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Archive for "Confessions"

And Then This Happened – 40 Under 40

Posted on June 25, 2016 by under Confessions, Events.    

Last week was a super busy week. The day after the Orpheum’s Celebrity & Chef Cookoff was the 40 Under 40 awards dinner. Yup. No break last week. We had bowling league at the Alley on Monday, Celebrity & Chef Cookoff on Tuesday, 40 Under 40 on Wednesday, I took Nickira to the waterpark on Thursday, and then in-laws arrived in town on Friday.

Before I post pictures from the 40 Under 40 event, I have a confession to make. I actually applied for 40 Under 40 last year and didn’t make the cut. I wouldn’t have been as bummed about it had it not been for the fact that I was the only person nominated from Westar Energy, which meant our company didn’t make the list.

Last year when Don asked me how I felt about the company nominating me for 40 Under 40, I was super excited. I’d always wanted to be part of that group, I just didn’t know how you go about getting nominated for it and getting selected. As an eternal optimist, I’ve always approached everything with that thought that I can do something (anything) until I fail miserably. I thought I would get nominated and then I would get selected and then I’d get invited to the dinner and we will have a ton of fun and that’s that. I had no idea how truly competitive the process is and that you don’t just get selected. It’s not that simple. Maybe for some people it is. I wasn’t so lucky.

After the rejection I was like, “What’s wrong with me? What are others in my age group doing that I’m not doing? What goals can I achieve? How else can I make a difference?” I really had to do some serious reflection.

Earlier this year Don asked me how I felt about being nominated again. I remember the conversation well because it moved me to tears. I said, “It would be an honor to represent Westar Energy in the Wichita Business Journal‘s 40 Under 40 but are we sure we want to do this? I mean, I didn’t get in last year.” There’s a fine line between insanity and perseverance.

You know how when you get rejected for something or there’s something that you think you can’t have, you actually want it even more. I confessed that I really want to be part of the WBJ 40 Under 40 so I’m happy to be nominated. I’ve known some friends, Wichita State and Leadership Wichita classmates who have previously been selected for 40 Under 40. However, at work Don Sherman is the only person I know who has been part of this elite group but he received the honor before joining Westar. I won’t tell you what year because then you’ll know how old he is and he doesn’t look that old.

I digress..back to the conversation. I said, “I am very honored to be nominated again but I’m also a team player. Is this truly the direction we want to go? If there is someone else within the organization (I had a specific person in mind when I said this because I knew she would be a shoe in to get selected) who we think has a better shot at making 40 Under 40, let’s go with that person. I will gladly step aside to ensure we are represented on the list this year.” I’m no fool. I know they are recognizing individuals for their contributions to the community but it’s also about Westar building a presence in the community. Having a Westar employee on that list puts the company’s name out there. It shows we are involved in the community. It helps our brand.

“I’ve talked with Terry and Jeff,” he said. “The leadership team has decided and you are our pick. I just want to make sure that you are okay with it.” He added, “I know you’re not used to getting rejected” or something like that. I was like, “They can reject me all day long. It’s not going to stop me from trying. Rejection doesn’t bother me. I just don’t want to disappoint you guys. As long as you feel good about nominating me, then I will apply for it again and I will do my very best to get in.”

I was overwhelmed with emotion knowing that Don and our leadership team believed in me enough to risk not making the list again. And so began my mission. I had to make 40 Under 40. I could not fail again.

I started the process of securing letters of support right away. My first ask was to Mark Ruelle, our CEO. Although not required, a letter of support from your company’s CEO is highly recommended. But I couldn’t just ask for a letter of support over email because that’s simply not my style. I was asking for a letter so I sent him one.

Here’s what I wrote him:

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I don’t think many people appreciate writing and receiving letters as much as I do. I really enjoy writing letters and wish I had more people to write to. LOL.

But letters are pointless if they don’t achieve their purpose. This one actually worked. Shortly after sending the letter through our interoffice mail, I received a phone call from Mark. It’s the first time the CEO had ever called me. I remember thinking, “OMG. OMG. OMG. The CEO is calling me. Don’t say anything stupid. Don’t say anything stupid. Don’t say anything stupid…” And then I answered the phone.

