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Monday, April 28, 2008

The Fun Just Never Ends Around Here.

This past weekend J and T went to the Father/Son retreat at camp. They both had a great time and I am so glad that they are able to share experiences like that. From playing to building to campfires to chapel, ever moment was filled with fun memories and a taste of excitement for next year.
Because I'm not one to enjoy staying home alone. (Well alone with children, I should say.) We packed up Friday night and spent the night at my dad's. H awoke and wasn't himself. Later on the thermometer confirmed his temp of 102.8. For a non-fever kid, that was quite the fever.

Since we were all the way across town we jetted to the nearest urgent care (NOW Care) where they saw him promptly and diagnosed him with strep throat. We took a trip to the pharmacy and once the Tylenol and antibiotics (Zithromax) hit him he was on cloud nine again.

Sunday morning, H awoke and as him and M sat ready to eat breakfast I noticed H's hands and feet were covered in spots. Considering it was just about a year ago that little H had a reaction to amoxicillin I immediately started thinking allergic reaction. So to Partners in Peds, the three of us headed in our pajamas to make it as the clinic opened.

No allergic reaction.
Just a rash.
And the doctor checked him out, called and got the lab results and informed me that no, H did not have strep.
Not Saturday either.
So one day after starting Zithromax, he went off.

I got a little scolding from the doctor about making sure I bring H to our clinic whenever possible. And I have to agree that he made a good point. At Partners in Peds they have his chart, his history and they know how to deal with little ones. They aren't just looking for a quick fix.

So H now is covered in a rash that starts near his face and goes to his tippy toes. It's not contagious and is supposedly no big deal.

All in all the weekend provided two more trips to doctors and another pharmacy run to find out that nothing is wrong with my son besides a little viral rash.

And because I know you're all curious, today's high point so far:

Opening a letter from the Illinois Tollway to find out that we owe them $63.20 because my husband chose to run not one, but three tolls last September.

Apparently he didn't have any change at the time and plans to let them know that it was an accident.

For whatever reason, I don't think the Illinois Tollway likes to negotiate.
But hey, every once in awhile I'm wrong.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Letting Go.

A week ago, I chatted on the phone with a friend of mine from ECFE who has decided to put her sons in daycare one day a week. She told me about how hard it was but how much her boys liked it and I encouraged her that this is a good thing and that it will be good for them to have a day a week to grow their independence without mom. It's all a part of letting go, I said.

I sure talk a good talk, don't I?

Then came this week. We bid farewell to babysitter girl part two last week and this week started an entire new chapter in this school year's childcare dilemnas.

Daycare.

I've never had any huge qualms about quality daycares but what has seemed to work best for us this year is having a babysitter one to one with H. And while I think that has been positive (for the most part). I am realizing that he really could use more interaction. Without me around to intervene. Because while we go to ECFE and playdates and things, I am always there to help him.

H is going to Ms. Lisa's house two days a week the rest of the school year and possibly a couple days a week next fall. She is wonderful and loving and kind and very, very sweet. She only runs her daycare during the school year for parents who are teachers or work at school, so she is not overrun with children. In fact, there has only been two other little ones there the two days H went this week.

I know in my heart and mind that Lisa is great and that H will do fine, and that in fact, this is probably a great step for him and his growing independence. And all that aside, it's probably a good step for me to let go too. But that did not make it any easier.

I wasn't quite sure how H would react. Would he be scared? Would he cling to me? Would he be sassy? Would he cry all day long?

The night before his first day, I talked and talked and talked about what would be happening in the morning. That we would get up, get dressed, send T and M to the bus and go to Ms. Lisa's house. And in the morning we did just that, we got up, we got dressed, we got T and M to the bus and then we got in the car.

As I pulled out of the driveway I looked at H.

All of a sudden he looked so big to me.

"Today you're going to Ms. Lisa's house. She is very nice H. You don't have to worry about anything. She's going to take care of you while I go to work. But I will come back."

He looked out the window and did his own blah blah blah's as we drove the two blocks over.

"You don't have to be scared, because I will always come back and get you." I continued.

But as we pulled in the driveway he screeched with excitement.

"Beep-beeps" He squealed.

