Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

We've been laughing a lot, eating a lot, relaxing a lot, opening a lot (of presents). What fun! I got everything on my Christmas list. Lucas got more than he could have imagined, for sure. He can hardly figure out what to play with next or who to hug next. What fun!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Two years, a reflection

Tomorrow Lucas will be two years old.


It is hard to believe.

Over the past few weeks I've been reflecting a lot about this time two years ago, the Advent season. Preparing for the birth of Jesus. Preparing for the birth of Lucas.

When Lucas turned one, I didn't do much reflecting. Of course I was excited about his birthday, but I felt like I was the one who deserved a party. A cake. Presents. Heck, even a medal or something. I had done it. I had survived my first year of motherhood. Lucas was happy and healthy. I was happy and healthy. Abel and I, our marriage, it was happy and healthy. What an accomplishment! Yes, it was a group effort for the three of us.

But come on. Really, it was me.

Happy Lucas's First Birthday to Mama--that's what I wanted the cake to say. That's what I wanted the cards to say.

Now, as we approach his second birthday I'm feeling less like the occasion is a personal victory celebration and more like the occasion is a true celebration for and of Lucas. (I'm sure it helps that this year he will be excited about the cake and the presents and the singing of Happy Birthday.)

And, I've been reflecting.

Two years ago, I think truly, for the first time, I understood Advent. The waiting. The hoping. The anticipation.

Two years ago in church we were reading the Gospel of Luke. It gave me a personal thrill whenever I heard "A reading from the Gospel of St. Luke" from the pulpit. We had already chosen the name Lucas and so I felt a special connection to St. Luke.

I'll never forget when we got to the reading about Mary going to see her cousin Elizabeth: the baby John "leapt" in her womb.


Before being pregnant with Lucas I didn't really understand that verse. How can a baby leap in the womb? What an exaggeration, I thought.

But two years ago, I understood. For indeed Lucas had lept in my womb! And now he leaps into my arms!

What a gift Lucas is to me. To us. To all who know and love him. I look forward to sharing Advent with him for the many years ahead of us. To sharing my own stories of the waiting, hoping, and anticipation of his birth during the season of Advent.

What a gift!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Grammar Pet Peeve: Me vs. I

Okay folks. Here's the deal: I am a big fan of correct grammar.

I love grammar.

I admit that faithful readers might take issue with this statement. But, I rebut their examples of sentence fragments, etc. used in my blog posts with this: my blog is all about casual-write-as-I-talk writing. When I am writing something formal, I promise that I use proper grammar, punctuation and more!

Lately I have noticed over and over and over again the incorrect use of "I" and "me" in sentences both written and spoken. Now folks, the people using these pronouns incorrectly are otherwise intelligent and often highly-educated people. And when they use I and me incorrectly, to me, it is like nails on a chalkboard.

Grammar Girl tackled this subject in her podcast/website over the summer. If you want the technical explanation of subject pronouns and object pronouns check out her post. (Oh, and if you, too, love grammar or could simply use a little help in the department and don't already know about Grammar Girl then be sure to check her out!)

Here's my tip for figuring out when to use I or me in a sentence: simply take the other person out and say the sentence again. Your ear will know what is correct.

Here's an example:

David took Jane and I out to dinner.

Sound correct?


But now read it like this: David took I out to dinner.

Now you can hear that it is wrong.

Here's the correct sentence: David took Jane and me out to dinner.

Remove Jane from the party and you'd have: David took me out to dinner.

Ding! Ding! Ding! That sounds correct and it is!

Grammar Girl surmises that people are "hypercorrecting" themselves, writing, "Most grammarians are sympathetic to people who say between you and I because it's considered a hypercorrection. The theory is that people have been so traumatized by being corrected when they say things such as Ashley and me went to the mall instead of Ashley and I went to the mall that they incorrectly correct between you and me to between you and I."

Just so you know, I am not one of those grammarians who is sympathetic. Use my little trick. I promise it will work and you'll write and speak better!


Jumping down. From soapbox.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

January shopping list

In addition to the wonderful necklace I am sure I'm not getting for Christmas, I'd like to add this to my January shopping list. Otherwise, I'm sure I'll completely forget about it and I really want to have it for next year. Thanks Design Mom!

Dum da da dummmmmmm

In case you've been totally curious about what we look like... here we are!

Left to Right: Lucas, Smiling Mama, Abel, my sister Sarah


Thanks, Mom!

P.S. Doesn't Lucas really look elf-like in this pic!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Christmas List

I only asked for two things for Christmas. One I know I am getting. The other, doubtful.

You see, I told my dad in August. Yes, you read that right, August. That Abel and I wanted a new digital camera for Christmas. It was almost as much a gift to him as it would be for us. He loves to research things.

And we gave him four months.

Four months to search on-line. Four months to grill everyone he knows about their camera. Four months to ask random strangers about their digital cameras. Four months to ask me questions like: what is more important to you, the size of the camera or the optical zoom. My answer every single time was: I trust you to get us the best digital camera with a reasonable price.

It drove my mom crazy.

But, I'm sure we'll be getting a GREAT digital camera under the tree.

The second thing I asked for is this. Only with my initials, of course. I adore Lisa Leonard's blog and her hand-stamped jewelry. I've wanted a piece for MONTHS but could never really justify buying one for myself. So, in early December I told both my sister (who has my name in our family exchange) and Abel that this is what I wanted.

I'm not confident that either one of them purchased it for me.

Sarah hates to buy people what they ask for. Yet, she always has the hardest time picking out gifts. Hmmmm.....

Abel, on the other hand, is a last-minute shopper and I would be SHOCKED if he placed the order in time for Christmas delivery.

Sar and Abel, no need to feel guilty as you read this if you didn't get me the necklace. I've already decided that I'm going to buy it for myself in January!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Cards

Sending Christmas cards is one of my favorite holiday tasks. I've sent my own Christmas cards out since my freshman year in college and have always gotten them in the mail right after Thanksgiving.

Not this year, though. This year I just mailed them on December 15.

There were are few reasons for the delay.

For weeks I was in a big debate with myself about going the easy way out and doing a photo card from Kodak Gallery or Snapfish or one of those sites. I poured through their designs and there were many that I really loved. My hang-up was that those cards leave very little room for a personal, hand-written message, and most of them are not very religious.

You see, I can handle most of the commercialization of the Christmas season, but I take pride in always sending a religious Christmas card. For the past several years, I've purchased our cards from Ministry of the Arts a group of wonderfully talented Sisters of St. Joseph. This is our card this year. And, I also ordered a few packages of this card for our Jewish friends and some others. I like it because it isn't specifically for Christmas but still feels very spiritual to me. I also take pride in hand-addressing my cards and writing at least a short note in each one.

