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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Look Alike Boys?

From the day H was born I have heard countless comments and observations about how much he resembles both J and T. Typically, I smile, nod and move along. Yes, I see the resemblance but I like to think H is a good mix of J and I. Though I know in reality, there is no denying who T or H's father is.

But what really scared me was today. We dropped T and M off at piano lessons in our pajamas, raced home and got ready for the day. When H and I walked into the piano teachers house, she let out a squeal. And then I realized it too. T and H, with their new haircuts, and H's new big boy kicks, looked more alike than I've ever seen.

Here's proof... Go ahead, take a closer look. (You can click on the picture to see up close.)
Can they really only be 2 and 9? Because H looks at least 4 to me.

And his new shoes, size 8 1/2 extra wide. We walked into the shoe store in size 6. Oops!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My Very First Blogging Event.

Myself, May and Kim.
This past weekend I went to my very first blogging event in South Minneapolis. May and Kay of the Cribsheet blog hosted a little get together at Sovereign Grounds . From time to time I have had the opportunity to do some various guest blogs over there (typically on some controversial or hyped up parenting issue) so it was especially fun to put faces with names. Who ever would have thought I'd be going to a random meet and greet, huh?

Some of the gathering. Lots of moms and babies. And is this not the most child-friendly coffee shop you've ever seen? Slides, toys, puzzles, books.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Not Finding Out.

Just in case you're wondering, we're...

Call us old fashioned but we didn't find out. We love the surprise. We know some people find out and some people don't and it just comes down to what you want to do. We wanted to wait.

The next most common question is if we have a preference one way or the other. We really don't. We're happy with whatever baby we're blessed with. It's much too big of a blessing to be picky, isn't it?

And the shirt? Do you love it or what? It's from Due and Sprout and it's my favorite shirt this summer. Not only because it fits and feels great but also because of all the laughs, smiles and compliments I've gotten. While this usually helps answer at least one of a strangers questions, it's usually followed up with a dozen other questions. And occasionally, I get a blank stare from someone who just doesn't get it. (My favorite, someone who thought the shirt was referring to whether some other body parts had been enhanced. Um yeah. Can't say they have other than what pregnancy will do to you.)

Due and Sprout, is two moms, who decided to create ways of answering some of those common questions before they're even asked. Are you pregnant? When are you due? What are you having? The list goes on. And like I said before, once you've started answering the questions, the opinions and feedback don't stop. Everybody's got an opinion on a pregnant belly and what's inside.

The shirts are popping up everywhere these days from specialty boutiques to celebrity photo shoots. What a neat idea, wouldn't you say?

From today until August 30th, Due and Sprout is offering Simplicity in the Suburbs and friends a 20% discount by entering SITS when placing online orders. So head on over and check it out. Everybody knows somebody expecting that could use a fun tee! (And if you don't, there's always me.)

And now for the obligatory 22 week photo, by popular demand...

So, did you find out? Or will you someday find out?

And what's your guesstimate for baby beep beep?

By the way: Congratulations to comment #8 (Ann-Marie). Your bracelet is on it's way!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

35.

Today, my husband is 35.

Can't imagine life without J right beside me each and every day. He always finds way to make me laugh and he has taught me to let things go and appreciate more of the simple things.

I admire the way that he works very hard to provide for our family. He has always encouraged me to follow my heart and do the things I want to do. And he has made sure that's possible every step of the way.

He is a great father and his kids know just how much he loves them and wants only the best for them.
He goes along with all the silly ideas that I have, and even the crazy things the kids have. (Like blindfolding him on the way out to dinner.)

I can't help but be thankful for the gift I was given when I met and married J. Wouldn't have it any other way.

Happy Birthday J! Thank you for being a wonderful husband, a great father and the man we love so much! I love you!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

It's Funny Now.

Tonight was one of those nights H didn't want to go to sleep.

"Mama?"
"Daddy?"
"I play..."
"I hungry..."
"Please..."
"All done."

