Friday, October 28, 2016

Our First Floor || Currently

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Yesterday I shared some photos from before we started updating. Here are some after shots, closer to what our house looks like day to day with a few piles that are much messier and a pile of baby toys right in the middle of the rug.

You'll notice there is much less taxidermy - one critter per room is the current negotiated agreement. That's Roger the very big deer in our living room. The beaver pelt that used to be on the back of my favorite chair found a new home to save it from the possibility of baby spit-up. And my mom made us some very pretty pillows which keep our well loved furniture looking bright. Our wedding photos are predominately displayed and a cross I bought in 2004 when I visited my friend Kate in D.C., and we went to the National Cathedral. Oh the foreshadowing! I love to think about all the times I would go back and all the places the cross has hung since I visited.

Kip painted the walls because he loves me. And the ceiling because he loves me. Vaulted ceilings are the best (except when you have to paint them).
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We haven't really made any updates in this corner though we would love to update the bookshelf by ditching the scalloped trim and painting it white to tie in with the kitchen at the opposite end. It's totally possible, and we met with the nice guy who built our island about it so maybe some day. My books are cozy on the shelves, though I would like to reduce the volume by half. The entire bottom shelf is cookbooks, and I officially have more than I realistically use in regular rotation.
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The room has a layout that might seem weird but totally works for us with this love seat on the same wall as the sliding glass door. Sometimes there is a quilt folded on the edge of the loveseat, but most often it's on the floor next to the coffee table covered in Rebecca's toys. Her current favorite game is to pull all the toys out of the basket, but because she isn't crawling yet the mess stays pretty contained. My grandma Mary made this sweet Dick and Jane quilt.
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There aren't any changes to this corner of the kitchen, but this is definitely a shot that was missing from the "before" photos. Yes, I love having double ovens even if I don't use them often for sugar cookie baking. They come in handy plenty of other times.
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The new island is working out just as we hoped it would and the design fits us perfectly. We eat lots of meals here because we tend to start Rebecca on some finger foods while we finish cooking dinner. Lunches are assembled every night on the island, and it is the perfect size for our space. I purchased this small tray from West Elm because I wanted something to keep piles contained, and I can go through it about once a week and toss out papers and other things that have accumulated on the island. From the island you can see into the office/playroom and a sign that Kip bought me at Hobby Lobby that I still adore.
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The office has a piano that struggles to keep a tune (but it was free), Artie the antelope, and most of my office furniture from the old house. You can see that the bookshelf is starting to morph into a more Becca friendly set up with a row of bins for toys and books on the bottom. The second shelf needs an update too, and I know that I definitely need to simplify this storage very soon.

I can't ever decide about my desk because sometimes the height seems silly, but it also keeps things out of Becca's eventual reach. And sometimes my desk seems big, but it also allows me to manage lots of work in progress. I would love a much bigger and softer rug for this space as Rebecca plays in here more and more, but I love the overall feel of the room. It is the same color as the living room with double the pigment so a tiny bit darker.
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The dining room is also working out perfectly. I would love to add crown molding and more storage, but it fits us well right now. We often move Rebecca's high chair in to the table or use the booster seat that is strapped in one of the chairs that moved from my old house. The table was a wedding present from Kip's parents and custom built for us and this room by Unruh Furniture. It's beautiful walnut that Kip sourced for the guys at Unruh. We loved the process and highly recommend these guys! Kip installed this light and the lights above the island, and I'm not sure much more installation is in our future. It was a huge process and kind of an ordeal.

