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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

There Is No Spot In The Baby Book For This.

It's been breastmilk and natural baby foods up until now. But today I decided to break away from all my unspoken rules and let her try something new. (A one-time splurge?)

I'm not sure I should be admitting it. But I am.

Today, we had lunch at McDonalds playland. It was rainy and cold and icky outside and it was lunchtime. So to playland we went and for the first time ever I put E in a restaurant high chair.

And she fit.
And even sat up straight, without slouching down.

My soon to be seven month old can sit up in restaurant high chairs now.

When did this happen?

But that's not all.

She tried something new.
Any guesses?

First french fry.
She broke it in half.
Gnawed away.
Goobered and gobbled.
Basically mashed it into a mashed potato.
A salty one.

I'm pretty sure she liked it.

But then again, don't we all?

Monday, June 29, 2009

What Our Evenings Look Like.

When we aren't busy parading, many nights we're either carting children to and from practices or sitting at their games. Summer is a busy, busy time!

Miss M is on her fourth year of playing soccer. Her season started once school got out and goes until the end of July.
T is on his fifth year of baseball. His season started back in April so his is beginning to wind down, we just have play offs left. One more practice after tonight and it's playoffs and the final tournament.
He looks so old in this picture to me.
This year both kids' activities are on the same evenings. That's both a good and a bad thing. Good because we do all of our running on the same nights. Bad in the way that we have to tag team if and if the times coincide one of us is missing the other's activities.

Thankfully, T and M have quite the fan club. Between J and I, their mom and her husband, extended family and of course our littles, they never have to worry about not having anyone there to cheer them on.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Strawberry Pickin'.

This morning we went strawberry picking and it was the absolute perfect morning for it.

Nine (almost ten) pounds of strawberries later and we were on our way. When you've got three very active pickers it doesn't take long.

We loved the Bauer Berry Farm and plan on heading back sometime next month to pick some blueberries.

Now I'm working on freezing some of our berries and finding some yummy recipes (strawberry pie, anyone?) to make the most of our delicious crop.
Getting started.
She's a natural.
We had to remind this one that you couldn't eat them while you picked.
J oversaw us and held on to the good ones.
So lush and full.

I think the last time I was berry picking I was about H's age and while I don't exactly remember it, I remember being told about it. I was one of those who ate more berries than I put in my bucket. Thankfully H didn't take after me in that respect.
While E couldn't get in on the picking this year, I'm sure she will next year.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Rockstar of My Time.

"Good Morning H, Did you sleep good?"

"Uh-huh."

"What did you dream about?"

"Preschool"

"Oh, that's fun. Did you have a nice teacher?"

"Yeah. It was a rockstar."

"Oh wow, a rockstar? Who was your teacher??"

"Michael Jackson."

This was my morning conversation with H. He heard the name Michael Jackson for the first time ever yesterday as we watched the news and some of his very memorable music videos before bed. Obviously, the name stuck like glue in his head.

No matter what we all thought of Michael Jackson's personal life and choices, there is no denying that he was one fabulous 'rock star'.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Another First For These Eyes.

While it technically wasn't her first parade, it was the first one she watched, reacted to and enjoyed. (Technically her first one was a Memorial Day parade in a local small town that included five, yes five, things. A police car, fire truck, marching band, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.)

I am happy to report that the Northeast Parade was much bigger and tons of fun. For the eightieth anniversary of Northeast Days, there were one hundred and eleven entrants in the parade.

We loved every moment of Tuesday night's 95 degree festivities and we not only ran into friends and family we didn't know were attending but also a long lost friend of mine who confessed to reading this here blog. (Hi A!) I will absolutely not buy those junky inflatable balloons and toys they sell along the street. And just a few tears were shed over this. While T and M have known this all along, H was pretty bummed.

Good news though, I'll always spring for an ice cream treat.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Firsts.

Everything they say about the second one getting half as many firsts documented is true.

So very, very true.

I find myself sometimes jotting on a scrap piece of paper or my calendar a new food E has tried or something new and exciting done that day. And then I start feeling guilty and wonder when and if I'll ever transfer all these things into her baby book.

It's not like I did a stellar job of this with H either. While I did record most firsts, sometimes things got missed or lost in the shuffle having two older kids around and such. I am way behind on his baby book and even printing pictures. Actually let's not even talk about the pictures. Hence the reason we've got backup now.

But this past weekend and E's first trip to MK's cabin just was begging for documentation. Her first time at the cabin. Her first boat ride. First life jacket experience.

