Samara Tilkens Postuma is raising five kids from infant to teen in the St. Michael area with her husband, Jeff. When not found driving kids to and from activities, helping with homework or at the park or pool, you can find her sharing her life online where she does some freelance writing and social media work and also writes at her own blog, www.simplicityinthesuburbs.com.

School Photos- Yay or Nay?

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society, Education and literacy Updated: November 12, 2014 - 12:45 PM

So I'll be honest, the reason I'm even thinking about this is because one of our kids school photos is awful. Like AWFUL. Like I opened the envelope and half expected there to be a note that said "GOTCHA!" because they are awful. 

Her head is off center, her hair, good heavens her hair, is a mess, did she or someone else attempt a pony tail? Her smile is awkwardly half hearted. 

This is no Lifetouch school photo, this is a private school photographer who got it all wrong.

My husband, ever the practical one, naturally suggested retakes. Not just for this child but another one of our kids whose photo wasn't awful but also wasn't good. Retakes doesn't sound remotely appealing to me for two reasons: 1. If they couldn't keep her looking good and together when it was a school wide picture day why would they be able to do it on a random retake day. 2. I don't want to wait another 4-6 weeks for the package. Grandparents are asking for photos you know, it's nearly Thanksgiving.

With four school agers we spend over $100 on school picture packages each fall and we buy pretty much the basics. An 8X10 for our wall, 5X7's for grandparents and a handful of wallets is all we need. Yet we spend over $100. 

The past couple years I've started to wonder, are we out of touch? Is it crazy we still do this? I even try to have our youngests photos done with the same color background and the same vertical pose so that her photo can match on the all.

Do you still get school photos or do you just do your own? If you've had a bad photo have you done retakes with success or do you just call it a good story/memory maker and call it a day?

{PS NO awful school photo pictured here because I care about the future google searches my little ones may do.}

An Easy Service Project this Month {Evie Bags}

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society, Education and literacy, Politics Updated: November 6, 2014 - 1:22 PM

This post originally appeared on my site, Simplicity In The Suburbs but I thought it worthwhile to share here too.

I saw him from across the street and I knew. I knew my little girl, with her bleeding heart for others, would stop and want to help him. Wind blowing, the crisp air biting our cheeks, we rushed across the street, me carrying Miss F, our friends just ahead of us and Miss E starts reading, "Home lllllesss...."

"and hunnnnn gry. Mom, he is homeless and hungry. We need to help him." She stopped right smack on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Delaware in downtown Chicago. Her feet are glued to the ground, she will not budge until we do something, anything to help this man who's sitting on the sidewalk, blankets and trash all around him.

I dig my hand in my coat pocket and grab a handful of change and hand it to her and she bends down, sticks it in the mans plastic cup and while dozens of people are walking every which direction around us, she makes eye contact with him as he says, "Thank you."

She tells him you're welcome and we are on our way and I am ever aware that she is on the lookout for more souls she can help. She looks back at him as we turn the corner and says, "I'm so sad he is homeless."

Hours later we are en route home, a seven hour drive ahead of us, I tell her I am proud that she stopped and helped that man.

"Oh mom, it's what I do," she says. "I help people." And she grins a solid grin that she does so well and says, "Don't forget we need to make some bags for people."

Yes, yes. I say and nod.

***

With the Holiday season approaching the requests of your time, money, resources are plenty. I am not under any illusion of otherwise. But this year we've decided that Miss E, our almost 6 year old, is on to something.

Her heart, you guys. Her heart for others, for homeless, for hungry, for those out in the cold. She doesn't understand why it is that some people have homes and others don't. She doesn't understand why some people are so hungry and all she wants to do is make it better.

So this month, we'll be packing up bags. As many as we can pack and we'll be handing them out all month {hopefully winter} long.

Will you join us? Will you help Evie and her plight to help others? Let's start with 100. We can do that, right? 100 bags for others. In less than 24 hours we've surely surpassed 100, we've updated the goal to 500! FIVE HUNDRED bags to help others! Help us!?

Here's how you can help support Evie's bags-

1. Make your own bags and hand them out to those who need them. This doesn't have to be just a Minnesota thing because there are homeless and hungry people everywhere. Now if you live far, far out in the suburbs, the idea of finding people to give these bags to might seem challenging. Call your local food shelf or drive in to your local big city.

2. As you put together the bags, keep it simple. A former homeless man I know said to avoid personal care items but include things like a snack and water and gloves. The Dollar Tree often has things like hand warmers that would be a great addition. I'm guessing we all have extra Halloween candy laying around that would be a good addition.

3. Include a personal note {no last names}. Evie's note of choice:

4. Pass those bags out. Wherever and whenever you can. You can pass along those bags to us and we'll pass them along OR you can tally the amount you make to give out and let us know so we can include them in our count and if all this is too much for you and you would rather donate to Evie's bags, shoot me an email at samarapostuma at gmail dot com and we will work something out.

5. Share this post. Invite your friends, coworkers, neighbors to take part to create some bags together.

Bonus: Will you take photos? Photos of your bags? Photos as you hand them out? And send them to me? I would love to do a compilation.

