Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011 was another stretched out extravaganza filled with good food, friends, family and activities in various cities and states. So many great memories to file away in the brain.

The holiday season began by decorating the house Thanksgiving weekend, even if the decorations were only to be seen by the two of us. We spent a lovely weekend in Fort Wayne, Indiana mid-way through December to catch up with family in the mid-West and reminisce over Christmas past, missing those who could not be with us and savoring the company of those still around.

Christmas continued with the extended Texas Jacob clan, where Brendan brought us back to that pure childhood joy of being surprised with the perfect present.


Excitement knows no age boundaries…

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Then on to a more quiet celebration in the “bowling alley” room at home.

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Christmas culminated in a wonderful 8-day Boston visit. Not sure what the highlight of the trip would be since there are so many to choose from… Christmas Eve extravaganza with yummy food, exciting presents, and great company:

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Christmas day excursion to Worcester (via Paul Revere’s capture site) for Yahtzee with 99-yr old Grandma, followed by family basketball on Christmas night, stockings, and Spades:

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Exploration of Boston for Mom’s birthday after brunch with the Salem witches: (A sampling of sub-highlights include visiting the USS Constitution & battle ships, Newbury Street, Museum of Fine Arts in matching sweaters, Italian delicacies in the North End, lots of walking in the cold & wind, and more!)

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Watching the process of raising a cupola to the roof of the barn, during which luckily no injuries were sustained:

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Or perhaps the countless “practice rounds” of Spades, tennis, and bowling… who’s to say which activity was the most entertaining when there are so many good options to choose from.

The only thing that is clear is that Christmas 2011 has created many fond memories which will remain even as all the holiday decorations come down and we move into 2012. Thank you to all who helped make this a great finish to 2011 and best wishes for a happy new year!

More pictures available from Texas (Thanksgiving & Christmas) and from Boston by clicking on the blue links.

2 Years Down, Many More to Go

We celebrated our two year anniversary with the honeymoon trip we had always talked about to the Northwest. Though we contemplated Canada and Oregon as well, we settled on a few days in Seattle accompanied by rest and relaxation in a private house on San Juan Island (found by our trusty travel agent, Dad). It was better than we could’ve hoped for.

True to Seattle weather, the first couple days were cool and mostly cloudy with sprinkles here and there. Coming from too many 100+ degree days it was pure heaven – at least for half the crowd – though you can’t tell which half in these pictures can you? 😉

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To stay warm on our morning walk we ducked into the Seattle Aquarium with our coffee deciding to keep our tradition going of an aquarium and/or zoo or animal excursion of some sort on every vacation. Though there were no penguins, sea otters kept us happy. (Or was it the thought of relaxing with the Notre Dame game later that afternoon?)


We lucked out waking up to a gorgeous blue sky on the 19th mimicking our wedding day, except with the sun glistening off the Pacific rather than the Atlantic.


Whales, whales, and more whales! We spent a good portion of the afternoon on a somewhat private whale watching tour with just two other couples and our tour guide Captain Spencer, ogling the 80+ whales in the pod. Apparently it was a good day for whales! We even saw a baby whale jumping along.


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To add to that, seal pups frolicked in the water and came to say hello. The next day we got a closer view of them as well as an older seal while we were climbing along the rocks in the Lime Kiln National Park.

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We’ve attempted to put some of our favorite photos from the trip into a shorter “Seattle Favorites” album, but if you’re up for flipping through some pages take a look at both the smaller album and the bigger Seattle album for some beautiful shots.


We will definitely be going back to the Northwest.

IMG_2780.jpg <- Sunset over Canada from our house on San Juan Island

IMG_6350.jpg  IMG_6351.jpg <- Olympic Mountains from the porch



Bday in Park City

The photos from our August trip to Park City are finally up, better late than never. We had a great family weekend in Park City to celebrate my birthday. What a way to end a traveling work week on my own. Thank you to everyone for coming out to celebrate and making it a memorable birthday weekend.  Looking forward to the next excursion!

Our view of the town from the house, an easy walk to town or run to Deer Valley:


Park City Adventure Park where we did the zip line, Alpine coaster & Alpine slide (which destroyed my neck for days)


Saturday afternoon ski event with Olympic skiers and Olympic hopefuls showing off their talent. Amazing!





Genny & Alex’s Chicago Wedding

Congratulations Genny and Alex on a beautiful wedding August 6 to kick-start what is sure to be a beautiful marriage!


All pictures from the Chicago weekend and your wedding are available at the photo gallery.

