Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Blogging live from Tennessee today. My sister Heidi, my niece Savannah, nephew Jonah arrived at about 2:30 this morning (not without incident I might add, but that's for another post). It was without question THE LONGEST DRIVE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. I left my house at 10:00 yesterday morning after my other sister Heidi and I made the executive decision that our baby sister needed us and needed us immediately. When I called Hilary to tell her of our decision she gave me resounding affirmation that yes, she did need us and also warned me at that time that Kaydence was considerably worse off than she was on Monday. Kaydence was supposed to hold on until we got here late last night. But because she is my sister's daughter and my niece, she did what she wanted and about 10:15 yesterday morning surrounded by people that loved her and her mama holding her tight, she slipped away peacefully. So what I had originally envisioned as a few days cozied up at their house, taking turns loving on Kaydence, and saying our goodbyes has turned into a few days of funeral planning and preparation, and letting it all sink in. While we've been "expecting" this for the past 10 months it was still so unexpected, if you can grasp that. We went from planning for her first "beat the odds" birthday party to hospice telling them she only had 24 hours to a week to using the term "deceased" within a 24 hour period. It's all happened so fast it still doesn't quite seem real. Although the silence in their house now without the sounds of Kaydence's machines is definitely a reality check. Several times I've walked into Kaydence's room expecting to see her there looking up at me...but she's not and that stinks...ALOT.
We take comfort in the fact that Kaydence isn't suffering anymore and if it's possible to be spoiled in heaven, she's being spoiled rotten by our mom, her Grandma Leslie. While that's comforting, it doesn't fill the void she left. To know Kaydence was to love Kaydence. It's amazing how a little girl who couldn't communicate, couldn't even cry, was able to work her magic on every single person she ever met. There was a peace that emanated from her. She was definitely an angel sent here for reasons bigger than any of us. I'm thankful that I got to be an aunt to this sweet little girl for the time I did. We're all better people for having been on this journey.

The visitation is Friday night and the funeral is on Saturday, so your thoughts and prayers especially during those times are much appreciated. And throw up an extra prayer that my sisters and I don't get an inappropriate case of the giggles, as we've been known to do.

Thanks for all the kind words of support and encouragement during this time. Keep 'em coming.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


If you came here today looking for a laugh, I'm sorry but I've got none. And I'm telling you if you keep reading this you'd better have Kleenex ready.

Yesterday I got the phone call I had hoped I'd never get, but in the back of my mind knew was a possibility. The one from my youngest sister Hilary telling me that my niece Kaydence was at the end of her road here on earth. If you'll remember Kaydence was born back in February with a lot of issues, most of which have never been given an official name, and given no more than 6 months to live. She beat all odds and is now ALMOST 11 months old and has been living at home under the wonderful care of her parents and a night nurse since May. Lives have been changed, perspectives altered, and the power of prayer realized by this little angel. You can read about the journey here: My brother in law (aka Michael Buble) became quite the blogger through all of this.

This was taken the first time I got to hold this precious girl when I hijacked her from the nurse back in March. This is also when I fell in love. Hard to explain how she has that effect on people but she does. I'm not ready to say goodbye.

As the oldest sister I want nothing more than to just "fix it" for my baby sister. But this time there's no one I can beat up (Heidi), no bandaid I can put on her owie, and nothing I can say to make her laugh to ease her pain, and that is really hard for me to swallow.

So if you would, please keep our family, especially Hilary, Bryan, Micah, and Kaydence in your thoughts and prayers during this time.

I'll update as I see fit but it's not my story to tell. I'm just trying to survive it.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I hope you had a magical Christmas. We sure did. Between you and me, I am starting to think this whole Santa ISN'T real thing is a hoax. I mean really, we were tracking him on a military tracking website Surely our military wouldn't have a tracking website for a mythical character right? Right.
More on our Christmas adventures later. For now I just need to document (aka share with the world) a couple things my oh so precious kids said over the weekend.

My sister Heidi and I were playing a very competitive game of Strawberry Shortcake Memory (sidenote: whenever Heidi and I play a game it's VERY competitive) with the kids. I was narrating the game and getting overly excited when I found matches. Then Blade found a match and I exclaimed, "We have a WIENER!", you know just being silly. Everyone giggled except Dakota who looked at me and said, "We have WIENER? What kind of MOM are you?" Apparently, she thought that inappropriate. I gave her the phone number to DHS and wished her luck in foster care. :)

We were discussing movies to watch on PMP (Pajama Movie Popcorn/Pizza/Pancake etc) night and I asked Blade if he thought that one certain movie was kid appropriate. He replied with,
"It's KINDA kid appropriate but it doesn't matter to me because I'm NOT a kid I'm a growing MAN." Oh really? I started laughing uncontrollably and that made him giggle NOT like a growing man but more like a little girl. I think we'll hold off on stocking up on shaving supplies just yet.

Friday, December 25, 2009

From Our Zoo to You

It’s a Christmas miracle! Two posts in 1 week! Wow.
But I have to admit I’m totally cheating on this one. This is the annual Christmas letter I send out to the 38 people we love most in this world. Sorry if you didn’t make the list. With only room for 38 it’s a hard cut to make. Kidding, it’s more about me being cheap and not wanting to buy stamps for 150 cards/letters than anything else. Who am I kidding? We don’t even know 150 people that would WANT to get cards from us!
Anyway, here’s the letter. If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you already know this stuff but here it is for your reading pleasure.

