Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Really Big December Wrap-Up.

 photo Blog_1171.jpg
At one point, I thought long and hard about doing a special little album for December, much like this one from a couple of years ago. I should have thought through this a little bit more though as this was definitely not the best use of my time. We were actually really busy doing all sorts of fun stuff - no time for another craft project! It's always a bad sign when I have these good ideas that I don't tell Rachel, my mom, or Kip. Because I know they will tell me to think it through a bit more and not bother. But here are all the photos that would have made up a little book.
 photo Blog_1172.jpg
Baby girl keeps growing and growing. I've been really lucky to keep working out with some walking and lots of Bar Method. Everything feels pretty okay still, I'm just getting a little bit slower all the time.
 photo Blog_1180.jpg
When you marry an arborist, you get a real tree. We picked a beautiful Fraser fir, and I loved having the fresh smelling tree in our dining room. I also loved that Kip was in charge of watering it and keeping it alive all month.
 photo Blog_1181.jpg
Our tree was from the same place where we took our wedding portraits last year. We purchased lights last year on sale from Target and actually want to add one more strand to the loop next year to make it a little brighter. Our tree is not fancy or themed..it's bright, cheery and full of ornaments I collected before meeting Kip and a growing number of ones that are significant to both of us.
 photo Blog_1173.jpg
Lauren and her roommate hosted their annual Christmas party, and we went down to enjoy the view of the Plaza lights and great food on a super warm Friday in December. I loved this red dress - but it doesn't look like it's going to make it to February. I might have outgrown it already!
 photo Blog_1176.jpg
There were lots of things baked in our house over the month! I made Christmas tree cookies to help raise money for Rachel's run in Boston for Braden. I made my new favorite peanut butter chocolate chip cookie and a chocolate espresso cookie too - plus lemon drops later in the month. There was granola and cranberry crunch muffins too. I did a lot of baking. (We're out of butter again...) Our sweet neighbor brought us this adorable fruit pizza - the best gift ever for a pregnant lady who can't get enough fruit! It was almost too pretty to eat. Almost...
 photo Blog_1177.jpg
 Mom treated us to the Nutcracker Ballet which was elaborately updated this year. We didn't really invite Kip, and he was happily left to drink a few beers with his work buddies at his department's Christmas party at Jack Stack in the Crossroads while we ate a quick bite and ran to the Kauffman Center for a fabulous production.
 photo Blog_1179.jpg
Last year we were newlyweds, Kip had the flu, and we were preparing for our honeymoon. There were almost no decorations. This year we were home, life was pretty calm, and our house was cozy. We used the Christmas napkins. I put flowers in a vase. Kip put wreaths on all the front windows, and the stockings were hung by the chimney with care. I actually loved having all the presents wrapped on the fireplace since we can't use it, and it brightened up the room during December.
 photo Blog_1175.jpg
I spent lots of time getting mail ready - Christmas cards, Soup Swap invites, and thank you notes. I tried to make a dent in my washi tape supply but actually still just have a ton of washi tape. Someone should really stop me. Maybe that should be my new years resolution - don't buy anymore washi tape?
 photo Blog_1178.jpg
We had more friends and family in our house during December than in many previous months. Our guests that came the furthest to visit were Vicki, Daniel, Gwen and Cameron as they came from Kyiv in the Ukraine! We were all charmed by their kiddos who speak Ukrainian and Russian. No biggie.
 photo Blog_1182.jpg
On Christmas eve morning, I went to McLain's to pick up cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning in Overland Park and also to take to Manhattan. I also grabbed a box of my favorite chocolate cups to share with my inlaws who also love pecans. It was warm and cozy inside the story, bustling with everyone picking up Christmas goodies. I loved it and would order again next year.
 photo Blog_1174.jpg
We had dinner at Seasons 52 on the Plaza on Christmas eve after church downtown. It was starting to feel more like winter by Christmas eve, and the food was delicious. And the Plaza lights never get old.
 photo Blog_1185.jpg
On Christmas morning, Kip and I exchanged gifts at home before heading to my mom's for breakfast and more present opening. There were moments all month when I really felt the realization of how different Christmas will be next year with a baby girl keeping us company on all our adventures. We really can't wait. (And neither can our families!)
 photo Blog_1184.jpg
When we drove to Manhattan, Kip pointed out the freezing fog on the grass and trees. We stopped at the scenic overlook driving into Manhattan to see it up close and take some photos. I can't remember seeing anything like it before!
 photo Blog_1183.jpg After Christmas, we kept working hard on the house, filling the freezer with food for when baby girl arrives, and seeing our pals. Erica, Em and their girls stopped by on the same day as our first actual snowfall. Dad, Tracy and Spencer came to town, and we had breakfast with them in our house as well!

