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Monday, March 31, 2008

Scribblings With Meaning.

I think that it's safe to assume that all kids who grow up going to church spend a fair amount of time during worship filling out registration cards like below. I know I sure filled out more than my share.

Yesterday when I peeked over at M's scribblings and saw who she was a 'guest of' this week, I could barely contain myself.

And just in case you were curious what she'd look like with brown hair, see below:

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pilates Anyone?

T and M (and H making attempts), making the most of one of my birthday gifts. Who knew the fun that could be had from an instructional Pilates dvd?

I definitely thought that the excitement would wear off last night, but the first thing out of M's mouth this morning; Can we do pilates?

***
On another note, you only have until Tuesday to enter the Snail Mail Contest. I've enjoyed reading the entries so far, but there is always room for more. Get your entry in by Tuesday!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Through A Childs' Eyes.

Like I mentioned before, T and M received camera's from their mom as early Christmas presents last December.

Recently I plugged T's camera into the computer and was amazed at the pictures that popped up from a time period that is still sometimes hazy in my own mind. These were the days of my mother's visitation and funeral and when I look at these I am amazed at a child's perspective.

Maybe I'm the only one who can see it, but what I see is foggy and fuzzy emotion.








Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Simple Joys.

Growing up whenever I asked my parents what I could do for them or give them for birthdays or holidays my parents infamous response was always; "Happy and content children."

"But, no.." I'd say. "What can I buy for you?"

Even today, my dad will tell me there really isn't any material gift that I could give him that would beat having happy, content children.

One Christmas I went so far as to wrap up a picture of my smiling face and titled it; 'Your Happy and Content Daughter.'

I think that now that I'm a parent, I get it. We all want our kids to be happy, content, well rounded individuals. And I think in a lot of ways when I see the T or M or H sincerely full of joy about something, I too am full of joy and thankfulness.

I think that some parents get so caught up in thinking they must always provide their children every whim and desire so that their children are happy. But I'd like to believe that having happy and content children has little to do with things and buying more but that it's in the simple little joys.

Today was one of those days where I truly saw simple joys come to life with all three kids. It was one of those days where both T and M spent time this morning 'dialing for dollars', as I like to call it. Calling every friend they have. Knocking on all the neighbors doors. Just looking for someone to play with or something to do. They know better than to tell me they're bored because I'll put them to work, but I could tell it was going to be a long day.

So we took off after lunch for a trip to the Children's Museum. While I am able to bring H there on a more regular basis, T and M definitely don't make it there as frequently because of this thing they are mandated to go to, school.

I forget that there are so many things to do for all sorts of ages as typically I focus on toddler friendly rooms and activities, but today we saw the whole museum.

My eyes were opened and my heart was happy as I saw all three of them having fun. Happy. Content. Loving the experience and just being together.

This is the only picture T would let me take of him. Bummer.
After an exhausting two hours of playing, we stopped and had an ice cream treat at McDonalds on our way to the car. I have realized I am more and more like my mom as a parent all the time. When I would ask (read: beg) for things as I child, I would drive her nuts. When I would just enjoy something, appreciate and not have to request more, she'd at time surprise us with a treat or something special. Today was like that. Neither T or M asked for anything at the museum, in the gift shop or even when we walked past the snack bar. When they are so appreciative about just being at the museum it makes me want to treat them to a treat.
I absolutely love this picture of H devouring his cone.
We stopped at Trader Joe's on our way home to pick up a few needed items (More on the progress of the needs/wants experiment soon.) T and M picked out their Fruit Leathers. Listening to T and M decide on their flavors and determine which flavors we should buy next time and which ones we should skip made me chuckle. Who knew a forty-nine cent snack would bring such entertainment.

M, proudly displaying her painting from today.
And the best part, having sparkling lemonade with our "gourmet" dinner of macaroni, chicken and green beans. (Umm yeah, not really what was planned on the menu.)

M walked in to the kitchen and grabbed her chest. "We're using special wine glasses?"

"Why not?" I said. Little did she know it was because I just really didn't want to empty out the dishwasher that had oh, almost all of our glasses.

"Oh I just love this day."
A trip to the children's museum: Free (with our membership)
Parking: $3.00
Ice Cream cones: $3.00
Fruit Leather at Trader Joes: $3.00 for six.
Lemonade in wine glasses for dinner: Free
Happy and content children: Priceless.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Apparently Spring Break Wears Him Out Too.