Dear Friends and Family,
Grab a cup of coffee or cocoa, a blanket and snuggle up to read the novel also known as the annual Koons Christmas Letter. It could take awhile. I know, I know, it’s the highlight of your holiday season. You’re welcome.
This just keeps getting harder and harder to write and not for lack of happenings but more so lack of recollection. The older I get the harder it becomes to remember what we did over the weekend let alone 9 months ago! Lucky for us all, I started a blog back in January that should help jog my memory If you don’t already read it, check it out. It’s bound to make you a) smile, b) roll your eyes, c) never speak to me again. I’ve had a blast recording my our mishaps and adventures here and in my old age it helps to have something to refer back to when it’s time to write the yearly letter. Enough with the shameless plug, now on with your regularly scheduled programming.
What to say about 2008? Oh wait, that’s right it IS 2009. This year FLEW by! We have 3 school aged kids now and have now officially entered the “on the go w/ 7000 different activities” stage of life. Why can’t they just be lazy, unambitious couch potatoes? I tease.
Dakota is in her 2nd year of piano lessons and can now play a moving rendition of every Christmas carol known to man. She also started horseback riding lessons and has officially found another passion in life, right up there with hunting, fishing, and drawing. I’m hoping she can teach this ol’ cowgirl a few tricks given that I tend to scream like a scared little girl when my horse goes at any speed faster than standing still. Dakota is and always will be our brainiac kid. She’s incredibly intelligent when it comes to reading, writing, science, math, you know the normal academic stuff. Common sense, however, I’d give her a D+….on a good day. She makes us proud and drives us crazy all in the same breath. Smart, sassy, blunt, funny, confident, artistic, independent, tomboy tough, country girl, camo princess…that’s our Dakota. She entered the double digits this year by turning 10, which means that Justin is one year closer to a heart attack as she nears the teenage years. Help us all.
Then there’s Blade, our “rule the school” 2nd grader. Growing up I always wondered what it would be like to be the cool kid at school, and now I know. Blade is THAT kid. He’s good looking, smart, polite, witty, athletic, and everyone loves him. Already I’ve had to break the hearts of several young girls by telling them they were NOT ALLOWED TO CALL OUR HOUSE TO TALK TO MY SON ON THE PHONE IN 2ND GRADE. Seriously…2nd grade?!? Yeah I ‘m not winning any popularity contests, oh well. Besides warding off advances and phone calls from girls, he’s been very busy being Mr. Athletic w/ soccer, wrestling, and football. Never thought I’d enjoy being a “soccer mom” or a “mat mom” but he’s really fun to watch. He tells me he’ll give me his first Superbowl ring. I’m holding him to it. In addition to playing sports, he’s turned into quite the football nerd, just like his father. He LOVES the Iowa Hawkeyes (duh) and the Florida Gators (solely because of Tim Tebow) and watches the games religiously. He’s a wealth of football information from rankings to plays to players. If he’s not watching football he’s playing it out in the yard (or in the house if I’m not looking). His Daddy is so proud. He nominated us for Parents of the Year when we took him to his first Hawkeyes game in Iowa City this fall, the highlight of his young life. Surprisingly enough we did NOT win Parents of the Year…weird.
Then there’s Ryder, my baby. My 6 year old, 1st grade, not so little baby. Darn him for growing up. Ryder is coming out of Blade’s shadow this year and into his own. He also inherited my Justin’s athleticism and is doing everything Blade is doing. Sometimes on the same team, now THAT my friends is good entertainment. He’s not quite as competitive as Blade so if Blade didn’t think Ryder was doing his best he’d give him a little “coaching”, oh so lovingly of course. Ryder is pure orneriness and sweetness wrapped up in one little adorable blonde headed package. He too is smart (3 for 3 YES!) and when I asked his teacher at conferences if he was doing okay for being the youngest in his class she said, “What do you mean the youngest?” to which I responded with “He’s an August birthday so he started school days after turning 5.” She was shocked, she’d known he was an August birthday but based on his social and academic levels assumed he was among the OLDEST in his class. Well okay then. I could go on and on about this kid because needless to say he’s got me pretty well wrapped around his finger, it’s the whole baby of the family thing…sigh.
As for our other kids, our animals, we’ve expanded yet again. Hang on to your seat for the yearly zoo count: 3 llamas, 5 horses, 2 emus, 1 mini horse, 2 sheep, 1 fainting goat, 1 peacock, 3 chickens, 2 geese, 1 duck, 1 red golden pheasant, 2 pot bellied pigs, 3 bunnies, 2 dogs, 1 cat. Still working on the zebra…stay tuned. I did successfully complete the Cow Challenge of 2009 (yay me!) so in the spring we will be adding at least one cow to the flock or herd or whatever you call it. Clearly I still have a lot to learn about this farm stuff.
Justin aka GI Joe (read the blog you’ll understand) is still recruiting for the Iowa Army National Guard. He had a great recruiting year and was promoted to Sgt Something or Other (that’s the unofficial term). To be promoted though he had to spend 2 weeks training In NE and another 2 weeks in Little Rock , AR meaning I was left unattended to man the zoo solo for 4 weeks total. I’m happy to report that everyone and everything survived…barely. Besides being a part time zookeeper, chauffeur, cook, maid, cheerleader, etc I’ve still got my fabulous job at a place I cannot disclose for fear of being "dooced". :) My job responsibilities increased as other positions were eliminated and now includes Public Affairs, Communications, and in general just being awesome. I’m not complaining I love the variety and the fact that I still have a job that I look forward to going to every day.
Besides working hard we played hard throughout the year. In February, Justin and I escaped the bitter Iowa winter to Puerto Rico for 4 days, courtesy of our chauffeurs, the Air National Guard. He may have FINALLY made up for our first Valentine’s Day as it was an awesome trip. Even more memorable is the fact that I hung up my Type A hat and didn’t plan a thing in advance…GASP. Of course I’d done my research and had my folder full of print outs, maps and brochures (hey a girls gotta be prepared) but we just went with the flow, so freeing. As great as that was, I put my Type A planner hat back on for the annual National LamKoons Family Vacation. This year’s destinations: Nashville , TN ; Virginia Beach , VA ; Washington D.C. ; and Gettysburg , PA. It included a little something for everyone; time with my sister Hilary and family in TN, the BEACH, history, and sight seeing…perfection. Lots of great memories made and the kids have now been to 26 of the 50 states, only 24 more to go.
That’s our year in a very tiny nutshell, so many more stories and anecdotes I could enlighten you with but I’d hate for you to miss Christmas because you’re still reading my letter. You’ll just have to check out the blog. (Shameless plug #2)

The Koons Zoo Staff

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Chaos

Hi my long lost friends! I won't bore you with the 1003 reasons I've been a slacker blogger as of late, but I will give you a few just because I want to and also because there will be upcoming blog posts about some of them. I figure if I say that right here in black and white then I WILL make it a priority and actually get it done....maybe, unless I get distracted by something shiny and pretty. OK so here they are:

1) Had a girls weekend with 2 of my oldest and dearest friends in the metropolis of Burlington, IA. I'm sure you've heard of it, home of Snake Alley crookedest (if that's even a word) in the WORLD, ringing a bell? It's kind of a big deal. We spent an entire day and night acting like carefree 13 year olds and photographed every moment of it...glorious.

2) Started a new holiday. Yeah that's right a new, official, Hallmark sanctioned (well, not yet but soon) holiday....WINGMAS. We had our first annual Wings + Christmas=Wingmas gathering with our crazy fun friends. You know the ones (think NKOTB, man purses, brofriends, etc). It was a great way to kick off Christmas week and I would just like to reiterate yet again that I am a lucky girl to have such cool friends, not to mention ones that give such great presents. This definitely deserves a post of its own complete with pictures, oh the pictures.

3) I've been very busy making an exhorbant amount of Christmas cookies, candies and treats as part of the annual Koons Bake-a-Thon. Why? Well, because that's what you're SUPPOSED to do at this time of year. And besides I figure might as well live it up before my New Year's Resolution goes into effect on January 1st..or 2nd...or maybe I should just wait until Monday the 3rd, since it's never good to start a diet on a weekend, right? Right? Right. I'm sure my resolution will be a scale smashing success.

4) Making and decorating sugar cookies so that Moose the Lab could eat A DOZEN of them when we left him unattended in the kitchen for a minute. Don't worry he's fine and I don't really miss them as I rediscovered that sugar cookies are not my favorite. So much work, so little chocolate (make that none).

5) Working on getting a reindeer up in this joint. A real LIVE reindeer. Seriously. Sometimes it pays to be known as the crazy animal people who will take in just about anything (excluding reptiles, rodents and amphibians). This is still a work in progress but if everything goes as planned Rudy...or John...or Jane...or Comet...or Blitzen might be joining the ranks here at the Koons Zoo very soon. Along with 6 peacocks. I'm not making this up.

6) Running over my problematic cell phone....3 times.....on purpose. It felt good, really good. I received my replacement phone on Monday and so have not had any irresistible urges to chuck it through a 10th story window, so so far so good.

7) Enjoying the 3rd Annual Koons Christmas Light extravaganza, where we go out to dinner at our favorite steak place, stop for hot chocolate or cappuccino at QT (we're classy like that), and then go on a driving tour of Jolly Holiday Lights while listening to Christmas carols. Great fun even if my family rolls their eyes every time I make it sound like an "event". Hey what can I say? It's what I do.

It's been a busy holiday season but a great one. I love this time of year, all except for the ridiculous amount of snow we've received ALREADY. I like a White Christmas just as much as the next guy but I would've been fine with it waiting til Christmas Eve to snow. Whatever Iowa we're not friends anymore. I will break up with you for a warmer state someday.

