Sunday, May 19, 2024

Royals Win on a Beautiful Friday Night!

Royals Game on May 17, 2024 Against the A's
Royals Game on May 17

Another Great Night at the Ballpark

This past Friday night, I headed to my second Royals game of the season with Greg, Eddie, and Chris. It was a beautiful evening, and the best part? The Royals pulled off a win against the A's!

We arrived early to enjoy some pre-game tailgating. It had been a while since I'd been able to do that, and it was a great way to kick things off. Greg whipped up some hot dogs, Eddie brought the beers, and Chris supplied the peanuts. All I had to do was show up and enjoy the delicious food and drinks!

Greg and John in our Seats
Greg and me in our Seats

Greg got our seats and parking permit and then we all paid him back. I thought I got a picture of Eddie, Chris, and me, but I was using the BallPark app and apparently it did not post or did not take, so I have the picture to the right of Greg and me at the game. 

Royals Perfect When I Attend (So Far!)

While I wasn't able to find a picture of everyone together (seems the BallPark app failed me this time!), I did snag one of Greg and me at the game. Interestingly, the BallPark app tracks your attendance and win/loss record for the games you go to. With two games under my belt this season, the Royals are undefeated when I'm in the stands! (Just sayin') 

Stats from BallPark App for Stadiums and Teams
Stats from BallPark App

BallPark App Fun Facts

For anyone who's been using the BallPark app for a while, like me, checking your team stats can be a fun way to relive past games. To find yours, just tap your initials in the top left corner. My profile shows I've checked in to 33 games, seen 16 different teams, and visited 3 ballparks.

The app even tells me my earliest recorded game was on June 8th, 2013 (guessing the app launched around then?). Most of my Royals game attendance came in the magical 2014 season, where I saw 10 games throughout the regular and post-season. What a ride that was! And of course, who can forget the back-to-back World Series appearances in 2014 and 2015? Carrie and I were lucky enough to attend game one of the 2015 Series – an experience I'll never forget.

Royals Win!!!!
Royals Win!!!!

Here's to More Games and Ballpark Memories!

I'm looking forward to catching more Royals games this season and adding to my BallPark app stats. Maybe I'll even visit some new ballparks in the coming years! (Though I've definitely been to more than three, some pre-date the app's existence). Those attendance records are a fun way to see how my teams perform when I cheer them on in person.

Until next time, have a great week and Go Royals!

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Happy Mother's Day to All the Moms Out There, Especially Mine!

Tongue Out and Sleeping
Tongue Out and Sleeping

Every year on the second Sunday of May, we celebrate Mother's Day, a day dedicated to honoring the incredible women who raised us, nurtured us, and loved us unconditionally. But where did this tradition even begin?

The origins of Mother's Day can be traced back to ancient civilizations who celebrated fertility and motherhood. In the modern era, credit for the holiday goes to Anna Jarvis of West Virginia. After her mother passed away in 1905, Anna campaigned tirelessly to create a special day to recognize the sacrifices and contributions of mothers. It wasn't until 1914 that President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation making Mother's Day an official national holiday in the United States.

Why is Mother's Day so important? Mothers are the cornerstones of our families. They are the ones who bandage scraped knees, celebrate our victories, and offer a shoulder to cry on during our defeats. They are our biggest cheerleaders, our confidantes, and our guiding lights.

This Mother's Day, I want to take a moment to express my deepest gratitude to three amazing women: 

Carrie (Wife and Mom to Oliver), you take good care of Oliver and me. Oliver wanted to wish you a Happy Mother's Day which he did with kisses first thing this morning when he saw you wake up. Oliver cannot wait to snuggle on the sofa with you to celebrate.

Mom (Nancy), thank you for your unwavering love and support throughout my life. You taught me the importance of hard work, kindness, and resilience. Your endless patience and guidance have shaped me into the person I am today. Of course Oliver had to be part of the day to help celebrate.

Joan, Happy Mother's Day! Your warmth and thoughtfulness aren't reserved for holidays – your delicious cooking and special gifts are a constant reminder of your love and support. Thank you.

To all the moms out there, Happy Mother's Day! May your day be filled with love, laughter, and appreciation. You are all truly heroes.