I told Kip that it was the best stretch in the house that I could remember - I loved having people stop by for impromptu visits and meals at the dining room table. The house is a bit of a construction zone, but there really is never a perfect time, so it would be silly to put it off because of painting, installation and DIY projects.  There's always progress and tweaking, but all these visitors really made it feel like Christmas around here.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Top Nine Instagrams of 2015.

 photo Blog_1170.jpg
I have been loving everyone's "top nine" posts on Instagram with the posts that got the most likes from their Instagram feed during 2015. Unsurprisingly, my top nine has a lot of pink and baby related images! From the top left corner (and the most likes), here's a fun wrap-up of the year.

1. Kip holding a onesie on the football field. Her first K-State apparel - and definitely not the last we will make. I got so excited today thinking about baby Lynch and her new buddy Olivia in matching cheerleader outfits in a couple of years!

2. and 7. The pink donuts we used to tell our coworkers and friends that baby Lynch was a girl. There's been so much pink in our lives since that day at 20 weeks! Kip and his dad put in more insulation in the attic yesterday, and it was SUPER pink. Kip said, I knew there would be more pink, I just didn't know I would be decorating the attic with it too!

3. I have no idea why this first day of school pic was so popular, but I'm glad internet friends like to embrace my inner nerd. I made it a whole semester at the new gig, and I'm finding a rhythm with the work and in the new building. Plenty to do when I am back in January to "prepare" to take time off for maternity leave.

4. and 5. Growing belly at 26 weeks and 32 weeks. This belly is definitely more pronounced when I'm wearing workout clothes.

6. Our fabulous dining room table. It absolutely is living up to our expectations, but it's funny to look at it now and think about everything Kip has done since then! We added an island last week, new lights above the table and the island, and painted lots of different places. The table is solid walnut and was a wedding gift from Kip's parents, and we eat at it almost every night we're both home. Over the holidays, we've been able to have family and friends a few times and that's always a blessing too.

8. Family photo from the Plaza. This is totally a "cheat" photo that I took on my real camera and uploaded to Instagram but had to mark the occasion and the Plaza Lights. They truly never get old.

9. All the pink from my baby shower! Feeling so loved as we prepare for baby girl and think about how there are just 6-7 weeks to go.

Bowl Eligible Wildcats.

 photo Blog_1168.jpg
The last home football game (and senior day) fell on Saturday, December 5th. The whole weekend was a bit different than what we normally plan for a football excursion to Manhattan! Kip went up to hunt with his dad on Friday night (first weekend of rifle season), and Lauren couldn't go because of her work Christmas party. Mom had a luncheon earlier in the day and a meeting the next day, so I ended up driving to Manhattan by myself on Saturday. This was the perfect excuse to stop at Cabela's to shop for Kip's Christmas gift! I also stopped by his parents' house and visited with them in between their trips out to hunt.
 photo Blog_1169.jpg
At the tailgate, the crowd was smaller, but the food was my favorite of the whole fall! It was "steak day," and there was amazing fruit salad, potatoes and cookies to go with it. I was full and happy when I made my way into the stadium to watch Coach Snyder thank all his seniors. Related: have you read this article on the internet about the number of notes he writes each day? It's amazing. He goes through four felt tip purple pens a week.

