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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Last Week.

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Was Thanksgiving really just last week? Somehow, someway, each week, each day, each moment seems to go quicker than the last.

We had a different kind of turkey day this year. Which coming from me doesn't mean much. For years I used the Thanksgiving holiday as a way to grab great international airfares. No joke, flying to London or Athens or Stockholm is pretty inexpensive when going over a holiday only Americans celebrate. I would love to take our little family of six on a big jet plane across the ocean for Thanksgiving someday. And we will.

But this year our little family of six went to the Mall of America early Thursday morning for the Walk to End Hunger. When I got an email about the event awhile back it really convicted me.

On a day when so many of us overeat there are people who are hungry.

We talked with the kids about it and M was in disbelief that there could possibly be anyone in her school or her life that doesn't have enough to eat.

But the stats don't lie (and either does our local foodshelf!) 1 in 10 families is struggling to feed their families.

So we went and we walked and there were so many others who did the same.
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One major highlights for our kids, well mainly E, was meeting Dora.
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After our walk and our talk about what we were doing and why we were doing it we came home and it was just the six of us. Last year we started this thing that we stay home on holidays, we invite whoever can or wants to come over but we don't go from place to place eating meals and expecting our kids to behave. Some holidays we end up with a houseful of family and friends and other holidays, like last Thursday, it's just us. Either way is ok with us.

We really made the most of Thanksgiving day. From our morning coffee after the walk to coming home and having a dance party {Yes, we really do this. A lot. I'm guessing some of our neighbors can attest to our bad dancin'} and playing Monopoly Jr. At one point, J and the kids played outside and I looked at the paper from ad to ad. It was a perfect day.

And as we sat at the table eating and shared what we were thankful for, we all expressed thankfulness for each other and many of the blessings we take for granted. When it was E's turn, she said, "Thank you God for all our blessings. We love you so much. And Dora too. Amen."

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Just Write: Parenthood.

Watching Parenthood tonight on a day where I feel like I'm fully living the parenthood thing.

Parenthood is picking up your sleeping 5 year old to carry him to bed after a rough start to the night with sickness. Pausing for just a moment because you love the way his arms and legs wrap around you just like they used to. You think back to all the late nights and the early morning rocking and how it's crazy cool how you still fit together.

And just in that moment he throws up all over you. Over your shoulder and down your back, even your toes on the carpet, the freshly cleaned carpet that is, are covered.

Yep, that's parenthood and we do it and we take it and we even love it, the throw up parts and all.

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Because we love them.

Linking up to Just Write tonight.

Also, two really great giveaways for Minnesota folks went up today. Sesame Street Live and Disney on Ice tickets anyone? Go here for all the details.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The End of the Long Weekend Blues.

Sunday night, almost 9 p.m. already. The sadness has set in.

How I've loved having no schedule or regulation. We go and we do and we eat and we are what we please on weekends like this and I love it.

The littles fought bedtime hard tonight. We had to move E to her own bedroom again. We might as well been seperating the two for life the way they cry about it.

The bigs are exhausted. They each had a sleepover with a friend over the long weekend and played hard and the morning will come fast and the week will fly by.

The long weekend was full. We spent a day in the lost city at Macy's, Thanksgiving day, Christmas tree day, date night and baking today. We never plan as much as we do, it just happens.

I was putting away some of the 11 dozen cookies M, H, E and I {along with two neighbor girls} made today and came across these ones.
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Pretty much a good metaphor of our weekend. We gobbled up all the good stuff.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful Wednesday.

Thankful this week for so many things.

A warm house. A vehicle that gets me to where I need to go. Food in our bellies and our fridge. The health of myself and the people I love.

Four happy wonderful kids.

Friends who go through life with me both near and far. A surplus of people to support us.

My job with Patch. I am so thankful to be given the opportunity to share the amazing stories of people in my community. This past week I did a series on adoption for National Adoption Month and oh, the stories. You can read about international adoption, adopting a Minnesota waiting child and a story about a Korean adoptee who found her birth mom.

Blogging and the opportunities it has created and all of you who visit me here and read my words. {Even if you don't say anything! Somedays lately I do hear crickets!}

Here's hoping your Thanksgiving is beautiful and blessed, full of laughter, joy and many reasons to be thankful!