For the past two years we've also included a photo of Lucas in the cards. This year that was also a major hang-up. You see, our digital camera died a few months ago. I know we are getting a new one from my parents, but in the meantime, we needed a Christmas photo! So, I bought a disposable camera and we took an entire roll of Lucas in his wagon outside--in our front yard and at our local park. There were three good ones and one great one. We're thrilled with it!

So, on Saturday, just a few weeks later than I would have liked, I felt the satisfaction of putting 67 beautiful, religious, hand-addressed, photo-enclosed Christmas cards in the mail!

If you are one of the lucky people to receive one, Enjoy! (And sorry to be so late this year!)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas gift list - Eric

It was so fun to post the items we are getting for Lucas that I thought I'd post a few more.

But then I realized that certain people who read my blog would then find out what they are getting. I am 99.9% sure that my brother doesn't read this so it is safe to post his gift.

ERIC - if you are reading stop now.

I mean it!

I'm determined that this is going to be a surprise and if it isn't then I'll know and you'll be in big trouble!!!

Okay. Coast is clear. Here's what we've ordered for Eric:

Isn't it cool? Ork Posters has several cities for sale. While Eric now lives in Philly, he used to live in Brooklyn and really loved his neighborhood (Park Slope). When it arrives, we'll get it framed and I'm sure he'll hang it proudly. Thank goodness Abel agreed to this idea of mine in just one day and got his order in before they all sold out!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Practically all done

So my last post mentioned that I am practically all done with my Christmas shopping.

Who remains on our list?

Anyone that Abel is responsible for.

I start making a list of gift ideas around Thanksgiving. I take charge of my parents, Lucas, whomever I've received in my family's gift exchange (this year that's my brother-in-law). On Abel's side of the family I can generally get away with taking charge of his mom, our sister-in-law and niece.

So that leaves whomever Abel has in my family's gift exchange (this year that's my brother), Abel's dad and his brother.

Every year the process of buying gifts for Abel's dad and brother has driven me CRAZY. Here's how those gifts usually go:

Smiling Mama: How about if we get your dad A and your brother B.
Abel: I'll think about it.

A few days later...
Smiling Mama: Oh, your dad would love C. Let's get him that.
Abel: He hasn't given me a list yet.

A week later:
SM: Oh, let's get your brother D--he'll love it!
A: I don't know what he wants.

A few days later:
SM: Let's get your dad E.
A: I'll ask mom what he wants.

A few days later:
SM: Did you find out what your dad wants?
A: I'll ask him.

A few hours later:
SM: Did you ask your brother what he wants?
A: He doesn't want anything.

A few days later:
SM: Okay, let's just get your Dad F and your brother G.
A: Let me think about it.

A few days later:
SM: Okay, seriously, we have to ship presents and I want them to get to Ohio before Christmas what are we getting your dad and brother?
A: I'll find out what they want.

A few days later:
A: Okay. Fine.

Christmas Gift List - Lucas

It is official, I am totally excited for Christmas!

I'm practically all done with my Christmas shopping, eagerly anticipating my sister's arrival from California and looking forward to some relaxing days with the whole fam. at my parents' house.

I'm especially excited about Lucas's gifts.

Last year we knew Lucas would get tons of stuff from his grandparents, aunts, uncles and great aunt and uncle, so we bought him a Tickle Me Elmo TMX and opened up a 529 college savings account.

This year we're still restraining ourselves gift-wise but have bought him a few things that I know he will love. Here's the list.

1) A Cranium Super Fort Lucas loves to hide and crawl into small spaces. I know he will love this! And, I am convinced that it will be used for years! Initially I think we'll build a fort for him, but as he gets older, he'll be able to use all the pieces to construct his own forts--indoors or out. I think we will actually give this to Lucas for his birthday one day early on Dec. 21. That way he can play with it at our house before we leave for Pennsylvania. (Oh my gosh, I am a terrible mom of a Christmas baby. Well, I guess when he's older and accuses me of just taking a Christmas present to use as a birthday present this is the evidence that will indict me!)

2) Melissa & Doug Deluxe Gallop-N-Go Stick Pony w/Sound
This arrived yesterday and it is really a beautiful toy. For the last few months Lucas has been using any sort of long tube or stick to gallop around the house saying "horsey" "horsey". He is going to be so excited to have a "real" horsey to use!

My only dilemma with this toy is the batteries. I'm torn about putting them in at all. One one hand, I think that Lucas would get a kick out of the sound effects. On the other hand, I'd love for him to make his own sound effects. We'll see....

3) Rolling Suitcase

Whenever we go somewhere or someone comes for a visit, Lucas loves to push around their luggage. I thought about getting him a small character suitcase but realized we could get him a real rolling suitcase for less money! And, we'll actually be able to use it for trips.

4) Zoe doll

We love Zoe almost as much as we love Elmo. I picked this up the other day and can't wait for Santa to give it to him!

So those are the "big ticket" items. He'll also get a stocking filled with things like mittens, a new toothbrush, a book, a small elephant toy, maybe a few small cars/trucks.

I just can't wait for Christmas morning!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday: Magnetic Walls

Yay! I'm so excited to be back at Works for Me Wednesday!

What works for me? Magnetic Walls!

Recently my husband renovated our basement turning it into a multi-purpose family room. As we considered the layout, we wanted to give lots of space for a play area.

Though our son isn't producing wall-worthy art yet, I know he will be someday soon and gave some thought to how we would display it.

Brainstorm: Magnetic Walls!

In one corner of the room, we used magnetic paint primer to transform the walls into magnetic surfaces. The paint is very very thick gooey black. The more layers you paint, the stronger the magnetic pull. We put about 3.5 layers on. Then you let it dry for at least 24 hours and paint your regular paint color over it. There is a slightly different texture to the magnetic surface, but nothing is noticible from a few feet away.

We love our magnetic walls! We purchased magnetic letters and Thomas the Train magnets for them. And, we got creative with thin decorated wood shapes like a train, truck, duck, frog, that we glued magnets to. Lucas LOVES playing with the magnets and gets a kick out of the fact that they stick to the wall. (Disclaimer: none of these magnets are as strong as those which have been recently recalled. Also, they are generally large and flat, not choking hazards).

I'm really looking forward to displaying artwork on the walls, too, when he's a little older.

What works for me? Magnetic playroom walls!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Spreading joy and germs

So from my last few posts you may have realized that we had a nasty stomach virus going around our house. Lucas got it on a Thursday night. But then was totally fine on Friday and Saturday. Abel and I were fine. So, I decided to proceed with my "Babes and Babies Brunch" on Saturday.

It was a wonderful affair. Many of my closest girlfriends came over with their babies and toddlers. Everyone brought supplies for a local Refugee Resettlement Program including lots of baby gear, towels, toiletries and other sundry items.

I made great food. We had champagne cocktails. We caught up. We laughed. Everyone was so generous! It was an all-around great time.

But apparently more than good cheer was shared that day.

Late Saturday night the nasty stomach virus struck me. And Abel. And apparently at least four more of the "babes" and one of the "babies" in attendance. And it spread to their spouses. And their friends.

