Monday, January 28, 2013

Catch Up Not to be Confused with Ketchup

Not to be confused with I’m still a dork!

So let’s pretend we’re at my favorite Mexican restaurant sharing chips and salsa, and queso because calories don’t count when you’re with friends (duh), and catching up because it’s been ages since we’ve “talked”.  Rest assured that in real life I’m not near this one sided and self absorbed.  I would actually let you talk too, I promise!

Just some high points from the past few weeks:

*I’m proud to announce that GI Joe and I watched season 1 and 2 of “Downton Abbey” just in time for this season 3 to start.  This feels like a huge marital  accomplishment because it takes perseverance and commitment to watch an entire television series.  He’s watched many a series via Netflix usually ones that involve gladiators and/or presidents and/or aliens but we’ve never watched one together (beginning of a series to the end of a series or current).  This was a first for us.  It helped that “Downton Abbey” is completely amazing and it only took a few episodes before we were both hopelessly addicted.  This is saying a lot since typically I don’t like British shows because I feel like they all sound so snooty and I miss half of what they’re saying because of their accents.  Then there’s the whole “olden days” factor.  Not a huge fan of that either because it’s hard for me to relate to a life with no flat iron.  But for some reason Downton Abbey has proven me wrong and I am completely smitten with it.   Everything about it is perfect from the fascinating storyline to the castle that is total eyecandy to the cast of characters that I find myself wondering about throughout the week AS IF THEY ARE REAL PEOPLE.  As it turns out sarcastic one liners said in a serious British accent from very unsuspecting characters are kind of hilarious.  Go here and read this , it’s like she’s in my head.  And GI Joe and I asking each other constantly  “have you done something jolly with your hair?” will never get old.   I love, love, LOVE this show and I never thought I would.   Confession: when I kept reading and hearing about it for the past 2 years, I thought it was pronounced Downtown Abbey (it’s not, it’s DownTON pronounced Downten) AND I thought it was about some girl named Abbey living it up in downtown London or some other big city across the pond (it’s not).  Yeah, I’m a dork.   Oh and P.S. while there were no flat irons in the 1920’s, I did see a curling iron in season 2 and my heart leapt with joy.  I could talk about this show for hours and want everyone I know to watch it so we can talk about it together!  So get on the Downton Train ASAP…not to be confused with the DOWNTOWN Train.

*My camera died last week during the boys’ last basketball games of the season and my children rejoiced.  Apparently, the average lifespan for that model is 4 years, I’ve had it for 3 ½ years but given the amount of pictures I’ve taken with it, millions I tell you MILLIONS, that’s probably more like 83 years in camera time. It has served me well so it was a sad day.  But this past weekend, knowing I would positively die (hello Marcia Brady) without a camera for one more second, GI Joe and I went shopping for a new one.  And somehow I ended up with a “big girl” camera that does fancy stuff and takes pictures that look professional.  I am so excited. I’ve been reading about and researching DSLRs forever and finally took the plunge.   I spent hours yesterday reading the manual (What?  Who am I?  That’s not how I roll!) and took  8378 pictures of Moose and Dexter while they were napping because they were excellent practice subjects.  They didn’t complain once about the number of pictures I was taking!  Here’s my favorite of Dexter.  Blade is going to use this as his Valentine’s cards for his class, with a little bag of Hershey Kisses…”Pugs and Kisses.”  Ha ha. We can’t help ourselves.

*Car key drama…again.  If you’re married to me, you know that pretty much every time I leave the house I go thru this “I can’t find my keys” routine.  It’s not annoying at all.  Usually they’re at the bottom of my dimly lit purse but sometimes they are in random places or lost forever (I blame the children).  Saturday morning the kids and I were trying to go to town but I couldn’t find my keys.   I spent about 30 minutes looking for them all over the house, my purse, the yard, everywhere, and was sure they had suffered the same fate as the set of keys I lost ON MY WAY TO THE CAR IN COSTCO PARKING LOT just a few short months ago…yes, that happened, I have no idea.  The good news is they weren’t lost forever!  The bad news is I found them in the washing machine with only 12 minutes left on the cycle.  Oops.  My key fob is a little slow on the unlock these days.  Do you think the old rice trick will work on key fobs like it does on cell phones?  It’s worth a shot. 

