KMUW – New Digs

Have you see KMUW’s new digs? Their new space downtown is amazing. I wish my office were half as cool. Here are some pics.

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Funny story about visiting the KMUW office… I was there the other day to pick up tickets for the Kathy Griffin show tonight at Stiefle Theater but not before driving all the way over to the old location on 17th Street, across from the Wichita State University campus.

I was actually at the Wichita Business Journals office just moments before getting my picture taken for 40 Under 40. I missed the photo shoot a couple of weeks ago because I was in Topeka all week. Kellen was nice enough to schedule a make up photo session. He took a few photos but it was really quick so I thought, “This is great. I have time to pick up my tickets before running back to work.”

I was on auto pilot so, without a further thought, I drove to the KMUW office on 17th Street. I hopped out of the car and tugged on the door that wouldn’t open. I was like, “What the heck? Why is the door locked?” There was a sign posted on the door but it didn’t occur to me to read it until I realized that I couldn’t get in. The sign said they’d moved to 121 N. Main #200. That’s the same building as WBJ and I was just there. FML.

I still had time so I decided to drive back. This time I saw all of the KMUW signage in the parking lot. There were quite a few because the spring pledge drive was going on. I can’t believe I missed all of those signs. All I had to do was walk upstairs. Seriously. I was already there. I was a little bit irritated at myself but then I figured that the universe was telling me that I needed to take a break from work. The last few weeks have been insane. It was a nice day for a drive.

Shit happens. You can get mad or you can just roll with it.

Warren 21 – It’s About Time

When Brian and I first started dating almost 20 years ago, we went to the movies a lot. Probably at least once a week. Sometimes even twice. This diminished over time partly because of the rising cost of going to the movies (after paying for the astronomically price movie tickets and buying concessions, you’re completely broke) but mostly because the experience of watching movies in the theater really wasn’t that great.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. There was a period of time between 2004 and 2007 when we didn’t go to the movies at all and it was strictly because of our finances. We were paying off debt (we kind of did the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace thing even without knowing about him or the concept) and going to the movies was one of the luxuries (among other things like monthly massages and dining out) that we decided we could live without on our journey to becoming completely debt free.

It’s amazing how much disposable income you really have when you’re not a slave to credit card bills and outrageous interest. I think one of the moments of clarity for me was when I looked at a statement and saw $600 in interest. You can buy a lot of stuff with that! And that was only one card! Granted, it was the one with the highest balance, but it should give you an idea of how much debt we had accumulated after a short amount of time. We were paying so much money in interest and not getting anything for it. We both realized that the amount we were paying in interest could pay for the things we wanted/needed outright instead of buying on credit.

Long story short, we paid off all of our credit cards by 2007 and decided to never again borrow money for stuff. We lived a pretty minimal lifestyle. If we couldn’t pay cash for it, we didn’t need it. By 2008 we didn’t have any car payments. And, after not having monthly debt payments, we used the extra money to pay off my student loans. We missed our goal of paying off my loans by 2012. I think it was January or February 2013 when were finally fully paid.

We don’t buy new cars because we don’t like the monthly payments so when I got a car a few years ago, we pretty much paid for it outright. We didn’t want to wipe out our savings account so we financed it for a year and then a year later, when we had saved up enough, we paid it in full. In the case of Brian’s car last year, we just saved and saved and saved until we had enough to buy him his car. That’s pretty much our MO these days to maintain our debt-free lifestyle, we just don’t incur any new debt.

The only thing we owe money on is our house which is the only monthly payment we make besides utility bills. Without two $400 a month car payments, $500 a month in student loan payments, and however much in credit card payments, we really can go to the movies as much as we want. The cost is no longer in the equation. Why then we’re we going more frequently, considering that it’s Brian’s favorite pastime?