Abel tells me to expect "depressed attendance" next year.

Sorry girls! Hope everyone is feeling better by now!

Definition of True Love

In my freshman honors English class my professor told us that her definition of true love is "caring when someone is constipated". At the time I thought that was just gross. I definitely did not understand what she meant.

Until one day I did understand what she meant. Until I did care when someone was constipated and he cared when I was. Ah, I had found true love.

Now I've got a new definition.

True love is when someone* throws up all over you and you don't throw him down onto the floor, you hug him closer, cleaning him up before yourself.

True love.

But both those things are still pretty gross.

Disclaimer: I think this only applies to toddler age and younger. No way I'd do this for Abel.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Ode to FLOR Carpet Tiles

Ode to FLOR Carpet Tiles

FLOR Carpet tiles how I love thee! Let me count the ways...

1) Your were so easy to install, just two hours and your beauty covered our ugly linoleum floor.

2) You cleaned up so easily when, at the debut party in our newly remodeled basement family room, Jeff spilled his entire bottle of beer on you.

And now my love is complete.

3) Last night Lucas puked all over ten of your lovely tiles and this morning those tiles are clean and drying in the laundry room while ten perfect tiles have taken their place.

FLOR, will you marry me? (Abel's love is just as strong. I know he won't mind.)

Yours in devotion forever,
Smiling Mama

Thursday, November 29, 2007

An introduction to Christmas

This will be Lucas's third Christmas. In many ways, though, it feels like it is really his first.

On his actual first Christmas, Lucas was only 3 days old! We came home from the hospital on Christmas Eve. What a wonderful Christmas gift he was to us! On his second Christmas, Lucas was 1 year, 3 days old. We were at my in-laws that year and he loved the tree and decorations but of course didn't really understand any of it.

Over the past week we've introduced Lucas to Santa and baby Jesus. He is excited about both of them. Introduction to Santa came through watching The Polar Express. We watched it over the course of two days and Lucas just loved it. He was riveted. Introduction to baby Jesus came through an Advent gift from my parents (actually given a little early, though, at Thanksgiving) of the Little People Nativity. We talked about baby Jesus, His mama Mary and dada Joseph. We also gave baby Jesus kisses!

Last night after Lucas went to sleep, Abel and I put out all our decorations (except the tree which we will hopefully do this weekend). I love decorating. So many of my decorations have very sentimental meaning to me.

This morning when Lucas came downstairs he looked around and said "wow".

I am so excited about this season of Advent and the opportunity to share it with Lucas!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Works for Me! Library Books

Rocks in my Dryer was one of the first blogs I discovered when I started reading blogs and I love it! I'm so excited to participate in Shannon's Works for me Wednesday blogging extravaganza for the first time!

What works for me? Library books!

I've been working at my current job for just over 1.5 years and have only purchased 1 new book in that entire time! I work at a university and we're in a library consortium with many other local universities. I estimate that I read about 16 books each year, just over one each month. (And, since I've joined a second book club recently, this average is bound to increase!)

What do I do? I get all my books from the library!! (The one exception is the first book for my work book club, ironically, it was so new it wasn't available for checking out of any of the consortium libraries!)

If we assume I've read about 24 books in the last 1.5 years and that new books cost an average of $15 (these have mostly been books already in paperback) then I've saved approximately $360 since starting this job!

The Library Works for Me!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A hit and a miss

I've always assumed we'd potty train Lucas this summer when he's 2 1/2. But, over the last month or so he's been exhibiting many of the signs of being "ready". He knows when he has pooped. Sometimes he tells us in advance. He is very interested in the toilet and in us using it. So, a few weeks ago we decided we'd by a potty chair to let Lucas get used to it. Abel took on this errand and came home with three different choices!

For the first week or so, Lucas got a kick out of sitting on the little potty chairs in his clothes or with only a diaper. Then, two days ago, he asked to sit on the toilet! So, we pulled out the 3rd option Abel purchased which was a seat you put over the regular toilet seat to essentially make the hole smaller. We put Lucas up on it last night while getting him ready for bed. He loved it! Oh my goodness, he looked so funny sitting up there reading a book with his "snaked" legs dangling down.

After several minutes he even peed a little bit! I think it surprised all of us, especially him! Abel and I went crazy cheering for him and he was so proud of himself. He hopped down, we washed his hands and then he ran away. After flushing, I walked around the corner to find him in our bedroom, hiding in the corner at the head of MY side of the bed with a HUGE puddle at his feet.

And so it begins!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Our little entertainer

At one point on Thursday my mom turned to me and said, 'And they wonder why all 5 year olds think they are the center of the universe.'

Lucas had a great weekend. Basically from Wednesday afternoon through bedtime last night (Sunday) he had a captive audience to entertain and be entertained by. And boy did he love it! He reveled in it. He danced. He sang. He laughed. He tickled. He provoked being tickled. He ran. He hid. He seeked.

And, he totally impressed me. This kid is awesome. He is thoroughly enjoyable (unless he's not!). He loves to smile and laugh. He loves to make others smile and laugh. At church on Sunday he was better than he has been (but still not great). I couldn't bring myself to shush him when he clapped and said "yay" after every song!

Back to reality today, though.

The last of the relatives departed this morning at 5am. I'm ready for some major attention withdrawal symptoms this week!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I, Elinor

I've just finished reading Pride and Prejudice for my book club. Oh how I loved it! This was the first time I've ever read Jane Austen! I just can't figure out how I made it through High School AP English and a strong liberal arts undergraduate program without reading Jane Austen! I guess, as one of my friends said, no program can really cover all the classics. And, I have read many, many classics. In fact, one of my favorite courses in college was "Women in Love: The Novel in Europe and the Americas". I'll never forget that course title because I think it must be one of the best titles out there. It was taught by three amazing professors. And we read wonderful novels. I think there were about 15 of us in the class. What wonderful discussion!

But, I digress. (And, could I have any more ! up there?)

Back to Jane Austen and how I love and adore her so. Oh to be Lizzy Bennett! *sigh*

Next I plan to read Sense and Sensibility. Not least of all because I took this quiz. And got this result:

You are Elinor Dashwood of Sense & Sensibility! You are practical, circumspect, and discreet. Though you are tremendously sensible and allow your head to rule, you have a deep, emotional side that few people often see.

Oh, how does Jane know me so well? I am Elinor Dashwood. I must find out more!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The streak continues

The winning streak, that is!

Back in the day I worked for a business of three. I shared a work-space with my colleague and our boss was far, far away (well, only a few yards and three staircases) in her home office. We all worked hard.


In our line of work there were very very busy times and very very slow times. My co-worker and I got along really well. So well in fact that he was in our wedding and both my husband and I played a part in his.

One of the things my friend and I had (and still have!) in common is that we love games, love to win and are competitive. We also love to listen to the radio at work. (These days I listen exculsively to NPR, I'm not sure about him.)