Because we knew everyone's schedule was different, I sold our tickets to the librarian from my school who is a West Virginia fan (she had a great time, even though her team lost!) and sat with Mom up in the club level on the east side. I think this was my first time sitting upstairs for a whole game, and Mom and I had a great time! One side effect of pregnancy is weird stiffness in my leg sometimes, but I was able to move around quite a bit and still check-in on the game. It was not as cold (thankfully!) as the Iowa State game, and we never even needed hats! But Kip gave me a new K-State hat for Christmas, so I'm ready for next season's coldest games.

I made the trip home by myself after the game while Kip stayed another day to hunt. He didn't get a deer this year, but he did try valiantly for a few weeks. It all works out, and we have more room in the deep freeze without venison for all the meals I made preparing for baby Lynch. And he did get to sit outside in nature, truly one of his favorite parts.

The Cats were bowl eligible with this win over West Virginia and play in a bowl game Saturday. Our current plan is to tape the game and not check our phones after kickoff because we'll be in birth class. It was booked before the Cats were bowl eligible. Kip claims that we will "go into labor" and have to leave so that we can watch the game. But if there's one place where you can't get away with that, it's childbirth class. So don't tell us what's happening, we'll catch up when we can. Purple, through and through.

Thanksgiving in Indy 2015.

 photo Blog_1166.jpg
 Dad, Tracy and Spencer were here for a Christmas in Kansas City celebration the last couple days. Their visit was a good reminder I had some photos that I loved to share from our Thanksgiving trip to Indy still! Lauren and I flew out with Dad on the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week and had an extra day to spend with everyone in Indianapolis. We went to the Bar Method studio in Carmel, Mexican food with a big group of cousins from Tracy's side, and I saw the Good Dinosaur. Others have liked it far more than I did - I cried a bunch. The third through eighth graders I took to see it all liked it more than me too!
 photo Blog_1167.jpg
Kip flew in on Thanksgiving eve, and Mitchell and I bonded while picking him up from the airport after midnight. Flight choices were few and far between for direct flights from KC to Indy for the holidays! Thankfully, we were lazy for most of Thanksgiving. It was dry and warmish, so Lauren and I could take a walk before helping a bit to prepare the meal. There were three turkeys, and my dad's smoked turkey definitely was the star. We took pictures a couple of times as it progressed!
 photo Blog_1164.jpg
We took large group family photos outside as the sun was setting, and in general, I did a poor job capturing photos from the trip. I'm a bit sad about it because noticing how FAST these kids are growing up is killing me. Please reference these photos from 2011 and 2012. Mitchell graduates this spring and two of the kiddos will be in college. ALREADY.
 photo Blog_1165.jpg
And next year? A baby to add to the family photos! We're pretty excited. The end of 2015 means we're getting so much closer to her due date! This Christmas plaid shirt doesn't necessarily show the baby bump all that well, but there are plenty of other photos around that capture how fast the belly can expand. Thanksgiving weekend also marked our first anniversary, and I'm exceptionally thankful for this guy. He makes every single day better and brighter.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Three Books of November.

 photo Blog_1162.jpg
I finished three books in November. Finished is the significant verb because two of them I started way before and read in parts.

A Man Called Ove was the November book club pick. I missed the discussion for Thanksgiving break, but Tara said that in general our book club felt like Ove wasn't the most likable of characters. Maybe so, but if you liked Pixar's UP and have a soft spot for love stories along those lines, it's a good read. I like a good curmudgeon. I cried multiple times because of how much he loved his wife (and also because his wife was a teacher). It has some funny characters that dart in and out of the story, but it held me the whole way through. Highly recommend.

