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Friday, October 30, 2009

My Batman.

Yesterday, was H's Harvest Party at preschool.

(Calling it a Halloween Party is so 1992, you know.)

He couldn't wait. And either could I.

Though my heart had many pangs when he told me several times that he didn't want me to come. Preschool is his thing, he insists and I am to drop him off and pick him up, only.

We had a little heart to heart yesterday morning and I told him that this was special for me to come and see him and his friends at school.

I pretty much forced myself to be a chaperone. While other parents drop their kids off at preschool with their kids glued to their necks and tears streaming down their childs face, my son requests me to not volunteer at the Harvest Party.

Is he 3 or 13?

I went.

Because I love him and I wanted a glimpse of his little preschool life.
And last night when I asked him he said he was happy I was there. But I'm pretty sure he doesn't want me to make a habit of it.

I won't always be able to be there or be part of these things, I know.

But I'm glad I was yesterday.

Can you really blame me?

He'll only be 3 and Batman once. And I can't bear the thought of missing it.




His teachers tell me that this is where he sits every single time they read stories. Front and center fully engaged. He loves books.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Book, Dr. Phil, Blog Changes, and Baby Einstein. All in a Week's Work.

Whew.

What a week.

Tuesday night I got word that a book I contributed to has been published and will be released on November 1. The book is called Whose Kids Are These: Turning Points for Stepmoms and I contributed an essay on MY relationship with L, T and M's mom, and how that changed over time.

I wrote it so long ago that I all but forgot about it until I got the email notice. I haven't received my copy but should any day now.

*****

For those that follow me on Twitter or Facebook, some of this is old news, but Wednesday, after a busy morning out of the house, I came home to see I'd received an email from a producer at the Dr. Phil show that was shortly followed up by a phone call. What they explained via email and on the phone was they were doing a show on stepmoms/moms relationships (including one duo in TX who recently wrote a book together and had passed my name and blog along to the producers) and looking for another family to feature on the show.

I was freaking out, because really, how often does a producer from Dr. Phil contact you?

So I got them all the info, talked to J, talked to L. Got everything squared away. Talked more to the producers and then played the waiting game.

This afternoon, after more emails and more phone calls, I found out that our family will NOT be on the show that is taping next Tuesday because we are "too positive" and "get along too well". While disappointing to find out we aren't taking a quick trip to LA next week, it also made me once again feel proud of this little crazy sometimes mixed up family we've got going here because what a compliment to be told that we are too positive and get along too well for their show. The producer said they would keep us in mind if they do a more positive story and show but right now want to work on having Dr. Phil and the duo-authors "help" a family (or two.)

I was open and up front with the producers from the get-go that we weren't really in need of help and that we had a working-relationship and at the time they were still thinking that might work for their show. While I know that none of us in our family situation are perfect and we've each had our share of issues and moments, we do work really hard and really genuinely want to do what is best and what is right. Could we improve? YES! Do we at times struggle? YES! But we are nowhere near the countless issues that are out there amidst families like ours.

Getting turned down by Dr. Phil in our case, a good thing.

Plus, just so you know, Oprah would have been my first choice anyhow.

Not that I'm picky or anything. Just sayin'.
*****

My blog address recently changed to http:///www.simplicityinthesuburbs.com . You can still get here the old way via blogspot but I am not sure how long they will re-direct (or maybe it's infinite??) so please update your reader or favorites or links list. Thanks!

*****

Have you heard the latest news about Baby Einstein? Well it's your lucky day if you have any of those crazy DVD's sitting on your shelves because now through March 2010 you can send them in to Disney and get $15.99 cash back for each of them. Mail in form and information found here.

Why? Because they really aren't educational DVD's after all.

Really? Is this really a surprise?

I was never a Baby Einstein fan anyhow and the one DVD we got as a gift is long gone.

For as much as our media, news and child development sources tell us too much tv is bad, I never believed that a DVD meant for babies would make my babies smarter.

But I wouldn't be against getting $$ in the mail if I had some sitting around now.

*****

So, now that you know about my week, how's yours?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jack O' Lanterns.

