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



I’m sure of it

Many moons ago, on a band trip my freshman year of high school, I stood on the beach for the very first time and watched the cold ocean waves. Matt loves to make endless fun of me for this story. I took a band trip. The uniform had giant shoulder pads, gold chains, and was complete with a hat with puffy feathers and white gloves. I think it is worth mentioning that I was a terrible, terrible clarinet player. I could not march and play at the same time even if my life depended on it.

But I saw the ocean and visited Disneyland because I was good at pretending I could do two things at once. This magical act allowed me to hitch a free ride to Florida and so I stand by my time as the 3rd to last chair in the line up of 25 clarinets*.

16 years later, I stood on the beach for a second time. Not only did I do that, but Matt also drug (dragged?) my happy ass out of bed to catch the sunrise over the Atlantic.

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MTP, I could pretend to play the clarinet and walk a straight line but we all know that was really a lie. What I am not lying about is my love for you. Even when you make me get out of bed at 6:10 am so we can watch the sun peek through the clouds for the very first time that day.

I am pretty sure that the sun rose just for us. I also think I will never forget that day as long as I live.

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Just like you’ll never let me forget the time I wore the big, tall hat with the white puffy feathers.

I love you, jerk face.

*25 chairs might be an exaggeration. I have no clue how many there really were.

PS. Hope you aren’t tired of hearing me ramble about our anniversary trip. I have more pictures to share. Many more.

Pools at the Pool

This year we decided to join Alvamar Country Club. A couple of factors influenced our decision. For one, the public library is being remodeled and so the parking lot next to the city pool is closed. The city responded by telling people to park in the closest parking garage, which is 4 blocks away. It doesn’t sound like much but have you ever walked 4 blocks with 3 kids, water cups, towels, and pool toys in the Kansas heat? Um, no thanks.

Secondly, I am now a “face” in the community which translates to knowing a lot more people around town. Truthfully, I don’t really want to see people in my bathing suit. Also, when I am not working, I want to 100% concentrate on my family. This is hard to do when I see other families that I know and love and I enjoy visiting. I’m a talker too, so once I see a friend, I can spend a good 20 minutes chatting while my children drown in the pool.

Just call me Chatty Cathy.

Finally, Matt is also a “face” in the community except that the people he works with? Are the naughty teenagers around town. And when I say “naughty” I really mean “juvenile delinquents who break laws.” Many angry teenagers have made death threats and thrown insults at Matt while he was working. It’s never fun to see those kids around town nor does it make me feel very safe.

So, Alvamar it is and I LOVE IT. I love the privacy, and the drinks, and the open tab, and the relaxed rules, and the free parking, and the shared swim toys. Also? NO POOP IN THE POOL. I don’t know what it is but nobody poops in the Alvamar pool. (Something that happens daily at the public pool.) Come January when we are still paying our monthly membership? Maybe not so much will I love it. But right now? HEAVENLY.

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This one of Matt and Cora also makes me laugh, same smile much?

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So far Cora isn’t afraid to put her face in the water. She repeatedly says, “Go pool, Mama?” and then walks her sweet little self to the edge of the pool. She’ll jump right in to whoever is closest.

She also doesn’t like to be touched when she is swimming in her little princess ring. Touché.

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Simon is impossible to catch a picture of in the water. He’s either dunking or diving or moving 100 mph.

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Happy Tuesday, friends. It’s almost the Fourth of July which means baby Simon is almost 10 years old!

If you need me, I’ll be sipping drinks and watching my pool rats and refusing to let him grow up anymore.

Favorite pictures {2012}

So I realized tonight that I never posted my favorite pictures of 2012. I take a lot of pictures and usually try to accomplish this post in January. Just between you and me, let’s pretend that it’s still actually January and not almost March.


January 2012 044Naptime snuggles: January 2012

End of January 112Love and kisses: February 2012

10 months 13310 months: March 2012

Easter 2012 129Easter’s best dressed: April 2012

c ;Baby’s 1st birthday: May 2012

Memorial day 2012 074Roan Henry: June 2012

July 2012 042 Sigh…I miss summer: July 4th, 2012

September 2012 006Bennett’s first day of preschool: September 2012

October 2012 009All my babies together: October 2012

December 2012 052Simon and his crooked teeth: December 2012

Whew. That was a lot of picture browsing tonight and really hard to narrow it down to only one picture per month. I also have at least 34 pictures of Cora for every 1 picture I have of the boys. My bad. Furthermore it is very evident that I have used my iPhone so much more this year. Forget lugging my huge ass camera around.

