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Friday, October 31, 2008

For The Scrapbook.

Halloween. A Preview.

My little Lightning McQueen...

I do believe that there are pictures of me squishing up my face and smiling like this when I was little too. I love it.

As for my costume, I decided that after an almost fifteen year hiatus from dressing up, I'd go this year as someone 35 weeks pregnant. (Though H has informed me that "Daddy is going trick or treating and Mama is staying home to do the dishes." He is so thoughtful!)
And yes, this is pretty much the only thing I wear right now. I alternate the shirts underneath between black and white, but the sweater, I have worn it just about every day for almost a week now. I am at the point where I am tired of maternity clothes and not as many fit the way they used to anyway, so I'm only wearing my maternity jeans these days. The sweater is soft, cozy and just enough layering for our MN weather right now.
Without the sweater, especially for my far away aunts, again:

J and I have unofficially decided that I am definitely bigger than I was with H. Is that a scary thought? You betcha.

More pictures to come of our crew this evening.
Happy Halloween.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

We Couldn't Make This Stuff Up.

How a 2 (1/2) year old explains 'gas':

"Mama, there's fire in my butt."

T's love affair with the school nurse:

"T, your lips are getting chapped, why don't you put some chapstick on?" Me.

"Oh no, that's ok." T.

"Here T, here's some chapstick." J.

"No thanks, I'll just go to the nurse later."


H, on taking a nap:

"I'm all done napping, Mama."

Thirty minutes after I put him down and every fifteen thereafter. Today. At the two and a half hour mark, I believed him.


T, learning responsibility:

"You forgot to turn in my homework!" T to me.

He didn't really like my response when I informed him that I graduated college five years ago, ending my homework career.


Sibling love:

"M, don't you have any kindness in your heart?" T

"Yeah, I have kindness but only a little bit for you." M


And H, who is teaching us that he too can use our words:

"Are you being a good listener, Mama?"

"Do you need a time out, Daddy?"

"Eat your dinner."

"Five more minutes and that's it." (Can also be interchanged with one more snack instead of minutes.)


We are truly living a comedy around here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

How Can This Not Make You Smile?

Winter hats from "Boppa's" work.

A little before-church fun yesterday morning because it was indeed cold enough for hats.


There is something about these three faces smiling together that makes me so grateful for this life we're living.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Night Out.

Friday night found J and I at his annual work "gala/fundraiser" at the Metropolitan Ballroom. It was, as always, a fun night. Dress ranges from business casual to black tie so I had quite the week trying to figure out what I was going to wear, as the black dress I was going to wear would have left me a little chilly for the night.

Highlights of the night included:

-Meeting the head chef at McCormick and Schmicks and being able to tell him just how much I liked my steak there this past summer. He invited us back and offered us some free dessert.

-Target presenting J's agency with a check for $150,000. (They were also the one of the evening's sponsors along with; General Mills, Cargill and Wells Fargo.)

-One of the live auction items went for $18,000. (Meet and Greet for you and 7 friends with Hilary Clinton. And no in case you're curious, J and I were not the winners.)

-J and I won a silent auction overnight hotel stay. (We've never won in the past, so we were excited!)

-The evening appetizers (crouton bread and gouda cheese dip). The dinner was fine, but the appetizers I could have chowed on all evening long. That's saying something for me.

J and I. Do I look as exhausted and as uncomfortable as I'm beginning to feel?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

34 Weeks.

The countdown has begun.

Things are getting checked off my list right and left. (And it was a long list just a few weeks ago.)

The plans and preparations are in place. The baby's room is all set. The anticipation is there.

I am definitely beginning to feel ready.

Ready to begin yet another chapter in this sometimes crazy life we're living.

34 weeks. And counting.
(This is especially for you Aunt Kim!)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


"H, hit me." M came yelling into my bedroom this morning as I got ready for the day. Just another morning crisis.

"H, no hitting." I said as I came out and looked at him sternly. I went back to getting ready and again M came running into my room.

"H hit me again and this time T laughed at him."

I went and picked H up and put him on the couch. "You're on a time-out. No hitting." I told him.

"T, no laughing. We need to teach H to do the right thing." I said to T.

"It's just really hard," T started. "H does the things I sometimes wish I could do to M."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Carving Pumpkins.

Carving pumpkins with three children was not high on my list. In fact, last year, I arranged to be "gone" while J and the kids did this. But I knew that I wouldn't be able to avoid it.

