rest in peace, dear Gram

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22 March 2018

I'm not going to do her or her life justice but I would be remiss not to dedicate a post to my grandma as I get ready to fly up to Moline for her funeral tomorrow. If she was still alive she'd be the first to read this post and then respond via email like she never failed to do every time I blogged. As mentioned in my last post, she suffered a stroke down in New Mexico while visiting my parents a few weeks ago. She's had strokes before but this one was severe and combined with complications from flu and pneumonia she rapidly declined and sadly passed away last week. Despite knowing she wasn't doing well in the weeks leading up to her death, it still felt sudden as she was here less than a month ago making the kids laugh with her riddles and talking about if she had more time in Florida she'd help me refinish our kitchen table. Mentally, she was still sharp as a tack and while I'm grateful she suffered very little, it's hard to believe she's gone.

She left us with loads of wonderful memories and I can't help but do a bit of written reflection looking back on the full life our consummate matriarch led. While I was only around for a fraction of it, her zest for life and fierce loyalty to her family left a lasting impression on everyone she knew and loved. For as long as I can remember she organized a family reunion every summer for anyone that could come. Those summer time visits in the Quad Cities were something my siblings and I looked forward to all year long.

She took her daughters and grandkids on trips galore and loved having visitors. For as rough as the residency years were for us, we were so grateful to be driving distance from her (and Simon's grandpa until he moved!) and the kids loved going to see GG. Gram was the quintessential hostess and set the bar high on that front for future me. No detail was ever forgotten and if we were ever in town near a birthday or holiday she made sure that it was celebrated in proper style. I'm forever grateful that our kids got to see experience the reunions firsthand and the older kids will most certainly remember her in her summertime glory.

Some of Simon and my first memories as a couple were spent in the Quad Cities with his grandpa and my grandma.

We'll forever cherish those special trips and reminisce about them often.

We love and miss you so much, dear Gram. The kids have so many fond memories with you and we feel lucky to have gotten so much quality time with you.

in like a lion

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09 March 2018

... that means absolutely nothing here but it sounds like it's ringing true up north -- I hope you're staying safe and extra warm.

I wrote the vast majority of this meaning to publish it last Friday but here we are! Better late than never? I don't know in this case ... but I'm rolling with it.

1. Sebastian wins for most camera shy around here so when he asks me to take a photo of him and his mini me (this photo doesn't do the resemblance justice but just trust a mother) -- I play it cool and only take 345. Restraint, thy name is Grace.

2. Reporting back on the Amazon diapers! Yee haw. I'm giving them 4 out of 5 stars only because they seem to run a tiny bit small compared to other brands but other than that - I'm a fan. They rank rightbehind the Kirkland brand for us (only because of the size thing) and above all the other brands we've tried and I'm happy to have a good alternative to making the trek out to Costco in a pinch.

3. If you're missing the rom-coms of yesteryear, Netflix has a decent one right now. It's not the best of the best but it does the trick if you're in the mood for something light and fun. (But seriously, where have all the rom-coms gone?)

4. OKAY. I'm not even going to try to expound on the extent of my thoughts and feelings on the Bachelor finale but I'm thrilled for Becca and even though people are predicting a snooze of a season ... I'm here for it. Bring back the Higgins and Lowes, please ABC. Please! I loved Robert Mills take on everything on Juliet Litman's podcast and then Courtney over on Reality Steve's podcast too.

4.5 Simon texted me yesterday wondering if I'd heard of a new book out called Bachelor Nation that he'd heard about on NPR to which I had to admit I'd have it pre-ordered for months and was 18% in. It's good, so far. Lots of background and interesting tidbits for you OG Bachelor Nation members like myself.

5. J.Crew Factory dropped their new arrivals for spring yesterday and holy cute chambray pants. The girls lived in these tanks the past few summers and I love the look of these heart tanks as well. Will they probably have to endure matching wardrobes for the foreseeable future? Affirmative. Also, new arrivals usually means the clearance section get

6. I've been SO excited for the Living in Yellow x Gibson line because I've followed Erin's blog and loved her style for years. I trust her judgement and style and love how versatile everything is. Especially the joggers + striped long sleeve shirt. She has no idea who I am and did not ask me to post about it - an obvious disclosure.

7. And finally and most importantly I'm going to be selfish and solicit prayers for my Grandma (GG as my kids call her, or Gram as she has been lovingly referred to here over the years) and most avid blog reader. She suffered a stroke while visiting my parents in New Mexico last week after leaving our house here in Tampa and is also dealing with complications from the flu and pneumonia. She's the toughest swede you'll ever meet so we are so hopeful she'll pull through but any prayers you can spare are so very appreciated. Thank you!! 


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25 February 2018

alright, alright.

