Thursday, July 31, 2008

It might be secondhand smoke but it's firsthand modeling

We recently spent a week at the beach with my parents, two of my cousins, their husbands and children. You might think that a beach house with four kids age four and under would be crazy--and it was--but it was also a ton of fun and very relaxing.

It was a week of new experiences for my son. His first real experience in the ocean (he did get to dip his toes in the Pacific when he was a baby) and with the wonders of digging in the sand. He had fun collecting sea shells and following around his four year old second cousin (or is that first cousin once removed?).

Unfortunately, it was also his first experience with smoking.

I've never taken a puff--or drag or whatever the right terminology is--in my life. My husband smoked casually when we met, which I hated, and he quit just a few months after we started dating. The county we live in banned smoking in public places before we lived here. Now it is banned in the entire state of Maryland and also in D.C.

Now that I think about it, I don't think Lucas had ever been within 20 feet of someone smoking (unless we were walking by--quickly and with me holding my breath--on the sidewalk).

Until, that is, our week at the beach. Where my cousin's husband smoked. A lot.

He always went out onto the deck, and generally, he kept close to the railing, facing out. But, when we were at the house and not at the beach, one or more kids was almost always out on that deck, too. I'll be honest: it bothered me.

But, I didn't say anything. I told myself that he wasn't close enough for the kids to breath any secondhand smoke. The wind was almost always blowing, he stood a few feet away from them, etc. I rationalized to keep the peace. Once we got home I didn't really give it a second thought.

But earlier this week, more than a week after we returned home, Lucas found a little white golf pencil in the grass. He was having fun with it, trying to write on the sidewalk and carrying it around. It was just his size. Then, I saw him do this: take the little white pencil, put it to his mouth, hold it there for a second, take it out and exhale.

Just like a cigarette.

While I still believe that the second hand smoke didn't get to him. Clearly, the behavior did.

And I wish I had said something.

Original post to DC Metro Moms. Read more about Aimee and her family at Smiling Mama.


feener said...

yikes, i just think about the secondhand smoke side of it, NEVER the actual act of it. my dad smokes but he will go outside and not let the grand kids see.
Reply July 31, 2008 at 10:31 AM Caitlin said...
My father and grandfather both smoked when I was young. My grandfather successfully quit around 1984. However, smoking from the late 1930s to 1984 took a toll on his health.

I adored my grandpa. He was the cool grandpa who was learning how to rollerblade with his grandkids at age 73 and kept up with us. Then a few months later, he found out he had late stage lung cancer. Seeing him go from seemingly healthy to dying a few months later was hard enough on his grandkids that none of us smoke and all of us consider smoking to be a deal breaker when it comes to relationships.

Fortunately, my son hasn't been exposed to people he looks up to smoking, but living in a city this size, it's impossible to shield him from it. We have talks about smoking. I don't really go for the DARE scare tactics, but instead I talked about negatives that would be more real to him, like he could choose between buying a pack of a cigarettes or go to the pool at Cub Run. He's also bothered by strong scents, so we talked about how it makes your clothes and house smell. He's 3, so we're a little limited, but it seem to get the point across for now.

It's a very hard line to walk - making something undesirable without turning it into the forbidden fruit that must be tasted.

FishyGirl said...
You might want to talk with your son about smoking and what it is and how bad it is. It's really never too early for those conversations, and he's going to be exposed to it at some point. If you had talked to the smoker, I'm not sure it would have made much difference if he already smokes around his own kids. But this IS a great opportunity to start teaching your own child about smoking and your values related to it.

My kids used to have a babysitter that smoked, and they used to yell at him about it, telling him that he stank, and repeating what we had taught them about how bad it is for your body and health. They were instrumental in him deciding (and then succeeding) to quit. This was back when my oldest two were 2 and 4 years old. It's amazing what kids can understand even very early, and I think it helps them internalize those values if we start teaching them young. Whenever we see someone smoking, no matter where (because we live in Montgomery so it's rare) we are, we use the opportunity to talk to all of our kids about smoking and our values about it.

