Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Five Books of July.

I learned an important thing about myself as a reader this summer: I don't really love middle school literarture. I may have to explain this a little more, especially considering the number of YA adults I write about on the blog.

While I love middle schools, our students and teachers, I think some of the books are pretty silly. It's hard for me to get excited about picking up the middle school books on my nightstand. I should read lots of these books! It would help me to do my job if I loved to pick up books that appeal to eleven- to fourteen-year-olds. But I tend to like my books a little older, and I think that there are amazing things that authors do when their audience is young adults like high schoolers. So even though I had piles of young adult books on my nightstand, I only managed to read two before I went back to work. Whoops.

The Last Letter from Your Lover gets the best book of the month award. I should make that a real deal so you can prioritize your reading list. You know, in case you have a life and don't read five books a month. It was highly recommended by two different friends, months apart, and I'm so glad I got it from the library. It's told in two parts, once in London in the 1960s and later more modern day. An unhappily married woman takes a lover (that word is so awkward) but things get complicated. Later the modern day woman finds the last letter between the two lovers and tries to figure out what happens. So.good. I read the last thirty pages twice - something I only do when the book is truly marvelous and a good love story.

True Sisters was a great book club choice, hosted with lots of yummy food by Kate. Sandra Dallas writes books that are good for discussion, and she introduced us to the crazy history of the Mormons walking with HANDCARTS to Utah. In the middle of winter. Spoiler: this is a really bad idea. We liked talking about the women and their hardships, as well as the relationships that they form as they suffer across the country. If you like female friendships, pioneer stories, Mormons or historical fiction, it's a good fit.

The Butterfly's Daughter was recommended by a teacher leader that I work with in the district. She works with our migrant, ESL and refugee population, so this wasn't really a surprising choice from her as the author tells the story of a Mexican American daughter looking for her long lost family. The daughter drives from Milwaukee to Texas (through Kansas!). I picked up many things about the migration of the butterfly, and it was a pretty story about family and forgiveness. But Last Letter was better.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is one of those books I described above. It's good for middle school boys, but actually for a pretty specific sect of kind of nerdy middle school boys. A dorky sixth grader has a Yoda that he wears on his finger that answers his peers questions. I had to pick it up a couple times - and it is pretty clever. If you are a sweet, slightly nerdy 4th to 6th grader. (There are two sequels - this is a popular book!)

One Crazy Summer was written for middle school girls, but it's a better read for everyone. Three sisters leave NYC for a summer with their Black Panther mother in Oakland. A lot is happening in the 1960s in Oakland, and it's a pretty fascinating window into what was happening in the summer. It's also a pretty cute story about families, especially sisters. I think this would be a fun book to teach because there is so much that happens at different levels.

That's all I squeezed in during July. Happy to report the first book of August is non-fiction and about business - and I love it.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rue Cler in Paris.

We received excellent advice to stay near Rue Cler, and we actually stayed in the exact same hotel that my aunt and uncle did last fall. It was also recommended by our handy dandy Rick Steves' guide. It took us a little while to find it (directionally challenged again!) but once we did, we realized the total appeal. We were less than five minutes from two great Metro stops and about two minutes from Rue Cler.

This sweet little street has all sorts of shops, grocers, and a few little restaurants and cafes. Because it was so close to our hotel, we actually ate here several times. The first night we ate at the little cafe on Rue Cler before we wandered over to the Eiffel Tower and took the boat ride. The next morning we were back to try the pastries at the bakery on the corner. We could never just pick one pastry each because there were so many we wanted to try!

We stopped back by the bakery a couple more times for macarons because they were so fragile and packed with flavor that we couldn't resist. We even found macarons filled with ice cream on Rue Cler! Thankfully a lady in KC makes wonderful macarons, so I'm not going to tackle baking those myself. However, I can make chouquettes at home now! This lovely little dessert was one we saw on Rue Cler and at other bakeries around town.

We ate a long breakfast at a cafe one morning with cafe au lait, the very best croissants, and omelets. While very simple, it was one of our favorite meals because we spent the entire time leisurely watching the French children walk (or scooter!) to school with their parents. All ages, from little preschoolers all the way to independent teenagers went by on their way. Some were running late, some were with their dad and others walked by with their moms or a nanny. I'm very jealous of the Parisian children that live in the neighborhood! What a cool way to grow up.

