Year of Dates

a year of dates

Several friends gave me this idea as a gift for Tyler, whose birthday falls right after Christmas.  I really want to spend more quality time together in 2016, so it seems like a great time for this!  Here’s what we have planned:

January:  Sushi date and Tyler’s work holiday party

February: Hot chocolate at Christopher Elbow Chocolates and arcade games at Up/Down.

March: Pasta making class at the Kansas City Culinary Center.

April: Date in downtown Lawrence.

May: Lunch out and a game of mini golf.

June: Recreating our first date: picnic and a visit to the Nelson Atkins museum.

July: Drive in movie

August: First Fridays in the Crossroads District

September: Tyler’s pick

October: Brew at the Zoo

November: Brunch and a movie

December: Dinner and a carriage ride on the Plaza.

2015 in Review

January: Not the most exciting month, but we had a couple of beautiful days that were perfect for spending time outdoors.  We made a trip to the Prairie Park Nature Center in Lawrence and a visit to the dog park, a rare treat for Boopers.


February: Hosted a fun Valentine’s Day party and had a visit from our friends Aaron and Sarah.  We crammed a ton of fun (and food) into one day.  Roasterie, Boulevard Brewery, Q39, and Lidias.  We were stuffed!


March: Had a sleepover in Lawrence at Gpop and GranJan’s house for my birthday.  They babysat so we could go out for lunch.  Gretchen got to help plant seeds in Gpop’s garden.


April:  We spent a weekend in Oklahoma visiting friends and celebrating the first birthday of two of our favorite twins: Maddie and Baylor.  Also celebrated Easter with an egg hunt in Gpop’s garden.


May: Went to Omaha for a long weekend.  Spent two days at the zoo and some time at their amazing children’s museum. Can’t wait to go back!


June: Gretchen took her first ballet class and LOVED it.  Tyler and I celebrated our 9th anniversary with a trip to the Craft and Draft at Kaufman Stadium.  Also, potty training happened, and wasn’t nearly as terrible as I had anticipated it would be!


July:  Had a visit from my brother’s family around the 4th.  Gretchen loved hanging out with her cousins and celebrating her 3rd birthday with a Daniel Tiger themed party.  Boopers had surgery to remove a couple of mast cell tumors, including a ping pong ball sized one on her leg.


August: My month to have surgery!  I had an exploratory laparoscopy after months of failed infertility treatments.  I’m going to spare you the pictures of my ovaries and the endometriosis that he found. Much more exciting event: Gretchen started preschool!


September: Tyler and I took an early 10 year anniversary trip to Oregon. It was our first time being away from Gretchen for more than a couple of nights.


October:  Maybe the craziest month of the year.  I went to Oklahoma for a girls trip but a terrible stomach flu took us out one by one.  While I was away Gretchen broke her leg when she fell of the swings at the playground.  The high point of the month was going to a Royals/Blue Jays playoff game at the K with Tyler, and we won!  (Also we saw the blimp, and I love the blimp).

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November:  THE ROYALS WON THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!  I took a class at Thirsty Palette and sure enough, I lack painting skills, but it was a lot of fun anyway.


December: Tons of fun holiday events, Gretchen really got into Christmas this year.  Attempted to go to my sister’s graduation in Arkansas but unfortunately Gretchen ended up with the stomach flu and our trip was cut short.  We celebrate Christmas Eve on the Plaza and Christmas Day at home before visiting Tyler’s family in Kentucky.


Toby the Pug


Exactly one year ago we lost our first baby pug, Toby.  He was only 6 years old.  It was a really short life as far as pugs go, and ultimately we don’t know why he got so sick and passed so suddenly.  He’d been sick briefly in September, but rebounded, then got much sicker in October and had extensive tests and a hospitalization.  He rebounded once again and came home and while he had lost way too much weight, he was his normal snuggly self and we just hoped whatever the mystery illness was, it would disappear as quickly as it appeared.  Ultimately Toby died of a stroke, but we strongly suspect that he had cancer as he continued to inexplicably lose weight.

