Family, Love Letters

Love Letter: Golden Anniversary

I talk about my Ego grandparents, known as Grampy and Grammy, every now and then on my blog, but I don’t know if they have ever been properly introduced.

My Grampy, Dave, is a retired high school counselor, principal and boy’s basketball coach. He served in the Army, working in the psych ward in the hospital at Fort Ord, California, during the Vietnam War. He is the ultimate sports fan. He goes to baseball spring training every year, has been a Portland Trailblazers season ticket holder since 1973 and over the years has done a lot of sports radio commentary (and those are just a few of the sports related notes). He also loves Benjamin Franklin, ice cream and pushing people’s buttons.

My Grammy, Gloria (or “Go” as my Grampy calls her), is an artist and florist, and last year we celebrated the 30 year anniversary of her store, Cottage Flowers, that my mom now owns. She loves reading, coffee, painting and though my Grampy is always the one singing, she is the one with the beautiful voice.

Together they like to keep their hands busy with yard work and projects. They are extensive travelers, spending the warm months of the year mostly up at our family cabin and the rest of the year traveling all over the U.S. and the world. They have a big heart for others, going on mission trips and running a home for girls early on in their marriage.

They have 3 children and 3 grandchildren, and though I’ve shared above that they have quite the colorful life, I know that they would say that their favorite adventure is their family.

And today they are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

My relationship with my grandparents is really special. With a family business and growing up down the street from them, they were involved in Janci and I’s life in every possible way. Growing up, they helped send us to camps and activities, and were at every sports event, dance recital and county fair show. When Janci showed a real interest and talent for golf, Grampy became her main cheerleader, and it wasn’t just enough to come to my FFA events — they asked questions until they understood the contests and topics. They’ve always been good at asking questions, because for them its not enough to just be present. If something is important to their kids and grandkids, then its important and interesting to them. When I was a student at K-State, they made sure I always had season football and basketball tickets, and in return Grampy became a loyal fan so we could always discuss the game. Grammy was the one who instilled a love for reading and creativity in me, which you could really say is what partially helped sparked my interest in communications early on. When I accepted my current job and needed to make the move from Kansas to Virginia really quickly, they cut a vacation they had planned short so they could fly to Kansas to help me pack up and make the long drive. Last year, when my job took me to Thailand, they didn’t think twice about joining me afterward for an adventure. Those are just a few of the many ways they’ve have impacted and been involved in my life, and that doesn’t even begin to mention the things that the rest of my family and others would add.

They’ve spent 50 years of marriage investing in the people, dreams and things that are important them. In that time, I’m sure there have been many ups and downs, but they’ve worked hard — with humility, kindness and love — and its truly amazing to think about the family and legacy they’ve built because of that. So here’s my little love letter to them.


Dear Grampy and Grammy,

I often have to remind myself that not everyone has grandparents like you. Not everyone gets to share every aspect of their life with their grandparents and share the kind of memories we do.  Not everyone gets the extra cheerleaders and the second set of “cool” parents. And because of that, not everyone gets to talk like we do, and share and learn together like we do.

You’ve never been the stereotypical sweet elderly grandparents and that’s OK. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but at this point, I can’t imagine it any differently. I’ve gotten used to explaining to others that my grandparents are the definition of being “young at heart” and that at the end of the day, they are always the ones with more energy left then the rest of us.

Because of you, Janci and I had two extra constant voices telling us we could go anywhere and be anything that we wanted to be. Because of Grampy, I yell shamelessly loud at sporting events and know that my shoes laces should never come untied. Because of him, I am also interested in the world happening around me, and I know the importance of showing up and investing in it. Because of Grammy, I have seen what it means to be independent and chase a dream, when to be strong and when to have a gentler touch. Because of her, I also have an eye for creativity and a love for a good story.

Because of the two of you, I know there is a time to put your head down and work hard, and there is a time to relax and enjoy the fresh mountain air. Because of you, I know that one should always make room for laughter and for grace. And because of you, I know that family is the most important thing we have.

I will never tire of going on adventures together, never tire at laughing at how you poke at each other and never tire of learning how to live well and love others from you.

50 years is truly something to celebrate, and I am so proud to be your granddaughter. Anyone who has ever had the privilege of knowing you, knows how lucky Janci, Sawyer and I are.