After one particularly exhausting day of travel around town, we opted for a casual "picnic" from the shops on Rue Cler. We picked two cheeses from a little fromage shop with the help of the lovely storekeeper. I wanted chevre (goat cheese) but Mom wanted something milder, and they were both perfect. We bought crackers to go with them because we were baguetted out at this point. Add in fresh fruit, nutella, and coca cola light, and it was a perfect light meal. There was also probably dessert, I just don't remember what it was this night. We rarely skipped dessert!

We ate our little picnic in the little lounge/cafe in our hotel, as we did a couple other snacks in the late afternoon. The internet was better, and it was right around the corner from our room on the first floor. We were the only room down there, and it was always quiet and cozy. Mom and I would highly recommend this hotel!

The last night in Paris we ate dinner on Rue Cler at a different little restaurant. We sat right on the sidewalk in two little chairs facing the street. Our waiter was the very best, and so very efficient that I enjoyed watching him run back and forth. We lost a couple things in the language barrier, but from happy hour to the final chocolate mousse and cappucino, we had fun. 

I'm planning a French themed book club for October and seriously have so many tasty ideas after this trip! Cheese and wine! Apricot preserves! Chouquettes and madeleines! Macarons!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Another Mortar Board Conference.

Don't stop reading. I want to tell you about this Mortar Board Conference. I know you are not as excited about Mortar Board as I am, but seriously, stay with me. I flew to Chicago on my 29th birthday for my seventh Mortar Board Conference. 2012-2013 will be my tenth year of involvement with this organization, and I still love it so very much.

Sarra and I look pretty sharo at the candlelight banquet on Saturday night and remain MB besties. We presented together on Saturday afternoon, and our fairly biased friend Vishal said it was one of the best presentations of the weekend.

To the right is Katie V. and Candi, two of my favorite K-State Mortar Board friends. Katie was president the year before me and now serves as a section coordinator too. She was president when our chapter won the highest award, the Ruth Weimer Mount Award. Katie is also an Alpha Chi from KSU. The president elect, Marty Starling, is also a K-State Alpha Chi. Pretty cool, right? #fightinglyres

But we weren't the only K-State Mortar Board alums present. The official photography, my very favorite Erica, counts towards our total. So do the two collegiate members and the current advisor. And one more section coordinator. Nine K-Staters! The only school with more was Purdue - and they had twelve!

Vishal is one of those Purdue grads but he's wearing purple and I'm wearing black & gold so we probably cancel each other out!

Besides all these awesome people and traditions, I also love Mortar Board because of kids like these two college seniors. These two knuckleheads are the current president and secretary of the chapter I advise at University of Missouri Kansas City. I LOVE working directly with the students and not only as a section coordinator.

Both K-State and UMKC took home Golden Torch awards. I'm so proud of the UMKC students - they went from six students a couple years ago to thriving today. I'm looking forward to another year advising and working this exceptionally smart group of college students.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pictures of the Eiffel Tower.

After Budapest and Belgrade, Mom and I flew to Paris. We were there from Tuesday afternoon until Saturday morning. Believe it or not, it took us lot of tries to get a good picture with the Eiffel Tower. My favorite is maybe an instagram shot that Mom took on my iPhone the very first day, but we sure did try to get good shots from all over town.

These overcast shots are from our first evening in Paris. After a light supper on Rue de Cler, we walked to the Eiffel Tower and then took a boat tour to get the lay of the land. However, the cloudy skies didn't help us get our bearings very quickly! Crazy since we are both Kansas girls, very good at directions.

It definitely rained while we were on the boat tour of the Seine River, and then lightly while we walked home. I love Paris in the rain. (post pending!)

We were also able to take many pictures of the Eiffel Tower from high in the sky. The one above on the left is from the top of the Arc de Triomphe and the right one is from Notre Dame.

The Arc de Triomphe was maybe one of my very favorite places we went. It was our last day in Paris, and we really knew where everything was in the city so we could look over at all the places we went. We watched the traffic in the crazy traffic circle below for a very long time and even got a pretty good photo with the tower (and the crowds!).

It's worth noting, especially in the hottest summer I can remember, that it was very cool in Paris. Never hotter than 75 degrees. I miss Paris for a lot of reasons, but the cool breeze is definitely in the top 10. Who would have thought?

One of the trickier things about shooting with a DSLR camera is that it takes trust to hand your camera to someone else and have them take your photo. I've learned the hard way that many people who are using a similar camera have no idea what they are doing and can't even get it to focus! The last night, the couple that took our pictures were very persistent. The wife kept telling the husband where to stand and how to take the photos - and then eventually took over!

