Farm Babies at the Minnesota Zoo {Giveaway!}

zooThe farm babies are back at the Minnesota Zoo for the month of April and my littles and I paid them a visit over spring break.

zoos

We loved it, I knew Miss F would especially love the baby animals and hands down her favorite were the baby goats who loved nibbling right out of her hands.

zoos4

The pigs, the cows, the bunnies  were all out to visit last week on a nice sunny day and we even got to enjoy a ride around the Conservation Carousel, something we’d never done before.

zoos3

The Wells Fargo Family Farm is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through April 30 and there’s always a lot going on.

zoo2

Activities Include:

Hay maze in the Machine Shed 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

zoos2Weekend Activities:
9 a.m. – Enrichment at Snow Monkeys
10 a.m. – Enrichment at Brown Bears
11 a.m. – Enrichment at Sea Otters or Meet a Bird Keeper at Tropics Trail
1 p.m. – Enrichment at River Otters
2 p.m. – Close Encounters at End of Tropics Trail
University of Minnesota Bee Squad (April 18 & 19) – Learn why we should be more “bee friendly.” Get up close to a live hive and learn more about these important pollinators at the Farm.
MN Pork Growers Oink Booth (April 25 & 26) at the Farm
Daily Cow Milkings: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. at the Farm
Limited tram rides will be available on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

zoo3

I’m excited to give ONE reader a family FOUR pack of admission passes to visit the farm babies this month.

You can enter the rafflecopter giveaway right here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. The Minnesota Zoo invited us to visit the Wells Fargo Family Farm last week over spring break and granted us complimentary admission. All opinions expressed are mine. The Minnesota Zoo has provided the free admission passes for the giveaway winner.

Moms Rock! Expo Coming to Minneapolis

Moms Rock! Expo is coming to Minneapolis this spring so mark your calendars, grab your girlfriends and make a weekend of it because the Minneapolis Convention Center will soon by crawling with MOMS!

mre2

Moms Rock! Expo (May 2-3, 2015) is two amazing days, just for moms, filled with inspiring and informative Keynote Speakers, Real Talk Panels, “We Get Moms” career information sessions and a whole bevvy of demonstrations, tips, ideas and resources to help all moms Live Life Easier & Healthier in the best way possible. If Minnesota is to remain a great place to live, work, and play, we need to celebrate Moms and Support Families! Moms Rock! Expo is two special days (just for moms, women and girls) that will showcase the Best that Minnesota has to offer to help moms Live Life Easier!

You won’t want to miss the opportunity to hear well known speakers, attend seminars on various parenting and life topics, make up, cooking and career demos and if you do decide to bring those kiddos along, they can do science experiments with Kitchen Pantry Scientist and even meet peg + cat from PBS Kids.

The main stage speaker roster is pretty amazing too: Tamera Mowry-Housley, Lee Woodruff and Jaime Primak Sullivan.

mre

Tickets are available now for $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 5-12. Children ages 4 and under are FREE. The event is kid friendly but don’t feel like you have to bring kids, you can make it a girls weekend easily by booking a downtown hotel.

U.S. Bank has teamed up with Moms Rock! Expo to create and sell this exclusive Military Moms Rock! T-Shirt! 100% of the proceeds benefit military families. The goal is to support Operation Shower; an organization that provides baby essentials and organizes group baby showers for expectant moms whose husbands or partners are or will be deployed during the pregnancy. See more at: http://bit.ly/1xKpcsw

Moms Rock! Expo is sponsored by 3M, U.S. Bank, Target, Medtronic, Microsoft, Truvia, KARE 11, myTalk 107.1, TPT and MSP Magazine.

I’m so excited to be giving away a FOUR pack of tickets to Moms Rock! Expo. You can enter the Rafflecopter giveaway right here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Moms Rock Expo! has gifted me tickets to the event and is also providing the winners 4 pack of tickets.

