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Thursday, January 31, 2008

1 Out of 103 Ain't Bad.

Of the 103 things I had to do today at school and at home, that didn't get done, there was really only one that mattered...

...him.
Not feeling so good today. Watching the Tigger Movie in his pj's and crocs. Finally eating after 24 hours. Dried cranberries of all things.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

On Cold Days in Minnesota and Late Starts.

Last night when the phone rang and the voice on the other line announced a two-hour late start for school today. My heart leaped.

We are sleeping in tomorrow. I told J. "We" being me and the kids of course. He had appointments and clients to see so he'd still be getting up and heading in to work in the frigid weather.

Yes, the temps around the great state of Minnesota have substantially dropped. This mornings actual temp: -14 degrees. Yes, that's NEGATIVE 14. That doesn't include the windchill which was about 40 below zero.

Yowzers. That's cold.

So when I heard this news, after having J and I running around last night to get one child to gymnastics and another to a music concert, I was pleased.

A nice toasty bed, no alarm clock telling me when to get up and wake up the troops. Nice.

Except I must have forgotten that these children no longer believe in sleeping in. By 6:30am, H was in my bed with me as I willed him to lay down, close his eyes and go to sleep. By 7am, M had joined the party asking me every few moments if I was sleeping.

"Umm, no, it's nearly impossible to sleep with a 27 pound kid squishing my guts and bruising me in places I didn't think could be bruised. Your questions aren't helping either."

Finally, at 7:10am, only one hour later than our usual school wake up time, I gave in. To the living room we came to watch the early morning news and weather.

By 7:30am, T was up too.

With a two-hour late start that meant the kids did not need to be to school until 9:40am. This means we had TWO HOURS PLUS of morning time.

Why, again was I excited for this two hour late start?

Here's a summary of morning activities that took place in my home this morning:
Mario Golf.
M e-mailed her mom, dad and cousin.
Tony Hawk Skateboard game.
555-Meow (this is a game M invented where the chase H around the house screaming 555-Meow. It was after this game that I needed to take an ibuprofen.)
Dance Party in M's bedroom.
T wrote out his birthday thank you's.
M and H then decorated the envelopes because if one child is doing something that seems craft-like they all must.
Played a rousing game of pick up sticks.
I listened to H go, "Ty, mine, mine, no..." and the other two go, "Henry, no." repeatedly.

When I checked my e-mail this morning, I had a message from a friend of mine I used to work with. He said,
"...Delaying the schools was a smart move..."
To which I replied,
"Delaying the schools was a smart move if you have no children. If you
have children, you are like me, and going crazy while children are running
amok."

So my two cents on this matter is, until these kids sleep in, either send them to school or call off the whole day. None of this delay business. I'd rather have the whole day to lounge around in pajamas, watch cartoons and relax instead of this false sense of freedom and then the hurry and scurry associated with the late start.

What really was the icing on the cake was at 9:30am as I was trying to pile all three kids into the still-cold-even-though-it's-been-running-10-minutes-van and I noticed that T had not brushed his teeth. M, as well had somehow 'forgotten' this daily routine as well.

Seriously? We have two plus hours of time this morning and you 'forgot' to brush your teeth? Back upstairs they went to brush all bundled up.

One plus of the morning was after I dropped the kids off at school (I couldn't let them ride the bus, could I?) I drove over to Caribou and definitely bought an un-needed but very much wanted hot cocoa. I'd say, after my morning, it was well-deserved.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How We Do Birthdays.

And by "we", I mean our "blended-extended family".

We were all fairly new at the blended family thing when the first family party came up.

T was turning 6 and because we were on the road to working together, doing things together and being good co-parents, we did the party together.

At a bowling alley. With a lot of little six and seven year olds running around. Extended family up the wazoo. And us. The four awkward adults and two kids.

It worked out just fine. The kids had a great time, especially T. And afterwards we received compliments about how well we worked together and did a birthday together.

I didn't think it was a bad party. But I did think it was awkward, stressful and draining.

None of us knew the expectations of the other. I did invitations. L took care of the cake and favors. J and L's husband bowled with the kids. We all mingled with other parents.

In a sentence, we were not where we are now. Not even close.

Shortly after that party we came up with an agreement that we would switch off planning each of the kids "friend" parties going forward and split a reasonable set amount for a party. This has probably been one of the best things we ever did.

Even though we all get along and talk about everything now, we all still have different ideas and expectations. And too many spoons in the pot leads to trouble. Misunderstandings, miscommunications, icky feelings.

We all help each other and attend the parties, but there is one main contact and party planner, versus four. This just works for us.

We celebrate with each respective extended family seperately, because again, that's what works for us. I'm sure it seems a bit overboard and at times it feels that way to me too, but it's important that the kids get to celebrate with their extended families on both sides in both environments.

When T turned 7, L and I happened to show up at school on his birthday. Because we still weren't where we are now in our relationship, of course we had not communicated about this little endeavor. She had cupcakes for the class. I had Subway for T's lunch. We stood casually talking in the entry of the classroom waiting for lunchtime.

Naturally, T had a substitute teacher this day who treated L and I as if we were a traveling exhibit.

I'm not kidding. She had a million and one questions about our set up and getting along and who we were and if this lunch was at all awkward for us.

All the while that L and six month pregnant me, are sitting on a shared beach towel with T in the cafeteria for 'beach' day.

Humorous. Awkward. Fun. Those words just begin to describe it.

A tradition was born. Last year we again shared a Subway lunch with T the day before his birthday. And this year we celebrated our lunch with T last Friday.

