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. 

a helpful hand for the holidays + giveaway!!!

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11 December 2017

Be sure to read and scroll down to the end of the post for a chance to win a $250 VISA gift card to help out with your holiday shopping this year!

Alright. I don't need to tell you that the season of giving is upon us and if you're anything like me you had grand plans of having your shopping all taken care of before the dawn of December but that didn't happen to so you're making up for lost time as we speak (ahem, type).

Don't fret! I'm here and happy to tell you that there's a silver lining to being a little behind your self appointed curve because there's a free and simple way to save money and earn cash back while shopping for your loved ones this Christmas.

Phoebe asked for a phone for Christmas (many, many laughs).

RetailMeNot is the brilliant and ultimate destination where you shop online (app or website, we use both!) that eliminates the time consuming task of searching around for the best possible deal on specific products. They feature thousands of coupons, timely deals, and discounted e-gift cards making it cost and time effective to give everyone the gifts they want this year.

I thought I had the kids' wish lists nailed down but then when we actually sat down and talked about it Julia was surprisingly adamant about wanting a Star Wars lego set (despite never having seen the films) and I'll give you one guess what her four other minions piped up and said they wanted too!

So, we searched for the best deals on legos and found that there were loads of sets on sale for 20% off at Toys-R-Us at the moment. Done!

As mentioned, Phoebe got it in her head that she wanted a phone (maybe in 15 years, P) but Julia said she'd help her find an iPod (again, many years in the future!) and was able to find a heck of a deal on Apple's website for a refurbished iPod (thanks a lot, Julia ;)).

Bosco shocked us by asking for any and all trucks and we were able to find some really cool remote control trucks for 78% off on HobbyTron which is a retailer I'd never even heard of! Cha-Ching.

My favorite feature is that you can combine multiple offers and cash back codes to maximum savings and bank account relief come January! If online shopping isn't your thing - you can find deals to be redeemed at nearby stores by just presenting your phone to the cashier at checkout.

I have a shopping list I'm slowly working through and RetailMeNot has helped me save money on every item I've bought thus far. I just wish I'd known about it for the kids birthdays this past year!

Now that I've given you the good news I'm going to deliver even BETTER news and tell you that RetailMeNot is offering $250 to one lucky winner. With your new RetailMeNot knowledge ... I know the winner will make their winnings go FAR this giving season. 

Entering is super easy! Just click here to sign up for and browse RetailMeNot and then come back here to leave a comment back here with a deal you're excited to use!

And don't forget to download the app for easy browsing and saving!!

Best of luck and many thanks to RetailMeNot for sponsoring this post!

six months of Abe

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10 December 2017

This past week I've been telling inquiring minds that Abe will be 6 months on the 15th. And then it hit me tonight that no, the 15th is Bosco's (half) birthday and Abe is 6 months today! Woo to the hoo. If ever there was a reason for a blog post, right?


Simon kept insisting that this photo "pose" was going to look super awkward while Bianca and I assured him it wouldn't and I think Simon was right on this one. 

I won't get into skills and stats mostly because his skills are minimal and his stats are just large + tall but he did recently cut two teeth and we all have the bite marks to prove it. The nickname, "Babe" for Baberaham has totally stuck and I fear the general public thinks we named him after a fictional talking  piglet but there are worse things.

He's entered the phase of whipping around any wide open space by way of rolling and often finds himself half way under couches or beds until Supermom saves his day. Rinse. Repeat. But when he's not playing Houdini he does love himself a little Tula time (or, "Trulia" as Simon repeatedly calls it) or time in his seat-o-fun.

He visibly shakes with anticipation if he thinks I might give him a little taste of food and once he gets a month or two of real food under his belt I don't think odds are bad that he'll soon outweigh Bosco.

He's still going back and forth between two and three naps depending on the day and the travel situation but I'm hopeful we'll get things down to a dull + consistent two nap roar someday soon.

Simon jokes that the rougher the pregnancy the happier the baby because Abe's pregnancy was rough but he's such a delight that it's almost impossible to remember anything other than life with him ex-utero.

Happy half birthday, baby boy. 


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09 December 2017

1. let's make these quick takes TRULY quick, shall we? we shall.

2. it's a good tv week with the return of the Crown and a countdown to Arie special. I did start watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and I'm only 1.8 episodes in and enjoying it (though it is NOT to be watched anywhere near kids!).

3. SO SO many great Christmas song recommendations on last week's post - thank you! You've made our December a whole lot happier :)

4. I told you I'd keep you posted on my coat decisions and I got this one in the mail and promptly returned - weird fit! But, I bought this one on a whim because I needed something quickly and while it's nothing like I originally wanted - I love it (it's much cuter in person, promise).

