Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Attorneys, Not Lawyers.

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My sister was sworn into the Kansas bar last Friday. I missed the family trip to Jefferson City last fall, and I wasn't going to get left behind again. Mom, Lauren and I all took time off for the swearing in ceremony in Topeka, a little time in the updated Kansas capitol and lunch in Lawrence.
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The ceremony takes place in the Topeka Performing Arts Center which hasn't been updated since the 1980s but does the job well. All of the Kansas Supreme Court justices come (and one federal judge too), and I put aside the questions I would like to ask about school funding to listen as they swore in the newest group of attorneys. We could not believe the number of security present to protect the KS Supreme Court! It was pretty serious.

When Jennie was here for Easter, she noticed that Lauren and her friend Ashley say that they are "attorneys" instead of lawyers. I hadn't noticed it before Jennie was here, but when I asked Lauren about it, she said it was intentional. When I wrote the post about her Missouri swearing in, I referred to her as an attorney there too. Glad I've been paying attention to what she wants to be called! Lauren the lawyer is a bit of a tongue twister anyways.
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We walked over to the capitol to check out all the updates. When we were little girls, my uncle served in the Kansas House of Representatives. We all have fine memories of exploring on our own, walking around the library, going to the snack bar on our own and riding the big old elevator. I worked at the capitol for one semester during college, and I still thought it was fun to explore when I was 21-years-old. 
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So, for old time's sake, we totally rode the elevator to get to the snack bar, and I snapped this picture quickly between floors! We also took a photo with the John Brown painting, and oohed and ahhed at everything. I'm obsessed with the shiny doors everywhere - they are straight out of Oz! We didn't climb the steps to the top of the rotunda, so we'll have to make a return trip.
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As we went into the capitol, the Kansas sky was a bit hazy. By the time we left, it was back to brilliant blue. I swear I didn't photoshop it - that's what the sky looks like in Kansas! From Topeka, we drove to Lawrence for lunch and a beer at Free State on Mass. It was a very good Kansas day, and Lauren the attorney can now officially practice in both states. Congrats Lu!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Belle, April 2014.

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This sweet puppy is snoozing at my feet. I've been sitting at my computer for the greater part of two days working on a graduate project I'm all too eager to drop in the mail. And both days it rained. Belle's not really bothered by the rain; it's not until the thunder and lightning sound like they are in our backyard that she retreats inside. She's not really bothered by much beyond my departure. That makes her pretty upset. Other than that she's just enthusiastic. She gets excited when Lauren, Mom or Kip come over, spins 360s in the living room if anyone reaches for tennis shoes, and can hear the peanut butter lid rattle onto the counter from a mile away. Basically, Belle enjoys being almost seven. She watches the squirrels outside for hours at a time, scratching the door occasionally to come in and confirm that yes, I am still here, and no, it is not time for dinner yet. She treats every walk through our neighborhood like it is the best.walk.ever. The squirrels! The sidewalk! The grass! She spins 360s at the end of the leash Kip crafted for her every time we walk. The increasing gray around her eyes belies her puppy heart. She's a happy dog, content, and very much full of life. I would be a better human to rise on Monday with even half the enthusiasm that Belle uses to greet each day. You're a good girl, Belle.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Jennie, Jane, Sydney and Easter Wrap-Up.

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I didn't have school last Friday and was blessed with dear friends from Chicago over the weekend. Jennie, Jane and puppy Sydney drove down to spend the long weekend with Belle and me. Plus they wanted to meet Kip. We had beautiful weather while they were here, and Jennie & Jane remarked regularly about all the little signs of spring poking out around Kansas City. Chicago was a little behind.
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I made a LOT of cookies while they were here, and for the first 48 hours or so that they were here, Jane cleaned up after me. 135 cookies makes a very large mess. They also cleaned the patio up and we sat outside for our meals Friday/Saturday/Sunday. We walked around the neighborhood, tried hard to not discuss the cost of real estate in Kansas City too much (it makes Jennie a touch envious), and enjoyed spring. The pups enjoyed the walks.
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Sunday morning we celebrated the resurrection with church at my mom's and then lunch at her place. As always, we were lucky to have a fun assortment of friends gather together. Dereck was in town, and with Jane and Jennie, we had a total of three guests from Chicagoland. Kip's brother Kevin and Lauren's friend Ashley came too so we were legally well represented with two attorneys at lunch.
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And then I made everyone take photos outside. It was a great, relaxing day and featured my mother's perfect angel food cake and my favorite instagram with my favorite guy. I'm thankful for friends who come to visit and a mom who makes everyone feel welcome.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Manhattan Weekend Wrap-Up.

