Sunday, November 18, 2012

Veteran's Day

Dear Lily and Cole,
We had quite the experience last Friday. It doesn’t mean anything to you now, but someday it will mean a lot. You’ll probably tell your children about it. You’d better. In fact, I insist.

Last Friday, your Great Papa (my grandpa, Dr. Jack Rowlett), who is now 91 years old, came to Lily’s school’s Veteran’s Day Assembly. Sweet Nanci, your cousin Jack’s wife and Great Papa’s main caregiver, drove him up to our house. He had a green notebook in hand. In that green notebook included pictures of him from the war (boy, such a handsome young man he was!), his ration card, important war papers and more. Here are some pics:

2nd row, dark shirt. He is the one on the slight right (the one without a smile on his face). 

Lily and Grandma Janie looking through the green notebook that Nanci and Grandpa created for the assembly.

Several Veterans came up to Grandpa after the assembly to thank him. It was very emotional for him.
Today Great Papa is ok. Living ninety-one years in the same body…well, he isn’t what he used to be. Dr. Jack Rowlett practiced medicine (family practice) Paola, KS for 47 years. For most of this time, he was only one of two doctors in town. He has delivered hundreds of babies, and has performed countless surgeries. He is incredibly well respected and sort of a “celebrity” in this small town. And in his old age, this tough “class clown” man, who sings inappropriate songs from war days and keeps people in stitches so easily, has become a big giant softie who cries easily. He is still quick witted and sharp, and his old age has just made him a little less aware of his surroundings. Yet we are still very much aware of him. Of his larger-than-life existence. Of his critical importance in our upbringing, and therefore his continued influence on our daily lives. 

I feel so blessed for all of the trips that Grandpa and Nanci take to "the city." We get to grab lunch and chat. 
Grandpa's 90th birthday party at his house. Most of the family, but we miss Sadie, Amelia and Crayton. 
Yet this Veteran’s Day, the focus was not on how influential he has been in our lives, but rather on his dedication to America and his heroism shown in World War II.

We had no idea what to expect. We heard it was a Veteran’s Day Assembly and that Lily could invite a Veteran.  I called Grandpa to ask and he seemed excited. We thought it would be a boring assembly. Quite the contrary. Two hours, many tears from all of us (except the kids, who really were bored) and a medal around Grandpa’s neck, the assembly turned out to be a day I’ll never forget.

Grandpa was too weak to stand in the long line of the Veterans and their sweet elementary school relatives. A thoughtful employee asked if Grandpa could somehow still introduce himself, as it was obvious there were very few World War II Vets there (turns out there were 3). Grandpa was the very last Vet to be “introduced.” Grandma Janie was going to introduce him from our seats, but when we realized the microphone had a wire and couldn’t reach to the back of the audience. Mom has a broken foot and is using a walker, so she couldn’t just run up to the front. I ended up introducing him (which is a shame because mom would have been great telling his story with date facts, etc.). I simply said “Lily Unruh, kindergartener, has brought her great papa here today. Dr. Jack Rowlett served in World War II.” Man – there were SO many things I wish I would have said like:
  •     we are so honored he is here
  •     he is 91 years old
  •     he served as a pilot

Yet I was pretty proud of myself because I made it through this announcement without crying. Who knew I would be a sobbing mess about 45 seconds after his introduction. Here is why:

As I was handing the microphone back over to the principal, the crowd of 700 erupted in applause. I suppose it was a combination of Grandpa being the last one,  but I believe it was also because he was a World War II Vet. I lock eyes with my barely standing, supported by a cane Grandpa…and he is sobbing. He was so touched by the applause given to him. And this overwhelming sense of pride came over me. I am proud of Grandpa. For his heroism in the War, for taking care of his patients for almost half of a century, for being a dedicated family man. But what really struck me in that moment was my pride for a simple thing – I was so proud that he was there with us on that day, in that school auditorium.

Lily and Cole – our time left with Great Papa might be dwindling. Even if you don’t remember this assembly, I want you to know that he showed up. He has a terrible back and a lot of pain in his legs. He was weak that day. But he came. For you. You two – my little darlings – are lucky sons of bitches for having him as your Great Papa.

I just love this picture of Grandpa and Cole. 

And then here too - Cole is so much bigger but still sitting in his lap. 
During our "Applebees days" when kids, mom and I would head to Paola to pick up Grandpa and he would take us out to lunch. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012


The only thing constant these days is change. With Lily starting Kindergarten, our life seems to have entered into mach speed territory. She is learning new songs, new words, new ideas. Her first week of school she told me, "Mom, I went to the library today. No, Mom, really - not the library we always go to. Mom - there is a library IN THE SCHOOL!"

