Wednesday, November 30, 2016

K-State vs. Oklahoma State || Family Photos in Purple

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Kip took a weekend off hunting to attend the K-State v. Oklahoma State game on November 5th with us. It was an afternoon game, so Rebecca spent the afternoon with Grandma Karen, Grandpa Keith, and Uncle Kenny while we headed to the stadium for ribs and tailgate fun! Karen made us delicious cookies to take along to the game, and we loved the warm weather for a November game. It was nice enough for t-shirts!
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We stopped at the Alumni Center on our way into town to snag a photo for the Christmas card. A year ago we did the same thing in Manhattan, but it was freezing! We had to jump out of the car very quickly and use the tripod in front of the East side of the stadium. This year it was much warmer so we took our time at the Alumni Center getting the photo just right. We're the nerds walking around with a tripod, thank you very much.
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It's tricky enough to get Becca to look at the camera (she's so busy!), but it was even more challenging using the timer. Rebecca was so concerned about a little kid nearby at the Alumni Center that was crying and pretty upset. In the end, she did pretty well, and Mom got a great one for her card. She even used a couple photos of Rebecca for the back because she's pretty cute. We didn't plan our outfits, we all just showed up in purple and it worked. Funny how that goes in our family!
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I think Rebecca was a delight for her grandparents, and Kip and I had fun hanging out together just the two of us (and tens of thousands of K-State fans!). We were at the game until the end, and it was a heartbreaking loss in the final seconds. After the game we made our way in traffic to Kip's parents house, scooped up Rebecca and headed for home in the van. We stopped and got Panera on the way home, a perfect light dinner after the delicious ribs earlier in the day. Kip and I are both grateful for the family and friends who have welcomed Rebecca into the K-State routine. We are lucky to continue enjoying games together!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Rebecca Claire || Nine Months

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On the 17th of November we celebrated nine months of Rebecca! This little nugget goes for a check-up later this week, so while we don't know her stats just yet, we do know that she's scrumptious. Becca has a lot more hair, and it's starting to swoop over to the right nicely. It's also the same color that mine was when I was a baby, a little lighter than my hair currently is now.

Rebecca is busy! She crawls slowly around and still crawls after her toys instead of getting into trouble. She has discovered that when I leave the kitchen and living room and go into the office that she can follow me! She was pretty proud of herself.

Belle and Becca interact a little bit when Becca is laying on a quilt, but they mostly just co-exist. You can see proof of it in the photo above as Belle walked by and licked Rebecca's toes just as I snapped the photo. Besides mama and daddy, we're pretty sure Rebecca has a good concept of puppy and knows where to look for Belle around the house.
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The photos get ever more challenging, and we chatted at book club about how much easier we could make them for ourselves. Next kid I will know better. I wanted her to lay down on the quilt, and she wanted to sit up and look around. And I wanted her to sit on the chair, and she wanted to dive head first off of it.

We made some big transitions in sleep this month, graduating from the Magic Merlin to a Halo sleep blanket. She doesn't use a pacifier except sometimes as a trick to help her fall asleep, and while she sleeps with her black and white puppy in her crib, she doesn't tend to cuddle with it. Rebecca had some rough nights when she realized that she could SIT UP in the middle of the night. It was like she didn't realize that once she sat up she could lay back down. That's gotten a little bit better in the last couple weeks.
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Rebecca is wearing mostly 12-18 month clothes from Gap and the like, but we squeezed in one more photo shoot in her 6-12 month white onesie. We've transitioned totally to size 4 diapers as well. She has almost outgrown her size 2 moccasins, but we've got backups ready to go in the next two sizes because they are so easy to put on and go!

