It was so nice for the kids that we were introduced to Zoe, Aunt Melissa’s new puppy, after Sasha passed away. Coraline was uncertain at first about the excitement which was very different from Sasha’s low key tolerance and occasional lip. Zoe jumped and licked, and Coraline kept going back for more.




Aunt Melissa has a kitty as well, and the cat toys are a hit with all the kids, furry or not.




Jameson was actually a little less enthusiastic about Zoe than I thought he would be. He likes to talk about Zoe and loves her, but when it came down to it the jumping and puppy behavior was more than he was used to. He asked if we could put Zoe in the cage when he was done playing with her, so had to talk about taking the time to teach her the right things to do.


In the end, he found a better way to play with Zoe: running back and forth in Aunt Melissa’s basement.


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Thanksgiving Throwback

I hope you’ll forgive me going backwards in time for a bit, all the way to Thanksgiving. Just extending that holiday feeling for a bit more! We visited Meemaw and Grandpa for Thanksgiving this year.


I was a little concerned about how Jameson would take Mayzie being gone, but he was surprisingly chill. It almost was as if he expected it. We didn’t tell him ahead of time, so Meemaw told him when we arrived that night. The only tough part was figuring out how he could walk Shiloh! It was easy to give him Mayzie’s leash, since she didn’t go far or fast. But Shiloh needs more restraining, so we took walks with two leashes attached to her collar.



Coraline liked putting olives on her fingers after I showed her how. It’s a Thanksgiving requirement. We had a great meal with potatoes and green bean casserole, turkey of course and stuffing. We all enjoyed the time away from home for a bit.


Black Friday, I had to go through all the ads. The kids wanted to help, of course. The only place I ended up really going out for though was Jo-Ann, in order to get flannel to make the kids flannel pajama pants. Mom and I walked around the mall, and it was fun to see all the new stores in place! It really had been years since I was last there.


We did a lot of relaxing, snacking and playing with things that aren’t toys. Likes boxes and pianos.







On Friday, we visited with Marky, who is the same age as Jameson. Coraline found a playmate in Finley, now that they are a bit older. Finley’s several months older and taught Coraline how to go up and down the stairs.







All the kiddos enjoyed playtime. Jameson asks to visit Marky every time we visit, and comes home with new things he loves. Last time, it was Ninja Turtle. This time, we were introduced to Rescue Bots.

We had a wonderful visit for Thanksgiving, a nearly 5 days visiting with Meemaw and Grandpa and Aunt Holly all together with Brian able to come as well. It was of course bittersweet that we were able to all make the trip without Sasha waiting for us at home.

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10/1/02 – 11/11/14

Yesterday, we had to tell Jameson that our beloved puppy was gone. Unexpectedly, he seemed to understand the concept of death already, that she was gone from us and not returning. He was incredibly sad, and immediately requested a new doggie. While I am certain he expected a new doggie to make him feel better, we know that is not entirely the case. It was the easiest question he asked. He also asked if we were with her, another unexpected but easy answer. The hardest part was watching him so sad, since this is his first experience with this kind of unresolvable sadness and grief.

Despite trying hard not to dwell on sickness or old age as reasons we die, he picked up on old age. He’s too young to explain that all of us die without causing fear, though I think he made that association anyway; or that death can also happen unexpectedly; so, we reassured him that Sasha had lived a very, very long time, and that she went to Heaven and can run in the grass there. He asked if tomorrow he will get older, and I told him that he will not be old for a very long time. I may have said that everyone lives for a very long time. It’s hard to find the answers to reassure and make him feel better, but to be truthful without opening up more questions he is too young to understand is nearly impossible. I am sure that won’t be the last of his questions about death and Heaven.

I did make him a book about Sasha, with photos of her as a puppy he has never seen before. It hasn’t really been the immediate hit that I expected, but I think it will be a useful tool when he asks more questions or misses her. Instead, he associated the book with making him sad, and he didn’t really want to read it again. I think he will want to later though.

We visited grandma last night, which was a much needed distraction for all of us. He has a big stuffed dog there, which he called his “pet doggie” and put it in the fort he and grandma made. So many, many sad moments. Some of the worst are associated with routine, of course. Looking for her in the morning when we get up or before bed. Leaving the garage door open when we get home to let her out. Thankfully, Coraline is so young, aside from looking for her very briefly, she has been a comic relief and little ray of sunshine for us. She chose an outfit today of all doggies.