Saturday, May 04, 2024

Celebrating Javier's Journey to Citizenship

Javier in 2009 Riding in Limo After Being Out of Country
Javier in 2009
Our friend Javier recently achieved a major milestone – becoming a United States citizen! We've known Javier since his days attending Washburn University to get his MBA and then after he graduated with his MBA, he got a jot at Frito Lay. Back in 2009, we even went the extra mile to help him out with his house and finances while he was back in Costa Rica, ensuring things ran smoothly as he completed the process to work legally in the US.

Javier in 2024 on Way to Become a United States Citizen
Javier in 2024

Fast forward to April 27th, 2024, and the big day for Javier's citizenship ceremony finally arrived. He let us know on Thursday, and we surprised him with a trip down to Dallas, Texas to celebrate. But we weren't the only ones with a surprise up their sleeve – our friend Corrie from Houston also made the trip to celebrate with Javier! We managed to keep it a secret, making the reunion even more special.

Group of Friends with Javier to Celebrate
Group of Friends to Celebrate

Javier got us a limo to take to the ceremony that then dropped us off at Rodeo Goat for a late lunch. With Corrie coming in Saturday morning and it being a surprise for Javier, we had to ask that the limo pick Carrie and I up at the hotel which was really so Corrie could ride in the limo too. Carrie, Corrie, Jess, Brock, and Kim all went to the ceremony to celebrate Javier becoming a citizen. We all had to remain outside as the event space was small and one hundred people at a time become citizens, so there is not a lot of room available within the swearing in location. We all stayed outside of the main doors and cheered when Javier, and others, came out after becoming citizens.

Javier and John Selfie
Javier and John Selfie

I am excited for Javier to have this completed. He can now vote in the United States elections. He is able to know that his retirement will go to him and not be seized by the government through future changes. He also keeps his residency to Costa Rica which is still in our plans to some day retire to Costa Rica, so I am glad that he keeps his residency to his home country. 

Javier, Hat, and Limo
Javier, Hat, and Limo

It was an incredible experience to witness hundreds of people from all backgrounds taking this important step. The excitement was contagious as they exited the ceremony, waving American flags and met with chants of "USA! USA!"

Congrats Javier on becoming a citizen of the United States.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Oliver Attends his First Kansas City Royals Bark at the Park Game and All is Fine

Royals Jersey on Oliver and Ready for Game
Oliver Tailgating and Ready

We have been talking about taking Oliver to Bark at the Park at the Kansas City Royals games since he was a puppy. We have never done so until this past Tuesday. I saw the date advertised a few times early in the season and we started talking about taking Oliver to his first game. Plus, it would be the first time in two years that Carrie and I would attend a game. We got it booked and planned out the night. 

It was a great time! So many dogs... I later heard there were around 900 dogs in the stadium. Oliver did really good. He barked and growled a few times in the line leading up to the gates. Once we got to our seats, he was fine until about the middle innings. Then he started sitting and growling at other dogs as they would walk by or he could see them in the stands.  Carrie took him up to the top to do his business and when he came back, he was a perfect little gentleman. 

Sluggerrr and Oliver Meet
Oliver meets Sluggerrr

Oliver met Sluggerrr at the game. We tried to get the attention of Sluggerrr as he was right next to us, but were unable to get his attention to hold Oliver to get a picture. At one point, they played "The Circle of Life" from The Lion King and in this case, Sluggerrr held up dogs on the jumbotron. It was funny although I think if that would have been Oliver, he would have been scared. 

It happened to be $1 hotdog night, so we had hot dogs for dinner. Oliver had a few bites of hotdog. We noticed some other dogs where that was their meal for the night with meat only and no bun. It was funny to watch all the different dogs and interactions.

The Royals snapped a three-game losing streak, so that was fun. We talked after the game on the way home, with a sleepy Oliver, that this might be a once-a-year thing. I really did not watch any of the first 1 - 4 innings as anxious about Oliver being good and trying to make sure he was not causing issues. 

While there were 900 something dogs there that night, there were not a lot of fans. The Royals playing well and scoring caused a few times when there were loud cheers, yelling, etc., and Oliver did not like that too much. He would coward and slink into the chair or our arms. He did great overall.

Oliver Cheering on the Royals
Oliver Cheering for his Royals

I think Oliver had a great time. He had a lot of things to see that were new to him. A lot of things to sniff that were different. He behaved well for the most part. He made people around us laugh at his low growling in the middle innings. He met some people that had previously owned a Japanese Chin and remembered his name each time they walked by our row saying "Hi Oliver". Nothing traumatic happened and for that I am grateful. The anxiety levels for both Carrie and I as we were headed to the game were at high levels. It went well.