I pick her up from school and everyday she talks my ear off about her day. She has never been that way before. We are meeting so many new people each and everyday. I oftentimes feel like I am being swung around on the end of a rope...finding myself in new situations and not knowing what to do or what the outcome might be. Inside, we are all growing. Getting stronger. Life is pretty unique right now. It is pretty darn cool actually.

Buddy started preschool recently. He. Loves. It. He is my superhero-loving guy. Pretty happy-go-lucky kid who doesn't like to nap anymore, so that makes him slightly less happy-go-lucky around the 5 o'clock hour.

I experienced something brand-new last weekend. Lily Cole Designs and Dishable Designs paired together and got a booth at the Overland Park Fall Festival.

We had a giant pink tent and we somehow got lucky enough to be on a corner.

The day was beautiful. Just perfect. And it brought out so many people. I was overwhelmed with the number of friends of family who came out. My day felt like a giant ball of support, love and colorful surroundings. Many of my moments involved surprise and elation when I'd recognize my sweet friend's face walking up to see me.

Doing this craft fair ignited my passion to make beautiful things. From scratch. I rarely allow myself this opportunity anymore because I always seem to have more important things to do...laundry, dishwasher unload, play with kids, fill existing orders, but for this...well I just HAD to stock my booth, right? I did. And I loved every minute of creating each item.

Scalloped-cut fabric banners for kids rooms or party decor. 

Kitchen towels with vintage ribbon trim. Full of color, of course. Wouldn't have it any other way. 

And just a few images of onesies. Makes me wish I had a little baby again. Sort of. Not really. 

Need to go to bed. Sitting here with "Long Island Medium" on while typing this. I have never watched it before but it is really moving. 

I have so much more I could blog about. Just need to move it up my priority list. Have a great rest of the week everyone. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Rad friends

See, I am so lucky because I have these really rad friends who invite us to do these unique and fun activities. I mean, the kind of activities that my kids will talk about for days. Butterfly exhibit? Had no idea that existed. Hayrack ride at Heritage Park with hot dogs and s'mores over a fire afterward? Holy great idea. Roller skating? Yep, been there a million times growing up but never considered it for my kids. Well thank you AMY because we love it all. And we are blessed to be invited. On Wednesday, we went to Skate City (formerly Skateland South). I have spent many a Friday night here in my middle school days. Never imagined I'd be skating my little chicklins around and watching them giggle, dance and sweat all at the same time.

High school friends - coming back here felt like being a the Twilight Zone. It looks exactly the same. Yet, back then I thought it was so much bigger.

Remember those round sitting benches?

Walkers equals much less frustration for the kids. Walkers equals independence.

Apparently my children get a hold of my iPhone a lot and do crazy things like make silly faces and take  photo booth pictures. I find these in my photo stream and have to laugh.

Cole is really into Where's Waldo books right now. He knows where every Waldo is already yet he is proud of himself for "finding" it each time. Then I throw a wrench into things and tell him to find the Wizard and it slows him down a little.

Today was Lily's first soccer game. Saturday morning. 8 AM. As we walked in, we said "and so it begins. The world of weekend sports for our kids." We have heard about this. We know that life gets crazy with practices, games, new jerseys, meeting new friends, etc. It is starting. And I think we will love it.

Twenty-one days ago Lily started begging me for a lego set - this one to be exact.

We spent 21 days "earning" it by her doing extra chores, being extra considerate, helping out her brother, etc. We marked the calendar and every morning she counted down the number of days until she got her set. We got it today. We came home at 11 am and she worked on it until 4:30. She said she "didn't have time" to eat lunch so we forced her to eat a granola bar at 1 pm. With a lot of help from her daddy, she finished it. All.

She completely amazes me. My brain doesn't work the way hers and Daddy's works. Give me instructions on how to put something and I can't get through step 4 without needing to step away to clear my head.

Hilarious thing: Lily flaps her arms and legs when she gets excited. I kept hearing pounding on her floor all afternoon, knowing full well that those arms and legs were a flappin'. I'll be so sad when that trait of hers goes away.

As far as Lily Cole Designs, embroidery has been keeping me busy. Here are 2 orders I just finished last week. I absolutely adore this child's drawings. It is such a beautiful thing to see what their little hands create.

And a NEW illustration! Zac Brown Band is our fave band and this line (from Highway 20 Ride) has always touched me. There is no statement that better describes how I feel about my little family. I want to hang this in both kids' rooms and our bedroom. I'm sure I won't, but I would. I'm crazy like that.

And some other exciting & amazing opportunities for Lily Cole Designs are forming - details to come.
Happy rest of weekend everyone! Grandparents are coming tomorrow and we can't wait!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


I have felt an undercurrent of anxiety for the past several days in anticipation of the big day - Lily's first day of Kindergarten. I knew Lily would likely rock it. And she did. A few tears from me. A few from Lily. Yet all in all, we survived. And I think she will LOVE Kindergarten. I only have a few minutes to post a few pictures, so here they are.

