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Brian’s 43rd Birthday

Posted on July 2, 2017 by under Events, Family, Food and Drink.    

There were a ton of things going on this year and multiple birthday celebrations. Brian and I started out by having a quiet dinner at Granite City (East) on Friday, June 9. He wanted a “just the two of us” dinner.

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Well, the two of us and his giant beer.

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Pics of our dinner…

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The next day was Symphony in the Flint Hills. This was more for me than Brian but he was a good sport about it. His reward and birthday present was a deluxe massage with Johnson Nguyen at Sveta’s. I got to try Johnson a couple of months ago when he first started doing massages at Sveta’s and I wanted Brian to experience his style of massage because my massage was very good. Brian said it was a great massage but Mindy Nuce is still his number one choice. He said Johnson is now his second though, for those times when Mindy isn’t available.

He didn’t get a big present this year like he did last year but we had that trip to Alaska that we’re still recovering from. Trips are not cheap!

Fast forward to June 13, his actual birthday. I actually ended up double booking because I promised to keep the PowerGEN trivia night thing going for work and we agreed on Tuesday night trivia at the Pumphouse on June 13 as our next trivia night. Then Jimmy Washington, who is on the board of directors for the Wichita Orpheum, offered us tickets to the Celebrity & Chef Cook Off.

Since it was Brian’s birthday and I was completely hijacking it with work events, I figured that I should at least let him choose what he wanted to do. He picked the Celebrity & Chef Cook Off, naturally. It’s one of his favorite fundraising events.

Lucky for me, Ryan Muzzy (one of my coworkers and fellow PowerGENer) was more than happy to take charge of trivia night. That freed us up to attend the Orpheum benefit.

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The Lexus parking lot was open that night but we got a hangtag anyway because we are nerds. As we were walking to the arena, we were stopped by this couple who asked if they could park there and I would have said yes because no one was there to check tags anyway and the gate was open but Brian told them they had to have a hangtag and made them park somewhere else. He’s mean like that. But it’s his birthday so he can do whatever. LOL.

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Here are some pictures of all the amazing food. As with every year that we’ve been, we don’t really get to try everything. We usually give up before we’ve even sampled half of what’s there.

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I had to take a pic of their sign because I enjoyed this immensely. I may have Brian take me there this weekend because now I’m craving it.

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I may or may not have gone back a few times for this dessert. You know I went at least twice because I got a couple of photos.

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Brian and I ran into our friend Bill Ramsey at the event.

Here’s a picture of our handsome group.

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Usually we stay for the whole thing but I felt bad for bailing on the trivia night so I talked Brian into stopping by the Pumphouse on the way home.

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We arrived just in time for the final two rounds. The PowerGEN team just went by “PowerGEN” and didn’t come up with a clever name this time.

That’s Leo and Tammie’s team, the Oatmeal, at the next table. You can see Leo in the pic above with Tammie next to him. She has her back to the camera. I think that might be Scott to the right of Leo. He’s been going to Tuesday night trivia religiously. Their team always does really well. I think they were in second place when we got there.

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Here’s Ryan, Teresa and Ted. PowerGEN was doing pretty well. They hadn’t breached the top three yet but they were close enough in score to be in the running.

PowerGEN was in fourth going into the final round, which is a really good place to be because you have a great shot at placing depending on what happens with the top three teams. The final round is where you get to wager some of your points, up to a maximum of 20 points. This is why I say that fourth place is a good spot. Obviously, if you’re close to the bottom, 20 points isn’t going to make much of a difference but if you’re within the top five and the spread is not that vast then you could really pull off an upset.

I was super excited when the trivia master announced “movies” as the final round category. We would have been hosed with sports but Brian and I know a lot about movies so I was like, “We got this!”

They gave us four Charlize Theron movies in random order and we had to list it in order chronologically. The movies they gave us were:

I’m a huge Charlize Theron fan so I was pretty familiar with her filmography. I knew that Mighty Joe Young was the oldest and Aeon Flux was the newest. However, I wasn’t so confident about the two movies in the middle. I was very familiar with Monster though because, besides Charlize Theron being made to look ugly, that had one of my favorite Journey songs it: Don’t Stop Believing.

Brian was convinced that Monster was after Aeon Flux but I felt so sure that Aeon Flux was released after. Anyway, Alex was with me so the two of us overruled Brian. LOL. In the end, we went with The Legend of Bagger Vance after Mighty Joe Young and that’s what we submitted. I was very confident about our answer but I was nervous about the wager.

Ryan, who was a fantastic leader, finally put his foot down and said, “We didn’t come here to take third!” We ended up wagering the full 20 points.

