Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008...Hello 2009!

I feel like New Year's Eve just kinda' snuck up on us this year. We're at my parents' home and will ring in the new year with my mom and dad, brother and his girlfriend, sister, cousins and aunt and uncle. I'm looking forward to an evening of good food, good drinks and several ultra-competitive rounds of Apples to Apples, Trivial Pursuit, Shoot the Moon and who knows what else.

I'm not usually a resolutions kind of gal, but I do have a list of things I want for 2009:

1) Exercise regularly.
2) Get pregnant!!!!
3) Socialize more--with both old friends and new. (This is Abel's resolution but I'm fully on board with it!)

I hope you ring in 2009 surrounded by loved ones and that you have someone to kiss at Midnight!

Thanks for reading my blog, either as a loyal reader throughout all of 2008 or a new reader. I'm so grateful!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Holiday Memories

Hope everyone isn't sick of Christmas already because I have two adorable stories to share. Lucas has really been great through a ton of traveling and a lot of being out and about.

Here's the first story. It was the day of his birthday and we were at my parents' home in Pennsylvania. My mom and dad had to work that day and so we were just hanging out at home without them. All of a sudden Lucas walked into the room holding the (empty) box to his big Christmas present from them: a wooden tool bench. He was so excited and said, "Mama! Mama! My present from Grammy!" Apparently they had put it together already but had left the box in plain toddler-level-view under their bed! I didn't know what to say, so of course said the totally wrong thing. I told him it wasn't for him that it was for another little boy. He freaked out and started crying "No, Grammy got it for ME!" He was positively heartbroken. After some soothing and many birthday presents later that night, he seemed to forget about it.

Until, that is, two days later when we were in Ohio visiting Abel's parents. There is a cute independent toy store at their mall that we really like. It happened to be right next to Santa so we stopped in. Wouldn't you know that right up front was a very similar wooden toy bench! Lucas stopped right in front of the display and I prepared myself for a meltdown. Instead, he very nonchalantly commented "Oh man, Grammy forgot my present." And them moved on. I burst out laughing!

After Christmas, when we got back to my parents' house, they had the tool bench set up under the tree. He was so excited! After a few minutes of play, he exclaimed, "Grammy remembered!" And, the next day, my Mom tells me, he said to her, "That other little boy must be sad he didn't get his toy." She told him that his Mama was just joking and this present was for him all along. He still insisted "Well, he must be very sad. But, I am SO happy!"

The second story is of Lucas's visit with Santa. By virtue of a very busy December, we never got to our town Christmas party or even a local mall for Lucas to sit on Santa's lap. So, on Christmas Eve in Ohio we went over to the mall. We were psyched that there was only one person in front of us but as we got closer Lucas started literally shaking with fear. He was totally freaked out. I didn't want to scar him for life to we just said hi to Santa, got a candy cane and left the area quickly. Oh well, no photo with Santa this year. After a little last-minute shopping (and a visit to the toy store mentioned above) we left the mall and started running to the car through freezing rain.

About half way to our car Lucas started crying telling us that he was a good boy and wanted to tell Santa Merry Christmas.

Decisions. Decisions.

Do we keep going, get to the comfort of the car and take off telling him he missed his chance? Or, do we head right back in, get back in line (of course now there was a line!) and risk that he'll freak out again upon closer proximity to the Big Guy?

I decided to give it a shot.

We ran back into the mall and waited in line. Lucas was so excited he started dancing. He got right up on Santa's lap and they had a several-minute-long animated conversation. It was a great experience and we paid way too much for the most adorable photo with Lucas and an expression of pure little boy joy! Priceless!

I hope you had wonderful holiday celebrations and created many priceless memories with your family and friends, too!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Backtrack: Lucas's 3rd Birthday Party

Lucas turned three just three days before Christmas. (What a silly sentence! He'll turn 4 and 5 and 6...and 35... just three days before Christmas as well!) We celebrated at my parents' house then left the next day for Ohio. Of course we planned to have the family over, but I felt bad that Lucas wouldn't have any kids at his party. My sister's two best friends in our hometown have 3 and 4 year old nieces (their moms were my classmates in high school!) so we invited the aunts and nieces over. It worked out really well. Lucas especially hit it off with Layne, whose mom and I were friends at age 3, too!