It's something small, yet something meaningful that we share together.

Because M is in first grade, we've never gotten to have a special birthday lunch with her at school, but we didn't want her to feel bad last week when we surprised T, so we also surprised her. Her lunch is just prior to T's.

She sat next to one of her friends who leaned over and asked M which one is her mom. M proudly pointed at her mom and said, "That's my mom." and then pointed at me and said, "That's my stepmom."

Some of her little friends comments and questions were silly. One friend seemed disappointed that she only had one house since her mom and dad live together and another friend let us know that she too has two homes. M, seems unwavering in her ability to express who she is and the family she has and the love she has for all.

If I can be a little prideful right now, I want to say that I am proud of us. We've come a long way from an awkward, overwhelming bowling party where no one knew their place or what bounds they might be overstepping to an organized, family of friends. We work together to make sure that the kids special days are special and that all the key people in the kids lives get to play a role in that.

That, to me, is accomplishment right there.

Monday, January 28, 2008

One More Reason Getting Up at 6 AM Stinks.

There is no such thing as a morning compliment.

This morning, as I busied around the kitchen getting breakfast done and cleaned up and the kids ready to get out the door, M made an interesting revelation and comment.

"S, Don't you EVER brush your hair?!??"

Silence comes out of me as I stand holding her backpack and snack for school in my hands.

"You really look like a ragamuffin." She finishes as she bounces down the steps to leave for school.

M, maybe looking a little ragamuffin like herself, over Christmas break.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I Survived.

Snowtubing was surprisingly much more fun than I had expected. I really enjoyed it, even after my initial feelings of seeing my life pass before my eyes.

It was the perfect day. After having nearly two weeks of FREEZING cold weather in Minnesota, it warmed up to close to 30 the day of the party. We were actually working up a sweat going up and down the hills.

It was a great day and I might even be apt to suggest a snowboarding day some weekend day this winter, because I did have fun. (Thanks L for getting my tush in gear and making me try something new. I'm alive to tell my story!)
L with M and friend Jonah getting ready to go down.
T's friend Alex and T.
Me and L on our way to go back down again.
Jonah and M. Don't you love the goggles? Some of the trips down I wished I had them, they sure help keep the snow from spraying in your eyes.
Some of the T's friends at the party. On a side note, birthday parties are a great time to figure out which kids are really great for T and which ones will NEVER be allowed to come over for a playdate.

Nine.

Really? Nine, already?


We love you SO much T. There are so many people that you bring joy to and that love exactly the kid that you are.

Today is your day, make it a good one.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Nervous Nellie.

That'd be me, Nervous Nellie.

And why am I nervous this time?

Because Saturday is T's birthday party. He chose to have a snow tubing party at a local park reserve. Where you sit in big tubes and fly down a hill really, really fast.

This screams danger to me.

I've never done this snow tubing thing. As a matter of fact, the extent of me and snow sports these days is standing outside and trying to stay warm. I'd add looking cute too but I know all too well that me, all bundled up, is not so cute.

I think I'm an outdoorsy girl. I've gone on trips to the Boundary Waters, canoeing and portaging for days. I love being outside and in nature. In the summer.

As a kid, I loved sledding and playing in the snow until I was so cold I thought my finger tips would fall off. My uncle used to take us snowmobiling and I enjoyed that too. And even now I don't mind going out with the kids or taking H out for a little bit of time to prance in the snow.

But sitting in a big round tube going at a rapid pace down a hill...scares me?

Maybe it's the fact that I am realizing I am not so invincible after all. Maybe my skin is thinner now.

So when I told T's mom, L, the other day that my plan was to hang out in the warming house, she laughed at me and then told me that I'd be wearing her stepdaughters snowpants and getting my tush down the hill.

She's promised me that I will not get injured and that I might even enjoy it.

If I post after Saturday, that's a sign that I made it.

So if you think of me, say a little prayer for Nervous Nellie me between 1pm and 3pm while I'm sailing down a hill. Screaming.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Checking In on Needs Vs. Wants.

It's been two weeks since I made the pledge to only purchase what is needed on a day to day basis. Though it's felt like a lot longer than two weeks.

  • I have made only three trips to Target.

This was much harder than I thought which is why there were only three trips. All three trips I made sure to make a list beforehand and go and purchase exactly what we came for and then go straight to the check-out. No meandering visits. No second glances at what's been marked down. Needs only.

My estimate would be that I have saved at least $60...that's averaging about $20 of wants per visit that I didn't buy. (Plus let's factor in all those trips to Target I'm not taking because of this challenge.)

  • We also had a trip to Home Depot during our first two weeks.

We bought a new vacuum, new deadbolt and finalized the decision on our entry rug. The vacuum and deadbolt were needs. The rug will be a need when spring comes and our three year old rug takes it's last winter beating.

  • I've gone grocery shopping only one time.

While I did purchase a couple grocery items at Target. (Such as some not on the list pork chops that were the brand I would usually get for half the price, umm how could I pass that up?) For the most part our groceries are from Cub Foods. Planning our meals has helped with the shopping because I know exactly what things I will need and I'm not walking around guessing what we may or may not have for dinner. I'm hopeful February goes even better by paying attention to what I already have in the cupboard and freezer.

Interestingly enough, I did run into one little hiccup last week when I realized that over night H had grown out of just about all of his pajamas. (Hence the Halloween pj's in January.) I took a trip to two different children's stores and found three new pair of jammies. Though there were signs about sales and 25% off and coupons, I bought pajamas and only pajamas. Because that was all we needed for now. (Though M has been trying to tell me that apparently she needs more 'rockstar' shirts? Still trying to figure this one out.)


