Pretty amazing, don’t you think?

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”

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“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver




The invitation was on the fridge for weeks before Simon even noticed. The front read, “This day, I will marry my best friend / the one I laugh with, live for, love” and it featured Tim and Mark holding hands while walking.

“Tim is gay?” Simon asked. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Yes and he’s marrying Uncle Mark. We didn’t mention it because we didn’t think it was important,” we answered. “It’s going to be an awesome party celebrating two people who love each other very much. Just you wait…” we continued.

And then Simon walked away and that was the end of that. No more questions, or inquiries, or judgments, or rude comments, or justifications on the who/what/or why. Simon just simply believed in the power of love and the trust of our words.


And was it an amazing party? Oh, yes indeed it was. We danced and sang and drank (maybe some of us a little too much) the night away in the beautiful mountains. My favorite part was watching Matt perform the ceremony and Bennett having the honor of bringing the rings down the aisle.

I was most proud, however, of Mark and Tim. I wish you both nothing but the best in your years together. In a world that doesn’t always value the power of love, know that we are rooting for you.

Simon is too, of course.

Simon’s 11th birthday

It started right after Christmas with Simon, this sudden and deep desire of his to own a puppy. He spent hours begging for a puppy and would often show us screenshots of available puppies from various Google searches. It didn’t matter to him if the litter was in Texas and were show-dog quality. A litter of puppies was available!

In my head, this yearning for a puppy feels like the beginning of the end of his childhood and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that this is my last-ditch effort to keep him young. He’s 11 years old now and it won’t be long before puppy love has been replaced by real love. A love of friends, of soccer, of running and iPhones, of (gasp) girls will all be more important than anything I have to offer at home.

So with these thoughts in mind and his birthday looming closer and closer, I began the reluctant search for a puppy. We wanted something that would be interested in running, but not any bigger than our 70 lb. Labrador. I also wanted something that doesn’t shed, as I spend enough time vacuuming the floor. We also didn’t want anything ridiculously expensive.

Simon, meanwhile, was none the wiser to our secret searches.

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On the day of his birthday, we had him sit on the porch and wait while Matt and I ran to Great-Grandma’s to retrieve the box. Roan and Rowdy had almost ruined the surprise by telling Simon that they bought him puppy treats for his birthday. We tried to deflect by pointing out that there was no puppy (Do you see a puppy, Simon?) and that he was going to be VERY disappointed when he opened the box. We also mentioned that although Lizzy girl is an older dog, she would probably appreciate some new treats.

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Our one great mistake is that we didn’t get a video recording of him opening his present. It doesn’t matter because I don’t think Matt and I will ever forget him exclaiming, “IT’S A PUPPY! IT’S A PUPPY!” while quickly wiping away tears.

When he opened the box and saw this little sweet German Shorthair Pointer, I believe that he was completely and utterly shocked.

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He named her Kit-Kat, like the candy bar, which is ironic as Simon doesn’t like candy bars at all. I really wanted to name her Little Ann from the story, “Where the Red Fern Grows,” which is about a boy who desperately wants a puppy. I was vetoed, however, which is fine because she’s not my puppy.

If it were up to me, we wouldn’t even have a puppy. I was perfectly fine with our (neglected) fish tank, hamster, cat, and geriatric dog.

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But like so much in life, this puppy isn’t really about me. It’s more about a boy and the desires of his heart. Who am I to say no to that? Yes, Kit-Kat will be responsibility and lots of work. Yes, she will potty on the floor and dig in the garden. Yes, she will probably run all over the neighborhood.

My hope, however, lies in the fact that one blond-headed, gapped tooth, freckled face kid is chasing after this green-eyed little beauty. It won’t be long before Simon’s eyes find something else pretty to chase, I just know it. So for now, he’s deeply in the trenches of puppy love and I couldn’t be happier.

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Happy 11th birthday, Simon Pool.

Your Dad and I love you more than you even know.


Cora’s 3rd birthday {party}

Cora Jane insisted that she wanted a blue birthday cake on her 3rd birthday. She doesn’t consistently label her colors correctly, so hypothetically, she could have had a purple cake and would have never known the difference. (I really wanted a rainbow cake which I showed her approximately 10,382 times on pinterest but she told me no every single time.)

So what the birthday girl wants, the birthday girl gets. Grandma helped decorate her “blue velvet” cake and adorned it with sprinkles. It obviously isn’t as pretty as in past years, but it will do.

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We debated on what to get this little princess for her birthday. I really wanted Matt to make her a doll house, but time was running short and life was too crazy busy. The week before her birthday, I was shopping the Walmart nursery and discovered a perfect, pretty (already assembled) playhouse. The best part? It was on sale for 10% off.

You all know how I love a good deal, right?

At some point, I might paint and/or stain it a slightly different color. For now, Cora’s house is working just fine.

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When she saw her house for the first time, she twirled around and said, “for me?” and I’m pretty sure I died at that exact moment. It’s a feeling I know entirely too well, sweet Cora Jane.

Yes, for you.

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She really was the best gift I ever received. It’s hard to imagine that 3 years ago she blessed our little happy family on my 28th birthday. I often wonder if we can ever top the pink caboose with anything sweeter.

