Monday, August 31, 2009

Back-to-School Road Trip.

It's probably not a secret anymore. I'm in love. I love it. I love Key Middle School. It is organized, the people are friendly, and it is a middle school named after the writer of the Star Spangled Banner? That's impossible not to love.

Today was my first day with the whole staff. We had staff development for less than three hours today, and every minute was used wisely. I met lots of new people, checked out assessment data from last year and started to figure out who was who. I'm still a little fuzzy on what I am going to do on Tuesday when the students arrive, but one day at a time.

The theme for the day was "Road Trip," and we all had to bring an artifact from summer road trips. I brought the t-shirt that Abbey and Erica made for our big move. At the end of our meeting, they announced we had a ten minute break, and then we had to be outside for our road trip.


Our entire staff filled up two school buses for a tour of the six elementary schools that feed into our school. We also got to see the various neighborhoods and the differences in housing for some of our students. About 50% of our students receive free or reduced-price lunch, and they come from all over the world before Fairfax County.

The bus tour was great, but it is only fair to mention that last year, Rachel got to ride in a limo.


Do you remember what it was like to ride the bus? When you tried to figure out where to sit and where the cool kids would be? I sat with Rachel. But I don't want you to think that we don't talk to anybody else and just sit the seat and whisper in our code language. I am making lots of friends. And trying to steal some of Rachel's too.

Fifteen buses will bring students to our school on Tuesday. It was nice to see where they live. Now I can't wait to see their faces. I am in love with Key MS.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Vic.

Look at this beautiful black and white.


Jennie mailed it to me from Chicago. I love it for many reasons.
  • Jennie took it the old fashioned way with 35 mm film. That's art.
  • It's part of a project she made for her boyfriend, Joe. It was a collection of photos that she took of various venues in Chicago. Joe loves live music.
  • Jennie rode around Chicago on her bicycle to take the photos.
  • It has my name prominently displayed.
Here are a few other nuggets that are worth telling you but NOT worth an entire blog of their own.
  • I have blogged over 50 times.
  • Victor has not called. Will he? Regardless, that was a laugh.
  • If you need another laugh, you can always click the label "only Victoria" on the blog to read the various misadventures of my life.
  • I own a domain name now. Update your bookmark to www.victoriaINvirginia.com. No blogspot necessary.
  • I finished my special education class already! Three credit hours in less than three weeks. I should be provisionally certified in special ed shortly.
  • My Wii fit age is 51. I underestimated the importance of balance. It asked if I fall down a lot. Not lately, thank you very much.
  • My mom and sister will be here on Friday. This is the best news of all.
Luhrs out.

First Day at Key.

Yesterday was my first day at Key Middle School. All of the new teachers gathered with our mentors to get our laptops and keys, check out our rooms and tour the school.

Rachel is my mentor. She volunteered for this job, but don't worry, she doesn't get paid. I was hoping she got paid so she could take me out to dinner at Sweetwater Tavern to discuss my progress as an educator. Drats.

Rachel decided that it was sort of like "Bid Day" back at Alpha Chi Omega. Except she didn't bring me a balloon with my name on it and a bucket full of candy. She brought me a Diet Coke. From my refrigerator.

My new room is on the first floor in a corner with a window, and I share it with another special education teacher, Lindsay. She's also new so we unloaded our cars together and tried to figure out where things go. It took me 10 minutes to unload everything. At Northwest, it took me 10 hours to unload everything and get it up to the 4th floor without an elevator.


I'm excited to be here and get started. I have much to look forward to and yet sad for my kids at Northwest who won't know what this is like. And not because it is their fault either. I really wish my girls from NW were here to help me set up my room. Then it would really feel like home.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Daddy.

I don't know what it is about girls, but no matter how big we get we still call them daddy. Today is my daddy's birthday. This is Daddy & me when I was little. See? I really did have a bowl haircut.


When Spencer was figuring out how our family worked, he would say to Lauren and me, "MY daddy!" and we would respond "MY daddy too!"