Z104. Good old Z104.

The now defunct station had A LOT of radio contests.

And we won.


I'd estimate that we phoned in to approximately 5 contests a day. That only took about 5 minutes out of our days because we knew if we got busy signals for a solid minute we'd already lost. Between us 4 lines were being dialed (two cell, two land).

And what did we win? Oh, let me give you a list

  • Countless movie tickets (both of us)
  • Countless CDs (both of us)
  • 4 tickets and a limo to/from a concert of your choice (me, Janet Jackson concert--this was several years ago!)
  • 1 month of Boot Camp for Women by Fitness Image Results (me, AWESOME!!)
  • $1,000 in cool hard cash (me!!!!)
  • A trip for two to LA, 3 nights, limos, dinner, concerts (me, AMAZING!!!!)

We had a deal that we'd split whatever we won. So for the cash, I gave him $300 (accounting for the extra taxes I'd have to pay as the official winner). And, for the trip to LA to which I took my boyfriend and future husband, Abel, we bought our friend a humidor and some nice cigars. Boot Camp was all mine--I won it after we weren't working together anymore.

And, now, I am pleased to report, the streak has started again!

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to win a wall quote at Bloggy Giveaways. I'm so excited about this and honestly have had a really hard time choosing which one to get. Any opinions??

I've also won the most beautiful-looking book at Gift of Green. She's mailing it to me and I simply can not wait to get it!

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what else this streak will bring my way!

My job is done

Last Friday I was able to take Lucas to our local playgroup. It is so much fun to join up with other mamas and kids and let Lucas release a lot of energy. Unfortunately playgroup mostly meets on the days I work but last Friday it worked out for us to go and we had such a great time.

Mostly Lucas ran around like a crazy man and played with all the balls, ride-on cars, trucks, etc. He did *okay* with sharing. And any disputes were quickly broken up by me or other moms. Luckily distraction still works pretty well when there are so many toy options and open space.

Mostly I had a chance to watch Lucas have a blast and to chat with some of the neighborhood moms. I really enjoyed it!

At one point Lucas was hanging close to me and he started tapping my leg saying "mama baby fall". You see, one of the smaller kids just started to walk and of course spent a fair amount of time falling on his butt. It didn't seem to bother him, but it sure did bother Lucas! He was very concerned for his little buddy. As Lucas continued to point at Ben saying "baby fall, baby fall," I asked if he wanted to go over and give Ben a hug. "Uh ha." So off we went and Lucas gave Ben a hug.

So now Lucas has demonstrated both good manners and a strong sense of compassion. I think my job as a Mama is done!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

More to life than lists?

Yesterday I just needed to vent. That Suburban Bliss post just really hit a nerve with me. But I don't want to give the impression that Abel isn't the most amazing husband and Dada ever. He is. In fact, just yesterday morning when Lucas woke up at 5:30am (darn you Fall Back for screwing with my kid's ideal sleep schedule!) and I couldn't work my magic to get him back to sleep, Abel got up and let me go back to bed until 7am. And, it was even "my day" to wake up with Lucas. So anyway, he doesn't plan ahead or appreciate my lists, but he does have other redeeming qualities.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Don't Worry Be Happy

I can really relate to this post from Melissa at Suburban Bliss:

The anxiety and fear I felt for that last hour was tinged with the worst kind of aggravation. I resented him and John for not thinking through the event. For not thinking to put a map in their bag, for not putting a couple dollars on them, for not doing what I would have done had I known they would be so unprepared.

I felt angry that I take ribbing for being 'anally retentive' and a 'worrier', when my worrying is what keeps my husband from spending an hour in hell roaming New York City alone after surviving 26.2 miles.

In our family I'm the planner. I'm the worrier. I'm the printer of directions. I'm the thinker of timelines. The maker of lists. I line up the babysitters. I think ahead about the fact that we'll even NEED a babysitter.

Abel: not so much.

He doesn't work out timelines and is almost always late. He doesn't make lists and often forgets things. He doesn't print directions. Okay I'll concede that he rarely gets lost. But still.

Then my lists get made fun or. Or simply ignored. Or they start a fight.

I get anxious and worry and am told that I'm worrying for nothing. That I should just chill out. That everything will be fine.

And yeah, it probably would be fine. But things sure do move alot more smoothly because of my planning. And that deserves some respect.

Welcome Home

Sending out a huge Welcome Home to my brother-in-law who flies 53s for the Marines. He returned home to Southern California from Iraq yesterday evening. We are all so happy to have him back on American soil safe and sound.

Welcome home, Mike! We love you!

Aimee, Abel and Lucas

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Please and Thank You

Every morning Lucas begs to go downstairs into our basement family room. Usually his ulterior motive is to watch some morning cartoons or Sesame Street. Usually I deny his requests at least until I've gotten myself some breakfast, too. But this morning he got his way immediately.

After two pleading "downstairs" he walked up to me and said "peeeesss". How could I say no? Down we went.

I was pretty excited about this development--I think it is the first time he's used the word please in an appropriate way and without prompting. He's been saying "tanks" for months and that always seems to impress strangers. 90% of the time he says it on his own without any prompting.

Of the many many things we might be doing wrong with this kid, at least he's got manners!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween--it takes all kinds

Observations from Halloween 2007:

1) Lucas is definitely still too young to get it. We visited a few houses of our neighbors. More to say hello than get candy. He enjoyed seeing some of the "big kids" come to our house dressed up. He HATED putting his woof-woof costume over his head. Maybe next year.

2) There is a new (or new to me at least) phenomenon. I'm wondering if it is common. There seemed to be quite a few parents in their cars (anecdotally these mostly seemed to be SUVs) slowly driving up the road as their kids walked door to door. Hmmm... Why were they doing this? Were the parents just being lazy? Would they hit a few houses then jump back in the car and look for another row of houses with their lights on? I don't really understand it. From what I can tell, most people in our neighborhood give out candy. Thus, by walking several blocks you can score a pretty good haul of candy. There shouldn't really be a need to drive. Strange.

3) I have a newfound sense of pride (and a little embarrassment for!) my dad. One year when we were pretty young my sister got sick on Halloween. She was devastated. So Dad (he's the one who always took us trick-or-treating) agreed to collect candy for her. I don't know why Mom and Dad didn't just make my brother and me share 1/3 of our candy. We clearly didn't offer but they could have forced it. Anyway, my dad sucked it up and collected candy for his sick daughter. I'm sure he got plenty of looks. But he did it to make Sarah happy. Contrast this with the 50+ year old man who came trick-or-treating at our house last night. At first I thought it was just a little ahead of his young son. But then the son asked for candy, too. I said, "doesn't he have your bag? I already put candy in!" The man answered, "Oh no, this is for me." Guess he wasn't embarrassed a bit. I'm glad I gave him the cheez-its instead of the chocolate.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

My baby sis

I'm an oldest child. I think probably anybody who knows me would guess that pretty quickly! My little sister is five years younger than me and I find it really hard to think of her as an adult. A big part of me still feels like I need to take care of her, that she can't handle life on her own. And yet over the last several years, I've been proven wrong on that many, many times.

