Homework Night with My Little Sister

I know my little sister loves it when we go on outings to the zoo, amusement park, museum, skating, painting, etc. but my favorite activity with her by far is homework night. I enjoy taking her on fun outings, but I really enjoying helping her with homework.

She was a little impatient on Wednesday night because there was more homework than usual and the assigned work, specially the math portion, was more challenging. She wanted to stop before we were finished, but I managed to get her to complete all of it.

I think next time I may need to add a short break in there to make up for Kira’s shorter attention span. I’m learning so much from this process.

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I snapped these photos on Wednesday night. I couldn’t resist. The sight was very Norman Rockwell and the Saturday Evening Post.

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Homework nights are nights that I look forward to with eager anticipation.

Lights on the Lake 2014

It’s been a few years since we’ve attended a Lights on the Lake launch party. The last Lights on the Lake launch party we attended was at Abode back in 2011. The event has gotten so much bigger since then. Last year and this year it was held at Murfin Stables, an amazing venue.

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They really upped the ante this year with the upgraded dress code (cocktail attire was recommended) and lavish decorations. Check out these photos.

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The opulent table setting made me feel very fancy.

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We were assigned to table 22, Brian’s favorite number.

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Meddys catered the event.

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Here’s what was on the menu. The hors d’oeuvres consisted of creamy tomato soup, vegetarian lentil soup, baked pita, hummus, and fresh vegetables.

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There were people walking around with trays of hummus and soup until dinner.

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Salads and desserts were already at the tables but dinner was served buffet style. The salad was a delicious Mediterranean salad with salmon. It was very good.

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For dinner we had chicken shawarma, beef shawarma, rice, and roasted vegetables.

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Savories provided dessert. We had a couple of options: brownie bottom cheesecake and cherry cheesecake. Yummy!

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There was a silent auction, my favorite thing to check out and do at these events. I didn’t win any of the items I bid on this time, though.

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There was also a live auction. That’s something that I generally don’t participate it because I don’t have as much money at my disposal as other event guests. Live auction items usually go for thousands of dollars.

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At this event, however, there were a couple of things that went for just $900 so that was a pretty good deal. One of the most successful auction items was this black goldendoodle puppy that went for $3500.

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She’s going to be one spoiled puppy!

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There was also a wine pull and signature cocktails for sale for people like me who weren’t keen on the drink selections at the open bar. For $30 I got a signature drink with a commemorative champagne flute and $5 refills.

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Brian and I got to play with the TapSnap photo booth.

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We took a group photo of our table also.

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Brian and I had such a great time. Brian will say he still prefers Brew Ha-Ha but, overall, Lights on the Lake is a really enjoyable fundraising event. It also benefits a great cause – Heartspring Pediatric Services. I highly encourage you all to support the organization and participate in the event next year.

Also, remember to check out Lights on the Lake this year. It’s one of the most amazing Christmas light displays in here in Wichita.

Startup Weekend

Last night some people were clubbing, partying, hanging out at the mall with friends, at the movies, or at home just chillin’ while there were a few working. At the Labor Party ideas were getting pitched.

I dropped my little sister Kira off at her house around nine o’clock or so, after we went home to let Molly out and feed her, then dinner at Panda Express, and after we finished painting our projects at Color Me Mine. I can’t post pictures of our projects because they are presents and we wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise.

Anyway, I was already downtown so I decided to check on my dreamer husband who was participating in Startup Weekend. He’s a dreamer who is always coming up with ideas. He registered for the event kind of at the last minute at a friend’s recommendation and encouragement. Of course, I was super excited because I’d always wanted to attend myself but have always been so busy. This way I actually get to be in two places at once because I’m experiencing Startup Weekend through Brian. I know it’s not the same but, given how hectic my schedule is, this is as good as it’s going to get for me right now.

