2011 - A Year in Review

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!  I sure hope 2012 will be much better than 2011.  The year was full of ups and downs but overall it was a good year. I can't complain really, nothing catastrophic happened to us. Thankfully we didn't lose our jobs or had any major problems.
We started 2011 in Europe. We traveled to Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Austria and Slovakia. We started out in Zurich and Lucerne, Switzerland and Vaduz, Liechtenstein. The snow capped mountains were amazing and the cities were very quaint! Next we traveled to Munich and enjoyed ringing in the New Year in Marienplatz, the main square. There are no laws on fireworks and everybody was shooting them off. These weren’t the small dinky sparklers; these were the ones that are illegal here. It was like a war zone but very cool. Early the next morning we jumped on the train to Salzburg, Austria. Of course we had to do the Sound of Music tour; no trip to Salzburg is complete without it. Eric really enjoyed it, when we got near the end of the tour his remark was we hadn’t heard two songs on the soundtrack yet. Eric was more interested in the tour than me. We wrapped up our trip in Vienna and Bratislava (Slovakia).
May was busy with a friend’s wedding, a nephew’s graduation from high school and my graduation from St. Catherine’s University with a second degree in accounting. To celebrate my accomplishment I took mom and Grace and Bev on a trip to the Gulf Coast. We stopped to visit Elvis at Graceland, ventured down to the Big Easy of New Orleans, donated to the Katrina recovering casinos in Biloxi, MS, relaxed in the sun and sand on the beaches of Orange Beach, AL and wandered onto a naval base in Pensacola, FL. After a nice visit with Eric’s Uncle Dennis and Aunt Bev in Tuskegee, we started our return trip but we didn’t make it very far, Montgomery, AL to be exact. Long story short Mom’s minivan was no match for a dump truck. Fortunately nobody got hurt. We were able to fly home and we didn’t have to drive all that way back so there is your silver lining.
In June, Mary Linda came to visit from Texas. She brought her mom, her aunt and Sky, the Husky, along for the ride. We traveled up the North Shore of Lake Superior, hiking at the various state parks along the way. As always, the waterfalls were beautiful. We intended to camp but it was too cold, even from me.
Allista, our niece from Nevada, came to visit us for a couple weeks in June and July. We took her to all the sites around here: the Minnesota Zoo, a Twins game, Canterbury (horse track), many trips to Valleyfair (amusement park) and a week in Rapid City. She mastered the Wii and actually beat a game that we couldn’t beat. I think she had fun.

The first weekend of August was a bit stressful. At 3:30am Sunday morning Eric said he had to go to the ER. Thankfully there is an ER/Hospital in Shakopee. Long story short he was suffering from gallstones, inflamed gallbladder and pancreatitis. They admitted him into the hospital and he had emergency surgery. The surgery went well but unfortunately, some of the pesky gallstones escaped so he had to be hospitalized for a few days until they could get them out.

August brought another Sts. Peter and Paul Fall Festival and my 15 year class reunion too. Also in August, we went to Chicago for a quick weekend. We called it the 2 Museums, 2 Towers & 2 Games in 2 Days trip. We took in all the sites of the Windy City and got to attend baseball games at Wrigley Field and U.S Cellular. 

In September, we went on our annual trip over Labor Day. This time we visited the Mid-Atlantic States. We nicknamed the trip the Hurricane Irene tour because a week before the trip, Hurricane Irene ripped through the area. We took Mom along for the ride. We started with a visit to Fort Delaware, a civil war prison camp, next we went to Atlantic City, NJ. We drove and ferried down the coast to Ocean City, MD. The weather was rainy both days so we couldn't enjoy the beach, but one day we drove to Baltimore for an Orioles day game. It was fun; the stadium was empty so we got to sit real close and the rain held off for the whole game. Next we drove down to the Outer banks of North Carolina. Hurricane Irene really wrecked havoc on the area. We couldn't get down to Cape Hatteras which was a huge disappointment. The trip ended with a 7 hour delay at the airport because of a mechanical problem with the plane. Even with all the troubles and disagreeable weather, the trip was good.