That was pretty monumental for me. Leaving with only three pair of pj's when there were stores and signs calling me from every direction?

I am used to walking through the stores and finding things and picking up things that are 'cute' or 'good deals' or that are really 'fun'. This new mentality is hard.

It's also hard because there have been a lot of times that I have bought things at a really good price a season ahead and saved big. For instance, a lot of H's shoes and clothes. I tried to do this with T and M in the past too. Now that they are older and don't necessarily have specific size gaps they move into, it's much harder.

I realized this last week that while I was doing a good job of not buying any "wants" I was still keeping a lot of "stuff" in the house that was definitely not needed.

I went through my closet and dresser last week and got rid of three bags full of clothes. I should have really gotten rid of more too. There were clothes that still had tags on them. That is sick!

I also went through H's dresser and got rid of things that were too small or stained and packed away things I wanted to keep. For a long time I felt like I was saving everything, so I went through and really got rid of things that I don't necessarily have sentimental feelings for or need. Don't get me wrong, I still saved some things, just not everything under the sun.

M and T's dressers have also been gone through. Clothes they just aren't going to wear because they don't like them or something about it bothers them, why am I bothering to keep them?

I am working on eliminating the stuff. Clothes is just the beginning. I know there are toys and books and other miscellaneous 'stuff' that could get out of here too.

"The" moment so far had to have been at Target when J accompanied me and I stood in the middle of the cracker aisle trying to justify why we needed more crackers. J stood there shaking his head at my need to buy more than I already had in the cart. I don't know if only having a few things in the cart was bothering me or what, but I somehow 'needed' to buy more crackers.

After having J remind that we don't 'need' any more crackers it dawned on me what I was doing. Have you seen my cupboards? Right now I have Triscuits, Wheat Thins, Cheez Its, Graham crackers, Saltines...What more could I need in the cracker department, right?

This challenge is proving to be tough, yet worth it. It's re-learning the difference between a need and a want, which somewhere along the way got a little mixed up in my head.

So how's it going for you? Are you joining me on this journey or living this way already? What are your thoughts and ideas and what kinds of advice and thoughts do you have on really living this new mindset?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Change Is Good, Right?

Registration for ECFE began three short weeks ago. And even though I am the one who has been known to spend over an hour on the phone to get the kids registered for swim lessons the day registration opens at swim school, I happened to forget about ECFE registration. Until the next day.

Much to my dismay, my class was full and waitlisted. Thinking I could just make a phone call, pull out some Samara magic and charm and get added to the class, I called.

And the answer was no.

I was #8 on a 9 person waiting list.

"But his friends are in that class..." I wanted to whine.

"My friends are in that class...."

"I'm really sorry," she said. "The class is full, but you can try a different one."

So I told disappointed H that he graduated 'Wonderful Ones' and is now a proud member of the 'Terrific Toddlers', I put on a smile with hopes that again I could strike myself rich in the ECFE department.

Today was day one, eight more weeks to go. Let's just say that H is in the minority because #1 he's a boy and #2 he is the busiest child in the class. The little girls in class sit on their mom's laps, I would seriously pay money if my child sat on my lap for more than a story at bedtime. This change of the new class and new people, I'm not too thrilled about yet but I'm working on it.

Just prior to class I got word that my position at the school district has been 'unofficially' cut effective next school year. (Unofficially only because it has to go be approved by the school board at the next meeting, but considering it was the recommendation of the superintendent and the finance committee, this changing would be highly unlikely.)

I'd known this was a possibility since the end of last week. (Though, in an interesting sort of way, my mom knew this when I started the position two years ago.)

Considering the struggles I've had with 'what I'm doing with my life' and knowing that I am all too comfortable and not challenged with where I am at, I'm considering this as more of a blessing than anything else.

Knowing that I will not have this job come next August, makes me motivated and excited to figure out what it is I do want to do or be. I'm still waiting for Good Morning, America or the Today Show to call and offer me a job as a morning show host, but in case that doesn't pan out, I should probably start thinking about things.

While this job and season were definitely great for me after I had H and when I needed that flexibility for my own lifes happenings, I know that I didn't work my tail off in college to be cutting out Box Tops and planning school book fairs.

So, here's to starting a new mindset. Thinking outside of the box. Making plans and figuring out just how things are going to look come next fall.

I've got my position and school commitments through May (but possibly the summer) at this point. I still definitely want something less than full time or of a creative work schedule because I do value the time I get to be home and experiencing life with H. (And T and M too.) And fortunately, I am lucky enough to have that as an option.

Maybe an opportunity will come knocking on my door step, a new freelance position or larger opportunities. Perhaps, I'll have to chase it. Either way, this change is good.

So here's to new changes and facing the new and unexpected with a smile, realizing that sometimes we just need a kick in the pants to get there. Being me at ECFE, making new friends and keeping the old. And enjoying the question, what do I want to be when I grow up?


Above all else, it is about leaving a mark that I existed: I was here. I was
hungry. I was defeated. I was happy. I was sad. I was in love. I was afraid. I
was hopeful. I had an idea and I had a good purpose.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres

PS If you have any leads, ideas or thoughts...be sure and send them my way!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Smart.

This afternoon, I shut H in my bedroom with me while I blow dried my hair in the master bathroom. T and a friend were playing a game with a million little pieces in the living room and M had accompanied J to his hair cut to make sure he didn't decide to go bald.

