Thursday, October 31, 2013

Trace is ONE!

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This little man is ONE today. One year ago, Allison got the call to go pick up Rue and one week later Trace joined them. I love this little family of three. Trace's party was last weekend - superhero - and I got to help with the decorations, set-up and take some photos. He eventually made a MESS of his cake once he figured how to break it apart. 
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Trace is Superman for Halloween - and a pretty cute one too! He's an easy smiler, a charmer, and all over the place walking like a big kid!
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Mom was there to help celebrate - plus Kip, Nanette, Everett and a couple dozen more big and little friends of Allison, Rue and Trace! It was nice to visit with some of my work friends outside of work and meet their kiddos too.
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Allison's carrot ginger cupcakes (one of my fave) were available as well as cookies and creme cake. We tried to make the sky scrapers wrap around the cupcake wrappers - it mostly worked! The toppers are my favorite part because we could use all the various little action heroes!
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I think she would rather make cupcakes, but she does a pretty awesome job with cakes too! The 60 was for her dad and the little smash cake was for Trace. The guests could also take home the "super T" sugar cookies or another cupcake. Allison and I thought we were so clever finding rock candy to make Kryptonite for the top of the cakes. Apparently Kryptonite is green. Go figure.
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Each little kid got the cutest plate with veggie straws, a little water bottle, and apple sauce. There was also fruit salad, pigs in a blanket, brats, and roasted sweet potatoes. We were full and happy by the end!
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Some kids played outside because it was gorgeous and some played inside with some toys or colored. Little Everett walked in and out and was super independent. It was also GREAT to see E and his mom!

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Some kids were smiley (Trace) and others were not (Rue). Rue threw a fit when her grandma tried to take away her plate too early. Mom and I were secretly glad since the plate was a gift from us.
 photo Blog_0344_zpsf2125929.jpg Please note the blue frosting still in Trace's nose. That's how you know it was a good party. Happy birthday little man!

Friday, October 25, 2013

At the Ball.

 photo Blog_0341_zps8259cd0e.jpg Get ready for a photo overload. There are just too many beautiful photos that need to be shared. And preserved. And made into magnets and Christmas cards. The new lens is treating us all well - it worked perfectly with the flash at the BOTAR ball on Saturday night.