I’ve found that I don’t really know Brian without Sasha, since the two were partners, his buddy, from the day I met him. It’s hard to find words to describe their relationship, since it was much more than master to pup. She will always be his very first baby. Watching him grieve is almost as hard as losing Sasha herself.

It took me a little time to love Sasha, not because she wasn’t lovable, but because she took up a lot of space in our bed, haha. But now, even though we’ve filled our home with additional pack members, the house feels so much emptier. She is such a big part of our life, home and family. And our hearts. Her exceptionally large presence really seems to make her absence even bigger.

We have a sing-song phrase we use with Coraline for naps and night-night time. It can be used for hello and goodbye, too. Monday, Jameson sang it to Sasha, singing “bye bye Sasha, bye bye Sasha, see you after school.” Knowing that she would not be home waiting for us in just a couple days while listening to him sing to her was the beginning of many hard moments. Another was watching Coraline, who has just started in the past few weeks to pull out Sasha’s treats on her own to go give to her. Yesterday morning, instead of a bye bye song, Coraline sang “Night night” to her.

Sasha reached the end of her life at the very old age of 12. She was, and is, the smartest dog I have ever met, a gentle giant with a sweet disposition as long as you don’t poke at her face, Coraline! Sasha loved rolling in the grass, sitting on couches, catching snowballs, eating cookies (the dog treat kind), and giving puppy kisses.

Pillow stealer

I’m sure you’re glad to be chasing bunny rabbits again.

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Final Summer Days

Well into fall, and here I am wrapping up the end of August. I don’t really miss it though, other than the extra daylight. The colors this fall have been breathtaking, and I have a much more pleasant drive into work nowadays to see it since I’m not driving along the highway.

For Grandma’s birthday we had our usual cookout this time with pizza on the grill at her request.



When my friend Emma came to visit us, we took a walk and discovered a garage sale power wheels jeep for cheap, just missing the power cord. In the end, it was a bit more expensive because the battery was dead, so we had to buy both power cord and new battery which is pricey. Totally worth it though.

Coraline is already not following the rules with hands inside the car. Also, she can unbuckle herself, so we have to watch them. But she loves riding in it just as much as Jameson loves driving it.


Grandma and Poppa also brought over a new-to-us big boy bike (originally from cousin Griffin) with new training wheels and all. Jameson rode the bike and the jeep for the rest of the summer, insisting that’s all he wanted to do.




Labor day, we relaxed outside. We took the kids out still in pjs to play in the bouncer. We hung out “poolside” in the afternoon.

My kids are the ones still in pj's


And suddenly Coraline enjoyed swinging. Weeee!


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Fair + Visit with Aunt Holly


The kids were a delight at the fair this year. At least for the morning, until tiredness set in. This year we went on a Saturday morning with Aunt Holly who came up to visit us for the weekend. The first thing we always do is runwalk to the pumpkin to take our pictures before there is a line.


I’m sure you’re not really supposed to do this, but we put the kiddos up next to the actual big pumpkins themselves for some photos. They’ll only be this small for a short time right? And pumpkins rot.

And then we saw this magnificent pumpkin that looked like a little chair. So we did that too.



The pumpkins are one of my favorite parts of the fair. Even though it’s Labor Day weekend every year and hot in those final summer days, this just shouts the beginning of fall for me.

Next up is some animals. We do things a bit backward because of the pumpkins. This year, after a few animals, we ate an early lunch and actually had a chance to sit down at a table since we were so early. Cavatelli, another fair tradition, was enjoyed by the kiddos and myself. I only got to have one meatball, haha.


Hanging out with the cows



There’s a little village in the back of the fair with old rehabbed buildings. Jameson really got into those this year. I got a kick out of pointing out an old telephone to him. It was so foreign to him, he didn’t understand. We looked at old carriages, and the old train was also a hit.

I really think he enjoyed this part more than the animals, but the rides were the biggest hit of all.


He did request this year to ride a couple rides, and selected motorcycles and the batmobile. He always has a serious face on rides, but he really enjoyed himself.



Our last stops are typically the tractors and old machines. Coraline fell asleep but woke after 30 minutes, so we knew it was time to wrap it up.



Nap time


There is a popcorn making machine, which we always have to stop at. And then it was time to go! The kids actually did fine in the car on the way home, but we were all pretty exhausted from the heat.


Aunt Holly actually arrived on Friday, and left on Monday, so we enjoyed some more time with her during our Labor Day weekend. I took off work on Friday and we went to Cedar Point. Here’s a couple fun shots of our day. It was pretty fun to enjoy a day child-free (and work-free). We were there almost open to close, so it was a rough wake up the next morning for sure!