Just a few things I want to pass along:

  • Cheesecake for Charity: Super fun local Minneapolis event. Come to Muddy Paws Cheesecake for cheese cake sampling and a holiday bazaar. Free and open to the public with the donation of either an unwrapped new toy or an unopened bag of pet food to be donated to local non-profits to support families this winter. For more info, go here.
  • Bead for Life: I am hosting two parties next month. I'm inviting readers/followers to one on December 14th at 7 p.m. at Starbucks in Maple Grove. Please email me if you are planning on attending.
  • Are you getting your Christmas Tree this weekend? If so, consider my friends at B & J Evergreen, they have lots throughout the metro area and an actual cut your own tree farm in Clearlake, where they have a fun petting zoo complete with a camel, hayrides and more. {We'll be there Friday!} They are also offering a special to my readers. $2 off a Christmas tree and in addition with each coupon they are donating $2 to A Breath Of Hope towards lung cancer research, an organization near and dear to my heart since my mom passed away from lung cancer. Below is the coupon, they ask that you please bring it with you.
BJ Evergreen Coupon 2011

  • Finally, I'm not a typical Black Friday shopper. But one deal I'm for sure taking advantage of is $15 girls dresses at Tea Collection. The sale is good all weekend starting Friday and they are also offering $15 boys pants. I love their square necked dresses and long, layered sleeves and $15 is a steal. {Disclosure: I am an affiliate. But I really do love and buy their clothes.}

What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On Being a Stepmom and Expecting Great Things.

T & M return tomorrow morning from a week at their moms. It's amazing on this week on, week off schedule the range of emotions.

It's Tuesday and we're counting down around here for their return, H is asking each morning, is today the day T and M come home?

This week kicks off the official start of the holidays and with that in many family situations like ours comes a lot of stress, chaos and conflict.

I'm seeing all sorts of articles and tweets on beating holiday stress as a blended family, lowering expectations continues to be one I've seen in passing and one that bugs me the most.

Low expectations doesn't exist in my holiday vocabulary and some would say that I'm just setting myself up for disappointment.

I'm all about being authentic and real and listened to a speaker on blended families do just that a few weeks back. She was soft spoken and open about her blended family life not being sunshine and roses and that's all good, authentic stuff but it was also kind of a downer.

I'm of the belief that I want to expect great things.

No one tells you when you have a baby to have "low expectations", why do they tell you this as a stepmom?

It's not hard to understand why so many have so many negative thoughts and connotations about blended families and stepparenting when they are told repeatedly to have "low expectations."

So here's my deal, I've got high expectations. Every single year. And not just about the holidays. I've got expectations about birthdays and school conferences and events and activities and relationships. I would way rather go through this world with an occasional disappointment or two than have depressingly low expectations and be more surprised when things go right. {And hey, disappointment is a part of life too.}

So this is how we {our blended family} expect great things at the holidays:

1. Communicate. We already have a schedule set up of how the holidays work between both homes that was established way back when but months back we all sat down with calendars {via email!} and figured out Christmas break and weekends to make sure that T and M get to celebrate with everyone and also manage some down time.

Another example, just a couple weeks ago T & M's mom sent me a note knowing E's birthday is coming up wanting to make sure she didn't plan her annual cookie bake the day we might celebrate. It takes just a couple minutes to check in with each other and eliminates the possible confusion or overlap.

2. Accomodate. Just because every year on a certain date you like to do XYZ doesn't mean you can't adjust or change around to accomodate something just as beneficial or maybe meaningful for the other family. Change is good, right?

3. Reach out. I can only speak of my own blended family experience but I know that when I've had ugly, icky feelings {and I've had them, for sure!} one of the things that has helped me move forward and move on is reaching out. Maybe that's dropping off a plate of the Christmas cookies and fudge M & I made to her mom or maybe that's sending Christmas cards to the ex-inlaws. Do something to reach out and extend an olive branch to the mom in your stepkids life or the stepmom in your kids life.

