Friday, September 30, 2011

The Plaza Art Fair.

For Lauren's birthday, Dad and Tracy came to town for dinner and a little bit of the Plaza Art Fair. It was a good night on the Plaza - we are having the most lovely fall ever here in Kansas City. Highs have been in the seventies for several weeks with clear blue skies.

Would you like proof we are related? Here you go. Me, Lauren, Dad.

I don't think I have ever purchased anything at the Plaza Art Fair. A lot of the art is out of my price range, but my pal Abbey usually finds something. She knows the places to go and found more gems this year. We didn't spend a lot of time looking, but thankfully, I have many years ahead of Plaza Art Fairs. This year was the 80th Anniversary.

See that beer? It was delicious but after a martini and before a glass of wine. I need to learn that order of operations with alcohol again. Silly Victoria.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Baby E.

Do you want to see a really sweet baby? Just two weeks old? He's sweet. And cuddly. And so gosh darn tiny. In an effort to get better at taking photos, I practiced with Everett. Here are two of my first favorites.

Nanette and I were doing our best to keep the baby fed, warm and snuggly so there wasn't a tone of variety in the shots. We did try really hard to get creative with some cowboy boots, but Everett disagreed with our brilliance. This baby was given a ton of sports apparel, so I feel like that could be the theme of our next shoot! Because baby E was born about three weeks early, we've still got plenty of little baby photo shoot time left. I'd like to experiment with another time of day and different lighting.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Me and RaeRaeGrim.

Occasionally when I write a post, I am aware that my mom is going to shake her head when she reads it. Probably even say, "TORI!" under her breath. This falls in that category. But it is worth recording these statistics because I think they are hilarious.

Rachel and I don't live in the same house or even zip code anymore, nor do we teach in the same school and carpool to work. But that doesn't mean we don't have TONS of things to say to each other. It's like if we didn't tell each other about it then it didn't happen. So I decided I should do some research on just how much we communicate.

I started with emails. A quick gmail search pulled up thousands of conversations. I started with yesterday and started adding up email numbers, not conversation numbers. Counting from the 26th backwards, I went until I got  to September 5th (three weeks earlier), and then I was so tired I had to stop.

Rachel and I emailed each other 287 times in that three week window. That's an average of 95.67 times per week. About 14 emails per day.

This does NOT include blog comments, tweets, facebook wall conversations, phone calls, gchats and the  four days I stayed in her house.

I'm glad we had this talk.

Monday, September 26, 2011

At the MLK Jr. Memorial.

My dad and Tracy were in town over the weekend, and they were asking Lauren something about her boyfriend's recent visit. Turns out, their timeline was a little off because I blogged about Mark being home on September 18 when actually I saw him on September 5th. Blogging in an orderly and timely fashion is not in my skill set right now.

Two weeks ago on Monday the 12th, Rachel and I took Finley and Braden to see the newest memorial in DC. Finn's knowledge of MLK Jr. is pretty limited (he's 2) so he thought Martin Luther King's statue was a giant. They have giants and not civil rights leaders in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

We took this photo to prove Braden was there with us for his first visit. He's in the stroller.

There is a quote on the side of his statue that caused a little bit of controversy because it was taken out of context, but the news stories didn't include that really the whole memorial is filled with his words. Quotes from speeches all over the world, some that we recognized and others that were new to us.

I'm back in a more urban school, and our theme for the year is remembering the fight to end segregation in our schools. Remembering ends up being the key word to me because it's easy to go on with daily life and not remember all the fighting people had to endure for equality. I believe in education, and I would say it's a pretty important part of my life. But not on the scale of these giants like MLK Jr. I'm just a novice and a beginner still comparatively.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Little James and Little Lu.

James came over for a "happy hour at home" on Thursday. While Kate and I had a beer, James scooted around on my relatively clean floor. I tried to get him to be my model because I need practice with my camera. Have you seen Rach's work lately? It's getting to look like she was the president of the photography club in high school and not me. It's not perfect, but it is adorably James and shot completely on manual (aperture, exposure, ISO and white balance). WHAT!? I guess practicing helps. And a ridiculous cute model who used to be super little is also beneficial.

