Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Brunch

I was a little worried we weren't going to be able to see our KU friends on Sunday morning, because when I called the restaurant where they were brunching (a place called Taste) to make a reservation, no one would answer the phone. I found the spot online and tried to make a reservation there, but their website said they were out of tables. We decided that we'd just go down to say hello to Tish and then find someplace else nearby to eat, since Taste was apparently a really popular place.

We arrived at the restaurant only to find there wasn't a single person on their patio (despite the fact that it was 10:30 and gorgeous outside), and as far as we could tell, not a single patron inside either. We walked up to the hostess and asked for a table for five, and she asked if we had a reservation. Eric replied, "No, but I'm pretty sure it won't be a problem." She seated us at a lovely table on the patio.

Amanda and Maria arrived a few minutes later and just pulled up a table to join us. Maria had told Tish they a had a mini surprise for her (just to motivate her little buns to get into the city), but she had no idea the surprise was just getting to see me. She seemed very excited when she arrived and saw the whole Luce/Almquist clan, but she is an actress, so hopefully she wasn't too disappointed about her little surprise in actuality!

We had such a fun time at brunch, and as usual, Tish was an absolute crack up. She definitely entertained my entire family, and I was so glad that she and Eric finally got to meet, since I've talked about Tish to Eric and Eric to Tish so many times!

My brother was actually pretty darn entertaining as well once we pulled out the camera. I have a whole series of pictures with Eric being completely bizarre and goofy. There are several that are hysterical, but I think this is my favorite.

I think that will make a great profile picture on his Facebook page, don't you? :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Coincidence

As I mentioned the other day in my story of our day at the Getty, there was another incident at the museum that really just needed its own post. Actually, the story really has nothing to do with the Getty--that just happens to be where this particular "small world" moment occurred.

So Chad and I were off photographing the flower garden while the rest of my family members were scattered around the campus. We walked back up to the main building, and while we were standing there trying to figure out what we were going to do next, I hear someone shout "KIM!!!!" I look up, and my friend Amanda, who lives in Lawrence and used to work at my office, is walking towards me!

Now Amanda and I do have lunch on occasion and we keep in contact via Facebook, but I had absolutely no idea she was going to be in LA, so I was slightly taken aback when I saw her at the Getty! She was visiting her friend Maria, who she became friends with while they were at KU together. What are the odds that Amanda and I would be in LA at the same time--let alone at the Getty at the same time?

After chatting with Amanda and Maria for a while we met up with my brother to introduce him to these fellow Jayhawks. We discussed all of our KU connections for a little longer, and then Amanda happened to mention that she and Maria were having brunch the next morning with our mutual friend Tish, who Amanda and I know from Endowment and Maria knows from KU alumni events in their area. Since I'd invited Tish to come to Eric's party the night before and she hadn't been able to make it, I was thrilled when Amanda suggested that we join them for brunch! More on that tomorrow!

Can I just share how much I love "small world" stories?

Monday, July 26, 2010

My 97's Times Nine

I interrupt my previously scheduled blog post to bring you this important announcement. I realized this morning I'd forgotten this important post after my subconscious reminded me through several dreams last night on the same subject. Now I can't stop thinking about the event--I'm so excited! This Thursday, my favorite band will be playing at the Crossroads in Kansas City, and I can't wait to see them again! This will be the 9th time I've seen them live (the last one being last May in Tulsa) and I never get tired of their shows--they're fabulous! No one puts on a more energetic show--plus the Crossroads is a terrific venue. Now I'm just crossing my fingers for good weather! If you're not busy on Thursday night and you're in the KC area, you should definitely come out and join us!

Just to give you a taste if you haven't seen them, here's one of their most popular songs that they generally use to close the show! Love it!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Getty

Considering the slow rate at which I'm blogging about our trip, it could seriously take me the rest of the summer to finish all the posts. This particular post took forever mostly because of the insane number of pictures involved and my obsession with tweaking every single one of them in my newish version of Photoshop. I seriously should probably get a grip and just post them as is, but at least it's good practice to help me figure out how this new program actually works!

