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Monday, August 29, 2011

It Flies.

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M had middle school orientation this morning. Middle school!

She was so nervous this morning getting ready and heading to catch the bus.  It totally brings me back.

When she was in preschool, I was pregnant with H and when I would drop her off of at preschool, her teacher would literally have to peel her fingers from around my neck. And then kindergarten, we all worried how the whole bus thing would go and would she get on or would she scream, and she got on. Baby H and I in the van following the bus to school and then watching our little blondie walk from the bus to kindergarten like a pro.

It's hard to believe sometimes it's already time for middle school for her, time just flies and flies and flies.

Yesterday we had some friends over for a Back to School ice cream party/school supply drive. Over a month ago now, it was really on my heart to do something to help struggling families with the burden that can be the cost of school supplies. Kids need a lot of things for school and if a family is already struggling financially and even using the food shelf for groceries, they certainly could use the blessing of some donated school supplies. As a friend put it, if families can't afford groceries, they can't afford school supplies.
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My generous friends hit it out of the park, really.

My littles and I delivered all the donations today from notebooks and pencils, backpacks and lunch boxes, paper and pens. There were erasers and folders, shelf organizers and crayons, markers and pencil pouches.
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And it makes me happy that something important to me is also important to others in our life.

Another organization that is becoming near and dear to me is Bead for Life. You can read more about them along with an opportunity to host a party and win a bracelet made by a Ugandan woman right here.

Finally, if you are a business or etsy shop interesting in advertising here, please contact me as I do have reasonably priced openings this fall.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Definition of Choosing One's Battles.

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We wore that almost-too-small leotard all day today. To not just one park, but two.

At the gym, someone asked her if she was on her way to gymnastics. "No." Dance? "No." Did she just come from there? "No."

When I told her to put clothes on this morning, as soon as the words came out of my mouth, I stopped. What difference does it make if she wears it all day?

It makes her happy. And in turn, me too.

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Thankful today for sunshine streaming through the house, nothing on that must-do list, last minute facebook park plans with friends and laughter.

Thankful for a late, slow lunch and a long, catch up chat with a friend while H played contentedly and E napped (!).

Thankful for a leisurely afternoon of nothing but eating snacks and playing villain mama and superheroes. A quick trip to the gym and a sunset visit to the park.

Thankful today for good Caringbridge updates on one friends baby and another friends brother in law. God really does hear our prayers.

Thankful that as I type this my littles are sound asleep together. We're blessed to have a home with enough bedrooms for each child, yet lately they prefer to share. E on the bottom bunk and H on the top.

That's nearly 20 things in just one day. Imagine if we kept better track of the blessings Christ gives us each day in the little things we sometimes fail to even notice. I'm working on this.

What is it you're thankful for today?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Treading Water.

I am barely keeping my head above water right now. There's just a lot going on. I've been a neglectful friend,{sorry!} failing to reply to messages or return phone calls, and yesterday, though my list in my notebook said we were going to finalize some school shopping and get some things at home organized, I, at the last minute asked M to pack lunches and quickly packed up and headed to the Children's Museum with M and my littles. {T was at a friends.}

It was one of my better moments of motherhood. Really, somedays, you just have to get stuff done, I know this and I do this when I can. But there are other days where I know that 4 p.m. is going to roll around and I'm just going to wonder where the day went and realize we could have spent it better.
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This is what a day well spent looks like.
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Yesterday was that. We needed a last minute let's go to the museum and play-day.

Even if it meant spending the evening at the coffee shop working on things I needed to get done.
Details and such:

I just got registered for the Hearts at Home conference in Rochester this November. It's a conference for Christian moms and there are sessions ranging in topic from parenting to marriage to personal growth. I'm really excited to be going with a friend of mine from college but there is always room for more. Are you going? For more information, go here. And let me know if you're going too.

If you're a North Park University alumni in Minnesota, there's an alumni event J and I are going to next month at the News Room. You can see details here and let me know if you're coming.  And yes, while I actually graduated from the University of MN, I'm still considered and participate as a North Park alum.

It's not too late to register for the Breath of Hope Lung Cancer 5K next month either but if you want a shirt get registered soon. For more info, go here.

I'm in need of a local family who are attending the state fair for the first time this year OR a family who loves it and has tons of traditions around it. By local I mean St. Michael Patch local. Send me a message if you are or know a family that would work well.

Finally, I need a little fashion help. This weekend M and I are attending a wedding shower for my nephew's fiance', we also have both his wedding and my cousins wedding coming up soon. The trouble I'm having is finding dresses for M. To some extent I have accepted the fashions at Justice and Aeropostale, however most of their clothing is either over the top glitter, lace and sparkles or too casual for a wedding shower and weddings. Does anyone know where I can get a teeny-bopper some cute, age appropriate dresses that aren't too young but also aren't too teeny-bopper-ish? I tried JCPenney's last night and was pretty disappointed. Anyone?