Waa-laa.
Thanks to J, three of our four pumpkins got to be carved. Though T and M can pretty much handle most of the duties themselves, they wouldn't be able to do it without J. Because much like Easter egg decorating, I tend to sit back and watch.

Now that the pumpkins are carved, the costumes are ready and the candy is awaiting, we are all set for Halloween.
But I am a tad bit sad that it will already be October 31 and things won't be looking like this for much longer. Fall was much too short and sweet this year.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Water Babies Littles.

There is no question about my littles and water.

They love it.

So spending some time at The Lodge Waterpark while J worked away at a conference was a no-brainer for me. I knew that these two would laugh and splash away the time.



This is post lazy river. Yes, I am the crazy looking mom who took both kids on tubes through the lazy river. I think they put the life guards on high-alert. They seemed to pay extra close attention. Now that I'm looking back at it, I have no idea what I was thinking. But they both had fun, even if my arms were really sore the next day.


I have frequently been asked about H and his swim shirts. Why? Why even inside?

H has super fair skin. One of my friends even calls his skin, see-through. Though he's always covered with SPF 45 outside I think that having the extra protection on his shoulders, back and tummy is good for him.

He also had that birth mark removed last winter on his back so we were asked by the doctor to have NO sun exposure to the scar for at least one year and also to be careful not to pick, grab or get scratched there.

Because the scar sticks out a little bit from his swim trunks and also because I'm all about routine, we have him wear the shirt anytime he's swimming whether we're inside or outside.
It's funny that while H really doesn't enjoy getting his face wet E could care less. She truly is a fearless water babe.



My littles.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Updates Galore.

I wish I had a really great adventurous story and reason for not updating all week. But I don't.

The week just really got away from me. Busy days, even busier evenings. A couple days a way with J and the littles and now it's Saturday.
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I've been on an organizing frenzy all week. I'm doing everything. I seriously don't know when I last did this. And am even possibly thinking some of it I've never gone through. I started in the kitchen and got rid of a lot stuff. How many travel coffee mugs and water bottles does one family need? Next I tackled upstairs bedrooms and bathrooms. The hardest was E's closet, which most days I simply avoid since there is so much stuff in there I can't usually open the door without a few things falling down and hitting me on the head.

I'm happy to report the upstairs is about 95% finished. Starting the basement closets, laundry room and the bedrooms today. I'm saving photos and paperwork and thinking of a new way to keep track of that stuff before it gets put away in packaway bins. A trip to Ikea is in the works for tomorrow.

In my mind, organizing and Ikea go hand in hand. Though I've committed that I need no more bins or boxes or shelves, it's nice to look at ideas and also see what else they've got. It's been years since my last visit.
*****
The littles and I went on a little work getaway with J and it was so fun. Did I mention we stayed at a waterpark resort? So much fun. I'll save all those pictures for my next post.

*****

The winner of my contest from last week is: Adrianne, who's comment just plain made sense and made me giggle "Economy's effect on suburban families."

I had hoped that someone would make a comment about H bringing an organ in his cooler to the doctor, just cause I thought that was funny, but no one did. Funny how different perspectives we can all have about the same photo.

*****
Been thinking, thinking, thinking about the H1N1 vaccine. It just became available in Minnesota in the nasal mist form this past week which we will NOT be doing. I am not sure if we should have the kids get the actual shot or not. I also feel like I am ill prepared and slightly un-informed about it. I feel like there is conflicting information everywhere. The news, the doctor's office...so, do you have any insight or are you having your kids vaccinated for H1N1?

*****
There is this thing called NaBloPoMo and it stands for National Blog Posting Month.

November is going to be MY NaBloPoMo, meaning I am setting the goal for myself to post something every single day.

I really need to get back in the habit of writing and journalling our days and my thoughts on life here and I felt that this would help me.

Are you interested in joining me? Perhaps we can form a group and have a weekly theme for posting on Wednesday, or Sundays, or something?
*****

Finally, this is the most precious 10 1/2 month old beauty I've ever laid eyes on and I thought you might like to see her.

And as you can see, she's climbing up my leg as I type this so that means it's time for me to go now.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Picking Pumpkins.

Sunday morning after our family photo shoot we headed to 101 Market to pick out pumpkins and play a bit.