In case I don't blog again before Christmas, which let's be honest is pretty likely, we wish you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS. Stay out of the eggnog and if you're like me it might be a good idea to lay off the peanut butter balls too. :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

UnAmerican Eagle

While shopping at the mall last night I stopped by one of my favorite stores, American Eagle. Apparently, in my excitement to finish Christmas shopping I forgot to take off my button, this one:

Or maybe it was because I was wearing this:

The following is the actual sequence of events that occurred while I was looking at men's hoodies in my favorite store where I'm a bit of a regular:
Cast of Characters
AE Employee: young, metrosexual punk kid was apparently in charge of manning the men's department
Prairie Princess: wearing an orange jumpsuit and suspected terrorist button doing my Christmas shopping.
I grabbed a hoodie off of a rack and began laying it out on a table to take a picture of it w/ my phone, to send to my friend for her opinion. AE Punk looked looked over at me, I politely smiled and cheerfully said, "Hi! Just gonna take a picture to send to my friend for shopping advice."
AE Punk (very condescendingly AND loudly w/ a total evil smile): "UH MA'AM YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED TO TAKE PICTURES ANYWHERE IN THE STORE."
PPP (Prisoner Prairie Princess) still smiling: "Ha ha, oh it's just to send to my friend to figure out whether I should buy it or not. I'm not going to attempt to sew my own copy cat AE hoodie at home."
PPP (not really smiling anymore): "OH UH UH. Why don't you just turn around and pretend you don't see when I take this HARMLESS picture of a hoodie."
He didn't appreciate my humor or honor my request and looked like he was going to whip out his price gun and stun me with it so I put my phone away. Meanwhile, I sang a line or two of "Jesus, Take the Wheel" in my head, and reminded myself it WAS the holidays, AND I should have a little "holiday in my heart", AND that AE Punk had probably had a rough day, so I left it alone.
UNTIL......a few minutes later I was looking at a different rack of hoodies, some of which were marked down and some that were not. They were all the same style so I asked AE Punk (who was watching me LIKE A HAWK and following me everywhere), whether or not they were on sale.
And again out came the attitude. Here's an excerpt of that conversation:
PPP: "So are these on sale?"
AE Punk (after muttering under his breath and I swear I heard him say DUH) again very condescending: "Every top in the store is buy one get one half off."
PPP: "Yes I realize that (duh there's a sign every 6 inches), but these are marked down and these are not even though they are exactly the same. So are these all the same price?"
AE Punk (not even coming closer to look at what I was talking about) attitude OOZING,: "Well then I would say they aren't on sale."
PPP: "WOW. And I would say I AM DONE SHOPPING HERE RIGHT NOW," and semi-stormed out of the store.
Seriously. Merry stinkin' Christmas people. :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

Hi, it's me your favorite Super Blonde. If Rudolph comes down w/ the swine flu or in his case the Venison Virus, gimme a call my hair could probably light the way. I realize that I often ride a very thin line between the Naughty and the Nice list but I thought I'd send you my list anyway, just in case the Nice outweighs the Naughty (crossing my fingers.)
Let's get down to business. And yes, there are homemade cookies in it for you...lots of them.

*A zebra, a real live zebra. I think this one's pretty self explanatory and I'm sure you've had this request before so you know what to do. I do ask that it's a girl so I can accessorize her with hot pink accessories. Hot pink + zebra = FABULOUS. In the event that zebras are currently in short supply in the North Pole I would be satisfied with a zedonk, who shall be named Honky Tonk Zedonk a Donk.
*Raspberry pink Carhartts. My attempts persuading Carhartt to manufacture these have been blatantly ignored and I'm fed up. But before I write yet another strongly worded letter, burn my boring navy blue pair of Carhartts, and buy Dickies, I'll let you see if you can work your magic. Size medium please. Mmkay thanks. Here's a picture:

*Arm/hand implants. I need approximately 6 more arms and hands to be able to effectively multi task at the level required to maintain my sani get everything on my to do list done every day. And if the implant surgery comes with say, 13 weeks off that would be a great stocking stuffer.

*Speaking of elective surgeries, how about liposuction? I love food way too much to seriously diet and exercise is a bad word so as I see it, it's the only way. Maybe they'd give us a 2 for 1 deal, no offense but a little lipo might do you good big guy.

*Two eligible bachelorettes and two eligible bachelors. This one's not for me, obviously. But because I'm a terrible wing woman, I need help finding love for 4 of my good friends who are cursedly single. Don't you have connections with Cupid?
*This barn (minus the Scout's Rest Ranch). I'm mildly obsessed with barns and want a HUGE one w/ a basketball court in the hayloft, a bathroom, a kitchen, heat, a party room, you know the basics. This one should do the trick. Since it may be hard to carry in your sleigh, a check for $100,000 should cover it.

*A Harley. I think I've proven repeatedly that I am a very capable driver. I always told my straight laced pastoral parents that when I turned 18 I was going to get a tattoo and a motorcycle. I have the tattoo, now I think it's time for that bike, even though my husband has some ummm...reservations about it. I'd hate to think that I lied to my parents (because I NEVER did that growing up) so I really need to hold true to my word. Pink and chrome. a winning combination.

*A beach house in Hawaii. Nothing extravagant, just a small cottage on the beach. I'm pretty low maintenance like that.

And that concludes my list for this year. As you can see i went with the minimalist approach, you know given the current economy and such.

Merry Christmas! Drive safe and pet the reindeer for me.


Prairie Princess

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Super Blonde

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's SUPER BLONDE.

This is the gripping tale of a girl and highlights gone haywire. I use the term gripping loosely.

I'm naturally blonde but the older I get the more help I have to give my roots. Too long between highlights and I start looking a little strawberry blonde on top. Nothing wrong with strawberry blonde but I'm more of a straight up blonde kinda girl. I feel it fits my personality better. Does that even make sense? It does to me and I shall be blonde until I die. I'll be the 90 year old blonde bombshell in the nursing home and I'll still wear sparkly lip gloss w/ my dentures and high heels in my wheelchair. That's just how I roll.

I've been spoiled my entire life when it comes to hairstylists. My stepmom Evie has done my hair for as long as I can remember and more recently, she passed the hairbrush to Brandy, my stepsister and she's taken over the honors. There have been a few rare occassions when I've gone to someone other than on of them and each time I was traumatized and vowed never to do it again. But now, they've both up and moved an hour and a half away and left me to my own devices to maintain my hair. Uh oh.

So Friday, I'd had enough of looking at my brassy roots and decided to go out on a limb and try a new salon. I made a few calls and found a well known salon that could get me in over my lunch hour that same day. Mistake #1: Never get your hair done on your lunch hour when you have to go back to work.

When I got to the salon, the one girl working had short, spiky, purplish red hair and multiple piercings, (not that that has any bearing on anything just painting a picture for you) told me to come on back. She asked me what I needed to have done and I told her I just needed a touch up, a little brightening up if you will. She told me the strawberry blonde was pretty. I told her thanks but I wanted more blonde less strawberry. She kinda rolled her eyes and said, "Oh I get it, I'm a recovering BLONDEREXIC myself." A blonderexic? Wow. You could tell she wasn't thrilled to be enabling the blonde. Between you and me, I think she had some blonde agression issues, perhaps a boyfriend left her purple hair for blonder pastures? Just sayin'. I started getting nervous at that point, but she seemed to understand what I was after so I dove into the latest issue of People. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT TIGER WOODS?!? I never liked that guy.

Oh sorry, back to the story. I was enthralled w/ the torrid affairs of the rich and famous and didn't notice that instead of painting the magic potion on just the roots and then wrapping it in foil to protect my scalp, she was painting it directly on my head. like she was whitewashing a picket fence. Ummm, that didn't feel right but I just went back to reading thinking that maybe not everyone did it like Evie and Brandy do. All was fine and right in the world until my head FELT LIKE I HAD A SWARM OF FIRE ANTS ATTACKING IT. I told her it was burning a little BECAUSE SHE PAINTED IT DIRECTLY ON MY HEAD, and she got me a cold washcloth. Apparently, blotting the cool washcloth on my forehead and neck would ease the swarm of ants taking over my entire scalp. Not so much. I would've told her it wasn't helping except she had gone to the back room to get more magic potion because one bowl hadn't been enough, remember we were only supposed to be touching up the roots, as in the first 3 inches of my hair. One bowl of potion should've been more than enough. Against my better judgment, I didn't say anything and just hoped for the best. How bad could it be?