4. Expect great things. Go into the holiday season with great expectations. Memories will be made regardless. Make your own traditions. Realize they will ebb and flow each year. But keep a positive attitude.

I've got a book giveaway going on over here this week. It's a children's book good for stepmoms/blended families.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Honest Thanksgiving.

Last spring, when H graduated preschool his preschool teachers sent home some writing paper and an envelope to write them a letter from kindergarten. So H & I sat down a few weeks back and he told me what he wanted to say. I wrote it on a seperate sheet and he copied it and I beamed thinking wow, my son is so thoughtful. What a nice note to send to his former teachers.
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Translation: I miss you. I wonder if you will be teachers again. I love kindergarten.

Today he came home with this Thankful worksheet and I have to admit after last year, I had high hopes.

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He doesn't even have a DSI!!!

So I asked him about it and here's what he said. "I was going to write Jesus but that's what everyone says."

Why is this hard for me to believe? And really, of all the things and people in his life for real, a DSI?!?!

He is so his own person. And I am thankful for him!

{Tiny Prints deal today ONLY. Free birthday card until midnight today. Go here and use code FREEBD for your FREE personalized card! I know someone who has a birthday coming in our house....}

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Simple Little Things That Bring Me Joy.

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1. First snow.

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Do you love his hat and mittens? We scored those at the local craft fair this past weekend. I also get asked a lot about his jacket, I actually bought it a couple years ago from MiniBoden.

2. Christmas tree day is approaching.
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Last year, a new tradition was born. I loved having a real Christmas tree and can't imagine going back to the fake one where I had to fluff up the branches on a near daily basis. I'm thrilled to be working with B & J Trees again this year so our family will be there Friday morning picking the just-perfect tree for our house and family this year. I'll be offering a special discount and opportunity for blog readers later this week!

3. Dance party.

I actually do have pictures from a recent dance party that T secretly took but I'm not posting them. I love that there are certain songs we can turn on and everyone stops what they're doing and just dances. One of the current faves is Moves Like Jagger.

4. Forced Family Fun.

A couple Fridays ago I picked T & M up from school and we went and had old fashioned photos done of all four kids for a local moms club fundraiser. Afterwards I told the kids I had a project they had to do and made them all paint canvasses for our basement. {Photos and decor post to come soon.}


Can you tell whose is whose?

I call it forced family fun because I told the kids that we were having a family day. Doing photos, paintings and then out to dinner, no friends, no running here or there, just being family.

5. Play-doh.
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I found this Elmo Play-doh set on clearance for $4 and some change and snagged it up a couple months ago thinking I'd save it for Christmas or a birthday or something. Needing to buy myself some time one morning and knowing my littles were inching their way out of their skin I whipped it out and was amazed at how some new play-doh and making some new shapes saved my morning.

What is it that is bringing you joy these days?

Updated to add the winner of the Tiny Prints giveaway is #3. Melissa!

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's All Enough.

There are so many things I want to do and see and be and write. The hours in the day move so quickly that my head hits the pillow and a minute later I wake up and we do it all again. Cereal and milk, the brushing of the teeth, the picking up, the making a mess, the picking up again.

Monday I sat criss-cross applesauce in the basement trying to soak it up with a weeks worth of clean laundry dumped in front of me to fold. She's so into babies and feeding them and changing them and loving them and I love it. And he, he's into legos and building and shooting and climbing and being a boy.

Some nights I fall into bed guilt ridden. Did I do enough? Did I say enough? Was I here enough? Still other nights I fall into bed with my alarm set hours before they will awake because I just have to do this or write this or be this and if I don't, I will be the mom I don't want to be in the morning, rushing and pushing and stressing.

I worry but I put on a front. She's shy at school? Not her? Never? Someone pushed him on the bus? And he said what?!

We rush to T's basketball game the other day. The phone is ringing, I'm saying, "get in the van, get in the van, get in the van." I'm dressed to go out with the wrong shoes on, M's begging to stay home and H & E are tired. The game will be busy and full with no where but the floor to sit. The buzzer is loud and it started earlier than it was supposed to.

I listen to voicemail yesterday for the first time in days. "You have seven new messages." the voice recites. I want to hit delete all.

