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TORUK – The First Flight

Posted on February 7, 2017 by under Things to Do, Videos.    

Brian and I got tickets to TORUK several months ago and we were so excited when the day finally came for us to see it. Our favorite food truck, the Kamayan Truck, just happened to be down the street at Aero Plains Brewing that same evening so we decided to make a night of it and check out the new brewery, which we hadn’t been to yet, and also enjoy some Kamayan food.


We didn’t have time for a brewery tour but I did manage to take a few photos.


Here’s a picture of the bar area.


The place isn’t very big but there’s ample seating inside and out.


Here’s a picture of the beer menu.

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Brian really wanted to try the Irish Red but they were completely out.


He had to settle for something else instead. I’m pretty sure we will be back so he will just have to try it on our next visit.


Here are some pictures of our dinner, which you have already seen before because we always get the same stuff. He gets ribs with sticky rice and I get the porchetta with steamed rice.


Here’s the Kamayan menu for that evening.


And now for a few pictures from the show… with an obligatory selfie first.


He’s what the stage looked like before the show began. They used the entire arena and even walked among the audience at different points during the show. This was our first Cirque du Soleil show so we didn’t know what to expect. It was quite interactive. I wish we would have known about the app ahead of time because we didn’t have enough signal at the arena to be able to download the app. I tried several times, in vain, while we were waiting for the show to begin.


We had excellent seats and actually ended up sitting behind one of Brian’s high school classmates and her husband. They’re both Cirque du Soleil buffs and have been to several shows.


I only took a handful of photos during the performance because I’m used to music theater where they frown on that sort of thing. I guess at Cirque shows they don’t mind as long as you don’t use your flash.


They did a really good job on the tree.


The lighting, special effects, and costumes were all amazing. I also liked this closing scene a lot with the flowers from the tree floating up and down in a beautiful and fluid motion. It was magical!


Here’s another picture of the final scene.


Here’s the cast at the end.


I took this photo before they were packing everything up at the end of the show.


Then Brian and I went down for a closer picture of the tree.


I took one last picture before we left. This is after most of the audience had already left the arena and after they turned off all of the lighting effects and turned on the regular lights.


Here’s a preview of the show. I highly recommend seeing it next time it comes into town.

Here’s another good video of the show’s highlights that I found on YouTube.

These videos do not do justice to the performance. You have to go see it!

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2017 Goals Update: January

Posted on February 5, 2017 by under Life.    

Since I didn’t do so well on achieving all of my goals last year and I’m determined to obliterate all of these goals this year, I thought I would add an accountability factor by doing monthly recaps. Basically at the end of every month, I plan to reflect on how I did on each goal and think of ways that I can do better the following month. This is the first of such monthly updates.


1. Reach our respective goal weights by October so we don’t go on my 40th birthday trip completely disgusting.

Some of my other goals (eating out less, running everyday) are actually contributing to the achievement of this goal. My weight has continued to increase every year since 2012. My weight gain has stopped for now and I’m slowly reversing this process. I was hoping to lose 5 lbs in January and only lost 4 lbs.

Running on a regular basis was helping but I’ve gotten derailed the last few weeks, and then we ate out a lot this weekend so I may have gained back what little progress I had made. Conclusion: I need to get back on track.

2. Pay off our trip so we can enjoy our trip guilt-free.

Our airfare is booked and paid for, and we’ve put $400 down on our resort accommodations but not much progress has been made on this goal other than that. However, I’m not concerned because we’ve been saving money toward this trip every month for over a year now. If my calculations are correct, we should have enough to saved to pay for everything. It’s just a matter of actually doing it.

3. Get our house organized so we’re not scrambling in the event we have to sell it.

This is slow going too because we have been so busy. We started to with the office and can’t even quite get that done. On the upside, Brian has gotten rid of at least two huge trash bags full of clothes (which we still need to drop off at Goodwill), he’s also given a bunch of his old action figures to his brother Kevin, and I’ve gotten rid of several books. We don’t have a specific deadline (as far as having to move for work) or anything but I’m really hoping this won’t take all year to accomplish because it would be nice to live in an orderly house that is picture perfect and ready to show at any time.


