To Grandmother’s House We Go

July 21, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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One of the perks of living in central/south Kansas is grandma is only a few hours away. And now aunt Jill is, too. To commemorate this fact, along with Jill’s birthday, Liam and I took a trip up last week. On the way we stopped at my friend Candi’s house to play with six-year-old Miles. Liam and Miles have played a few times before, and they get along great. And while Miles is light-years ahead of Liam in school (this little genius is skipping two grades next year!), he was good about finding ways to play along at Liam’s pace. Unless he wanted to play soccer golf, a game he invented with some pretty complicated rules. But then there was baby brother Bryce, just 11 month old, ready to take up the slack. The boys all had a great time at the pool. Liam timidly stayed with us moms in the baby pool, but he really enjoyed watching Miles flit around on the various slides. Miles reminds me of Liam in a lot of ways, so it’s fun to get a glimpse of what Liam may be like in a few years. 

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We had a full house at mom’s – Doug had to go out of town and Jill had to pick up some shifts at Starbucks, so Liam got a ton of Evie and Milo time at grandma’s. We spent Saturday at Powell Gardens for the Lego exhibit.

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They had a bunch of lego ducks, swans, frogs, flowers, and animals on the grounds. This lego lawn mower cracked us up! It was a hot day, so we spent as much time in the shade as we could. The kids enjoyed the shade, too.

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I hadn’t been to Powell since they’d planted the vegetable garden, so that whole side of the grounds was new to me. We had planned to take the kids over to the fountain, but they discovered this little garden sprinkler and decided to play here instead. Of course, Evie and Milo ran full tilt, fully clothed, and we had to change them out of sopping wet clothes and into their swim suits. Liam, on the other hand, refused to get near the water until he was wearing the Proper Attire. These cousins couldn’t be any more different sometimes! And, of course, I couldn’t get all three of them in one shot at the same time. This will have to do.

James drove up in the afternoon and we had ourselves a little date night, our first since moving to KS. James discovered a new German place, Haus, boasting German and Belgian beers, exotic wursts and authentic Belgian waffles. The food was decent, though I’m not a huge fan of sausages. Feeling adventurous, I tried the Rabbit and James tried the Wild Boar. They both tasted about the same to me once they were drowned in sauerkraut and mustard. The Belgian fries, however, were outstanding. We got three dipping sauces, and true to the reviews, the Sriracha Aioli was the best. We also stuffed our faces with two appetizers, the fried cheese curds and the pretzels with hot cheese. Our stomachs near capacity, we skipped the buns on our sausages and went straight for the kill…a crispy Belgian waffle on a scoop of chocolate ice cream, drizzled with copious amounts of chocolate sauce and caramel. Holy crap, that was good! I almost forgot that I was full, and I gobbled up most of it. Just as well – I think James had hit capacity with all the bread and Belgian beer. Somehow we rolled ourselves out of there and took a stroll through the only museum we could find open that late, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. James finds modern art a bit dubious, but they had an outstanding photography exhibit by a woman in rural Idaho. (I get the feeling all of Idaho is rural.) Then we walked the grounds at the Nelson until we just couldn’t take it and had to sit down. Full bellies on a hot night, not conducive to romantic walks.

Sunday I had a lovely brunch with my college friend Jenny at Neighbors Café in downtown LS. Gotta love those cinnamon rolls! She bravely agreed to come back to my parents house to see how big Liam had gotten, and got a full dose of cousin madness. Quite a departure from her nice, quiet, one-cat, one-husband household, I’m sure, ha ha. Actually, even our house seems quiet when it’s just Liam and I at home. Three kids = five times the noise.