With her two little teeth, Becca is still willing to eat all the food we give her, starting to figure out food pouches on her own, and getting much better at using her cups with a straw. I think she eats everything daycare gives her too, and we're thankful for our hungry little bear. Rebecca takes three bottles at daycare and nurses right after school and at bedtime consistently. She's still up one or two times a night, but I go to bed hopeful every night that she will surprise me and just sleep through the night.
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And she's still got those sweet dark eyes like her daddy with the kissable cheeks.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Literacy Festival 2016

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When I taught in Virginia, I coached a Battle of the Books team and fell in love with the competition around books. I wrote about the background of bringing it to KCK back in 2012, and the event has grown since then in really neat ways. Our book lists reflect our diverse population and questions were written by district staff including yours truly! Last summer I read all of the six middle school books and created questions for the competition. Mom read all the books too because she's a fan of the book battle and young adult literature too. While I did a few other various tasks to start, Mom has always done the score room and I joined in the past couple years. This year we brought along the junior member of the team, Rebecca, to supervise while Mom and I entered the scores.
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We were over prepared for Rebecca, carrying along a little high chair that straps to a chair, tons of snacks, a stroller, and even the Ergo. As my friend Tara and Bill Snyder like to say, "Proper planning prevents poor performance!" Becca did awesome. We arrived just in time for her breakfast, and she happily snacked on bite size snacks and then played with toys for over an hour in her chair. She did a little crawling around, took a short nap in the stroller, and greeted everyone who came in before finishing out the day with more food in the high chair. In the photo above you can see how delighted she is with whatever is on her high chair tray! She had fun while we worked, but next year she would be way too active for lots of sitting with Mom and Grandma.
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Battle of the Books has expanded in KCK to include storytelling, poetry slam and debate, a true literary festival and the t-shirts for our students reflect that. Our sweet students just barely missed placing, but I've been enjoying chatting with them about the books including my favorite YA title of the year, Echo.

My mom always says that teaching skipped her generation, but besides my mom, I definitely come from a long line of teachers. I have fond memories of visiting my grandma Virginia at school when we had days off to see her little reading classroom. And my mom taught me school was important in other ways by not missing an event when I was growing up. She is still busy supporting our students regularly with whatever they need (and they need a lot).

As someone who always loved school, I hope that Becca also thinks it is cool to visit Mama at school. I don't have a classroom of my own, but because I am a site based instructional coach, I get to know teachers and kids extremely well. I want Rebecca to know that school is a very special place to be whether it is her school around the corner from our house or the place where Mama works.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Mer and Bex.

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The sweetest bonus from our trip to Texas was time for Merritt and Rebecca to play. We went back through and hashtagged Instagram photos of these two little girls with #merandbex, which is sure to stay a unique hashtag for the ages.
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Much like when we visited in July, I found some cute matching seasonal outfits for the girls. Halloween pajamas may seem like a silly choice, but not to me. For many of the years I've known Rachel, she has worn Halloween pajama shorts year round! I thought our baby girls could stretch the seasons in similar fashion. Rebecca wore hers again this week! They are super cute and cozy from Gap.
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I wanted to take some photos of the girls together in their pjs, but Merritt kept trying to crawl away so I corralled them in this Amazon box. Cutest delivery that every arrived!
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Rebecca weighs more than Merritt, so Mer was a little fussy when I put Rebecca in the box on top of her little legs. Merritt twisted around, got herself comfortable, and started to suck her thumb to make it all better. It looks like Rebecca is trying to get her attention in this one - I think Becca was super interested in what Merritt was doing all the time they were together.
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They are a darling study in contrast with pretty light eyes and super dark eyes! Merritt is much easier to hold because she is five months older and better at grabbing on. She also talks much more. When she says "please," it's about the cutest thing in the world.
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After Halloween pajamas, we put the girls in their "Cutest Pumpkin in the Patch" matching outfits from Old Navy for our time with Braden. It's a tie really for cutest pumpkin with these two. The little pumpkins on their pants were our favorite parts!
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No idea how we got them to look so cuddly in this photo, but it's killing me with cuteness. Merritt has lots of teeth - Rebecca just manages to smile in a way that her two teeth always show!
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We put the girls facing each other in the City Select stroller, and it was like having two little high chairs. Merritt is much more skilled at feeding herself using the pouches, but Becca will catch up soon. Merritt looks unimpressed with Rebecca's feet or whatever Becca is saying. I wish these two could tell us what they are talking about with each other!
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And finally, Halloween costumes - Madam Secretary and her friend the French Pumpkin. Both girls were overdressed for the October Texas weather but beyond adorable. And totally happy to leave their crazy outfits on which surprised me! It's fun to see Becca grow up alongside all of my best friends' baby girls.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Trip to Dallas, Texas || Team Braden Luke Update