I love you two so much and can’t wait for our next adventure together. Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary


Note: The pictures make a huge jump from some old fun ones that they were tagged in on Facebook, to what is in my own files. 🙂

Family, Love Letters, Oregon

Love Letter: To My Family’s Flower Shop on its 30th Anniversary

When I was in high school, we hosted a young woman who was serving as an Oregon State FFA Officer at our house and she asked my Mom a lot of questions about our family-owned flower shop. To one of the questions, my Mom explained that outside of the holiday season, Valentine’s Day and the week of Mother’s Day, it was weddings and funerals that led the core of our floral business. At the time I remembered feeling a bit embarrassed and uncomfortable that my Mom said that, but the guest saw a bit of humor in my Mom’s matter-of-fact answer, and a few days later we received a thank you card that was signed off with “Wishing you many weddings and funerals.”

Looking back, now it makes me laugh and for some reason that story has always stuck with me. When you think about it, owning and working in a flower shop, really means that you get a front row seat to helping people commemorate and celebrate the milestones and memories that make up their story. From new babies, sweet sixteen’s, get well soon’s, high school proms, graduations, holidays, job promotions, break-ups — and yes, weddings and funerals — we get to be a part of it all. And in a small town, where we have generations of families, that carries even more significance.

This year we are celebrating my family’s flower and gift shop, Cottage Flowers, which my grandparents bought 30 years ago and now my Mom owns. I’ve always told people that I grew up in my family’s flower shop — that it was our home base more than any house we lived in ever was. Sure, that might be a bit of an unconventional way to grow up but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. If anything, “the flower shop,” which is how we refer to it, is another member of our family.

So, to the flower shop, this love letter is for you:

I didn’t know the very first location on Main Street, but I do remember the location at the Plaza very well. I remember playing in the “silk garden” around the indoor gazebo where we were allowed to make a bit more of a mess. I remember holding tea parties with the glassware and stuffed animals, making Italian sodas when we had a cafe counter and the taste of the carbonated water when you accidentally chose it instead of regular water or Sprite. I remember “making arrangements” with the leftover stems in the trash, my hands going numb from filling water picks and when people camped outside the store for the newest Beanie Babies to arrive. I remember my mom’s back office where I spent every sick day away from school and that the dim back room where we cleaned flowers was scary.

I remember when we moved the store across town to the old armory when I was 10 (I think?) and the true labor of love it was to flip. I will forever remember having to climb along the rafters in the ceiling to thread some wiring for Grampy and being told to “pretend the spiders aren’t there.” I both loved and hated the Event Center that we opened for many years. I loved the big open space to play when it was empty and seeing so many weddings and parties come together there, but I also hated setting up tables that were much bigger than me and being woken up early on Saturday mornings because the wedding from the night before didn’t properly clean up and there would be anxious people waiting to set up for the next one. I can almost remember the exact amount of steps it took to get from the front counter to the back loading dock and can vividly remember the well-crafted process I had for washing hundreds of folding chairs with the pressure washer machine.

As I got older and officially started earning a paycheck, it’s where I learned how to count back change, talk professionally on the phone and that the customer is always right. It taught me how to problem solve, plan a project and manage my time. I remember the exact smell of Comet from cleaning buckets, the sound of the wire service when an order was coming through, the fastest way to clean roses without getting poked by a thorn, being pulled out of school to work on Valentine’s Day and judging people’s ribbon color choices for their prom corsage and boutonniere. Though after you’ve made a few dozen boring ones in a single day, the crazy ones are a welcome change.

The flower shop grew my curiosity and love for telling stories. Every time I wrote a card for someone who’s order I took over the phone, I wandered, how did the woman receiving flowers on her 50th wedding anniversary first meet her husband? Who will this new baby girl that is receiving balloons grow up to be? Why is he sending her an arrangement with a card that says he’s sorry?

It fueled my creativity in a way you couldn’t bottle up and recreate. Yes, I probably inherited the creative gene from my Mom and Grammy, but it also comes from countless hours of watching them work, criticize their own work and somehow make the customer happy on those Sunday afternoons when all that was left in the cooler is three colors of carnations.

