Friday, May 23, 2014

Summer Manifesto 2014.

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Happy last day of school! Last night we kicked off the summer season in KC with Clips of Faith down near the Plaza. (Last year, here!) This year, I have a slightly shorter summer - five weeks instead of six - but I still wanted to craft a manifesto to have as much fun as possible between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Because really, that's summer. It was so fun last year to work on the list, and I am excited to start tackling this one as well.
  • Eat cheese slippers at Fervere.
  • Walk to Baskin Robbins. 
  • Eat at Foo's. Kip's never been, and it's so close to his house!
  • Eat lunch downtown.
  • Trip to Indianapolis to see Gabby graduate!
  • Take treats to Kip while he is working.
  • Read for fun.
  • Celebrate my uncle's birthday with Mexican food at the Buffalo Roam.
  • Have lunch with my sister on her lunch break.
  • Take one online grad school class about the best new books in young adult literature. 
  • Strawberries/blackberries/blueberries/tomatoes/peaches
  • Beat Kip at Putt Putt. Or at least PLAY mini golf with Kip.
  • Make a cocktail at home. Thinking that this one might be calling my name this weekend. Back-up plan: Paloma's
PS. I had about twelve more things on the list and cut it back after I read this post. Some of the stuff I cut was obvious - eat local veggies and grill out. Some of it might still happen, and that's a-ok too. 2013 had 20 items, so I cut back in general. And the other class I planned to take this summer was abruptly canceled, and I took that as a sign to just do less.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Return to Sporting.

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We decided to take in our first Sporting game of the year before they travel a lot for summer, the super stars go play in the World Cup, and while the weather was still cool. Lauren, Megan, Kate and I headed out to see Sporting play last Wednesday, and it was perfect. I have a theory that the stadium design helps the weather temperature, keeping it a little bit warmer than what it would be otherwise. So even though it was a little chilly while we ate dinner in the parking lot, it was perfect inside the stadium. It was a bittersweet game for us because it was one of our last hangouts with dear Meggie. She moved to Chicago and will be sorely missed!
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We're still pretty proud that KC won the cup. We sat in the Members Stand, singing and cheering along. I told Kate she couldn't leave for a beer during the pre-game rituals of fireworks, little soccer player fans and the team introductions. It's an awesome atmosphere.
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Probably one of the best parts of the game was seeing one of our 8th grade students, Hector, before the game. He's been at my school all three years and probably never willingly spoke to me. Sometimes I would coerce a short conversation out of him, but for the most part, he avoided me. I'm a teacher after all. But at the game, Hector came up to me as we were entering the gates! He started a conversation! It was the cutest and coolest thing. He works at the stadium, so if you see an awesome looking 14-year-old in the Members Stand, he could be one of our kids!
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It was Kate's first game, and we were happy to have her join! We missed our pal Abbey who is a season ticket owner but waiting on that baby to arrive. Abbey pointed out in the instagram that we both needed Sporting attire, which is TOTALLY true. I looked a couple times last year but never found anything I loved. I'm going again on Friday and super tempted to look at Kansas Sampler one more time before the game. Our team lost last week, but we had a great time anyways because Kansas City does sporting events well.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Penguin Party at the Kansas City Zoo.

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Picture overload ahead. Keep reading if you are my friend, love penguins or babies. 