My dad loves airplanes. He flies all around the country in his Malibu, and I love to fly with him. We've flown to Nassau in the Bahamas, Indiana, western Nebraska, and Mackinac Island. Every landing is a conversation. Dad will say something informative about the landing, or we will compliment him, or we will laugh one off that is a little bumpy (rarely happens).

One time my brother was sitting with Tracy on a commercial flight. Spencer couldn't see my dad, so he assumed that my dad was flying. When they landed, my brother yelled "Yeah Daddy! Good job Daddy! Yeah Daddy!" He was confused but adorable.

So happy birthday Dad! Yeah Daddy! Good job Daddy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The End of Bonnie and Clyde.

Don't be fooled. They look like good dogs. But Bonnie and Clyde (Belle and Copper) are leading a double life.


Really they are partners in crime. I'm so glad Rachel is coming home today because I can't handle any more of these two together.

Someone peed on my bed. I'm 99% sure is was Belle. She has NEVER peed on my bed, but she thought it was a good idea this week.

Someone peed on a bookshelf in the living room. I'm 100% sure it was Copper. Because he did it right in front of me. He has NEVER peed in the house until this week.

They don't play fetch. They bark at everything and each other. Belle eats Copper's food. Copper gets on couches uninvited. These dogs love to wrestle, but only if they can cover me with drool and bite my legs in the process. I've never seen them wrestle outside. Only next to me.

Rachel and I discussed it on the phone tonight. Someone has to lay the law down in this town, and it's going to be Sheriff Luhrs and Deputy Scott. We're not afraid of these two outlaws.

Wait. Never mind. We're failures at doggy discipline. Give us 8th graders instead. We're signing up for doggy obedience school.

Say goodbye Bonnie and Clyde.

Somewhere to Live.

Before Rachel and Sol bought the house, a large group of Hispanic immigrants lived here. Apparently my living room was the reception area. There were two bedrooms downstairs and five more upstairs. The owners must have wanted to create a really flashy entrance with their tile.

And that they did. The living room posed the biggest challenge for picking a paint color.
Because of this tile.


Belle's face says it all. "Are you kidding? How are you going to make this tile work?"
With blue gray. Washed denim to be exact.


I didn't move any furniture for the living room. It all belongs to my roommate. The back left door leads upstairs to Rachel and Sol's. That is my table in the back right corner where I've set up my crafts and projects. I'm behind as usual with my scrapbook but maybe it will get done if I have to walk by it to get to the laundry. Or maybe the laundry won't get done.


Our laundry and the second bathroom are through the door on the left.
And as you walk out the front door and you want to check how you look, you can stop at the barn window mirror.


The barn was built in the early 1900s on my grandparents' farm. When my Uncle Keith tore the decaying frame down last year, we requested the windows from the barn.


It was a beautiful barn. My sister, cousin and I played in this barn a lot when we were little. Maybe my mom did too. Probably even my grandpa as a little boy.



I like that my large living room with the crazy tile has a piece of a Kansas barn in it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Whole Foods.

I did not intend to post photos of my haircut today. Instead, I was going to blog about my living room so that I could finally show you how it all came together. It's beautiful. But my living room will have to wait.

I have to tell you what happened at Whole Foods this afternoon. Read on, and remember, I did not make this up. It falls in the category of things that could ONLY happen to Victoria.

I was poking around the grocery store looking at varieties of cereal and wine and fresh mozzarella. A couple of times I saw this tall, dark skinned man kind of watching me. Whatever. I pulled over on the baking aisle to look for toffee chips. Whole Foods doesn't sell toffee chips. And the man approached me.

"I'm sorry if this is weird," he said, "but I just love your haircut. It looks so great on you."

Hold the phone. This is the same haircut from the Hairtastrophe of last week.


"Oh," I stammered, "um, thanks!"