One could argue that after a couple of years of forcing ourselves to not go to the movies, we’ve worked it out of our system and simply had no desire to go. If you look at our busy schedule, you could also argue that we’re just too busy to go the movies. Yes, we are super busy but we still found time to watch movies at home. We both really enjoy watching movies (Brian probably more so than me but, I’m not going to lie, I enjoy it too) and nothing is better than watching it on a giant movie screen.

The bottomline is that watching movies at home was a far better experience than watching them in the theater (giant screen and all). We don’t have a giant TV but it’s a decent size. It looked bigger in our old townhouse than it does in our basement. We could probably get a bigger TV but this one works so we don’t need one. The basement is really comfortable and we have the best seats in the house. Even the balcony experience at the Warren doesn’t compare.

Don’t even get me started about the regular theater. Crying kids, chatty teenagers, and (for the movies that we really want to see) you’d have to endure waiting in line or get there early for good seats (because everyone else wants to see them too). I have to be smack dab in the middle of the theater. I’d rather just watch the movie when it’s released on video than watch it in the theater with bad seats. It really doesn’t take long before movies are available on DVD any more these days.

When Warren 21 opened a few weeks ago, we didn’t clamor to it on opening day. I guess we were a bit skeptical. How much could it have improved the general movie watching experience? Honestly? We’d probably still prefer to watch movies at home, right?

Brian and I decided to test this theory last weekend. I owed him a reward for helping with the map painting project at Prairie Creek Elementary with Old Town Rotary. Brian’s favorite rewards are video game playing time and going to the movies. He’s easy that way. Plus, he’d been wanting to see Captain America: Civil War.

We were originally going to take Nickira to see the Jungle Book but she was in trouble for keeping her room clean. Her mom said she had to stay home and clean her room instead. Brian lucked out and got to pick the movie.

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Warren 21 is like a theater within a theater. You still enter the theater through the main entry doors like you usually do but then, to get to your theater auditorium, you enter another set of doors. These doors remind me of the entrance to an exclusive, fancy nightly club only accessible to very special people. When the theater attendants simultaneously open both sides of the door in unison, you suddenly hear the sound of angels and it’s like the gates of movie watching heaven just opened.

They’ve really tried to elevate the entire experience (and succeeded). Concession is even upgraded. You can order things that aren’t available at the regular concession stand like real food and alcoholic beverages.

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In the auditoriums you sit in recliner seats that are amazingly comfortable. It’s reserved seating so you never end up in a bad seat unless you intentionally choose it. Obviously, Brian and I picked seats in the middle because that’s how we roll. LOL.

There are no screaming kids or unruly teenagers. It doesn’t take long to figure out how to lay back in your motorized, fully-reclining, heated seat (though we didn’t need the heated part last weekend). The only thing left to do is kick off your shoes and enjoy the movie. Bill Warren is definitely on to something.

Yes, the tickets cost more: $12 matinee and $16 evening. After concessions, you’re going to spend upwards of $50. Going to the movies these days is definitely not cheap but, if you enjoy the experience, then it’s worth every penny.

After our Warren 21 trial run, Brian and I came to the same conclusion. We’re putting going to the movies back on the regular date night rotation.

Old Town Rotary Map Project and Feeling Grateful

Brian and I got to help with our first Rotary map project over the weekend. Well, Brian got tricked into helping and I wasn’t going to go at first. I didn’t find out about the project that Misty’s Rotary Club (Rotary Club of Old Town Wichita) was working on until the day before. I told her that I was teaching Zumba that morning and couldn’t make it. I really wanted to help but my Zumba class fell right in the middle of the time we were supposed to be be painting. She said they would start at 9 AM and, since Prairie Creek Elementary is right across from the YMCA branch that I teach Zumba at on Saturday mornings, Misty somehow managed to convince me to help. I figured I could go right before my class and then come back to continue helping right after class.

Brian was initially going to just stay home and do house chores while I went to help with the map project and teach my Zumba class. However, I managed to talk him into “dropping me off” at the school. I told him that he could “drop me off” and then I could just walk across the street to the YMCA when it was time for class. I also bribed him with Scooter’s Coffee, which he couldn’t refuse.