***

The thing that strikes me the most when it comes to Evie and the way she wants to help is the way that she truly sees people. She is unafraid, she is not awkwardly looking away as some of us adults do, she is not uncomfortable. Her act of helping those who need help is her way of saying, "I see you and you are loved and may this little bit I have to offer, help you."

So will you see those who need help this season, will you remind them that they are loved and will you offer whatever little bit you have to offer to help? If my little Evie can do it, I think we all can.

Preventing Cavities at Halloween Time

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society, Education and literacy Updated: October 29, 2014 - 8:01 PM

We all know that to some extent Halloween and all that trick or treating means lots of candy and all that candy can't be good for our kids teeth so how do we go about enjoying the fun that is Halloween while still making sure our kids teeth aren't decaying with every bite. Dr. James Hickman of Metropolitan Pediatric Dental Association had these tips to offer:

1. Be safe and have fun, first and foremost. Halloween is supposed to be fun!

2. Help your kids sort their candy and try to eliminate the items that aren't so good on their teeth. Specifically, sticky items have a higher cavity potential and promote sugar bugs and sour candy has a high acid content plus sugar which is an awful recipe for teeth. Some of the safer items for teeth include sugar free gum, dark chocolate and even items like pretzels and popcorn. While those can still get stuck in their teeth, they are less likely to cause cavities.

3. Limit treats. Have some on Halloween and then maybe bring the candy to work or to a local buy back program. 

4. Brush and clean those teeth. Not just on Halloween but every day 2 times a day for 2 minutes.

5. For coloring pages, a candy sorting guide or even to locate a local pediatric dentist visit MyChildrensTeeth.org 

How do you handle all that Halloween candy at your house? Do you donate it? Let the kids go crazy eating it? Eat it yourself or bring it to work? 

The Teal Pumpkin Project: What You Need to Know

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society, Education and literacy Updated: October 28, 2014 - 12:27 PM

Wondering what all this Teal Pumpkin business is about?

Here's the details:

The Food Allergy Research & Education group put together a campaign this Halloween to encourage a new tradition to make Halloween a less scary holiday for those families with food allergies.

The idea is that families will paint a pumpkin teal, place it in front of their home with a sign from FARE {available on their site} and offer non-food treats for the trick or treaters who may have an allergy.

Why teal? That's the official food allergy awareness color.

What sorts of non-food treats? Stickers, pencils, tattoos, bubbles, bouncy balls, anything you can think of that is non food and kept seperately than the food you give out on Halloween.

Why non food treats? Because different kids have different allergies. Peanut free might be safe for some kids but other kids can't have the dyes that are in certain candys. Your safest bet to be all inclusive on Halloween is to have non food treat options.

The premise behind the entire campaign is to promote safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies – and to keep Halloween a fun, positive experience for all.

Are you planning on participating in the Teal Pumpkin project this Halloween? 

{Photo credit: Missy Berggren who writes the blog Marketing Mama, a great resource for food allergy information in the Twin Cities area.}

And Then I Became a Hockey Mom.

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society, Education and literacy Updated: October 23, 2014 - 10:31 AM

My 8 year old son is playing hockey this year for the very first time. He slipped a pair of hockey skates on his feet for the very first time just 13 months ago when I told him that if he really wanted to play hockey he'd need to learn how to skate first.

Thinking {and probably secretly wishing} that this would pacify this deep desire within him to play hockey, I took him to and from the Elk River arena each Tuesday morning last school year where he learned how to skate.

He worked hard, he fell down a bunch but he loved it. Loved it. The highlight of each week was going to skate and he was so determined.

Just a few weeks into lessons he was skating circles around kids twice his age. He did it.

He's tried lots of sports in his little life. From baseball to soccer to golf and basketball. He loves football and snowboarding and is still as passionate as ever about hockey.

I get that it's like against the religion of the state of Minnesota to not want your kid to play hockey but I did not want my kid to play hockey.

With five kids we're busy enough, I thought. And of all the things I've dreamed about myself, being a hockey mom was not one of them.

Alas hockey hasn't been far from his mind all these months and this summer, when hockey sign ups came up, he was begging and pleading and reminding me of the deal I made last year.

"You did say that if he learned how to skate, he could play," my husband reminded me. 

"Yeah, I did. Because I thought that he'd give up on it."

He didn't. He won't. He loves it.

Two weekends ago, he had his first practices. Set up more like an age evaluation, I've likely never been prouder. While he skated and went station to station with kids his age, many of whom have been skating and playing for 3-4 years, he did it all. 

Yeah, he wiped out a few times and watching him try and skate backwards was a little bit painful, but he did it. And he smiled the hugest smile he could from beneath that helmet with his mouthguard hanging out. He did it.

And maybe this will be a one year thing and we'll move on to the next thing. And maybe we won't. Either way, I'm proud of my kid. For trying something new, for working hard, for being determined to do it and not let anything get him down. He isn't out there comparing himself, he's out there working his tail off.

So now I'm a hockey mom and I'm the first to tell you, I had no plans of being one. But kids, man. 

They'll turn you and twist you and get you when you least expect it. 

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