Sunday, July 31, 2011

Brunch Tabard Inn, Again.

One of my resolutions for life in Kansas is more posts about food and fun KC things to do. And I have a great restaurant to share that Lauren and I can't stop talking about. We ate there last Thursday, and we have eaten out since then a couple times. It was just that good!

I also attended a Bachelorette party and a wedding party over the weekend and have pretty pretty photos to share from both! These events were good because we got to celebrate my friends but also because it made me feel like I was back in the midst of things. I'd kept a pretty low profile since I returned home, which was kind of weird. Just adjusting, I guess.

Before those pictures, here are some photos from my last DC meal. Tabard Inn. And I loved it, again. Homemade donuts and ridiculous food. Beautiful patio that wasn't too hot even in July. And my good girlfriends. Perfect. I had sea bass (for breakfast, yes!) and munched off everyone's egg dishes too. Brie DOES belong in an omelet after all.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Pool.

Almost two years ago, we took Copper and Belle to the doggie swim at the neighborhood pool in Virginia. They didn't jump right in. We had to push them. Copper hated it and us. Belle quickly remembered that she loves to swim. But it was still a lot of work as she paddled around.

That is the best analogy I have for this first week back at work. They pushed me in the pool on Monday, and I do love the pool! I am just having to work really hard to get the hang of swimming around again. It isn't perfect and there are a few things that still need ironed out. That sort of happens when there is no orientation, and you are just pushed in the pool. I fall asleep exhausted way before my normal bedtime, tired from processing and learning all day.

I have seen bunches of my old buds in the district and that rocks. There are exciting things happening in the district, and I couldn't have picked a better time to come back. There are a few things that are the same, so that is comfortable. And in two years, a ton of stuff changed too.

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

I used to go to the pool. With my buddies Finn and Rachel.

I also used to eat Pinkberry. With my buddy Rachel.

Lunch break is at noon. Can you bring me some Pinkberry, Rachel?

P.S. I thought I was tan. Ha. Thanks for entertaining that dream for the past three weeks.

Location:N 59th St,Kansas City,United States

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Washington Monument.

Have you been up in the Washington Monument? Apparently, it is actually hard to get tickets to. You have two choices. Request them a couple months in advance. Or wait in line between seven and eight am.

I chose to wait a couple months instead of in line. That's how I roll.

So we went up up up in the Monument on the Saturday before the big move.

It was awesome. We thought it might be hot and crowded. It was actually cool and comfortable. We had plenty of time to look out all the windows and a beautiful view of my second home. Enjoy the photos from the windows at the top of the monument! (The reflecting pool is being rebuilt for the first time since its installation, so excuse the mess in front of Lincoln.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Brandywine River Valley.

I'm back at work today. Ah! Summer vacation, where did you go? But as you read yesterday, I've shifted my mindset and am hopefully learning really important stuff that will make me a better teacher leader. Or help me to achieve world peace.


Speaking of dreamy, I spent two days with my great aunt and uncle up in the Brandywine River Valley. This idyllic corner of the world is just peaceful.

Example number one: this farm stand. While Kathi swears it is over-priced, it is quaint and yet still takes credit cars. I bought a jar of the tomato basil pasta sauce and brought it all the way back to Kansas.

Example number two: the Brandywine. Called a creek by pretty much everyone, they call it a river when it sounds cooler. Like the "Brandywine River Museum" sounds better than the "Brandywine Creek Museum." My uncle Ted thinks this is hilarious. So do I.

My visits to their place are usually really restful. I like this picture because it's like life with the two of them. They're discussing how to clean the pot. They are lovely hosts, but I was a little more restless this time around. I was making to-do lists and plans with friends in the NoVa area before the move. I read a book and a half, visited with them, caught up on much needed sleep, and regrouped before the final hurray.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Smithsonian Air & Space at Dulles.

It's official. I live in the Midwest. I changed my watches to central time to make it official.

