Memorial Day - 2012

Sooo proud to be an American

Lots to catch up on....but first of all,  what a nice remembrance to all those who died serving our country as the Red, White and Blue flags and bunting are hanging throughout the ship. After breakfast and going thru the last of the 80'+ locks, we had an interesting lecture on the development of Nuremberg. We are not to the ½ way mark yet for locks. A lady came on board to give a lecture on the development of Nuremberg, followed by Bloody Mary's.
To back track a little....
Saturday, we had a full day starting with with early departure to Cesky Krumlov. The scenery was spectacular as we left Austria and crossed into the Czech Republic. We did a walking tour, lunch at The Ruiz, (classiest hotel/restaurant in town according to our tour guide, George). Then some spare time to stroll thru this beautiful city. Back on the bus and left for Bavaria....and of course, more gorgeous rolling hills, farm country, trees, etc. From all the red roofs of Austria, we are now into the dark brown roofs of Germany. Barbara is a German native, so she's in her element with so much excitement as she describes it all. We enjoyed beautiful German music on our return to the ship. Hot towels and apricot juice awaited us as we boarded. After dinner, we enjoyed The Sounds of Austria in the lounge - great entertainment with opera and other favorites topped off with songs from The Sound of Music.
Sunday started with Mark and Paul going to a lecture on the Main (pronounced Mine)/Danube Canal and the lock system. After arriving in Regensberg, 14 of us took off for the trek up the hill and 10:00 Mass at St. Peter's Cathedral – wow.....magnificent and all in German (one week ago we were at St. Stephen's in Budapest – all Hungarian). Today is the feast of Pentecost and tomorrow is a holiday. The cardinal of the diocese of Passau presided over the “high” mass along with bishops, many priests, and altar boys – so much pomp and circumstance. The oldest boys' choir in the world, the Regensburg Domspatzen sang and what a fabulous treat. The brother of Pope Benedict XVI was the choirmaster for many years. Unfortunately we were not able to stay till the end of mass (2 hours) as our bus was departing.

Regensberg is the hometown of Pope Benedict XVI and although a city of 141,000, it has so much charm with all the coffee cafes, outdoor restaurants, cobblestone streets, shops and the wonderful architecture. The Europeans believe that a good cup of coffee, cappuccino, espresso, etc., should be savored over a relaxed atmosphere amid all the beauty of the area......there are no take outs or take getting a cup of coffee as we strolled around was not going to happen. There are several McDonalds and Starbucks, though. We Americans are always “on the go” with our drinks – not so in Europe.
We spent Sunday afternoon in Weltenberg (a 45- minute bus ride) starting with lunch and tour of the monastery. They have a large beer garden on the premises, too, which was packed by the locals and tourists. Took a boat ride to Kelheim and entered the Danube Gorge. After this short trip (½ hour), our buses were waiting and back to the ship where we immediately left for Nuremberg. The next 5 days we will be going under several low bridges, so no admittance on top deck – bummer! But plenty of lovely scenery to see from the lounge or our rooms with open French balcony. Another wonderful dinner and then entertainment in the Latitude 52 Lounge by a guitar player/singer who sang and played a variety of familiar tunes.
So....back to this Memorial Day – we had a wonderful lunch at Heilig Geist Spital Restaurant here in Nuremberg where we sat with students from the university – had a delightful visit with Anka, a senior who will graduate in 3 weeks. Very interesting to question her about Nuremberg, her family, studies, the culture, etc. We had a city tour by bus and visited the Documentation Centre.....what a sobering experience for this Memorial Day. God bless all those who served and are serving our country!
Tomorrow we are off to Bamberg – Barbara describes this as a “Jewel” of a town with great history, shopping, eating, beer, wine, I write this Mark is at a lecture on the history of beer making! At 4:00 tomorrow, we'll have High Tea......the fun, pampering, spoiling, etc. continue and we are lovin' every minute and havin' a ball!.

    Gute nacht!

Friday - May 25

We are having too much fun and no time to keep up with e-mails or update the blog. We left Vienna last night at midnight – beautiful city with the most awesome old architecture! Along with enjoying pastries at a Vienesse cafe, and several tours, the highlight was a concert Wednesday afternoon by the Sound of Vienna, complete with champagne, the orchestra, opera and dancers. It was AWESOME and I just kept pinching myself that we REALLY were in Vienna, Austria enjoying a sampling of
 “The City of Music”.
Today we were in Durnstein and what a darling little town – we strolled around with Barbara for 1 hour getting our history lesson, then enjoyed an organ concert in an old monastery, followed by wine tasting. Have met sooo many neat people and everyone having so much fun. Enjoyed a cheese-stuffed sausage and hard roll (a Barbara recommendation which we shared) before boarding the ship and then a huge Bavarian buffet. The food is just incredible with beautiful presentation.