*Raise your hand if you think the autocorrect feature on phones is the devil’s handiwork?  *raises BOTH hands*.  Friday night I was responding to a text from a Suck It Up Cupcakes customer, a person whom I’ve never met and who has never ordered from me before.  It’s kind of a blur due to the post traumatic stress syndrome, but all I remember is looking at the message after I hit send and seeing “C^CKSURE CUPCAKES”.  No, I’m not doing specialty naughty cupcakes for bachelorette parties that was supposed to say CHOCOLATE COCONUT CUPCAKES.  WTHeck phone?  I have so many questions! Why would my phone think that was an acceptable “correction” for chocolate coconut?  And where on earth did that word come from?  It’s not like it’s a commonly used word in my texting, I assure you it’s NOT, is it EVEN a real word?  I don’t think so.  I was so mortified.  I immediately text again and said *chocolate coconut cupcakes*.   The person didn’t respond, so I think it’s safe to say we’re done here.  The cupcake business was fun while it lasted but on the bright side, I’ll just take my business cards to the adult bookstores, I’m sure I’ll drum up some business there with my, ahem, “C*CKSURE CUPCAKES” Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes.  My dad the pastor is SO proud right now.  J  Dad, I swear it’s AUTOCORRECT’S fault, NOT MINE!

*My 5 year old nephew Micah gave me this mug for Christmas that he made and specifically told the lady at the pottery shop what to write on it. 

It makes me SO happy and my coffee tastes infinitely better out of it.  Every time I take a sip I can just hear his sweet little voice saying, “Howwy” because that’s how he’s always said it.  I had high hopes that on his graduation day he would introduce me to his friends and teachers saying, “And this is my FAVORITE aunt Howwy.”  What?  I don’t see a problem with that.  But I got some bad news today.  My sister tells me that Micah has been saying Holly all weekend, not HOWWY but Holly.  I’m going to the courthouse tomorrow to officially change my name to Howwy so that he is forced to say it that way for all eternity.  The rest of you can still call me Holly or Prairie Princess, or Her Ladyship (see: Downton Abbey), whichever. 
I’d be remiss if I didn’t show you the mug he gave GI Joe for Christmas too. 
He kind of thinks his Uncle GI Joe is the coolest.  The feeling is mutual.
 "When I grow up I want to be a soldier just like you"

*This Friday I took the day off in preparation of the perfect storm…..Blade’s birthday, the 14th anniversary of when my mom died, and I have to take a llama to school for show and tell.  Yes, you read that right.  Pray for me, mostly because of the llama who knows no personal space boundaries.  And with 20 4th graders, that should be SUPER fun!

Have a great week!  I'll report back on the llama show and tell, I'm sure it will be blog worthy. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Food Friday

The first 10 days of 2013 have been SUPER fun at the Koons Zoo.  We’ve had mono, stomach flu, pneumonia, nasty colds & a dead car battery.  YAY!  *Please note the extreme sarcasm.  We have spent more time at home in our PJ’s in these 10 days than we have probably in all of 2012.  I’ve also watched way too many episodes of Property Brothers and House Hunters because for my 10 year old son, nothing cures what ails you like those 2 shows.  He then takes notes and presents me with floor plan & design proposals for his room. Is he weird or what?  Weird but awesome.  All 3 kids returned to school yesterday, which was the first time since before Christmas break, so we just *might* be on the road to returning to normalcy.  Ha ha yeah right, it’s still the Koons Zoo after all. 

