Remember how I was so happy that I was able to teach Zumba on January 1, 2016? If not, here’s a short video to refresh your memory.
Guess what, New Year’s Eve 2016 fell on a Saturday so I got to teach a class on NYE also. I love how I had the rare opportunity to start and end the year with a Zumba class. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
These are just a few of the people who stuck around for a group photo following our NYE Zumba class at Andover YMCA.
SIDENOTE: There’s actually a second Zumba cruise coming up which sails in April. If you would like to go, please use my affiliate code (461028) when you book to receive $25 onboard credit.
This truly was the year of Zumba for me, actually. Not only did we get to go on the Zumba cruise, I also got a tour of Zumba Home Office while on a work trip in Florida. And, not only that, I also got to go to ZINCON again!
The significance of last year’s ZINCON is that it was the 10th anniversary of the Zumba Instructor Network (ZIN). However, I am very much looking forward to going to ZINCON again this year because it will be the 10th anniversary of the convention itself. (There was no convention during the first year of the Zumba Instructor Network. The first ZINCON didn’t happen until the year after.)
One of the highlights of this year’s ZINCON was meeting performer Max Pizzolante and his wife Maritza Bustamante. He is the singer behind a couple of songs in my current Zumba playlist: Quien Quiere Bailar, Vive Y Baila.
I actually plan to add another Max Pizzolante song to the playlist very, very soon. Stay tuned, Zumba pals!
Vive Y Baila is one of my favorite songs to do in Zumba class right now so I’m posting a video of it here for you:
Besides traveling for Zumba, Brian and I got to do some traveling for work as well.
- I got to visit Alliant Energy in Madison, WI and Spire Energy (formerly the Laclede Group) in St. Louis, MO.
- I had the opportunity to see the amazing and super hip PwC Experience Center in Florida when we were there for a Customer Experience workshop. (It was actually on this trip that I accidentally came across the Zumba Home Office. It was the best work-trip coincidence ever and I took full advantage of it.)
- I attended my first EMACS conference, which incidentally was held at the same hotel that we have ZINCON every year so I actually got to stay at the Hyatt Regency Orlando twice in the same year. It was a super fun trip because we managed to squeeze in a visit to Cocoa Beach before the conference started, except we barely got out of there before Hurricane Matthew hit. That was exciting.
- Brian attended an Edward Jones conference in St. Louis.
- I’ve also been traveling to Kansas City for work since September and it has been pretty enjoyable.
Other trips we’ve made this year include…
- A trip to visit the Orbases while they were in Fort Worth. This is significant because we hadn’t seen the family in years and this was our first ever road trip with the dogs.
- A trip to Kansas City which included tours of the Roasterie, Boulevard Brewing Company, and One Light Luxury Apartments.
Brian and I also had the privilege of attending or helping with several amazing events/benefits this past year:
- Heart Ball (American Heart Association)
- Haus of Brews (Andover Rotary Club)
- Bowl for Kids’ Sake (Big Brothers Big Sisters)
- Tenth Annual Brew Ha-Ha at Flint Hills National (Big Brothers Big Sisters)
- YMCA Champion Social (Greater Wichita YMCA)
- Polar Express Literacy Event (Child Start)
- Museum of the Undead (Exploration Place)
- Light Your Heart (Heartspring)
- Hope in Spring Gala (Kansas DUI Impact Center)
- KANSEL Team Trivia (KANSEL)
- Zumbathon for Jen Cole, LLS Woman of the Year Candidate (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society)
- Painting a giant US map at Prairie Creek Elementary (Old Town Rotary)
- Celebrity & Chef Cookoff (The Orpheum Theatre)
- The Pando Initiative 25th Anniversary Gala (The Pando Initiative, formerly known as Communities in Schools)
- Zoobilee (Sedgwick County Zoo)
- Dudegrass Six (Tallgrass Film Festival)
- SALSA 2016 (WASAC)
- Color Party X (Wichita Art Museum)
- Wichita Asian Festival (Wichita Asian Association)
- Rockin’ the Roundhouse (Wichita State University)
There are so many worthy causes out there and these organizations need our help. I put a link to the organization that hosts or benefits from the event. I recommend reaching out to someone this year if you would like to help.
Although 2016 was a very busy year, we still managed to squeeze in some fun times with friends: murder mystery party at the Larneng’s, private dinner prepared by Chef Jason (also at the Larnengs), CRC picnic, painting at Pinot’s Palette, Tom’s housewarming party, Holly and Meader’s wedding, Pokemon Party Bus, going to a bunch of Christmas parties, and NYE at Hideki’s which I have yet to even blog about. (I’ll be posting it next so check back.)
Nickira and I got to do a bunch of fun activities as well like watching Willy Wonka at the Orpheum, Fall Fest at City Arts, and Winter Mania at the Wichita Art Museum. We got to spend lots of time with grandma, which we will be able to do even more now that we’ve moved her to Victoria Falls.
This year was also a banner year for us in terms of attending music theatre performances. We only missed one MTW show and even got to see Wicked for the first time. I know it’s unrelated but we also got introduced to a new band that we just love: Jared & the Mill.
Brian and I went to celebrate Christmas Eve at my parents’ home in Derby, as is our tradition. Here are some highlights.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Mom made the leche flan and then this tiramisu was purchased from Costco.
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.
I’m so glad Jen (Cannady) told us exactly what to get for QQ.
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.
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.
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.
This is grandma opening her first present from us – a large print calendar.
This is Brian opening the present from Aunt Sandy.
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?
