Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm Going Bald

Seriously. Every time I run my hands through my hair I come back with clumps of hair woven through my fingers. In the shower new clumps come out when I wet my hair, when I shampoo my hair, when I rinse my hair, when I condition my hair and when I rinse my hair. You'd think it would all come out with the first shampoo/rinse but no. Every. Single. Time. there are clumps of hair.

This happened to me once before. A few weeks after I stopped breastfeeding Lucas my hair started falling out. After several days of freaking out, I realized that my hair had been incredibly thick and luxurious during my pregnancy. Now that I had stopped breastfeeding my hormones must be returning to normal and thus all that extra hair was coming out. The clumps of hair still freaked me out but I knew there was a reason and I convinced myself that I wasn't really going to go bald.

This time when it started falling out the first thing that crossed my mind was that I was pregnant. Then I realized that if I was pregnant my hair would be getting thicker not thinner. So my next thought was that I had miscarried. About 10 seconds later I realized that was a pretty irrational conclusion as well and that it must be the steriods.

Ah, yes. The steriods. All the yucky side effects of prednisone did come with the semi-positive side effect of making my hair grow longer and faster. I say semi-positive because ALL my hair was growing. Including two wiry chin hairs which I had to pluck on an every-other-day-basis and which made me feel like an old lady. (I am happy to report no more incidences of chin hairs since going off the prednisone.)

So I understand that what is falling out is the extra hair that grew due to the steroids. But, hello, it has now been weeks--weeks!--of no prednisone and it is coming out in an alarming rate and in alarming quantities.

I hope you'll still be my friend when I'm bald.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Road

Last night I laid in bed and cried to Abel. Not over worries about his job or my health (which is fine, BTW), or about anything in our lives. Rather, I cried about the book I had just put down. "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. I'm reading it for my book club. I suggested it. Right now I can't figure out why. I read it about a year ago and it was one of the only books that I've ever read that I literally finished then went back to the first page to start again. Only I didn't read it again then. It was too painful.

I think the first time I read it, I spent most of the book just trying to follow along and figure out what the heck was happening. This time I know. And this time every single sentence rips my heart apart.

I suggested it to my book club because I was desperate to discuss it. It didn't get voted in and I think I was probably secretly relieved. In the next round of voting a friend suggested I put it up for consideration again. This time it was chosen by the members of our group. I remembered the premise but wanted to read it again before the October book club meeting. I've been reading it the last few nights and it is awful. Just awful. And, at the same time so incredibly beautiful. The beauty and the darkness wrench my heart. Every line breaks my heart. I think the New York Times review says it best, "'The Road' would be pure misery if not for its stunning, savage beauty."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Big 10 Network: A Blessing and a Curse

Verizon Fios just updated and totally changed the channel line-up. One of the many additions is the Big 10 Network. Have I mentioned before that someone in this household is a HUGE Buckeye fan?

Lucky for me, I really enjoy watching football, too. And, much to the chagrin of my parents, I've grown into a pretty big Buckeye fan. During the early years of our dating and marriage Abel and I went to a bar every Saturday during football season to watch the Ohio State games. After Lucas was born we purchased the college football package to ensure we didn't miss a game. Last year we had Comcast but they and the Big 10 Network couldn't come to an agreement so their college football package didn't include and of the Big 10 games. Ohio State was ranked pretty high last year so the majority of their games were on network TV or ESPN. But, we disappointed to miss the few that weren't. Needless to say we're pretty psyched that this year we'll get all the games at home for free (well, for what we were paying already).

It's also a curse, however, because after only a few days of having the Big 10 Network I already know way more than I need or want to know about Big 10 Athletics!

But if you're looking for Abel and me on a Saturday afternoon now through Thanksgiving, come on down to our basement!

Go Bucks!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Just call me Dr. Pike

Have you heard about the Sarah Palin Name Generator? Bloggers everywhere are sharing their new names, if they had been named by Sarah Palin, that is. Mine is Jeep Pike Palin. I think I'll go by "Pike".

If only I was more tech savvy (my lack of HTML knowledge is evidenced by the fact that this blog is a completely unmodified blogger template!) I would create the Sarah Palin Promotion Generator. Here's how it would work:

Two categories--what you can see out of your home or office window and your current or past jobs--would determine the major promotion you deserve and for which you are fully qualified.

For example, Jodifur thinks she should be named Attorney General because she's a lawyer. (I say why stop there, how about Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?).

