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Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween.

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Happy Halloween!

I've got a monster wedding post to come at some point. H & E successfully completed their THIRD wedding as ringbearer and flower girl. And my dear cousin is MARRIED!

Until then, since today is Halloween here's a link to some safety tips for tonight I wrote.

And here's a look at my littles and some of our friends last week at that Halloween event.

I just wrote a story about what to do with your leftover candy.What do YOU do with your leftover candy?

Finally if you live in the land of Caribou, today they are doing Buy One, Get One free and the one nearest to me is even giving kids in costume FREE Cocoas.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Trick-Or-Treat.

My Halloween lovin' littles got to do a little trick or treating today. There was an event at an assisted living senior center in town and oh was it fun.

My favorites were the grandmas who would say; "give me a hug and I've give you some candy!" I mean when else in your life besides when you're an 80-something grandma can you do that?

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H is Ben-10* this year. Ever our creative one. He has yet to even see this show but he has a Leapster game and a book about Ben-10 and it's pretty much all the rage for him right now.

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And E went as Dora, of course.

***

Wrapping up the week:

The heartbreaking, inspiring story about a 17 year old boy that I was privileged to share this week is right here. Please go read it.

I also wrote a story asking how old is too old for trick or treating. What do you think?

 We're off on one more wedding adventure for 2011 this weekend and it's a big one, my friends. Happy {early} weekend to you!

*´╗┐Special thank you to Costume Supercenters for sending H the costume of his choice this fall.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Just Write: Details Missed.

We book the nights far, far away months ahead and they creep up on us. We are both swamped with obligations and commitments and people but we say to each other, we booked this and we're going.

We pile into the van for a four plus hour drive. The Iron Range, they call it, we'll see it, we'll enjoy it.

I realize on our drive there that if we hadn't booked this way back when we wouldn't have done this. He'd be working and calling and I'd be writing and juggling. Even home is distracting some days.

So I sit contemplative and grateful that we knew months ago what we needed mid-October.

We would have missed hearing H declare much past bedtime the night we arrived that "this is our new home". We'd have missed Ludwig the dog we claimed as our own as we walked the resort path and threw sticks about. We would have missed walking a small town street of shops and the old fashioned candy store I'm always a sucker for where they sell boxes of candy cigarettes for a quarter. So I buy 4.

We'd have missed losing E in a Wells Fargo bank in our quest to find a public restroom. We'd have missed fearless swimming and hot tub time.

And I'd have missed lying between the two in a quest for them to find sleepiness, listening to them laugh, making funny noises and finally falling fast asleep. I admit I laid there scared to move for awhile after wishing I could know for sure they were really asleep. But then I realized I could have missed this and I'm going to miss this.

Linking up to Just Write today.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Simple Little Things That Bring Me Joy.

The air has gotten drastically cooler around here, especially at night. I'm kind of fond of crisp fall nights though. Now that I mind the late summer that we've gotten lucky with the last year but we're kind of past shorts and short sleeves and all that now and we can actually wear jeans with long sleeves and cozy warm sweatshirts.

While I'm still not looking forward to winter {why is it again we live in Minnesota?} I will enjoy every last drop of this.

Here's a few things bringing me joy this week:

1. Writing for Patch.

I don't always link to the stories I write over there. Usually just the parenting ones. And I admit sometimes {like when I'm writing about a traffic signal change, for real} it can be a little dry. The thing I love most about it is sharing stories. Sharing stories that would otherwise go untold. Finding out that person that lives over there, down the road and just around the corner did something special or has something fantastic to share.

Tonight I interviewed a 17 year old teen and his mom and sat in awe of his heartbreaking, yet inspiring story.

And I think, am I ever lucky that this is my job, sharing this story.

2. Halloween is for Lovers.
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My littles LOVE Halloween. Which I find hilarious because I've never really been an all out Halloween lover. But the holiday struck H just right when he was a babe and since then he lives for the jack-o-lanterns and paper ghosts, glowing inflatables and those five magical rows at Target called the "Halloween section"

My grandma T is just as big of a fan and brought over a heaping bag of decorations a couple weeks ago and they arrange them on the ledge in the basement every.single.day.