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On Monday we took the kids to Crown Center for the Curious George exhibit, which they all loved! Evie jumped right in, posing for this photo, then joining a large group of kids all working with foam blocks and a conveyor belt. Milo took Jill off to explore, and that left me with Liam clinging to my skirts. He eventually warmed up to the idea of posing with George, as you can see above. In that third photo, I told him to put his arm around George, not thinking he’d put it around the front! This kid cracks me up. They had lots of little buttons to push and drawers to open with artifacts inside. They had a whole display of George merchandising that captivated his attention. I found it interesting that the authors fled Nazi occupied France with their manuscript in tow, traveling all the way through Spain on a bike and Brazil by boat before arriving in the States.

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IMG_2185We took the kids on the wrong sky walk to Union Station, instead ending up at the Sheraton (must have been that right turn at Albuquerque), but they were happy to run all the way back around. Then they played quietly for almost an hour at the train exhibit. By the way, Milo is indeed only an inch or two shorter than Liam now. He’s still wearing Liam’ shirts from last year, but not for long! We couldn’t leave without getting some chocolate. Evie and Liam both had chocolate covered marshmallows, while I feasted on a dark chocolate dipped twinkie on a stick. Yum.

Tuesday, Jill’s birthday, was also Marvin’s moving day. So Jill and I babysat the kids and grandpa while mom and dad moved grandpa’s stuff out of his apartment in LS and into an assisted living place they found for him off Bannister Rd. All was well – the kids were playing quietly and Marvin took a nap – so Jill went out to Freebird’s to get us some takeout. I was feeling pretty confident until the kids started fighting, then I found Milo sitting in mom’s chair with a pair of adult scissors, then grandpa woke up all disoriented and started taking off his clothes and taking out his teeth. I finally convinced grandpa that it wasn’t morning and he didn’t have to take a shower, but he wasn’t happy about it. I guess he’s gotten rather OCD in his old age, coupled with a touch of dementia, and the poor guy doesn’t know what he’s doing or where he’s going. I think he’s moving into a facility just in time! Actually, for mom’s sanity, it should have been sooner. But now he’s all settled and taken care of. Whew!

I’ll end with this hilariously cute video of dad and Milo. We ended our trip on a good note, too, with the kids all playing really well even as I was loading up the car. I’m looking forward to visits from both Jill and my parents in August.

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Kansas City Extravaganza 2012

June 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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We spent a good long time in my hometown this month – I stayed three weeks, and James joined me for the last week. Evie and Liam played unbelievably well this time. No fighting at all. Eleven-month-old Milo, on the other hand, had Liam all in a tizzy. Liam cried every time Milo grabbed anything from him, especially if it was his dinner. And Milo will eat anything. Mostly Evie and Liam would retreat back to the bedroom and shut the door, reminding my uncannily of how my cousin Erin and I would do the same thing when we were kids. They also spent a lot of time out on the back patio making a huge mess of the sandbox and pool. And they tore apart the back room on a daily basis. My mom got up from her chair to get something, and she shouted out in surprise, shocked to see Liam and Evie standing on the dining room table and batting their hands at the glass light fixtures. Evie seemed to derive some joy on tattling on Liam, whether he was breaking something, throwing something, or making a mess. I warned him that grandma might start keeping a tab. These two are something else.

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Jill took almost 2 full weeks off, so we took the kids everywhere. We spent a day at the zoo with Camden and my grandma. We rode the new ski lift over the Africa exhibit (poor Jill only rode it one way, saying all she could picture were her kids going “splat” on the ground), and we were absolutely delighted at the new polar bear exhibit. Just as we entered the underwater viewing area, he guuuushed right in and spun around in the water. It was really fun seeing Cam again, and I was amazed at how grown up he’s become. He helped us mind the kids (volunteering to push the double stroller, then asking to ride in it when Evie wanted to walk, lol), but he also got them jazzed about some of the different animals we saw.