Sarah is married. Married to a Marine. Married to a Marine helicopter pilot who is currently in Iraq. Together she and her husband have moved across the country three times. Together they weathered a hurricane together in Florida. By herself she's managed a house and two dogs for six months alone. Sarah is a teacher. A middle school teacher. An awesome middle school teacher. And now, Sarah and her dogs and her home have survived major fires in Southern California.

I'm so totally impressed with her. I don't know if I could manage without my husband--knowing he's serving in Iraq no less--for 7 months. I don't know how I would have handled evacuating from my home and going several days with no idea if it would still be standing when I returned.

I know my sister can handle it, did handle it, is handling it. But, I still hope she needs me to be her big sister sometimes.

P.S. Check out Sarah and her friend Andrea on NPR this weekend: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15713254

Just wanna' be somebody's baby

For the last few months, the best way to get Lucas to do anything was to refer to the thing or him as a "big boy". We called his cough medicine his "big boy medicine". His highchair was his "big boy highchair". He loved the "big boy slide" and "big boy swing" at the park.

Then a few nights ago I was having a particularly hard time getting him to take his "big boy medicine"--he kept running away from me. Eventually he pointed at his chest and said "baby". I thought, is he saying he wants to be a baby? So, I put on my best over-the-top baby-talk voice and said, "oh come here baby and take your baby medicine". What do you know, he crawled right over into my lap and drank it all down.

Over the last few days we've had a lot of fun playing Lucas baby, Mama baby and Dada baby. He loves to crawl up the stairs next to Dada with them both as babies.

I think Lucas is in an in-between stage right now. On one hand he is a big boy who runs and climbs and can drink from regular cups and feed himself. On the other hand, he still is a little baby who wants to be held and kissed. As somebody who was always in a hurry to grow up, I think I can understand his struggle between wanting to be a "big boy" and a "baby". And I certainly don't mind if he wants to stay a baby a little bit longer!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Aimee and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Sunday was a doosey. At the last minute, Abel got a ticket to his Homecoming Football Game. That's a big deal when your team is ranked #1 in the country. So he hopped in the car Friday afternoon and got home Sunday night. My parents came to visit Saturday afternoon thru Sunday late morning. Thank goodness or Abel may have come home to me hiding under the covers.

So anyway, back to Sunday. I woke up a leak in our living room ceiling. Apparently the humidifier in Lucas's room had been slowly dripping for who knows how long making its way down through the ceiling. Lovely.

Then we all went to Mass. Mom never believed me when I told her how bad Lucas is in church these days. Now she does. It really isn't him being intentionally bad. It's just that those pews demand to be walked on. Those quiet times and amazing acoustics demand a toddler to test the strength of his voice. No nursery at this church. Nosiree.

After Mass my parents left. I put Lucas down for a nap (which of course he didn't actually take) and proceeded to cut my palm massively. Probably a cut that qualified for stitches. Only can you imagine taking a toddler to the emergency room? No thanks, I'll take the pain and the gushing blood and the eventual scar instead.

So that takes us to 1pm.

The rest of the day wasn't anything specific. Just an active toddler. Who alternately melts down and gives you the best hug in the world. Only a Mama whose left hand (btw I'm left-handed) was non-functioning making regular necessities like, oh say diaper changes, very challenging.

I think we both had cheese and ice cream for lunch. I think we both took a late afternoon nap (I know I did, he was at least not crying in his crib). I think I was never so happy to see Abel walk in the door at 5:30pm. I think I am in awe of single parents.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Q & A with Lucas

Q: Lucas, what does a cow say?
A: Mooooooo

Q: Lucas, what does a woof-woof say?
A: Woof-woof!

Q: Lucas, what does a horsey say?
A: Pppffffftttttt

Q: Lucas, what does a kitty say?
A: Eouw

Q: Lucas, what does a baby say?
A: Waaaaahhhhhhhhhhh

Thursday, October 11, 2007

8 NOT 0

Dear Health Right,

Please advise your members, doctors and pharmacies to stop calling me. Yes, I realize that my cell phone number is one measly digit away from your phone number. Could you possibly start putting that "8" in bold or something? How is it possible that so many people misdial your number and call me instead? I have gotten an average of 5 calls per day every weekday for the last FOUR years.

Four years people. Five calls a day. Five days a week.


Why, you ask, don't I simply change my phone number? It is the only number I haven't changed approximately every year. And, I don't wanna'.

Yeah, and most of your members are rude. That's why I have simply stopped answering phone numbers I don't recognize. When I do answer and kindly tell people they misdialed guess what they do? They hang up on me. No "thanks". No "sorry". RUDE.

That's why my voicemail now says, "Hi this is Aimee, please leave me a message. If you are trying to reach Health Right you have dialed the wrong number." (By the way, thanks very much to my brother Eric for his message for Health Right. NO I will not call you back to give you the correct number!) Still, people call me several times in a row. Hello people, didn't you just hear my message? You dialed the WRONG NUMBER!

And yet, there have been some heartbreaking stories as well. Like the three voicemails I got from a doctor's office letting "Jerry" know that his surgery had to be rescheduled. Um, people, I'm not Jerry. Why did you leave a message for him on AIMEE's voicemail? For that one, I called the doctor's office to let them know that Jerry never got the message. Yeah, that was a fun conversation. They put me on hold for ten minutes then the nurse asked me for Jerry's last name. LIKE I KNOW JERRY'S LAST NAME. I hope Jerry eventually got the message. And I hope I got some good karma for that one.

Another time I had a Spanish speaking woman call me every morning for a week. I kept saying "No habla espanol" but she just got more and more upset. I'm sure she was told that someone at Health Right could speak Spanish. Eventually I got Abel to teach me to say that she had dialed the wrong number. I don't think she's called back.

Here are some other answers that may be helpful to your members, doctors and pharmacies:

1) No I can not authorize that perscription.

2) No I can not arrange a ride to your doctor's appointment.

Okay. I'm done. I think I got it all out. JUST PLEASE STOP CALLING.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Whispers and Cuddles

As I have eluded to before, Lucas is a crazy man these days. One of his favorite new activities is to run as fast as he can from the living room through the kitchen and then stop himself by slamming into the kitchen side door. Then running back and doing it all over again. And again. And again. Every single time he laughs like crazy when he hits the door. The boy doesn't sit down except when watching Elmo and recently, when reading his new books.

We recently picked out two new books for Lucas--both have flaps. One is his choo-choo book (Thomas the Train) the other is just full of pictures of trucks, motorcycles, airplanes, etc. He loves these books and will snuggle with me for 10 or 15 minutes reading them over and over again, flipping the pages, opening the flaps, pointing out the smallest details. I didn't even notice that a kitty was peaking out of the barn that Thomas rides by--but Lucas did!