5. I wanted to follow up my Buckeye Bar recipe link with a Puppy Chow recipe link because tis the season for easy and sinfully tasty pb + chocolate treats galore.

6. Because I know you've been on the edge of your seat ... we survived family photos. I haven't seen them yet but I think we got at least one winner. I tried to fight my matchy matchy tendencies but failed with the girls. Next year! Maybe.

7. I haven't popped over to Loft (online, always online) in awhile but was (not) shocked to see everything is 40% off. Keep me away from the cardigans -- my kryptonite 4ever.

have a great rest of your day!

meet our new workhorse ...

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08 December 2017

There are loads of predictable things about me, but one of my favorites is that I'm always down to talk baby gear. At length. As our family has grown and our needs have evolved, it's been fun to discover new products that we love with features we appreciate from brands we trust. Our double stroller recently died a sad and frustrating death thanks to some overly aggressive handling after we gate checked it one too many times, so I've been on a slow and nonchalant hunt for a new one. The timing of the new Bugaboo Donkey2's release in November coincided perfectly with my search, and we were so thrilled and excited to take it for a whirl or ten ...

There are so many things to love and share about the Bugaboo Donkey2, but I think I love the versatility of the thoughtfully designed system the most. The stroller can be used in a mono (single) configuration with ample storage below and to the side of the seat ... the underset basket and side luggage basket offer 22 lbs. of storage respectively.

The seats recline or can be easily adjusted to sit more forward. The sun canopy actually fully covers the stroller passengers' faces when fully extended. The stroller also quickly and easily expands to duo mode where a bassinet or second seat can be added.

And the part the older kids were MOST excited about ... there's a Bugaboo Comfort Wheeled Board (aka scooter-like) that they can ride to make it a glorified triple stroller.

Another thing I really like is that the stroller's tires are foam filled, meaning they won’t go flat due to rough terrain (something we've previously struggled with using other strollers). This is so key for a stroller that gets lots of use on the daily. 

And finally, side by side - with room for a pet by the original name of, "ruff ruff" :)
Even when the stroller is expanded into duo configuration - it fits through standard doorways which is a non-negotiable for us. 
Simon just piped up that he wanted to me to emphasize how great the wheels are as he dealt with the brunt of other strollers' multiple flats. 
So, consider that emphasized. The stroller is customizable and Bugaboo offers a variety of colors for the seat fabric, side luggage basket and cover, and sun canopy. The Bugaboo Donkey2 can also accommodate infant car seats with the right adapters. 

I'm in the process of getting gold stickers made* to show off the, "Patton Seal of Approval" and this stroller will get our very first one. 

Thank you to Bugaboo for trusting us to test out the genius new Donkey2 and for sponsoring this post!

*sarcasm, but wouldn't that be fun/ridiculous?

photos by Bianca Merrell

7qt on the second

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02 December 2017

1. I'm somewhere in the middle of, "wow!! how is it already December?!" and "my e-people have been decking their halls for a month now so how is it not January yet?" but mostly the former. Since this is probably our last winter in Florida we are soaking up the mild weather as much as possible and clucking in solidarity with the, "it's going to get down to 60 next week! be ready!!" ... what a wonderful world. Truly.

2. We're taking family photos tomorrow and I keep telling myself that it'll be a victory if we have three child smiles but even that might be a bit optimistic.

Trial run before Paul's rehearsal dinner. Two. Two smiles and I'll be thrilled.

3. In a totally predictable move I've started to watch Suits from the very beginning since I've only seen random episodes and there's no time like the present, right? Right. Season two of The Crown is right around the corner though so Megan might be put on hold ... temporarily.

4. I know it's a total abomination but I've taken to making Buckeye Bars in lieu of actual Buckeyes because they take WAY less time to make. Simon and I agree that we do enjoy the pb+ chocolate ratio better than the real deal so there is a silver lining to my laziness. Just try them ... they won't disappoint.

5. If you're in the market for a pair of high-waisted jeans (complete with destroyed knees ... not everyone's cup of tea but I'm a fan) these are 40% off and get great reviews in case you don't want to solely take my word for it (size up though!). And one more pair from a trusted brand that I love and often sells out waytoofast.

6. And on a more practical note - if you're doing any traveling might I recommend this portable battery for all of your recharging needs? I might. Loads of happy reviews too!

7. Finally! Hoping you'll help me out and share your favorite Christmas song. Links welcome and appreciated!!!

Happy aaaaaaaalmost Advent!!!

holiday helper

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01 December 2017

I hate to admit it but as I get older the more I tend to dread the holiday season as it approaches. Not because I'm a grinch (well ... not a total grinch) but life feels full enough during ordinary time that the thought of tacking on more of everything is overwhelming. Eventually, I realize that Rome wasn't built in a day and everything will get done and we might even have some fun along the way. However, I'm starting to reprioritize the things that need to get done, the things that don't, and the things that would be nice to do but won't fret if they're left undone for the next year or three.

