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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Making It Better.

The page is empty and my mind is full. I am not even sure where to start.

The last two weeks have been hard. And I almost double over in shame when I say that because I do realize how good I have it. I do. I am deliriously spoiled and here I am complaining, really?

Over a week ago now, after a week of mishaps and just a general sense of feeling as though I was flying by the seat of my pants, E woke up after throwing up in her crib. Now besides the fact that she had never thrown up, I didn't think much of it except that maybe she had the flu or was coming down with something. Though, it wasn't that simple. It is way too hard to go over the entire list of events that brought us to the pediatrician Wednesday, where E was mummified with just her face and one arm sticking out while they took two vials of blood for testing.

Food allergies.

So we started day one of no dairy this past Thursday and by 9am H was sharing his milk with E. Which came up along with some of her soy milk and soy yogurt a little while after lunch.

I have spent the last couple nights up late reading and going over everything and realizing how many warning signs we could have missed. Yet thinking, maybe we're wrong, maybe it'll come back and point to something different. Something better. Something simpler?
But then if they're wrong, what's next? With one of the tubes almost all the way out of her ear, there will be more questions about another surgery and things to consider.

I know that life goes on with food allergies and I know that many people are happy, healthy people. But selfishly I think about how hard my life is about to come as I pull out foods from my cupboards and fridge and the reality sets in of just how complicated it is.

And I kick myself. I am full of guilt. The biggest reason being that this allergy (or allergies) could possibly all be related to E's ear issues. {For the record she has now had five infections since she got the tubes in.}

I had been asked about the possibility of changing her diet before tubes and I actually thought it was crazy because she didn't have any food issues. But did she? Did I really miss all the signs? The excema? The late cradle cap? The red, rosy cheeks after meals? Could we have caught this months ago when I was nursing and avoided surgery?

And then there are the things I've never been told about probiotics being added to her diet considering she has been on so many antibiotics. Eliminating dairy when she's on antibiotics to avoid these issues. So many things I wish I had known before.

I know living under "what if" circumstances is never a good path to go down, yet I can't seem to stop. I am praying every prayer I can utter asking for answers and healing. I am on information overload and I am impatiently awaiting the results of her tests.

And I'm questioning modern medicine more than I've ever done before. I feel like I'm uncovering more and more and more that should have been looked at and looked into the past couple months. More explanations and more of a thorough look at everything instead of the focus on her ears.

Did you know it's ok to question your doctor? It's ok to disagree or continue the conversation if things aren't adding up or making sense. I am doing this now and forevermore.

I want answers and resolution and most of all, I want my little girl to feel better.

But in the meantime, I look at my little piece of heaven and I love on her and I tell her that this mama isn't going to stop working at making it better. I will pray til I can't pray anymore. I will demand answers til I've heard them all. It's going to be ok. For her. And for me.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Identity Crisis.

For the last week I'd been prepping him.

"We're going to go and show some teachers how smart you are." I'd tell him and he'd beam since he knows I think he's practically brilliant.

And then today, was the day, for early childhood screening. (In Minnesota, they have preschool aged children come in and check on some basics to make sure if kids need some extra help or attention before kindergarten, they get it.)

In the car I reminded him to tell them his name, how old he is, where he lives, when his birthday is and so on, when they ask. All the basics have been covered.

Yet as we walked towards the check-in table and the grandma-like volunteer asked his name to check him in, he announced;

"Batman. I live in Gotham City."

Oh yes, he did.

Worried that this screening might go down a path of silly, I quickly reminded him that he needed to tell them his real name and really where he lives to which he looked at me and again said, "But mom, my name is Batman."

Finally, after one more reminder, he told her.
In case you're wondering, he passed the screening with flying colors, not that I was worried about that part. I'm also glad to report that he did in fact use the correct identity the rest of the screening.

Crisis averted.

Oh, that boy. I just love him.

H and his Batman bear at Build a Bear workshop on Valentine's Day.

This post is linked up to "Conversations with my Kid" over at Moms Without Blogs.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Brand New Day.

The picture is deceiving. The day has not started out so well around here. I'm not even going to tell you the one thing after another that has taken place.
Miss E has kept her smile all morning long though and for the record, she's been a big part of the one thing after another.

I am reminded though that today is a brand new day. Even though my day didn't have the best start I think I'm restarting right about now.

I'm also thinking and praying for my friend A, who's delivering her baby boy today. Her third baby but the second one that she'll bring home and I think about how today it's a brand new day for her, for her family and knowing the struggle and heartache she has gone through leading up to today. God has been faithful and today, the sun is shining, the past is in the past and it's a brand new day.