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vacation-ing Fully.

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Our best attempt at a family vacation picture. Brainerd,MN August 2011.

Vacation was....

Kids kayaking and tipping over in the lake.
Turtle racing in Nisswa.
Building LEGO Hero guys. All 18 of them.
Fishing off the end of the dock.
Mid-week date night. Dinner and a movie. {The Help. Go see it.}
Playing at the park.
Laughing at everything and nothing.
Hot sunshine and cool breeze.
Quiet nature-sound-filled nights.

Switching off sleeping in.
Coffee stops.
Taking in slow through the wind and then speeding up and letting the breeze tangle our hair.
Letting H drive the boat.
Watching his face. First serious, then crazy laughter. True joy.
Jumping and splashing and throwing kids in.
Monkey bar-ing.
Letting kids be kids.
Window shopping and candy store visiting.
Fudge tasting.
Sitting and listening. Reading. Watching.
No work for J.
Time with Boppa.


Feeding ducks until they're stuffed.
Quarters in the arcade.
Late, late nights.
Much too early mornings.
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And now it's in the rear-view mirror of life. We are home.

More {lots and lots of thoughts and reflections on a really great book} to come.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Simple. Vacation.

We went into Nisswa today to walk the town and race turtles.

While T and M choose turtles based on strategy, E chooses her on size. Bigger must mean better. {It didn't.}

We go for an afternoon swim. Outside. Then inside. A dip in the hot tub and then just a few jumps back in the pool.

Between trying to remove her swimsuit in a hot tub full of men and asking someone at the pool "Why you take my towel?" when they hold a similar towel, not hers, Miss E makes us laugh.

We eat dinner outside. The typical bargaining goes on. Two more bites of this. Please drink this.

We walk on the beach, feeding the ducks. Literally letting the ducks take the bread out of our finger tips.

We walk to the resort arcade, where all the games are just 25 cents. My dad and I rock out pinball on E's quarters. She stands between us on a chair thinking she's scoring big.

{By the way, Boppa and I are pretty good.}

I've promised a candy treat even though I claim they're shortly off to bed. H chooses a sugar lolly pop, the kind I loved eating as a kid.

We get back to the cabin just in time for kickball with the neighbor kids. H jumps right in. And E tries but mostly disrupts.

The neighbor boys ranging in age from 3-7 have all taken off their t-shirts and tucked them into their shorts and H copies them. I am smiling.

They play while the sun is setting, the air is cooling down, later than we planned.

Perfect night we say aloud over and over and over again.

J & I sit together, we're listening to the beach outside, water hitting the sand. Relaxing, him with his Rolling Rock, me with my Chai tea.

These are the simple joys, the things that make vacation, vacation.

I lay in bed next to E reading her her Dora library book for the 56th time this week. "Again?" she says as I turn the last page, I oblige, because after all, this makes vacation, vacation.

{Thoughts on Wednesday night.}

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Pictures We Don't Take.

In this moment, I have no camera and I long for one. One that will soak up the sounds, the smell and the sight of what I am living.

Her bleached blonde hair is pulled back in braids and she wears a dress, blue and black flowers on white, that flows in the breeze as we walk along the waters edge.

The water beats against the sand. The wake is rough from the boats and jet skis out on the lake.

"I be right back," she tells me as she starts walking into the lake. I know that it will be moments and she will be drenched.

The water beats against her legs and slowly the edge of her dress. She raises her dress so that all one can see are her two toothpick legs and some Dora underpants and sure enough, the wake knocks her down.

She laughs. "I all wet," she says grinning as she stands up.

I tell her it's ok that it's sunny, warm and that she'll dry.

She sees the ducks and heads out of the water. Soon her wet body and dress are covered with sand. So she goes back to the water, rinsing off and goes out again. Three times over. The ducks are gone by now, she's scared them away.

She stands, half sandy, still drenched and grabs my hand to start walking towards the docks. I look down at our feet as we walk. Her flip flops are on the wrong feet and between the wrong toes but she doesn't mind. Her dress drips water as she walks and I squeeze the back of it to wring it out.

"Don't do that," she says, the wispy hair not tucked into the braids floats around her face.

It's right now where I want to click, click, click on the camera. I am overwhelmed and see this picture and want it forever.

And that's when I close my eyes willing myself to remember what I couldn't take a picture of.

{Thoughts from Gull Lake. Monday afternoonish.}

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Littles.

"Mama," H yells at me while hanging on the monkey bars, "you know even if you're not here telling me to be careful, I'm being careful."

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"Oh, good," I say, not feeling much better about the situations him and E continue to tag team themselves {and oftentimes, me} into.