Here are some other jobs I could fill with just my immediate family:

My sister, a teacher: Secretary of Education
My dad, superintendent of recreation for my home town: Secretary of the Interior
My brother-in-law, a Marine who is currently serving in Iraq: Secretary of Defense

I can see both a hospital and the dome of the Capitol Building from windows in my office. Thus, I should be fully qualified to be a doctor or Speaker of the House.

What do you see from your window? Or, what major governmental office are you ready to hold based on your current or former jobs?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Eggplant Parm

Yesterday I mentioned that I prepared the eggplant portion of eggplant parmesan. I've made this dish now three times in the past month and a half after literally never making anything involving eggplant before in my life.


Well because we've gotten eggplants in our CSA share, of course!

With our first eggplant I was a bit stymied about what to do with the eggplant. I knew I'd had eggplant parm at restaurants before and liked it so started looking for a recipe. The problem was that every recipe I found was either:
1) very complicated
2) involved deep-frying the eggplant, or
3) both.

So, I looked at several recipes and modified them to fit three criteria:
1) easy
2) no frying, and
3) involved only ingredients I had on hand.

Here's what I've come up with. Abel and I both love the eggplant portion and Lucas will always eat spaghetti so it is a great recipe for our family.

Smiling Mama's Eggplant Parm

Peel your eggplant and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. Dredge in egg then in panko breadcrumbs (for whatever reason I had these on hand and not regular breadcrumbs the first time I made it, but I love the extra-crunchiness of the panko so keep using those). Lightly spray baking sheet/dish with olive oil (Pam, whatever you use) and place eggplant slices in single layer in dish. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Flip slices, sprinkle with salt again and drizzle with more olive oil, bake and additional 20 minutes.

In last 20 minutes, make spaghetti according to directions, heat sauce (you know, make spaghetti!). During last few minutes of the eggplant baking, sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top.

Hopefully your spaghetti and sauce and eggplant will be ready at approximately the same time. Add salad and crusty bread for a complete meal.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A great day

Yesterday was a truly awesome day. This is the first week, after many, many crazy weeks, that I'm back to my normal work and at home schedule. When we travel I try as hard as I can to still get my 20 hours in and often give up my days home with Lucas in the process. When you're hourly you only get paid for what you work and missing a few hours really shows up in that paycheck!

So yesterday was a regular Tuesday at home for Lucas and me. And it was glorious. We got moving first thing, off to the grocery store because Lucas was wearing literally the very last diaper in the house. We want to start potty training soon, but not quite yet!

We got back from the grocery store and put everything away with just enough time to straighten the house a bit (yes, thank goodness I was able to clean over the weekend!) before our good friends came over for a play date. As soon as they arrived we were off to the park to enjoy the beautiful morning.

Lucas and his little buddy had a great time running around, sliding and swinging while Kerry and I got to catch up. Close to Noon, we headed home for lunch. The boys had PB&J and I made Kerry and myself the most yummy sandwiches--ciabatta bread from our weekend farmer's market with fresh tomatoes from our CSA farm, basil from my garden and mozzarella from my home delivery dairy. All topped with a drizzle of olive oil and put under the broiler for a minute to melt the cheese a bit. Yum!!

After some more playing Kerry and Jack headed home and Lucas headed straight up for his nap. I decided should get a head start on dinner before jumping on-line. I made the eggplant (again courtesy of our CSA share) for eggplant parmesan thinking it would be great to have that ready so I could just make some quick spaghetti later and have a meal. Then I realized I had some grass fed ground beef (from our dairy) that I needed to do something with so put together a quick meatloaf and chopped up our CSA potatoes to roast--this combo chosen because they both take about 50 minutes at the same temp. So, before I knew it I had two dinners going! Then, just because I already had the oven on, I whipped up some oatmeal cookies with dark chocolate chips and chopped almonds. Yum!

While everything was cooking I laid down on the couch for about 20 minutes. Not a full-fledged nap but a very nice rest. Lucas woke up (before I got on-line which I why I didn't write this yesterday!) and we watched an episode of Caillou (his obsession!). Then we headed out again. To Target for sunglasses (mine broke and I can't find any of his) and I-kid-you-not I walked out having ONLY purchased two pairs of sunglasses! Then over to JoAnn Fabrics to check out some fabric to recover our dining room chairs (tip: raw silk doesn't hold up well when your toddler starts eating at the table!), then to Staples for a new black ink cartridge (so I can print invitations for my friend's bridal shower--they turned out so lovely!).