The light changed rapidly as we walked around the base of the tower. At first, the sky was a little blown out in order to get good light for our faces. But then the striking shadows and outline from the clouds made a pretty dramatic background for the tower!

It felt to us like Paris never got dark. We didn't see the lights on the tower until the very last night - the photos where it looks like dusk are actually almost 10 pm! I really like this impromptu photo of Mom and me under the tower. I had just offered to take a family of five's picture under the tower, and they returned the favor. If it looks like I need a haircut in this photo, you should see my bangs now.

I am super glad that we went up in the tower, even after we walked all the way back down. The lines for the elevators down were so long and it was late. Our flight on Saturday morning was pretty early!

Mom and I walked back to our hotel after our trip up at midnight in Paris. I walked very slowly because I really wanted the car from Woody Allen's movie to stop and pick me up and take me to the party. I'm not even kidding. I'm pretty obsessed with the movie. I just want to talk to Hemingway about a couple of things.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Birthday Week of Celebrations.

This is a post just for the record keeping. A few photos as a bonus! I literally celebrated my birthday from Saturday, July 14th until Monday, July 23rd. This is exceptionally long, even for me!

After Jennie's shower, a big group of friends went to dinner in Chicago. We could see the skyline while we had some awesome Chinese food. Including crab rangoon, cappuccino and mango ice cream. Because that's what I really wanted.

The next night, Lauren, Mom and I went to Westchase Grill in Kansas City. The crowd was a bit older, but the food was delicious. We brought our own wine because there is no corkage fee on Sunday nights. It was a great bottle of white that I had saved from my trip to Niagara Falls and the Canadian wineries. Tara lovingly carried it home in suitcase, so it was a very special treat. And delicious! Dessert tonight: French creme puffs filled with ice cream and berry crumble.

On my actual birthday on Thursday, Kate, Erica, Abbey and I squeezed in a quick lunch at Succotash before my flight to Chicago. No dessert this round except for all those sailboat cookies I ate at home. Calories don't count on your birthday, right?

Then I flew back to Chicago. American Airlines doesn't seem to offer free dessert. Luckily, the Mortar Board dinner was at my favorite restaurant that we seem to frequent near our hotel. I love Nonno Pino's and lucked out the whole meal. No one at my table wanted to drink white wine except me, the waiter slipped me a cappuccino, and they brought me the best tiramisu ever. And everyone sang.

Back at the hotel, Sarra had decorated our room with balloons and crepe paper. Vishal bought a card from The Office that everyone signed (he couldn't find a Parks & Rec card!) and a bottle of Catalonia chardonnay. I was seriously spoiled!

Monday at book club, the gang sang and Erica baked the cake I bullied her into making. I also received lovely, thoughtful gifts and spent so much time with people I love. Twenty-nine looks like a great year. Just great.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lulu's Thai Noodle Shop.

Cute baby and a KC restaurant shout out? You're welcome. I think a lot of people know (and love) Lulu's, but I keep finding people who don't. So it deserves a post. And a visit. I'll go with you!

Located in the Crossroads, Lulu's has great Thai food. I don't know if is the best in the world, but it is always good. And they are super accommodating for big groups. We had book club there last August, and I hosted the Truman finalists dinner there as well.

They have a great happy hour, and they offer it all day on Sunday as well. That's why Rachel and I went with the boys after church. It's super close to my church so if you're coming downtown, I would love to go to church with you and then go to Lulu's. This Sunday? Okay, I'm available.

Rachel's boys are great eaters, so it was easy to order food we all liked. We had a Firecracker Shrimp appetizer and Green Mango Salad with Blue Crab. The boys had a chicken satay kids meal, but they were definitely loving our shared main course dish, Rainbow Peanut Noodles. Those sticky rich noodles were a favorite of both Braden and Finley. That's how Brady got so messy!

Lulu's appeals to not only my love of salty noodle dishes but my perpetual need for sweet at the end of the meal. This trip Rachel and I chose bubble tea in fresh fruity flavors (MANGO). The little tapioca bubbles surprised Finley when he tried it! I've also had the Christopher Elbow ice cream flavors that are available only at Lulu's, and they are heavenly.

Is it lunchtime yet?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Something Old, Something New Shower.

Hello from Chicago (again!). When I was here last weekend, it was for Jennie's first bridal shower. The theme was a classic one that was new to me, "Something Old, Something New" and of course, everything was blue. Jennie and I wore our best blue dresses.