The rest of our weekend was quite a bit more relaxed, including a little campout for Jameson and Brian in the backyard, friends, and hanging around the house.

Fun day with Holly!

Wooden coaster

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Visit to Grampi’s (Part 2)

On Tuesday, Coraline and I left Jameson with Meemaw and Grandpa. After lunch, they went to the Children’s Museum, where Grandpa got to be a big kid again himself.




Wednesday, Jameson was up earlier! After walking the dogs and watching the neighbor’s yard getting cut, they went to see the airplanes at the Air Force Museum. Jameson has been there before; he’s all boy and loves seeing the airplanes.


Thursday, they went to another park, but only for a short while since Jameson was exhausted. He was on the go the entire time he was there!


On Friday, his last day there, they went back to the splash park we went to with Marky. Mostly, Jameson just wanted to play on that playground there. In particular, he loves the rolling slide.

Jameson ran through the sprinkler, watered gardens, and took the dogs on a walk almost every day. We also got to speak with him each night on Facetime, though he got shier as the days went on and stopped talking as much. I think he was exhausted!


But the best part of every day was probably the squirt guns they bought. Everyday, there was a water fight! Jameson even got to bring them home, which was thrilling. Jameson stole Meemaw’s gun while she was taking photos and got Grandpa with two at once!





Meemaw brought Jameson home Friday evening, and Saturday she stayed with us to go to the farmers market and swimming lessons. We’ve had such a fun filled summer that Jameson asks nearly everyday if someone is “coming over”. He’s a lucky little boy to have so much family and friends surrounding him.

Now, maybe next year, we can arrange to make this a longer visit and trade off another kid too!? Haha!

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Visit to Grampi’s

A couple weeks ago, Jameson was able to spend nearly a week with his Meemaw and Grandpa. Coraline and I joined for a few days, and then left Jameson for his first visit by himself. He did great, and we were able to Facetime with him every night. He was so shy talking with us by the end, which was funny.

My friend whose father recently passed away was in town, and we were able to get together with her Saturday night after arriving. I brought the kiddos over for dinner, and then returned after bedtime to spend some more time with everyone.

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Coraline is the only one of 3 similarly aged little girls who isn’t walking, but they were all so cute together. She devoured her meal including pizza and hot dog!

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Jameson loved seeing his friend Marky again. He remembered him from his last visit home, so they were on familiar territory right away. There were other children there he didn’t really know yet, so after Marky left to spend the night at his grandma’s, Jameson occupied himself for the most part with Marky’s toys.

After I returned sans children, we walked over from Katie’s house to Tracy’s new house, very close by. I saw my chinchilla’s (the late Sir Chewy’s) parents, both alive and well! Carl and Chloe.

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We spent a lot of time outdoors, and it was nice this visit that Coraline was not sick. It seemed as if she was always dealing with a cold, earache or illness when we visited! Coraline loved hanging out on the deck in the shade, playing with the balls. Jameson loved the little ball we brought too, which was small enough to also play on the deck.






Jameson got to help participate in daily activities like walking the dogs, watering the garden…



…And also finding toads stuck in the window wells. He and Grandpa saved 4 toads in one day!


Our visit included a trip to the local splash park on Monday, new since I was a kid. Jameson was very uncertain at first, preferring the traditional playground there instead. Marky helped convince him to play in the water.

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Boys will be boys!

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We enjoyed more playground visits, walking dogs and racing while I visited! But I will save more of that for a follow up post on Jameson’s activities at Meemaw and Grandpa’s house by himself.

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Coraline decided she likes drinking from cups (or really just doing anything that we’re doing)! Alas, still only water from said cups. Anti-juice, anti-milk. This girl is picky!

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She tried to get into trouble, as she has recently learned how to climb, stairs and boxes. She wasn’t too happy once she was stuck on top of the box, though!



She also loved feeding the dogs. She likes to try and feed Sasha at home, though mostly from her highchair where Sasha is ready to eat what she drops. The dogs at Meemaw’s house are at eye-level though, and Coraline just wanted to feed Shiloh like crazy.

Her big word of the week was “no” as she repeated what she heard over and over again (said to the dogs and to herself!) I loved how she stretches the nnnnnnnn for nnnnnnnnno.


Mayzie though is more mellow in her old age, going a little deaf and blind. She mostly stayed out of the way for the new almost-toddler.