Abel was home when we got there (a welcome treat with all his late nights recently, though he did go back to work right after dinner) and I just had to heat up the meatloaf and roasted potatoes for a yummy dinner.

It was such a nice day--I got so much accomplished, had tons of quality time with Lucas and a good friend and even got some me-time with a quick rest. If only all days could be like Tuesday!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thank you!

Happy National Thank You Day! (Thank you to Leticia at Being Savvy DC who alerted me to this wonderful day!) According to Being Savvy, this day was instituted by Merci Chocolates and the Emily Post Institute.

Think of the times you've received a genuine thank you. Wasn't it the best feeling? If only we would all take just a little time and make just a little effort to say thank you more often. What a difference it would make.

Personally I love writing thank you notes. Of course I genuinely want to thank the person to whom I'm writing, but secretly I love writing thank you notes because they allow me to indulge in my love of stationary! By using my lovely note cards on a regular basis I can justify purchasing more lovely note cards! A win win for sure!

In honor of National Thank You Day, I thank you, my dear readers, for indulging me and this blog.

Go ahead and hand write a thank you note this week! Not because you have to (like after your wedding or a baby shower) but just because. I promise the simple act will make you happy and will make the day of the person you thank.

How do single parents do it?

Waaaaayyyy back in July, while we were at the beach, Abel's job came into major jeopardy. It is a very long and very complicated thing having to do with oh, you know, CONGRESS passing legislation that would essentially for all intents and purposes put the non-profit he works for out of business. You know, a non-profit charity. A non-profit charity that helps people buy homes. Kind of an important thing in the current state of our economy, right? Right? Do you hear me CONGRESS?

Basically if he doesn't single-handedly fix it (well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration but it sure feels like it's all on his shoulders) he'll be out of a job come October 1.

(And, yet, unlike my friend, I remain completely committed to and optimistic about the political process in our great democracy. Go figure.)

I'm pretty much keeping my head in the sand about the whole out-of-a-job thing, the whole how-will-we-pay-the-mortgage thing. Instead, I'm focusing on what's really important--the fact that while Abel has been working insane hours (regularly until 1am or 2am) I have been picking up all the slack around the house.

I don't know how single parents do it.

Because, seriously, I'm doing a really bad job.

Our house is a wreck. Our dinners lately have consisted of the following: grilled cheese, spaghetti with frozen meatballs, grilled cheese, peanut butter sandwiches (what can I say, I've successfully passed along my luv of peanut butter sandwiches to Lucas, though he does request jelly), hot dogs, fish sticks w/boxed mac & cheese and grilled cheese again. Just writing that list makes me sick. (Don't get me wrong, I'm fully in support of fast meals like that on occasion, but this has been our menu for the past two weeks.)

Did I mention our house is a wreck? I am terrified a neighbor will stop by. I'll be like the lady in that new rug cleaner commercial and make them stay outside.

Last night I was whining to Abel about how I've had to do everything around the house. (OMG, aren't I horrible? He's working so hard and is so stressed and I'm complaining to him.) We had a good laugh when he said, "Well, worst case scenario is that come October you may have me around here to do everything!"

We've been through it before. About four months after we got engaged, Abel got laid off. There was a downturn in the economy and the firm he worked for lost some clients (oh yeah and the boss wanted to hire his son). Abel was the junior guy and got the boot. Can you say stressful? We got through it (racked up some hefty credit card debt in the process), got married and we came out fine, though he was out of work for about 6 mos. Of course back then we shared a (paid off) car, didn't have a mortgage and didn't have a kid.

Now. Well, now there's just so much more. More obligations, more debt (hello mortgage!), more mouths to feed.

When I do peek my head up I just freak out. We should have cancelled Denver. We should have cancelled San Diego. Should we cancel our cable? Our Internet? Abel has talked me down from these. The plane tickets were all booked months before we had any inkling of the impending legislation. He's working hard to save his job (oh, yeah, and his entire non-profit industry), we'll cut those things out if it comes to that.

I've got another, what, 11 more days to keep my head in the sand. In the meantime I'll at least try to make some decent meals and maybe vacuum. Maybe.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Back on the East Coast but still on West Coast time

We're back from a really great (if you ignore the disastrous and incredibly painful four quarters of football we endured) visit to Southern California. More on that to come.

