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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

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A butterfly, a Teenage Mutant Ninja turtle, a singer and...T.

The sun is shining, the air is cool. It's Halloween.

Happy day to you!

Comments are closed today.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Dream.

With littles like this how can I not love my life?
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I love that E's got her arms in the air as though we're having the time of our life outside our front door in the freezing cold wind taking that token Halloween Jack O'Lantern photo.

Who am I kidding? She is having the time of her life.

This is it, people, living the dream.

More to come.

{In the meantime, I've got my biggest, best giveaway yet going on over here. Curious George Live tickets, anyone?}

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ten Minutes.

I haven't much time today to say the things I'd like to say. Yesterday I decided I'd organize my dresser and closet so currently much of my wardrobe is waiting for me to say yay or nay and re-fold or re-hang or just put in that bag we've always got accumulating to go away.

The wind here in Minnesota {and in other parts of the country, I hear} is pretty fierce and it's howling and the window in our family room is bending and flexing with each big gust.

It's good sleeping and lounging weather. Stay in with a good book or show, a cup of cocoa and some snacks.

Tonight we're having Jack O' Lantern pizza and we're carving pumpkins. H is so excited and when J told me he might be working late tonight last night I pulled the card. You know what I'm talking about. There will be no working late tonight. I am looking forward to having a night at home together in the warmth of the house while it's icky outside.

The other night J and I went to the coffee shop and we talked and we plotted and we made our plans because somedays I feel as though the day starts and ends with things still needing to be talked about and plans finalized. We're on the same page now about Thanksgiving and E's upcoming birthday and Christmas and it feels so good. And we are excited.

If you didn't win the most recent giveaway, you still have a chance to take advantage of a great discount that {sweeter than me designs} is offering my readers. Order anything from her shop by October 31 and receive a 15% discount. Simply write Simplicity In The Suburbs in the message to seller box. Let me know if you have any problems or questions. I'm off to place my own gift order now.

Also, Shabby Apple, one of my advertisers, is doing a promotion beginning tomorrow for readers. Sitewide free shipping and 10% off any purchases made between tomorrow and November 20, 2010. Use code: fall10off.

If you've never shopped at Shabby Apple or looked at their site, you are missing out. They have beautiful, ruffly, fun, dresses for women and little girls and I may even own one of their fun swimsuits. There's also a dress {on sale!} that I am eyeing for some upcoming holiday parties. So check it out.

And ten minutes, the title, is because that's the amount of time I told myself I could spend blogging today. So happy Wednesday, friends!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Winning Weekend.

Every single day that H has school I have to wake E up to pick him up on time. Every day! But then a day like today, when H is going to a friend's house after school and I don't have to go to preschool pick up, E miraculously wakes up on her own.

As I write this she is singing her own sweet little songs from her crib. I'm guessing when I walk in her socks will be thrown onto the floor, along with her blanket, her stuffed baby and her book.

We're all caught up from being away for the weekend. The laundry is done, the house picked back up and we jumped right back into life at home. I've got a couple looming deadlines this week, along with an exciting giveaway (or two) and even though the weather has taken a cooler turn and a somber look, I'm kind of enjoying it right now.

We celebrated one of my mom's brother's 50th birthdays this past weekend and it was fun, oh it was fun.
It is good for my soul to have these weekends. My parents both were oldests of six so our extended family is large. And I take for granted these relationships, these people, this life.

We don't necessarily get to see them all all that often but when we do I am reminded of how much love there is.

H discovered his third cousins Braden and Donavan this weekend, children of two of my cousins and Saturday night as we left the party for one last swim at the hotel {with some of his favorite people), a night of sleep and a long drive home, he made sure to tell me that there is more in our family. That these new friends are his family.

And then there is the way my littles soak up all this love from these people, our family, we don't always get to see. I watch E get passed from one to the next and being showered with kisses and laughing and my 50 year old military uncle wrestle H and beam with pride at E as she sings him her version of Happy Birthday.

"She's ok". Someone yells at the party as I realize that E is completely across the room trying to help open the presents and I remember that in this place I am with the ones I love and the ones who love me and mine.

A good for the soul winning weekend it was.

Speaking of winners, comment #13 is the lucky one that random.org chose for the {sweeter than me designs} giveaway. Peggy, send me an email and I'll get you in touch with Kristin so you can get your prize.

Happy Monday, friends!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Baby Daddy.

