. He got a patdown search and he had to prove the innocuous disposition of his beverage by consuming it. Christine pulled another security checkpoint stunt this time by forgetting she had a Swiss Army knife in her purse. The pocketknife which had to be forfeited was actually a gift that she had given to me several years ago. I had recently lent it to her to fulfill one of her tomboy desires. After the ordeal a stop at an airport gift shop was necessary to liberate some remaining pounds and to offer a Scotland coffee cup gift to appease comments about my knife. The return flight left on time and actually arrived 30 minutes early at Roissy. We endure the return RER trip home bringing our Scottish vacation to an end.

American Vacation 2007

14 09 2007

The following is an account of what we did on summer vacation.

Friday, July 27th
Grandma and Dale picked us up at O’Hare airport from the international terminal. We went to Grandma’s house in Chicago Ridge, Illinois and unloaded our suitcases. Then we went to Palermo’s for garlic bread and cheese pizza. We were a bit tired from the 8 hour flight but not too tired to eat real Chicago Style Pizza. On the way back to Grandma’s house I fell asleep listening to my new favorite band Tokio Hotel on the MP3 player that Daddy gave me.

Saturday, July 28th
Grandma made us Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and a real American Hot Dog for lunch. Then we all went food shopping at the local Jewel Food Store to get our favorite treats. They had fire engine shopping carts that were very cool. Then we went to the Chicago Ridge Library to get movies and books. All the librarians knew Grandma. She must be a “regular” over there. They had a kid’s section and a table with various cars and magnets. We amused ourselves over there as Grandma chatted with the staff trying to find movies and books that we all would enjoy.

Sunday, July 29th
We all went to Uncle Mike’s and Aunt Jen’s new house for a delicious Mostacholi lunch. Aunt Jen’s nieces, nephew and their parents joined us and we all went to the Lisle Water Park for a very enjoyable day. Uncle Mike and Aunt Jen played in the river current and they convinced me to go down the big slide. Then we went to the Naperville River Walk to feed the ducks. The walk had many seahorse and dolphin statues. David wanted his picture taken at every one of them. We proceeded to a restaurant for great hamburgers and sandwiches. The restaurant had an interesting revolving door.

Monday, July 30th
We went to visit Mommy’s friend Margaret and her family. We saw Monica and Mathew. It was nice to see them again. They stopped by and visited us in France when they were on vacation last year. They even let us borrow their car during our vacation. Very nice indeed. We went back to Grandma’s for dinner. David was very impressed with Grandma’s corner curio cabinet loaded with Coke paraphernalia. There are things in there that “sing and dance”, light up, and that are just cool in general. Sitting directly across from this David couldn’t stop looking at it; and of course, he developed a thirst for the tasty beverage. However, wanting to please Daddy and knowing that he has a predilection for Pepsi not Coke David asked for Daddy’s preferred cola beverage not Grandma’s.

Tuesday, July 31st
We went to visit Mommy’s friend Lynn and her children Elise and Camille. We went to a water park in Munster, Indiana. We had pizza for lunch. David got a book about helicopters and he had his Pepsi today. Wait, I need to explain. Yesterday, for reasons that are still unclear to me, Mommy and Grandma said that David can only have Pepsi on Tuesdays. Not before or after just this one day of the week. For awhile that is all David talked about… honestly, I don’t get the big deal.

Wednesday, August 1st
We went to visit Mommy’s friend Magalie in Berwyn. We went to yet another water park. We tried Sara Lee pound cake. We loved it. David was allowed to take the big water slide even though he didn’t know how to swim. The lifeguards were nice and offered to catch him at the end of the slide. He went down several times. So did I. It looks like America is one giant water park.

Thursday, August 2nd
We went to visit Dale and “Uncle” Ivan. Dale is my godfather you know. He is a grown-up but he really likes playing with us. He makes me and David laugh. Later that day when Grandma came home from work, we went to McDonald’s for hamburgers.
We played Sorry and went to the library with Grandma. Mommy went to visit a friend that she met in Paris that was here in the US at the same time we were. It’s a Small World after all; isn’t it?

Friday, August 3rd
Uncle Mike and Aunt Jen came over and we left for Sandusky, Ohio and Cedar Point Amusement Park. We went in Russ’s bigger than big Chevy Suburban. We played car games “en route” and stopped for lunch on the tollway. When we arrived we checked into the America’s Best Value Inn hotel. We went down to the pool. Then we all went to Steak ‘n Shake for hamburgers and milk shakes. On the way back we went to Wal-Mart and got David a Spiderman kickboard for the pool.

