S: Mark & Virginia - 2012
BC: "Two are better than one... if either of them falls down, one can help the other up." -Ecclesiastes 4:9
1: 2012 got off to a slow start for us. We flew into Chicago from Delaware on New Year's Eve and enjoyed a quiet evening in with friends and played Settlers of Catan, which Virginia had just gotten for Christmas. That turned out to be quite a theme for theme for the months to come, along with Virginia working on homework and Mark attending Founder's Week and the Chicago Auto Show. Virginia was thrilled to get a new KitchenAid Mixer as an early birthday present from her mom, and we were both pleasantly surprised when the Duggars came to visit our church in March.
2: Celebrating Resurrection Sunday with Dave & Kelley | "For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his." Romans 6;5
4: VIRGINIA'S FIRST CUBS GAME | April 2012
6: Lake Geneva & Russel Military Museum | In April we attended a marriage retreat with our Sunday School class in Lake Geneva. The retreat was fun and informative, but the highlights for Mark were the photography opportunities. He and our friend, Ed, scouted the local area for interesting sights and on the way home, the guys stopped at the Russel Military Museum while Virginia and Ed's Wife, Christina, relaxed at Starbucks.
8: May Road Trip to Delaware | We had a great time in Delaware, as usual. We dined at Agave, walked along the beach and played mini golf at Ryan's. We also visited Washington, D.C. with Virginia's little brother and sister and got to see Virginia's dad's baptism!
10: Rockford Air Fest
12: Delaware in July
13: We made a special visit to Delaware in July to see Virginia's former student, Liting, and her boyfriend, Daniel. It was a delightful trip, but the highlight was the state fair, complete with funnel cake, fried oreos, a circus, petting zoo, and Sugrland concert!
15: On this trip, we introduced everyone to Settlers of Catan, and they were hooked! We also enjoyed incredibly delicious meals and dairy farm ice cream. Yum!
16: Lake Shannon | UJ and Aunt Marie were kind enough to host us for another fun and relaxing day at their lake house in June. Everyone got up on the skis this year, even if only for a few seconds. We were also spoiled with a delicious meal and lovely company.
18: A | ANNIVERSARY | ROAD TRIP | South Dakota & Colorado
19: On the first day of our trip, we drove from Chicago to Murdo, SD, with a quick stop in Mitchell to see the Corn Palace. When we arrived at our hotel, aptly named the LandMARK, we stretched our legs by playing basketball and hanging out on the swings. We both enjoyed relaxing after a long day on the road and taking in the beauty of the plains.
20: Pioneer Auto Show
22: The Badlands
23: The badlands were simply amazing, especially for Virginia, who had never seen them before. This was the first of several natural wonders we saw on this trip, and Virginia learned she has a deeper appreciation for nature than she realized!
24: Wall Drug
25: MT. RUSHMORE
26: We had a busy second day of our trip. We woke up in Murdo and visited the Pioneer Autoshow, then drove through the amazingly scenic Badlands before making a quick stop at Wall Drug. We arrived in Rapid City in time to see Mount Rushmore and catch the evening lighting ceremony. We went back the following morning to explore the area and learn more about how the sculpture came to be.
28: Custer State Park
29: We had a tight timetable to work with on Day 3 of our trip between revisiting Mt. Rushmore and driving from South Dakota to Denver on our agenda, but we couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit Custer State Park in hopes of spotting some buffalo. Not only did we see plenty of buffalo, but we were able to take in the scenery by car along the winding Iron Mountain Road.
31: One of the best parts of our trip was getting to visit and reconnect with our friends, the Bakers, who moved from Chicago to Denver a couple of years ago. They were kind enough to host us for several days, and we had a great time visiting the zoo with their adorable daughter, Mackenzie!
32: Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave Lookout Mountain Golden, CO
34: Golden, Colorado
36: PIKES PEAK
37: "The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it."- Psalm 89:11
39: Pikes Peak was utterly stunning. We were fortunate to have Mark's cousin, Mary, join us for the incredibly scenic drive to the summit where we had a picnic lunch and tasted the world's only donuts made at an altitude of over 14,000 feet!
40: GARDEN OF THE GODS
42: The Garden of the Gods was another Colorado wonder. We were awestruck at the natural rock formations that were unlike anything we've ever seen before. We particularly enjoyed climbing on and interacting with the rocks, like when we mimicked the Kissing Camels and when Virginia tried to knock over Balanced Rock. We were also quite charmed by the nearby mountain town of Manitou Springs where we had a fantastic meal and strolled around town while admiring Pikes Peak in the background.
44: Little Man Ice Cream offered some unique flavors. We both opted for the Salted Oreo... yum! | We had a lovely official anniversary dinner overlooking the river in the Highland neighborhood of Denver to celebrate four wonderful years of marriage. After our "grown up" versions of PB&J and grilled cheese, we walked down the street for some delicious salted Oreo ice cream from Little Man.
46: Antique Archeology Le Claire, Iowa
48: One Saturday per year, churches in Chicago collaborate to bless the city in various ways through an event called For One Chicago. This year, our Sunday school class provided games, face painting, school supplies, and more to a local elementary school, and ended the day with a delicious barbecue! | FOR ONE | CHICAGO
50: This marathon was different than the last two because Virginia was a spectator this time. We still had several friends and family members in the race though, so we were excited to watch and cheer them on! | 2013 Chicag0 Marathon
52: China Reunion in | Gatlinburg
53: In November, we traveled to Gatlinburg, TN to reunite with some of Virginia's friends she met while serving in China. The Smokies were beautiful, and we had a great time exploring a new town and getting out of the city.
55: Mark served again as a lead coordinator for Help-Portrait at our church while Virginia helped with registration. It was a rewarding experience to share the love of Christ though beautiful professional photos.
56: We had a belated, but lovely Christmas in Delaware that spilled into the new year and included sharing gifts and spending time with both sides of Virginia's family. We also set up a tree and had a scenic white Christmas in Chicago and another epic Optimus Holiday party.
59: When we visit Delaware, we always like to do things we can't do in Chicago, and this time that meant going target shooting for the first time! Virginia's mom was kind enough to let us use her pistols and take us to a nearby shooting range. We were both a little nervous at first, but got more comfortable after receiving instruction from a police officer who happened to be next to us. It was rewarding to hear the "pinging" sound when we hit a metal target and check our accuracy on the target paper. It was also a definite learning experience!
60: Cape Henlopen State Park
62: Cape Henlopen & Ockles Farm
63: We joined Virginia's dad, younger siblings, and cousins for a walk along the geographical Cape Henlopen, for which the surrounding park and Virginia's high school are named. We learned that this walk can only be done in the off season so as not to disturb the piping plovers while they nest in the summer. Afterwards we gathered at Virginia's aunt & uncle's farm where we enjoyed catching up and taking in the beautiful scenery.