When I arrived they had already completed the pitches process and were just about to form teams. Brian’s idea wasn’t one of the top four concepts. He’s a dreamer who needs talented people to work on his idea. With the limited number of technically skilled participants, many people were gravitating towards the top ideas. I think he was bummed that he couldn’t work on his startup. He pretty much just hung out with me and filled me in. This was not acceptable. If I’m going to be vicariously living Startup Weekend through Brian, he needs to work on a project even if it’s not his own.

The facilitator and I finally convinced Brian to join a team. The team already had four or five members prior to Brian. I feel really bad for the team he joined too for the sequence of events that followed.

So he joins the team and they’re talking about their project, etc. I’m just kind of hanging out, observing the initial stages of team formation. Then Brian asked me to come to their table so I can listen in as the team commenced discussing their concept and planning everything they need to do.

As I’m sitting at the table, trying desperately to stay out of the way, I see the flip chart with the PLTW idea. As you know, I was super impressed with the Engineering Academy kids at West High that PLTW now holds a special place in my heart. I was like, “That’s an idea that I’d like to work on. Who’s working on that?”

The guy who pitched the idea eventually wanders off to our table so I turn my attention away from the team that Brian’s working with so I can learn more about the PLTW idea which I was really excited about. There is a female engineer who offered to work on the idea with the originator but there’s just the two of them. They didn’t have a team. I told them, “This is an idea that I would really like to work on but I’m busy this weekend. If you want to work on it in the weeks or months to come, then I definitely want to help and be part of it.”

Between the three of us, we had an idea that we were passionate about but had no team. I wasn’t even registered to participate in Startup Weekend. I was merely a spectator. LOL. This is when I discovered something important: one person can make a difference.

If they wanted to continue working on the PLTW idea outside of Startup Weekend, I told them I would help round up resources. Even though I have no technical skills to contribute — I’m not a graphic designer, programmer, engineer, or web developer — I was absolutely certain I could round up some people with the necessary skills. Not over the weekend, but we would get it done.

When I latch on to something that ignites my passion, I have a difficult time restraining myself because I have so much enthusiasm and energy. That can be both powerful and scary. Just ask Brian. Within a few minutes of sitting their table, I managed to jack everything up. Their team switched gears and they’re now working on the PLTW project instead of the food porn idea.

One of my reservations about participating in Startup Weekend is that I really have nothing to offer a startup. At least Brian is a dreamer and has lots of ideas. I have no startup ideas. I’m a joiner with no ideas of my own. The one thing I am is a collector of hobbies and experiences. I want to participate in everything life has to offer and I specially relish opportunities to support causes that I’m passionate about.

However, after last night, I realized that I can use my energy and enthusiasm to rally people around an idea. Maybe there is a place for people like me in Startup Weekend after all. Every team needs a joiner.

American Education Week

American Education Week is November 17 to November 21. Five Wichita public schools are participating. Visit one, two, or all of the sessions listed to celebrate American Education Week and experience education like you’ve never seen it.

Monday, November 17 – 3:00 PM
Earhart Environmental Elementary Magnet, 4401 Arkansas
Unique magnet experience and efficiency in building design

Tuesday, November 18 – 8:30 AM
South High School, 701 W. 33rd Street S.
Technology and curriculum meet in the iPad initiative

Wednesday, November 19 – 9:00 AM
Coleman Middle School, 1544 N. Governeour
College prep through AVID’s Socratic dialogue

Thursday, November 20 – 2:00 PM
Horace Mann Dual Language K-8 Magnet, 1243 N. Market
Dual language learning starts in kindergarten

Friday, November 21 – 1:00 PM
West High School, 820 S. Osage
High tech pre-engineering and 3D printing

Please RSVP to make your selections. Call Superintendent Allison’s office at (316) 973-4580 or email jelly@usd259.net.

If I wasn’t already booked up next week, I would totally attend at least one of these sessions. I can tell you from experience the pre-engineering program at West High is AMAZING. After spending time with the Engineering Academy kids during our Leadership Wichita session on Education, I was very impressed. Derby High is great, but the experience made me wish I would have gone to West High instead. I might have finished my Engineering degree, or realized that it wasn’t for me and save time and money and gone straight to business out of high school.