It showed me what it means to be a part of a community and the reward of pouring back into your local economy. I mean, I understood the impact of “shopping local” before the hipsters even made a big deal about it.

It gave me examples of what strong, entrepreneurial women can be. I’ve seen them both succeed and take the loss, embrace change, make hard decisions and challenge themselves to see goals through to fruition. Even with their own careers, the men in my family have certainly always played an important role, but celebrating this anniversary is also a celebration of the two women who have put their heart and soul into building a successful business. 

There have been many characters over the years that have played a big part in the flower shop’s story. Whether they only worked for us for a short while or for over a decade, so many of our employees have become a part of our extended family. And to our customers who trust us with their memories, thank you for sharing your lives, challenging our creativity and of course, keeping our doors open.

Most importantly, I truly believe the flower shop is why my family is so close. Sure, mixing business with family can be challenging and definitely not for everyone, but for us it somehow works.

Thank you for the random skills I hardly use like making bows, and the practical lessons I use everyday in my own chosen career. Thank you for showing me what hard work and empathy look like. Thank you for teaching me that love, heartbreak, hope and kindness come in all shapes and sizes.

And thank you, for the privilege of that front row seat.

Love, Mandy

P.S. I found a folder of photos from the flower shop I took my first Christmas home after I got my DSLR camera in 2015, and I don’t think I’ve ever shared until now. So here is a little behind the scenes!



Family, Love Letters

Love Letter: Dear Sawyer June

Sawyer June Ego
7.13.17 at 2:09 p.m.
6 lbs 10 oz

Dear Sawyer June,

We’ve been waiting for you for a long time. No, not just these last 9 months, but 23-ish years to be exact. That’s how long its been since there has been a new baby in this part of the family, so Janci and I have been waiting all of that time to have an Ego cousin. And to be honest, Janci was long overdue to give up the “baby of the family” title.

Don’t get me wrong, having our grandparents all to ourselves while growing up down the street from them was actually pretty great. As far as grandparents go, our Grammy and Grampy are one of a kind and now it’s your turn to get spoiled by them. And trust me, they are pretty great at that too.

This family you were born into is kind of crazy. It’s been said that we should have our own sitcom. We are a bit loud and a bit sarcastic, so you’ll need some thick skin to survive. But our love for one another is just as big so it balances out at the end of the day.

Your daddy was like a big brother to me, instead of an uncle. He let me annoyingly tag along and my Barbies to co-exist with his Legos. He taught me to geek out over movies and to have a sense of adventure. I’m pretty sure you will have seen Star Wars no less than 100 times by the time you are 5. I hope that someday you will let my own kids tag along without too much fuss. And your mama, well she has been the perfect balance to all our chaos and I was so happy when she became a part of our family.

You are already so loved little girl and the fact that I don’t get to hold you for another 3 weeks is making me more homesick than I ever have been before.

You’ll learn quickly that family is the most important thing we have and we are so glad that you joined ours.

Love, Mandy


Janci’s College Graduation

I figured I should probably go ahead and get this blog post up before the end of another week came up…

(I’m in the process of moving to a new apartment and getting ready for a work trip, so things are a little busy around here.)

But it was important for me to take the time to celebrate one of my favorite people. Graduating college is no small feat, and my sister did it with quite a bit to be proud of.

Janci grad announcement

She was on the Dean’s list almost every semester and recognized with the Outstanding Graduate Award for her major. On top of that she was a student-athlete, finishing her final season this spring as a 2nd Team All-Conference player, an Academic All-Conference student athlete and with a conference regular season team championship. She was also given the Champion of Character Award at the conference championship tournament.


I have always admired Janci for her tenacity. As much we try, there are a lot of new experiences and challenges that you can’t quite prepare for in college, but Janci had more focus and determination than most people I know. And most importantly, she found what she is passionate about, which can be the hardest part. I am so proud of all of her hard work and of the person she became along the way. Even though I keep moving further away from home, somehow we have grown closer as sisters and now best friends.

I was pretty disappointed that it didn’t work out for me to there in person to help celebrate her with the rest of my family, but thankfully they flooded my text message inbox with pictures to make me feel like I was there.

Congratulations Jancz!
I love you~


My sister and our parents.