It's not that I didn't want to carve pumpkins and have fun, it's just that making a big, gloppy mess in the kitchen and finding pumpkin seeds (and guts) throughout the house is not very fun for me. Plus there is this whole image of children with knives and pumpkins that makes me start imagining the fastest route to the ER.

But tonight after dinner and showers we all came together in the kitchen, listened to some spooky music (and H chanting "Halloween's coming! Halloween's coming!) and carved the pumpkins. Would you believe me if I actually told you it was fun?

Something about letting go and just letting things be. I think we all had a fun time and I'd even be willing to do it again.

No trip to the ER. And so far, no seeds or guts have been found outside of the kitchen.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thirty Months.

It was 30 months ago today that you came bolting into our lives. You were early and made your way very quickly. There was no slowing you down even then. In one breath, I can't believe how fast time is going, and in the other, I can't remember much of life before you.

Making cookies.
Your exuberance for life is inspiring. You truly love life in a way that many people can only hope for. You make everyone believe that your legs were made for running, your voice was made for talking (loudly!), your smile was made for loving.

Daddy and H at the Fire Station.
As much of a mama's boy that you are, your daddy is still a favorite too. Daddy's play different than Mama's. Rougher, tougher and your laugh when you're with dad is so deep, so real, so good. You and Daddy have started a Dad and Me class on Wednesday nights and you love sharing your school with your dad. You are all about school. You love ECFE with mom and every time we drive by you squeal; "My School!"

Driving the fire truck.

I could tell you all the things I think of you, but most go without saying. I think you're smart, and wonderful and amazing and all the things good mothers say about their little ones. But most of all, you are you. Oh yes some days you are silly and sassy and go on misbehaving like there is no tomorrow, that's only normal. Regardless of the day we're having, I can't help but count you as a blessing.

T, H and M waiting for me in the driveway to walk to the bus stop. They had no idea I even snapped this shot.

Your brother and sister are still your heros. Oh how you love them. Has there ever been a boy who looked up to his siblings as much as you?

H and Kali at the Apple Orchard.

And friends. You have discovered the world of friends. And any child between the age of 1-5 is considered your friend. Especially if they are wearing a Lightning McQueen shirt. There is something about the way that you love other people, regardless of who they are or what they are about and embrace the possible friendships.

Lately, I've been feeling this bittersweet tenderness towards you. I know that soon there will be another little one here and that will make you grow up even more overnight. I know that the newest babe will fit in just fine and we'll love him/her tremendously and you'll make a great big brother, but I can't help but worrying how it will change things for you and me and just how you'll like sharing me.

So forgive me for sometimes wanting to hold you just a while longer, for wanting more than one of your kisses and for lingering and trying to savor our time, it's just that there are changes looming.

I know you'll take it all in stride, much like you already do.

So to my thirty month old, my two and a half year old, keep being the little boy you are. Keep living life to extremes and teaching me how to be the mother I'd like to be. Remind us all of what's important and keep loving people with no regard. You are yourself, and no one else.

I've used this quote before, but I can't help but use it again.

....what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you
move.You may become a Shakespeare, a Michaelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel....
Pablo Casals

Happy 30 months, little marvel.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Misunderstood: The Blended Family Edition.

Now that school is in full session, we've hit that inevitable time where the friendships are new, fresh and exciting. Miss M would like a playdate every day, please and thank you. T is more content with the neighborhood gang and if all else fails we can let the dialing begin.

It's also sometimes a time I dread.

It's not that I don't like the playdates and the fun that is had when things are set up, it's that the explanation and the questions and the figuring gets tiring.

"Hold on, A, can my mom talk to your mom?" M says into the phone and I grimace. I don't know A's mom and A's mom doesn't know me. Now I have to make friends and explain our lovely set up.

"Hi, I'm Samara, I'm M's stepmom." I always say. I've learned it's best to clarify from the get-go but even then it seems some people miss it.

"No, that day M will be at her mom's so that won't work but you could always call her mom to set something up." I explain. "Or we could plan something another day."

There is the inexplicable feeling I get right then as if I need to explain even though I don't get to.
The schedule. The homes. The parents.

And even the simple fact that we all get along.

It's as if I need to prove to these miscellaneous parents that we are good people, our kids are good people and please, please don't judge us.


I know that L has felt this too. Sometimes someone will assume I am T and M's mom and then they'll see her with the kids and act confused, as if they don't understand.

It's as if we all need name tags explaining who is who.