In the meantime here's my to do list for the next few days.
  • Secure donations for our Green Jobs Now event
  • Write and mail thank you note to the person who gave us tickets to the football game
  • Schedule a facial (I can't believe how dry/flaky my skin is these days!)
  • Schedule an eye appointment (I seriously feel blind.)
  • Make and take dinner to the Smith family to welcome them to town and welcome their new baby (yeah, how cool that I live in a town that does this for people?)
  • Begin to tackle our ginormous pile of laundry
  • Begin to tackle the ginormous quantities of unread/unreplied e-mails

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Law of Target, or How $17.99 headphones cost me $111.00 and too much gas

We're flying from Virginia to San Diego (via Boston but don't even get me started on that) to visit my sister. One of the reasons I chose the airline I chose is that they have DirectTV at every seat. Of course we won't let our son watch TV the entire time but it will serve as a good distraction for at least part of the long journey (made much longer by going through Boston but like I said, don’t get me started).

Yesterday afternoon I realized that while my husband and I will use our iPod ear buds, Lucas needed his own set of headphones for the plane.

Off to Target!

After I meandered through every other section, I finally got to the audio aisle in the very back of the store and found several options for child-sized headphones. I chose the $17.99 version of a brand I knew (which were on sale from $21.99) over the $14.99 version of a brand I didn’t recognize. (Unfortunately, I'm one of those people who seems to think that more expensive = higher quality. That probably deserves its own post!)

In the $1 bins I found some cute board books including Sesame Street books on counting, shapes and ABCs and some Halloween books. I picked up 6 board books for $6. Yeah, they're fairly lame but having 6 new books on the plane will certainly keep Lucas occupied for a little while and if we leave one behind somewhere it won't bother me in the least.

When I got to the register did I have only the headphones and board books in my cart?

Oh no.

I had lots and lots more, taking my approximately $26 shopping trip up to $111.

The Law of Target was in full effect!

You know, the Law of Target. It’s happened to you, too. Somehow you can not leave Target without spending between $80-$100. No matter what. That’s the Law of Target.

When I got home I greedily took everything out of the bags to admire. I put out my new door mat (hey, I needed a new door mat!), admired the cute birthday gifts for my niece (they were on clearance! Her birthday is fast-approaching at the end of the month!) and was all set to check out those headphones.

Wait? Where were the headphones?

Not in any of the bags. Not in my trunk. Mysteriously the only place I could find the headphones was ON MY RECEIPT!


I called and explained that I was just there, had purchased and paid for headphones yet they were not to be found in any of my bags.

Come on back and pick them up, I was cheerily told.

So, back in the car, drive to Target, park, walk to Customer Service, explain again.

Now, wouldn't you think that my cashier, upon finding that she didn't give me the bag with the headphones, would have taken that bag to Customer Service where it would have sat, waiting for me to come back and get it?

Wouldn't that make sense?

Apparently not.

When I got there I had to walk through the entire store (with more things calling out buy me! buy me!—I resisted) to the audio department to get another set of headphones and bring them back to customer service where they rang them up as a return/exchange (which also doesn't make much sense to me).

Headphones secured, I got back in the car and drove home to pick up Lucas from the babysitter feeling totally annoyed about the whole thing. Darn headphones!

After dinner, when I plugged them into my iPod for Lucas, the look of pure delight on his face was worth every second of aggravation. He loved them. He called them "MY telephones!" (I tried to correct him but he wouldn’t have it, they were telephones, Mama!) and danced all around the dining room. When a slow song came on, he closed his eyes and swayed just a bit as the most fantastic little smile spread across his face.

Oh man, I sure do love those headphones!

Adapted for DC Metro Moms from Aimee's personal blog, Smiling Mama, where she writes about life with a toddler (when she isn't spending too much money at Target!).


Elaine said...
Even at $111, if the goodies from Target keep your child happy on the flight to San Diego (by way of Boston, no less), they're worth every penny.

cassie said...
I went into Target yesterday for toilet paper and birthday cards, and ended up spending $104. I really shouldn't be allowed to leave the house!

JessicaAPISS said...
Soooo been there. And at the one nearest my house the GO clothes lines are always RIGHT THERE STARING AT ME the minute I walk in and on the way to the kid section, and the new makeup is lurking right behind the paper towels. Evil.

Linda said...
OMG....this was me today. I had to make myself put down the Halloween T-shirts. They're only $4 my head says. But it's not even October. They'll be gone before october gets here...buy me, buy me. I put them back. Stupid Target.

Judy in KY said...
I think I'm going to go out and buy stock in Target!

marketing Mommy said...
The Law of Target was in full effect for me yesterday. I went in to get tights, Aquadoodle pens, cat litter and slippers and $105 later...