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One of the most entertaining events was Jameson’s introduction of calling Grandpa “Grampi” once, which quickly evolved into a running joke about Grampi being Grampi (like Grumpy, but better). Jameson assured us that we should actually be calling him Grandpa, but I think Jameson is now fighting a losing battle. Grampi is here to stay.


After having been there a few days and getting reacclimated to the house, Jameson was great when I went to leave. He insisted on helping or watching the final packing (I did as much as I could the night before and just had to load the car) and transferring his car seat.

Helpfully, he’s had a few sleepovers at Aunt Melissa’s house recently, and his friend Lily just spent a week at her grandma’s house, so we talked about those things a little and focused on all the fun things he was going to do. It turned out quite anticlimactic when I actually left. I did love his unprompted “I love you Mommy” during our goodbyes, and the “I’m going to miss you Mommy” he said a couple days beforehand. Such a sweet little man!

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Father’s Day


For Father’s Day this year, after strawberry picking in the morning, we had a Father’s Day cookout (which seems to be our usual get together). We ate inside though because it was so hot out!



We invited Brian’s parents and sister over and put up a bouncer for the kids.

We had a few “races” through the bouncer, and Jameson had to help Aunt Melissa get out.


Jameson threw a few water balloons, though we opted not to get drenched with the water bouncer or sprinkler that day. This is his sly grin face, as he’s approaching me to get my feet. (Luckily, just my feet)



Coraline enjoyed splashing in the pool, though we didn’t put her all the way in.




The men put a tarp over the bouncer to help prevent it from getting too hot. It worked pretty well!



Coraline loved the obstacle course bouncer and can crawl through the entire thing (going around the sides of things she can’t yet get over). Her favorite  part is the slide!





She was so proud of herself, every single time, with her wide wrinkly nose grins. It was a great day spent with family, the kind you wish you could have every weekend. But summer is in full swing and there is more fun to come!

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Brian’s Birthday

Brian’s birthday seems to consistently have such perfect weather. It’s always right around Memorial Day, and so we tend to celebrate with cookouts with our family and friends!

This year, we went to grandma and poppa’s house, and were surprised to see that his cousin Gabrielle and her son Griffin as well as his Uncle Mike were all there to celebrate with us too!




Griffin gets along so well with younger kids, and played with Jameson almost non-stop while we were there. They played ball and catch and tackle and cars… “boy” things.


Coraline plays ball fine herself too, I should add!


After our rib dinner (so. good.), we went back outside to play. It was beautiful outside!




Aunt Melissa and Gabrielle tried to get Jameson to roll down the backyard hill with them, but he couldn’t be persuaded to let go. He did do a little fake roll for a second but that’s it!




I made Brian’s cake from scratch from the same recipe I made Coraline’s first birthday cake as well, but this time I made it with a peanut butter filling. It was very peanut-buttery, so that was perfect for Brian. It was good, but not my best effort! I had a difficult time getting the filling right (too much peanut butter) and the cake itself was a little… broken.

But, all’s well that tastes well!


For the record, Coraline tasted a bit more of this cake than her own. We’ll turn her into a cake eater yet!

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Mother’s Summer Day


I usually try to get a photo of me with the kids on Mother’s Day, but it didn’t happen this year. Well, I did get this one of Jameson and I which is great, but Coraline was less-than-cooperative. She certainly doesn’t want to sit still!


I did, however, take a few thousand photos of her in this little pink outfit. We recently got a lot of new-to-us clothes from our neighbor, and this outfit is my favorite. We were so lucky to have such a warm, beautiful Mother’s Day after all the rainy and cooler days we had and had again since.



Jameson putting on his rainboots, a testament to how rainy it’s been. It’s only muddy in a few areas of the backyard, thankfully! While Coraline napped, I actually did mulching on Mother’s Day, so I was dirty enough myself without the addition of mud.


A big treat for Jameson is to ride on daddy’s lawnmower while he mows. Brian didn’t actually mow this day, they just rode around, but Coraline gave me a big grin when she passed, so I think she liked her first ride!



We played outside with the cars, tricyles, and scooters. We even got out the bubbles! It may as well have been summer.




I was a little frustrated that this shot didn’t come out in focus, but I worked on it for a bit to create a more artistic looking blur rather than simply out of focus so I could keep the moment. Sasha doesn’t often stay still for Coraline because she tries to poke at her: face, paws, nose, anything she can reach.



Later, Aunt Melissa and Grandma and Poppa came over as well, which meant that I got to relax for a bit after my hard day of mulching and laundry! Happy Mother’s Day to me 🙂



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