Mom and Janci.







With our Aunt Diane.




With our Grampy and Grammy.


With her roommate and teammate Karina.

Life at Random

Loves + Hates

As I’ve ventured back into blogging, I’ve wondered whether or not I should engage with other bloggers. I blog primarily because I really like to write and share/scrapbook my life with my friends and family who enjoy keeping up with me. So there was never a negative thought towards engaging (because that is a huge part of blogging) but it just was never my original purpose to invest in. However things change and I went back to a mantra that has been big for me in 2015… Why Not?

So I’ve slowly started to reach out and engage with others, and so far I’m glad I have. Obviously its taking me a while to get used to the swing of things because it took me three weeks to notice that Kylie tagged me in her post last month about ten things she loves and hates. (BTW Thanks Kylie!)

Well, I LOVE list making so if this is what engaging with others looks like, then count me in! I will say though, I struggled a bit writing this because I know at least one of my college roommates will read this and would immediately call me out for not listing all of the weird things I have really strong feelings about, so in other words, this post should instead be titled “Owning the Crazy.”


1. K-State Gameday
 I could go on for days about why I love sports, but there are few things that parallel my love for K-State Gamedays. If you tell me it’s just a football game, we can’t be friends. It’s tailgating, kegs and eggs, bean toss games, going to the Ville afterward and friends. It’s the sea of purple, Snyder’s pre-game playlist, traditions, doing the Wabash and tearing up every time I hear this song…

I’ve said before that my perfect last day on earth includes a K-State Gameday and I mean it.
I’m going to miss my first Family Reunion (opening game) since I became a Kansas State Wildcat six years ago….and I will definitely be a little extra homesick for Kansas that day.

2. Showers
This is what my college roommates would have called me out on for not including, partially because I didn’t realize it was something I LOVED until I lived with them and vocalized it to the point that it became a joke. But seriously though, I know it sounds weird, but I just love a long, really hot shower before bed (at night because I have curly hair.) And it must not be just an adult-me thing because I’m pretty I haven’t had a bath since before I was young enough to remember. Ok, now that we are bordering the TMI line…
3. Caffeine
To know me, is to know how much I LOVE coffee and Diet Coke.
coffee 1 coffee2 coffee3
PEOPLE, I have a Pinterest board just for Caffeine.
I could keep going for days.

4. Live Concerts
In the same way that I could write multiple lists and blog posts about sports, I could about music. My tastes stretch far and wide to encompass a pretty unique influence of people, places and experiences. But the true test and the best way to experience music is live, whether its in a huge stadium or a college bar. I could never pick a favorite genre, artist or song, and at this point I couldn’t pick a favorite concert…I’ve been to A LOT…my college budget was basically built around them. So far my favorite venue is Starlight Theatre (an outdoor amphitheater in Kansas City,) and Red Rocks is at the top of my bucket list.

5. Words
Ironically, this is usually hard for me to explain.
They are one of the few things that continue day in and day out to challenge, fascinate and surprise me.
I believe words are a simple art medium, like paint or music notes, but the strongest, most impactful tool that we have.
Language, Typography, speeches, prose, poetry, stories, scripture, quotes and lyrics… I love it all, so much so, that I’ve written a post about it before. Read HERE.

6. Chips & Salsa
I would eat them with every meal if I could.
Every. Single. Meal.
I did once, when I was in vacation in Cabo San Lucas.
It was fabulous.

7. Turquoise
I’m one of those people, whose favorite color is obnoxiously obvious at all times.
This is just my jewelry.

Then if we start branching out into the blue color family, it’s incorporated in some shade into every room’s theme in my home except for the kitchen and its my clothing neutral color.
Ironically, I really hate the song Blue (Da Ba Dee) by Eiffel 65.

8. 80’s Movies
In my past life I would have been in a John Hughes film.
I can quote Breakfast Club on command, Footloose is my anthem, I wanted to be Andi in Pretty in Pink and really, we shouldn’t get started on my love for Top Gun.
The music! The hair! The cheesiness!
Basically I’m saying if you stood outside my window with a boom box I’d fall in love with you forever.