Leticia- Tech Savvy Mama said...
This same thing happened to me last week. I went in to return something and ended up walking out with $75 worth of merchandise! At least I didn't meander through the rest of the mall racking up other purchases! I totally would have but was short on time!

Justice Fergie said...
This is so true it's not even funny. As I always say: "Target gets ALL my money." I literally spend $100 EVERY.TIME.

Those people are geniuses.

Sue @ My Party of 6 said...
My problem is the Target pharmacy. They are the only ones I trust with my prescriptions. And what a marketing plan, because those 20 minutes while I am waiting for them to mix up the kid's amoxicillin? I spend at least $100.

Vicky said...
MF'er I'm headed to Target now and I know this will happen. I have a list of items to purchase but just reading about the dollar bin has me swooning and plotting which is sick and pathetic.

I love/hate you Target.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How the $17.99 headphones cost me $111.00 and too much gas

One of the reasons I booked our flight on the airline I'm currently very mad at is that they have DirectTV at every seat. Of course we won't let Lucas watch TV the entire time but it will serve as a good distraction for at least part of our cross-country journey. Yesterday afternoon I realized that while Abel and I will use our ipod ear buds, Lucas needed his own set of headphones.

Where in the world do I find toddler-sized headphones, I wondered. I dashed off a quick e-mail to our trusty parent listserv. Help! Need toddler headphones! With no answers from that always-helpful-group, I realized Target, Target would be the answer. I decided to forgo my weekly nap and head to Target. I needed to stop by there anyway to pick up a few cheap toys to help distract Lucas on the plane and some Annie's Cheddar Bunnies (the best snack ever!!!) which are almost $1 cheaper at Target than Safeway.

I don't know why I thought child-sized headphones were such an unusual thing--there were several options at Target. I opted for the $17.99 Sony version (which was on sale from $21.99) over the $14.99 version-of-a-brand-I-didn't-recognize. Unfortunately I'm one of those people who thinks more expensive = higher quality.

Currently in the Target $1 bins are some cute board books including Sesame Street books on counting, shapes and ABCs and Halloween books. I picked up 6 board books for $6. Yeah, they're fairly lame but if we leave one behind somewhere it won't bother me in the least.

When I got to the register did I have in my cart only the headphones, Cheddar Bunnies and board books? Oh no. I had lots and lots more, taking my approximately $26 shopping trip up to $111.

The Law of Target was in full effect yesterday. I blame it on the fact that this was my first Target run in ages without a bored toddler in the cart. I was all alone and free to linger, compare, walk by something then go back! It was heaven!

When I got home I greedily took everything out of the bags to admire. I put out my new door mat (hey, I needed a new door mat!), admired the cute birthday gifts for my niece (they were on clearance! Her birthday is fast-approaching at the end of the month!) and was all set to check out those headphones.

Wait? Where were the headphones?

Not in any of the bags. Not in my trunk. But, still showing up on my receipt.


I called and explained that I purchased and paid for headphones yet they were not to be found in any of my bags. Come on back and pick them up, I was cheerily told.


Back in the car, drive to Target, park, walk to Customer Service, explain again.

Now, wouldn't you think that my cashier, upon finding that she didn't give me the bag with the headphones, would have taken that bag to Customer Service where it would have sat, waiting for me to come back and get it? Wouldn't that make sense?

Apparently no.

When I got there I had to walk through the entire store (with more things calling out to me--buy me! buy me!--I resisted) to the audio department to get another set of headphones and bring them back to customer service where they rang them up as a return/exchange (which also doesn't make much sense to me).

Headphones secured, I got back in the car and drove home to pick up Lucas from the babysitter feeling totally annoyed about the whole thing.

After dinner when I plugged them into my ipod for Lucas, the look of pure delight on his face was worth every second of aggravation. He loved them. He called them "MY telephones!" and danced all around the dining room. On a slow song he closed his eyes and swayed just a bit with the most fantastic little smile.

Man do I love those headphones!

P.S. Oh, Abel, I'm totally exaggerating. I only spent like, um, $75 at Target. Oh, I mean, only $50. Yeah, only $50.

On the road again...

Later this week we hit the road again. This installment of Adventures with Smiling Mama takes us to San Diego, CA. More specifically, to Poway, CA to visit my lovely sister and her "two BIIIIIIG dogs" as Lucas calls them. Sarah's husband recently deployed to Iraq and so we wanted to get out to visit her in early fall. And, lo and behold, Ohio State happens to be playing USC this Saturday so WHAT PERFECT TIMING that we're going out there this weekend of all possible weekends.

