I Love You, Kansas City – Sea Life Aquarium

{As part of my newfound attempt to love where I am and where I live, I’m going to be randomly writing posts featuring my wonderful city! This is the first and, hopefully, one of many!}

This weekend, in a random, spur of the moment idea explosion, we decided to take the kids down to visit Kansas City’s new Sea Life Aquarium. Due to my job, I had actually already toured the site, but it was right after the fish were delivered, so we weren’t allowed to make any noise and all the tanks were covered up.

Sea Life Sign Blog

Random sidenote: Did you know fish are super sensitive to noise and light? When the fish and other sea creatures came to the aquarium, they were slowly introduced to light and white noise over a span of a few weeks before the aquarium opened to the public.

Sea Life Collage

Pretty soon the adjoining Legoland Park will open, so we decided that it would be better to take the kids to the aquarium before things got too crazy around the area. We arrived to a huge line, but quickly found out via Trent’s ninja training that if we ordered tickets online we could skip the 1+ hour wait. He bought the tickets using his smartphone and into the aquarium we went!

Sea Life Buying Tickets

When you first walk in there is a green screen where they take your picture, and yes, I know this is a total ploy for extra cash. But when you’re the main photographer in the family, you’ll pay just about anything to be included in the shot. Plus, if you take a silly photo they’ll make it look like you are being attacked by a giant octopus. Worth $11, I’d say.

Sea Life Octopus

The entire space was beautifully designed, from the detailing in the architecture to the lighting to the sound projection, you really feel as if you are underwater. There are a few spots where children can climb underneath the tanks and stand up in a bubble in the middle, which was a huge hit with Lulu. At the end of the experience you’ll find a play area, but we had to skip it since Lu was wearing sandals with no socks (not allowed, thank goodness because that would be totally gross). We will definitely plan ahead for that next time.

Sea Life In the Tank Blog

One of Lucy’s favorite parts of the experience were the quizzes each kid received at the start of the tour. The quizzes each have six questions, and the answers can be found at hot spots all over the aquarium. Then at the gift shop, the kids can turn in their quizzes for a prize.

Sea Life Quiz

Last, but not least, we stopped by the gift shop, cleverly placed so you can’t escape the facility without buying some pukka shell necklace or stuffed fish. The Legoland gift shop was also here, along with the area where you can get your pictures printed from earlier in the day.

Sea Life Family

All in all, I’d say it was a pretty fun time! Kid-friendly, comfortable and quick (it only took about an hour and a half to get through the whole thing), which is essential with a toddler in tow. Hi-five, KC!

Sea Life Fish tank

To order tickets online, click here. Check out the yearly passes if you’re a local. The price for a family of four would totally recoup in only three visits!

It’s Here! NYC + KC, The Book!

Do you all remember waaaayyyy back in 2009? Back before Tate was even an idea in my head? Back when we had just moved to the suburbs? Back when doing the “put a ring on it” dance was considered so rad and totally new? Yeah, well, way back then my friend Theresa and I did a photo project called NYC + KC. A little reminder of the project:

We post pictures of whatever we happen to come upon each day, from street vendors to murals, from school papers to long commutes, from ski trips to morning coffee. Each day is a surprise to us and I’m so happy we’ve decided to do this. Our plan is to post one picture every day for a year, although who knows how long this will last. On some days, pictures don’t get posted until late at night, other days they’re posted by 8 a.m., just depends on the bob and weave of life.

Well, we did make it through an entire year. And though there were days (weeks…months) where we wanted to quit, we just kept right on shooting. Ever since we completed the project, we knew we wanted to put together a book of our experiences, but as things like this often do, it got away from us. We both had jobs and then we each decided to have a baby, and before we knew it, two years had passed and our book still wasn’t made.

No longer, people. May I present NYC + KC: A Year of Photos Between Friends:


You guys, I can’t even begin to describe how proud I am of this book. The whole journey of this project was so wonderful and enlightening, but to see it replayed several years later and look back on it with new eyes was such an amazing thing. I can’t speak for Theresa, but I was in tears as I opened it for the first time.

What’s that? You want one of these for yourself? An NYC + KC book of your very own? Well, I can help you with that! You can buy your own copy of NYC + KC: A Year of Photos Between Friends at Blurb dot com. You can also preview a selection from the book on Blurb, just in case you need a little more convincing (and if you do check out the preview, you need to look at the back cover…it’s one of my favorite parts of the book).

Please click here to purchase NYC + KC: A Year of Photos Between Friends.

Lastly, thank you. If you’re reading this you’re probably someone who supported either Theresa or I in this process, and that makes you awesome. High fives all around!

P.S. Please note, the eBook is now available for purchase as well, for only $5! Hooray for technology!

Eye Candy

A while back I posted some photos from our family shoot with Nicole Coleman, but I held back a bunch, since I knew I was going to be using a few for a holiday card and I didn’t want to spoil it! But now the decision has been made, the cards have been printed, and about half have been addressed (my poor, cramped hand), so I figure it’s time to share more of the fun!