"Oh yes, they have beep-beeps here H. See this place is fun." As if I needed to prove this to him.
We walked inside and H, hit the ground running. He was off playing with this, with that, with anything he could get his hands on.

"Goodbye" I said to a child too busy to even acknowledge me.

I left feeling odd. Because I realized that he doesn't need me by his side to do things.

He is independent.
He is smart.
He knows what he wants.

He went to Ms. Lisa's two days this week and both days seemed to have a wonderful time and good reports. (Despite his sharing issues and other normal two year old boy behaviors.) And on his second day when she told me he seemed more like 3, than 2, I wanted to burst into tears. He's still my little one!

But I do believe this is good for him. And me.

Even if it means me letting go just a little bit more.

My mom once said, how do you know the butterfly can fly if you don't let her go?
You don't. You must let go and let their wings take flight.

So, H, may your wings take flight as your mama learns how to let go a little more each day.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Beep-Beep Party.

I think birthdays are more for parents than they are for kids until the kids are in preschool or so. I was so excited for H's birthday and the festivities and he was pretty much clueless.

We picked up the cake on Saturday and H would not stop asking for the 'beep beep cake' until we finally had it on Sunday. He is still playing with the toy car from the top.



Opening gifts wasn't high on his list of things to do, but slowly as he saw that the things wrapped up were things he liked he warmed up to it. Putting on clothes, playing with the toys.

My favorite was putting the helmet on.
He has been sleeping in his beep beep bed with beep beep sheets and now all of his new beep beeps are lined up around him. Including the life size dump truck. Honestly, I used to think kids who were obsessed with characters or other things were because of the parents. Not anymore. Really, J and I have nothing to do with this beep beep obsession, he just loves cars.
And his birthday shirt. (Not quite sure why he looks so sad.)

And now he is two. Can't believe two years ago I was just getting to know him.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Waiting For The Truancy Letter To Arrive.

Thankfully, I'm only half kidding.

It has officially been a month since T or M have been in school a full week. Some of this was school vacation days, snow/cold days and last week due to sickness.

They both missed school again today. Actually, I sent them to school and shortly after they got on the bus, we found out that T's strep test from Friday had come back positive over the weekend. It then dawned on me that M, who had strep throat confirmed last Wednesday, was still complaining about her throat and not feeling quite right. So rather than infect the rest of the school, I picked them both up just as attendance was being taken.

I promptly called the clinic to find out if maybe, just maybe, they'd just call H in a prescription considering he has been living with the two infected children. But due to some yada yada yada restrictions, no, this isn't possible.

After picking T's antibiotics up, we were off to pick up my dad (who had already been exposed to our strep throat infestations yesterday at H's birthday party) to take him to get some dental work done.

T and M were elated that they were home sick yet not home in bed. While my dad was getting his dental work done we went to the coffee shop nearby so the kids could finish their homework and relax a few minutes. It was busy. Busier than busy. Not an open table in sight.

But when T announced, "No, today isn't a school vacation day. We're just sick," we pretty much cleared the coffee shop.

It was about now that we found out that the pediatrician's office decided to indeed change M's prescription since she was still having symptoms five days later.

We finished our homework, picked up and dropped off dad (after a very quick lunch) and headed to the clinic to have H checked out. Naturally, all three fell asleep within a mile of my dad's house.

As I checked H in and paid the copay I realized that in the last seven days, each of our children have been seen TWICE! Yes, a couple of these were well-child checks, but six times in seven days is a lot! I asked the ladies at the desk if they have a frequent visitor club where maybe after the 10th visit, they'll buy you lunch, but the ladies didn't seem to find the humor in it. At least I got a good chuckle though.

H's quick strep came back negative. So to the Target pharmacy to pick up just M's new prescription and as we walked up to the counter, the pharmacist starting laughing as he remembered me (and my attitude) from the morning. I told him he'll probably be seeing me tomorrow too.

I rearranged my week so that H and I will be home tomorrow just in case. I'm not usually a betting woman, but my guess is we'll be getting a call tomorrow that H has strep too. Any wagers?

And you thought you'd be getting an update on H's birthday party.

Ha!