Carry On I purchased impulsively the day it came out because I loved Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl so much. This is the extended story of Simon and Baz that pops in and out of the fan fiction parts of Fangirl. After 500+ pages, it's safe for me to tell you that this is not a must read for anyone who loved Fangirl. I liked that it is probably a more accurate description of how Potter-esque magicians would have really acted as teenagers, but it's far too long. I started it, stopped it for A Man Called Ove, and returned to it to finish it. She got a little carried away with this one. (See what I did there? Carry? Carried on?)

Jefferson's Sons is written for students in fourth - eighth grade with an accessible, easy to read format. It is often heartbreaking as the author's historical research led her to write a probably pretty accurate of Jefferson's children with his slave Sally Hemmings. My mom has also read it, and I know it definitely impacted both of us as we reflected on our visit to Monticello back during my VA days. My book friend Amy at my previous school recommended it to me, and it didn't disappoint. (I started it as an audiobook back in July/August, but with my shorter commuter I found it easier to finish in the paperback version).

This brings my total book count to 62 for the year. Even though now we're feeling the crunch getting ready for Christmas and baby, and I'm getting really tired even earlier, it's been a pretty great year for books.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Cold Game in November

 photo Blog_1161.jpg
The K-State and Iowa State game on November 21st was super cold. We've done cold games before, but then from season to season we forget the true brutality of the wind coming in from the north. It was an eleven o'clock kickoff, so we piled on all of our layers in the car and headed west about 7:15 am. Lauren suggested a stop at John's Space Age Donuts in downtown Overland Park. Neither Lauren or Mom had ever been to this classic gem! It opened in 1967, and we're fairly certain not much has changed since it opened. It feels like you are stepping into the past. After we loaded a box of donuts into the car, we continued on towards Manhattan. I brought along the tripod for the camera, and I was poised and ready to take this family photo for the Christmas card right when we arrived. There were hardly any cars in the parking lot yet! Then we started to add all our extra layers of coats and gloves.

November 21st was a day where we were extra glad to tailgate with the Nortons and the RV. Everyone piled inside for breakfast casserole, awesome breads and rolls from Radina's, and fruit. Every time the door to the RV opened, another tailgate friend would walk in, pulling off gloves and extra layers, and we practically cheered! Hurray! You made it through the cold! Warm-up before the game begins!

The match-up was about how we predicted it would be based on K-State's season so far. At halftime, the Wildcats were down 21 points. We sat in the car just to enjoy the heat for a bit before braving another half. I grabbed a warmer hat and tightened the hood on the ridiculous old ski coat my mom kept around that could zip over my belly. I looked so absurd that a sorority sister saw me in the stadium and didn't recognize me.

K-State kept getting it closer and closer in the second half, so we stayed. Truth to be told, we didn't make it all the way to the end of the game. With about five minutes left in the game, my face was too frozen. Kip and I walked slowly to the car to meet Mom and Lauren. But as we turned on the car to warm up, we heard Wyatt getting really excited on the radio, and the stadium cheering. We rushed to a tailgate near our car where they had the game on TV. Iowa State blew their lead by fumbling twice in the final 85 seconds of the game, and K-State managed to score off both turnovers. A crazy Wildcat win that we celebrated at the stadium, just not IN the stadium!

It is sure to be remembered as one of the most classic of Farmageddon match-ups. We'll also remember it as the day Jon drove home to Kansas City to spend a surprisingly long night with Erica as they prepared for the early arrival of their second daughter, Olivia. And it was the final time that the Luhrs Ladies and Kip will pack-up for Manhattan without a baby girl. Lauren has a Christmas party this weekend, and Kip will be hunting, so Mom and I are gearing up for one more trip with a much warmer forecast.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Lucky Baby Lynch.