But before I lived in the Midwest, I lived near the Smithsonian. I went there sometimes when people came to visit, or we had to for grad school. But one time, Rachel and I went there because we are the daughters of pilots, and we know a little two-year-old named Finley who ALSO loves airplanes.

I have been to more air shows and air museums than I can count or remember. I like to think that's a part of my well-rounded education. But the Smithsonian Air & Space out near Dulles is a real beauty and blows many other museums out of the water.

There are plenty of airplanes and lots of room for little kids and adult airplane addicts to wander around. Some of the planes we recognized as famous, but others Rachel and I stopped and read about to understand why they were included in the museum.

This Blackbird set the record flying from LA to DC in just under one hour and ten minutes. If that kind of air travel was still available, I probably could have visited Kenneth & Melinda at UCLA without taking a red-eye to do it! That is less time than it takes to get from DC to Baltimore during rush hour.

Rach & I also saw the Enola Gay that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. I am currently reading Unbroken (more about that in the monthly reading update), and I was a little too excited when the Enola Gay, the most famous B-29 ever, arrives in the story. I just saw the plane in real life!

The thing about the Enola Gay though, is that seeing it is powerful, humbling and a little bit of a shock. I have that kind of reaction anytime I interact with history. I'm a history teacher, obvi.

Sure, Finley doesn't get the historical significance. But he loved the airplanes plenty and got to sit in the pilot's seat of a small Cesna. He told Sol that he wanted to go back with "Mommy, Daddy and Tori," which was sweet but of course sent Rachel and I into tears. I probably wouldn't be with him on his next trip to the museum.

I've been home less than a week, and I'm slowly getting used to a new/old home. I've video chatted with Rachel and Finley twice, but Finn is only interested in me for a minute or so. Then I just talk to his momma. He did tell Rachel "Tori Tansa" which means he understands I'm not downstairs but in Tansa.

Tansa is actually a pretty hot place these days, but so is the rest of the country so I can't complain about the heat. I was complaining about starting work tomorrow, but I gave that up too. Simple paradigm shift this morning at church: God picked this new great job for me. And the extra training I need to do will prepare me for this job. And it's not really about me anyways. I'm just the hands and feet doing His work at my new school. So I better get on it. Like tomorrow.

In review (because this is a long post): airplanes, history, Tansa, God puts us to work. The end.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cousins, All Grown Up.

At the surprise party, Lauren and Sasha looked good. I looked like I had been driving in the car for two days and didn't know there was a surprise party at my house. But I love these two women who aren't little girls anymore. It was nice to celebrate my birthday with friends AND family.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Key Friends.

I worked with SUPER, stellar, and totally fun people at my old school in Virginia. We had a breakfast club, a supper club, a wine tour, and hung out regularly outside of school. I went to Jill's wedding in Philadelphia, and my first trip back to Virginia will be for Zach's wedding in September. These are good people.

Jill rounded everyone up for a quick drink (and wings!) at a bar close to the house the Friday before I left. It was so good to see everyone and laugh together before the big move. I don't have anything else to say about these kids except that I miss them already and like them immensely.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Up Close with Braden.

Rachel and I had our photos taken last week by Erica May. We're obsessed - check them out over here. And besides having a ton of fun and getting some great photos to treasure, we are humbled by her photography skills. So I love this picture of Braden because he's super sweet. But I want to learn to be even better. Erica is so good! (Seriously, did you go look at the photos yet? LOVE.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Back in Kansas.

There are many posts I would like to write about the last couple weeks in Virginia. We crammed in a bunch of fun stuff before I moved. But now I am back in Kansas with a new blog design (click over and check it out!) and two brief days of summer left before I start my new job on Monday. Ahh! Summer!

My car was really full on our way home. Erica, Belle and I were pretty secure but every other inch of the car was full. We made the trip in two days, from VA to Indy the first day and then home to Kansas yesterday.

The rest of my stuff is safely stuffed and stored in a moving pod. It was bigger than I thought but then again, I have more stuff than I thought. I was able to fit in a ton of my school supplies and house things I won't need until August.