Just my $.02 that you didn't ask for :-)

Alix said...
Great point, Aimee - My kids see the occasional smoker in a car and they yell out the window at them, "ew, smoking is gross!" I hide my smile by turning away from the driver under scrutiny and try not to move my shoulders too much to give away that I'm laughing, too.

Emily said...
I feel for you, but what about those poor kids of your cousins who must endure this day in, day out? I just don't know how parents can do this, knowing what we know today, especially in regards to SIDS, whether you smoke indoors or out.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thoughts and prayers

Today my sister will kiss her husband good-bye as he boards a bus to board a plane to go to Iraq. For seven months. She thinks she's ready this time because it will be the second time she has done this. The second time she's said good-bye as he heads to Iraq. The second time she's been alone with her house and her dogs for seven months waiting for him to return. I'm so proud of her and of him and ask you to keep them both in your thoughts and prayers today and until he returns, safe and sound.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Prednisone Out!

And in other was my very last day on prednisone!

After 12 weeks and 1 day, I am finally done!

Don't let that good news fool you, though. My platelets are still haywire. After reaching "normal" levels during my week at the beach, they were back down to just-above-critical one week later. Yeah, and I totally asked for a "prescription" to go back to the beach for the rest of the summer. Apparently rest and relaxation (or conversely stress) have no impact on platelet levels. Nor does Vitamin D (I asked all of these questions!).

But, let's focus on the good news: I could officially compete in the Olympics if I wanted to as I am steroid-free! (Yeah, like that was the only thing keeping me from Olympic-level competition. Ha!)

Keeping me busy

Sorry this blog has been a little neglected lately. I've been busy, busy, busy with some fun and not-so-fun things such as...

...a long weekend in Philly where I learned a ton and got inspired and *bonus* got to finally meet my brother's girlfriend and some of her friends. (One of whom, I swear, is the identical twin of a good friend of ours in D.C. It is seriously crazy!)

...the second half of my root canal and a temporary filling which promptly fell out 20 hours later causing another emergency dental appointment.

...early morning walks. I'm very proud of myself for getting my butt out of bed and going for a solo morning walk several mornings recently. My goal is to walk a little longer/further and add another day each week. You literally can't go two blocks in my town without hitting a major hill so this really gets the heart rate up!

...meetings, meetings, meetings. I love being so involved in our community but could really do without so many evening meetings.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


So let's say your husband works for a non-profit. And, this non-profit happens to be in an industry that is getting a lot of press and attention from our elected officials these days. And those elected officials happen to have felt pressure to do something about it so they create and pass this monstrosity of a piece of legislation. Oh and that piece of legislation happens to contain a few lines that mean the non-profit your husband works for will have to close its doors. That, effective a few months from now and after that other legislative body votes, it will be illegal for his employer to operate. Cause for worry, no?

Monday, July 21, 2008

I'm Back!

Why hello there! I'm back.

"What?" You ask.

"I didn't even know you were gone." You say.

Indeed. I set a few posts on auto-post and left for the beach last Sunday. And, actually, I was "out of pocket" as far as the blog was concerned starting last Friday morning, as I was consumed with wonderful and fun wedding preparations.

On Friday I got to visit with our good friends Amy and Ryan as well as the beautiful bride-to-be. My radish salad got mixed reviews for lunch (don't worry, it wasn't the only thing I served!). Then the girls were off for manis and pedis. I opted for a soft pink while the bride went with bright red! It was a little shocking but definitely suited her.

Later that evening was the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner--both were lovely. Except, that is, for the fact that I was freezing during the dinner while every other guest complained about being hot.

Yes, my friends, I was running a fever!