I got my answer about 20 minutes later when she was shampooing the potion out and said, "It's pretty bright but it will tone down." Understatement of 2009. When we got back to the chair, she pulled the towel off and I gasped. Gasped because my eyes are permanently damaged from not wearing protective eyewear when looking at my hair in the mirror. Usually when my hair is wet it's 10 times darker than when it's dry. The fact that it looked like someone had pulled the yellow crayon out of the Crayola box and used it on my hair, and this was how it looked while still wet was my first clue I should've taken the rest of the day off. She read the shock on my face and reassured me by saying, "It's not as blonde as it first was, but I used some toning shampoo to tone it down." THAT was great to hear, made me feel SO much better. So basically what she was telling me was that before she used the toning shampoo my hair could be seen from OUTERSPACE. Awesome.

She dried it and kept complimenting how great it looked and how it really brightened up my complexion and made me look like I'd just gotten back from a tropical vacation. I, on the other hand, was singing my song, you know the one. "JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL..TAKE IT FROM MY HANDS BEFORE I RUN OVER THIS STUPID HAIRSTYLIST WITH IT......."

By the time she was done drying at it, I had already suffered severe retina damage and couldn't look anymore. Now this may come as a shock to you but because I was on a short time schedule I didn't throw a huge, stinking fit and demand her to fix it. Instead I quietly paid and left. I think I was hoping that in different light it wouldn't look so drastic OR that once my eyes adjusted I would like it. I went back to work and attempted to hide out in my office for the rest of day. Plan failed when person after person came in needing something or other. And every person that came in kept looking at me in that way. You know like when you're talking to someone and they have a big booger hanging out of their nose and you don't want to embarrass them and tell them, but you can't stop looking at it but you don't want them to notice you staring at it? That's how they kept looking at me except instead of a booger it was my blindingly blonde hair.

Had it not been a crazy busy weekend I would've gone back in to the salon and had her fix it but I just didn't have time. And by the time I had a spare hour I had grown accustomed to my new stripper hair color and was quite enjoying signing autographs as people were mistaking me for one of Hugh's girl from The Girls Next Door, except for the size 2 figure and fake boobs, oh and the Playboy contract..minor details.

I know you're probably thinking, oh it's not that bad, and that Prairie Princess she sure does exaggerate. So here is the proof. Please for your safety, wear protective eyewear:

See I told you.

Gotta go, Hugh's calling.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Discount Divas Sunrise Shopping Tour 2009: The Shopumentary

Okay seriously, first things first, does anyone still read this blog? Nobody's commented in like...forever, and well, I've warned you before that I'm high maintenance so I'm feeling all lonely and forlorn and welcome to my pity party. Or maybe you all just read this at work like I read blogs at work and your system won't let you comment. Oh did I say I read blogs at work? I meant that hypothetically of course, I would never do such a thing, I'm much too busy being all productive and stuff. Hi boss! :) Anyway, enough with my pathetic plea for comments. Just checkin to see if you're still there.
Now on to the shopumentary as promised.
Most people look forward to Thanksgiving because they get to spend time with family and eat turkey and watch football...all great things, don't get me wrong. I look forward to Thanksgiving with great anticipation for those reasons also but mainly because the next day is....BLACK FRIDAY!!! My heart just skipped a little typing that, that's how much I love it. A few years back my sisters announced to their inlaws (they have the SAME inlaws but that's for another blog post) that they would never spend another Thanksgiving with them because they loved us more. OK so that's not how it went (between you and me they DO love us more but don't tell their inlaws that...oh hi Holmes family just kidding!!!) but they did announce to them that they would always be spending Thanksgiving in Iowa and would spend Christmas with them in Missouri. Their main motivation for doing this? It was solely because they wanted in on the Black Friday shopping that my godmother Nita and I started doing a few years prior. The tradition has grown from there. Every Thanksgiving after we clear the table of the Thanksgiving feast, we lay out the ads and go thru them with a fine toothed comb, making notes and lists, highlighting, etc. Then Thanksgiving night my sisters and I pack up and drive to town for our annual Shopping Strategy Sleepover @ Nita's house. Once we arrive at Nita's we eat (again), look at the ads some more, make spreadsheets (maybe that's just me) and plan our route. We stay up way too late, get a couple hours of sleep and then are up and ready to leave the house by 3:30 a.m., to shop the day away. The past 3 years I've designed and made shirts for all of us. These serve a couple of purposes: 1) by us all wearing the same color it's easier to find each other in the stores and 2) to make sure the world is aware that they are shopping alongside some retail royalty..the discount divas.
Word has gotten out how awesome the Discount Divas and the Sunrise Shopping Tour is and our numbers have increased. Through an intense application and approval process we added my friend Annette, Heidi's friend Abby, and my mother in law Roxanne to the ranks of Discount Divas this year. My sisters Hilary & Brandy couldn't come this year as Hilary stayed in TN with her family since her daughter Kaydence can't travel and Brandy now lives in Council Bluffs so she did her Sunrise Shopping tour there this year. We were down two divas but gained three. Not sure if the world is ready for 8 divas shopping at one time!!!

Here's a recap of this year's tour:

*Our shirts. We really outdid ourselves this year. I think the hot pink feather boa on the sleeves really took them to the next level, wouldn't you agree? Numbered List

You can imagine the looks and comments we got from wearing these. Of course there were some eye rolls and murmurs (JEALOUS) but there were WAY more people coming up to us telling us how adorable we were, how much they loved our shirts, or offering to take our picture. Or my personal favorite, the woman who pretty much interrogated Annette while waiting in line at Starbucks (at 6:00 in the morning) about how we became the Discount Divas and how we became sponsored by Starbucks. Geesh she took us a little too serious, I mean really we were wearing PINK FEATHER BOA ON OUR SLEEVES. Sidenote: I may have taken some creative liberty w/ our shirts. We weren't actually sponsored by Starbucks, more like fueled by, minor details.
*We each had a "code name" that was printed on a price tag on the front of our shirt. Here were our names: Pricetag Princess (me), Never Pay Full Price Nita, Retail Roxanne, Absolute Lowest Price Abby, Bargain Blonde (Annette), Markdown Mama (Heidi), and Half Price Hilary (even though she wasn't with us she wore the shirt on Friday in TN). This is a serious operation hence the need for shopping aliases.

*Annette didn't attend the sleepover so she met us in the Target parking lot at exactly 3:45 a.m, and her exact words to me when we showed up right on time to pick her up, "The ONE time you're on time and it's 3:45 in the morning!" Good point my friend, good point. I'm not a morning all....EVER, but something about Black Friday makes me a morning person, for one day only. I'm cheerful, happy, pert near giddy, ready to go and expect everyone else to be just as happy and punctual. I think it frightens the other divas but they've learned to adjust. Except Heidi who didn't really enjoy when I was barking at her like a drill sgt because she overslept and put us approximately 7 minutes behind schedule.....the nerve. Never fear I made up for her tardiness with my awesome driving.

*I was the designated driver for the day, if you can believe that. It's not because of my stellar driving skills but because I had the most room and also because it's good entertainment when I drive. My passengers kept suffering from a little car induced asthma, making a lot of "AHHHHHH" and "OHHHHHHH" type sounds. I don't get it, we got where we needed to go AND didn't hit anybody or anything. I consider it that a success! Sure there were a few honks received and a few dirty looks but that's fairly typical when I'm on the roadways.

*We left Annette's Princess Mobile parked and used it as a drop off location when my truck got too full. Ummm that happened after a mere 3 stores. We are a force to be reckoned with.
*Our 3:59 am photo shoot in line outside of Kohl's waiting for it to open at 4:00 a.m. This was the first stop on the 2009 Sunrise Shopping Tour.