We're on spring break around here. Today is day five, and there are six more days until T and M return to school on April 1. I still can't figure out why I never got a spring break this long as a kid.

This morning H fell asleep watching a movie, in my bed, with a bowl of cheerios. M was busy playing Webkinz. T was busy playing Wii. And I desperately wanted ten minutes to myself. (To blowdry my hair, of all things.)

It took less than ten minutes and here's what happened...
The more and more frequent terrible two moments and those late nights in the beep beep bed must be catching up to him.
Gotta love his hand in the cheerio bowl.
Three hours later, this kid is a brand new child.
I think I'll keep him around a little longer after all.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Twenty-Six.

Dear 16 year old Samara,
You just had to take your drivers test on your birthday didn't you? Even against your mothers wishes to just wait a day or two. Give it a couple weeks, you can test again, and chances are you'll pass out of the sheer fact that it's not your birthday.

Your parents drive you crazy always having to know where you are going, when you'll be home and who you're going to be with. They do this because they love you, but you think it's to annoy you. Needless to say your friends are what is important right now. Realize that you will most likely not talk to a single one of these "BFF's" ten years from now, and you'll be just fine.

Be glad that your mom makes you save half of your paychecks from babysitting and working. She's teaching you how to save.

With love,
26 year old Samara
****

Dear 18 year old Samara,
You are counting down the end of high school and the road to college. You are determined to go live in the big city (Chicago).

The start of college will be hard. Realize you are all in the same boat, you are all new, you are all figuring out what a life of living on your own without parents is like.

You will not meet any decent guys in Chicago (though you will think otherwise) Don't bother even going out with them. It will only be a waste of your time, energy and feelings.

Maybe you could try to focus just a tad bit more on school work and less on socializing? I don't know, it's just a thought.

With love,
26 year old Samara
****

Dear 20 year old Samara,
This year you will make some big decisions. People will question you and at times make you feel like you are making the worst decision of your life. Don't listen to them. Moving back to Minnesota turns out to be one of the best things for you.

You'll meet someone. At a coffee shop. Very random. You'll want to run and you actually escape to Sweden less than 72 hours later. But this is going to be something good.

Enjoy Sweden wholly. Take more pictures.

Tell your parents you love them more.

With love,
26 year old Samara
****

Dear 21 year old Samara,
Things are getting serious with coffee shop man. Everyone under the sun will give you their opinion on this. Ignore them or get thicker skin.

Keep working hard in school but don't kill yourself doing it. Your GPA really won't matter even three years from now.

You will never regret graduating a semester early and starting a job the next day. You have made your parents very proud.

Don't be ashamed about the Spanish tutor. You'll end up passing the class while many around you won't.

Don't touch your savings, you'll be glad to have it later.

With love,
26 year old Samara
****

Dear 22 year old Samara,
You are about to get married. Not only are you getting a husband but you're so lucky you get two small children too.

Don't sweat the small stuff. They will break your things, ruin some of your nice clothes and use up your favorite shampoo. Is it really that big of a deal?

Later this year you'll buy a house and move far, far away from the city. You'll agonize about the fact that it is exactly 24 miles away from your parents. It all works out in the end and you still see your parents often.

With love,
26 year old Samara
****

Dear 23 year old Samara,
You are very busy at a job you're beginning to hate. You could care less about the raise and the travel, you feel unfulfilled and unappreciated.

You will end up quitting and then you'll end up bored. out. of. your. mind.

In your spare time you'll manage to get pregnant which adds a whole new dynamic to this whole 'figuring out what I want to be/do' dilemna.

You'll start a blog which will end up leading you to some interesting opportunities later, but you don't know that yet.


With love,
26 year old Samara
****

Dear 24 year old Samara,
In three weeks you'll become a mom to a baby boy. So stop reading this and go REST. Take more naps and sleep in as much as you can. You will never get this much time to yourself again. Take advantage of it.

You will feel overwhelmed when you are left with all three kids. You'll be fine. Don't worry about the house. Just enjoy this time.