Just recently at 'Mom's and Muffins', one of the moms that I had met and set up some playdates for M with was there and ignored L and seemed genuinely confused. Though I had told her I was M's stepmom and I had even mentioned that I wouldn't be at 'Mom's and Muffins.' (I'm kind of holding out for Stepmoms and Starbucks. I'll let you know when it happens.)

What do we do with that? Do we hand out disclaimers? And when did people become so closeminded? Or is it that we are just sensitive to our own situation?


Today, I was a chaperone on Miss M's field trip and she was elated. She told me last night that she was most excited for her friends to see me and my growing belly because some of them didn't believe her that soon there will be four kids in our house.

When I walked in the class, one of her little friends ran over and I assumed that there'd be questions about the coming baby, but instead; "Is it true that M has two moms?"

At this point the other chaperone has looked me up and down. I am sure she is thinking that we're one of those families. Which probably makes my bulging baby belly seem even more confusing.

"Yes, it's true." I tell the girl who runs back to her desk with a look of astonishment.

When will we no longer be a museum exhibit? I wonder.

Again, my instinct is to walk over to the other chaperone and explain myself and our situation, but I don't. I waited until later and asked her who her child was and then shared that M was my stepdaughter. Even then, it didn't seem she got it.


We have encountered all sorts of parents along the way. The ones who choose one house and one set of parents to talk to. The ones who we set up a playdate with and then never hear from again. The ones who make certain assumptions about me or about L or about J or about L's husband.

And the ones, that little handful, that seem to get it and accept us for who we are.


At the end of all this, years and years down the road, when T and M are graduated, and married, and parents themselves, I hope that we can look back and say, we parents and co-parents, did a mighty fine job, regardless of what anyone else said or didn't say. Regardless of the looks, the questions, the ignorance we so often meet.


So what is my point of all these random thoughts and points? To the critics and the ones who don't understand, I just want them to know that we've come along way together already, I can only imagine how much farther we can go.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Firehouse Song. Updated.

Last night while J and M were at M's gymnastics, T and I were listening to some Itunes in the kitchen. H walked in and started requesting the "Firehouse song." T and I looked at each other having no clue what he was talking about and started scrolling through the songs looking for the "Firehouse song."




H continued to say as we clicked on various songs. Finally, he started grinning when we hit this one and he hit the living room, dancing.

I have no idea why he's calling this one the "Firehouse song" but we'll just go with it. Sorry it's so dark, this was improntu dancing and video-ing.


Update: Because I received one too many emails this afternoon that the video was too dark, I turned on the music, got the camera out and captured H's 'moves' once again for you. (But a different song can be heard in the background.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Every once in awhile it seems I've run out of things to say.

My mind is full, my heart is here, but yet I can't put my fingers to the keys to share what I'm thinking.

Just wanted you to know that, we are here, all is well, but today I've just got nothing to say.

Found this picture saved on the computer tonight as I was trying to organize some picture files. Have no idea who took it or when it was even taken but I'm thinking it might bring some smiles, like it did for me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Who Knew?

This pregnancy has been different the entire time for a multitude of reasons. The toll it's taken on my body. The sickness I spent six months battling. And now because of the various opportunities I've been given to "model". Who knew?

So, first up these are some pictures a local photographer, Shelly Lillie, took when I was 30 weeks. (So just imagine a little larger belly now at 32 weeks.) She wanted to expand her portfolio to maternity and I just happened to be the right gal at the right time.

If you're curious to see me and my blossoming belly you can take a look here. Then click on Main site, then click on Proofing and the password is: Samara

Which one's your favorite?

I'm really liking 11, 15, 16 and 18.

But my most favorite, 26.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Power Outage.

The lights flickered just once before the whole house went dark.

"J?" I yelled upstairs, wondering if he'd blown a fuse.

"The entire neighborhood is dark." He answered.

J started lighting tealight candles at the kitchen table, along with some larger candles. T and M were of course delighted that this blackout just 40 minutes before bedtime was sure to delay the usual routine. H, wasn't quite sure what this meant.

I was annoyed. Bedtime was going to be off, everyone was going to get to bed later and then I'm not going to get the things done that I wanted to do.

My husband, always prepared for an emergency, came back upstairs and handed each of the kids a flashlight and I decided I'd attempt putting H to bed. Knowing full well that he wasn't just going to go to bed on his own, I'd have to stay with him.

So, H and I climbed into his bed and read books and he shined the flashlight around his room. I laid there with him listening to J and the other two practicing math facts and chatting.

