Thursday, December 31, 2009

What a decade!


Perhaps I'm a little slow but I just realized today (thanks to the news) that as we ring in 2010 tonight we are also closing out a decade. And, what a decade it's been!

I rang in the year 2000 with my sister here in Washington, DC. She was still in high school and I had just graduated from college. We went down to the National Mall for the festivities happening there. I remember being worried about taking care of her, just in case anything crazy happened (it didn't) and also being worried about the whole Y2K thing (also didn't happen!).

Then, just a few days later, Abel moved into the group house I was living in. And, with that, my life was forever changed. In the ensuing 10 years we would fall in love, get married, buy a house, have a baby and get pregnant with our second boy. Wow! All that doesn't even include me making a major career change (out of politics, something I never thought I'd do!), earning a master's degree and then scaling back to work part-time after Lucas was born.

It is hard to imagine any future decade of my life being so jam-packed with wonderful and amazing change as this decade has been. Certainly no past decade has been this full.

I do know that 2010 will start off with great excitement as we welcome the new baby and when this decade closes, Lucas will have just turned 14 and baby boy will be almost 10. Who knows if they will have siblings or what other wonderful adventures we'll be up to. But I, for one, am very excited to find out!

Wishing you and your loved ones much happiness and joy in 2010!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Heartbreaking and Beautiful

It was probably very unsafe for me to be listening to this story on All Things Considered this afternoon on the Beltway as I drove home from my 37 week OB appointment. But, even as the tears streamed down my face, I simply could not turn the station.

The truly beautiful and heartbreaking story is about one photographer (of many) who volunteers to photograph babies who die shortly after birth and of one mother and baby she photographed.

I am so, so grateful that this pregnancy has gone so well and that our (still-nameless!) baby appears to be very happy and healthy in my womb.

Here's the story. I highly recommend listening to it, but please be prepared to sob.

Capturing the Brief Life and Death of an Infant


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lovely Gifts

This year for Christmas Abel and I decided not to exchange gifts but rather to purchase a flat screen TV for our bedroom. This was a fact that I confirmed with him several times. But, I should have known that he'd have something up his sleeve!

You see, although his gifts are often purchased at the very last minute, Abel is an excellent gift-giver. He consistently gives me things that I would never in a million years purchase for myself, things that I wouldn't even think to desire. But also, that almost without fail, I end up loving.

He did it again this year. Apparently at least a month ago, he saw somewhere that a "hot" gift this year would be a shawl/wrap with three buttons so it could be adjusted to wear in several different styles. Thinking of my pregnant belly--and love of wraps--he tried to purchase one for me, only to find out that because it had been featured on whatever show, it was completely sold out. Not to be deterred, he apparently contacted my dear friend and knitter-extraordinaire, Katie, to knit one for me. Below is a (bad) picture of the final product (we are away from home and lacking the proper cord to upload real pictures so this was taken on my phone). I absolutely adore it! Not only is it completely lovely and useful, I love and appreciate the fact that Abel did so much work and planning to make this happen and that he and Katie worked on this together as a top secret project.
(And, Katie, my entire family is agreed that you need to start selling these. Might I recommend opening an etsy shop?)

As a second surprise, Abel got me Senator Kennedy's memoir. I have thought to myself on several occasions that I'd like to read this book but don't think I ever mentioned that out loud to Abel. Also, I most likely would have borrowed it from the library but am very happy to now have it in my permanent collection. I just started it and am already enjoying it a great deal.



Unfortunately, I was not as thoughtful as my husband was this Christmas: I didn't have any surprise gifts for him. I feel kind of bad about this, but not too bad as the TV really is for him. I've always vowed that I'd never have a TV in my bedroom but am soon to become the proud owner of one.

I hope you received some lovely and thoughtful gifts as well!


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

This Green Mom's Dirty Little Secret: I Love the Crush of Holiday Catalogs

I definitely consider myself a "green" mom. We're doing our best to be as eco-friendly as possible in our household. We use green cleaners. We recycle. We have a rain barrel. We gave up paper towels and paper napkins in favor of dish towels, cloth rags and cloth napkins. We're planning to use cloth diapers with baby #2 when he joins us in January. We do what we can.

And yet, every year around the holidays, I have one dirty little secret: I absolutely love the crush of holiday catalogs. As others complain on Facebook about the waste and share tips via listserv about how to stop the deluge, I secretly revel in the number of mailing lists we must be on.

While I'm slightly perplexed and annoyed that the Christmas items came out before the Halloween stuff went on clearance this year, I was thrilled when the first catalogs arrived several weeks before Thanksgiving. A solid six weeks of lovely, glossy mail had begun!

No, I don't have anyone on my list for whom I will purchase a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired lamp nor do I have anyone to whom I will send a $200 gift basket from Zingerman's Deli. But I sure did enjoy pouring over those catalogs. I love the toy catalogs and clothing catalogs with equal passion. I analyze the pictures, read the descriptions and dream of gifts I'd purchase for every family member, friend and acquaintance. Plus, maybe a few goodies for myself.

And then, after I've throughly enjoyed each and every catalog, they all go straight into the recycling bin.


Original post to DC Metro Moms. When Aimee Olivo isn't waiting for the mail to arrive she blogs at Smiling Mama and Out by Ten.

Stimey said...
I love those catalogs too. I look at every page of most of them. But I recycle too!

Dawn Mooney said...
Love this Aimee! We all have to have our guilty pleasures, but yours ends with recycling even, so I say no guilt necessary. :)

Kate Coveny Hood said...
Oh - me too! And always have... I remember hoarding toy catalogs as a little girl. Now I love the jewelry catalogs best.


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas!

Santa was very good to us this year. The biggest and best reactions from Lucas came from the orange in his stocking, his new electric toothbrush and the touch 'n brush. How fun to witness the wonder of a child on Christmas morning! He also loved his new big boy bike complete with a helmet, bell, bike "basket" and light.

I'm reveling in the fact that we're "home" to enjoy my family's many long-standing Christmas traditions, most of which revolve around foods which I'm not preparing!

Warmest wishes to you and your family!


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Baby is Four

I'm not quite sure how this happened, but Lucas turns four today. Four! That is just crazy to me.

He's already had three celebrations and will have a fourth tomorrow. First, with my in-laws over Thanksgiving. Second, at his friends party. Third, when he took cupcakes into school. Tomorrow's fourth celebration will be with my family. As for today, he'll have his 4 year old well visit (yeah, I know, the receptionist already gave me a hard time for scheduling him for shots on his actual birthday, but if I don't do it now then it will be well into January before we really have time to get back to the doctor), then Abel and I will take him to his "favorite restaurant" for lunch: Panera. (Isn't that too funny that Panera is his absolute favorite?!)

We're giving him a digital camera for his birthday. A real, live digital camera. Part of me thinks we're insane yuppy parents for getting a four year old an adult camera, but truthfully we found one that was only about $25 more than the very crappy-photo-taking kid versions. I really think he'll be more careful with one that isn't coated in gaudy plastic but rather looks like ours. And, he really loves taking pictures. In fact, he's my favorite photographer to pose for because after he snaps a shot of me, he's always sure to tell me how "beautiful" I look in the picture!