Our conversation was brief. He gave me some words of encouragement and said he would write me a letter of support. I secured a few more letters of support for good measure. All of them were meaningful and special to me. I almost didn’t want to turn them over to WBJ because I wanted to keep the originals forever. I felt so blessed to have all of these people in my corner. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I’m getting emotional now just thinking about it.

Before we fast-forward to the end of this story, I want to share one more dorky photo.

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I’d been spending a lot of time in Topeka because of our CIS implementation project (currently on hold but we were fiercely working on it at the time) so, instead of getting my letter of support from Mark via interoffice mail, I asked his executive assistant Nancy if I could just swing by his office and pick it up. As luck would have it, almost all of the company officers were out of the office for spring break that week so Nancy was able to give me a grand tour. She even took a picture of me at Mark’s desk (above). I was told I’m not the first one to do it. Apparently it’s a thing that happens when he’s gone.

Believe it or not, this was not my idea. I didn’t even have my phone on me. Nancy suggested it and even took the photo with her phone. I just gladly went along. LOL.

Sidetracked again..back to the story. I could not afford to fail my company again so I didn’t want to leave anything to chance this time around. In addition to sending my nominee survey/application by email, I also made a hard copy and hand my very handsome husband hand deliver it. Brian looked so dashing in his suit and tie that Elisha at WBJ thought he was delivering his own application for 40 Under 40. Brian who is now 42 was super flattered naturally. We actually joke that the main reason I made the cut this year is because he hand delivered my submission for me.

Now that you know the backstory, here are some pictures from the event.

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Brian with Don’s wife Denise, who has also been instrumental in my professional development. She was on the Leadership Wichita board of trustees the year I went through the program.

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My teammate Sunni with Jim Ludwig, retired Westar exec (former VP of Public Affairs and Consumer Services), who mentored me in his final year and who continues to mentor me today (we just don’t see each other as frequently).

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Jeff Beasley, VP of Customer Care, with Nykole, Shanda, and Gwen.

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They gave us all copies of the paper with our honoree profiles. They totally published how old we are and everything. I was relieved to find out I’m not the oldest honoree. There were a few others older than me.

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Here’s the dinner menu for the event.

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And, predictably, food pictures will now follow…

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This would be the salad.

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These are arancini balls.

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Our entrée.

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There were various desserts. We had mousse. Other tables had carrot cake. I think overall Brian was pretty happy with the dessert we got at our table. He doesn’t like carrot cake. Dinner was actually delicious, as these things go. Considerable thought and planning went into the event and it showed.

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Our group photo.

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This year’s 40 Under 40 honorees.

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And, this is me. Brian picked out my dress to go with my walk up song, “Walking on Sunshine.” My dress is quite yellow, like the sun. It’s apparently so bright that I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

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Great picture of Amy Delamaide. I met her through Twitter eight years ago. She’s one of this year’s 40 Under 40 honorees as well.

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This is my friend and Leadership Wichita classmate, Dan Lawrence. He picked the Super Mario Bros. video game theme song as his walk up song. How fun!

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Landon Plumer is another Leadership Wichita classmate.

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Landon is a lot younger than Dan and me. He’s not even 30 yet!

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This is Patrick Todd, owner of Oz Endurance. If he looks familiar, it’s because we see him every year at the Labor Run.

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There were so many interesting, accomplished people in this group. I felt truly honored to be among them. You can read up on everyone here.

The photo on the right is the picture they used with my writeup, which you can read here. I think my answers were kind of dull compared to everyone else’s answers. They were all so clever and creative. It kind of made me wish that I had put more thought into responding to my honoree profile survey.

You can check out, and purchase, the rest of the honoree picture here. The two days that they scheduled everyone’s photos fell during a week when I was in Topeka all week (probably for the system integrator interviews) so I had to swing by the WBJ office on a completely different day to get my photo taken. I’m super grateful to Kellen being so flexible and accommodating. He also did a fantastic job on all the event photos, which you can view and purchase here.