You will have many moments of frustration about your body. Get over it. You should be proud of what your body has been able to do...carry a baby, deliver a baby, nourish and feed a baby. Do not be in such a hurry to look "normal", your body is forever changed and you are now a mom.

You will finally get published.

With love,
26 year old Samara
****

Dear 25 year old Samara,
This may be your most difficult year yet. Slow down. Don't worry. Make each day count.

You will spend many days driving to and from your parents house and at times whatever hospital your mom is in, don't worry about the kids being in the car too much. You are teaching them something very important and that is how to take care of ones loved ones.

Cry. As much as you want, whenever you want.

Let things go.

It doesn't feel like things will ever feel better, but they will in time.

Keep writing. Not only is it good for your soul but you're getting more and more contacts and more and more things published here and there. It's random but you enjoy it and that's what is important.

Stop caring what anybody else thinks.

With love,
26 year old Samara

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Seven.

One of my favorite perks to working at T and M's school is that they stop in and visit me before lunch.


Miss. M, seven is a magical age. Where princesses and fairy tales still really exist. Where life is so simple, like a hopscotch game with a twist of skipping.


My wish for you is that you always keep that sunny smile, rosy cheeks and sense of humor.


May this year be nothing but the best one yet.

Happy birthday, with so much love, today and everyday.

Friday, March 21, 2008

What It Means To Me.

It's easy to get caught up in the details of the coming holiday. The shopping for the Easter dinner, the baskets to get ready. But beyond the chocolate bunnies, the egg hunts, the fun baskets of goodies and the ham dinner we all await, Easter is more.


Here is Our King: The David Crowder Band

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Stepfamily Housekeeping.

Lately I feel like more and more people have been asking me how things work in our 'situation', as it is so commonly referred to now. So, let's talk about some of our particulars (beyond birthdays):

T and M really and truly have TWO homes. They live half the time in one house and half the time in the other. We have a schedule but I like to think of it as a flexible, change-able, work in progress as there are changes all the time. Lately we've been sticking to the weekly schedule fairly well, but there are times where a month will go by and it will be all goofy.

The reason the schedule gets goofy is because we all work together making sure the kids get to participate and celebrate things with everyone. Birthdays, vacations, maybe the adults have plans that we need the kids to be part of, or not part of...

T and M have everything they need (and more) at both houses. There is no packing up clothes and all that stuff for back and forth visits.

We do however pass the 'RED BAG' back and forth each week. The bag was a small red tote bag and is now a very large black bag that I swear we could probably fold one of the kids up and stick them inside. That's how big it is.

The stuff we pass in the bag are things like snowpants and boots, ipods, cameras, school paperwork, the clothes the kids came wearing, miscellaneous shoes...random items the kids must. bring. back. and. forth.

We all participate in whatever activities the kids are in, whether it's school, baseball, swimming, gymnastics, soccer. Whatever it is, the kids know that they can expect all of us to be a part of it and watch. This means in the summer we are sometimes camped out in lawnchairs four nights a week.

L and I don't get along for the kids sake. We do get a long and we probably initially got along for the kids, but now we have our own relationship that goes beyond the kids. We like each other just because we do, not because we should.

Both houses are not the same. They aren't the same physically and they aren't run the same way. Both homes have their own set of rules, expectations and boundaries and it's ok that some are different. We have many similarities, we also have differences. Over time I think we've all realized this is ok and the kids get this.

Speaking of differences, the kids at times are different in both homes. One might eat something a lot at one house and then claim they don't like it at the other house. They'll choose different clothes and options for activities.

We are not some ultra-liberal family just because we are a blended family. Seriously, there are some people (especially in this highly-Catholic community) that seem to think that we need to be saved. Miss M actually got a mailed invitation to join another family for church on Sunday mornings. For whatever reason, since there was a divorce, many assume we aren't good straight walking individuals. We certainly try to be.

Some parents are uncomfortable around us because they don't realize that we talk and get along so they don't know who to talk to or what to do. This was especially demonstrated at M's birthday party, when parents picked up a couple of them acted awkward and didn't know if they should talk to L or to me. We really don't care who you talk to. As long as you're not trying to stir up trouble. To those people, we say get a life.

We aren't experts at this blended family thing. And we definitely don't have it all figured out. If anything, we have learned as we've walked (and at times, stumbled) along this road.