J and I continued to ignore his requests. We could hear his cars and blocks being moved around in his room, but we knew that if we just left him be, eventually he'd fall asleep on his own.

Until his requests turned to cries and then gasps. J went down the hall to check on him and found H covered with Vaseline.

His hands, his arms, his face, hair and brand new Gymboree pajamas.

One would think that the powder incident would have taught us a little something.

A 9:30pm snack of Goldfish and water, a quick rubdown along with a call to poison control, just in case he happened to eat some of it, and now he's fast asleep.

Is it possible to be extremely unhappy with him yet overwhelmingly in love at the same time?

H, dancin' the night away at the Aquatennial parade Wednesday night. I'd like to personally thank the brainiac at Centerpoint Energy who decided flags with solid wood sticks were a good idea to hand out to all the kids. Thankfully everyone we attended with still has two eyes in their heads.

*Don't Forget: There's still time to enter the drawing for the bracelet over here.*

*And there's also still time to sign up as a runner or walker in the Lung Cancer 5K this fall. If you're on the fence, now's the time to do it!*

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Baby Beep Beep.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Psalm 139:13-14
Baby Beep-Beep
H has begun calling my growing belly, beep beeps. I will ask; "What's in mama's tummy?" and every once in awhile he'll say baby but most of the time he smiles and says; "Beep-beeps."
Is that wishful thinking or what?
Hopefully he's not disappointed when I don't deliver a car.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Enjoying My Permanent Vacation.

I thought I'd take time out of sipping virgin margaritas and reading magazines to update with a few pictures and stories of the last few days.

What?

You didn't know I was on a "permanent vacation"?

Either did I, until one of my sisters, gently informed me, over the weekend. So I've decided I need to live up to the title.

I am counting the days until the good Lord blesses her with a house full of children so that when she calls me to tell me just how busy life is and how crazy things get, I can act puzzled and remind her of the oodles and oodles of free time she should have.

Though in some ways I feel as though this week is a little bit of a respite, T and M are gone until Friday, enjoying some time with their mom and her family in the Dells. Whenever the schedule gets funky and they're gone more than just a couple days, life feels a bit different. Our house is a little quieter, a little neater and a little more lonely for H. On Saturday morning, he said, "I go to Lori's house too." Sadly, J and I just aren't as fun as the his brother and sister.

Realized just this morning that H is now 27 months and it scares me how quickly he's transforming before my eyes. Yes, we are still in the midst of potty training. These things take time.

We were given a suggestion to buy something he really likes and have him earn these things by going potty. So we bought some Hot Wheels cars yesterday, showed them to him and told him when he goes potty on the big boy potty he can have one. We walked in the door from said purchases, he proceeded to run upstairs, undress and go potty. And then this morning after he got up and asked if he could have another car, I reminded him that those are for when he goes potty. He then ran to the bathroom, took off his pj's and did it again.

Does he have us fooled or what?

He's been doing great, off and on for a few weeks but now we're down to two Hot Wheels and it's a little expensive of a bribe to maintain, so I have a feeling we'll be moving on to M&M's or gummys fairly soon.

While I'm very excited about H moving out of diapers soon, it's also another sign of him growing up and that's the part that makes me wince. He's reminding me more and more each day of the things he can do, the things he can say and the little man he's becoming.

Thankfully, I won't miss a second of it, being that I'm on a permanent vacation and all.

All kidding aside, I love that I am able to be home and I love being able to experience life beside the little people in my life. I wouldn't trade it for one second, because then I might miss naptimes like today.I put H down for nap, in his bed. Tucked him in, read books, sang songs and left. Shortly later I walked in and found him tucked in on the floor next to Pooh bear. Love, love, love this little boy.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I Am Enough.

As a wife, mom, stepmom, daughter, friend, whatever else you want to call me, there are times I feel as though I am being pulled in every which direction. Times, more than I'd like to admit, where I am overwhelmed by all of life's demands and times where I just wonder am I doing things ok.