"I don't know if this is weird, but I would love to call you sometime." Yes. This attractive man in a grocery store who likes my haircut, you CAN call me sometime. He apologizes again if this is weird. But I have to give him a break. He liked my haircut even after he saw the back by the olive bar.


He reaches out to shake my hand, and says, "What's your name? My name is Victor."

Pause. I consider lying. But he is pretty cute, so the truth is probably a better way to start.

He doesn't even stop to consider the fact that we have the same name, and put my number in his phone. Probably my haircut distracting him again.


We chatted a little more about teaching, Whole Foods, and Michael Beasley. He's apparently an NBA fan, and he informed me that Michael is in rehab as of yesterday. Good to know.

In review, today a boy in a grocery store asked me for my phone number because he liked my haircut. And his name was Victor.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Distractions.

I have the whole place to myself. My roommate went to Disney World, and Rachel, Sol and Finley went to the Outer Banks. I should be extra productive without any distractions.

HA. I could be distracted in an empty room with white walls. Especially if I had my blackberry.

I checked today: I have talked over 1600 minutes in the last month on my beloved blackberry. That does include nights and weekends. Rachel says I talk on the phone more than anyone she knows. She marvels how I keep track of the stories I want to tell to each person on the phone. Did I tell each of you about going to the birthday party in Adams Morgan? Or getting my TB test done at County Health?

There has been a marathon on TNT of The Closer today. Not helping the cause of my final paper done for my special education graduate class. But I think I am getting better at helping Chief Brenda Johnson get the confession.

Where was I going with this?

Oh yeah. This picture from OBX.


I really started the post to show you this picture. I took it when I was there on July 18th. Aren't you jealous of Rachel, Sol and Finley? I think it is beautiful and that my family should rent a house for a week next summer. Hint. Hint.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Belle and Bill.

Kansas people love the weather. I think it comes from this farming gene that is passed down and manifests in city dwellers as an obsession with the local weather. It's not unusual to hear Kansas City people argue over which TV station has the best weather anchor (I'm a loyal Gary Lezak fan). Erica and I regularly debated where to take cover in our second floor apartment in case of a tornado. Kansans are freaks about tornadoes, a fact affirmed by popular culture. Dorothy chased a tornado all the way over the rainbow.

Northern Virginia isn't in tornado alley. But we do have our own weather phenomenon that generates just as much buzz on the local news stations: hurricanes. Their sub par weather dudes are all excited right now about Bill. As I write this, Bill is located almost straight east off the coast wrecking havoc on beach vacations and dumping significant amounts of rain on us. It might ruin the president's family vacation too. Hurricanes last longer than tornadoes which means this coverage could go on for days!

Personally, I am thankful for Bill and the rain. Last night I fell asleep to thunder and lightning which made this feel a little more like home. The dreary outdoors makes it easier to convince myself to tackle my graduate paper due this coming Friday. Or scrapbook and watch reality TV.


Even though she is a Kansas native, Belle could care less about Bill or any other weather condition. Tornado, hurricane, blizzard, she has to go outside. It's just mother nature.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Northern Virginia Zumba.


I loved my community center in Overland Park because people of all ages could get together and lift weights, do pilates or dance through a zumba class. So when I joined my gym in NOVA, I asked about exercise classes. The salesman was running through all the options, and he assured me that zumba was really popular in Northern Virginia.

He wasn't kidding. This morning's class had people from at least three different continents. A conservative guess is there were at least four different home languages in the room. Didn't matter. Zumba unifies. Shake your hips. Salsa back and forth. Punch towards the ceiling. The teacher (whose first language was also not English) did a great job getting everyone going. She would ask questions and the little Asian women in the front row would shout "Yes!" regardless of the question. More Zumba! More Zumba! We love to dance!

I stand out normally in these classes because of my height and sometimes less than graceful dance moves. I really stood out today. 6' white girl sweating to the best Latin beats around.

And then we got to the hip-hop section of the hour. A favorite in Overland Park because I could show off my sweet dance moves from Northwest Middle school dances. The instructor taught us the moves and hit play.