1. Read 24 books by the end of the year.

This is one of my more measurable goals. And I’m happy to report that I’m on track. I actually finished the two books well before the end of January but I took a short reading break before starting my February reading.

Brian received a copy of Vision Mindset Grit by Scott Burrows at an Edward Jones conference back in December where the author was the keynote speaker. As far as reading goes, Brian doesn’t enjoy nonfiction and personal development so I ended up reading it instead.

I’m kind of quirky in that I actually prefer these types of books. I like them because they help me get better and, as a lifelong learner, I have an overarching goal of getting better everyday. Every year since my personal awakening, I’ve always completed a year-end exercise of assessing how it is that I am better this year than the last. I’ve been doing this exercise for over ten years so I finally quit putting it on goals or resolutions lists. It’s just a given.

Besides, the best fiction books usually get turned into movies so I can save a lot of time by just waiting for the movie to come out. No one makes movies out of self-help books so these are the books that I actually have to sit down and read.

Speaking of fiction, book number two was George Orwell’s 1984. I don’t normally read fiction unless Brian asks me to read one of the science fiction books he’s just finished. This book was one that Jenni assigned her reading group at the beginning of the year. I got started on it late because I had to finish the other book and I almost didn’t read it. I tried to get Brian to read it with us but he hates this book.

Anyway, I’m glad I decided to read it because it’s so relevant right now. This is the world we live in. The same day that I finished the book, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway was on TV talking about alternative facts and I thought, “Holy cow! I’m living in 1984 universe!”

I mentioned this in the book group and one of Jenni’s friends Becky pointed out that I’m not the only one who saw parallels between our current reality and the book because sales of 1984 surged immediately following that TV interview. It’s amazing to me that we know so much from history and books and yet we let the same things happen over and over again. The only conclusion I can come to is that the voting public must not read, or they read but don’t remember.

Anyway, I realize now why Brian hated 1984. It’s a very depressing read. And, even more so knowing that this is where we are headed as a society and no one is doing anything to stop it.

My third book for the year is Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I bought a copy a couple of years ago after watching a video of her talk at Google. Anyway, I started reading it and got busy so I never finished.

It’s really sad, actually. I have dozens of unfinished books. I think this is part of the reason I included a book-reading goal for this year. I want to finally finish reading all of these books so I can get rid of them. And, I can’t get rid of them until they’ve been read because I don’t want the books to go to waste. Yes, not even the free ones. I’m weird like that. (Ironically, Marie Kondo’s advice is to get rid of all of these unread books right now. ASAP. I’m not sure I can do it. LOL.)

Anyway, I’ve picked this one back up and finishing it this time. It was so long ago that I started it, I actually had to start it over.

2. Run/walk at least 1 mile everyday.

I did really well on this goal at the beginning of the year thanks to my friend Alicia’s “January Running Challenge” Facebook group. However, I got slightly derailed after spending an entire week at home.

I don’t like the cold so I generally run indoors on a treadmill. This is so much easier to do when I’m in Kansas City because I don’t even have to step outside. I just roll out of bed and go to the hotel gym. I really enjoy being able to run when I get up at 5 AM. Some nights, when I have no plans, I’ll even get on the treadmill again for an evening run.

When I’m in Wichita it’s harder for me to complete my runs because it requires much more planning and coordination. I don’t have a treadmill at home so I can’t simply roll out of bed and run. I would have to drive to the YMCA. I’ve thought about running before or after my Zumba classes but then I have to bring two sets of sneakers because my Zumba sneakers are not ideal for running. I’ve actually worn my running shoes to Zumba but it’s not ideal.

I canceled my wellness center membership a couple of years ago when Brian got laid off from Viega so I no longer have access to our onsite gym at work but I’m thinking I may just have to restart it. It’s so easy to get derailed that I need to make the path to running more convenient so that I will choose to do it rather than not.

I learned this from another book I finished a couple of months ago: The Happiness Advantage. It’s not the main premise of the book but the author talks about forming good habits. One of the biggest challenges we have is that we take the path of least resistance. If it takes effort to do the good habit then we simply won’t do it because it’s easier not to. Therefore, you have to flip it. You need to make it easier to do the good habit so it just makes sense. You won’t even consider not doing it.