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I love this picture of dad and daughter. And I am absolutely positively certain that I picked the best daddy to be my baby daddy. {Ok I've always wanted to say that. Now I did.} I'm serious though, he's the best.

In about a month we'll be celebrating EIGHT years of living life together.

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My littles and I are headed to "Green Bean", Wisconsin for the weekend with my dad to see family and celebrate a family birthday. But if you're looking for something fun to do in Minnesota this weekend, check out the Como Zoo ZooBoo*.
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We went last Saturday night and the kids {especially the littles} loved it and got an early start to their Halloween candy collecting, which means I got an early start to eating my favorites.

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Finally, not too late to enter the {sweeter than me designs} giveaway over here. All you have to do is leave a comment.

*Disclosure: Como Zoo ZooBoo provided our family with complimentary passes to ZooBoo.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This and That.

This week has been kind of ordinary and kind of not.

I'm guessing that makes about as much sense to you as it does me.

I've got a million and one things on the brain so bear with this hodge podge this and that post....

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Read this quote by Oprah yesterday and it was a good kick in my rear end: “Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.”

Sometimes it's easy to want to over react, take something too personal or just all out freak out.
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NaBloPoMo is coming again and I'm planning on participating in November again by posting every single day. Thankful Thursday will be back. And actually it might stay around longer than November because I'm fairly sure that we can all find things to be thankful for throughout the year, can't we?

I'm also thinking that Simple Little Things That Bring Me Joy is going to be a regular thing too.

Kinda like the old little-yellow-notebook days.

Join me if you've got a blog and try to post for 30 days, it was fun challenge last year.

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My friend S and her three kids came over to play this morning and E could barely keep her hands off of baby Maggie. She love, love, loves babies!

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I feel like we're finally finding a groove with the school year. H goes four afternoons a week and I love it. I am being very intentional with my afternoons while E naps. My next big project is going through this mess of bins and papers that I have stacked in the basement of all the kids school papers and memory things and coming up with a better system. Because the one we've got going just isn't working. How do you store and organize school stuff and memory things? {Please don't suggest scrapbooking because with 4 kids and being years behind that is just not going to happen!}

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I realized recently that this is essentially my 6th year of preschool parenting. Monday also marked my fifth field trip to our local fire station. I could pretty much give the tour at this point. And to think, there will be more trips.
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Finally, just for fun, today's a giveaway day.

{sweeter than me} designs is giving one of my lovely readers anything from her shop. She makes beautiful earrings and rings and even some bobby pins. I have one of her sets of the flower earrings and I love them. I typically am wearing a pair of them every single day. {Mine are pink, yellow and green.}

If I were to win, I think I'd choose these or these or maybe these.

Go take a look at her cute shop and tell me what you would choose if you were chosen. Or tell me what your kids are dressing up for on Halloween. Or tell me a crock pot dinner recipe that is simple. Or tell me your name and where you live and what you like about this here blog.

Honestly, just leave a comment and you're in.

Winner to be chosen Sunday, October 25 at 6pm.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

At Night.

Henry and Evie Reading
Freshly bathed, pajama clad littles who've no evening responsibilities. Life whirls around them at night it seems sometimes. With the bigs needing to get to practices or finish homework or just prepare for another day at school.

Yet the littles find their place. With each other. Sprawled on the floor reading a Spiderman book.

It's dark. E's hair is a mess atop her head with a headband thrown in for good measure. Neither of their faces are seen.

But I still love this glimpse of my littles at night.

What's an ordinary happening at your house at night that sometimes you just miss? 

Tell me. Take your own picture and post it. Do something about it. Cause don't you know, the most ordinary of moments are often the most precious ones.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Half A Year.

henry6mos
18mos

30 mos

3 1/2

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4 1/2 years.
4 1/2
Well today, my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle is 4 and a half. I offered to celebrate today with half cupcakes and H said that he'd rather not. Jello would be the perfect thing for his half birthday. So we had cherry red jello with dinner and we sang Happy Birthday because now he's four and a half.

Six months to age five. Whoa, now that's a big one.

Yesterday, I was moving some things around including this long, leafy plant that we have named "H's birth plant". It was gifted to us when he was born and it's grown leaps and bounds since then. Just like him.

M asked me when I'd get rid of it and I told her that when H moves out I'll give it to him.

H got serious and looked at me and asked, "Is that when I'll get a new mom?"

"Oh no, I'll always be your mom." I said. "Like, when you move out and get a wife."

He shook his head, came over and hugged me tight.