Jennie's mom was my partner in this shower, and she did an amazing job making everything just perfect for the shower. Jane totally excelled at incorporating color into every party detail. She paints, so she even made these two banners for the party.

This beautiful cake was filled with chocolate and raspberry goodness. Cake decorating is NOT on my to-do list - look how perfect the pros can do it!

Three of Jennie's bridesmaids. We were only missing Gaby who is in California. This is a pretty tall bridal party, except for Gaby. As I just mentioned, she was in California.

We all could sit at one long table for lunch, and it was great because I got to know so many of Jennie's Chicago girlfriends plus a few of her family members. Every one of the young women (besides me) is a Speech Language Pathologist, so it is super neat to hear about their cool jobs. 

There were only two games/activities at this shower. At lunchtime, each guest filled out a card with a short description of how they knew the bride. People had to be creative because Speech Language Pathologist from Northwestern describes a lot of people in attendance. Jennie pulled a card from the pile, shared the description and guessed who it was. It was an easy way to learn more about each person, and then she opened their present.

After our champagne toast with chocolate strawberries, we asked Jennie questions about her relationship with Joe that she answered. When did you know he was the one, how many kids do you want, etc? We wrote down all her answers for her to keep track of these special memories.

There were party favors - cookies! I flew from KC with a box full of cookies that I packaged up for favors. To match the theme, it was something very old and borrowed. The recipe is from my great-grandma Della, and I was happy to share it with these special ladies.

Shower number 1, check. What a special honor to be a part from start to finish for this dear friend.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sailing into the Twenty-Ninth Year.

It's a whale of a birthday - but not for me. Those 30s on the cookies are for my friend Katie. I've got one more year before that big one. Instead, today is my 29th birthday! Sailing into a new year. I kind of love these preppy cookies that I made to share with my Mortar Board friends and a few pals here in Kansas. Prep-tastic.

Birthdays make me reflective. Even more reflective than normal - which is a pretty extreme statement considering I have written almost 800 posts on this blog. I spend plenty of time reflecting about the daily going ons, special events, babies and food. While I frosted these cookies for several hours on Wednesday, I got to thinking even more about the status quo and turning 29.

Some days are harder than others. Sometimes when I tell myself untruths about how I look or why I am single, the days get tougher. Surprisingly, I didn't have a life plan that was like, "Be only 5'9" tall, get married by 28, and have kids by 30," which was good because then I think it would be even more of a challenge to be 29. But I also didn't think I would be exactly here.

This is the zoomed in version of my life where I lose the beauty and see how it all works together. Like when you look too close at the photo of the cookies above, you can see imperfection - where the sprinkles bled a little and where the white line got a little crooked. 

It is abundantly clear when I step back and look at the whole picture, it's a great picture. The Lord brought me back to work, live, worship and play in Kansas City. It's home in a way that fills my whole heart.

I am surrounded every day by extraordinary people. My job is fantastic - challenging and a great fit. I don't even hate it that I have to go back to work on Monday. My family is wonderful, and it's been an overall great summer with Mom and Lauren. Mom and I didn't fight one single time on our European trip. For eleven days! The summer I turned 29 is also the summer I went to Budapest, Belgrade and Paris, which still sounds totally unreal to me. Lauren and I can have a great time doing lots of stuff, even addressing BOTAR invitations. It's been a bit of a tough summer for the three Luhrs Ladies, but in the end, we're coming out ahead.

This book club friendship is better than ever. Eight women who respond instantly to any idea for a party, lunch date or book idea. And not only do they like to plan, they like to have fun. We do cool things together.

And then there are the rest of my BFFs. Ones that make me maid of honor, stay in touch from a long ways away, and remember how cool I was as a middle schooler and love me anyways. You all know the one who buys me nice bracelets, tells me to take a nap when I need it and appears on this blog practically every week.

I have too many best friends because I keep meeting too many awesome people. This is the awesome life of an extrovert.

I fly to Chicago again today so I'm maximizing birthday time into a week long event. We went to dinner in Chicago last Saturday, dinner with my family on Sunday night in KC, a completed Donors' Choice project, brunch at Succotash and a Mortar Board birthday celebration tonight. So so lucky.

That's the big picture. A life full of blessings.

Other birthday posts (fun to see where I was the last three years!)
2009: Rachel Got an Awkward Cake
2010: The Tiki Party and Rachel Hijacked My Blog
2011: I Moved Home (Surprise Party!) and We Won a Tractor

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

All Star Game Parade.