Last night we had an especially nice cuddly reading session.

It had been a crazy evening--it always is on the days that I have to work and pick him up from the babysitter. We get home and Lucas doesn't want to come inside. But, it is already about 6pm and I know he's hungry and tired. So I have to drag him inside and quickly throw something together for him to eat. It is always hard (but luckily doesn't happen too often because usually when I work Abel can pick Lucas up a little early and get started on all this).

Last night after he ate some dinner we cuddled on the couch and read the books. Then we just sat there and whispered to each other. It was so much fun. I really savored the moment--they are so rare these days. Don't get me wrong, I love my crazy boy and all his new abilities. I love to run with him. I love to push him high in the swing and stand behind him as he climbs the steps to the big kid slide at the park. But, I really miss my baby snuggles. It was nice to have those back for a few moments last night.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Thanks to this post by Mom 101, I officially freaked out about plastic. I'd heard the rumors. I'd casually looked at the bottom of my water bottle for the number inside the triangle. But, basically, I ignored it all. Most of our plastic was from reputable brands so it had to be okay, right? Then I read the post and HELLO?--how can the plastic Avent bottles we'd been using (and microwaving--apparently the worst thing you can do) be the BAD plastic. OMG. Mom 101 directed us to this post at Z Recommends and I immediately, without passing Go, ordered two SIGG water bottles.

When I got home, I promptly recycled all of Lucas's bottles. (Hey, he'd been taking only a morning bottle for like a year and we'd been wanting to move to 100% sippy cups anyway.) (Oh yeah, several sippy cups had to be recycled, too.)

The SIGG bottles arrived a few weeks later and Lucas and I, well, we both fell in love, immediately. Lucas got this one. It has a "woof woof" and "fwours" on it. How much better does life get? He literally would not put it down for the first hour he had it--I didn't even get a chance to actuall fill it with liquid! He just loved carrying it around. Later when I put water in it--whoa--life did get better!

As for me, I got the black circles one and feel so totally cool toting it around. Oh yeah, baby.

Not only do Lucas and I feel cool with our new SIGG bottles, we are both drinking more water. I swear, our tap water tastes better in our SIGG bottles. And I feel a lot better about the content of that water. Plus, we've already made up the cost of at least my bottle because we haven't needed to buy our usual case of bottled water so that I can have a full bottle with me at all times.
Thanks SIGG! You've made me and my water better people. Or, um, at least me.

Letter to Myself

Letter to myself as a high school senior courtesy of the

Dear Aimee,
High School is almost over then you'll be outta' there for good. And, I mean that. This will be your last summer at home, the last time you'll "live" there for more than a few months. Don't worry, your relationship with Mom and Dad is awesome and will continue to grow. So will you.

As you already suspect, attending Girls State and then Girls Nation last summer truly changed you as a person and altered the course of your life. Remember who you became during those two weeks and continue to be that person. Have confidence in yourself!

It is okay to decide to go to a women's college. Even though that is a drastically different choice than all of your classmates, it is the right choice for you. It will be one of the best decisions you make in your entire life. You'll continue to learn and grow. You'll make the best friends of your life. You'll have amazing internship experiences. And, eventually, you'll be able to tell people you went to the same college as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi!

You will not have many boyfriends. There will be one that you fall in love with. He will come along at the right time, but you will keep him in your life for too long. It will be fine when you are over.

It will be fine because later you will meet the love of your life. He will move into your group house and turn your world upside down. You will have more fun in the first six months with this man than you had in years previously. He will love you like no other. He will mess up a few times, but stick with him. He's good stuff. And, he'll give you the most beautiful amazing son in the whole world. He'll also be the best Dada ever and you'll fall even more in love with him when he holds your son.

I can't tell you what happens next but I can tell you to look forward to the next 12 years. They'll be great!

30 year old Aimee

Friday, September 28, 2007

I am the funniest person alive

Lucas has the most incredible amazing laugh in the whole world. Ever since he was a teeny tiny little guy, Abel has been able to get him laughing hysterically by giving him zerberts on his belly or armpit or knees or basically any body part. Lucas loves to laugh. He'll take any opportunity to laugh and once you get him laughing he loves to egg you on to do it again so he can laugh some more.

As for me? I don't need to *restort* to tickles, I can make Lucas laugh with a silly face, with a crazy look, or by doing silly things like putting bowls on my head and calling them hats. He loves my silliness and laughs so hard that I actually start to feel like I am a funny person. Which, just for the record, I am definitely not. I can't tell a joke. I am totally out of my element around Abel's family which is a funny, joking family. So I sure do feel like a million bucks when Lucas goes crazy laughing at me. For those precious few moments, I'm definitely the funniest person alive.

Monday, September 24, 2007

What's in a Name?

Dada was Lucas's first word. He seemed to use it indiscriminately at first and then started assigning it exclusively to Abel. I didn't mind. Especially because pretty much every morning Lucas yells out for Dada. For months and months this got Abel out of bed first and allowed me a few extra precious moments of sleep. (Unfortunately Abel finally figured out that he was ending up with morning duty every single morning and we hashed out a schedule.)

Lucas started saying Mama a few months ago and of course that melted my heart. Except that he seemed to be using Mama pretty indiscriminately, too. Oh well. I thought it was great that he referred to both of us as either Mama or Dada. It didn't matter to him. Triumph for equal and co-parenting, I thought! Good for us! No gender roles here! He views Mama and Dada as equal and interchangeable!

Except that I have now realized that Lucas uses Mama for anyone--my mom, his babysitter, random people in stores--when he is asking for something. I do believe that Mama means "hey you, I need/want/demand something and you can get it for me." He says it in a pleading, heart-breaking, begging way. Maaaamaaaaaa.

So what does that say about gender roles?

Friday, September 7, 2007

My child

Last night I was out at a meeting when Lucas went to bed so when I got home I made sure to go in to whisper good night. He was in a deep, deep sleep in child's pose, the yoga pose you go into to take a break or rest. He looked so incredibly peaceful I just wanted to crawl into the crib and go into child's pose myself!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A mama needs sleep

Damn that stupid 12 hour decongestant. I didn't get a wink of sleep last night. And now my head is a total fog. UGH!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


I know one thing for sure: Lucas will never be diagnosed with Nature Deficit Disorder, the new diagnosis coined by author Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods. Lucas loves to be outside. In fact, after Dada, Mama and wawa, outside was Lucas's first real word. Come to think of it, I need to begrudgingly admit that he started saying outside even before Mama. More days than not, Lucas says, no pleads, outside before he's even had any breakfast.