As I have every year, I told him again this year about "All I Want for Christmas is You" being our song. Previous to four Christmases ago, I didn't like that song one bit, but four years ago, when I was preparing for Christmas and his birth at the same time, it really struck a cord with me.

This year, it has struck a cord with him as well. He asks me every few days to tell him again how "you told Santa you didn't want ANY presents, you just wanted your baby. That's ME! And I came just in time." He's even had me recount the story several times to groups of friends and strangers alike.




Now my baby is a big boy and we have another baby on the way. I know Lucas is going to be an amazing big brother and I can't wait to see what this year has in store for all of us.

Happy Birthday, Lucas! You are my best Christmas present ever!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Favorite Things Friday: Melissa's Slow Cooker Tacos

Christmas is ONE WEEK away! Who has time to cook? Not me!

For today's Favorite Things Friday I'm pleading with you to click over to Suburban Bliss for the "Did They Eat It?" Slow Cooker Tacos recipe. Seriously. This is one of the easiest dishes I have ever made. (You don't even have to thaw the chicken!) And it turned out to be incredibly delicious. Abel and I both loved it. The next night we even invited some friends to stay for dinner at the very last minute and served these as leftovers. Abel and I loved them even more and our friends raved about them, too.

A few quick notes:

1) I used an entire packet of taco seasoning. (Unlike Melissa, I don't make my own but probably should.)
2) I used a bag of frozen corn and did not think it was too much or too sweet.
3) I would consider using two cans of black beans next time.
4) I think this could be turned into a yummy vegetarian dish by adding even more and different types of beans.
5) We're tortilla snobs and highly recommend Trader Joe's handmade tortillas.
6) On the first night we had Goya Mexican rice as a side, on the second night we made white rice, put it in the tortilla and wrapped them up like burritos. Both were delicious!

Now! Click over, make and enjoy!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Amazing Hot Chocolate


Want to know something strange about me? I Do. Not. Like. Hot. Beverages. Seriously. I'll almost always pass on hot tea and very much dislike coffee. The only exception is that when the weather turns cold I love hot chocolate. A tall hot chocolate from Starbucks is my favorite (I can never finish the larger sizes!). So much so that when I developed gestational diabetes when pregnant with Lucas and had to give up hot chocolate from the end of October through the end of December, my biggest request of something for Abel to bring me in the hospital was a Starbucks hot chocolate. Boy did I savor that drink!

The weather has certainly turned cold but these days I rarely get to a Starbucks. What to do? What to do? Try to recreate it at home!

Ghirardelli to the rescue!

I mean unsweetened dark cocoa is good for you, right? (Antioxidants and all that!). The recipe for some pretty delicious hot chocolate is right on the back of that can. I use approximate measurements but it's basically 1 C of milk, 1.5 TBS cocoa and 1.5 TBS sugar. You must take the time to slowly cook/warm it on the stove top while stirring constantly.

Really, I insist. (And go ahead and double that in advance--you'll certainly want more than 1 cup!)

Cooking it slowly on the stove allows the cocoa dissolve nicely and doesn't scald the milk. When it's up to your desired temperature pour it into your favorite mug and then, of course, add a generous helping of miniature marshmallows or whip cream.

Enjoy!



Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nickelodeon ParentsConnect's World's Biggest On-line Baby Shower

The total bummer about baby number two being not only a boy but a boy born in the same season as Lucas is there's absolutely no reason at all* for anyone to throw me a baby shower. I mean, we've got the stroller, the car seats, the pack 'n play, the clothes...everything is blue and is up in the attic just waiting to be used again.

So, I was uber-flattered when the oh-so-lovely Jessica over at A Parent in Silver Spring sent me my very own personalized invitation to the most amazing-sounding baby shower ever! Seriously, how sweet is she? Guess what? You're invited, too!

Okay, okay, I confess, this shower isn't being thrown just for me, but there's no reason why you and I can't pretend it is being thrown just for me, is there? (Seriously, if you have no need for any of these prizes then you should still log-in and try to win some for me! I mean just because I have the necessities up in the attic doesn't mean there aren't tons of extras I'd love to have!)

Here's the scoop...

TOMORROW, Wednesday December 16, Nickelodeon ParentsConnect's is hosting the World's Biggest Online Baby Shower. The interactive online event is taking place on the ParentsConnect Message Board from 10am -8pm. They'll have shower games, parenting advice and tons of awesome prizes. (And I mean TONS of AWESOME prizes!)

You can jump in and out anytime throughout your day--they'll be doing giveaways on a regular basis all day long!

Take a look at the stuff they'll be giving away - an UppaVista Baby Stroller ($699 retail), a bloom fresco loft highchair ($500 retail), a Medela Freestyle breast pump (brand new of course, $379) that weighs less than one pound!, $300 Diapers.com gift certificate, Britax car seats and tons of stuff more like bouncy seats, jewelry, edible treats, baby monitors, kids' books, baby carriers...the list goes on.

The online party will be hosted by The Shower Diva Susan Newton, the guru of baby and bridal showers that are actually a blast...because you know we've all been to some that, uh, aren't so much of a blast.

So my dear readers, here's how you can join in the fun:

1) Log In or Register for ParentsConnect. Visit: http://www.parentsconnect.com/me/registration/index.jhtml

2) Head over to Pingg, RSVP "Yes!" and then use the "Share Invite" feature to invite everyone you know! The person with the most guests wins a $650 stroller! RSVP here: http://parentsconnect.pingg.com/babyshower

3) Come to parentsconnect.com on December 16th anytime between 10am - 8pm ET for all the fun stuff about baby showers - the gifts! the games! - without any of the suck! Visit: http://www.parentsconnect.com/connect/boards/bootcamp/baby_shower/chat_it_up.jhtml

I'll can't wait to see you at my (la la la...still pretending!) baby shower! I'll be logged on as smilingaimee.


*But, actually, I felt incredibly lucky that some of my wonderful friends in town did throw shower for Abel and me and totally hooked us up with some amazingly generous gift certificates to get us started on our adventures in cloth diapering (yeah, call us crazy!).


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lucas's 4th Birthday Party

We hosted a birthday party for Lucas on Saturday and it was AWESOME! I had so much fun planning all the details and everything worked out perfectly!

Since all of Lucas's previous birthdays have been very low-key affairs, held at his grandparents' homes with mostly relatives as guests, we knew we wanted to throw Lucas a birthday party with his friends this year. I also knew that we'd have to hold the party a few weeks before his birthday (who's going to attend a birthday party just a few days before Christmas?) and that I'd be hugely pregnant at the time. I really felt like having a party at our house was out of the question so started researching venues back in October. I quickly settled on the Watkins Nature Center because it allowed the most number of people, was the least expensive, and just sounded like a lot of fun.

We went with a green and brown "wild" theme after I found these kraft paper invitations on clearance at target for $2.08 per pack of 20! My mom made the 4s and frogs on the die cut machine at her school. I just love how they turned out!