Personally, I’ve been making lots of soups, snake eyes  (each one of my kids lists these as one of their top 5 favorite foods? They are pretty delicious) and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Funny story about me and grilled cheese.  When I was growing up the only way I remember my mom making grilled cheese is buttering both sides of the bread, slapping some Velveeta in the middle, and putting them on a baking sheet in the oven directly under the broiler.  Then she’d leave the oven door a crack and broil them to melty perfection.  That is the ONLY way I knew so of course when it came time for me to carry on the grilled cheese making tradition that’s how I did it.  And I burned them to blackened bliss…every.single.time.  And since my kids could talk they remind me of that fact, that no matter what kind of awesome, gourmet meal I prepare or what gorgeous cupcake I bake, that I fail at grilled cheese.  And to them grilled cheese trumps well, pretty much everything.  For many years GI Joe became the grilled cheese maker in the house and the kids would rub it in that “daddy makes grilled cheese better than mommy does” but between you and me, he totally cheats when he makes them.  He toasts the bread in the toaster, then puts the cheese on and puts the whole thing in the microwave just long enough to melt the cheese.  Umm, NO.  One year for Christmas I got a wafflemaker/sandwich maker and I thought I was supersmart when I finally made them the perfect grilled cheese until they busted me.  “You have to use a machine to make grilled cheese?!? Tee hee ha ha ha that’s cheating,” they would taunt. 

Until one day when I was making their beloved snake eyes, it occurred to me, “why not make grilled cheese this way too?  In the skillet with butter…duh.”  So last week when the patients aka kids requested grilled cheese but “don’t use the machine and can Daddy just make them?” I assured them that I had a plan and that I would make their grilled cheese and it would be the best grilled cheese they’d ever had.  They were doubtful.

But like Dora the Explorer, I DID IT, I DID IT!!!

I paraded that first, browned to golden glory, with perfectly melted cheese oozing out of it, sandwich around the house showing each one of them, “LOOK I did it, NO MACHINE!!!”

Yes, a perfect grilled cheese sandwich is parade worthy. 

Ryder took a bite and declared it the best grilled cheese in all the land so I’ll take that as a win.  The whole family was so proud, it was a touching scene.  OK maybe not but I was pretty darn proud of myself.  Now to just master my other nemesis, the pie crust. 

And that big, long grilled cheese story?  It has nothing to do with the Food Friday recipe today.  So there’s that. 

But before I earned the culinary respect of my critics children by mastering the grilled cheese, I wowed them with this chicken.  Which in my house, is unheard of, mainly because it’s chicken and they seem to think we eat WAY TOO MUCH CHICKEN (not possible).   When I made this, every single kid and husband (to clarify there’s just one of those) asked for seconds which also never happens.  Now that everyone in the house has an appetite for solid foods again, this is on the menu for next week.  I can’t wait.  Sometimes it’s the simplest things that are the most delicious.  Ex:  this chicken, oh and snake eyes.

Crispy Cheddar Chicken Tenders (
By Plain Chicken
Crispy Cheddar Chicken Tenders

2 lbs chicken breasts, tender size
1/2 sleeve Club crackers (or Ritz)
1 1/2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp Ranch dressing mix
dash pepper

2 eggs
2 Tbsp milk

1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of chicken soup (I used Healthy Request)
2 Tbsp sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried parsley

Preheat oven to 400.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine crackers, cheese, Ranch mix and pepper.  Pulse until you have fine crumbs.  Pour into shallow bowl.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together 2 eggs and 2 Tbsp milk.

Dip chicken tenders into egg mixture and then coat in cracker crumbs.  Place chicken on foil lined baking pan.  Repeat with remaining chicken tenders.

Bake for 12-15 minutes.  (PP note:  I had to cook mine a little longer to get it cooked all the way through, maybe my breasts were bigger?  Ahahahaha, hi I’m a 15 year old boy.)

While chicken bakes, whisk together soup, butter, sour cream, milk, pepper and parsley.  Bring to a boil and simmer until chicken is done.  Spoon sauce over baked chicken. Do not skip the sauce it makes the chicken.
Have a great weekend!!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

