Category Archives: Stories

Kim & Robby’s European Adventure, Part 1: LA to Florence

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything! School and work have really kept me busy this year, but I’m back to document our latest adventure: a trip to Europe. :)

Robby and I recently returned from an 8-day trip to Italy and the UK. Our purpose was two-fold: we were there both to sightsee and to visit Robby’s sister Ashley, who is studying abroad in Italy this year. Sadly, much of our vacation was marred by a terrible case of food poisoning, but we were able to make some good memories that I plan to document in three posts (one for each city we visited). So, on to part one!


We left LA on a sunny Friday afternoon, full of anticipation for the amazing trip we had planned.

Getting ready to board the Metro.

Arrivederci, LA!

After taking the Metro and flyaway bus to LAX, we settled in for a long, long overnight flight to London Heathrow. After many hours of TV, movies, and restless attempts at sleep, we landed in London and caught a 1-hour bus to Gatwick airport for a connecting flight to Pisa, Italy.

Made it to London--part 1 of the journey complete!

Waiting for the bus to Gatwick.

Unfortunately, things went off-track on the trip to Gatwick as the nausea began to set in. By the time we got on our flight to Pisa, we were both struck down by food poisoning (I actually had it much worse than Robby, which meant he really had to take charge of getting us to our hotel). By the grace of God, we got through our 2-hour flight to Pisa, followed by a 45-minute wait at baggage claim, a 1-hour wait for our bus, and then a 1-hour bus ride from Pisa to Florence. Thankfully, Ashley was able to meet us at the airport to help us get to the right place! We FINALLY made it to our hotel around 2am on Easter Sunday. Let me just say that 24+ hours of travel with food poisoning made for one of the worst days of my life. :(

The next day (Easter) passed in a feverish. nauseated haze. Luckily, Robby had recovered enough to venture over to Ashley’s apartment in Florence, and the two of them were my guardian angels. They tracked down Gatorade, toast, soup, and anti-nausea medicine while I holed up in my hotel room (which was actually quite nice!) and slept.

Our hotel room in Florence.

What I did in our hotel room in Florence. :(

By Monday morning, I felt a tiny bit better, so we attempted to see some of the sights in Florence, starting with the church of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Duomo. We also saw some sculptures and got Robby some pasta.

Inside the Santa Maria del Fiore.

Robby posing by the Hercules statue.

Robby enjoying some gnocchi!

Unfortunately, it was a bit too much for me, and I spent the rest of the day back at the hotel, feeling miserable. :( Robby and Ashley spent the afternoon and evening exploring Florence.

Robby in front of the Ponte Vecchio.

On Tuesday morning, I felt a bit better, so we headed out to the Accademia to see the David sculpture and do some shopping. While David was suitably awe-inspiring, the real highlight of my day was a visit to the Prada store, where a spent a hard-earned chunk of change on a gorgeous pink wallet. Yay!

Prada store in Firenze!

My precious... :)

On Tuesday afternoon, Robby and I caught a high-speed train to Rome for part 2 of our European adventure…

Sayonara, 2011; Hello, 2012!

First, can I just brag about the fact that it was 75° today in Pasadena?! I love that. :) Robby and I started our New Year’s Day at church, and then we spent the afternoon kicking around Manhattan Beach. Tomorrow morning, we’re planning on walking 3 blocks down to Colorado Blvd. to catch the Rose Parade before heading back to work on Tuesday…sigh.

New Year’s always makes me reflective, and 2011 gave me a lot to reflect on. In a lot of ways, it was a hard year. I had some medical struggles (including surgery); we learned that it will be extremely difficult (if not impossible) for us to have biological children; we lost a dear friend much too young; Robby and I had far too many stressful work projects; and I took on the burden of returning to school while working full-time. When I think about those things, I’m tempted to say “good riddance” to a bad year!

We did have quite a few good times mixed in there, though. Highlights from 2011 include our epic kitchen remodel; the birth of our adorable new nephew Hudson; two great trips to the Hollywood Bowl; a birthday weekend at Disneyland; getting an article published in a journal; surviving an epic windstorm in Pasadena; receiving a new iPhone 4S for Christmas; getting to preview a Rose Parade float; and taking several great trips:

  • Our anniversary trip to Santa Barbara
  • My work trip to Philadelphia and Washington, DC (Robby came with me)
  • Our trip to Orlando and Miami (in an attempt to witness the penultimate shuttle launch, which was unfortunately scrubbed 2 hours beforehand)
  • My work trip to Dayton, Ohio (Robby wasn’t able to come with me)
  • Robby’s trip to Orlando, where he was able to fulfill his lifelong dream by watching the last-ever shuttle launch!
  • A trip to Atlanta for Robby’s cousin’s wedding and then on to Panama City Beach for a week with Robby’s family
  • Our Thanksgiving trip to Knoxville, Gatlinburg, and Birmingham

I have mixed feelings about 2011. Mostly, I’m just happy to have reached the end of it with a wonderful husband by my side, and I’m hopeful that 2012 will be a good year for us. Heck, 2012 already has two things going for it–we’re planning a trip to Italy and England in the spring, and I’ll finish my MBA in June! I’m already counting down the days (literally–see the sidebar over there on the right??) until I have more time to knit, bake, decorate, and plan our next remodeling project–maybe overhauling our 80s-style bathrooms? :)

I hope that 2012 is filled with blessings for you (and us)! I’ll leave you with this huge photo-retrospective of some of our 2011 highlights:

Rose Parade Float Decorating

This past week, I had one of the coolest Southern California experiences ever. My sweet husband was watching PBS a few weeks back, and during the pledge drive they announced that if you donated a certain amount, you would get behind-the-scenes tickets to see the Natural Balance Rose Parade float as it was being built and decorated. Without me knowing, he donated the money and got us tickets!