Sometimes I wonder and worry and get myself all worked up thinking. Wondering, do I do enough of the right things with H?

Am I loving enough? Kind enough? Patient enough?

Do I say yes enough to T and M's requests? Sometimes I feel like all I say is no.

Do I listen enough to M's wild stories? Do I answer T's questions about life and the world and why the sky is blue enough?

Is my house clean enough? Do we play outside enough? Are we saving enough? Does my husband feel loved enough? Do our children feel loved each and every day?

Are we eating healthy enough? Am I getting together with good friends enough? Making time for coffee and phone dates?

It's enough to drive one crazy and like J likes to tell me, in my case, it's not a far drive.

Jan Thomas came up with an idea and she ran with it. She began Loved Unconditionally and created simple, beautiful bracelets with the message; "I am enough" and "Loved Unconditionally".
Simple, yet seemingly complex statements. She is affirming women all over the country (the world?) that you are worthy. You are special. You are you.

When Jan and I were first in contact a few months ago and I learned of her message and bracelets, it was exactly what I needed to hear and it resonated with me.

Sometimes, I don't feel like I am enough or that I'm doing enough or that anyone is getting enough from me.

But I am and I do and they are.

Probably not always in the worlds eyes but most certainly in God's eyes.

Today, in the world that we live in, we compare often and try to live up to each other's make believe standards instead of realizing the depth of simple words.

Not only am I loved unconditionally by my creator, I am also enough.

I am enough of a person. Enough of a wife, a mother, a stepmom, a daughter, a sister, a friend. And so are you.

Even when you feel like one more question, one more request, one more day is going to put you over the edge. You are enough.

Jan graciously sent me an I am enough bracelet for myself and one to giveaway here. I've been wearing my bracelet the last few weeks and I am learning to get rid of the false and empty expectations of myself. Aren't we our own worst critics?

Like I said, Jan sent me two bracelets. So I am so excited to be able to give one of them away.

Leave a comment here (yes, you....come out of the closet!!) between today and next Friday and I will randomly choose one that will receive the bracelet. Share in what ways and when do you feel loved unconditionally? Or what ways do you feel as though you are enough?

And please remember that today, regardless of the day you're having, you are enough and you're most certainly loved unconditionally. And so am I.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Satisfaction.

Our friends, the Schmidts, were in town this week from Chicago and came over Tuesday evening for dinner. Their little boy, Micah, is just four months younger than H. When H saw them pull up to the house he just about jumped out of his skin with excitement.

Even T and M were worried as H flew, quite literally, to the front door to greet them and then proceeded to show them each and every toy he owns. I'm serious.

There is something to be said about watching one's child laugh so easily and love so openly. It brings me such a sweet satisfaction to see H fully embracing life.

This is my little boy, having the time of his life, being a little boy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hot Days.

We were in the mid-nineties Tuesday temperature wise and boy could you feel it.

Both T and M woke up with playdates on their mind, hoping to have friends over to help pass the day. Both of them were out of luck. But lucky for them, they always have each other.

Though for some strange reason, at this age, siblings are still a last resort playmate. Despite that they played so well together.

I definitely had a good time watching and checking in on them from the deck.

And I especially had a good laugh when I saw what they were storing up in the little pool.
Is there really a better way to spend a hot day than this?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Remembering Nan's Battle.

In May of 2007, my mom was diagnosed with terminal small cell carcinoma. By the time the cancer was found it had already spread from the lymphnodes of her lungs to her liver. For seven long and at times, very hard months, my mom fought against the disease through chemotherapy, pain medications and lots of rest but on December 13, 2007 at 1:05am, she took her final breath and at last, her battle was done.

In lieu of flowers, our family asked that memorial gifts be given to North Memorial Hospice and we were (and still are) in awe and great appreciation of the gifts that came in. Because of these generous gifts, North Memorial recently placed a brick in memory of my mom at their residential hospice in Brooklyn Center, MN.