We had led weeks of rehearsal, including an all-out blitz last week down at the Muehlebach Hotel with rehearsals late into the night on Monday, Thursday, Friday and even Saturday afternoon. But by Friday, the dancers were ready, and the instructors remarkably calm about their progress. 
 photo Blog_0339_zps6be98fa4.jpg Lauren and I were so excited to see the girls presented, and we worked right up through the waltz on Saturday night. We had so many favorite young BOTARs and escorts, but these were two of our top favorites. Jeffrey is a friend of Kate's, and Diana is a K-Stater and a teacher!  photo Blog_0329_zps4f465ad6.jpg The Muehlebach lobby is one of my absolute favorite places in Kansas City. It's gorgeous with marble, an old fireplace and it looks even classier when filled with women in evening gowns and men in tuxes with tails.   photo Blog_0338_zpsdbb43225.jpg I'm getting a second wear out of my maid-of-honor dress from Jennie's wedding, and Lauren found a great deal on a gorgeous Grecian dress at Nordstrom. The color is so pretty and so very Pantone 2013. I found the necklace at Tablescapes this fall, and the Tiffany's earrings are from my BOTAR year. photo Blog_0332_zpsa94f380e.jpg Friends Amy and Ashley were at a table right near ours.   photo Blog_0336_zpsfdee3539.jpg I included this one so you can see the dress for this year. I thought it was just gorgeous - my favorite since Lauren's brown dress in 2008.   photo Blog_0333_zpsc7c71dc2.jpg Unsurprisingly, the flowers by Dan Meiners were gorgeous. The whole ballroom looks different each year, and this year was sophisticated and stunning.   photo Blog_0335_zpsfcf1d5e4.jpg It was super special to share the night with Kate. I've been a little bit of a MIA friend this fall, and it was neat for her to see what all the hard work turns into with the presentation and waltz. She has known little Jeffrey since he was born, so I had to snap a photo of Kate with his family.    photo Blog_0330_zps395766f9.jpg By far one of my favorite photos with my sister, even with the beer bottle. It's my facebook profile pic too! On the right we are on the dance floor with Kim, this year's president. True story: the reason Lauren and I are involved with BOTAR is because when I was 5'10" with glasses and braces in the sixth grade, my teacher really loved me and my family. We stayed in touch for YEARS and when I was 23, she proposed me. And then Lu the next year. She's a rock star, still teaching math, and did an excellent job as president.  photo Blog_0337_zpsb591d5a5.jpg Right before we took this photo with Cathy, VP of the Ball, asked if I had my fun pants on. I tried! I was sure tired after a long day at the hotel. During the day, we had rehearsal, photos, and lots of time with the escorts waiting to go up for presentation. We had to be strict (sometimes), and later in the night one of our favorite escorts introduced us to his sister as the wicked witch of the east and the wicked witch of the west. Oh dear.
 photo Blog_0340_zps20ade219.jpg We worked with a wonderful committee of women who waltzed, collected fans and helped keep things going for all the six weeks of rehearsals. This included other sets of sisters - we've observed that it's easy to stay involved with BOTAR when you have a guaranteed buddy. I know Lu will always go with me - and we have fun! The other pic is of mom and her sorority sister (Diana's mom!).
 photo Blog_0331_zps0b1102d1.jpgThe Karen Davis Band never disappoints, and I danced. A lot. It was fun to be on the floor with all the young BOTARs and escorts we have gotten to know so well over the past six weeks. One more party tonight with them, and then we'll officially hang up our BOTAR hats for a while. It was a fantastic experience, and I couldn't believe how PROUD I felt on Saturday night. It was awesome.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Harley Day and Oktoberfest, Year 3.

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Hard to believe we're only halfway through our trips to Manhattan with four home games remaining. Last year the season went quickly with win after win adding to the total for our beloved Wildcats. This year is a "rebuilding" year but with new buildings at the stadium, we're still loving some quality time in the Bill. Especially now that it has cooled off!
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Besides a delightful Oktoberfest celebration, we also walked over to check out the new west side of the stadium. We walked post the rows of Harley motorcycles waiting to go in before the game. I'm always amazed at how many are purple!
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It was a little cool in the morning, but by game time we were comfortable in t-shirts and jeans. This is ideal football weather to me, though I'm also really happy with a light sweatshirt. Oh, I also don't mind warm furry boots and puffy vests. I guess really I just dislike 90+ game days and rain.
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One of the neat features on the west side, besides Bill in a windbreaker like 20 feet tall, are the names of the counties all the way around. Mom loved that Jewell and Johnson were together. Home and home!

The game was much better than expected, but we try not to be in the business of moral victories. Real wins are preferred. Baylor is a pretty serious opponent. Back in the Bill this coming Saturday for West Virginia and crossing our fingers for a win and more gorgeous weather.
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Unrelated but worth mentioning are a couple of RV Parties updates. If you like free stuff, we're doing a giveaway in honor of 1000 likes on the RV page on facebook. Enter over here! Be sure to check out Rachel's masterpiece over at HWTM too! We don't do as many little girl parties, but I sure love the pinwheels in pink and green. I'm also amazed how the internet works - almost 150 people have already pinned it. Just awesome.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

American Royal BBQ.

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I pretty much think the American Royal is a party any time I go, but it's really a party when the BBQ rolls around.We went on Friday night (before the storm), enjoyed some free food at a reception for American Royal Governors, and took a great sisters pic with the Blair girls. I worked on putting my hand on my hip in a flattering way and having really long hair.
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It's the week of the ball around here. I've got to find my dancing shoes and get some extra sleep before Saturday. It's going to be the perfect finale, I'm sure of it.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Five on Friday.

