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 He’s 11 years old now and it won’t be long before puppy love has been replaced by real love.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



Easter, one month later

Well, another awkward break in blogging and can only be explained by the fact that my laptop is broken, done, dead. It died a very sudden death and suddenly would not turn on at all. Let us all take a moment of silence and mourn the loss of my five year old Walmart computer.

(Single tear)

As you can imagine, this caused my photo related anxiety to go through the roof.

Cora’s ENTIRE life in pictures was on that computer. I’ve done a pretty good job of backing everything up on the external hard-drive. I have done a terrible job of printing pictures and/or creating photo books. (My goal for the summer is to work on that, pending I get a new laptop.) (Related: CJ’s poor baby book. #thirdchild.) I have done a mediocre job of blogging with said pictures.

Hence, today’s blog post about Easter, a month overdue.

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We spent Easter at my sister’s house in Olathe. After attending church, we cooked a delicious lunch and had an egg hunt out in the yard. I’m not sure we could look any more all American, even if we tried. My scarf had an unfortunate meeting with a Scentsy wax warmer as we were getting ready, but the oil stain was hidden indiscreetly. I can’t say the same about the orangey-vanilla scent that wafted my way whenever I took a step.

The point of that story is to say that despite looking decent in the pictures, we all have secrets that we keep. The good news is that I tell (most of) my secrets online. So if anybody would like to donate to the new laptop fund, just let me know.

I can’t promise that I’ll blog more, but I can promise to make you feel better about yourself when I do.


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.)

Christmas recap 2013

So Christmas was, what, two weeks ago? My bad. Does anybody expect anything less? I can hardly keep up with the piles of laundry around here, let alone sharing pictures on this blog.

We ended up traveling 10 hours to my sister’s house in Northern Colorado and had a wonderful time. No, really we did. Everyone got along and nobody yelled! It’s a Christmas miracle. Susannah recently moved into a bigger house and it’s pretty damn glorious. I liked my house until I saw hers, for real. We jokingly refer to it as The Ski Lodge. If you had two sets of twin boys, you would need a ski lodge too.

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It’s almost unbearable for me to look at these pictures. The boys (especially the older ones) get along and love each other so much. It’s so hard to not be near family. Simon, Roan, and Rowdy got the bright idea to set an alarm and wake up at 3:15 AM Christmas morning. THREE FIFTEEN AM. Grandpa heard the giggling and the running and sent them promptly back to bed.

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Santa brought everything the kids were hoping for, of course. Santa even managed to deliver TWO bicycles and a highly coveted Playstation game to Colorado. (Did I mention we were 10 hours from home? Well done, Santa.) Other notable gifts: more Nike apparel because one can never have too many workout clothes (Hint: that wasn’t a gift for me), rolls of duct tape (why not?), an American Girl Doll, tennis racquets, Legos, books, Rainbow Loom Bands (Lord help me), wooden play food, and more clothes.

Some might call it tacky to share Christmas gifts. I share only in the interest of preserving history. One might look back and laugh some day at the Christmas gifts of ’13. If only this blog post could count as Thank you cards too. Thanks, family, for all the gifts. You guys rock.Christmas 2013 118

The gift we almost brought back with us was a puppy. Somebody dumped a dog (who immediately was pregnant) and my nephews ended up raising the puppies. Susannah managed to sell all of Rosie’s 11 puppies, except for their favorite three. While she really wanted us to take Opal, I liked the big boy Jasper. He was the calmest of the bunch and most well-behaved. We had Jasper loaded up in the van to begin the trek back to Kansas and were 5 miles down the road, when broken-hearted Rowdy texted that he wanted his puppy back.

We probably ended up dodging a bullet with that one, especially a working dog designed to herd cattle. Lord knows we didn’t need another mouth to feed, puddles to clean off the floor, and a puppy to train. And really it’s all good because Jasper will have plenty of company with four wild boys, five dogs, a barn full of kittens, cattle, and more horses than I can count.

He lives at a freaking Ski Lodge, remember?

Thanksgiving 2013

It feels INSANE to already be mid-December. What happened to November? Was the weather nice? Did my children reach in any new milestones? Did I blog? I can’t remember.

We did manage to go to Wichita and visit Matt’s entire family for Thanksgiving. He is one of 5 siblings, all who are married. Together there are 9 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Here is the thing with Matt’s family that is radically different from mine: THEY ALL GET ALONG NICELY. Well (not 100 % perfectly) but for the most part nobody yells, or loses their patience, or gets “hangry” (hungry/angry).