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Not that many people read this blog anymore so it's safe to assume that everyone who does has been following along on the Team Braden Luke Facebook page or in other ways. The last time I was in Texas, my husband, baby and I were visiting the Scotts in Beaumont, and it was right before all of this started, and Braden was just not feeling well.

It's tough to put into words all the emotions from spending a weekend with these all stars, but there is no shortage of reminders that Braden has come a long ways and has a long ways to go. I wrote an update on their Facebook page while I was visiting, so I'm going to include that text here with these photos. I have always appreciated Rachel's updates when she posts about Braden's progress, and even more so after writing one myself. They are definitely a lot of work!
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Rach and Sol are definitely champions for this boy. They advocate for his needs, are super knowledgeable about his care, and celebrate all of Braden's progress. And Braden is awesome. He's an expert negotiator, made me laugh several times by playing games with the play-doh and pointing out the insanity of saying that the iPad needs juice. "It doesn't need juice," he said, "it needs ENERGY." I included a photo of one of my favorite poems that is posted in Braden's room and matched the mood for the days there and the great time in the sunshine.
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Rebecca and I arrived on Friday morning and stayed with the Scotts at their home away from home in Dallas. We spent about half of the weekend with everyone at the facility where Braden stays with some breaks to keep the kids entertained. Friday afternoon we took Merritt, Finn and Keaton to lunch at Velvet Taco and to the Dallas World Aquarium, Saturday we played at home a bit in the morning and in the afternoon I took both baby girls and Keaton on a walk to give them a short break and some sunshine.

When we were at the hospital, we spent a lot of time in Braden's room and in the small library right near his room to give Keaton more room for his wiggles. Rach has done a great job making Braden's room cozy, but it also breaks my heart thinking about how much time they all have spent together in hospitals since the last time we saw them. And the hours spent driving back and forth between Beaumont, Houston and Dallas too. The great news is that Braden is improving and has done even more amazing things since I was there!
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We were there for Halloween weekend, and per usual, Rachel outdid herself putting together fantastic president themed costumes. Rachel and Sol were dedicated Secret Service agents protecting FDR, Hillary Clinton, Abe Lincoln and George Washington. On Sunday morning everyone put on their Halloween costumes for a little fun and some photos.
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Sweet baby Rebecca didn't sleep great in a new place sharing a room with Mama, so we were up by 6 each day. On Sunday morning, we climbed in the van headed for Starbucks and the Super Walmart where we found a few final items to help complete the costumes. I found black felt and elastic cord for Finley's Abe Lincoln beard, safety pins for the FDR and Hillary buttons, and the perfect $5 aviators for Rachel and Sol's Secret Service outfits. I was glad to help in this little way! Because I was there on the weekend and had Rebecca in tow, I had to be a little more creative with the ways I could jump in and help. I did a lot of laundry and was so glad to just be with the Scotts. Becca was an easy accessory for the most part, happy to hang out in the Ergo, crawl around at home, go for rides in the wagon and stroller, and try to make Merritt love her. Her pumpkin outfit didn't fit Rachel's theme but was a lovely loaned costume that fit perfectly. We called her the "French Pumpkin."
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My pastor at home has given sermons several times about stretcher bearers. The sermon is based on the story Jesus tells in the second chapter of Mark about the friends who love their paralyzed friend so much that they go to great lengths to take him to the healer. I think that's what it's been like with Rachel and Sol. They are surrounded by so many stretcher bearers, people willing to go to great lengths to take care of all the kids, to sit with Braden in the hospital, to bring them food, give to GoFundMe or buy a t-shirt to show that they are Team Braden Luke. If you can, come sit with Braden if you have some time. Braden is a joy, and it is easy to learn what to do to help. Thanks for all the various ways that you have been stretcher bearers to Braden and the Scotts.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Six Books of October.

