Thursday, September 29, 2016

The First Kids' Book Club.

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The background story for this first kids' book club is one of my very favorite parts about the event. For months, when Leah would leave for book club, her daughter Reese (now five-years-old) would ask when kids' book club was going to be. Tara's daughter Fiona would get so upset when Tara went to book club because she thought book club was at the library, one of her very favorite places. Reese thought it was time that the kids got a turn too. She even started the planning herself, drawing out a map to her house for Fiona since they go to the same school. Finally, the moms made it official, and the first kids' book club was held earlier in September.
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As I've mentioned before over the years as we have celebrated baby showers and first and second birthdays, there are a lot of book club kids. Twelve of the fourteen gathered on that Sunday afternoon! I'm the proud godparent to a couple, and I think they are all perfect and adorable. Except on the rare days when they are making their mama nuts, then I am totally team mama!
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Our two kindergarten kids read the chosen Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggy book, The Thank You Book, to the crowd. Most of the babies crawled away, but Everett sat and listened like a champ.
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Abbey came up with the CUTEST craft for the kids. I am an upholder, so I appreciate when kids follow the model. But I also loved seeing what some of the more free spirited artists made. Everett's was covered in googly eyes. While Abbey now works in a high school, you could definitely tell she was a gifted elementary school art teacher too!
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Rebecca and Flynn are the two youngest babies in book club, and Flynn is about six weeks older. He's on the move unlike Rebecca who just wishes she was on the move! They have other things in common like a love of food, milk, mama in the middle of the night and showing off two little teeth.
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They were sort of interested in each other, and it was too cute. Leah said we should save these photos so we have them for comparison when they go to prom together!
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Rebecca loved the ball pit and holding the balls made her and the other babies so happy. They are easy to please! The kids ate dirt cups after their craft and had a great time causing general havoc in Leah's house. The next one has already been proposed with a Dragons Love Tacos theme, and I can't wait to see Becca get bigger to interact with more of these little loves on a regular basis.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Four Generations in Nebraska

 photo Blog_1412.jpgWe spent about 48 hours in Nebraska over Labor Day, and they were good hours. (Except for the ones when Rebecca thought we were there to party overnight.) It was fun to share the place my dad grew up and the place I explored as a kid with Kip and Rebeca. It wouldn't be a trip to Imperial without a snack at the Sweden Creme. I ordered the same thing I've had my whole life, essentially a dip cone in a dish with the magic shell. Rebecca promptly knocked it off the table - her first ice cream calamity! The kind folks at Sweden Creme replaced it for free.
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Dad found this throw back high chair in the basement, and even though her face says otherwise, Rebecca liked being a part of the action in the sun room. She ate some food and talked to everyone when we were out there. I've sat for hours in the sun room, playing games of cribbage and scrabble, working on puzzles, and eating at the kids' table at big family dinners. It's easily one of my favorite rooms in my grandma's house.
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Sunday afternoon we took Kip out to show him the Luhrs farm (since 1904) and explore my uncle's certified seed operation. When we arrived the skies were a very pretty blue, though a storm was rolling in as we walked around the farm.
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I've said it before, but sharing these places with Kip is very special to me. He loves to be outdoors and explore, and I think he enjoys spending time in the small towns and rural country surrounding them. I know he also appreciates the stories my dad tells about growing up with three brothers in the country. Kip and his brothers also got themselves into plenty of trouble!
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Rebecca knows what she wants, and apparently in this photo, it was Uncle Spencer's glasses. He was cracking us up while we were on the farm with a million questions about what it would be like if he came out and worked for Uncle Tom. His fear of inclement weather directed a lot of questions as he wanted to know exactly what might happen if he was working and there was a tornado.
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To add to the drama of all his questions, we watched a pretty good size storm rolling in from the west, creeping around the south side of the farm behind this combine.
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It ended up not hitting us though we were worried it might be a doozie - not good for Dad's airplane parked outside at the airport. 
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Spencer also asked a lot of questions about what he was going to drive if he was working on the farm. He'd been taking Uncle Tom's golf cart out of a spin in town, and he was also interested in the ATV on the farm. The big trucks worried him, including this old Dodge that my dad drove as a teenager.
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Rebecca is Grandma Mary's first great-granddaughter. It was special to share her with my grandma and also have an extended weekend with Grandpa Bob for quality generational time.
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We ate at a couple of restaurants while we were there, and Rebecca did better the first night than the second one. Imperial is on mountain time, so it was tricky to coordinate with a baby who wanted to go to bed at about five o'clock! On Sunday morning when she was up so early, I drug myself out of bed and loaded her in the stroller to walk for coffee at about six am. We walked down main street in the cool 60 degree temps and back down to the house. Dad came out, and we made another loop up and back to get Spencer some hot chocolate. We walked up and down on Monday as well as we waited for the fog to lift to fly home. As kids we were allowed to explore all over downtown, something that felt like a really big deal. At home in Overland Park there were certainly not little shops that we could walk to all on our own!
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And as required by such a visit, we took this four generations photo. Mary, Bob, Victoria & Spencer, and baby Rebecca. Lots of Luhrs love for this photo.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Five Books of August.