When I’m in Kansas City, it’s so much easier for me to run on the treadmill than not so I guess what I need to do is make it just as easy for me to do this in Wichita. Wow, this whole exercise of reflecting on how I’m doing has been really productive and helpful. I’m making a mental note to restart my wellness membership when I get to work on Monday.

3. Complete my 10K Runner app.

This stalled at Week 7 due to the challenges mentioned above. And then it didn’t help that there was a conference at my hotel this past week. I got to the hotel gym at 5:15 AM on Wednesday morning and all of the treadmills were already taken. I ended up on the elliptical instead.

Then I had a serious bout of insomnia the following day. I woke up at 2:30 AM and couldn’t go back to sleep. Needless to say, I was too tired to go for my 5 AM run. This week has been a complete bust. I’m not giving up, though.

The goal is to complete this 14-week 10K program at some point this year. I probably should have made the goal more challenging by giving myself a tighter deadline but I figured that I would run into weeks that I would have to repeat such as Week 7. Anyway, there is a temptation to just throw in the towel because the last two weeks have been crap. However, you don’t just give up on your goal because yesterday you didn’t feel like doing it. Here’s another bit I learned from a book I read last year, The Slight Edge: Every decision is a new decision.

Just because I had a crappy last two weeks, doesn’t mean this week has to be crappy. You don’t give up on a goal because of a minor set back. You get back on the horse and try again. Every day is a new day that brings with it a new opportunities to make decisions that move you closer to your vision.

I don’t know why people don’t like reading personal development books. I have learned so much from them.

4. Travel to some place I’ve never been.

We are on track to complete and exceed this goal. We’re actually traveling to two places we’ve never been this year. We are traveling to Alaska in May to visit Sheryll and her family. We have hotel reservations already but we haven’t booked our airfare because we are waiting for the best price.

We also have my 40th birthday celebration at Sandals Emerald Bay in the Great Exuma (Bahamas) in October. We got the airfare for this one already because Becca found a good deal for us.

5. Eat out less and eat at home more.

We did pretty well on this in January. February is off to a rough start. But, again, every day is a new day so we just need to make better decisions starting now.

6. Crochet a Zumba Fitness beanie.

I have made absolutely no progress on this goal other than I am now Facebook friends with the lady who knows how to make one. The next step will be to set up a meeting time so she can explain to me how to do this. It’s been a while since my last crochet party so it may be time to plan another.

7. Complete 200 volunteer/community service hours.

This is probably one of my more challenging goals for the year considering that I’m spending half of my time in Kansas City. I did about 180 hours in 2015 and over 150 hours in 2016 so I thought I would increase the goal for this year. This might have been a bad decision. We’ll see.

8. Stay employed.

So far, so good on this goal but the year isn’t over yet. LOL.


1. Add two new songs to the playlist every month.

I totally rocked this goal in January. I’m usually too busy to learn new songs so I just keep rotating old songs (that I already know) in and out of the playlist but since I have this goal for 2017 I’ve been better about setting aside time to learn new songs. The two new songs I added to the playlist in January are:

I’m working on a couple of Bachata songs for February. It’s also time to change my cool down song. I need to schedule time to work on Zumba routines. I was better in January but I need to be more purposeful about it and actually add these to my calendar because I don’t feel that I devote enough time to learning new routines.

2. Learn everybody’s names.

I’m also doing better at this but I still suck. I need to do a better job of introducing myself to students while we are waiting in the hallway before class and remind everyone to stop and introduce themselves to me on their way out the door at the end of class. After all, I won’t learn their names if I don’t ask and they don’t tell me.

I have made a few new friends already so we’re making some progress.

3. Teach facing class, move around, and teach from different parts of the room more.

I put this as a goal because I want to become a better Zumba fitness instructor. I’ve been making pretty good progress on it and doing a better at dancing among the students in different parts of the studio. However, I still don’t teach facing the class enough. I teach facing the students for a few seconds a few times throughout the class but I don’t to it for an entire song.