Simon knows my tendency to borrow trouble and start stressing long before is necessary and so the Sunday before Thanksgiving said, "let's talk about Thanksgiving and start planning the big meal right now ... " so I wasn't in a frenzy Wednesday night trying to plan out a meal for just our family that we couldn't guarantee our kids would love (not a single Patton child likes mashed potatoes -- riddle me THAT). We had plans with friends for Thanksgiving evening and beach plans that weekend with other friends and I remembered that one of the Blue Apron meals we had coming on Wednesday wasn't necessarily un-Thanksgiving-y and decided to go that route for our Thanksgiving lunch. Reprioritizing! We feel like we are in a bit of a holding pattern as well as we weren't/aren't sure when we'll need to head up to Kansas so this seemed like a smart and happy compromise for all involved.

And it was.

Getting the final plates ready.

But let's back up ... the meal we made was roasted chicken with fall vegetables + cranberry campote which is RIGHT up my alley. I love sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and any sort of sweet + savory combo. I'd never made a compote before and was happy to add that skill to my limited culinary repertoire thanks to Blue Apron.

compote in progress.

look at those ninja chopping skills ... I haven't cut a finger off. Yet.

Simon is definitely a recipe/rule follower while I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-er in the kitchen so Blue Apron is right up his alley and the structure is good for me and my errant ways.

Phoebe burned her hand on our stove several months ago and still talks about it on the daily so this was her first 'come close to the stove' whirl with close Mom + Babe supervision post-accident and she was in heaven.

In true Julia fashion ... she supervised the making of homemade ornaments with Theo and Bosco while the rest of us worked together to get the meal on the table ...

Theo's finished product/masterpiece.

In the unlikely event that you're unfamiliar with Blue Apron ... allow me to briefly catch you up to speed!

Blue Apron is a brilliant and convenient service that delivers farm fresh ingredients right to your doorstep, perfectly portioned, along with beautiful chef-designed recipes to create the most delicious meals

+ there are two plans: the 2-person plan and the family plan and everything arrives in a refrigerated box

+ Blue Apron previously offered six recipes to choose from each week but recently upped it to eight!

+ There's absolutely no commitment and you can skip or cancel at any time

+ All of their meals are between 500-800 calories per serving and take up to 40 minutes to prepare (usually less - in our experience!)

Blue Apron offers a recycling program!

If you're curious and would like to try it out for yourself the first 25 readers will get their first 3 meals free with their first Blue Apron order ... just click HERE!!

We've made Blue Apron meals on vacation, when we have company in town, during that postpartum period when we're all getting a litttttle sick of frozen pizza, and sent to friends around the country that could use a little boost! It's perfect for the holidays as you're traveling and inevitably letting those groceries go to waste - plan ahead and have Blue Apron delivered for the dates you'll be home! And if you have any sort of healthier eating resolutions on the horizon Blue Apron is the perfect helpmate as you ease into a new routine in the New Year!

And finally this past week's final product ...

Simon really committed to the shot and pulled out the piano bench to get a good aerial angle. Bravo.

While this post was sponsored by Blue Apron, we are loyal and dedicated Blue Apron customers and if you've ever come to visit - you've probably been treated to a meal or two :)

quick + dealy

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27 November 2017

as always, crushing the post title competition.

Photo unrelated but I keep going through to delete photos from my camera roll and I just can't delete this one. SO, it shall live in infamy here.

I don't know about you but the insanity of Cyber Week has me feeling like I'm missing out on a million deals and questioning some gifts I bought earlier this year and then rolling my eyes at myself because ... if this is my stress than my life is PRETTY darn great. So, I gave myself a few quick minutes to put my focused cap on and round up some deals that might pertain to you because they pertain to me and mine. If not, there's a zillion other roundups floating around!!

Lots of this years popular toys along with some old school classics are 50% off (some even more) today. Baby Alive anyone? No, just Phoebe?

30% off everything at ASOS. Whenever anyone asks me my go-to place for fancier dresses (regular and maternity AND nursing-friendly) I always point them in the direction of ASOS. They send the return label IN the box which is worth a lot to me and makes returns so easy breezy.

Love them or hate them ... Uggs is offering some super rare markdowns on their site. I'm an unapologetic lover of the shorter style boots ... just not in Florida. Usually.

A few colors of the Micro Mini Kick Scooter are marked WAY down. These things get rave reviews and Bosco was able to ride one shortly before he turned two.

Both the Vitamix and Blendtec are marked down to record low prices on Amazon. Woo to the HOO.

J.Crew is still going strong with their huge sale and this dress caught my eye.