I write all this because sometimes people say things and ask me how I do it. "How do you stay on top of your house and your kids and your blog and your freelancing?"

I wish I could show you some systematic calendar or schedule of how it works or doesn't work some days. Most of the time it all comes together, it does, but it's anything but perfect.

Those voicemails I listened to yesterday, one of them was from J's pocket. He was having lunch with a colleague and I could hear rustling and voices and all of a sudden I could hear him talking. Talking about me and how great I am and how good of a mom I am and how I do such a nice job with so many different things. He went on and on and on with no idea I was in his pocket eavesdropping.

And I think in that moment. It's all enough and we're doing just fine, just keep going. One. Thing. At. A. Time.


Some links to peruse on your Friday {or your weekend}:

  • When Strangers aren't the Danger: I wrote about protecting our kids from people like Sandusky at Penn State.
  • It's National Adoption Month and I'm covering all sorts of local families and their adoption stories. It is so fascinating to hear their stories and have the privilege of sharing them. Here's one story of a domestic adoption.
  • Back in September, I was contacted by producer Elizabeth Minnell about reading one of my blog posts on her new webshow, Moms Like Us. The first episode went live on Wednesday. I'm reading in this segment here. It's a couple minutes into the clip.
  • With less than a week before Thanksgiving, I'm sure most are finalizing their plans for the day. Our family is participating in the Walk to End Hunger at the Mall of America that morning. On a day where many of us have a surplus of food in front of us, we decided this year that we wanted to support a cause for those who are hungry before our family meal. For more information and to register, go here. Would love to see you there!

Finally, please welcome my new and returning advertisers this month: 2D by Jen, B & J Trees and Mark Finney Dental.

Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful Thursday.

It's been a really good, really full week. There are so many things I want to share and write about and that just have me excited. One of these days I'll be able to get them all out there but right now I can just dwell on really good, really full. It's a really good feeling.

Here's the things I'm counting for thankful Thursday this week:

1. Meals and friends. Sunday night I got together with four friends and we did a little meal exchange. We'd done this a couple times last winter and I loved it and we must get it on the calendar to keep it going. It's fun to share our recipes and meals with each other. The community that we have on top of that is just a bonus.

2. New baby. My dear friend A had a baby girl in the early hours of Sunday morning. I got to go visit them at the hospital on Tuesday and she's truly a doll. There's something about a newborn baby and her mama, the freshness of life, the love already felt and the joy everyone shares.

3. Yesterday, Miss E had an appointment with the allergist and we left with really good news. She can have cheese. And if that goes well, yogurt. We'll probably wait on cows milk a little bit longer only because her body isn't used to it and will have a hard time adjusting from such a sweet milk {soy and almond} to regular. But I see ice cream on the horizon. This is huge, life changing news for her and for us.

We celebrated at Costco where one of the samples yesterday just so happened to be grilled cheese sandwiches. She may have had four samples and she loved them!

What is it you're thankful for today?

{Don't miss out, the Tiny Prints giveaway ends tonight!}

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

{Mostly} Wordless Wednesday.

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My non-blogging friend Stacey and I with Andrew Shue, I drag her along to blogging events with me. She's a good sport!

Last night I was invited to the MOM.COM launch and party at Pinstripes in Edina., owned by Cafemom, is launching as a local go-to site for local moms.

It was a fun night! Met some new people, learned more about the upcoming site and just had a nice time!

Oh so Hollywood!
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Three other bloggers we met at the event with us. From L: Mindful Momma, Toys in my Dryer and Sellabit Mum

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, November 14, 2011


I'm not sure they celebrate birthdays in heaven, but if they did, my mom would turn fifty-five today.

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To some, the sight of children laughing, singing and eating cupcakes doesn't seem right but it's what we do.

We pray and we sing and we pray again thanking God for her and asking him to pass along a message, we love you and miss you, mom and Grandma Nan and we're here celebrating a life well lived.

Happy Birthday Mumsy!

Mom & I on her 49th birthday.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Moms and Muffins.

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I've pretty much been waiting my whole life for this.