I'm settling in for an edifying evening of entertainment via the Women Tell All so I thought I'd put the commercial breaks to good use (we recently purchased an antenna so a DVR is in our 2k25 future, maybe) here.

1. Disney week has come and gone! And by week I mean three days. My mom and grandma watched the two little boys so we could take the four oldest kids and we had a great time. I want to dedicate a whole post to our trip but have to say a quick and meaningful thankful to our valiant sitters for holding down the fort in our absence.

2. Anyway, back to my trash. Things are getting down to the FebruArie wire! At this point I can't see him not choosing Lauren but I've been a Becca K fan from day one so ... we shall SEE. I really enjoyed Sharleen's podcast with Reality Steve (spoiler free!) this week. She's just the best.

3. Two throwback trends I'm warming to now that they are probably on their way out ... culottes (like these and these) and chunky loafers (like these and these) but not necessarily together. I try to do the "could I wear this to Costco?" test with most of my clothes since that's about as "dressy" as things get during the week and I think dressed down enough they'd both get a B. Good enough for me. Always.

4. Not sure if they're new but they're news to me! I ordered a box but haven't cracked it open yet but I'll keep you posted on my thoughts. We're Kirkland loyalists (Pampers Swaddlers for the newborn days which is funny because Huggies makes Kirkland diapers) SO ... when did my life become this crazy? I don't know either.

5. Okay I'm almost finished with This Love Story Will Self-Destruct and while I like it and I'm very much enjoying it ... I can easily put it down. I like to be totally engrossed in stories and excited about jumping right back in when life allows but I just haven't gotten there with this one. I have An American Marriage on my docket next ... hopefully it's a little more ... gripping?

6. I know you're all on the edge of your seats about my quest to find an identicalish pair of these discontinued shoes. These came and were a huge disappointment as they were super uncomfortable and looked more like Toms than the espadrilles I was hoping to copycat. These fit the bill PERFECTLY (I just took the ribbons off) but were more than I was hoping to spend so the wait for a discount/sale begins. Thank you for coming on this journey with me.

7. How perfect (or seemingly perfect, I haven't tried it on) is this jumpsuit? Very. Very perfect.

Alright, have a great week!!

that time of the week!!

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16 February 2018

1. Double dipping a la Instagram, yet again. I really need to get back into documenting our each and every hourly move via cellular photo.

2. Every week I get a loads + loads of emails* begging me to talk about my thoughts on the most recent episode of the Bachelor. Well, your beg is my command because Mary was kind enough to have me onto her podcast this week. I'm coming back on soon .. whether she likes it or not. I do have to say that I was shocked over Arie's declaration of love so early in the game ... especially to Lauren B. I had high hopes for Winter Games and while it's not awful ... I don't necessarily think it's living up to the hype. Will I keep watching? Absolutely.

3. Have you seen this cute series with Kristen Bell? I'd like to think we'd be friends IRL but I'm sure she gets that all the time.

4. My super sweet e-friend Amber started a blog and no one is more excited about than I am.

5. a. I'm not sure how long they'll last but a few sizes of these high quality pink rain boots are marked WAY down. Check 'em.
    b. Simon got a super sexy v-day gift by way of these t-shirts that I read have a cult following. "Cult following" seems like strong language for a simple t-shirt but ... he does love them. Or so he says.

6. I bought these shoes at Target two summers ago (took the ankle straps off like the rebel that I am) and wore them to a holey soled death and have since checked online almost weekly to see if they bring them back but no dice (other than eBay). These are pretty similar but not an exact match. I'll keep you posted on my valiant quest. Speaking of Target, doesn't this shirt look very Madewell-esque?? It does.

7. BIG sale at Loft going on right now and I still maintain that they have the best/most affordable/adorable sunglasses.

Hopefully you have a wonderful holiday weekend in the works!

*no I don't, duh

cute & cool

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09 February 2018

1. Abraham. Almost eight months. Best disposition ... as long as he gets his three perfectly timed naps in each and every day. It's fine. Usually.

2. I have to say and quick thank you !!! for all the Disney World info. I'm fairly to very certain that I will not be writing any sort of helpful Disney posts in the near or distant future but perhaps a few, "do not do as I dids" will present themselves ripe and ready for the blog post picking. We'll SEE.

3. Alright. I had to stop reading The Wedding Date because it was hmm ... too steamy? to put it politely. I've moved onto This Love Story Will Self-Destruct but I've just begun so .. I can't say anything good or bad quite yet!

4. Simon gets back from a long (and his last!) stretch of interview travels tonight and I'm wondering how he'd feel if I just disappeared for the weekend? Kidding! Mostly. But hats off to those with spouses that travel on the regular. I'm a weakling in the face of your norm.