Because H is stubborn and inventive, I knew that he would not just sit in my bedroom doing nothing for 15 minutes so I did what a majority of all mothers I know would do and that was, give him a lollipop. A Tootsie Roll Pop to be exact.

The only catch was he had to sit down. So I sat him down on the floor and started drying my hair, turned around to see him scooting on his bottom around my bedroom. Yes, he scooted around with a lollipop in his mouth for 15 minutes.

That's what I call smart.

T also had an important announcement yesterday during the playoff game between the Giants and the Packers. While most kids are excited for Martin Luther King Day because they get the day off of school. T happened to realize that "if it weren't for Martin Luther King, we wouldn't even be watching this football game."

How right he is.

Thank you Dr. King for all you did to change things years ago so that we could not only enjoy equality for people of all races, but also enjoy a good football game.


Happy Martin Luther King Day! We celebrated by having donuts for breakfast after a very-cold trip in our pajamas to pick up said donuts at oh, 7:00am this morning. We aren't at that, oh we have the day off of school we should sleep in, stage quite yet.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Bloopers.

Sometimes I am astonished by the things people say and have continually learned to just nod and smile, even if what someone says makes absolutely no sense to me or possibly offends me. The other day, Lori shared a few funnies that have been said to one or both of us in the past. There are so many things that may have made me laugh, drop my jaw or even shriek in horror.

Here's a few of my own personal bloopers that people have actually said to me:

In regards to my son looking a lot like his siblings (my stepkids):

"If I didn't know better I'd think they all had the same mom." (They don't. I promise.)

"I don't see you in him at all. I see T a lot though."

In regards to being young, shopping in the grocery store with three kids:

"You're so young to have three kids, haven't you heard of birth control?"

To which I wish I would have replied, you're so old, haven't you heard of self control?

In regards to being a stepmom:

"Does their mom drive you crazy?"

"Is their mom crazy?"

"Do the kids drive you crazy?"

"Are you crazy?"

(I think all of us are just a tad bit.)

One of my all time favorites, when the Mom's Club representative came to my house shortly after H was born:

"Samara, can I have a snack?" T asked.

"Sure." I answered getting him a snack.

"Did he just call you by your first name?" Snooty Mom's Club rep askes incredulously.

"Yes, I'm his stepmom."

"Well we don't have any other stepmoms in the Mom's Club so if you still want to join you'd need to apply and we'd need to ask the board." (In case you're unaware, my application went in the recycling bin that day.)

In regards to our story in the paper last month:

"So if your husband and his ex get along so well, why'd they get divorced in the first place?"

"So, who had the affair?" (Just to let everyone know, there was no affair, but someone actually asked me this just this week after saying they saw us in the paper.)

Beyond all this somewhat 'outrageous' comments/bloopers there's always questions and formalities. I'm beginning to wonder if part of my somewhat 'new' discomfort in meeting new people is because of past comments and assumptions that have been made about me and my family, stemming mostly from the 'step-family' aspect.

Most people's opinions of stepfamilies stem from their own history and beliefs around it. I've gotten the oohs and ahhs and looks of pity one too many times.

Since we were in the paper, many people have asked a lot of questions about our stepfamily and situation, and to be completely honest, I welcome that. I'd rather someone ask me than make their own assumptions. There have also been some people approach me that were somehow 'unaware' that T and M were my stepkids and then some tell me they too are step-parents or that they are step-children. They share their stories, their experiences and that piece of their unspoken life with me.

I know most everyone at the school I work at saw the story due to the 35 copies of it in my mailbox when I returned. A few teachers mentioned things here or there but I had one staff member (who is also a stepmom) tell me last week that she overheard a conversation about how high maintenance families 'like ours' are. (Though I don't think they were referring to our family as being high maintenance, we were in the "grouping")

I was a little bothered that I was now being grouped in one of 'those' families and also considering, I think our family is pretty darn accomodating. We all stay on top of things for the kids school work, have joint conferences and communicate. We try to take care of everything so there is no additional work necessary for their teachers. There are a few issues we have been high maintenance about, such as not always being seen as "equal families". To me, if we're down in the trenches working things out and making things the best we can for these kids, we get to be high maintenance. We get to advocate for what we think is best for those two kids, just like any other parent would, despite their marital status.

I know I've said the wrong thing at the wrong time, many times over. We all do. But here's to being more intentional with our words and stopping the negative assumptions. And remembering sometimes things are left better unsaid. Even if they make me laugh later.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

21 Months Old.

With his Pooh sunglasses and Halloween pajamas, I couldn't let today go by without wishing my little man a happy 21 months.

I'm on a roll this week with posts. Might be because I'm big-time procrastinating what I should be doing...Oops! Here's to staying on task, even if only for today.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What's For Dinner?

That's not going to be a question anymore around here.

Typically, I'm scrambling between 3 and 4, trying to decide what we should have, if I thawed any meat yet and what we have going on for the evening. Not anymore.

I'm (along with a few like-minded friends) planning monthly menus for our household. And to be honest, though I initially was a tad bit skeptical, now that I did January I'm getting excited and thinking why didn't I do this years ago?

Tuesday evening was the first night of my 'planned monthly menu' and I thought it went really well and I was actually alot more relaxed about cooking and dinner simply because I had it all planned out already.