Before the party, Abel spent about a million dollars at the Dollar Store on balloons (just kidding! only like $12! The Dollar Store is the best place to get Mylar balloons!)

Lucas loved them! Luckily we were inside so they didn't lift him up and float him away!

I wanted to do a little craft/activity with the kids and my mom had the idea of making marshmallow snowmen. I put together baggies with all the "ingredients" ahead of time and the aunts worked with their nieces/nephew to put them together. A few adults joined in, too.

To make these, you start with extra-long toothpicks. Push 3 marshmallows down onto the toothpicks, top with a gumdrop ring then a small gumdrop. Use mini chocolate chips and cinnamons for the eyes, nose and buttons. Then, add pretzel sticks for the arms! Easy, fun and you can eat your creation when you're finished!

For dinner, we had pizza with applesauce (for the kids) or a big green salad (for the adults). Continuing with the snowman theme, Sarah and I made cupcakes and my mom found these adorable toppers.

Birthday cake is one of Lucas's favorite things in the entire world!
After a lovely sugar high from eating some of the extra snowman ingredients and cupcakes, the kids had fun running around like crazy before their aunts took them home.

We sent the kids home with their own snowman cup, an extra baggie with the ingredients to make another snowman at home and a (very annoying!) light-up snowman wand my mom had found at the Dollar Store. Because we were leaving the next day, we tied each bag up with 2-3 balloons as well.

It was an absolutely lovely 3rd birthday party!

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Lucas has been experimenting with nicknames lately. Specifically, nicknames for his grandparents. We call my mom and dad grammy and grampy. Abel's parents are moo-moo and po-po (inherited from his older cousin). On our holiday visits to both sides of the family Lucas has been calling his grammy "gram" and his grampy "gramp". He is calling moo-moo "moom" and po-po "pope". It is totally cracking me up!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Favorite Things Friday: Aunt Gloria's Broccoli Casserole

In today's edition of Favorite Things Friday, I bring you a really great recipe: Aunt Gloria's Broccoli Casserole. I fully realize that one of the main ingredients, Cheez Wiz, might turn you off. But, I promise if you try it you will love it!

Before I give you the actual recipe, I want to tell you why this particular recipe is getting honored as a favorite thing on this, the Friday after Christmas. Well, I'll be honest, I considered writing about my family (definitely one of my favorite things!) or my new phone device (my Christmas gift from Abel that I'm obsessed with!). But, ultimately I settled on this recipe because, honestly, it has helped make this Christmas more special for me.

You see, this year was our year to celebrate Christmas with Abel's family and when we spend holidays with them there are, of course, a few things that I miss. My family is at the top of that list, but right below them are all the special foods that my mom prepares each and every year for Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve or Christmas.

So this year I decided to take things into my own hands. I packed up some recipes and the necessary supplies and brought them with me to Abel's parents' house. I scoped out the pantry and went to the grocery store for additional ingredients and on Christmas Eve afternoon I got to work making sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies (my MIL doesn't bake!). I also made an egg & sausage strata and a crumb cake for Christmas morning and--suddenly there appeared a multitude of heavenly host singing--Aunt Gloria's Broccoli Casserole.

Most of my in-laws didn't try it, but I didn't mind because that meant more leftovers for me. Having that one dish--a dish that is a favorite at every Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family--helped make my Christmas with my in-laws feel just a little more like home.

So, here you go. I hope you can see past the Cheez Whiz and give it a shot!

Aunt Gloria's Broccoli Casserole

1/4 C finely chopped onions
4 TBS butter or margarine
2 TBS flour
1/2 C water
8 oz Cheez Whiz
2 10 oz packages chopped broccoli (thawed and drained and--this is key--squeeze out all the water from the thawed broccoli about a fistful at a time)
3 beaten eggs
1/2 C bread crumbs
2 TBS butter or margarine

Saute the onions in 4 TBS butter. Stir in the flour, add the water. Cook over low heat until thick and bubbling. Blend in Cheez Whiz, broccoli and eggs.