I'm kind of kidding, kind of not. But as a stepmom, it was never my place to go to Moms and Muffins with T and M. While I'm sure there were times their mom wouldn't have minded if I'd joined, it wasn't my place, it wasn't my thing and I never felt legit. I often joked, when's Stepmoms and Starbucks?

So as soon as I saw the Moms and Muffins flyer it was on my calendar and I knew we'd be going even if it meant setting alarm clocks extra early.

Because now I'm mom. And moms get muffins.

It's a good life, no?


Thoughts/links to wrap up the week:
  • I'm super excited about some new {and repeat!} advertisers and sponsors who will go live next week. Thanks for supporting this piece of my life!
  • I've got some stepmom thoughts and insights to share next week that have been on my mind and heart recently.
  • Did you hear the Duggars are expecting? What do you think? Is there such a thing as too many kids? You can read what I think here.
  • My cousin's wedding pictures are up and seriously, they are beautiful. Did you expect anything less? Go look at them here.
  • Don't miss the Tiny Prints giveaway. 50 free cards is kind of a big deal. While our Christmas cards aren't from Tiny Prints this year {etsy, and I love them!} Evie's birthday and our holiday party invite are and they are awesome. Every order I've ever done with them has been great!
  • You won't see me linking to anything regarding the whole Penn State scandal because I just can't read anymore. Frankly I can barely type about it without getting angry. All I need and want to say is this: It is not a choice to report sexual abuse, it is your responsibility. This is a message we as a society need to keep saying and hearing and understanding.
On that somewhat somber note, go have a good weekend!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankful Thursday.

Here I sit, 2:20 in the afternoon. Chili for an upcoming meal exchange with friends simmering on the stove. Waiting for the school bus to pull up with H and then the madness of our after school thing begin. Buses and piano lessons and homework and oh yeah, the writing stuff I was going to get done while E was at school and didn't.

E's sick today. She's actually been fighting something all week with an on/off fever, headache, tummy ache and that whole cold thing. We visited the doctor today and he put her on antibiotics for a sinus infection. Hopefully those kick in and last the night because we could really use a full nights sleep around here.

I'd hoped to be really on the ball this week and have my Thankful Thursday ready before this afternoon, but it wasn't happening.

Here's what I'm thankful for this week:

1. Health. Yes, E's sick BUT today at the doctor we have a few little celebrations. For starters, my girl weighs 28 pounds. Anyone who has followed her ear/weight/allergy story knows this is a reason to celebrate. Her pediatrician said that it wasn't so long ago he was thinking we needed dietary supplements {and a few McD's hamburgers} to get her growing. While she's still a peanut, she's a healthy one.

Also, on that same vein, we celebrated today because this was the first time IN A YEAR that he wrote her a prescription. Again, for a girl who used to live more time on antibiotics than off, this is huge.

I'm thankful for health.

2. Hearts at Home. I went to a Christian mom's conference this past weekend in Rochester. I didn't know what to expect and given the busy month of October didn't really even think much about it going into it.

I loved it. I took so much out of it and loved the time with friends, two of whom came up from Chicago and one that it was just nice to reconnect with.

3. Community. Yesterday was a little bit of a crazy day around here. I was having a low key afternoon with E when I got phone calls and emails from school about a lockdown, within minutes I was on the phone with my editor {and several others who started calling!} and got the scoop and also the assignment to get the story up. It was a little intense.

But I have to say, I am so glad that I send my kids to a school district where officials think quickly and keep our kids safe. Not once was I worried about my kids at school, I knew that they were safe and that as soon as officials deemed it appropriate, they'd be home. That doesn't mean it wasn't nervewracking.

For the first time in our eight years in this school district I had a rocky start this fall and was really questioning a few different ideas/opinions/policies. All that aside, the way yesterday was taken care of by the school reconfirms the thoughts I have that this is a school district that is putting our kids first.

On another note, I especially loved that H walked off the bus oblivious to the fact that there was a lockdown and situation, he just thought he had an "extended" school day. {T & M, on the other hand, well, let's just say they had wild imaginative stories of what had gone on.}

What is it you're thankful for this week? today? this minute?