Sesame Ginger Pork Chops. And despite T's initial "eww" he ate them. Ok so maybe he doused it in ketchup, he still ate it.
Yes we had seating for six, since we had a special guest for dinner, my dad, of course.
Though we do a family sit down dinner just about every night, there is something about sitting in the dining room that makes it different and more deliberate family time. It also helps me to not use the dining room table as my catch-all.
We decided that we'll be sharing our monthly menus over at a new blog site. Please stop over to see not only my menu but other (more healthy, creative and delicious) menus too.

You'll notice right away that my menus are pretty basic and don't have any recipe links. (Well I suppose that is an understatement compared to my foodie friend Melissa. If only I could have captured my husbands look when he saw the other monthly menus. He's a tad bit jealous of their cooking.) But I'm hoping that over time, I too, get out of my very-small food comfort zone and try preparing new things, beyond the basics, and maybe enjoy it too. I've always been wary of not only new foods and recipes, but new kitchens, restaurants and whoever might be preparing my food. And again my husband might say this is an understatement, but I'm not going to elaborate or argue right now.

I'm just going to go with it and see how my kitchen skills change because for now at least I know I can prepare a killer apple pie.
And we all know that a dinner's not a dinner without dessert.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Gift That Keeps on Giving.

T and M's mom gave them each digital camera's last month as early-Christmas presents. This has proven to be a very fun gift and one that just 'keeps on giving'.
The other night, M's camera was laying out so I decided to look through the close to 300 pictures on her camera. Here's what I found:

About 150 of these self portrait shots.


Multiple, interesting, unposed pictures of her brothers.

Many pictures of people's backsides, including this one where we must have been in the car going somewhere. There's about 4 more of these almost identical pictures on there.
Oh my, what a surprise to find pictures of my friends, Megan and Melissa on Miss M's camera.Chris and Abbie too.
It was fun to look through her camera and see things through her perspective. And some of them certainly had me wincing and then laughing. I could have posted many very interesting, unflattering pictures of any of us (me, her dad, her mom, her pets at her mom's house) but in the spirit of keeping all of us on good terms, I won't!

Another fun feature on these cameras is they can do videos. The below video had me in stitches and I only watched it about 25 times the other night. It's the shortest one on her camera (some are as long as 20 minutes!) but it is quite delightful.

video

Oh M, we love the little ham that you are!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dear Mom,

Yesterday marks one month. One month has now passed since you've been gone. And in many ways I am totally floored that it's already been a month, and in other ways, it seems that this, has been the longest month of my life yet.

I still miss you and think of you daily. There are still times I get choked up and find myself with tears flowing down my cheeks. I don't think I'll ever stop missing you.

I have questions now that I didn't have before. How did you take care of so many things so gracefully while you were so ill? How did you make your departure so loving and beautiful?

And then I have silly, mundane questions like wishing you could tell me how to keep a Peace Lily alive because I'm having a really hard time. You'd really laugh at the four plants I have.


I miss our daily phone calls and if I could get a direct connect to you right now, I think I might talk your ear off for eleven hours straight without taking a breath.

I find myself reflecting on years and years of history between us and within our family. Memories come back in no particular order and for no rhyme or reason. There are many funny things and heartwarming moments and the occasional thought that has me wincing, mostly because of me and my, at times, immature ways and thoughts on life.

M, still asks questions occasionally and sometimes even forgets that you're gone, rather thinking you're on an extended vacation. Sometimes I wish that were the case.

H, pages through photo albums, and there are many that bring tears to my eyes. Your smile, the joy you have in the pictures and the love that is beaming through. It's never been clearer to me than it is now.

Mom, even if we'd had more time there wouldn't have been much more to tell you. You knew I loved you. You knew I was sad. You knew that I didn't know what I would do without you.

And I still don't. I think of you, I remember you, I dream of you and I talk to those who knew you. I listen to dad. Your sisters and I call each other. We are each a connection to you.

I think of all the things people have said of you the last several months. I think of how you would respond in certain situations. Always tactful, yet honest and to the point. On Christmas morning when a certain brother-in-law's wife (Oh you know the one mom) asked me about you and about dad, I had all I could do not to fly across the room and give her a piece of my mind. But I remembered what you would have said and what you would have done. And I kept my mouth shut.

You taught me many things, way too many to recount here. It's been resoundingly clear that I have learned what kind of person I am and who the other people in my life are. And this matters because it's something you always said you were discovering. During your illness, you learned who was really there and who your real friends were. So did I.

I am getting tired of people asking if I've gotten back into the routine of life again. It's not like I've spent the last month sitting on the couch drinking egg nog and eating fudge. I much rather would have done that. I've been figuring out what a life without you, the constant encouragement, love and truth, is like.

I've been trying to balance a lot of things and keep myself together, mom, and I know that you would tell me, it's going to be ok and I know in my heart it will be too. But I just want you to know that as long as I'm still breathing I'm going to miss you and the mother you were (and are) to me. And even if the days get easier and the tears don't fall as quickly, there's still a hole in me, missing you.


Just as you've always said, I want you to know that I love you forever. I like you for always. As long as I'm living, my mumsy you'll be.

Your middle daughter,
Samara

Friday, January 11, 2008

Quality Friday: Flushed Away.

I just spent over an hour, going between the toilet and the potty chair with H. He sits on the toilet and a few minutes later needs to flush. He sits again and then decides that the potty chair would be a better place to be. He started out fully clothed, minus the diaper and now, as I type this he is officially naked with socks running amok.

I guess, if it wasn't official before, it is now. We're beginning to potty train.*


For the last two months, he has hidden whenever he's gone the infamous number 2. Between hiding in his room, or under his crib, behind furniture. He comes out with an unpleasant stench and has even begun to tell us he needs to be changed.