Grease a 1.5 quart casserole dish. Pour mixture into casserole. Cover with bread crumbs, melt 2 TBS butter and drizzle over the bread crumbs.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

(You can definitely make this the day before and re-heat in the microwave! I swear that it is even better as left-overs!)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Merry!

Warmest Christmas wishes to all!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

For Sarah and Mike

My sister will be celebrating Christmas Eve with my parents, brother, aunt, uncle and cousins tonight. Her husband Mike will be with his fellow Marines on the Iraqi/Syrian boarder. I'm so proud of both of them and ask you to please keep them in your Christmas prayers.

A Soldier's Silent Night

Monday, December 22, 2008


Happy Birthday, Kink! I can't believe you're turning three today. Sorry about your crappy birth date. You haven't noticed yet, but I'm sure that you'll be mad about it being so close to Christmas in a year or two.

Your Dada and I can hardly believe what a big boy you are now. You're so fun. We love to laugh and joke with you. You want to help with everything all the time. Which is awesome and at the same time makes everything take (at least) twice as long. You tell me I'm "the best Mama ever" and that I'm beautiful. You cheer me on by saying "good job!" You also make sure I know the rules. Just the other day, as I was leaving for work you told me "no hitting, no biting and make sure you share, Mama". I appreciated the reminder.

You love watching TV. In fact it is the first thing you ask for in the morning and the last thing you ask for at night. We try to limit it, we really do. But you love it so much. And, I have to admit, I love watching you watch TV. You smile and laugh and get happy or sad or excited right along with Handy Manny or Diego or Dora. (I'm also very glad that those three characters have helped ignite your recent interest in Spanish since your Dada has not done a very good job with that.)

You also love to be outside, especially at the "new park" (our regular old park got some new equipment over the summer, thus making it seem brand new!). You have friends you love to play with, specifically Baby Will (he's only 8 mos behind you but I fear he will always be known as Baby Will!), Isaac and Sophia (pretty much all the girls you know are named Sophia so any one of them will do!). You love your Abigail, whose home you've been going to three days a week since you were 3 mos old. In the not-too-distant future you'll have to move on to nursery school and I know you'll miss her dearly. After a few days home with Mama and Dada you start asking to go to Abby's house.

Trucks--diggers, dump trucks, garbage trucks--and fire trucks and ambulances are just about the best thing in the world. Especially when we see them in person. When driving, your Dada and I will speed up or slow down or change lanes to help you see a truck!

You love to eat grilled cheese sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. In fact, you often ask for one of those for breakfast! (I've fed you PB&J but so far have drawn the line at grilled cheese before 11am!)

You love to sing! It is amazing that after hearing a song just once or twice I'll hear you singing it later. You don't always get the words right but the melody is there which is amazing to me.

I could go on and on (clearly!), but I'll try to wrap this up. Lucas, you're the best boy in the world and I'm so grateful to be your mama. I'm looking forward to our 4rd year together!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Nativities

As promised, here are some photos of a few more of our nativity scenes. I have several more which I didn't get out this year because I ran out of high places to put them and didn't want to risk Lucas breaking them.

This first one was my paternal grandmother's. She actually painted it! She made a total of seven sets so that eventually each of her grandchildren would have their own nativity (there's a complicated inheritance scheme involved!). This was actually her own personal set and the first one she made. I love how colorful it is. It also kinda' cracks me up that one of the shepherds is black. It was actually pretty progressive of her to include a dark face in the set, but if you think about it, they all should have dark faces! There is also a wooden stable but it doesn't fit on our mantle and this year I wanted this set to be as high as possible!

These are three of my favorite small nativity sets. The far left is carved out of olive wood and is from Israel. Abel and I bought that at a church fair when I was pregnant with Lucas. The middle and far right are Peruvian. I purchased the middle one from a vendor at Eastern Market in DC and my cousin and her Peruvian husband brought the far right one back from Lima, Peru for me last winter.

Thank goodness I have relatives who are world travelers! Another cousin bought this one for me in Switzerland. It is so beautifully carved and I love that they left the bark on the wood.