     This afternoon, Veronica did a fantastic job of narrating for 2-hours describing the Wachau Valley – pictures cannot do justice to this picturesque setting on both sides of the Danube with charming little towns nestled in the hills, churches, ruins, castles and vineyards. What a treat! And then our chef, Frederic came to the top deck with ice cream cones – hazlenut, pistaschio and rum raisin. We are soooo spoiled! Each night before and after dinner, Albert entertains us in the lounge with thee most beautiful piano music and singing as we sit and watch the outdoor beauty. It's been light here at 4 AM and doesn't get dark till after 9 PM.
We went thru 3 locks today and will be going thru a total of 66 total! Weather has been grand – warm and sunny!
Can't believe it's May 25th and the start of Memorial Day Weekend – wishing you all a safe, fun “holiday” as they say over here and we wish Mark's Dad a very
HAPPY BIRTHDAY tomorrow (May 26)!!!!

Looking good at 91....

Wednesday - May 23

Hi all.....sooo much happening here on our Discovery II.   Every day is a treat with more spectacular scenery, the fabulous food, wonderful people from all over the USA, along with our beautiful ship.        As I write this at 1:45 Wednesday afternoon, we are just arriving in Vienna, Austria on a warm, sunny day.    We'll soon be leaving for a 3-hour panoramic bus tour of the city.    Barbara, our guide, is sooo fun and been doing this for 11 years.   We have 169 passengers on board!

Please click on our picture at beginning of blog page and you'll know where we are as we meander up the Danube.    The staff and crew of the Discovery II are just incredible going all out to make this a most memorable experience!    This morning we had a demonstration on how to make the perfect apple strudel!    Paul, Kathy, Mark and I are having a ball......

Hope all is well back home............till later...

Tuesday - May 22

Good morning from the Discovery II in beautiful Budapest......after sunny, warm weather, we have a rainy Tuesday with 80% chance of the wet stuff.      Since arriving early Saturday morning, we have packed in lots with Paul and Kathy and my cousin, Karen (our personal tour guide) who has kept us on the go with sooo much to see and absorb.

After staying at the Intercontinental 2 nights, we boarded the ship last night - it is GORGEOUS.   
More details and pictures coming later, but just wanted to let you know we are fine and having a ball!

Time difference between IL and Budapest is 7 hours, so while you are all snoozin' away, we are off to breakfast and get our day started - city tour today (mostly by bus) and at 3:00 this afternoon we depart for Vienna! 

Take care and have a good one!

Thursday - May 17

Ahhhhh, gotta love these lovely spring days!    I left at 7 for Mendota and enjoyed visiting with Linda (I was her morning shift caregiver)!    The home health nurse came and she got a good report, so now let the healing begin with lots of R and R while family and friends (and Bob) take care of all the stuff that goes along in day-to-day living

Stopped at the Lutheran Home to visit my cousin, Jim.   Had not seen him since Dad's funeral and we had a good chat.   Was a real treat to see my two favorite nurses who were so good to Dad.....
Sharon and Linda.

Mark picked Liam and Connor up from school and Anne came over after work and we said our
Tomorrow we leave for our European river cruise. We'll pick up friends, Paul and Kathy and off to Chicago for our 6:30 flight to Frankfurt and then Budapest. My cousin, Karen from FL is vacationing there now and will be our personal tour guide for part of the time we are in Budapest. Then we board the Discovery II for “Castles Along the Danube and Rhine” for 16 days ending in Amsterdam. We'll be home June 5th.

Hope to update the blog with little bits of what we're doing, but probably not daily....

Bye bye....keep in touch!   Love hearing from family and friends!

Wednesday - May 16

Gosh, May is rolling along...1/2 over already.    Another pretty day.   Mark and I both had dentist appointments and then he went to dermatologist check-up.    We had lunch with Exchange Club and then gave the program on the Tiger Cruise - went well.    Could talk about that for hours, but...
 enough is enough!   HA.....