Apparently I had side-effects from the vaccine a my doctor gave me on Thursday. The very vaccine I questioned, telling my doctor that I was in a wedding on Saturday and leaving for the beach on Sunday, and that I wanted to be sure I wouldn't have any side effects from. Oh, those are so rare, he assured me.

Yeah, rare.

Luckily my fever broke sometime around 9 or 10am on Saturday--I woke up literally drenched. I made my way into the shower and somehow was able to get my stuff together to meet the bride at the hair salon at 1pm. From then on it was a whirlwind and honestly I felt better and stronger with each passing hour. After getting my hair done I was treated to getting my make-up done by the bride's cousin. She did a great job, except my eyebrows which I thought were unnaturally dark.

The wedding was beautiful. It was so perfect. Simple and lovely. And the reception was a lot of fun.

Then, Sunday morning we woke up threw some stuff in the car and were off to the beach. It was the most wonderful 7-hour drive ever. Why? Well, because our darling toddler left for the beach Saturday morning with my parents. They were so excited to have him at the beach for an entire day without us; I knew we were getting the better end of the deal--a toddler-free car trip!

As for the week at the beach: it was glorious.

Here was my plan for the week (which I was pretty much able to follow every day!):
  • 7am wake-up (unfortunately Lucas had other plans which included waking up at 6am every day, oh well!)
  • 8am hit the beach
  • 11am back to the house for lunch and naps (both Lucas and me!)
  • 3pm - 5pm return to the beach
  • 6pm dinner (pre-assigned to a different family each night)
  • 8pm Lucas to bed
  • 8pm - ? Hang out, games, etc.

And the best news of the week? I made a visit to the local hospital for a blood draw on Wednesday afternoon and my platelets came back normal.


That is an increase of more than 100,000 in a week.

Doc, how about writing me a prescription for the beach for the rest of the summer?


Congratulations Amy! selected comment #3 as the winner of my blogaversary contest. Amy said, "I've learned some great green-friendly tips. Compost pile-here I come."

Amy, I'll e-mail you directly with your magazine subscription options!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

To Do: Buy this!

I live and die by my to-do lists. Lately they have been so long that I've had to divide them by day to keep things manageable and on track. I think WhoMi's To Do Pad (above), which I found here, is just what I need.

Don't you agree?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

1943 Guide to Hiring Women

My entire department is made up of women. There are only four of us, but still, all women. So, we all got particularly hearty laughs out of an excerpt from the July 1943 issue of Transportation Magazine that my boss's husband ripped out of the September/October 2007 issue of Savvy & Style.

Titled "1943 Guide to Hiring Women" the article lists eleven tips on "getting more efficiency out of women employees" and was written "for male supervisors of women in the work force during World War II."

Here are some of my favorites:

1. Pick young married women. They usually have more of a sense of responsibility than their unmarried sisters, they're less likely to be flirtatious, they need the work or they wouldn't be doing it, they still have the pep and interest to work hard and to deal with the public efficiently.

3. General experience indicates that "husky" girls--those who are just a little on the heavy side--are more even tempered and efficient than their underweight sisters.

6. Give the female employee a definite day-long schedule of duties so that they'll keep busy without bothering the management for instructions every few minutes. Numerous properties say that their women make excellent workers when they have their jobs cut out for them, but that they lack initiative in finding work themselves.

And, my absolute favorite (because, honestly, I think this one really is true):

8. Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. You have to make some allowances for feminine physchology. A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick and wash her hands several times a day.

Oh, ladies, how far we've come since 1943!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy Blogaversary!

I can hardly believe it has been a year since I started blogging. Wow!

In honor of my first blogaversary (or is that blog-o-versary?) I'm doing a giveaway! The prize is a 1-year magazine subscription! You see, I'm a total magazine whore--I love getting magazines and have taken advantage of the Coke Rewards program to subscribe to about 10 different magazines. So to celebrate my blogaversary I'm giving a magazine subscription to one lucky reader! Options include: Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies Home Journal, Cookie, O at Home, House Beautiful, among others.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post telling me something you've learned--about me, about my family, about life, about yourself, about anything at all--by reading my blog.