To my delight, my multicultural zumba class shook it and hit the floor to "Low" by Flo Rida. Regardless of age or ethnicity, we sang along. "Shawty had them apple bottom jeans. Boots with the fur. The whole club was looking at her..."

After Flo Rida, the teacher asked if we wanted abs or more leg workout. The class shouted "ABS!" The teacher obliged, saying, "Alright! Abs it is. This is a democracy!"

Or something like that.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Happy Hour(s).

In DC, happy hours should start at 7.

(In KC, happy hours start at 5, especially for teachers.)

I didn't learn this lesson about happy hours until tonight after I sat in the Mad Hatter by myself for 35 minutes with my blackberry and a Miller Lite. Whatever. I was redeemed when four of my favorite Truman friends showed up. And next time we will get together at 7.


Cara, Catherine and Claire. Cara works for the Obama administration in the Gifts Department. Seriously. She opens presents sent to the president. Today the president received a lot of pearls. He doesn't keep them - they are archived. Catherine was passing through on her way back to Boston for grad school. And you know Claire. She is my Truman bestie and works at the World Bank.


Lauren is the other teacher in my Truman class. She teaches kindergarten in DCPS and has a knack for making you feel like a million bucks. An excellent trait in a kindergarten teacher.

We met at a total dive bar near Dupont. Each of our Miller Lites was only $2.75 during happy hour. A delight for DC. These women are passionate and excited about the things they do or want to do. I laughed a lot and enjoyed the three happy hours we spent together.

Also, they loved my haircut. I was sitting in a booth so they only saw the front, but they liked that part. I might post more pictures of it. Maybe.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hairtastrophe.

Rachel cut off all her hair a few weeks ago. A very nice lady named Dominique cut it off, and when we left I had every intention of returning to get my hair cut at that saloon in Alexandria. She did a great job on Rachel's hair. But it cost $60. That's a LOT of money for a haircut. I was determined to find a nice salon closer to our house and pay less too.

Plan. Backfired. Badly.

For some reason, the lady who got my hair off thought it needed to be really short to get the shape evened out. It didn't.

And for another reason, the stylist thought that the bowl cut of my childhood would be a good idea for the back of my head. It isn't.

I thought I would save money by going farther out to get a haircut. It was an Aveda salon close to my house. Again, I didn't.

Short. Choppy. Bowl.

So today I begged forgiveness of Dominique and got another haircut. There was very little hair to work with, and she had to comfort me throughout that it would grow and that she would fix it for now.

She did fix it. I don't have any pictures of it yet that I like. It's quite possible you will never see a picture of the back. Not if I can help it.

Instead, pictures of Nielsen's custard place in Vienna. It's just down the street from my church.


They have different flavors of custard EACH day. Vanilla and chocolate everyday. Today you could also have cool mint, raspberry, mango, or butterscotch. Rachel had mango with berries on top, and I had butterscotch in a cone. Both delicious.


We would like to go back tomorrow just to see what flavors they have. I'm crossing my fingers for pineapple.

Want to meet us there? I might let you see the back of my head.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pony Express.

Last week I mailed something to a friend. After receiving it, he remarked, "Ah, the post office. I didn't know anyone used the post office anymore." Common misconception. People mail things, happy things, every day across the country and back. I send fun little things all over this country because it makes people happy. And I'd hate to see the USPS fail.

Here are some great things I've received since I moved to Virginia.
  • A calendar birthday card that my grandpa signed.
  • An apron my great-grandmother wore.
  • Diet Coke paraphernalia.
  • A stuffed dog that Abbey won in a claw machine. Seriously. Apparently she has had a lifelong knack for those machines that normally just take your money. It's Belle's toy now. She loves it.
  • Bluetooth. I need that hands free for my kitchen (and admittedly my car.)
  • Tons of postcards, letters, encouraging words. I'm saving them all!
  • Candy.
  • Dangly earrings.
A couple of weeks ago I was homesick. There were a couple rough days where I was lonely and very sad about the job situation in this foreign land.

