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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's a Big World.

It's a big world, baby. This world, it's your oyster.

And some far off tomorrow you will be able to go anywhere. To become anyone. And to do anything.

But today, your world is big but yet you remain with me. Depending on me to show you the way.

We'll never come back to this. As people, we're always moving onwards and upwards, forward not back.

May I remember how my sweet, sweet girl and I started and may I remember holding her hand on her very first walks outdoors. The little fingers wrapped round my finger and the tender pull forward. And those teeny tiny tennis shoes moving forward into the big world.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Smarter They'll Grow.

The more you read,
The more you know.
The more you know,

The smarter you grow.

Yes, the smarter they'll grow.

I may not do art projects or go all out on what should be educational activities, but I am teaching my littles the joy that is found in reading.
Between overflowing bookshelves here at home and the small hometown library we visit here each week.

"How many books can I check out?" I remember my mom telling me about asking the librarian when I got my first very own library card.

"As many as you want." She said and it was as though the world opened at it's seams for me then.
"How many books can I check out?"
He asks me the week he finally got his own card. Once he could write his own name was my rule.

"As many as we can read!"
I told him and he beamed at me with joy. And while his checkout numbers haven't increased much since getting his own card, I think just knowing he has that card and that power, is something for him.
The more they read, the more they'll know. The more they'll know, the smarter they'll grow.
Yes, the smarter they'll grow.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Darndest Things.

I didn't intend to post so sporadically this week, it just kind of happened. We got back today after a couple days away from home with J. He had a work conference out of town and with T and M at their mom's through today, the littles and I took advantage of being able to pick up and join him.

We swam and played and rested and ate out way too much. But it was fun. And it's always nice after a few nights away to be back home in our own beds too!

I've been enjoying participating in the Conversations with my Kid over at Moms Without Blogs and even though I'm a day behind. This week I had a really good one I just had to share!

So, better late than never, here goes:

The scene, preschool pickup.

"Samara, could you stay after for a minute?" H's teacher, Ms. Jacki asks me and I immediately panic. No this isn't my first time being asked to stay after, nor my last, I'm sure. I look over at H who's laughing and smiling with his school friends seemingly having the time of his life.

Once all the kids were gone, Ms. Jacki came over and wanted to let me know about something H had said in to her in class that day;

"Watch it, or I'll knock you 'til next Friday."

WHAT?!?!? I honestly looked at her in horror. He barely watches PBS kids when it comes to tv, is pretty much always WITH me and no one in our family speaks that way. Where on earth would he have heard something like that?

Oh don't worry, Ms. Jacki was a step ahead;

"I asked him where he had heard that since Ms. Sherri and Stephanie and I certainly couldn't see you talk like that and he said his sister says that to him."


"Which one?" I asked which looking back made me look oh so intelligent seeing as E doesn't quite talk yet.

I talked to H in the car about it. Why he said M says that to him is beyond me, as she doesn't and even after asking her she was clueless too. But in a house with four kids, passing the blame on each other works pretty well.

We also went over the fact that it's probably not something to be saying. Ever.

Kids say the darndest things, don't they?

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


When I turned twenty-six, I wrote a letter of sorts from the present looking back.

And then when I turned twenty-seven, I again reflected on what my life was all about.

And now, today, I turn twenty-eight.

You know you're getting old when you get birthday money and one of the top things on your want list is a new ruffled bedskirt from Anthropologie.


I read and re-read my old words from last year and the year before. You should read them too. See where my mind, my heart, my life has been.

And where am I now? What am I about?

I'm a dreamer and a do-er and my mind is never, ever quiet. Just as my to-do list is so very far from finished.

But this little life we've got going, we've got a good thing here.

I am full. Full of love and life and opportunity and joy and peace and contentment.

But full with room for more. Does that even make sense?

I am learning how to learn again. Through the eyes of my kids. I am loving life in a way I couldn't possibly do without them.

I am not supermom, though H's birthday invites say otherwise. I am impatient. Disorganized. And easily stressed. At times.

It is not perfect. I am the first to admit.

But it is good. It is so good.

I am a daughter of the King and an earthly father, I couldn't have handpicked myself.