5. So you know how I feel about my Fitbit but I saw that my sister-in-law has the cooolest smartwatch that looks nothing like a smartwatch and now I'm questioning everything. I'll probably pore over every model and read all about them before sticking with my old faithful but seriously ... SO COOL. (update! after reading a bit more and there are smartwatches and hybrid smartwatches ... where have I been?!)

6. I already posted these (and toddler sizes!!) on the Sale Rack page but they always sell out super quick and are super cute. Extra 20% off with code: SWEET. Also, how cute are these? CUTE. Cuted out yet? Yes.

7. I think I wore a striped shirt every day this week which is weird because this newbie is calling to me. Loudly. Old dogs, new tricks and all that. I've read on a few blogs (all authorities, of course) that these are the shoe of the spring/summer. These are a little more my speed -- and I'm hoping they go on sale or end up over here before summer hits in full force.

I hope you have a great weekend, Valentine's Day, and beginning of Lent. Big week ahead and it feels like Christmas was just yesterday, right? Right.



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02 February 2018

1. Right? Right. February always feels like the short and sweet consolation prize for the eternity that is January but this year I can't complain because January was mostly fine. Hopefully you escaped unscathed as well.

2. If you've had the displeasure of catching my IG stories in the past few days you'll know that what started as a, "we'll just move the kids' rooms around to get Abe out of our room" has turned into a 10 day (and counting ... ) odyssey of purging, organizing, painting walls, repainting dressers ... the whole nine unnecessary yards. Multiple detailed blog posts to follow. The girls' begged to have Abe in their room so in he went. The jury is out on whether or not it was a wise decision but we can reconfigure when we move this summer. 

Simon was thrilled to hear that that dresser is getting relocated to our room and being painted a totally different shade of ......... pink. 

3. Simon is still hot on the interview trail as our December trip pushed his schedule back a bit. He's had to miss a few Monday nights of Arie which has devastated him to no end. 

4. Speaking of Arie - I know the knee jerk and popular reaction is to say how boring this season has been but I have to agree with Sharleen and say I'm not hating it. He's got some great ladies that are totally carrying the season and I think we'll be in for a great Bachelorette no matter who it is. My favorites are Becca, Bekah, Seinne, and Tia. So -- not much has changed from night one for me. I discovered the EW live podcast with Robert Mills and it's a close second to Juliet Litman's Bachelor Party on the Bachelor podcast front. And my heart is SO happy that Ashely is still recapping because they are the best. BEST. 

5. After 2.5 years of living 1.5 hours away from Orlando we are taking the four oldest kids to Disney World. I don't think it's possible for a human to know less about taking kids to Disney anything than I do so any food recommendations or parks to avoid ... I'm all clueless eyes and ears. 

6. Books! I'm reading The Wedding Date and so far so great but I'm coming off a long line of mediocre reading so my judgement might be clouded. 

7. Let's talk SALES.
+ 40% off sale inventory right on over here. I have and wear this cardigan ALL the time.
+ I haven't clicked my way over here in a bit but was pleasantly surprised by their new arrivals (this jumpsuit in particular) that are all 30% off at the moment ...
+ and not on sale but in all my purging I found an old favorite pair of jeans. I'm an unabashed AG denim lover but these are a great alternative and quite a bit softer.

Alright -- happy weekend! May the best team win! 


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18 January 2018

1. Hello, HELLO. Yikes, I didn't mean to take so much time off of blogging but what's done is done. To those of you that thought you'd gotten rid of me for good - my apologies! I'm back in action for the time being. Any blog topics you'd like me to attempt to tackle? Guessing not but thought I'd ask ...

2. As you probably guessed I did not take the photo above but my lovely sister-in-law took it on Christmas day in Wichita. I could dedicate many a post to our travels and return but I'll just pick up right here in the present tense. Yay for January. Or shall I say Janu-Arie? I shall, regrettably.

3. Speaking of the Bachelor - Arie might be a big fat disappointment but I'm thrilled that Ashley is back to her recaps - the funniest recaps in ALL of the internet land. Sharleen is another favorite and if she ever leaves us - I'll live. Barely. Oh, my favorite ladies are Becca K, Tia, and Seinne. Not in any particular order.

4. And in one final blog nod ... these gave me a good and hearty chuckle.

5. I don't know how I've made it this far without addressing one of my favorite hot topics: the weather. It's unseasonably cold here in Florida (coldest night in eight years last night, according to the local news!) and at a frigid 59 degrees this afternoon the bundled up kids barely made it from the car to the house after school. I'm not sure how we're ever going to survive a real winter when the time comes (and it's coming!). If you could spare a prayer for future us - we would be much obliged.

6. I have been keeping warm wearing these comfy black jeans complete with strategic holes in case you're in the market for something similar or identical. The reviews back me up! I've been eyeing this shirt for months and months and I'm shocked that now that it's 40% off there are still lots of sizes still in stock. No time like the present, Patton.