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Last weekend was the first one of spring turkey season, so Kip and I went up to Manhattan to see his family. I certainly didn't go hunting, but Kip went with his dad on Saturday. Let's review things that pre-Kip I did not know...
  1. There are two turkey seasons.
  2. The dates of any turkey season.
I wrote earlier this week about leisure time, and this is it for Kip. I can't pretend to totally understand yet. They left the house at 5 am on Saturday for round one, and they went back out later in the afternoon when it was over 80 degrees. It requires a lot of gear too. Between all his hunting gear and everything I traveled with (paper cutter, camera, grad school books, computer...all very normal things), the Pilot was practically full when we pulled out on Friday night. We loaded Belle in for her weekend visit to my mom's, made a cookie delivery, and we drove west. As soon as we could, we tuned into classic country.

Kip worked as a park ranger during part of college and afterwards, and he knows so many things about the Flint Hills. We watched the prairie fires stretch on between Topeka and Manhattan and saw the haziest sunset as we neared his childhood home. Kip is at home in the places where there is more open land and sky than pavement and housing, and it was a relaxing Friday night drive after a long week of work.

For everything I don't know about hunting, I know this about the weekend - it was a very good one. Time with Kip's family is invaluable. I got to hang out with Kip's two brothers and his mom while Kip hunted, and they are extremely good to me. They listened to me explain Etsy and talk about my final grad school project. I heard a dozen more stories about the trouble the three boys got into growing up and shared good food with good people. No one shot any turkeys, but as we drove home in Sunday's rainstorms, I was thankful and sure that the blessings are numerous in the places where the prairie meets the sky.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Three Books of March.

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Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time came onto my radar from NPR. Brigid Schulte is a reporter for the Washington Post, married to an NPR reporter, and the mother of two children. After feeling overwhelmed (obviously) with work and family responsibilities, Schulte began an exploration of how our society treats work and leisure. It's a fascinating collection of personal experiences, research and cultural expectations. Here's my warning: if you start this book, you must finish it. There is a point about 30% in where it feels like there is no hope for anyone, especially women. But it turns hopeful for the author and all of us when you get to the second section on love and family.

It pushed gently on some of the things I believe about how I spend my time and what is leisure. Inspired by the book, a couple weekends ago Kip and I did a 500 piece puzzle together. It was fun for both of us. Walking together is another thing we both enjoy (the trees!). The stuff I get to do for myself - blogging, crafting, reading, baking (most of the time) - is leisure time to me. I've found a new workout I love, and I (almost) never have to make myself go.

I have to be careful with Etsy and cookie orders because it can be so fun, but it can also make me groan. I've had too much on the to-do list for about two weeks, but I'm working on whittling it down. May 5th will mark a great shift in my responsibilities this spring. I am so very aware that these are the ways I choose to spend my 24 hours each day, and I can choose differently. Sometimes it just takes a little while to make the shifts, to say good-bye to some responsibilities and re-prioritize that leisure time.

Defending Jacob was the book club selection for March, and everyone responded differently to it but were glad they read it. My step-grandpa, Fred, gave it to me and told me I had to read it. He's only done that one other time with The Devil in the White City, and pretty much anyone who picks up that book devours it. Defending Jacob is the story of a family with a teenage son accused of murder. It follows the trial and examines the family dynamics. It made for good discussion at book club, and oh man, the ending.