Wife to the best husband out there, oh he is my knight. {Did you know that he completely surprised me this past weekend with an overnight away? I mean, really, I am the hardest person ever to surprise because I never stop asking him questions. It's maddening really. I am sure he wanted to throw his hands up and tell me at least eight times over. Yet I was completely shocked. And he thought of every. last. detail. Why did the Lord choose me for him, because I am the first to tell you, I do not deserve his goodness?}

Stepmom to two kids who get me, who get it and who let me make mistakes and are with me each and every step of this exploratory journey.

And mama to two littles. Two littles who are even better than my dreams ever dreamt. You know when you're a little girl and you dream about your life someday? Oh they are much better than any dream I've ever had.

It is good. Oh it is so good. This little life we have going.

The sun is shining today, the day I turn twenty eight, and just like last year, I count my blessings and continue to thank the Lord for all the lessons, the blessings and the people He has sent my way.

And hope that there are many more to come.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Today, she is nine.

I am amazed.
She is surrounded by love. She is sunny and warm with rosy cheeks and sparkling blue eyes that have made many stop and admire her. But beyond the outer beauty is an inner beauty. To her core.

She is wise, beyond her years. She is conscious and caring, beyond what's necessary. She charms us all with silly stories full of innocence and the secret grins she exchanges with us when she knows she shouldn't laugh but can't hold it in much longer.

She is nine and we are thankful for this girl with the sunny disposition and the grin from ear to ear. So thankful.
She makes this world, this home, this family that much brighter.
With love, today, and everyday, happy 9th birthday, M!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Message From a Bathroom.

Tonight's a big night in our house, M is having 9! friends over for her "movie theater/sleepover" birthday party! Her birthday is Tuesday and she's turning NINE!

She is so, so, so excited. She hasn't been able to think or talk or even breathe about anything BUT this party.

A few nights ago though, she was at her mom's and called and left a voicemail here, and J and I laughed our tails off after listening to it.

Here's the recap:

Echo-y sounding {cause she's in the bathroom}, whisper voice {cause she doesn't want T to know she's calling} M:

"Hi, it's {first and last name}, oh wait, you know that. Umm, so T was invited to my mom's neighbor's friend's grandma's farm this weekend and he really wants to go. But that would mean he'd be gone on Friday and you know Friday, it's my party. And just so you remember, I never miss his birthdays. So....think about it!"


This was her way, in not so many words, of telling us that it would definitely NOT be fair if he went away and missed her party. The horror!

No worries. He's not going, however he is spending the night at my in-laws. And we did convince both T and M why this would be a great idea for the party and all is well. But the message, oh the message, that's our M!

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

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mudslinging and Such.

I knew last week as soon as my story in the Monticello Times went live that I'd receive a mixture of feedback. And it came pouring in.

My email box filled. Surprisingly full of support. And all from residents of Monticello. I didn't receive one email disagreeing or questioning my argument. On the Times website I got mixed feedback, some good, some bad, some just plain terrible. The mudslinging began. Low blows were had about me and my "Look at me" website, my "Princess disease" and calling me selfish and self centered.

But honestly, it's hard to take these sorts of comments seriously when they are signed by names like "Pizza Pizza" and "WOW WEE". I mean, really?

I knew that the mayor would reply to my story. And he did. Today. You can read it here.

While it's certainly more on topic than I expected, there is an innacuracy or two that I have asked the editor to look into and clarify.

For the record, I didn't refuse a meeting with the mayor. Actually I suggested it and he suggested for me to call him on the phone instead. Which I didn't do and explained via email that there is more accountability in email. But he is right that I did refuse to attend a council meeting right after he told me the issue to him was closed. Hmm.

But all of that, minutiae.

I don't have to get my way. I can take no as an answer. The bigger question and issue is why does this particular city have such trouble responding to feedback and actually taking the time (more than a board room discussion) to look into possible change.

That's all I asked. It didn't happen. It's not going to happen. And I am completely resolved with that.

I know the truth. I have all the facts behind me, including the emails Mr. Herbst has offered to send to anyone that requests them. Please do! The editor fact checked my story before publication as he should have and several people in my life have read the correspondence all the way back since January when I was emailing with the director of the center.

I could spend more time and energy defending myself, my website, my person, asking why or how or why not and I will get the same result. An old school mayor at a loss of answers besides bringing up the infamous political tactic, taxes.

I am NOT a Monticello taxpayer and I am NOT a member of their community center. That has never been a secret.