Saturday, August 4th
We met “Aunt” Sis, Dan, Jen, Brian, Deb, little Taylor, Bruce, Kristie, and Greg at Cedar Point. The “big kids” all wanted to go the super rides. We kids went to the Ice Show and David ran up to hug Snoopy. The show was very enjoyable. I went on Iron Dragon. OK not the roller coaster but the swings. David was 2 inches too short for many of the rides, but he did the Tilt-A-Whirl and the little roller coaster with Grandma. David got right up and participated at the Karaoke show. It was very entertaining. Most of us went to a buffet for dinner and David loved the corn on the cob and I loved the strawberries and Gummy Bears for desert. Then we went back to our room and played 4 rounds of Grandma’s famous dice game and Bunco David won a lot of the wonderful prizes.

Sunday, August 5th
Rain, Rain, Go Away We wanted to go down to the pool, but it was raining too hard. Oh well. We packed up, meet everyone for breakfast, and said goodbye. Uncle Mike drove all the way home in the rain. Daddy called from home in France on Uncle Mike’s cell phone. He didn’t want to talk too much. He had to keep his attention on the road. You know responsibility and all. A foreshadowing of things to come. We were all tired when we got home, but we all had a great time.

Monday, August 6th
David started the day with a “time-out”. Mommy and I went to Mary Ellen’s house to swim in her pool and play with Maggie their dog. Grandma and David had a serious talk explaining if we wanted to have fun it was necessary to do what we are told; or otherwise, we would have to sit at home. Later that evening Tom and Mary Ellen came over and we played bean bag and Grandma aced a bag in the hole and said “Yea Baby” and that became David’s favorite expression. Mommy and Mary Ellen did an excellent job putting the outside table together. They kept saying, “We are women and we can do anything!” Tom also showed David how to swing the baseball bat and they played catch for a little while.

Tuesday, August 7th
We went with Mommy and her friend Cheryl and her children to Kiddieland. We all had a good time especially David because it’s Tuesday today and he got to have his Pepsi. At this amusement park you can refill your Pepsi as much as you want. Later that evening we went to the Elks Club where Grandma was in the Bean Bag Tournament. We met Grandma’s friends Sharon, Carolyn, and Sue. We all had pizza and chips. David was running behind everyone who aced a bag into the hole yelling “Yea Baby”. With 24 adults and 6 games happening at one time he was quite busy.

Wednesday, August 8th
We all went to Grandma’s friend Joanne’s house for a beautiful dinner and we swam and played in the immense pool in her complex. Mommy and Grandma visited with Karen (Joanne’s daughter) and her neighbors dropped by for a visit. We watched movies. Joanne made me a purple print blanket and she made David a Scooby Doo blanket. These “doudou” blankets remind us of her we use them. We raced home because it was Caitlin’s birthday party and we had a present for her. Mary Ellen brought her a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake which we put the candles on and of course, we sang “Happy Birthday”. Dale joined us and was swinging us around in circles which we really enjoyed. I wonder if Dale’s back enjoyed it as much as we did. Mommy’s friend Raul came over and then they went out to have a bite to eat.

Thursday, August 9th
Daddy would be arriving later today and we were excited. We went with Mommy to visit “Aunt” Paulette and Jackie. Jackie is my godmother you know. Uncle Mike picked up Daddy at the airport. I think they went to Taco Bell for dinner. We went to Uncle Mike’s to see Daddy. We all went back to Grandma’s house together as a family. Vacation is better when we are all together.

Friday, August 10th
The family went shopping for clothes at Kohl’s while Grandma was at work. After lunch, we all went to Brunswik Arena Bowling Alley to bowl 3 games. We did all right considering we hardly ever bowl at home.

Saturday, August 11th
We all met Uncle Mike and Aunt Jen at J. C. Penney to have family photographs taken. They turned out quite nicely. Then we went to Taco Bell for lunch and then back to Uncle Mike’s to see video of Aunt Jen swimming with dolphins. I think that Daddy must really like Taco Bell to eat there two times in almost as many days. Aunt Jen went to visit her friend. Uncle Mike took us to see the Kane County Cougars baseball game. Daddy caught a ball! He is quite the baseball enthusiast. They had a record crowd that day.