Because we are sickeningly punctual, we arrived at the school right at 9 AM. There were only a couple of people there. I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough people to help and so I asked Brian, who was only supposed to “drop me off” at the site, to stay and help us. A good number of people showed up to help a little bit later that morning so Brian probably didn’t even need to stay. I think he was glad he stayed though, because the painting project was right up his alley. He’d be reluctant to admit it, but I would venture to say that he actually had fun. Besides that, doing volunteer work every once in a while (despite being tricked into doing it) is good for the soul.

Even though we started late, they made good progress while I was in Zumba class. By the time I walked back to the project site, they were almost completely done. Here are some pictures of our map painting adventure…

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Getting the map template to stay down was kind of tricky because of the wind. Lucky for us, we had a few people who worked on these map projects before so they were pros. They knew exactly what to do and were prepared with milk jugs filled with water to line the perimeter of the template and keep it from blowing away.

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With the template down, we had to chalk all of the holes. This would leave dots that would serve as an outline for us to follow for painting the map.

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Based on experience, they knew that the East Coast would be tricky so those lines had to be drawn before removing the plastic completely.

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Lots of going back and forth between the ground and template happened to check and double check that the lines were drawn properly and no states were missed.

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It’s not difficult to mess it up because the East Coast consists of a bunch of tiny states.

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The lakes are also tricky so those lines had to be drawn before removing the template as well. The template tried to fly away a few times but we managed to hold it down long enough to get all the tricky parts out of the way.

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After the lines were drawn the rest of it was cake.

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When I returned from my Zumba class, we had way more volunteers than paint brushes.

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Having lots of people there to help paint made painting the map go quickly.

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The map was complete before long. It just needed a few touch ups to make the lines more crisp and the colors pop.

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Another cool thing about last Saturday was meeting Andrea and Donovan’s handsome dog Tank for the first time.

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They live right by the school so it wasn’t a long walk.

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Tank is a bit of a ham as you can tell. LOL.

Anyway, last Saturday reminded me of how truly lucky I am to have Brian in my life. I have often complained about not being able to be at two places at once so, even though I want to participate in everything, sometimes I just have to pick and choose and then I feel bad for having to say no to people or missing out. Well, with Brian’s help, I can be at two places at once. I really wanted to participate and help with the map project but I knew I couldn’t be there the entire time. Brian was there to help when I couldn’t be and they actually got an upgrade because Brian is far more talented at that stuff than I am.

Today, it was much the same. I had multiple things that I wanted to do: attend my friend Cari’s party, spend time with Nickira, participate in Zumba in the Square, and get some yummy dinner from the Kamayan Truck. Brian helped me so I could do it all.

I made an appearance at Cari’s party before picking up Nickira from her house. We went home so I could change into workout clothes and pick Brian up. Brian dropped Nickira and I off at the Zumba in the Square event while he went to pick up dinner from the food truck event. We got to enjoy a delicious dinner and then had ice cream for dessert at Churn & Burn after.

As an added bonus, I even got to spend time with my mom. Dad dropped her off at the Zumba thing so she got to hang out with us the rest of the evening and we gave her a ride home. She went with us for ice cream after Zumba and then to drop off Nickira back at her house. Then it was mom’s turn to be dropped off.

Double bonus, I got to see dad as well because we stayed a little while to check out dad’s basement project when we dropped mom off. Anyway, I am super blessed to have such a loving, supportive husband without whom I couldn’t possibly do everything I want to do. Thank you for being awesome, baby! You make my life – correction, our life – great!

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Shaking it for a Cause

I participated in a Zumbathon a few weeks ago in support of my friend Jen Cole’s bid for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Woman of the Year. If you’re going to do volunteer for a cause, it might as well be a fun one! Right? Right!!!

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Brian even helped by taking photos and videos.

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We didn’t have the door code so we had to wait for Abby to let us in. We made good use of our time by taking a bunch of photos.