He's not deprived. Lucas gets outside everyday. Usually multiple times a day. We have a great backyard. And, we have a playground about five houses away which we take him to pretty much every day. His favorite thing to do? Swing? Nope. Slide? Nope. Play in the mulch pile? Ding ding ding! Forget the equipment. Give Lucas a pile of dirt and a few sticks and you've got one happy little boy, content to play for hours. Okay, this is a 20 month old we're talking about. Content to play for tens of minutes.

This weekend the weather was so beautiful in our area. We were outside a lot. On Monday we explored an amazing arboretum just a few miles from our house. I can't believe we'd never been there before, but now we'll definitely be regulars. It's free. With lots of parking. And, there were no crowds. It was like our own private paradise. Lucas had so much fun. He ran around in the open grass. Played under the trees. Ran through the gardens. Of course he collected sticks the whole time. This kid loves sticks. We all had a blast.

I grew up with a strong appreciation for nature, too. My dad was a park ranger when he was younger and I loved the nature hikes he'd take my cousins, siblings and me on at Camp each year. On a road trip Dad always took the time to point out a hawk flying overhead. One of our favorite family jokes includes making fun of one of his college courses: Flattened Fauna.

Long before I studied great philosophers like Rousseau and Kant in college and their theories on universal law and morality, my Dad taught me that you shouldn't do things that, if everyone did it, would be harmful to nature. I know I'd be killed if I ever took a flower or rock or branch (other than dead for firewood) out of a forest, especially a State Forest. I always take the sidewalk and try hard to never cut through grass. Afterall, what if everyone did those things? There wouldn't be any forests or grass left.

We are lucky to live in a little urban town that truly appreciates nature. Our town was founded about 75 years ago as a planned community that worked with the land. Our yard and neighborhood are full of mature trees. I don't think there is a straight street in town because the roads work with the rolling hills. (Side benefit: very challenging walks!)

I hope Lucas always loves to be outside. I hope we can continue to help him develop his appreciation for nature. I hope and pray that our generation will start taking better care of our Earth so that his children still have something left to appreciate.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

New Math: 20 = 24?

Yesterday Lucas turned 20 months old. This morning I turned into the mom of a toddler.

I've been telling family and friends that we were seeing the start of the tantrums, willfullness, independence, etc. that are part of the "terrible twos" for a few weeks now. But this morning it hit full-force. (Please let this have been full-force!) This morning--the one morning that Abel is out of town for work. The one morning that I had to get to work by 8:30am. The one morning that I had to prepare for houseguests coming this evening and pack for our own trip this weekend. (Yes, I did as much as possible the night before, but there are always those last minute things, you know.)

Oh, and did I mention that Lucas woke up at 5:30am?

It all started out nice enough. So he woke up at 5:30am (a full hour earlier than normal) but he was content to play in my bed for a little bit while I half-closed my eyes for another 15 minutes. We went downstairs and he drank all his milk and ate a banana. I had my cereal. Life was good. I felt confident I'd get everything done and we'd get out the door in a timely manner.

Then. What? I don't know!

The littlest things caused meltdowns. Usually I can hug Lucas or distract him. But not today. All I could do was sit back and let him stomp his feet, clench his fists, hold his breath, turn red, stomp some more, yell...all until he got it out of his system. Then he was fine. Happy. Playful.

Until about 45 minutes later something else. I don't know what. And the tantrum started again.

Okay, he was tired. And I know he missed Dada--he kept looking for him and asking for him. But these reactions were just so extreme. I know this is part of life...he's learning to sort his emotions and handle new/different situations. But it was so hard for me. It was so hard to watch, to not really be able to help him. I just felt so bad for my little guy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Elmo = Toddler Crack

When Lucas was a little baby we took the "No TV until age 2" recommendation VERY seriously. If the TV happened to be on in the same room, we didn't even let Lucas face the set. Overall, this was pretty easy to accomplish as we (read: Abel) were renovating our basement family room from Lucas age 8mos to Lucas age 17 mos (yes, it took as long to renovate the basement as it did to build a baby! But credit has to go where credit is due. Abel did it all by himself and the finished product is amazing!). This left the only TV in the house in the guest room which made a great breastfeeding area and not so great area to play or get-anything-done-other-than-catch-up-on-soaps,-Ellen and-Oprah.

Yes, I will admit, that I did get pretty close to Ellen and Oprah and did know all the minute details about Brooke and Ridge on "Bold and the Beautiful" during those early months. But when Lucas became more alert and mobile, the guest room just didn't cut it anymore. So, the no TV thing was pretty easy to accomplish.

Now that our basement family room (have I mentioned how awesome it is?) is finished and houses our computer, TV and a wonderful play area for Lucas, we spend a lot more time around a TV. We've watched some episodes of Thomas the Train, Bob the Builder and other miscellaneous cartoons. But, Sesame Street is my favorite (and least brain-numbing) so that is my go-to program.

I'm not kidding, after watching about 3 episodes, Lucas has become completely addicted. He stands at the basement door and begs to go downstairs. When he gets down there, he grabs the remote and starts to cry out "Elmo Eh elll mooow" in the most heart-wrenchingly pathetic tone.

How did this happen?

How did he get so addicted? And so quickly?

Does Elmo's high-pitched voice have secret tones only toddlers can hear?


I think someone should come in and do a study of Lucas's behavior when it comes to Elmo. As I now know, Elmo comes on at minute 40 of Sesame Street. For those first 40 minutes Lucas wanders in and out of interest in the show. But I swear, before the end of the first "la" he has run over and planted himself directly in front of the TV. Then he stands or sits completely hypnotized for the next 20 minutes.

This is the boy who does not stop moving all day! This is the boy who wakes up and starts jumping and running around his crib. This is the boy who must shovel all his food into his mouth in 5 minutes or less because he can not stand sitting still in his highchair no matter how hungry he is.

Then Elmo and 20 minutes of not moving a muscle other than to point, giggle or bop.

Now, how do we go about bottling this?

Monday, August 20, 2007


As a new mom you get lots of advice. LOTS. I can count on my mom for great advice. I've ignored a lot of advice. And, by the grace of God, Lucas started sleeping through the night at about 4 months so we were able to bypass that whole topic of advice from the entire world. (Trying to ensure good karma in the next go-round, I generally refrain from giving sleep advice to those who aren't so lucky. I find Starbucks giftcards and sympathetic looks to be much more appreciated!)

Anyway, I just read the best advice ever. It is from Swistle: People don't notice how cluttered your house is if it smells like cookies baking. And they don't say anything about how cluttered your house is if their mouths are stuffed full of cookie.

Now this is some advice I'll totally take to heart!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Good Old Days?

When we left my parents' on Sunday, we left Lucas behind to get some extra time with his Aunt, and planned to pick him up Wednesday evening, leaving Thursday morning for a visit with my in-laws. Four nights. Three days. The longest we'd ever been away from him.