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We read Our Souls at Night for our anniversary book club, and it was a beautiful and brief book. Kent Haruf has written many wonderful books that are either hopeful or melancholy, and this one was a little bit about both. Two older individuals living in the small fictional town of Holt, Colorado very similar to the town where my grandma Virginia grew up. Kent Haruf wrote it while he was dying, and I think it's a very neat final work. Other Kent Haruf books here and here.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell is another fine work by the author though nothing beats Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, my two favorites. As someone who has done a lot of conversing over email, it's a little creepy to think about the two main characters emailing and then someone else reading it. And falling in love. I did really like all the characters though, so the creep factor was forgiven. It's also fun to read a book set in 1999-2000 and think about all the things we didn't know then about the internet that we do now! I think I was still chatting after school on AIM as Shutterbug83...
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Three kids books - and a reread! A first since I started keeping track of books back in 2011. Still loved Counting by 7s because of the wonderfully done characters and the way she can pull at your heartstrings. It's a book battle title for this fall.

Ruth Sepetys also wrote Out of the Easy, a young adult book I recommended to many people that we all enjoyed about prostitution in New Orleans. She has a way of taking a period in history and sharing the characters and setting in a really powerful way that hooks you in and transports you. Between Shades of Gray is like this but far more depressing as the main character is moved to Siberia by Stalin with her family. Not happy historical fiction for sure. Also a book battle title.

Hana's Suitcase tells the story of a Japanese woman who finds a suitcase from Auschwitz and uses it to teach Japanese schoolchildren about the Holocaust. We are going to see the play at the Coterie in early 2017, and I was happy to read this to be able to talk with the teachers about possible extensions and activities.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Rebecca Claire || Seven Months

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Our baby rarely has a mohawk, but when she does, I sure leave it that way. It was too cute to try to flatten it out when I was taking her seven month photos after school on Wednesday. Later she had a bath, and it was back to it's normal old sweet swoop.
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My camera lens (the 28mm) broke and was giving me fits over Labor Day, so we started September with a new lens. The 24mm is a much less expensive lens and my first "pancake lens." It's super fun to play with as it has similar effects to the 28mm but a wider frame. It has a very low profile and takes up less room for hauling around. My Canon Rebel Ti1 camera purchased while I was living in Virginia is still going strong!
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Becca is consistently sleepy after school. She's got a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and on a good day takes two twenty-five to thirty minute naps at daycare. Thankfully I don't think she is fussy for them when she is awake. She usually has a snack and takes a little power nap sometime between 4:00 and 5:15. It doesn't seem to affect bedtime (except for the disaster that is tonight!) and helps get her a little more sleep towards her overall daily total. She was a little sleepy when I was taking these photos but interested enough in Mama to be compliant. You can see she's singing and talking in one of these photos - Rebecca is busy and loves to participate!
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Rebecca is asleep before 7:00 almost every night and wakes up the next morning around 6:20 so that she can go to school with Daddy. We are transitioning from using a Magic Merlin for sleep to a regular old swaddle sack / sleep blanket, and she started sleeping on her tummy in the past couple of nights. I'm hoping this pays off because getting up two or three times seems excessive.
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With her two little teeth on the bottom, Rebecca is a champion eater. Once we gave daycare the go ahead, they have tried tons of food with her, and we don't have reports that there is much she doesn't like. Sometimes we take food pouches with us on the go, she will eat well off a spoon, and she will feed herself puffs, crackers, vegetables, cheese...I tried keeping a list for a while of the things she has tried and then had to give up. There were too many different things. She was even totally digging the burritos we had last night! Since we had a rough start with breastfeeding and sleeping habits, the fact that starting solids has worked is a big relief.