Funny story: most babies pick up cell phones and hold them to their ears while pretending to chat. Cora picks up my phone and holds it an arm’s length away while pretending to take a picture.

We ❤ the library. #booksandbabies #vscocam

I wonder who taught her that trick?  Not me.

Linking up at Kelly Korner’s tonight. See  also: my favorite 11 pictures of 2011 or find me on Instagram @thepools.

Who me? Yes, you.

I don't consider myself a professional photographer. Sure, I like to take pictures. In fact, I really enjoy taking pictures of my family and my close friends. But I don't think of myself as a real, genuine "photographer."

One time I saw one of those funny e-card picture thingys that said, "When complimenting a chef, you would never say "Wow! You must have a great stove." (It was way funnier/more sarcastic than that.) Anyways…I think the same thing applies here.

People tell me that all the time, "Wow! You have a great camera!" Yes, true fact, I do have a really nice camera. It is also the cheapest, most basic DSLR on the market. Since you're such a good cook, you clearly must have a great stove.

More importantly? I have a basic understanding of composition, light, and depth of field. I don't claim to be an expert by any means. (Like how to edit and white balance? No clue.) I know just enough to take pictures for the 'ole blog or for the occasional silly stuff. Like, for example, that time I submitted my favorite black and white pictures to our local newspaper, the LJWorld.

Made the newspaper this morning. Obviously it is going to be a good day. #famous #haha

Oh what's that? The picture I submitted of my nephew was used for THE PRINT EDITION of the local newspaper on Sunday? Well, hotdog.

Here is a link to the article: Behind the Lens and here is a link to the photo gallery of images that other area "photographers" submitted: Gallery of Images. (You might recognize another familiar face. I submitted two of my favorite pictures.)

I guess I am a photographer after all.

Cora Jane’s party

She is bigger and better than I ever dreamed possible. When pregnant and thinking about a baby girl – my baby girl– I don't think I imagined anything past the squirmy newborn stage. Admittedly I am very grateful that I have now successfully moved past the future "just the mother-in-law" status. The future me gets to be more than the mother-in-law.

Anything else, however, did not cross my mind. Dreaming of a future together? Kindergarten? Pink balloons with polka dots? Tutus and ballerina shoes? It just wasn't what I thought about. The future seemed so far away until you suddenly wake up and realize that everything has already changed.

When dreaming of my baby girl, I most decidedly did not think of this:

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I was not thinking about her first birthday party one year ago. The art of distruption is the beautiful way in which she has changed all of our lives for the better. We are divided and stretched into new people. None of us will ever be the same now that she is here. The only solution, the only answer possible, was to throw her a giant celebration.

Oh happy day. We are so glad you are here, Cora Jane Pool.

It's a party!
(Follow me on instagram: @thepools)

We threw an awesome party that just happened to have the prettiest, biggest, best birthday cake ever. I will fully admit that this cake was better than my wedding cake. My friend, Brandi, went out of her way to create the perfect cake for Cora Jane. When discussing a theme, I only requested two things: pink and pretty.

Brandi frick'n nailed it.

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(Cora's personal smash cake.)
Brandi made the cake because she is my friend. (She is also a kick ass realtor who can help you find the perfect house. I know this because she got us this house.) She also did it because she wanted to love on my family and did so without asking for anything in return. Brandi cares about us and our story. She left no detail untouched and even went as far to wish me a happy birthday too.

I do not say no to blessings. When somebody wants to go above and beyond to bless my family? The answer is always yes.

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Not everyone gets a baby girl for their birthday. I realize that. What are the odds? I realize how incredibly blessed and fortunate my family is to not only be able to throw a party but also spoil their baby with a three-tiered cake and their own personal smash cake. I get it. I am hopeful that for the people who do want babies, they get exactly what it is that they want too. Even if they don't have three-tiered cake or babies on their birthday.  Everyone should know this kind of joy.

My boys fill me. My girl completes me.

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Dearest Cora Jane,

My love for you runs deep. I am so thankful that God placed you in our lives. Your brothers adore you, your Daddy spoils you, and your grandparents can't get enough of you. My prayer is that we have another blessed year as amazing as your first. I am not going to think about your 2nd birthday right now, as it will be here much to quickly. I can't believe the fun we have had together. You are more than I ever imagined or dreamed possible., 

Today you are one.

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As we march through the days, I hope you know how much my love overflowth. When I was a child, my Granny Cale used to sign every birthday card and hand written note the exact same way. It is funny how right she was and today I am going to steal her line.

I love you all ways, always.


Ps. There are more pictures on Facebook. As if there aren't enough in this entry!