Today my little sister is 26. The older we both get, the more I say little. In fact, my coworker Monica called me on it this week. "She's two years younger," she pointed out. She's that grown-up who goes to law school in Lawrence. Little Lu, all grown up. We're going to celebrate with grown-up things like the Plaza Art Fair, dinner with grown-ups and I'm sure a drink. Or two. Being a grown-up has it's advantages. Happy birthday little sister!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Back at the Bill.

I'm going to seven K-State football games this fall, so I want to be sure and remember a few details from each one. I missed game one because I was taking photos with my hand on my hip at Emily and Ryan's wedding, so my game one was last Saturday. Here are the details and highlights:

  • K-State vs. Kent State (K-State vs. K-State. hahahaha). KANSAS State shuts them out = awesome.
  • Sat in my new season tickets for the first time which meant getting to see a whole new round of people I hadn't seen since I moved home. View of the field is so perfect.
  • Learned that Mark Anderson prefers to call what I'm wearing a cardigan and not a sweater.
  • Also learned that I should have purchased one of those $10 cardigans from Target when my sister told me to. 
  • Didn't get rained on (I was SURE we would) but did drive through terrible rain coming home.
  • Made pulled pork and chocolate chip cookies. 
  • Tried to warm pulled pork in this crock pot from Amazon but the plug MELTED. Mailed it back to them but took the pork out first. 
  • Went with Lauren and Mom. We tailgated at my grandparents' spot because it feels like the place we need to be. It's the same square of cement we've been standing on for a very long time, and even if they aren't there, we're paying tribute by being there. We're keeping the tradition alive. People will stop and ask about Grandma and Grandpa, and it's good to talk to anyone who knows my grandparents. Good people know good people. So we'll probably be there next time too, drinking a Coors Light. However, unlike my grandpa, we prefer our Coors COLD. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kauffman Center Open House.

On schedule and on budget, the Kauffman Center opened last weekend in downtown KC. There were sold-out galas and big time concerts, but my invitation got lost somewhere. So weird! Instead, I went on Sunday with 50,000 other proud KC people to check out the beautiful building for myself.

I was really excited to see it. We've been watching its construction for a while, and the press coverage has been incredible. My friend Claire, who lives in Boston, sent me this article from the NY Times last week. She wrote a note with it that said, "I just got excited for you." All of Kansas City is thrilled!

After waiting about a little over an hour, we made our way inside. Thankfully there were a few outdoor stages, so we had performances as we waited. Including the Shawnee Mission West drum line. It was kind of funny, especially because I just saw Washington High School's drum line, and they were far more awesome. Yeah KCK!

After a quick look in the lobby, we found seats in the symphony section of the Helzberg Hall. I don't plan to sit this close again - I'm pretty sure they aren't cheap seats. We enjoyed a quick performance by some Bach singers, and then it was back to more exploring.

Up and up we climbed, looking down at all of the people coming in to check everything out. And more people still outside waiting!

We went into the Kauffman Theatre much higher up in a balcony. Dick Wilson from Oldies 95 was the emcee, and he introduced two musical performances featuring local female singers. They were both excellent! It was easy (and perfectly acceptable) to just stay in each theatre for a little bit of time before moving out for someone else to enjoy. The Helzberg Hall was in high demand, and there was a line to get in to sit down most of the time we were there.

Mom and I are looking through the schedule to find something else to attend, and we will find something awesome for sure. Unfortunately, Idina Menzel is coming back Homecoming weekend, and we have a pretty packed weekend. I really wish Idina would have checked the K-State football schedule before scheduling her performance...

I didn't think the crowds were that bad, and it was totally worth it see all of the spaces. Buy tickets KC! Be proud that we've got this great reminder of how good the arts are for communities and individuals. And thank the fine arts teachers in your life. They keep it real for our kids.

Monday, September 19, 2011


B Town. Braden Luke. LL Cool B. I love this little baby. His mom has been putting up a million cute photos of Braden lately, but I wanted to be sure and add my own. I'm sure Rachel was relieved I'm super photogenic too so that she had two cute models all during my visit.

Finley, however, is not interesting in photo shoots. At five months, Braden can't walk away so he has to be in all these photos. And he's so stinking adorable that I wanted to hold him the whole time.

I call this middle shot of me and B-Town, "Look cute AND silly while Rachel plays with the aperture." I coached Braden on that look off into the distance pose. Also, Finley IS trying to run away in photo number 3. I didn't take it personally.

My good buddy Adrienne came and brought baby Avery for me to hold as well. She was born at the beginning of June, but her leg strength rivals Braden's. She was enamored with Braden.