I booked our plane tickets in March with Abel swearing he'd be able to score us tickets to the game (you see, a holiday weekend would have been a much more convenient time to visit my sister who is a teacher). He pulled through (more specifically his friend Doug's dad pulled through) so he and I will drive up to LA Saturday morning for the game.

It ends up that quite a few of our Buckeye friends are also flying in for the game so it should be a lot of fun. And, Sarah won't miss any quality time with her nephew as he'll stay with her so I don't have to feel guilty for being gone for approx. 30 hours of our already-too-short visit.

What I am upset about, however, is our stupid airline. As I mentioned, I booked our tickets in March. A few weeks ago I received a phone call and e-mail that they changed our flight. I'm outraged and told them as much in the following message:

To Whom it May Concern,

Last March I booked three tickets for my husband, toddler son and myself to fly from Dulles, VA to San Diego, CA on YOUR AIRLINE. Despite the fact that the YOUR AIRLINE fares were slightly higher than other airlines, we chose to book our flights with your airline because we wanted a direct flight.

You see, we are flying cross-country with a 2 ½ year old and we figured it was worth it to pay a slight premium to have the lowest travel time and not have to change planes. We flew YOUR AIRLINE once before and enjoyed our experience. In fact, we enjoyed it so much that we recently opened our first-ever airline miles credit card, a YOUR AIRLINE American Express.

Recently, I was informed that our scheduled flights were changed. We were moved from direct round trip flights from Dulles to San Diego to flights which took us through Boston.

Previously we left Dulles at 5:50pm and arrived in San Diego at 7:56pm. On the new flight we will leave Dulles at 2:50pm, connect in Boston and arrive in San Diego at 8:31pm. With this change, our total travel time increased by more than 2.5 hours.

On our return flight, we initially left San Diego at 10:30pm and arrived in Dulles at 6:24am. With the change we depart San Diego at 10:45pm, connect through Boston and arrive at Dulles at 10:45am. With this change, our travel time for this leg increased by 3 hours.

That is a total increase in travel time of more than 5.5 hours.

I find this to be unacceptable.

When we were informed of the change we decided we would cancel our YOUR AIRLINE flights. We found comparably priced direct flights on Southwest. Upon calling customer service, however, I found that we could not get a refund, that it is your prerogative to change our flight.

I am so angry. I don’t understand how you can move us from a direct flight to a stop-over in Boston, increasing our travel time by 5.5 hours and still charge us the same price as our original flight.

I feel we deserve compensation for this dramatic increase in our travel-time. In the meantime, I plan to cancel my YOUR AIRLINE American Express card and will think twice before booking a flight on YOUR AIRLINE again.


Smiling Mama

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Thursday: DNC at Invesco Field

Once we got our credentials we immediately headed downtown. A huge perk of the delegate credentials (v. the community credentials) was that we could take the DNC Shuttle right to the stadium parking lot. Otherwise all traffic was stopped approximately 1 mile from the stadium and those poor souls had to hoof it in.

Here's the police officer on our bus heading to INVESCO Field:

Once we got out of the bus we hit the line:
Which wrapped around the stadium:
But, we only stood in that line for about 30 minutes. Then we realized that there was essentially no line up a hill. We scaled the hill via a concrete drainage thingy and got through security in literally minutes!

Woo hoo!

Our level of credentials got us into general seating in approx. 8 different sections in the 100s and 200s. We snagged these seats, just three rows off the field right away:
But, our initial excitement at being so close to the field faded when we realized that the main podium was blocked by all those pesky media cameras. So Abel went on a scouting mission for better seats. We ended up in a 200 level section with an amazing view of the stage. And, since we were in the stadium about 5 hours before Obama was slated to speak, we were lucky to enjoy some great people-watching in that celebrity section right below us!

I'll tell you, those five hours went by pretty quickly. There was great entertainment including Stevie Wonder and Sheryl Crow. And great speeches by people like Bill Richardson, Ike Eisenhower's granddaughter, Al Gore and Barney Smith.

By the time Barack Obama walked out onto the stage the crowd was electric. I've been in football stadiums with 100,000+ cheering people before, I've been in a baseball stadium with 45,000+ people praying with the Pope, but I've never felt anything like what I felt that night. To have all those people united in a common purpose. It was truly amazing.