I was pretty pleased with how myself when it was all packed. It was like a puzzle putting everything together and stacking it all the way to the ceiling. The photo below is all my stuff, my favorite little boys and my best green shorts. I miss the boys already, and I will miss those shorts when I have to go back to work next week.

When we turned onto my street yesterday, my friends and family came out of the front door and onto the driveway to surprise me on my birthday. It was a GREAT surprise, but I had a small inkling. I have the best friends in the world. Of course, they are going to be around on my birthday. But they did a great job covering their tracks so that I didn't expect them.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Grandpa Won Me a Tractor for My Birthday.

Every year since I was a little, my grandpa has bought more than his fair share of raffle tickets at the Jewell County Threshing Bee. He is always trying to win the vintage tractor they are auctioning off.

Why would anyone want a vintage tractor? Well, we all want one. Not only is it a cool prize, but you get to drive it in the antique tractor parade at the Threshing Bee. This special event is very close to my birthday and a family tradition.

HUGE news on Sunday. My grandpa, Lauren James, is the proud new owner of a very old tractor.

My uncle Keith (pictured below) says it is easy to drive. Now we are all clamoring for a chance to drive it next year in the parade.

But since today is my birthday, I'm really hoping that I might get first dibs. Lots of good reasons: eldest granddaughter, Threshing Bee is closest to my birthday, my legs are long enough to reach the pedals, etc.

My uncle Keith might have the next best chance. His birthday is ALSO today, and he's on the school board. He's kind of a big deal around town.

Aren't you so jealous of the family's new tractor? We are SO very excited it's a part of the family!

P.S. Thanks for the photos Keith. Happy Birthday.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Virginia is for Luhrs.

Two years ago (almost exactly) Rachel got me this super sweet cake from Dairy Queen for my birthday. It was delicious. And hilarious because the icing was done so poorly.

Virginia was for Luhrs. The state and especially the people were really good to me for two years.

On Sunday Rach and I were sad. As we sat at the table crying, Finley explained it all. He said, "Mommy sad. Tori sad. Take a nap."

I got to put him to bed on Sunday night. Finley even let me rock him in the chair for a little bit. I said, "Tori is going bye-bye to Kansas with Belle." And he repeated it back to me. But he doesn't really get it.

Not like Rach and I get it. That's why we were sad at the dinner table. A nap won't fix it probably but we both know enough to be really grateful for the past two years.

Will you pray for safe travel today? And for the journey ahead? And a prayer of thanksgiving for the lovely people that blessed my time in Virginia. They made it for me.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter 7: It All Ends.

In case you forgot, Rachel and I have been friends since 2001. Back in the day, we bonded over Jesus, Alpha Chi, being smart and Harry Potter. The weekend of initiation in November 2001, we went to see the first movie together in Manhattan.

Oh to be young.

Flash forward almost ten years, a few moves, and two kids later, we're wrapping up our GOOD times in Virginia. Harry Potter is also wrapping up. I put off reading the seventh book because I don't like things to end, but I spent the end of June and the beginning of July reading it. I loved the book and totally cried when it was over.

I was motivated by the final movie poster that ominously read, "It all ends." Ironic that it came out the same weekend as my last weekend in Northern Virginia (sob). We made t-shirts that said "It all ends" because in truth, it IS all ending.

Or at least this book in the series of Rach and Vic. I don't think our series is over, unlike the Harry Potter books and moves that ARE over.

As with all things that we do, we like to go big or go home. So we saw the double header. I hadn't seen Harry Potter 7, Part 1 yet, so it was actually crucial that we saw the first part at 9 pm and the second part at 12:01 am. It was my first midnight showing of a movie, and it was so worth it. The adrenaline in the theater was tremendous, especially after we laughed and cheered through the first movie together.

We liked it, but we thought that part 1 was better than 2. It was a bit emotional (and not just because it was 2:15 am when the movie was over). It's so sweet to think about those kids growing up and becoming awesome wizards. And then looking at us growing up over the last ten years and thinking about those sweet memories too.

It all ends. Or sort of for now.