We knew he was getting close which is why he got a potty chair and big boy underwear for Christmas. I just wasn't sure what this whole little process was going to look like.

Wednesday during a coffee/play date with friends, he pulled out the Diaper Clutch. Removed one diaper and the wipes and handed them to me.

"Do you need a new diaper?" I asked.

"No." He answered. As he grunted, turned red and then reached for me to pick him up.

"Do you need a new diaper now?" I asked again.

"Yeah."

Yesterday we had a close call at my dad's, with his last diaper already on him, he got the look. To the bathroom we went and made it just in time.

This morning again he started ripping his clothes off rapidly, I got the potty chair and him seated on it just in time.

I know this is just the start of what could be a long process, but I can't help but feel a touch of pride. He's changing and growing and becoming more and more of a little man everyday.

So, amidst all of the busyness and fun parts of our week, my quality Friday moment is this. Learning right alongside him what this whole potty thing is all about. Even if it means I must go now and clean up some pee off the floor. Oops.

Happy Quality Friday!


*I wish I could share more pictures, but most of them wouldn't be decent. And yes, I am fully aware that his potty chair was in the living room for the picture . For whatever reason he likes it to be out of the bathroom. Figure that one out.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Needs Vs. Wants.

With my recent list of eight in '08, I've been doing some thinking on really living out my list. One of the things that's been on my mind is the amount of "stuff" we have. In case you've missed that point somewhere along the way, we have a lot of stuff. Between clothes, toys, books and everything else that goes into raising kids, we've got it all. We've got too much. So much that we don't even know the difference between a need and a want anymore.

How do you teach this to kids when we (the adults, the role models, the big people) don't even demonstrate it?

Nine out of ten times when someone calls me on a weekday I am either on my way to or from Target. The other time, I'm in Target. Yes, this is a slight exaggeration but really I go to Target a lot. Just to pass the time sometimes. Henry and I enjoy our regular treats, a cookie for him, a coffee for me and we shop. Because this is what we like to do when dad's at work and T and M are at school. Yesterday, just to mix things up a bit and to look into a few things we tried the Home Depot out. They don't have cookies or coffee, but they do have fun carts.

Between, January 2-7, my bank account tells me that I spent $91.28 at Target. That does not include much groceries (besides maybe a few little things) or any clothing necessities, rather it was a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Actually, I can't even tell you what I spent it on. When I say that's not diapers, that's not much of our food, that's not clothes, it makes me wonder, what is it?!?

Yes, there is usually something we all need from Target, but just as often I leave with a cart full of extras, good deals and then the occasional impulse purchase.

The other day I heard about a woman with seven children who is taking a year off of buying any thing they don't "need". I am astonished, amazed and jealous. I want to do that. I want to do that, but I don't want to. How's that for ironic.

Then the other day I read this story about The Compact. Extreme, yes. But also a very neat idea when getting rid of the stuff in your life.

I will probably never join The Compact and I will probably never go an entire year without buying anything unnecessary. I am just being realistic about myself and my family.

But, I do want to try it. For a month.

So, for the next month, I am going to try and not buy anything we don't "need".

Obviously, I still need to pay the electric bill and the mortgage and our family of five still needs groceries. But everything purchased will need to be clarified and justified as an actual need, not just a good deal or something I just had to have. One of the kids might need new socks or underwear, or someone might need a new toothbrush. Those are needs. Buying a shirt on clearance because it's only $2.99 and will be so cute next winter, is not a need.

It's going to be hard. I've got gift cards for a few non-need stores from Christmas, T's birthday is coming (please don't worry, he'll get good gifts from us.)

I'm not going to do it to save money (though I'm sure we'll save more than a few dimes) and I'm not doing it to save the planet (though I'm sure we'll help with that too) I'm doing it to show myself and my family that we can learn the difference between what we want and what we need and change our behaviors.

Since I just thought of this the other day, I haven't "stocked" up on anything. I haven't gone out and splurged and gotten all my shopping out of the way. I don't have any set rules either. I'm still trying to figure a few logistics out. (Like the gift cards and the upcoming birthday. I'll keep you posted on what I decide is fair.)

Considering I'm trying to eliminate the "stuff" in our life and the non-essentials, I'm still going to have coffee dates and dinner plans with friends, and I definitely qualify date nights with my husband as needs.

One month. For now at least. My hope is that I will change my habits and live out what I believe.


I'll be reporting back my progress and my purchases, will you help hold me accountable? Or maybe you want to join me in changing the world, one Target trip at a time?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Do I Really Need A Title?

Realized this afternoon that my camera has been MIA for about a week. Took it out and took some pictures of the kids rough housing, playing puppets (Marc the Shark and Rufus the Dog)and doing "gymnastics" in the living room. Later on I saw this one and smiled.

Just sitting on the window ledge, putting the ear buds in his little ears and pretending to jam.

Do you have any idea how much I love him?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Eight in '08.

I've been watching the posts pop up of resolutions or non-resolutions, of life goals and life lists pop up the last week. The new year is a time of change, new decisions are made, new choices happen. I've never been one for resolutions, per se. Perhaps because it's kind of hard to make them stick for 365 days.

But I do like to set goals, meet them and honor the life commitments and choices I make.

So with that said, here's my eight for 2008 in no particular order:

1. Let my life be something good.
This is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place is something that you have left behind...let it be something good. -Author Unknown

I want to be intentional, deliberate and expressive in the way I live my life. I want the way I spend my time to reflect what is truly important to me. Faith and relationship with Christ, my husband and children, family, friends.