No joke, Avery, ladies love cool Braden. That's why we call him LL Cool B.

Monday morning we stopped to see the MLK Jr. Memorial and had lunch at Shake Shack. I've been thinking about it some more, and I like it better than Five Guys. This is 80% my opinion and 20% because I like to do what the cool kids do. At least I'm honest.

And honestly, this baby is c-u-t-e. I'm ready for it to be the end of October when they come to visit.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sporting KC v. LA Galaxy

Kansas City has a new special stadium just for soccer. I would like to see the statistics on the number of stadiums that are just for soccer, but it definitely allows the sport to really shine. Located in KCK, my second home, it is fun to see so many people embracing it.

This is the view at the stadium. No photoshopping - that's how blue the sky is in Kansas. And you wondered why I wanted to move back.

You get to sit really close to the hotness action. Well hello David Beckham. And good to see you too Landon Donovan.

"Local hero" Mark was back in town, but I sat with Abbey and Drew who taught me the ins and outs of sitting in the Cauldron. The general admission part gets pretty crazy with the drums, cheers and yelling!

They get a little nuts whenever a goal is scored. I put a video at the bottom so you could see what it was like when Sporting KC scored a goal. Watch all the way to the end, Abbey appears at the end.

The regular season is almost over, so I'll be sure to make it to more games next year. It was a fantastic way to spend $20 and get to cheer for KC!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Breakfast at Urban Table.

There may not be as many fancy restaurants run by hipsters in KC as there were in DC, but the good news is that they are all closer than the places in DC. I can say to a friend, "Let's meet at Urban Table!" and we can both show up within twenty minutes. The convenience factor is great, but I'm also growing increasingly fond of this preppy little restaurant in Corinth Square.

At breakfast and lunch, you step in to place your order at the counter, and then servers bring it to you. This works pretty well but it's tough because your table server doesn't know what you ordered, so a coffee can get lost in the system (happened to us). At dinner a few weeks ago, Vicki and I thought the service didn't miss a beat.

The food is also pretty yummy. This healthy omelet made with egg whites passes as something far richer than it is. The waffles with FOUR different sauces looked fantastic. I had a great salad at supper recently and would really like to try all their types of focaccia on the next trip.

My last trip to Urban Table was with this fun group of women from K-State and Alpha Chi. We had made other plans, but things changed, and we were able to meet up for breakfast at Urban Table again. Literally like 20 minutes later.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Two Books of August.

I had this grand idea that living alone would mean I would sit around and read. This, in retrospect, is really funny. Why did I think after 28 years of being a tad overcommitted and a people person that I would suddenly want to sit and read all the time? A big comfy chair helps, and I do squeeze in a little more reading after school and before the gym, meetings, dinner, etc., but I still find myself falling into bed at eleven, exhausted and ready to recharge for the next day.

So in August, I read two books. I moved half way through the month, went on a trip to Chicago, and spent a ton of time readjusting to Kansas life. Overall tv watching is down, but reading hasn't necessarily gone up. I'm not exactly sure about the time in between.

Bossy Pants is the book everyone tells you to read. It's funny, they tell you, so very funny. And it is really funny. A few times I even laughed out loud at the anecdotes of Liz Lemon Tina Fey. But they other thing that they don't tell you is that it is also a really important story about women, mothers who work and those that don't, and even female politicians. It's pretty sharp stuff. I think she tells the truth too.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 is a young adult book. Of course one would sneak back in here! It's one of three books our school is reading as part of our building wide theme around remembering the fight to end segregation in our schools. My mom thinks I've read it before, but I couldn't remember many parts of it. You could read it if you'd like. But really you should read Breaking Through because I love it and it's also one of our theme books this year.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Say What? Another Wedding? Okay.

I went to my fourth wedding in two months this past weekend. BONUS: this one was in Virginia so I could see all my friends and my little buddies, Finley and Braden. There are nine million more photos of me and Braden to share with you, but Finley's a busy 2.5-year-old and those photos are a little trickier to take. You'll see. But before we get to excessive amounts of the "World's Best Baby," here are some wedding photos.

I like to call this, "Photo shoot in the Virginia countryside." Rachel likes to call this, "Waiting for a shuttle to the reception in a soccer field."

Rachel was my wedding date and also photography teacher. She's doing great work with her camera, and I'm jealous. Look at her good work with the lighting in all these shots!