P.S. Can I please be Hermione when I grow up? Did I already miss out on that?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Pile of Boxes.

In every corner of my house right now there are boxes. They are packed tightly and waiting for the moving pod to take them to Kansas. There are teacher boxes, kitchen boxes, book boxes and more book boxes. Rachel wrote "Mo books, mo problems" on one of the boxes. It's so true. I have a lot of books to move to Kansas. (And about five more boxes to pack, sigh.)

I'm kind of doing a lot of last minute packing. I meant to do more last week, but I decided I should go to the pool EIGHT days in a row. Don't be confused dear reader, I am not tan. I'm still Victoria. But I have a few more freckles and a slight arm tan.

Look at this pool! It isn't at a country club, but I think it is nicer than a regular old neighborhood pool. I am pretty sure that this is just like the pool in Dirty Dancing. So very east coast chic. Rach and Sol have a membership, and we spend a lot of time here. I went and relaxed by myself, reading a book, or hanging out with everyone and swimming around with Finley.

We walk easily from our house and even know a secret path to get there. It's a good incentive to get out of the house, read a book and stop watching the Wire for a couple of hours. I'm hoping to go three more times to the pool before I go. Summer is going by all too fast. And there are too many boxes.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Saturday Night at the Nats.

When Vicki suggested we go to a Nats game, it didn't take long for me to jump at the offer. I have been to one each summer I lived in DC, and it is SUCH a beautiful ballpark.

I had a Ben's Chili Bowl half smoke and a Shake Shack milkshake, so at the very least, I ate well. We had great seats in the left outfield. Finn was a pretty great sport, and Braden won the all-star baby award. As per usual, I couldn't tell you a ton that was going on at the game, but I did enjoy myself. The crowd is a pretty great one at Nats Park.

I also thought it was appropriate to wear my Lincoln is my homeboy t-shirt. He's one of the mascots.

I also thought you might like to see this photo again. Yes, he is the cutest baby Braden EVER.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rainbow Shower.

Saturday morning we had a couples shower for Vicki and Daniel, our dear friends expecting a baby girl in October. It was my first time planning a couples baby shower, but I think we pulled it off pretty well. The prizes during the game were bottles of beer and everyone played along nicely.

We had a theme - RAINBOW! Rachel kept us on track to make it the prettiest party ever, and we pulled off some amazing baking feats. She specialized in the cake, and I mastered the layered rainbow cookies. We also had orange juice, lemonade, a really pretty salad and awesome muffin melts. I think Rachel might tell you more about the party, but I had to show off our hard work. Or she may show you the same photos and be equally proud.

If you want us to help you plan a killer party, check out our ideas on Pinterest or visit our etsy shop. We love parties.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Fourth.

Fourth of Julys of the past have been busy and hot around here. I've celebrated with my dad and Tracy and everyone in 2006, friends from Kansas in 2009 and my mom last year. I was totally okay missing the fireworks on the National Mall, even though they are legendary. Instead I had a really quiet Fourth - the gym, some pool, a little cooking and picking Rachel and Sol up from the airport. So glad they are home!

I did make a quick trip over to Vicki and Daniel's. You can see the fireworks on the Mall from their neighborhood, so I didn't miss a year of the fireworks.

Rach and I are real busy with tasks around the house - crafting, cooking, pooling, and playing with Finn. We spent a lot of our time talking about how smart Finley is and how cute Braden is. They're awesome.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Baltimore Market and Bazaar.

I hadn't spent much time in Baltimore aside from the Orioles game with Vicki and Daniel. (You can't count the 37 hours I spent "in Baltimore" watching The Wire, I guess!) So Emily and I went into downtown on Sunday morning to check out the Market and Bazaar.

It's a producer's only market, meaning everything that the farmers bring to market they have to grow or produce themselves. Local fruits, vegetables, beef, pork, chicken, and yummy baked goods.