Ran some errands after lunch and then Patrick stopped by before picking up the boys from school.    We went for a bike ride and stopped in to see Ed and Donna Rae at the nursing home - good to see him up and dressed and sitting in the sunroom playing dominoes with friends.   Hopefully, when we return from our trip, he'll be out of rehab and back with Donna Rae in their apartment.

My sister-in-law, Linda was discharged from the hospital this afternoon.   I'm spending tomorrow morning with her....

Tuesday - May 15

Pretty spring day....spent the morning packing, doing laundry, etc.    I ran some errands and then had lunch with the BBB (Babies, Books, Bridge) Girls at Olive Garden.   After eating, we did our exchange and sharing of books.    Good to catch up with these gals - our last outing was in December.

Got a mani-pedi, picked up a few things at Meijer's and then home for a short while till Mark and I left for Game Time Gym II to see Liam and Connor play their last basketball game.   Connor scored 2 baskets and both boys were quite agressive!   

Our little hot 'n sweaty super BB stars!

Mark and I went to Ragucci's for some good Italian fare.

Beautiful clematis in backyard and lots more blooms about to explode!

Monday - May 14

Beautiful day and on the go....Mark and I went to breakfast with the neighbors; I took him to eye doctor to have that floater checked from January in Miami.   All is good (still there, but no concerns as it comes and goes).   I ran some errands and then met Kathy and Claire for lunch at Panera.    Home to get the laundry going, start putting stuff in suitcases (we leave Friday for our river cruise) and had a good chat with my niece, Jennifer and update on Linda.    She is doing better today and will probably be released Wednesday.    As long as someone is with her 24/7, she can be home versus skilled care at hospital.   I had planned to drive to Mendota Thursday morning to put some meals in their freezer, so will keep that plan and spend the morning up there!
Mark and I are giving the program at Exchange Club this Wednesday on the Tiger Cruise, so worked on that this afternoon.   It's a challenge to condense one week's worth of adventures and a jillion pictures into a 30-minute time slot???

No Monday Night Friends gathering tonight - everyone just too darn busy and a night at home was just what I needed to make major waves!

Happy Mother's Day

What a beautiful day....warm sunshine and just so much fun with family.....great night's sleep at Mike and Janet's - so appreciate their hospitality and then we were off to 8:00 Mass at St. Bernadette's, breakfast at The Swedish Pancake House and then to hospital to see Linda.    Jason had spent the night, so had a good visit and praying for total healing and quick recovery for Linda.

Off to Dixon and fun visit with Mark's family at his sister, Sue's home along with his parents, sister, Karen and nieces, Katy, Molly (and Ryan), and Hannah.   We had a very good dinner and sat around the dining room table yakkin' away.    We stopped at the cemetery in Sublette on our way  home. 
I really miss my Mom today...

Happy Mother's Day to a
very special "MOM"

I am so blessed with the best kids/grandsons.....enjoyed the phone calls, gifts, cards, etc.....what a great bunch!     And on our way home, got a phone call from our high school that I had won $250 in their dream house drawing!    WOW....what a nice surprise.    For the first time since we've been in this yearly drawing, Mark put MY name on the form and it was a winner!    Thanks Sweetie....

MORE big news......Ryan just found out his new assignment will be in Oceana, Virgina where he will be an instructor for the F-18 jets starting this fall.  YEAH......we are thrilled (and so is he) to be closer to home.    Still a ways away, but much better than California!   
Our 3 boys will all be out east!

Went to Anne and Patrick's for delicious dinner (what a day for chowin' down) and visiting.   

3 generations

Saturday - May 12

Cloudy today.....Anne brought Liam and Connor over at 8 - she and Patrick have to work today.     I had a good chat with Jennifer and got the update on Linda.    She's still in ICU and we are planning to visit her this afternoon.     Mark took the boys to the Farmer's Market and then to Liam's baseball practice.
I made a dessert for tomorrow, unpacked suitcase from Chicago trip and repacked for Rockford.    We are staying at Mark's sister, Janet and Mike's home.   
Patrick picked the boys up at 2:30 and we left - picked Bob up in Mendota and he rode with us to hospital.    Linda was in ICU but then moved to her new room.    We visited, but she is hurting (especially her back) and so left her to rest.    Bob, Jason, Jennifer, Jake, Mark and I went to Giuseppe's for dinner.    Mark and I  are staying with his sister Janet and Mike tonight.

