in the thick of summer

swimming at sylvan lake with both sides of the family (my personal favorite so far)

camping in the backyard in tents that eventually blew over because of a storm (they all lasted longer than I thought they would!)

smores with aunt paige & nana/papa (the smell of wood burning in the firepit … best)

hill city with aunt nikki & grandpa/ma (alpine inn!)

swimming, hiking, learning with Taylor (my helper on monday and tuesdays)

johnson ranch to ride tractors and drink delicious, ice cold water (outside of Spearfish/Belle)

mowing the lawn alone for cade  (riding lawnmower/zero turn)

baby Linda for grace (her favorite doll that goes everywhere with us)

sandbox for claire (loves the outdoors)

lots of fun in the hills with grandma/pa (deadwood opium tour, haunted hotel tour, cave tours, etc., etc., etc.)

new glasses (caeden)

allergies (Claire)

bike riding

ipad addictions

all of this + a baby that was so colicy his first months of life that I didn’t know what hit me. Crying stopped only when he was asleep. So hard. He is getting better, though!

I’d kill for a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Still haven’t lost baby weight.

Haven’t made it through a grocery store run without being in a panic because Avery cries all. the. time.

Taking a shower is a huge accomplishment.

Do you remember the early baby days?

I’m in the thick of them.





simplify simplify


i don’t know where to start so today it’s just a few grainy black and whites until i can get my wits about me.



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claire bear + a 6th birthday


Claire Bear (Estelle) Koop

Age 6

Dear Bear Bear,

You touch people’s heart in the best way with your innocence. Always the first to say “i love you” and the way you often put someone else before yourself is remarkable. Just this morning when I served you  the first orange roll for breakfast, you quickly said, “I wish it was Grace’s birthday so she could have the first one.” So incredibly sweet (usually… haha.).

You had a family birthday party this year (we rotate big “friend” birthdays with smaller “family” birthdays every other year) and you asked for a Mermaid Party.

You had a mermaid-colored tutu, as did Gracey, and aqua accessories (ice cream bowls and wooden spoons, tissue poofs hung from the ceiling, etc.) but wanted pink balloons and gum balls. Turns out, it was more of a “Claire” birthday than Mermaid, which is the way it should be.

Grandma and Grandpa, Nana, and all of us had dinner (Peach Whiskey Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Spinach Salad) and then homemade ice cream sandwiches (Eileen’s Chocolate Chip cookies with vanilla bean ice cream … rolled in sprinkles) and root beer floats for dessert (since you don’t care for cake or frosting).

Dad took you swimming in the afternoon while I decorated and cooked for your party.

When you got home, you quickly stuffed the dipped marshmallows in your mouth (dipped them in pink melted chocolate and then dipped into sprinkles) and before I knew it, the three of you had eaten all of them before your guests arrived. Swimming makes a girl hungry, no?

You asked for goop, sand, and anything that makes a mess. Your favorite present was a “splat frog” from Whos Toys that you’d throw on the ground to watch it spread into a ‘splat’ and then regain its shape again.

Last year it was all about dinosaurs.

I’m still waiting for you to ask for a Barbie Doll or Baby Doll. You might never really get into them (and that’s okay … I will learn to embrace the splat frog.).

Before your party, you and Grace went outside to play.

I was on the deck with Dad watching you guys play (and drinking a beer – lets be honest), when he said, “I can’t believe you aren’t taking pictures of this,” as you were busy blowing dandelions, swinging, and twirling.

So I reluctantly grabbed my camera (I wanted pictures, too, but wanted to sit down even more. Tired Mama.), but I am glad I did.

Look at how beautiful you are.

Claire Bear at age 6.

I love you so very much, sweet girl.


Mermaid Themed Party Stuff, including tutus, ice cream bowls, and poofs, found at TomKat Studios.

Recipe for Peach Whiskey BBQ Chicken from Pioneer Woman.




in bloom