My pretty friends from my old school were also at the wedding. It was fun to get the scoop on school, and also it helped address my missing of the old haunt. The groom was my coworker for the past two years, also a Civics teacher and my partner the first year at school. It was great to see Zach get married to sweet Jess.

We did spend kind of a lot of time traveling to the location for the wedding and then the reception. They were both really pretty locations, but in Virginia, a little distance usually ends up taking a lot of time. I don't miss the traffic, for the record.

This, my friends, is actually the last wedding I'm going to write about. Until November.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hands on the Hip, Wedding Edition.

There are probably not three friends who like posing with our hands on our hips more than Anne, Emily and me. Don't believe me? Just flip back through a few of these posts to remind yourself of our favorite photo styles.

In linking up to those old posts, I found that my friends Vicki, Rachel and Jill D. are also almost as guilty! The hand on the hip shot has become the new "sorority girl squat."

Em and Ryan's wedding was in Kansas City was last weekend, and I was honored to be a part. I was the guestbook attendant, but I also entertained her two-year-old niece, held her lipgloss, rocked her eight-week-old niece to sleep and told silly stories to try and warm up the crowd during photos.

I joined the wedding festivities on Friday night at the Rehearsal Dinner at Grand Street Cafe. It was super nice, and I loved sitting and talking with Anne and her husband Ashley all night. Ryan's family is all from the Philadelphia area, so there were many out-of-town guests mixed in with Emily's big Kansas City family.

The best man joked on Saturday at the wedding that he really wanted Ryan and Emily to plan a destination wedding. And they did - to Kansas City! The wedding was Saturday afternoon and the reception later that evening. Emily was a beautiful bride. With her hand on her hip, obviously.

A quick word about the reception - I have never seen a family that dances as much as Ryan's family. My friends and I discussed this at length, and it could easily be one of the most impressive showings we have ever seen at a wedding. I am not sure why I was so surprised, actually. I've been dancing with Ryan in DC enough to know that he can tear it up. But then his dad, his brothers, and his groomsmen literally kept the dance floor buzzing all night long. It was ridiculous, in a totally awesome way.

The dancing was so awesome that we didn't really want to sing our Alpha Chi song and break up the flow of the party. But we sang anyways (with Emily's mom, also an Alpha Chi) and resumed crazy amounts of dancing with "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy." When the wedding reception ended, we moved the dance party to O'Doud's on the Plaza. We were determined to show all these east coast boys a good Kansas City time, and I think we did. Or at the very least, we showed them a new way to pose in photos.

That, my friends, is the end of the wedding week on the blog. Except, I'm headed to DC later today for my friend Zach's wedding tomorrow so there are more wedding posts ahead. Cupcakes! Babies! Friends! DC! Yeah!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Generalizations and Triangulation.

In grad school, we spent a lot of time learning about how to triangulate our data. You look for examples from multiple sources and perspectives to back up your arguments. After four Mission Pub Crawls, here are some generalizations that I think are supported pretty well by anecdotal evidence and photographs.

1. The Mission Pub Crawl is based in strong tradition. Started by three of my best guy friends in 2008, it continues to be an annual highlight. One of these guys missed one pub crawl (silly grad school in California), but they all remain dedicated to the cause. There are two other friends who haven't missed a crawl (Erica and Abbey), and they are key to the longevity of this ridiculous tradition.

2. The Crawl thrives because of family. Mine especially, but some other families as well. As previously discussed, my mom was there. So was my sister. But we also had brothers and sisters of the founding members in attendance. You're welcome to come along and bring your family with you next year. We are certainly looking to expand to include more parents.

3. Mission is best enjoyed with greasy food. Whether it is Don Chilitos with the nacho cheese buffet, RJ's Bob-be-que, or a $5 Hot-and-Ready from Little Ceasars, we all enjoy the best food Mission has to offer. (Look at that triangulation - THREE food examples!)

4. Besides the stories (and legends) of the pub crawl, #MissionPC4 is remembered by the memorabilia. T-shirts from years 2 and 3 and this year, coozies! I've already heard that the coozie is a favorite toy of a certain baby around town. Year 2's shirt with the blue dinosaur could be my favorite t-shirt of.all.time. No joke. "We dig Mission."

I think my grad school professors would be really proud of this work. I just don't want all that hard work from my masters to get rusty.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Jennie, Joe, Hurray!