There were times I was waving my flag while cheering while tears were rolling down my cheeks. I truly knew and felt that I was part of history. I kept thinking of my grandmother and that I would one day tell my grandchildren about this moment.
And it will feel even better on November 4, 2008 when Barack Obama becomes the President-elect!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Thursday: Securing Credentials

Oh my gosh. What happened to Thursday? I blogged about Tuesday and Wednesday. You mean to tell me that my little blogging elves weren't typing away my thoughts as I tossed and turned in the middle of the night composing Thursday? They are definitely getting fired. Okay, you're right, maybe that is a little extreme. They are getting a strong talking-to. That's for sure.

So, Thursday. That's August 28, 2008. A day for the history books. The day that Senator Barack Obama accepted the Democratic Nomination for President of the United States of America.

And we were there.

And it was amazing.

When we left for Denver we didn't know what events we'd be able to get into: everything was up in the air. My mantra was that I wasn't going to worry about anything. Except, that is, getting in to Thursday night. I told myself that if we got tickets to INVESCO field that would make the whole trip worth it.

We thought we had one ticket. Earlier in August the Maryland State Party held a drawing for their guests (e.g. those who didn't get credentials because they were official Delegates) and Abel's name was drawn to win a credential for Thursday night.

We were pretty sure we had another ticket as well. On Tuesday we had traded two VIP tickets to the Boyz II Men event for one (or hopefully two) credentials for Thursday night.

The problem was that literally no one actually received any Thursday credentials until Thursday morning. So, until we had them in our grubby little hands we weren't counting on anything.

Thursday morning we made sure to get to the Maryland Delegation breakfast first thing. I'm glad we did because it was by far the best breakfast of the week. Howard County Executive Ken Ulman sponsored it and he invited his brother and president of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Doug Ulman, to speak. (I'll tell you what, these are two incredibly impressive brothers.) The other keynote was Congressman Elijah Cummings. Wow. He's amazing. My first tears of the day flowed during his early-morning incredibly-rousing remarks.

By the end of the breakfast we had a piece of gold in our hands--one credential for INVESCO Field.

We got back to the house and found out that our other trade had come through--with not one but TWO credentials!

Then, a friend called who had an extra credential. Do we want if? Of course!

At 8am we had zero credentials. By Noon Abel and I had secured a total of four.


That meant we could take the best of them for ourselves, two credentials that gave us access to the delegate transportation to/from the stadium and seating on the 100 or 200 level of the stadium. We were also able to give the other two to our host who gave them to his 16-year-old son and a friend, allowing these two African-American teenagers to be part of history.

At 1:30pm, with credentials proudly displayed around our necks, we were off!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


While we were in Denver hanging out with Boyz II Men, Hillary and Obama, Lucas was with my parents in Pennsylvania. My mom's a teacher and although they just started back to school this week, she had to go in for a few meetings last week. My aunt (and her twin sister) who we all call Mikie was more than happy to hang out with Lucas during those times (and as much as possible throughout the week!). Here's a cute story that she sent to me via e-mail.

(Note: Lucas calls my aunt and uncle Great Mikie and Great Dave. Before he was born they decided they'd be known as "The Greats" which I think is so cute!)

We had a great time with Lucas. What an angel. He is so damn charming. One day I was putting him down for his nap (with no problem at all...he only said "I not tired a few times.")

He had two little match box cars with him that he wanted to take to bed and I was concerned there were "chokey parts" on them. I asked him if he is allowed to take them to bed.

He said, "Well, mama says no but grammy says yes." I put them in his crib and then we read a book on the big bed and when I put him in the crib I discreetly put the cars in my pocket.

He lay in his crib and said, "Great Mikie, I think I hear my cars in your pocket." (I heard them too. The wheels clashed as they went into my pocket.) He said it so matter of factly, no anger, just a statement.

So of course I was "busted" and said, "Yes they are in my pocket" and that I thought it was best to leave them there.

He said, "No I think they should be in my crib."

So I gave them to him and told him not to put them in his mouth.

He said, "I won't do that" with that look as if I was saying something truly ridiculous.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Name that Celebrity!

I have to admit I'm having a hard time writing my post on Day 3 of the Democratic National Convention. Our Day 3 was Thursday. THE DAY. The historic day when Barack Obama accepted the Democratic Nomination for President of the United States. As I've already mentioned, we were there, in the stadium, for the speech. And it was amazing. So amazing that I'm having trouble getting it down in words.

