Thursday, April 30, 2015

Morning Routines.

 photo Blog_0945.jpg
We've been married for five months now, and I think if you asked me about marriage in the first couple months I only had one major complaint: the early mornings. Kip is in the shop ready to work by 6:30 every day, and I really should walk out the door by 6:55 to beat the students to school. The alarms (yes, plural) started going off about 5:10, and the shock was brutal. Especially because I went from NEVER snoozing to sharing a home with someone who likes the snooze button almost as much as he likes coffee. Research is on my side, however. Kip would argue that I'm in the minority in my snooze dislike.

So gradually I've shifted to getting up earlier and having more time at home before I go to work. It means I get to start drinking coffee earlier. I'm still late at least one day a week because I always think I can get more done in the morning than I really can. Mornings are better now, and I like starting the day with Kip. Ask me again in the summer when he has to get up that early and I don't. I'll either learn to sleep through it, kill his alarm clock or walk the dog. 

Being married to a morning person has some perks. Kip grinds the beans and makes the coffee, so I had to purchase that cute card at Paper Source and post it inside the coffee cabinet for him to see in the morning. He often helps with dishes if we both got too tired the night before. We've made getting breakfasts ready for him a team effort, and our freezer is always full of breakfast sandwiches and breakfast bowls. Kip used to stop at QuikTrip for breakfast nearly every day, but we can make similar items at home pretty easily. He just pulls one out the night before to let it defrost a bit in the fridge overnight. I still have a smoothie almost every morning thanks to the wonders of the Vitamix. And of course coffee. I can't even remember the days when I didn't start with coffee.
 photo Blog_0951.jpg
And in case you are interested in our make-ahead breakfasts, here's what we like and how we have modified to make them work for us.

Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches
We like that they are super easy to make in advance. The eggs magically pop out of the ramekin at the perfect size for the English muffins. The ham is yummy, though Kip has also made them a couple times using one pound of breakfast sausage made into six equal size patties and cooked before freezing.
We don't like that the eggs can sometimes make the ramekins tricky to clean. The egg/cheese/meat mixture warms up at different times, so Kip often microwaves just the egg first before the ham or sausage and cheese. And he throws the English muffin in the toaster so it doesn't get soggy. Total time here is still less than five minutes, I just want you to know the truth. People seem to exaggerate the wonders of heating breakfast in the microwave which is why I've stayed away from breakfast burritos. I have a tough time believing the eggs would get warm without totally making the tortilla a soggy mess. Let me know if you have a trick I'm missing. 

Country Breakfast Bowls
Kip likes that they are filling and warm. Our modifications include adding a pound of crumbled breakfast sausage and a little more cheese. I usually saute some onions and peppers (one of each) to add to the bowls too. I like the potatoes when they come out of the oven roasted and delicious, and there are always a few missing by the time they get into the bowls.
I don't like that they are kind a lot of work. Thankfully this recipe with the added meat, veggies and cheese makes 8 Ziploc containers, about 3 cups each.

Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal
Rarely in our rotation, but we've made enough times to appreciate these jars of oatmeal. Particularly good if I'm working out in the morning because I can take it and zap it at school. Kip likes that with 1.5 servings he can get pretty full. I like it with whatever fruit we have on hand. And we both like them with brown sugar. An excellent use of our mason jar surplus.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Spring Game: K-State in KC

