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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Let's Talk About Fall.

It's officially fall now, even on an afternoon like today where the kids are wearing shorts and the windows are all open and my house is just a tad bit steamy right now.

I just pulled two loaves of fresh pumpkin bread out of the oven. A twice weekly fall {and winter, too} staple. I'll gift a loaf and in two days our loaf at home will be gone and I'll do it all again.

I don't mind baking. And I would rather my kids eat excess amounts of homemade pumpkin bread than many of the other snacks they could be scarfing.

And later this afternoon, I'll stick an apple pie in the oven to share after dinner. I'll put it in late enough that the insides will still be warm when we eat it. That's the best way to enjoy a homemade apple pie, isn't it?



We've been up to all the fall activities as of late. We've visited the pumpkin patch  nearest us twice already. One Friday night {before the fall activities were going to technically open}, J and the littles and I had a visit and we owned the place.


It was chilly enough for long sleeves but not cold.

There wasn't a single other child or family visiting that day so J and I bounced and bounced too.

We visited another day when all the events were open with friends. We've been to the apple orchard we love a couple times too though not for apples. We've picked raspberries and jumped in the hay. Next week the littles and I are taking a bus field trip there again where we'll do all things apple.

One of the fun things about fall is all the outside activities there are to do around us. Being we're so far removed from the city, the country is at our backdoor. Literally.

So we can go to the farm or the orchard or the pumpkin patch in a quick blink of the eye. And most of the things we like to do are relatively inexpensive. A dive in the corn pit: $1. A jump in the jumpy pumpkin: $1 {or a food donation}.

What sorts of things do you like to do with your kids in the fall? If you're local, give me some new places and ideas, we love exploring new parts of town. Are there any things you make or bake that symbolize the transition of summer to fall for you, like pumpkin bread is for our family? Perhaps we should have a "fall recipe" exchange....

Monday, September 27, 2010


Sometimes I don't feel like collecting all my thoughts into one pretty composed piece. Sometimes I just look at the pictures of life happening and want to tell the story behind each and every one. And then a week goes by, and 284 other pictures and stories have happened and it gets passed and forgotten and pushed aside for something more shiny, fresh and new.

So here's some life. It's not fresh and new or very shiny. But it's life.

The littles and I made and decorated Halloween cookies last week. And it was one of those days where I felt like I had it all together. Dinner was in the crock pot. The house was clean. And I was having fun making cookies with my kids. I felt like a good mom that day.

There is so much I love about this picture. It was a random, last minute, let's go let our kids jump in the bouncy pumpkin and corn Monday morning excursion. And it was fun. Can you feel that when you look at it like I do?

We are blessed to have friends and not just the ones shown in that picture.

This babe of mine loves babies. Sometimes pretends she is a baby. And is pretty stinking hilarious.

She's still a bit under the weather but we are going about life as usual right now. Waiting for Wednesday to come so we can go and see the doctor again.
The day my friend S had her baby, her other kids came over and then my friend H and her kids came over and we had a relaxing morning while our littles played and we drank coffee and chatted. I love this picture of H and her babe with E and friend, Charlie. I love that Charlie is smiling so hard his eyes are shut. I love that E is too focused on holding hands with baby Johnny and Charlie to even see me take the picture. And I love that Johnny's looking at me like, why are you taking our picture?

{september 2010}

And these two. Will you take a good look at these two? They are five weeks apart in age and they are the best of friends and I love that.

{september 2009}


Finally, tonight, M wanted me to take her picture so we could email it to her mom. Today was "Pajama and Wacky Hair" day at school. And she stood in front of the wall and these two monkeys jumped right in with her. First of all, I love that they are so cheesy. Second of all, I love that M didn't even care.

What's going on in your life? Seriously, what sorts of pictures or stories do you have that you're waiting to tell? I'd really like to know.