Anything else?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Second Night.

'Hmm. I just realized I can get out of my bed and do stuff.'
'...But I am pretty tired, maybe I should arrange my stuffed animals on my bed and then read some books for awhile...'
Out.
(But only after the red 'beep beep' got parked next to the 'beep beep bed')
My favorite part; the pink car sitting next to his sippy cup atop his bed.
Reason #6592 that I love this boy.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tonight Is The First Night of the Rest of Our Life.

It's 8:51pm and right now T is sound asleep on the top bunk of his bunk beds, M is sound asleep in her daybed and H is sound asleep in his race car bed. Yes, you read that right, his race car bed, not his crib.

For the last week, I have had an ongoing conversation with just about anyone that would listen wondering when/if H should be in a bed. I've been thinking about it for some time but because he really hadn't climbed out or tried any crib-tricks on me, I thought maybe he should stay in the safe, cozy womb of children's beds, the crib.

I asked lots of people, some had their kids out of the crib as early as 18 months, others waited until age 3. Some had their kids transition to a toddler bed, others straight to a twin bed.

I, of course, was snooty and also told anyone that would listen that H would be going straight to a bed bed, not a toddler bed. That all changed when my dad's next door neighbors gave us a pretty much brand new race car bed for my car loving twenty three month old.

The plan was to wait until he turned two. (One month from today.) But then I started thinking maybe that's too soon.

Then yesterday morning as I picked up his room, he climbed IN to his crib and smiled at me, as if to say:

"I climbed in all by myself, wait until you see me climb out."

And then today, he made a habit of climbing in, screaming for me to come save him and then would climb right back in.

And the icing on the cake was when he spotted said race car bed in the garage and became obsessed. There was no way that this kid was going to go inside the house unless the 'beep beep bed' was coming too.

So the beep beep bed has moved in, and the crib was tearfully taken down. (Well maybe I should clarify that, J took it down and had no tears, I sat in the rocker saying, 'He is not a baby anymore.' over and over with tears in my eyes.)

I envisioned an interesting bedtime, but H was so thrilled with the 'beep beep bed' that he pretty much followed his bedtime routine to a 'T' and was out like a light in no time at all. Now let's all knock on wood and hope this lasts.

While I've considered H a toddler for sometime now, this bed sleeping business makes it official.

We are now the parents of two kids and a toddler.

Really, where does the time go?

Party Like a Rockstar.

Yesterday we 'partied like rockstars' celebrating Miss M's 7th birthday. (One week early.) A fun time was had by all and seriously we could not have picked a better party locale. Snip-It's did a great job and took care of everything. All we had to bring was our guests. And, um, my Visa check card.

The girls started out picking out pretty dresses and getting their hair styled.
Make-up next.
Can't forget about nails.
T was entertainment, I offered to rent him out to Snip-It's for all the little girl parties. He's quite the hit with the 7 and under crowd.
Decided that as long as we were at a kids hair place, he might as well get the mop he was growing atop his head cut off.

All the pretty girls after their run down the red-carpet.
The party wasn't over just yet. We came home and celebrated with family. Compliments of decorations Miss M made and hung up herself.
The party was just so exciting for H that he passed out in his high chair before dinner.
Miss. M.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I Never Tire Of This Dancin'.

Once, again, I share Mr. H's dancing.

Twenty-three stinkin' months on Monday. WOW, is what I have to say about that.

Enjoy.

video

And on another dancing related note, here is M with her date, daddy, for the Father/Daughter dance last night. This, on top of being star of the week and having her party tomorrow, had her absolutely elated. Oh to be a little girl with such simple joys again!


Friday, March 14, 2008

Skeptical Society?

I'm over at Cribsheet today talking about what I'm sure will turn into a very controversial subject.

So, what's your take? And hey, I know that there are people from my school (both parents and staff) that read this, I especially want your two cents.
I know in my heart that man is good.
That what is right will always eventually triumph.
And there's purpose and worth to each and every
life.
-Reagan

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I'll Call This Spring.

This morning, H and I got the jogger out, pumped up the tires and took our first run/walk/jog of 2008. I'm calling it a run/walk/jog because there happened to be slipperly slime coating the pavement which made running hard, so it was more of a walk/jog. Don't worry H, we'll be flying like this again someday soon.