But I was a patron who asked a question and kept asking the question and I know my answer.

J often tells me that I'm more and more like my mom everyday and to me, that is the biggest compliment I could ever receive. And here, right now, my mom would have some terrific one liner and she'd let it go and say "Don't fight for the battle if it means you'll lose the war."

I don't have the really great one-liner but I am letting it go. I may have lost the battle but I did not lose the war.

The war here being my dignity. I'm staying out of the trenches on this one. And I'm walking away with my head still up.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

And Then It Was Spring.

Just like that, the snow is gone, the grass is growing and we get to play outside.

It feels so good.

You have no idea how far he's come on this little bike of his. And do you see the rainboots? They're still kicking!

See that over there amidst the winter dead shrubs?

Look closer.

Yes, it's spring.


We are soaking it up.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Happiness in a Helmet.

Happiness is letting your almost four year old wear his bike helmet during a shopping trip at Target.

For seven hours straight today, that red helmet stayed strapped on his head. Biking in the neighborhood. Playing in the playhouse. To the library. Home to bike some more. To Target. Through Target. Home from Target.

Some things are no-brainers.

This was one of them for me. Why make a deal out of the helmet? So I got some funny looks. I usually do anyway. So some people stopped and asked what the deal was. It made for light hearted chuckles, smiles and high fives throughout our trip.

And in the end, he was happy.

So was I.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


When I was pregnant with E, I wavered between excitement over the new baby and an overwhelmed guilt of how I would forever change H's life.

I had long vowed and told anyone who'd listen that I wouldn't have another babe for awhile. I wanted H to be older, wiser and honestly, selfishly, I wanted him to get me to himself a little while more because I already felt like his time was divided with older siblings.

Sure enough, the American norm hit our family like a brick and H at age 2 years and almost 8 months became a big brother.

And while I celebrated my new little girl, I also spent more than just a night or two going to bed feeling as though I'd missed an entire day of my son's life. I'd watch him sleep at night and promise to be more intentional the next day. Too busy nursing and holding and rocking and babying was I to notice each and every intricacy I once had had time to admire between H and I.
In a matter of hours, his entire self had aged. His entire world changed. And so did mine.

But oh so much for the better.
I watch him with her. How he loves her. How he knows her and her ways. Not once have I specifically talked to him and E and the things she can and can't eat these days and just this afternoon he bent down to her sweet face as she watched him eating string cheese and told her; "I'm sorry, Evie, you can't have string cheese but maybe you could have a pear?" Just like I would say.

And then later as she watches him, because oh does she watch him, he's drinking his milk and he again tells her sweetly, "You can't have this, you have to have soy milk."

As much as I watch him with her. She is watching him. And he, he is watching me and learning how to love and care for his sister.

Perfect, it's not. She still takes his things when he doesn't want her to. He still gets wild and crazy and can have his not so gentle moments, with words and with actions.

But I watch him with her and I know that the best gift we've given him is the gift of E. I've watched him learn to love her the way that we do and it inspires me.
The more I watch, the more I know. The best gifts we've given our kids are the gifts of each other. I truly believe it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Making Waves.

Today, a piece I wrote for the Monticello Times was published. Check it out here.

Please read it and find out why for the last six weeks my littles and I have been eating lunch in a nearby coffee shop instead of inside the community center between swimming lessons and preschool.

And while you're there, give me your two cents. I'd love to know how others feel.

Happy rainy Thursday!

*Updated: here's a link to the Community Center's current concession menu, wish I would have included that in my story.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

We've Been Waiting, Baby.

It's been a long time coming. It has.

But I think I decided last night that it's official.

It's more than just a few steps here and there these days.

She's a walker.

My 15 month old, rosy cheeked, keeps-us-on-our-toes, babe is walking.

She's walking and she's laughing and she's reminding us of how very blessed we are to know her. To love her. To have her as our own.

We've been waiting, baby, but you are worth any wait.

*In the video, J's reading Jonah from the Jesus Storybook Bible to H. If you want to see another {dark} video go here, and listen to that girl laugh. It will leave you smiling all day.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What Is Fair.

I am standing at the counter in the kitchen sorting pictures when it happens. The new pictures I had done of H and E awhile back.

M, who's sitting on the barstool eating a snack and doing her homework after school peaks over and looks at what I'm doing.

"Can I see?" She asks and I hand her the stack.