2. Invest in people.

All too often I find myself saying I want to get together, do this or that and then later succumb to the fact that life is too busy. I want to be able to spend quality time with those closest to me. Make regular date nights with my husband and make them creative, more than dinner and a movie.

Talk more with the kids about life and school and everything. Sit on the floor with H more and let the breakfast dishes sit on the counter for awhile. It's that whole accomplish less, sit on the floor more concept.
Have dinner with my dad.
Call my aunts more.
Make time for friends too.
Make regular coffee and happy hour dates, and stick. to. them.
Phone dates for far away friends.

I need to at times break out of the regular day to day and make new friends. Challenge myself. Be me.

Speaking of making new friends, I've decided that MOPS really isn't my thing right now. Perhaps there will be a time where my thoughts and feelings change on this. I did however make some really good friends in ECFE this last fall and am taking the same class with them this winter and spring. I want these mom-friendships to continue to blossom as H grows as a child and peer to these other children.

Attempt to meet more people at church. Challenging? Yes, because I am SO comfortable at the church I grew up at and knew everyone, that getting out and meeting new people at our church now is tough.

3. Live healthier.

This is the old cliche' "resolution". I do not eat a very healthy diet. I snack. (A lot.) I exercise infrequently.I want to make healthier food/snack choices. Meaning the pound of fudge I ate one evening last month will no longer be acceptable. Either is drinking a Diet Coke or Carmel Macciato for breakfast.

Cook more healthy dinners. This doesn't seem to be an issue when T and M are here, but when it's just me, J and H. I tend to not cook as healthy or as often. It's too easy to make something quick for H and grab a bowl of cereal for me.

Exercise-wise, we have a treadmill, there's no reason I can't start walking and jogging. And I'm thinking about doing another 5K. (Want to do it with me?) Possibly walk the 3Day with my friend Kim.

4. Write more.
Write more, just to write. Not necessarily to be published. Not necessarily for the blog. Just to write. To remember.

Write about the funny things that happen, the sad things. Write about how I'm feeling. Just for me.

Write more letters and cards. E-mail is wonderful but there is the lost art of sending snail mail. I LOVE getting real mail besides the hodge podge of bills and I'm sure it makes others happy too. Remember more people's birthdays and send an actual birthday card, not an e-card.

Write more things down for the kids to look back on and remember. Their quotes, their stories, the silly and sassy things they do.

5. Accept others, forgive, but also don't be naive.

What a double edged ironic sentence.

I realize that I am sometimes quick to judge and jump to assumptions. I wish I wasn't.

I also realize I sometimes have a really hard time letting go and forgiving others. I expect unconditional forgiveness but all too often don't give it in return.

At the same time, a wise woman once said; "When someone shows you who they are, believe them."

I want to love, accept, forgive, yet realize that sometimes I just need to move on.

6. Stop caring what other people think.

Gulp. This is a hard one.

When I first started this blog in 2005, I could count the people reading it on one hand. (And that was on a good day.) Now with daily traffic typically in the 250 plus range, I sometimes get self conscious and feel like a big, fat dork about the things I share and write about myself, my life and my family.

So, I'm working on getting over it, because hey, this is me being me, big, fat dork and all. I do this whole thing for me.

I also sometimes find myself over analyzing conversations, situations, people's intentions and myself. What a waste of life.

To be nobody-but-yourself - in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else - means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. E.E. Cummings

7. GET Organized.

Another cliche' one. I try to be somewhat organized and on top of things and for the most part, a lot of the day to day things are covered. But would you believe that I have about a years worth of pictures in a pile on the dining room table needing to be put first, in order and than in albums? And that I have about five months of pictures on the computer that I haven't even had printed yet?!

Oops.

Before Christmas, I finally consolidated and organized my address book. Cleaned out and changed around cupboards in the kitchen.

I need to spend a day (or three) going through my dresser and closet. It's time to get rid of some of my old corporate attire. Even if I went back to a corporate job, much of it is now out of style anyway. I make sure everyone else's laundry gets put away but leave mine in a stack on my dresser, I figure I wear the same 6-7 outfits anyway, why bother?! It's because I have so many clothes, I never know what to wear.

Establish a will. We've had this on our list of things to do since we got married. Just the other day, I realized I still had my parents as beneficiaries on one of my life insurance policies. Umm, oops.

Get all my 401K, stock, life insurance paperwork together along with J's 403b and life insurance stuff, rather than shoving it all in the file cabinet. Actually figure out what it all means, how much it all matters and what to do with it when we need it.

8. Simplicity.

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury; and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable; and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasion, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony. William Henry Channing

I've used this quote before, but the meaning still rings true for me especially in a culture of more is better. Live simply. Love deeply. Learn how to be a better human, content in the every day life. And may the choices I make, the life I live and the way I spend my time reflect that this is what I believe to be true.

May my husband feel my unconditional love and respect. May my children feel loved, encouraged and content. May I live my life with an open heart, simply, content with whatever I have and want for nothing more. May all this be true, not just at the beginning of '08 but all the time.

So, if you haven't shared your list of resolutions, life goals or 2008 plans, please do. What's your eight in '08?

Friday, January 4, 2008

Bad Blogger.

Oops.

Back in November, momAgenda contacted me and asked if they could send me one of their day planners to review. I got it in the mail, started adding my dates, times and life and promised a review to come mid-December.
That was then, this is now...