There's this song by Josh Radin that I love called Brand New Day and if you've never listened to it, you should. The lyrics aren't that bad to read either but if you've got three minutes, listen to the song.

The sun is shining. And it's a brand new day. Starting right now.

Some kind of magic
Happens late at night
When the moon smiles down on me
And bathes me in it’s light
I fell asleep beneath you
In the tall blades of grass
When I woke the world was new I never had to ask
It’s a brand new day
The sun is shinning
It’s a brand new day
For the first time
In such a long long time I know I’ll be ok
Most kind of stories
Save the best part for last
Most stories have a hero who finds
You make your past your past
Ya you make your past your past
It’s a brand new day
The sun is shinning
It’s a brand new day
For the first time
In such a long long time I know I’ll be ok
This cycle never ends
Gotta fall in order to mend
And it’s a brand new day
It’s a brand new day
For the first time In such a long long time I know I’ll be ok

"Brand New Day"Josh Radin

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hand Me Down.

Very few of H's old things work for E, quite simply cause she's a girl. And he's a boy.

But there's a few things tucked in the closet awaiting another wear around the block. One of them happens to be this little track suit from my alma mater (and gift from my most favorite teacher ever).
Will she be a North Parker? Or a Gopher? Or like mama, a little bit of both? Only time, a long, very long, please let it be a long time, will tell.

Just for kicks, and a trip down memory lane, here is H (at 11 mos versus E's 14 mos) wearing the same suit.

Man, what a difference a couple years make.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Bigs.

As T and M get older. And busier. And more independent. It seems they are in less and less photos. It doesn't mean they are any less important or any less present, just that they are growing and aging and becoming their own people.

But the bigs are still here playing the role of big brother and big sister to H and E, respectively. Keeping J and I on our toes as we figure out the balance of bigs and littles. And paving the way for all of us through school and friends and just growing kid business.

T and E at T's last basketball game.
M and H, T's biggest fans and two peas in a pod. Especially when it comes to Fun Dip.

Three musketeers. These are my favorite kinds of days with them.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Just When I Needed It Most.

"Mama?" H says quietly as we watched the Olympics this afternoon.

"Someday, I'm going to be in the Olympics on one of those sleds."

"That's awesome!" I tell him while also thinking of all the times I recall dreaming Olympic dreams while watching the Olympics as a little girl.

"I'm going to be on the sled going really fast and I'll go like this." He tells me while demonstrating just how he'll lay on this sled. "I'm going to hold your hand so that you're with me. We might crash."

And I melt. Because I needed that sweetness from our struggles this week.

"So, will you hold my hand?"

Of course H, I'll always hold your hand.

A glimpse and remembrance that beneath all that tough 3 1/2 year old facade, he's still my boy and he'll always be.

This post is linked up to "Conversations With My Kid" over at Mom's Without Blogs.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tomorrow's Another Day.

Dear H,

I just walked down the hallway to find you fast asleep falling out of your bed. I lifted your limp (yet heavy) body back to the center of the bed and you fought me in your sleep.

I wince as I cover you up with your blanket and kiss your soft cheek goodnight.

Tomorrow's another day. I whisper and I walk out of the room and flip the hall light off.

We were not at our best today, you and I. And I want to make excuses for you, I want to say you're overtired or you're getting sick or you've spent too much time with a bad role model. But I can't.

Cause it's normal. And you're 3 and a half. And a boy.

We were rocky starting out today because yesterday afternoon, in a moment after I lost my cool and sent you to wait in the entryway, you told me that I was mean.

And for the first time, words came out of your mouth that hurt me. That made me question me.

When I checked in on you and kissed you goodnight last night, I whispered. I miss you, Tomorrow will be better.

I woke up today with high hopes that today would indeed be better. That I would be patient and loving and kind and that you would be my sweet boy that does not talk back and always listens. (Ok, I was partially dreaming.)

The day did not go well. I was already not feeling 100% so between a trip to the doctor, the pharmacy, a friends house, an allergic reaction and getting you to school, I was already pretty much shot.

The meds I was given didn't agree with me and it wasn't long after I took them that I started to feel sick. The world and your words were foggy.

So as I zipped up your jacket and slipped on your hat before school, I was numb when you told me, I was a bad mama.

All because I made you put a clean shirt on before school.

But I heard it and I hear it, even now eight hours afterwards, I hear your voice telling me.

You are my happy, joyful, full of life boy and I love you so much that hearing those things out of your mouth break me down, chip at my heart and hurt me at the core.

