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Friday, September 30, 2011

Here It Is.

So this is where, if you're reading this in your email or in your blog reader, it's time to click on over and see my new blog design.

I've been wanting a new look for some time and finally hired Made by Guerrilla to do it.

It was no easy feat and quite the labor of love for me. {Last count we exchanged just shy of 90 emails. I think he cringes when he sees my name in his inbox.}

But it's here and it's live and I'm happy. {And Mike is really great at working with crazy, over ambitious, women who send 14 emails in an hour!}

Some minor tweaking and changes will still be taking place the next few days {including a matching look on my giveaway page! and a mobile friendly plugin for those of you who like to visit while on the go!}

If you haven't liked my page on Facebook be sure and do that and also if it's easier for you to receive updates via email you can subscribe right there. {You can also now like individual posts as well!}

In the meantime, take a look around and let me know what you think. Please!


In other news this week, I wrote a story about a local man involved with the movie Courageous. The movie opens tonight and has already reached over $2 million in pre-sales. Go see it!

Also, Time Magazine's cover story this week was "Why Mom Liked You Best." and is all about the infamous favorite child. I wrote my take on it this week over here. And last night I remembered I wrote a little bit about favorites and fairness awhile back and specifically remembered a quote we have taped in our cupboard.

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. -Michael @FiveMinutesforParenting {link to this and backstory available here}

I still firmly believe it.

I'll be posting sometime this weekend. Two new ads will begin and October has a couple really good giveaways!

Happy Friday!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Triple Whammy.

Last night was the annual Perspective of Hope gala.  Always inspiring to see people come together to better the lives of others and support an organization that means a lot to J. He continues to serve as the director of Parenting Programs there in addition to his very full private practice.

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Tonight and tomorrow we're heading out with friends. Three nights out in a row? That never happens. But you know how life works and things start happening, schedules get scheduled and all of a sudden you realize everything falls on one weekend.

Happy weekend, friends.

Winner of the Barney Live! tickets is #2: Deb R.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mostly Serious.

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All of a sudden somedays she just surprises me with her little sentences and actual conversations.

"Mama, there's a bear in here," she tells me while we wait outside of H's piano lesson this afternoon. "We better run fast."
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And tonight when we said prayers before bed, she wanted to pray.

"Thank you Jesus for all our blessings. We love you so much. Amen."

This age, this almost three year old stage is fun. I mean that both seriously and sarcastically.

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Week in Review:

-Are there things bringing you joy this week/fall? Tell me about it.
-I am loving Just Write on Tuesdays, this week I wrote about Kindergarten.
-The Barney Live! giveaway ends Friday night.
-The Eversave mani/pedi giveaway ended Wednesday night. I asked J to choose a random number, he chose #23. The winner has been contacted.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Just Write: Kindergarten.

Third week in.


Five plus years ago you came rushing to this world weeks before we planned. The girl everyone told me I was carrying turned out to be you, my boy, the son I had no idea I was made to raise.

You've turned my world upside down. I've never met a more high energy, joyful about life kid than you. Your smile and your antics get me every time.

You push the envelope faster and harder with each passing year.

"Mom, I didn't get in a lot of trouble, just a little. I didn't go to the principals office," you tell me on just day 5 of kindergarten.

Your idea of trouble is silly. Apparently when you're having a good time it's hard to switch back to serious, learning time. Good thing your teacher understands.

"No trouble," she wrote me, "just sillyness. It's the 2nd week of school. He's fine."

And I read the words, he's fine, six times over, because it's hard for me to accept that you could possibly be fine without me to solve your little worlds biggest problems.

You know the things like Nora and Taylor making playdates on the bus and a 1st grade boy not letting you sit by him and then that little teensy issue you have with the fact that you never get to play on the playground at school because your half-days are full to the brim with learning and learning and learning.

It's as though I couldn't wait to send you and now I just want to hit pause and send you on the days I'm going crazy and keep you home the days I'm not. I wonder what they'd call that, crazy-making home school?

Being your mom has been one of the best gifts I've ever been given. I love that you love school and your friends and that you're finding your way at school. Even if it's without me.

