Thanksgiving In Berlin

This was not our first Thanksgiving away from home. Last year we had turkey and guacamole (weird, I know) in Jamaica during our Honeymoon. It wasn't bad, though, because we were going home at the end. This year was more difficult, because we weren't with our families, and we're in a foreign country. But...our wonderful friend Steph Johnson saved the day! Marc was coming in town to visit, and she invited us to spend Thanksgiving with her and the Antioch Berlin team in Berlin. We were so excited to see Berlin, and equally excited to have a somewhat normal Turkey Day. Stephen got off work on Wednesday around 5 and we headed out. After a stop for dinner in Cologne and a few accidental detours, we arrived in Berlin at 2am. Steph was such a trooper and stayed up to welcome us. We all bunked together in the "dorm" and slept like babies. Thursday morning we awoke to a great German Breakfast awaiting us. Steph was such the hostess! It was wonderful. Then the preparations began. I made my first pies, two pecans (one "B" and one "U") and one pumpkin. I'm so domestic! Around lunchtime we headed over to the Tartar's house, where we met all of Steph's team. They were all so great and inviting, making us feel so welcome! We had a feast, complete with two turkey's (Madonna and Pavarotti-one cajun and one lemon herb), stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potato pie, salad, crescent rolls, and cranberries. Then, we had my pies, cherry pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin cake, and pumpkin cookies! It was delicious! The kids (there were 7) played and the adults laughed, it was very comforting! We finished the night off watching Elf, to bring in the Christmas spirit! That movie is so great! On Friday, we woke up and caught a walking tour. Stephen and I are pro's at these! We saw all of the Berlin historical sights, including the Holocaust Memorial, Hitler's bunker, the Berlin Wall, Museum Island, and many others. You can see the pictures chronicaling our tour using the link below. It was an awesome tour. I would highly recommend it if you are in Berlin: The New Berlin Walking Tour...and it's free! Can life get better? Later that night Steph had an open house at her apartment. We ate leftover desserts and met some of their German friends that go to her church or live nearby. It was so neat to get to talk to them (don't worry, they speak better English than I do) and hear their stories of the history of Berlin, but also just to interact with people that Steph and her team hold dear! They were so nice and fun! We sang and danced and had a great time! Saturday we joined Steph and her family (Marla and Kenny) for Steph's "Neighborhood Tour." She showed us all of the cool sites, my favorite being Tacheles. It's a building taken over by artists where they display their art (inside, behind, on, EVERYWHERE). It was very ecclectic and original. We then had a very typical German lunch, schnitzels, and went sight seeing. Steph had great patience, carting us around her town. It was nice! During our walk we stumbled on an open Christmas market, so after dinner Stephen, Marc and I went back to enjoy it. I had some cider and we even participated in one of the amusement "rides." (Exclusive video coming soon!!) It was great! Sunday, we awoke to snow on the cars. So cool! We made the trek back to Liege, which took us about 6 hours and had time to unwind before the start of another week! We had SO MUCH FUN in Berlin. Definitely on the top of our list as far as cities go so far! Steph was an amazing hostess...and such a blessing in our lonely holiday slump :) We hope you all had a great Thanksgiving as well!

Our Anniversary

On November 18, Stephen and I were
married a year! I can't believe it. Time
truly flies by! We decided a while back to spend our anniversary weekend in London. I had never been, and Stephen hadn't spent extensive time there, so it would be fun for both of us. Two weeks before our departure the Eurostar was revealed, so we were able to participate in it's first few runs between Brussels and London. For those of you unfamiliar, the Eurostar is the first high-speed (200+ mph) train connecting London, Paris, and Brussels. It was very nice, although we almost missed it. We decided to leave early Saturday morning, so Stephen had time to unwind from the busy work week. Our train left Brussels (an hour away) at 6:50. It was an early morning for us. We got to the train station 20 minutes before the train left, but we were at the wrong train station. Luckily, the train running between the two stations in Brussels was arriving in minutes, so we caught that and were allowed as the "last" passengers on the Eurostar heading for London. It was hectic, but well worth it! We arrived in London at 8am, and headed to the hotel. Our hotel (in efforts to save some money) was interesting to say the least. We figured why spend the money when we'd barely be in it...we'll never do that again. The sign on the inside of door read "hotel not responsible for luggage left inside room." INSIDE the room...yes, you read that correct! Interesting! We did our best to see the bright side, but that usually meant NOT staying in the room. We then headed for Piccadilly Circus. At 8:30 am on a Saturday, not many people were out. So we were able to capture the fountain with no one sitting on it, which is a feat in and of itself. We soon found our way to the "Original Tour" office and paid for a weekend package of walking tours and bus tours. The nice thing was that you could jump on and off the buses and boats all day long for 48 hours...perfect! While in the store, the manager let us in on the Buckingham Palace "Changing of the Guards" walking tour starting we jumped in. The tour was great, as it started at the Guards barracks, where most people don't know to start. We got to see them lining up, saw the bands getting ready, and even caught the Horse Guards walking past. We walked with the "mini-parade" to the Palace and got to see the whole shebang. It was awesome! I was like a kid in a candy store. We then spent the rest of the day on the buses. The tour guides gave us all of the historical background as we passed by, and we got to stay warm--PERFECT! It was freezing and rainy all weekend, so the buses were a blessing! We saw Parliament, the London Bridge, Trafalgar Square, Chinatown, Westminster Abbey, the museums, the London eye-sore, and much more! We made lists of all the places we wanted to visit in more detail while on the bus, and we even were able to enjoy some TGI Friday's for lunch! The real deal! We had dinner reservations at the Savoy Grill, inside the Art Deco-mecca The Savoy Hotel for our anniversary dinner. We made it to the hotel after too many tube changes, and walking in the rain, and enjoyed a nice dinner together. Being one of Gordon Ramsey's restaurants (Hell's Kitchen) we were super excited and held high expectations. The dinner was nice, as we were able to sit and have a glass of wine and reflect on our year. The food, however, was very subpar and didn't meet any of our expectations. It was still a nice night! Unfortunately, when we left we realized the tubes had shut down for the night. Our adventure had begun. We tried to find a bus that would run towards our hotel, only to find out we needed change to buy a ticket. Stephen asked a guy running a hot dog stand if he could make change, but the man would only do it if Stephen bought a hot dog. No big deal, except we had just eaten and it cost us 3 POUNDS...that's $6 dollars. We finally bought a ticket, witnessed a fight while on the bus, and then get off the bus too early thinking we were "near our hotel." We began walking, witnessed another fight (this time a girl beating up her boyfriend) and a man getting literally thrown out of a bar, his shoe following in the air, only to realize we are no where near our hotel. We finally found a cab, and made it to our hotel an hour and a half after leaving dinner! Wow! The next morning we thought we were getting up at 8:30 to "seize the day" but actually were were getting up at 7:30 (Belgium time) we really seized it! We had a pow wow at Starbuck's and then set out to visit all of our places on the list. We went to the Waldorf, the Ritz, Harrod's (I could have stayed forever) and Parliament. We ended with a dinner at the train station, and headed back to Brussels. We finally arrived home at 11:30 pm, after hopping to the train station we parked at and then driving an hour to Liege. It was a long weekend, but we had the best time! My only regret was not having our cake toppers...but we'll have those at some point. I guess our next trip to Austin :) Sorry this is a novel, but I hope you caught a glimpse of our weekend, and thank you for all of your support during this first year! We are so thankful for all of you...and we look forward to many more years with you in our lives!