A lot of the Mini Boden markdowns end today. These are my favorite shirts for the boys because you can leave them untouched in the dryer for days and still ... no wrinkles. the BEST. (In better stock on their site)

Super low prices on Zella gear which is great for the gym, house lounging, or going out in public if you're me.

If you're not a Sale Rack member ... you should be! Lots of great sales and hard-to-find toys along with reviews and recommendations galore. We'd love to have you.

Happy Monday!

early bird

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23 November 2017

1. Happy belated Thanksgiving! I hope you had a good one! Ours was super low key and ended with a fun night with friends, some fellow "pilgrims" in a foreign Floridian land. Sometimes I get tempted to throw a teeeeeeny pity party around holidays that we aren't with our families but then I think back to residency and snap out of that nonsense RILL QUICK.

2. I took no photos today but here's a photo of a little family nature walk we took this past weekend ...

... Julia is reading the placard about the Great Blue "Hair - ON" (her consistent and confident pronunciation) to her siblings who could not care less :).

3. I know I might be the last person to still be watching but did anyone else watch the fall finale of Grey's Anatomy? Was anyone else as shocked as I was? Simon semi-watches with me and was even super surprised and not so thrilled that we have to wait until January to see what happens. Simon and I did start watching Julian Fellowes' new series and while it's no Downton ... we're giving it a shot.

4. I kind of feel like I'm fumbling around trying to set up a MySpace page (the blurry photo for starters) as a grown woman but I have a new Amazon Influencer (is influencer not the worst word to come out of 2k17? it IS) page if you wanna take a click and look around. If not, I'll only be ever so slightly offended. Winky face. You see? MySpace.

5. Simon and the kids saw people pitching tents outside Best Buy today at 2pm (they were on a mission to find some evaporated milk - planners-r-us) ... I don't know why it surprised me but there must be some crazy deals to be had in person????? Right?!

6. I was excited to see almost alllll of the coats in my coat post are on serious sale but I will not be venturing out at all hours to see them in person slash pitching any sort of tent. I did order this one after it was discounted an additional 20% off the sale price. I have unrealistically high hopes but I realize I originally wanted navy or black so I'm already anticipating returning it and going for my original pick. Or this one.

7. Any big sales/scores you care to share? I'll go first.

the deep discounts over yonder caught my eye. I don't need a new cardigan but if I did - this is one of my very favorite brands and the colors! They can't be beat!

Half off EVERYTHING here made me do a double take.

+ 40% off the entire store (including another coat contender) + free shipping almost seems too good to be true.

+ Kindles 4 everyone at killer deals. The 8 qt. Instant Pot at a record low Amazon price.

+ 50% off my favorite workout leggings.

I'll add more as I find them or tack them onto my IG story like the wannabe Millennial that I am.

Happy Friday that feels like a Sunday eve!!



traveling on planes with children

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21 November 2017

The usual and massive disclaimer that I'm not an expert and greater travel veterans have gone and written more helpful posts before me - of that I am certain. Take this all with a grain of the pink Himalayan variety.

about to hop on a flight that took off right as our kids should've been going to bed. Don't do that - if at all avoidable. 

Over the course of the past three months we've been on twelve flights with our kids. Some with all of the kids and some with only one or two but kids in tow nonetheless. We've busted out our dinosaur of an iPad one time on one flight and that's not because I'm a screen nazi by any stretch of the imagination. If we were ever to do any sort of transatlantic flying you better believe I'd be investing in a few more screens but we've found a few ways to make the flights as pleasant as possible for the kids, their parents, and their fellow passengers.

Remember! Salt, folks.

1. I don't need to tell you that flying with kids is pricey and living where we live (and have lived) makes it difficult to drive to see our families without tacking on a couple of days on the front and back end of the trips so we finally got a credit card that will earn us miles at the suggestion of my airline miles savvy brother. We've earned enough miles since signing up that we've only paid $60 for all seven us (Abe is still a lap child, praise the good and gracious Lord) to fly a couple of times. We earned a ton of miles by just signing up for the credit card which helped immensely too. Will I ever forgive myself for not signing up for an airline mile happy credit card many moons ago? I don't know.

2. Backpacks - I've found that making a big deal over every kid (yes, even Bosco (2) cares) having their own bag helps make the trip feel more special (and therefore elicits decent behavior) for the kids. The older kids bring their school bags and I found a few of these on eBay but had I seen these first I probably would've gone that route for the younger kids. I'll be honest and admit that sometimes I take full and obnoxious control of what is packed in those bags and sometimes I have NO idea what they pack. It's sweet to see Sebastian pull out a random truck he thought to pack for Bosco and not so sweet to see that Phoebe packed herself a rather large ziplock of semi-sweets while flying through the air but I don't think it makes a HUGE difference either way.

Abe loves flying. So much.