4 Years?!?

Can you believe that 4 years ago today, I started this crazy blog and wrote my first post?  4 YEARS?!?  I posted TWENTY entries that first month.  Ahh the good old days before we had color TV's and smartphones so I had lots of time to blog.  OK maybe it wasn't that long ago but still 4 years is a LONG time.  Alot has happened in those 4 years.  My kids have gotten 4 years older (as always I'm here to educate and inform), I've been married to GI Joe 12, 13, 14, and now 15 years, we've had deaths in the family (dislike) both people and animals and births (like)   While I haven't been near as regular about posting as I once was, I still love blogging. I just wish the darn laundry would do itself.  I especially going back in the archives and reading about things that happened at the Koons Zoo or something that the kids said that I would've otherwise forgotten. 
Here are a few of my favorite posts of all time which happen to be some of the same ones I'm kind of known for.  For example, my godmother Nita told me the other day that she'd referred her pastor to this blog to read the hilarious tale of the boys and balls (don't worry I'll post the link in a minute.  And yes, she has a very close relationship with her pastor and his wife, close enough to tell him to read a post about, umm, balls I guess.)  Then she told me that he'd already heard from someone else about the time I caught the backyard on fire. The whole thing cracked me up. 
So here are some of my favorite posts from the past 4 years that you can tell your pastor about or go read them if you haven't been here from the beginning.  They still make me laugh and I lived them.

The FIRST time I got on the Terrorist Alert list at Carhartt

And this one that at least every couple months comes up in conversation (RIP Herky)

A glimpse into our amazing and mature parenting

The first of MANY posts about Annette and I reliving our youthHere's more if you didn't get enough and really can you EVER get enough of New Kids on the Block?  The answer is No, NO you cannot. 

And this CLASSIC Prairie Princess story.  This is real life, people.

And so is this.  It's also how when the kids are grown, I'll look back and remember our many summer days and nights spent fishing.  HI-LARIOUS.

The time I really went THERE and told you about our gay detail.  I think this one will go down in history and most likely be read at my funeral.  Seriously, I couldn't even make this stuff up. 

A heartwarming tale of GI Joe and a....drag queen? 

I'm definitely keeping this one on hand to blackmail my boys with down the road, say when they bring a date home.

Why I should never be allowed to use Photoshop....or go down a waterslide.

Proof that I have an unnatural attachment to my bovine son cow.

It never hurts to be prepared.  Vote for GI Joe!

Sometimes I hug random strangers in uniform.  What can I say I support our troops?

Like my Smom always tells GI Joe, there's not only a special place in heaven for him there's a throne RIGHT NEXT TO JESUS for putting up with me all these years.  :)  Oh and again.

Living life with a nudist. 

I have to be me.

What better way to end than with this one...

Balls.  That is all.  The post that will live on for infinity.

After reading back over 4 years worth of blog posts one thing is for certain, I'm kind of a crackhead.  Or at least one might think.  Thanks for reading anyway and NOT having me forcibly admitted to the psychiatric ward.  Although let's be honest, I'd probably fit right in.  And thanks to my family, friends, animals, and complete strangers for providing me plenty of blogging material.  Here's to 4 more years!  
Love Always,
Prairie Princess 


Friday, January 4, 2013

Food Friday!

After a long hiatus, Food Friday returns!  Just in time for New Year’s Resolutions!!!  My resolution this year is to trick myself into not setting any actual resolutions which will make me feel like a follower and like I’ve given into peer pressure (everyone else is doing it!) but all the while working on some personal goals I set for myself.   Did you get that?  I’m NOT making resolutions but actually I kind of am but calling it something different.  Welcome to my brain.  IE:  I want to learn to knit, just a scarf, not afghans or sweaters or anything complex, just a scarf.  My smom made each of us girls a scarf for Christmas and they are adorable and now I want one in every color but I feel like a putz saying, “Hey smom I really love this scarf now here’s my 3 page request list in all the other color combos I want them in” so I figure I need to learn to do it myself.  She said she’d teach me and that it’s not hard, we’ll see.  I mean, I have plenty of spare time, why not take up a new hobby?  Hahahaha, now THAT is funny.  I also am going to start a fairly regimented exercise and eating (I’m not saying the D word I’m just NOT) but that is not for resolution’s sake more for NECESSITY.  And as much as I love my old lady gym and my 3-4 times per week “workouts” there it’s just not cutting the mustard probably because it’s more about coffee tawlk with the ladies than it is breaking an actual sweat. It does keep me somewhat toned but now I just need to drop a few pounds and tone a thinner me.  34 is rough, people. Uggh.