By the time I picked you up at school I had forgiven and was ready for your big blue eyes and a great giant hug from you.

And instead I got tired eyes and a whiny little boy who pushed and prodded and provoked all afternoon, through dinner, bath and storytime.

And now you're asleep, in your bed and I am overcome with grief over our day.

I know that you love me, I do. And I know that you don't know what you're saying when you tell me I'm mean or a bad mama. Or maybe that's naive of me.

Seemingly overnight you've changed on me. You've lost your baby look. You're older and smarter and sassier and today you gave me a taste of something I don't like so much.

But H, this is a stage and a phase. And you, you are worth fighting for. If that means I need to combat this sassy talk and behavior head on, I will.

Because you know, I'm your mama and no matter what, I see the best in you and will do everything I can for you to be your best. And there is nothing you can do or say that will make me stop loving you and fighting for the best in you.

These days are going to happen. This isn't the end of that but we need to remember that tomorrow's another day.

With love, to the moon and where the aliens live, and back, sweet boy.


Mama and H. On a better day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Changing The World, One Changing Station at a Time.

This may just look like a picture of Miss E sitting on a restroom changing station, but I assure you that this is not just any changing station. This is Evelyn's changing station.A year ago, while having coffee with a friend, I had to change 10 week old E. With no changing station in the restroom and a complete outfit change necessary, I was not a happy camper. Caribou Coffee took no responsibility and was no help, instead they passed the blame to their neighbors, Brueggers Bagels and management of the building, due to lease issues.

To clarify my stance on it, regardless of what any lease may or may not say, I was a Caribou customer that day and the fact that Caribou did not have necessary changing facilities, nor did they take any responsibility or try to find resolution with the neighboring facility/building, has spoken volumes to me regarding their company and the way they feel about families in their coffee shops. Just sayin'.

All this to say, I did contact Brueggers and we spent along time talking and figuring it out. They listened and last Friday, we paid them an unannounced visit to check in.
Thank you Brueggers for listening to some suburban Minnesota mom and making a change that not only I appreciate but many other parents out there do too. The next time you're in Brueggers Bagels (any one!), be sure and take note of their changing station and thank them for meeting the needs of parents.

"One person can make a difference and every person should try." -John F. Kennedy

Monday, February 15, 2010

Does This Make Me Official?

I now have cards. Designed by an old classmate of mine, Jessica Wood Design. {Check out her etsy shop! Beautiful stuff she's creating!}

This blogging thing has really taken on a little life of it's own these days. I've been getting some interesting opportunities, along with invitations to miscellaneous events. The past several weeks I've had at least one event a week and this week I've got two.

I ordered 250 cards and when I opened the box, I started worrying that maybe I ordered 240 to many. But now I am pretty excited for the next event, so that I can hand over my fresh, crisp card and say; Hi, my name is Samara and I write about my not so simple life in the suburbs."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

In Love.

A couple Fridays ago we were on a schedule of our own. The rhythm of our day was different and rather than stress or worry about it, I went with it.

Mid afternoon, when we're usually home enjoying nap and quiet time, we were out and about. Getting haircuts and carwashes. A little stop here and a little stop there.

Knowing the evening was full of celebration for T's big birthday, we stopped for a late afternoon snack at Potbelly's.

I love Potbelly's! A love I found years ago in Chicago and continued here in Minnesota. I can't remember the last time I went there.

When I was pregnant with H and spending way too much time (and money) at Pottery Barn kids and the Gap, I would lunch there quite frequently. But this was H's first trip.

Milkshakes for all, with little butter cookies wrapped round the straw. Is there a better treat than this?

And H, in his oh so clever way, says to me; "Mama, we are just having such a great day. Why don't you take a picture?"

So I did.

And I hope that every single time I look back at this photo I remember the way I felt that day.

Simply, in love, with my littles.


Thankful this heart day for all of my loves, the little ones, the big ones and the love of my life who makes it easy to live a life of love.

Happy Heart weekend, friends!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

His Name.

And his mama's heart, it soars.


Hey, Minnesota friends, don't miss my newest giveaway, tickets for a family of four to attend the Skyway Open downtown. Red Gold Tomato giveaway is still on through Monday, only three entries so far, enter today!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

On Overcoming Separation Anxiety.

Miss E lasts a little less than 15 minutes in the church nursery on Sundays. We've had just one time that she managed to make it through the entire service in her fourteen months of life so we are getting quite used to seeing our family number flash on the screen at church.

