On Loving the Teenage Years.

I always thought I would be more sad as my kids moved from little to big. That I’d miss the nursing and the carrying and the sippy cups and carseats.

Perhaps I just haven’t had time to miss these stages. In our 12 year marriage I’ve spent 5.25 years either pregnant or nursing. Perhaps the shift of the stages hasn’t been as evident. It’s not that I am glad to move from these stages, it’s just I enjoy the next one as we get to it.

It’s always sweet and bitter to watch change and growth happen. Some stages are better than others. I couldn’t do the newborn stage again but J could. I could do age four over and over and over again and J would rather poke his eyeballs out. The jury is still out on age 10 and our almost three year old has staked full claim on the littlest little.

Often as a society and within the world we live, we talk about teenagers as if they have just landed from a foreign planet that we’ve never been to.

{We have. I promise.}

But here’s the thing, maybe it’s because I was just a teenager last week {kind of} or maybe it’s because I’m stepmom to teens, but I actually enjoy our teenagers.

No, it’s not perfect. There’s plenty of conflict and disagreement. Just yesterday morning M and I went head to head over yogurt.

YOGURT, people.

But I often say M is my right hand girl, always ready to help me and loves big and she is always up for a walk or a trip to the coffee shop.

I also love the engaging conversations we have, I love the discourse, I love the political discussions and the watching them come into their own with what they believe and why they believe it. M often surprises me with her understanding of the world around her and the ideas she has, I love that she can articulate what she believes and why. I love that T asks questions about this or that or who or why. I don’t ever want to tell them what to think or that the way I do it, say it, believe, is right. I hope my life speaks those things but they’ve got to come into it on their own. Even if that means I’m singing to worship songs or Meghan Trainor in the driver seat and T’s listening to Eminem on his phone in the passenger seat. I am me and he is he.

We worked through what I like to call the “icky’s” – the power struggles and value conflicts and friend dramas- all those icky stages between 12-14, give or take a year, and we had to work hard. Hard. I remember both T and M being so mad that we would ask questions and have hard conversations and I always said, we will never regret working through those stages.

And we don’t.

Because of this.

Two times today. TWICE. I was doubled over in laughter with T.

At one point as we shopped for his new glasses, I joked about his wrinkled shirt {clearly an effect of him doing his own laundry} and he was laughing as he said we need a new dryer because his clothes are always wrinkled, even though no one else’s are and another guy nearby said, “I used to have that same problem.”

T and I looked at each other and laughed. My eyes were crying, I was laughing so hard and as we left the eye clinic I said, “this is it, T, this is it.”

“What?!” he looked at me like I had two heads as I SnapChat-ed a pic of him to his mom.

This is what we worked for. We made it through the “icky’s” for this. Raising kids you actually like? You actually enjoy spending time with? That want to hang out with you?

It’s pretty much a parents dream come true

Don’t dread the teenage years. Nourish the kids you’re growing so you like each other later. Fight them tooth and nail when it matters so that someday they choose YOU over looking at their phone. Do these things, work past the icky’s and I promise, you’ll never regret it.


Four Things to Know about Diary of a Wimpy Kid at Children’s Theatre in Minneapolis

Last night H and I saw the world premiere of Diary of a Wimpy Kid the musical at Children’s Theatre Company. I’ve been anxious to see this because The Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series was one of H’s favorites awhile back so I knew he would be excited to see the story come alive on stage.

To say we loved it is an understatement. It was one of the best shows we’ve ever seen on stage. Maybe even the best.

Even if you’re not familiar with Jeff Kinney’s book series, the story line is familiar. We all went to Middle School, didn’t we? The humor, the stories, the songs will wow you and your smile won’t ever leave your face. Parents, this is one show you’re going to love just as much as your kids because we all went to middle school.

If you’re thinking of going, buy tickets soon because many of the shows are already sold out and is expected to sell out soon. Tickets available here.

Here’s four things to know before you go:

One: The musical is based on the series Diary of a Wimpy Kid and there is a lot of story line straight from the first book but even a few little snippets from other books. You don’t have to read the book to follow along at all though it could be a good incentive for your kids. All of the songs are original to the the musical and so well done.

Two: Get there early. Take photos in the lobby and buy your snacks for intermission. My pro tip is always to skip the line at intermission and buy your treat ahead. Children’s Theatre staff will have it ready and waiting as soon as the intermission doors open so no need to rush around.


The cookie from Patrick’s won’t disappoint. Cookies are $2 each.