For Mother's Day, my mom, sister and I went to the zoo and the children's theatre at Crown Center. Yep, we're grown-ups, but this was a perfect Luhrs Ladies outing to celebrate all the awesome things my mom does for us! We started the night at the "Party with the Penguins" celebrating 100 years of the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri and their large anniversary gift to the penguin exhibit.
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We hadn't been to the zoo in ages, and we kept our exploring to mostly the penguin and polar bear exhibits. They are both INCREDIBLE. We heard the polar bear zookeeper talk, and we learned so much. Their paws can be up to 12" and they are incredible swimmers. Abbey introduced us to Floyd (above left penguin), and the penguin zookeeper taught us about the eggs they are currently hoping will hatch into baby penguins. We loved seeing the penguins in motion and also just hanging out. Such "cool" birds!
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Junior League plans an awesome party - open bar, Gates BBQ catering and these hilarious penguin cookies. We loved sitting outside and enjoying a gorgeous evening and seeing so many people we know. It was definitely an event for multiple generations of Kansas City friends.
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We found the Gasper family in the face paint line. Baby Robert looks at me like this when he is afraid I might keep him and his mother might leave him. For the record, I watched the boys a week ago, and we got along perfectly. He didn't cry once.
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Gotta love these boys! James was a ferocious lion, in case you can't tell. Robert was just sweet.
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Our pals Traci and Joel were there, plus Abbey and Drew. We're ready for the baby to arrive!
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Karis was a floating butterfly, and sweet Cooper was way less camera shy after he got his face painted!
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Luhrs Ladies in front of the penguin exhibit. It's really incredible if you haven't checked it out yet! It was breezy and a bit overcast but still very nice at the zoo.
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Four generations here - and everyone looking at the camera. WIN.
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After our time at the zoo, we grabbed cocktails at the Jacobsen in the Crossroads. We had dessert (again) as well before heading to Crown Center to watch Schoolhouse Rock Live. It's the fourth time we've seen it, it's a family favorite. It was the "rowdy sing along" performance for fans 13 and up, and we loved it. Just barely raunchy in a couple places and also updated for the times. Their take on "3 is a Magic Number" was my favorite. It was appropriate to sing along, which we would have been inclined to do anyways. If you love Schoolhouse Rock, you should see it. One more weekend down at the Coterie!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Three Books of April.

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Three books and one has to go on your summer reading list if you haven't already read it. I'm a little bit late to the party on this one.

The Illuminated Adventures of Flora & Ulysses won the Newbery this year. It was good, but not necessarily my favorite. Kate DiCamillo likes talking animals and unlikely heroes, and it just felt very elementary to me. I wouldn't ever recommend it to a middle school student. In Kip's line of work, squirrels are often the enemy, so it was also weird that the squirrel was the super hero. I think I'm just more of a "National Book Award" reader these days - the young adult books fit my interests better most of the time.

We read The Headmaster's Wager for book club. It's about a Chinese headmaster who emigrates to Vietnam. His traditional Chinese school outside of Saigon is the backdrop for family drama, love and betrayal stories and the Vietnam war. The characters aren't all very likeable, but that's okay because war never really does bring out the best in people. It's good, especially if you read all the way to the end. It raises a lot of good discussion questions about love, family, betrayal and communism. We also discussed at book club just what exactly happened after the fall of Saigon because our collective history was a little fuzzy. I hosted and served takeout from Saigon 39 because their peanut sauce is just ridiculously amazing. The bun is good too, but I'm really in it for the shrimp spring rolls and peanut sauce.

Please read Eleanor & Park. Right now. Rainbow Rowell tells a beautiful he said/she said story about two teenagers from the wrong side of the Omaha tracks who meet and fall for each other in the 1980s. If you loved The Fault in Our Stars, then you'll love this book. I'm struggling to describe it to you but Ginny does a marvelous job. I read it in a single day and couldn't put it down, even while I rode in the car with Mom and Lauren to the swearing in. I want to talk to you about so many of the parts of this story, and I wish our students would read it too because it's engaging without being risque. And now I'm going to track down more of Rowell's books over the summer. She could be my new John Green!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Maddie's Baptism.

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This is a natural follow-up to the post from Tuesday where I talk about my dear friends being present for life's happenings. It's also a natural follow-up about how taking photos of kids is hard. Madeline looked adorable on Sunday in her baptismal gown, shoes with flowers on them and bow on her head. She wasn't interested in the camera though. Madeline was baptized at our church downtown, and it was a gorgeous Kansas City Sunday.
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Between members of their small group, our book club friends and lots of their family members, Jon, Erica and Maddie were surrounded by people who love them on Sunday at the church. I love the questions of baptism in the church where we all agree to love Maddie as our own and help her grow to know Christ.
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Here is part of our village (Maddie, Collin and Everett are the book club kiddos missing.) It's not a great photo really. Kip did his absolute best, but everyone was at the end of their morning ropes and the angle is a little funny. James was cajoled into standing on the ledge with the promise of chocolate milk (he was really thirsty). Sweet Reese fell off the ledge and skinned something after this photo (she fell off the back part, not ALL the way down to the ground). And the sun was terrible to look into. But it's a photo to keep because by gosh, it's nice to know that everyone was there to celebrate Maddie's baptism.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Burger Bash for Robert.