My Fifth Stitch Fix

My 5th Stitch Fix came today and I’ve been awaiting this one. With early spring like weather in Minnesota and my birthday approaching I knew that I wanted to update my spring wardrobe FAST. It was scheduled to arrive March 20 but when it hadn’t shipped by Thursday, March 19 I was a little nervous. Glad it arrived today yet a little surprised the online site says to return by Monday already. I think more and more people are trying Stitch Fix, which is great and I hope you all do, but with that I think that they might be at times running into schedule snafus like mine.

stitch7

All this to say, even though it arrived a day later than planned, I was pretty happy with what arrived today, here’s a rundown:

Pixley Meryl Tulip Print Sleeveless Blouse $54

stitch6

Definitely a little more than I would spend on a sleeveless blouse but I do LOVE it. I don’t really have anything else navy and white like this either.

Decision: Undecided but leaning towards Keep.

Market and Spruce Corinna Striped Heathered Dolman Top $48

stitch5

This is super simple and definitely my style. I love stripes and am happy to have another navy options versus all the black and grey I tend to stockpile. That said $48 for a simple tee is a little more than I would spend. It’s the same brand as my favorite cargo jacket I received this past fall though so that gives me some encouragement that it’s a quality, well made brand.

Decision: Undecided.

Look By M Nathan Tread Pattern Infinity Scarf $28

stitch4

Super annoyed that a scarf was in my box as I have noted on my profile NO accessories. It’s an adorable scarf and totally my color but I don’t spend $28 on scarves.

Decision: Return.

41Hawthorn Renesme Graphic Print Faux Wrap Dress $78

stitch3

So far each fix that has included a top by this brand I have kept because it’s SO me. I wasn’t exactly in LOVE with the print until I put it on. It fits well, can easily be dressed up or down and is a nice addition, color wise, to my spring closet.

stitch2

Decision: Keep.

Olive and Oak Gertrude Dress $68

stitch

While I love the soft pastel color, it reminds me of an Easter egg. Add that to the uni-boob thing that appears to happen to my chest and it’s not doing it for me.

Decision: Return.

All in all this was a good fix. The way I decide that is I liked more items than I disliked. While the 41Hawthorn Dress is a for sure I’m undecided on the other two, so if you have an opinion either way. TELL ME!

My First Stitch Fix
My Second Stitch Fix
My Third Stitch Fix
My Fourth Stitch Fix

Have you tried Stitch Fix out yet? What have you liked or not liked? If you haven’t signed up yet what are you waiting for?

For a $20 styling fee, you fill out a questionnaire and all of your likes/dislikes when it comes to clothing, style, price points etc and a stylist puts together five pieces they think you might like. Hate it all? The only cost is the style fee. Love it?  Your $20 style fee goes towards your purchase and if you buy all five items you receive a 25% discount.

If you sign up and use my link I receive referral credit {it costs you nothing more or less by using my link, I’m just disclosing that I will receive credit}.

But I’m Not a Wicked Stepmother! Review

I gave up on most blended family and stepmom books years and years ago. I found most unrelatable or unrealistic and the worst culprits- the “faith” based ones that told me that prayer would make everything work out just fine. {Yes, I’m a believer in prayer but I’m also a believer in good, ol’ fashioned hard work too.}

Now I’m not saying prayer doesn’t work or that there isn’t room for these books someplace but I myself as a 22 year old bride could not find the support, encouragement and information I so badly needed and wanted.

I was excited to have the opportunity to review the new Tyndale Publishers and Focus on the Family book ‘But I’m Not a Wicked Stepmother! Secrets of Successful Blended Families’. It’s been a long while since I’ve read a book on blended families for all the above reasons but this one gave me pause.

wicked

Written by two stepmom friends, one whom married a widower with a young child and no children of her own and another who brought her own children into a marriage with a man with children, a true blended family.