"I'm going to be at school and you won't be there to tell me to be careful. I just have to learn that for myself."

Did my five-year old just say that?

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And my two year old, my friends, she sure keeps us on our toes. Lets just say a lot of people were saying their prayers for her today. Not a big believer in luck, but I do believe in the power of prayer.She is fine, just likes to keep us on our toes.

I read the excerpt below tonight online on a friends facebook and as soon as I read it, I realized it perfectly explains the way I spend my evenings. Without further ado, I'm off to help rearrange my littles thoughts for tomorrow. It's what all good mothers do, you know.

"Mrs. Darling first heard of Peter when she was tidying up her children's minds. It is the nightly custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day. If you could keep awake (but of course you can't) you would see your own mother doing this, and you would find it very interesting to watch her. It is quite like tidying up drawers. You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents, wondering where on earth you had picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight. When you wake in the morning, the naughtiness and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out your prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on."

Excerpt from Peter Pan. {Thanks Barbara for posting this tonight.}

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Winner of the Minnesota Zoo passes was comment #9: Jon, Sara, Tyler & Sophie.

Also if you're interested in reading our allergy (well E's, actually) story, visit the food allergy blog, The Willing Cook. She asked me to share E's food allergy story a few weeks back and it posted Wednesday. If you're interested in how we discovered E's allergies, take a wander there.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Calm After the Storm.

They say there's a calm before a storm but if you've ever paid attention there's a calm after the storm too. That's what today is.

The calm after the storm and flurry of a busy weekend followed by me spending a complete day in bed sick with a 103 degree fever and another day trying to get it together, which added up to eleven loads of laundry, a random "what was I thinking" trip to Target and a call to poison control just for good measure.

Since I'd been gone since Friday I had three days of home laundry waiting for me upon my return, along with my clothes from Green Bay. Plus, two sets of bedding. J had quite weekend with the littles that resulted in both H and E's bedding needing to be washed.

Then I thought while I was at it, I might as well strip all the beds and get this house as germ free as I can.

As for poison control, let's just say E got ahold of a certain bigs sample size bottle of  {alcohol free}mouthwash and finished it off like a communion cup of juice. She's fine.

All this to say who knew fevers as an adult kicked your tail like this.Thank God M was home because she was truly my nurse Monday when I did not get out of bed until 6pm. She also, I hear, was quite the helper while I was away, and helped J with the littles and their fevers and sickness.


So, Green Bay.
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Five hour drive with my good friend, Stacey and my little sister (who is sleeping in this pic)

So thankful I had Stacey along, she helped a ton with shower prep, day of stuff and is just one of those fun people to hang out with.
So the biggest reason we headed to Green Bay was for my cousins wedding shower which I threw with her other bridesmaids. {pictured above, bride to be is in the center}

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Of course we had a few glitches. The cake first read "Jeff" instead of "Josh". No big deal though, right?

The shower was really perfect! Everything from centerpieces to food to games went really well. Which is something considering it was being planned by four girls living in different places with different ideas and thoughts. Let's just say there was a lot of emails back and forth.

{And I was awarded an "I'm in Charge" button at the bachelorette party.}

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The bride to be at her little bachelorette shin-dig Saturday night.

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It was a really, great, fast weekend and so fun. Lots of laughs were had. And now I can't wait for her wedding in October.


The Minnesota Zoo giveaway ends tonight so go enter. I've been awful at promoting it on facebook/twitter mostly because last night was the first time I turned my computer on since last Thursday night so currently chances are in favor.

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Just a couple thoughts to end the week.

This week is World Breastfeeding Week. {I had no idea such a thing existed and I breastfed two littles!} I got to go to my very first flash mob/nurse in for a story on Tuesday and I wrote about it here.

When I had H, I will definitely say that I was very intimidated as a nursing mother. I was self conscious, not very confident and just trying to figure it all out. {Also H ate all. the. time.}

By the time I had E, I was so over the stigma I felt about nursing and really could nurse her anytime and anywhere {tastefully, of course} and didn't really care who was around or what not. I was not going to subject my children to having to be shut away in a room (or worse, a bathroom) to eat.

I do agree with one of the comments I heard at the event Tuesday that breastfeeding is normal and that the more women are around other women who support and encourage it, the better they will feel about it.

What do you think?


Back in February, I was contacted by a writer wanting to do a story on mommy bloggers. I met with her for hours, sharing my story, my thoughts, opinions, feelings, all the blogging secrets and so on. We emailed back and forth for week. She needed to know other bloggers and so I sent her a list of blogs and friends I've met via blogging. I even invited her to exclusive blogging events to get the inside look.

And then about a month ago, I got an email letting me know that her editor decided me and my blog weren't going to be a part of her story.