At orientation day your teacher asked us to write down our goals for you. Some moms and dads wish their kids to be the smartest or the fastest or to have the most friends, but for you, it's simple.

I wish for you to love school. I hope that even on that negative 23 degree day that we'll have come December or March or whenever that you'll still be looking outside and asking if it's time yet and watching for the bus and lighting up your face when you see it and climb on.

I wish for you to make friends. Without me there to intervene {or interview}. But more than that I hope that you always are kind even if someone isn't your friend.

Sure I'd love to hear you recite your address and telephone number and even master reading books besides the BOB books we've been working on, but most of all, I wish for you to still be full of joy.

Love school. Be kind. And keep the joy, dear boy.

And slow down a stitch. Give me a few blinks between kindergarten and high school. I need them.

Linking up to Just Write over here today. An exercise in free writing, no-editing.

Don't miss the girls spa day giveaway here and Barney live ticket giveaway here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Simple Little Things That Bring Me Joy.

Now that we're getting into a groove, I'm noticing all sorts of little things bringing me joy as we transition from summer to fall.

I've got pumpkin bread in the oven, a friend popping over in a bit with coffee to catch up while her kids are at school and dinner cooking in the crock pot. It's the kind of day I needed. I may even make an apple pie for after dinner.

Here's what else is bringing me joy this week:

1. Orchard season.
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I'm of the belief you can never visit too many orchards or fall festivals in the fall. Last week I took my littles to 101 Market near us to play in the corn and the jumper one afternoon and then Friday afternoon we were able to visit a new-to-us orchard with friends. {I found out a couple weeks back, friends from a long, long time ago, now own this orchard and was able to write about them and their orchard over here.}

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2. Changing habits.

So I've never been the healthiest eater. I'm picky, I like sweets and when I like something I eat it obsessively until I'm sick of it. One of the major plusses of writing for Patch is the neat things I am learning all the time. Last week I got to attend a consultation with a trainer/nutrition expert at someone's home about healthy eating for healthy families. While I like to think we feed our family {and especially our kids} healthy options, I know sometimes we don't. Since the meeting and writing the story, I've really been taking note of our choices. I got rid of a ton of items in our cupboard and fridge last week that are full of artificial ingredients or hugh fructose corn syrup or even hydrogenated oils. We've made the leap from regular peanut butter to natural/organic peanut butter, we've replaced granola bars that are basically glorified candy bars with actual nutritious snacks for our kids. I'm really excited about these changes and hope that our kids adapt well to them and also hope that J and I feel healthier as well. {When the story I wrote on Patch goes live, I'll link to it here.}

3. Half-Day.

H goes to half-day kindergarten and it's the most middle-of-the-day inconvenient time. {He gets on the bus at 11 and gets home at 2:30, can you say mid-day kindergarten?} Eating lunch at 10:30 in the morning isn't something I'm a big fan of but...this morning I was remembering just how glad I am that he's a half-day-er. I still get my mornings with him before he goes off to school full time next year. I am working hard at letting our mornings be ours and not spent running errands or whatnot and enjoying the days.

Today we played Connect Four.

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4. Afternoons with E.

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I'm also enjoying my afternoons with Miss E. She goes to school just Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for now so the other three days while H is at school it's just her and I. Because she's not a napper anymore it's been fun to go on long walks or do things just her and I.

5. Jack.

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He's back. Earlier than ever before.

What's bringing you joy this week or this fall?

Things not to miss:

Colleen and Company girls spa day giveaway. Enter here to win certificates for yourself and two friends for manicures and pedicures at this Roseville salon.

Barney's Birthday Bash tickets. Enter here to win four tickets to attend Barney Live in Minneapolis on October 1.

Tomorrow is Just Write, if you're interested in a free, no-editing involved writing exercise, go get more information on Heather's blog.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Said Never.

Once upon a time I said never. No character anything for me and my house, I liked to say. And over time I eased up and allowed Lightning McQueen costumes and Dora movies and now, well, just look.

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Yesterday I sent both littles to school in head-to-toe character.

On E, Dora shirt, Dora sandals, Dora backpack and lunchbox and on H, Joker shirt, Star Wars shoes and Transformers backpack.