And, of course, I have to get Lucas in on my obsession with his very own set--the Little People Nativity! My parents gave this to him last Christmas. I thought about arranging the figures before I snapped this picture but I kind of like how he has everyone just milling around. (Please note: Sir Topham Hatt and a gorilla are not included in the set! Can you spot them?)

Thanks for joining me on a tour of just a few of my nativity sets!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Favorite Things Friday: Willow Tree Nativity

If you were to make a surprise visit to my house today you'd notice a few things:

  1. I'm not a very good housekeeper.
  2. A toddler lives in our house.
  3. I have a thing for nativity sets.

Today, I'd like to focus on item #3: nativity sets. I've got a thing for them. My Christmas decor pretty much revolves around nativity sets. Don't get my wrong, I've got plenty of Santas, too, but I think I love the nativity sets so much because they help keep us focused on the reason for the season. (I really hate that saying, by the way!)


If you are looking for a beautiful nativity set, I'd like to recommend the Willow Tree Nativity. For the past two years (and hopefully continuing this year?) my parents have given me pieces of this set for Christmas.

Two years ago they gave me this six piece set. I adore that Mary is holding the Baby Jesus. I mean, if you had given birth to the Son of God in a stable, would you really put him down in the straw manger? No! You'd be holding him close. Isn't this just the exact pose you see in every picture of a mom and her new baby? I also love that the shepherd is a woman!Last year they gave me this three kings set. Because I received it for Christmas, I never really took it out of the box, but just packed it away with our other decorations. It was a special treat to open and put it out this year!

All these figures, like other Willow Tree figures, are beautifully crafted, very sturdy and a nice size. I just adore them!

P.S. Check back tomorrow for photos of a few more of my nativity sets!

P.P.S. Mom, if you haven't gotten me another piece of this set, please please don't run out and buy it now! I'm certain you've gotten me more than enough gifts! Seriously.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Inauguration Tickets

I'm almost bursting with the news that it looks like we have tickets to attend the Inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States! But, just like when we attended his acceptance of the nomination in Denver, I don't think I'll truly believe it until I'm physically holding the tickets in my hand.

I don't know about the rest of the country, but here in the DC-area, coverage of the inauguration festivities has mostly centered around the sheer number of people expected to attend. Estimates range as high as 4 million people. They are talking about things like a ratio of people to port-a-potties of 16,000 to 1. Let me repeat that: 1 toilet for every 16,000 people. They also say that if you are coming from 2 miles or less you shouldn't even attempt taking the Metro but should just walk.

To be honest, all these statistics scare the crap out of me and as much as I had said we'd be down on the Mall no matter what, recently we'd pretty much resigned ourselves to watching the big event on TV with some friends.

Now that equation has changed.

If we have tickets we have to go!

So, I'm mentally preparing myself for a gruelling day. Thinking through the absolute warmest items of clothing I own--or need to purchase.

And I'm starting to get really, really excited.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Just call me the Queen of Sleep

Similar to the day I posted about how great potty training was going and then within days it totally fell apart, I'm certain I'm going to regret this post tomorrow. But, today. Today, I'm going to possibly make you hate me. Today, I claim the crown as the Queen of Sleep.

No, not because, if given the opportunity, I'd happily sleep until 10am or later every day (ah, a girl can dream!). But because all is right in our house once again with Lucas easily going to sleep and staying asleep for 10-11 hours each night.

You see, Lucas has been a champion sleeper since he was just a few months old. I worked really hard to instill good sleep habits and implement a consistent routine when he was tiny and that initial work has truly paid excellent dividends. Well into 2 years old Lucas slept from 7pm to 6am and took TWO 2 hour naps each day. Even after he dropped his morning nap he slept from about 7:30pm until 6:30am and took a 1.5-3 hour afternoon nap each day. We always, ALWAYS, put him to bed awake, kissed him and said good night then left the room. He ALWAYS fell right to sleep and didn't utter a peep until morning.

Then we just had to go and muck it all up by getting Lucas a "big boy bed". He wouldn't stay in bed, wouldn't go to sleep, woke up insanely early. It was awful.

