Monday, February 23, 2015

My Valentine.

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Rachel and I were talking about our unintentional transition to slower blogging last week. Maybe one post a week, maybe one post every other week...it's not that much. We both love instagram because it's faster, immediate and unlike blogging, you get feedback and can interact with the audience. But at the same time, we're both hard at work on our 2014 Blurb books. Compiling all the posts and pages reminds us that we actually both still love to blog. Nothing keeps up with life quite like it or captures the words that need to go with the photos. Her son Braden calls the Blurb books "the growing up books" which is pretty true for me too. I think I've grown up quite a bit over the last six years!

Sometimes we blog less because we don't have any photos, or they are poor quality iPhone pics, or they didn't come out quite right. That's kind of how I feel about these photos of Kip that I took on the DSLR. They were way too back lit and grainy, and Kip was trying to avoid the camera and a photo shoot. But these are the every day good stuff, really. Coffee and brunch with this guy.

We got kind of tricked for Valentine's Day and to avoid a pre-fixe meal that didn't match our needs or tastes moved our dinner reservation to brunch. Instead we cooked steaks and fancy potatoes with our favorite chocolate hot pots on Saturday night, and on Sunday after church we went to Gram & Dunn. It was an even sweeter treat because Lauren gave us a gift card for Christmas! It was one of those cold snow-less days that keep reappearing this winter, and we hurried in to order more coffee. They were generous with the refills which was nice because we were too close to the door and the kitchen was slow. All the food was delicious, and we left stuffed and over caffeinated.

Kip is exceptionally good to me. He laughs with me, does the dishes and shares the quilt on the couch. He doesn't question why the final season of Parks & Rec makes me cry as much as it makes me laugh (long live Leslie Knope), and he welcomes everyone that comes through our front door. He is my very favorite, every day and Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

MB Party and Blackout at Bramlage.

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For Christmas, Kip and I bought basketball tickets for Mom and Lauren. We chose the K-State v. Texas game on February 7. Lu was in on the plan, but Mom was definitely surprised. We were glad to be able to return the favor and take Mom to a game - she's been awfully generous to us in the "attend K-State sporting events" category.

THEN, after we had already picked that game, Mortar Board at K-State scheduled an alumni event for that day. Last year we had fun introducing Kip to all our MB pals, so it was great to go back this year as Victoria Lynch. The event was held at JP's in Jardine, a lovely restaurant with really good food on the edge of campus.
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Katie was president the year before me, and Jan was our advisor. She's now a dear family friend, and we were so glad she could attend our wedding last November. We talked lots with the new advisors and visited with a pretty spunky group of members. I love hearing all the things that seniors in college are going to do!
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The game was fine. We managed to play Texas pretty well and lost it at the end, but we had fun in the Octagon of Doom and loved the new video screen. It was a black out day, so we were all wearing black to make the Octagon extra intimidating - it really is so dark in there! When we left the game, the sun was starting to set. We all agreed it was one of the prettiest sunsets we had seen in a long time leaving the Flint Hills.
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Besides JP's in Manhattan, we also stopped for a quick beer (and black bean raspberry chipotle dip!) before the Mortar Board event at Taco Lucha. Even though Kip grew up in Manhattan, it was his first time having that So Long Saloon/Taco Lucha classic. Another fan now, of course.

Going home, we stopped at Dempsey's in Lawrence for burgers. It was a good day with exceptionally warm weather and fantastic food and company. The cranes are hard at work updating the stadium, and we can't wait to be back for the fall season of football!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Birthday Party for Grandpa.

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Our trip to Jewell County was to celebrate Grandpa Lauren's 86th birthday. He recently moved into Superior, Nebraska, and many of the family members came to celebrate his birthday. I have memories of celebrating his birthday for more years than any of my other grandparents because we often saw him in January. Sometimes we saw Grandpa Lauren at the state house where my uncle served fourteen years in the legislature. I can see a photo in my head of my sister and I standing with him while wearing matching Hearts Design dresses.

Later, I remember celebrating his birthday at a basketball game at K-State. During one of my college years, my grandparents had season tickets for both women's and men's basketball so I was able to see them often and have dinner at Bobby T's on the west side of town. Last year, Kip and I traveled out with Mom and celebrated Grandpa's birthday in Jewell County, and we were glad that it worked out that we could go again this year.
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My grandparents are both sporting purple (and the Cats won that day too!). My grandpa has a younger brother who was there, as was my great-uncle Rex.
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My mom was close with her first cousins growing up - and still is - and there were two at the party plus Uncle Keith. Mom brought along an album of the wedding photos, and everyone took turns flipping through the pages of photos. We hadn't seen many of our relatives since the wedding, and everyone was so complimentary of the church, the sermon and our pastor. It was fun to talk through it with them again!
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Before the party we stopped at the liquor store in Superior to check the "local" selection. The liquor store has new management, but it gave me an excuse to retell Kip one of my favorite Grandpa Lauren stories. When they had season football tickets, my grandpa would bring large coolers of beer for whoever stopped by the pick-up truck. My mom told me that he would drop off the coolers at the liquor store, the owner Karen would fill them with beer AND ice for him, and he was ready to head to Manhattan.
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During the party, Kip and I made a quick run to the hardware store to help hang up another bird feeder for Grandpa right outside his window. We loved visiting with all the family, stuffing ourselves on birthday sweets and celebrating this great grandpa.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Six Books of January.