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We had a big dinner on Mother’s Day, with all our generations represented. We didn’t even bother trying to get the kids in this photo. They were too busy running around the yard like crazy people. (Pictured: Doug, Jill, Grandpa Marvin, Grandma Weddle, mom, dad, and me)

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Dad thought it’d be fun to take Liam and Evie on the Amtrak from Lee’s Summit to Union Station and back. It was a pain in the ass to get tickets (and kind of expensive for what they were), but it was all worth it in the end to see the joy on their little faces as the train pulled up and they actually got to BOARD! They loved every minute of the ride, even though the scenery was a lot of junk yards and trashy back lawns. But then we pulled into the station, and the kids ran around the toy train exhibit for an hour. We grabbed some chocolate at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate shop (chocolate dipped potato chips are surprisingly good), then we saw the time and practically ran to the train platform. Catching our breath in our seats, we realized the train wasn’t departing for another five minutes. D’oh.

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For weeks before our trip, Liam had been telling me that he wanted to go fishing with Grandpa Mark and Evie. So we set off for Deanna Rose Farmstead to do just that. Of course, once he realized that fishing involved worms on hooks and slimy fish, he wanted nothing to do with it. I did manage to coax him to actually touch a fish. Then he was done. This kid is his father’s son.

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We took the kids to Powell Gardens for the Fairies and Forts exhibit. Architects had designed these kid-size structures that the kids could climb around on. Needless to say, they had a blast.

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We had a few play dates with friends, I had a few lunches and dinners out, and we got portraits of the kids taken with Milo and Liam in hilarious, matching iron-on ties. I had a few surreal moments flooded with my own childhood memories of people or places, and then realizing Liam would have his own memories there, too.

When James arrived he couldn’t get over how cute Milo had gotten since our last trip. Amazing how quickly they grow.

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And then our trip was over. It happened so fast. Liam was wonderful on the plane, a huge contrast from our last disastrous trip. With all of these tantrum-throwing toddlers getting kicked off the plane in the news lately, I was a little nervous. But Liam dutifully buckled in during take off and landing. I let him take his belt off when we got in the air, but he even went so far as to point out that they seatbelt light was back on and I’d better buckle him in before it “gets too bumpy.” That’s m’boy.

We took tons and tons of photos, which show that we did even more than I’ve written here. I’m sure it’s hard to believe that I whittled these down from 400 or more. Yikes! And Jill promises to add more from her camera at some point. If you’re game, click here.

Two Weeks in KC, and a Helluva Return Trip

October 5, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Have you ever been on a flight where something nutty happens and you can’t wait to tell whoever is picking you up this crazy thing that happened on your flight? Let me tell you, when you are the CAUSE of that nutty thing, it isn’t nearly as fun.

Let me preface this by saying Liam hates wearing the airline seatbelt. He’s perfectly fine being strapped into his stroller, on the bike seat, and in his car seat. But for some reason he hates that damn seatbelt on the airplane. The last three flights we’ve taken in the past couple of months the attendant has let him ride on my lap. But this time our attendant was a stickler for the rules, and she wouldn’t let up. As we were landing, she hovered until I got him strapped in – mind you, kicking and screaming like I was poking him with sharp sticks. He managed to wriggle free and climb into my lap, and sure enough she came by to nag me again that he needs to be belted in. She even said, “The plane can’t land until your seatbelt is on,” as if a two-year-old will listen to reason.

And I lost it. Like full on banshee scream-fest. I immediately felt horrible and apologized, then burst into shoulder-wracking sobs. On the plus side, I think I scared Liam straight. He spent the rest of the flight sitting quietly, eyeing me with concern and holding my hand. What a sweet boy I’ve got! The guy in the aisle seat next to me — bless his heart for putting up with two hours of toddler shenanigans followed by massive mommy meltdown —  offered me some sage advice after I’d calmed down. He asked if this was my first kid in that knowing way that grandparents have. Then he said, “At this age, if you win the battle today, you’ve won it for life. And if you lose the battle today, you’ve lost it today.”

As I left, the naggy attendant and I made amends, and several people approached to give me pats on the back or praise for how cute Liam was on our way to baggage claim. It’s amazing the kindness of strangers. I came home feeling physically deflated, like a spent party balloon. Two weeks in my hometown among friends and family made me feel intensely lonely upon my return to Florida. I took a much-needed nap, had a nice cry, and felt quite sorry for myself.