I got some great cherries for a Fourth of July dessert, plus corn, cucumbers, peaches and a crepe for breakfast! I really liked the market because it was so urban and active. By the time we left at eleven am, it was totally packed. The overpasses were noisy but also trapped the delicious smells of roasting meats. It was a great find, Em!

This was by far the biggest farmer's market I've been to around DC. There are so many neighborhood markets that they tend to be smaller. When I get back to KC, I'm definitely a loyal downtown Overland Park market fan. A good number of local producers, and it's nice to recognize the people selling the fruits and veggies week after week. I think it's the closest market to my new place, so I'll be a regular again soon enough.

Yep, my new place. I decided not to move back in (permanently) with my mom. I'll land there when I return on the 19th of July, but I will move into a place of my own in early August. I told my mom it was kind of her fault - she raised a pretty independent young woman. I haven't lived at home since I was 22, and while the appeal of saving money was great, I like doing my own thing.

Mom is, unsurprisingly, totally excited for me and the new place. It really all worked out crazy well. I think she is a little sad she built a fence, rather, connected the fence from the neighbor's yards to the house for Belle, but I'm trying to convince her it's good for property value. And this means Belle and I can visit more often.

The house I'm renting is perfect for me. Closer to work, garage, small with two little bedrooms, and a backyard for Belle. Not too small, you can come stay when you're in town if you would like! It's also been deemed the unofficial "clubhouse" because there are no husbands and babies. Fine with me - the whole thing sort of reminds me of a Berenstain Bears book that I loved as a kid.

So if you are following me on Pinterest, you now know why I am tagging all sorts of items for the house. Because there will be one in August! Hurray! You can come over, and we'll eat farmer's market heirloom tomatoes and drink Virginia wine.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Orange Basil Strawberry Popsicles.

It's no bomb pop, but it is still homemade and awesome. Happy Fourth of July! Stay cool, America.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Four Books of June.

I will read a book that is not YA lit in July. I will read a book that is not YA lit in July.

Or so I keep telling myself. I'm currently flying through Harry Potter 7 in anticipation of the movie next week. I am finally reading it, and I can't wait to see the final films.

The books of June were good. My blog friend and fellow reader Ginny reviewed It's Not Summer Without You and We'll Always Have Summer today on her blog. I introduced the first one in the series last month, and I finished up the series at the beginning of the month. Tara also read them, and they really are perfect summer reads.

The next two books were part of the immigration unit at school. They are the autobiographical work about Francisco Jimenez's childhood with his migrant family in California in the 1940s and 1950s. The first one, The Circuit, is pretty good, and an easy read with stories of his childhood. The second one, Breaking Through, was one of my favorites from the whole year. Every teacher should read this story. (KC friends - you can borrow it from me when I get home.)

I'm going to take Harry Potter to the pool now. And then I might read a grown-up book.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Beginning of July Garden Update.

There are some things that are not very perfect about my garden. I've got early blight on my tomatoes, forgot to plant enough beans, and only one zucchini. Ever. But I'm willing to forget all those problems because of this one very important detail:

I have tomatoes.

One half dozen of them this week. And a few more getting red on the vines right now. Little cherry tomatoes and big hearty red ones. Yesterday at the nursery I picked up some more plant food and something to treat the blight. There are still quite a few squash (but I think I have the same bug as last year that hollows out the plants!) and a hearty dose of herbs. It looks like there are peppers coming too, a good sign for spicy burgers and food at our house!

But I'm not too worried. I have tomatoes!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Adri, Avery and Vic.

Grad school is ALL done! I need to write my professor a letter, but that is all. And that won't be too tough. Everything is presented, written, submitted, and just plain done.

And as soon as we were all done, I met with my (former) professor for two hours. We have some research we want to do. Whoops. Never done in academia, I guess!

It was a good last week of class. Every day at lunch, Adrienne's baby Avery came to visit. She was born June 3rd and is sweet. I think she is even smiling in the photo on the left!

So sweet until I want to take her picture. I would get a few photos of her. And then she got really sad.

Sweet little baby, even when she is sad. Maybe it was because her mom had to go back to class. Not anymore Avery! We're done!