I bought a big roll of package wrapping paper and found green plastic tablecloths, paper plates and napkins at Target. Green is a great color choice in December--it's everywhere! We bought one of those one-time-use helium machines for the balloons. Definitely a great invention!


As part of the party package, the nature center provides each child with a coloring book of all the animals at the center. I found 24 packs of crayons on clearance and used the extra frogs to write a thank you message to each guest. Everyone was sent home with a pack of crayons attached to a balloon and a coloring book. They were a hit!


As the guests arrived, they were free to explore the Nature Center. After everyone had arrived we went into a classroom for a special 30 minute "Wild Animal Show" which was very cool. The naturist brought out and taught the kids about crickets and toads (the kids got to watch a toad eat the crickets--a huge hit!), turtles and snakes. The kids got to touch the turtle and snake. I was so impressed with how well the show kept the attention of a big group of 3 and 4 year olds.
Then, we went into the party room for cupcakes. Luckily I had brought a pack of baby wipes so each of the kids could clean their hands before eating. We kept the food very simple. I made cupcakes and had juice boxes for the kids. We had a cooler full of soda and water for the adults.

After a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday to You" Lucas folded his hands and made the most adorable wish (out loud): "I wish everyone could come over to my house."

We decided to wait and have Lucas open the gifts at home so after cupcakes everyone was free to either leave or go back and enjoy the Nature Center. Some left right away and others stayed to explore some more.

Overall this was an excellent party! I loved the super-simple but appropriate brown & green WILD theme and especially loved not having it at our house. Set-up and clean-up was really easy (especially with my parents in attendance to help). We got rave reviews and I really think everyone had a great time!

When I was growing up we had a "friends" birthday party only every other year. I think that would be a great tradition to implement for Lucas and his baby brother, too.


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Will sharing a closet be the true test of our marriage?

The closet project is finished! Abel and I are now officially sharing a closet for the first time in our marriage. If you haven't been over to DC Metro Moms yet this weekend, click on over to read my latest post, "Will sharing a closet be the true test of our marriage?"


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Will sharing a closet be the true test of our marriage?

After more than six years of marriage, my husband and I are now sharing a closet for the very first time. We've successfully weathered good times and challenging times but now I'm wondering, will this be the true test of our marriage?

Our first apartment and current home have had the lovely charm of older construction: hardwood floors, thick walls and unique details. Unfortunately they also have had the not-so-lovely charm of very small closets.

We have successfully worked around this problem by one of us keeping their clothes in the guest room. For the past several years, I called our current guest room my dressing room. I filled up the closet with my clothes and had my dresser, jewelry and mirror in there. My husband used the closet in our master bedroom and had his dresser in there as well.

This arrangement worked out quite nicely over the years. I kept my closet as messy or as organized as I wanted: as long as the door was shut he didn't notice or care. Same for his closet.

Now, with the impending arrival of baby #2 in January, our older son is moving into the guest room. And, with that move I'm not only losing my dressing room but my husband and I are now sharing a closet for the first time ever!

Because my maternity wardrobe is considerably smaller than any season's regular wardrobe, he's currently taking up two-thirds of the hanging space. Of course, I've taken up more than half of the shelving with my purses and shoes. So far we've both kept things neat and tidy, but that's not saying much as it's only been a week!

I'm a little nervous about this new arrangement. What will happen when I fit back into my regular clothes and need more space? How will he handle it when I sloppily discard the first few shirt or pants options I try on one morning? How annoyed will I be when his ties don't get put back on their rack but get strewn over the shelf? Or when he leaves his dirty clothes on the floor?

These may just be our marriage's true tests!


Original post for DC Metro Moms. Aimee Olivo blogs about life with her growing family at Smiling Mama and features family-friendly activities in Prince George's County, MD at Out by Ten.

Bowie Mike said...
Well, at least your problems are small in comparison to the problems in the Tiger Wood's home. In our bedroom, a previous owner created a closet that ran the entire length of the room. It made the room 4 feet shorter, but it solved the closet space problem. Not sure if that's an option for you. If not, there's always counseling :)

ShallowGal said...
I always say the secret to a successful marriage is separate closets and bathrooms.

Nursing tops said...
hahaha that is nice i think Mike. it doensn't really matter for me if i have a small room so long as my things are all kept organized in the closet.




Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Favorite Things Friday: Good Search


I've oft mentioned my sister on this blog but have rarely, if ever, mentioned my brother. It's not for lack of love but rather because my sister also has a blog and therefore puts herself "out there" on the internet so I feel she's fair game. My brother hasn't done that and so I feel it's only fair to not put him "out there" myself.

But, for today's Favorite Things Friday, I'm featuring a website my brother told me about and I'm also taking the opportunity to brag about him a bit. He's the executive director of a fledgling non-profit in Philadelphia called Urban Blazers. Their mission is to provide "unique opportunities for physical activity and education, contact with nature, and social connection to promote the healthy development of underserved youth in Philadelphia." So basically they take inner-city kids who maybe rarely get out of their neighborhood, let alone get to do something many of us take for granted like go camping, and take them on outdoor adventures. In the process, they teach the kids about nature, science and, most importantly, about themselves and what they can achieve.

Pretty cool, right? (Also, my brother? He's very cute, tall and single...just sayin')

So anyway, there's this great search engine and shopping website that makes contributions to non-profit organizations like Urban Blazers. It's called Good Search. All it takes on your part is going to the site to do your searches or your on-line shopping. You select the organization you want your search or purchase to support and they get the money.

Simple, right?


If you don't have any other non-profit you want to support, I'd love to recommend Urban Blazers. Most likely you do have a favorite non-profit so go to the site and search for them in the "Who do you Goodsearch for?" box before you do your search or your shopping.

Easy as pie and if we all did it on a regular basis, it would help some wonderful non-profits tremendously.


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

O Christmas Tree

I realized last night that this is becoming an annual tradition for me...I fully intend for us to get a tree and decorate right after Thanksgiving. Then, on or about the second week of December, when we haven't gotten down a single box or purchased a tree, I begin lamenting that Christmas is ALMOST HERE and there's NO POINT in decorating now since we'll just have to PUT IT ALL AWAY again in a few short weeks.

Oh well, I think to myself, there's always next year.

And then Abel magically appears with a tree and we get the decorations down and it all happens. And I savor each and every nativity scene (I have A LOT) and Santa and ornament and our home looks so lovely and for two or three weeks I thoroughly enjoy it.

Our very first Christmas together as an engaged couple was a challenging one. We had gotten engaged that previous summer (on my birthday!) and Abel found out around Thanksgiving that he was being laid off. Needless to say, we were broke. I had a very, very cozy (read: tiny) apartment to myself and Abel lived in a fairly gross house with 2-3 other guys (it varied) so we spent most of our time at my apartment. Did I mention we were broke? Each weekend we walked over to Eastern Market and as the holidays approached, we admired the beautiful evergreens for sale. Since we would both be traveling to our respective families for Christmas and we were broke (did I mention that?) we only admired them from afar.

Then, one evening I came home from work to find Abel at my apartment with a wonderful surprise. He had literally emptied both his and my change jars, counted out the coins and purchased a diminutive (but quite lovely) Christmas tree with about 75 cents to spare! Decorations were sparse that year but it probably was the most special tree we'll ever have.