Anyway, after we slept WAY in on the day after Eric's b-day, the family gathered together to decide what we would do for the day, and we decided to go to The Getty Center, home of the J. Paul Getty Museum. While I'm honestly not much of a fan of most museums (probably because I'm not much of an art connoisseur), I was really excited to visit the Getty simply because I'd heard all about the beautiful architecture, and I was super excited to have a cool place to take pictures. My photography assignment for the week was to shoot come landscapes and urban landscapes, and I thought this might be a fun place to do them.

The Getty campus certainly did not disappoint. The buildings were absolutely beautiful, the landscaping was phenomenal, and the view was flipping fantastic. I could have taken pictures there all day long, much to my husband's chagrin. Actually, the art was pretty interesting as well. While there were certainly a lot of paintings I didn't care much for or really appreciate, there were also many really beautiful pieces of work. There was also actually one entire gallery that was full of paintings by famous artists--famous enough that even I knew who they were! There was a Van Gogh, a Monet, a Renoir, and Degas, and a Cezanne, among others. Even though I'm not a huge fan of impressionism, it was still kind of cool to see a bunch of names I actually recognized!

There was another exhibit elsewhere in the museum that we also really enjoyed, but not because it was beautiful. It was a photography exhibit called "Engaged Observers" that contained several different photography documentaries. There were several photographers' collections that were intense and even horrific (lots of war and poverty) but also incredibly moving. They certainly weren't feel-good kind of pictures, but I was glad we saw them none the less.

My pictures probably won't do the beauty of the whole campus justice, but there might be a few that are worth looking at. The flower garden was especially gorgeous, and I don't do a horrible job photographing flowers since they are completely immobile. This is one of my favorites.

There was another bunch of pictures that was really more about being at the right place at the right time and nothing else. After a brief rain shower we went to the outdoor sculpture garden, and happened to capture this amazing view.

This was darn good luck for me, because I always go crazy for rainbows!

There are a whole lot more pictures from the Getty in the California album, so if you want to watch the slideshow, you can check it out here. Stay tuned for my next post, which includes one more great story about the Getty that ties nicely to our activity the next morning!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Party

After hanging out with just the family at Eric's apartment for a couple of hours, we went back to our hotel to change clothes, after which all five of us squished into Eric's car and drove to a nearby Italian restaurant called Jones (what kind of name is that for an Italian restaurant?). Eric had made reservations for a group of about 15 of his friends and Dad for the evening, so when we got there we had to ask them to add some chairs since more of us had descended upon the party. It was a tight fit with so many people, but it was tons of fun! It was so great to finally meet some of Eric's friends--especially those that I'd heard about so much I felt like I knew already!

We had a nice dinner and a few drinks and just enjoyed chatting with everyone, and then a little while after we'd eaten some other guests dropped by for a surprise too. Dad had also invited our second cousin Rebekah and her husband Josh who live in the area. Although we didn't know Rebekah very well growing up, our dads were first cousins, and Josh and Eric were randomly in a Toyota commercial together several years ago. The way Eric and Rebekah met in LA and discovered they were related is actually a pretty funny story that I should share sometime! Anyway, we had a nice time reconnecting with distant family as well and hearing about what they're up to. Josh and Rebekah just finished writing, directing and producing a short film that you should definitely watch if you have 20 minutes to spare sometime soon. It's called The Butterfly Circus and stars the amazing Nick Vujicic, who's been inspiring me and many others for many years! You can watch the whole thing online here. It's so good I've watched it three times already!

Sorry, I digress--back to the party. Really, after meeting friends, eating, singing happy birthday and watching Eric eat a huge piece of pie and ice cream, it was getting pretty late. By about 10:30 or so (we didn't arrive until 8--those LA people eat so darn late) Chad and Mom and I were getting darn tired. We finally had Dad take us back to our hotel at about 11, at which point we'd been awake for 19 hours. We'd gotten up at 3 a.m. California time and only slept 4 hours the night before, so it was really quite amazing we made it as late as we did!