So in an effort to better embrace their love of this holiday, we made ghosts for our trees today and lollipop ghosts for school.

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3. Self-portraits.
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Need I say more?

4. Girl stuff.

I love that I have two girls, one big and one little, who I can take to get a pre-wedding pedicure with me.

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5. Decorating.

An old friend of mine has a little business going and I was super excited to buy two of her signs and found just the perfect spots for them in our kitchen.

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I want to be grateful every day but especially going into Thanksgiving and Christmas, this sign will serve as a good reminder. I will be grateful for this day.

{I moved the Laugh Often sign I've had forever near the sink where I really need the reminder to laugh. Often.}

And that other sign, I love everything about it. The Lord will FIGHT for you, you need only BE STILL. Exodus 14:14

So what's bringing you joy this week?

Winner of the Design with Vinyl giveaway is #4, Jen.
Also, tomorrow {or Tuesday depending on when you read this} is Just Write. I'm hopefully going to post at some point.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wedding Photo Dump.

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Our nephew, Joe, got married last weekend to his long term love, Nicky.

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J and I were trying to figure out just how long they've been together and we honestly can't even remember. I remember after having H sitting at J's sisters house and Nicky being there and she's just been there ever since. {Probably even before!}

They are two great U of M kids. {Like going on a Habitat for Humanity trip for a honeymoon kind of great!}

We love them both, are so proud of both of them and the life they are living and thankful they asked our family to be part of their special day. T had been asked to be a reader but that's just not his thing {and that's ok!} so he helped with anything he could. {And he was awesome!} M passed out programs and was pretty much the best program passer-outer I've ever seen.
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And H and E were ring bearer and flower girl. Though the rehearsal was a little nerve wracking. Mom, why can't you just walk with us? kind of nervewracking. They came through in the ceremony.

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They walked down smiling the whole way. They may have speedwalked and H may have been swinging the pillow and E may not have been wearing shoes. But they did it.

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1-3. Trying. Trying. Trying to get a good photo of the two of them. 4. Showing off their bribes, I mean prizes, for a job well done from mom and dad.

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1. M dancing with Joe's top hat and cane. 2. Ty and Nicky during the dollar dance. 3. M and Joe during the dollar dance. 4. T living it up. We love wedding dances.

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1. E always captures the affection of teenage, er, college age boys. 2. J's eyes are open. I promise. 3. E goes and goes and goes until she just crashes. Always in my arms. 4. This is H on Sprite.
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Our family.
October 15.
Couldn't let the opportunity of us all dressed up pass without attempting one. Believe it or not, this will not be our Christmas card.

´╗┐Congratulations Joe and Nicky! Here's to a life filled with love and happiness for you both!

***
Week-end wrap up:

*Winner of the Metropolis getaway is #22. Sarah.
*I've got a new giveaway for a shop credit with Design with Vinyl going on through Monday.
*If you were someone who emailed or tweeted or even commented on facebook about what parents want teachers to know and vice versa, check out my story right here. And thank you!
*Finally, it's MEA around here and we're out of town for a few days. Back to swimming and snacking and relaxing for me. Happy weekend!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Just Write: Mama Always Comes Back.

"Mama always comes back and gets me. Mama always comes back and gets me." She is reciting over and over and over again from the backseat.

She has asked, begged, pleaded with me to not send her to school. My outgoing chatterbox lover of all things people doesn't want to go to school.

"I go to coffee shop with you." She's been saying the last couple weeks. "I help you work." She tries and she tries.

As I unbuckle her and strap her backpack on her back, hand her her lunch box, I tell her school will be so fun. And play with some friends today, ok?

"I not have friends." She says.

I want to say, no crying today, but I know it's inevitable.

We walk in and she hangs her backpack, puts her lunch box on her chair and her hand grips mine.

One hug, one kiss. I tell her. I can't pick her up because when I do, the teachers end up having to peel her little body off of mine.

We hug, we kiss, we hug again. Her eyes lock with mine.

I'll see you in a little while, I say while handing her hand to her teacher watching tears stream down her face.

I stand in the hall and listen for the sobs to stop. They do. They always do.

It just doesn't make it any easier.