Her first day of ECFE class was much the same two weeks ago as well. She did great with the initial separation until she actually realized I was gone and then she cried. And cried. And cried some more.

And then week two, not even five minutes into parent discussion, Miss E was missing me.

This is not something I am used to. H, has always separated willingly and maybe even wantingly. He has, never given a babysitter trouble or cried deliriously over us leaving. I was not a mom at preschool being clung to last fall, instead he waved and pretty much booted me out the door.

I have joked a time or two that I've got one child who can live without me so much it hurts and another who can't live without me so much it hurts. It is lose-lose, isn't it?

All that said, we've been there and done that just a touch with M when she was little. I recall when she was 4 and I was pregnant with H, the dropping off process at preschool was anything but fun. Those arms of hers were strong even then and clutch my neck she would do. More than once I would peel her off of me, walk backwards out the door, hearing her shrill scream all the way out of the building.

But it was short lived. And we made it past the hump. And if anything, she could at least talk and tell us what the deal was and we could converse, problem solving together. And she made it. Now she's fine.

But Miss E, all we get are cries.

She is such a mama's girl and I'm not sure what to do. She is with me most of all, it's true.

I hate to admit it but I have cast much judgement on other parents who's babes have had these same issues in the past. Claiming pridefully that it's the parents. It's the mom who has the trouble separating, which is why the baby is upset. I've said on more than one occasion.

And now, I've seen and learned, the hard way, that that is so not the case.

My E just wants me. All. The. Time.

And who am I to resist this cuteness?

There are a few that make her list, if she's in the mood, that is. If you're not on the list, be prepared for the fat lip, the sorrowful eyes and the cry that makes your heart hurt.

I know, or hope, it's only temporary and I do so love my girl and I admit, its flattering to feel needed all the time.

But I love people and I'd really love for her to love other people just a tad bit more.

Help a mama out here, what advice or thoughts do YOU have on helping E learn how to separate a little better?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Like It's My Job.

The snow has been coming down since Sunday morning now and it's that pretty, sparkly snow that as it falls, it glistens. It's falling fast enough that the dirty, yucky snow from days past is covered up now and it all looks fresh and new, no specks of brown and black mush.

Just white. Pure white.

I admit I am most often a mom with a list. I wake up with expectations and plans of how a day is going to go whether it's playdates or errands or cleaning, the list goes on.

Today, I just didn't know. I had gone back and forth about bringing E back into the doctor but then she was symptom free of ear issues again this morning and that snow outside was begging to be stomped in and pushed around the yard.

So my littles played and waited for me to shower and get ready for the day. Making a mess wherever they went, my house shows it now like you wouldn't believe. And most days, I would not even be able to look past it, but today watching the big, shiny snowflakes fall, I did, because, you know, I want to live like it's my job to go outside and play.

I am pretty much a broken record here, I know. But those baskets of clean clothes and toys strewn about the living room, they'll still be here for years to come, but my littles, they won't be little for so long.

There will always be tasks to take care of and in some ways, that's my job, too. But today, so far at least, I'm getting my priorities straight.

Today, I'm living like playing in the snow is my job.
Maybe you should, too.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

New Hair.

Saturday morning I finally had the chance to use one of my Christmas gifts from J.

Two and a half hours. Highlights, lowlights, a trim and the biggest change; bangs.

I'm loving my new hair so far.

I know, I know it's not drastic or anything that new and exciting but considering there hadn't been any color in my hair in 3 years, it was fun to add a little flavor to the dusty goldenrod I felt like I had going on.

And a fresh cut is always nice to. I've been trying to grow out my layers and have my hair one length for years now and I'm just about there so going short was not going to happen. Though it's a lot of work (I have really, really, really thick hair) I love having long hair.

What do you think of my new hair?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Clickety Clack. Updated.

It's Friday!

And my littlest little and I just got home from the doctor and the pharmacy. No ear infection today, but we've got pinkeye! It really is never dull around here. I had hoped to share a little video clip of E taking lots and lots more steps but the video I took last night either is too dark or has H, running amuk in the background after he got out of the bath. Meaning, he's naked. So maybe when Miss E awakes later I'll be able to get a better one.

Lots of different places to link up to today:

*Win $100 Visa Gift Card here. Four days left to enter.

*Win a collectors tin chock full of tomato goodies here. Contest began yesterday and runs until the 15th.

*Check out what I would do with an additional $100 here.

*What do you think of the giveaways? It seems there are more and more companies offering/interested in these? Yes, No, Maybe. Please answer the poll and/or leave a comment, shoot me an email, letting me know if it's overkill. Seriously, be honest!