*The Discount Divas have a shopping strategy that involves one person immediately getting a cart and grabbing a spot in line while the rest of the group disperses to shop (quickly) then once they get everything on their list (or spreadsheet if you're me) they come switch places with the line holder so the line holder can shop. And then when the line holder nears the front all 6 of us converge and get ready to check out much to the dismay of those behind us. They're just jealous they didn't think of such a brilliant strategy. In past years we've heard grumblings and such but this year I think the pink feather boa deterred people from making snide comments about our system. Wise choice fellow shoppers, wise choice. This year even the cashiers were on our side and giving us inside information and being extra friendly to us. I'm telling you pink feather boa makes the world go round.
*While at our 2nd stop on the tour, Wal Mart, when it came time to checkout we split up into 2 lanes right next to each other. Heidi and I at one, Annette, Nita, and Abby at the other. Unbeknownst to Heidi and I, we picked the aisle w/ the slowest cashier on the face of the planet AND the most incorrigible, unsatisfied customer w/ the most complicated purchase! YAY US!!! Mr Incorrigible was right in front of us and I'm not kidding you it took approximately 20 minutes for the slowest cashier ever to ring him up, and I believe he had THREE items. Seriously. As you may or may not know, on Black Friday time is of the essence as many stores have limited hours for their specials and doorbusters, and we had NOT budgeted to spend 20 MINUTES WAITING IN LINE AT WAL MART. Heidi and I took the high road and instead of getting fighting mad as some were behind us in line, I started humming a moving rendition of "Jesus, Take the Wheel," you know, my calm me down song. FINALLY, the cashier got the guy all squared away and as he left the 56 people in line behind us CLAPPED. We of course, are much too classy for that, so Heidi did cartwheels instead.
*Did I mention I had a CLIPBOARD this year? I did, I really did. I always have so many lists and spreadsheets going that it's hard to keep track and usually by the end of our shopping tour I've lost them, so this year I put them all on my clipboard. And yes, I carried my clipboard in to every store we went to and as I purchased things from my spreadsheet I marked them with my highlighter. And yes, people gave me some very strange looks. I'm Type A, what can I say? Next year my clipboard will be decoupaged to coordinate with our shirts.
And you think I'm kidding....
*Nita was on the hunt for a 40" flat screen. She attempted, unsuccessfully, to get one at Wal Mart, and had resolved that she probably should've camped out in front of Best Buy in order to get one. While at Target (stop #3) Annette and I were scoping out the men's section when lo and behold, we happened upon a stack of 40" flat screens, just sitting there with no one around, no tickets being handed out to obtain one or crazy people boxing over who got the last one. So we called Nita who said "YES! Get it for me!" and with that we began our trek to the front of the store to meet up with our lineholder. The only cart we had was saving our place in line so Annette and I got to push a GIANT AWKWARD BOX all the way from the back of the store to the front, while trying not to run into anything or anyone. It was quite a sight! Wish I had a picture of that but all of my appendages were being used on the TV. We were kind of Nita's unofficial heroes for the day for snagging it for her.
*I wish I could tell you all the stores we went to but it's really kind of a blur. We took a much needed lunch break at around noon to reenergize. which was good since we hadn't eaten anything in the 9 hours we'd been up and about, and then kept shopping. When I finally took Annette back to her truck at about 5:30 and Heidi's husband met us there so they could head out of town, BOTH Princess Mobiles were filled to the brim. Notice it's now SUNSET. Then I took Nita home and my mother in law KEPT SHOPPING. We took a supper break at about 7:30 but on the way home from the restaurant we stopped at another store and finally left the last store of the day at 9:06 p.m. I'm not good at math but by my calculations, starting at 4am shopping til 9pm-a couple hours total eating time=approximately 15 hours of shopping. That's gotta be some kind of record right?!? It was glorious and I wish every Friday were Black Friday!
*When I finally got home at about 9:30 that night I sat down on the couch....and then couldn't get up, or walk to my bedroom or keep my eyes open. I slept like a baby that night but when I woke up the next morning I had a major shopping hangover, complete with headache, achy throbbing muscles, the works.. When did I get so old? Next year I may have to do a little "training" in preparation for the big day.
All in all the day was a smashing success with a lot of shopping, laughing and most importantly GREAT DEALS!!! Annette, Roxanne, and Abby have all been approved for the 2010 Sunrise to Sunset Shopping Tour and I'm already counting down days and thinking shirt designs. Only 356 more days!!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What I'm Thankful For

What's that you say...that this post is slightly overdue as Thanksgiving was last week? Have I not told you about the year I sent out the annual Koons Zoo Christmas card and letter in JANUARY? Yeah I did, I dance to the beat of my own drummer, so really in the grand scheme of things a week is not so bad. And also I've been very busy with the following:

*Preparing a Thanksgiving feast for approximately 30 people even though there were just 10 of us. You know my motto “Go big or go home” and besides I had a whole arsenal of recipes for the leftovers that I wanted to try.

*Shopping from 4am to 9:06pm on Black Friday..MY FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR! More on that later.

*Trying to convince my Dad and the rest of my family to drive me into the projects of Omaha after seeing “The Blind Side” to find a big, 16 year old, black, sweet, homeless boy who happens to excel at football to adopt. Mission FAILED. My Dad can be such a fun hater. P.S. Go see that movie immediately, it’s AWESOME and Sandra Bullock’s character may or may not remind you of someone you know and love and are reading her blog right now. I’m just sayin’.
*Getting flipped off and screamed at by a GRANDMA just because I was sticking out just a SMIDGE while sitting at a red light. She should be ashamed of herself.

*Going back thru the Taco Bell drive thru because THEY FORGOT TO PUT ANY MEAT ON MY BURRITO SUPREME!!! Excuse me, how does that even happen? Lucky for them they remembered to NOT include the tomatoes or it would’ve been an all out war.

*Enjoying my laundry honeymoon. I’ll explain in a bit.

*Very NON merrily (pretty sure that’s not a word) unpacking the 10+ totes of Christmas decorations while thinking the entire time, “Would Christmas really be ruined for the kids if the house didn’t look like Clark Griswold lived here?” The answer apparently, according to the kids is “Yes, yes it would be ruined so keep decorating Mommy.” Sometimes kids are the worst, with their wide eyed Christmas wonder and all. J

Alright enough with the excuses, back to my point. Wait, where was I going with this post? Oh that’s right…what I’m thankful for.

*That the turkey I had thawing in the sink for 3 days prior to Thanksgiving did NOT cause food poisoning or any other illness but was actually moist and delicious. Not to brag of course, but I’ve mastered the art of roasting a turkey AND my Grandma’s stuffing recipe. My life is complete.

*That I got to spend a good amount of time over the Thanksgiving weekend holding and cuddling with my 1 month old, perfect, sweet, adorable, delicious smelling, albeit high maintenance nephew Jonah. And also that I got to give him back to his rightful owners when he started screaming and making milk demands. I’m so thankful that the baby ship has sailed for this mama and I'll never be viewed as a "lactation technician" EVER again. Love ya Heidi.

*For the new love of my life…..our recently purchased Samsung Front Load HE washer and dryer. I never thought I could feel such love and passion about an inanimate object but I do, I really REALLY do. Don’t be surprised if this year’s Christmas picture (that you may receive in January) includes them, they are that beautiful. They put the FUN back in laundry. Now if I could just find a machine that would fold and put away the laundry…….

*For the Thanksgiving Miracle also known as “Cell Phone Recovery 2009”. Remember how I lost my phone and was without it for 78 hours 23 minutes and 7 seconds and thought I was going to die? We were at church Wednesday night and right after I put the recovery of my cell phone on the prayer chain, GI Joe looked at me and said, “I’m going to go check in the storage room, didn’t you put a box in there on Sunday night?” Moments letter he walked out of the storage room WITH MY PHONE IN HAND. He’s my hero. Prayer answered! How’s that for turnaround time?! I’m whole again.