I think everyone else got the final question wrong because all the point went down but ours. PowerGEN ended up taking first place that night.

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Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Everything lined up perfectly. The right people were there and the right trivia questions were asked but, ultimately, I think it was Ryan’s leadership that made the difference.

Brian’s actual birthday was Tuesday but we’ll fast forward to Friday because not much happened between his birthday and Friday. Well, stuff happened but it wasn’t birthday related.

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Anyway, April Padgett from the Wichita State University Foundation reached out to me to tell me that Brian’s picture with Dr. John Bardo and Elizabeth King that was taken at the Society of 1895 luncheon back in April was finally ready and she could drop it off. It was printed just in time for Brian’s birthday. How perfect!

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We met up for coffee at Mead’s Corner and she gave it to me then. I texted Brian to tell him I had his special luncheon photo and it was in a neat little holder so he could display it at his desk but he said he had no room so he let me keep it. It has been on display at my desk ever since.

Brian took the day off work on that Friday because that was the day of our big family celebration. We were having a BBQ in honor of Brian’s birthday, grandma’s birthday, and Father’s Day weekend. We were actually expecting a visit from his parents who live in Oklahoma but their plans fell through. At first his mom was staying home but his dad was still making the drive up for the weekend. But then his mom got really sick and his dad couldn’t leave. We were bummed when we found out a few days before the event that David wouldn’t be able to join us but we understood. Luckily, we didn’t have any major presents — just gift cards — and those are easy enough to mail so that’s what we did for him instead.

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The party still went on though because Brian had already bought all of that food and everyone else was still coming. Everyone else being Brian’s cousin/nephew Zach, my sister Jenni, my mom and dad, and of course grandma.

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Brian got a Boston creme cake. Yes, like his favorite donut.

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Mom made Filipino spaghetti. She made a ton so we had a bunch left over. I ended up refreshing it on Sunday night by adding another jar of meat sauce and I shared it with Faith and her kids when I went to work on Monday. She said they loved it.

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Brian grilled three full slabs of ribs.

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They ribs don’t all look the same because he couldn’t fit the third rack in our small charcoal grill so he had to start those in the oven and then finish them off in the grill. Those actually turned out the best. The meat literally fell off the bones and melted in your mouth.

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We also got a pan of our favorite mac n’ cheese from Costco.

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We also had other BBQ-type foods like baked beans, green beans, and corn on the cob. And then had Hawaiian sweet rolls, which are our favorite. I didn’t get to take pictures of everything but you get the idea.

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One of the milestones we celebrated was grandma’s birthday. She turned 95 on June 19. Can you believe it?

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We just got gift cards for her and our dads so they could get what they wanted. Grandma’s was to Dillon’s where she gets groceries and other things. Dad’s was to Lowe’s because home improvement is kind of his thing. For Brian’s dad, we got Cabella’s so he could get more ammo. It’s way easier to mail a gift card than ammo.

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I wanted to play some Uno but some people were party poopers. We ended up playing heads up. Just me and mom and Jenni because no one was really interested in playing games.

Anyway, that was the conclusion of Brian’s fun birthday week. Can’t wait to do it all again next year. I’m thinking of throwing a nautical themed birthday party because it’s going to be his 44th, which in poker-speak is sailboats.

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Saturdate with Grandma – Zoo Edition

Posted on June 27, 2017 by under Family, Food and Drink.    

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Brian and I took grandma out for an early birthday treat a couple of weeks ago. We went on a zoo date but, before that, we stopped for lunch at Aero Plains Brewing where we knew that LumpiaPalooza would be.

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Here’s a picture of Brian chatting with the owner, Cynthia Wilson. She is a relative of Matt, who was our server at 49th State Brewing Company in Anchorage.

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We couldn’t decide what to get so we ordered the “Make Me One With Everything” – TWICE! This package consists of five savory lumpia flavors (original with spicy sweet and sour sauce, pulled pork with BBQ sauce, Caribbean veggie with mango salsa, mac and cheese and bacon with BBQ sauce, and mozzarella stick with marinara sauce) and three dessert lumpias (lemon blueberry, chocolate chip cookie dough, and Nutella banana).

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Here’s the full menu.

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Areo Plains is Brian’s favorite brewery in town so he took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy a glass while we waited for our food.

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I also took a picture of Brian and grandma while we were waiting.

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And, an obligatory group selfie.

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Here are some pictures of our amazing lumpias.

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This was grandma’s very first food truck experience so, of course, we had to take a picture with the owner before we left.

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Then it was off to the zoo for the rest of grandma’s pre-birthday treat.