Then it was grandma turn to open a present again.
This next bag had her fruitcake and nuts. She asked for peanuts and cashews.
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!
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.
This next present is from the Orbases in Alaska.
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.
Here’s Brian opening the present from Kevin and Kasey.
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.
Here’s a better picture of the etching on the wine glass.
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.
For lunch we had an eight-pound ham and mac ‘n cheese.
Way more food than the three of us could eat. We’ve been eating leftovers since.
I used some of the leftover Christmas ham to make fried rice the other day. It actually turned out pretty good.
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.
On Monday we did a down-and-back to visit Brian’s parents in Oklahoma.
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.
They got Brian the new Call of Duty game.
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!
They also got us some booze and chocolates along with a bunch of other goodies.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Her presents are always amazing so Brian and I were both excited to unbox our gifts. Brian and I both got vests.
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.
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!
FLIP + CHING
Posted on December 29, 2016 by Ching under Food and Drink, Things to Do.
Oeno closed last week after ten years of business. It made us so sad because it’s our favorite place for salsa and Latin dancing.
Well, we used to go to Suede. I remember when we used to go there religiously on Friday nights, even when it’s cold and snowing outside. That was our regular Friday night thing.
Then Suede closed and there wasn’t a fun place for us to go for dancing (at least the type of dancing we enjoy). That is, until we discovered Oeno. Naturally, we had to go on the final night. We didn’t care if it was just the two of us. We had to go to close out this chapter.
Whenever we are at Oeno, we usually get the lavash.
We also like their charcuterie (meat and cheese board).
They were doing 50% OFF bottles of wine that night and discounted wines by the glass but Brian couldn’t drink (he can’t drink for a few more days – until after his follow up appointment with the doctor) so I ended up getting a pitcher of sangria. I don’t usually drink entire bottles of wine but I’ve been known to put away pitchers of sangria without remorse. LOL.
Anyway, it’s not as fun drinking by yourself. And, Brian gave me a look of disapproval each time he refilled my glass. I was hoping some of our friends would show up and help me finish the pitcher but everyone else either already had plans or they were too tired to come out. Christmas shopping and preparing for Christmas in general can take a lot out of you so it’s completely understandable.
At least Hideki and Amy came by. They were down the street, having dinner at the Anchor. And then they had a show at Public. They stopped by for a bit, though.
The rest of the sangria did not go to waste!
Here’s the four of us on the very last night of Oeno being open. It was so very sad.
So that’s it then. Now it’s time to look for a new place for salsa night. I sure wish we had a place like Cuba Libre here.
Posted on December 28, 2016 by Ching under Food and Drink.
After so many missed opportunities to try Stearman Field Bar and Grill, it finally happened. Brian and I finally got to check it out. Finally.
Brian and I went for one of my Rotary Club’s after hours socials. I’ve never made one of these because I’m usually out of town or I’ve already got another commitment or we don’t have it for that month.
I was off work for a couple of days last week due to illness. It wasn’t until I got back to work that I saw the invite. Brian and I were so excited that we could actually go.
We’ve never been because it’s located in Benton and it always seemed so far away. Brian and I RSVP’d but I actually thought we would be late for the 6 PM event start time because Brian doesn’t get off work until 5 PM and it usually takes him a good 30 minutes to get home. After we mapped it, we were surprised to find out that the restaurant is only a little over 20 minutes away from our house. We were both like, “We can totally make it on time!” That is until Brian found out that he had to pick up some prescription medication for grandma and her doctor doesn’t have the ability to call or fax prescriptions to the pharmacy. He literally had to drive all the way to Andover to pick up the prescription and then take it to the pharmacy and wait almost 45 minutes for them to fill it.
It was kind of a roller coaster of anticipation. At first I anticipated being a few minutes late, then we thought we would be on time, and then we ended up being super duper late (as in an hour late).
Brian just wanted to skip it after we realized how late we would be but then I told him that we already said that we would make it and the invite said come and go so maybe other people will arrive late also. No such luck. We were the only ones late. And, everyone else was pretty much finishing their meal when we got there.
On the bright side, everyone was still there so at least we got to say hi to people. And, the club picked up our dinner tab so it’s not like we had to pay for dinner. Neither of us expected that as we’d never been to one of these after hours Andover Rotary Club get togethers before.
Here are some pictures of the restaurant interior.
I had the stuffed pork which was on special that night.
Brian had the chicken fried steak. It’s not exactly a low cholesterol meal but he only ate part of it (not even half).
Both of our meals were delicious. I didn’t try Brian’s but he said that it was even better than the chicken fried steak at Cy’s Hoof and Horn, which means it’s amazing because the chicken fried steak at Cy’s is really good.
Anyway, we’re already planning our next trip back. We decided we will return for breakfast/brunch when the weather is nice so we can see planes flying about and get the whole Stearman experience. Don’t worry. I will be taking lots of pictures and writing about it here. Stay tuned!
I am so grateful that I got to spend the final week before Christmas vacation at our Wichita office; otherwise I would have missed all of the crazy, out of this world Christmas decorations. The Customer Relations Center folks have totally outdone themselves this year.
This is just one of several full-sized Christmas trees throughout the floor.
Each row had a theme. This was Halloween Town.
This one’s theme was a Charlie Brown Christmas.
This is Westar Village.
This is Ginger Bread Lane.
You can guess who won. LOL. They have totally outdone themselves this year!
I work with such a fun, creative group of people. I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with next year. In the meantime, here’s a fun picture of our admin, Jeff. (He’s our new Amy.)
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Everyone!