Winner of the Lilla Hairclips giveaway: Carissa. Congrats!
Also, if your kids are into Curious George or Sesame Street Live, be sure to check out some exciting happenings here. Did I mention FREE Sesame Street Live rehearsal???

Sunday, September 26, 2010

This is How We Roll.

Sometimes when we're driving somewhere in the late afternoon and H's head will start to bob and his eyes start to close, we panic. H hasn't been a nap-per in a long while and when he does on the off chance take a nap, even if it's only 20 minutes long, the night is a disaster.

So unless we're going to be up and out late or we're on vacation or something crazy like that, we do whatever it takes to keep that kid awake.

Most of the time cranking the music, dancing in the car and getting all the windows open is enough to jolt him awake.

But not today.

So we pulled out one of our favorite family past-times and did our best to keep him awake.

We call it the "honk and wave".

{I wish you could hear me laughing out loud as I type this crazy.}

Basically we pick out a car driving around us that we think needs a smile, give the horn a little "toot-toot" and we wave. We wave and we wave and we wave and we laugh because usually the people in the car are waving back looking at us, then each other, trying to figure out if they know us or something.

Imagine a minivan FULL. Four kids and two adults just waving at you like crazy, wouldn't it make you smile?

If we're on the side streets and we see a biker or a walker or a maintenance guy spraying some plants, we'll give the horn a little "toot-toot" and we'll wave.

It is a day brightener not just for us, but for the people we're waving at. They always smile.

And in our attempt to prevent afternoon snooze fests; it works. Every single time.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

{Almost} Wordless Wednesday.

I thought I'd be cuddling a newborn baby girl this afternoon, but instead I've spent much of the day cuddling this sweet girl.


Not feeling so good today so we're resting up to feel better soon.

*Don't miss the Lilla hairclips giveaway here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lilla=Little. Giveaway.

My friend S had a baby girl this morning and I'm dying not only to find out her name{!!} but also find out if she's got any hair hiding underneath that hat. Tomorrow I'll get to meet her and hold her and I'd by lying if I said I wasn't a tad bit sad I can't go today. There's something about a fresh, new little baby and snuggling them close. It's lovely, really.

Little Miss E has had enough hair for hairclips since birth. And I have had such fun with pig tails and ponies and clips galore.

Have you been wondering where on earth E's darling hair clips are from?

Well wonder no more, these pretties are from the gals who make Lilla Hairclips.

Two moms in Chicago came up with Lilla Hairclips as a way not only to represent their valued Swedish heritage but also to capture the little girl moments with their daughters. They have a variety of clips available on their website, but all of them are absolutely darling. {Seriously you can't find better, prettier, more quality clips in any store!}

What  I really like about Lilla Hairclips is their cause. With each purchase they donate to the organization called littlethings which sends Congolese girls to school. Every hairclip purchase sends a Congolese girl to school for half a day. Two hairclips or a headbad=an entire day of schooling.

I loved the hairclips even before I found that out, but after finding that out, I loved them even more.

Here's your chance to win the hairclip of your choice from Lilla Hairclips website, simply leave a comment saying which hairclip you would choose and for whom. Your daughter, your friends new baby, your neighbor girl. Whoever you'd like to win a clip {or set of hairclips} for!

Winner to be chosen by on Monday, September 27 at 8pm.

Disclosure: I was not paid or compensated for this post. I did receive some hair clips for E in exchange for my honest review and hosting a giveaway. I liked the clips so much that in addition to the ones Lilla Hairclips gave me, I just today ordered another one for Miss E.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why I Might Start Wearing Dresses Again.

"Sometime can I have Elizabeth over?"

Sure, who's Elizabeth?

"A girlfriend of mine."

Is she nice?

"Yes. And she's pretty like you."

This is when my heart flutters, until...

"Well actually she's prettier than you because she wears dresses."

Mr. Potato Head H in Brainerd. August 2010.