I have totally failed Becca in the sippy cup category. She has not mastered the "Wow" cup or the munchkin cup (or the other two I have tried so far), and I think she would like to be drinking more water like the big kid she thinks she is. And why are there so many different kinds of sippy cups? We will keep practicing!
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And these last two photos give a glimpse at what the monthly photo shoots are like. Putting the puppy in her mouth and flipping over to check things out as soon as possible.
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We don't normally take the photos outside on the quilt but the light was pretty yesterday. Rebecca's always happy outside too! Belle came by and stopped for a chat.
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And a quick kiss! Rebecca's sitting is awesome, and I don't worry about her toppling over all the time. She's definitely sturdy. This onesie is the size 6-12 months from Gap, and she often wears Carters 12 month and Cat & Jack 12 month. Even though it is late September, it still feels like summer, and we go most places without shoes and socks. Cooler temps and jackets will be here before we know it! We still call her Becca Bear most often and are currently researching bear Halloween costumes, obviously. AND we totally love her to pieces.

Monday, September 19, 2016


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Same baby, same bathtub...almost exactly five months apart. At two months old Rebecca was starting to get some more hair and wasn't too sure about the bathtub. But she was still pretty stinking cute.
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Now at seven months, Rebecca loves it! She's happy to get cleaned up as long as she isn't overtired! Becca sits up and splashes like a pro and tries to maneuver the little toy cups to her mouth full of bath water. Thankfully they have holes in the bottom and empty out before she can drink the soapy water! She's a sweet smelling delight for sure.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Flying with Grandpa Bob

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Labor Day weekend was full of firsts - for both Kip and Rebecca! They both went on their first airplane ride in Dad's plane and made their first visit to Imperial, Nebraska where my dad grew up and my grandma still lives. And it was the first time my grandma got to meet her first great-grandchild, Rebecca Claire.
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We stopped for Lamar's Donuts and met Dad and co-pilot Spencer at the airport in Olathe for the flight. I was worried about Rebecca's ears as she rode in the car seat during take off and landing, but she was totally fine. I think sucking on a pacifier helped her if she had any trouble equalizing. (She is neither a thumb sucker or a pacifier baby for us at home, though I think she does use the paci a little bit at daycare. No idea how that works out but it seems to be okay!)
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Our friends loaned us their baby headphones, and she didn't pull at them at all. Unlike the rest of us, they didn't allow Rebecca to communicate over a microphone, but as she slept most of the flights, it didn't really matter. The photo in her purple outfit is from the trip home on Monday. Kip estimates she slept about 90% of all the flights we took over the weekend. She did sit in the cockpit for a photo opp with Grandpa Bob and Uncle Spencer.
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Instead of heading straight to Imperial, we stopped in Lexington, Nebraska to see my first cousin Molly in her high school volleyball tournament. We arrived between matches and were able to visit with Molly, my aunt and uncle for a while before Molly's team took the court again. Volleyball is so fun to watch - I think it's one of the neatest team sports! Maybe Rebecca will want to try her hand at volleyball some day.
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My dad is the second oldest of four boys and my uncle Tom is the youngest. Spencer is almost eleven (which is nuts!) and in fifth grade this year. My cousin Travis is a sophomore in college, and it was the first time we had seen them since my wedding. It was nice to catch up for a little bit before they went on to Lincoln to see the Nebraska home opener.
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After lunch at Arby's, we climbed back in the plane to head further west to Imperial. Rebecca fell asleep again, and this time slept through the landing. I was even able to unload her and put her in the shade of the plane wing to finish her nap while we unpacked our luggage. She didn't sleep that well overnight in a new place, but she really was delightful almost every waking moment all weekend in Chase County. More about our adventures later...