One more All Star Game post! Last Tuesday, the afternoon of the All Star Game, Kansas City rolled out the red carpet (literally) for the players. They left the Intercontinental Hotel and drove in pick-ups through the Plaza. We all cheered (even if we weren't sure who they were!) It was the cutest thing because they brought their families. Sometimes it was three generations with grandparents and little kids. All of the players were dressed up!

There are NO photos of players to show you. However, keep reading, because I took a lot of photos of mascots. Normal.

We arrived really early because we were worried about the crowds, but it wasn't that bad really. We were able to get some lunch and a really good spot on the fence to watch the crowd. And talk to the mascots.

While we ate our Plaza III steak sandwiches and drank our Boulevard beers, we talked to the mascots. The Baltimore Oriole wanted to eat Abbey's sandwich. Silly bird.

Look more mascots! I really love mascots, I guess. Maybe because they make kids happy? Seriously, there are four or five more mascots I didn't put on the blog. Texas Ranger, San Francisco Giants "Lou Seal," and my very favorite Sluggerrr!

The game later was sort of a bust, so I'm really glad that we had such a good experience at the parade and Fanfest. It seems like everyone that was in town loved Kansas City and was impressed by the place that I love so very much.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Budapest, Day Two.

I promised there was more to say about Budapest than just this. Sunday morning we set out walking to see more of Budapest, in particular the Pest side. We walked from our gorgeous hotel to gaze at the Opera House. From there we wandered through more cobblestone streets until we found St. Stephen's Basilica. This place had some crazy history, including the dome collapsing in 1868. If you go in, you can see a 1,000 year-old withered hand from St. Stephen, Hungary's first king.

This was, of course, enough of a reason for me NOT to go inside. Gross.

We also didn't go in because we were hungry! We ate at a great little cafe on the sidewalk in the shadow of St. Stephen's. Vicki and Daniel both had eggs, but Mom and I ordered delicious pancakes which were actually crepes. I failed to mention in the first post how much Hungarians love paprika! It was definitely on the eggs at breakfast.

We kept wandering from there until we found this little outdoor market selling actually quality goods. Mom bought really neat wooden trivets, and I found a little bird for a plant in my house for only 1000 forint (like $3!). It was beginning to heat up by this point, and the sun was definitely warm in the square. We also stepped into a little tourist store where we bought some great bookmarks and paprika! Mom and I didn't read the can very carefully, and we definitely got the HOT paprika! She learned it was not the sweet variety the hard way with some eggs recently.

After we packed up our hotel and checked out, we went to Gundel for a Father's Day brunch. It was highly recommended by SEVERAL people - friends of Vicki's at the embassy in Serbia and Kenneth & Melinda as well. The Sunday brunch was pretty incredible, easily one of the best I've ever seen. Each course was great, but some of my favorite dishes included all the salads and cold sour cherry soup.

Isn't Gwen the cutest? She's loves her daddy, and it was so nice of them to share Father's Day with us in Budapest! She also looks just like her daddy. It's okay Gwen, it happens to the best of us.

We made two short stops before we headed back to Serbia. Heroes Square and IKEA! We knew Vicki needed a few things, so we made the trip with her. If you thought everything was in a different language when you went to IKEA in the United States, then you will feel even more overwhelmed in another country. It was different, but it was also so very much the same. It was definitely not a tourist location. Everyone was speaking Hungarian around us while we shopped!

We had an easy drive back to Serbia. Vicki, Gwen and I all napped a good portion of the way while Daniel and my mom talked about Royals' farm teams and agriculture. It was a perfect weekend getaway. Budapest totally lived up to the hype - and maybe even surpassed it. It was just a really lovely place and classic old European. A Truman friend posted recently that she was going with work, looking for suggestions, and I was happy to chime in with many suggestions.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Middle School Truths.

Even if you would prefer to forget it, you were once in middle school. I was too! See the photo above from the first day of seventh grade for proof. It is probably a huge surprise to you that in middle school I was not exactly cool and was actually a little bit of smarty pants nerd. I was also 5 foot 10 inches tall by the time I left the 8th grade.

I share this photo to remind you that middle school can be, well, awkward. And that it is really tough for a lot of students. The building I work in offers so many different ways for students to get involved in academics and outside of the classroom. One of the bright spots is our drama and debate program. It's super neat to see kids - a lot like me actually - find a place that they can shine.