Four hours later, I pick her up and she is engaged and she is happy. She must say goodbye to all her friends she claims she didn't have and  also her teachers. And when we walk out she tells me, "Mama always comes back to get me."




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

Monday, October 17, 2011

5.5.

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5 and a half today. You've been counting down for awhile now. Ever since E turned 2 1/2, you've been wanting to know when your half birthday is. You woke up today and you knew it was the day that you could add that little half to your age.

We celebrated with blueberry muffins this morning and you really wanted candles. So candles we did.


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I love your homework/drawing of yourself. The boxy feet and legs. The giant smile. The words I AM HAPPY.

That you are. And so am I.

Happy half a year, sweet boy.


***

Tomorrow is Just Write, I'm planning on just writing. Are you?

Full wedding weekend recap with lots of pictures still to come.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Preview.

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They just completed their second wedding {of three this year!} as ringbearer and flower girl. My littles are pretty much pros.

A full wedding recap to come.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Photo Dump.

So many pictures and so many stories to tell. Decided this week to just "dump" them all. Happy Friday!

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Our family.
October 1st at the St. Croix River.

Fall
1. H wrote his name out of sticks in the front yard. Just for kicks. 2. Jumping on the pillow at Apple Jacks. 3. How tall this fall? 4. Not posed or anything, they just both happened to do the same thing at the same time.

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1. My grandma, their great grandma, came over with Boppa. 2. Minnetonka Orchards. H loves those signs you stick your head out of. 3. E tends to fall asleep at all the wrong times, usually when H needs to stop and use the bathroom. 4. Dancing and singing at the orchard.

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1. Jumping at 101 Market. 2. Riding the tractor with my littles. 3 & 4. You can never ride too many cow trains.


Rounding up my week:

Did you see the discussion on my blog Facebook page about what teachers want to tell parents and what parents want to tell teachers? I am loving all the feedback and all answers will be anonymously put together in my story.

I wrote about missing my bigs this week for Just Write and plan to participate {on time} again next week.

Did you read the news? Somebody pretty special is getting hitched.

Finally, I've got a great family getaway giveaway for Metropolis Resort. Go enter to win a one night stay and four water park passes.
Winners of the I CANcer book are #1 and #3. I'll be in touch. 

Go have a happy weekend! We plan to.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Engaged!

What's up buttercup?

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These two got engaged last night.

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My dad and his fiance' Teresa.

We couldn't be happier!
Wishing them congratulations and much love and blessings as they move forward!

Forgive the quality of the photos, both are from cell phones.
 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Just Write: I'm Glad You're Home.

My littles are sleeping and with T and J at youth group, it's just M and I at home.

I noticed today that she grew. Like really, I noticed. She was standing in the kitchen talking about this or that or something and I was half listening, half thinking about dinner and it struck me that she grew. Hadn't seen her in a week and she looked different and sounded different and I was glad to have her here. I stopped and I stared at her for a minute.

"What?" she asks nervously.

"I'm glad you're home," I say.

We started this new schedule for all the time now. The bigs are here a week and gone a week and here a week and gone a week. I've been all excited to get it off the ground for their sake, and my sake and even my littles.

We felt the difference without them but what I really felt today was this feeling of, I missed this.

So we sign the daily planners and we go through folders and backpacks and pack lunches for tomorrow and it's all chaotic and crazy for awhile with littles wanting their siblings attention and affections and bigs getting back in the groove.

And we realize in a weeks time they grow, they change, they are different yet it's all still the same.

So as we sit at the table chatting tonight, I pause again. She's drawing and she tells me she's a writer too now, she just prefers to write with pen and I prefer to write with a keyboad.

"I'm glad you're home."


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M & I. Circa 2005. She's 4 in this picture.





Linking up to Just Write again this week albeit late. An exercise in free writing, no editing.

***
New giveaway went up over here tonight as well. If you could use a little family getaway, go check it out.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Be.

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I bought this card this weekend at Minnetonka Orchards and I already gave it away.

I love it so much. Sometimes we all just need a reminder to be ourselves whoever that may be.

***

Busy week so far around here. T & M have been at their moms since last Wednesday as we just started a new week on/week off schedule at both homes. My littles can't wait for them to come home tomorrow.