Maybe tomorrow.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Four Years.

Four years ago yesterday, the two of us said "I do." (Yes, H was born two years later, on our anniversary.)
In front of all of our friends and family, we commited to being husband and wife. To love, to honor, to cherish. To live faithfully, happily and lovingly.

A happy day it was.

Absolutely can't imagine my life without J right beside me. Making me laugh, encouraging me, at times pushing my buttons, but loving me regardless of the silly ideas I have every day.

Happy four years J! I love you even more today than I did then. And I'm so glad that we're living happily ever after together.

And by popular demand, last year's April 17th video can be seen here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Two.

And today he is two. Just yesterday I looked at him and said, when did his legs get so long and when did he learn how to do things so well? How can I spend every day with him and miss it? It is going so fast.

He is a constant source of joy. My littlest love and my precious son.

I am thankful for the days where he will hold my hand and cuddle up to me, because someday I will be 'just' his mom.
Oh H. May you never lose your sense of wonder, of curiousity and believing that you can do or be anything if you set your mind to it. May you love deeply and feel the love that so many have for you. May you live each day to it's fullest and never lose your belly laugh. May you never go to bed wondering just how much you are loved. You are so loved, and just like T and M, there is not one single thing you can do to lose that love, today and everyday.
And just for the record books: 36 1/2 inches tall and 29 pounds 14 ounces of goodness.

(For those that remember our doctor dramas, one year later, they finally have our family situation figured out.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Filling In The Bubbles.

On Monday, T walked in the door after school and informed us that he needed a good night's sleep and a healthy breakfast Tuesday.

"Don't you need that everyday?" I asked.

Then he told us he also needed two sharpened #2 pencils.

It clicked. It's MCA (Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment) time. Otherwise meant as fulfilling Minnesota's part of No Child Left Behind.

Before bed, he mentioned that he was worried that if he didn't do well, the school would not get any money.

Nine year olds today just don't have enough to worry about, do they?

I am not nearly well versed enough to intelligently discuss the entire No Child Left Behind Act so I won't divulge too far. But I have mixed feeling on such a focus on standardized testing.

For starters, I was an awful test taker as a kid. Standardized tests definitely weren't an adequate way of representing what kind of student I was.

There is such pressure now for students to score high and do well on these tests. I don't recall this pressure during miscellaneous testing when I was going through school. We were encouraged to get a good nights rest and a healthy breakfast all the time, not just test week. There were no study guides that came home to review and practice tests. There were no snacks during the test to help fill rumbling tummies. And as far as I can tell, there really wasn't even talk of the results.

When I was in the education program at North Park, one of my professors recommended that we all request our educational records from our respective school districts. It was then that I saw the names of the hodge podge of standardized tests I'd taken as early as first grade, and this was long before No Child Left Behind.

I really don't know how I feel about all this testing, all this focus on two very broad subjects (math and reading) and the fact that there is so much pressure on schools, teachers and ultimately, students. Like I said above, I definitely don't know enough or hold the magic answers, but I'd like to think ideally, and that there has to be another way to prove our students wealth of knowledge besides having them fill in the bubbles.

What bugs me most is our kids are ultimately judged by two subjects when there are so many more things that make a student educated. You can be a reading and math genius, but a very ignorant and uneducated person.

There is more to me than my math and reading scores, shouldn't there be more to our children?


Go on to sleep now, third grader of mine.
The test is tomorrow but you'll do just fine.
It's reading and math, forget all the rest.
You don't need to know what is not on the test.
Each box that you mark on each test that you take,
Remember your teachers, their jobs are at stake.
Your score is their score, but don't get all stressed.
They'd never teach anything not on the test.
The School Board is faced with no child left behind
With rules but no funding, they’re caught in a bind.
So music and art and the things you love best
Are not in your school ‘cause they’re not on the test.
Sleep, sleep, and as you progress
You’ll learn there’s a lot that is not on the test.
Debate is a skill that is useful to know,
Unless you’re in Congress or talk radio,
Where shouting and spouting and spewing are blessed
'Cause rational discourse was not on the test.
Thinking's important. It's good to know how.
And someday you'll learn to but someday's not now.
Go on to sleep, now. You need your rest.
Don't think about thinking. It's not on the test.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Quick Weekend.