After we returned home, H had a great time exploring the garage and where all the spring/summer loot is stored. Took a spin on his trike (helmet-less, oops!), checked out the sandbox and toys and when it was time to go in, he woke up any of the neighbors that happened to be sleeping because he just wanted to stay outside longer. (He's got really good lungs.)

H and I also had a little chat and we decided that this playset would like to come and live in our backyard. The store is too much of a dark and scary place for Mr. Playset. We'll save him!

I'll have more to say tomorrow when I'm over at Cribsheet discussing yet another controversial parenting woe. (Will I ever learn to keep it to myself?)

Until then, check this out. If you are really interested in the birthday shirts take a wander over here. All my share of the profits will be going towards the playset. If that doesn't make you want to buy one, I don't know what will. (If you're local and you want to buy one without the time and expense of shipping, just email me.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Has Spring Sprung?

March and April are busy birthday months around here. It's almost like a non-stop party. M's birthday falls on Easter this year but we're celebrating this coming Sunday. She can't wait. The fact that her party is four days away and she's also 'Star of the Week' have her high on life.

My birthday is the day after Easter. (Are you writing this down?) Lori's birthday comes pretty quickly after mine.

H will be TWO in April (which is the same day as our anniversary). TWO!?!? I can't believe it either. But this year, I am way more on top of the ball. I figured out when his party will be and tonight I spent some time working on his birthday shirt.

April 2007.
Last year Lori and I teamed up and made H his birthday shirt and then I had this brilliant idea that we could make millions selling birthday shirts to others. (Think of all the cool business names we could come up with being mom and stepmom friends/partners.) Well we never sold a one. Today I pulled out all the samples we made up last year. Any takers?

I do truly believe this was a good idea and one that could have (or maybe will someday) take off. I just think that both of our plates at the time were heapingly full and making/selling toddler t-shirts wasn't that high on the list. Perhaps this will be my next calling?

By the way, those who are following the monthly menus, my March menu is ready to go over at 'Menus by the Month'. This is also your chance to give me your feedback and recipes. I need quick, easy, healthy, picky eater friendly yet ok for my gourmet husband, recipes for dinner.

And don't forget the contest. I really love contests. So enter. You have three weeks left. Get a move on.

Last but certainly not least, we played outside today. Like went outside with less than three layers. No boots, hats, gloves or winter parkas. I do not remember the last time this happened. T and M were elated when I said they didn't have to wear their winter coats. And H, he was just beside himself with smiles taking a walk. Spring and summer, here we come.

Yes, I Do Have In-Laws.

Judy, H, T and Bernie at T's birthday.

Considering my in-laws have come up in conversation about ten times the last month or so with people wondering if I even have in-laws, I decided it was probably over due that they get a little blog love.


I do have in-laws.




Judy and M at Christmas.

Judy, H and Bernie at the bakery in December.


They live about 20 minutes away and we try to see them when we can. They still run their family bakery that they have had for 40 plus years, so we at times stop in at the bakery. (Deb even got to have a visit their this past weekend) Other times T and M schedule sleep overs and every once in awhile they come over and watch one or two of the kids. (All three of them are kind of hard to manage for folks their age.)


H getting spoiled at the bakery.

They are nice people and mean very well but I think I'm safe to say we have a 'normal' in-law relationship. You know, where I think they're crazy and they think I'm crazy. (I can't possibly be the only one in that boat, can I?)

Somehow it all works out that way.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Catching Up.

It's been awhile since I just posted a whole slew of pictures, but I had so many just begging to be posted, so today we'll play catch up. Wish I had more words for you, but sometimes I have so many words I don't even know where to begin.

Our newest addition, the piano. This was literally two days after we got it and since then the kids are still all about it. They'll both be taking lessons soon.
Dinner out with good friends. Hayley, Chad, J, S, Holly and Chris.
My dear friend Hayley with two babes: Madilynn and H. This picture makes me smile.
T and M and their friends. This ones a couple months old but I love them all around the table and T's face questioning why the heck a picture is being taken. M's music concert. She had a group singing part.
M and her teacher.
M and friend Kristina. No this isn't a sleepover, it's little girls that decide it'd just be more fun to play in jammies.
Baking cookies with H. Falling asleep afterwards.