After a few weeks he started staying in bed but would spend 1-1.5 hours yelling down to us. The requests/concerns varied. Sometimes he was scared. Sometimes he just wanted to say hello. Sometimes he was hungry. You get the idea. We tried not to respond but the yelling would just escalate--both in noise level and in urgency.

I was at my wits end. I knew we were making it worse by giving him attention. When he said he was scared we'd comfort him. When he wanted water we'd get it for him. You get the idea.

I knew we had to do something. I knew the key to our old and oh-so-smooth-bedtime was the routine. We'd fallen away from that and Lucas was pushing us as far as we'd possibly go.

I needed to lay down the law. So, Sunday evening right before bed, I whipped up a little chart which outlined Lucas's bedtime routine. This serves two purposes--it gives Lucas control and gives Abel and me boundaries (for example, now we know we can't just sing one more song!).

Here it is:
Obviously I am not an artist! (Also, that tape in the middle of the page is because initially Lucas insisted in hanging it up himself.)

Sunday night we talked about the chart, let him pick out the two books and tell us which two songs to sing. Then he crawled into bed, we kissed him good night and left the room. Then, we went downstairs and I held my breath.

Not. A. Peep.

It was unbelievable.

Monday night and Tuesday night the same thing. Lucas tried to push (and told me that one of those books was actually TV--nice try, Buddy!) but I didn't let him. We just followed the chart.

And all is well, once again.

The Queen of Sleep. That's me.

(And also I'm fully aware that any and all future children will probably never sleep solely because I wrote this post.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Giving

I feel like I'm a jumble of thoughts so bear with me! We're all ready for Christmas. I think. Well, a few more gifts to buy and still have to do all the wrapping, but mostly ready. Abel's dad is still my problem case. I have one idea but Abel says that is our "backup" plan if he doesn't think of something better. I'll bet you $10 that we end up going with my idea.

The only other gifts we need to buy are for the three gift tags we selected from the tree at church on Sunday: a 4 year old boy, 11 year old girl and 16 year old boy. We're going to get each of them 1-2 clothing items, a hat, gloves and a book. We'll also get the little boy a new toothbrush and toothpaste and the older girl and boy some shampoo and/or body wash. Knowing me, I'm sure I'll pick-up a few extra things like crayons or a little bracelet, too. That 16 y.o., though, what else do I get for him? Maybe something will catch my eye.

I'm planning to wrap each item individually and then put them all into a large gift bag for each child. It is so hard to buy items for someone you don't know a thing about other than age, gender and clothing size, but I hope they like everything.

Last night at dinner Abel and I were talking about these gifts and then started talking about the first Christmas after we got engaged. Abel came over to my apartment one evening just about a week before Christmas with the name and address of a family he'd adopted (through some local agency). It was a mom and three kids. We had their ages and sizes. At first I was so mad at him: it was so close to Christmas and I had so much to do. On top of that, he didn't have a job! You see, we'd gotten engaged that past June and in December he found out he was being laid off (big down-turn in the economy...his lobbying firm lost several clients and he was the most junior staff member...sounds familiar!). He did have severance--he was being paid through March with health benefits. And we were getting married in May (little did we know it would be until August that he found a new job.) So, while things weren't tighter-than-usual at the time, we knew tight times were coming and were being very frugal. (Again, sounds familiar, doesn't it?!)

Right after work one evening I went out to Old Navy and Target and, with a pretty strict budget, got several gifts for each person. I remember buying a hat and gloves, PJs and a sweater or sweatshirt for each of the kids at Old Navy. Then at Target I bought them each a board game and book. We bought the mom some clothes, too. And, I think, gave her a grocery store gift card.
We wrapped everything up really nicely and drove it over to their apartment. Well, that was quite an adventure. The neighborhood, not surprisingly as it was in the Anacostia neighborhood of DC, was very very sketchy. It was pretty dark (though only early evening) and I remember being pretty nervous walking from our car to their apartment. (Luckily I was walking next to a big Mexican guy!!) When we got to the apartment building door, the buzzer didn't work! We had to wait (for what seemed like forever) until someone came out. We told them we were there to give gifts to the X Family and did they know them. They didn't but let us in anyway. We knocked on the door and the family was shocked--and delighted. They were so grateful. They had submitted their name but had no idea they had been "adopted". As we carried in the boxes, the kids were so excited.