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We had six instructors — Jen, Missy, me, Andrea, Charis, and Nick — teach four songs each plus a warmup song from Nick and a cool down song from Jen. Everyone picked out some awesome songs. I put together the playlist and I was astounded by how well everyone’s songs worked together. It was 90 minutes of nonstop party and the best playlist I’d ever put together.

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These are the instructors who happen to be some of my favorite people: (clockwise from left) Charis, Andrea, Jen, Nick, Ching, and Missy.

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This is definitely my kind of volunteer work!

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Obligatory “before” photos with our Woman of the Year candidate, Jen Cole.

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Look at these guys and their matchy-matchy shirts!

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I love Missy. She’s so vibrant!

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We had a pretty good turnout also.

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I don’t particularly enjoy squats but I recently realized that almost every song I do in class has squats in it. If we’re not squatting, we’re doing a bunch of jumping jacks. I guess that’s why they say it’s exercise in disguise. You’re having a great time dancing around and don’t realize that you truly are exercising.

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Here are some videos of us in action.

Nick warmed us to the tune of Damelo.

Meghan Trainor’s Better When I’m Dancing with Jen.

This is the song with a bunch of squats in it.

Merengue Choque. I love watching Charis and hearing Nick’s laughter.

Konsey, Konsey, Konsey!

Andrea led us through Lindsey Stirling’s Roundtable Rival.

There’s a ton more videos on YouTube. I won’t post them all here. Just head on over there to watch the rest.

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Courtney and Andrea won Zumba shirts!

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A few people had left already by the time we remembered to take a group photo. It was such a great turn out. I’m grateful that I was able to be there and support Jen and help raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

If you missed this event and want to shake it with us, don’t worry. We have another event coming up. Come join us for Zumba in the Square tomorrow night — Friday, May 19 — at 6:30 PM. We will we right in front of the Warren Theater downtown.

Hope to see you there!

Kansas Leadership Center

Have you ever been inside the Kansas Leadership Center?

It’s a beautiful building on the corner of Douglas and Topeka. As you know, my office building sits between Topeka and Broadway on Douglas. I’ve been staring at this building for a long time but have never been inside. The building looks amazing during the day but it’s even more majestic at night when it glows from within.

I made a friend at the Kansas YP Summit a few weeks ago. She gave me a tour of the building and even let me take pictures. None of my photos are as good as the two photos from the Opus Group above but it gives you an idea of what the inside of the building is like. My pictures really do not do the building justice. You’ll just have to go and check it out for yourself one of these days, if you haven’t already.

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This art installation is supposed to mirror the one in the Ruffin building.

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There’s a large commercial kitchen where a chef prepares healthy meals for the employees everyday.

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Beautiful wood stairs that lead to the second floor.

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Here are some pictures of a couple conference rooms.

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This is a great collaboration room.

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Here’s a picture of the cubicles. All offices have them.

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Here’s the second floor kitchen area so you can make yourself feel right at home.

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One of the training rooms.

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All of the walls are painted with dry-erase paint so you can scribble anywhere.

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Another training room on the same floor.

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This is the library area between the two training rooms.

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They used to let people borrow books but they don’t anymore because some of the books never came back.

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The top floor is a blank slate.

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I couldn’t get a picture of the auditorium because there was a leadership training in session that day. I grabbed this one from the Opus site also.

The Kansas Leadership Center building is so beautiful, inside and out. I hope that you all get a chance to check it out. Huge thanks to my new friend Amy Nichols for letting me swing by and taking the time to show me around. I really should have taken notes because I can’t remember most of the interesting factoids she told me when I was there. Oh, well. I guess that means I’ll need to have a do-over. LOL.

YMCA Strong Community – Champion Social

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Since I doubled my pledge to the YMCA (pretty much giving up all of my paychecks this year), Brian and I were invited to our first YMCA Strong Community Campaign Champion Social. The social is basically an event to thank and recognize the donors and supporters of Greater Wichita YMCA. We’ve never been invited before so I’m think you have to donate at least $1,000 to get on the guest list.