*That the Discount Divas escaped harm, malice or automobile damage on our Sunrise Shopping Tour 2009. Did I mention how much I heart Black Friday? So much there will be an ENTIRE post dedicated to it, complete with pictures of our one of a kind, designer shirts. Stay tuned.

*For the amusing novel also known as Dakota’s Christmas List that includes such things as “social studies, math, language arts textbooks for Blade to make him smarter (her words not mine), 9 blank spiral notebooks and an electric pencil sharpener (probably to assist with the teaching process), a Nordic Track, a meat grinder (to help Papa and Daddy with the deer meat), a sterling silver watch, a MAC book laptop, Jodhpurs breeches (I had to google this one, turns out they are English riding pants….seriously), just to name a few. Won’t she be so disappointed on Christmas morning when Santa brings her boring things like TOYS? Kids these days.

*For this email from GI Joe that made me giggle and call him immediately to see if he’d been abducted by pop star aliens, “I can't believe I'm saying this, but I want the Michael Buble Christmas CD. It has the song "White Christmas." Pop star aliens, I don’t know what you’ve done with my strictly country, oldies, AC/DC lovin’, anti-pop music, husband but please return him immediately. Thanks. Maybe it’s because Michael Buble reminds him of our brother in law, Bryan. The resemblance is uncanny. Yeah that has to be it.

*For this blog, my one stop to record all the crazy things that happen on a seemingly daily basis ‘round here, and for you guys who laugh right along with or sometimes AT me, if we’re being honest.

*And what kind of person would I be if I didn’t mention how thankful I am for my husband, kids, family, friends? Without them there wouldn’t be near as many stories to tell or people to tell them to.

Happy Belated Thanksgiving, Halloween, 4th of July, etc! Hope it was great and that you survived without suffering food poisoning from turkey or being trampled by the crowds on Black Friday!!! Check back on Friday, the one week anniversary of Black Friday, as I will be posting the full "shopumentary" about our shopping extravaganza.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cumin Popcorn & Other LIfe Lessons from the Prairie Princess

I promised early on to use this blog as a forum to educate and inform you, my readers, on the matters of life. Tonight I will do just that. May your lives be enriched by what you're about to read.

1) Never leave your boys' first wrestling tournament BEFORE medals are given out because you ASSUMED that they would not be receiving one since they only won one match each. And then thinking you're a fantastic mom because you spared them the disapointment of not having their name called during the awards ceremony and the whole pep talk you gave them on the way home about how proud you were of them and how with some more practice you KNOW they can win medals SOMEDAY. Umm yeah, turns out both boys placed 3rd in their brackets and received medals, which their coach gave them tonight at practice, since their horrible mother DRAGGED them away from the medals ceremony because she thought she was doing them a favor. Add it to the Worst Mother of the Year nomination.

2) Never turn your cell phone to SILENT and then hide it in a secret place. Wherever I hid it is a darn good hiding place because after hours, now days (or 1 day) of searching I still can't find it. Not sure how sympathetic Verizon is going to be given that I've threatened to lose it under the tires of my truck, on one of the 17 times I was in there exchanging it for one that actually worked. In the now 24 hours I've been without my friend, my phone, I've come to realize that I MUST have it in my life, I may die without it. But just know if you've tried to call or text me and are getting irritated with me for not responding it's not by choice. I'm still alive, but just barely since I'm without my cell phone.

3) NEVER EVER accidentally substitute cumin for cinnamon when making cinnamon popcorn. I had come across a recipe on for cinnamon popcorn that sounded delicious so I thought I'd make a batch for the family tonight. You know since we're not going to be eating hardly at all this week. (Yeah right.) The recipe says to put butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl to melt it in the microwave. I put the butter and the sugar in the bowl and then grabbed the brown bottle (not THAT kind of brown bottle although one would think given what happened next) out of my spice cupboard. I glanced at it, saw the Ground C on the front, and was satisfied that it was indeed the cinnamon. I poured 1 1/2 t. in with the butter and sugar and set it on 1 min to melt. As I stirred it, I thought it smelled a little weird but I thought it was the leftover supper in the crockpot down the counter from me. It wasn't until I had dumped it over some of the popcorn and grabbed a kernel to test, that I realized it was NOT in fact cinnamon and was actually THE WORST THING I'VE EVER TASTED (besides peas and tomatoes). Gag me. And then I cried big crocodile tears because at the seemingly young age of 31 I'm misreading labels like a 95 year old. Bring on the bifocals and the cataract surgery. On the bright side, when I made the cinnamon popcorn and actually used CINNAMON it was delicous and made the house smell wonderful and not like a taco joint. Weird.

4) When printing the design for your Black Friday Discount Divas shirt read the directions for the transfer paper carefully and only print it reversed if the instructions tell you to do so. First of all, YES I'm one of those Black Friday shoppers, Black Friday IS my favorite day of the year. And secondly, YES we have shirts and they are awesome. Or will be once I get the transfers printed correctly so you don't have to stand in a mirror to tell what they say. Oops. I'll post a picture of the finished Discount Diva shirt AFTER Black Friday, you know for copyright reasons and such. Or maybe you'll see them on the 6 o'clock news on Friday when they interview us Discount Divas about our record breaking 15 hour shopping day or the deals we've gotten or our too cool shirts that no one else thought of.

There are lots more life lessons I could teach you my dears, but we'll take it slow. I've given you a lot to think about. Take your time, digest it, share it with a friend, learn from it, put it to use. Don't make the same mistakes I have. And whatever you do, keep your sugar FAR, FAR away from the cumin.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And the Award Goes To.....

for Worst Mother of the Year....yours truly!!! I've pretty much had this award in the bag since motherhood began for me but this week I sealed the deal. Rewind to Monday night. I'd been sick all weekend and really felt like death by the time I got home from work on Monday night. I dread Monday nights anyway because it's my chauffeur mom night. Here's how a typical Monday goes 'round here: homework, quick dinner, chores, drive Dakota to piano lessons, sit in driveway of piano lessons because it's 20 minutes from home, after she's done with piano drive the boys to wrestling practice at the school, go home try to be productive for the hour and a half they are at practice but with travel time it's more like an hour, go pick them up at the school, come home, fall on to couch exhausted. Sounds thrilling right? GI Joe helps out when he can but often times he has appointments and top secret military stuff (not really). This Monday night however he called to tell me he'd be able to pick up the boys from wrestling so once I got home after dropping them off I could get into my PJ's, drink some cold medicine, and curl up on the couch with a blanket and the DVR remote. I was ecstatic. we were getting ready to leave for piano lessons Dakota casually mentioned that she had a concert tonight. Ummm...WHAT?!? I hadn't seen any notes about this or mention of it in the newsletter. Upon further investigation I discovered I had written it on the calendar at the beginning of the school year but that was AGES ago...who looks at the calendar every day anyway? Geesh. For a split second I thought about telling her too bad she was just gonna have to miss it because Mama was cashing in a sick day, but then I came to my senses and realized that that would be bad even for the Worst Mother of the Year. So instead we scrambled around trying to prepare for the concert. Dakota informed me that she was supposed to wear dark jeans and a white shirt. Easy enough. Too bad when we showed up all the other kids were suspiciously wearing BLACK dress pants and white shirts so she looked slightly out of place but whatever, she didn't care and it was just further evidence of my pending award (WMofTY). Then she informed me that she had a solo! Seriously, how does a girl who tells us everything we never wanted to know about EVERYTHING from dinosaurs to the book she read to the game she played at recess FORGET to mention that a) she had a concert and b) she had a solo? Grrrrrrr....
I downed some good cold medicine and then set about getting her to piano lessons, the boys to wrestling and then Dakota to her concert. The real award winner of the night though was Dakota. Check out her stellar performance. We'll call this "Expressions by Dakota." Please enjoy the show.