Three: Come prepared to laugh and clap. The mostly youth cast is high energy and thick with talent. Just four adults appear in the show, two of which are the beloved company actors Autumn Ness and Reed Sigmund. The rest? All kids. And these kids got talent. The singing, the dancing, the facial expressions, you’ll almost feel like you’re back in middle school with them.


Photo by Greg Norman

Four: I brought H along with me since he’s in 4th grade and headed to middle school next year but I think younger kids would do just fine too. I wouldn’t bring preschoolers but school age kids and older will follow along and enjoy. There is some potty talk humor and an awkward scene with wrestling leotards but it’s a good clean family show.


Photo by Dan Norman

Leading as Greg Heffley is Chicago-based actor, Ricky Falbo. Falbo’s recent credits include Little Tommy in The Who’s Tommy and Gavroche in Les Miserables at the Paramount Theatre. Rowley was played by Connecticut-based actor, David Rosenthal who recently played Bruce in Matilda, The Musical on Broadway and Pugsley Addams in The Addams Family Musical at the Connecticut Cabaret. Both are making their CTC debut.

Photo by Dan Norman

I asked H this morning his favorite part and we both loved Rowley. I’ll always say the ability to make jokes and have an engaged audience laughing yet still keep composed always amazes me.

Photo by Dan Norman

Photo by Dan Norman

All in all I was so impressed by so many of the youth actors and actresses, their abilities were spot on, the choreography, the singing and their expressions.

Rumor has it Diary of a Wimpy Kid will be headed to Broadway so take advantage of the show hailing from Minnesota and see it at Children’s Theatre Company, the number one children’s theater in the nation, while you can. Tickets and more info available at wimpykidmusical.com.


Disclosure: I was given tickets to Diary of a Wimpy Kid the musical due to my relationship with Children’s Theatre Company and for review purposes. This is not a sponsored post and all opinions shared are mine.

On Last Babies.


We knew before we even saw her face that she would be our last baby. We didn’t even know if there would be a last baby. But our “just one more” longed for, wanted and prayed for baby arrived on the scene nearly three years ago and now it seems impossible to imagine life without […]

[Continue reading...]

Guest Post: Five Steps to a Non Perfect {yet Fantastic!} Party


My name is Gianna Kordatzky from Family Fun Twin Cities, and I took over Samara’s blog to talk about something near and dear to my heart. Party planning. There are so many reasons to have a party. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Surprise Parties, Baby Showers, Fall Parties, Spring Parties. I love to plan them, but even I […]

[Continue reading...]

Six Every Day Money Saving Apps & Sites

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 11.39.01 AM

Everybody loves saving money, right? While we do some traditional saving and planning- college and retirement and the like and definitely believe it’s important, there’s something about “mindless” saving. Saving money doing the things you’re already doing and using that money for things like trips or spending money, etc. These are six every day money […]

[Continue reading...]

Free Mrs. Meyers Soap & $10 Credit at ePantry, now Groves Collaborative


You know I’m a big fan of ePantry. Anything that makes my life a little bit easier and saves some time is a win for me. We’ve been using ePantry for almost a year now on things like Mrs. Meyers cleaning products and soaps and prior to Miss F being out of diapers, diapers too. […]

[Continue reading...]

The Angry Birds Movie Bird Island Experience at Mall of America


Angry Birds fans unite and get excited for the upcoming Angry Birds movie that will be released this May in theaters nationwide. This Saturday, April 2, the Mall of America is having a very fun Bird Island experience that is sure to be fun for the whole family! The Angry Birds Movie will take over […]

[Continue reading...]

BOGO Tickets to Joseph at Orpheum Theatre March 31


Thursday night is Family Night at the Orpheum!  Buy one full priced adult ticket, get one kids ticket free! Use Passcode: FAMILY Offer is valid only for the March 31st performance at 7:30pm, for all sections while seats last. When selecting your seats, be sure to enter FAMILY as the Offer Code and that the […]

[Continue reading...]

Marvel Universe Live! at Target Center this April


Calling all superhero fans and their parents! You do NOT want to miss Marvel Universe Live at Target Center next month! With 25 Marvel characters, lots of action and surprises, the show is going to be a fun night for all ages. Marvel Universe Live! April 7 – 10 Target Center Target Center has asked […]

[Continue reading...]

14 Things To Do in the Twin Cities This Spring


It’s officially SPRING and so often we skip right over this season with our eyes on the prize that is summer. {I’m speaking largely of myself here!} So I decided to compile a list of things one must do in spring in the Twin Cities before the summer sun hits us and we’re soaking up […]

[Continue reading...]