There are some shots of the Chicago skyline from the hotel rooftop, but they don’t do the day justice. Finally the sun peaked out of the haze to help capture some more of the colors around, but we’ll just have to come back to soak in the bright blue of Lake Michigan again from the running trails 🙂


San Diego Exploration

Here are the other pictures from San Diego (June 24-29). We went through them Saturday to try and narrow them down but there were just too many good ones to be frugal. They go in the following order:

1. Hiking on Saturday up to a reservoir before the rehearsal dinner (Dane, we thought of you as the crazy mountain bikers went up the steep rocks!),

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2. Exploring one of the famous California sites of the Spanish American War,

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3.  The animals at Safari Park Zoo on Sunday morning with Stacy and Laurie (you’ll notice that Laurie and I bought matching hats, and we got to see a newborn gorilla!),

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4. Monday we went downtown to San Diego, first to Old Town Historic State Park,

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5. Then to Coronado Island (the first few pics of the foggy beach are super close to Mexico),

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6. Coronado Island –  the more famous part along the beach and marina with Hotel Del Coronado – the sun came out and it was gorgeous!,

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7. Tuesday morning sea kayaking adventure in caves and with kelp are in a separate photo album.  It was hard paddling out to begin with because we had to paddle through the waves. On the return we “surfed” on the kayaks back to shore.  Unfortunately Ben got stuck behind another couple that had flipped and he couldn’t avoid them soon enough so he flipped too. 🙂

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8. Tuesday afternoon hiking at Torrey del Paines (near our hotel, which was right on the Torrey Pines golf course in La Jolla – first pic of golf course is from our private hotel patio)

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9. Wednesday morning on the last day we went into La Jolla again for breakfast and we walked around watching the seals,

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10. Last we drove into downtown San Diego again and walked around the harbor and USS Midway (but we didn’t pay to go on it, not enough time … or desire).

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Full photos of the San Diego excursion can be found in the Photo Gallery at

The sea kayaking album is smaller, and from a disposable camera we purchased for the adventure:

Grant & Dayna’s Wedding

The last of the original Bates-IBM-VA house walked down the aisle on Sunday, June 26, 2011 in San Diego, CA. Boy was it worth the wait! Grant and Dayna tied the knot in style at the San Diego Safari Park under gorgeous blue skies, amid creatures from all over the world. Thank you guys for including us in your special day. May the 1000 hand folded paper cranes bring you luck and everlasting love.

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So many animals! The favorite has to be the 7 month old baby cheetah, though the porcupine comes in close second 🙂

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Enjoy all 88 photos from the wedding by clicking on the Photo Gallery (and that’s after cleaning up the bad ones!). In the Photo Gallery you’ll be able to see the cheetah better, and of course the bride and groom 😉

Cape Escape 2011

Returning to reality after a much needed vacation is always difficult, but a necessary evil in order to make vacation something special. Despite the original weather forecast of rain every day, we were pleasantly surprised with gorgeous blue skies on Friday, and periodic sunshine for the rest of the trip.

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As per usual, it’s difficult to jump into vacation and leave work entirely behind, especially when trying to juggle too many tasks. A Friday afternoon jog provided the necessary leg stretching and fresh sea air to shove work to the back of the brain and replace it with a vacation mentality (4.34 miles per Garmin, amazing what a difference the view makes to make the time fly).

Just for good measure, it was time to tack on a seashore stroll and photo shoot to fully capture the beautiful Friday.

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We were able to get one step further into the vacation embrace with the arrival of Kate, Stu and Abby Friday evening. Who can resist those sweet eyes and baby embrace?I miss them already!

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Abby enjoyed the wrapping paper on her present a bit more than the soft pillow itself, but what can you do?


We braved the threat of rain for Ben’s first trip to the islands … Martha’s Vineyard that is. The Caribbean will have to be another trip. Temperatures reached 70 and we all got some pink cheeks. It’s not just Texas where the weather can change on a dime. Note the sky changing as we make our way around the island. Starting out with sunshine on the ferry out of Woods hole passing through clouds, arriving at more sunshine in Vineyard Haven to see lighthouses.

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Shopping and lunch in Oak Bluffs where the weather then turns back to clouds and even some rain.

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We escape the drizzle in Edgartown to watch fudge being made, then proceed to the South Shore where the wind whips along the water.



We toured around the tip of Gay Head through trees reminiscent of curvy Irish roads opening to cliffs and another lighthouse.


Then back on to Vineyard Haven (with only a few dead ends) for some final shopping and to catch the ferry home.

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Looking forward to the next escape!

For more pictures click on any of the above thumbnails or visit the Photo Gallery. Additional pictures including the few group photos and Yahtzee with Grandma are available via Dad’s photo gallery:

P.S. We won’t hold back on the tennis court next time.