I have yet to meet this Elizabeth, who wears dresses, but when I do meet her {or any of the other dress wearing girls in his life} it will be all I can do not to say; I loved him first.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

We Call Her Our Tornado.

Miss E is in full fledged tornado stage right now. I remember when H was like this, though I think he hit it a lot sooner than E. You turn away for a moment and she is into everything and anything.

Everything she touches is destroyed in 30 seconds flat.

Toys, what are those? Who needs toys when you can rip open child-proofed cupboards and spread the contents everywhere.


Just this morning, in the time it took me to brush my teeth she had transported every single book out of her bedroom and into mine.

I think that's why God makes toddlers so darn cute, because it's hard to stay mad when they look like this.

This is just a day of our life with the walking, sometimes fire-breathing tornado that we love.

At the library inside of one of the bookshelves.

See all the crayons on the floor? This is one of her favorite library activities, dumping out all the crayons the second we arrive.

Same day, same sort of mess, but this was take two as an hour after getting everything put away and the cupboard locked again I made the mistake of walking downstairs to grab a laundry basket. Not only did that give her time to create a disaster but also to start practicing her flying. After this, I left the mess until bedtime.

And we are no longer using the child proof locks she knows how to open but we are using those old fashioned things called, rubber bands.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mothering Him.

Today, my four year old H, is on cloud nine.

No, the sun's not shining and Christmas didn't come early but it might as well have.

He's got a friend coming over after preschool and he is excited. So, so excited. And I am too. {Well, kind of.}

It's the friend he walked out of class with on the second day of school both of his hands cupping his friends hand saying "Mama, this is my new friend. Can he come home with us today?"

And the tears fell quickly in the car that day when I had said no and that we'd work something out.

After some phone tag and some chaotic conversations in the preschool pick up hallway, today is the day and this boy, oh his heart, it's soaring.

Today at lunch he said; "Mama, I love you sooo much. This is the best day ever because I love this lunch and {my friend} is coming over after school." And I am pretty sure I melted when I sat down next to him and told him I loved him too.

{And in the case you're curious, lunch was toast, string cheese, apple slices, yogurt and some sliced turkey. Seriously, if this is the best day ever because of this lunch, I am thinking my life just got a whole lot easier!}

I hold on to these moments. They are fleeting. I tell anyone that will listen that four hasn't been so easy on me and him.

Four has been rough. There are whiny moments and crabby days and I admit that more than once I have wanted to scream. It is constant.

Constant questions, constant testing, constant reminding.

Some of the things he does and says I can't even imagine doing or saying as a child, let alone now. {Note: I was also a fairly compliant, parent-pleasing child. H would fall under a different category.}

I admit there are days I have felt as though mothering him was a chore and not a privilege.

For awhile I chalked things up to being off schedule with vacation and too much fun and games. Then too many spoons in the pot {too many adults telling him what to do, instead of just myself and J}.

And then one night in Brainerd after a particulary rough day with more icky moments than pleasant, J had already returned home for work and such and H was sleeping in my bed. I fell into bed that night and felt as though I was hitting my head against the wall with wonder of what I'm doing wrong and is there anything I'm doing right. Why am I so frustrated and why is he?

It's as though God came down and shook me on my shoulders right then.

Silly girl, you thought you could do this parenting business without me.

I've been making some changes.

Reading more about raising a son. {Because hello, I am 100% girl and grew up doing all things girl!}
Praying more specifically for him and the struggles him and I run into.
I joined a mom's Bible study at church that landed in my lap at just the right moment.

And with all of this combined, I am seeing changes in both myself and in him.

I love this boy something fierce. And mothering him is a privilege I am honored to have. Really.

There are going to be bad days where I hear I'm not getting anything for Mother's Day. {No joke. I hear this one rather often.} And there will be good days, like today, where I look at my full of joy, life loving son and know we're going to be ok.