The book chronicles both women’s naive beginnings, tough times of navigating relationships with spouses and children and ex-spouses and eventually touches on some really good feedback the two receive from their now grown stepchildren.

What I really appreciated about the book is how current it is. Subjects touched on included social media and communication between homes, holidays and celebrations and practical ways to deal with insecurities, difficult situations and creating a successful family unit. They are up to date in things that are relevant to being a stepparent now, financial decisions, vacations, all things I rarely see touched on in stepmother literature.

The book and the two women touch on more than just parenting, they touch on marriage, relationship with an ex-spouse or your spouses’ ex-spouse, the relationship your spouse has with their children and all of those intricacies. There’s so much more to being part of a blended family than parenting someone else’s children, there are so many layers and so many emotions for all parties that having these two really spell out their struggles, things that helped and things they even maybe did wrong in the early days is so enlightening and encouraging to read.

I’m the first to admit I’ve made my share of stepmom mistakes, not just with T and M, but also with T and M’s mom. I’ve reacted instead of responding, I’ve allowed my feelings or opinion to trump a decision and have been impatient. We’ve all just done the best we can as we’re able until we’ve learned better. I like to think we’ve managed ok even in spite of us.

I loved the author’s honesty. Because J and I have been married almost 11 years many of the issues addressed in the book and early blended family life seem so long ago but yet are relatable. I also really enjoyed hearing about what their grown stepchildren had to say about their upbringing and family life when all was said and done.

Like most things, I think we are often are own worst critic.

For us, co-parenting and blended family issues are few and far between these days. While yes there are still day to day communications and schedules and plans made, we’ve all made sure to create a positive working relationship turned friendship. No, we don’t always agree on everything and yes, sometimes we might have a different perspective, but as I’ve said many times over, that’s life no matter if you’re part of a blended family or not.

But I’m Not a Wicked Stepmother! Secrets of Successful Blended Families is available now via Tyndale Publishers on Amazon.com

I think it’s a helpful, fun read for step moms of all ages at any stage in their blended family life. The tone is conversational, the tips are helpful and both authors use and encourage prayer and specific Bible verses throughout.

Related Posts:

On 10 Years, Generosity and Being a Mom to Someone Else’s Children

On Expecting Great Things

 

 

Disclosure: Tyndale Publishers is an advertiser on this site and also gifted me an advance reader copy of this book. All opinions expressed above are mine alone.

On Cinderella

Miss E and I went to a prescreening of Disney’s Cinderella last week and to say we loved it is quite an understatement. Disney really outdid themselves this time.

cind2

The movie is breathtaking and beautiful and true to the fairy tale yet made today and I promise it will be a beloved favorite.

The story follows the original storyline in that Ella’s father remarries and with his new wife, the evil stepmother, come two evil stepsisters who are just dumb as rocks, really.

The evil stepmother and stepsisters leave for the ball and Ella is saved by her fairy godmother who does all of her magic to get her to the ball.

Of course, at the ball, it is clear that Ella is the one the prince had earlier met in the woods but all too soon the clock struck midnight and what was left behind was her glass slipper.

Language: Aside from some name calling {idiots, stupid..} I don’t recall any swearing.

Violence: None

Sexuality: Aside from some unnecessary cleavage, none.

Peril/Danger: Really none. When the clock is getting close to strike midnight the race is on for Ella to get home but there’s no violence or danger.

Subject matter: Death is a huge part of the movie. Ella’s mother dies, Ella’s father dies and the king dies. Depending on your child this might provoke a lot of questions. “Why did Ella’s mother die? What was her sickness? Why did Ella’s dad not come back? What happened to the king?”  Miss E definitely had a lot of questions after the movie about parents dying so if this is something that will be bothersome for you and/or your child you may want to wait on the movie.