 photo Blog_0989.jpg
K-State's football stadium is undergoing improvements and a major construction zone in anticipation of a new fancy north end zone for football season. The wise folks at K-State decided to move the game to the Sporting KC stadium in KCK and branded the day "K-State in KC." We haven't been to a spring game in quite a while, but a chance to hang out and see K-State football in our backyard was too good to pass up.
 photo Blog_0990.jpg
We "tailgated" before the game with some beer and snacks. It was a cold and grey day, and we definitely experienced some fine mist/rain as we waited for the game to start. Anne, Ashley and Collin met us out there, and I had fun trying to capture his darling facial expressions. He just turned one, and he's pretty awesome. After a while he even let me hold him!
 photo Blog_0982.jpg
We could get great seats pretty inexpensively and sat at the 50-yard-line behind the benches. They gave us an awesome view of the field and also kept us out of the wind that whips around the top of the stadium. Kip paid more attention than I did, but I think he enjoyed seeing some of the players, especially the freshman quarterback from Hays, America.
 photo Blog_0988.jpg
Erica, Jon and Maddie joined us for the game too, and the kids did pretty well! There's definitely a little more room for maneuvering in the seats here than at K-State. Kip captured this picture of Erica and Maddie - she loves everybody, Kip included. We had brunch the next morning after the Trolley Run, and she made a game of being passed around the table. We all obliged.
 photo Blog_0981.jpg
I've been inspired by the Blurb book I posted about last week to do a better job with vertical pictures. Kip and I are both wearing K-State shirts, but you can hardly tell with our jackets on. The Andersons did a much better job as a family wearing purple! Kip points out that it looks like Maddie is about to whistle for someone's attention.
 photo Blog_0980.jpg
We made it to the third quarter. I'd like to start a petition that maybe the spring game could be shorter. We got the idea after two quarters. However, I am sure there are hard core observers who learned a lot by watching the glorified scrimmage. I couldn't even tell you which team was winning when we left. Maybe the White team? Maybe Purple?
 photo Blog_0983.jpg
We were sort of hungry again as we left Sporting so we stopped at Panzons for classic Mexican fare. Mom told us that she and Dad used to take us when it was in downtown Lenexa, but neither Lauren or I can remember any location besides the 87th street classic that our family has loved for years. I think it's the perfectly fried flautas and blue corn tortillas on the enchiladas that bring us back.

It was a short preview of football season that is still four months away, and now we'll go back to baseball season. All the Royals games, all the time in our house. It's pretty spectacular. #foreverRoyal

Friday, April 24, 2015

Oh What a Year Book.

 photo Blog_0975.jpg
When I ordered the 2014 Blurb book, I was really excited for it to arrive with more of our wedding photos in print. All of these blog posts in the Blurb book chronicle the wedding and all the details in too much detail. (Probably way too much detail for 90% of the readers of this blog!) But I love the Blurb books with all of the blog posts and photos tucked together in one hardbound book, and 2014 was my 6th book.
 photo Blog_0976.jpg
But when the package arrived from Blurb, there was also a thin paperback book inside that I made as a surprise for Kip. It's almost exactly the same size as my hardback books, just thinner, so it sits perfectly in line with the Blurb books on the shelf in our living room. The cover says, "Moments - the very best of 2014."

To create the book, I brainstormed a list of things that I loved about last year. Obviously getting engaged and married were on the list, but it was an overall awesome year. We went on trips to Philly, Indy, Manhattan and on our honeymoon. Some of my other favorite things were little things around town - the Boulevard Brewery tour, eating cheese slippers and moving into our home. I included all the sporting events we went to and the BOTAR experience and had a fantastic collection of events from 2014.
 photo Blog_0977.jpg
The page templates were designed by Paislee Press, and I dropped the photos into the templates into Photoshop. I debated about doing a color scheme for the book but opted instead to use colors that matched the photos on a given page, reusing the same colors as much as possible throughout the book.

Normally when Rachel and I order from Blurb, we choose the standard page quality. I upgraded this thin book to the premium pages because I wanted to print full size pictures on the back of the small circle pages, and I didn't want the big photos to show through. Kip and I compared the two books, and I think it was a good call for this little book. I had a coupon, but even with the upgrade the whole project was less than $30.
 photo Blog_0978.jpg
Some of the photos are the professional ones that Erica May took for our engagement and our wedding. Others are ones that I took on my DSLR. And some photos were captured by my iPhone. This photo of Kip holding the strawberries was taken on my iPhone and printed crystal clear and sharp at 8.5 x 11. I'm often misquoting but Annie Leibovitz says something along the lines of this, "The best camera you have is the one you have with you and use."
 photo Blog_0979.jpg
The final page is a note about what a good year it was with one of my favorite photos of Kip from our wedding. I love photo projects, and I don't really miss the scrapbooking of my youth. It was expensive! But I do love finding new ways to record our stories with photos and in print. You could make a book similar on Shutterfly with photos and lists, and I think it would be sweet to do "Top Ten Things" about a kid at a given age or your own top ten book for a year. And if you're one of my very best friends, I'll even help you make one if you'd like. I take this memory keeping business very seriously.

Kip was touched by the book and thought it was very sweet. 2014 was one for the record books, but we both know that "The Best is Yet to Come."

Friday, April 17, 2015

Happy Birthday Erica!

 photo Blog_0968.jpg
Tomorrow, Saturday, is Erica's birthday. But I know Erica reads the blog first thing in the morning before school, so I'm posting it one day early. Here is a list of ten things I love about being best friends with Erica.