I never thought I’d be a pug mom when I grew up.  I had planned, since childhood, to get an english bulldog as soon as I could.  Tyler knew this when we started dating and was in agreement.  However shortly after we got married we met a pug named Pumpkin that slept in a big papasan chair and was adorable and playful and snuggly and we knew we were meant to be pug owners.  When we moved to Kansas we started the search on petfinder.  Hoping to adopt a puppy but committed to rescuing, not purchasing, a dog of our own.  In April of 2008 we applied for and were approved to adopt a pug puppy from a rescue in St. Louis.  I rushed around town buying a crate, toys, food, collar, etc. etc. To the point my credit card was frozen because they were not used to such shopping sprees and thought it had been stolen!   I had to work that Saturday so Tyler drove the 4 hours to St. Louis to pick him up.  There were 3 puppies to choose from and he made his pick and brought “Cinnamon” home to live with us.  Terrible name for a pug, just terrible, lol.  Toby snoozed in a box on the way home Tyler kept his hand on him to keep him calm when he got fidgety.  He was only 3.3lbs.  A teeny tiny baby pug all for us.  Here’s the picture I took of my first look at him.


He was so tiny and snuggly and all puppy.  Loved to play with toys and nip and your fingers and toes and then he’d just pass out in the middle of the floor and then wake up and pee on everything.  He was so tiny he couldn’t hop up on the furniture so he’d just sit by the couch and cry and cry until you lifted him up. Then he’d want down and cry and cry to get down.  He was too tiny to navigate the staircase to our 3rd floor apartment so we’d carry him out to potty every 20 minutes and he was like a fat potato you could hold in one hand.  Just the cutest thing ever.

The first night was horrrrrrrible. He cried all.night.long.  I cried thinking we’d made some huge mistake and just sure we could never have an actual baby if a pug baby was this hard. Tyler slept on the floor next to his crate with his hand in there to help calm him down.  We tried all the tricks, including a warm water bottle (all that wallgreens sold was a hot pink “douchebag”) but he promptly popped it with his sharp puppy claws and then he was mad because he was soaking wet.  Eventually he chilled out and came to love his crate and before he was even a year old you could say “crate” and he would run up to it and hop in and wait for you to close the door.  Our world pretty much revolved around him.



He had (and destroyed) many many toys but his favorite was this random stuffed platypus.  He loved her more than any toy ever.

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To get exercise he would run up and down the hall of our apartment, doing his “pugtonas” and wearing himself out. Eventually he’d slide under the couch to cool down. 10400489_506800901341_402_n

About a year after we rescued him we moved into our house, and he loved the extra space and the window to observe the neighborhood.

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notice he also got kinda Chubby.  That’s when we started calling him Chubbs.

So a few months after we moved in we got the itch to get a second pug. We figured Chubbs could use a playmate and hopefully they’d play and snuggle and be best buddies.  Enter Betty Boop, or Boopers.  We drove 4 hours down to Arkansas to get her from a pug rescue, I think you can tell from this picture how he felt about it.


they were not instant buddies


Eventually they came to tolerate each other and occasionally would play or snuggle but most of the time Boopers was not very nice to him.  She didn’t like sharing the spotlight and Chubbs wasn’t fond of sharing either. Our nightly routine was to separate them so they got lots of one on one attention.  Tyler took Boopers, I took Chubbs.  Sometimes I’d rock him like a little baby and tell him he would always be my little baby pug.


Toby took MUCH more kindly to Gretchen when she entered the scene.  He took on the role of protector and was a very sweet big brother to her.  I have countless photos of him sitting right next to her during that first year of her life, especially before she got mobile.  He loved to steal her warm spot in the boppy pillow if I picked her up, and if she cried he would bring her one of his eggballs, the toy he always sucked on when he was upset.

Gretchen still talks about Toby often. She will say things like “Toby is gone.”  or “Toby was sick.” She will sometimes say “Toby is gone but he will come back.”  I think as more time passes she’s understanding that he won’t come back but it’s hard to be sure.  She loves to look at old pictures and videos of him and she will draw pictures of him too.