Sweet bonus to Kaitlin's wedding - we also got to spend some quality time with my BFF Jennie and her family in Chicago. We're friends from middle and high school, so our families knew each other really well. We met up with them in Bucktown the morning after the wedding for a big family brunch. It was fantastic to get to see Jennie twice on a trip to Chicago for another high school friend's wedding!

Brunch was just straight up ridiculous. The Italian place in the neighborhood serves an incredible brunch. French toast loaded with caramelized bananas and walnuts, mimosas for $3, and breakfast pizza done perfectly on a thin, flaky crust. Next time I go to visit Jennie and Joe, I think I want to try one of their dinner pizzas.

And the good news is that there will be plenty of next times. Jennie and Joe are engaged! It happened on the 28th, and I couldn't be more excited

In some sort of weird best friend kind of way, I knew that they were engaged when Jennie called that Sunday night. I'd been busy with friends and was trying to get a little bit of work done before the week. But I saw her name on my cell, and thought to myself, I better answer. I bet they are engaged.

Oddly enough, the week before in Chicago, I asked Jennie if they were getting engaged soon, and they were just in the process of ring perusing. But I still knew when she called Sunday evening! Always so happy when a good match find each other, just like with Jennie and Joe.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Kaitlin Getting Married.

This is going to be a wedding themed week on the blog. There's just lots of stuff that has to do with weddings. And it's a pretty stinking awesome assortment of wedding related items.

A couple weeks ago, my little sister's best friend got married in Chicago. Lauren was a bridesmaid, and we were all thrilled to go along!

Friday morning, Lu and Mom went up to Chicago. Lauren went to a bridal lunch at the top of the John Hancock and watched the airplanes practice for the air and water show (su-weet!). I came up later on Friday night after work and met Jennie for dinner. My mom was so sweet to arrange for us to stay at the lovely W Hotel City Center where the wedding would be on Saturday.

After a Saturday morning full of shopping at stores we don't have in Kansas City, Mom and I got ready for the wedding. Lu spent the day being a bridesmaid and living it up in the hotel with champagne and Garrett's popcorn. It was a great wedding, a fun dinner and a night full of dancing.

This totally falls in the "how old am I?" category of life. I swear, it was like, yesterday when my little sister and her best friend Kaitlin were high school freshman. And kind of annoying. I was a senior and totally important. Those little punks grew up, both became ADPis, and got real cool jobs. And Kaitlin got married to sweet Josh. I'm totally not old enough for this to be happening.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Extrovert Lives Alone.

How is this for a GEM of a photo? Yep, two of my best guy friends, my family and me. The end of the Mission Pub Crawl, and we were having a great time. It wasn't as much about the number of beers, it was more about all those people together all night. I was WIRED.

When I lived in DC the first time, the Foundation paid a lot of money to have really official Myers-Briggs tests done for each of us. They put each of the the descriptions on a spectrum. On my extrovert vs. introvert scale, I was at the far end of the extrovert side. Here's an illustration to help you understand:

The basic implications are really simple: I get practically all of my energy from being with other people. I thrive on conversation, story telling, and doing things together. With my last few roommates, I used to say at about ten o'clock, "OK! I have to go be by myself or I will never wind down and go to bed." I could talk to them for hours and then still be wound up when I was by myself for hours.

I want to add that sometimes introverts get a bad rap - they aren't people who like to be alone and have no friends. They just need that alone time to recharge and get ready for extroverts like me to zap all their energy.

And now, the extrovert lives alone.

Most days, it is a total success. I have plans with friends, see them at the gym, go to a meeting or see my family. It is easier for me to go to bed, read to relax and get some other projects done around the house.

And sometimes, it is really hard. If I had a tough day at work, my domain name is broken (still is, thanks google!), or I am too tired to be reasonable, then it is much harder. I miss having that extra dose of energy to perk me up, and the friends to help me problem solve.

Overall, living in my sweet little house all by myself is great. I just wanted to acknowledge and remember that sometimes it is a stretch for me. It is really good for me to learn how to be okay by myself (and perhaps a little more reliant on God - cool! bonus!).

P.S. I really hadn't had that much to drink in the photo above. I was just really excited about my mom being there.
P.S.S. And even if I had more than two beers, photos from pub crawls with my mom in them makes instantly more appropriate.