I stared at the top bunk above us silenting willing H to go to sleep. His little arm grabbed my face and turned me towards him. And we lay there facing each other.

What is my hurry? Why am I in a rush?

I can't clean up the kitchen or start a load of laundry.

I can't flip on the tv or even surf the internet.

And it clicked just like that:

There was no where to be, but there. And nothing more to do, but that.

So I laid there for the first hour of the power outage. Me and him. Every once in awhile he'd have something to say and then he'd lay quiet and we'd listen to T and M in the living room. He was asleep but yet I stayed and listen to his breaths and the quiet, muffled giggles coming down the hall. Fulfilling my need to linger, to savor, to stay just awhile more.

When I finally left the room, I found T and M each camped out on a couch in the living room reading with flashlights. J sitting on the floor. They'd read a few moments, then one would have something seemingly meaningful to share and then it'd be silent again.

The neighborhood at this point was pitch black. No car lights or street lamps shone. Occasionally a flicker of light would be seen. Candles and flashlights.

And we just sat. Chatting a little. Laughing a little. Silent a little.

Have you ever done that?

Time, in this moment, seemed not to matter. So the kids were getting to bed later than usual, and we wouldn't be able to set our alarm clocks for morning. So the dinner dishes didn't get cleaned up and the backpacks didn't get packed.

We were just being.

Slightly after the two hour mark, the house lit up and the hums of the house started in again.

As J and I lay in bed, I started laughing. Because yes, the night was thrown off and chaotic and made the morning just a tad bit interesting. But most of all I laughed because I had realized that it took a power outage to say, slow down, don't rush, what's your hurry?

There is no where to be, but here. And nothing to do, but this.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Michael Phelps In Training.

This morning started yet another session of swimming lessons. Both T and M, are in Red Cross Level 4 now and are really good swimmers. While T wasn't very excited about still being in swimming lessons I think he understands why it's important that he keep working on his skills.
M, on the other hand was ecstatic that her and T are now in the same level. She's come a long way from her first few years of crying on the side of the pool and repeating the same level several times.
H, had a morning that was just short of a train wreck. Last session, H "graduated" from parent/child lessons to preschool lessons. I was a little concerned about this considering most kids in the preschool lessons are 3 and up and by that time, have a slightly more engaged attention span. But I talked to the director who ensured me that they'd work with us and if H wasn't ready they'd give us a credit to try next session.

Getting ready to swim without mom. For the first time. I'm not sure who was more nervous, him or I.

H was initially very excited about going swimming and having his own teacher. But he didn't really like that his teacher had a lot of things to tell him (and the other four kids) before getting into the water. They finally entered the water. Using the ladder. H had never done that before so was thrown off and climbed right out and ran over. J and I spent most of the 30 minute class trying to re-direct H to his teacher, his classmates and what he was supposed to be doing, but he wasn't as interested as we'd hoped.

Listening to the teacher. He had already gotten up and come over to me three times before I took this picture.

Having fun in the very, very shallow section. But lost interest soon after this picture was taken and decided it would be more fun to play with the ropes on the side of the pool.

I'm sure we provided some fun entertainment to the other parents watching on the pool deck as I waddled out of my chair several times or J and I sat squatting next to the pool for minutes at a time, hoping, praying, that he would just stay put with class and follow suit. But he didn't. Not this week at least. I'm reminding myself that he's only 2, and the others in the class are 3 and 4. And there is no really no comparison between H and these other kids in my book, he is himself. A busy, constantly moving, intensely curious boy.

So next week is week number two and I'm completely torn on what to do, do we call the director and throw in the towel, planning on trying again come January? Or do we stick out another week and see if things click better next week?

And please tell me, these are the same issues Michael Phelps had when he was 2, right? I'm kind of counting on that Wheaties box.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Watching Tonight's Debate.

You won't find me dishing politics here. It's not because I don't care and it's certainly not because I don't have a surplus of opinions. I ensure you, I do.

I've said before and I'll say it again, how blessed we are to live in a nation where we get that right, that privilege, to vote for who we think will be the best one to do the job.

"I am thankful and amazed that I live in a country where the candidates for president (and vice president) are diverse and richly intelligent. Where I am forced to stop and contemplate about the thoughts and ideas they share. Where I can question and research and figure things out on my own. Where I have to stop myself and realize just how beautiful it is that we are making history..."

This is to be the greatest election yet.

I'm paying attention, are you?