So, as I work on that. And, as a break for any of you not so interested in politics. Here's a post about celebrity sightings! Real celebrities!

You see, the section right in front of us seemed to be chock full of celebrities. Some were easily recognizable like Susan Sarandon and Dana Delany. Others looked familiar. We were certain they were famous. But, we couldn't quite place them. But, we confirmed they were, in fact, important when the entire group got up and was escorted to better seats!

So, today I give you "Name that Celebrity!"

Join the fun by naming these celebrities in the comments section.

Celebrity A:

Celebrity B:

Celebrity C:

Celebrity D:

Celebrity E:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Democratic National Convention: Day 2

On Wednesday, after about 5 hours of sleep, we got up and headed to the Maryland Delegation hotel for the Delegation breakfast. We had to be there because immediately following breakfast each day, they opened up the sign-up sheet for the lottery for the extra credentials. Credentials, you see, are like gold. They are what get you into the actual Convention. We were desperate to get some.

Although we were exhausted, we were energized by that morning's speakers--Governor Duval Patrick of Massachusetts and Speaker Nancy Pelosi!

From breakfast we headed downtown to try to crash the Creative Coalition event for the movie 14 Women, a film about the 14 women U.S. Senator's in the 109th Congress. We got in! And, so Abel and I found ourselves in the same room as Tim Daly, Anne Hathaway, Annette Benning (who was being honored), Susan Sarandon (who walked right by me!), Matthew Modine and Angela Bassett. I also got to chat with Senator Debbie Stabenow which was extra-exciting for me because I worked for her campaign when she first ran for Congress.

After that star-studded event we walked over to the Denver Convention Center (not to be confused with the Pepsi Center where the actual Convention was taking place). We had heard that Hillary was going to have an event for her Delegates that afternoon. And, we heard that they weren't going to be checking names to get in. So, of course we wanted to be there!

On the way to get in line for the Hillary event, we literally ran into Speaker Nancy Pelosi signing her new book. Of course I jumped in line! Her daughter, Christine, was there signing her book as well. I bought both and got them both signed. In the brief seconds it took them each to sign my book, I took the opportunity to mention that Speaker Pelosi and I share an alma mater!

Books in hand, we continued down the hall to discover that, despite it being more than two hours before the Hillary event was slated to begin, there were literally hundreds of people in line already. I guess we weren't the only people to find out they were planning to let everyone in!

We got in line.

And stood in line.

For two hours.

I was very tired and very hungry. I started to feel it wasn't worth it--even if they let us into the room on time, I knew the program would start late. It was going to be a standing-only event. So, we got out of line. And, as we were about to leave, we saw two friends working the door for the press. They waved us over and put us in line at the back of the press. The best part? The press were the first ones let into the room! We ended up getting standing immediately behind the up-front section reserved for wheelchairs. I was still tired and hungry and we still had to wait another 45 minutes before Hillary came into the room. It ended up being the speech where she officially released her delegates and we were right up front! It was truly an historical moment. I'm glad I was there.

We grabbed a quick slice of pizza and made our way back to the house where we were staying. Desperate for a nap, I laid down for about 45 minutes when Abel came in to tell me that someone else in the house had given us their credentials for the convention that evening. Woo hoo!

We left immediately.

It ended up being a huge disappointment. First, due to several delays including protesters on bicycles blocking traffic, it took forever to get there. In security, my Sigg water bottle got confiscated. It ended up that our "Special Guest" Hall credentials were the lowest of the low. By the time we got there the Fire Marshall had declared the conventional hall to be over-capacity so all we could do was peek in over the 5-10 other people peering into each opening. Our only real option was to watch the speeches on TV from the hallway of the Convention!

Willing to try anything, I stood by the down escalator and asked everyone with "Floor" credentials (the best ones) if they were leaving for the evening. If they answered yes, I asked if they would give us their credentials. After about dozen no's (yes they were leaving, no they wouldn't give up their credentials--I knew it was unlikely as they're major souvenir items but a girl's gotta' try, right?) the security guard told me that even if I did get Floor credentials it was too late and they weren't letting any more people in, now matter what credentials they had.

Eventually, completely deflated, we left and headed over to that night's Maryland Delegation party hosted by Governor O'Malley at Fado. O'Malley is a musician and at one point two other Governor's were on stage playing with him.

Even though the actual convention was a huge disapointment for us, it was an incredible day.

Day 2 Fun Fact: Wednesday morning we received our 3rd canvas "swag" bag since arriving. That's 3 bags in about 22 hours!