For the seven months that the cancer ravaged through her body, my mom made the most of the time she had left. She wrote letters to loved ones, speaking of special things she wanted them to know and remember. She spent time with her family. My parents renewed their wedding vows. Though we had no idea just how soon she would be gone, we jam packed our time together living life to it's fullest.

Watching my mother battle cancer and my father battle a broken heart have been the hardest, truest, most helpless times I have ever felt in my life. All along I asked them, what can I do, what do you want, what do you need. But there was nothing I could do to make it better or to make it all go away and be a bad dream.

I still can not make my mother come back to life and I can not go back in time and change things, but I have realized that while my mother's battle is over, mine has just begun.

Lung cancer is the worlds number one cancer killer. Yes, you read that right. More people die from lung cancer each year than any other cancer. I was just as surprised.

Nobody talks about lung cancer. But I'm talking about it now.

On September 13, 2008, my mom will have been gone 9 months, or 275 days. And on September 13, 2008, my family and I will be lacing up our shoes and participating in the Twin Cities Lung Run/Walk.

Will you join us?

And if you can't join us, for whatever reason, whether it's that you live in Texas or that this just isn't your thing, will you please consider making a tax deductible donation to A Breath Of Hope. Your donation will help increase awareness and fund research for today's number one cancer killer.

If you are interested in walking or running on September 13 go and register at A Breath Of Hope. Adults are $25 and children are $10. Once you've signed up please join our team at Remembering Nan's Battle page. You can also make your donation on our team site.

Maybe this sort of thing is not quite your thing, I'm with you, I am. This sort of thing wasn't quite my thing either. Until it hit home. And took my mom. Way too soon.

So think about it, leave me a comment or send me an email if you have questions or are thinking about joining our team. Or like I mentioned above, visit our team page, Remembering Nan's Battle.

Her battle may be over, but here's to hoping that someday, somewhere, this will no longer be such a battle.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Quality Friday: Taking A Break.

Let's just say I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today.

It all started with a 3am scream that came from across the hall. The winds were howling, thunders booming and lightning striking the sky. H was awake and he didn't like what was happening.

So I picked him up and brought him to my bed. Where he fell fast asleep. Basically on top of me.

I spent the next several hours getting kicked, hit, bumped and finally, the straw that broke the camels back was his head coming crashing down onto my head.

I've got the swollen lip to show for it today too.

Earlier than I would have liked, morning began and my normal cheerful self was not in a cheerful mood. (My husband can attest to this.) I placed H's breakfast in front of him at the table. He took a bite and then decided that he was done. He took his plate and pushed it off the edge of the table.

It wasn't even 6:30am and I already knew it was going to be a long day.

"Let's change you and get you dressed." I called after he ran down the hallway.

"No, I don't wanna." He said to me in the way that only a two year old can.

"You're stinky." I said grabbing a hold of him.

"I wanna be stinky." He said. And then, just to add insult to injury, he added, "Mama's stinky."

Who are you? I wanted to ask and what happened to my H.

I began getting overwhelmed seeing the dishes in the sink, the breakfast still on the floor and now all the toys and books he'd already scattered throughout his room. I think he could tell that I was in no place for fun and games, which is why he continued to push my buttons.

"Let's call Ms. Lisa." I announced. Today, is one of those few summer days that Ms. Lisa runs her daycare and I hoped that she was still willing and able to take H for the day.

Thankfully Lisa was happy to take H for the day. So there he went.

He's happy. And I'm happy.

After a busy week following a jam packed long weekend, my nerves were shot. I was short on sleep and my patience was far into the negative. But most of all I think I needed a little me time. We have had a lot going on, T and M have been gone since Wednesday but we've still had evening activities and appointments and plans.

It's only 10:30am and already I've finished the laundry and cleaned up my house. The dishes are done, the floors have been swept. I've eaten an early lunch and plan to make the most of the rest of the day before me.

I think that H and I would have spent the long, hot day frustrated. He would have continued to push buttons and I would have continued to lose my mind. J would have returned from work to a crabby wife and a crazy child.