I've been kind of bummed about the fall weather turning to winter so quickly so when this weekend turned out nice, we felt we better jump on it before the winter chill came back.

We let the kids pick whatever pumpkin they want, even if it has warty looking bumps or seems super odd shaped. They pick what they are drawn to. My only rule is that they have to be able to carry it.
E's first pumpkin!
T's pumpkin weighed in at 35 pounds. Ouch! When you're paying by the pound it adds up quickly. We joke that if he keeps getting stronger he'll make us broke by picking such big pumpkins. It's all in jest though!

The bouncy pumpkin.


Our middles. Hamming it up.

Three of our four. Where's little miss E?

Someone fell asleep on the drive home from a busy morning.
If only we could all fall asleep so easily and nap in transit, wouldn't that be nice?
**The winner from last week's photo contest will be announced tomorrow...I've already picked one but forgot to announce it! **

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Three...And a Half.

Yesterday, my little boy turned three, and a half. And while some would say this is no reason for celebration, for me much like just about every month and milestone, it is.

H is big and tall and smart and silly and oh so the life of the party.

I see myself in his squinty eyes smiles and his bubbly laugh. The way he gets excited about the little parts of life, my heart smiles.
But he is also oh so a daddy's boy too. Friday night, J and H went to see Where The Wild Things Are, and one would have thought that H had won the lottery.

He got his daddy to himself and got to ride in daddy's car.

And have popcorn. And an icee.

Life is good
when you're three. And a half.

The Lightning McQueen phase is fading fast. Instead being replaced by superheroes of all kinds. But somedays that little Lightning McQueen obsession flickers back in for a moment.

A fleeting moment.

He loves his activities. Preschool, Swim lessons, and seen here, Little Tigers class.

Preschool was an adjustment. An unexpected adjustment.

He's my Henry. He plays hard, fast, doesn't always take direction so great. He's our free spirit. Independent should be his second middle name.

But he really really really needed to work on being a little bit (or a lot) better listener in class.

Hearing this news nearly broke my heart. I mean, it was day SIX for crying out loud. I am biased and see him through a certain color glasses, because he's not just any little boy, he's mine.

He doesn't try to get in trouble, he's just so busy loving life that he does it. His teacher's words, not mine.

I've been trying to focus on the bright side, while also reinforcing the importance of turning our listening ears on.

Just so you know, he's now mastered the sticker chart.
I just want the world to see him the way I do.
A lover of life.

Happy Three and a Half years sweet boy.

And thank you for some of the best moments of my life so far.

Love, Mama

Friday, October 16, 2009

Name This Photo.

We had a quick errand to take care of this morning and I snapped this picture with my cell phone walking out because I had gotten a good chuckle at the sight of him.

Just to give you a few pointers. We're leaving the doctor's office after E's influenza booster vaccine. H is carrying a mini-cooler, which also serves as J's lunchbox. And in it, cars, of course.

Give me a cute and clever name for this photo.

The one I like best gets a prize.

So name that photo. By Monday.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Highlights of My Days.

The page on my calendar tells me it's Wednesday and I can hardly believe it.

Where is all of my time going? Why so quickly?

The weather has changed from mild summer to cold, winterlike days, with two snowy days already. And it's only October.

It's going to be a lllooonnng winter.

Illness is spreading like wildfires but knock on wood, our kids for the most part have been healthy. I've got some sniffles and could use a 12 hour nights rest, but who am I kidding, that's life.

I've been itching to get online and share a photo or a story or something but once again time hasn't been on my side.

But today, my littles and I had lunch with Miss M at school.

And that girl. The things she says.

Can I just tell you that she is amazingly funny and also intuitive in a way you wouldn't believe?
We're eating lunch today and one of her little friends asks if E can talk and this is how it all went down.

M: Yeah, she says Mama and Dada.

Friend: Oh cool. Does she say Maddy yet?

M: Well she was trying to say Maddy when she accidently said Mama, that's how she learned how to say Mama.

The best part is that she's not even kidding. She believes that to be true.
****

Then we are leaving lunch, and one of her friends asks me "Are you going to write a book?"

I answered, yes, of course.

And M, in a way only she can do says, "I told you. She's brilliant."