Thanks again for reading! Here's to the future and the many, many posts to come!

*Fine print: you have until July 18 to enter your comment; winner will be chosen at random; no duplicate comments, please; I'll send a full list of magazine options for the winner to choose from; don't forget to leave your e-mail address so I can notify you when you win (positive thinking, people!!).

Friday, July 11, 2008

For Katie and John

Tomorrow I have the honor and privilege of standing next to my friend Katie as she and her fiance John are joined together in the Sacrament of Marriage.

After Katie asked me to be her Matron of Honor and as I became more involved in the wedding planning, I was thinking about the first time I met John. It was about 6 years ago when Katie and I worked together with a terrific group of (mostly) women who all became great friends.

A group of us went out for drinks one evening and John happened to be in town for a conference so he joined us. Despite the fact that our group was comprised of about 7 young, single--and I daresay--very attractive women, John didn't take his eyes off of Katie the entire evening.

Further, he managed to bring every story, every comment, back around to Katie. Let's say someone mentioned something about a car or driving. John would have said, "Oh, Katie, remember that time we were driving down the highway...."

The moment he left, we turned to Katie and proclaimed: "Katie, he is in love with you!"

She laughed us off telling us they were just friends!

Well, Katie and John, it took a few years, but I couldn't be happier for the two of you!

Congratulations and Best Wishes!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

If it's not one thing...'s a root canal.

An emergency root canal.

This morning.

Oh, yeah, and the tooth right next to the one that needed the root canal? Yeah, that one. It probably needs to be extracted or have this fancy-type surgery.

Seriously, though. I heart my dentist. You see, growing up our dentist was a family friend. He was also quite awesome. I never knew that the thing they use to put in the Novocaine was a needle. Because it never hurt when he put it in. He was that good. And his hygienists (the best of whom is his wife) are also amazing.

So when I grew up and moved to the big city and had to find a dentist I was pretty shocked at the mediocre people parading as dentists. Also. My dental insurance. Sucked.

After I got married and therefore got on my husband's amazing health insurance I started going to the dental practice he goes to. And they are so so awesome.

Case in point: this morning.

I knew this was a problem tooth. The dentist knew it was a problem tooth. A time bomb really. So when it started hurting this weekend I wasn't surprised. Called Monday to make an appointment; I wasn't in too much pain so took the Thursday opening.

Then yesterday. Holy Hell. Pain.

Called this morning at 8:30am and they said come right over.

When I got there the dentist took an x-ray but didn't even look in my mouth (thank goodness, it was so sore!) she called the endodontist and explained the situation. The endondist said sure come on over.

The endodontist did these strange tests with hot, cold and biting on balsa wood (it's sterile! she assured me! whatever! I said, just make it stop hurting!). And then the root canal. And this other problem tooth we can deal with later.

I'll tell you what, though, I'm thoroughly enjoying this mild post-root canal pain. It is 100 times less than what I was feeling yesterday and this morning.

Hail to the Southpaw

Abel and I are both left-handed and so we were shocked when it became clear that Lucas was favoring his right. Now that he's 2 1/2 it is pretty clear that he is going to be a full-fledged right-hander. And, to be honest, I feel a little bad for him. I mean, being a Southpaw is clearly the better way to be.

I admit I may be a bit biased to favor the left, but an article in Sunday's Washington Post confirmed it. Not only does the article tell us that leftys have stronger language abilities, they also have the "upper hand" in the race for the White House, "No matter who wins in November, six of the 12 chief executives since the end of World War II will have been left-handed: Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, the elder Bush, Clinton and either Obama or McCain. That's a disproportionate number, considering that only one in 10 people in the general population is left-handed."