As hard as it is to admit, I do love how much they love their characters.


Winner of the Bead for Life giveaway: #4 Anna.

Also, I have a new, really big, really fun, giveaway going on over here. {And I tell you about how I really don't have my act together at all. Especially today.} Go and enter to win a trip for you and two friends to get manicures/pedicures.

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Just Write: On 9/11.

He asks me if I saw it in the newspaper or how did I even know about September 11.

And I realize how far removed he is, even at 12, when it seems they've talked and talked and talked about what this day means.

I tell him I saw it all day long and he looks at me shocked.

I've been all close to tears for days now. The start of kindergarten. The 5K. This overwhelming life feeling. The tears have been awaiting. Each Facebook post or blog post in my reader I read the tears seem closer on this day because I remember.

I tell him I was in anatomy class and there was a knock on the door.

I notice that now not just T is listening but M and H are mesmerized.

My professor, Dr. Nelson, walked to the door and came back a few moments later. "All tall buildings in Chicago are being evacuated. There has been a terrorist attack at the World Trade Center."

With that class was dismissed and I walked across campus with my lab partner and friend, EJ. "What's a terrorist?" I asked him.

I wasn't even 20 yet, I'd never heard the word terrorist and here I am, in my kitchen, explaining terrorism to my children.

I am digging in the fridge now because I am fearful that if I look at them the tears will come and I wish J were here so he could tell them about this instead of me.

I don't tell them any more of the day though I remember the day perfectly. I didn't quite know what it all meant, the depth of the attacks didn't hit me until later. Peter Jennings and flags hung proudly throughout downtown Chicago, class discussions and phone calls home.

And my dad, was stranded, in Colorado, or Utah, or something. And at a time where Americans didn't know who to trust, he could trust a stranger he met in the airport and they rented a car and drove to Minnesota.

I don't tell the kids any of this. I think it. I come back to the conversation.

On this day, ten years ago, a bad man asked some not very good people decided to crash planes into buildings to hurt people. A lot of people died.

T and M are somber because this is nothing new, they have talked about it, read about it, heard about it. But I don't think they knew I lived then and knew it.

I am scared as I talk that I am scaring H.

So today, I say, we remember those who died and we pray for their families and we thank all those soldiers and police men and fire men for protecting us and keeping us safe.

And it will never happen again.

Sharing my thoughts on 9/11 and linking up to Just Write over on The Extraordinary Ordinary today. An exercise in freely writing, no editing.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

New Freckle. And Thank You.

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"I think you got a new freckle on your nose at the 5K this weekend," I tell him as I hold him close unwinding from a busy first week of school and a busier weekend to boot.

"But I didn't see Grandma Nan?" he says and looks at me puzzled.

"Well Grandma Nan wasn't there, remember, she lives in heaven?"

"I know but you said freckles were kisses from angels. I think Grandma Nan is the one who kissed my nose."

I like that.

I think so too.
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We had a beautiful Saturday morning for a 5K. After years of saying I'd run it, I finally did, with T & M too.

Final count was 30-ish family and friends with us walking or running or just being.
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The group pictures get smaller and smaller every year. This isn't quite 1/3 of our group. Just the best we could do.

It's all we ask for really.

Thank you for being with us and helping us honor my mom's life whether it's at the walk or the run or just supporting us through life.

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And mark it on your calendar for next year now, September 8, 2012. We'll be there, running, walking and remembering.

{I'll have a post on my 9/11 thoughts and the winner of the Bead for Life giveaway later this week.}

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


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Waiting at the bus stop.

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Getting off the bus at school. Last night, he asked if I would be there waiting to show him the way to his class because he was nervous he'd forget the way. So I waited there and he got off the bus and said, "I know the way to my class," and he was on his way.

The words will come later, for now, let's just say, I can't believe he's in kindergarten.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

5th & 7th. First Day.

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Off to 5th grade.

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Off to 7th grade. {Letting his little brother be part of his first day of school picture is pretty cool in my book.}
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Not many parents at the middle school bus stop this morning. Just J and I and another mom who claimed she was told not to come but since she saw J and I out there decided to anyway. We'll be the ones at the bus stop when our kids are seniors in high school too. It's just the way we roll.