Eric celebrated his sixth year with Centerpoint Energy. He also spent the summer keeping the soccer kids (and moms) in line. I celebrated my 11 year anniversary at Ameriprise Financial in June. Swirl is eight now and just as spry as ever, sitting in the window intimidating the birds. He enjoyed “growling” at all the trick-or-treaters.
Happy 2012!!!!

Vacation cursed

Friday, December 30, 2011

It has been a few days. I think I'm vacation cursed. I've been sick the last few days. The one room that I became very close with at the San Diego Hilton was the bathroom.  It is awful. Hopefully I'm better now. I've been drink Pepto like water. 

I started to feel sick at the Safari Park. I couldn't eat anything for dinner. I was up at 4 am and spent 3 hours in the bathroom. I thought I was going to die. I managed to get well enough for our Tijuana tour.

Tijuana was a bust and a dump. They are so poor and the houses are shanties. Kind of sad.  We spent some dollars on leather goods and jewelry that the vendors were pushing.  They are like vultures. Very annoying. We had lunch and came back to the US. I'm sure if I felt better I would have enjoyed it more. The crossing back to US took well over an hour.  We got back to San Diego and Eric, Mike and Mom went on a harbor cruise without me. I was too sick. I actually took a nap. I felt better last night but still couldn't eat anything.

I had another rude awakening this morning but atleast I could sleep in until 5:30. But I finally had an appetite! We left San Diego by 8am. We took the very long way back to Las Vegas via Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park and 29 Palms. It was an interesting drive with different scenery.  We are currently standing on I-15, 51 miles from Vegas. Ugh!  Tonight we are meeting my cousin Jerry.

Waiting in the sun

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hello from the back seat of the minivan standing in a long line for the entrance to the Safari Park in Escondido, CA. It is part of the San Diego Zoo...but much cooler...which probably why we are standing in this long line. :( We are with my cousin Bev. We are heading to the park with her.

The weather is gorgeous. 83 degrees and sunny. Too bad my capri jeans got fish guts all over them yesterday.

Yesterday was a great day. Steve took us to Newport Beach and checked out the beach and ocean. There were a ton of surfers out. The water was freezing! It was also very foggy.  We checked out the pier where they were fishing for smelt. We saw a sea lion and I leaned over the pier to get a better look and I got fish guts all over me. Gross!  Somebody cleaned their fish on the pier railing.  I also got to hold a crab. After that we went to Downtown Disney for some shopping and lunch. We saw some Oregon Duck players.

We had dinner with Steve, Susie, Mike, their son and Miguel a friend. We went to outback steakhouse. It was such a nice night and the place was packed we ate on the patio under heaters. It was so nice.  The gave me ice cream for my birthday...too bad I don't like ice cream...I shared it with everybody. After dinner Steve and Susie gave me a Christmas Train for my birthday. It was a great night!

Yum, Pumpkin Bread.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy Birthday to me!  Another day to sleep in and ...NO!  Not even on my birthday.  UGH!  So I'm enjoying some pumpkin bread (thanks to Tracie) and water while watching Brothers and Sisters. Another TV series I'm addicted to thanks to Netflix.

Last night was great.  We went over the Steve and Susie's house.  It was so nice to see the family again. Mike is so grown up now!  We had some dinner and watch some TV. It was a good night.

I'm not sure what the plan is for today. I think we are heading to the beach.  Sweet!

Christmas with the Wards

Monday, December 26, 2011

Yesterday was a great day with the Wards.  I really had a nice Christmas.  They prepared a Turkey and all the fixings.  It was so nice to see the Godchildren and Allista again.  Joseph has gotten so big and he has that smile that melts your heart.  William was his normal high energy kid.  He got a trampoline for Christmas so he was especially bouncy. LOL!

Tracie gave us the Pahrump Tour.  We saw all the schools and the infamous Chicken Ranch.  They had some awesome t-shirts like "Freshly Laid."  We took Mike's picture to show his friends that he made a stop.  But he wouldn't go in and buy a "menu."

Our first stop on the way home was Stratosphere.  We went up to the top.  They have this new experience where they attach you to a cord and you free drop to the bottom.  880 ft. and you go as fast as 45 mph as you free fall to the bottom.  I'm not sure I'd do it.