I felt bad because I had hoped they'd think it was all from Santa. I guess that it was pretty naive of me to think that these kids still believed in Santa.

Even though that was one of the leanest Christmases for us personally, that experience was one of the most meaningful of all my Christmas memories.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Lucas says...

Lucas has been saying the cutest things lately. Here's a sampling of a few comments from the past few days:

"Great job blowing your nose mom!" Guess we know our positive reinforcement is working!

"Mom, you are the best helper." After he "helped" me make dinner!

To our neighbor, who was holding his son's paci in his mouth backwards (we've all done that, right?):
"Chad, you're a big boy, not a baby. You don't need a paci!"

Friday, December 12, 2008

Favorite Things Friday:

Very long hyperlinks that often get "broken" in e-mail are just one of modern life's little annoyances. Nothing we can do about it, right?


In today's edition of Favorite Things Friday, I bring you one of my new favorite websites: This might just be one of the most useful little, er, tiny, sites you ever visit.

What does TinyURL do? Just what it says: take a long URL and make it tiny!

So, for example, this:

becomes this:

(notice how I directed you to a syndicated post by ME?! Sneaky am I!)

When you create your tiny URL, you can have them randomly assign you what comes after the slash (generally a mismash of letters and numbers) or you can create your own (as I did above). Cool!

So go check it out.

You'll never send a broken link again!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas cards!

Our Christmas cards arrived yesterday! After much gnashing of teeth, I am incredibly pleased with the result. Generally, my preference is to mail a very religious, non-photo greeting card and enclose a 4x6 photo of Lucas.

But, this year.

Well, time was at a minimum and stress was at a maximum. So, I looked through dozens upon dozens of recent photos and chose 4 to include on a photo greeting card from Shutterfly. I think the "theme" of the photos is the pure joy on Lucas's face and so my greeting is "Wishing you love and joy -- lots and lots of joy! Merry Christmas!"

Our 75 cards arrived yesterday and I am thrilled with the result. The photos printed really, really nicely; I love the retro background and our greeting. And, I think there is enough space at the bottom to write a short personal note (to do: purchase fine tip sharpie) which makes me happy.

I'm very much looking forward to spending the next few evenings addressing, signing, sealing and stamping our cards. If you're lucky enough to be on our list, look for yours soon!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Don't hate me because I'm lucky

I've posted before about my luck in winning contests. And, am very pleased to report that the streak has continued in the bloggy world. Recently I won Tech Savvy Mama's year-long membership to Sitter City. And, in just the past few days, I've been notified that I won Mummy Product Reviews' giveaway of a one year subscription to Brain, Child magazine and two tickets to the Spy Museum from Passion and Art.

I'm particularly excited about these three prizes because they are just so darn useful. I mean, who isn't constantly on the look out for a babysitter? Brain, Child is described as a magazine for "thinking moms" and what am I if not an over thinking mom? Finally, the Spy Museum. I've been wanting to go since it opened, but I have never been able to bring myself to pay to get into a Washington, DC museum. There are so many free museums that I don't go to enough, why pay for one? Now that I have two tickets for free admission, I can't wait to check it out!

Thanks Leticia, Victoria and Kim, for these great prizes that are helping me to keep my sanity during what has been a very trying few weeks in the Smiling Mama household.

Monday, December 8, 2008

We're going for a record here

For the 4th week in a row, I took Lucas to the doctor this morning.

We got a clean bill of health for Lucas last Tuesday. But, Friday morning when we left for Greensboro he was coughing and had a runny nose. He really was fine, though, running around, sleeping through the night, eating well. Just a cold, we thought.

Then last night he started whimpering at about 11pm when we went up to bed. (Totally stayed up too late watching the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. And I cried over both the movie and the commercials!) I went into his room and he was burning up with a fever. Gave him some Tylenol cuddled and let him sleep with me. Called in sick to work this morning and got him in for a morning appointment.