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Here are some of my favorite pics from our zoo trip that day.

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We were going to go on the boat ride but they shut it down early because of the weather. It was rainy the day. It had been raining lightly on and off but then it started to really pour. We didn’t get our boat ride but we got to see a lot of stuff and it was a fun day overall.

Brian and I had a great time and hope that grandma did as well.

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Gift Cards for Everyone

Posted on December 30, 2016 by under Family.    

Brian and I went to celebrate Christmas Eve at my parents’ home in Derby, as is our tradition. Here are some highlights.

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Mom and dad never ask for anything and, since Brian’s parents asked for gift cards this year, we figured we would just get them the exact same thing. Mom suggested Lowe’s for dad but didn’t tell me which gift card to get for her so I got her a Kohl’s gift card, which is the same thing we got for Brian’s mom.

My parents are so weird and overly pragmatic. Of course, the Lowe’s gift card was good because it was “useful.” Mom’s only reaction to her Kohl’s gift card was, “You know I haven’t really been shopping since I’ve been back.”

They’re supposedly “poor” because dad is in between contracts and mom only works whenever she feels like it. LOL.

“Well, now you can get yourself something and not feel guilty about it.” I mean, what else can I say?

These two. Seriously. I think they’d be happier if we didn’t get them anything because that would be more practical. They always say they don’t “need” anything. I would feel terrible not getting them anything, though. You’re supposed to give presents to your parents, right? Is that not the norm?

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Unlike my parents, Jenni is always a really good giftee. She tells you specifically want she wants, which is super helpful, and if you do guess and get her something random, she always acts like it’s amazing.

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She usually asks for a Passion Planner but she was being really annoying about it and pestering me to get her present early so we gave that to her for her birthday this year. That was both good and bad. Good because then she quit pestering me about her annual Passion Planner and bad in that now we had to figure out what to get her for Christmas.

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When Brian and I were at the Spice Merchant a couple of weeks ago looking for black tea (supposedly good for your cholesterol levels) for Brian, we found this ceramic coffee cup with pandas all over it. Brian immediately thought it would be perfect for Jenni. We decided to just get her that along with a QT gift card so she would have some gas money. We weren’t sure what her job situation was like after her “brief sabbatical.”

It turns out that she’s not that hard up. She told us that her unemployment started immediately and she also got some money from mom for Christmas. She’s doing fine. She will probably continue to make bad life choices but at least she’s neither broke nor starving. LOL.

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We were all starving so I almost forgot to take pictures of the food. I remembered only after we started eating so these probably aren’t the best photos.

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Everything was delicious and, as always, we had way more food than people to eat it. Fine by me because that meant I got to take home leftovers!

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I tried to eat some ham but then decided against it and focused my gorging effort on the menudo and sinigang after I remembered that we would have ham again the next day with grandma.

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We had several dessert options. I took pictures of the two that I liked. Mom also made biko but I don’t really like biko so I didn’t take a picture of it.

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Mom made the leche flan and then this tiramisu was purchased from Costco.

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When the Cannadys finally arrived, we let them open their presents from mom and dad first and then gave them our presents. This is QQ opening his gift.

Brian got a great video of the unboxing.

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I’m so glad Jen (Cannady) told us exactly what to get for QQ.

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As for the older boys, they both wanted money. My challenge was to figure out a way to gift it to them without them realizing they were getting money. In previous years I’d wrapped the money in multiple boxes but that’s obviously been done already. As soon as they see another smaller present within the present and continued to unwrap the next smaller present, the gig would be up.

My idea this year was to put the money inside a book. Of course, as soon as Eli opened his then it wasn’t as much of a surprise for Logan. I think the trick next year will be to gift it in two different ways.

Logan has grown up so much. He is already taller than Brian. It won’t be long before he’s taller than his dad.

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It’s always fun to see the Cannadys. They only live a few minutes away but they might as well live in another state. We rarely ever get to see them anymore. Hopefully we can change that in 2017. Logan will be a senior next year and then after that he’ll be off to college (maybe). He’s pretty laid back about everything and not really as passionate or driven as other kids. I hope he finds his passion and that passion leads him to college.

I purposely selected Success for Teens as the book to hold his Christmas money. I hope he actually reads it.

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We brought grandma over to our house to celebrate Christmas Day. We opened presents after a light breakfast of coffee (or in my case, hot cocoa, because I’m not a coffee drinker) and cinnamon rolls.

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This is grandma opening her first present from us – a large print calendar.

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This is Brian opening the present from Aunt Sandy.