Anyway, all this talk about eating right and e*er%ising (since it’s basically a bad word I’m editing it for filter purposes, this is a family friendly blog after all…well, mostly) has made me hungry for chocolate..obviously.  Isn’t that how it goes?  The minute you decide you cut back or eliminate something from your diet that’s when you crave it the most?  While I may not be eating this in the immediate future I did make it for my family on Christmas and it was so amazing, I actually dreamt about it that night and there were angels and bells involved, it was THAT good.  Or maybe that was from watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” while eating it.  Hard to say but no matter, you need this in your life.  Make this a reward for when you lose your first 5 pounds or knit your first scarf or whatever your non resolutions may be. 

When GI Joe and I were on our cruise, the highlight of every evening’s dinner was the “Chocolate Melting Cake” served in individual ramekins with a little scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on the plate next to it. 
It was heavenly and the few times I thought I’d be adventurous and order something besides the Chocolate Melting Cake, I inevitably regretted my decision and wound up sending back whatever I had ordered and getting the Melting Chocolate Cake instead.  P.S.  That is one of the most awesome parts about a cruise.  They encourage you to try everything and if you don’t like something they are super accommodating and aren’t even offended when you ask them to bring you something else instead. Unlike at a restaurant where if you tell your waiter you don’t like what YOU ordered and want something else they will either a) tell you tough luck or b) take it back and bring you something new but you run the risk that your food now has been spit in.  You know it’s true.  When we returned from our cruise (L) besides the warm sunshine, aqua waters, and room steward named Pablo, this cake was what we missed the most.  I immediately consulted Pinterest and found a supposed copycat recipe for Carnival’s Melting Chocolate Cake.  I made it.  And it was just ok.  Boo, hiss, sob.  But then, THEN this post popped up on one of my favorite sweets blogs and I just knew that she of all people would do it right.  And she did.  And it was every bit as good as the cruise ship chocolate melting cake, maybe even, dareisay, BETTER?!?  Although there was no towel animal waiting for me in my room when I got done eating it at home so cruise ship still wins.  But this will do for when you’re landlocked.
Caution:  it’s RICH.  A glass of milk, water, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream are all must haves with this cake. 
It’s a vacation for your mouth.
Yeah I went there. 

So here’s the recipe:
Brownie Pudding Cake
Serves 6-8
  • 2 sticks butter, melted
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder (I prefer Hershey's Special Dark)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
How to Make
  1. Preheat oven to 325°
  2. Melt butter in microwave safe dish and set aside.
  3. Spray a 2 qt baking dish with cooking spray.
  4. In a large mixing bowl beat both sugars and eggs for 10 minutes on medium-high speed until mixture thickens.
  5. Turn mixer to low. Add in vanilla and sift cocoa and flour into mixture, stirring until just combined.
  6. With mixer still on low pour in melted butter.
  7. Stir in chocolate chips.
  8. Spread batter into prepared baking dish. Place baking dish into a larger dish and fill larger dish with hot water, coming halfway up the side of brownie dish.
  9. Bake for 1 hour. Edges will appear set, but a toothpick will not come out clean.
  10. Let cool about 20-30 minutes and serve with ice cream or whipped cream.  (Prairie Princess note:  Let’s be honest, you COULD wait the 20-30 minutes for it to set up a little bit but who has that kind of willpower?  Personally, we gave it about 5 minutes and then spooned it into bowls and dug in.  I can’t even describe the awesomeness.  But do whatever feels right to you.)
And you may wonder how it is the next day (IF there’s any left) and if you microwave it for a bit it returns to it’s original melty, gooey, glory.

Have a great weekend!  Make this cake, the resolutions can wait til Monday right?!? 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


For posterity’s sake I must post this..even though it’s now a week past Christmas.  It’s how I roll, what can I say?  I present to you the 2012 Koons Zoo Christmas letter recapping the highlights of our year.  You know, for those times I, ahem, forgot to blog about them?  Happy Reading and I hope your holidays have been wonderful. 

Yes, I put Holy Cow on our Christmas card and no, I didn't photoshop him smiling.  That's the real deal, folks.  This should not surprise you given that he thinks he's human.  :)  This just might be my favorite Koons Christmas card of all time. 