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Truthfully, honestly, I miss this space. The space on blogger where my words are kept, the adventures are documented and there are lots of pictures. Blogging just hasn't been on the agenda, but BOTAR is almost done, and there may be a couple more hours each week. I saw Kelly Purkey's Five on Friday list and wanted to write just five things down.

1. I took this photo in Atlanta earlier this year. It's the church where MLK Jr. preached, which is fundamentally cool. I gave the print to Monica for her birthday so I see it every day at work. Ebenezer is just one of my favorite words because of this verse, "Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Thus far has the LORD helped us." (1 Samuel 7:12). I'm just overwhelmed by how far the Lord has brought me

2. I can do the entire BOTAR dance. It's about 8 minutes long, and I'm really proud of myself. I can't do the half box spin, but I can fake it and get out of the way well. I have had three different partners at rehearsal lately, and it really does make a difference when the escort can lead.

3. Do you think this will be long enough for me? Do you think it will ever go on sale by more than $10? Have you ever seen anything that looked so much like me?

4. TV has been sadly absent for me in September and early October. But I would just like to be on record that Parks & Rec has the best TV weddings. April and Andy, Leslie and Ben and now Ron Swanson in City Hall. Pawnee forever.

5. And this of course. Brides throwing cats. The best thing on the internet since the hashtag video two weeks ago.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Officially an Attorney.

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This isn't really my story to tell because I wasn't there, but I'm the official family documentarian (not a real word). So I'll write it down anyways! A couple of weeks ago Lauren found out that she passed the Missouri bar, and Mom, Lu, Dad and Tracy made the trek to Jefferson City for the official swearing in at the capitol.

I asked Lauren to compare the Missouri capitol to the one in Topeka, and she told me that Missouri's was prettier because it sits on the river. I find this really concerning, especially as she prepares to be a Missouri resident next month. #kansasforever
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Apparently the weather in Missouri was sunny and nice, but they were all too hot looking very lawyerly for the day with suit jackets. They had lunch after all the official swearing in at Arris Pizza in Jefferson City. It was highly recommended by everyone when people asked about Jeff City, and it didn't disappoint.

So it's official, Lu is a lawyer. So are most of her friends and her future roommate. That's a lot of lawyers, but we're terribly proud all the hard work paid off.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The One Book of September.

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Just one book this month - the book club book!

We heard about it on NPR from Maureen Corrigan, so Seating Arrangements felt like a pretty safe choice. Most of us read it all the way through and found it to be loaded with characters we didn't care for at all. But we had great discussion about class and society on the east coast and in Kansas City. We also tried to dust off our old "identifying metaphor skills" from high school English because there is a whale (literally) in the book that made us think! Tara hosted us for a lovely fall dinner on the patio, and we had a great time.

I also read parts of several other books that probably won't get finished now. Le sigh. Homework and the four books I'm reading for work are making me tired. Better luck in October I guess!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Field Trips and a School Update.