1. Erica likes to talk about school, specifically the really nitty-gritty stuff related to diagnosing struggling readers and responding to their needs. Often when we talk on our way to school we are trying to figure out what to do with kiddos or celebrating their amazing growth.

2. She is an encourager. Her love language is words, and she always listens and responds with love.

3. Walking! We have wrangled up our two black & white dogs and her daughter Maddie in the stroller for countless walks.

4. We have a shared love of Alpha Chi Omega and K-State. While we don't attend nearly the number of events we used to, we made it to Wine and Cheese to support the local alumnae chapter last week.

5. She bought "off the registry" for our wedding and gave us the pan we use almost nightly because it's the pan she also uses almost nightly.

6. We go to church with her family and get to see them most Sunday mornings. It's nice for one of the familiar faces at church to be one of your best friends.

7. She thinks it's normal to discuss what's on the weekly meal plans. We regularly ask each other, "What are you making for dinner this week?"

8. We like to host parties together. Soup swap, baby showers and wedding showers - we've done it all! She tends to not tell me I'm crazy either when we're planning something.

9. Erica gets along super well with Kip. That's pretty nice because I get along with her husband Jon, and I was actually friends with Jon before they even started dating years ago!

10. She's got the biggest heart. Erica teaches kids who need the extra love and encouragement, and she still has plenty to give her family and her friends. I count myself very lucky to be one of her friends.

Happy birthday Pal!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Career Fair.

 photo Blog_0966.jpg
Our school district is working on a few initiatives related to graduation and careers. The new programming starts with 6th graders and encourages them to think really long term about their life goals after graduation. We had our first career fair last Friday, and it was a great look at a lot of different job opportunities for our kids. I can't take any of the credit - my new partner Poonam took the lead and brought a format that worked at her old school.
 photo Blog_0967.jpg
The event was held in our school gym, dressed up nicely with special tables covered in tablecloths. Groups of seven or eight students rotated around various tables to learn more about careers. They moved without their teachers which I thought added a level of seriousness to the whole deal. Also, many of the kids dressed up and looked their best for the event. Sixth graders are super loud when they pass by my office in the hall, but for the most part are still darling little eleven-year-olds, super curious and respectful.

We had people in medicine, higher education, engineers, and some guests from some big companies around town - P&G and John Deere. Someone came from Sporting KC and let the kids hold the championship ring. (Overheard: "I'm never going to wash my hand again!") Most of the people came because they are friends with or family to someone who works in our school, which added to their positive attitude and the energy in the room. They were genuinely excited to be there!

Kip and Tara came to represent Ryan Lawn & Tree. Tara had some ideas for how to organize their ten minute sessions and brought all of her husband's gear to add to Kip's gear too. He set up his climbing rope through a basketball goal and let kids try on safety gear and his saddle. Truth to be told, his saddle fit a lot of the sixth graders!

I observed the sessions for a while in the morning, and I thought he did a fabulous job. He asked the students questions and answered theirs too! I thought he should have made a bigger deal out of being married to me, but only few kids made the connection. They might have thought he was a celebrity! (not likely) Poonam was teasing him that with all his gear he was super distracting in an awesome way.

When Kip and I were talking about it later at dinner, he told me that he thought it went better than he expected. I think he wasn't sure what to expect out of sixth graders. The kids asked great questions, and he figured out some ways to engage with them. I'm super thankful that Kip and Tara took time to be there, and now I keep asking 6th graders if they went to the tree guy's presentation last week. If they say yes, I say proudly, "That's my husband!"

P.S. Let me know if you want to be on the list for 2016!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

KC with Audrey and Mike.

 photo Blog_0970.jpg
My friend Audrey (another teacher leader in KCK) got engaged earlier this year to Mike. She was SUPER surprised and is SUPER excited to be planning a wedding with Mike. I told her last week that it makes me happy when nice people marry other nice people.

Audrey and Mike have family in Arizona and Oklahoma and make their home here in KC. They wanted to capture all these important places in engagement photos, so I agreed to help them with Kansas City. Audrey and Mike also wanted to get some photos with their dogs, Foster and Scout. We met down by Liberty Memorial and took a variety of photos with the dogs and the city as background.