All in all I really loved the movie. Disney did a beautiful job. The cinematography was amazing and the special effects, oh the special effects. You will be blown away watching the transformation of pumpkin to carriage and mice to horses. It’s better than I would have even imagined.

cind3Lily  James does a brilliant job playing Cinderella and Cate Blanchett is the best evil stepmother of all.

cind

The biggest takeaway and my favorite part of the movie was the message that Ella’s mother gave her before she passed away. “Have courage and be kind.” Over and over this was repeated throughout the movie and it’s such an important message.

Have courage and be kind.

 

Cinderella opens nationwide today! Do you plan on seeing it?

 

On Yellow Paint

In March 2006, my mom came over and painted an entire little room yellow in preparation for my first baby.

We didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl so the room was yellow and I spent many an afternoon wandering through Pottery Barn dreaming up just how I wanted it to look before I settled on gingham and alphabet and my mom wanted to help. So she painted and she painted and she painted, just the perfect shade of yellow, cheery and friendly and light.

For the better part of the last 9 years we’ve rotated the alphabet and gingham decor, adding in little touches here and there {like owls and Dora a few years back for Miss E}.

Miss F is our last baby and we knew when J touched up the paint two years ago that this would likely be the last run for the green gingham bumper and the alphabet crib skirt and valance. We’ve slowly moved through baby item by baby item, donating and tossing and handing down to others and now what used to be our baby room is turning into our little girls’ shared room.

While we are in NO HURRY to get Miss F out of the crib {because been there, done that and we like the confinement and easy bedtime routine the four walls of a crib provide} we’ve slowly been switching the room from baby to little girl.

But.

We can’t paint the walls.

They’ve been touched up in preparation of each new babe since H and once again this past week when I, umm, added some extra holes while trying my hand at hanging some letters. But the walls are my moms. The gift she was able to give each one of my babes even though she didn’t meet them here on earth.

So as we furniture shopped and then bedding shopped and finally decided on wall decor I had one thing in mind- it has to go with the yellow walls.

While this eliminates many, many options, we found new furniture within a weekend’s time and after a few hours deliberating at Pottery Barn Kids, bedding was found too. The hard part was upon us- there’s no room theme, no character to compliment the walls.

And then one night shortly after the end of the season for Parenthood, the lyrics of the theme song struck me and I hired my friend Jenny at Three Letter Birds to put together these beautiful pieces. {And because she is amazing, she not only DID it, she tolerated my texts back in forth questioning colors just a time or three.}

forever forever2 forever3

I couldn’t be happier.

Tonight I hung those beauties on the wall, with the help of Miss M, who recited to me, in the words of Momastery, as I poked hole upon hole “You can do hard things.” {J was at a late meeting and patience is not a gift I have been bestowed…}

The room may not be the baby room it became back 9 years ago now but it will forever breathe the memory of my mom in those yellow walls and now the affirming, beautiful words of Bob Dylan, too.

bedroom

 

On Affirmation

To J. S.

When I was in junior high and high school, at various camps and church events and retreats, we did what was called affirmations.

Most of the time this was written down. Your name on a card passed around the room for everyone to write something positive about you.

Mine always listed things about happiness and joy, a megawatt smile and humor.

I loved these cards. I treasured these cards. As a teenage girl there was something so special about having it in writing these qualities that others admired and affirmed about me. They boosted my confidence and reminded me when I needed that reminder of just who I was.

When was the last time you shared with someone just what it is you love about them? Affirming them and building them up? Or when was the last time someone affirmed you?

This past week I met an old friend for lunch. I hadn’t seen her since H was little enough to be in a carrier so 8, maybe 9 years or so now. We’ve kept in touch on Facebook, she has the gift of encouragement and love. So full of love.

Strangely enough we met at my first post college job downtown. It wasn’t a good fit for me. I’m a creative and a people girl and the ho-hum all business all day life was not for me. And so in June 2005, I turned in my badge, gave up my healthy salary and benefits, the travel, the business cards and the professional life and came home.