I read this article this morning while at H's swim lessons and it says a lot of things I have been thinking about and have even said outloud before.

So I get that we are under fierce competition in our global economy where the Chinese are kicking our butts, but in many cases, both boys and girls need to just be kids, get dirty, play, think, imagine, be silly, get in trouble, and yes, along the way learn grammar and math and all those subjects.-excerpt Un-Boying Boys

 Regardless if you have a son or a daughter, read it.

Also, there's a lively discussion going on over on my blog facebook page as I put together a story of what teachers want parents to know and what parents want teachers to know. Go check it out and add your opinion. If you're not on facebook, feel free to leave your thoughts here. {While you're there, if you haven't already, like my blog page.}

Tomorrow ends the I CANcer book giveaway, please consider entering, even if you'd like to donate the book to a church, school or childrens hospital.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Children of the Corn.

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Some of the corn fields near us are getting plowed down, {Is that the right wording for that? I'm not a farmer.} and every time we go by this one right by our house I think we should get out and run around and touch it.


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So we did today.

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H has other clothes, I promise. He just really likes certain ones. Jeans, always. It can be 98 degrees and he must wear his jeans.

***

I have said before that I just love the show, Parenthood, and sometimes I think I'm a crazy mom, like Kristina Braverman kind of crazy. Like she just loves her kids so much and wants the best but also has this hard time just letting it go and letting them be. I'm kind of feeling like that today. It makes me want to change the world {or at least the education world} or run, or something.

***

Do you remember reading that article on CNN about what teachers want parents to know? I loved that article. Steph at Adventures in Babywearing wrote her own version of what parents want teachers to know. I'm thinking of writing one too. What sorts of things would you as a teacher or a parent want the other to know?

***
This past week one of the {many} things I wrote was about some of our favorite family fall activities. Go check it out and tell me some of your favorites.

Also, don't miss the I CANcer book giveaway. Please help support a young writer and her new book by learning more about her and her book.
***

Happy weekend!

Speaking of clothes and some of H's favorites, Tea Collection has a sale {EXTRA20SALE} going on right now as well. I love their clothes for kids. Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Tea Collection.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Snail Mail.

When my mom was sick, a friend of mine told me about a project at her church. They would knit hats and scarves for those battling cancer and it inspired me to encourage my friends and family to send letters to my mom.

I emailed and begged and pleaded with friends and friends of friends to drop my mom a note, to say hello, to tell her to keep going, to just love her in that way.

Friends blew me away. An art teacher friend in Georgia had her entire class of students make cards and notes for my mom. Beautiful art work by kids brought many smiles to her face.

Other friends or friends of friends who'd never met me or my mom would send an encouraging word here and there. She began taping the notes and cards and pictures in the hallway of their house and I still remember standing in awe of the love poured out. It meant a lot.

I've been on a little mail kick lately. Ever since I read in the news about the USPS struggling I've been thinking of just how different our world would be without mail. It's so convenient to sit down and hammer out an email or send a text or pay our bills online but there's also something to be said about walking to my mail box and seeing a hand addressed envelope with a personal note for me in it.

I admit it's sometimes hard to find the time and the energy to sit down and write a note or a letter to a friend but it's worth it. There's something about sticking the stamp on, putting it in the mail, knowing it will bring a smile to their face.

We've been to the post office a couple times this week, a family birthday and school picture sorting time, my littles just love the post office. {I also just learned we can get a tour and I think if there's any way to get the USPS kicking again, it's bringing kids in for a tour because what kid wouldn't be inspired to stick something in the mail after that?}

All this to say, is there someone in your life who could use a little note this week? Maybe you have a friend you haven't connected with in awhile due to busy lives or maybe you have a friend you see every day that could use a smile. Maybe you have someone in your family or your friend circle or even your aquaintenance circle who could use a note today. Whoever it is, there's nothing like the gift of taking 5 minutes and writing them a note. Even just "I'm thinking of you."

Tiny Prints will make it especially easy today with a special Halloween promo they have going on. Choose and personalize any Halloween card, have it shipped to yourself to mail to the recipient for FREE or if you'd like it sent directly to the recipient, the price is just $0.44 to cover postage. Check it out right here. {The deal is only available today, so hurry!}

To sweeten the deal, I'm also adding in a giveaway.