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Better Than Before is Gretchen Rubin's latest book, and there are so so many things about it to discuss. As I mentioned before, my cousin Sasha was my inspiration for the deep dive I've been on with Rubin's writing and podcasts. I chose to listen to this one as an audio book, so it was like an extended Happier podcast. The whole focus is on habits, and I definitely learned some interesting nuggets about habit change and reflected on a my own tendencies a bit. My mom also has been reading Gretchen Rubin's books and listening to the podcasts, so it has been so fun to bounce ideas off of her!

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen is a book that I picked up on a trip to the mobile library near my school. If you have not read a graphic novel yet, even though I keep offering great suggestions, this is another good one to try. So good that it's been reviewed by NPR as well. It is written for adults - young audiences would probably find her stories of food a little dry, but she is a food nerd and enthusiast perfect for our time. Maybe you should make that a 2017 goal - read a graphic novel.

Life After Life was the October book club book, and I was a bit in the minority because the other members of the group that finished it, LOVED it. I was very glad that we discussed the book at length because I may have missed a couple of details that we all put together when talking about it. (A common problem with middle of the night reading!) Kate Atkinson has a gift with the way she puts the story together, and while it can be a bit "groundhog day" at times, it's certainly a different look at World War II.

I had seen Euphoria several times at Rainy Day Books and in the middle of the night decided to read it since it was already loaded on the Kindle. It is very loosely based on the work of Margaret Mead and makes me think that cultural anthropology is a very weird deal. It was fine but not the best thing I've read lately.
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Two YA books to round out the month...

We're doing a community read! If you want to read The Tiger Rising and come join us for events during the second week of December, you totally should. It's a great book, easy & short, and we're hoping to have some great discussion based on the book. We decided to sell the book so that students might be a little bit more invested but sales are not what I thought they would be. So we'll probably give away a lot of them ($2 is a stretch for many many of our students), and I expect participation will be pretty good for our first community read.

Rhyme Schemer is a story written as a collection of poems, a genre becoming more and more popular for YA lit. The main character is the youngest of five brothers, so it's a story about bullying among brothers and at school as well as the power of words. I really liked it, and I'm excited to share it with students in coming months.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Fall Weekend Wrap Up || October 22-23

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This was another busy weekend in Kansas City. On Friday evening I worked a shift at the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri's biggest fundraiser, Holiday Mart. I'm hoping next year the schedule works out so I get a little bit more time to shop. The crowd on Friday night was super fun with a huge turnout for Ladies Night Out.