While I may not capture or remember all of her firsts, I'll sure try to get some of the good ones.



Could she look anymore uncomfortable?


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Their Dad. My Dad.


Their dad.

My dad.
My small village and I just wouldn't be the same without either one of them.
We've definitely got the two best dad's in the bunch. And that's the truth!
Here's hoping that your Father's Day weekend was just as sunny, warm and beautiful as ours.
And one last happy dad's day to their dad and my dad.

Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Digging In The Archives.

We recently converted and downloaded all 8,000 photo and video files on our computer to an online back-up program so in the case that something terrible happens to my computer, we still have many meaningful photos.

In doing so, I came across this video of H and E in the early days.

E was just shy of six weeks old.

Can't get over just how much she has changed in five months. When you're living it day in and day out sometimes you forget.

Without further ado, here are my littles, singing You Are My Sunshine.


video

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Thirty-Eight.

Blurred and out of focus.

Yet perfectly perfect to me.

When I look at this picture I can hear his belly laugh, see his sweet smile and am happy that he is so very, very happy.


He is transitioning from Mama to Mommy, from sippy cups to glasses and from being a little guy needing assistance to being a big boy and independent.

No matter what he calls me, or what he drinks from or how big he gets; he'll always be my little love.

And in the case that you're the keeping track sort, he's thirty eight months today.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

My Girl.

I will try to pretend that I am not even a little bit biased. (But I am.)

But there is no denying that this three toothed (yes, I said three, a new tooth has arrived) smiley face is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever laid eyes on.

Don't you agree?
We wear hair clips now. (We also sit tripod style for about 10 seconds, but hair clips are much more exciting, aren't they?)
Because every six month old girl needs some hair bling.

I must tell you again, I am in awe of the fact that this is my girl.
This perfect little piece of heaven is my little girl.

The love that I have for that nose, those two big round blue eyes, those teeny tiny lips...

...that head of hair, and the little girl attached to all that, is indescribable.
Simply indescribable.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Summer In The City Suburbs

After hearing more than a few people say (In person, comments left here, sent emails/messages to me and update facebook statuses) that they are looking for inexpensive, fun summer ideas in Minnesota, and how the heck do we do the things we do without breaking the bank, I decided I would share some of our favorite things and ideas to do in the summer.

My list is definitely not comprehensive of all the things that one can do, so if you know of an idea that I haven't listed, please share it in the comments. I'm always up for new summer adventures.

*Wherever you live there are always parks! Drive around your area or go online and look for some new fun parks to try out. Pack a lunch and make a day of it. We are big park people around here.

*Another thing we like and I'm not so sure I should be admitting this is; McDonalds playlands. Go for lunch and playtime OR better yet, save a few dollars and go for just a snack.

*Your local community center: This might not be considered inexpensive, but most Community Centers have a very reasonable membership rate and some may even allow you to pay monthly rather than a huge up front expense. We belong to the Maple Grove Community Center and from our experience the memberships are so reasonable. For our family, if we all go one time a month we've basically paid for it and we can use anything in the building. Indoor, outdoor pools. Maze. Gyms.

*Minnesota Children's Museum: Again, buy a family membership. $80 for the year. Free admission for your family all. year. long. Parking is $3 for three hours. Can we say cheap day?
Another alternative is waiting for the third Sunday of the month where Target sponsors admission for all. Free Third Sundays. Be prepared for BUSY!

*Three Rivers Park District: Elm Creek and Lake Minnetonka have man-made swimming ponds. What's better than a beach with no fish, seaweed or icky, ouchy rocks? Annual family passes are $20 or the daily rate is $2/person. Elm Creek also has an awesome play area (Chutes and Ladders-esque.)


*Rogers 18 Theater: Summer Festival of Free Movies. Every Wednesday morning at 10am they show free movies. For a schedule see their website. New this year is that you have to pick up your free tickets at a local Subway.

*Monticello Community Center: Splish Splash Summer Swim Sundays and Wednesdays 11am-4pm $2/person Epic Mondays (Climbing Wall) 4pm-8pm $2/climber

*Museum Adventure Pass: Go to your local Hennepin County library and 'check out' a museum pass. Some passes offer free admission for two, some for four. This is a great way to see new places without having to fork over a ton of money.

*Speaking of the library, most libraries have a summer reading program for kids of all ages. We do this every summer and it is one of the ways our kids are encouraged to keep reading throughout the summer.