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Littlest Wildcat.

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K-State's first football game was on the road at Stanford. While my sister Lauren was lucky enough to attend, we were happy that we could watch it at home while this little wildcat snoozed the night away. An 8 o'clock kickoff is well past her bedtime! One year ago, Kip stood on the football field holding this onesie (photos here!), and a year later he gets to hold sweet Rebecca wearing this same onesie.
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Kip looked at the photo from last year and said, I should have worn the same shirt as I did last year! I laughed because I almost suggested it but thought he might roll his eyes and think I was nuts. Good thing we're married to each other. 
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Rebecca is always happy to be outside and did a great job looking at her mama and daddy for these photos. It can be a bit rush rush after school as we hurry home from school and daycare, nurse, feed, take a bath and get ready for bed, but I'm so glad we made time for these photos on kickoff day.
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Rebecca's also sporting an adorable headband made by the ever talented Rachel. She made them in two sizes, and this one still fits, Becca just pushed it up somehow while sitting on the grass. The blanket was a gift from Amy Button Renz, the president of the Alumni Association and is the softest little purple blanket! My mom made a blanket for her daughter decades ago, and she wanted to return the favor with more purple love.
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My mom stopped by a little bit later and got in on the fun with a photo too! The Cats didn't end up with a win - and I ended up only being able to stay awake for the first half - but we're always optimistic about the team and season. The first home game is Saturday, and we can't wait to go! Rebecca is going to hang out with Grandpa Keith and Grandma Karen, but we plan to get her to one game this year for sure. She's got a little cheerleader outfit that I can't wait for her to wear when she gets a tiny bit bigger!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Rebecca Lately.

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I hope a big photo dump of photos will brighten your Friday morning! I was looking at my desktop and realized that I have a ton of photos of Rebecca that I had been meaning to share and save. Lots of Rebecca sitting around the house and looking really cute! The photos above are from Rebecca's first food experience with avocado and spoons. I don't think her look of shock was about the food but glad I captured it anyways.
 photo Blog_1399.jpgSome of my favorite Rebecca outfits are accidental outfits! I ordered bows from the fabulous Etsy shop Kinley Kate, and they included this very fun lime green bow as a free bonus. The onesie was part of a three pack I ordered for very cheap from Target to leave at daycare in case of accidents but I loved the pattern so much I kept this one at home. And the pants are 12 month ones that are already snug. Throw it all together for cuteness and about $6.
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She's sitting like a pro, though we did use the boppy for a long time just in case she toppled over. Our big living room rug has enough room for some rolling and sitting without a problem. When she starts really crawling...we're in trouble. As there is plenty of stuff to get into, there is definitely some baby proofing in our future.
 photo Blog_1393.jpgI did lots of research (reading Amazon reviews) to choose a high chair because we wanted one to use in the dining room that also worked at counter height as we eat at the new island often. What I didn't plan for was the mess. Really a high chair that you could take outside and hose off might have worked better! We try to stay on top of wiping it down after she eats though. It has two wheels on the back, and we often roll her into the dining room if that's where we are eating.
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I have no idea how so much yogurt ended up everywhere. Seriously, I'm the one with the spoon. But look how excited she is about everything? Her arms are in motion a lot!
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It's fun having her talk to us. She's learning that at the dinner table we talk about our days. I imagine her summary of activities at school is pretty lively! Before she was eating food and was mostly just sitting with us at the table, Kip once said, "I can't wait for Becca to talk to us and tell us what she wants." I thought, oh that's so sweet. And then he continued, "So we can tell her no." He was mostly kidding - pretty much so far he's not able to say no to this smiley delight. Last night he was putting her spoons away in the silverware drawer and said out of the blue, "Have you ever seen a baby so cute before in your whole life?"
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A couple of Saturdays ago, Rebecca had all the rainbows out in our house! Her new Mr. Clown rattle that click clacks, her train that vibrates and plays a little horn, a blanket and even her onesie were covered in rainbows! She was too busy sitting and playing with her toys to smile at the camera, and I think her furrowed brow is the sweetest.
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While she maneuvers well on her belly and pushes up on her hands, we've not seen a real crawl yet. But the sitting up, reaching, grabbing and putting everything into her mouth is also really super fun. All the rainbows for this sunshine.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Ten Years of Book Club