This weekend we made our way to Green Bay, WI for a surprise party for my Aunt Laurie, in town from Virginia. We all had a great time and I am so glad that we were all able to be together for the weekend. And that we all kept it a surprise!
The party was at Lambeau Field.

This was our view.


Surprise!

Some of her '50' gear. I wish I had some pictures of M, being a ham and helping open gifts. One of my favorite things to hear come out of her mouth was; "Another card, another nickel." I have no idea where she heard that.

Our family and the guest of honor.

Everybody who was there.

Another fun bonus of the weekend was the Tundra waterpark. The hotel we were staying at had just replaced their water pump so their pool was freezing on Saturday so they gave us passes to go a few hotels over to the water park. After a long car ride Saturday morning, the kids enjoyed hours of fun here before we got ready for the party. The pool was back in regular order by Sunday morning so they were back in the hotel pool then.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AUNT LAURIE! We're so glad we got to be a part of your party and give you such a fun surprise!!! We love you!

(photo taken by M.)

Friday, April 11, 2008

TGIF.

One of those weeks this week. Where I felt behind on everything every single day. An errand to run here, a to-do list to get done there. I wasn't feeling 100% and H came down with a little cold. Plus we had really crummy weather. It was definitely one of those weeks.

But some things to report:

*We saw Horton Hears a Who on our Monday off of school. (These kids haven't had a full week of school since the beginning of March.)

*T and M began piano lessons on Wednesday and both seemed to really love it. I am so excited for them to learn and play actual songs. Not that I don't enjoy the, um, made-up symphonies they've been performing already.

*H got a hair cut that made him instantly older.

*I missed pilates on both Tuesday and today, for really no good reason. Bummer.

*Cub Foods contacted me. Expect an update on my saga next week.

*It snowed. No, really. This picture was taken at the beginning of the storm yesterday. It's much worse now. Worse enough for school to be cancelled. Hopefully this is the conclusion to the longest winter of my life yet.
*In preparation for H's second birthday, L and I got his birthday shirt made. And it is so. so. so. cute. But you'll just have to wait and see.

*Also in preparation for the birthday, we've been practicing a few things. Of course when the camera's running he can't possibly oblige all my requests. But at least he tries.

video

TGIF.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

And The Winners Are...

The Snail Mail contest ended last week and it took the other Samara, Melissa and myself just a little bit of time to determine our winners.

Runner-ups are:

Melanie who wrote about a past, lost love and how she reconciled a friendship through sitting down and writing him a letter. Raw and real.

And Deb, who wrote about her sister and the relationship they share. She shared little girl notes that she had written to her sister and how her sister saved these special things.

And the first place winner is:

Kim.

Who wrote about a letter her mom wrote to her long before her mom knew she was sick and long before her mom was gone. And how now this letter is all she has and all she can hold on to.

Winners please send an email to snailmailcampaign (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing info so we can get your prizes to you. Congratulations!

(And if you didn't get a chance to enter, there's another contest, 'The Letters You Keep' going on over at Crane Stationery. And wouldn't you know that the other Samara is one of the judges.)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Sweet.

She is rarely quiet and if she is, it usually means something is wrong. She talks and she sings and she hums. About anything and everything and nothing at the same time.

She is so literal and it cracks me up. She overheard me say something about having a sweet tooth and she immediately wanted to know which tooth actually is the sweet tooth.

Saturday morning coffee.
4.5.08
Pictures taken by my phone.
Her words can get exhausting, but they are astounding as well.

I will take all the words she'd like to give me because there are times I think she makes more sense of life than I do.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Where I Just Ramble My Opinion.

I consider myself a pretty informed citizen. I read the newspaper and have many other news sources that I follow on a weekly basis. I have really always been interested in what is going on in the world. But lately I can't help but read the news and shake my head at the same time.

I understand that the news rarely has good news as it is, but lately it's getting weirder and weirder.

For starters there are the Georgia 3rd graders who were upset with their teacher for scolding them so they made a plan to harm their teacher in revenge.