That’s kind of a nice, unexpected perk. When I committed to pretty much not earning any money from my Zumba side-gig at the Y this year, I didn’t know I was going to be invited to a cool social. I just figured I was helping to make YMCA programs available to those in the community who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

Brian wasn’t exactly thrilled when I told him last year about the level of commitment I made for this year. Even though he’s not putting my YMCA paychecks in our checkbook register, we’ve been counting on it as a source of “magic” money. It’s “magic” in the sense that when your checkbook register balance dips below zero, you’re not really overdrawn because your “magic” money has you covered. Then periodically, like every three months or so, he rebalances everything and moves a portion of the “magic” money to our savings account.

Because I doubled my commitment from last year, there’s pretty much nothing left of my YMCA paycheck which means little to no “magic” money coming from that source. We wouldn’t have felt it if I was still teaching seven classes a week but I dropped to just teaching on Saturdays and Sundays almost two years ago so I could be more involved at work and not have to worry about looking for subs when I have to be out of town. That was a decision I made, which I still stand behind, because it makes sense for me professionally. There’s no way I could be part of the current project I’m on at work and still teach all of those Zumba classes during the week. Anyway, I am adding two more classes each week this summer (Aqua Zumba outside in the waterpark) so I can at least contribute to the “magic” money fund for a couple of months. That should pacify Brian until I drop back down to just two classes a week again in the fall.

The whole “magic” money thing helps us out but I’m not too bummed about not having it. We weren’t really counting on it so I feel like we’re actually putting the funds to better use by helping others in the community and that, I think, is magical.

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The social was actually great. I’m not sure why Brian has this look on his face. LOL. I guess this is the same look Brian gives me whenever I ask for his approval to donate money to various causes.

My YMCA paychecks may be my money but Brian and I are partners so we always make decisions together. This approach works really well for us and we actually end up making better decisions, for the most part. There was that one time that we were a bit impulsive and ended up buying a puppy from a live auction so it’s not completely fool proof. At least we decided on it together so we can’t point fingers.

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The best part of attending the social was running into my former coworker Cody and his wife Lacey. I haven’t seen Cody in ages. We used to run into each other a lot at leadership conferences and other work meetings but I hadn’t seen him since he left the company last year. It was a nice surprise running into the two of them. He is one of those easy going, cheerful people who’s fun to be around. I really miss seeing him at work.

Anyway, I have the champion social to thank for this chance encounter. If we don’t see each other at all this year, at least I’ll have the champion social to look forward to next year. Hey, maybe I’ll even see you all there.

SALSA 2016

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Brian and I attended SALSA for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It wasn’t the kind of “salsa” event I expect. LOL. SALSA stands for Supporters and Leaders Against Sexual Assault. It’s a benefit for the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center (WASAC).

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The food was delicious and they had a great turnout.

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I even ran into one of my Leadership Wichita classmates, Michelle Stroot.

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We spent most of our time inside because it was cold that night and I didn’t have the foresight to bring a jacket. There was a fantastic band some and raffle drawings going on outside, on the Brickyard side.

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Lamphouse was there so, of course, we took some photo booth photos.

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I didn’t realize they had a pinball machine at Public. The times I’ve been there, I’ve been too busy enjoying the food.

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Brian and I also played some shuffleboard.

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Brian and I had a great time but we didn’t stay too late because we both had to work the next day. The event was well-run and the food was great so, even though it’s not the kind of “salsa” party that I was expecting, I definitely wouldn’t mind going again.

Bowl for Kids’ Sake 2016

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I’ve been participating in Bowl for Kids’ Sake for over 10 years but I have to say that this most recent Bowl for Kids’ Sake event we had has been the best one I’ve been part of – EVER. Not only did we double our participation compared to last year but we also raised over $17,000 as a group for Big Brothers Big Sisters. That’s about $7,000 more than we raised last year.