*Find out when your "city days" are and find out what free events they have. Some cities do storytimes and crafts in the park for preschool kids and parents for free throughout the summer. Some cities offer free concerts. Pack a lunch and make a day of it. I used to hate having to pack up snacks and lunch for the day but now I've got it down to a science and I love it.

*Parades: I love parades and there a couple select ones that we plan around each summer. Check your local paper, online or your city for when parades are. Kids LOVE parades, and so do I. (My two favorites are the Aquatennial and the Northeast Parade.)

*The lakes: They don't call Minnesota the land of 10,000 lakes for nothing. My personal favorites are Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet. We love to pack up a picnic (There's me going on about packing lunches again.) and head to the lakes. Walk, bike, run around them. Play at the park. Feed the ducks. Then between both lakes you can go to Wild Rumpus book store. A very fun book store with a small door for kids and real live animals roaming around. Walk up the road to Sebastian Joe's and end the day with an ice cream cone. Yum! If that's not enough excitement in that area, there's another park just beyond Dunn Bros. Coffee with a wading pool. Remember the good old days of wading pools?

*Speaking of bookstores: Check with your local bookstores about when they do storytime. Some bookstores even have a craft and activity along with storytime. Some that I know do it weekly: Northwestern Bookstore, Barnes and Noble, Pottery Barn Kids.

*Shoppes at Arbor Lakes: Camp Arbor for kids 3-10 (younger kids can tag along too, I know from experience) including free crafts, free concerts and other fun events each Tuesday morning through the summer. Other shopping centers may also do this, but this is the one I know of.

*The Light Rail: Go downtown, buy a ticket and hop aboard the light rail. Ride to the Mall of America (get off and look around and shop if you'd like) and ride back.

I'm sure I'll have more to offer up as I think of them but please share some of your own ideas in the comments, whether you're a Minnesotan or not, I'm certain you've got some great inexpensive summer ideas to share.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Where To Begin?

It has been one of those days today.

The day didn't start quite right and was crazy, busy the rest of the way through.

Potty trained, H, swimsuit clad on the couch this morning had a little accident, and then informed me that that he doesn't usually get wet when he pees in his swimsuit. Maybe cause usually he's already wet. In the water. Beware those brave enough to swim with him after hearing that.

Getting out the door and trying to tune out sibling squabbles between T and M and feeling a little bit off with J on the way to Vacation Bible School.

Then there wa a little something about taking E to get her six month pictures done and the happiest baby on this planet just wouldn't smile or cooperate. And then her nose started running. Finally on the last attempt for photos, she spit up her lunch (sweet potatoes if you must know) all down the front of her dress.

Nothing says it's over the way orange spit up does.

On to swimsuit shopping, which is a chore in and of itself, let alone with two littles with you. (And obviously I just wasn't getting the fact that the day was not quite going my way, was I?) Let's just say I came home with two swimsuits and I'm still not completely sold on either of them. Especially after my husband (who honestly thinks he knows about fashion) told me they look like swimsuits for grandma's from the 1950's. Thank you, J, I still love you, especially since you're not one to talk about style, ahem.

So rather than giving you a play by play of my day and spiral down a not so joyful path, I'll leave it at that and be back with better news and thoughts another day.

Today was just one of those long, thankless, unbelievably exhausting days.

So, how was yours?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Somethings Never Change.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I think he'll always prefer trucks and cars over the typical stuffed animals.

And that's totally ok with me.



Monday, June 8, 2009

Preacher in Training.

One particular Sunday when we missed church, M insisted on having church here at home.

She arranged chairs. Brought up her cd player and led a church service the best way she knew how, by reading to us, singing with us and then of course, collecting offering.

Later that day I saw this bag laying on the counter and immediately realized the genuineness and maturity of M's heart.

She can be silly and funny and drive her brothers up a wall, but this little girl loves Jesus and isn't afraid to show it.



Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Package Deal.

When J and I were first married, I searched high and low for stepmom resources that I could apply to my life.

What I came up with was either outdated or not quite appropriate for our family situation.

I was bummed.

Over time, more and more stepmom blogs have popped up out of the wood work and it seems that there are many more stepmoms out there, working together and helping other stepmoms all the time.

One of those stepmoms is Izzy Rose who runs the website Stepmother's Milk. (You may or may not remember that she profiled both myself and Lori in 2007.)

Izzy Rose sent me a copy of her new book: The Package Deal: My (Not-S0) Glamorous Transition from Single Gal to Instant Mom and it is hands down the best book about being a stepmom I have ever read.

