Monday, December 31, 2007

December Update...

Here are a few events that made up our December....

Morgan's piano recital...he is becoming quite the accomplished pianist and we are very proud of his commitment. This year’s recital was held at a retirement home where many of the residents joined the audience to enjoy the holiday music. Some even sang along.
Morgan and I enjoying the recital after-party!

This fall my women's volleyball team won first place in our league tournament. We celebrated at Harry's where our team name originated! The Big Fat Tire's look forward to dominating this Spring as well!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Jamesy turnes One!!!

James Duke's 1st birthday!
I hope Kelly and Jennifer don't mind but the next 5 pictures are comical. I think that any one of these would make for the perfect Christmas card photo. 2 boys, a dog, the holidays and chaos!!
As you can tell James wasn't diggin his birthday hat at which time Bluebell walked by and put the candle out with her tail.....
I'm not quite sure how many drinks Jennifer and Kelly have had at this point?
We almost got this one but I got part of Anna's head in the shot and I think Wyatt was done taking pictures.
This one speaks for itself.....

James did like his birthday hat...just not when it was actually on his head.

Big brother!

A man after Uncle Jadd's own heart. I believe I have a picture of Uncle Jadd with the same chocolate induced coma look (if there really is such a thing) in his eyes...I believe it was in front of the chocolate fountain at Aunt Kate's wedding.
The birthday boys....
Since I couldn't get everyone to look at the camera at the same time here is a shot with Anna...
Here is the same shot with Nanna looking at the camera...
Gee are you guys related?
Say cheese!!!
This is James coming down off of the sugar high and showing off his vocal talent.

Happy Birthday!!!

Here is the birthday boy!! And his cake does not have a pink flower on it. That was my attempt to make a red poinsettia...buttercream frosting doesn't do red well.
A few friends joined us for dinner at the Barbacoa.

Kelly & Jennifer

Tracy & Jadd

Something about the El Grande was spoke of here (more about that once I have copies of Jennifer's photo's).

Jennifer reliving her allergic reaction to parsley!

The 3 steps to milk tasting: Look, Smell, Taste. Kelly is our very own, in-house, milk connoisseur. This particular glass was a very nice vintage.

Jennifer's reaction to my dessert! It WAS good.

The gang full of good food!
After dinner Jadd & Tracy "shared" their gift to Kris...a very nice bottle of wine.
There is a very good story behind this one that Jadd is still feeling a little guilty about.
On Sunday we kept celebrating...joining the fam at the Ram...I am such a poet. Gramp sat next to Kris to keep him in line!

The best part of the meal!!! The mile-high mud pie!

Gramp, Kris, Granny, Mom, Dad and Grandma Melva joined us in celebrating!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Game...the pictures say it all.

Happy Birthday Mom...

Mom's bday you mom!

La...La...Las Vegas!!!

Man it is about time we get back to blogging...we come back from Italy and just fall of the face of the we are back!! Just thought we would give you a quick update on what we have been up to.

A couple weeks ago we spent the weekend in Las Vegas with a few good friends. Thanks to the McGee's we stayed in some very nice accommodations...this was due to their support of (Albertson) College of Idaho. You guys were extremely gracious to extend the invite! Kris and I flew in on Thursday with Hanna and her sister Abby. Jadd and Tracy rolled into town the same day...well actually very early in the morning the following day...brave souls drove! We did our best to stay up and wait for them but our old bones were dragging!!!
Friday morning (ok well like around noon) the girls hit the shops. By late afternoon we were exhausted BUT thanks to Abby we decided to roll on down and catch the "Thunder From Down Under". For those unfamiliar with the TFDU...they are male strippers. Yep, first time ever seeing male strippers...I don't really have the words to describe the experience. Other than to say male strippers know they have nice bodies and therefore really don't care about actually performing (in a theatrical sense - of course). But the one thing that saved the evening was Abby...lets just say she put on the performance of a lifetime...surprised all of us...and I think maybe herself...

The rest of the weekend was full of good food, a little gambling (John was on fire Saturday night), and just all around good times with great friends! Tracy and I were able to squeeze in the Body exhibit...I highly recommend it and can't wait to go again.
As Sunday rolled around we had to say our farewell's to Abby, Jadd and Tracy. The McGee's stuck around for one more night. Hanna and I caught Zumanity...very good...and met up with they guys after for an awesome dinner at the Delmonico (one of Emeril's find dining establishments).. So it was a wonderful end to a great weekend.

Here are a few pic's from the trip:
Kris and I at the Paris

The always lovely Ness sisters...Jadd's awesome injury - Thursday morning Jadd fell off a ladder and sliced his arm open...hopped in the car later that afternoon and came to Vegas. Dedicated. Tracy was very sweet and helped him change the bandaid everyday...paid off....looks great now.