 photo Blog_1138.jpg
A couple of weeks ago, Erica and her mom, Marsha, hosted a very sweet shower for little baby Lynch. It was mostly family and my Alpha Chi sorority sisters, including Rachel from Texas. She brought baby Merritt, and we had the best time together. I hadn't seen Rach since my wedding a year ago! It's so nice whenever I have so many friends in one place, and I was lucky it was for a baby shower.
 photo Blog_1136.jpg
Erica and Marsha set up a lovely shower with many of my favorite pink things. I'm a huge fan of the pink champagne cakes from Three Women and an Oven, and as I've mentioned before, I can eat a lot of fruit. (You really don't want to hear about our produce bills!) They decorated with a few onesies and headbands that I got to take home with me. So many sweet details with loads of pink!
 photo Blog_1137.jpg
Buying maternity clothes for fall and winter hasn't been too much of a struggle except when it came to my baby shower. I wanted to have something that looked like a "girl mom!" Mom gave me this pretty blush colored scarf that I've been throwing on often, and Lu tried to arrange it so you could still see my baby bump. Merritt just looks panicked in the other photo, she actually had a lovely time and received many compliments about her cute Freshly Picked moccasins and outfit. 
 photo Blog_1142.jpg
Like I said, Merritt enjoyed herself - she took a nap for part of the party! Leah's baby boy will arrive next before my baby, and we are really enjoying swapping baby stories. I've mentioned the number of babies in our book club before, but our K-State pledge class will have nine babies between June and February when my baby arrives. It was a year for babies!
 photo Blog_1141.jpg
Baby Beckett came too, and he's getting to be such a big kid. He wants to put everything in his mouth and is getting so close to moving everywhere. He also looks just like his mama Nanette!
 photo Blog_1140.jpg
I was lucky that Jesi could come from Manhattan, as well as my mother-in-law, Karen. Everyone is pretty excited about a baby girl, though Karen could be one of the most excited after raising three boys!
 photo Blog_1139.jpg
When Erica offered to host a shower for me, she said, sorry, it will have to be really early! Her own baby was set to arrive in December, and she wanted to be sure to have the shower with plenty of time to spare. It worked fine for me, and it was nice to have the shower before the craziness of the holidays. However, there wasn't that much time in the end. Erica had her baby just a week after the shower, and they are both doing really great! I'm so glad that my baby will get to grow up with her baby, Olivia.
 photo Blog_1143.jpg
Dad and Tracy came from Indianapolis, and we had fun having them to dinner on Friday night at the house. The baby received so many wonderful gifts at the shower, and Kip is getting really tired of listening to me say, "It's just so cute! And little!" about everything I show him. At 29 weeks, we have plenty of stuff still to do to prepare the nursery and a few classes to take at the hospital, but with every little outfit, gift of bottles and burp clothes, it starts to feel a little bit more real all the time!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Forever Royal.

 photo Blog_1149.jpg
This whole adventure started on Monday, November 2nd when plans for the World Series parade started to take shape all over Kansas City. Districts started canceling school on Tuesday, and I thought, there's no way my district would call the day too. The logistics ended up being too much for us though - we would have had way too many teachers call in sick, not enough substitute coverage - and they called it! We've been referring to it as our "blue snow day!"
 photo Blog_1147.jpg
Lauren thought fast and called the Cashew to see if they were accepting reservations to watch the parade. She was able to get us a great table on the first floor right by the window. It was kind of expensive, but since the crowds ended up being more than any of us could imagine, it was definitely worth it.

I set out really early, leaving my house just after 8 am. Kip was going to do one big job at work and hoped to meet us down at the Cashew, maybe even taking a shuttle bus downtown so that he could get a ride back with me. It took me about an hour to get downtown and park at the Kauffman Center. I could have still parked on the streets, but the two-hour parking signs deterred me a bit. I was afraid of getting a ticket! Knowing downtown pretty well definitely helped me maneuver around and find somewhere to park, though in the end, everywhere was a mess.
 photo Blog_1146.jpg

I walked straight to the Cashew where there was already a line out the door, people waiting to get in at the rate of one in, one out. Thankfully because we had a reservation, I was able to get right in and find our reserved table. The next couple hours were a bit of a disaster as about 800,000 people also made their way downtown. Lauren and her friends from work tried to take a shuttle but the lines were so bad they had to find other arrangements. Kip tried to go to Kemper and take a shuttle but turned around after waiting on the exit ramp for 45 minutes.