3. Art without the mess - My kids now associate flying with these mess-free drawing pads and they are worth every single penny. All five of the older kids love them and sometimes I think I should stock up in the tragic event that they are discontinued.

4. Snacks - since we often fly on airlines that offer no food or drink without a fee I'm always sure to pack plenty of our own. I try to deviate from our usual snacks a bit so it feels special and exciting but again - I'm not always on top of my game and they get the usual fare they find in their lunches and are just fine with that stuff too.

5. Boarding Last - unless we're flying Southwest where you'd get a random assortment of middle seats smattered throughout the cabin if you wait till the last minute to hop on the flight - we wait to board until the bitter end. The kids are mostly fine on the flights but they're still kids and it's much easier to get someone to the bathroom at the gate than when everyone is boarding and you've been buckled up for ten minutes and counting ...

6. Stroller - Bring one! I mean unless your kids are way beyond the stroller stage they are always useful to pile high with bags, let the slow walkers ride, and gives babies a place to nap. We always bring a carrier as well (SO much easier to go through security wearing a baby than trying to juggle the shoe removal etc while holding a baby) but it's nice to have both options handy.

7. Changes of clothes - We learned this the VERY HARD WAY a few years ago when Theo got really sick on a flight and everything was in our checked luggage. I have two pairs of pants (one for the older set of kids, one for the younger) that will fit various sizes and a couple shirts stashed in my diaper bag in a ziplock JUST in case. If you have them - nothing will happen. Murphy said so.

Not sure if my favorite part of this pic is that her headphones are plugged into nothing or that she somehow snuck and painted her nails right before our trip and did a decentish job.

7. packing cubes  - I was skeptical but I kept reading how much people loves them to put inside suitcases and so I took the plunge and am an official devotee. You can organize them by day (all the outfits for Monday in one pod etc) or by person (the route I go - and treat them like mini dressers on our trip) or by category (pajamas in this one, pants in this one etc) and we've been able to fit alllll of our clothes and shoes into one checked bag and one carry-on because the cubes really do help compact everything. I can't sing their praises enough.

8. Chill Out - I've come to the realization that you can pack backpacks to snack and distraction perfection, time the diaper changes and bathroom breaks just right, and sit across the aisle from the kindest grandmother under the sun but something could/will still go wrong. Flight delays (on the tarmac - anything worse? Yes, but barely), suddenly sick kids, diaper failures, etc etc etc. I know you know that kids can sense your stress and while I'm not one to not stress in stressful situations it helps to know that there's not much to be done and if the lady in front of you turns to glare because your baby is fussy or your threenager kicks their seat - it's fine. She'll forget the inconvenience the second she's off the flight. And if she doesn't - she'll live!

9. Caveat - Right before our 12 hour drive up to Mississippi I do have to share that I bought two of these because I got nervous. We really held them over the kids' heads (after lunch and after a quiet time etc etc) so they felt like a big treat once they got them. Simon and I loaded them up the night before with shows they'd never seen and one movie on each and while they didn't even come close to plowing through all of that - it was nice to have when Bosco was about to lose it at the tail end of our return trip. I much prefer them to our iPad but our iPad is super old and we'll only use them for travel and they fit that bill perfectly.

Alright. Godspeed! 


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17 November 2017

1. With Halloween sandwiched between Paul's wedding and Sebastian's birthday - halloween2k17 didn't get any blog love so here's a framer before we blink and it's 2018 ...

... the whole crew too.

2. I always loved this blogger/author but this particular story gave me a real good and literal L O L.

3. Do you still need a turkey for Thanksgiving? Did you see this deal? I hadn't -- until just NOW.

4. Speaking of food - Simon's sister made this breakfast bake (casserole?) for us last week and I made it as soon as I got home and I've been eating it for breakfast/snack/lunch/snack/snack/dinner. Make it! Love it!

5. I don't have any new books to report but I will shamelessly admit that I pre-ordered this book. Oh SO shamelessly.

6. Thank you for your coat input both here and on Instagram! It seemed like this was the clear winner so I'll let you know if/when I pull the trigger. While scouring my usual e-haunts I came across this dress that I think would be super cute with tights and ankle boots - I think. We'll see.

7. Finally and most importantly this deserves a WHOLE lot more than a "take" but I'm scared if/when I start a post I won't stop so for now - a take it is. I wanted to ask if you could spare a prayer for Simon's mom as she approaches the end of her battle with breast cancer. It's easy for me to say she's a special soul as she's my mother-in-law but if you know Ann you know that she really is one of a kind in all of the most wonderful ways. She is on hospice care and Simon and I were able to go up last week to see her and let Abe kick around next to her - moments I will cherish forever.

from our visit to Wichita back in September. We would all live that special week over and over again if we could.

Simon has had some extended time with his four younger siblings and his parents and we'll all head up again soon. Thank you to those of you that have reached out - Simon and I are so touched and appreciative.

