Three and Three-Quarters

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Yesterday we were driving in the rain when he let out a big, dramatic sigh.

“Mama, I’m sad.”

“Why are you sad, buddy?”

(another big sigh) “Because we never, EVER get to go to space!”

“Where?!”

“Space! You know, up there!” (points to the sky)

“Well, dude, I wish we could go, but we don’t have a rocket.”

“I know! Let’s just go to the rocket store! That’d be a good idea?”

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Tate at almost four-years-old is my favorite. Sure, I’m biased and sure, I say the same thing at every, single age. But this time it’s true. At three and three-quarters, Tate is a silly, stubborn caricature of himself. I could not love this little imp more. He loves cars, trucks and airplanes. He is very upset we don’t take daily trips to the water park in October and all of his hair-brained schemes are followed with the statement, “That’d be a good idea?”

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Tate is obsessed with counting and sorting, constantly putting everything in it’s place, even if he believes it’s place is right on my face. He wakes up every morning with an enthusiastic, “Good morning, mama! I sleep all night!” While I appreciate his joy, that’s usually not the truth, as he still wakes up fairly often during the night needing to go to the bathroom/get a drink/tell me he loves me/yell at the dog. He always seems to forget about it in the morning, and when I gently remind him, he looks thoughtful for a minute, like he’s trying to decide whether I’m just hoarding all the sticker chart prizes for myself.

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This little man is three parts independent, two parts mama’s boy, and I feel the tides changing. Every day he becomes more of himself and less of me. He rides his bike like the big kids and wants to do everything by himself. He falls down and rarely needs a kiss or hug, mostly jumping back up, ready to try again.

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Today, I’m savoring three and three-quarters, with all it’s big plans and obscure references. It’s pretty much the best.

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(This week I’m featuring some incredible images taking of my family by Christina Gepner of Soul Studios in Kansas City. If you’re looking for an incredible family/lifestyle photographer, Christina is amazing!)

Horse Crazy 2.0

When I was about 7-years-old, I took my first horseback riding lesson. I had been a typical horse-crazy girl, but after that first lesson, my love for those giant animals skyrocketed. I would spend every waking moment at the barn, grooming lesson horses, mucking out stalls, riding out to the pasture to gather up the horses and bring them back to the stable…I loved it. I thought I’d end up riding horses for the rest of my life, maybe owning my own stable some day or teaching lessons. Even though that didn’t exactly happen as I’d planned, it’s been pretty wonderful to watch my kids learn how to ride the past few months. For her birthday this summer, Lucy asked for riding lessons, and she got her wish! She spent the summer riding at Peeper Ranch, the same place I rode when I got back into the saddle a few years back. Even Tate got to take a mini-lesson, and while we thought he’d be afraid, he had a ball! It’s a pretty wonderful thing, watching your kids love something you loved so much at their age. We’re taking a break from riding for the fall, but Lucy is already begging to go to horse camps and workshops at the ranch over the holidays and spring break. I might need to make her muck out a stall or two to earn her keep, but I have a feeling I might end up a ranch mom, with a minivan full of dirty boots and smelling of leather saddles. Sounds pretty perfect to me.

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A Grateful Labor Day

We spent our Labor Day weekend at my parents’ lake cabin in Council Grove, Kansas, soaking in the sun and enjoying some much-needed downtime with my family. Year after year I post about spending time at the lake and year after year I spew out all the cliches about watching my kids grow up in a place I loved as a child, but I can’t seem to help myself. They keep getting bigger and the lake pretty much stays the same. They stare out at the stars as the moon rises over the water and I remember nights on the deck watching the constellations overhead. They cry about the seaweed touching their feet and I remember when I would sit on the dock refusing to get in because of the creepy feeling that wet grass gave me. There are goggles lost to the depths of the water, which probably sit next to countless toys, rings and other trinkets I misplaced 20 years ago, never to be seen again.

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Watching my kids (and my niece and nephews) in this place is like watching an old video tape of my own youth, except, of course, they are more beautiful and lovely than I remember being at their ages. Instead of rocking a discman, my niece lays on the boat deck with her ear buds and iPhone. My sister takes photos with her iPhone and texts them to me. The kids ask to make silly videos of themselves “chicken fighting” in the water. It all feels very new, but also very worn, which is probably why I love it so much. It’s like all of my favorite things are colliding and I get to watch and laugh along.

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I can feel the season changing and as the weather changes, so does everything. I guess that is the one continuous thing in my life thus far…change is constant. My little people are growing and changing every day. Lately, Lucy has refused to let me take her photo. When I try, she makes an angry face or sticks out her tongue. Sometimes she tries (very successfully) to look extremely insane. “Moooommmmm, stop!” she yells when I pull out my phone or my camera. So I have to rely on others, like my sister, for whom Lulu will smile genuinely, to capture her as she really is. Lucy Peters, age 8, full of life and laughter, unless her mom has a camera out, in which case she will quickly turn in to a surly teenager. Sigh. Thank goodness for Tater, who at age 3 still thinks I am all things amazing and wonderful, and will beg me to take his picture so he can look at it later. “Mama, take my picture!” he squeals, calming my mama temper tantrum over his sister’s refusal. She was like that once too, and I know one day he will cringe at my camera. I suppose all I can do is enjoy it while it lasts, or come up with good knock knock jokes to catch them off guard when they are refusing to smile.

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I am so grateful for this full, fun life I’m leading today. I know that happiness comes from within, but the people in my life these days have made the joy more robust than I ever could have imagined. The last year has been really, really hard for me personally, but I really do believe, as cliched as it sounds, that I was meant to go through those difficult times. Today I am so thankful for the simple joys of my life, and I know that the person I was before wouldn’t have appreciated all these gifts the way I do now. I would have expected them and been upset if they weren’t as perfect as I wanted. I feel like a little kid again, reborn and seeing the world with brand new eyes. I feel…full of wonder. It feels trite and silly to say I’m grateful for the hardship my family has gone through, but I know without it, there wouldn’t be the serenity there is today.

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So, at least for today, I am extremely grateful…

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Friday Kitchen Dance Par-tay!!!

Because it’s Friday and what’s a blog for if not for dancing around like a doofus for the whole wide Internet to see?

The world has seemed like a scary place, lately. I know that dancing around my kitchen won’t change the world, but I feel like finding the fun when you’re afraid could maybe help, even just a little bit. Dancing when you’re scared, laughing when you’re angry, helping others when you are hurting…I really do believe this can change our world for the better. So find the fun today, friends! Dance and laugh and love. It really is the easier, softer way.

A Snow Day, in Photos

“The very fact of snow is such an amazement.” – Roger Ebert

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“There is just something beautiful about walking on snow that nobody else has walked on. It makes you believe you are special.”
- Carol Rifka Brunt

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“Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.” – Vista M. Kelly

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