“You weren’t made for that world,” she tells me in between bites of lunch and we both know she’s right. Later with tears at the brim of both of our eyelids she tells me face to face how sad she is my mom is gone.

People don’t talk about this. People skip over this. People are afraid to say and ask and do because we’re all afraid of what lies beneath the surface so to me, it is truly a gift to have someone scoop right below the surface and say it. And mean it. With love.

We talked about her job and her grown up daughters and we talked about what I’m doing now, a much better fit, and my littles and my bigs, who were littles when we last got together. And she filled my cup, my soul with affirming words.

Like honey she reminded me that I am a good mom, even on the day I rush out the door downtown and end up late at after school pick up. She reminded me that I listen to my kids about school and sports and let them grow into who they were made to be. She reminded me that I am living the life I imagined and not taking a moment for granted.

She reminded me of the gift I’ve been given. Not once ever in the last 10 years that I’ve been mostly home with my kids has J ever squashed my ideas or my desires. “He let you grow,” she said.

And I pictured myself as this little seed with a sack of education and a whole bunch of what I thought I’d do’s that turned me into who I am today.

I left lunch feeling so satisfied.

Affirming words mean something, friends. Whatever you do, do not use them sparingly. Affirm someone today. Tell them they are a good mom or that they are really great at their job or that they do such a nice job with running this or that or the other thing. Use your words for good.

You have no idea the impact your words may have.

On Quiet.

Hello?

Is this thing on?

The blog’s been rather quiet these last few weeks. It’s crossed my mind a few times and I’ve dreamt of words I’d like to throw into this space but the clock ticks on and I climb into bed only to awake hours later already reeling.

It’s the middle of January end of February already and I’m still not used to writing 2015 and the days are going by too quickly. Talking about resolutions and words seems so two weeks ago.

Yet.

I can’t ignore it.

It’s common round the internet world to choose a word to focus on for the year and I’ve done well with this and poorly with this in the past. My word is not flashy or trendy or hip. It will likely not inspire others or create some internet movement.

But that’s quite alright with me because my word for 2015 is Quiet.

Quiet.

As in the sound of my house on nights like tonight when the littles are asleep and J and I tap on the keys of our laptops for a bit. Finishing up emails and lists and trying to coordinate our schedules.

Quiet.

As in the sound when I sit and rock Miss F. Her head on my chest, blanket wrapped tight and her hand reaching for mine and placing it on her sweet, soft face.

Quiet.

As in those moments when the world is loud about terror and race and politics and religion and there are so many swirling opinions and ideas and we all just want to be heard but we stop. It’s ok to be passionate but sometimes it’s also ok to be quiet. I need work on this, friends.

I’m not naturally quiet, I’m naturally loud and obnoxious and opinionated and did I say loud? Quiet is hard for me but quiet is important because it is in the quiet I realize and remember what matters most.

In the quiet of the evening, I am filled with gratitude for my family, my home, my life. When it is loud and bustling and my kids are moving in every, which direction and I can’t even hear myself think, gratitude isn’t quite the first word that comes to mind.

In the quiet of the bedroom when I am rocking Miss F, my heart bursts with love. I am astonished at her growing body, her voice as she sings a song or makes simple demands of me. In the quiet of the car ride to school, I can hear Miss E’s stories and see her, truly see her. And just tonight with the winds outside howling, I could sit smooshed with my 8 year old sports lover just listening to the cracks and the howls and the wind.

When I am quiet, I have time to decide what I want to say yes to and what I want to say no to because I’m learning that when I say yes to something in my life, I’m saying no to something else. Every yes equals a no somewhere else.

And perhaps that’s why the word quiet has stuck out to me the most as we transition into a new year. I need quiet as I sort it all out.

For ten years I have spent many an evening sitting pouring words into this blog. Writing sponsored posts and sharing recipes, uploading photos and sharing adventures. I’ve often wondered will there be a day when I awake and say, “the jig is up” and move along or will it be a gradual slide?