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I've been a member of the same book club since 2006. I found the email recently when Erica sent an invitation to a few of us to come over to her mom's house for the first meeting. The group of women isn't the exact same as was in the beginning, though it's been the same for about five and a half years. It's pretty much a closed group now - we have lots of other people we like, but this, for us, is it. The Chirates book club.
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We decided to do something big to celebrate, and with the fourteen children and babies in the group, we planned a special dinner out as opposed to a trip. That worked best for this year, but we're making plans to go somewhere grand in our post-nursing days. California - we're looking at you! YaYa's in Overland Park has a private room that sat the nine of us perfectly. We ordered wine, Tara chose wonderful appetizers, and we all had dessert too. This was our special night.
 photo Blog_1387.jpg Sometimes we feel like our book club doesn't get the kind of street cred it deserves. Yes, it's an excellent excuse for us all to get together and have a glass of wine. But we've read and discussed an astounding number of books over the past ten years (120!). And it has become much more than a once a month social event. This group of women doesn't miss the arrival of a baby, a wedding, a health crisis, special birthdays, and all the everyday adventures of life together in Kansas City. Many of us see each other in the weeks in between at daycare drop offs, church, trips to the park, football games, and dinners with our families. And in the weeks when I don't see anybody, I usually exchange emails, texts, and phone calls with a few of them. As they say, these are my people. photo Blog_1386.jpg We spent a great amount of time reminiscing, telling stories that are funny and also occasionally a little bit sad. Abbey brought her book journal to show us. Erica had given it to her many years ago, and Abbey has recorded every book that she has read in it. Her notes triggered talk of some of our favorite books over the years and also ones that we didn't really love. Then she gifted each of us with our own book journal and said a hearty thanks for "letting her" be a part since she's the only non-KSU Alpha Chi. Truthfully, we wouldn't be the Chirates book club without her so it was no sacrifice on our end.
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I made my first entry in the journal sitting at the table with everyone chiming in about things we learned over the last ten years of book club. Here are some of the highlights:
  • Proper planning prevents poor performance, as Tara likes to say.  
  • Nanette's mom, Mrs. Jones, taught us to just wait a week. Whatever childhood challenge tends to resovle itself.
  • Doodle. It's so much easier to schedule book club with it. We're an excellent mix of planners and "planner tolerant" who like to go with the flow.
  • Making the most of the Amazon Kindle (e-mail me for more details on this magic).
  • Come as you are. 
  • The importance of tradition! We have an annual ornament exchange each December.
  • Good girlfriends that don't squabble are hard to find but when you do, the highs are highs and the lows aren't as low.
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Nanette was super thoughtful about the thing she learned and emailed it to us later. I love it exactly as she wrote it. There are all sorts of different ways of being a friend. Sometimes we can give lots of time, other times lots of advice, and still others we have very little to give. But these friends understand that and that's why it works. We give what we have when we have it and we take what we need when we need it. And both are ok. Well said, Nanette, well said. I love this group.