Diagnosis: ear infection and pneumonia.

Are you kidding me? I thought we were done being sick. Now it starts all over?

So, this is week 4 of 4 with a doctor appointment. We'll have a follow-up next week then he'll be due for his 3 year old appointment so it is looking like we'll be visiting the doctor every week for 6 weeks.

I've written a new Christmas list: All I want for Christmas is for all of us to be well!

A Wedding Weekend

We drove down to Greensboro, NC this weekend to attend the wedding of my good friend Stephanie and her now-husband Will. It was wonderful!

We stayed at the Proximity Hotel, the only LEED Platinum rated hotel in the country! Not only is it incredibly luxurious, it is incredibly green. The water is heated by solar panels on the roof, almost all the materials came from local sources and--how cool is this?--the elevator captures energy going down to use to go back up!

Oh and did I mention that my parents were watching Lucas for the weekend?

So the hotel and weekend alone were nice, but of course, the best part was all the wedding-related festivities. A fun girls luncheon, manicures, rehearsal, rehearsal dinner...then of course the actual wedding and reception on Saturday.

A few fun things I wanted to share...
  • Be careful leaving the husbands and boyfriends of the bridal party alone in the back of the church during the rehearsal. They might just end up putting together an under/over bet on the length of the ceremony.*
  • I did a great job with my reading. In fact many people came up to me during the reception to tell me what a great job I did. One person, a cousin of the groom, told me that the reading and the way I read it "made me rethink the importance of my own wedding vows". Wow.
  • Perhaps I should offer my reading services for hire!
  • There was a band at the reception and it was so fun! They did a great job of getting people out onto the dance floor.
  • This is the second reception I've been to where someone ordered pizza to be delivered. Come one people, seriously.
  • The reception ended with a really awesome Slovak tradition (from the bride's family). The women form a circle, lock arms and dance around the bride. The groom tries to break through while the women hold him off. Eventually, of course, he breaks in, scoops up the bride and carries her off to everyone cheering for them. It was a really awesome way to conclude the celebration!

*Abel won! The ceremony was well under 37 minutes in length!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Other places

Come on over and visit me at DC Metro Moms today.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Today I was a Fun Mom

I don't know what got into me today. Maybe the fact that we've been passing a cold around our family for the past two weeks but are now all feeling better. Maybe the fact that Christmas is fast-approaching. Maybe the fact that my son's third birthday is even faster-approaching. Maybe for no reason at all. But, I know that today, today I was a fun mom.

As opposed, that is, to a strict mom, a mean mom, a yelling mom or a boring mom. Today I was fun. Today I let my son play in the bathroom sink with his cars and get himself and the floor soaked. Why not? Clean up was as easy as a new shirt and toweled off floor. Today I let him mix his yogurt into his grape juice. Why not? Maybe I'm developing a future scientist. And, guess what? He drank it up and proclaimed YUM! at the end. Today at the park, I ran around and played with him, went down the slide with him and swung next to him. Why not? It was too cold to stand still anyway and besides, we were the only ones there. He would have been pretty lonely without me as a playmate.

Yes, today I said yes to fun. Messy, gross, exuberant fun. Why not every day? Why do I normally give in to my instinct that playing in the sink will just make a big mess, that yogurt and grape juice would be gross mixed together, that my fun at the park is to sit on a bench and check my e-mail on my phone?

When I look back at my own childhood, my fondest memories are the ones where my mom let us have fun in totally unexpected ways. One afternoon she let us empty all the cupboards to play store. Imagine that! Another day she built us a huge tent in the backyard. I am certain that these days were the exceptions but they were just plain fun and they are what have stuck with me.

I know that there will be plenty more times when I don't allow the dinnertable to become a time for food experiments, when I will spend our time at the park checking my phone and when I'll feel as though I have spent the entire day saying "no" rather than "yes". But, I hope that I am the fun mom often enough that it is days like today that become my son's strongest childhood memories.

Original post to DC Metro Moms. Aimee writes about the times she's a fun mom, a mean mom and every time in between at her personal blog


jodifur said...
I hear you on this. I feel like I never get to be a fun mom! Good for you.