Tracy rounded up the gang to send me a cheer up present. It arrived on Saturday after the good news about the job, but it was still much appreciated.

I opened the package to find candy from our favorite sweets store in Indianapolis and this:


I pulled all the pieces out, and it made a darling little puzzle full of notes from my brothers and family in Indiana.


They're so sweet. I especially love what Mitch wrote: Hey. Heard you were home sick. Hope this makes you feel better. Mitch. (My brothers are getting SO big - Mitch just started 6th grade!)

See? The Post Office makes people happy. An e-card is brief and enjoyable. Cards, letters, a message in a bottle...that's the stuff that lasts.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Call Home.

If you have spent any time with me, you know this is true: I call my mom. A lot.

When I signed up for T-Mobile's "Fav Five" plan, I had to decide how many of the numbers I could give to my mom. So many to choose from: home, office, cell. I'm not on that plan anymore, so the answer is irrelevant. What is important is that I call my mom frequently.

There are two guarantees when I call my mom.

One: My sister will call at the same time. We have a sister sixth sense and call at the exact same time a few times a week. It happened today in fact. My mom thinks this is hilarious and tells her friends about it. I think it is annoying, especially if Lauren gets to her first.


Two: This cat will act up while we are on the phone. Roary will bite my mom. Jump in the phone cord. Cry loudly. Sit on the back of her chair. Whatever. He acts up when my mom is giving her attention to someone else on the phone. As a result, about every four minutes, my mom stops to say "Kit-ten!" and shoo the cat away. He's like our spoiled little brother, vying for her attention.

It doesn't matter - I still call home all the time. It's worth it even if I have to wait for her to switch over to Lauren or push the cat off the counter.

Dinner tonight with couple friends of Rachel and Sol. Check out Rachel's blog soon for photos of my first LIVE lobsters before our delicious feast. Yum.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Miss Luhrs is BACK.

It has been a very busy day. But I have something very important to tell you before I go to bed. Wait for it...

I got a job!

Yesterday, the principal at Rachel's middle school called when we were driving back from South Carolina. I have stayed in contact with her since we met in March. Penny is fantastic, and when we met the first time she told me she would offer me a job on the spot if she had one. I emailed her late last week to see if there was a long term substitute opening at Key Middle School for this fall. She called to tell me that they had filled it. And to ask me to come in for a meeting to discuss other opportunities.

I didn't tell you about it because there wasn't much we could do. Your prayers have been powerful all along and your words of encouragement unending. But at this point, if it were going to happen, it would totally be God's doing. Out of our hands completely.

I think I had the job when I walked in the room this morning. Penny explained to me the position, the requirements, how the schedule works, and why she though I would be a good fit for the job. I shared my excitement about the position, and my principal from Northwest called during the meeting to say she should hire me. We shook hands, and that was it. Job.

I will be provisionally certified in special education. I will have three different 8th grade classes to teach:
  • 2 sections of self-contained reading/English (about 8-10 students with a para)
  • 1 section of team-teaching reading/English
  • 2 sections of team-teaching Civics!!!
To secure my provisional license, I need to take one graduate class that is an introduction to special education. I was able to enroll in it this afternoon and start class at 4:30 today. I will go to class each Friday and Saturday for the next three weeks and be done with class before school starts. My case load of IEPs will be about 15, and I will be challenged. Hurray!

After meeting with Penny, I cut off all my hair and got bangs. Rachel assures me that the hair will grow before my students come September 8. I like the bangs. The rest is just short.

Rachel and I have dreamed about teaching at the same middle school since we were in Dr. Love's Block I class at K-State. We will get to carpool the 15 minutes to work, and Rachel thinks our rooms may be in the same part of the building. Watch out Key Middle School: we are a dynamic duo. We'll blog our way into your hearts.

I stole her Francis Scott Key sweatshirt this afternoon to take some pictures because I'm so stinking excited to be a "Patriot."