9. Pigs
This is another one that my college roommates always found pretty amusing. I don’t expect you to understand, especially if your only reference is Charlotte’s Web. But when you grew up in agriculture and showing livestock, its different. I’ve always loved swine science. They are incredibly smart, cute and yes…great to eat. Honestly, my first job with the Kansas Pork Association was perfect for me.
 10. My Sister
 Okay, I know this one is kind of cliché to list, its usually assumed that most people love their family. And my Mom is now rolling her eyes because I’ll see Janci in just two days and it’s a guarantee that we’ll argue at least once. But I know people who genuinely can’t stand their siblings or will never understand them, and that just makes me so thankful for our friendship. She turned 21 this summer and I wrote about that HERE.

Other Things That I LOVE…
Flowers, giving presents, messy braided hair, mountains, watermelon, my Dad’s cooking,  fireworks and the 4th of July, weddings, babies, Grumpy Cat memes, taco trucks, western boots, Summer Shandy, basketball, agriculture, mason jars, reading, Criminal Minds, Gilmore Girls, Doctor Who…I’m sure I could go on.


1. Green beans
As an adult there are foods that I still don’t like but will eat anyways every now and then.
Except for green beans, I can’t even stand the smell of them.
My first semester in college I went home for a three day weekend with one of the girls who lived in my scholarship house. When we sat down with her family for dinner, everyone passed their plate to the Dad and he filled up your plate for you, which was totally fine except that he gave me green beans and right as I was about to say no thank you, the girl pipes up and says, “Amanda, my mom makes the best green beans!” It was traumatizing and at the end of the weekend I called my Mom to tell her, just so she would say she was proud of me.

2. Winter
This hate is multi-faceted…
I hate being cold, anything peppermint is gross and I’d rather dropkick the chipmunks than listen to them sing. Actually I dislike Christmas music in general, with a few very specific expectations, that can only be played between the day AFTER Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. I could write a whole other post just on the reasons why I hate snow, the static air drives me loony and I have this weird complex with cheesy Christmas anything. And did I mention that I hate being cold?  I promise there are a few things I do like about the season, but for the most part I wish we could skip it all together.

Unlike summer, SUMMER is fabulous and magical.

3. Balloons
 So if I had continued the list on things that I love I would have eventually written about flowers, mainly because my family are florists. But for as much love and nostalgia I have for flowers, but I feel the exact opposite about balloons. The helium gel stinks, tying them off makes my hands cramp and one can handle only so many popping noises. One time, one of the grade schools had ordered something like 500+ balloons because the kids had met their reading goals, so everyone was going to get to release one. To me that was the definition of pointless and wasteful. But yet I’m the one who got pulled out of school to blow them all up.

My Mom jokes that she’s going to decorate my future wedding with them.

 4. When People Act Dumb, or Speak and Write Incorrectly…On Purpose
I thought about making poor grammar one on this list, but decided it kind of a given considering my career, so I thought, “What actually gets on my nerves?”

There is a time and a place for shorthand and slang. We all make mistakes and no one should ever be made to feel belittled for what they genuinely don’t know or understand. But when people do it on purpose to manipulate a situation, be lazy or say “whatever, I don’t care.” NO. You are privileged to have an education. Please use it.

5. Masks
Think mascots, Halloween corn mazes and actors dressed up as animated characters.
Think about it. Grown adults putting on silly and usually oversized costumes that hide their identity whose primary purpose is to hug children. Ummm HELLO, why am I the only one who is bothered by this?!
Yes, it may be a bit irrational and no, I don’t have some traumatizing childhood experience, but if I can’t see your face I won’t trust you and seriously, DON’T TOUCH ME.

The fact that this picture exists is a big deal. #ididitforthetshirt polo

6.The Princess Bride (the movie)
Yet I’ve seen it at least 3 times…
Don’t try to reason with me, it’s a permanent hatred.

7. Laundry
Always have and always will.
The rest of my house will be organized and clean, but I will always have laundry, both dirty and clean piled on the floor. One of my apartments in college had a community laundry room that was literally across the lawn (and around the pool) from our door and I would have to bribe my roommates to go with me to help carry all the laundry I procrastinated on or just because I needed the motivation.