Yesterday afternoon I came home to find a Christmas tree on our side porch. We're going to decorate it with Lucas tonight!



Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Thank goodness SOME people are preparing for this baby!

OMG people. 6 weeks until my due date. And, you know, Lucas was a solid week and a half early. So we could be approximately one month away from bringing home a real live little baby with demanding, life-sustaining needs! Ahhhhhh!

I had a dream the other night that we got our cloth diapers delivered right before the baby was born. I had literally nothing else ready. (Kind of like exactly what I have ready now except I don't even have diapers yet.) I said, "Oh well! We've got diapers and breast milk, what more do we need?" (Obviously this was a dream because in real life my response would be much closer to a panic attack.)

I suppose that is technically true. I mean there's nothing cuter than a naked little baby, right? And we have an adorable little knit hat which my mom found at her church Christmas bizarre. And we can probably smuggle a onesie or two out of the hospital. So that's like 3 hours worth of clothing?

Luckily, some people are preparing for the birth of this little baby boy. Namely, my parents.

My mom finished the baby quilt and also threw together a receiving blanket and changing pad cover with the fabric I bought (er, she bought, she insisted on paying me so it was truly a gift from her!). How lovely are these?


L to R: quilt, receiving blanket, changing pad cover


And, my dad arrived Monday afternoon to spend a few days with us working on preparing Lucas's new room. His tasks are to remove the awful old paste from the wallpaper Abel ripped down and to paint. My tasks include choosing a paint color (hopefully before he's ready to actually paint!) and buying a bed. Abel will install a closet system and then that room will be pretty much ready to go. Then we can paint and decorate the nursery. And get the car seat and some clothes and the baby bathtub and myriad other things which I'm totally assuming are packed away and in good condition down from the attic.

Think carefree...totally carefree....

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 7, 2009

40% off Coupons for Kodak Gallery

Many, many weeks ago I randomly decided to respond to an e-mail request for people to host house parties for Kodak Gallery. We use Kodak Gallery for most of our digital picture needs and so the e-mail came to my personal e-mail account. I filled out a survey and promptly forgot all about it. Then, several weeks ago I got an e-mail that I had been selected as a host.

Fun, right?

So, this past weekend we had a few friends over and I showed off the Kodak goodies I'd gotten to create for free. The nice people at Kodak also sent me samples of various holiday cards (which really confused Abel for several moments as he tried to figure out who in the world The Bakers were when he didn't recognize anyone in the photo!) AND they sent me literally more than 100 coupons for 40% off pretty much anything on the site (everything, actually except the 9 cent prints). My friends took lots of coupons to use and pass along to their friends and family but I still have a huge pile left.

Who would I rather give them to than my loyal blog readers? No one, that's who!

The thing is that literally every coupon has a different code, so I can't just print the code here and say "go enjoy!" Rather, you'll have to e-mail me directly (smilingaimee at gmail dot com) and I'll write back with a code just for you. The catch is that they all expire on December 12. So, if you've been waiting to do your photo cards or want to order the grandparents one of those nifty photo calendars then you should definitely get a code and make time to do is this week!

Just drop me an e-mail (smilingaimee at gmail dot com) with something like "Kodak Code" or "Coupon please" in the subject and I'll so my best to respond promptly! Enjoy!


Blogging disclaimer: Okay, I am pretty sure that being selected as a host had nothing to do with the fact that I have a blog, but I did receive $75 in free Kodak Gallery products for hosting a party and got like a gazillion coupons to give out to friends and family. People, they really want you to check out their newly redesigned site!



Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Amazing Teachers

I come from a pretty large family and although we don't have a single doctor or lawyer among us, we have many, many teachers. Aunts, an uncle, numerous cousins, my mom and my sister are all teachers. My brother even spent a year teaching at a very challenging inner-city New York school.

I've never sat in on any of their classes, but I'm pretty confident that they are all excellent teachers. The kind of teachers who truly have changed the lives of their students. I know for sure that my sister is that kind of teacher. With only three short years of teaching under her belt, she's received notes from students that many teachers only dream about receiving: "you changed my life" kind of notes.

I didn't go into teaching myself but my sister often tells me I'd make a good one. The thing is, it just seems like too difficult of a job. Yeah, the school day ends around 3pm and there are weeks off at Christmas and for Spring Break. Having the summer off would be pretty great. But, my friends and relatives who are teachers are pretty much the only people I know who don't have a moment to return a quick e-mail during the work day. They're also the only people I know who literally still have 50% of their work to do after the dismissal bell.

The fact that I truly don't think I could do it is a big reason why I have so much respect for those amazing teachers out there. People like my sister and many of my relatives. I know I've been lucky enough to have a handful of teachers like them in my life--but certainly it was just a handful. I hope that Lucas and his little brother are lucky enough to be taught and influenced by some amazing teachers during their educational careers as well.

You know, come to think of it, if we pulled a few of my relatives out of retirement and relocated everyone, I think we could almost fully staff a pretty amazing school. One that I'd love to send my kids to!


This post was inspired by Close Encounters of the Third Grade Kind by Phillip Done which I received a free review copy of from the publisher. You can read more posts inspired by this book here.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

33 Weeks

Holy Cow! I am 33 weeks pregnant. Which, I realized last weekend, is 8 months pregnant, not 7 months pregnant as I had been telling everyone. How in the world did this happen? Lucas's birthday and Christmas are 3 weeks away and a very short 4 weeks after that I'm due.

At this point the physical toll of pregnancy is steep. I'm huge. I can't sleep. I pee every 5 minutes. I have constant heartburn (oh Tums Wintergreen how I love thee!). In the past few days I've been developing the most insane muscle cramps. Two nights ago I had to wake Abel up to massage my calf because it hurt so badly and I couldn't reach it! I run out of breath just singing at church. And, also? I've developed a sinus infection.

Really, this end-of-pregnancy stuff is just CRAP. I suppose one could look at it as nature's way to make you actually look forward to labor and delivery. I mean what's hours of massive pain compared to day after day and night after night of aches and pains and heartburn and not being able to tie your shoes?

But I'd like to argue that nature has it all wrong. Things should get easier toward the end. You should be able to get the best nights of sleep of you entire life (after all, we all know months of no sleep are about to come). You should feel fantastic and ready to conquer the world: super mom hear me roar!

Instead, I feel more like underdog hear me whimper.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Here and There

Sorry I've been MIA over here. Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and is enjoying the holiday weekend.

We're visiting the in-laws and at this very moment Lucas and Abel are getting haircuts from the guy who cut Abel's hair growing up. I'm thankful that we've already taken (and ordered--woohoo!) our Christmas card photos because 1) I've generally found that small-town barbers leave something to be desired and 2) if this man cut Abel's hair as a child that means that he's been cutting hair for at a minimum 25+ years. Now, there is a possibility that he's remained current and has even improved with age and experience. Or, Lucas and Abel are both going to come back with boy/man haircuts from the 70s or 80s. Luckily, Abel isn't shy about telling the person cutting his hair exactly what he wants so hopefully everything will turn out just fine. We'll see.