One thing I can't decide about is the entryway. We've kept a small table there but don't use it well for storage. Stuff just sits there as it is not directly in our path to and from the car through the garage. I can't decide if it is weird to have a more practical piece in the entry since you can see it from the dining room, but space is valuable and the number of coats, hats, shoes, etc. continues to grows with the addition of our sweet little nugget. Entryways are one of my favorite pinterest searches as I think about possible solutions.
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Mom made these sweet valances for the front rooms, and they make the windows nice and tall. We've also ordered new blinds for the entire front of the house, and they keep the old windows looking fresh. It's nice to have Kip and Mom to help with measuring projects as the math can sometimes make my brain hurt.
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Beatrice the Bobcat moved to the dining room, and it delights us constantly to hear our friends' kids say "Kitty cat!" every time they see her! You may remember that I gave Kip this illustrated map of the National Parks as a wedding present, and it hangs in the same frame as our wedding seating chart.
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But by far our favorite house update is Rebecca Claire. This little black bean eating nugget is so fun, and she adds a lot of life to our house. It's fun to think about our home will continue to adapt to the needs of kids and a growing family.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Our First Floor || The "Before" Photos

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When Jennie was visiting, I told her that I had a post pending with photos from two years ago of what the house looked like before we started updating. She totally thought I should post the photos, and they are really fun to look at and compare what it looks like now. Kip undertook a major remodel of the house when he purchased it about ten years ago, and two years ago he tackled many many more projects around the same time we were married. Because he loves me more than anything else.

This photo of the living room before I moved in cracks me up. Kip needed to get all the taxidermy hung up before his parents came to visit so he just put it ALL up in the living room and out of the way so people could sit. Thankfully this isn't what it looks like now, though there is still taxidermy. Besides a new paint color, we have a new rug and a new couch, though only the rug will stand the test of time. Couches need to be tough to survive in our house, apparently. We love the big fireplace in the corner, but sadly we've learned it is not safe to operate. That's $5000 we really don't want to spend on the structural improvements necessary for a cozy fire.
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The house is a split level with three bedrooms and two bathrooms above the garage and a large first floor. The layout has two rooms on the front of the house and a very open living room and kitchen in the back. The front rooms may look the most different from before I moved in. We decided to repurpose the formal living room on the front of the house into a large dining room big enough to seat my entire book club, family, friends, etc. The couches you see above made their way into our living room.
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Most of the homes in our neighborhood were built in the 1960s with small square dining rooms. I think these rooms work great for lots of people. Not extroverts who also like to craft and have a corner of space to myself. This room has changed a ton with the removal of the chair rail, a whole new paint color and totally different purpose. It's a room that makes me exceptionally happy and has proved very useful, and as Becca gets bigger I think it will continue to be so nice to have right off the kitchen.

Somehow there aren't any shots of the kitchen from before, but it doesn't look that different other than the addition of the island last winter break. While there are plenty of dream items on our home improvement list (new doors and windows, new mattress, new couch), there's not a lot we're currently tweaking and updating. It's nice to look back at these photos and feel like we've accomplished a lot in two years that makes our house a good home for us. Tomorrow there will be photos of our home as it currently looks after lots of updates completed lovingly by Kip!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Rebecca Claire || Eight Months

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Becca Bear is 2/3 of her way to one. She is really a delight and rarely fusses except overnight when she thinks we should still hang out, at least once. (Let's not discuss the times when it is more than once. Those moments are less thrilling.) Kip would be quick to add that one time last week at dinner she was exceptionally tired and sobbed her way through stuffing her face with roasted sweet potatoes, so she does cry other times.

Rebecca weighed about 20 pounds earlier this month when I took her for her flu shot, so that's a good estimation for Rebecca at 8 months. She is still wearing the Gap onesie in size 6-12 months, though she wears quite the assortment of sizes right now depending on brand.
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This sweet drooling baby has two bottom teeth (that's it, still) and a little bit more hair filling in. We noticed recently that it is lighter than we thought it would be and almost looks exactly like mine when I was a little girl. Wherever we take her with Kip, people always remark, "Oh, she has her daddy's eyes!" which is so very true. Lucky me to live with these dark eyed cuties!

Rebecca's favorite activities include eating, pulling toys out of her basket on the floor, reading books, walks, songs, and talking to Mom & Dad. She's a great eater, nursing a little bit less as she adjusts to lots and lots of food. While she will eat pretty much everything, we think it's so cute and fun when we find something she really likes and kicks her legs for more. Last week it was pears from Costco!