Since that game, the Royals have been doing very well. Fun to watch and now Oliver has a little extra something to connect with when we are watching at home. As for Carrie and I, we plan to make it to another 2 - 5 games through the season. I cannot wait!

Until next time, have a great rest of the weekend!

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Oliver's Night of Fear and the Case of the Mysterious Cough

Scared Oliver Hiding Behind My Chair
Oliver is Scared

Monday Night Jitters

Oliver was acting out of sorts on Monday night. He hid behind my chair and restlessly moved from one strange spot to another. Topeka was forecast for severe storms overnight, and it seems Oliver could sense the approaching weather. He was scared and wouldn't leave my side.

A Stormy Night's Rest (or Lack Thereof)

By 10 pm on Monday, Oliver had calmed down a bit. However, around 10:30 pm, a low rumble of thunder jolted us awake, followed by a bright flash and a loud crack of thunder. Oliver cautiously approached the edge of the bed, then jumped down and scurried under the dresser. Under the furniture is his go-to spot when bad weather frightens him. It seems he stayed there all night, as heavy rain and constant lightning kept him tucked away and safe.

Licking and Coughing

The storm and his anxiety caused Oliver to lick excessively – anything he could find, from the carpet to the blankets. This soon turned into a cough that lingered throughout the week. Even though Tuesday night was calm weather-wise, Oliver continued to lick and cough. Carrie and I barely slept that night due to his constant coughing. It sounded like something was stuck in his throat, but thankfully, he still ate, drank water, and even wanted treats.

Vet or No Vet?

By Wednesday or Thursday, we debated taking Oliver to the vet. His cough had improved slightly, but it hadn't completely vanished. While he wasn't keeping us awake anymore, the cough persisted. Thankfully, by Friday, his cough had subsided significantly, and he sounded much better. We decided not to take him to the vet, and in retrospect, I believe it was the right call. The excessive licking seems to have been the culprit.

Sunday Update: Back to Normal (Almost)

Today is Sunday, and after my morning walk/run, I took Oliver for his walk. He started coughing again at the beginning, but it was likely due to his excitement and leash-pulling, which are typical behaviors for him during walks. However, with the lingering cough from earlier in the week, it sounded quite dramatic – like I was walking a walrus! Luckily, it subsided quickly, and we completed our walk over a mile, hitting all his favorite spots.

An Active Week Ahead

This week promises to be a busy one for Oliver. I'll share more about his adventures next weekend's post. In the meantime, I'm off to catch the Kansas City Royals game and cheer them on!

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Seven Course Meal Prepared by Our Friend Laura with Pictures and Descriptions... So Good!

Table is Set and Ready for Fancy Dinner
Table is Set and Ready for Dinner

Our friends Laura and Jason invited us over for a fancy dinner. We received an invitation for the event a few weeks ago and we were looking forward to it as the date approached. On Saturday, April 13, we picked up Greg and Erin to head to Laura and Jason's house for dinner. A wonderful evening was had by all and here are some of the pictures of the night of what we ate. 

Laura did all the cooking and Jason ran up and down the stairs to get items from the basement. Laura had the table set for us as we arrived and made us a fancy cocktail to start the night.

Menu for Fancy Dinner
Menu for the Night

No pictures of the chef or others at the event, but I did manage to take pictures of the menu and each of the dishes. We had an enjoyable evening while Laura was cooking and preparing each dish for us. She had Jason serve the dish and made sure to direct him on how to have the dish facing when served. So fun and we had some good laughs and stories as we enjoyed the evening.

Now to start getting into the courses of the night. We had wine served with the courses with white wine to start and then transitioned to red wine as we arrived at the meat dish.

Jalapeno Popper Deviled Egg
Jalapeno Popper Deviled Egg

Amuse Bouche which was a blue cheese walnut apricot. Then we had the appetizer (picture to the left) which was Jalapeno Popper Deviled Egg and it was perfect! I ate the whole thing at once which I think was the best move to get all the flavors together.  I realized that I did not get a picture of the Amuse Bouche as I just ate it and then I started taking pictures of the food. I tell you, the Amuse Bouche was a good way to start with the food.