I sincerely hope that she knows she's pretty brilliant herself.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Reflections.

I sat down at the computer this afternoon while my littles were sleeping. The only noise to be heard was my cider scented WoodWick candle burning.

I stared out the window. Sighed.

I have been thinking and thinking and thinking and thinking. About lots and lots of things.

And in certain moments drawing a big old blank when it came to something meaningful to share on this here blog.

There is a fly in our house and it flew past the screen and up towards the wall and I glanced upwards. In a frame there sits my first published piece. Written three years ago. When was the last time I've read it?

Probably three years ago?

I read the words and was overcome with the fact and the pieces that there was a beginning. A beginning in my blended/step family adventure and also in my published writing.

What seems like such a long time ago. On both counts.

Many know that my goal, my wish, my neverending dream is to write. And I've been given opportunities galore to do it. Newspaper and other publication stories, outside blog opportunities, a book contribution. There hasn't been much I have turned down.

But high on my list of things to do is to write my book. Many days it is far in the back of my mind. It is easy to make excuses about lack of time, being tired and sometimes just plain uninterested, but today, looking up and seeing that first piece, where the light of my passion of writing was ignited, gave me the hope and the fuel to continue on.

For old time's sake today, here is that first piece, from July 2006.

Personally: Reflections from a young stepmother

Just four days short of turning 5, M asked me a profound question; "Do you love my mom?"

I hesitated, not sure how to answer.

That's because M is my stepdaughter. I've known her since she was just shy of 2. I've been part of her day-to-day stuff, the big and the mundane. So, when she asked me if I loved her mom, I had to think a minute. I recalled the moments of anger, frustration, jealousy. The arguments, misunderstandings and miscommunications.

I thought about Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon in the movie, "Stepmom."

Child: "Mommy?"

Mom: "What, sweetie?"

Child: "If you want me to hate her, I will."

But I also thought about the joy that M and her brother, T, bring to my life, and to their mother's life; the smiles, the laughter, the jokes exchanged.

Finally, I turned to her and said, "Yes, I do love your mom, because she is your mom."

Their mom and I share a delicate relationship. We are polite, reserved, yet cordial. We step gracefully around each other so as to not offend.

She respects me for loving the kids and helping to raise them. I respect her for being their mom and for "sharing" them with me.

We both have come to an unspoken understanding over time.

I was a young, naive college student when I met my future husband, J. It happened unexpectedly. He was upfront and honest with me. He was divorced with two very young children. I immediately thought, "This is not going to work." But as time went on, I grew to love not only him, but his children, too.

T took to me immediately, excited to have a new "friend." T and I have always had a steady relationship, with normal kid stuff along the way. M was more reserved, unsure of whom I was to be in her life. When with her dad and me, she clung to him. When her mom and I were in the same room, she became a chameleon. Already, she had divided loyalties. It was amazing to me that someone this young was trying to figure out, "How do you love both your mom and your stepmom without hurting one or the other?"

Then, in April, our son, H, was born. Placed in his bouncy seat, he started to fuss. Mwalked up to him, and asked, "Do you miss your mom?" I immediately walked into the room, not wanting her confusing my newborn son (who I'm sure had full comprehension of the conversation!).

"I am H's mom," I said.

"Then, who is his stepmom?"

I told her that H would never have a stepmom.

She looked at H. "That's too bad, H," she said.

I was thankful that, at least for now, she views having a stepmom as a "good thing." I know it won't always be true.

"Someday, I want to go have pizza with you and Dad and Mom and T and H. All of us together. Please tell me we can do that someday."

I am not a child psychologist, a therapist, a teacher or a doctor. My experiences are based simply on my own life, a life I never planned. Little girls don't grow up dreaming about getting a ring and an instant family at once. The Cinderella fantasy never involves diaper duty. Or children shuffled from one home to another, sometimes resenting one parent or the other, or both.
But many women are walking down the aisle today into the arms of stepchildren. Some days will be grueling and painful. Many more will be joyful, if they let it be.

When I was pregnant with H, I explained to T and M that a baby was growing in my tummy. It would be their brother or sister. One week, after returning from their mom's house, M proudly told me that she had grown in her mom's tummy. I smiled, glad she understood that.