8. Shopping
OK, I don’t actually hate shopping, but it definitely doesn’t go into the LOVE category. I can be incredibly indecisive so it stresses me out. And crowded malls with overly aggressive sales people who aren’t actually helpful when you need them to be is just not how I want to spend my time. Growing up we had to shop in a order for back-to-school stuff. Dad went first so he could then wander off to the book store (he was a teacher), then me and then Jancz. Poor Mom, she could always tell by the look on my face that I was DONE.

9. “I Gotta A Feeling” by The Black Eyed-Peas
Not that I liked it at all to begin with, but every time I hear it, all I can hear is a specific someone’s annoying high-pitched, nasally voice screaming the lyrics.
I know that’s kind of mean, especially since I can’t sing at all either, but still…I just can’t handle it.
For good measure, the music video is also just as stupid.

10. Automated Telephone Services
The hours of my life that I’ve lost to automated telephone services.
I know they have a purpose, blah, blah, blah.
But I just want to talk to a real human being and not to have to push “1” 60 billion times just to realize that I’m in the wrong menu.
The only thing worse is when you do get a real person and then spend 7 hours over the course of two weeks trying to get things sorted out. (I’m looking at you Comcast.)

This was fun to write!
If you haven’t done a post like this before, join in!
im okay with my crazy


Linking up on “Thursday’s are for Thinking Out Loud” with Running with Spoons. 


Gonna Party Like We Just Turned 21

janci individual

Today this girl {finally} turns 21.
I know these days, a cheesy birthday post are a dime a dozen, but then again its not every day that your baby sister turns 21.

This is Janci L’Amour.
She’s sassy, silly and smart.
She loves all things pink, action movies, baking, country music, golf and is forever in search of the perfect taco.
She’s a hard working student-athlete and can ALWAYS make me laugh.
She is NOT a morning person and might be even more impatient than I am.
Oh, and she’s definitely a crazy cat lady in the making.
Growing up, our ages didn’t often align. Far enough in age to not be able to relate to each other, but close enough in age for us to not get along in the process. There was a time where I thought we could not be more different.
And in A LOT of ways we are still very different, but over time that age gap faded and we grew to be best friends.
I know I’m only a few years older, but I just feel so proud to have watched her grow up, doing things her own stubborn way and become someone who inspires me.
She’s the perfect sister, side kick and partner in crime.

Happy 21st Birthday Jancz!
I’m so glad that you get to spend it at the U.S. Open and be a part of something that you are so passion about. And I’m SO EXCITED to celebrate with you in LAS VEGAS in August!!
{Insert Sister of the Year Award HERE}

I love you, to the moon and back,

Friendship, Kansas

Throwback: Two Weddings and…Two Weeks

With wedding season officially in full swing I couldn’t help but reminisce about last year’s season. On this very day last year I was on my way down to Southeast Kansas to kick off two of my busiest weeks, ever! I was honored to stand by two of my best friends, Kyla and Leah in their weddings…which happened to be on back-to-back weekends. It’s kind of hard to imagine that was all a year ago now!

Since I wasn’t regularly blogging at the time, I figured why not do a little throwback!

I said those two weeks were busy, but if I’m being honest, it was the entire first half of 2014. My Pinterest account got daily attention and together my friend Megan and I became bridal shower and bachelorette party hosting pro’s.  There were dress fittings, accessories to keep track of and 10 different hairstyles to plan, practice for and do. For Leah’s wedding there was an invitation to design and +10,000 songs on my iTunes to sort down to one playlist; while for Kyla’s there was an {awesome} speech to write and flowers for my mom and I to put together.

I say all of this not to gripe, but because I want to remember every bit of it.
Yes it was busy, but it was also such a special couple of months.
Both of these girls had been my roommates through college. We finished our growing up together; laughing, crying and supporting each other through accomplishments, mistakes, challenges, change and milestones. They are both so unique, and inspire me with their strength, friendship and compassion. I witnessed both of their love stories and was so happy to share in this part of their lives.

I teased these girls (who are both great friends with each other) for the circles they had me turning in, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. There are so many little anecdotes, jokes and memories, that I have with them and the great group of friends we have, that shared in it all. And in a lot of ways, since the last of us had also just graduated, it was the end of an era.

To Nathan and Kyla, and Leah and Ryan,
Wishing you both a Happy First Anniversary!
Love you!