But this morning I awoke to find an email from one of my Florida mommy friends asking me to join her for a class at the Y on Friday. I felt immensely better. We took a bike ride in the afternoon, and I rediscovered all the things I love about my new hometown. Shorts weather in the fall. The swaying palm trees. The sunning geckos. Home feels like home again.

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As for our trip, we had a wonderful time! Liam really bonded with his cousin Evie. They played and played and played the first few days we were there. Liam especially loved playing with the dollhouse – the same dollhouse Jill and I played with as little girls, one that my grandfather made for us. We spent one morning at Deanna Rose feeding ducks, petting cows, and riding a pony. Actually, Evie did all those things while Liam watched. He’s grown wary of animals, among other things. (Slides, trains, people…)

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James joined us for a long weekend, and we had a great anniversary date night while Liam stayed home with grandma and grandpa. We had dinner at Genghis Khan (yum!) and saw Moneyball (snore!). It got great reviews, but for me it combined the two most boring subjects on the planet – baseball and statistics.

For week two I mostly hung out with friends, meeting for dinner or lunch on my own and meeting for play dates with Liam. We had mixed results with our play dates, and I’m glad I limited it to just a few. Liam’s still so shy with new people. I gorged myself at my favorite restaurants – Lucky’s Brewegrille (who incidentally took my favorite burger off the menu, but they still made it for me anyway!)

On the weekend dad and I headed to the zoo for an afternoon of adventure. But we were met by 10,000 girl scouts at the front gate, and we wisely decided to save the zoo for next year. Instead we took Liam to Union Station, where I think he had a much better time admiring toy trains in the relative peace and  quiet. I heart this photo:

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We had lunch at Fritz’s just before the lunch crowd hit, and Liam sat enraptured by the little trains in the ceiling delivering the food. Then we took him to the planetarium for the same preschool show I used to take him to in DC, the one with Big Bird and Elmo talking about the stars and learning Chinese. Last time he went, I remember thinking it was so cute when he’d point and say, “Elllmmmo!” and “Mooooon!” This time he talked through the entire 30-minute show in this weird stream-of-consciousness toddler monologue. “The moon! It’s going up! Big Bird! Elmo! They going around! I want to watch Monsters Inc. I like ice cream!” And so on. Non-stop. Hard to imagine eight months ago he was hardly talking.

I’m glad we stayed for as long as we did. Liam got very comfortable at grandma Julie and grandpa Mark’s house. He had plenty of time to play with Evie, copying her every move and utterance, hilariously. We took them for a walk, and it was so cute to watch her walk along the sidewalk, running her hand along the parked cars, and Liam following right behind her, arm outstretched to touch the cars, too. We had one night to play with Camden, his nine-year-old cousin, who intimidated him a little, but was super sweet getting out his old train set and laying it all out for the kids to play with. Liam pretty much ignored Milo, except to notice that, “Mommy’s holding Milo!” and five minutes later crying, “Mommy needs put Milo down!” Now we’re thinking 4 or 5 years between siblings might be a safe bet.

Sunday night mom and I went to see The Help while dad took a turn babysitting Liam. Mom and I really enjoyed the movie, and I think dad really enjoyed bonding with Liam. They watched Cars (again!), then he convinced Liam to try a movie not in his regular repertoire – Wall-E, one of dad’s favorites. About halfway through, Liam got a little sleepy, so he changed into jammies and brushed teeth. Then in typical grandpa fashion, he asked Liam if he wanted to go to bed or finish watching Wall-E. Guess which one Liam chose? But no bother – I told dad to keep him up as late as he wanted. I could use a morning to sleep in. And wouldn’t you know it, the next morning dad got Liam up and fed him breakfast for me! Then Liam strolled in to wake me up, proclaiming, “Mommy’s home!” Dad said Liam didn’t know I was even home from the night before, lol. I asked him what he wanted to do, and he said, “Want to watch Wall-E!” Seems he didn’t get to finish it the night before. This kid has a good memory.