Then she looked at me and said, "I grew in my mom's tummy, but I grew in your heart."

Originally published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune July 21, 2006

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Short and Sweet.

I've kind of got my hands full today. I've got my friends 11 month old over for the day and oy, did I ever forget how busy babies can be. Charlie is just as intense as H was as a babe. In to everything. All over the place. Crawling. Standing up holding furniture. Such a change of pace from E.

But we're having fun!

If you could be so kind as to vote for Henry in a Star Tribune photo contest, that'd be great. You can vote one time per hour from 10am today (TH) until 9am tomorrow (FR).

This is 16 month old H as an unhappy scarecrow.




You do have to register on the Star Tribune site but it's quick and painless!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

You Can Call Me Sentimental.

Two years ago today it was sunny and hot. Our clothes were sticky with sweat as we gathered in my parents green and flourishing backyard.

It was unseasonably warm but we had no complaints. The sun was shining for something very special that was taking place.

Two years ago today, my mom and dad renewed their wedding vows, just two short months before my mom left this earth, it is still one of the most beautiful testaments to love I have ever been able to witness.

Call me sentimental, but this event has been thick on my mind the last several days. And looking at the clouds and the rain drizzling down today makes it even more special to remember when the sun was shining down on a couple in love.

video

You can call me sentimental but this is much more than an ordinary love story to me.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

10 Months Old.

Look who's ten months old today!
Our little Miss E.


She is totally making me laugh every morning and naptime. She wakes up and sits up in the middle of her crib waiting for someone to come get her.

Oh what to say, what to say.

There is so much I don't even know where to begin. Yet what can I say that I haven't already said a hundred times over?

This last month from nine to ten has seemed to go the quickest. Maybe it's the start of the school year and a new busy routine, maybe it's just more noticeable changes. Whatever it is, it flew by. E turning ONE is approaching faster than I'd like.

Once again, why is there no pause button on this thing we call life?

E loves her siblings like nothing else. And is always watching, waiting, taking note of them.

She's been creative in getting places. Scooting around, turning her body, even resorting to rolling.
She is calm, laid back, happy, loving, cute as a button.

Our beautiful blue eyed girl.

She really is our delight.

Her laugh is unbelivably infectious. And she laughs a lot.

So we all do around here.
She has begun to "study" us and things around here. Where once before she'd simply smile and look around, now she really tries to take it all in. In every way.
We love her more. And more. And more. Each and every day.

It is hard to believe that ten months have passed since the day she was born. (Her birth story has been added/backdated.)

I've used this Pablo Casals quote more times than I can count, but it's words still ring true each and every time I write it in regards to watching children grow, change, develop and learn the world around them.
... 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....
Yes, E, she is our marvel.

Our marvel who today decided to surprise us and take up that great habit of crawling.
Enjoy!


video
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Happy Ten Months, Miss E!

You are so very loved!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Peak At The Week.

I am so very tired this morning.

Like can't-remember-the-last time-I-felt-this-tired, tired.

So rather than blather on and not make any sense out of my exhaustion I thought I'd share a load of pictures giving a little peak of what we've been up to.
*E had her first tastes of ice cream cone a few weeks ago, and I think she kind of liked it, but you be the judge of that:
I could go on and on about my pretty little girl. Expect some sort of weekend update this weekend as tomorrow's the 3rd making her 10 months old. Where is the time going?
*Last week I took the littles to the Children's Museum:



*This week was Homecoming week at school, so this is M's crazy hair and PJ day. Why the beanie baby in her hair, I don't know, but that's what she wanted. In the back she has two pony tails connecting on top and clipped to the front. Her hair felt like cement when she left for school. T, doesn't really do these homecoming dress up days but M is all about it.

*Last weekend J and I were out two nights in a row. Friday night we had his annual work gala at The Graves Hotel. It was a great night and there were a lot of funding for his agency raised. That's always a good thing.

*And Monday, H and I went to Apple Jacks apple orchard on a ECFE field trip. Another bus ride, which he loves and some good one on one time. Spending time with my kids one on one is something I really love.

I have a lot to say about him these days. (What is new, right?) Preschool. The things he says and does. His excitement and energy for life.