It has also been a Thanksgiving/Birthday/Christmas extravaganza for Lucas. Since we won't see this side of the family again until they visit after the new baby is born, they had birthday and Christmas presents ready. He's pretty much opened 1-2 gifts each day since we arrived. I am thinking this may dash the excitement over my idea of actually putting together a little advent calendar this year with mini gifts (like stickers) each day. But, it sure has been fun for him. Plus, he's actually playing with and enjoying his new gifts instead of them getting lost in the big pile of Santa/parent/other grandparent/other aunts, uncles, etc. gifts.

Also, I've got a post up over at DC Metro Moms if you're just dying to read something new. Click here.


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Their marketing works but they're missing the mark on their demographic by approximately 30 years

Lucas is obsessed with the Touch and Brush. Have you seen the commercial? He's only seen it a handful of times but can almost recite it word for word. "Now your sink's a mess!" he exclaims. "The Touch and Brush gets the last drop!"

He recently told his uncle and grandmother (in two different phone conversations!) that he wants the Touch and Brush when they asked what he wanted for Christmas. We had to translate, of course, because they had NO IDEA what he was talking about. What? Their 3 year old nephew/grandson is asking for a toothpaste dispenser?

When Abel gave me the old tube of toothpaste to put into the recycling the other day, Lucas was seriously alarmed. He said, "Oh no! If we had the Touch and Brush we could get the last drop!"

When we do watch channels with commercials like this (which is rare because I usually keep it on PBS or Nick, Jr.) he tells us that he wants pretty much every toy he sees. But then he promptly forgets. The Touch and Brush obsession, however, has now lasted for almost two weeks!

If he's still talking about it in December, I think we'll have to seriously consider getting it for Lucas for Christmas. It might just be his favorite gift ever.

And, hey, I do like the idea of using up the last drop!


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Favorite Things Friday: Tech Savvy Mama's Holiday Gift Guides


In my personal opinion, one of the most fun times to be a blog reader is during the holidays. It seems like almost everyone is writing about holiday gift ideas and holiday craft ideas. Even thought I know I'll never get my act together to hand-make an amazing advent calendar or bake most of the amazing recipes I come across, just reading about what others are doing inspires me to step up my game a little bit and gets me into the holiday mood.

And then there are the holiday gift guides. Who better than a parent of a child who is a little older than yours to suggest great gift ideas? There are many, many gift guides out there but one of my absolute favorites is the one put together by Leticia over at Tech Savvy Mama. I'm already a huge fan of Leticia's blog and of Leticia in real life (it's a crazy coincidence that we actually knew each other and worked together in what seems like a previous life before we reconnected as DC Metro Moms!) but I'm an extra-super-duper-huge fan of her Holiday Gift Guides!

Seriously, you have got to check them out. Not only will you get great ideas for every person on your holiday gift list, you can enter to win many of the gift ideas! I will admit that I happen to be incredibly lucky in that I've won a few several numerous prizes from Tech Savvy Mama in the past and now I'm crossing my fingers and my toes for pretty much any of the amazing items included in her Holiday Gift Guide giveaways.

So, here are the links. I highly recommend you check out every single one of them, but at the very least, look at (and enter to win!) the gifts matching the demographics of the people on your holiday gift-giving list. (I'll link to the final guides as they go live, please check back or add Tech Savvy Mama to your reader so you don't miss out!)

Tech Savvy Mama’s Holiday Gift Guide for TODDLERS

Tech Savvy Mama’s Holiday Gift Guide for PRESCHOOLERS

Tech Savvy Mama’s Holiday Gift Guide for TEENS & TWEENS

Tech Savvy Mama’s Holiday Gift Guide for ADULTS

Tech Savvy Mama's Tech Gear Gift Guide

Tech Savvy Mama’s Holiday Gift Guide for TEACHERS

Tech Savvy Mama’s Holiday Gift Guide for DVDs

Tech Savvy Mama's Holiday Gift Guide for CDs

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Giveaway over at Out by Ten

Do you have any kids on your Christmas list? Do you love books? Are you an elementary school teacher? Head on over to Out by Ten to read a review and enter a giveaway for four free books from Pretty Please Press.


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Answers to all your questions

When someone has a BIG event happening in their life, it seems like conversation revolves solely around that BIG event. For example, your friend gets engaged. ALL you can think to ask her about every time you see her is how the wedding plans are coming along. Same for a new house, job, and, of course, for a new baby. Lately I've been getting the same few questions over and over and over again from friends, acquaintances and strangers alike. So, here are the answers.

1) I am feeling okay. Very big and very tired but nothing out of the ordinary for the 3rd trimester.

2) No. We have NO IDEA what we're going to name this little bambino. Do you have any ideas?

3) Right now Lucas is very excited and loving toward the baby (often giving my belly kisses and hugs). He even said "my baby brother" at school when the teacher was writing down what each child is thankful for. But, I suspect this will change when Lucas realizes how UNFUN little babies are and how much of Mama and Dada's time, energy and sanity the baby will suck away.


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nursery Update


Slowly but surely my vision for the nursery is coming together. As you know, I already purchased this lovely print and continue to just adore it.

My mom offered to sew a quilt and some changing pad covers. So, last Friday I purchased the above fabrics for the quilt. We decided to use the first four (left to right) for the front of the quilt and the bottom fabric for the back. We ultimately decided the blue to the far right doesn't go with the other blues so we'll save it for another project. She'll use the fabric to the far left (and maybe others, depending on what yardage is left) for the changing pad covers. I think we're going to skip a crib skirt and bumper pads this time around.

This officially confirms my color scheme as light blue and brown with green accents. Not only will this go with my plans for Lucas's big boy room, it will look nice with our nursery furniture which is cherry.

Overall, I'm not thrilled with the cherry, but the crib was a hand-me-down and you can't beat free. A few months ago, I briefly considered painting all the nursery furniture (crib, changing table and dresser) white but ultimately decided that would be crazy. Now that we're at less than 10 weeks and counting and still have to finish the details on the closet project, get Lucas moved into his new room and paint the nursery, we couldn't possibly add that project to the mix.

I just can't wait until the quilt is finished. Pretty soon I'm going to get antsy about getting some boxes of clothes down from the attic. January 21 is fast approaching!


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Favorite Things Friday: Apples to Apples

For today's edition of Favorite Things Friday I bring you a guest post from my sister Sarah who blogs at Sorry Sarah. I, too, LOVE this game and I'm not sure why I didn't think of featuring it earlier.

I am absolutely in love with the game Apples to Apples.

If you have played it, I'm sure you understand why. I don't believe I have ever had as much fun playing a "board" game as I do when I play Apples to Apples. The things that make this game so amazing are:

1) If you don't laugh while playing, you were born without the fun gene
2) It's not competitive. Which is important. Because I am competitive, and being competitive often ruins the game experience for me.
3) It requires no real skill. Yet, it's still (shockingly) educational. In fact, I have used it in my classroom many times. And, every single student from grades 5-8 is completely in love with it. Case and point, they will sometimes even borrow it from me so they can play during lunch recess. It's that good.