I'm not going to be in the business of photography, but the stakes seemed low enough that I was willing to give it a try. We got some great photos that I loved, and I can't wait to see how they use the photos alongside ones from Oklahoma City and the Grand Canyon.
 photo Blog_0969.jpg
Kip came too so that he could help wrangle the dogs. He fed Scout and Foster a lot of dog treats! This is actually Kip's second time as dog wrangler - he also did it at family photos in Indianapolis in 2013. I don't think he's going to make it his career either, but I might sign him up again if necessary. We were happy to be out and walking around the city on a gorgeous Saturday in April.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Easter 2015.

 photo Blog_0958.jpg
Two years ago our church moved Easter services to the Kauffman Center in downtown Kansas City. It's easily one of my favorite buildings in town, and this year we went back to celebrate Easter. There were two services with over 1900 people in attendance. We arrived plenty of early to secure seats in the orchestra level.
 photo Blog_0957.jpg
The service was beautiful, mostly because the story of the resurrection is just so hopeful. The music was incredible - our worship band writes almost everything they perform - and they even added a choir for much of the music.
 photo Blog_0962.jpg
Sweet Madeline looked great in her Easter dress. She's getting so big and is well aware that she has a pretty captive audience wherever she goes. I'm definitely holding her snack trap on top of my head to keep her attention on me and the camera.
 photo Blog_0963.jpg
New Easter dress and new Easter haircut. I kept pestering Kip to figure out what he thought about his first trip to the Kauffman Center. I think he was impressed, but he also doesn't have a lot to compare it to. His family of three boys didn't think it was as much fun as my family did to see Phantom of the Opera and Cats like NINE times in various music halls.

I'm just guessing on the number of times we saw Cats. It probably wasn't that high, but we certainly listened to the soundtrack all.the.time. Our first cat was even named Macavity. You know you're a true Andrew Lloyd Weber fan if that name causes you to sing in your head, "Macavity's not there!"
 photo Blog_0961.jpg
We are really loving sitting around our big table with family and friends. Flower selection was limited at Hy-Vee the Friday before Easter, but pink and green ended up being the perfect colors for our cookie place cards and my new place mats from Pryde's in Westport. My sister and Ashley requested grapefruit juice to go with our champagne, and it was the perfect amount of tart to balance out the mimosas. I'm a convert.
 photo Blog_0960.jpg
I made hot cross buns. Twice actually because the first time I didn't knead the sweet sticky dough enough, and we had a block of bread instead of rolls. King Arthur Flour usually has foolproof recipes, but this one gave me a little bit of grief. They still tasted fantastic even if they looked not exactly like the photographs on their website.
 photo Blog_0964.jpg
My mom had a new dress for Easter too, but it's actually from her event the weekend before. She has been working hard for months on the Pi Beta Phi Centennial in Manhattan, managing all the finances for the event. They had over 700 Pi Phis attend their events, and as she points out, you don't have that many together except at convention. My sister also attend the centennial of her sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, this spring in Manhattan. As for my beloved chapter of Alpha Chi Omega? We'll be celebrating in 2047, and my pledge class will be pretty close to 65 years old.
 photo Blog_0959.jpg
And one last photo of the Lynches in front of our house. Kip's parents will be in town this weekend, and they haven't seen the house since before I moved in. I think they will be so impressed with all the work we've done, and we're happy to share it with each other and anyone that comes by.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Ten Books of March.

 photo Blog_0956.jpg
Ten books looked too crowded in one image. And probably in one blog post, so I'll break it up a bit.

Astonish Me is Maggie Shipstead's second book. I'm on record as not a huge fan of her first book, Seating Arrangements, so I didn't pick this one for a long time. I loved it though, full of beautiful writing and carefully crafted characters. It's about ballet, Russia, and family. Not everyone is likeable (my complaint about her first book), but it's so much better because the story holds it's own.

Out of the Easy was handed to me by one of the targeted literacy teachers at school. It's been lurking around the shelves at school, but I hadn't picked it up. I read the inside flap and knew I would like it because it takes places in the French Quarter in the 1950s. I know all the streets in the book and can picture it in my head. But hold up: the main character, who I adored, has a mom who is a prostitute and works in a brothel. YEP. It's definitely "off page" and never explicit, but I was a little bit surprised it's widely available at school. I've never seen a kid reading it so I suspect it doesn't appeal to a lot of our students. I loved it and promptly sent it to my aunt to read after her New Orleans trip!

The Girl on the Train is the buzz book and our March book club selection. It is constantly compared to Gone Girl, and I know why, but it's not really for me. It's too much of a thriller. If you liked Gone Girl, then go ahead and add this one to your list.
 photo Blog_0955.jpg
I started this series over spring break and finished it less than a week later. Le sigh. The Selection series is essentially Hunger Games meets The Bachelor. I know, you're sold too. It's incredibly easy (a high-interest, low level series for those of you in the biz) and addictive. During the second book, I realized that actually I am a 12-year-old at heart. This PG romance was good from start to finish. I was able to overlook my pet peeve that authors who write trilogies don't actually ever wrap up the story because I loved the story so much.