When we really think about it, we have a lot to be thankful for, don't we? Share in the comments or your own post and come back and share your link in the comments. {Once again, no linky, maybe someday!}


New giveaway went up this afternoon. If you love beautiful, fun holiday cards you don't want to miss your chance to win FIFTY FREE Tiny Prints Holiday cards right here. Also, Tiny Prints has a special deal going on today only for 50% off their classic return address stamp.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Good Help is Hard To Find.

Almost five years ago now we really struck it rich with the best babysitter on the planet. Rachel was our number 1 girl.

Rachel graduated from college, did some mission work and eventually found a job and a fiance'. She still helps us out here and there but her life is changing and we've been forced to find others to help us out.

For close to a year now we have been on the hunt and seriously, the stories.

We've found great neighborhood gals and even an older sister of M's friend that are great but really for all four kids we have to have someone post high school.

I placed an ad in a few different places this past spring and summer and the emails and resumes I received was astounding.

That's when I realized, I'm picky and I have high standards. I babysat and nannied for years and never ever realized how good I was.

We hired a girl last spring to help us out one morning a week and various evenings/weekends. She worked out for a couple months but we found out she was being dishonest about silly things. {Like telling us they would go to the park when they didn't. Telling us she made XYZ for lunch and really they had ABC.} We decided if she was lying to us about stuff like that how could we trust that she was telling us the truth on big stuff.

She also really liked just having the kids watch tv. Which is ok for a half an hour here and there but not when you come home and find out they've watched four hours of Dora the Explorer. {No exaggeration.}

We parted ways silently. And then began the search again.

Over the summer, I solidified what we really wanted and needed in a babysitter.

I wanted someone who will engage with my kids. Walk to the park, play a game, make things. Care for them and enforce what we ask to be enforced.

After returning home too many times with hours of clean up in front of me, I decided I needed to put together some expectations before I hire anyone else. {No joke. Word to the wise, inform your sitters to not put sunscreen on your children inside. Also, maybe at least put the dishes from whatever meal they fed the kids in the sink or even better, the dishwasher.}

This fall we placed an ad at a college about 30 minutes away. The emails flooded in.

Highlights included:

College seniors who couldn't spell.
A college junior who "has never babysat before but has always wanted to".
Another applicant who has no current references but once I meet her I'll know she's good.
Being stood up for interviews. Twice.
Interviewing one applicant, liking her enough to check her references, still liking her enough to ask her to babysit and then find out that she's "too busy."

The process was funny, yet slightly concerning.

Finally I found an applicant I liked. She was the perfect interviewer. Her resume was impeccable and the two pages of nanny references were astounding.

She babysat for us 3 or 4 times and everything seemed great so far. The kids had good things to say. The house was always picked up. She seemed to enjoy it. Things were going well.

Then a few weeks back on a Sunday night we came home to find our house trashed. Dishes throughout the kitchen, clothes and toys strewn about the house and her laying on the couch eating.

We chalked it up to a bad night and had her back the following Sunday.

Not only was the house in much worse condition {seriously there were items of children's clothing in every room of our house! the sink overflowing with dishes, food and paper all over the floor, just to name a few} but she again was laying on the couch eating.

According to T & M {and our garbage, because yes I had to check after seeing the mess and hearing their report} in addition to dinner with our kids, she alone ate:

6 Lemon Ice cups
1 pizza
2 bags of popcorn
4 cans of soda
3 fruit leathers
2 granola bars
unknown amount of tortilla chips

There could be more we don't even know about.

When we got home and asked how things had gone, she said, "Great, E just fell asleep on the floor a couple hours ago."


Also, she cancelled a show I had recording {The Good Wife} to record a show she wanted to watch {Once Upon a Time.}

I wasn't happy.

The next morning, the only one who had anything good to say was T. T, the almost 13 year old. T, the one who technically doesn't need a babysitter.

What did T like about her? That she hung out on the computer looking at stuff on ebay with him.


M, H & E all were kind of done with this sitter. I was too.

J ran into a bind the other day while I was out of town and needed help. Knowing she's messy, likes to eat and not too into engaging with the kids, I wasn't thrilled but knew he didn't have much of a choice.

Our bigs were at their moms so it was just our littles and they were not happy.