Dear Friends & Family,
                WHASSUP?  Oh sorry, I reverted to my 16 year old self there for a second.  34 and I still refuse to grow up, what can you do?  I’m challenging myself this year to keep the Koons Christmas Letter to one and only one page because I realize that you all have better things to do than spend an hour reading a silly letter about the Koons Klan (or do you? Hmmmm).  But I am a pastor’s daughter, and you KNOW how long winded they can be, so here goes nothing. Size 8 font?  I think yes.  J
                Looking back over 2012, I can’t help but think, “Wow, THAT was a good one!”  Uhh and now that I say that I can’t remember anything beyond July.  Oh that’s right, 2012, the year I lost my memory!  Please hold while I reflect on 2012 and by reflect I mean go check my blog and hope that I posted something since I haven’t been very diligent about posting this year, for a refresher.  Oh did I mention that this is NOT an ad free Christmas letter?  It isn’t.  OK, I remember now. 
We rang in 2012 in the mountains of Arkansas visiting Justin’s grandparents.  It was a great relaxing time of being together and not feeling quite as hillbillyish as we normally do because hello, have you been to Arkansas?  I’m just sayin’. January and February brought basketball games, both boys played and I am totally THAT mom, you know the one, especially since I actually know stuff about basketball.  It also brought Blade’s birthday (10?  Whaaaat?!?) , and some llama drama when our beloved llama passed away unexpectedly.  Read about it on the blog (,  it’s quite a story.  (ad #2) but we got a new llama shortly after who helped fill the void and who does not acknowledge one’s personal space so that’s super fun, just ask my dad.    Aaaand my Smom Evie just fell off her chair laughing recalling that visual.  Breathe, Evie, breathe.  J
In March, we took a little trip over Spring Break to Minneapolis to explore the indoor waterpark, Mall of America, and IKEA.  It was the trifecta of fun, waterpark, amusement park, and shopping. We also completed our , fine, MY first foray  into pig farming.  I can’t go into details because I like to remain oblivious.  All I know  is that one day Hormel the Hog was stopping traffic by getting out into the road AGAIN and happily lolling around the barnyard and the next she wasn’t there and soon after there was a plethora of bacon and ham in our freezer. You can fill in the blanks, but I prefer to think she’s living happily at some other farmer’s place and the bacon we’re enjoying came from a heartless, mean pig that no one ever liked and the farmer gave us in exchange for Hormel.  WORK WITH ME HERE, PEOPLE.  P.S.  The bacon?  It’s delicious.
April and May brought soccer season, some new additions to the Koons Zoo (2 emus, chickens, ducks, turkeys, and Ryan Gosling ….the goose not the Hey Girl Hearthrob unfortunately), my 34th birthday (yikes!), Mother’s Day (not my fave but I got presents!),  the kids finishing up 3rd, 4th, and 6th grades, Holy Cow’s second birthday (ice cream and steak for all!) and most importantly GI Joe’s long overdue and much deserved promotion ceremony to Sgt First Class.  I heart May. 
Then there was summer, oh my beloved summer that I miss so much especially since it’s like 25 degrees here today.  Summer was awesome.  We enjoyed naked days on the farm, wait that was just Ryder, fishing, pool time, playing with our animals, and working on the Great Treehouse Project that GI Joe is building for the kids.  It’s huge you guys, as in if you come to visit we’ll put you up in it for the night.  It’s not complete yet but it’s not too early to make your reservations!  The highlight of the summer was definitely our trip to Orlando/Disney World/Universal Studios in July.  It was SO. MUCH. FUN.  We stayed up too late every night; park hopped excessively, rode every ride at least once, and thoroughly enjoyed the happiest place on earth while our kids are still young enough to appreciate the magic.  And since I cannot be that close to the ocean and NOT go to the beach we even squeezed in a day of beach time and also a little visit with Hilary and family both on the way there and the way back.  It was a trip that we’ll all remember forever.  Time and money well spent.  August brought Ryder’s 9th birthday (WAAAAA!), the State Fair, and back to school at an unreasonably early date.  We now have a 4th grader, 5th grader, and an honest to goodness junior higher in 7th grade. She’s even in the youth group at church now! Help us all.  