The boys and all their shopping bags...they look thrilled.

Abby, Hanna, Tracy....and uhm, who let John take his shirt of again???? Seriously.

Abby and Hanna with Abby's new boyfriend on the bigscreen in the background.

John doin' his thing at the (ACI) C of I game.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Pictures (finally)

For those of you interested in seeing more of the pictures we took on our trip, you can visit If you don't already have a snapfish account, I think it will ask you to create one, but I think that should be fairly easy. Please let us know if you have any issues seeing the pictures. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

We're Back!

We are back home and recovering from our trip.We had a wonderful time in Italy, but we are happy to be back. It is nice to sleep in our own bed and see our dogs again (who seemed to be just as happy to see us). It is also nice to start seeing familiar faces again. I was able to play in The Ralph Zaragoza Memorial golf tournament yesterday, which was a lot of fun ( not that I played all that well, but it was nice to see everyone there. BTW, Tony and the rest of his family do a great job putting that tournament together - if you are looking for a fun golf scramble to play in that does not cost an arm and a leg, but is still a lot of fun and supports a good organization, you should definitely consider "The Ralph").

We have also been catching up on our rest. Friday night, Leah decided to take a quick nap at about 4:00, but instead of waking up later that afternoon/evening, she slept all the way through 5:30 the next morning! It is amazing to realize how tired you can get after going so hard for so long.

Other than that, we are just catching up on all of the stuff we need to have in order before we start our "normal" lives once again tomorrow morning. Hope things are well with all of you.

Kris & Leah

Saturday, September 29, 2007

In the wee small hours of the morning...

Well, I am writing this as we wait to leave for the airport here in Venice. The shuttle boat to the airport leaves the main square (Piazza del San Marco) at 4:00 AM in order for us to get to the airport in time to catch our flight. At first, we thought that we would turn in early so that we would have plenty of rest to get up in time to get to the dock. Then, we thought we could just stay at the pub closest to our hotel until about 2:00, then go back to the room, shower, pack, and be on our way, but they decided to close at 12:30 tonight (I have a feeling that Italy must have lost their soccer match tonight, otherwise, I am sure people would be out and about). So, all of that to say that we stayed at the bar until about 12:30, and then I am going to blog for a little bit to stay awake, while Leah sleeps for an hour or two before we get up to catch the shuttle. Part of my reluctance to go to sleep also has to do with the mosquitoes in our hotel room. I think because of the rain, we have had an inordinate amount of mosquitoes in our room here in Venice, and they have feasted on me (for some reason, Leah has gone most of the way without getting bitten too often). They wake me up as the buzz by my ears during the evening, and I wake up with multiple bites on any part of me that wasn’t under the covers for the entire evening.

Despite the mosquitoes, we have had a wonderful time here in Venice. I think Leah posted some pictures of the rain we have had today, but it really hasn’t gotten in the way of our visit too much. The umbrellas we bought our second day in Rome came in really handy yet again. I think we got each umbrella for 5 euros, which I thought was a little spendy at the time, but that may have been the best 10 euros we spent the whole trip.

Yesterday, we spent most of our time here in Venice just feeling things out and trying to figure out where we needed to be and what we needed to see. Venice is very confusing if you have a specific place to be at a specific time – it is just a maze of roads and canals. On top of that, the buildings are tall enough that you can’t see over the top to figure out where you are in relation to certain landmarks. I would think that you would need to live here for several weeks (if not months) if you really wanted to understand the layout of the city here in Venice. Thankfully, we were able to find a main route to the Rialto Bridge on one side of our hotel and another main route to Piazza del San Marco on the other side of our hotel, and that was about as much as we needed for the majority of our stay here. There were a few times where we wandered off those main routes, but it was fairly easy to get back to a place where we could find our way back.
First thing this morning, we went to the Doge’s palace (Palazzo Ducale), which is really the building that was used as the model for the outside of The Venetian Hotel & Casino is Las Vegas. As with many of the royal residences we have seen over the last few days, this was extremely impressive. However, different from most of the palaces we have seen here, this one was actually used for most (if not all) of the government happenings of the time in addition to housing the Doge of Venice. At the height of the Republic of Venice, they were not only concerned with their responsibility to religion, but also to the more secular knowledge of the time. You can tell that this place is very different than any of the other places we have seen to date here in Italy in that respect. That being said, the palace still had a special door for the Doge to enter St Mark’s Basilica, and his own chapel there.