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Besides the busyness of the American Royal season, I still have a full time job. And even though I've been busy outside of school, I'm pretty much still been pounding the pavement (or carpet in our building) to try to get a lot done. This school year has felt busier, and I'm still trying to figure out why. I think it's because I have a better idea each year of what I can do to help teachers and ultimately students. Here are some of the exciting things going on around our school as the first quarter wraps up next week...
  • I went on my first field trip of the year last Thursday to Cider Hill Family Orchard. I also went last year with the Lifeskills kiddos, and it was terrible. It sleeted on us while we rode the hayride. This year was absolutely gorgeous, and we had a great time picking apples, eating lunch outside, chasing the ducks, and completing a scavenger hunt together. These kids are so fun, and their teacher is fantastic. I look forward to when I can step away from to-do lists and teacher meetings for a little bit of KID time.
  • BOOKS. September wasn't a great month for my own independent reading (post pending), but I have books on the brain all day at work. We have gorgeous new classroom libraries, are ordering new books for each grade level, and scrambling to create meaningful literature circle opportunities for our students. We've also already had a book fair, and I'm trying to read to help 6th grade launch their lit circles. Also, somehow I started another John Green book. And Battle of the Books is just five weeks away!
  • Unit plans are also looking really different around here, and I'm proud of that for the English/Language Arts teachers. When we were growing up, our English instruction was pretty much planned around one book at a time. Then sometimes we took a break to do writing, poetry, etc. I'm super interested in harnessing the power of the theme. So what if instead of a literature circle unit, it's around courageous characters. Then the short stories, informational text, poetry, can all connect to that. We're making cute "courage cards" to pass out to kiddos when we see them doing something awesome around the building. This is the kind of work I have to remember we're making progress on because it's slow. And takes a lot of conversation. But could make for a really awesome integrated literacy experience for kids. 
  • New social studies standards are kicking my rear end a little bit. They are the first major changes since I started looking at them in 2005, and I like the changes. But new standards of this sort require shifts in how teachers use them to plan and ultimately teach. Once a month I meet with all the sixth grade social studies teachers from across the district, and this is by far one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I don't know how much support they get in their buildings (all teacher leaders are working too hard), but I have a heart and brain for social studies so I love working with them even just once a month.
  • I get to teach! I'm in one classroom on a regular basis, and I've also been spending some time working with our "school within a school" kiddos for some reading specialist homework assignments. It's been a lot of extra work, but the lessons have taught me several important things about "before reading" activities. I like keeping my teaching legs fresh, love knowing our kids, and like the challenge of working with kids who need the extra structure and love. Like I love it.
This was a pretty technical update of what's happening at work, but I'm super glad I wrote it down. I's good to remember we're doing work that matters (most of the time!).

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

American Royal Rodeo.

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We are deep in the thick of the American Royal and BOTAR season over here. Rehearsals for the ball are half over, and we are loving working with a new group of young men and women. The weeks are really long though because rehearsal is about three hours + travel time two nights a week. I could be wired from hanging out with all these fun people, but mostly I just fall straight into bed when I get home.

Friday night was BOTAR night at the Rodeo, and we were pretty excited to go as Governors to the event. We were both American Royal Governors during our BOTAR year, and Lauren and I are loving getting to do some extra special things while supporting the Royal again this year. We're also hanging out with a couple other sets of sisters which is pretty fun as well. I am sad when people don't stay involved because I think the Royal is the best, but I also have a defacto buddy in Lauren who will go to everything with me.
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We had dinner in a room that overlooks Hale Arena - you can see the windows behind the huge American flags. After that tastiness, Lauren and I walked around the vendors, visited the Budweiser Clydesdales, and found the Governors' Deck. Located at the end of the arena behind the holding pens, we had a great view of the whole arena. It's very different with the rodeo being in Hale Arena instead of Kemper, but I also love it. We were so close to the action!
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We actually left the Governors' deck for a few events to go sit in the Governors' box seats right next to the arena. Pretty much the first row! There was a waiter, and we could order drinks to enjoy while cowboys were flying off their horses right in front of us. I didn't bring the right lens to capture all the action - I didn't think about how close everything would be! But I do love this grainy shot of the rodeo clown during team roping.

Next year I would like to plan two trips to the rodeo. One on Friday night for the BOTAR party and the Governors deck. And the second one for the matinee on Saturday with some of my friends' kids. It's an easy event for little kids because it's only about two hours, pretty action packed, and there's popcorn.
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We'll put on our Governors pins again on Friday and head to the BBQ. Then two more weeks of rehearsal leading up to the prettiest ball I'm sure there ever was. After that, I'll probably just stay at home and sleep till November.