I don't care how much of a cliché it is but life is certainly precious, isn't it?

I'll leave you here but I hope you have a wonderful weekend heading into Thanksgiving.

decisions, decisions ...

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16 November 2017

I know I mentioned a few posts back that I'm in the market for a new winter coat (as opposed to a summer coat). While my current coat hasn't gotten a ton of wear since we moved to Florida it's 10+ years of wear are showing and if I sew the top button back on one more time I think it might revolt and run away forever. Maybe. As a terrible creature of habit I'm looking for a coat almost identical but perhaps a little bit higher quality than my current situation. I'm committed to the funnel neck (also called a "stand collar" I recently discovered) but can't decide between navy or black. Here's what I've been perseverating over for the past few days ... 

Will I likely let it go for one more year and chew my nails down to nubs because decisions like this are just TOO MUCH? Yes. But it's still fun to lay out all the options. Funnish.

1. Wool Blend Coat - If this one came in black or navy I wouldn't be writing this post because it would already be safe and sound in my closet. I LOVE it but don't love the color. Not sure why I included it ... maybe I'll have a change of heart?

2. Pressed Bouclé Coat - This might be my top choice - maybe. It's on sale and it doesn't look cheap but it wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

3. Stand Collar Coat - Actually maybe this one is my favorite. I love the sleeve detail and that it's a trustworthy brand. And on sale.

4. Wool Blend Topper - this is a close second (technically third?) but I can't decide if I like the hidden buttons or not?

5. Funnel Neck Wool Blend Coat - If I got this one I think I'd want to replace the buttons to the ones on the green version which I know I'd procrastinate for a very long time.

6. Wool Blend Stadium Coat - this reminds me so much of the much pricier J.Crew version but I feel like this is something I would've worn in high school? Which actually isn't necessarily a bad thing ...

7. Charcoal Wool Blend Coat - I have a few things from this brand that I love so I included it but wish it came in black or navy.

8. L.L. Bean Boiled Wool Coat - went off the beaten path a bit and found this - I'm guessing it's the warmest of the bunch but it also doesn't scream, "quality coat" -- does it?

Anyway, so there we have it. Do you have a favorite? Purchase a coat recently that you'd recommend with a funnel neck? Please - do share!!!

baptism and MORE

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13 November 2017

1. Much to the chagrin of many a blog reader I used to do a meticulous job of recording any noteworthy (and not) events on this here blog. Now, I'm posting a photo from Abe's baptism that happened back in September.

With no Abe. (Thanks to Simon's brother's sweet girlfriend Marquel for this photo!!) 

2. On a culinary note - my mom made the best zucchini bread growing up and so I decided to make some in muffin form the other morning before the kids woke up as a nice change of pace from the, "grab a granola bar or string cheese" as everyone tears out the door for school. So, I did. Long story short? I accidentally used turmeric instead of nutmeg and they tasted awful. Unfortunate story unfortunater? The three big kids and Simon still gobbled them up while tearing out said door. Yum. I also royally screwed up the world's easiest and most delicious pb+chocolate delicacy around tonight so maybe I should just call it good on 2k17: kitchen edition. 

3. I was hoping to get this up by Friday but now it's Monday and I'm wondering if I should just pretend I'm REALLY on the ball for this upcoming Friday? Probably. But, we all know the truth.

4. THANK YOU for all of your wonderful book recommendations! My hold list at the library is a million (give or take) miles long all thanks to you! I'll admit that I dove right into a lighthearted romance (I can't help myself!!!) and am a big fan thus far. 

5. On Riverdale - we happily forged ahead but I'll admit it was killing me (pun alert) and I totally Googled, "who killed Jason???" -- ha. I surprised myself because I hate spoilers; I don't know what came over me. 

6. Abe, Simon, and I went up to Wichita this past weekend and while it wasn't COLD cold it was coldish and I'll admit that I stopped to admire a pair of these pretties (ugglies?) this morning at Nordstrom Rack (got sidetracked looking for dress shoes for the girls - as one DOES) and then I saw that they're having an online flash sale this week. Fortuitous? Perhaps! Perhaps. 

7. Maybe I just haven't noticed in past years but doesn't it seem like a lot of retailers are jumping the Black Friday gun this year? I'm not complaining - merely noting. Any sales in particular that've caught your eye? I'm pretty skilled at dragging my feet until the week before Christmas but in an effort to be more fully present during Advent (yes, we've all heard that phrase a zillion times but it doesn't make it any less true, right? right) I really want to pick out thoughtful gifts prior to December. We recently discovered these at Simon's sisters house and they are an easy stocking stuffer no-brainer since the kids love them + they're useful. I'd like to get Simon some interview trail accessories and aside from scouring this fall sale ... that's about as far as I've gotten.