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I found out that I’m also getting a plaque like this one. I’m not really sure where I’m going to hang it yet because I have ginormous whiteboard in my office at work that takes up a lot of room. There’s not really anywhere good to put the new plaque.

I know my limited blog readership pretty much just consists of family so if you’re reading this, and you would like one of these for your home, let me know. The cost is $215 for each plaque so I’m not getting a bunch of them made. I’m only ordering one for you if you really, really, really want one.

I did get an alternative design proposal from Walliez for about the same price. I declined for now because I really don’t know where to put the first plaque let alone a second one but, if anyone wants one, let me know because I’ll be happy to purchase extras of these to give away as Christmas presents. I’m just narcissistic enough to do that. LMAO.

Jokes aside, I’m super thrilled to be among the WBJ’s 40 Under 40 honorees. After reading about everyone, I know I’m in good company. And, it was really tough to get selected so I’m truly honored.

And, for those who weren’t able to join us for the awards dinner, Brian took a video of my 15 seconds (slightly longer because Wichita Business Journal’s Bill Roy had a good ol’ time making fun of me). Enjoy!

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KMUW – New Digs

Posted on May 22, 2016 by under Confessions, Things to Do.    

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.

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Warren 21 – It’s About Time

Posted on May 21, 2016 by under Confessions, Hobbies, Things to Do.    

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.

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Getting in the Spirit

Posted on December 23, 2015 by under Confessions, Life.    

It’s Christmas Eve eve! Can you believe it? This year has gone by so quickly.

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We started celebrating early in the month when we had our Optima Customer holiday party, which was a nice break from our long days and busy schedule. Ever since this project started in October, it has consumed my life. I missed out on several things that I had planned on attending/completing the latter part of the year namely, the First Contact Resolution workshop in San Antonio, Six Sigma Yellow Belt training, the CRC and C&I joint Christmas party, and the team building and volunteer service day at the Wichita Art Museum that I organized. And those are just the big things, I’ve missed pretty much every Rotary meeting since our October project kickoff (although I did get to participate in the Andover Caring & Sharing volunteer activity) and I’ve had to bow out of several other obligations (thankfully, I’m getting great support from my teammates and boss). I guess my life will just have to be on hold until we’ve seen this project to fruition.

The hours are long and the work often seems overwhelming but at least the people I’m working with are amiable and fun. Everyone is super knowledgeable and I’m learning a ton which is really exciting for me. I thoroughly enjoy learning new things so when we began current state interviews immediately after the project kick off I remember telling everyone it feels like Christmas because I’m learning something from every single person I come in contact with. I’m like a really dry sponge just absorbing everything. Anyway, fast forward two months and now it really is Christmas.

I’m still really excited about everything I’m learning but I am starting to get bummed about missing out on stuff. And, I really miss having a routine. I guess I’ll just have to make new routines.

I missed Customer Service Week festivities (which we celebrate in the CRC during the week of Veterans Day) and other fun stuff in the CRC. I remember being at work late one evening to take care of stuff and we stopped by Faith’s office because I just had to show Brian her elaborate Christmas decor. She happened to still be in there making even more decorations. We got to visiting and Brian saw the photo booth pictures we had taken last year that were up on Faith’s cabinet walls and I made a comment about how we didn’t have a photo booth this year for Customer Service Week. Faith told me that we did have one and showed me a punch of the pictures she and others took in the photo booth. I just happened to be in Topeka that day and missed it.

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Here are some pictures of Faith’s amazing Christmas decorations.

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Recently, we had a holiday decorating contest at work. I pretty much missed most of it too but I did take pictures while I was at work late one evening.

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The participation this year was so much more than we had seen in previous years and the level of creativity was out of this world. Everyone really got into it. It was great to see and helped get in me in the spirit because up until then I really wasn’t feeling the magic of Christmas. Probably because I’ve just been so busy.