I am pretty sure, almost 100% confident, that the answer is no.

Happy birthday, sweet girl!

Birth story, 1st birthday, 2nd birthday



April Fool’s 2014

Today was a day of fun. In fact, yesterday almost felt like the day before Christmas once the kids were finally asleep. I might be an adult, but I refuse to act like one. What can I say? I’m hardcore into having fun. Honest, not hurting anybody, gets a good giggle kind of fun.

Trick #1: Phone Fun! I started the night before by taking Simon’s phone while he was asleep and posting a few “selfies” with the sleeping boy. Since I knew that he would PROMPTLY delete the pictures once he saw them, I decided to LOOM UP HIS PHONE. I am not even kidding when I say I pick up AT LEAST 10 of these tiny rubber bands a day. Finally, payback! We be looming!Trick #2: Edible Dog Poo! This recipe was super easy and I SHOCKED Bennett when I nonchalantly took a piece and popped some into my mouth. To make, mix a couple of spoons of peanut butter, a squirt of chocolate syrup, and flour together. You want enough flour to clean the sides of the bowl. Next, add a sprinkle of brown sugar to give it some “texture.” (GAG ME NOW.) Roll the chocolate pieces into logs and place it around the house.

I left a few pieces on the floor of the bathroom with toilet paper strewn about and a special pile in Simon’s room.  April fool 2014 108Trick #3: Pretend Vomit! This recipe was a little more complicated than the others. Basically you are going to mix applesauce, unflavored gelatin, lemon jello, oatmeal and cheese together. First, make the lemon Jello according to the package. Then add two tablespoons lemon Jello to a scoop of applesauce and warm it up for 30 seconds. Sprinkle the gelatin mixture into the applesauce and stir. Add the cheese and oatmeal. Finally, pour the entire mixture onto a plate and allow it to dry for a few hours. Seriously disgusting.

It was an absolutely revolting jellied mixture that could be picked up and moved. On a scale of 1-10, folks, I would give this an 11. It was worse than the dog poo and that is saying something. April fool 2014 131 Trick #4: Jello Juice! Since the vomit recipe only calls for a few tablespoons of a lemon Jello, I used the rest to make some juice. This trick is an old one, but new to sweet little Cora Jane. She was stumped when her straw wouldn’t work correctly. Simply prepare the Jello according to the package, pour into glass jars, add a straw, and place in the refrigerator.

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Trick #5: Chicken Pot Pie! Original recipe from here. Simply bake a frozen pie shell, add some vanilla pudding, a few starbursts for the corn and carrots, skittles for the peas, and some banana for the chicken. Throw it down on the table with a side of salad, some Jello juice, and call the kids to the dinner table.

Not surprisingly, Cora was the only child to eat any of the chicken pot pie. She’s got a sweet tooth.

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So there you go!  A very fun but exhausting day. I had a few more ideas in my head, but they will have to wait until next year. If in doubt for funny ideas, then search the internet. There are so many creative people, full of creative ideas. The dog poo and vomit recipes both came from Simon’s personal copy of “Pranklopedia,” by Julie Winterbottom.

Check it out if you are into that sort of thing, which (obviously) is the sort of book that my family totally loves. I mean, who doesn’t love fake vomit? (Don’t answer that.)


When I look back at the photos I’ve taken this past Fall, these ones of Cora Janie stick out as my favorites.  Given a choice, she doesn’t like to walk. She much prefers jumping as her primary mode of transportation. Down the hallway to the potty? All the more reason to hop.

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I’ve recently made it a point to pick up my real camera more often. Now that Fall has come and gone and we are well into the Christmas season, I want to capture more than just phone pictures. I also wish to share more words here. I used to write so often.

I miss this place.

I’ve got plenty of my own reasons to jump and sing, and none of them require potty breaks. I just need to remember to write them down.

Pumpkin patch 2013

I tell you what, man, I feel slightly better now that we’re a week out of September. I am a self-diagnosed SAD (seasonal affective disorder) sufferer, so September is always so hard for me. While I try to get as much sun as possible, there is no way to replicate the amount I get during the summer months. I spend at least 10-15 minutes outside every day but it’s not enough to bring my serotonin levels to what they were.

To October: welcome. May you be better than September.

We celebrated a new month by hitting up one of my favorite fall places: Shaake’s Pumpkin Patch.

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Good golly I have some handsome boys (Matt too!) and a beautiful baby. Cora Jane insisted on bringing the teddy bear. He looks good sitting on your bounty of pumpkins. For the record, 45 cents a pound X a lot of pumpkins = way too many dollar bills spent on pretty porch decorations.

But I figure we break even in the long run. A couple of hours out in the sun is worth more than a sad and grumpy Mama.

Just ask the boys and I am sure they will all agree.

Previous patch trips: here and here in 2012, here and here in 2011, 2010 (dude I was barely PG with Cora. We went but I didn’t blog it because I was deathly sick) and some pictures WAY BACK WHEN in 2009.