7. The cold/dry Kansas weather almost did my skin in but took advantage of a holiday sale and placed an emergency Ole Henriksen order and got things remedied asap.

Bonus Take: I don't know how to adequately thank you all for your kind comments, emails, prayers, and cards following my last blog post re: Simon's sweet mom. Simon and I were so touched and appreciate your thoughtfulness so very much. Thank you!!

Happy Friday!!

Linking up with Kelly!

Ann Patton

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12 December 2017

Long before my mom had any idea that I might date and marry her son, she would always always tell me, "your godmother is the nicest person I've ever met" and after meeting her myself and getting to know her I have to wholeheartedly agree. One of the first things that struck me about Simon was how kind he was and after getting to know Ann it was obvious that he'd gleaned his thoughtfulness from his mom and dad. I don't tell you this to make her out to be a saint (although she wasn't far from it!) but to try in vain to explain that our loss is most certainly heaven's gain. My mom's older brother who was also a good friend and classmate of Ann's, died in a mountain climbing accident when he was 18. My mom was 16 at the time and Ann wrote her letters from college and suggested my mom might enjoy life with her at KU which is where my mom ended up. My mom will never forget Ann's kindness and the taking of her under her wing during such a difficult time at such a young age. Ann passed away last week and while she wasn't my mom she treated me like a daughter and our kids were so lucky to get the time that they did with her.

Grandma and toddler Julia

I struggle with getting gifts in time for my own kids' birthdays with the heavy-handed help of Amazon but despite having five kids of her own she would always take the time to send me a personalized birthday gift every year while I was growing up and continued the tradition with our kids/her grandkids even when she was fighting the fatigue and unpleasant side effects of chemo. I could tell countless stories of how selfless and thoughtful she was but we might need to change the medium from blog to book to even skim to surface.

I would be remiss not to share some words that more eloquent people wrote about Ann. Her parish priest included the following in the church bulletin a few years ago when she was rediagnosed with cancer ...

Personally, I find myself resisting more than conforming but I do know people who are singular in their pursuit of God’s will. One such person is a good friend of mine who has stage four metastatic bone cancer. This is her second bout with cancer and she is starting a long regimen of chemotherapy. Normally, in such cases, people ask me to pray for healing; often, through the intercession of Fr. Kapaun. However, my friend, although certainly open to healing and would welcome such an outcome, asked for one thing. Yes, you guessed it. Her request was that I pray that she “desire and fulfill God’s Will.”

This isn't surprising if you knew her in any capacity but I remember being humbled when I read this because my prayer request might look a little different and selfish in comparison had I been in her shoes. 

And finally I've read the following, written by her best friend Jennifer, several times over because it encompasses Ann and who she was so well. 

What was so special about Ann?  I pondered this a lot, especially in these last months as I encountered more and more people, from all directions, whose lives she had touched.  It is a good thing for us to consider, indeed, what was special about Ann.  We don't do this to canonize or idolize Ann; rather, we do it because it points us to God, who gave her to us and used her to bring others to Him.  If we live our lives in gratitude, if we love our families more, if we lift our hearts in prayer more often because of her inspiration, all glory to God.

Abe's baptism this past September

Ann had many wonderful qualities and talents.  However, I just keep circling back to the virtue of humility (I was going to put that in all caps, but that kind of defeats the idea), which is foundational in the spiritual life.  Ann was a quiet person, yet she had a profound influence on us.   She had such a regard for every person.  She saw the good in others and always sought to excuse their flaws.   As several have mentioned, she was "other-centered"--much more interested in hearing about your life than in talking about her own.  This was even true in these last months as the cancer monster grew larger and more ominous.  She worked actively to avoid being consumed with her own circumstance; I witnessed this so many times.  We would go from us discussing her funeral to her asking me about my weekend plans or workout class.  So typical of Ann! When it was so obvious that her health was only going to decline and her suffering was going to increase considerably, she reassured me with that beautiful smile and said, "It's okay".

As soon as we heard she was in her final hours we packed up and booked flights for the following morning but got a call that she had passed late the night before we left. We've been able to be here in Kansas with Simon's dad, four younger siblings + their spouses and families, and extended family for the funeral Mass and burial and will be here for the rest of year which has been a (chaotic because Patton kids!) comfort to everyone. Julia seems to be having the greatest understanding and hardest time with her grandmother's death but is grateful she has lots of fond memories of her to look back on. Thank you for your prayers and for checking in - Simon has been so touched and we appreciate you all so much!!

I want to figure out how to make this a printable because my phone picture doesn't do her calligraphy justice. I think it's such a beautiful prayer and Ann wrote this out just a few weeks before she entered hospice and asked that it be made into a holy card for her funeral (which was done!) ...

The blog might be a little quiet in the coming weeks but know that we all wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 


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