The United States is gone and replaced with a new country. The prince needs a wife so 35 women from all the castes (seven besides royalty) report to the palace to "compete." The main character, America, is from the fifth caste and leaves behind a boyfriend that she probably couldn't have married anyways because he is a six. It's very Peeta/Gale if you ask me. Book four comes out in May. Trying to resist the pre-order. It's not fancy, but it's awesome. I haven't binge read a series like that since the time I convinced all of my grown friends to read the summer series.

As an aside, if you do read this blog and have an upper elementary aged kid who may be interested in the Hunger Games thanks to the movies, this is a good substitute recommendation. It's intriguing and dystopia, but the violence (even though there are rebels!) is much tamer. There's no pointless killing of children until the third book, and when the one character is killed it is portrayed as a tragedy.
 photo Blog_0954.jpg
I also listened to three books this month. The Graham Cracker Plot was research for school, a book I want to order for our direct reading classes. It was read by a child actor, and it was a struggle for me to listen to the kid read the story. It's a good pick for our students, and I'll be ordering this caper tale for the fall when it comes out in paperback.

My mom and I both listened to And We Stay. It's young adult and follows Emily Beam as she starts at a private school in Vermont. In the months leading up to her enrollment, her boyfriend walks into the school and after threatening in the library, takes his own life. Emily is a poet conveniently studying near the home of Emily Dickinson, and the poetry makes it truly special. It's similar to Belzhar, but in a race, I'd recommend And We Stay.

Delancey is written by Molly Wizenberg who also writes "Orangette." I'm not a reader of her blog, though after finishing the book as quickly as I could possibly listen to it, I've looked up and read all about the restaurants she owns with her husband. Kansas City is a food town, so the memoir gave me an inside look at all the work it takes to open a restaurant. Spoiler: it's a crazy lot of work. I loved the way she reflected on the whole experience with her husband, and I even liked listening to the recipes read aloud. And now I want to go to Seattle.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Meredith + Zach's Kansas City Wedding.

 photo Blog_0939.jpg
I wrote about Meredith and Zach's story on this post about their shower at Minsky's. We were so glad to get to celebrate their wedding in early March! Meredith had two dresses but no one knew about the one she wore at the ceremony. It was long, puffy and breathtaking! She also changed into the short dress pictured above for the reception. It was perfect for a dance party, and she paired it with cowboy boots.
 photo Blog_0937.jpg
Their wedding was on a Friday afternoon here in Kansas City at Village Presbyterian Church. It's the fourth wedding I've been to at Village, and it's always beautiful. The light in the sanctuary is unmatched. One of the neatest parts of their ceremony was when they served communion. Watching the two of them stand at the Lord's table and lead us through the parts of the communion service together was so neat. Abbey made the communion set at the table - a really difficult ceramics project - and it was amazing. We sang many of the same hymns from our wedding, and the musicians were people I have known since my time working on staff at Village too.

Abbey and her brother stood on the groom's side with Zach and her brother who was in from California. All the maids wore navy dresses and either yellow or green beads that were so bright for spring. I made cookies for the members of the wedding party, and I pretty much nailed the colors. These little things made me happy as I love a good theme.
 photo Blog_0940.jpg
The reception was at the Vox Theatre, with delicious appetizers, food and donuts for dessert! They had awesome beer choices too! We saw many people that I knew from my time working at Village and loved getting to visit with them - and their sweet kids. Vera was wearing a darling outfit but refused a smile (she had a small cold!).
 photo Blog_0938.jpg
Towards the middle of their first dance, I noticed that more people were starting to stand at their tables and pull out instruments and begin to play. They started to make their way to the dance floor and by the end of the song there were 10 musicians all joining together - and making lots of noise as Meredith and Zach danced. I never did figure out how much of a surprise it was, but it was so neat to watch it come together.
 photo Blog_0936.jpg
It was the first wedding we attended since getting married, so of course I cried during the hymns and their vows. They were beautifully written, some of the best vows I've heard. I guess you should expect that from two pastors. They were also good reminders about marriage.  I made my husband dance all the slow songs with me as he's not much of a dancer. But it's like I told Kip, I went to a lot of weddings over the years without a date, and I love to have dance partner these days. That's a pretty sweet deal. Congratulations to Meredith and Zach! May you always have love and really cold beer.