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Also, Nickira got to bowl with us this year. She missed the event last year because our bowling day coincided with one of her cousins’ birthdays and she went to the birthday party instead. This time we planned ahead and didn’t have any schedule conflicts.

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Another memorable part of this year’s event is our awesome team uniforms which went perfectly with our team name: Bowlerinas.

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I wish there was a prize for best team uniform because we would have won, hands down. I may be just a tad biased but it’s true.

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Even though we didn’t win a prize for our awesome costumes, I did get recognized for being the top fundraiser this year. For the first time ever I broke the $1,000 mark. I’d been top fundraiser before, many years ago, even though I only raised about $800. This time, with support from my amazing and very generous friends and family, I raised over $1,200 for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

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It was truly a banner year for me for Bowl for Kids’ Sake fundraising. Hopefully I’ll be able to participate again next year and raise even more money for this wonderful organization. On behalf of our team captain Amy and my little sister Nickira, thank you to everyone who participated and/or donated to this event.

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UPDATE: Here are a few more photos that I forgot to share the other day. These amazing photos were taken by my coworker friend, Joe Montiel. He does awesome photography work if you need a photographer you should hit him up.

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Tammy and Don

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The Pink Ladies (minus a couple of their team members) – Misty formed a team even though she doesn’t like to bowl. She had our friend Lindsay fill in as a proxy bowler. See, you don’t have to bowl at all to support the cause.

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Check out Brian’s amazing form. And to think this guy was bowling “back up” not too long ago. Now he out-bowls me on a regular basis.

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Picture of me and Nickira with Tammy from Big Brothers Big Sisters

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Group photo of all of the team captains this year

That’s pretty much it. See you all at Bowl for Kids’ Sake 2017!

Flappin’ 20s Murder Mystery Party

Here are some pictures from the murder mystery party at the Larneng’s a couple of weeks ago. It was mine and Brian’s first murder mystery party and it was a blast. I can’t wait to do it again!

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Here are some videos that we posted on Facebook:

If you’re going to play this game, you may not want to watch these videos. #SpoilersAhead

ICT Pop-Up Urban Park

Speaking of food trucks, if you’re looking for them during the week then head on over to the ICT Pop-Up Urban Park on Douglas. Now that the weather is nicer, they’ve really amped up the schedule. There’s usually four or five food trucks there daily.

I pretty much walk over there everyday that I’m working from the Wichita office. Here are pictures of some of the yummy eats that you can get.

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This is the kalbi chicken from Noble House Hawaiian Plate Lunch.

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These are the most delicious Vietnamese carnitas tacos I have ever had. They are from Funky Monkey Munchies. FMM food truck has been around for a while but I’ve never tried their food until recently because, honestly, I couldn’t tell what kind of food they were selling from their food truck name. Now that I have tried some of their food, I know what type of food they make. They make super delicious food.

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I’m sure the truffle fries gave the source of this food away. You guessed it. These are from the Flying Stove. The original food truck that made food trucks cool. I only got one taco the first time but I liked it so much that, when I hit them the other day, I ordered two tacos and fries. Also, I get my taco arabe without the caramelized onions.

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These delicious ribs are from the Kamayan Truck. Brian and I met Faith and her kids there for dinner a couple of weeks ago. I’m not sure what’s going on though, because the last two Thursdays that I’ve tried to hit them for dinner they weren’t at the park. It’s kind of crappy when you have your heart set on Kamayan food and then you can find them.

Anyway, if you want to try some of these awesome dishes, you should like the ICT Pop-Up Urban Park Facebook page. They post the weekly schedule. The lunch schedule is spot on but the dinner schedule is pretty hit-and-miss. Like I said, the last couple of times that the schedule said Kamayan would be there, they were nowhere to be found.

I’m going to be in Wichita this coming week so you’ll probably see me picking up my to-go lunch at the pop-up park. Hit me up ahead of time if you want schedule an appointment for ping pong. If I don’t see you, have a fantastic week!

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