H especially was unhappy which is odd because he pretty much likes everyone.

She showed up and things didn't go too well. There was pretty much a showdown between her and our littles in the entryway. Needless to say, J ended up bringing the kids with him and writing her a check for her drive time.

The nail has been pounded into that coffin. We're officially moving on.

But seriously, where do we go from here?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


"Mom, I'm having a playdate today," he tells me as he hops {yes, literally, hops} off the bus.

"Oh, with who?" I ask.

"Oh man, what's his name again? I can't remember. It's the boy on the bus who likes the same stuff as me." he tells me. "I got his phone number..."

Do you see it?
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Can you decipher?

We tried and tried and tried and tried to no avail. H's great idea was to drive to his friends bus stop and start knocking on doors near there to find him.

I wasn't so keen on that idea. So there was no nameless friend playdate today.

There's always tomorrow.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Josh and Samantha The Wedding.

So I stole my title from their photographers blog. I've pretty much been lurking and stalking her website and blog all week, not just for a little glimpse of the photos she took last Friday but also because she's so talented and cool. And I just told a friend on the phone I want to be her friend.

I have been involved in many weddings {like 15 or so in the last 7 years!} and she was hands down the best photographer I have ever met and seen in action. {No joke!}

And her photos on her website are absolutely stunning and gorgeous. She's a fairly popular Wisconsin wedding photographer and if you spend 5 minutes on her website or blog, you'll see why.

All that aside, I can't wait to see how she captured Samantha and Josh's day.

Their day was perfect.

Seriously, my cousin could go into business as an event planner because not a single detail went without notice.

From the special, custom made basket and ring bearer box she had made for H & I, the programs she made herself, the candy bar at the reception along with kids bags full of activities to keep restless kids busy. M's favorite was of course the photo booth at the reception and she has no less than 20 pictures of her self and random other family members posed in it.

She was gorgeous, of course. But she's one of those people who looks gorgeous in anything probably because she's also so beautiful on the inside.

She's truly one of the most giving, loving, wonderful people I know. Always thinking of others, never wanting to put anyone out. I'm so lucky to have her in my life.

I was honored to serve as her matron of honor, though I'm not sure how good I was at it. Trying to keep track of littles and keep their patience levels at bay. And also, as many times as I practiced my toast and worked hard at not being emotional, I was kind of a mess.

Josh is a lucky guy and we're lucky too because we love having him officially in our family now. I'll feel just a little bit less guilty about the miscellaneous chores and things he helps out with at our house.

All kidding aside, we loved their wedding. We lived it up, danced the night away and just soaked up the time with family as we sent Josh and Samantha on their new journey as a married couple.

I wish I had a million more pictures, unfortunately, it was hard balancing everything going on being in the wedding and J tried the best he could but yeah, these are my faves.

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Gorgeous church. M takes her job as program passer-outer very seriously. T did great too.
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Groom & Ringbearer.
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Bride & Flowergirl.
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Beautiful, right?
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Fuzzy but a must. My littles.
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Love that she had both her mom and dad walk her down the aisle.
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Josh is IN LOVE. And I love it.
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This is my aunt in her element. She loves to love on family when she's in town and we love seeing her and getting to be with her. Miss E fell asleep in the ceremony. We have a similar picture of Miss M in someone elses arms 7 years ago when she fell asleep in our wedding.

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Happy Friday, friends!
Congrats again Josh and Samantha! We love you!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thankful Thursday.

November always hits right about the time where I'm fed up with the candy and the clamoring to make Christmas lists and just want contentment. Just yesterday I took my littles to Target just to get one or two things and we're not halfway through the store and I am hearing about this that he saw on TV that he just has to get for Christmas and she is sitting in the cart pointing at twirly skirts that she must have and by the time we checked out I wanted to scream.

So when it hit me last night that Thankful Thursday was starting up again {and I know I say it every year but it shouldn't ever end really} I was glad because we need a little re-focusing time around here. Myself included. Time to count what we have and not what we don't.