And then there's that 3rd grade teacher in California who decided to bring a gun to school and leave it in her top desk drawer where a student later saw it. (Perhaps she was fearful her students had a plan against her as well???)

Then there's the woman in Michigan who robbed a bank claiming that the economy made her do it. It truly is always someone else's fault, isn't it?

Tonight I saw a story about a Wisconsin elementary school that had a dress up day where students were encouraged to either dress up like a senior citizen or dress up as the opposite gender. Is that not strange?

And did you know that according to CNN, your relationship isn't official until it's on Facebook. Oooh!

Even though these stories are real and bizarre, the one news story that is really bugging me is this pregnant 'man'. For starters, can we please stop calling her the pregnant man? She is a woman who has always wanted to be a man and decided to take testosterone and have her breasts removed. She is not a man. She is a woman with a gender crisis.

In case you happened to miss it like I did, Oprah interviewed this pregnant he/she and spouse and also followed he/she to the doctor for the ultrasound. Oprah, you are better than that! (And don't even get me started on my disappointment over her blatant disbelief in God.)

I don't want to see any more pictures of the pregnant he/she and I don't want to read any more about it. Instead I'd like Dateline or CNN to interview the doctor who decided it would be a good idea to inseminate a woman who was taking testosterone to be a man.

There is right and there is wrong. And this whole thing, it's just plain wrong.

Friday, April 4, 2008

These Are Days...I'll Remember.

It is easy to get caught up in the lists of things to do, the places to go and the people to see. But sometimes what's even more important is just letting life be and spending an entire (nap-less) afternoon outside. Because in the end, I doubt we'll remember that we skipped naptime and that the laundry didn't get put away today. Or the dishes and the dusty blinds that needed cleaning. Instead I hope that this is what we remember.

This is his most favorite thing to do right now. Push this car up and down the street, in and out of driveways, on and off the grass. Laughing and calling out; 'Okay Mama'.
Seeing him giggle in joy makes my heart feel full.
And afterwards, he crashes. Because remember he had no nap.
.
"These are days you'll remember.
Never before and never since, I promise, will the whole world be warm as this.
And as you feel it, you'll know its true that you are blessed and lucky.
It's true that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you."

-song excerpt from These Are Days/10,000 Maniacs

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Why I Hate Grocery Shopping.

Dear Cub Foods,

Would you please stop sending me your mailers advertising your great sales and deals on miscellaneous groceries that you know our family consumes?

I don't want your buy one, get one free ads or your coupons for $5 off a purchase of $50 any more.

I am frustrated and burned out at the time and energy it takes me not only to do my shopping, bag it, but then read my entire receipt making sure that each and every advertised discount was included. Because they usually aren't. I have learned you play the game of bait and switch well. I wonder how many others actually check their receipt and question the ads, and how many just go home and let it be. I used to be the let it be type. Not anymore.

Now I drag myself. my toddler and the big stinking race car cart full of my groceries to your service counter where your sixteen year old employee will say; "Like it's only $15, what's the big deal?"

$15 of errors on your behalf is a big deal. And considering it's been double that on a few occasions I'd say this is more than a big deal.

Once I've unpacked half of my groceries to prove that yes I bought the required two of this or three of this or whatever was required, I can get a refund. But it can take up to 14 days to credit my Visa check card. I don't get this, when I pay you, you now have my money. When I get a refund due to your errors I must wait 14 days. Something is amiss here, no?

When sixteen year old employee's manager walks behind the counter and sees a refund being processed, she too now must ask questions of why and how and what. I explain that your advertised savings/coupons/buy one, get ones didn't ring up correctly. Instead of apologizing manager accuses me of not reading the ads correctly until sixteen year old points out that I am right and they didn't ring up correctly.

Lastly, if I come to your store one more time and see rows of expired childrens yogurt I am going to throw them all on the floor and create a scene because obviously the last three shopping trips where I've mentioned that you are selling expired children's yogurt hasn't sunk in yet.

One tired and disappointed customer,
Samara

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Spring in Minnesota.

This is no April Fools Day joke. After blizzard-like conditions yesterday, this is what it looks like around here today. Yesterday my grass was brown and the roads were black, today they are all white. Such is life in Minnesota.