I knew we'd miss him, but it was also pretty enticing to have almost an entire week to ourselves. Ah, I told myself, back to the good old carefree days pre-baby. Being awakened to NPR and hitting the snooze button a few times. Having no one to get dressed in the morning other than myself. Going out to dinner and staying out past 7pm. Taking a long shower. What luxury!

It has been nice. Our first "free" night we went downtown to one of our favorite (and not baby-friendly) restaurants and had wine! and appetizers! we lingered over our entrees! and lingered over the check! Then we walked around, meandering until the insane heat--high 80s at 8:30pm--made us head home.

We've talked to him on the phone every day. My mom or sister fill us in on all the cute stories.

And, yet.

Most of our conversations eventually come around to what do you think Lucas is doing? I miss Lucas. I can't wait to see Lucas.

I miss my wonderful and cheery alarm clock every morning (bonus is that he calls out for Dada everyday!). I miss playing. I miss hugs. I miss bath time. Heck, I miss being frazzled. I MISS MY BABY!

Were those the good old days? They certainly were carefree (though I wouldn't have told you that at the time!). No, I think the good days are the ones happening now. The days filled with crazy toddler love.

See you tonight Buddy-boo! I know you'll be sleeping when we get in, but we're waking you up!

Monday, August 6, 2007

With fresh eyes

We were on the road again this weekend for the 3rd of 4 weekends away from home. We went to my parents' home to visit with them and my little sister, who is visiting from San Diego, and brother, in from Philly. It was a great time--with everyone home except my brother-in-law who is currently serving in Iraq.

My sister hadn't seen Lucas in about 3 months and couldn't believe how much he had changed. It is fun to see your baby through someone else's eyes.

Especially because over the last few weeks, I had been worrying about Lucas's language development. First, Amalah so courageously shared with us the challenges of her son's language and sensory issues. She was one of the first blogs I "discovered" several months ago and I've often thought her adorable Noah is a lot like my adorable Lucas--Lucas is just a few months behind Noah.

Next, my husband Abel picked up and started reading a random article in a parenting magazine about language development. One particular passage was relating speech language development benchmarks and said that a child should be able to name his body parts by 18 months. Abel started freaking out because Lucas, at 19 months, can only name a few. I retorted, well, have you taught him any body parts? (So what, I can only take credit for nose and belly, but that's something, right?) To prove my point, I practiced "arm" with him the next morning and demonstrated the newly acquired body part to Dada that night.

Yet, the questions and doubts were lingering in the back of my head. I found myself adding up the number of words Lucas knows. Wracking my brain to remember if he has "lost"any words. Listening for any multiple word phrases. And noticing the few times he walks on his tip-toes.

Ugh. These benchmarks and developmental milestones are enough to drive a sane mom (is that an oxymoron?) crazy! This is the kid that was walking at 9 months. He has been babbling constantly since about 5 months. He mimics inflection. He constantly amazes me with the comprehension of words he can't yet say. We've hit all his well-baby check-ups and the doctor has never expressed any concern. But still I worried.

Then came this weekend's visit with my family. It pretty much erased my doubts. Lucas was talking in multi-word phrases. I wasn't the only one who noticed. My sister swears that he said I want to get up when she went in after his nap. He told my brother gonna' get you. My mom recognized I want that.

It is so easy to get wrapped up in the craziness. It sure was great to see Lucas in a new environment and through the eyes of his loving aunt, uncle and grandparents. It helped me to see in a new way, too.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


I knew I was nervous about chopping off all my hair and going shorter than I've been since 5th grade. But I didn't realize that it would take a Xanax to get me into the salon.

All day I was fine, I was even excited about doing a good deed and getting a new look at the same time. Then on the drive over, I started panicing. I could literally feel the anxiety rising up my limbs. I had one last Xanax in my purse for emergencies and had saved it through many recent anxious moments (specifically while visiting my in-laws last weekend).

Even as I swallowed it, I couldn't believe that I was taking a Xanax over HAIR. Come on. It is just hair! My hair grows quickly. I hated it how long it was. It was driving me crazy. I knew this was a good thing to do. I kept thinking of all the wonderful compliments I get about my hair--great color, so shiny, so thick. I knew I was going to make some underprivileged young girl (or boy!) so happy with the wig they'd get from my hair and Locks of Love. I had encouraged my niece to do it. I was doing it in honor of my mother who has been bald from chemo. since early January and has handled it with such amazing grace.

Why was I freaking out?

As I parked and walked around the corner to the salon and the Xanax kicked in, I realized I was more attached to my hair than I thought. And, I was seriously worried I'd look awful.

When I got into the chair and told my awesome stylist what I was doing, she was so happy. Later, well into the cut, she told me that earlier that day, she learned of the death of a young woman who had been a long-time client. A woman just about my age, with two kids, who died of cancer the previous night. I thought to myself, I am doing a good thing. And, Melba is helping me do a good thing. And, damn, she's a great stylist. My hair looks amazing!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Totally Gonna' Do It


This is it.

I've made up my mind and am going to do it.

I've already told people about it. So, I have to do it. (My personal secret for making myself really do something: tell someone. When I don't tell anyone, I never end up doing whatever it is that will be hard to do!).

Man, I am scared.

But, it's just hair, right? It will grow back, right?

Afterall, my mom's been bald since about mid-January and she's handling it great.

What is it? Have you figured it out?

No, I'm not going to pull a Brittney and shave my head.

I'm going to cut off 10+ inches of hair and donate it to Locks of Love. More specifically, my wonderful, amazing stylist--whom I admittedly don't visit often enough, hence the ability to cut off 10 inches and still have hair left!--is going to do it. Tomorrow night. The appointment is made. The form is filled out. The envelope is ready.

Pictures coming soon!

P.S. Please, God, don't let me look hideous.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Camp the Next Generation

I've never been to Disney World. Our family never made the requisite family vacation trip to the Grand Canyon. We most certainly never went to Europe. Instead my "What I Did Over Summer Vacation" back-to-school essays always talked about Camp. That was our family vacation. A solid week at Camp with grandparents, aunts, uncles and about a dozen cousins. Camp fires. S'mores. Kick-ball. Nature walks. Sing-a-longs. Swimming. Life was good at Camp. Of my 18 first cousins, about 9 of us are in a 6 year age range. They are more than cousins to me, they are close friends. As cheesy as that sounds it is the truth. And, every single one of us feels so lucky that it is true. Now that a few of us have kids of our own, we got together for a long weekend at the house of a semi-centrally located cousin (who just happens to have a pool in her backyard). Not only did we have a great time. We knew our grandparents were smiling down on us. Family is the best!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Just the beginning

I discovered "mom blogs" about 6 months ago and became obsessed. There are numerous blogs I check multiple times a week and yet I almost never write a comment feeling that I really don't have much to add to the conversation. And yet, here I am, venturing off onto a blog of my own. Will anyone read me? And if they do, will they comment? Who knows. As for now I'll be content practicing my writing and keeping track of the craziness that is life with a toddler. Welcome to Smiling Mama!