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 :)


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