I’m still not sure.

So this is what I’m sure of. I don’t want to write in this space out of obligation so I’m being choosy with requests for time and space right here. I don’t want to write just to write because it’s been three days or three weeks because the world is noisy enough without another voice just chattering to chatter.

I’m practicing quiet because quiet helps me decide what matters most.

quiet

 

 

Vaccinations and MSNBC.

Last week I wrote a little bit about how I feel about vaccinations especially in light of the fact that there is now a confirmed case of Measles in Minnesota. The post over on Star Tribune took off, the comments ON BOTH SIDES, went a little crazy and then MSNBC called me.

So Wednesday morning, I’m headed downtown to do an interview via satellite with Tamron Hall on News Nation. The interview will be filmed LIVE. EEK! I’ll be talking as a mom about why I vaccinate my kids and why I think it’s important.

I’m excited and nervous and excited and nervous.

I made a last minute hair appointment tonight and spent the last hour or so figuring out what I’m going to wear because priorities. {Though I still don’t really know.} I guess we’ll see what the morning has in store.

You can check out my interview at 10 a.m. CST on MSNBC and once it’s online I’ll share the link too! In the meantime, you can follow my morning along on Twitter and Instagram. I’m @samarapostuma both places.

We made the decision to vaccinate and this was not a decision taken lightly yet, it was the best decision for us.

And while that gives me some peace of mind, knowing my kids have been protected against this disease, I also can’t help but wonder how this epidemic will continue to spread.

I respect other parenting decisons and values, I try to be open minded in my opinions but this is one that I just struggle to understand. In the year 2015 when we have so many medical resources and so much knowledge and have rid our society of so many terrible diseases, why would one choose NOT to do it?

I get that a vaccine isn’t a guarantee of health. I get that there are some risks associated with vaccines.

But.

The benefits of being vaccinated way outweigh any second guesses I could have. Knowing my child can travel without fear of contracting a once deadly disease, knowing that they are not only keeping themselves healthy but those kids who CAN’T be vaccinated. Because there are families who wish and pray and hope their child can be vaccinated but due to health reasons, CAN’T. Knowing that my child will likely not have measles or mumps or rubella.  - excerpt from Star Tribune

Mommy, I Need You.

need

In the after dinner bustle of cleaning up the kitchen and getting homework done and backpacks checked and baths and lunches and just all that school night chaos, Miss F grabbed my legs and said, “Mommy, I need you!” 

Clear as a bell.

“Mommy, I need you.”

“You need me?” I asked surprised. My only little to call me Mommy, H and E always said Mama and her request was so direct. She didn’t just want me, she needed me.

“Yeah!” she said so I scooped her up, blankets and all and sat content for awhile.

It struck me in the days that followed how we somehow, someway grow out of this stage.

We start our life demanding what we need, asking for what we want and as we grow we sometimes let what we need and want die down inside.

Some of us use passive aggressiveness to get what we need, others anger and manipulation. Still others expect mind reading.

You should know what I need. You should know what I want.

Still others of us don’t speak up for fear of disproval or shame. I don’t want to be needy, I don’t want to be annoying. I don’t want to appear as though I can’t do it all. Yet inside the resentment is growing so fast it almost overwhelms us.

How much easier would life be if when we talked with our spouse we said, I really need you to drop the kids off at school or I need you to make the grocery list or simply I need help.

Would it help at your job if you asked for what you needed?

What a difference it would make it we used this with our kids. “I need you to be ready for school every day when the clock says 6:55,” I said to H earlier tonight.

“But the bus doesn’t come until 7:02,” he said {clearly him and his timeliness take after his mother.}

“I know but I think that both you AND I will feel better about the day if you are totally ready a few minutes before you have to run outside so I NEED you to be ready by 6:55.”

It feels good to be needed, it feels good to be wanted but it also feels good to say what we need. Even as adults.

What do you need today that you haven’t asked for yet?