I was sad to leave my family behind knowing we probably won’t see each other for awhile. It’s looking likely my parents won’t be able to make the long trek down to Florida this Thanksgiving, and my sister can’t really afford a trip down next year, either. But I’m hoping if I truly won the airplane seatbelt battle, I can make another trip to KC in the spring or early summer. And then, after my dad retires, my folks can drive down next Thanksgiving, stopping off along the way in the Deep South for some sightseeing.

Ode to Dad

August 23, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments
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When I was a kid, my dad had the coolest job. In the mid-80s he teamed up with a couple of good friends at a startup recording studio. From what I remember they mostly handled radio and TV commercials for large and small advertising agencies with accounts like Blockbuster Video, Worlds of Fun, and Pizza Hut. They also recorded musicians, I’m sure, but the crux of their business lay in the commercial world.

What I remember best were summer days spent at the studio with dad. We’d get up early for the morning commute, and despite the above photo, I don’t think mom came along with us very often. Being a mom now, I understand how she must have loved these days as much as we did! We’d arrive at the studio at 42nd and State Line, coming in the special back entrance. We’d run down the corridors, upstairs decked out in plush, maroon carpet and green walls with wood panels, and downstairs a wood floor perfect for tap dancing. Dad would check out the sessions he had booked for the day while Jill and I would snag Cokes from the fridge. Mom never allowed us soda at home, so the endless supply of sugar and caffeine provided quite a treat for us. Dad almost always worked in Studio B, our favorite because it was large like Studio A, but cozier and less pretentiously decorated. There was a big leather couch in the back that we’d lay on, soaking up the smells and textures. The chairs by the controls all had wheels, and we had many a spin in those. We met advertising creative directors who humored us our endless questions. We met high-spirited voice talents who made us laugh. Unlike Jill, I’d run at the mouth to most of them, which probably led to the handful of commercials I did as a child. Though I do remember one instance where the client was trying to come up with a nice, short name for a character in their radio spot, and they chose Jill’s name. She didn’t stop grinning that entire session.

At some point business was so good that the clients would order in lunch for everyone at the studio, including us kids. I remember Rose, the secretary, coming around with a menu and taking our orders. We felt so posh, despite our usual request for burgers and fries. We’d eat in the lunchroom and listen to stories. It was these moments where we’d see a side of our dad that we didn’t see at home. He’d quietly listen to whatever outrageous story was being told, munching away at his lunch as if he weren’t minding the conversation at all. And then suddenly he’d chime in with the most hilarious and random sentence. Our dad was funny?!

In the early days I remember racks and racks of reel-to-reel tape machines. Each recording would be spliced with a razor blade and taped with this special blue narrow tape. There was an art to it, finding just the right spot in the tape by rolling the reels with your hands and listening. He’d adjust dials on the control panel, hundreds of dials! In the sound booth, as big as our living room at home, all of the sound-proof treatments on the walls made it eerily quiet. Sometimes dad would make recordings of Jill and I singing. We’d don headphones made for much bigger heads, and stand on tip-toe to reach the microphone hanging down from a stand. Dad would push a button to talk to us, his voice strange and tinny through the headphones. Finished with our “set”, Jill and I would race to the door and push it with all our might — it was thicker and heavier than a regular door -– and join dad in the control room to listen to ourselves and giggle. Our voices didn’t sound like our own.

After the session with a client was over, dad would have to do some of the more boring, technical stuff. So he’d run to the archive and get us this very thick tape, then cue it up for us. At the front of the control board, below all those hundreds of dials, there were dozens of sliding knobs. Slide up, volume up. Slide down, volume down. On this particular tape, each knob corresponded to an instrument in the musical piece. Jill and I would spend the duration of the tape fiddling with the knobs up and down and composing our own masterpiece. Dad would check in every so often to start the tape over for us. Oh, how we loved this game!