Snorkeling off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale

It has almost been two weeks since I last saw Simon. When we left for Florida, he loaded up and went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Uncle Eric and Aunt Liza then picked him up and carted him off to my other sister’s house in Colorado. In that time, he’s been to the movies, climbed an 11,000 foot mountain, been horse back riding, and called me approximately 2 times.

I miss that crazy kid, even if he can’t bother to call his mother.

When we were in Florida, I longed for Simon the most. (So sorry other darling children of mine. You are all my favorite.) In no way do I regret taking a trip with just Matt, but it also didn’t seem fair to be having amazing experiences without Simon. Bennett would have been happy to play in the sand and dig for seashells, but otherwise he wouldn’t have appreciated the opportunity. Cora, on the flip side, would have been terribly annoying. When I say “terribly annoying,” I mean that in the nicest way possible. She’s two years old with the patience to prove it.

But Simon? He would have loved (LOVED) to swim in the ocean and snorkel with the nurse sharks. Simon might have even posed for the self-timer camera.

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In high school, I became a PADI certified scuba diver. Unfortunately, my only diving experiences to date are in the bottom of the BCCC pool and murky Lake Wilson. Yay Kansas! To say my diving skills were a little rusty, would have been an understatement. With that in mind, we decided to simply snorkel off of the coast of Ft. Lauderdale.

It. was. amazing. The boat took us out to two locations. A sunken ship, The Copenhagen, and the Nursery, named aptly for the family of Nurse Sharks that like to hang off the reef. We ended up swimming for about 45 minutes at each location and the time flew by so quickly. All together we saw beautiful coral reef, hundreds of fish, a sea turtle (!), and 4 Nurse sharks.

Have you ever swum with sharks? We have.

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As we were climbing back onto the boat after the first dive, the Dive Master (who was only wearing a t-shirt and a speedo ) (awkward #grapesmuggler) was throwing food into the water to lure in more fish. I ended up accidentally getting bitten on the back by one of the fish.

I told Simon it was a shark.

If only he had been there to know the truth.

4th of July fun

It wouldn’t be summer without a little 4th of July fun. Some people hate the 4th. I, on the other hand, personally love it.

I love the sun, and the sounds, and the food, and the friends.

Lawrence has a “law” about shooting off fireworks. I read in the newspaper that 200+ calls were made for fireworks and ONE citation was given. I feel like those odds are forever in my favor. (Pending my neighbors don’t report us.) I don’t actually participate in the firecracker portion of the evening but can’t imagine having a 4th without fireworks.

Cora, on the contrary, is NOT a fan of the 4th of July. If you recall, she wasn’t a fan last year either. She spent most of this year SCREAMING and hiding inside the house. She would venture outside for a minute, get scared, and say “Go inside, Mommy?” SAD FACE.

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Simon is a HUGE FAN. He spent most of the day moping around and impatient for the official “blow stuff up time.” He just couldn’t wait to get started. The 4th is nothing here compared to Great Bend’s 4th of July, so he had to settle for Black Cats and small fountains.

And old model airplanes that have sadly met their maker.

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Bennett is in the “finding the love” stage. He doesn’t hate fireworks like Cora but he isn’t into it as much as Simon. He didn’t spend any time hiding or covering his ears, so definite progress compared to previous years.

He also (bravely) started participating. We call this method the “stand and stretch.”  Followed up closely with “RUN!!”

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Obligatory family photo. See also: Crying Cora and Sad Simon. Simon managed to burn his foot because he KICKED A SMOKE BOMB SANS SHOES. In case you are wondering, kicking a smoke bomb without shoes will burn your foot. It will also turn the entire thing blue.

Don’t pretend like we never taught him anything. Or like we didn’t mention a HUNDRED TIMES to stay out of the street without shoes.

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No holiday is fun without family and friends. We invited over Becky and Lisa and their adorable kiddos as well.

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Over all, it was a great 4th of July. I can’t wait to do it all over again!

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Birthday fun (take one)

Prepare your hearts because I have no less than 50,000 pictures from the past week. My baby girl turned two years old and I turned 30, we had a party, and Matt built the cutest play kitchen for her. Yes, so much goodness wrapped up in such a small period of time.

First up: our actual birthday.

We celebrated by opening a few gifts and eating a cookie cake out on the deck:

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We aren’t potty learning yet, but we are taking steps forward in the process. Like having a baby that actually goes potty. So fun until you start stepping in puddles that the “baby” leaves behind.

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Also, a few pictures of our deck. Spending time out on the deck is one of my favorite activities. For one, I love being surrounded by flowers. Secondly, the more meals we eat outside, the less mess I have to clean up inside. #truestory

For my birthday this year, the boys got me some $10 cushions for the table and the lantern. Of course, Target only had 3 red cushions and insisted that the truck was going to bring more on Friday. (We need five total.) So we went to Target on Friday, only to find out that they didn’t have get more cushions. Awesome.

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Lizzie girl is starting to look her age. She’ll be 10 this year, so almost 70 in dog years.

Tomorrow: Cora’s birthday party, complete with the most beautiful cake ever

On deck: play kitchen plans and pictures. #myhusbandisamazingwithtools #andinbed #sorrymom