I suppose I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for the seven years of undergrad. LOL. My time at Wichita State taught me a lot. I would have rather not bounced between various majors and finished in four years, though.

Anyway, in case you don’t already know, we have fantastic public schools in Wichita. Check them out during American Education Week (or any other time — I was told they love visitors) and see for yourself.

Brew Ha-Ha 2014

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We had a great time at the Big Brothers Big Sisters Brew Ha-Ha fundraising event on Friday night. The event, which is our most favorite fundraising event every year, is always a great time but it was even more meaningful for me this year because I started my journey as a big sister volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters in over the summer.

We saw several of my coworkers and former coworkers. We also met friends from outside of work. We spent most of the evening hanging with the Shermans and the Washingtons, who also happen to be our neighbors. I know I’ve raved about our neighbors before. We really have the best neighbors. If you are looking to buy a house in Southeast Wichita, Sierra Hills is the place to be.

The food this year was provided by Freddy’s (always our first stop because the beer milkshakes are a highlight of the event for us), P.F. Chang’s, Siena Tuscan Steakhouse, Newport Grill, and Woodfire Grille. No Carrabba’s this year, which was a bummer because we always enjoy visiting with Joe. They donated to the silent auction though, so they weren’t completely absent from the event. My favorite food was the braised short ribs that Woodfire Grille served. It was delicious. I don’t really drink beer. I mostly like to go to sample all the delicious food that the vendors offer.

Brian was hilariously inebriated, but not embarrassingly so. Thank heavens. I would like us to be invited back next year. =P Jokes aside, we both had a wonderful time and are already counting the days until the next one.

Bowling Update

So I’d been trying to bowl a 500-series since the Fall league started and I kept failing miserably. Well, guess what. I actually did it twice while mom and dad were in the Philippines. I wouldn’t have believed it myself had I not been there to witness myself do it. LOL. Even an blind squirrel finds an acorn sometimes.

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Seriously though, I may be a better bowler than I believe myself to be. Perhaps it’s time that I stop selling myself short and start concentrating so I can live up to my potential.

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I’m obviously capable of bowling a 500-series. I just need to do it consistently.

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Brian says I bowled well because I was relaxed and was having a great time. Mom says I bowled well because I was bowling with friends and I was trying to impress them with my bowling skills. Either way, we had a great time bowling with Linsday and Dawn over the past three weeks. They were the best subs ever and helped us earn 11 points, almost a perfect run. I couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome.

Now, instead of being one of the bottom teams, we are one of the top teams. I hope that we can continue our streak now that mom and dad are back. We shall see how it goes tonight. Wish us luck!

Thank You

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Thank you to everyone who celebrated my birthday with me. Thank you for all the cards, presents, hugs, and birthday wishes. You all really know how to make a girl feel special!

Hanging Out with the Little One

Here are some pictures from when Kira and I visited the Wichita Art Museum.

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I’d forgotten how much I love the art museum. The best part is that admission is free on Saturdays. You just make a small donation and you’re good to go. Once my life starts to calm down and I have some free time, I’m totally taking Brian there one a date.

One of the positive side effects of having a little sister is that she’s helping me rediscover all the things that I love to do but haven’t had time for in recent years. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be a big sister to Kira because I’m not only sharing some great experiences but I’m also learning and growing so much the experience.

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Here’s Kira at the Keeper of the Plains.

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Sometimes Kira and I hang out by ourselves like when we spent the afternoon at the Wichita Art Museum and the Keeper of the Plains; sometimes Brian gets to hangout with us like when the three of us went roller skating.

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We recently went to the zoo (thanks to the free zoo tickets from work) and Brian got to hang out with us there. You can’t tell from this photo but they’re both holding their breath because the penguin exhibit is stinky. LOL.

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Brian loaned Kira a pair of tinted safety glasses since she didn’t have one.