Toby’s favorite things: food, snuggling, sunshine belly rubs, sleeping in the big bed behind mama’s knees, cleaning up after Gretchen ate, his platypus, his eggballs, playing fetch and occassionally tug.

Toby’s least favorite things: the period of time between 2-4 pm when it was too early for dinner and he suffered from what we called “ETS” (empty tum syndrome), other dogs in the cul de sac, esp. Sally the Weimeraner, bags of all kinds, getting his nails or ears cleaned, change.  Baby pug preferred that every day be exactly the same.

25 Books of Christmas Tradition

25 Books of Christmas!

This is our third year doing the 25 Books of Christmas and I get a lot of questions about it so I wanted to write up how we do it and share some ideas for where to buy the books and how to display them!

What it is:  Like most crafty mom ideas, this one came from Pinterest.  The general idea is this- wrap up 25 books, let your kid open one every night leading up to Christmas (so open first book on November 30th, last book on Christmas Eve).  We always read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” on the 24th but otherwise the books are in no particular order.

Where to buy the books:  Most of my books are from the local consignment sales.  Kansas City Moms, I’ve had the best luck finding holiday books at the Just Between Friends Overland Park sale.  They are in a bin marked “Christmas books.” Go to the presale for the best selection. You’ll find them at the fall sale but sometimes I see them in the spring sale too.  Other places to find books: Half Price Books, Amazon (check out the used option, you can find titles for super cheap there), and Marshalls/TJ Maxx also has a great selection of holiday books at a discounted rate.

What books to get:  This is totally up to you.  I do NOT buy a new set of 25 books a year.  Props to you if you are bout that life but I am not, lol.  I usually add one or two new books a year and retire some of the books that Gretchen has outgrown (board books, lift the flap, etc).  Our 25 books are all Christmas or winter themed.  I know some that don’t go for a theme but just 25 random books.  I keep with the theme and after the holiday season is over the books go in a bin back to the basement.  So they are “new” every year.

Here are the books I am using this year.  For a complete list of all the books we’ve used since starting the tradition check out my board on Pinterest.

  1. Twas the Night Before Christmas
  2. Olivia Helps Save Christmas
  3. Frosty the Snowman
  4. Angelina’s Christmas
  5. Llama Llama Holiday Drama
  6. Christmas Wombat
  7. The Twelve Days of Christmas
  8. How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?
  9. Little Blue Truck’s Christmas
  10. The Polar Express
  11. Snowmen at Christmas
  12. Madeline’s Christmas
  13. Bear Stays Up for Christmas
  14. If You Take a Mouse to the Movies
  15. Snowmen at Night
  16. Merry Christmas Everybody (a Grover story)
  17. Corduroy’s Christmas
  18. The Littlest Christmas Tree
  19. Merry Christmas Curious George
  20. Chick n Pug Christmas
  21. Madeline in Texas
  22. Clifford’s First Christmas
  23. A Charlie Brown Christmas
  24. Paddington Bear and the Christmas Surprise
  25. My March to the Manger

How to display your books: Pinterest is full of ideas for this, but here are the ways I’ve done it.

2013:  Wrapped each book and numbered them.  Displayed them in Gretchen’s front facing bookshelf.


2014:  Wrapped each book but did not number them.  Placed them in a basket under the tree. Let Gretchen pick a random book each night.  (She was 2 so telling her which book to choose was not gonna happen).


2015:  Laziness won out and I did not wrap the books this year!  Instead I put the name of each book in one of these little envelopes from an advent kit I got at Michaels on clearance last year.  She will open the envelopes from 25 down to 1 (good way for her to practice her numbers!) and we will bring her the book from wherever we decide to stash them.


Anyone else do this tradition?  Would love to know what books you use and how you display them!