Here is the gist of how to play the game. There are two types of cards: red cards that have the names of people, places, and things on them (nouns) and green cards that have descriptive words on them (adjectives). Each person playing is dealt 7 red cards. Players take turns sitting out a round and playing judge. The first person to be judge turns over a green card. For example, the green card might say cranky. The players then each need to put down a red card that they think best exemplifies the word cranky. Some red card options might be: toes, Al Pacino, the Eiffel Tower, having a baby, etc. The judge must turn each red card over and decide which red card he or she thinks fits best with the green card. The person whose card is chosen gets to keep the green card for that round. The first person to 6 cards (the number varies depending on how many people are playing) wins.

It is a blast.

As far as being educational for the students, they get acquainted with a lot of words they are otherwise unfamiliar with. The great thing about this game is that each green card lists at least 3 synonyms of the word and each red card from their hand that includes a short (usually humorous) explanation about who or what is named on that card.

For example, today some 5th graders who were playing turned over a green card that said virtuous. I'm 99% sure than none of them knew what virtuous meant before today. But, somehow, I have a feeling that after a particularly humorous round of Apples to Apples they're more likely to remember the meaning of that word in the future.

Truly, though, the best part of the game is the laughs. To be honest, when I am judge, I always choose the red card that is the most absurd or makes me laugh the hardest. For example, if the word "exhausting" was turned over and someone put down "peanuts" I would laugh my butt off and choose peanuts for sure. I mean, you have to admit, that's funny stuff.

With the holiday season fast approaching, I recommend you buy this game. Buy it as a gift; buy it for your monthly game night with friends; buy it for your Christmas family get-together. Just buy it. Buy it, play it, love it, and thank me later. Or, you know what? Don't even worry about thanking me. We can skip that step and move straight to, "You're Welcome!"


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

More Good Things

1. Our little old Plymouth Neon just crossed the 100,000 mile mark. We got this car used for a great deal right after we got married. I truly can't believe it's lasted so long without any major repairs. Not to mention that it was stolen and then found when we lived on Capitol Hill (a funny story for another day!). Let's hope it keeps on chugging for another year or more! (Furiously knocking on wood right now!!)

2. We got new windows! Yes, in addition to the closet project craziness, we had new windows installed on Tuesday. They look fantastic and I'm very much looking forward to a winter where I can't feel a breeze from the closed windows as I lay in bed.

3. Today is my little sister's 28th birthday. Hop over and wish her a great year! (And doesn't she look absolutely BEAUTIFUL in this picture?)



Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Good Things

1. I can still shave my legs. (I'm not doing it very often, but I still CAN.)

2. I don't have any new stretch marks. (I got lots with Lucas, but there don't seem to be any new ones...yet.)

3. I have not developed gestational diabetes. (I had it with Lucas but have now successfully passed not one, but TWO, times drinking that foul glucose drink.) The thing is that I really can't believe that I haven't developed it again. Would it be crazy to try to talk my OB into having me take the test again in a few weeks? (Yes.)

4. I've been treating myself to pregnancy massages. AMAZING. I think this should be standard prenatal treatment. How can we work that into health care reform? (You KNOW if the Senate was 86 women and 14 men--instead of the opposite--it totally could happen.) I've had two with a woman in town who is a massage therapist and getting them in her home is almost half as much as what the fancy spas charge (she also works at a fancy spa, too, but her house is so convenient!). I plan to have at least two more before this baby arrives.

5. Some friends in town are throwing Abel and me a baby shower on Saturday! I didn't think I'd have a shower for baby #2 (especially because it's another boy) but this is a group of friends who didn't know me when I was pregnant for Lucas and two ladies very generously offered to host one. Fun!


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why I've Slept on the Couch for the Past Three Nights

No, Abel and I aren't in the midst of some sort of fight to end all fights. Not at all. Rather, our upstairs is pretty much a complete construction zone. We started emptying out the guestroom literally months ago and completely emptied it (even giving away several pieces of furniture including the guest bed) a few weeks ago. Abel pulled down the twice painted over wallpaper, leaving behind some really ugly paste residue. (Think: poop smeared walls.) And then we, er, he demoed the closets. In a war of attrition (the attrition of my ability to say "no" one more time) Abel won in his quest to demolish and rebuild the closets in the guest room and "master" bedroom. (Master in quotes because it's only unique characteristic is that it is slightly larger than the guest room.)

So, here's a brief summary of the project. Which, by the way, everyone, agrees with Abel is a GREAT idea. Everyone, that is, who DOES NOT have to have their life disrupted and sleep on the couch for five nights while it gets completed. Ahem.

Basically the guest room closet was approx. 1.5 times larger than the master closet. Thus, since we moved in, I've kept all my clothes in the guest room and Abel has kept his in the master. Now that Lucas is moving into the guest room, however, that won't work so well. I suggested that the solution was an armoire. Abel suggested that the solution was a sledgehammer and drywall.

The two closets shared interior walls. Abel tore all of these out, including the metal door frames for each closet door. (Metal door frames! Who ever heard of such a thing!) Currently, three very nice men are re-building these walls and door frames, etc. so that the guest room closet is small and the master closet is bigger. (I hate to say large because we're still talking about a house that was built in the 1940s and we didn't discover any hidden rooms or anything so the closet is still relatively small.)

Make sense? I didn't think so. Here's a visual.



See? The guest room closet is now small and the master closet is bigger. Or, they will be. In several more days. After I've slept on the couch a few more nights. And after dust and debris have left a fine film over the sheets currently covering all our upstairs furniture.

(And, also? I think this clearly illustrates why I am not an architect. Or designer. Or, even, why Lucas has to take my word on it when he asks me to draw a dog and he gets some sort of animal with four legs and a tail that doesn't really look much like a dog at all.)

I hate home improvement.



Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fun Fall Activity: Hot Dog and S'mores Roast


We had a fun gathering with neighbors on Saturday night--a hot dog and s'mores roast! It's the perfect time of year for an event like this and it was so easy to throw together.

My brother and sister-in-law got us one of those free-standing fire pits a few years ago for Christmas and we've really enjoyed using it several times each season to make a nice little campfire. After I proved my mad fire-making skillz to Abel earlier this summer, he readily agreed to put me in charge of building the fire this time. It turned out great!

We made hot dogs on the grill and the rest of the menu consisted of chips, pretzels, french onion dip, celery, carrots, animal crackers and baked beans. See, totally low key! Friends brought over a yummy squash dish and Portabello mushrooms to grill for the vegetarians in the group. (Yeah, overall the entire concept was a bust for vegetarian friends who also don't eat marshmallows. Oh well!) We had beer and soda in one cooler and juice boxes in another. Then, of course, we had the marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers for the s'mores!

We asked friends to come dressed warmly and bring an extra folding chair. We also put out several extra blankets. Everyone enjoyed hanging out around the fire and the kids had fun roasting their marshmallows (and were also quite content to simply pop a few unroasted ones into their mouths as well!).

There's absolutely nothing like sitting next to a fire while looking up at the stars on a chilly evening!