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But we got some new sunglasses as a souvenir from the zoo’s gift shop. It matched her outfit better and really completes the look, don’t you think?

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Hereford House on Urbanspoon

Today we had Sunday brunch at Hereford House. We usually go to Legends at the airport for brunch, but the brunch experience at Hereford House is actually much better. I’m not just saying that because it’s closer to our house either.

The food selection is not as vast as Legends, but the quality of the food is good. They have a prime rib carving station, a waffle bar, an omelet bar, an assortment of entrees (today they had smoked salmon), along with the usual breakfast staples such as scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausage, bacon, biscuits and gravy, etc. They also had fresh fruits and cheeses. There was wide array of pastries and desserts to choose from but we were all so full there was no way we could eat any more.

If you ask Brian, he’d pick Hereford House over Legends because the former has better coffee. I’m not sure if Kira has been to Legends, but I’m pretty sure that the golf cart rides at Hereford House won her over. There was a nice young man who gave us a lift both ways. Even though our car was just a few yards from the front entrance, we got ride in the cart instead of walking to the front door and instead of walking back to our car. Kira really liked that.

As for me, I’d give Hereford House a slight edge based on location. I’m a happy camper anytime I can avoid having to drive West on Kellogg. Another thing that I liked about Hereford House is that it’s a lot less crowded and more relaxed. Legends is always so busy. However, I do have to admit that Legends has better food selection and, of course, Legends has Mo manning their omelet station. He’s pretty hard to beat.

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This is really a close one. I guess you’ll just have to try Hereford House and decide for yourself. We liked it.

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My Super Awesome Mug

Did I ever show you guys some pictures of the super awesome mug that I painted at Color Me Mine a few weeks ago?

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I was a little worried about how it would turn out because it didn’t look like much when I was painting it. It didn’t look quite right and I had to erase some mess ups which I didn’t successfully get to disappear. However, they’re not noticeable now.

Also, if you think the rim is weird, it’s because I meant for the outside to be red and the inside to be gray. However, I couldn’t get the rim straight enough. Each time I tried to make my line straighter, it would only get more crooked. I kept trying to fix it and painted red deeper and deeper into the inside of the mug. I finally had to just force myself to stop otherwise I would have painted the inside red as well. LOL.

The painting process strained my anal retentive OCD tendencies but I am thrilled with the finished product. I can’t wait to go back and make a mug for Brian. I’m thinking of making one for grandma also. I’m so hooked that everyone might just get a personal creation from me for Christmas.

Molly, Our Perverse Little Angel

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She looks so sweet but she has a couple of really weird habits. One is that she cannot eat over her bowl. She picks up food from her bowl, walks a little ways before dropping the food on the carpet, and then she eats off the carpet. This makes for interesting textures on the floor when you’re walking around barefoot.

And then there is this other thing that she does:

It’s kind of weird but I’ve been told it’s quite normal. It’s a way for her to show dominance. She’s always done it and would even mount Jesus, one of our cats back when we had cats. She couldn’t do it to Felix or Oscar because they wouldn’t let her get away with it. Jesus was so passive that he wouldn’t even flinch.

Anyway, I’m not sure how this got started but she’s always done it. I suppose we’ve not done a very good job of discouraging it because we’d just laugh it off so now, even at the ripe old age of 48 (technically she’s 48 because she’s 8 years old), she still does it.

I’d been reading up on this behavior and it seems like the main reason she does it is probably boredom. Brian and I are both at work all day. And, though Brian does a good job of coming home for lunch to let Molly out, I’m not sure that we give her as much exercise and attention as she needs.

I’m going to see if walking her and playing with her more will curb the habit but I’m thinking that it’s probably too late to change her behavior at this point. I mean, she’s pretty much an old lady. Oh, well.

BTW, here are some more adorable pictures of Molly:

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Brian and Molly, sleeping.

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She’s always napping, even in broad daylight.

She can sleep even in the most awkward of positions.

See what I mean?

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Bunny ears!

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