This was exciting both because I’ve always wanted to see the Rose Parade floats up close, and because we are big fans of Natural Balance. Lucy loves Natural Balance food (especially the sweet potato and fish flavor), and we’ve gotten a kick out of the floats that Natural Balance has sponsored in the last few years. So far, the past floats have included skateboarding, snowboarding, and skimboarding bulldogs. We had heard that this year’s float would include surfing bulldogs and was supposed to set world records for being the longest and heaviest float ever, so I definitely wanted to see it!

Natural Balance float, in progress.

Tuesday was the big day. We drove out to Irwindale, CA, where we got to tour the Fiesta float-building facility:

Fishy face!

We even got the chance to put strawflowers on some palm fronds for the Natural Balance float:

Float decorating is painstaking work--all the flowers are applied by hand!

The lovely Natural Balance people also fed us lunch, and gave us a huge gift bag full of great dog food swag! Lucy was very excited, and so were we:

Lucy eyeing her haul!

We really enjoyed our behind-the-scenes look at this year’s float, and can’t wait to see it in action tomorrow. :) We also got special VIP tickets for the post-parade float viewing party, where we might get to meet the surfboarding bulldogs in person, yay!

A Love Letter…to My New Vacuum Cleaner

Dear Dyson DC-17,

My beautiful vacuum cleaner

I’ve had a crush on you for a long time. For years, I’ve watched your commercials and secretly coveted your funky design and perpetual suction. But I always thought you were unattainable, given your high, high price. So, I resigned myself to the ineffectual, wheezy efforts of my beat-up old Hoover, dreaming of the day when I might upgrade to your sleek, sexy power.

Do you remember the day we met? I’ll never forget it. I had made a late-night trip to Target, in search of some Tylenol and cleaning supplies. I turned my cart into the housewares section, and noticed your luxurious black box at the end of an aisle. And then…I saw the sign. The big, red “Clearance” sign. My heart started to race as I searched anxiously for your price sticker. When I saw that you had been marked down from $450 to $225, I almost stopped breathing.

I quickly grabbed you, then used a barcode-scanning app to do an online price comparison and look up some of your reviews (I hope you don’t feel bad about that–everybody Googles their potential matches these days, right?). When I saw that the reviews were almost all good and that your cheapest online price was $300, I knew we were meant to be. After a quick call to Robby, I placed you gently in my cart, swiped my credit card, and took you home.

Once I got you home, I took you for a spin. When I witnessed your powerful suction and saw how much nasty dirt and dog hair you extracted from my carpet, I was amazed. Best of all, you were so easy to use that you actually made vacuuming fun! I especially love how well you cleaned all of my flooring surfaces, from carpet to tile to wood. You’re just so versatile and hardworking!

The timing of our meeting was perfect, as my old vacuum’s stair attachment had recently stopped working. I had mentioned to Robby that maybe it was time to start looking for a new vacuum, but never dreamed that I might be able to afford you. I’m so happy that I met you that fateful night at Target. And I love knowing that we’ll be cleaning up dirt together for years to come!


Kim :)

A magical night with James Taylor

This week, we had the pleasure of seeing James Taylor and Carole King perform live at the Honda Center in Anaheim. It was the last stop of their “Troubadour Reunion” tour, and it was absolutely perfect!

My siblings and I got together to surprise my parents with floor seats to the concert for their 30th anniversary, and at the last minute my parents encouraged me and Robby to go, too. We didn’t want to impose on their anniversary date, so we got cheap seats in another part of the arena (with all the traveling we’ve done lately, our entertainment budget is a little strained). We met my parents for dinner, and then headed to the arena. Despite the fact that our seats were so high up that we almost needed oxygen, we had a wonderful time.

Mom and Dad at dinner.

Waiting for the show to begin.

James Taylor is my all-time favorite singer, so being able to see him live was a dream come true. Both he and Carole sounded amazing and put on a fantastic, energetic, entertaining show (seriously, I hope I have half as much energy when I’m in my 60′s!). They performed all my favorites, and I couldn’t help clapping and singing along. I may have embarrassed Robby a bit, but oh, well. :)

James and Carole on the rotating stage.

I think my favorite part of the show was witnessing the genuine respect and admiration that James and Carole have for each other. They performed every song together; she sang backup during his songs, while he played guitar during hers. Both artists also seemed to enjoy themselves. Carole in particular had a huge smile on her face the entire time, while James broke out into some spontaneous dance moves. Even Robby agreed it was one of the best shows he’s ever seen!

Close-up of the video screen during the final encore.

After the concert, I ran out and bought the Live at the Troubadour album. It’s been playing on my iPod almost non-stop ever since. Nothing quite relaxes me like listening to James sing “Fire and Rain” and “You Can Close Your Eyes,” mmmmm…