Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The last few weeks in pictures...

Well, the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of traveling, holidays, and getting readjusted to life in St. Louis.  I figured I would catch y'all up on all the random shenanigans!

It really is a small world ya'll!  When I was in the airport in St. Louis getting ready to fly to Jackson for Christmas I happened to be there at the same time as my Mom's best friend Janet.  She was traveling from DC to Vegas and had a layover in St. Louis.   Now Janet and I go waaaayy back and she was basically my second mommy when I was little.  When I was 7 years old her son Erich was my best friend.  They lived just down from us in base housing when we lived in Honolulu, HI.  In the mornings when my mom had to leave for work early she would take me (still half asleep) and put me on Janet's couch until it was time to go to school.  Then I would get up and eat breakfast with Janet's family and we would all go to the bus stop.  Such good memories.  Well we took advantage of the being in the same place at the same time and sat at Chili's in the airport and caught up on life!!
Saying goodbye before we got on our planes.
When I finally arrived in Jackson my flight was late and my parents were waiting for me.  We were in the baggage claim and who did we run into....Dr. Gore, one of my dad's very favorite teaching physicians from when we was in residency in Honolulu.  They haven't seen each other in about 20 years so that was quite the reunion.  It really is a small world!

Christmas at my parents house was very laid back. Honestly I didn't take a lot of pictures and just enjoyed spending time lounging around, eating good food, and getting adjusted to the time change.
My mom's tree with all the presents

This pic below was is a good example of how the Shparago's spend holidays....napping on the couch!  I guess EJ needed some beauty rest.

Lola needed her beauty rest too!
My mom on the other hand has all the energy in the world and was so excited to have all her kids home! 
After Christmas with my family we headed to North to Pontotoc, MS to spend time with Chad's family.  David (Chad's brother) and Marcia's (his wife) lab, Buttercup, just had puppies so we spent some time snuggling on them.  Don't you just love the smell of puppy breath?

Chad's family always has a big group gathering sometime around Christmas with all the cousins, aunts, uncles, grand-kids, etc.  We eat pizza and snacks and play games.  Usually we do a dirty Santa but this year they decided to play I was unfamiliar with this game, but basically you have a minute to do all these tasks and the team that does the most wins.  We had a great time laughing and visiting with everyone!
Kaitlyn and Chad
Mattie Grace

Ella the red nosed reindeer!
Ella, Granny, Mattie and Marcia
Minute-to-Win-it stacking cups
Ella moving cotton balls with Vaseline on her nose
Marcia and Gina eating sour balls
Chad and Mattie catching ping pong balls
Cathy and Reggie throwing ping pong balls
I forgot to mention my unexpected Christmas 2002 Explorer finally decided it was time to go to car heaven so I got a brand new Explorer.  I absolutely L.O.V.E it!  We drove it back to St. Louis the Monday after Christmas and we were welcomed home by snow.
My new car ; )
Lola is a great car rider and enjoyed her spot in the back seat.  I got this sling thing that kept dog hair and bulldog drool off my new seats and she spent half the ride with her head rested on it.
Lola riding home
Of course as soon as we got home I got sick and have been battling a cough since then.  The new mugs my Mom gave us for Christmas got plenty of use since I was drinking so much hot tea!

The night before I went back to work we had some friends over for dinner and I made homemade bread and  braised short ribs.  They were soooo yummy!  I served them over cheese grits with a salad and roasted butternut squash.  It was the perfect cozy, winter meal!
The next morning I headed to my home away from home, Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center!  It was great to be back and see friends and kiddos that I have been taking care of for the past two and a half years.  I guess one perk of being at work at 6am is getting to watch the sunrise from the hospital windows : )
The hospital puts out a monthly t-shirt that they sell in the gift shop.  While I was in Ireland someone turned a few of them into a quilt which is now hanging in the NICU....I think this is such a cute idea!  Now I just need to find someone who knows how to quilt to make me one from all of my t-shirts!  So all you quilters out there send me a message if you take special orders!

That pretty much gets y'all up to speed!  Now it's just work, eat, sleep, repeat : )

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Switzerland finale...

Happy New Year Y'all!  Well we have finally settled back into life in St. Louis.  Lots of unpacking, putting away, cleaning and grocery shopping later the house is in order and I feel like I can take a deep breath and relax...that is before I start back to 12 hour work days 6 days a week : )

So what better time that now to finish telling y'all about Switzerland!  After we left Zermatt we got back on the train and headed for Interlaken.  While it wasn't our favorite stop along the way it was still absolutely beautiful and we made some great memories.
While we were walking through town we noticed a big open field.  I jokingly said to Chad, "we should build a snowman".  Being the big kid that he is, he replied with a huge smile "Okay, lets go".  Now honestly, the first thing that came to my mind was hmmm I don't know if I really want to get all cold and wet playing in the snow....but I couldn't disappoint Chad (and it was my suggestion).  This turned out to be one of my favorite moments of our trip!  We built our snowman (whom we named Ralph) and took pictures with our masterpiece.

Below (courtesy of google images) is the same spot in the summer....I would love to go back and see scenery in a different season!
Sooner or later I decided we needed to get a picture of us both with Ralph...easier said than done since there was no one around to take our picture.  After a little practice with the self timer and the camera set up on a jacket in the snow we managed to get a good one. 
BLOOPER!!  "why hasn't the camera gone off"

The next morning we headed up the main peak in Interlaken, Jungfrau.  The weather wasn't quite as good as it had been and visibility wasn't great. 

When we made it to the top of the mountain (13,642 ft) it was sooo cold and windy! We took the elevator to the top of the observatory and Chad ventured outside.  I was lame and stayed behind the doors.

Inside the observatory building there was an incredible Ice Palace.  The walls, floor and everything in between were made of ice.  Just before you entered there was this giant snow globe.  It was taller than me... not that that says much, haha!
The ice palace was AMAZING!!  I can't imagine the time and effort it must have taken to create the sculptures.  Truly a work of art.
Entrance to the Ice Palace


The next day we left for out last destination in Switzerland...Basel.  Basel has the largest and best Christmas market in the country and I was ready to do some shopping!  We headed out our first night there to see the Christmas lights.  I loved all the snowflakes hanging in the trees!

Yummy handmade chocolates!

We stopped at the crepe stand and hand nutella crepes and hot chocolate for dinner....sooooo good!!  I mean who doesn't love chocolate for supper!  The hot chocolate came in souvenir mugs that we brought home with us : )
Making crepes

 The next morning we ventured out (in daylight) to do a little shopping in the market.  We also stumbled upon a food market near our hotel.  I just can't get over how fresh and beautiful all the outdoor markets in Europe were.  I wish we had these at home because I would love to get all my produce, pasta and bread that way!

Fresh veggies
Baskets of mushrooms

Fresh ravioli and pasta
olives, tomatoes and artichokes

As we got closer to the Christmas market we heard carolers singing Christmas songs and could smell the hot chocolate and scrumptious foods cooking.

Beeswax candles, soap and lotions
I didn 't take nearly enough pictures of all the great stuff they had in the market...probably because I was too busy buying stuff.  We picked up ornaments for our families and a few other gifts and ate lots of good food.  We took the train back to our hotel and at one stop a big group of guys dressed as Santa got on.  Needless to say they were having a great time and they definitely provided some entertainment for the ride.
 Basel concluded out Swiss tour and we headed back to Dublin ready to pack up and head for home!