That's it. The "job search" label of this blog is now closed. I'm removing all the job search bookmarks from my computer and praising the Lord that He wrote this chapter. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11. Amen.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Don't Trust This Face.

She's one of my best friends and the mother to my favorite photography subject, Finley.


But she can't be trusted.

Rachel is training for her fourth marathon this fall. I am one of her biggest marathon fans, watching her run in both Oklahoma City and Chicago. Finley hangs out with me during Rachel's long weekday runs because the stroller is heavy.

When Finley was born in April, Rach told me that there was a special qualifying time for the Boston Marathon for people who had a baby in the last six months. I thought this was really cool! Running the Boston Marathon is one of Rachel's biggest goals.

I told LOTS of people about Rachel's goal. I'm so proud of the new mom, running all those miles four times a week. Anytime anyone brought up marathons, I told them about the special qualifying time that Rachel is aiming for this fall.

Correction: She made the whole thing up. There is no special qualifying time. She said it jokingly, but I didn't know. I believed her and told the whole world.


I'm sorry for leading you on. Rachel is just running it to prove she can.

A Lady of Leisure.

On our last full day in South Carolina, we headed up to Asheville, North Carolina to see the Vanderbilt country estate, the Biltmore. Rachel took this picture from the gardens.


It was beautiful inside, and we wandered through together for about an hour and a half. From every room on the back side of their massive house you can see the Smoky Mountains. The Vanderbilts were very good at leisure with horseback riding and indoor pool and bowling alley.

It was difficult not to compare it to Winterthur in Delaware. The Biltmore was built and completed earlier and has a better view. I like the collections in Winterthur better. I would say the race for best family estate was close until...

We got to the winery.


They grow the grapes for the Biltmore wines on the estate. We tasted many of the wines, and I found quite a few good white wines. And I did it with Finley in the Baby Bjorn. Starting him right. White wine only, Finley!


After wine tasting, dinner! We ate outdoors, and we could have been in Tuscany. There were field of sunflowers behind the winery and the temperature was perfect for an early evening meal.


I got my wish and tried fried green tomoatoes for the first time. We also shared plates of cajun shrimp, fried brie cheese, parmesan truffle fries, and homemade pickles.

And a bottle of sparkling wine.


I am learning how to be a lady of leisure. I'm very good at rushing from place to place, to-do lists and six hours of sleep. Until school starts in the fall, I am going to keep practice balancing the business of life with things I love. Cynthia spoiled us rotten while we were there. There is so much to love about the upcountry with the nice people and delicious food! Put it on your travel to-do list.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Southern Hospitality.

If you want to make friends in the South, bring a baby with you. Everywhere we go in South Carolina, people want to talk to the baby!

And can you blame them?


We have had great food everywhere in South Carolina. Rachel's mom Cynthia says that people come to Greenville to eat. She is correct. I've been impressed so far with wood fired pizza, crab stuffed mushrooms, cajun peanuts, and sushi. I am still hoping to get me some fried green tomatoes before heading back north.

Do you remember life when someone pushed you around and you could just enjoy the sights? Me neither.


Finley probably doesn't even know we are in South Carolina. I don't blame him. The South is confusing.

Misconception #1: When Rachel and I first planned our trip to SC, I thought her mom lived near the beach. Incorrect. We are near the mountains.

Misconception #2: In the car on Saturday, I told Rachel that I checked the weather for Asheville, and it looked nice for our visit. Incorrect. We are in Greenville. Asheville is in NC.

Whatever. Here's what I do know: the food is good, the people are nice, and the weather is cool enough for the baby and me.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Grandma.

My grandma and I have always been allies in this world where first names with the letter "V" are unusual. I think my mother planned it this way. This photo is a slide from their wedding day.

Virginia + Lauren = Happily Ever After.


I am a pretty lucky girl to have two great grandmas to look up to, even if I am taller than both of them.