For the rest of the pics:


Happy Thanksgiving

We are in Berlin, Germany celebrating Thanksgiving with Steph Johnson and the Antioch Berlin's beautiful here. We'll be sure to take lots of pictures and update the blog soon...with tales of a German Turkey Day, our Anniversary weekend in London, and Marc's travels in Europe!

We're thankful for all of you...hope to catch up with each of you soon!

Katie and Stephen

9.3...only 4 more to go :)

If you had asked me two weeks ago if I was a runner, I would have emphatically said NO! It's never been second nature for me to run, always a forced weight burner. I have never enjoyed running, nor have I ever enjoyed the time it takes. Today, I have a new perspective. In an hour and a half, I completed 9.3 miles. Woo hoo!! As most of you know, I have been inspired by an amazing friend to complete a 1/2 marathon. I still kind of laugh when I type that, because I just never thought it would be possible for me. Steph has accomplished so much...and she makes it all seem so easy. I have been struggling with "finding" myself here in Belgium. I'm usually alone, and for the most part out of the loop with all things "Liege," but I found that my perfect quiet time, for myself and in prayer, was running! I run along the Rhein river, I run through the city, I've found great restaurants, perfect shops, fun sculptures, great Euro hairstyles, all the while running my heart out and most of the time talking to myself or praying! It's such a release. Everything you want to achieve takes practice, and I can finally say that I'm a runner. That is until Paula Radcliffe comes on at the end of my workout (the Nike+ software) and says "Congratulations, that was your longest workout to date!" That should make me excited...but she kinda makes me want to puke :) (If you don't know who she is, look her up--you'll feel the same way I do) Please keep me in your prayers for the next few months...I have four more miles to reach the 1/2 marathon distance, but I'm confident I can do it. Then comes the Berlin 25K, and the Scotland marathon in the Fall. Anyone want to run with me?

Spring Break Plans????

Steph Johnson and I will be completing the 1/2 Marathon in Lisbon, Portugal on March 16th. Come and hang out, participate, lay out with us after, drink a beer while we run...we don't care! But if you have the time/vacation...bring it! We'd love to see your faces :) I've attached the info if you want to check it out!


We're in our new place :)

Ok, ok...I know it's a month and a half over due, but good things come to those who wait! (This is not to say that I was patient the whole time) The apartment is beautiful, and we are completely settled in! Stephen and I worked our tails off, assembling a coat rack, dresser drawers, and an Entertainment center. As you can see, it will be a great place to relax for the rest of our stay here! Now...come visit :)

American Cemetary

Belgium is full of history, and believe it or not, there are quite a few American Memorial Cemetaries in close proximity to Liege. On All Saints Day, we went and visited the Ardennes American Memorial Cemetary to honor those that served. It was a very chilly day, but the cemetary was gorgeous-just look at those leaves!


It's been a while since I last you're going to get a few in one day! First and foremost...I'm going to be an AUNT again! Yep, you heard me! Andy and Natalie are due with a little bambino in get ready for me in the US this summer :) I'm so excited...being an aunt, even if it is long distance, is awesome! Stephen better watch out--it's baby FEVER!!!

It's Already November...

Goodness! Time flies by! Stephen has the day off today, All Saint's Day! Not sure what it's all about, but why question it. We didn't do anything major for's not really celebrated all that much--which is actually ok with me! We went to dinner, and they had the Cathedral lit up kind of we took a "ghoulish" picture in front of it! Sorry we weren't wearing rediculous costumes with a bunch of locals dressed up around us--don't mean to let you down! This weekend we have a costume party at Stephen's coworkers house. Maybe I'll have some material then :)

Holiday season is among us! Miss everyone! Fill us in on your lives...