Sunday, August 12th
We went over to see Uncle Ivan and Russ. Russ, Daddy’s cousin, is a daddy himself now too. Mommy and Daddy went out with their friends Paul and Dorothy to have dinner. Daddy told me it was nice to see his best friend again. We didn’t go because it was far far away and it was late. We got to stay up late anyway with Grandma. We played games and watched “Shall We Dance”. Grandma told me that I would see the L train we saw in the movie when we go to downtown Chicago. She also said that the buildings known as “skyscrapers” would be very, very tall.

Monday, August 13th
Dale came over in the morning and then we all went to the Chicago Ridge train station and took the Metra train into Union Station where Aunt Jen met us. Grandma was right the buildings are extremely tall in downtown Chicago. They touch the sky. We took the Shoreline Water Taxi to Navy Pier where Uncle Mike joined us. We had a very enjoyable day at the Children’s Museum, and the Fun House. I really loved the swings, but I chickened out on riding the huge ferris wheel. David wasn’t afraid like me and he went way up there. We had a delicious lunch at the Billy Goat Tavern. Then we took a half hour boat ride on Lake Michigan. Oh, I forgot that Daddy and Uncle Mike played a big game of chess. I mean big, with big pieces. Daddy won and he said, “as usual”. We took the water taxi back down the Chicago River and took the train home. Dale went and got us pizzas for dinner. Then Mommy and Daddy went to return her friend’s car. We played Uno with Grandma. The winner got to go pick some candy in Grandma’s famous “candy bar”. I cannot remember who won. I don’t think it was me.

Tuesday, August 14th
We had so much fun at the lakefront yesterday we did it again today. Same way… train to Union Station… water taxi to Navy Pier. From there we wanted to go to the Museum Campus but the taxi was not running because the lake was too rough. The museums would have to wait. We rented a canopy bicycle built for six. It was quite an experience as we pedaled down the lakefront and crossed Columbus Drive to reach our final destination Millennium Park. There were these big fountains that spit water out of people’s mouths with changing faces on them. We saw the big stainless steel bean. Its surface is all shiny. We could easily see our reflections along with the Chicago skyline’s reflection. Uncle Mike joined us at the park. Daddy was glad to see him especially since it appears to have been much easier pedaling back with Uncle Mike’s help. During our bicycle excursion the lake had calmed down, and we were able to take the water taxi to the Field Museum which is Mommy’s favorite. David and I liked the museum as much as Mommy but Grandma, Uncle Mike and Daddy didn’t seem to be as interested. I think they have visited this one many times over the years. For David there was an added bonus in the museum’s vending machine area because they had seemingly dozens of machines that sold Pepsi and various chips. Daddy opted for Frito-Lay products. It was great that Uncle Mike joined us for all of our adventures.

Wednesday, August 15th
Mommy went to visit her friends Yukiko and Maria in the city. We went with Grandma and Daddy to North Palos Elementary School District 117 where Grandma works so she could introduce us, her grandchildren, to all the ladies she works with. Daddy wanted to say hello too because he used to work there also. Then we went to Brookfield Zoo. We had lunch at Beefy’s restaurant in Summit on the way where I noticed pictures of Grandma’s favorite singer of all time Elvis Presley on the walls. Later we watched a TV special about him. I enjoyed the story and some of his music. I think Daddy likes him too. Impressive isn’t it; he and his music seem to transcend the generation gap. Uncle Mike met us at the zoo. Uncle Mike is a banker and normally he would be at work at LaSalle Bank, but these last few days he took some vacation time to be with us. That was nice of him. We saw many animals and we went to the dolphin show and watched them toss the ball and jump really high. It was quite a performance. Daddy just had to show us the Mold-A-Rama machine. I wasn’t overly impressed. Actually it was kind of noisy and smelly. David thought it was cool though and he made a wax rhino just like Daddy did when he was a boy. Some things never change.

Thursday, August 16th
We went with Mommy to see her friend Jill and her kids Abigail & Joseph. We went to the Naperville Children’s Museum. Grandma and Daddy went over to Uncle Mike’s. I heard Daddy say later that Uncle Mike treated them to a nice Italian lunch. He said that they played Axis & Allies just like the good old days. Daddy told me that he taught Uncle Mike everything he knows and thinks in this strategy board game. Now whenever they play Uncle Mike always wins. Grandma watched a movie while they fought for world domination. We met up with them later in the evening and we all went to Chuck E. Cheese’s to meet Paulette, Jackie and Anna. We had pizza and everyone played some of the fun arcade games. David played air hockey especially well for his age. Uncle Mike was impressed and it seem that the atmosphere brought out the kid in him too. David and I both accumulated quite a few tickets and we got to pick some fascinating prizes before we left. It was a lot of fun.