Creamy Broccoli Soup
Creamy Broccoli Soup

Next was the Creamy Broccoli Soup. I am not a big fan of broccoli, but this was really good. I told Carrie that I could eat broccoli all the time if we had it as soup like this dish. Delicious! 

Laura told us when she makes the soup everything from the broccoli goes into the pot. The stocks are left on the top until finally those are worked into the soup. Yes, we might need to have Carrie get this recipe from Laura so we can make this at home.

Next was the Spring Pea, Prosciutto and Burrata. Once again, a wonderful dish for the multi course meal. 

Seared Halibut with Lemon Basil Rissotto
Seared Halibut with Lemon Basil Risotto

Next was the fish dish which was a Seared Halibut with Lemon Basil Risotto. The seasoning on the fish was excellent. Erin, who does not like seafood, tried this dish and she liked this dish too. I think this is the first time I have ever seen Erin eat anything from the sea. Halibut is a good selection to have Erin enjoy as it is not fishy and this was cooked perfectly with the meat flaking off with the Lemon Basil Risotto and a bite of fish, oh my goodness, it was so good!

After fish, we had the second to last dish of the night. So, it was time to change up the wine in our glasses. We moved to a red to go along with the beef.

Red Wine Braised Beef with Garlic Parmeasan Mashed Potatoes
Red Wine Braised Beef

Pictured to the right is the Red Wine Braised Beef with Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes. The sauce with the meat and potatoes was crazy good. Jason said he likes the sauce so much that he could put it in a cup and drink it. Yes, it was that good and I completely agree with Jason that I could drink it straight.

We sipped on wine as Laura prepared the last dish of the night. Chatting and telling stories, and one or two of us finishing off others dishes, or drinks, that had not finished their dish yet. We were all getting full but had to make room for the final dish of the dessert.

Salted Caramel Butterscotch Pot de Creme
Salted Caramel Butterscotch Pot de Creme

Yum! Yum! Yum! Perfect end to the evening of dishes. The Salted Caramel Butterscotch Pot de Creme was excellent. The sea salt on the top went well with the caramel and butterscotch. At this point, I was feeling rather full, but I wanted to make sure I made it through my own dish. I think there were some that were not finished, but I knew if I ate those too, I would be miserable.

Thank you so much to Laura for cooking for us. What a treat! Thank you to Jason for running trips to the basement and for sampling all of the dishes prior to the big night. Sounds like that was tough to do, but someone has to do the sampling and suggestions.  Thank you both for opening your home to us to enjoy a wonderful evening.

Until next time, have a great rest of your Sunday and a fantastic week.

Sunday, April 07, 2024

Celebrating 55 Wedding Anniversary with Driver and Fun at Lidia's in Kansas City

Family Photo at Lidia's in Kansas City
Family Photo at Lidia's

Joan and Eddie celebrated 55 years of marriage on Thursday. Eddie planned a trip to Lidia's on Saturday with the whole family. He got a driver to drive everyone into the restaurant and we had a wonderful time. This was our second time to Lidia's with the last time being a few years ago to celebrate Eddie's birthday at the time.

We left Topeka at 6:30 with reservations at 8, so it worked out perfectly. Saturday happened to be prom weekend in Topeka, so Eddie got us an SUV to ride in style. Worked out well and we had a good time riding into Kansas City for our celebration dinner.

Anniversary Dessert Served to Joan and Eddie
Anniversary Dessert
I realized after we got home, I did not take a lot of pictures while we were on the trip. I intended to do so, but did not get many. The pictures we did get were taken from our driver at the entrance to Lidia's. He did a good job with taking a lot of pictures to capture the moment. The only picture I snapped was of the dessert that was served to Joan and Eddie to celebrate their anniversary. 

Selfie of our Driver and Family at Lidia's in Kansas City
Selfie of Our Driver and Shirron Family
When we finished eating, there was rain and wind for us on the drive home. Glad we had SUV and driver that did a great job getting us to and from Kansas City. A memorable night to celebrate the 55 anniversary. I will remember this night and celebration as it was a wonderful evening.

Coming up this week is the celebration of Carrie as she has a birthday this week. She has not said where she wants to eat her birthday dinner, but I believe it will be a place in Lawrence. I think she is still deciding where she would like to go to celebrate.

Until next time, have a great week and watch for next weeks post about celebration for Carrie.