This mothering business is one of the hardest things I've done yet. My mom and dad, they made it look like a cake walk and I look back at my own childhood and upbringing with so much gratitude and I want that for my kids.

Joyful hearts, a love for others and the Lord and their health.

"When you're the mom, your whole life is holding the rope against those wily secret agents who never, ever stop trying to get you to drop your end.

This tug of war often obscures what's happening between us. I am your mother. The first mile of your road. Me and all my obvious and hidden limitations. That means in addition to possibly wrecking you, I have the chance to give you what was given to me: a decent childhood, more good memories than bad, values, a sense of tribe, a run at happiness. You can't imagine how seriously I take that-even as I fail you.

Mothering you is the first thing of consequence I have done." -Kelly Corrigan
Lord, help me do it right.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


The Twins won that night. {9/8/10}
{I love him. That's all.}

In other winning news, three of my giveaways have ended:

BlogHer/Bayer $150 Visa Giftcard winner is....EyeBeeLeaveEweHoney (#57)
CSN Stores $60 winner is...Beth (#9)
Noodles Lunch winner is...Erin (#8)

Get me your info and I'll get you your goods.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Breath Of Hope 2010.


I could focus on feeling like a failure when I once committed to running today's 5K and ended up walking, finishing holding the hands of two of my favorite four year olds.

Or that I had told myself I'd get 100 people together today but barely had 50 because of many things. Out of town weddings, and last minute funerals, sick kids and tight budgets. Work commitments and the MN Blog Conference, among other things.

But it's hard to focus on that when I look around me at what we did have today.

A beautiful, sunny day.

Laughter and friends.

I mean, how blessed are we, that friends and friends of friends, some that have never met my mother, would join us and take time out of their Saturday morning to do this 5K?

My friend J, who's daughter attended ECFE with H a long, long time ago. Who met me when my mom was sick and knew me when she passed.

Our babysitter, R, who's been babysitting for us since right before my mom got sick and saw me on some ugly days three years ago. She came and she ran and then she loved on our kids and really, she deserves her very own blog post.

Co-workers of my dad who have gone through their own grief and losses of loved ones.

Friends I've known for years and years and years who even with busy schedules and kids and all that jazz still make it.

Friends I know who now have their own experiences with lung cancer as loved ones of theirs now battle it.

My friend H, who I met in a class at the U of M, 8 or 9 years ago and even though her life is PR and advertising and my life is mothering, we still stay in touch.

My friend S, who is literally NINE months pregnant. I mean seriously having a baby in 10 days.

My cousins, who drive from Green Bay, WI, every September to join us and continue bettering their running time. (26 minutes this year, those two!)

My sister and her daughter who drove the two hours in early on a Saturday morning to join us.

J's nephew and his fiance' who've got busy, busy college lives and a wedding to plan, yet they join us.

And then there are the kids in our crew. Our own kids, who walked {or ran in the case of T} the entire 3.2 miles {H included}. Our friends kids who walked or rode in strollers or on top of shoulders. And we pass them around between arms or between strollers or simply hold their hands and keep walking.

We don't do the 5K to have the biggest team, the most money donated or to run/walk the fastest. We do it simply because we love and miss my mom.

Yes it's great to have a big team. It's great to bring donations in and it's great to finish with a great time, but it's really great to know that when we remember my mom, we are not alone, there are many who stand {and walk and run} through this life with us.
Our group photo minus about 20 of our teammates. It gets harder and harder to get a group photo every year!

And for that we are very thankful.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What's For Lunch? And What Should We Read?

Now that we're getting into the school routine, the last couple mornings I've been struggling to come up with ideas to feed my littles for lunch. Once the year gets going and our mornings fill up with swimming lessons {somewhere new}, Bible study and ECFE, we'll probably be packing lunches and that's the thing I have down to a science. I can throw together healthy, balanced meals in 5 minutes flat for on the go, but many of those things are meant for "onthego" so I hate to use them up at home and also want some variety and difference for days away and days at home.