Today, I know he's having a blast playing with his friends and this afternoon when I pick him up after his nap, we will be refreshed and happy to be together again.

Here's to taking a break.
Happy Quality Friday!

My busy boy, helping himself to an apple in the fridge.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Not-So-Green Thumb.

Somehow I did not inherit my mother's green thumb. She had a way of planting things and making things look just so and I have a hard enough time keeping a hanging basket alive.

I'm finally at the point where I'm really proud of the plantings I've done outside our house. They've been a total work in progress, adding here and there. I've picked out a few things at nearby nurseries and friends and family have passed on plants that have needed a new home to grow at.

This year I'm proud to say that all my plants are looking great. (Even with the little rain we've had in the last few weeks. I enjoy watering and watching the plants grow and change.) And even my hanging baskets are still alive. Next year maybe we'll be able to tackle a little vegetable garden in the backyard.





Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Meeting Samara.

The other Samara was in Minneapolis this past week, and we were able to meet up for some lunch in Uptown before she caught her plane home. Meeting her in person was very cool, though possibly one of the crazier things I've done in the last five years. (Yes, the last five years. Before that, I'm sure this would not have qualified as crazy. I was somewhat crazy then.)

We had a great time chatting. Discovered that we do indeed pronounce our names slightly differently. Mine is Sa-ma-ra and hers is Sa-mare-a. As we walked to the restaurant I couldn't help but think about the fact that the one thing we have in common is our unique name. Suburban mommy blogger (me) meets Philly published author. Was quite fun!

Samara's newest book, Note to Self: On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits, comes out the end of this month and while I haven't read it (just had a quick once over) it does look interesting. It's about journaling and I'm sure will provide a lot of entertainment. (Samara included actual excerpts from her journal, some juicy details are sure to be a hit!) You can check out her latest book at her website.


Samara and Samara.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Weekend I Just Didn't Want To End.

I tried to convince J to play hooky today. I just didn't want the long weekend to end. He had been off since last Thursday and since then we had just been able to do so many things, yet find time to relax as a family that I had the Monday morning blues.
The kids all did great even though it was long sunny days and late summer nights. There wasn't any bickering or crabbiness and it seemed we all just soaked it up together.
I am amazed that when I plugged the camera into the computer, only a handful of pictures appeared. I was too busy living the weekend to take many pictures, but that's ok. It won't be soon forgotten.
We spent a day at the cabin with extended family galore and the kids swam and played and swam and tubed and fished and played.

Dad, Grandma and Aunt MK.

Of course we saw some great fireworks that night and while H was certainly impressed and excited he fell asleep in the middle of the show. Thankfully T and M filled their cameras with pictures of explosion after explosion.

The next day we met some friends at the beach for boating and tubing and playing some more. M, finally gathered up enough bravery to hop aboard the tube and she did great!
T, already brave enough, took more than one speedy ride around the lake. And while there is no picture to share, I too took a turn around the lake. (And yes this was ok for me and baby.)
I wish I could put into words just how great the weekend was, but I can't. It wasn't because of what we did or where we went or who we were with, it was just the fact that it was one of those times where we all enjoyed our time together, whether we were splashing in our backyard pools or out on the lake, whether we were singing along to itunes on the way to the cabin or whether we were out to dinner with my dad. Everyone was content and happy.

It was just a good long weekend.

Makes me once again thankful for these many blessings we have.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

This Couch Was Made For Jumping.

Yesterday, in the midst of our hustle and bustle to get to the cabin for 4th of July festivities, I walked into the living room to find H doing some acrobatics while T and M cheered him on.

While I know I should have put the kabosh on it, I didn't. Instead I got the camera and laughed.

It's fun to think that it was just a year ago we were celebrating his very first steps. He's come a long ways since then.
video

Yes, I actually watched him do this several times. I know that I'm going to regret this down the road. Oops.

video

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

My Little Traveling Companion.