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She got us these beautiful ornaments. That means I really have to do my boozy tree next year. I’ll have to mix all of the ornaments together into my “natural” tree with critters because we gave our fun, colorfully themed tree to Zach and Autumn this year. It made more sense for them to have it because I didn’t put up Christmas decorations this year and, how many trees does one really need? Truly?

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Then it was grandma turn to open a present again.

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This next bag had her fruitcake and nuts. She asked for peanuts and cashews.

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This next bag had the cookies that grandma wanted. We didn’t deviate from her Christmas list at all except for the bag of Lindor truffles that we tossed in there with the cookies. The funniest part is that Brian’s mom and dad got grandma the exact same bag of Lindor truffles in her crate of Christmas goodies that the sent for her. Great minds think alike!

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It looked like the same bag but theirs might have been the smaller bag. We got this one from Costco. That crate they sent her was full of a bunch of other stuff, though. I don’t know what all was in it since I wasn’t present for its unboxing but it was quite heavy. Brian delivered it to grandma after dropping me off at Zumba on Monday night. He didn’t get any pictures of the unboxing her crate of goodies because she wasn’t feeling well.

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This next present is from the Orbases in Alaska.

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They sent us a super cozy, super warm, super soft throw.

Here’s a video of Brian reading the card that came with the present.

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Here’s Brian opening the present from Kevin and Kasey.

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They gave us some super festive wine glasses and a couple of bottles of wine to put in them. Except they gave Brian a rose and they gave me a cab so we decided to trade. We think they might have gotten the labels on the gift boxes mixed up. LOL.

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Here’s a better picture of the etching on the wine glass.

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As is customary whenever we’re not all together during the holidays, we do a video chat with David and Donna in Oklahoma on Christmas Day. Grandma doesn’t see very well anymore but she enjoys it nonetheless. We have to do this every time unless they are here.

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For lunch we had an eight-pound ham and mac ‘n cheese.

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Way more food than the three of us could eat. We’ve been eating leftovers since.

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I used some of the leftover Christmas ham to make fried rice the other day. It actually turned out pretty good.

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We also played some Uno in the afternoon. Brian was the big winner this time. Poor grandma, she hasn’t been winning at Uno lately. It might be time to switch to a different card game. LOL.

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On Monday we did a down-and-back to visit Brian’s parents in Oklahoma.

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They took us to this neat restaurant that is right by the Top Golf in Oklahoma City. I will probably write a separate blog about it.

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They got Brian the new Call of Duty game.

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They got me not one but two S’well bottles. They are these amazing bottles that keep hot beverages hot for 12 hours and cold beverages cold for 24 hours. I guess it’s kind of like a thermos but cooler. Ha! I made a pun!

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They also got us some booze and chocolates along with a bunch of other goodies.

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As for our gifts to them, we were lame and got them gift cards. It’s what they asked for, though. We got Cabela’s for David and Kohl’s for Donna. We also know how much they like chocolate so we got a huge tin of chocolate coins for David and chocolate wafer biscuit things for Donna. And then we didn’t want to mail the stuff. Thus, the impromptu trip to Oklahoma.

It worked out well because then we were able to bring their present for grandma back to Wichita so they wouldn’t have to ship it. Mailing that huge crate full of stuff would have been tricky.

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We had our final Christmas celebration yesterday. Zach, Autumn, Brian, and I all talked about watching Rogue One together but we had to wait for them to return from Illinois. They’d never watched a movie at Warren 21 before so Brian decided that we would get the movie tickets as their Christmas present.

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It’s awesome that we were there to pop their Warren 21 cherry and Rogue One was the perfect movie for it. And the best part – Autumn and I got to wear our Christmas pants to the movies.

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Oh, while I was typing up this post today, the mailman delivered a package for us from my half-sister in New Jersey.

She is always so thoughtful and sends the best presents.

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Last year she sent us these beautifully monogrammed mugs. They are one of Brian’s favorites but they are my most favorite of all the mugs we have.

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Her presents are always amazing so Brian and I were both excited to unbox our gifts. Brian and I both got vests.

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They got Brian a cool, reversible one; while mine is a soft fur one. They were absolutely perfect! I was like, “That’s why she asked for our clothes sizes.”

I couldn’t get over how soft mine was.

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Anyway, I think that’s pretty much it for the Christmas recap. I can’t believe I actually got this posted before January. LOL. I’m usually late on these things.

Have a fantastic 2017, everyone!

XOXO,
FLIP + CHING

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Thanksgiving Holiday 2016

Posted on December 12, 2016 by under Family, Things to Do.    