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Sand


The art room at Lucas's preschool contains easels and paints as well as a sand table. In yet another example of why I could never run a daycare or be a preschool teacher, I just can not imagine having a sand table inside. But, they do and he loves it. Obviously I'm thrilled that he loves it but I am not thrilled that he loves it so much that he often comes home with sand in his hair. Have I mentioned that Lucas has incredibly thick hair? He does.

Two weeks ago, we got a note that someone in the class had head lice. AHHHHHHHHH! I kind of freaked and felt certain that if one kid had it that certainly meant that every kid--or at the very least, my kid--would soon get it. Also, I immediately started itching.

The night after the note came home, Lucas asked me to scratch his head. I scratched and little hard white things got under my fingernails. Lice. Damn. I knew it. Abel was on his way home and I met him at the door to tell him to get right back in the car and drive to the store and buy that special shampoo. Not fully buying into my hysterics, Abel came up to take a look for himself. We re-read the paper with the explanation of just what lice and their nits do and look like.

After approximately 10 minutes of inspection, Abel declared that Lucas's head was full of sand.

SAND?!

We asked, "Lucas, did you play with the sand table today?"

"Yes! A. and I were going like this!" (gestures handfuls of sand up to his head)

THANK GOD.

Two nights ago, Lucas's head was again completely full of sand. I gave him a bath and it took two shampoos and many, many rinses to get all the sand out. We--again--talked about not putting sand in your hair.

Abel came home toward the end of the bath and I told him how hard it was to get all the sand out. I also indicated that while I didn't intentionally make the washing and rinsing experience uncomfortable, I wasn't necessarily as careful as I always am about not getting water in Lucas's face and eyes.

Abel: So you basically water-boarded our son?

Smiling Mama: Hey, if that's what it takes to get him to stop putting sand in his hair, then yes.


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Favorite Things Friday: Teacher Notes Template from Teach Mama

Teach Mama is my go-to blog for learning how to incorporate reading, math, sorting and all kinds of other educational techniques into our every day lives. The blog is jam-packed with wonderful, creative and fun ideas.

Recently Amy posted a "quick trick" which included a down loadable template for teacher notes. Brilliant! It was perfect timing for me as I had just penned a note to Lucas's teachers on the notepad I usually reserve for our grocery lists. You know, one of those long skinny notepads which happens to say "Too many chocolates too little time!" on the top of hot pink and brown paper. Maybe not the best choice, but it was the easiest thing to grab as we were walking out the door.

Next time, however, I'm prepared (all thanks to Amy!) with these simple, yet cute, personalized teacher notes. Click here to read more about this quick trick and then follow Amy's link to download the free templates for yourself!


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Handwriting


(Click the text above to enlarge or simply read the translation below.)

TRANSLATION:

Dear Internets,

So Beth and Swistle and a few others have posted their handwriting on-line and I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon. Last night, Abel was looking at my grocery list and mercilessly making fun of me. It's not that bad, is it? Well, maybe it is. I think it used to be better...you know back in the day before I typed everything. I do love a hand-written note and write them often. Hey, people appreciate mail even if they can't read the message, right??

xoxo Aimee

EXCUSES:

My mom often quotes my grandmother who used to say, "It's a piss poor mother who can't come up with an excuse for her child." I adore that quote. So true, right? He's cranky at the park and you rationalize (at least out loud to the other mothers) that he didn't nap that day or he woke up too early or he went to bed too late or he's teething. There's always an excuse!

Such is the case with my handwriting. I have excuses. First, I am left-handed. (Abel is, too, but Lucas appears to be right-handed. Strange, no?) I was never taught/never learned how to properly hold a writing instrument.

Also? I didn't go to Catholic school.

I am insanely jealous of women (pretty much all women) who have that perfect Catholic school cursive handwriting. And, I'm especially jealous of my good friend in real life (who I'm pretty sure doesn't read this blog but if she does she should take this opportunity to comment), Stephanie, who also didn't go to Catholic school, has the most beautiful handwriting ever. So beautiful, in fact, that I conned her into hand-addressing our wedding invitations! Maybe I should get her to write something for you. Not only would I not have to translate it, I wouldn't even have to give excuses.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Operation Commence Disney Education

Thanks to Tech Savvy Mama and Feld Entertainment, we had the opportunity to see Disney on Ice at the First Mariner Arena in Baltimore on Thursday night. Since we had four free tickets we kidnapped one of Lucas's best princess-crazy friends to join us.

The evening started out a bit rocky as Abel, Lucas and I didn't get very good nights' sleep the night before. Abel was having some mouth/jaw pain from a dental procedure and traffic was, well, rush-hour traffic. Not to mention that both kids decided they needed to go to the bathroom at the one swath of road without any gas stations near the exit.

But, we persevered and got to our amazing seats with about 5 minutes to spare before the show began. The evening did a 180 degree turn the moment Mickey Mouse entered the ice. The kids were beside themselves with excitement. And, I'll be honest, as someone who always dreamed of going to an ice show when I was young, the excitement was contagious. Even Abel later commented that he actually really enjoyed the show. Now, that's success, folks!

What really struck me, however, was how little Lucas knows about Disney characters. His little companion was yelling for every prince, princess and character who entered the ice. But Lucas had absolutely no idea who they were beyond the classics: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Pluto. He did recognize Pinocchio, Captain Cook and Ariel but not a single other prince or princess was familiar to him at all.

How could I have let this happen? Well, he is only four and we don't watch that many movies. But, trust me, if Wall-E or any Cars character had skated out, Lucas would have been intimately familiar with them. There just seems to be something Un-American about him not knowing Snow White or Cinderella, doesn't there?

Hence: Operation Commence Disney Education. It's starting now. (Um, does anyone have a copy of Cinderella we could borrow?!)


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

H1N1 Clinics in DC

Worried about Swine Flu? Yeah, me too. Lucas and I got the H1N1 vaccine last week and I wrote all about it over at DC Metro Moms. If you live in the greater DC metro area and can't find the vaccine in your own city or county, I highly recommend going to one of the DC clinics. We had a very positive experience last week; since then I've heard from several friends and neighbors who had equally good experiences. The lines seem to be shortest at clinics in the NE and SE. Here's the schedule.

Please note, these clinics are not just for children and pregnant women. Caregivers of children under 6 mos, health care provides and anyone with an underlying medical condition such as asthma and diabetes is considered a priority group by the DC government. Off the record, I'll also tell you that they seem to be vaccinating anyone who shows up. Several parents of kids older than 6 mos were told they could be considered "caregivers" and get the vaccine along with their kids.

Recent news reports seem to indicate that the supply may open up this week and so the vaccine may be easier to find through your own doctor, but if it doesn't, or if you are anxious, go to DC. And, let's give them huge kudos for doing this really, really well. (Because you know we all give our capital city enough grief on the many ways they mess things up!)



Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I Got the H1N1 Vaccine

"We do not currently have the H1N1 influenza vaccine. If you are calling about another matter please remain on the line for a scheduler."

"Has anyone found the H1N1 vaccine anywhere?"