And then Saturday was another big day! It's hard to believe that it has been two years already since our fall was super busy with BOTAR events and getting married in November. Lauren served on BOTAR exec this year as the treasurer, a much more difficult job than my job as recording secretary. So many more details to keep track of and definitely twelve months of work! Mom wore her beautiful dress from my wedding, and I rented a dress from Rent the Runway and loved the color when it arrived. Lauren's dress was purchased from a Rent the Runway sale, and she had it altered to fit her perfectly.
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Mom and I were thrilled to join the fun at the Ball, while Kip stayed home with Becca Bear. It was a tough call but the cost won out (babysitter, tux and another ball ticket for Kip). I definitely missed having him there during the night! Lauren's escort Jesse was a tremendously good sport - the Luhrs Ladies are not short on energy, personality or opinions about getting the perfect photo, Instagram and snapchat. He did a great job presenting Lauren during the formal session of the night - they looked like a million bucks on stage!
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Dinner is always really late by the time the presentation and the waltz are done, but it was delicious. I ate until I was stuffed! Mom and I enjoyed our table mates, and we spent a lot of time catching up with other people we knew at the ball and loving the band that was new this year. The energy was great, and I wished Kip had been there to drag on the dance floor! I was wired by the end of the night from seeing so many friends and enjoying the music (and maybe the coffee wasn't actually decaffeinated) so I definitely didn't fall asleep until two am. By the time I drug myself out of bed on Sunday morning, Kip and Becca had already been up a while, and she was back down for a nap. I love them both.
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As a sweet bonus surprise to the weekend, Dad called right before the ball on Saturday night and said that he was in Lincoln with Spencer for the Nebraska game. He offered to fly down for lunch on Sunday, and we gladly said yes! Kip, Rebecca and I picked them up from the airport downtown and met Lauren and Jesse at BRGR downtown. It was delicious, and my mouth is watering just thinking about the onion straws, cheese dip and my amazing burger. That place is always fantastic.
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And all of us managed to wear red - though not all because of Nebraska! Kip's shirt is the new volunteer shirt from our church, and Lauren and I are rocking our Chiefs gear. Rebecca's "I Love My Dad" shirt was appropriately chosen by her dad when he got her dressed that morning. Sweet baby sat in a high chair and ate ALL the food for an hour while we were at BRGR. Glad we got a little extra time with Dad and Spencer in KC, and we are looking forward to Thanksgiving in Indianapolis!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Becca's Black Cat Outfit

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I took these photos in early October and used them to make some sweet cards for her grandparents. She was pretty sleepy and serious for most of them, but with a little food pouch in her belly, she brought out a few smiles. All these photos remind me I'm not entirely sure where this white bow is - I need to find it and get the bows I do have organized soon!
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Mom got her this sweet outfit from Carters with my blessing. Kip would prefer that we never bought her anything with cats as the decoration (he's not a fan), but this was too cute. There were matching black cats on her knees!
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Becca's starting to warm up to the camera a little bit in this one. Sitting on the front step is so distracting!
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I tried singing, clapping, whistling...she was mostly not impressed. The hands on her legs kill me a little bit.
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We had family photos taken with our pal Erica May a few weeks after this one at about the same time of day, but Rebecca took more naps during the day and ate a little bit more before those photos so I think she gave Erica way more smiles than she gave me.
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Rebecca kept me on my toes while I tried to capture her sweet smile! She was getting dangerously close to lunging off the stairs, and I kept singing, feeding her and shouting to keep her with me. God bless my neighbors for not thinking I'm too crazy, though I'm probably getting close. She's just too cute.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Becca's Toys

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While we have officially seen a couple of scoots forward that you could call crawling, Rebecca has been mostly very content to play in her corner of living room. We know this is short lived, and she will be all over the place very soon. Lately we have been grabbing this blanket Mom made her or a quilt my grandma Mary made and her basket of toys and plopping her down in the middle of the living room.
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Rebecca loves to pull the toys out a few at a time until she finds her favorite lids usually. My mom suggested the big lids from almond milk and orange juice jugs etc., and they are so fun. As Rebecca can't talk yet, I just have to assume she likes the way they click and clack together. They are easy to hold and put in her mouth too. The rest of her toys were kindly gifted to us, and she's doesn't discriminate. They all go in her mouth.
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This photo is probably my favorite. She will scoot up next to the box, peer over the edge and contemplate all the offerings before starting to pull stuff out. 

When Mom and I made our second trip to Hamilton, Missouri with Rebecca this summer we picked up the supplies for this city quilt mat. I love the city rugs that lots of people have in playrooms, but we needed something that could also be packed away if we needed the floor space. Mom added a lining and an adorable pattern to the back and quilted it together by stitching along the road with perfectly matching gray thread. She's so much more patient with sewing projects than I am, and it's nicely done.
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Rebecca is months away from understanding that the quilt is also a play toy, but we have it all set-up and ready for when she gets it. Mom even made an adorable bag to store it in that matches. I added a little jalopy from Bannor Toys, and we like it as much as the little state rattle Tracy gave us earlier this year . The wheels rattle which interests Becca, and it is just the right size for her to hold and put in her mouth.