Eric and his friends stayed until closer to 1 a.m., and Eric said more people showed up even after we left. It was a pretty amazing turnout for his 40th considering he didn't send out an email invite until the day before!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Surprise

The destination of our California trip was the always exciting city of Los Angeles, and the special event was important enough that we brought my dear mother along with us. After we landed and picked up our rental car, our first order of business was to eat at Chad's favorite Cali restaurant, In-N-Out Burger, before checking into our hotel. After resting for a couple of hours, we headed to the location of our very special surprise, which wasn't a surprise for us but was for my very dear brother, who happened to be turning 40 on that very day. My dad was already in LA staying with Eric, so he let us into the apartment, where we tried to decide the best way to surprise my brother for his special day. None of us really had a plan, so after many ideas and counter ideas, I decorated a "happy birthday" poster to put on his door and Chad figured out how to play happy birthday on Eric's guitar. When we finally heard him coming up the stairs, Chad played the tune while sitting on the stairwell out of Eric's view and my mom and I hid behind a bookshelf. Since Eric was on the phone when he arrived home, he really didn't comprehend what he was hearing or seeing, so when he walk into his apartment, he was downright shocked to see his entire family!

Obviously almost anyone would be a little taken aback to have their family arrive at their home unannounced, and Eric was certainly no exception. I think he was especially concerned that his apartment wasn't clean enough and he didn't have enough of a party planned for his birthday. Eric and I were chatting yesterday about his reaction to our surprise, and he said that his initial thought was, "Is this an intervention? I'm not even drunk!" That certainly would have been an alarming thought, and I feel a little bad about shocking him in a bad way, but it was certainly a fun surprise for the rest of us!

My pictures of the surprise moment weren't really very good because of the strong backlight, so obviously I should have broken down and used a flash, but I do love this one taken just a few minutes after Eric got home. It captures his reaction fairly well, I think! There are a few more good ones here if you'd like to check them out!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Flight

Our flight out to California on Friday morning was relatively uneventful, aside from the little girl behind me that kicked and bumped my seat the entire way. I wouldn't have complained if she hadn't been about 10 years old--entirely capable of controlling her body, in my opinion. Multiple stern looks at her through the seats didn't seem to help, nor did a polite request from Chad to please stop kicking my seat. At times she'd slam the tray table up so hard my entire body would bounce off my seat--it was ridiculous. I finally turned around to say something again and before I could finish my sentence, she blurted out a snotty "SOR-RY" that made me think she wasn't really sorry at all. Lovely.

Our only other in flight excitement was a sudden drop in altitude as we were coming in for a landing which left everyone's stomach in their throat. Since Chad decides when he will start worrying on every flight by the reaction of other more seasoned and less scared passengers, it did not bode well for him when the entire plane gasped in unison. I think he about had a heart attack.

Whenever I fly I always try to grab a window seat so that I can look at the beautiful views below, and this trip was no exception. Flying over the mountains and the desert and the Grand Canyon always astounds me. I've included a couple of my favorite pics in this post, but if you want to see the whole group of them, click here for the slideshow!

The Trip

I've failed to blog during the past week partially because we weren't actually home for much of it! For reasons that will later become clear I was unable to post about our mini-vacation before we went, but over the next few days my plan is to write several relatively small blurbs about several different portions of our trip. That will give me adequate time to edit and upload the ridiculous number of pictures that I took in a 4 day period.