"So you took H and E to get their pictures done?" She asks with a definite tone in her voice.

"I did." I answer and feel my body tense up. This was my worry, my concern, my biggest fear.

"Are you going to take T and I to get pictures done too?" And I don't know how to answer.

Since the day H has been born I have done everything just so, status quo, so that no one in this house of ours is left out. No one's feelings get hurt. Everything is fair, even when it's not.

And a few months back I felt raw and frustrated with certain factors that we have no control I explained to J how hard I work at this whole balance thing yet I feel like I'm stuck in the middle of two families.

We are a family of six. Then a family of four. Then a family of six again.

This wasn't the first time M had brought something up or asked about something seemingly unfair. If we go out to eat or anywhere fun on the days she happens to be at her mom's, she is bothered. In her eight year old imagination while she is away our life hits pause and we sit and await her return. And can you blame her for thinking that?

I admit we spent a couple of the early years doing just that. Making sure anything fun we did would land on days when all were here. Vacations, dinners, parties planned around the magical five days that T and M were here.

But we can't live like that. No one can. It's just not fair. For anyone.

And so I gently explain to her that everyone is loved so much in this house. Everyone is special. And different things happen for her and T and for H and E. And it's ok because at the end of the day, no matter what we're a family. Even when it's not fair.

That day, I shoved the pictures back in the envelope, where they still sit and put them out of sight, out of mind. Ill prepared am I, I've thought for a couple weeks now while the photos collect dust in a drawer.

Last night, while having coffee with a friend, I bring up this unresolved topic and I am reassured that it is ok. Everyone is loved. And everyone is different and it is ok. And then the clincher, this morning as I read the words of Michael at Five Minutes For Parenting.

We won’t treat you identically, but we’ll treat you equally. It will be the same, only different, because you are different and we will adjust to your individual, specific, genetic, cultural, idiosyncratic specialness. You will be our favorite you, and, you over there, you’ll be our favorite you.

Relief washed over me like pouring rain. We're getting it right after all, aren't we?

I'm pretty sure I've got a new definition for the word fair in this household. As a mom and a stepmom.

They are each different. And they are each my favorite. In different ways. Yet so much the same.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

He Remains.

Light up shoes have long been on H's list of wants. And finally a little over a week ago now, his dream came true and we took a trip to the shoe store where his simplest desire was met.

Not only do they light up, they are his favorite color, green.

He was so excited to have them that that night he asked to sleep with them on. Considering he hadn't yet worn them outside, we obliged.

Later on that night, when we headed to bed ourselves we found that H had relocated himself to our bed. With his shoes.

I stood looking at my boy. My superhero in a 3 1/2 year old body. With his giant, green light up shoes hanging at the end of his long and lanky body.

Underneath all that, the facade of the tough boy who's testing limits and pushing buttons, I see my boy. Underneath it all, he remains.

And my heart nearly beats out of my chest booming with love for him.

When I feel I'm losing the battle and worried for the war that is parenting, I see my sleeping boy and realize he's still here, right where he belongs. Saving the world with his innocence, his belief that he is indeed Batman and now, his brand new light up shoes.

As sure as the sun sets each day and rises the next, on the hardest of days and all of the rest, my son, my little boy, he's still here. He remains.

Friday, March 5, 2010

New Baby?

Last week, a friend of mine had a baby. Eager was I to get my hands on him so I asked my dad if he'd babysit the kids so I could run to the hospital and visit her and her new baby boy.

My dad happily obliged and Friday morning when he called for his morning check in call, I handed the phone to H to speak to Boppa.

"Hi Boppa." H started and I walked away while the two chatted.

Once H was finished he handed me the phone and told me;

"E and I are going to go to Boppa's so you can go to the hospital and get your new baby."

Umm, excuse me?

I quickly clarified that I was visiting a new baby. I'm not so sure my friend would like me to take her new baby home.

My dad and I chuckled at the thought of dear H, wondering how on earth this happened again and this time, he didn't even see it coming.

This post is linked up to Conversations With My Kid at Moms Without Blogs.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fifteen Months.

Ring a Ling. Ring a Ling.

"What's that you say?"

"I'm 15 months today?!?"

She sure is. fifteen months today, that is.

19 pounds and 6 ounces. 31 inches.

(Yes, she is rather small. Yet something else we are working on right now.)