H and I spent a few days in Chicago last week and would you believe I only have a handful of pictures to show for it. Most of the pictures just so happen to be H and his pal, Micah. My friends, Zach and Sarah's 22 month old little boy. They played host and hostess to H and I while we were there just like last summer and we of course, had a great time.


H tried to teach Micah how to climb out of the pack and play like him. Thankfully Zach and Sarah can rest knowing their son stays put for now. I'm not so lucky. H showed me how he can climb both in and out of the pack and play in seconds. He ended up sharing my bed.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Summer Rules.

I never fail to laugh when L and I get on the phone and start swapping T and M stories. It's definitely one of the blessings of getting along in our situation. We can compare notes and at times, commiserate with one another about the silly daily intricacies with both kids.

For a long while we laughed at their different breakfast choices, at one house they would eat the same thing each and every day, at the other they mixed it up on a weekly basis. There have been so many little things the two of us have chuckled about, whether it be things the kids do differently or whether it's things we both totally see at both houses.

On Monday, L and I chatted and in the background T was asking to go along grocery shopping with some neighbor friends.

"I loooove grocery shopping." He said in the background.

It's times like this I wish I had a tape recorder to replay that to him when I tell him that we have to go to the store for essentials. Because I definitely don't hear the word love coming out of his mouth then.

L and I both got a good laugh out of his words.

There are other times we totally relate and commiserate with each other when one of the kids (or at times both) are driving us up a wall. Especially when we have schedule changes or weird weeks where the kids might be at one house or the other for a different amount of days. Let's just say sometimes after long, hot summer days with very active busy children, there gets to be a point where if you hear certain voices asking for yet another popsicle you just might scream.

The fun thing is, we both get it. We both know how it goes, we understand how crazy things can get and sometimes it's a lot of work.

It's hard to believe we're already a third through the summer. I love summer vacation and being able to spend time with the kids, whether it's just H some days or all three kids other days. But it's definitely been a work in progress for me.

The summer after H was born, I was completely overwhelmed. Here I had this infant who needed constant attention, plus I had these two school age kids wanting to be outside and go here and there and everywhere. Since then, I've definitely wised up. I've had to change expectations and come up with my own set of guidelines to make things as smooth as possible when the kids are here:

T and M wake up at 8 am. Once H can tell time this will apply to him too. (And I am counting the days.) Considering most nights the kids don't get to bed until 9:30/10, there's no reason they need to be up before 8. The rule is if they wake up earlier, they can read in their beds. Neither of them even wake up anymore until 8am. This has been a huge sanity saver.

No breakfast unless you are dressed for the day.

No one goes outside until I am showered, dressed and ready for the day. I really don't want to have to run down the street in my bathrobe after someone falls off their bike.

Bored=Chores. If you're bored, don't tell me about it because I'll find something for you to do and you probably won't enjoy it.

You get what you get and you don't have a fit. This is a year round rule.

We don't feed the neighborhood. This was implemented after I spent an entire summer feeding one of our neighbor boys lunch, snack and dinner for a few weeks straight. Now when it's time for lunch, friends go home.

The exception to this is freezies, these are pretty much for the taking in the summer.

Friends may not sit at our doorstep, in our garage or in the yard waiting for us to finish a meal. I won't even tell you how many dinners we had where the kids friends wanted to sit and wait at our front door.

Do not scream my name looking for me when you have a question, need, want, desire. If I am outside, come find me. If I am inside, come find me.

There is at least one day each week that we have nothing scheduled or planned. I've learned for me, I need to know I have a day to get things done or errands taken care of if I need to.

On beautiful days, we play outside. There is no reason to waste great sunny days inside unless it's way too hot.

Just another summer day.
Maybe some seem silly, petty or just plain dumb, but they've saved me from many headaches and issues. I'm sure as the kids get older we're going to have to add, change, delete and continue to figure out how to make things work here but for now, I like to think we've got a good, simple system going.
Hey, I don't call myself Simplicity for no reason.