Claire Jess said...
Sounds nice! It's all in the attitude (she said knowing full well you gotta have some clutter tolerance and the time to deal with it). I went to a conference recently where a mom suggested having a "Yes Day" scheduled for every so often. My problem is when all the things they want to do conflict with each other!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Favorite Things Friday: Automoblox

For today's edition of Favorite Things Friday, I bring you Automoblox. Abel and I each decided that these would make an awesome birthday or Christmas present for Lucas without even talking about it. I first saw them on-line here. Abel saw them in a print catalog for this company and promptly ordered two--the green truck and red sports car.

And, I can report that they are amazing!

How can I report this, you ask? Well, because Lucas has already received them. I know that it is still 17 days until Lucas's birthday and 20 days until Christmas. But, cut us some slack, Lucas was so darn pathetic when he was sick recently that we just had to try to cheer him up somehow. We intended to just give him one car but when we saw how much fun he we all were having playing with it, we broke out another one.

We took them with us to my parents over Thanksgiving and everyone loved them--my 16 year old cousin was as impressed with them as my father!

Now, before I get too far, I do want to let you know upfront that they are kind of pricey. On Automoblox they range from $38-$40 each. (Currently there is free shipping on orders over $60!). Amazon has them as low as about $34 and they are eligible for free super saver shipping. Abel purchased ours from here for $35 each.

Despite the price, however, I am seriously considering buying 1-2 more for Lucas because I want to try out some new combinations they are just so cool! Here are some of the best features:

  • Amazing construction--I am confident that they will hold up to years of rough play

  • Cool design--these are more like works of art than toys

  • Challenging--literally every part of these cars comes apart and the models are interchangeable. I can see Lucas's little mind working hard to figure out new combinations. And, the adults had fun working on new combinations as well! I'd rate them as appropriate for ages 2.5 through 99!
So if you're looking for a great gift that is well-constructed, well-designed and promotes creative play, I highly recommend Automoblox.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Keep Calm and Carry On

Everyone in the Internets has seen this wonderful poster, correct? Well I think I need to tattoo it on, oh say, the back of my hand for quick and easy reference.

You see, last night I banged out a post FREAKING out about the fact that it is already December 2 (yesterday) and I am SO. FAR. BEHIND. on Christmas. No cards. No card photo. No tree. No decorations. And WHEN oh WHEN will I have time to do all this? I concluded with the fact that I may as well just skip Christmas cards and decorating this year because I am so. far. behind.

Luckily I didn't hit post immediately but decided to sit on it overnight. Whew. So glad I did. Because then I was able to say to myself:

Calm the f*#k down Miss Type A freak. Calm down.

It is now only December 3. Plenty of time to snap an adorable pic of Lucas (or heck, troll through our hundreds of recent pics for one or more adorable shots) and upload and order cards. Plenty of time to decorate, even though we are out of town this weekend. Still several weekends left after that. Hey, not everyone in the world is obsessed with mailing their cards the Monday after Thanksgiving. In fact, strong evidence shows that MOST people don't mail their cards until just a few days before Christmas, as I well know because I enjoy getting cards in the mail up to and-- wait for it--after Christmas day. And, let's give credit where credit is due: I am doing fabulously on my Christmas gift shopping. I have already purchased (hooray for Etsy!) or know exactly what I am going to get for every person on our list (except Abel's dad. He is IMPOSSIBLE.) So that is definitely a positive thing.

So, people, let's just breathe. Keep calm and carry on. Christmas is fast approaching, yes. But, there is still plenty of time to get it all done.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sick: By the Numbers

  • 3 people
  • 16 consecutive days of sickness
  • 5 visits to the doctor (with one more tomorrow, Lucas's 2nd follow up)
  • 2 antibiotics prescribed
  • 3 oral or inhaled steroids prescribed
  • 6 boxes of tissues used
  • 2 bags of cough drops consumed
  • 2 times I've cleaned the car and car seat of vomit
  • Countless hours of TV watched
  • Countless loads of laundry washed