Snow fun!

We FINALLY got some snow here in Kansas. The first recorded inch of the season fell last night. Granted, it wasn't enough to cancel school but it was enough to go outside and play. I am a firm believer that snow is only good if it cancels school. All other snow is a waste of my time. And snow is dirty. I don't do dirty.

I saw a sign on Pinterest that said, "Keep Calm and Carry on. There will be a snow day soon."

Amen to that.

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Baby's first snow! Cora Bean was a fan as long as we didn't make her touch the snow and held her the entire time. I shouldn't expect anything less with her. Put her down? On the ground? Absurd.

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Bennett, complete with a left-over from lunch spaghetti mustache, is trying to throw a snowball at me. This is the ridiculous behavior he learns from his father. STINKER.

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Simon wanted to go sledding. When we said no, he settled for sledding down the "hill" between the houses.

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It's all fun and games until somebody puts the baby in the snow. Nobody puts baby in the corner snow.

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Now I have a line of coats and shoes drying in front of the fireplace and a laundry basket full of wet clothes. Who wants to come over and clean up this mess?
I told you snow was dirty.

Grandma’s House

Simon and Bennett love their identical twin cousins so very much. They spent the week after Christmas together and it was nothing but non-stop giggling, wrestling, UNO game playing, Lego building, picture coloring, bike riding, poop joke telling, and potty mouth togetherness. Life's not fair, I know, but I would give anything to live closer to my sister. Good thing Grandma's house is in the middle.

How many weeks until March? The count-down to being together again has already begun.

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Favorite {11} photos of 2011

Having a baby changes everything. Even though Cora was my third (and final?) baby, she still rocked all of 2011. All in all, 2011 was a good, good year. Our new house, Matt's excellent job, our healthy kids, and a brand new baby. I am pretty sure it doesn't get any better than that.

2011 Favorite

2011 brought many, many baby bump pictures. These two are my favorite- simply because lottle (my lovely double chin) can't be seen:

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And this one:

Favorite 2011

One of the best parts of having a baby is in the anticipation. So much potential all wrapped up in a tiny baby. Will she be born today? Who will she look like? How much will she weigh? Will everything be okay? It all comes down to this:

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(photos by Jana Tigchelaar)

Sigh. Looking at those pictures makes me want to do it all over again. If having a baby hurts, then you're doing it wrong. (I kid, I kid.) Her birthday, my birthday, OUR birthday was so much fun. I'll never, ever forget the day any of my babies were born.

Moving on.  I love, love, love the newborn stage of life. Blink and you'll miss it. 

Favorite 2011

In July, Simon turned eight years old. How is this possible? Who is that handsome, crooked teeth, cute kiddo? The one who is just dying to make us laugh? The one who tells poop jokes like they are going out of style? He's my boy, that's who.

Favorite 2011

Not to be out-done, this hilarious kid turned 4 years old. Bennett is nothing but sweetness and silliness in a small package. He is rain boots and an always backward shirt that probably doesn't match. He is dirty ears and stolen chocolate covered cheeks.

Favorite 2011

Cora's first half of life was dominated by pink and big bows. I make no apologies for this. EVERY PRESENT DESERVES A BOW and she was absolutely, without a doubt, the best present ever.

Favorite 2011

There are more pictures on my computer. Many more pictures that sum up 2011 but instead I leave you with this. Our last family picture of 2011:

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Be good to us, 2012. I am not sure anything can top 2011, but I am willing to give it a go. 

Linked up at You Capture today. Holla!

Merry Christmas {cards}.

Well, he won. Matt thought we needed a Christmas card with a family picture, so I found a {cheap} photographer and had family pictures taken. I realize that most people have already seen these pictures on Facebook, so apologies. Whatever. Welcome to my first world problems.

Anwways, 40 bucks later and this is what we got:

Family pictures

My babies

Winners, right? Wrong. Remember the Christmas card that I wanted to order last week? That Matt didn't like? Last night I sat down to finally order the cards. Except that we still do everything with cash and we spent the cash {on cheap photographers and clothes and haircuts}. Well, Friday is payday. YAY! However, if you are keeping track at home, then you already know that Friday is December 16th. BOO! If it takes 5 days to receive the order, then the cards wouldn't arrive until the 21st OF DECEMBER. What I am basically saying is NO CHRISTMAS CARD THIS YEAR. AGAIN.

Merry {fricking} Christmas, Matt. Tis the season to be jolly. FA LA LA LA LA, LA LA LA LA.

Bet you are glad you won now. Enjoy the dog house.