Anyway, that's THAT.

Hope your week is off to an above average start :)

the SNOO: a review

08 November 2017

I don't get many people sliding into my DMs but when they do it's often to ask my thoughts on the relatively new SNOO they see in the occasional story a la Instagram. Does it "work"??!! Is it as amazing as it seems?! Where did you get that bassinet?!

Well, I'm here to report back that yep, it's pretty amazing. It works. I really, really wish I'd had it for the other kids. Abe is our best sleeper (10-12 hours at night!) despite being constantly woken up for school runs and several trips that messed with his schedule the first few months of his little life and I just don't think it's a coincidence.

Happiest Baby rocking my happiest baby.

It's such a genius concept: combine the safety + security of a swaddle + a very slight rocking motion + just the right amount of white noise = magic. If you've read this blog for any amount of time you know what a big sound machine/white noise fan I am and I love that this has it built right in.

Let's break it all down, starting with the swaddle. The swaddle is removable and machine washable and comes in different sizes (Abe is currently in a medium) and is made out of stretchy but breathable material. Step one involves the straps that come together with velcro ...

... this is when Abe gets excited (think Pavlov's dog) because he is that bizarrely happy kid but I tell myself it's because he knows the value of a good nap.

Next and final step is to zip him up ... and say goodnight ...

The SNOO can sense/hear if the baby starts to fuss or cry and rocks slightly faster and the white noise gets louder in an effort to soothe him or her to sleep. These can also be controlled from across the house via the SNOO's handy dandy app. As the baby gets older and you'd rather they not be rocked throughout their naps or through the night you can set the SNOO to  the "weaning" setting to wean them off the rocking/noise.

First baby able to consistently nap in a light room without blackout shades. It's the little things.

I'm wondering if they'd design one for adults? Weird? No.

One of my favorite things about the SNOO is that if (heaven forbid) Abe is woken up by a wandering toddler or curious Phoebe - he can easily fall right back to sleep. The SNOO is the safest baby bed on the market because it keeps the baby on his/her back all night long. The swaddle wings that attach to the clips on the sides of the mattress prevent any accidental rolling.

Abe doesn't need them but if you're child needs to sleep on a slight incline - they recently came out with little risers to put under the bassinet pad. They've thought of everything.

Want to win one? Of course you do. Well, it's your lucky day because Happiest Baby is generously giving one away to one Camp Patton reader over on Instagram.

Best of luck!!

Happiest Baby provided the above SNOO for review but as always - all opinions are mine and mine alone :)

first festive things first ...

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07 November 2017

Maybe I'm alone here but all of a sudden my Instagram feed is chock full of decked halls, decorated trees, and holiday spirit galore. I'm more of a, "wait for advent" kind of gal but I can see the appeal of getting started early if you're a Christmas fanatic and want to enjoy the aesthetic finery for more than just December + the 12 days of Christmas. Full disclosure: we won't be in town for Christmas and I'm leaning heavily toward not putting up our tree. Grinch Patton? Perhaps. Perhaps! If the kids show signs of future Christmas Treeless PTSD from 2k17 then maybe I'll relent. However, is it too soon to scour the web for wearable finery for the little ladies in our lives? Of course not. Hypocrisy is my strong suit.

I won't subscribe to the cliché that it's more fun to dress girls than it is to dress boys but I have to admit that it often feels like there's a lot more variety in the girls' departments - especially around the holidays. I love the idea of having a 'special' dress for Thanksgiving and Christmas that doesn't have to be relegated to just November and December but can be worn into the new year as well. I also love the idea of said dress being affordable, comfortable, and play-friendly.

Here's what I dug up:

1. fit and flare gold - Julia loves anything that sparkles and I think this could be dressed up with black tights and gold shoes or dressed down with white tights and boots.

2. black and white jersey - I have to admit that this is my very favorite of the bunch. For Christmas it would be so fun with dark green or cranberry tights. Right? Right.

3. lace dress - I love the subtle bell sleeves and lace detail. Predictable as ever.

4. glittery sweatshirt dress - Both of my girls are big fans of anything involving glitter and I love how comfortable this looks.

5. asymmetrical wrap dress - Just festive enough but also just versatile enough to wear year round.

6. long-sleeved jersey dress - Ruffles and jersey! Best of both worlds.

7. green ruffles - This is my second favorite, I think. Twirl friendly and a brand I've grown to love and trust.

8. flutter dress - Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and Valentines Day all rolled into this pretty frock.

I wish I'd thought to add this adorable number because it looks extra comfy but a link will have to suffice. I'm also loving Pink Chicken's line for Target if you're wanting something with a bit of a truly festive kick.

Do you have a favorite? (#2, right?!)