The "Hi Mom, thanks for actually suckin' it up and bringing me to my concert!" expression

"The Yawn" -Between you and me I felt the same way.

"Normally I could care less about my need for a manicure but my nails are so much more intriguing than this boooooring concert"

"Sigh.....I could've written a program better than this in my sleep, they don't even have all the constitutional facts right, darn political propaganda, wait Dad is that you?!?"

"Just shoot me"-again, I could TOTALLY relate
And the Emmy goes to....Dakota for her stirring performance of the State Song and her trend setting hairstyle, aptly named "headband too far back on the head, hair sticking out all over."
And THAT my friends was worth the price of admission.

Worst Mother of the Year Signing Off

Sunday, November 15, 2009

When I Said I Do


Today GI Joe and I are celebrating our 12 year anniversary. I know, how can someone that does not live in Arkansas or in medieval times be only 25 and have been married for 12 years? It happens, I'm proof. I'm also totally lying. Although we were young, we weren't THAT young and we were legal even without parental consent.
We've had an abundance of sentimental, nice, moving posts here lately and frankly I've had enough. So instead of gagging you with tales of how blissfully happy the past 12 years have been and how wonderful GI Joe is and how I'm such a great wife (ha ha) I'm gonna break it down for you. Let me tell you about the wedding day.
You know how I'm kinda over the top, have princess like tendencies, and am a bit of a drama queen? Yeah? Well, that's nothing new and a wedding did nothing to lessen these personality traits of mine.
My mom and I had been planning (scheming) for months, like before GI Joe had even proposed, to make sure every single detail was perfect. This may come as a shock to you but the colors were PINK w/ silver accents. The service time was set for 6pm, ideal for candlelight. We envisioned a Cinderellaesque wedding, and by we I mean my mom and I, once GI Joe realized he was marrying the wrong girl for a camo wedding in a tree stand out in the woods, he just wanted whatever made me happy. P.S. It was good for him to learn that lesson early on. He did have one disclaimer, that he would NOT wear any pink except for the flower. I worked with that.
After all the planning, plotting, dreaming, the day FINALLY came. The morning of the wedding is all a blur to me but I do remember riding in the car with my Dad and my sister Hilary on the way to the church to get ready, when Hilary accidentally spilled the beans about a slight snafu in the ceremony plans. I can always count on Hilary for such things. GI Joe's dad was supposed to sing a song as the mothers lit the unity candles and were seated. I had given him the background music far in advance of the day and had utmost faith that it would be sung beautifully WITH the lovely background music accompanying him. The big news that Hilary spilled was that he was NOT going to use the background music and was instead going to sing it acapella. I'm not proud of what happened next but I FREAKED OUT. I was sure that it was going to ruin the wedding and I was even more upset that the change had been made without consulting me. Once Dad was done scolding Hilary for letting the cat out of the bag, he very firmly told me to quit being a drama queen, that the lack of background music was not going to ruin the wedding, and that's how it was going to be so get over it. Thanks Dad for going so easy on me on my wedding day. (Sidenote: The acapella song turned out AOK because it allowed GI Joe's dad the flexibility of singing the line "A vow that will NOT be undone" 23 times instead of the 2 he would've been allowed with the background music. He also did some pointed head nods and such towards GI Joe while singing it causing the crowd to erupt in laughter. It may have helped Bridezilla loosen up a little too.)

We arrived at the church to get ready for the pictures that were to be taken pre ceremony. I had insisted that GI Joe, his groomsmen and ushers get there ridiculously early too, probably just to make sure they'd all actually show. I MAY or may not have gone a little Bridezilla when I received word that since they were already dressed and ready and pictures weren't for another 2 hours they were going to go down the street and grab some burgers. I absolutely forbid anyone from leaving the premises because I just knew that if 9 guys, including my groom went out for burgers, someone would get hit by a bus, choke on their burger, or some other tragic event that would prevent them from coming back in one piece for MY WEDDING. It's really a wonder that GI Joe didn't RUN AS FAST AS HE COULD FROM THE CONTROLLING, OVERDRAMATIC, DEMANDING, BRIDEZILLA HE WAS ABOUT TO MARRY. But instead he and his posse stuck around and endured the pangs of hunger just to appease me. Thanks boys, see I told you you wouldn't DIE from hunger!

We bucked tradition and opted to do all the pictures prior to the ceremony, mainly because we wanted to eat sooner. We had our "moment" when GI Joe saw me for the first time in all my bridal (non Bridezilla) glory and in that instant I knew that it didn't matter if the song was sung acapella or not, or if the groomsmen started fainting during the ceremony from hunger, or that the music didn't play right. All that mattered was that I got to spend the rest of my life with this incredibly handsome, nervous looking, (starving) guy in the scuffed cowboy boots who was looking at me with nothing but pure love and adoration. I'll never forget that look. Oh sorry about the sappy, it was just one of those moments worth reliving, now on with your regularly scheduled programming.
We survived the millions of pictures I had insisted upon and then went back into our respective hiding places until the ceremony was to start. My entourage (bridesmaids) and I had a prime location at the back of the church with a curtained window looking into the sanctuary. I remember sitting there peering out of that window, watching as the 365 guests filed in, thinking it was really happening. Oh and then I remember FREAKING OUT AGAIN because they weren't playing the right music. Crisis quickly averted when one of my bridesmaids quickly ran and told the sound guy to fix it ASAP before Bridezilla reappeared. I think by that time in the day they were all terrified and realized I was hanging on to sanity by a tattered thread. :)
I watched from my vantage point as GI Joe seated the grandparents and how proud of him they all looked, even my grandparents, he has that effect on people. Probably because they'd known me the longest and knew what he was about to get himself into! Then it was the mothers. I watched as my mom proudly gave him a big ol' kiss on the cheek before she took her seat. Then I watched as one by one my 6 bridesmaids (small wedding anyone?) made their way down the aisle. And then it was my turn. My dignified Dad refrained from RUNNING me down the aisle to throw me at GI Joe's feet although I'm sure he was tempted given the gray hair he'd earned from raising me. We made it down the aisle and Dad had to go from father of the bride to co-officiating the ceremony (ahh the perks of being a pastor's daughter and marrying a pastor's son) and forgot to give me a kiss before he gave me away. I'm still in therapy for that one, just kidding. It probably had something to do with me distracting him by continuously and frantically whispering to him that GI Joe's dad was doing things out of order and would he please get up there and get this wedding back on track before the whole thing was RUINED?!? (Sidenote: Everything was going exactly in order I just have control issues.) Dad made up for leaving me hanging at the altar when later in the ceremony when he read a poem to me that left no eye in the place dry.

During the Broadway musical, I mean ceremony, I had planned to sing a song to GI Joe. Approximately 14 times my (now) father in law handed me the microphone to sing and approximately 13 times I handed it back to him and whispered "NOT YET! It's not my turn," as our other wedding singers started to sing. Geesh you'd have thought he would've read the program and the 3 page outline/schedule my Dad distributed at the rehearsal the night before, he must've been too busy practicing for his ACAPELLA performance.

Speaking of my now father in law, not only did he keep trying to force me to take the microphone he also tried to catch me on fire. I'm gonna go ahead and hope that it was nerves and not a ploy to off me before I married his son. On the 14th time he handed me the microphone to sing, when it was actually time for me to sing, he also knocked over one of the candles next to the unity candle. Because I was leaning towards him to accept the microphone (finally) my veil was precariously close to the falling candle and it was millimeters away from lighting my veil and heavily sprayed hair on fire. Not on my wedding day!! In one fell swoop I grabbed the candle and set it back upright with one hand and in the other held the microphone and prepared to hit the first note of my song. I am such a multi tasker, in this case however, it was more a matter of survival.