So without further ado, this week I'm thankful for:

1. Sleeping in. Two days in a row we've all overslept. Yesterday the only one who got up and ready on time was T. Today we got up just in time to throw on some clothes, swallow down some cereal and make it to ECFE. While the morning is just a little busier and more chaotic {see #2.} when we oversleep, I know our bodies are needing it, so I'm thankful we get to.

2. Music. On the heels of that sleeping in, may I just tell you that gratitude was not the emotion I was feeling as I was rushing, yes rushing, into the van. My words were sharp. My patience was already shot. I turned on the radio and a cd was in and my littles just started singing along to some praise and worship music. "Where you go, I'll go, Where you stay, I'll stay."

I love that they love singing, I love that they know the words to praise songs and I love that hearing their little voices sing along has a way of turning my hustle, bustle busy to joy.

3. Family. I loved seeing extended family in Green Bay last weekend for the wedding. There is nothing like being gathered with the ones who know you and love you like no one else.

The morning after the wedding, my littles and I were downstairs in the hotel lobby eating breakfast. The three of us at the biggest table we'd put together the day before to accomodate everyone. Within 20 minutes the table is full of people and extra chairs pulled up and people standing. J and my dad and my aunts and my uncles and my cousins and my kids. I could have sat there all day in my pajamas with disheveled wedding hair just laughing, talking, reminiscing.

What are you especially thankful for this week?

I didn't get my act together to put a linky up but feel free to link to your own post in the comments or share in the comments what you're thankful for.

Other news:

Today is National Sandwich Day and if your name has Sam in it, you're in for some FREE lunchmeat. Check it out here.

Did you hear about the U of MN study on the effectiveness of the flu vaccine? I wrote a story on it and some local parent opinions over on Patch today.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


This past Sunday in a moment of panic about our lack of Christmas card options I texted our old babysitter Rachel {still a family fave!} and asked if she'd meet us with her fancy Nikon camera and try to get a good enough family picture for us.

She did and oh man did she ever deliver.
Below are the outtakes, the ones that didn't quite make my Christmas card cut. The one that did will be kept under wraps until the cards hit the mail.



{This was our attempt at a jumping picture. Obviously, we need assistance with timing.}

Tomorrow is Thursday and my tradition for Thursdays in November the last couple years has been Thankful Thursday. I'm planning on doing it again  and even getting my kids to participate this year because we have much to be thankful for. If I can figure out how to do a linky sort of thing, I will, otherwise as always you can leave your list of thankfulness in the comments.


Other links to peruse:

Are you sick of Halloween candy yet? I am, I say as I chew on some Milk Duds. Here's my list of ideas/ways to get rid of it. One way I didn't add to the story but helps us: today I dropped off ALL of T and M's candy at their mom's house with all their stuff for the week.

Ever wondered why/when H got glasses? I wrote a little bit about that and also children's eye health over on Patch today. He goes in for another eye appointment on Friday morning and I am anxious to see how he's doing.

Tiny Prints is giving away FREE Thanksgiving cards today {Wednesday} ONLY. Go get yours over here and use promo code: FREETHX11. Who in your life could use a little mail pick me up this month?

Finally, I will post about my dear cousins wedding by the end of the week. Just uploading pictures now. Wish I had about 200 more.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Just Write.

The day flew by and I'm not even sure of the details. There was before school candy bargaining with the bigs and swimming lessons and lunchtime. Phone calls in between bus time and drop off time. A photo shoot {of me!} and an hour at the coffee shop where I realized I had a stack of papers to go through. Pick ups and a post office tour. Dinner prep and more pick ups. Homework and more homework and really tired kids.

I just got an email asking if I "fell off the grid" today.

Another friend just texted and asked where I've been.

I've been here and there and everywhere it feels.

I literally just sat down with my laptop and tonight's episode of Parenthood and now E came wandering out. Half asleep, half crying, her stuffy nose the likely culprit. Her eyes weren't even open.

I picked her up and she's out again, laying across my body right now.

Her breath is all nasal-y and every so often her eyelids flutter.

Nothing else about the day and what got done or didn't get done or what needs to get done tomorrow really matters cause right now it's just me, sleeping beauty, my fave show and my words.

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{taken with my cell phone I just made J call and find for me. it was under the couch I'm sitting on.}

Linking up to Just Write....