Thursday, February 4, 2016

Happy Gillis.

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My sister left today for two weeks in Arizona for work, though I think she will still get to have lots of fun while she is there too! There can't be too much to complain about Arizona in February, though we're still having the bland winter in KC that I've previously lamented. We wanted to get together as the original three KC Luhrs Ladies + Kip one more time before her trip, and we chose last Sunday to make it happen!
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Going to church downtown, you would think we have a better idea of where the best brunches in Kansas City are on Sunday morning. The reality is that Kip loves a big breakfast so much that we have often eaten a full meal before we walk out the door at 8:30. I married a man who grew up eating biscuits, eggs, and sausage or bacon on the reg before school.

Here's the best part about this habit he acquired - he entered our marriage as the most proficient breakfast maker I know and zero expectations that I would pull off these big breakfasts for him. It's no big deal for him to throw homemade biscuits in the oven, cook some bacon and then fry the eggs in the bacon grease. I love this about him. It means I have stopped googling perfect biscuit recipes because why mess with the Oklahoma classic made with self-rising flour that he effortlessly pulls off, and it means that I go to church full and happy. Sometimes I make something on Saturday night (this french toast is a favorite) that we can throw in the oven or a quick batch of muffins. And sometimes we just eat cereal. We like Sunday mornings - leaving for church at 8:30 is a full two more hours of sleep and time at home than we normally have during the week.
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So on Sunday after church, we found ourselves at a new-to-us restaurant with Mom and Lauren. It was the first time any of us had eaten there, and Happy Gillis had so many of the characteristics I love about brunch restaurants. First, we had to wait in line to order and then wait for our table. I love that it always works out that you have a table before your food is ready, and I actually prefer this format for small, charming brunch establishments.
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And while there was a limited menu, there was a breakfast sandwich. Regrettably, I ordered the french toast instead of the sandwich. I thought we should try a couple of things and diversify the plates on the table, but mostly I was left wanting more of Kip's perfect sandwich. (This ALWAYS happens to me.) The biscuit french toast was good too, but the marmalade was too much citrus for my taste. Finally, Happy Gillis had good coffee and great cinnamon rolls. I've recently been on a quest to find the best cinnamon roll in town, and I was happy to eat one at Happy Gillis for "research purposes." Still no verdict on the best roll in town on my end, so I suppose I will keep ordering cinnamon rolls everywhere we go.

We have literally no idea when baby girl Lynch will arrive - I think that the surprise is supposed to be part of the fun - so we continue on. I have a haircut scheduled for her due date and Valentine's Day dinner reservations, so I will keep plugging through school days and eating really well until she arrives. I bought a "My First Valentine's Day" onesie, just in case, but kept the tags on it if she wants to time her arrival differently. I feel pretty okay and am even sleeping marginally better this week compared to last week. Thankfully, even if she is (please, no) 16 days late, she can still slide in with a February birthday, and so this officially means we are in "baby's birthday month." All the heart emojis.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Soup Swap 2016

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Erica and I hosted our fourth annual Soup Swap earlier this month. The original post that I linked to has a lot of the details of how we set it up, some yummy snacks and photos of my old house. It's crazy that we have had two soup swaps at the house in Roeland Park and two soup swaps since I married Kip! We've kept the same format with delicious small bites, a draft for soup picking and this year added some champagne. Because, why not?
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This year's soup swap was outstanding! Several of the years we have hosted it in February, but we had it pretty early so it could fall between the arrival of Erica's second baby and my first baby. But everyone, not just new moms, loves the soup swap. Our guests and friends showed up with four quart sized containers filled with hearty soups. Whether you are eating the soup by yourself for lunch or sharing it with family or an always starving husband (Kip), the soups fit the bill for long winter months perfectly. We often eat soup with grilled cheese, and I like to joke that Kip makes the very best grilled cheese. (I think I tend to over-cheese the sandwich, and he thinks I just like an excuse to have him do it.) We had a tasty beef and vegetable last week, and I know we will keep reaching for the soup as it seems like winter has just barely started for those of us in the midwest.

I had major snow envy over the weekend, fondly remembering the year we had ten snow days when I lived in Virginia. We got 54 inches of snow that winter and Finley was a baby still - now he's almost seven! Snow days are a bit of a gamble for me this year. I would love an extra day off to rest as we wait for baby Lynch, or if they cancel school while I am on maternity leave it won't count against my precious sick leave. But my district doesn't build in any snow days, so we might have to make them up in May/June, and I will probably be ready to stay home for summer vacation with baby Lynch again at that point! And we can't forget we already had our "blue snow day" when we celebrated the Royals in November. Nothing is showing up in the ten day forecast for KC...but maybe a baby will! Who am I kidding? I'm predicting she waits at least until her due date on February 13.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Two Books of December.