The song ended and believe it or not I didn't forget the words or bawl my head off. It was surreal because while I sang to him, it was like GI Joe and I were the only ones in the room. To anyone who attended, my apologies if it sounded terrible, love is not only blind but deaf too, so neither GI Joe or I noticed.

As you may know I'm directionally challenged. Left, right, east, west, north, south, they all give me a headache. This was a problem when it was time for me to put the ring on GI Joe's finger. I grabbed his right hand and started trying to get the ring on his ring finger but he was pulling it away. For a split second I thought maybe he was getting cold feet and was going to refuse the ring and then leave me at the altar, a jilted bride. O ye of little faith. How about he was trying to get me to stop trying to put it on the wrong hand and instead put it on his left hand where it belonged? Ooops my bad, but in my defense this was my FIRST wedding, how was I supposed to know that?

The downside of having a musical for a wedding is that it takes awhile and there's a lot of time spent wondering what you should be doing while a song is being sung. You can only gaze lovingly into your betrothed's eyes thru so many songs. Finally, it was time for the kiss, which was slightly awkward since we were given permission by the officiating ministers who also happened to be our fathers. And strangely enough my dad especially, had discouraged this type of public display of affection with boys my entire life and now all of a sudden he's telling me to do it in front of 350+ people? Talk about mixed messages.

Our dads pronounced us husband and wife and that's when Dusty Springfield came on the scene. As everyone was wiping their eyes from the moving, heartfelt ceremony (namely our mothers), Dusty began to sing "The only one who could ever teach me, was the SON OF A PREACHER MAN....." and we boogied on out of the sanctuary as our wedding party followed. It was so unexpected, silly, fun, and totally us. And now every time they hear that song I would bet that our wedding guests remember the crazy couple who had it as their recessional song.

I had a few more Bridezilla moments before the evening was said and done but hey, I was entitled and no one got hurt, so what's it matter? I will take this opportunity to apologize to anyone I may have yelled at, snapped at, or bossed around on that November night 12 years ago. Except for the limo driver, you had that one coming buddy.

Overall, our wedding day was absolutely perfect even with my (and my mother's) little bouts of crazy. I think in honor of that special day I'll put on my beautiful dress, prance around the house in it, and subject the family to the sacred viewing of "The Wedding Video." I'm sure they will thoroughly enjoy that.

Here's to the first 12 years and many, many more!!!

NOW (Wow we're old)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

She's More

As of today we are crossing over into uncharted parenting territory for us...the era of double digits. Our firstborn, our girl, our inaugural attempt at this parenting thing turns 10 today. I'm not ready for this but as I do when there's a birthday let's talk a little bit about our newly double digit girl. It's good therapy for me.

When GI Joe and I got married we were on the 5 year plan, meaning we weren't going to start having kids until after we'd been married 5 years. Dakota was born 4 days before our 2nd anniversary. Plan failed. We were sooo young but I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. We were too young and dumb to freak out about every little thing as many first time parents do, instead we were oblivious and absolutely smitten with this gorgeous creature that we created and I gave birth to.... NO DRUGS. Have I mentioned that before? You know that I was in labor for like 22 hours WITHOUT ANY DRUGS? Yeah I'm a rockstar like that but having earned that badge the first time, I asked for an epidural at about 35 weeks with the next 2, just to be safe.

We decided that we weren't going to find out if we were having a boy or girl when I was pregnant with Dakota. We had names picked out for both, did the unisex nursery, and being the shopper that I am, stocked the closet with both boy and girl items. Looking back I have no idea how this control freak, type a planner did that but we did and I'm glad we did. It was one of the coolest surprises in life (not that we repeated with #2 and #3 but it was fun once.) GI Joe had been hoping for a boy as most men do with their first child but from about 6 months on I had a feeling it was going to be a girl. The minute the doctor said it was a girl in that delivery room, I saw GI Joe undergo an instant transformation from tough guy to wrapped around that little girl's finger and it's been that way ever since.

When the doctor said it was a girl, I had instant visions of mother daughter shopping trips, frilly pink things, and a room full of baby dolls and tea sets. Boy, was I in for surprise. Not only has Dakota taught me how to be a parent but she's also taught me to expect the unexpected in sooo many ways.

Here are a few things about Dakota that have made the past 10 years very, very interesting and make me look forward to the next 10 years with great anticipation.

*The girl is smart. She was reading before she went to kindergarten and now in 4th grade she's reading and writing at a 9th grade level. It's pretty awesome when you're 4th grade daughter corrects your punctuation and offers alternative words for you to use when she's sitting next to you as you're blogging. Note the sarcasm. She's very smart but she's also very flighty and always has a 100 things going at once. Every time we go to conferences we hear the same thing, "Dakota is very very bright now if we could just get her organized." She's like the mad scientist minus the bad hair. I can't wait to see what she does when she grows up.

*She's extremely artistic and creative. She's constantly drawing and we're not talking stick figures, we're talking a herd of horses complete with mud splattering beneath their feet and manes blowing in the wind. Her drawings are incredible. Lately, I've been having her sign and date them so one day when she's a famous artist I can sell them on ebay to support my shoe shopping habit. Hey it's the least she can do for me given that I gave birth to her....NO DRUGS!!

*She's much like her father in that she is who she is and if you don't like her then that's fine, she's not going to lose any sleep over it. She's never one that NEEDS to have people around her or someone playing with her. She's perfectly content in her own little world and if you'd like to join her there then great but if not that's alright too. Unlike a lot of girls her age she's not into sleepovers and talking on the phone or petty girl stuff. Being the social butterfly that I am, that concerned me so I asked her why she never wanted to have anyone over and she responded with, "Because I see them enough at school and if I had them over I'd have to entertain them and I'd just rather not have to do that." Good point, how could I argue with that?

*From "her cowgirl boots (that she wears daily) to her down home roots", she's about as country as they come. She's an independent, confident, free spirit whose idea of a perfect day would consist of hunting, fishing, horseback riding, and exploring the great outdoors. No shopping, manicures, or Hannah Montana for her, in fact she wrinkles her nose at the mere suggestion of those things. The boys at school are already in awe of her since she catches the biggest fish, hunts with her very own gun, and isn't afraid to get dirty. I imagine it's only going to get worse as she gets older but I'm not worried she's got very, very high expectations and also the kids in her class think her daddy kills people for a living.

*She's our high maintenance hick girl especially when it comes to food. Her favorites: Godiva chocolate, Cheesecake Factory cheesecake, lobster, crab, and sushi. Seriously. There's no way a pimply high school boy working part time at HyVee would be able to afford to date her in high school. Which is good considering she's been told since birth that she wasn't allowed to date until she was 42. Given her expensive taste that's probably not so unreasonable after all.

*She's so tender hearted specifically when it comes to animals. She's not the most nurturing when it comes to other people but give her a sick or injured animal and she'll go to extreme lengths to nurse it back to health (including the application of medicinal herbs she's read about and harvested from our ditch or back pasture) and then showers them with love and affection. And help us all if the kitten or the bird or the whatever it is she's rescued doesn't survive, we're talking major meltdown. This is one of the many ways she's a lot like me. Nothing gets to me more than a sick or injured animal. However unlike me as much as she loves animals and hates to see them sick or injured she has no problem shooting pheasants or quail or deer come hunting season. Somehow that's totally different in her mind. Weird.

*She's politely blunt and if you need corrected she'll let you know, nicely of course. For example, a previous Sunday School teacher of hers gave her some misinformation once and Dakota quickly corrected her and then showed her where the right information could be found. That's how she rolls like it or not.

*She's weird, really weird. She runs like a T Rex, hisses like a cat and swears there's a clan of Cat Warriors holding secret meetings and living in our woods, among other things. I got nothing, she's just weird but we love her anyway.

She's not at all the daughter I had dreamed of having..... but she's more. Happy Birthday to our little cowgirl!