Her favorite toys are the classic Fisher Price stackable rings (both at home and daycare) and the large lids from orange juice and almond milk containers. She loves those things! As soon as she starts crawling, I am sure we will need to reexamine everything that is at baby level because she is certainly curious.
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Overnight she loves to cozy up in her pajamas and her magic merlin suit. Unlike most babies, Rebecca does not roll over in that puffy sleep suit so we keep using it! If she wasn't wearing it, we know she would be sitting up in her crib because we've seen her do it on the floor countless times, going from rolling to her knees to her bottom. But she's also not crawling, just thinking about it.

Randomly Rebecca will use a pacifier - she does at school for her limited napping - but she is never that interested. It's just an occasional accessory. I have no idea what this means, and it seems weird she would develop a preference for a pacifier at 8 months old! Her napping is much better for us at home, she goes down without a fight, and we're constantly brainstorming with daycare to see what we can do to help her get more sleep there.
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I took these photos while Kip was working last weekend which was definitely challenging. She wants to roll over and look out the window as soon as I lay her on her back, and she also started trying to lunge forward off the chair. Daredevil baby! She is in constant motion, so we'll see how she does at family photos with our beloved Erica May. We most often call her Becca Bear, and we really do adore that little bear.

Friday, October 21, 2016

K-State v. Texas Tech || Rebecca's First Football Game & Oktoberfest

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Before we talk about the game, I need to explain Kip's absence at the game! Much to their surprise, Kip and his dad "drew" antelope tags this year for Kansas. They were not expecting to get to hunt antelope this year, but they were excited for the opportunity. Kip and Keith headed out west to scout and hunt the first weekend of October, and though there were some close calls, they came home without antelope. Kip said something to the effect of thanking me for letting him go, but my response, without hesitation, was that I was so glad he went with his dad. That's very special time - four days, father and son together. We're about to enter deer season, so feel free to ask if I'm still feeling this patient in mid-November!
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So because Kip was hunting, Mom, Lauren, Rebecca and I loaded up the van and headed to Manhattan. Luhrs Ladies on the road! Rebecca was wearing another one of her darling new K-State outfits and because it was super warm at the tailgate, she was comfortable before we went into the game. And adorable, obviously.
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Besides her first football game, Rebecca was also attending her first tailgate. And it was Oktoberfest! A perennial favorite, they even had a wedding shower at the Oktoberfest game two years ago. Our adventurous eater ate pretty much a whole bierock by herself so she was really getting into the German mood! Sometimes Becca makes the funniest expressions, so I tried to capture all of them in the photos of her from her first game.
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We picked up mom's first cousin Becky Jo (also a Rebecca) on our way into town, plus we were able to visit briefly with some friends from KC that now live in Newton, Kansas. Joan and John Stretcher walked all the way over to say hello on their way into the game and meet Rebecca. (You can see Don Norton still in his official German/Kansas lederhosen in the background!)
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Rebecca's bedtime is usually between 6 and 6:30, so a 6:05 kickoff was a pretty tricky thing to pull off. The photo of the two of us in front of the stadium is a perfect capture of Rebecca's sleepy face. She was fighting sleep at this point!
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It was still nice as we were going into the game, and I carried a jacket for Rebecca, one for me, plus pants that I could put on her when it was time. We were both warm and cozy with the extra heat the Ergo provides. She was asleep in the Ergo before kickoff, a truly remarkable feat since it was Harley Day. Only a very tired baby can fall asleep with 100 Harleys roaring around the stadium. I went to find the nursing mom's room early in the first quarter, and while it was nice to be able to watch the TV, it would have probably been easier just to take her to Mom's car and about the same walking distance. The room at Bill Snyder Family Stadium doesn't compare to the one at the K.
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I had no idea what to expect, but Rebecca definitely woke up after eating and was awake for all of the first and second quarter. We took the baby headphones but they are almost impossible for the baby to wear in the Ergo because she keeps one ear pressed against my chest! They worked much better when we were flying with my dad to Nebraska.
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The good news was that even when she was awake, she was very happy! This blurry photo was too cute not to share, especially with her sweet little teeth. She bounced and looked around and was fine until halftime where I fed her again, bundled her up and put her back in the Ergo. She slept part of the third quarter and some of the fourth, screamed and cried until we got on I-70 and sweetly slept all the way back to KC. It was a lot of work, and I admire all the parents who take their babies to all the games. We are so fortunate to have family to help at the game, a RV to get out of the elements, friends that we sit with, and two loving grandparents a couple miles west of the stadium who want to spend time with her on game days too.