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Baby Robert turned one in April, and his parents threw a burger bash to celebrate. I did the custom invitation design for a backyard cookout, and it was the perfect casual way to celebrate Robert with his friends and family.

Burger, pickle, cheese and a bun
Baby Robert is turning one!
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Kate did a great job putting together a fabulous menu perfect for a gorgeous Saturday in April and rocking out some primary colors. It's amazing how cheery everything seems with a red & white check tablecloth as the backdrop.
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Big brother James is three so this is about the best photo I could get. He was in constant motion during the party, and the big boys at the party helped him fill his water gun enough times to have plenty of fun. A friend of Kate's made the adorable applique onesie for Robert. He likes to eat so the theme fit him well. We can't decide if later in life he will be embarrassed his birthday was planned around food...my guess is not. All the best parties have delicious food!
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Real talk: first birthdays are just as much about the grown-ups as they are the kids. Thanks for feeding us as well.
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I've known Kate's parents since they started taking me to the lake when I was a young college sophomore. We like to call them "The Judge" and "Fun Robin."
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We pretty much always are celebrating someone in book club. Baby showers, the arrivals of new babies, baptisms and first birthdays. I received my first dance recital invitation this week too! It's a pretty fun cycle, and I love any excuse to be together with these women and their children.
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And this guy. He tagged out on turkeys and was back in Kansas City in time to be my date to the burger bash. He's getting pretty good at this whole picture taking gig too. When he saw this photo, Kip said, "You're covering up the Throwback can of Miller Lite!" because apparently I wasn't doing it right. Whatever. Happy birthday Robert!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Four Photos of FUN.

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The last five days were a whirlwind of activity, fun, friends, babies and really good food. It bordered on too much fun because by Sunday night I was exhausted! All of these photos appeared on Instagram, but they each deserved a little more explanation and attention.

The action ramped up on Wednesday night with a quick dinner I made for Mom (she's converted to quinoa) and the official 100th anniversary celebration of the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. While there were plenty of people I knew and love to catch up with at the event, we also spent quite a bit of time talking to Mom's contemporaries. My mom was a fabulous example growing up of committing to the community, and she even served on the Board of Directors three times! In FINANCE. (That could be my worst nightmare.) The program was well done, we heard from KC Mayor Sly James, and enjoyed a glass of wine in the Bloch building before heading home.

Thursday, Kip, Lauren and I put on our boots for our first event of the American Royal season. We met quite a few of our BOTAR and KC friends down at the event, including Kate! The event was held on the rooftop of Sporting Innovations, and it was a pretty chilly evening for the event so we mostly hung out inside. We're returning as Governors for a second year, and we are looking forward to supporting the Royal in 2014. Related: I really need a new pair of cowboy boots.

After school on Friday, I scooted over to meet my friend Anne's baby Collin. I love to snuggle new little babies so very much! Later, Kip and I walked up the street to my friend/landlord's house for a Derby party. My friend Zach appeared briefly on a Food Network Show - Southern at Heart, and we gathered to watch the episode! His girlfriend Meredith went to middle and high school with Damaris, the adorable chef who hosts the show. To go with the show, they served a big pitcher of Mint Juleps, hot browns (YUM), and chocolate bourbon pecan pie (did you know they couldn't call it Derby Pie!?). We thought it was awesome to watch the show and get the behind the scenes scoop on how they put together a Food Network episode. I made this dip to take along (Martha Stewart said it was appropriate for the Derby), and we almost licked the bowl it was so good.

Saturday was time for the second annual Queso Crawl. We ate cheese and drank Mexican beer for several hours with a great group of friends. Los Tules continues to dominate the cheese offerings, but the patio at El Patron and the fish tacos with mango salsa were also a highlight of the crawl. My pal Amy pulls together a fun group of KC folks, and we enjoyed cheese, watching the Derby and KC's Mexican restaurants. Someone on instagram asked if we really had enough places for a crawl, and the reality is that we barely even scratched the surface of options.

Sunday morning brought baby Maddie's baptism (more photos pending) and lunch with another new baby. We ate on the deck and visited while Baby George slept in my arms for all of lunch and a little more. Invite me over, and I'll hold your baby. And probably bring granola. I really wish I had snapped a photo of Collin and George this weekend - they will only be little guys for such a short time!

While the last few days were totally exhausting, it feels like the beginning of the good part of the year. Lots of excuses to see friends, be outside, and love Kansas City.