Speaking of San Marco’s Basilica, we were able to visit that a little later this afternoon. Along with most of the rest of Venice, it was very different from most of the rest of the churches we have seen on this trip, but still very beautiful. Instead of being decorated with Frescoes and larger-than-life sculptures, the Basilica was dominated by beautiful mosaics. Both on the ceilings and the walls, you would find mosaics comprised mostly of gold tiles that just shone in the afternoon light that entered from the few openings in the back of the Basilica. We were also able to see the treasury of the church, which included many treasures collected in the name of the church during the time when Venice ruled much of the trading industry in this part of the world, but maybe the most impressive part of the Basilica was the Pala D’Oro (golden alterpiece). This sat right behind the remains of St. Mark himself, and is a reflection of how wealthy the republic of Venice truly was in its heyday. It was probably 4 feet wide by 5-8 feet long, and it was made completely of gold and jewels. It is one of those things that if someone made a replica, you would probably dismiss their effort as being too over-the-top to be believable.

In between the Palazzo Ducale and St. Mark’s basilica, we visited the Scuola San Rocco, on Jennifer Barbour’s suggestion, and it was definitely worth the trip. This Scuola is billed as “Tintoretto’s Sistine Chapel”, and is definitely worth that label. It is amazing to see not only the technical work he put into actually painting every canvas for this particular scuola, but also the thought that he put into what he would paint and the placement of each painting. It seems like it was fairly rare for a single artist to paint every work of art in a single church, but this scuola was the exception. It is fairly awe-inspiring to think of his vision and how it seemed like he had the whole thing planned out even before he put a drop of paint on the first canvas. While you may get differing opinions on the Sistine Chapel and how it compares to Tintoretto’s work in this scuola from Leah and I, this work was extremely impressive and worth seeing (thanks, Jennifer).

After all of our sight-seeing, we took some time to go back to our room and rest a little bit (and get eaten by mosquitoes) before we headed out for the evening. After getting up and around, we decided to go on the obligatory gondola ride here in Venice. While this was extremely expensive, and something that we would likely not do again if we returned to Venice, it was something we enjoyed more than we thought we would and are definitely glad that we did it. It came down to the fact that we just didn’t know that we would ever have the chance again, so we decided to just do it. Our gondolier was supposedly a 5th generation gondolier and had bee doing it for 15 years, despite not looking much older than Leah or myself (although that is getting less and less difficult to say these days). After that, we went to a café called “The Florian”, which is the oldest Café on the Piazza del San Marco, and has had numerous famous patrons (or so we’re told). While it was extremely expensive, it was fun to think about how many people had sat there before us drinking the same espresso we were, and looking out over the square.

I know we have used this word several times in posting these blog entries, but Venice has been an extremely surreal experience. Mostly when just standing in Piazza del San Marco, it felt like we were in a movie or painting, or something even more grandiose. It is hard to believe that you are actually experiencing so many of these things that you have seen or heard about through other means. I wonder if it will be different the second time around, but for now, this entire trip has been just one amazement after another.

It is hard to believe that we will be heading home in a couple of hours, but as much fun as we have had, I think we are ready to come home. If nothing else, it will be good for us to get some regular rest so that we aren’t always dragging at the end of the day, but it will also be nice to get home and see our dogs and all that is normal to us. I also start a new job when I get back (still at HP in Boise) that I am really looking forward to, so I am sure that will present many new challenges for us.

Thank you for following along with us as we made our way through Italy. We hope to keep this blog up to date with whatever else is going on in our lives in the future (although I doubt we will update it as frequently as we have over the last couple of weeks), so please feel free to stay up to date with what is going on in our lives (if that is something you really want).

Kris & Leah

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wet and rainy!!

Hello everyone. This will be a quick post as I am about out of time. We made it to Venice...what a great place. So different from all the other stops we've made. I wish we had one more day to wander around. We are going to try and see most of the sights but due to the rain they are packed!!! So we may just end up drinking a lot of beer and wine in an effort to stay dry!! But we are up for getting wet....becuaes we already are! Jennifer we are going to try and make it to the place you suggested in your last comment. We'll let you know how it is.
This is our last post from Italy...we will try to post again tomorrow night once we've reached Seattle!!
9/26- This is my attempt to take a picture of the gutters spewing water off Doge's Palace...crazy!

9/26- We woke up very early this morning to loud thunder and exciting lighting. It has been pouring rain here. This was Piazza del San Marco this morning before we went through Doge's Palace. Now it is under quite a bit more water (lowest point in town) so they have temp. elevated walkways everywhere. Pretty crazy...some spots in the Piazza are at least a foot deep in water right now.

9/25 - Kris in front of Doge's Palace. Dad and Morgan would love this palace!!

9/25 Piazza del San Marco in Vencie

9/24 Kris and I enjoying a bottle of wine on the patio at Castell'in Villa.

9/24 - I think this is the happiest I've seen Kris this entire trip. Our first offical wine tasting - Montalcino.