In years past I’ve usually got my trees (one upstairs and one in the basement) up by Thanksgiving and I’m usually done with Christmas shopping by then too. This year I’ve been so busy that I decided to only put one Christmas tree up (the one upstairs) and I’ve really started to question the whole gifts situation. I know of others who only get presents for children in the family and not any adults. I’m pitching that idea to Brian for next year because that would really save us a lot of time and stress.

This year I wanted to crochet presents for everyone but severely underestimated the time it would take to complete each present. Since I started later based on this incorrect assumption I was only able to complete three crochet projects and then had to come up with a backup plan for the rest of our giftees. That left us scrambling for presents last minute. Well, it feels last minute for me anyway, since I’m usually ready well ahead of time. Christmas seems to have snuck up on me this year (I suppose that’s what happens when you’re busier than usual) and I feel completely unprepared.

Here’s one of the three completed projects. Maybe next year I’ll be able to complete more. Or, if Brian goes for the “no Christmas presents for adults” idea then I may not have to make any at all except for the ones that I wish to make. That would be less pressure for me to get these crochet projects done. LOL.

Anyway, it’s nice to finally be off work. I’m still working a little to stay caught up but I’m grateful that I can just work remotely and whenever I feel like it (which is usually at odd hours of day). Since I’m on vacation, technically any work I do is just extra. For now I’m done checking email until after Christmas so I can finally start truly getting into the Christmas spirit. I hope you guys get a good long break from work and have a wonderful holiday season!

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Fun With Friends – Old and New

Posted on February 8, 2015 by under Confessions, Events.    

Jay and Becca hosted a super fun Super Bowl XLIX party last weekend. We wouldn’t have been able to attend were it not for our bowling league (we’ve been bowling in a league with my parents on Sundays for almost a year now) being canceled that night.

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The funny thing is that we play through on most holidays but they actually canceled bowling on Super Bowl Sunday. I don’t care what people say. Super Bowl Sunday is a national holiday in the US. They should just declare it as such. LOL.

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We were all smiles because we knew our team was going to win. 😉

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They sure made it exciting, though.

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Jenni joined us and had a lot of fun playing with the kids.

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I came dressed appropriately for the event in my one and only Pats shirt and my most patriotic earrings (acquired a few years ago when we visited the East Coast and toured Sam Adams with the Dills).

Our friend Rune was like, “Are you really a Pats fan or are you just trying to be nice to Jay?” To which I replied, “I don’t know enough about football to have any real favorites, but I do like the Pats more than any other football team because their team colors coordinate with the colors of my other favorite team (Boston Red Sox and KU).” #trueconfessions

We had a great time. Thank you so much for hosting, Jay and Becca!

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Yesterday Brian, Jenni, Eleanor, Nicole, and I bowled in a fundraising event for the YMCA Strong Community campaign. Angie and her husband Cory bowled with us. It was my first time meeting Angie and Cory but they seem really cool and fun. And, they’re really good bowlers too!

Here are some pictures from the bowl-a-thon yesterday.

Here’s Jenni and Nicole, goofing around.

Angie looked so cute in her orange tutu!

Angie with our boss lady Kristen, the Group Exercise Coordinator at Andover YMCA.

And, yes. This happened.

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Brian and I had a great time. Don’t mind my greasy chin. The pizzas were really greasy yesterday but I couldn’t help myself. I ate a few slices. Who can resist AJ’s pizza?

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A J Sports Grill on Urbanspoon

If there’s one thing that Northrock Lanes has going for it, it’s that it’s got a pretty good sports bar on site. Most other bowling alleys just have okay food. AJ’s serves pizza that I don’t mind eating and that says a lot because I don’t like pizza.

Granted, it’s no Ziggy’s but the pizza is good and reasonably priced. Whenever I feel like bowling, I always think of Northrock first before any of the other bowling alleys because it’s just set up better all the way around.

The only other bowling alley that would be better would be the Alley but their prices are expensive. So if you want to bowl cheap and eat decent food, my recommendation will always be Northrock.

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