Thankful our bigs don't mind us bringing them to the bus stop. Photographing the morning. And letting their little siblings tag along.

They're off on their day now and while T is an old pro at middle school this year, M is navigating her way {nervously} through the big hallways of lockers and changing classes and memorizing a schedule.

I told her this morning, just ask for help if you need it. She shrugged off my advice but I hope she remembers when she's mixed up on which hallway has which class that there are friendly faces there willing to help.

Happy First Day of School!

Sunday, September 4, 2011


I thought it was visit day.

"Come around 11," the director said on the phone "and make sure she has her lunch."

So we packed her backpack with her paperwork, her lunch box with her lunch and got ready to meet Ms. Connie.

We couldn't go without a picture, after all my littlest little was meeting her very first teacher.

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Since it was visit day, H and I tagged along thinking we'd maybe stay awhile and then maybe leave her a little while so we were very surprised when we walked in when after getting some details squared away her teacher said, "Bye Mom."

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"Oh when should I come back?" I asked.

She looked at me confused, "well 3:30 works for us, I think she's going to be just fine."

And just like that H and I were on our own for four hours.

Of course she was fine. Better than fine. She loved it. She played outside and ate lunch and took a nap {45 min}and loved every part of everything.

Her official first day is Tuesday.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

On Having Middle Schoolers.

This week has been our transition week. Where we realize that summer is ending and schools and routines and schedules are going to happen. Though I'm still a little miffed at where summer actually went, this household is more than ready to get back on the schedule train.

We spent two days/evenings at T and M's middle school. Picture day and walk thru and then open house night.
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M is thrilled and nervous and even a little bit giddy about having her very own locker and combination.

Isn't that all of our own worst fears in middle school? What if I forget the combo? What if it's jammed? Don't you remember feeling like that?
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I was on my own with the kids for picture day/walk thru. Few things make me feel as young and inadequate as a parent at middle school events where I sometimes see parents who could be my parents. {Ok, just a couple.}

We're standing in line for picture day. I'm holding E who had been asleep in the car and was barely awake, trying to keep H next to me and to stop karate chopping those walking by, reassuring M that her very dressy outfit with heels that she chose to wear for pictures is indeed going to look fantastic and reminding T that we are sticking together. {From experience I have decided I do not enjoy looking for middle school boys in the middle school with three other children.}

I have hands overflowing with folders and checks and picture order forms and children and a volunteer at the school comes up and asks me "Do you have any free time to help with....?"

I think I heard my mother's applause all the way from heaven when I told her, nicely of course, that "I don't know of this free time you speak of." {Really I just said no. Need to do that more often.}
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H and E fully enjoyed visiting T and M's lockers. So much that the day after these pictures were taken, at open house night, E shut herself in T's.

We like to keep things entertaining.

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J and I remembered on Open House night why in the past we have preferred to leave H and E at home with a sitter during the madness. To say it was a little crazy is an understatement.

There's just a lot of people and a lot going on in general, then throw in all of our dynamics:

Two middle schoolers. Two lockers to visit, practice opening and set up. Two lists of teachers to visit with long, long lines. {We cut corners a little bit and didn't see them all.} Two small children.

Oh yeah and that whole two sets of parents thing.

It was one of those nights that even amidst the craziness I was thankful for our set up and the family we have. None of us are perfect at the co-parenting gig but we just do it and it works and I hope that other families that struggle with divorce/co-parenting issues see that it can work. It takes work, it does. But how lucky that four adults and two littles stand next to our middle schoolers as they figure out their lockers and their schedules and say hi to their friends.

It was a good night and I'm hoping and praying and wishing that those bigs of ours have a great year.

Happy weekend, friends.


I'll be posting this weekend about E's {accidental} first day of Montessori preschool. {I thought we were just meeting her teacher.} She loved it, of course, and this mama's heart ached just a little bit.

Please enter the Bead for Life giveaway.

Also, I wrote this week about getting kids on a back to school schedule, go throw your two cents in over here.