Sometimes when it occurs to me that we only have 2 years of elementary school left I go into sobs of denial and pity and where- did-the-time-go wails.  But then I look at the 2 page explanation of the latest 4th grade “homework project” due and I’m suddenly ok with them progressing beyond the years of parental supervision and input required on every task.  For those of you with younger kids, I need to warn you upper elementary is NO JOKE.  I am quite certain that when I was in 4th and 5th grades I didn’t have near the assignments and projects that they do.  Which kind of explains a lot really and also explains why  I suddenly feel as if I’m having to repeat those grades. Maybe math will finally make sense!  Not. Ahh well, good times nonetheless.
Well, would you look at that, one page goal FAILED.  Oh well, you didn’t REALLY think I’d be able to do it did you?  Me neither.  Anyway, September and October brought football season for both boys (oh yeah I totally morph into THAT mom in football too, I’m sorry coaches, fellow parents, and opposing teams.  I realize I can be somewhat, umm, vocal.  Actually I’m really not sorry you should listen to me more.  Are you familiar with Mrs. Tuohy in the movie “The Blind Side”?  Draw your own conclusions).  Justin was able to help coach Blade’s team this year and they both really enjoyed that.  Ryder’s already called dibs on him helping with his team next year.  For some reason neither of them were clamoring for me to help coach their football teams…weird.  Dakota resumed piano lessons after a summer hiatus and of course she never stopped being artistic and carrying a sketch pad with her EVERYWHERE.  No sports for her but artistic and creative, yes.  We also celebrated Justin’s 35th birthday.  THIRTY FIVE!  I don’t know when he got so old but he wears it well and still blends right in at those high schools he frequents as a recruiter, but maybe that’s just the camouflage.  We also threw a Halloween party of EPIC proportions for the kids and their friends.   It was the stuff legends are made of and I have a sneaking suspicion that we’ll be doing it every year from here til the year 2021.  It’s all part of our plan to secure the title of “the house everyone wants to be at” so that when they’re older our 3 kids and all of their friends will congregate at our house.  Because if they’re at our house we can be sure they aren’t doing dumb, possibly illegal, teenage things that they may later regret.  Not that any teenagers I know (or was) have ever done such things…AHEM.  October was followed by November (I’m here to educate and inform) and was filled with lots of awesomeness.  Dakota entered the official teenage realm when she turned 13 on 11/11/12 and I threw up a little because how can we have a teenager when a) she was just an adorable, cuddly 2 year old LAST WEEK and b) I’m still basically a 15 year old trapped in a 34 year old body myself.  Uggh, it’s mind boggling.  Another definitive highlight of the month was Justin and I’s 15 year anniversary and our celebration of said milestone.  That’s right, 180 MONTHS!  Whoa.  That definitely warranted a major celebration so we left on Black Friday (don’t worry I still got to shop for 11 hours) for a 5 day cruise to the Bahamas.  It was, at the risk of sounding cliché, AMAZING.  It was the most relaxing trip ever and the powdery white sands, aqua waters, and 80 degree sunshine didn’t hurt either.  Also, WE SWAM WITH DOLPHINS.  Life bucket list item #4 and #6…complete.  Here’s to many more…anniversaries AND tropical vacations!
And now we’re back (why can’t we live in the Bahamas and have a room steward to make towel animals for us every day?  Why real life, why?), it’s December, it’s cold, Christmas is almost here and I’m trying to wrap this up in a paragraph.  I hope your year has been just as great and if it wasn’t then hopefully 2013 will be.   I look around at this crazy fun life we’re living and know how lucky we are, even when it’s not always cupcakes and sprinkles.  But let’s be honest, most of the time it IS cupcakes and sprinkles (in my hair) and for those times that it’s not ,well, we just have to SUCK IT UP CUPCAKE.  ;)  Yes, that little side biz is still going strong, btw.  In closing, I leave you with this traditional Koons blessing for the new year……that I just made up..…Laugh til you snort, play hard, hug harder, eat cupcakes, and always keep your gas tank above half.  Hahahahaha, as if.  But seriously, we wish you the merriest of Christmases and the happiest New Year!