The thing that I'm trying to figure out is the it's "all of a sudden 11am and H has school at 12 and what should we have for lunch thing at home" that has me stumped?

Sandwiches only work for so long. Macaroni and chicken nuggets are usually things I save for babysitter days/evenings. Pizza? If I'm planning ahead. Leftovers, if I remember?

Can you give me some new, creative, at home lunch ideas that even I, a not so good cook, can throw together for my {sometimes picky} son and {dairy and peanut allergic} daughter?

Part two is about finding a book I can read aloud to my littles. Well mostly to H, but knowing that E will probably be running around half heartedly listening.

I have always loved reading and I love that H loves reading. We go to the library every week, read the books we check out a million times and his book shelves are heaping. I've been wanting to find a chapter book or series that I could start reading him aloud.

Now if he were a girl, I'd probably go the Ramona Quimby route but since he's a boy I've really been struggling to come up with ideas of age appropriate books or series I could read aloud.

The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter seem way too old.

The Box Car Children?

Ideas, please?

Finally, as a way of saying thank you for your help and ideas, leave me a comment with either an at home lunch suggestion or reading suggestion {or both} and you'll be entered to win 2 free Noodles sandwiches.

{They've been rolled out in all the Noodles stores now, so whereever you live you can enjoy them!}

I'll close the comments Tuesday, September 14 at 8pm and choose a winner then!

*Check out the other giveaways going on right now over here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Details. Updates. Oh My.

*The BlogHer and Bayer One A Day giveaway I have on my review blog is ending on Saturday. There is still time to enter to win a $150 Visa giftcard. Please go enter here.

*The Lung Cancer 5K is quickly approaching THIS Saturday! It is also the same day as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference. I did bow out of the conference because this 5K is SO important to me and my family. I understand many bloggers are still going but there are many who read here who are NOT bloggers. It's not too late to join us. You can sign up online through tonight but after that you can sign up the morning of. Take a peak at your calendar and think about joining us. It will be fun, I promise! Email me and let me know so that I can fill you in on details of where to meet our group and all that jazz!

*Remember before our big road trip when I mentioned something about our family gaining another stroller? Well it happened, pretty much the best stroller I've ever owned {and I've owned MANY} joined our family and CSN Stores is now offering one of my readers $60 to spend however you want in their online stores. (Many of which offer free shipping!) Go check it out and enter here.

*You can now subscribe to my blog via email so that everytime I update it comes straight to your inbox. If that's your thing, feel free to sign up there. If that's not, please keep visiting me here.

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*To follow up to my Good Samaritan story and the crazy bad service we received from the Roadside Assistance company. Though my Good Samaritan asked to not be reimbursed or anything, I did send him a coffee gift card and a thank you note because I still am so appreciative.

The Director of Operations called me on Friday (after I tried contacting someone who cared via phone and finally resorted to an email) and apologized profusely and is currently listening to the recorded conversations I had with her staff. She gave me her personal cell phone number for future use and also sent us a check for our inconvenience. While I am still not satisfied with the level of service we received when we needed it, I feel heard and hope to not have to ever use the service again, but if I do, I am trusting that all will work how it's supposed to.

*J and I are off to the Twins game tonight. It's our very first time at the new Target Field and I am so excited. I love, love, love, date nights. And pre-game dinners with friends. And laughter. Throw in a Twins game and I'm just not sure it can get any better!

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Day of School.

The obligatory, not to be missed, first day of school post.

Miss M is off to 4th grade. Her last year of elementary school!
Lucky us, the bus stop has moved right across the street from our house. M should never miss the bus again!

T is off to 6th grade. While he was in middle school last year too, this year is the real deal. He's a full-fledged middle schooler now.
And H, he's off to one more year of preschool.