"I'm gonna live with you forever." He said.

And sometimes I think that maybe wouldn't be such a bad thing.

He'll change his mind. Probably 100 times over between now and when the time comes to spread his wings and leave this place but right here, right now, I am so thankful for my smiley faced boy who wants to live with me forever.

Happy Half a Year, sweet boy!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Simple Little Things That Bring Me Joy.

When I was in college, in Chicago, my friend Laura and I would get together every Tuesday night at Starbucks and share life together. We'd sip Chai Tea lattes and talk about school and LSAT's, marathon training, dates gone good {or bad} and life. Plain and simple life.

I had this little yellow notebook that I'd always bring and in it I'd write lists and lists and stories and quotes and one of the recurring themes was "Simple Little Things That Bring Me Joy".

Laura and her husband and daughter are now all the way over in New York and we don't get to connect like we used to. We haven't seen each other since H was 2 months old, when her and her husband married in North Carolina. But the friendship we shared, it's still there. I still count her in my head, on my hand and most importantly, in my heart.

So today, even though it's not Tuesday and even though I'm not hanging with Laura, I'm sharing my list of what's bringing me joy, right now:

1. Teeny, tiny, little girl braids. I doubt you've ever seen anything so cute. {I was inspired by this a few weeks back and realized, it was time. Oh it was time for E to wear braids too!}
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2. Did you get a look at that bench Miss E is sitting on? My husband MADE that! I've been complaining about that stinking ledge for oh, pretty much the 6 plus years we've lived here and one Sunday a few weeks back, we traipsed to JoAnn fabrics, picked out that pretty print and my husband made the ugly, paint chipped ledge into a soft, beautiful looking bench. No, friends, he's not for hire.

3. My crockpot. Tonight's the third night this week that I am making dinner in the crock pot and while it's always been used for things like chili or meatballs, I've been loving finding recipes that take me 10 minutes in the morning and cook all day long. I enjoy my afternoon and the witching hour before dinner so much better now.

4. Stripes. I am obsessed. They wear stripes a lot. 100_2887
And so do I now.
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5. This Indian Summer we're having. Politically correct or not, seriously, I love picking H up from school with dinner in the crock pot {see above!!} and being able to go to the park or play outside. T and M even got to play outside after dinner earlier this week. On school nights, we very rarely go outside again after dinner, so this was a BIG deal!
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6. Friendship mix. If you are older than 4, you'd probably call this trail mix. And H loves making it with cereal and goldfish and raisins and marshmallows and whatever other fun ingredients we've got lying around.
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7. Fall. Fall. Fall. I am in love with our front door step right now with a haybale and pumpkins and an orange mum! I love all the decorations around my house and the scent of apple candles.

8. Candy corn. I have never been a big fan of candy corn and usually buy it to put in the candy dish for looks. I filled our gummy bear jar with candy corn and I can barely stay on top of refilling it.

So, play along with me here, because though I'm ashamed to admit it the lack of comments but the increasing traffic sometimes makes me wonder what's going on. Mixed signals, people!

So say something, anything, what things you're finding joy in? What do you think of the music when the page opens? Some people say they hate it, some love it. Today, I love it. So tell me what you're thinking and enjoying...right now.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Chile Mine Rescue.

They just pulled out the 19th miner in Chile and if you have no idea what I'm talking about, that's a problem.

I was just walking in the door last night when miner #1 was pulled out and after that I sat glued to the television watching and waiting and seeing the replays. When #2 came out rejoicing and hugging and handing out rocks, J and I sat in awe of how happy and joyful and thankful this man was for his life.

It is history. It is miraculous. And as I watch CNN and listen to even the anchors admit that faith, yes faith, played a part in this, it almost brings me to tears each time.

This morning it was on all morning and I'm fairly sure it's the only time in H's life I've left the news on all morning.

I explained, over and over and over, what was happening and who these men speaking a foreign language are and how they've been underground for such a long, long time and that God has kept them safe. You have no idea what kind of feeling I had when just before we were leaving for preschool and I was loading the dishwasher from lunch H yelled, "Mom, there's another miner that God protected!"

Number 17.

H and E both cheered and we celebrated as we sat on our living room floor watching number 17, a 56 year old great grandfather of three, be welcomed and get on the stretcher and taken away.

"Mom, there's another miner that God protected!"

Amen, my son, Amen!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Welcome Home.

Someday, hopefully sooner than later, I'll have something of more substance to share, besides a few pictures. Life is busy. And crazy, some days. Infuriating, other days. But so, so good, most days.