Out of the Dust was a reread for me because our seventh graders are reading it. I was walking down the hall with a student last week and asked him about the book. He said, "It's really sad." I remembered it being sad, but thought I better read it again to be sure how serious he was. He was right - it's devastating. Kip's family lived in Oklahoma, and they have a few stories passed down that fit right in alongside the beautiful chapters written in verse by Karen Hesse. It can easily be read in a couple brief sittings, and if you have interest in Kansas/Oklahoma/dust bowl history, you won't be sorry you did. I think some of the most beautiful parts will be lost on our middle schoolers, but I hope they still get something out of it.

If you'd like to do something in your leisure time this week, make some sweet treats and print these free RV Parties tags to go with them. I'd recommend these giant M&M cookies if you need a recipe.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Baby Shower for Abbey.

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There are two babies due this spring in book club, and we showered the second one with love and sweet gifts on Saturday afternoon. Abbey and Drew will be new parents later this spring, but they don't know the gender so their gifts were gender neutral. And awesome. I wish I had as many local sports team shirts as this baby will!
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The shower was hosted by these lovely ladies at Andre's Confiserie Suisse (known to locals as "Andre's") on Main Street. Several of us Kansas City locals had never been, so it was a total TREAT to get to enjoy the tasty pastries and fancy desserts. They don't mess around with chocolate at Andre's. Our dessert options included some non chocolate options as well, and I think even non-chocolate lovers were pleased. (I don't know if there were other non-chocolate lovers present, but I'm always thinking of my sister.)
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Saturday felt like had arrived in Kansas city, and the guests broke out the spring dresses. I laughed when I looked at the photos because Abbey and I matched the colors from her bridal shower two years ago just as well!
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The ladies were fabulous hosts, while I took photos at the event and mostly just got to visit with my pals. I don't know if I like bridal showers or baby showers better, but I am recounting the first book club baby shower over on RV Parties today. It was a classic.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Bridal Brunch.

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Running a small Etsy/internet business provides Rachel and I a way to connect with new customers all the time. However, the biggest blessings in the business is definitely connecting with old pals via facebook, Etsy and Instagram. A friend from high school and college reached out to have me help her with the whole bridal shower, even the cookies, and I was pleased to help. And so proud of how everything came together. I obviously wasn't at the event but am glad to have these photos to share with you!
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The shower was in DC, a fabulous bridal brunch with catering by Dean & Deluca. I'm so jealous of the whole shindig. We made little "recipe for a good marriage" cards, and the hostess ordered pencils from one of my favorite Etsy shops, the Carbon Crusader. (If you click over to check it out, be forewarned. You'll spend a lot of time looking at ALL your options. I want these and these.)
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My mouth drooled while I made all the food labels for the Dean & Deluca deliciousness. I also loved the simple banner with the mimosas on the end. The colors were muted and classy, and the orange slices have to be some of my favorite cookies to date. They actually weren't as tough as they look!
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The invite isn't an RV original, so you won't see it in our shop. I like the challenge of starting from scratch and making a whole party pack for someone, but it's also easy to jump in and just do parts of the party decorations. It can be easier to match a "vision" for a party that way. The "how well do you know the bride?" game had the BEST questions on it. Some about her hometown, the groom, their relationships. I loved it!

Whenever our students wrap up a paper they write, they tend to say, "In conclusion..." even though we tell them NOT to every time! I can't resist it now. In conclusion, buy some pencils, order some cookies and parties should be fun.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

St. Patrick's Day and a New Shirt.

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I forgot! One more post from my trip to Philadelphia. This one, kind of like the other ones, is mostly for the memory book. My blurb books are all up-to-date in Kansas City, and I like the memories they hold. And ALL the words and ALL the people that I love. Kip will look through them a little bit, and I find they are easier to manage than the huge 12 x 12 scrapbooks I used to craft. Such great memories of two years in Virginia and all the adventures back in Kansas since I moved home.
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I had been faithfully wearing the same St. Patrick's Day shirt since 2005. I decided it was done. Toast. Not from excessive wear but because sometimes you should give up the size medium t-shirts that were too tight when you bought them. #realtalk

I bought our new shirts when we were in Manhattan, and I think they worked perfectly. It was actually so fun to spend the whole day in matching green shirts with Rachel's family. No green beer, just green cookies carried with love from Kansas City.

More love from KC available today on our RV Parties Instagram Feed. Click over here for the details and follow us @RVParties