He would really like to ride a bus, but my mini-van wheels will have to do for just one more year.
Four afternoons a week this year. He even gets a locker.
This is the day, the moment, he's been waiting for. When you watch your sister and brother go to school at 7:04am and 7:49am respectively, 12 noon is a LONG wait.

But we made it. And while E naps this afternoon, my house is all to quiet, the to-do list I have been creating for weeks sits untouched because I sit here almost breathless with excitement to pick up H, see T and M get home from their buses and hear all the wonderful things.

Six months from now we'll be dragging and wondering if the school year will ever end, but these days, when everything is fresh and new, a blank slate and brand new excitement for a new year, these days, are truly the best days.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

21 Months.

Yesterday, the baby in our house, er toddler I guess, turned 21 months old.

Major disbelief over here.

I just can't believe it.

I say the same things over and over and over again. Time just moves so fast. I can't believe it. Yada yada yada.

But it's the darn truth.

There are things I've never written here about Miss Evelyn Nanette, who's name is two-fold.

Evelyn as in my great grandmother Evelyn Louise. Mother of one, grandmother of six, great grandmother of 13 and great, great grandmother of six, two of which she didn't live to meet {H and E}. I have always loved the name Evelyn and Evie and even as we called my great grandma, Ev.

E's middle name has the most meaning for me, and when I've said that aloud before I've had people ask why I didn't use it as her first name. They just wouldn't understand.

Nanette as in my mother. Mother of three, grandmother of six, one {so far} of which she didn't live to meet, her own namesake.

Not so long ago someone passed along the blog of Kelle Hampton and when I checked it out a couple weeks ago she had written something that gave complete meaning and understanding to E's middle name:

If your first name is common and your last name defines you, then what lies
in the middle is the mystery of who you are, the secret of what lies within.

So, so, so very true.

And if there is anything E inherits from her grandmother may it be her strength and her ability to love and see good in all.

Before my mom passed away I remember driving home from visiting her in the hospital during one of her stays. I had T and M and H and we pulled out of the parking garage and I called J and told him it was time to have another baby that maybe, just maybe, if I saw my mom and told her I was expecting, maybe she'd hold on.

{As I write this and admit this publicly for the very first time, I am fully aware that it is never a good reason to have a baby based on emotions like this. I sound like a crazy person! Don't worry, J has a much more level head than I, wouldn't you say?}

It wasn't the right time and I knew I wasn't ready but I was grasping for something, anything. There was no pregnancy, no baby news before my mom passed away.

We told friends and whoever else that listened that we were nowhere near ready for another baby that winter following my mom's death and then just four days after my 26th birthday we found out that we better get ready because sure enough a baby was on the way.
These last twenty-one months have been a ride, wouldn't you say?
God never takes away without giving in return. -Jennifer Samuel Patterson

But oh man, this girl, there is a sparkle in her eye and a rhythm in her laugh that gets us everytime.

She is full of joy and isn't that every parents wish?

Her ears, the ENT tells us, are perfect. She even passed her hearing test.

She surprises us. She teaches us. And while she, much like her brother H, keeps us on our toes, she also has such a content spirit.

While most days I crawl into bed exhausted from my days as a mom/stepmom, there is nothing I would rather be doing right now.

My heart is smiling.

Happy 21 months, Miss E!
You are a joy, a love and we are so very thankful for the gift you are to this family.
Love, Mama

Thursday, September 2, 2010

They Are Big Now, But They Used to Be Littles.

Finally got caught up on some things this afternoon. Uploaded a gazillion pictures from our week in Brainerd and M's baptism and a morning raspberry picking and just this afternoon as I looked through them, I found this gem, taken by J.

T and M

Sometimes I am so caught up in the day to day and the here and now that I forget what the first miles of our life together was like. When it was just J and I and T and M.

Sometimes I forget that T and M were the littles in our life. {M was 20 months and T was almost 4 when I met J.}

More stories, pictures and lots of end of summer/back to school/where is time going/being a mom thoughts to come soon.