The other good news was that the Cats won, and it was a fantastic game. It was super fun to watch, and the weather finally felt like fall in Manhattan.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Jennie, Joe and Grace in Kansas City.

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Jennie, Joe and Grace spent September 30 through October 3rd in Kansas City, and we loved getting to spend at least part of every day with them. To sum up their visit: the girls were busy playing and the grown-ups were busy eating barbeque. Grace will be two later this month, and she was pretty into baby Rebecca. Here are a few photos from our adventures!

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They arrived in from Chicago late on Friday night, but we were all up and ready to go on Saturday morning! We put their girls in their matching outfits, and Kip made waffles, bacon and eggs before we packed up to head to Roe Park to meet up with other friends from KC and high school. One of our high school classmates had a darling little four-year-old who thought she should join in the fun with all the photos. Rebecca is oblivious to all the love. (But I am loving her little leg rolls in her leggings!)

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While we planned for the baby girls to match, it's just a coincidence that Jennie and I are wearing some of the same colors.

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After the park, we spent the afternoon at our house. We had lunch with my mom, Rebecca took a TWO hour nap while Jennie, Joe and I walked with Grace around the neighborhood and through Sprouts. We were inspired to make chocolate chip cookies by the bakery section, and Joe and I discussed the merits of measuring in grams vs. ounces while baking and how to use an oven thermometer to get a more accurate read for baking. Basically, we loved catching up on life and having the Conti family in Kansas City. It was their first time meeting Becca and the first time Kip and Joe met too!

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For dinner we grabbed Oklahoma Joe's takeout to enjoy at another friend's house in the backyard, loving the perfect fall weather. We would end up eating fantastic KC barbeque twice while they were visiting as we couldn't resist a chance to see everybody again on Monday AND eat at Q39. What can we say, we love when people come to KC and want to eat fantastic food!

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Rebecca made some hilariously concerned faces when we put both girls in the grass to snap some more photos, but in general, she was up for all the adventures while Jennie, Joe and Grace were here. She just wasn't too sure about the extra hugs! It is so nice to have these photos from their visit so we can watch how the girls grow over the years. Thankful for all the family time together in KC this fall!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Fall Weekend Wrap Up || September 24-25

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Yeah! Another fall weekend! You can tell Rebecca is excited about the extra mom and dad time. Or whatever music was playing at Cider Hill Family Orchard - she loves to dance when we sing songs or there is music playing! On Saturday morning the 24th, Rebecca, Mom, Kip and I drove out to Cider Hill to pick up some apples for making applesauce. 
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There were tons of people out to pick apples, but we really just wanted to buy them. This year the cost was the same whether you pick them up or pick them yourselves, so we bought our apples, snacked on some kettle corn, and enjoyed the new pavilion and the cool breeze. And what's cuter than a baby sitting on a box of apples? Not much I tell you.
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It was good that we got a jump start on the day because we had a lot going on! Lauren was a bridesmaid in Megan's wedding, and we were excited to be attending as guests. The wedding was at Jacob's Well in Westport, and the ceremony was beautiful. A pastor from Megan's childhood performed the ceremony, and she did a great job. Just like at our wedding, she had Megan and Rehaan turn around and look at all the people there supporting their marriage. Since marrying Kip, I always cry at weddings because I'm so happy to be married to him.
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Kip stayed home during the ceremony so that the time with the babysitter wasn't quite as long and met us at the beautiful reception site in the West Bottoms. Rebecca went to bed for sweet babysitter Grace, a big first for Becca. Previously only Kip and I have put her to bed! So when Grace text at 6:45 to ask for the wifi code and tell us Rebecca was asleep, I felt like I had won the lottery. Parents night out at a fantastic wedding reception for great people!
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The reception site, The Faultless Building, is the farthest north than I have ever been in the West Bottoms, practically at the edge of the river. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and we loved seeing the table centers that Megan & Rehaan used! Much like the boxes from our wedding, they found wooden boxes on Etsy and filled them with gorgeous flowers - and they used the same florist. I love all things navy so the navy and gold details were right up my alley. We joked that Kip could make some more and sell them on Etsy, and then I decided I was still glad to be out of the Etsy business