We have lots of mirrors in the studio so there’s not that much pressure or necessity to teach facing the class, but I still want to be more comfortable doing this. My goal is to be able to switch back and forth between teaching facing the mirror and teaching facing the students more seamlessly. I’d been making slow progress and then yesterday I had to sub at East YMCA last minute. That class is in the gym so there are no mirrors. You have to teach facing the class on a stage, the entire time.

As much as I don’t enjoy it, it was actually a really good experience. I used to teach all of my classes facing the students when I taught at Evergreen Recreation Center. And, I taught the class I subbed yesterday at East for about a year. I’d actually gotten really good at teaching facing the students. However, I’ve taught in a studio for so long now that I’m completely out of practice.

Yesterday made me realize how truly out of practice I am. I used to know how to cue my routines on right and left lead and now I’m so rusty. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to sub the class yesterday (though it wasn’t my choice, I probably wouldn’t have had to sub it if there were anyone else available) because I found new skills to work on. These are skills I used to have that I’ve allowed to languish.

I need to keep up with these skills so that I can be comfortable teaching in any situation. I haven’t had to teach in a gym in a long time until yesterday but you’ll never know when the situation will come up again. I will be more prepared and ready next time because I’ll have kept my skills up.

4. Get licensed to teach Strong by Zumba at #ZINCON.

This is still the plan. Here’s hoping that I can get registered for the class once they open #ZINCON registration.

5. Build and maintain a loud, fun, welcoming class.

This is kind of a given but I put it as one of my goals so that I’m reminded to give my 110% even on days I don’t feel great. The 10:30 AM class yesterday was super awesome actually. I may be a little biased but I think the students I had yesterday will agree. I want class to be like that every time, if not better.

So there you have it. The first month of 2017 is in the books. Goals are going to get obliterated (in a good way) this year. I just now it!

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Andover Rotary Club

Posted on January 27, 2017 by under Things to Do.    

Due to my current work assignment, I’ve missed my Rotary Club meetings over the last few months. This month hasn’t been too bad, however. I was actually fortunate enough to be able to attend two consecutive club meetings. And I’m so glad that I was present for them because they were both amazing meetings.


Last week Geri Appel, Dr. Fred Heismeyer, Joyce Heismeyer, Greg Sullivan, and DeAnn Sullivan talked about their visit to Russia last summer as part of the Open World Program. In Fall 2015, local Rotarians had the opportunity to host seven Russian business people through the Open World Program. In summer 2016, it was their turn to visit. The group has been visiting local Rotary Clubs to share their FABLES (tales from their trip) and promote the Open World Program.

FABLES stands for Food Adventure Beauty Lore Entertainment and Surprise and is kind of a fun way to recall one’s travel adventures. I thought it was pretty clever anyway and will probably talk about my own trips in the same manner in the future.

I was completely enthralled as they talked about the food (and drinks) they tasted, the place they visited and all of the beautiful architecture they saw, interesting things they learned and did, and shared stories from the trip. Their Open World experience has been so overwhelmingly positive that I would actually consider being one of the hosts for the next delegation of Open World visitors to Wichita.


Geri even brought samples of her homemade horseradish vodka, which they first tasted during their visit. She’s learned how to make it and has never run out.

For the record, I did not try the vodka because I went back to work after the meeting. I wasn’t concerned about missing out because I’m sure there will be another opportunity to try it.


Yesterday our speaker was Barry Style, all the way from Zimbabwe. Barry Style serves as Director of the Chiredzi River African Wildlife Trust (CRAWT) and his family also operates the Buffalo Range Safari. CRAWT not only helps through their anti-poaching and preservation efforts but they also support the community. One of the projects that they have undertaken is a school, which did not have running water until recent upgrades were made with financial help from the Andover Rotary Club. This project has not only made a positive impact on the lives of the students, but the community as a whole.

The efforts on behalf of the Andover Rotary Club have been spearheaded by Dr. Ron Kutter and Lori Kutter, who have traveled there on a number of occasions to help. Let me know if you want to learn more and I’ll be happy to put you in touch with Ron and Lori. They are picture below next to Barry Styles.


Pictured above: Warrick (Barry’s nephew), Ron, Lori, Barry, and Troy

I am so grateful that my work schedule over the last two weeks allowed me the opportunity to attend both meetings. I’m hoping that, once the dust settles, my schedule will return to normal and I’ll be able to start attending Rotary Club meetings regularly again. Connecting with my fellow Rotarians and listening to our wonderful speakers always rejuvenates me.