The story behind the shoot is I really wanted to do something fun, easy, and un-posed, since that’s when I feel like my family is at it’s best. We are not supermodels, and with a (then) 10 month old in tow, I knew we’d never get a perfect shot. This summer I had the idea to do something at a county fair, but when the day of the shoot came, it was (not joking) 111 degrees. So, yeah. That was cancelled.



At the time, we decided the best course of action was to wait until the weather got a bit cooler and reschedule the shoot. Then we both promptly forgot about it, due to our girls starting kindergarten, our lives going bananas, et cetera. We finally put a date on the calendar for October, and I told Nicole I’d find a fun place to do it.


I have no idea why I thought of Worlds of Fun. Those of you not from Kansas City have no idea what you are missing. Worlds of Fun is sort of like Six Flags, but smaller and dirtier. And smellier. But it’s a place I adored as a kid, I begged my parents to spend every birthday there, so I thought it might work.


[Ed. Note: To fully understand the grossness of Worlds of Fun, you’d have to see an after photo of my shoes at the end of the day. They went from yellow to black.]


I did not, however, account for the fact that come October, Worlds of Fun is basically the Kansas City headquarters for Halloween, complete with some of the scariest haunted houses in town. The entire park was filled with skeletons hanging from trees, scary music blaring through the speakers, and there was more than one coffin in attendance.


Mom, is that a ghost?

It is a testament to Nicole’s skill that you can’t tell any of this was going on in the photos. She captured exactly what I wanted. My family, being their awesome selves. I look at these pictures and I see the story of us.





And of course, Nicole was kind enough to attempt a posed photo as well. She is awesome.


P.S. Our Christmas card photo isn’t posted here, but it was also sort of posed and is awesome. Awesome, awesome, awesome. Awesome. And once I get those suckers in the mail, I’ll post it here. Pinky swear.

Family Photos – A Sneak Peek


A few weeks back my lovely friend Nicole took some photos of our little family at a local amusement park. Nicole is in the midst of a major brand relaunch and we were lucky enough to serve as “test subjects” for her. The entire shoot was done solely on film instead of digital, and I think the look is just gorgeous.


Part of the idea behind the new brand is that Nicole will be capturing images from the real lives of families. Of course we took a few posed shots, but for the most part, Nicole just hung out with us, her trusty camera capturing exactly who we are as a family. I couldn’t be happier with the result and I can’t wait to show more!


If you are looking for an incredible experience and want to capture more than just your average family photos, I highly recommend Nicole. You’d better believe when the new brand goes live, I’m going to be all over it!


Birthday-Mania Week Begins

A few days ago I wrote a post on this site asking begging for help in finding the perfect gift for Lu’s second birthday. Well, I took some of your advice and also added some of my own ideas. Here’s what I came up with:

Whale Backpack
Lu needed a new backpack for the preschool she will start in one (eek!) week. I spent a few weeks attempting to find one that wasn’t shiny, plastic and covered in photos of Dora the Explorer or Winnie the Pooh. I ended up falling in love with this one from Pottery Barn Kids, which was, admittedly, way more expensive than a backpack should be for a two-year-old. But it was too late, I was smitten.

The Gifts All Packed
I decided to fill the backpack with little toys I’ve collected here and there. Most were purchased at The Learning Tree in Leawood, Kansas.

Lucy's Second Birthday Gifts
The loot. A few favorites are highlighted below, though I pretty much loved everything I got her.

Blow Fish
This blow fish was set up right next to the boy versions of the above backpack at Pottery Barn Kids. In fact, they had quite a few fun, little, gifts, but since they were all $15 each, I restrained myself. But I just couldn’t with this little guy. Lu’s obsession with bubbles has been well documented, and with her ongoing love affair with Finding Nemo, I figured I couldn’t leave the store without this little guy. (Sorry, I guess you can only get these in the store, because I can’t find it on the Pottery Barn Kids website.)

Birthday Monster Book
Books for kids can be a bit, um, stupid. After you’ve read about the love the mother doggie has for her puppy for the millionth time, you would do anything for a laugh. Hell, a chuckle would suffice. I mean, these are books for children, right? They should have a certain level of silliness. So it’s no surprise I’m a big fan of Sandra Boynton board books. They are all a bit strange and funny, including this one, called “Birthday Monsters.” At one point, the monsters tell the birthday hippo to go play hide and seek, and after 20 minutes he finds them cleaning out the fridge. I know Lu will love this. As she is a big fan of both hippos and monsters.

Baby Ugly Doll
For Christmas this year, I bought Lu her first Ugly Doll named Ox. Currently, Ox has a permanent post at the foot of her crib, where he’s always on the lookout for monsters. I figured Lu should have another little guy to take to the new preschool, just in case she gets scared during the day. Enter Poe, the ugly dragon who dreams about ice cream and doesn’t like to fly because it’s too much work.

Even though I ended up spending a bit more than I wanted to, I think the gifts will work out great. And since we decided to have a small picnic (weather permitting, grrrr) instead of a party, I felt I could spend a bit more on Lu than I did last year. Because last year I spent all of zero dollars on her birthday gift, which I’m sure will lead to months of therapy in her teenage years.

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