In the 90s everything changed to digital, and most of those machines were replaced with computers running ProTools. Dad spent many countless nights learning everything there was to learn until he became an expert. That’s his way. Into junior high and high school, Jill and I would still go into work with dad in the summers. The computers were no less interesting than watching him splice tape. And I remember once, after a quick lesson in ProTools, he set us to work making our own Halloween spooky sounds and music tape. We’d fade one track into another, pretending we were the hotshot recording engineers.

Ultimately Jill and I never made careers anything like our dad’s. In fact, it saddens me to think of Liam going to work with mommy and watching me design at a computer (boring!) or going to work with James to, well, ok, who knows exactly what position he’ll be holding, but I’m sure it’ll have something to do with filling out paperwork and giving presentations about horribly acronymed policies. That thought makes me realize just how good Jill and I had it, those wonderful summers going to work with our dad.

Happy birthday to me!

November 11, 2008 at 5:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Ok, so my birthday’s not for another 3 weeks, but because we’ll be on the Kansas-City-to-Springfield leg of the trip on my big day, we’ve decided to spread out the gift-giving throughout the month. Right before our trip to DC, James bought me this nifty little Garmin. It has surpassed my favorite pumas as the best birthday gift from my hubby ever! Finding our appointments was a breeze, and now that we’ll be navigating in a city where we’ve never owned a car, it’s sure to be a life-saver.

Thanks to mom for trudging out to the CostCo with the HenchAussie and I last weekend to pick out my other big-ticket gift, this iPod alarm clock. Ever since my stay at the Hilton in San Diego, I’ve been pining for one of these. I love waking up to music, but seldom does a morning radio show ever actually play music. And it was especially hard in DC — I don’t think there’s a single radio station I like out there. (Where’s DC’s answer to 98.9 The Rock? Classic Rock was as close as I could get, blah) So now I start my mornings with my favorite tunes, and it’s been absolutely delightful.

Last on my list is dinner at Bristol, my favorite seafood joint in KC. James leaves for Houston tomorrow and returns this weekend, so I’m hoping to squeeze in a reservation sometime next week. And now with my diet restrictions all clear, I can’t wait!

AMC Fork & Screen

October 28, 2008 at 9:01 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Thanks to my good buddy Eric at Scene-Stealers, I got a free pass to tonight’s preview of AMC’s Fork & Screen at the AMC 30 in Olathe. Modeled after the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, AMC’s entire East Wing boasts a high-class bar and lounge, a full menu and wait staff, and in the Cinema Suites, leather recliners. I met my friend Rick around 5 to stand in line…but we were one of the first ones there. We figured better safe than sorry, and counted ourselves lucky not to have to stand around and wait. We got a couple of drinks at the bar (a very tasty mango smoothie for me, and a very stiff scotch for Rick), then took a tour. There are two types of theaters: the Fork & Screen, which features red plush flip-down seats and a counter than runs the length of each row. At each seat is a button that will summon the wait staff, and you can order anything from standard concession fare to pizza, burgers, quesadillas, and fish & chips. They also had an extensive drink menu, and some enticing gourmet desserts. The Cinema Suites, the second theater type, seated fewer people, but featured comfy leather recliners, much like the movie theater seats some well-off homeowners install in their own home theaters. These, too, offered the same wait service and menu. Instead of a counter, each chair had a swinging tray. After some deliberation, Rick and I decided to switch from Speedracer to that silly Adam Sandler Zohan movie, just so we could sit in those recliners. And it was so worth it.

The food was on the expensive side (which I expected), but it was unexpectedly delicious. I had the fish & chips with home-made tartar sauce and a hickory flavor ketchup, and I think it rivaled anything you’d get in a restaurant. For $11, not too bad. For another $6, I added a brownie and ice-cream dessert, which was absolutely fantastic. Much better than you’d get in a typical bar. The service was pretty good, but a little disruptive. I didn’t mind missing the Zohan and his various butt-shots, but if I were riveted by, say, Quantum of Solace, I would probably be irritated by the interruptions.