Here's to a very Happy Mother's Day to all you moms!

Thursday - Friday, May 10-11

Update on our 2-day trip to Chicago......took the train with Barb, Roger, Kathy and Paul and had thee most perfect weather - clear blue skies, all sunshine and very pleasant temps.    We walked to our hotel "The Silversmith" and then set out for Millennium Park - walked around the beautiful gardens and soaked up this lovely park (Barb and Roger had never been there.)
Girls in the Garden

Chicago does such an awesome job of planting flowers; check out these large hydrangeas.

Had delicious lunch at the Park Grill and walked along the waterfront past DuSable Marina and then along the Chicago River.    Bought tickets for tomorrow's architectural tour.   Went to "16" for drinks in The Trump Tower with magnificent view!
The guys at Park Grill

Back to hotel to freshen up, change clothes and off to dinner at Petterino's which was excellent followed by the musical, Jersey Boys,    This was my 3rd time to see it, Kathy's 2nd and first time for the rest - we all loved it and 3rd time around was better than ever!  Sooo many good oldies by Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons made famous so many years ago.
Another spectacular day on Friday - walked to Fox and Obel for breakfast (a favorite gourmet grocery/cafe of Kathy's and mine).   Then the architectural tour which lasted 75 minutes and was excellent as always.  

Way down at the end...Roger, Barb, Paul, Kathy, Pat
riding the Ouilmette
  Walked down Michigan Avenue, had a drink at Lizzie McNeil's Irish Pub and then back to the Silversmith to get our luggage.   Walked to South Branch for late lunch (very good), but while we were there, my niece Jennifer called and so very concerned about my sister-in-law, Linda (brother Bob's wife, Jennifer and Jason's Mom) who had bypass surgery this afternoon in Rockford.   Latest report is that she is in  ICU recovering from double bypass.

Walked to train station and on home....very enjoyable 2 days with good friends,
food and entertainment and weather!

Wednesday - May 9

Mostly cloudy, cool and breezy.   I got a haircut in the morning and ran some errands.    Mark stopped in at his ole work place and had a good chat with friends and former co-workers!

Lunch for me with Exchange Club - I was in charge of today's speaker who did an interesting program on what is involved with obtaining a liquor license and all the ins and outs of having one (various kinds, costs, serving to a minor, etc.)

We went to the nursing home this afternoon and visited Ed and Donna Rae.    Ed is a patient there for rehab while recovering from hip replacement one week ago.   He looks great and already anxious to "get outta here"!!!!

We went to Panera for supper and brought some yummy pastries for breakfast on the train.

Tomorrow, Mark and I, Paul, Kathy, Roger and Barb are taking the train to Chicago for 2 days of fun in the windy city.    We have 4th row seats to see "Jersey Boys" Thursday night.   I'll update the blog after we return.

Tuesday - May 8

Beautiful day - cool (70), breezy and sunny.    Mark and I picked up Ron, our long-time family barber and took him to breakfast at Bob Evans.    Ron had a stroke 6 years ago and retired, but we've kept in touch - just a great guy.    One month ago today, his wife, Barb passed away and 2 weeks later, his brother died.     It was great to see him and catch up with tears and laughs.

Mark washed Daisy and returned her to storage till this summer.   2 guys came to clean our gutters.   I did some laundry and we went for bike ride in the neighborhood.

Patrick brought the boys over at 4:20 - Anne picked Connor up at 5:15 and she was off to his basketball game while Mark and I took Liam to his first baseball practice.  Patrick was playing at the "Doubletree" tonight.

Liam is all "grown up" with his new baseball uniform and cleats

The guys enjoying some ice cream afterwards at "Carl's"

Monday - May 7

Congratulations to our Philip and Annette who are celebrating 7 years of marriage on the 7th!!!   Since it takes 50 to be a "golden" anniversary, wonder what 7 on the 7th is called???    Anyway, wishing them many more, happy, fun, healthy years of togetherness!

Happy Anniversary!

Dreary day after lots of rain during the night.   Mark and I had breakfast with the neighbors, he ran some errands and I did laundry.    Then errands for me and met Martha at The Red Oak - great visit and lunch!     Soo much to catch up on since we were together last fall.

Kathy picked me up at 5 and we were off to get Claire and then Anita and onto LaTeaDa Tea Room for their annual cancer benefit - Relay for Life.    As always, food and conversation the best, followed by games and prizes.    A very special evening for a very worthy cause!