I waited patiently for a while, but ended up really frustrated because I lost the ability to call/text so I really didn't know where anyone was. And they didn't have coffee - I was waiting to have my one cup of coffee while I read and watched the crowds! Our table right by the window was perfect for watching the crowds but also closest to the people taking their smoke breaks. We've forgotten how nice it is to go places and not have smoke everywhere! Once I was in the Cashew, I couldn't leave, which was too bad because our church was passing out coffee a few blocks away and our friends the Mills were also pretty close with their great seats. By 11 am, the crowds were so dense that normal moving around was no longer possible.
 photo Blog_1148.jpg
Lauren, Crystal and Abby made it sometime between 11 and 12, and I was so relieved. It was about that time that I finally got through from Kip - he was almost back home! In the end, I think he was glad that he was able to get a bonus day off and relax at home watching the parade and pep rally. We all ordered some lunch from their limited menu and started to anxiously await for the main events to start! Later I would find out how hard it was for people to find food to eat - servers called in sick and some restaurants downtown ran out of food and closed their doors.

The parade started after 12 and made its way towards us. We stood in the big open window, and we could all see each of the Chevy trucks as they drove by. It was so crazy, the crowd often chanting the names of the players as they neared us. Kip estimates we watched at least 100 games this year, and I not only knew the name of every player but almost all the coaches too! Our lives were so totally different during October as baseball games dictated our schedules. It was not uncommon to find us debating Orlando v. Rios, pitching changes, and agreeing on the superiority of the American League. Pitchers shouldn't bat. We know so many stories about each of these players after hours and hours of baseball watching, and it was fun to see them all in the parade. And at the end of the season, Salvador Perez is still the favorite player in the Lynch household.
 photo Blog_1144.jpg
I was pretty much ready to go after the parade passed us by after so many hours sitting and standing in the Cashew. Walking through the streets of Kansas City with the masses was fantastic - the skies had cleared and it was a beautiful day for November. It took me another couple hours to get home - most of it sitting in the parking garage reading a book waiting for it to clear out enough for me to leave. I wore my "second trimester" Royals shirt that Mom got for me free at the K this summer. She was kind enough to get an XL, and I wore it often to school for Royals dress down days. We still need to go shopping for Royals World Series gear!

Kip and I watched the pep rally later that night, and I marveled at all the photos people were posting of their families and adventures online. It was maybe one of the craziest things I have ever done in Kansas City, and I certainly wouldn't do it again. But by about 5 pm that day, I decided I would have been so sad to miss the experience. The estimates are between 600,000 and 800,000 people gathering for the event, numbers that are staggering and impossible to imagine. But it was peaceful and positive, something worth remembering and celebrating in a world where scary things happen all the time. My only regret is that Kip and Mom weren't able to come, but we did our very best with less than 24 hours to plan.

Who knows what next season will bring, but it's only 84 days till pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. I think this city looks to be staying Forever Royal for quite some time!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Park City.