Just an hour ago now, T came home from school and as he walked across the lawn E, who'd been coloring at the bench, stood up and started waving. And he stood and waved and jumped around at her for a good five minutes.

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And prior to this scene, I admit, T was not on my happy list. He had scratched the van with his bike yesterday. After I'd asked him to please, please be careful {because this wasn't the first time}.

But this exchange made me smile {Because how many 11 year old boys do you know that would stand and jump around in the front yard for their baby sister?}and made me muster up the grace inside that I have been given more times than I should have been given.

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So instead of getting mad, taking away his bike and having frustrations on his end and mine for the day. I simply said, please, please, please be careful when you take your bike out of the garage because you scratched the van again. And, I admit, sometimes I feel like I've already said that {and other reminders} 1000 times over and I probably did just that. But today, I decided to just go, welcome home, and after snack, here's some grace.

Who could you give some grace to today?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Biggest Fan.

She is their biggest fan. It doesn't matter if they are playing baseball or soccer or football or basketball, singing in a concert or playing a part in a musical, she is there, yelling "GO, GO, GO" and "YAY".

And while I think she likes watching all three of her siblings, she's especially fond of H and his soccer. She is the best little fan on the sidelines because she watches and she cheers and she laughs every time H laughs. And he laughs a lot.

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Cell phone picture taken today at H's last soccer game of the year.
{Ignore the runny nose! It's that time of year...}


Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Date With My Son.

I promised him that this afternoon, after school, after an appointment, just him and I, we'd go and have a date and go get a special treat.

Like, the sort of treat we wouldn't be able to enjoy with E around. Maybe an ice cream cone? Or a smoothie. Or maybe even a milkshake at my favorite place.

But he both surprised me and made me smile when he suggested hitting up the coffee shop for a "cooler". {What can I say, he takes after his mom and dad?}

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So we split a frappucino. He got the whip cream.
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And some pumpkin bread too.

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There's just something about spending an afternoon, me and him. The things I learned and heard from him. How can it be that I spend each and every day with him, yet miss so much at times?

I talk about the frustrating fours. I write about this age being tough. And it is. But there is so much more about age four I want to remember. Like today. I want to remember today. Sipping straws and chewing on bread and talking about everything he learned this week at preschool and who's going to be invited to his birthday party {in April!} and what things he really, really wants for Christmas.

He's a joy and so is being his mom.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Three Years Ago Today.

Three years ago today it was sunny and warm and it was one of the most beautiful days of my life.

Here's why;

Reposted from October 2007

Love.

Five years ago in July, I sat in on my parents patio with them where they told me that 2007 was going to be "their" year. They did not want any weddings or babies that year, they wanted that year to be able to celebrate their 30 years together. I am sure that they thought I long since forgot about that talk but I didn't.

In retrospect I don't think I ever thought anything of it, none of us could ever imagined or comprehended what this year would be like for our family.

At the beginning of the year my parents were travelling: To Florida, to Panama, to California with lots more plans for the year.

In spring life came to a halting stop. With the news of my mom's cancer and her diagnosis came a different kind of bonding. The ups and downs that happen with cancer patients. Immediate chemo, losing one's hair, painful bouts and hospitalized stays.

The last time my mom was in the hospital just before they got sent home my dad got down on one knee and asked her to marry him all over again.

Without surprise my mom said yes. So quickly, in two weeks time, we put together a vow renewal ceremony, in their beautiful backyard, officiated by one of the minister's at church. We shopped for a gown, my mom and dad ordered a cake and we all prayed for good weather.

Good weather we got. We could not have ordered a better day. It was perfect in every single way. Considering there were no written invitations, seeing well over 100 people there was inspiring.

I was to read some of the scriptures from their wedding after my sister. I stood and began to read. And then, I began to weep.

When people ask about my mom, I do not cry. I keep myself together. I am matter-of-fact. Not because I am not sad but because I am, in that respect, a private person.

But Saturday, I read through tears the following scripture:

Though I try to be composed and keep myself together, it is the reality that causes me to become overcome. I was reading such truths aloud at my parents vow renewal and while it was a happy day, the tears came especially easy.
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but
didn't love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had
the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God's secret plans and
possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains,
but didn't love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the
poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn't love
others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not
jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not
irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about
injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never
loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy
and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But
love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even
the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when full
understanding comes, these partial things will become useless. When I was a
child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put
away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but
then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial
and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now
knows me completely. Three things will last forever-faith, hope, and love-and
the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13


I am sure there are many couples who renew their vows over the years but this was different. It was unique, it was special, it was holy.