*Remember when I wrote about My Best.? Go read about my friend, Lee and her idea of being a mom, sometimes having a job and having it all. Tell her I sent you!


*Check out this fun papergoods giveaway over here. Jessica just opened her etsy shop this week and I think you'll agree with me that her stuff is gorgeous.

*Finally, here's E taking some steps, while I wouldn't call her a walker (especially since she'll only do it with a load of encouragement and prefers crawling) this is what I call very, very close.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fourteen Months.

Fourteen months old, yesterday.
More beautiful, more smiley, by the day it seems.

God's gift to us couldn't possibly be more loved than she is. She's loved an awful lot.

At fourteen months, E is:

*Not walking. But close. Very close.
*Climbing. She managed to make it to the top of the couch earlier this week. She loves to climb.
*Eats anything and everything you put in front of her.
*Loves yogurt.
*Loves her mama. A whole lot. Another post to come on this one.

*Is animated. And talking. A lot.
*Waves. Nods head yes. Shakes head no.
*Has a mouth full of teeth.
*Likes to bite. We are working on this.
*Is a medical "enigma", so they say at the pediatrician. Can't explain her ear issues and chronic infections even with tubes.

She is a highlight of our days. A sunshine in our life and a beautiful gift bestowed upon us.

We love her more than words could ever convey.

Happy fourteen months, little love.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back.

Come April, I'll have been at this gig six years.

The wife thing, that's been fairly easy. I love J, he loves me. Life is good.

The blended family thing, oh, how it ebbs and it flows. Not the love part. There's love. So much of it it's overwhelming at times.

So naive was I as we stood in front of the congregation saying "I do." And don't read that the wrong way, I'd do it all over again, knowing everything I know now.

I feel as though when I started this stepmom thing I was at the bottom of a mountain, climbing upwards.

Two steps forward, one step back.

We did a birthday party together. Two steps forward.

Scheduling/school registration issues. One step back.

And so on until we got to where we were going.

Fast forward to two years ago, and we were at the top of that mountain, breathing in the mountain air. And it felt so good.

Prideful was I, that if we can do it, anyone can.

We get along. For the kids. For each other.

We're working together. Trucking along.

Look at us, we told the world.

Issues were few and we beamed. We laughed at the history and old issues that once wrecked havoc on our daily lives.

For we, we were bigger than all of that.

And we still are, aren't we?

I have prided myself on the fact that we, this blended extended family thing we have going on, is different. We are not another high mainenance, high conflict family in the throes of day to day struggle. I don't want us to be ordinary, I want us to be extraordinary.

But I am coming to terms with change. We are not where we were two years ago. We are not where we were six years ago.

We are where we are right now.

Which I think is smack dab the middle of the mountain.

We've made progress, we have. But we've struggled, different ideals, new boundaries. Jobs and roles have changed over time. And when we started all this 6 years ago, there was no H and no E to consider as we go about life as a blended extended family.

Two steps forward. One step back.

Five years ago, when T turned 6, it was our first blended/extended family challenge. We did it. Awkwardly and stressfully through, it happened.

And we walked away with lessons learned. Truths exposed and realizations made. We're in this for the longhaul.

It was the beginning of vulnerability, insecurities were at their highest and honestly, I look back and wonder how none of us had ulcers. I believe we were probably at our worst back then.

This past Friday, once again, in the dimmest of lights we gathered at the bowling alley, but this time was different. We were not at our worst. We were not at our best. We just were who we are for the kids and for each other.

There were no raging insecurities. Or conflicts of any sort.

But there was distance and boundaries, good boundaries to be had. Boundaries that are needed to continue moving forward, and not back.

Raising children with other people besides your spouse, it's a very intimate relationship. And it's not one that will end. Even when your feelings are hurt or you're in a funk, these people, as long as those kids are in your life, these people are in your life.

And it's not just the other co-parents. It's grandparents and aunts and uncles on both sides, they aren't just people to be dealt with or share pleasantries with, these are people who in my case are forever people in my life because they all love T and M and T and M are some of my forevers.

Have you ever thought of looking at it like that?

We are not perfect and have never claimed to be. We've worked long and hard at the best that is to be had, we've struggled and fallen backwards and now we're right where we're at. Not at the top. Not at the bottom.

Smack dab the middle.

Two steps forward, one step back.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Sweetest Thing.

Well, she may not be walking quite yet, but I'm fairly certain that she is the sweetest thing I have ever laid eyes on. Get a load of my schnook-ums, hamming it up.