Instead she was using four of the friends/blogs I passed along to her.

Talk about a slap in the face. I felt very, very used.

Really, I think it was that my feelings were hurt.

Monday morning I was at the doctors office with E and happened to see the magazine was out and was happy to see someone's face across the cover that I recognized! I loved getting to read about these women and blogs I know and support. While I wasn't included, I am so glad these women are.

Feel free to go read the story here.

I think great things of all four of the women profiled and think you may even want to check them out.

I met Beth of Anti Supermom first via the internet when we were both profiled by Pioneer Press in November 2009 and then that winter at Cupcake. She will crack you up and she also has a son named Henry!

I met Liz of Random Thoughts of a Lutheran Geek at the Feed My Starving Children event last winter and since then a couple other events. She works in mininstry and is passionate about her beliefs, getting in shape and also, Little Goat.

Heather of the Extraordinary Ordinary and I met at Cupcake as well, though I followed her and her story long before then. You'll fall in love with her words.

And Darcie, of Gust Gab, and I met the summer of 2008 at a Cribsheet event. {Cribsheet was the parenting blog at Star Tribune.} Our paths continue to cross at blogging events and now we even know some of the same non-blogging friends.

Don't forget to enter to win passes to the Minnesota Zoo right over here.

Happy weekend, friends! I'm off on a child-less weekend to Green Bay!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day Camp. Potty. And Penguins. Oh My!

The week is flying by. H is loving day camp. He comes home exhausted and dirtier than possible and sometimes he's even missing something, like today, a random sock. {He claims he didn't notice he only had one sock on as he put his shoes on after swimming. That must mean he's too busy having fun.}

The weather's cleared up and after the first day and a half of rain it's been full sun and full bugs.

I'm so glad he's having fun.

I told my dad today that H pretty much broke me in. The first time he went potty I remember thinking we were going to be out of diapers within a week. {I was wrong.} Then I bribed, pushed, cried my way through some challenges until one day where he just got it. And it's funny because my dad told me when that was going on that in 6 months or even a year, I'd look back and laugh about what seemed like such a struggle. And I do.

All this to say, I've had pretty low expectations about the potty thing with Miss E. She's been going potty off and on for a LONG time now. Yet I've kind of been all laissez faire about it but the other day she begged me to let her wear underwear. Of course this was a day where we had a 30 minute drive in the car.

I hemmed and hawed, even at one point asked if she would wear her underwear over her diaper {my thinking was who wants to clean out a car seat potty accident? not me!}

Finally, I gave in. And she was fine.

Accident free all day.

And then today she did it again, minus an accident at bus pick up for H, she did great. Even telling me at one point in a childrens clothing store "Mama, I have to go potty!"

Ladies and gentlemen, we may be on our way!
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see big girl E. dirty faced camper H. And two bigs who go along with my crazy celebration plans.
edit: I replaced the previous photo with a better one where everyone actually appears happy to be alive


This past weekend we had the chance to visit the Minnesota Zoo all the way down in Apple Valley. I hadn't been there in maybe 15 years?

I'm not sure why we waited so long though. It was a full, wonderful day. {And we left planning on becoming members before the next visit!}
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Our first stop was the newest penguin exhibit. Penguins from Africa! Our littles loved it.
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They pretty much loved the entire time we were there. H wanted to take pictures of everything. And we let him so now we have about 64 pictures of his finger or glass displays and occasionally the ground.

We rode the monorail at the end of our visit which was probably a little mixed up because had we done it first we probably could have mapped out what we really wanted to do and see for next time. {Such as the barn! That's a fall trip for sure!}
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The Minnesota Zoo is giving away TWO free passes to the zoo here. {Including parking!} The passes are good anytime for any regular admission {either adults or children}.

To enter, tell me something that's bringing you joy this week. Is it the sunshine with no humidity? A big break at work? Planning a vacation or a girls weekend? Whatever it is that's making you happy, leave a comment here and you're in.

Because this is a bigger giveaway, there are two additional ways to enter.

1. Like my blog on Facebook and leave a comment here saying you did so.


2. Share this post on either Facebook or Twitter and then leave a comment here saying you did so.

Winner to be chosen by on August 10 at 8pm.

Disclosure: The Minnesota Zoo sponsored this giveaway. They also gave my family complimentary passes to the zoo. The opinions shared here are mine.

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Day Camper.


Have you ever seen a camper as cute as this one?

Me either.

First day of YMCA day camp today. He left with a smile and loads of energy at 8:55 this morning and arrived home at 4:25 this afternoon with a smile and ready for bath, dinner and bed.

His day according to him?

{It was raining.}

"We went in a house. It was stinky. So we went in another house that didn't stink."

Also, "we didn't swim across the ocean today. Maybe tomorrow."