Right now we are relaxing at our hotel in Whittier, CA.  We made the ever nerve wrecking drive down I-15.  What a crazy drive.  There was a mile back up to go through the inspection station. What a joke...just slows you down to wave you through.  It was so busy too.  I'm so glad I don't have to drive it again for a while.

The weather is beautiful today, sunny and 72 degrees.  I'm not sure what our plans are for this evening and tomorrow.  I guess we will find out.

Bellagio Water Show

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Why am I up at 5:30am? Part 2

December 24, 2011 — “Leaving on a Jet Plane” to Las Vegas
View of Hoover Dam from the Bridge
Why is it every time I have a day off I'm wide awake at 5:30 in the morning?  Really?  Why!?!  I could sleep in until noon if I wanted to BUT NO...I'm up early with nothing to do...sound familiar?  

Yesterday was a very busy and fun filled day.  We got up at 4:15 for our flight.  The airport was crazy busy at 5:30 am on Christmas Eve.  Yikes.  Our flight was uneventful.

First stop, Hoover Dam.  The new bridge over the gorge is awesome.  It is so high!  but unfortunately you can't see the Dam because the 
wall is too high.  After turning around in Arizona we head down to the  Dam.  First stop was the rest area just under the new bridge.  After a short walk up 66 steps (or you can do the handicap ramp) we were walking across the new bridge.  It was so cool!  

View of the Bridge from the Dam
We continued down the road and went walking across the dam to get a better view of the bridge.  It was such a beautiful day.   The sun was out, there wasn't a cloud in the sky and the temperature was in the mid-60s.

We made our way back to Vegas and In-N-Out Burger.  Yum!  It was so good, I was so happy to finally get my burger and fries.  Its been over 2 years since my last 
In-N-Out Burger. I'm starting to sound like an Alcoholic in rehab. LOL! 

After a long line at hotel registration, we finally got up to our room and relaxed before heading to 4:00 pm Christmas Eve Mass at the Cathedral 3 blocks away (on the Las Vegas Strip!).  It is kind of weird going to Mass at a church on the Las Vegas Strip.

We made Mom walk a marathon up the strip.  We went to the Wynn and checked out their flower display.  It was cool.  Next we stopped at Venetian to check out the shops and gondolas and the Mirage for the Volcano thing.  We went to Gilly's for dinner.  It wasn't that great.  I ate the cornbread and my mouth went numb.  I'm not sure what was in it but it tasted good until the kick happened.  It was very weird feeling having my mouth and lips go numb. They were still numb an hour later.  We gave Mom a reprieve and hopped on the Deuces bus to the Bellagio for the water show. It was amazing like always.

We rounded the night off with a long bus ride to the Fremont Street Experience.  I have to say I really don't like Fremont Street.  A combination of old casinos, weird people,  loud music and a very tired Kimmer makes for a very unhappy person. I was so relieved  to get back to my bed at 11pm.  Which begs the questions....why am I up!!!!!

Why am I up at 5:30am?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Why is it every time I have a day off I'm wide awake at 5:30 in the morning?  Really?  Why!?!  I could sleep in until noon if I wanted to BUT NO...I'm up early with nothing to do.  Tomorrow we have to be at the airport at 5:30 am.  Do you think I'm going to wake up that early tomorrow and be this wide awake????  Nope, of course not, I'm going to have to dragging my butt out of bed.

So here is the itinerary for our next week.  I came up with some, I think clever, titles for each day.  I based it on songs.

December 24, 2011 — “Leaving on a Jet Plane” to Las Vegas (Peter, Paul and Mary)
In 1 day, 6 hours and roughly 21 minutes I'll be sitting down to an In-N-Out Burger, sinking my teeth in the best burgers around. I know that Dylan thinks my countdown to In-N-Out Burger is weird but its one of things I look forward to on our many trips to Vegas.  My plan for tomorrow is 7am flight to Vegas, rent the car, drive to Hoover Dam to check out the new engineering marvel, the bypass bridge and than back to Vegas to In-N-Out of burger. After that I don't care what we do.