Thank you Grandma VA for going to college, being a teacher, marrying Lauren James, being brave enough to move to Kansas, being smart enough to stay in Kansas, taking me on walks when I was little, hosting my friends on the farm, visiting me at K-State, raising my mom, learning how to use e-mail and facebook, reading books with me, dancing with Grandpa and believing I can do anything I wanted. I'm lucky to have you in my corner.

House of God.

My big plan when I moved to Virginia was to try a bunch of churches before I settled in at one. I did research before the move and strongly considered driving in to DC on Sundays to attend church at a young, progressive community.

My big plan turned out to be different than God's big plan. July was a busy month, and the first day I went to church in Virginia was July 19th. On my 26th birthday, I tried the local mid to large size Presbyterian church. They call it VPC, just like my home church for the past three years in Kansas City. Vienna Pres is big, old and classic.

Emphasis here on "old."


I love it. Vienna Presbyterian is a "disciple-making community," and that feels like the emphasis in worship on Sundays. I've been three weeks, and I am filled each time by the music and the message. We are studying Acts, and I find new insight that adds to the study my friends and I did earlier this year.


Today the teaching pastor preached about Acts 12:1-17 and the unplanned events in our lives. He kept repeating two lines that resonated today: "Wherever you go, God is sending you there," and "Remember who you are and whose you are."

So while God is still revealing His big plan, I know I am here because He sent me. I will stay at Vienna because God is clearly meeting me in that place.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Letter V.

This post is brought to you by the letter V. Secretly, I love the letter V, and it is one of the best parts of living in Virginia. Vs are everywhere.

Victoria ventured to Vienna, Virginia.


I went to the post office (a hobby of mine) and the farmers market. The market is located in downtown Vienna in the Caboose parking lot. I am pretty sure they don't use this railroad junction any more, but the caboose makes it easy to find the farmers market.


The farmers market was smaller than Overland Park, but it is a producers' only market. The only things the vendors can sell they must produce themselves. There were about six vegetable tents, two bakeries, two dairies, sausage, kettle corn, gardeners, crepes and donuts.

Because we are head to South Carolina on Monday, buying vegetables wasn't prudent. Buying donuts always is. Especially when they are fried right in front of you. For $2 you get a paper packet with seven hot little donuts. Then there are 8 different toppings you can put on yourself. I went classic: powdered sugar.


You would have said yes too.

Don't worry Mom. I bought two tomatoes and blackberries too. Is that better?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Will Work for Cupcakes.

Yesterday, before I decided I should redesign my blog, I went into DC. I needed to deliver my Truman funding request to their office right north of the White House in Lafayette Square. You can't drive and park right in front, so I made it a Metro trip.

After the quick stop at the Truman Foundation, I walked over to the White House. The coverage of news and world events is so interesting here because we are so close to the action. Yesterday there were protesters gathered in a day of hunger against the election results in Iran. This is something I really like about democracy, this ability to gather right outside the president's house to make a stand.


I had lunch with Claire at the World Bank. I had a guest pass with my picture on it and everything! I like Claire because she is brilliant and sincere. We met at our Truman interview in spring 2005 and were Truman roommates in the summer of 2006.


By the way, find your own friend who works at the World Bank. Because that cafeteria is seriously delicious. We both had fresh berries and shortcake. There was peace and pastry in the World Bank Thursday. Claire took one picture of me. Right in the atrium part of the World Bank, and it is perfect. Look at the lines!


Then I walked 23 blocks to get cupcakes at Baked and Wired. Today's flavors Smurfette (blueberry and lemon), Texas Sheet Cake, Karen's BDay Cupcake (chocolate with vanilla buttercream) and Peanut Butter Chocolate. My favorite was definitely the Smurfette. They are bigger than Georgetown Cupcake, supported by a parchment wrapper and lots of frosting. Approximately 1/2 pound of frosting on each cupcake. You think I exagerate, but you should know - I don't kid about cupcakes.