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Six books for January. Let's just get to it, shall we?

Brown Girl Dreaming is my first Jacqueline Woodson book. Pretty sure I'm about ten years behind to start reading Jacqueline Woodson, but I love where I started. It's written in verse with short snippets from Jacqueline's life growing up in Ohio, South Carolina and New York. My teacher friend Amy heard that she wrote it this way because that's how we remember life, in little pieces and stories. It's also worth reading this op-ed about what happened when she won the National Book Award. Brown Girl Dreaming is beautiful, and even though I could have read it very quickly, I didn't. I savored the words, and her stories about her family.

All the Light We Cannot See I randomly picked on the Kindle. Then I discovered it was a finalist for the National Book Award and on a bunch of books lists for 2014. In this World War II story, the two main characters are a blind French girl who escapes from Paris and a radio technician in Hitler's army. My book club is reading it this month and plan to discuss it at Aixois Bistro over French food, but there is lots to discuss about humanity in this story. Really loved and highly recommend.

Half a World Away (and Belzhar) came from this magical book concierge. Jaden, adopted from Romania as an older child, has definitely not had an easy transition to his new life. Now his parents are traveling to Kazakhstan to adopt a new baby, and we learn more about Jaden's back story as the adoption process moves forward. From what I've read about adoption, it's pretty accurate, challenging and sometimes really painful. I listened to this book on my commute and passed it on to my mom to read as soon as I finished.

Crooked Letter Crooked Letter had been on the Kindle for a while and a Candi book recommendation from almost a year ago. It's a murder story told with current stories and flashbacks. While I was able to figure out some of the mystery as I went, it did keep me guessing until the end.

Some Luck was on the long list for the National Book Award, and I recognized Jane Smiley's name from her book that won the Pulitzer a couple of years ago. It takes place in Iowa, and each chapter is a year in the life of a family. Sometimes it's one incident or sometimes it follows a few family members through developments in their life that year. I thought it was beautifully written, and while it's not plot driven, the characters are lovely. I'm not sure that it would translate as well to people without agriculture roots or a love of the heartland, but I wholeheartedly recommend it if you do fit those descriptions.

Belzhar is a young adult novel about teenagers who attend "The Wooden Barn," an alternative residential school in Vermont. Most students are there because of a traumatic event in their lives, and we learn their stories as they experience a special topics in writing class. I listened to this book, and it has a lot of teenage angst and some dramatic love stuff. Kip was moving the car one day and when the cd came on, he said, "WHAT are you listening to!?" (Characters were making out in the library stacks.) But I loved it. I was hooked trying to guess what happened to Jam, the narrator, and appreciating what books and writing can do for teenagers. Good eighth grade and up read for girls.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

We Went to the Farm.

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Happy Kansas Day! Was this a really big holiday in your house growing up? Only ours? Hmmm...well, happy birthday Kansas! The 7th graders at our school are learning about Kansas history now, and their first year teacher is having a blast. It's fun to jump in and see them explore our state's rich history.
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Last weekend my grandpa had a birthday, and Mom, Kip and I made the trip to Jewell County to celebrate his birthday (photos to come) and enjoy the farm. We didn't all make it together at Christmastime, so it was also a belated Christmas celebration. While Kip and I stayed in town with my aunt and uncle, we made sure to spend some time on the family farm. It's still in Kansas but four miles from the Nebraska state line.

Kip is always up for a walk around the farm, but whereas my mom, sister and I would happily walk the white rock gravel road, Kip prefers to walk through pastures and see the land up close. We climbed a couple of fences and walked north from the house. Just ahead past this old gate, we stopped to take a phone call from Kip's dad to confirm that my car needed a new radiator. As we paused for the update, six deer bolted from a draw to the east and crossed in front of us. They were certainly spooked and moving very quickly.
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After a while we wandered down to see the cattle right behind the office. While they were skittish at first, they gradually crept back over to us. They wondered if we were going to feed them, I think.
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We held perfectly still watching them. It was pretty quiet during the stand-off, just the wind and a few noises from the cattle. Warm for January, we turned soon and walked back up the hill to the house. We found some cold Coors Lights and the K-State basketball game, a perfect start to a Saturday.