December 25, 2011 — Christmas in “Pahrump a pum pum” (from Little Drummer Boy)
I also look forward to seeing family again.  We are spending Christmas Day with the Wards in Pahrump a pum pum...ha ha I love that name, it always reminds me of The Little Drummer Boy.  Only seems fitting to be there on Christmas.

December 26, 2011 — “Going to California” (Led Zeppelin)
We are driving to California the day after Christmas. We are heading to LA to see my cousin Steve and his family.  I haven't seen them since 2000.  Ironically, the Badgers were in the Rose Bowl that year too.

December 27, 2011 — “Happy Birthday” Kim (general)
What are we going to do for my birthday?? I'm not sure. Maybe Eric will buy me something Rodeo Dr.?  Ya right.

December 28, 2011 — Driving down the “Pacific Coast Highway” (The Mamas & the Papas)
Leaving LA we head down the Pacific Coast Highway to San Diego. We are meeting my cousin Bev at the Safari Park.

December 29, 2011 — Do You Wanna, “Tijuana Taxi” (Glenn Miller)
Early morning wake up call for our trip south of the border to Tijuana.  Mom said she has never been to Mexico and being we are so close we are taking there on a tour from San Diego.  I know it is really Mexico but ha it works.  After we get back the plan is for a cruise of the harbor.

December 30, 2011 — Back to “Sin City” (AC/DC)
Back to Sin City we go to meet my cousin Jerry and his family.   

I think the trip will be fun.  Hopefully all goes well.  My goal is to blog each day.  We will see if that actually happens. :-)

Share the Warmth Concert

Monday, December 19, 2011

Enjoy this playlist from my Share the Warmth Concert. It will play the whole concert.

Bisek Family Christmas

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Danielle, Mom and Dylan
at the Holidazzle Parade
As I wait for my website to publish pictures, I decided to reflect on this past weekend up to this point.  It has been a great weekend.  My family came up yesterday for the Holidazzle parade in downtown Minneapolis.  We went out for a great dinner first with Greg and Celeste.  After the parade we went back to the hotel and swam for a while and than played some cards and ate pizza in the room.    We played the card game "31."  I haven't played that game in like 10 years.  It was one of my grandma's favorite games.  I was the first one knocked out. :(

This morning, after church, we opened gifts.  We drew names this year.  Nancy had me and I got my glass and metal 9x9 square pans and a DVD.  Dylan had Eric's name and he got all three Revenge of the Nerds, a gift card to Kwik Trip and candy.  I had Nancy's Greg and Eric had my mom.  Mom really LOVES her gift.  Eric insisted  we get her a digital photo frame.  I loaded it with about 200 pictures.  So when she opened it, I plugged it in and let the slide show begin.  She was very happy...Eric is so smart!

Soon we will have lunch with Greg and Celeste and at 2pm is my Share the Warmth Concert.  I'm very happy that Mom, Mike, Danielle and Eric are coming to see me perform.  It has been a great weekend.  I love these happy times with family.

Welcome Cold Weather

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy December!
Mother Nature didn't waste anytime sending us the cold weather.  I read that it is suppose to be 4 degrees tomorrow morning.  Yes!  I love it.  Well not really but I tolerate it.  I was thinking about this the other day. The first couple weeks of cold weather, all I want to do is move south.  But after that I look forward to walking outside after work into the crispy, clear, cold air. Its so refreshing.  It also means that the ice rinks will be open soon and of course Christmas is around the corner.

Speaking of Christmas...I didn't realize there were so many Christmas movies/shows.  Every night its something different on the TV and they all seem to have same theme.  Evil Santas, Injured Santas, Comatose Santas, Drunk Santas  and Sappy Love Stories...blah, blah, blah how many Christmas movies can one take before they want to scream?  Oh, and Eric has to watch all of them.

Next weekend is my family Christmas.  They are all coming up here.  A weekend of fun and family. Holidazzle Parade, dinner, my concert, Very excited!

Only 17 days to Christmas but we will be opening presents before that.  All my presents are bought, wrapped and under the tree.  Eric still hasn't bought his presents yet.  Procrastinator!!!! 

16 days, 11 hours, 24 minutes until our vacation.  SO EXCITED!!!