Today, Felix called me on the phone. Two years ago, Felix moved with his mother and brother from Tanzania to Kansas City. We've had many days where Felix wouldn't talk to me and was frustrated with school. Today he wanted to know what day school started in Kansas! This phone call was a big deal, and I'm so proud of him! (Pictured below in 6th grade.)


Substitute teaching is looking like my best option for fall, as certification in the elementary school is complex (and no one is very sure about anything). I've got some great ideas about how to promote myself and stay busy in the classroom. Here's a hint: it is related to blogging. I'll keep you "posted."

Lu and Mark.

I knew Lauren and Mark when they dated the FIRST time. If you ask Mark about it, Lauren broke up with him for no reason when they were high school students. And Lauren will nod in agreement.

They got to be models for a great photographer in KC (Tara's wedding included). You can see the first round of photos here. I think they are adorable, and I'm glad they are dating for a SECOND time.

World Bank and White House later...these photos just couldn't wait.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

YEAH! A New Look for the Blog.

In my time between grad school and employment, I have become addicted to blogs. I love reading them, looking at designs and writing my own. Sometimes two posts a day. (Rachel says I need to be careful or I will lose my audience.)

Anyways, I discovered there are people who will design a beautiful custom blog for you using digital scrapbook kits. I'm a pretty good scrapbooker when I cut things out myself, and Rachel convinced me to do it myself instead of paying someone $30-75. And waiting 3+ weeks for a new look.

After five dollars and five hours of researching online, photoshopping, reformatting and uploading, I have a new blog design.

And I'm pretty darn proud of it. If you are someone who reads my blogs in your email or google reader, click on over and check it out. It's snappy.

I'll tell you about my exciting trip to the World Bank and the White House tomorrow. I had a very busy day!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Trunk and a Detective.

Sometimes I do dumb things. Let me explain how we can start with a brown rectangular trunk from Target and end up with a private investigator in Pennsylvania.

First, the trunk.


My friend Dereck bought a really great trunk for his loft in River Market, and then added a plastic tub for inside to hold recycling. I really wanted one too, so I went online to check them out at Target. I love reading reviews online, and I thought I should add a helpful review so other people would know Dereck's great idea. Here's what I wrote:

"Added a clear tote to the inside and this trunk makes a fashionable way to hide recycling in my loft. At a recent party, guests rested purses and coats on top, and at the end of the night we threw the cans inside to save for recycling. Sturdy and lovely for a public part of my home."

So I lied. I don't own a loft or the trunk.

Then Monday, I receive this email.

Ms. Luhrs,

My name is Chris Finley and I am a Private Detective in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Would you please contact me at your earliest convenience regarding a wicker trunk you purchase at Target. It appears that you submitted a review of the item online.

I have a case here in Pittsburgh that I am working on involving an infant and your input may be of great assistance. You may contact me at the telephone numbers below and I will be in the office most of the day today. Should you not reach me at the office, please give them your name and they will be alerted to immediately forward your call to me. Thank you very much and I look forward to speaking with you.

Seriously. What are the odds? I emailed him back and told him I don't actually own the trunk. He still wants to talk to me! He was a good enough private detective to find me once. He may find me yet again.

Dog in the Window.

People ask me often how Belle likes her new home.

She likes it just fine, thank you for asking.

We do have a backyard, but I wouldn't say she is crazy about it. She does like to run around with her buddy Copper and they have some freedom to explore. But if I'm inside, she would rather be inside too. She will scratch and paw at the door just to reiterate this point.

Belle really likes inside. Downstairs we set up the living room so that she can still climb in the window and hang out. She is a much happier girl if she can see outside and watch the world. We live on a very quiet cul-de-sac, but there is a daycare right next door so there is plenty of action as people come and go.


This is the only time Belle behaves like a cat. The rest of the time she is a rowdy dog who loves to wrestle with Copper (inside of course). She makes a mess of the water bowl, romps after her bustercube, and stopped barking in her kennel!


I think she is adjusting well. Come see for yourself.