All-in-all it was fun experience. The regular Fork & Screen theaters will charge the same admission price as a regular theater. But because of the set up, I’m not sure it would be all that comfortable to eat a full meal. You’d have to sidle up to the counter, sitting on the edge of your seat, or order a finger food and set it in your lap. Also, I was a little unclear if they served alcohol in these theaters — I’m thinking not. The Cinema Suites cost $10 extra, but they give you a $5 food coupon. Seating is limited (only 32 seats in our theater), and the seats were assigned. Rick and I were in the back row, and because we’re both a bit vertically challenged, the railing was cutting off a bit of the bottom of the screen. Seats in the very front row reclined back, so if I were to pay for these, I’d likely pick the front row. We were also told they’d be offering pillows, which is a nice touch. The only drawback for me, being only 5 feet tall, was that I couldn’t touch the floor if the seat wasn’t reclined. Not comfy at all. But I’m sure a tall person would have loved it 🙂

I’ll be interested to see if this catches on. It’s a neat idea, but with the direction home theater technology is going, I wonder if people will want to pay $20 per ticket, plus another $20 per meal, when they can sit in their recliners at home and turn up the surround-sound. And pause. And rewind. Tough sell.

JL Stephenson’s a big disappointment

October 2, 2008 at 8:17 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Stephenson’s Apple Farm has quite a history with my family. My grandparents ate there for milestone anniversaries. Every family gathering in KC always involved a dinner there. In the lobby you could sip ice cold apple cider (or hot cider in the winter) while you waited for your table, and admire the numerous memorabilia on the walls. This was one of Harry S. Truman’s old haunts, and the food was down home cooking at its finest. James and I loved the place so much, we had our wedding reception there. Apple fritters. Green rice. Apple butter. Brisket. The list goes on. It was fine dining for regular folk, and my whole family grieved enormously when they closed their doors last year.

So imagine our delight when we learned that the son of the original owners, JL, had reopened the restaurant in Raytown. Not a location known for its fine dining, we knew to expect that the place would be different. While Stephenson’s had a vast area of different dining rooms, all with white tablecloths and cloth napkins, JL Stephenson’s Sante Fe Inn resides at the end of a dilapidated strip mall, and inside it feels more like a dive bar than a proper restaurant. You could see some of the Truman memorabilia up on the walls, but as my dad put it, “It’s like taking all of that great stuff in the lobby and sticking it in a truck stop.” All would have been forgiven if the food had been outstanding. Sadly, it wasn’t.

They offered three classic Stephenson’s entrees — the baked chicken, the brisket, and the pork chop. You could order a side of green rice, another Stephenson’s staple, and every meal came with an apple fritter, which was always one of my favs. Save for the apple fritters (that were a little smaller, but still tasted delicious), the meal was more like what you’d get at a Luby’s Cafeteria. Yes, it was that bad. The brisket was nothing like before — not sliced, not served with the horseradish dipping sauce. The green rice tasted totally different — a little bit tangy, and not altogether bad, but certainly not the same. And their cheesy potato offering was a luke-warm scoop of cheesy hashbrowns the likes of which you’d see at a school cafeteria. Needless to say, the fam and I won’t be going back. But we had to least give it a try.

Anyone out there who remembers the old Stephenson’s restaurant, be forewarned — you won’t get your nostalgia here.