 photo Blog_1156.jpg
Saturday morning, I drove over to the Salt Lake City Bar Method and took a quick class. (Bar hopping, they call it in the business!) When I returned, Kip and I loaded the car and headed towards the mountains. We tried to stop and get a waffle from the Waffle Love food truck, but the crowds were too much to bear. The mountains were calling, we had to go!
 photo Blog_1155.jpg
Park City is a quick drive from Salt Lake City. It's crazy to think how many people probably drive up to ski from Salt Lake on the weekends. It's a lot closer than any ski slopes to Denver. We were definitely in Park City between seasons. All the summer visitors were long gone, and there wasn't any snow yet for skiers. And it was definitely not yet time for Sundance. The quiet streets, empty shops and hiking all by ourselves fit us perfectly. It did mean the scenery was a little bit more brown than it normally would be during the peak summer or winter seasons.
 photo Blog_1154.jpg
We checked into our hotel on Saturday and changed for a hike. The paths weren't marked super well, and Kip was sure we were going one way on an easy path, but we ended up on a more moderate path with great views. We were the only hikers, though we met many mountain bikers along the path. I'm 100% convinced I do not have the endurance for that sport! Saturday was clear and cool, and we probably hiked for about an hour and a half. Kip will point out that I had to rest often (the elevation), but I think between the intense Level 2 class I took earlier in the morning and the thinner air, it was justified. And the pregnancy.
 photo Blog_1151.jpg
We stayed at the Stein Erikson Lodge at Deer Valley. It was totally a splurge, and in my opinion, totally worth it. Kip would say that it was mostly worth it. I ate an apple every time we walked by and drank the fancy water. We valeted the car and took the shuttle down to main street (and called for a ride home too!). I thought our lunch after our Saturday hike was delicious with a gorgeous view. Our room was really lovely, though I forgot to take a photo of it before we made ourselves at home. I think the outstanding service was my favorite part. It was really five-star.
 photo Blog_1150.jpg
Saturday night we explored Main Street for a while and ate a nice quiet Italian dinner. Sunday was Kip's birthday, so we slept in and went to a great place for brunch that was recommended by my bar teacher on Saturday morning. It was so yummy!
 photo Blog_1160.jpg
We drove around a little bit as we headed back to Stein Erikson Lodge, stopping to take a few photos of Park City and the surrounding areas in between seasons.
 photo Blog_1158.jpg
It's crazy to think how much this will change in the coming months. While neither of us profess to currently be skiers, we both have skied enough to appreciate the quiet before the barrage of skiers to the mountains.
 photo Blog_1159.jpg
Leaving the lodge, we walked down past the ski lifts for our trails each day. Since the paths weren't super well marked, the ski lifts helped us mark our progress. There were a few as we went that helped us know we hadn't totally lost our trail!
 photo Blog_1157.jpg
We thought Sunday's hike would be easier (the map said so!), but we did lots of elevation change over the course of our trip. It was colder and gray, but we were moving, so we warmed up pretty quickly.
 photo Blog_1153.jpg
This birthday was well suited for Kip. He LOVES to be outdoors, especially wandering by ourselves. He pointed out trees and any signs of animals as we walked though we didn't see any up close and personal.
 photo Blog_1152.jpg
After our hike it was sadly time to start wrapping up our quick trip to Utah. Kip had another beer at Squatters, and we looked in a couple more stores before heading towards Salt Lake City. We ate an early dinner at In-n-Out burger (still Kip's favorite meal from our honeymoon) before heading to the airport for a late flight back to Kansas City. The baby got her first taste of Pinkberry, still the only fro-yo I love!

When I think about the trip to Utah, I'm so very happy we went. I like to travel and see new places, Kip likes to be outside, and we both like to hang out with each other. The trip was just the right kind of long weekend for both of us.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Two Books of October.

 photo Blog_1125.jpg
October! So long ago and just two short book updates for you.

Why Not Me? is Mindy Kaling's second book. I'm a fan of Mindy, and I've liked her since she played Kelly on The Office. I just looked back at my review of her first book, and now I'm confident in saying that I liked her first book better. This is absolutely still a worthwhile read as Mindy provides lots of insight into the world of television (it sounds exhausting) and is still hilarious.