Most of our good friends knew where we were going, but for the few of you who didn't we went to California for the 3rd time in 3 years. Hopefully for our next vacation we'll branch out a little more, but this year there was a particular important event (much like last year) that we didn't want to miss! Pictures to come soon!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A Belated Welcome to the World

This post is long overdue--I mean like long long LONG overdue. It's one of those posts that came with an accompanying project that's just taken me forever to finish! Finally tonight I'm able to give a proper Chatter welcome to our most beautiful and adorable new friend, Elijah Peter! All the way back in May, on May 16 to be exact, we rejoiced with our friends Pat and Kristin about the arrival of this amazingly cute little guy, who actually arrived on the day his dad was supposed to walk down The Hill at graduation. Needless to say, Pat didn't walk in his graduation ceremony because Elijah arrived early that morning and quickly overtook graduation as the most important event of the day. The good part about Eli coming on that particular weekend was that all of his grandparents were already coming for Pat's celebration, so they were all able to see him in the hospital on the day of his birth!

After Eli's extended family vacated Lawrence, Chad and I headed over to Pat and Kristin's to meet the little guy for the first time. I can't even tell you how incredibly perfect and beautiful this little guy is! I seriously could have held him all night, and I most certainly could have taken pictures of him all night!

Speaking of pictures, that's really why this post took forever for me to get finished. When we first went to meet and take pictures of Eli, it was right after I'd taken all those pictures on campus that I later realized I couldn't work with since I couldn't open them in my old Photoshop program. Thankfully my friend Kelly pointed out that I could probably get the faculty/staff discount on the full version of Photoshop (which I did--thanks Kelly!), which is 80% off the regular price! So after a bit more research and some shopping, I picked up the full CS5 program, which contains Photoshop and several other programs!

It took me a couple more weeks to figure out how to maneuver my way around PS and deal with those RAW files, then some more time to download and figure out how out to use the two sets of Pioneer Woman's Photoshop actions (like macros that do a whole bunch of filtering/coloring/changing for you to give you a special effect), and then a few more evenings trying to edit all the pictures that I'd taken of Eli and his parents. Throw in the reunion planning and the two weekends since then that we've been gone, and well, you might actually see why this took me so long to finish!

Enough of my excuses though--it's time to see the most adorable little guy in Lawrence! Here are the pictures, with the original one first and then a second copy with one of PW's actions applied. They have names like "Seventies" and "Old West" and "Boost" and "Colorize" and are pretty cool. Unfortunately I didn't actually make note of which action I was using each time! Also unfortunately, the pictures were in fairly dim artificial light, so the first few weren't so good because I'd forgotten to switch to raw format. Hopefully there are a few in there that are decent though!

Is he not the most precious little thing you've ever seen? I mean seriously, I can hardly stand it. That hair and that angry little brow of his absolutely kill me. He just couldn't be any cuter!

Crazily enough, I had a doll when I was a kid that looked exactly like him, and I actually thought I still had it and was so excited to show Pat and Kristin. Unfortunately though, I think I must have given it away during the move, because I went to look in our stash of toys in the storage room and couldn't find it. Maybe someday a search of the Internets will turn up a picture so I can prove that their son is as perfect as any doll! Congrats my dear friends!

Oh, and for more recent pictures of the little guy, you can follow Eli's adventures on his blog, which he's been keeping since before he was born! ;)

Monday, July 05, 2010

Lovely Landscapes

Happy belated Independence Day to everyone! Our 4th was a little lackluster since the massive storm that rolled through in the evening put a damper on our grilling plans and firework watching, but overall we've had a super relaxing weekend. Having the day off today was wonderful! Not only did we have the day off of work together, but I also had the day off from my Monday night class--the photography class I started taking a few weeks ago at the arts center. To be honest, the class has been a little disappointing so far and I really haven't learned much, but I'm trying to make the most of it anyway. Our assignment over the holiday was to practice our landscape shots and our fireworks photography, both of which I've tried to do over the last few days. I think I captured a few landscapes from our house that were okay.

Unfortunately, since I wasn't about to take my camera outside in the rain last night, I tried setting up my tripod on the kitchen table, but I didn't have much luck at focusing through the screen onto the fireworks. This was the best shot that I got in about 10 tries.

Um, yeah, not so much. I'm afraid I may have failed that photographic assignment!