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Nara Restaurant

Posted on January 22, 2017 by under Food and Drink.    

Nara Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I discovered a new favorite restaurant last week with an excellent “happy hour” menu. We barely made it in time. I think we got there ten minutes before happy hour ended but they were nice enough to let us order from the happy hour menu, which was great because there were lots of different menu items to choose from at a fraction of the regular price.


We sat by the bar, which is where happy hour happens.


There was hardly a soul in the joint when we got there but by the time we left the place was buzzing. I don’t think there were any empty tables by 8 PM.


I love that you have a great view of the downtown Kansas City skyline from the restaurant. If you look on the upper left corner of this picture, you can actually see the One Light Luxury Apartments building.


Since everything was so inexpensive during happy hour, Selena and I started with some edamame and ordered several different things.


This is the appetizer platter which consisted of two fried shrimp and pork gyoza (fried dumplings), two shrimp shumai, two crab rangoon, and a crispy pork and shrimp egg roll. All for $5.


We also had some friend mac-n-cheese.


The best part about chicken yakitori at Nara is you get three skewers instead of only two like at Drunken Fish. The yakitori at Nara is also much more flavorful. It’s pretty plain at Drunken Fish.


We also had the beef yakigyu, which doesn’t look like much but it was also very good. Finally, I got an order of California roll because I wanted Selena to try it.


You’ll never guess how little we spent on our dinner. Our total for all of that delicious food came to a little over $27 ($35 after tip). I think this place might have the best happy hour in all of downtown Kansas City. It’s definitely my favorite.

I can’t wait to go back!

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The FLIP + CHING Plank Challenge

Posted on January 16, 2017 by under Life.    

Brian and I have been on various health kicks over the years. There was that time that we bought a Bowflex thinking that it would allow us to workout at home more. In reality, it turned out to be the most expensive cat-toy-slash-coat-rack that we had ever bought. We realized shortly after that we didn’t have the self-discipline to workout at home, we joined the YMCA only to give up on it a few years later because we decided that “we no longer had time to go.” It was a really short hiatus because we rejoined a few months later and rediscovered racquetball (one of our favorite activities at the Y from years before).

Those were fun times. We loved playing racquetball. Here are some funny racquetball memories:

I have a love-hate relationship with working out. There are times that I get into a regular routine and there are times when I fall off the wagon completely. There was even a time when I had multiple gym memberships. We had a Genesis Health Clubs membership, YMCA membership, and we were also paying for access to our wellness center (fitness/workout facility) at work. That’s when we were living at Quarters at Cambridge, which incidentally also has a small fitness center onsite.

We were most successful with our health goals around that time. I actually got down to 120 lbs and had to get rid of a bunch of clothes.

Brian has never enjoyed going to the gym. Actually, he doesn’t like working out period. Here’s Brian doing P90X. We often joke that he doesn’t like to sweat.

We usually have to make a contest out of it in order to get him motivated enough to workout. That’s why I was surprised when he came up with the idea of the “Plank Challenge” at the beginning of the year.


He read somewhere that doing four 1-minute planks for 28 consecutive days is good for you so he suggested that we do it. I loved the idea, naturally, because it’s something that we can do together, even when we are apart. And, it’s not too challenging and it takers hardly any time at all — six minutes tops.

We started on January 2 and haven’t missed a single day yet. Although, I have to say that I feel like I’m forcing Brian to do it with me some days. I think he wouldn’t mind it one bit if we “forgot” to do it one day. He hasn’t gotten too whiny at yet but I have had to remind him that this was his idea — and it’s a great one!

This challenge is going so well that we’re actually thinking of doing a different challenge each month for the rest of the year. Our plan is to come up with something quick, easy, and doable to do for 28 days straight each month.

We’ve also been inspired to restart our weekly weigh ins. I couldn’t find the old spreadsheet we used for the Battle of the Brubakers that we did years ago so I had to create a new one. You can keep track of our progress here:

Anyway, our 2017 is off to a great start. How about you? How is your year going so far? Will you be doing next month’s challenge with us?

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