Monster by Walter Dean Myers is the story of a teenage boy (falsely??) accused of playing a role in a robbery gone wrong. Our 7th grade students read it, and it's always been lurking around but I had never picked it up. I can see why the students devour it, and Myers has a gift with the craft. He uses film sequences and diary entries to tell the story in a totally unique way. He passed away in 2014, and I am definitely behind catching up on his work. He also wrote Darius & Twig that I read earlier this year. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Friday in Salt Lake City.

 photo Blog_1126.jpg
When we went to Salt Lake City, it was still pretty warm in Kansas City. With Kip working outside each day, he was happy to hear the temperatures in Salt Lake and Park City would be much more reasonable than the weather in Kansas City. We've had a gorgeous fall in Kansas City, and Salt Lake City was just as nice when we were there. Kip wondered if we missed the peak of the fall color, but there was still plenty to admire.
 photo Blog_1127.jpg
We received wonderful recommendations about where to stay and what to do from my friend Kate and her aunt and uncle who live in Salt Lake City. Much like on our honeymoon, we took an early early flight west. We landed in SLC before 7:30 local time, so after renting a car we started towards breakfast. I found a really random breakfast recommendation on Yelp, and we enjoyed a delicious full breakfast with $1 cinnamon rolls and hot coffee while we watched the neighborhood around the shop wake up and go to work. We were there so early that our first tourist stop of the day wasn't even open yet, so we leisurely ate and drank coffee. 
 photo Blog_1128.jpg
We started the day at the Red Butte Garden, part of the University of Utah. They have beautiful gardens open year round as well as numerous hiking trails that extend up into the foothills. This was not my best hiking day as we weren't dressed quite warm enough for the chilly air and didn't change into hiking shoes. But as we walked up up up, the sun rose more and warmed us. We had beautiful views of Salt Lake City as we went!
 photo Blog_1130.jpg
We also spent time exploring the traditional gardens too! Kip reads all the signs to see different trees and shrubs and also points out everything we have at home. He recognizes most trees automatically, though I think he also loves to get stumped by a new one too. I loved the garden in the photo above because it intentionally was planted with beautiful things to bloom and feed the birds for all the seasons.
 photo Blog_1131.jpg
Compared to our honeymoon, there are far fewer photos of the two of us together. Probably because we spent so much time wandering in the wilderness and not encountering anyone on our hikes! Kip would have explored the paths outside Red Butte for much longer, but between getting up at 3:30 am and being pregnant at 4500 feet, I wasn't the best partner on Friday morning. I did my best!
 photo Blog_1129.jpg
I loved seeing what they had in their children's garden (the one at Winterthur is still my favorite) and couldn't get over these planters with cabbage and mums artfully paired together!
 photo Blog_1135.jpg
After Red Butte, Kip and I moved the car over the to the Natural History Museum. The architecture of this place was amazing, and Kip made sure to point out all the local copper that was used in the design. I love learning new things about Kip - and he knew about the various LEED certifications that buildings can earn when they are built for environmental certifications. Learning about it was part of his major at K-State!
 photo Blog_1132.jpg
Museums like this are a natural fit for Kip. He is full of natural history information, and he easily serves as my tour guide. We saw the most beautiful exhibit about the Birds of Paradise in Papua New Guinea, and Kip could add to the story because he'd already watched a documentary on National Geographic. I've decided Kip is an auditory learner because he sure keeps track of a lot of information he heard once on a tv show.
 photo Blog_1133.jpg
We followed the path through the museum, learning about weather and Native Americans in Utah, stopping at every skeleton, till our stomachs growled so loudly we couldn't process any more new information. Lunch was relatively inexpensive for a museum cafe, and we could sit outside admiring Salt Lake City while we ate. Then we went back for the dinosaurs (all discovered in Utah!), and more fossils and skeletons. I thought this was a fantastic dinosaur exhibit.
 photo Blog_1134.jpg
After the museum, our early wake-up call warranted a nap at our hotel, the history Peery Hotel downtown. Before dinner, Kip and I walked to Temple Square. We toured a visitors center briefly before walking back towards Squatters Pub. We wanted to be sure we could find seats with a prime view of the ALCS game 6. For the next four hours we were glued to the TV, watching a ridiculous Royals win. I was so glad they won because otherwise we would have spent Saturday night glued to a TV in Park City as well!