Okay, that's all! For now :)

yee haw

05 November 2017

I'm tempted to type out the super catchy, "we did it!" anthem a la Dora but I'll spare us all and .... not.

But, you did it (hit the 10k mark on Facebook) and for that I thank you. On one hand I think it's kind of silly to care about followers/fans/likes and that's that - it is silly. But on a little portion of the other hand it's fun to know that people are reading (skimming, ahem) what you put out into the e-universe. So, a little giveaway to celebrate a silly (but fun!) milestone I never thought the Camp would reach.

Here's what we've got ...

Stendig Wall Calendar - this thing is huge and I love it (and the kids love coloring the months as they get torn down)

Balm dot com trio - love this stuff. A lot. 

Puffin in Bloom Collection - Julia wouldn't appreciate this quite yet so instead of gifting it to myself - next best thing -- shipping it off to one of YOU. 

3 Tier Cake Stand - Useful and aesthetically pleasing and perfect for holiday gatherings involving food. 

Rose Gold Wall Clock - love the simplicity of this. 

Pink & Gold Fitbit Alta - you know how I feel about Fitbits and this one is SO pretty. 

Okay, head over to Facebook to enter! Super simple and easy!

And thank you!!!!

hey hey you you

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03 November 2017

I don't like your ... no. I'm sure I'd love your girlfriend -- just wanted to pop back into blogging with a splash - hence that super splashy post title.


1. We've been traveling like well, travelers lately and it's really salted my blogging game because as anyone that has um traveled knows - laundry seems to multiply by the zillion when traveling and how many times can I work the word, "travel" into this run-on? Not many. Anyway, I'd love to dedicate a post to each and every one of our trips but luck is on your side and we've got even more trips on the immediate horizon and realism has always been a favorite of mine so here, have a photo I snapped right before my little brother's wedding.

The five oldest kids were in the wedding and about 3 hours into our 12 hour drive up to Mississippi where said wedding would take place I made the horrifying realization that I had left all of their wedding garb in the closet where I'd put it so, "we wouldn't forget it" -- thankfully a friend was able to overnight it for a small/large fortune but my heart is recovering from the nearattack it suffered.

2. What else ... what else? This kid.

I probably think this with every child and have blogged it several times before but I really think he's one of the happiest babies ever. For now, at least. Phoebe is obsessed with him and I spend a lot of my days pulling her off/away from him for fear she'll smother him with her aggressive affection.

3. Moving right along. Because Simon is in his third and final (!!!!!!!!) year of fellowship he's started interviewing for real live attending jobs. He's officially finished at the end of June, takes yet another round of boards, and then off we trot to our yet to be determined new location. We'd love to stay here but there just aren't any jobs in his field (something might pop up, but it's not likely - sadly) so it looks like we'll be headed north and hopefully closer to family in the midwest. The kids are thrilled (they really want to see snow - the apples fall VERY far from the mother tree on the weather front) and Simon and I are excited to start "real life" (I mean - you know) and be done with the eternal training aspect of medicine. I'll keep you posted - as you know I always do.

4. Let's talk shows of the tv variety! A few people have told me that they thought I'd love Riverdale but then a few other people said it was awful so I started watching it. And I don't hate it. Simon even indulged in an episode with me last night and aside from his need to Google up a storm about the original comic - he didn't say he didn't enjoy it. I'm waiting patiently for the Bachelor and while I wish Peter were the bachelor - I'll still be ready and waiting with bells on come January 1st. Any new shows you're loving? Oh! We've been watching The Good Doctor and really enjoying it. I know I'm the worst but while I like This is Us - I'm not a fanatic (ducks to avoid rotten eggs) and haven't kept up this season.

5. I've been reading mediocre book after mediocre book and am officially in a book RUT. Any recommendations are welcome with open and admittedly picky arms. One book I AM very much looking forward to is Jen Fulwiler's new one coming out next year. I'm happy to wait, if impatiently so. She was in town last month and we got to hit the town for dinner and drinks and now I'm feeling like I already blogged about this but it was a blast and we stayed out way too late (no regrets, ever).

6. Can I be rill annoying (please tell me you listen to Kaitlyn's podcast and love her "ken you not?!" segment?) and ask for your Facebook like/appreciation? I guess I can and I am. I'm planning a fun and worthwhile giveaway if/when the Camp reaches 10k fans (likes?) ... woo to the HOO.

7. Alright, since we are in for a bit of a colder November and December on the travel front I've been eying some colder weather friendly duds. Wading through the dozens of cute ankle boot options - I think I like these best but haven't pulled the trigger, yet. I did buy two of these for layering/wearing on the daily and highly recommend them.

And that's that! It's overwhelming thinking of all the things I could and would love to blog about and I'll do my best to put fingertips to keyboard asap. Occasional Blogger's Honor.

Linking up with Kelly!


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