One of the things I have so longed for in a book on stepfamilies is honesty. Refreshing honesty. No sugar coating but also no over exaggeration. Straight out, to the point honesty and does Izzy ever give that. She oozes it with each chapter as she chronicles her tale and time adjusting to life not only as a new wife and stepmom but also states away from her friends and family.

So many books on being a stepmom or in a stepfamily either send you to yoga singing kumbaya or fill you up with anger, hurt and frustration.

Not Izzy though.

Her 'rules' and lessons learned couldn't be put any better. Some of my favorites: "Don't act like a hostess, act like a mother." and "Accept what is." and "Relinquish all grand ideas of gaining control."

If you want to know more, you'll just have to read the book.

She brought up so many good points that I think that every stepmom has at some point struggled with.

Izzy also reminds herself (and stepmom readers) that WE chose this. We chose to marry these men with children. We chose the true package deal.

It's been said on a few other sites that have reviewed her book that when you read her book you feel like you're catching up with a good friend. I couldn't agree more.

The way Izzy writes makes you feel as though you are there experiencing it with her. Laughing. Wincing some times. Laughing some more. It is so good.

Finally, she has inspired me. Inspired me to really be real, set expectations but realize that being in a stepfamily is an ever evolving process (whether you've been in one a year or five years) and to also not allow my own life to get completely trampled over either.

If you are looking for a great quick read that is honest and down to earth, I highly recommend her new book. She gives a great, inspiring real glimpse into life transitioning from single gal to stepmom.

And the best part, and my favorite, she makes it all sound glamorous.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Last Day of School.

The last day of school has come and gone now. But the week was quite a doozy for me. My patience has been tested time and time again and it's just now, Saturday afternoon that I feel like I have some spare moments.

Thursday marked the end of the second grade for Miss M and the end of fourth (subsequently meaning the end of elementary school) for T.

How time flies.

Summer is here and I am so excited. The weather (minus today, of course) has been awesome. Sunny, warm days. Walks to the park. The beach and the community center are calling our names.

And that little thing called sleeping until we wake up instead of when an alarm tells us to get up and get moving.

Happy Summer!

The last day of school. June 2009.
(Actually this was the day before the last day of school since T and M had plans after school the last day. But this was their last day of riding the bus home.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Six Months Old.

Miss E turns six months old today and I am once again in shock of how quickly time is going.

Are you tired of hearing that yet?


While she still is a no-bottle girl, she has turned into a lover of foods. She eats lunch and dinner now which usually consists of a vegetable and then either rice cereal or oatmeal. Peas, green beans, squash, carrots, sweet potatoes are all a part of her repertoire. Next up; fruit.

Sits up better but not unassisted. When we first started her in the double stroller she had a really hard time sitting up and would slouch down and then cry of discomfort. Now she actually seems to enjoy it.

Her two teeth have come in perfectly and she hasn't even much complained. (But I have, ahem, because they are rather sharp, if you catch what I'm saying.)

Miss E, Miss M and me.

She is still our happy, smiley girl, just about all the stinking time. She finally fits in H's old bouncy car and when I say she fits what I mean is we have a blanket underneath since her feet still don't reach the floor. But she loves it.

E is so responsive with H it is almost unbelievable. He can be in her face, poking her belly button, kissing her cheeks and talking in that high pitched squeaky voice and she will still laugh and smile right at him. She just loves him, and I can't help but notice that the feeling is mutual.

Still a great sleeper. Loves a long (like 3-4 hour long) afternoon nap and about 12 hours at night. Yes, I know how spoiled we are. In the mornings, sometimes she'll even fall asleep after nursing again. This picture is one of those mornings that H happened to be up early too and they both fell back asleep in my bed.

Her hair went flat. And it's getting lighter by the bath. It seems each bath she has it ends up looking lighter and lighter afterwards.

She had her six month check up this morning and weighed in at 15 pounds and 13.5 ounces and is 26 inches long. Still such a little peanut. (For the sake of comparison, H was a lot bigger than this at FOUR months.)

Six whole months. Twenty six weeks. Half of a year.

I shake my head and wonder really where is the time going?

E, help us to enjoy each of your baby days. Keep making us smile and keep loving on us with those big, bold eyes and that spunky grin.
We love you more than imaginable. Each day we love you even more than the day before. Can you even believe it?
You are a daily joy and bring sunshine to everyone around you.

Happy half a year, Miss E.
Love, Mama