Winter Fun List


Winter (1)

  • Luminary Walk at the Overland Park Arboretum
  • Union Station train exhibit
  • Visit Crown Center
  • Santa train at Union Station
  • Drive around to see the lights
  • Christmas at Resurrection
  • Candlelight Christmas Eve service
  • Watch Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Adopt a child through church
  • Bake holiday treats
  • Make ornaments
  • 25 days of Christmas book tradition
  • Drink hot chocolate
  • Christmas craft
  • Decorate a gingerbread house
  • Trim the tree
  • Picture with Santa
  • Decorate sugar cookies
  • Read the Christmas Story
  • Put out cookies and milk for Santa
  • Go sledding
  • Feed the birds
  • Build a snowman
  • Do a winter craft
  • Build a blanket fort
  • Attend a Saturday morning kids workshop at Home Depot

Great winter fun list printable can be found here.  I like to write the list out so we can physically check things off the list!

Fall Fun Wrap Up

Our fall ended up getting a little crazy.  Between Gretchen breaking her leg and the exciting World Series win for the Royals, it was a very eventful fall!

We accomplished almost everything on our list with two exceptions.  We decided not to do family photos this fall since Gretchen was in her bright orange cast during prime photo season, and we didn’t make it to the Midwest Balloon Fest (not really torn up about that, it sounds like the event was a bit of a disaster with very few actual hot air balloons on display!)

Here’s what we did check off the list, in no particular order!


Go trick or treating


Go apple picking (we made it out to Cider Hill Family Orchard twice this season)


Make a Thanksgiving craft


Night of the Living Farm at Deanna Rose


Go on a hike (we did a fall scavenger hunt at the Overland Park Arboretum)


Have a cider slush (perfect after apple picking in August, lol!


Fall craft


Pumpkin hollow at Deanna Rose


Make an apple pie


Visit the pumpkin patch (we visited KC Pumpkin Patch at their new location)


Maple Leaf Festival in Baldwin City, KS


Roast pumpkin seeds


Decorate pumpkins


Host a Halloween party


Drink hot apple cider and eat cider donuts (visit to the Louisburg Cider Mill)
Not pictured:
Make applesauce
Make pumpkin pancakes
Make a pumpkin recipe

31 Weeks at Deanna Rose Farmstead

When Deanna Rose opened for the season on April 1st we didn’t set out to go every week until they closed on October 31st, it just kind of started to happen and as the season went on we made a point of making a visit each week.  Most weeks I took her, some weeks Tyler did, sometimes we went together, and while we were on vacation she went with her grandparents.

I love seeing the animals and the flowers grow throughout the season.  There is so much to enjoy and discover there, we never got bored with it.  Also, it’s free Mondays – Thursdays, can’t beat that!  Usually we only did one side or the other.  Sometimes we only went to play on the playgrounds or see the goats.  During the hottest parts of the summer went during their evening hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Much cooler and MUCH less crowded.  Those were some of my favorite visits.  We made some great memories and I’m so sad it will be closed for the next 5 months.

Some pictures that chronicle our adventures at the farmstead this year.



First time meeting her favorite goat, Benjamin.  AKA “the goat with no ears”



Bottle feeding Benjamin for the first time, he is a hungry little goat.



Every time we went she had to check up on him and see how he was doing


Introducing Daddy to Benjamin



She loves the colorful garden stones throughout the children’s garden and butterfly trail


First time fishing, sadly we didn’t catch any.


First time riding the ponies.


Her legs were too short for the pedal tractors this year but I bet by next spring she’ll be doing it!



I love watching things sprout and grow in the children’s garden.


She loves to sing the alphabet song while she walks along the alphabet stones.




Summer evening. We pretty much had the whole place to ourselves.


The butterfly garden, love the creative ways they grow things out here.



Showdown with a very territorial rooster


Only time we saw all three bunnies out.


She loved to find the “G” brick.



Playing in the little cabin with her daddy.


Trip to the farm with her 5 cousins.



Watching the baby ducks swim.


Holding hands with her cousin Hosanna


Milking the “cows” with two of her cousins


Feeding the ducks with Hosanna and Karis


Checking on Benjamin (can you spot him by now?)


That one time a rooster got loose and chased us down.


Feeding duck food to the fish.




Hay bale slide at Pumpkin Hollow


Visiting Pumpkin Hollow with a friend


Riding the cow train for the first time





Night of the Living Farm (with her broken leg)


Last visit to the farm this season


Absolutely loves dancing to the Disney songs at the gazebo


Til next year Deanna Rose!