Saturday, May 19, 2018

L.A. for the National SLP conference and a Concert

Going back to work in my field after taking 13 years off to stay home with my babies meant that even though I kept my license current and did my best to stay up-to-date, I knew that I could use some inspiration and education for my new caseload. I met Nicole on day two of the new employee training in July. We were excited to discover that had both been hired as SLPs for the district and even more excited when we found out that we lived on the same street and had both moved in in the previous month! We became fast friends.

ASHA, our professional licensing organization, holds a national conference every Fall. Nicole and I decided to go. It was in L.A. over Veteran's Day weekend. We flew out after work on Wednesday. Nicole had another friend attending and she had made hotel reservations about 20 minutes from the conference center. Morgan Freeman was hanging out in our lobby.
We conferenced hard on Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning. Friday evening we ubered downtown to see a few of the sights.
I had always imagined that L.A. would be beautiful and glamorous. I was underwhelmed.
Nicole is a Hard Rock Cafe mega-fan so we went to dinner there. Unfortunately, it was karaoke night.
The food was good. The company was fabulous. The music was horrid.
Souvenir shopping afterwards. We are such winners.
The something-Chinese theater. It was blocked off for a filming.
We could see the "ood" of the Hollywood sign from our hotel.
I didn't take very many pictures, but I had wonderful time with these ladies and learned a TON.
Nicole and I flew home on Saturday evening, inspired and excited for Monday morning.

Sunday evening the family, plus a friend, went to a Casting Crowns concert.
Good times.

Fall Soccer, Halloween and a Corn Maze

Isaac had an awesome coach and a great first soccer season in Kansas.
He is number four.
Serious team.
Silly team.
We loved his coach so much that we requested her for the spring season as well.
The H family invited us to go check out the corn maze at a local farm. The bad news was that the maze was closed. The good news was that meant we could check it out free. We made sure to stop at the gift shop on the way out to buy fancy farm goods to "pay" our way.

Corn maze cuties.

Ali in her natural habitat.
She is our school librarian's favorite customer.
Eli had been really interested in DJing for a while. He DJed the end of the year school dance in Italy and asked the student council if he could DJ the first Junior High dance here in Kansas. They had him  audition and offered him the job. They paid him with free soda and pizza at the dance.
When I went to pick him up afterwards the principal and several teachers said that he was the best DJ that they had ever had. The students all agreed.
Neighborhood ninjas - Isaac and his two best friends - on Halloween.

Hermione Granger. My favorite part of her costume was her candy box - three cereal boxes converted into empty textbooks.
Eli spent hours on his costume as well, turning himself into Marshmello - his favorite DJ.
Eli found a prime spot for his loot.

Jack-o-laterns, a little worse for the wear of having sat on the porch for a week already.

The house next door houses triplets. It took a couple of months of Isaac being in the same class with one of them, but they have become best friends. They spend so much time together that we sometimes just refer to them as the quads.

 Eli thought of a good way to use up some of his halloween candy. 
Juicing milk duds should make them healthy, right?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Hello, again, America and Kansas with the Joneses

When we found out we were moving back to the states after eight years overseas the Jones family didn't wait long before buying tickets to come see us. Brian had to work, so it was just Joy and the kids. We had just arrived in Kansas on July 8th. They arrived on the 12th or 13th. We were driving a giant, black rental SUV, living in a three bedroom hotel/condo and waiting for our house on post to be ready. It was awesome to have them around.

It was blazing hot outside (in the upper 90s almost the entire two weeks they were here). Joy and I planned some adventures, in between me doing some running around getting paperwork and medical stuff done before I started work on July 27th. The kids had a project, though, and they voted to stay at the hotel and work on it most days. There were lots of days when our big outing was to Walmart.

Walmart actually felt like a significant outing for about our first three visits. After so many years overseas where giant, thirty-options-for-every-item stores are NOT the norm, I found Walmart to be completely overwhelming at first. I had to breathe deeply to calm my heart rate. It sounds ridiculous now, but it was a very real, visceral reaction.

By visit three I was disappointed in their selection (only four types and not the one I was after) of Instant Pots. Re-acclimation complete!

One day we convinced the kids that a visit to the wonderful Kansas City Children's museum was worth a few hours away from their project.
Joy enjoying the bike in the sky.
Trying out our flying structures.
Hamster wheel.


We wanted to take the Joneses to lunch at Fritz's. We had gone before when they came to visit. We had to wait for about 35 minutes.
I wish that we could say that it was worth the wait, but the food was really terrible and a little spendy for what it was. It's undeniably fun, though, to have your dinner delivered by train. Even when you are nine or thirteen, or forty.
A preview of the kids' project. They spent hours filming in the sauna that was the outside and even more hours playing music and editing it all in one of the hotel closets, filled with bike-box foam to dampen noise vibrations.
Atchison, Kansas had an air show and fireworks one summer evening so we went to check it out.

Hanging out waiting for the dark so the fireworks could begin.

Hurray! It's dark.
The fireworks show was awesome.
There was a group of super obnoxious children in front of us who kinda ruined the ambience, but the music and the show were still very enjoyable.

About half-way through there was a technical problem and the show stopped. We waited for about 10 minutes and then headed out. We were almost to our car when it started up again.
The girls did a big shopping day. Good fun!
Joy slept on a queen air mattress in the living room that we borrowed from friends. She deflated it and hid it in the closet so that the maid wouldn't report that we were over-occcupying the hotel room.
Back to the project. Macayla filmed.
I got at least three strikes on this game. Unheard of.

Joy was preaching the virtues of the Instant Pot. I finally decided I needed to see it for myself. Cooking with my sister is one of my favorite things. It was fun to explore the powers of the new kitchen toy and awesome to get to sample all of her fabulous meals and treats, like this delicious peanut butter cheesecake.
Headed to the pool.
Secret handshakes.
All Slabbed Up. Delicious BBQ. With flies, for an authentic experience.

Cousin photo shoot.

Getting Brenden set for his photo.


Notes for the kid's project.

It was so, so good to have time with the Joneses. Joy and I never seemed to get to bed at a reasonable hour, but the trade-off was wonderful time together full of laughter and catching up on our lives.

We moved into our new house on July 27th. My first day of work.