My parents exchanged the exact vows they said so many years ago and as it was time for their rings my dad slipped a new ring on my mom's finger, representing the past, the present and the future.

You may assume that I am biased, but I believe my mom and dad are a couple to be admired. The love they share is evident in all they do, all they have done. They are the truest of true love I have ever witnessed and they set the standard for Jeff and I to live up to. They have witnessed and lived out the above scriptures, which is perhaps the reason that the ceremony struck me in such an overwhelming way.

It is in the way my mom loves my dad and respects his work and his funny side. She's his biggest fan, his partner in life and most precious confidante. It is in the way my dad looks at my mom and wants it all to be perfect for her. His concerns and convictions to make her life all that she deserves and more. It is in the way that he calls her his 'everything'.


video
Most photos are courtesy of Nicole Olson Photography 2007.


For those that are unaware, my mom passed away two months later, in December 2007 from terminal carcinoma in her lungs.

{On an unrelated note, you have until 1pm today to enter to win passes to an advance screening of Secretariat, here.}

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Disney's Secretariat Movie. Giveaway!

Based on the remarkable true story, “Secretariat” chronicles the spectacular journey of the 1973 Triple Crown winner.  Housewife and mother Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) agrees to take over her ailing father’s Virginia-based Meadow Stables, despite her lack of horse-racing knowledge.  Against all odds, Chenery—with the help of veteran trainer Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich)—manages to navigate the male-dominated business, ultimately fostering the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years and what may be the greatest racehorse of all time. {Taken straight from the Secretariat website}

The movie opens nationwide on Friday, October 8!

Minnesota friends, I've got a family four pack for an ADVANCE screening of Secretariat Wednesday {as in tomorrow} at 7pm in Maple Grove.

I'll be there with a friend or two myself! Please keep in mind that though it is a Disney movie, it's not a cartoon movie or aimed at kids. It is rated PG and I would think ages 8 and up depending on their interest in horses/horse races and the like. {But only you can be the judge of that, maybe your 5 year old would love it too.}

Simply leave a comment {with a valid email}here to win. Winner will be chosen at 1pm Wednesday {tomorrow} and notified immediately. Please don't enter unless you can attend and have people you can bring with you! {And again, just because it's a family four pack doesn't mean you have to bring your family.}

Monday, October 4, 2010

22 Months.

Lots of things on my mind and to-do list tonight but I realized I almost missed something BIG.

As of Sunday, she's twenty-two months.

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And while she is much too big and too old to be playing in an exersaucer, she is obsessed with babies and baby gear, much like H was with beep-beeps.

While there are many parts of toddler-hood that are daunting and crazy busy, I love, love, love this girl at this stage.

Happy month twenty two, Evelyn!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Jack.

Jack, the Jack O'Lantern was given to me by a friend oh, at least five years ago. Maybe even longer.

And some of the kids in our house believe that Jack wakes up and dances at night.

We love to play along, of course.

This morning, H, let out the greatest laugh when he woke up to find Jack sitting here.

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And of course, that's a Halloween piano book he's playing from. I'm not sure how we all slept through his piano playing last night, but we did.

I'm posting my pumpkin bread recipe because so many people in my life love it and so many people have been asking lately for it. It's really the best pumpkin bread you'll ever eat. Maybe you've got a fall recipe to share...like pumpkin bars? I've been hearing about a yummy pumpkin bar dessert I'd love to try??? If you've got a fun, fall recipe leave it here in the comments or email me.

Pumpkin Bread

4 eggs
1 cup sugar
¼ cup lt. brown sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ Tsp. baking powder
½ tsp salt

1 cup canned pumpkin
¾ cup oil

Ground cinnamon. {I do not measure}

350 degree oven. Beat Eggs, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in large bowl.
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and then add to the large bowl mixture. Mix well.
Add pumpkin and oil and mix well. Add ground cinnamon. I just pour until all of the orange/brown batter is speckled with cinnamon. Add as you see fit! Pour batter into greased loaf pan. {I usually can do one large and one small loaf} Bake 60 minutes. Tops of the bread should be firm and if you were to insert a toothpick, it would come out clean.

Store in aluminum foil for maximum moistness. I am not sure how long it lasts quality-wise, because in our house it's always eaten within two days.