I had my first role as an old lady in our middle school production of Alice in Wonderland (the Duchess). I would later go on to play Leon Trotsky's cranky old lady Russian wife in high school and an old lady housekeeper in a play I can't remember.

Apparently, I was typecast. As old ladies.

But back to our middle school. The very awesome drama teacher has a request over on Donors Choose to fund new lighting for drama productions. If you've never given to Donors Choose, it's awesome. Teachers submit detailed requests that are thoroughly checked before they're posted. Mr. Brame needs $178 to fund the new lights. Can you help this happen?

Also, it's my birthday this week. 2-9 on Thursday. For my birthday AND for the kids, head on over and give a bit to his project. We can fund it with 18 friends giving $10. Check out some others while you're there. Help make middle school a little bit better for some kids. Thanks. I like the grown up version of you, and I definitely would have liked the middle school version too.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Snow & Company.

I'm finishing this post up from KCI airport. Yep, another trip! If you're saying to yourself, "Doesn't she ever stay home!?" you have to remember that my travel and visitor schedule gets highly compressed because I can't just take a random week off during the school year. I have to pack my six weeks of summer with six weeks of FUN. This weekend, off to Chicago for very important wedding related business.

Emily was in town last weekend, and I got to see her four times while she was here! That's almost more than when we lived on the same coast. On Saturday night we grabbed a very impromptu drink at Snow & Company. Erica told me about it last fall, and it took us this many months to try it out in the Crossroads! The location was a little surprising to me because it is pretty unassuming from outside, but the lounge like feel inside is fun. There were lots of low tables with lounge chairs and great natural light poured in from outside.

The concept is something like "artful frozen cocktails," and they are definitely dressed up slushies, with alcohol. Since it was a first trip for all of us, we decided to do the small flights. Three little glasses for $8. It was just the right amount of sugar, flavor and alcohol for each of us.

We also had a little bit of the food and it was definitely better than average bar food. Erica and I examined her panini carefully to try to decide if we could make it at home. 

I have already forgotten all of the flavors we tried, but I'm pretty sure my three flavors included The Rockefeller (a strong slushie Manhattan), A Kick to the Peaches (sweet!) and my favorite, Sunshine Boulevard. Here's the description of the last one:

"Boulevard wheat kicked up a notch with 360 Vodka from Weston, MO, fresh OJ and our house lemonade. Like summer in a glass."

It was the right combination of alcohol and sweetness. Like a summer brew without the overwhelming effects of too much vodka later on. In the hot months that I'm sure loom ahead or on a warm First Friday in the Crossroads, the Sunshine Boulevard will continue to be just perfect.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Shatto Dairy Tour.

There's been a lot of Kansas City loving on the blog lately. Ironically, there are also many European posts waiting in the wings too. I am just sort of obsessed with all the places we've been, the restaurants and definitely my KC friends and visitors. Kansas City has never felt more like HOME. When Rachel was in town, I organized a big group tour of the Shatto Milk Company's farm and country store.

Fifteen of us (including a few babies) made the trip up to the farm near St. Joseph, Missouri. It took just about an hour to get there, and our car was busy busy with Alison & Dinah, Finley, Brady & Rachel. Finley rode in the third row of the Pilot and loved it - in fact he protested loudly when he got moved back up to the second row later!

It was a short tour but about the right length for kids and families. Important first stop: tasting (I still love the root beer best!), then on to bottling, milking the cow and the room where they ACTUALLY milk the cows. Finn described that room very well because after we saw how the milking works, "the cows marched out" back to the pasture.

Finley was braver than I was and actually sort of milked the cow. I chickened out. (Weird.) I did put my finger in the machine that milks the cows and tried to memorize as many statistics about milk as possible. If you take my sage advice and go to the dairy, can you please ask them which flavored milk is most popular? I can't remember if it is root beer or chocolate. Rachel had some other questions too. There was just so much awesome information.

Alison, Rachel and I lived together in room H our first semester at Alpha Chi. It sort of felt like those old times when we were riding in the car together to Shatto because the kids were strapped in not crawling and running around so we could focus a little more on catching up. The conversation was a blessing to each of us, I know.

Before Rachel came to KS, she thought I was over hyping Shatto milk. She knows the truth now. She drank two bottles of coffee milk while she was here. Plus the family drank one 1/2 gallon of skim milk, a pint of strawberry, and root beer too. And while I finished this post, I had a glass of chocolate Shatto milk. Ahh.