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Two books to round out the year...

We read For the Love for our December book club book. It's a collection of essays, and while it is sold as an appeal to give up comparing yourself to everyone on Pinterest, it ends up being more than that in execution. She has a couple of good essays along that line, but Jen Hatmaker also writes about raising children, the church today, and the importance of gathering around the table together. She is a very popular Christian writer, and I've heard wonderful things about her book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (there is a study related to it at our church right now!). It's unfair, but it was hard not to compare her writing to Shauna Niequest whose style I adore! There were several great essays, and we did talk about it a bit when we met in December for the ornament exchange.

I Kill the Mockingbird was part of the stack of books laying around the house that I've been reading before baby arrives. This one is a YA fictional story about three 8th graders who decide to make Harper Lee's classic novel popular again (not unlike Go Set a Watchman). They hide all the copies of the book around town to make it a conversation topic, but it never really flushed out for me. Probably because I read most YA lit critically with the one of two lenses: 1. Would this be compelling for the diverse population I work with? (No) 2. Is this extremely well written and holds it's own as a quality writing for all ages? (No, again). I still haven't read Harper Lee's other book, but I think I'm done with To Kill a Mockingbird for a bit longer again.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A New Year's Eve Wedding for Matt and Amy.

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Happy 2016! We welcomed the new year, the year of Baby Lynch, with a bang at our friends' wedding. Amy and Matt were married on the Plaza and had a lovely reception at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, and we have been looking forward to it for months! They planned a black tie celebration, and I did some research to find the perfect dress for my almost 33 week belly.

I ended up renting a dress from Rent the Runway, and it's actually the same dress I wore to BOTAR in the fall of 2014, but in gold instead of black. You may recognize it from some maternity photos that Rachel had done too (hers was the short version). They don't have maternity dresses on the website, but they do have many labeled as "bump friendly." I read all the reviews for this dress where women swore they wore it up to 35/36 weeks pregnant, but I was pretty much at the max for the zipper. It had enough stretch that it was actually surprisingly comfortable, and people were generous with the compliments about the dress and my growing belly. With my gold flats from our wedding, it really didn't look too short which was my biggest fear. I even rented the sparkly earrings to go with it and felt fairly glamorous all night.

And a note about Kip's tuxedo...after much debate and a little research, we ended up renting him a tuxedo for the night. Several people told us that buying can actually be a better deal than renting and after doing more research we found this to be both true and false. Kip doesn't have a great need for a tuxedo, but he will need to wear one again later this year because Lauren is on BOTAR exec. If you rented the most basic of tuxedos, you could actually rent it for pretty cheap and a couple of rentals would still be less than buying the most basic of tuxedos. And why would you want to own a not very nice tuxedo? Of course when we went to Jos. A. Banks, we got a bit tricked and didn't end up renting the cheapest of tuxedos, so maybe we should have bought? Who really knows? I just know that Kip looked dashing, it fit even better than his wedding tuxedo, and I totally approved of his winter break beard.
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The museum is a fun place for a wedding because you can enjoy all the art at the same time as cake, champagne and a great band. We sat in one of the galleries close to the delicious buffet with a group of Amy's other friends from BOTAR, including my sixth grade math teacher, Kim and her husband. We had a blast visiting with them all night! The cake was amazing and delicious - we each had two slices. We couldn't let it go to waste!
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Amy and Matt planned for a reception that would last all night long and well into the new year! Minsky's pizzas were delivered to help sustain all the dancing to the band Lost Wax, there was a photo booth with a gold glitter background that matched my dress, and we loved picking out fun hats and noisemakers for the countdown. I think Kip would have left a bit earlier, but since we can't predict the next time we'll have a good excuse to get dressed up on New Year's Eve, I insisted we stay to ring it in proper. The start of the new year is a good reminder that each year keeps getting better for the Lynches, and we are totally blessed. 
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As we were getting ready to go into the wedding reception, I asked Kip if we should take the real camera. He wisely said to leave it in the car, and while I would have loved the quality the Canon Rebel provides, I felt pretty free to move around and dance with only my iPhone tucked in my clutch. I think we captured the fun we had even without the big camera, and I love all these snapshots of the night. Happy new year friends!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Really Big December Wrap-Up.