Kip declared the toasts from the wedding the best that he could remember. Megan's sister and maid of honor, Allie, recruited her brother to help with the toast. It was funny no matter how well you know the bride and groom - Kip was cracking up as well. Besides delicious wedding cake, they also had a s'mores bar with various candy bars. Kip's favorite dessert! Megan and Rehaan are both medical professionals in the Denver area, and we are so excited it worked out for these kids.
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Sunday afternoon we had a very special treat with a trip to Q39! Kip's parents were introduced earlier in September when they came to a soccer game for Kenny's birthday, and they couldn't wait to comeb back. We were happy to meet them for lunch, especially because Kip's aunt Sara and uncle Glen were visiting from Arizona. It is not a stretch to say it's some of the best barbeque in the country, and one of the best in KC for sure. Rebecca was sweet as ever; it's her specialty these days. Thankful for her easy going personality so we can take advantage of all the wonderful things about fall.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Five Books of September.

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I started September with The Happiness Project and have been on a deep dive reading and listening to Gretchen Rubin's writing and podcasts ever since. My cousin is a big fan, and it was time I got started reading too. This was an excellent read, and it made me really think about a few things. Especially the precious time I have with Rebecca and Kip each day and how that time could be happier. We're still trying to figure out how to get Rebecca to sleep more but reflecting on this book and what we can do to help, Kip and I decided that a big focus should be that I try to go bed earlier. It does help! Gretchen Rubin is intense, but the narrative way she writes is friendly. It's easy to take her suggestions and say, YEP, I could do that. Or, NOPE, not for me. If you want to start down your own Gretchen Rubin rabbit hole, start with the podcast, her quizzes, etc. And if you have just even the littlest itch to think about how day-to-day life could be happier, read the book!

Liane Moriarty did it again with Truly Madly Guilty. It's a captivating story that gave me a good dose of anxiety, so I read all 400+ pages quickly trying to get it all figured out. It's not exactly the same as Big Little Lies and The Husband's Secret, though she's got sort of a formula she follows. I'm still not sure I'll keep up with all her books, but it's easy to see why she has fans.

Exposure was our book club pick for September! I finished it but feel sort of "meh" about this Cold War British "spy" story. The reviews on Amazon were positive so it seemed like a good pick!
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Masterminds is one of about 50 books that I recently prepared book talks for at school. The characters all live in a small town called "Serenity" that is seemingly perfect. But something is definitely not perfect because when they try to get out of town to explore they are immediately sick and can't go on. I loved this one and feel great recommending it to kids! I will not keep reading the series though...this is a common theme in my reading. I rarely ever get past book one.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children just opened in theaters as a new movie, but I thought the book was creepy enough I do not need to see the movie. My book club cohort has almost all read the whole series, which is super fun! I needed to catch up since they don't normally all beat me to young adult lit. It gave me the heebie jeebies in the middle of the night, probably because the photographs that are included are so weird!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Fall Weekend Wrap Up || September 17-18