My boys were especially excited this year to see their older cousins from Southern California. Thanks to Instagram, they are both pretty convinced that Race and Cole are the coolest, most awesome, and admirable teenage cousins around. I tend to agree. We can’t wait to road trip out next year for Cole’s graduation.

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Now that I got that taken care of, I can move onto Christmas. Only 10 more days to go!

Happy day of your birth

Yesterday was my Mom’s birthday. Let’s all take a moment and thank the Lord that she was born. Because without her, we wouldn’t have me. And without me, we wouldn’t have the World’s Most Adorable Children.

And we can all agree the world would be a very sad place without cute little peaches like this:10 year Anniversary 177

While I have your attention, I would also like to publically thank Grandma for keeping our babies so that Matt and I could pretend to be newlyweds. Simon, Bennett, and Cora all did great while staying at Gampa and Gampa’s house.

My Mom was such a good sport about Cora calling her Gampa 90% of the time. She also convinced Cora to take 3.5 hour naps in the crib. (Note: she does not do that for me) and to sleep through the night without milk. (Again: DOES NOT DO THAT FOR ME.) Cora did not cry or have any issues being away.

Must be a case of superior parenting.

Grandma also willingly laid down each night with Simon until he fell asleep since he was afraid of the “creepy people paintings” that reside in every room of their house. (Simon, I was afraid when I was growing up too. All those paintings are creepy.) Yesterday she spent her day driving 6.5 hours to my sister’s house in Colorado to go be with Simon. He is staying the week with Roan and Rowdy and “wanted Grandma so that he could sleep.”

(SHOUT OUT TO MY SIS: Thanks for keeping Simon in the mix of your boys. Not many people can get up at 3:30 every morning, work 8 hours, cook, clean, keep a beautiful house, and care for FIVE wild boys without losing their patience. Also, your hair looks good while doing it.)

I’m not sure what Grandma did for (good naturedgoes with the flow) Benny boy. Oh wait, she gave Bennett popsicles for breakfast and Pepsi for lunch. Some might call that cheating, but I call it pure genius on how to wiggle your way into Bennett’s heart.10 year Anniversary 175

Happy birthday, Gampa Grandma. I hope it was a great day. Thank you for loving on my babies.

PS. I got a (teeny, soo tiny, white) tattoo on our honeymoon. Don’t freak out. Or tell Dad.


PPPS. Matt’s uncles, Tim and Mark, have offered to adopt me if you guys decide to disown me.

PPPPS. Tim and Mark have a BEAUTIFUL VACATION HOME in Florida. You can come visit me if you change your mind. I bet Christmas on the beach will be awesome with my new Dads.

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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10 trips around the sun

What I remember most is the fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of my absent period, fear of disappointing my parents. I crawled into my bunk bed and cried giant, hiccup tears while talking to my sister.

My Alpha Delta Pi roommates watched Sex in the City and pretended not to hear.


The lady at the Pregnancy Crisis Center handed me a cup and pointed me to the bathroom. Sometimes I drive down Tennessee street and look for the building.

It was a small house hidden between big houses and landscaped lawns.

Find a doctor, she said. She handed me a pamphlet with baby development.


I ate Burger King Whooper cheeseburgers after every prenatal class. I know nothing about what to expect. Sometimes I sleep at the sorority house.

Mostly I sleep at his apartment.


I’m floating on a pool noodle at our apartment pool. My sorority sisters have all gone home for the summer. Another rowdy neighbor is enjoying libations because it is the 4th of July. He offered us a shot of liquor.

We declined.

That night, we watch the fireworks over the river. We are disappointed.


I’m standing in the doorway to my grandparent’s bathroom. We’ve just stayed the night as house sitters. I’ve gone to the bathroom and felt the first contractions.

We go shopping for wedding shoes. We go out to eat lunch at Culvers.

We come back to their house. He rubbed my back while everyone watched.


10:16 pm. July 5th, 2003. 6 lbs., 6 ounces of baby boy is born.

Simon Matthew, my baby.

It’s been 10 trips around the sun since then.


I still have fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failing, fear of not measuring up.

I have love too. An entire decade of love.

A collection of memories and a shot out of Simon's baby book on the blog today. || Link in profile. || #pictapgo_app #blog #bloggingwins


And when my cross tongue or my sharp attitude makes you feel less than loved, I hope you will (some day) come back here to find these words.

I love you, kid. More than you will ever know.

More birthday fun here: 9 in 2012, 8 in 2011, 7 in 2010, and 6 in 2009.

Linked up at the EO for Just Write.