We had a super quiet Thanksgiving lunch this year. It was just Brian, grandma, and me. Brian’s parents usually do their own Thanksgiving in Oklahoma. I invited my parents but they were still both recovering from illness and feeling antisocial. They didn’t feel like joining us. I even offered to bring them some food but mom declined. I also invited Jenni via text but never heard back.

All of our friends were doing their own Thanksgivings. Initially, our friend Chad said he would swing by but he ended up canceling last minute. We ended up with way more food than three people could eat. It worked out great though, because then grandma was able to take some food home with her.

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This was our first year without Fresh Market. We ended up getting food from Dillons. The food was okay but definitely not as good as the quality of the Thanksgiving meal we get from Fresh Market. Most of the items were off the shelf rather than prepared fresh like the Thanksgiving dinner we get from Fresh Market. This is definitely a case of “you get what you pay for” except Fresh Market is no longer an option since they closed their store.

Brian and I agreed that we will need to figure out a better plan for next year because we are definitely not going to order the Dillons Thanksgiving dinner again.

Brian had to work on Black Friday this year so I was pretty much on my own. In years past, we’ve both had the day off so we’ve braved the Black Friday mobs and have actually gone shopping. We switched gears the last few year and have done most of our shopping online so I didn’t really feel an urge to go Black Friday shopping this year. Besides, it’s not as much fun without Brian.

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Instead of shopping, I decided to spend the day with my little sister.

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We started with breakfast at Doo-Dah Diner. I love that they give you free monkey bread while you wait for your meal. It’s my most favorite part of eating there.

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Doo-Dah was busy that day so we just sat at the counter.

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Nickira originally wanted pancakes but then she saw chicken and waffles on the menu so she switched to that instead. I was worried that the meal would be too big so I convinced her to split it with me. I’m glad we split it because it was not quite what Nickira expected.

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She was not a fan of the chocolate dipped bacon. She actually gave me hers. Oh, and you can tell which half is which by the egg. Nickira wanted a runny yolk on her egg, while I wanted mine fried hard.

It was just the right amount of food for me.

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After breakfast we were off to Winter Art Mania at the Wichita Art Museum.

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And then after doing all of the activities inside, we decided to go for a stroll through the art garden and take some photos. I just love the Wichita Art Museum!

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This hasn’t been our typical Thanksgiving or Black Friday. Actually, this hasn’t been our typical year. Yet, despite all of the obstacles and challenges, we managed to find joy in everything. I’m so grateful for the love of our family and friends and for all that we have. We are truly blessed.

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Pictures from Our Tour of Victoria Falls

Posted on November 24, 2016 by under Family, Life.    

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It was bright and sunny that day so Brian loaned grandma his sunglasses. Doesn’t she look absolutely stylish in them?

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One of the things I liked about the place is that they had chairs everywhere so any time you got tired of walking you could just have a seat as needed.

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This is grandma going through her long list of questions with Tom, facility director.

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This is Brian pretending to pay attention. Just kidding. He really was paying attention. I promise.

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One of grandma’s favorite nurses moved here from the place where she currently lives. We ran into her and we had a nice visit.

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All of the residents we encountered seemed super happy to be living there. Everyone appeared satisfied and happy with the service. There was this one guy in a scooter who was really funny. He was like, “You guys must be pretty special to get Tom here on a Sunday.”

I love the aviary that they have in the middle of the room.

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Here’s a better picture of it.

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You don’t need fake nature sounds when you can hear real birds chirping away.

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This would probably be my favorite spot if I lived there.

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I find bird sounds so calming and relaxing.

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I also like the nice private courtyard in the middle of the facility.

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We walked through there to get to the dining hall.

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It will be the perfect spot for nice days.

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Brian loved the train trolley in the middle of the dining room.

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It’s a nice touch.

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There are also booths in there so you can eat inside the trolley if you like.

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There’s also a beauty salon onsite.

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And a bistro for the dessert socials.

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This is where they play bingo and movies.

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There are also various game tables like billiards and shuffleboard, which is perfect for the more active residents of the facility.

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And all of the hallways are nice and wide. Perfect for zooming around in a motorized chair or scooter.

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There are lots of activities for the residents, which gives everyone ample opportunities to socialize.

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Here’s the November calendar up close.

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The best part is that all residents are issued a safety pendant that they can push in case of emergency. This would have been perfect that time that grandma fell in her apartment. It might have saved her from further injuries from having to crawl over to the phone. With this, she can just push the button and help would be on its way.

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I liked the facility overall but this is by far our favorite feature. We are looking forward to moving grandma here in a few weeks. I think she will really love it here.

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