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Fall is delightfully busy. Weekends have a little bit of lots of fun things, and I wrote a couple of posts wrapping up fall adventures in bigger posts instead of multiple little posts. I've been enjoying playing with the new camera lens as we go from place to place and activity to activity. September 17th was our first game day weekend in Manhattan, and while Rebecca came along, she spent the afternoon with Grandma Karen and Grandpa Lynch instead of sweating it out at a 1:30 game. I'm pretty sure they loved having this sweet little nugget all to themselves!
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It was great to see many of our tailgate friends, though we are missing the Andersons and Strubes for sure this year! There was pulled pork, fresh salads, cold beer and delicious desserts. The tailgate is always a highlight for us - I'm already looking forward to Oktoberfest this weekend. We headed inside for the opening festivities including a very special flyover.
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Lauren opted out of the game, and Mom had extra tickets on the club level, so we enjoyed the game from up high. It was certainly warm, and I stepped back inside a couple of times to cool off. There are six home games this season, and our attendance will be spotty. We stayed a long time because I know Kip enjoys seeing the team in person and he won't be back for another game until November. Kip was on the record as very excited about our prospects for the season, and he's still optimistic even after the West Virginia loss last weekend!
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Kip and I walked a full loop around the stadium to stretch our legs. I was trying to figure out a few things and stopped a few strangers to inquire. Where did you get that adorable K-State dress? Where did you buy your clear backpack? Have they hassled you about the sippy cup you are carrying?

I have yet to find the adorable purple dress that we saw a couple little girls wearing, so maybe it was last year's style. And about the bag...K-State implemented a clear bag policy this year that we all find highly annoying, but we are making the best of it. I didn't buy a clear backpack because I'm an upholder and like to follow the rules, but I certainly did look them up on Amazon. I'm sticking with the free clear bag I was given. Rebecca will be fine without a sippy cup this year, but I do wonder what they will do at Bill Snyder FAMILY Stadium going forward. It doesn't feel super family friendly with the new bag policy.
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We drove home after the game because we knew we had a big day on Sunday with a block party right outside our house! Inspired by a series of sermons at church about getting to know your neighbors, I decided to bring back the block party. Years ago they used to occur regularly on our street, so I learned about some of the traditions and started planning. I ordered invitations from Etsy (our shop remains closed - and we're happy about that) and applied for the block party permit from the city.

Most of my prep for the party consisted of worrying about the party. I didn't get many RSVPs, so I set out to leave another flyer at everyone's house the week before the party as a final reminder. Delivering to the entire street with Rebecca in tow takes a while because I would stop and visit if someone was home. Kip helped me get the final reminders out right before the party.

As the date crept closer, I got a few more RSVPs so I was confident we would have decent attendance. I had a few people come even though they didn't RSVP, so the turnout was actually great! Of the 32 houses on our street, we had representatives from 18 homes. One of the residents has lived on our block for 54 years and another for 46 years, and I loved their living history of the neighborhood.
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There were a surprising number of kids! Many people remarked that they were surprised by this, so it was good to get everyone out to visit with each other. We have little babies and big kids too - three in the fourth grade even! Rebecca and her little buddy are exactly six weeks apart. She sat in her stroller and showed off her adventurous appetite during the party.

Our sweet neighbor Kathleen provided the driveway and all the pulled pork from Costco and a few hot dogs for kids. Because she provided main dishes, we were able to do a true potluck with everything else. No one signed up, but everyone showed up with delicious desserts and side dishes. Because no one was grilling, everyone could be visiting. Much to Kip's chagrin, I made everyone get a name tag (super helpful and people loved it), and one of the older residents suggested introductions. We've since updated the street directory and have a much better idea of who is living on our block!

The only thing we would change for next year? Start time should be 4:30 instead of 4. The kids loved having the street blocked off for bike racing - maybe we should get out some bike decorating supplies! Or a little ball pit for the babies (it was so popular at kids' book club). We had a blast visiting with our neighbors, and I'm already looking forward to next year.