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At one point, I thought long and hard about doing a special little album for December, much like this one from a couple of years ago. I should have thought through this a little bit more though as this was definitely not the best use of my time. We were actually really busy doing all sorts of fun stuff - no time for another craft project! It's always a bad sign when I have these good ideas that I don't tell Rachel, my mom, or Kip. Because I know they will tell me to think it through a bit more and not bother. But here are all the photos that would have made up a little book.
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Baby girl keeps growing and growing. I've been really lucky to keep working out with some walking and lots of Bar Method. Everything feels pretty okay still, I'm just getting a little bit slower all the time.
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When you marry an arborist, you get a real tree. We picked a beautiful Fraser fir, and I loved having the fresh smelling tree in our dining room. I also loved that Kip was in charge of watering it and keeping it alive all month.
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Our tree was from the same place where we took our wedding portraits last year. We purchased lights last year on sale from Target and actually want to add one more strand to the loop next year to make it a little brighter. Our tree is not fancy or themed..it's bright, cheery and full of ornaments I collected before meeting Kip and a growing number of ones that are significant to both of us.
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Lauren and her roommate hosted their annual Christmas party, and we went down to enjoy the view of the Plaza lights and great food on a super warm Friday in December. I loved this red dress - but it doesn't look like it's going to make it to February. I might have outgrown it already!
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There were lots of things baked in our house over the month! I made Christmas tree cookies to help raise money for Rachel's run in Boston for Braden. I made my new favorite peanut butter chocolate chip cookie and a chocolate espresso cookie too - plus lemon drops later in the month. There was granola and cranberry crunch muffins too. I did a lot of baking. (We're out of butter again...) Our sweet neighbor brought us this adorable fruit pizza - the best gift ever for a pregnant lady who can't get enough fruit! It was almost too pretty to eat. Almost...
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 Mom treated us to the Nutcracker Ballet which was elaborately updated this year. We didn't really invite Kip, and he was happily left to drink a few beers with his work buddies at his department's Christmas party at Jack Stack in the Crossroads while we ate a quick bite and ran to the Kauffman Center for a fabulous production.
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Last year we were newlyweds, Kip had the flu, and we were preparing for our honeymoon. There were almost no decorations. This year we were home, life was pretty calm, and our house was cozy. We used the Christmas napkins. I put flowers in a vase. Kip put wreaths on all the front windows, and the stockings were hung by the chimney with care. I actually loved having all the presents wrapped on the fireplace since we can't use it, and it brightened up the room during December.
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I spent lots of time getting mail ready - Christmas cards, Soup Swap invites, and thank you notes. I tried to make a dent in my washi tape supply but actually still just have a ton of washi tape. Someone should really stop me. Maybe that should be my new years resolution - don't buy anymore washi tape?
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We had more friends and family in our house during December than in many previous months. Our guests that came the furthest to visit were Vicki, Daniel, Gwen and Cameron as they came from Kyiv in the Ukraine! We were all charmed by their kiddos who speak Ukrainian and Russian. No biggie.
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On Christmas eve morning, I went to McLain's to pick up cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning in Overland Park and also to take to Manhattan. I also grabbed a box of my favorite chocolate cups to share with my inlaws who also love pecans. It was warm and cozy inside the story, bustling with everyone picking up Christmas goodies. I loved it and would order again next year.
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We had dinner at Seasons 52 on the Plaza on Christmas eve after church downtown. It was starting to feel more like winter by Christmas eve, and the food was delicious. And the Plaza lights never get old.
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On Christmas morning, Kip and I exchanged gifts at home before heading to my mom's for breakfast and more present opening. There were moments all month when I really felt the realization of how different Christmas will be next year with a baby girl keeping us company on all our adventures. We really can't wait. (And neither can our families!)
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When we drove to Manhattan, Kip pointed out the freezing fog on the grass and trees. We stopped at the scenic overlook driving into Manhattan to see it up close and take some photos. I can't remember seeing anything like it before!
 photo Blog_1183.jpg After Christmas, we kept working hard on the house, filling the freezer with food for when baby girl arrives, and seeing our pals. Erica, Em and their girls stopped by on the same day as our first actual snowfall. Dad, Tracy and Spencer came to town, and we had breakfast with them in our house as well!

I told Kip that it was the best stretch in the house that I could remember - I loved having people stop by for impromptu visits and meals at the dining room table. The house is a bit of a construction zone, but there really is never a perfect time, so it would be silly to put it off because of painting, installation and DIY projects.  There's always progress and tweaking, but all these visitors really made it feel like Christmas around here.