My very-late review of momAgenda's day planner:

  • With five people's schedules, appointments, activities and events to keep track of, it definitely has lots of space to keep track of it all, and more.
  • I love that the planner is small enough to tuck in my purse (or toddler bag) yet large enough to fit everything.
  • The pages are beautiful, the only downside to this is I will only write in pencil inside of it. I'm sure this is a psychological condition I'm suffering from, but really, I can't seem to bring myself to even write with my favorite writing utensils, Sharpie fine point markers.
  • Pretty pages. Note these pages I'm showing you are blank. Hey, I don't want random people showing up at our activities. Oy!

  • I also love that the book is attractive and doesn't necessarily look like the typical planner. Mine is chocolate brown and looks more like a book than a calendar on the outside.
  • The pages have life inspiring quotes. Honestly, this is my favorite part of the planner. The day I received the planner in the mail, I immediately sat and paged through and read each and every quote. There are some really good ones.
  • At between $35-$45 a calendar, I think it's a little on the pricey side, but as the old saying goes, every person needs a good calendar.
In the past I have used At-A-Glance Monthly Planners. I do miss seeing the entire month at a glance since I've used that planner since I graduated from college. It's been a huge adjustment to switch to a planner that only shows a week at a time. So far I haven't buckled and bought my trusty, reliable old calendar, but that's definitely not to say that I won't. (But keeping up two written calendars might be kind of tough then, wouldn't it?)

Speaking of calendars, after TheDHX wrote a little something about using Google Calendar for their blended family, our blended family signed on too and I'm enjoying the perks of having an online calendar and being able to share activities and events that affect the kids at both homes.


I still can't only have an online calendar. There is something about writing down my schedule, activities and events that really puts it in my mind when I do it.


So what about you? What kind of calendar do you use? How do you manage your schedules and time without missing or forgetting what's happening when?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Trials and Tribulations of Part Time Care.

I'm back over at Cribsheet today, talking about a childcare issue I seem unable to escape. Come visit me there and give me your two cents, or just come be my babysitter. You can read my sob story about losing babysitter girl, here.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Traditions.

New Years Eve used to seem like such a big deal to me, and I remember that the first couple J and I spent together were huge. We got dolled up and went out. One year to Ruth Chris Steakhouse for delicious steaks and Don Perignon at midnight; another year just out and about and another celebrating in Florida. The last couple years have not been quite that exciting, one year I was pregnant and we took T and M to a fun kids New Years party and last year H, only 8 months old, was sick. This year, with really no big plans and no real expectations, I talked to my dad last week and we decided that we would have a New Years Eve slumber party at my dad's. It was an absolute blast! Really, I told my dad I think we've started a new tradition! (I hope he agrees!!!)
We went over in the afternoon and of course the kids were most excited to start the party out by sledding down the front hill.
Here's T mastering the course on his snowboard.
M and H slid ride down.

After H was ready to head indoors, I took him in and J, T and M headed over to a nearby park and hill that I used to go to as a kid. My dad joked with J and I that when he used to take us as kids sometimes we'd convince him to drive to the bottom and pick us up and drive us back to the top since it was a steep climb.

The long walk up...
Both kids were a little nervous but enjoyed flying down the hill.

After some fun slides and some exhausting climbs up the hill they returned to my dad's where the kids and my dad ate a Subway dinner. J and I didn't eat because my dad had made some secret plans during the day for us and my sister and her boyfriend.

After dinner the question started to come, "Is it New Years yet?" "When can we have the sparkling juice?" "Can we celebrate yet?"

Finally in the middle of Shrek 2, about 8:00pm, we decided it was time to celebrate. Out came the party hats, the horns and of course the sparkling juice.




Toasting to 2008, four hours early.

With 9:30 reservations at Jax Restaurant, really what day in the Postuma family would be complete without a 20 month old who wants to stay up and a six year old little girl who doesn't want us to leave?!?

Thankfully, my dad had years and years of rocking experience and rocked little H right back to sleep. He also has years and years of experience with daughters and their finicky ways and had Miss M (and T) all set with Dr. Doolittle in no time.

My little sister's boyfriend Joe, my sister, me and J.

My sister and I.

If you've ever eaten at Jax (a favorite of my parents) you know just how good the food is. I'm not even a foodie and I LOVE IT. Our dinner was excellent, and of course more than enough food for all of us. I enjoyed a Filet Mignon and somehow managed to save a little for my dad. We had a really fun time chatting and laughing and it was really nice to get to know my sister's boyfriend a little better too.

J and I left Jax and headed for my dad's while my sister and her boyfriend headed out to see more friends. We got home and thanked my dad profusely for such a nice night out, sent my dad to bed and watched Times Square for about 20 minutes before the ball dropped and headed for bed ourselves. We're so exciting aren't we?

Of course New Years morning started early with H up and bouncing in the pack and play at 7:45. (Not so early compared to what he used to be pulling! Oy!) My sister made us all a pancake breakfast and we enjoyed relaxing and being together just a few more hours. T and M of course being brave (and young) wanted some more sledding action. J agreed to take them, but with the temperature being -1 when they went, they managed just a couple slides before they came back red cheeked and brrrzini!

M and H playing hide and go seek in the couch cushions. A new hiding spot, compliments of Uncle Burl and Aunt JoAnn a few weeks ago.

Finally, what New Years Day would be complete without phone calls...

T and M making some Happy New Year phone calls at home this afternoon.

Happy New Year! 2008 is here. May your year be great in every way. May you learn, love, laugh and live as fully and truly as one can! Cheers!