The weekend, and more job developments

September 22, 2008 at 5:44 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Fall is such a lovely time of year. The weather was absolutely perfect, and I had a three-day weekend. I managed to get back on my bike briefly, which was less awkward than I thought, but I’m not in shape enough to ride very far. No more riding to work, I’m afraid 😦 Saturday night I went to the P&L with college friends Jenny and Tori. We intended to paint the town red, but we’re old, (and I’m preggers), so we headed home around 11, lol. We did have an absolutely awesome dinner at Bristol. I had the sea bass with lemon risotto and green beans, delish! And of course I saved room for the creme brulee. Thoroughly stuffed, we headed over to the bars, where we snickered at the dress code (apparently, the area has earned the nickname “Power & White District”), then had a drink in the Maker’s Mark bar. I’ve always been a huge fan of Maker’s Mark bourbon, though this time I couldn’t partake. But the bartender took pity on me and mixed me an awesome fruit punch drink, on the house.

Sunday we headed to mom and dad’s for dinner and to visit with my Aunt Cary, in from Lexington. Jill brought Evie, who was of course cute as ever. By the time Sunday night rolled around, James and I were wondering where our weekend had gone. Back to the grindstone.

In job news, James got the supervisor job and met with his new bosses today. It looks like they might want him to start as early as next week! He’ll be in the same building, so it won’t be a big change. But he seems to be looking forward to some different kind of work. He also got a call from the people at The Cave, who asked if they could call his references. That’s a very good sign. Apparently there are three positions available, so that increases his chances even more. It’s looking more and more likely I’ll get my way, woo hoo! However, there’s still that niggling chance that the DC job he’s the most excited about will come through, and we’ll be turning our lives upside-down to move there right after Liam is born. It’ll be hard for him to turn down — it’s a GS 14 position, which has been almost impossible for him to get so far, and it would be really good for his career. Ideally I’d like to stay in KC at least through next summer, but as usual, things are still up in the air. Here’s hoping all of this gets settled soon (before I go bonkers).

korma, swimming, and dr. horrible

July 17, 2008 at 7:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Last night James and I had dinner with college friends Matt, Carli, Jenny and Jon at Korma Sutra, my favorite Indian Restaurant in OP (and in KC, for that matter). I’ve been there for the lunch buffet numerous times, but this was my first time for dinner. James loves Indian food, and amazingly this was his first trip to Korma. The food, of course, was excellent (We ordered a delicious Korma sampler appetizer, and I got the Chicken Korma, a coconut dish that I can’t wait to eat again for lunch today.) We had to order our Mango Lassis, a sweet yogurt drink they usually serve for free during lunch, but of course they were worth the extra moolah. At the end of the meal we were treated to a free dessert course of rice pudding, mango ice cream, and hot chai tea. I ate to near bursting, something I haven’t done in months! Regretfully, my full stomach and the extra caffeine kept me from sleeping very well last night. But I was up early this morning to do some yoga, and I’m feeling very refreshed now.

Today I’ve got a half day, and I’ll be spending the day with Jill and Evie at the pool. I bought a new swimsuit over a month ago, and I’m not looking forward to trying it on again. I’m hoping I don’t look too repulsive 🙂

Incidentally, Act II of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog posted today, and it’s as awesome as Act I! The plot is a little silly, like an episode of Flight of the Conchords (which I think makes it even more hilarious), but the music is actually quite good. Who knew Neil Patrick Harris had such a sweet singing voice? Tune in Saturday for Act III, and be sure to watch before they go off the air on Sunday.

New Burger Place

July 2, 2008 at 10:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Toast and I tried the new burger place in Westport Blanc – Burgers & Bottles. I was quite excited to try the Kobe Burger — amazing to think I’ve been on this green earth 30 years and have never actually eaten Kobe beef — but, frustratingly, they had run out. I settled for the “Classic”, which was merely ok, but certainly not good enough for the top 10. Toast wasn’t all that thrilled with her Lentil Burger, either. The sweet potato fries were decent, but still not as good as Lucky’s. However, there was one silver lining to our disappointing dinner: the Boulevard Beer-dipped Onion Rings. Those were definitely worth coming back for. I may give this place another go just to try the Kobe Burger. Their milkshakes looked pretty tasty, too.

Tomorrow James and I are off to Springfield for the holiday weekend to visit with his family. Back next week!

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