Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Really Big December Wrap-Up.

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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'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.
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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!
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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...
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 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.
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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.
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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?
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!)
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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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 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!
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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!
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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.
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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.

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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

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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.