Friday, August 17th
We all went out for breakfast at Flap-Jack’s Pancake House. We had pancakes and waffles with real homemade maple syrup. Daddy’s pancakes were different though. He had potato pancakes just the way he likes them. Then Mommy took Daddy to the airport because he had to get back to his new job at ANSYS. I am glad Daddy was able to come on vacation with us. Mommy did some shopping on the way home. We had gone with Dale to the movies to see Nancy Drew. Then he took us to the Beecham’s to visit and play on the trampoline. When we got back to Grandma’s Mary Ellen, Caitlin and her friend Jeanette had come over to play games with us. We have been quite the center of attention. Caitlin gave both David and me Yankees hats. Tome gave David a White Sox shirt. Not only that, Jeanette surprised David with some cars and me with a High School Musical game! You know that High School Musical is my new favorite movie. We all enjoyed the evening.

Saturday, August 18th
We went with Uncle Mike and Aunt Jen to her nieces’ birthday party. Kayla and Kristen, the twins, turned 4. We spent the night with our aunt and uncle. We watched a movie and played video games. Super Mario World and Burgertime were our favorites. Mommy said that she went to a Polish restaurant with her friend Margaret.

Sunday, August 19th
We went back to Grandma’s house with Uncle Mike and Aunt Jen and everyone came over for “Christmas in August”. Grandma said that it was OK to celebrate Christmas now because we were good girls and boys and that we usually do not get to see each other on Christmas. Grandma had encouraged us to do various odd jobs around the house while we were there to earn points. With the points we earned, Grandma let us purchase stuff from the Dollar Store. We gave some of these things as gifts and we got to keep some things too. We learned it is as much fun to give as it is to receive. Since Russ, Gloria and the baby Kevin were there we really appreciated giving gifts to Kevin. Christmas is for kids you know. After the festivities we went to see Dean and he gave us a ride in his police car. He even turned on the siren and the flashing lights. Mommy and her friend went out to dinner at the Pit Rib House. Mommy has a lot of friends and they all love to eat. When she was leaving she thought she smelled gas. When Russ was loading his car he smelled gas too. Grandma called Nicor Gas about the leak. Just to play it safe we all vacated the house and went over to Dale’s until the gas company fixed the leak. “Better safe than sorry”, Daddy always says.

Monday, August 20th
We saw Yukiko and Yoshi when they came over for a visit. Later that afternoon we went with Grandma to the Dollar Store and we each got to pick out 2 things. There is a lot of stuff at the Dollar Store. We spent quite a bit of time deciding what we wanted. Grandma said, “an hour and a half to spend 2 bucks… it’s a good thing I didn’t give you 5 dollars each”. After our shopping extravaganza we went to the Chicago Ridge Police Station for a tour of the facilities thanks to Dean who set it up for us. It was very informative. We saw the jail cells and even got a collectors card with Dean in uniform and some other promotional items.

Tuesday, August 21st
It’s Tuesday again so David got to have his Pepsi. Tom and Mary Ellen stopped over after school to visit with us. I heard that it was Tom’s idea. Later that day Aunt Jen came to visit us and Uncle Mike took the train from downtown and met us at Nick’s pizza by the train station for dinner. Dale and Tom joined us also. You can never have too much pizza. To work off all those calories we went to the batting cages to hone our baseball skills. We all took turns. Well everyone but Grandma. She was too busy cheering us on. Then we all went and played miniature golf and Caitlin and her friend Jeanette came up and joined us. We all had a great time. At the end of the evening we decided to say our farewells. We would be leaving tomorrow. We really loved our visit and it was hard to say goodbye.

Wednesday, August 22nd
We finished packing our stuffed to capacity luggage. We stopped over at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery to visit Aunt Karol. We said hello. When Grandma got home from work we thought we were going to drive over to Uncle Ivan’s to return his car, but it would not start. So Dale came and got us in the big Suburban and we went to say goodbye to Uncle Ivan. Then off to the airport. We had a wonderful time visiting with Grandma. We were a bit sad when we kissed and said goodbye, but we are looking forward to when we will see each other again.

The original narrative was prepared by Gloria Olson (Grandma). It was slightly rewritten to be completely from Gabrielle’s point of view. A few details and various web links were added.