Thursday, November 28, 2013

I'm Thankful For ...

Happy Thanksgiving! I can't believe we only have a little more than a month left in 2013. While I watch the first of two football games on television (seriously love holiday games), I thought I'd take a minute to write about the many things I'm thankful for today ... and everyday!

I'm thankful for my family. My parents and sister are so supportive of me that I really don't know what I'd do without them! They remind me everyday what unconditional love really is and have been by my side for my entire life. Such sweethearts! Just want to make them proud. I added a picture of my parents and I at my rehearsal dinner below - they're so darn cute!

I'm thankful for the Vanbros team and especially my excellent director, John Vannatta. I don't take for granted the fact that John and his brother Jason have more than 25 years experience in the pageant industry and are positive and encouraging forces who would do anything for their queens. Love you guys!

I'm thankful for my sister queens. One of the most meaningful aspects of pageantry to me has been the close relationships I've forged with the four other titleholders from Missouri, Tennessee, Texas and the current Mrs. United States who I've been fortunate enough to take my journey with so far this year. Kristy, AmandaJanet and Lori you are all wonderful! I posted a few pictures of us below.

I'm thankful for my sponsors. You know they say it takes a village ... and that's so true! There's absolutely no way I would have had such great success at the national Mrs. United States Pageant this summer if it wasn't for the talented group of professionals who helped me be the best me I could be. I'm not only a better, more polished contestant but also a more mature and self-confident person. Great people who want the best for me - make sure that you check out the list to the right.

I'm thankful for the opportunities I've been given as a result of my title. I truly believe that once you win, your year is less about yourself and more about others. The people I've met at appearances, and the things I've been able to do since winning last March, have really enriched my life and made me a better person. No doubt about it!

Finally, I'm thankful for my friends and my fab husband, Alex. They keep me grounded and help me keep things in perspective ... and always keep me laughing! Great people. And Alex is (obviously) really special; a very supportive, lighthearted and calm person. A perfect balance for me! There's a picture of the two of us at our wedding below.

That's about it for today. I hope you have a wonderful Holiday season, regardless of what you celebrate or who you celebrate with. Enjoy your Thanksgiving! And take a few minutes to think about who and what you're thankful for ... which I'm sure is plenty!

All the best,


Me with my Mom and Dad at my rehearsal dinner last year.
From left to right my 2013 sister queens (minus Lori); Janet, me, Kristy and Amanda
Me with Kristy and Amanda at the Stratosphere in July.
Me and Kristy goofing around at the Miss Missouri and Miss Missouri Teen USA Pageant
Alex and I at our wedding last year!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Kansas Travels

I'm going to start this blog almost the same way I started my October blog: I can't believe how fast this year is flying by ... it's already November?! Seriously.

I hope everyone is enjoying their fall; it is certainly brisk and rainy here in Lawrence, but beautiful as the leaves finally change color on the campus of the University of Kansas as winter quickly nears. Since I've had a little down time lately, I thought I'd fill you in on my recent travels throughout this lovely state!

After a very busy September, both at work and making appearances, a quiet October was a welcome change! My husband and I were able to clear our calendars and take a few short weekend trips to different small towns and explore the beauty and eccentricity of north central Kansas. It was a lot of fun and we met quite a few interesting Kansans along our journey!

The second weekend of October we took a trip out to Wamego and Manhattan, just north of the beautiful Flint Hills. We stopped by downtown Wamego, which was cute and quaint but busy, and then headed onto Manhattan, the other large college town (home to Kansas State University) down the highway from my home of Lawrence! Just outside Manhattan sits the Konza Prairie, a native tallgrass prairie, which was absolutely beautiful. The people in each town were friendly and welcoming, the rolling hills of the prairie were breathtaking. It was the perfect way to unwind from a really crazy September.

Then we decided to head a little further into the Flint Hills and check out Council Grove and the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve the next weekend. Council Grove was a tiny little town, but was so full of history. After walking through a park near downtown and looking at a few of the historical sites, we drove south to the National Preserve and were able to walk around for about an hour before the sun went down. It was really quite amazing, rolling hills for as far as the eye can see! Make sure you scroll down to see a few of the photos we took during our travels.

After coming home from these trips and having a few weeks to reflect, I am reminded of how unique the state of Kansas is. I think it's important as a titleholder to get to experience as much of the state you represent as possible so you can personify your state in a way, particularily the special and often resilient spirit of the residents. Even though I've only lived in Kansas for 10 years, I've really grown to love this state and am so fortunate I am to be able to represent such a naturally beautiful place that has such an interesting history and such lovely residents. I couldn't resist adding a picture of my crown and sash below -- go Kansas!

Well, November's shaping up to be a busy month! Next weekend I'm heading to St. Charles to watch the 2014 Miss Missouri USA Pageant! While I'm there I'll be able to reunite with my sister queen Kristy Kelley, Mrs. Missouri United States, for the first time since rooming with her in July at nationals. Then, when I'm back in Kansas I'm meeting with a few 2014 pageant contestants. Can't even wait!

Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy what's left of your fall!

All the best,


Exploring the Flint Hills outside Council Grove
The Konza Prairie just south of Manhattan.