So very busy that most days she's like a blur. On the move and everywhere. She may not be walking yet but look out world, when she does.

We don't have many more answers than we had last week. More questions remain. But we are working hard at getting to the bottom of things and in the meantime celebrating our littlest reason for joy, Miss E, herself.
Sunny and warm. Loving and calm. There is nothing about this girl I can't love. She has stolen a piece of my heart and made a home there. She has that affect, don't you think?

Happy fifteen months, Miss E!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

And That's How She Ended Up Eating Tilapia.

Two weeks ago now, I was invited along with 10 other Minnesota {Mommy} Bloggers to a Cub Foods VIP Event. {I am now a VIP, don't you know? Ha!}

I admit I went into it excitedly though a little apprehensively. I mean, hello, I've been grocery shopping forever and a stinkin' day.

I am a coupon clipper, sale scrounger and absolute nut about getting the best bang for my buck and not just feeding my family junk. I could walk through Cub Foods, Target, and Costco with a blindfold over my eyes because that's how often I'm in those stores.

Yeah I pretty much went into it as a know it all. How annoying.

One of the best perks of this VIP event was the fact that they had considered ahead of time that Mommy Bloggers have children that would require care during said event. So they coordinated a Cub Foods staffer to spend the two hours with the four preschool aged kids that were there and three of us brought our babes along with us. {As an aside, H had an absolute blast and told me all about the importance of fruits and veggies ripening and being washed before eating. He was fed a healthy (mostly organic) lunch and snacks and brought home a fun little goody bag. He's actually asked when we're doing that again.} We're looking into the next Cub 4 Kids event near us!

So my littles and I traipsed to Apple Valley which is a long, long way from where we live. And we were late because really what kind of day would it be if I wasn't late to at least one commitment. I'm really not joking. I'm late pretty much every single day. It's a problem.

We got there and jumped right in with activities for H and introductions with some of the VIP's of Cub Foods, including the charming, polite and very welcoming new president of Cub, himself.

I learned, I don't know it all about Cub Foods, about the foods I'm buying, eating, serving and that I'm really glad I went.

Of course E wouldn't be staying with anyone for childcare at the event without me, so she came along through the store. E, making friends with another same aged babe. Unplanned Cooking's baby girl.

Learning about produce.

The meat department.

E, trying tilapia. TILAPIA??!???

She loved it. Obviously, this was before we knew there were any possible allergies so we've avoided seafood since but I have a feeling she's going to be a tilapia lover.

One of the biggest take aways I had from the day was being an informed shopper and though I'd like to tell you that's how I shop all the time, it's not. Cub Foods now has a program called Nutrition IQ where at the glance of a color coded sticker next to an item I can tell just how healthy that item really is or isn't. And some of those foods that are advertised or known for being "healthy", really aren't all that healthy.

I still am loving this concept and used it the last two times I've been in. Yes, I've been grocery shopping two (plus) times since this event. So quick and convenient to be able to look at the shelf and see if it meets the criteria I'm looking for. And really, you'd be surprised the things that DO and DON'T qualify.

Overall, I learned a lot. About a lot of different things. And I could probably still learn more.

Thanks Cub Foods for a great morning of teaching us how to be better consumers and lead healthier lives in your stores.

FTC Disclosure: This was NOT a sponsored post. While I did receive some freebies in exchange for my time at the event, I was not required to write about the experience and am writing my own opinion of the experience because I want to.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Star Student.

Miss M completed her Star Student poster all by herself. She didn't want any advice or assistance. She would do it her own way and all by herself.

And after she was done, looking it over, I smiled so proudly because her poster is so her. If I had been helping her or overshadowing her while she worked on it, I would have said use pencil and think of your answers before getting started. There is no way I would have even let her consider writing Spongebob Squarepants down as her favorite TV show. (We've never had it on in our house before.) I would have questioned the colors and it wouldn't have been her spirit, it would have been mine.

My favorite highlights of Miss M's Star Student poster include;

  • Her one wish: To have two twin sisters

{This is very, very, very doubtful to happen but isn't this every girls dream at some point in life?}

  • Five Words to describe her: nice, kind, not rich, active, joyful

{Not rich has to be the best description I have ever heard. We're all about being humble, aren't we? But I do have to agree, nice, kind, joyful, that's our girl!}