Sunday - May 6

I was up early this Sunday morning and took Donna Rae to the hospital at 6:45 to hopefully see the doctor when he made his rounds and get the update on Ed as to when he'll be released to nursing home for therapy.    Back home and Mark and I went to 8:00 Mass and then for goodies at
 The Coffee Hound.

We both got a bunch of piddly stuff done around home.   Rode our bikes to grocery store for few things - felt good to be back riding.  Really warm and humid, but cooler stuff coming - around 5:00, it got very windy, some front came thru and really cooled off.   

Liam and Connor came over this afternoon with their man-size water guns for back yard fun
 and showed off their new tennies!

Cool hi-tops

Liam - sooo proud of this new skill

Anne and Patrick came for supper and enjoyed a phone call from Ryan

Saturday - May 5

Happy Cinco de Mayo Day.....absolutely gorgeous for Mary's funeral with a beautiful Mass presided over by Father Doug and his very personal homily.    Sylvia, our favorite soloist wowed us again and brought on tears as her beautiful voice rang out "The Irish Blessing", "Ave Maria" and others.    Friends and family enjoyed lunch at Caffe Italia afterwards. 
   Rest in Peace, Mary.

Mary's sons and grandsons
Back:   Peter, Sean, Ryan and Patrick
Front:   Danny, Michael, Connor and Liam

We finished getting things out on the porch and I visited with Candy in her lovely garden.   Each year, her back yard (front, too) are right out of a magazine with beautiful blooms everywhere.   She'll be part of the Glorious Garden tour on June 15-16th, so really going "all out" this year!

Friday - May 4

Rain and stormy during the night and early morning....then hot 'n humid.    Got our porch looking good - still some pretties to add, but nice to have it "together".     Mark worked on Daisy and I went to a lovely, delicious salad luncheon with PEO friends.

Our good friend, Ed fell and broke his hip and had hip replacement surgery yesterday.    Hoping to visit him sometime this weekend.   Kathy and Paul picked us up and we toured an art gallery downtown, then to the Ozark House for dinner and finally back to their home to hash over plans and finalize details of our river cruise coming up in 2 weeks (Budapest to Amsterdam)!

Philip, Annette, Ryan, Mike and Theresa (Mark's sister and husband) are all in Napa wine country this weekend for fun and good wine tasting!

Tomorrow is Mary's funeral at 9:30 at Holy Trinity.

Thursday - May 3

Warm, windy day.    Mark scrubbed the porch and tomorrow after it dries good, we will set up all the furniture and be ready to enjoy.    Been wanting to do this, but not with this damp, chilly weather.

Claire, Kathy and I went to the Harvest Cafe in Delavan to celebrate Claire's birthday.    Neat place and fun as always catching up.   

Claire - the birthday girl

Pat, Claire, Kathy

I picked Liam and Connor up from school.    They played outdoors and then we (Grandpa, too) ran a few errands and had supper at Tobin's.    Back home and the boys helped Grandma pull some weeds and they picked up all the leaves/branches from where Grandpa trimmed the forsythia bushes.   Our yard looked so good when we got home from Florida, but with all the rain, things have grown (especially the weeds) big time!!!

The ribs are doing much better - sneezes don't send me "up the wall" and I'm sleeping good!    So, 1/2 way thru the healing and hope it continues to go well!

Wednesday - May 2

Sad day for our family......Patrick's Mother, Mary died this afternoon.   She was 85.
Thoughts and prayers with Patrick, Anne, Liam, Connor and all of his family...

God bless you, Mary

Mark worked on Daisy jobs.   I had lunch with Exchange Club.    Had some rain this afternoon, but did warm up to 80.     More rain/storms predicted tomorrow.

Anne and family came over - we had pizza, reminisced and discussed funeral arrangements.

Tuesday - May 1

Happy May Day and what a soggy one it was.   Mark and I were out running around and what a downpour around 10:30 - dumped out 1" in the ole gauge.

The Mid Illini gals were to meet for lunch today, but for various reasons (out of town, illness, other commitments), it was just Judy and I.....we went to Zoup for soup (good day for that).

This evening the sun came out and it's the warmest it's been all day - 70!     We are more than ready for some sunshine!!!    Went for a walk - felt good and ready to get into that routine!

Mark grilled out brats - first of the season and oh-so-good!