We took Grandma Janie to her Orthopedic appointment this morning and met Great Papa and Nanci there. I love that my 91 year old grandpa can still hold Cole on his lap.

Mom: "Lily, whatever you do, don't smile." Usually works. Ate at Subway right before first day of Kindergarten.

Mom: "Lily can we put the backpack next to you for the picture?"
Lily: "No mom, I want to sit on the backpack."

Lily was thinking "Ok, but you aren't going to leave, right?" Tears just after this was taken. But they only lasted a minute. Brave girl.

And this was Lily's first soccer practice with her elementary school kindergarten team last night.

Gotta run. Hope all the other kiddos did great today - from my friends it sounds like all went well. Big day!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Treasure this...

I haven't been this excited about a new product for a while. This idea came to me while brainstorming Father's Day gifts for my dad. I needed something special...I mean, really special...that he would treasure. And something that is READY for him to put up. I didn't want anything he needed to buy a frame for. Finally, I wanted something that was sentimental from his grandchildren. So...I asked my kids "what would you like to say to Papa Chip for Father's Day?" I am sure there are many other creative questions that would yield cooler answers. They said "we love you Papa Chip." So I asked Lily to write it down. She did. And I adore her little 5 year old handwriting. The less perfect, the better. Give me an "E" that is 10 inches tall or give me backwards letters that all run together. I took the words she wrote and embroidered them onto a fabric color that is one of my dad's favorite colors and I kept it in the rustic little wooden embroidery hoop.

It was also special to write a little handwritten message on the hoop.

Since then, I've had the pleasure of making a few more:

My dear friend's daughter just wrote this to her mama one day and I knew right away it just had to be embroidered as a keepsake.

And this is a wee tiny one (4 inch hoop; others are 6 inch hoops) that we made for Great Grandma Kasey's birthday.

So so excited that these are finally listed in my Etsy shop here:

My goal is to offer an affordable gift that the recipient will truly treasure. Husbands/fathers - this would be so incredible for your wife's birthday, or for Mother's Day. It would be so special for Grandmas and Grandpas too. Ok, I hate the sales pitch nonsense - not at all why I do this - so I'm stopping now. I'm just so excited about the idea of it that I can't contain myself. ;-)

Other new products that will soon be launching include personalized thank you cards for kids. Here are some examples:

These can be printed as flat or folded cards, 4 by 6 or 5 by 7. As always, personalization, customization and changes can be made at no extra cost. 

I am in the process of working on new designs for girls...and I have mocked up mermaids and princesses. I welcome any ideas and I LOVE custom work, so send ideas my way!

Additionally, lately several customers have sought out the "you are my sunshine" print as an invitation to their daughter's birthday party. Cute!

Finally, a new set of prints was added to the shop recently. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - with a superhero. Nobody can accuse me of not incorporating my daily life into my art. ;-)

Of course, the superhero will be customized to the little boy in your life. ;-) Here is my little superhero...who always wants to fly to the moon.

Signing off. Happy week everyone!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lots of little things

We are back from our heavenly vacation in San Diego. So beautiful. So relaxing. We missed the kids terribly, but they were happy as clams at their cousins.

We transferred back to reality at mach speed.

I was so happy to get back to this goofball.

And this sweet little angel.

As we speak, I am throwing Lily and Cole's Keen shoes in the freezer. I just squirted lemons on them. Then I'm putting them in a freezer bag and into the freezer...hoping this will make the sweaty smell go away. Just talked to Nordstrom on the phone and this is what they said to do. I'll let you know how it turns out. And if others have tried and true tricks, I'd love to know what works.

Update to this: it did NOT work. The lemon juice and freezer helped slightly, but the gross feet smell was still there. Still curious as to what works. ;-(

I heart Pinterest. I also heart butter mints. Have you ever made homemade butter mints? I hadn't. Yet now I highly recommend doing this. Kids loved helping too.

So easy. And highly addictive. Use food coloring and serve at a baby shower.

Another great project we tried from Pinterest is this headband made from old t-shirts. I actually made a bracelet out of a weathered purple t-shirt that had a hole in it. And now that I know how to do a 5 strand braid, I am constantly trying to find things around the house that I can braid. It is SO easy.

My darling sweet friends gave me this coffee cup for my birthday (from Anthropologie) and I am a little bit obsessive about it. It MUST be clean every morning for my coffee. I feel pretty chic drinking from it, especially because I am a new coffee drinker, but also because I've never had a coffee cup other than a plain white boring thing. Thanks friends - you know me so so well.

Have a great weekend!