I remember the 1992 Presidential race where all three candidates--Clinton, Dole and Perot--were Southpaws. And, this year it's happened again. Both Obama and McCain are left-handed. I guess it's because we're in the minority, but I feel a real kinship with other leftys and think it is pretty exciting that our next president will again favor the left (hopefully in more ways than one!!).

Now, if only our southpaw presidents would use their power to make some favorable changes to make life a bit easier for the rest of us. My first suggestion would be that all classrooms with those chair desks with table arms have a representative proportion of left-handed versions! I think I spent most of my college career painfully twisted around to write on the right or scrambling to grab a second desk to pull up to my left side.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

This week's harvest

No, I'm not a farmer, but I do have a farm!

As I've mentioned before, we bought a share of a CSA farm this year. Every Saturday we drive out to the farm to pick up our portion of the week's harvest. Plus there are always lots of bonuses like all-you-can pick flowers, fresh herbs and even some plant seedlings (our black-eyed susans are going to bloom any day now!).

I'm generally not very adventurous when it comes to food--especially when it comes to vegetables. But, I'm loathe to let our farm fresh veggies go to waste so this has forced me out of my comfort zone--with pretty good results.

Along with standard veggies like carrots and green beans, this week's harvest included radishes (I know, I know, they aren't really that adventurous, but I've never had radishes before!!) and a head of red cabbage and regular green cabbage. Abel also cut some fresh dill. And there's one other herb that I haven't identified yet! Abel also cut about a dozen beautiful sunflowers and a bunch of daisys for me.

After a quick perusal of I found two perfect recipes. The first is Latin Cabbage and Corn Salad which will use the red cabbage, green cabbage as well as (bonus!) fresh cilantro from my garden and limes leftover from homemade mojitos last weekend. I'm going to serve it with a great cut of grass-fed steak from our home delivery dairy which I'll season with a bit of salt & pepper then grill.

The second recipe is a Red Radish Salad by Rachel Ray. This recipe uses the radishes and dill from the farm and calls for sour cream which we have left over from my sister's visit (she was stunned that we don't keep sour cream in our fridge at all times!). This salad will be served with free-range chicken breasts, again from the dairy, which I'll marinate with a little EVOO, salt & pepper, lemon juice and garlic. (Oh, did I mention we also got 4 heads of fresh garlic in this week's share!?)

I hope they're both great--so that I'm rewarded for trying something new!

Monday, July 7, 2008


I seriously don't know where Lucas comes up with these things. His latest phrase is, "I'm just a little busy right now." And, he's using it all the time!

For example:

Smiling Mama: Lucas, it's time for lunch.
Lucas: No, Mama. I'm just a little busy right now.

It cracks me up.

To be honest, though, I can't really disagree with him. He is one busy guy! There are trains to set up, trucks to vroom around, dinner to cook (in his play kitchen), floors to clean (trust me, this one gets LOTS of praise!), and of course, lots of things to fix with his play tools.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

And we have a winner! chose comment number 39 and and after checking and double-checking, I have confirmed that the winner of my first ever Pay it Forward contest is Joanne at Bebellyboo!

Congratulations Joanne!!

I'm mentally assembling the prize package as I type and will post a photo and get it in the mail soon.

Thanks to everyone who participated--I especially enjoyed all those terrible jokes!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

So much fun!

Are you enjoying this as much as I am?

Swistle's Pay it Forward contest has consumed my entire week. I mean there are SO MANY contests to enter. And, enter I have!

I'm certain I'm going to win at least one. You should be rooting for me, too, because afterall, if I win then I have to pay it forward and host another contest here on my blog.

Have you entered yet? I mean, I know you've entered here because I have SO MANY wonderful, lovely, witty (!) comments. But have you entered all the others?

It's a marathon, not a sprint, so start now. You only have until tomorrow!

I can't decide which is more fun: entering all the contests and dreaming of the lovely prizes I'll win OR brainstorming about the lovely prizes I'm going to give away! I have some wonderful ideas and can't wait to show you the final prize package!

Go enter!