I met Kristin Simons this summer in Green Bay. A dear friend of my cousins, she has recently lost both her sister and her mother to cancer and wrote the book I CANcer. An uplifting story with a valuable lesson in seeing cancer in a new light. Her books sell for $19/each {with 25% of the proceeds benefitting Families of Children with Cancer} and I purchased two of them to giveaway here. Check out her website and facebook group here.

This book would make a great gift for someone you know who has or has had cancer or even a child who has a family member with cancer.

To enter, simply tell me who in your life you're going to send some snail mail to. I'll choose two winners randomly Wednesday, October 12.

That's all.

One final thing, it's beautiful here today in Minnesota, just like it was four years ago today. Remembering a blessed event with a smile today.

Disclosure: I am a Tiny Prints affiliate. I purchased the I CANcer books myself to give away and am not being paid or compensated in any way to write about them.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Just Write: The Counter is Sticky.

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We are merely moving shadows and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. Psalm 39:6


The counter is sticky, I notice, as I am trying to get it all done. There are bills and there is mail and there is homework and schedules and work writing and stuff.

I hit enter and turn in what's due and just about make it to H's bus before it stops and drops him off. E is barefoot and I've got two mismatched shoes on.

He runs across the street and I can tell that today he is happy. Somedays he gets off the bus and he's tired or cranky or maybe his feelings were hurt, but today, he is happy.

I've no clue what's for dinner even though I promised myself the night before I would figure it out before the middle of the afternoon.

H wants to play legos and E wants in on the action. "No!" He says in a rare instance of not wanting her near.

I set her up at the table making trail mix for after school snack. She's dumping raisins and cereal and pretzels and nuts into bags and almost as many are falling to the ground as in the bags.

"We're going to the park," I tell her, "we must." The 80 degree breeze blows in the window, the sun is burning down and I know it won't last. I also know I'm not going to last much longer inside watching my to-do's and chores pile up.

We should walk or bike or something but we don't. We sit parked at T and M's busstop down the street waiting, they are both surprised and nervous as the get in the van. I can tell they think we might have to run errands.

"We're going to the park."

We skip the mandatory homework time and go to the park where we pretty much own it. It's hot and we're sweaty but we're here and I have nearly forgotten the mess on the counter and the list of things I need to do before the next day.

When we get home, dinner just comes to me. Like it pretty much jumps out of the freezer and cupboards at me. The table gets set, the dishwasher emptied. The trail mix on the floor, well, someone must have eaten it, it's gone now.

The counter though, I think it's still sticky.

Linking up to this weeks Just Write. An exercise in free writing, no editing.



Monday, October 3, 2011

Month Thirty Four.

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After H gets on the bus for school, E turns on her "on" button. She's pretty much "on" all the time, but once he's on that bus, she talks and she talks and she talks my ear off.

I am pretty sure you could find her sweet face next to the definition of love in the dictionary because she is love.

"I love you mama." She tells me at least 82 times a day. But today, "wanna know why I love you?" and "are you wondering why?"

And when I ask why, her answer is: "Because. I just love you so much."
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Last week one day she figured out how to unbuckle herself completely. We're talking a five-point harness carseat unbuckling here. And then she gets up.

Not much scarier than driving on the highway having your 2 year old standing behind you.

Our attempts at getting her to stay in her seat with her seatbelt on have been futile. Time outs, taking away special treats, giving kids that stay buckled special treats, nothing has really worked. But yesterday after church, she unbuckled and climbed out of her seat around the time we saw a state trooper driving around and we decided to stop and have him talk to her.

For whatever reason, E immediately started getting panicked about going to jail. "I not go to jail," she told us all in the car. T and M were trying to hide their laughter and H of course was just as worried about E getting hauled away.

The officer very nicely and gently explained to her that she must stay buckled in her carseat and not to get out anymore.

So far, so good.
october2011 002


She's two months away from age three today. And I really can't tell you how we got here so quickly.

We just did.

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Welcoming October advertisers: Finney Dental in New Brighton and Metropolis Resort in Eau Claire. Thank you! More to come on both of them later this month.

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Tomorrow is Just Write and I am planning on linking up. Maybe you should too!