That's the message on our pediatrician's phone line and the question that has been asked dozens of times already on our local parent listserv, respectively.

Everywhere I turn people are asking about and looking for the H1N1 vaccine. A few months ago, I was on the fence about getting the vaccine for myself and my 3 year old son. Because I'm pregnant and he's young, we're both in priority groups. I'm not sure exactly what changed between then and now but I recently decided that we both should definitely be vaccinated.

Maybe it's because between the CDC, the media and my doctors, it seemed like everyone was telling us to get the vaccine. The problem was that it was no where to be found!

I've been calling our pediatrician, my OB and my other specialist weekly. The answer is the same each place: we are hoping to get it in a few weeks. The word on the street listserv is that our county health system has it and you can call to make an appointment. Unfortunately that appointment line has been busy each of the at-least five times per day that I've called over the past week.

So how did we get vaccinated? Surprisingly, through the DC government.

I say surprisingly because, as a DC resident for almost a decade before moving to the inner Maryland 'burbs, I've endured my fair share of DC bureaucratic frustration. The DC DMV? Don't even get me started.

But in this case, they really pulled through. H1N1 vaccination clinics are taking place in each Ward of the city for priority groups. That includes those ages 6 months through 24 years old, pregnant women, health care providers, caretakers of infants younger than 6 months, and people with underlying medical conditions such as asthma or diabetes.

I decided to give it a shot (pun intended!) and prepared for the clinic like I was going to war. We had an iPod filled with kid-friendly music and shows. We had books, stickers, crayons and paper. We had rain gear and extra layers (in case the line was outside) and plenty of snacks.

We arrived at a clinic at a middle school in Ward 6 about 15 minutes before it opened and were numbers 36 and 37 in line. It was run in a professional and efficient manner and we were out within an hour. I truly was impressed. Kudos to Washington, DC and the Red Cross.

Now, maybe, just maybe, I'll let up on the hand sanitizer. (But probably not.)


Original post to DC Metro Moms. When Aimee Olivo isn't stalking health care professionals to track down the H1N1 vaccine, she's writing at Smiling Mama and Out by Ten.


Stimey said...
Good for you for getting the vaccine. I can't find it in Montgomery County anywhere. But it's really important. My 38-year-old healthy sister was just hospitalized for complications from H1N1 and it was really scary. It caused her blood pressure to drop so much she was unresponsive for a while. And she's not a high risk group.

Get the shots if you can find 'em, people!

Aimee Olivo said in reply to Stimey...
Stimey - if you can make it into DC sometime soon week, I highly recommend it. Their clinics are very well run and residency does not matter. The lines seem to be shortest in the NE and SE. Good luck and I hope your sister is doing a lot better!!

ShallowGal said...
I took my 4 year old on Friday to a Fairfax county clinic. We arrived 15 minutes before it started and got number 193. We waited outside for 4 hours.

I'm not sure I would have bothered but we're headed to Central America and I don't want to end up in a foreign ER.

annie said...
We didn't have the vaccine in the area until last Monday and I didn't even know about the first clinic until someone told me about it while my daughter was at dance class. I was on the fence. Didn't go to the Thursday clinic because the lines were hours long and if you didn't get there before 4PM, you wouldn't be seen anyway. As it turned out, she has been sick since mid week anyway and now I am pretty sure she, me and my husband have it.

The clinics in our province are not being run well and we are being told that they will be out before this week is too far gone anyway. The schools in our town have teetered on closing a couple of times in the last two weeks. By the time there is enough vaccine or access to it, the fat lady will have sung and left the building.
Reply November 01, 2009 at 09:17 AM Aimee Olivo said in reply to annie...
Annie -- hope you all feel better soon! News reports around here seem to indicate that the supply will increase in the next week or so. I hope that's the case for you as well.

BananaBlueberry said...
Good for you!!!!!
stay well :)


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Slots in Maryland: Gambling for our Future

I recently enjoyed my 15 minutes 2 minutes of fame when I attended the movie theater screening of a new documentary titled "Losing to Win: A Documentary on the Maryland Slots Referendum". Yep, that's me opening the film.

As one of the bluest of the blue states, it is pretty certain that Marylanders will overwhelmingly vote for Barack Obama for President. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it also looks like the majority of my fellow Free Staters will vote to amend our state constitution to allow slots.

Initially the politicians told us we needed slots to save Maryland's horse racing industry.

It's not that I'm against the horse racing industry in Maryland. After all, I pride myself on my ability to read a racing program and bet an exacta. My grandfather was an avid fan of the track and took my cousin Laura and me for the first time when we were 10. Grampa paid our entrance fee and bought us a racing program. My dad funded our pizza and soda for the night. We each had $10 to bet and decided to place all our bets together--with $2 minimum bets that got us at least 10 races, even if we lost every time. I do remember that we walked away with a few bucks in our pockets. Which, considering our strategy, was pretty amazing. You see, there was a jockey named Amy racing that day and we bet on her horse to win every time. I guess Amy did okay that night!

My husband and I try to make it to Laurel or Pimlico at least once each summer and we always invite a group of friends to join us. I have a blast teaching my girlfriends the ropes--generally they've never been to the races before!

So even though I enjoy horse racing and do wish that it were more popular, I don't think we should amend our state constitution to allow slot machine gambling at the race tracks.

But, the money will fund education, right? Well, that's the next thing they told us.

Certainly I'm not against public education! I'd like more funding for our public schools. But I don't think slots are the way to do it. The facts and figures just don't add up. Yes, approximately 50% of the revenues from slots would fund education, at least initially. (The Maryland lottery was initially dedicated to education as well. Now, those revenues go into the general fund.) But, what will the ultimate social costs be? An editorial in The Washington Post states, "researchers estimate that the costs of alcoholism, gambling addiction and bankruptcies resulting from slots could total $228 million to $628 million annually. And, in unsettling economic times, do we want Marylanders diverting dollars from clothes, food and other entertainment -- or savings accounts -- to gambling?" It sounds to me like many public school teachers will end up with more students in their classrooms with difficult home lives for those few extra dollars.

If public education is the priority it should be in Maryland, do we really need to turn to slots to fund it? Is the Maryland horse racing industry really important enough to warrant an amendment to our state constitution?

I hope more Marylanders will join me in voting no on Question 2 this Tuesday.

Original post to DC Metro Moms. Aimee blogs about life at www.smilingmama.blogspot.com.

Comments

jodifur said...
Thanks for writing this. My husband and I were just talking about slots and I was saying I couldn't decided, I see both sides of the issue. But you really made me understand why voting no was important.

Diana said...
This is why I thank God I live on the other side of the bridge. I honestly would HATE having gambling places open up in my neighborhood. No matter where they place these casinos, its not going to better a neighborhood. Its going to bring crime, which will need to use more police, thus using tax dollars. I can think of a million of other examples (as you suggested in your post as well) that will increase other state funds to go to things other then education.

I hope for Maryland it doesn't get approved.


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Favorite Things Friday: Mocktail



One challenge of being pregnant, for me, is the lack of drink options. Even when I'm not pregnant, I drink water or milk 95% of the time. But, for some reason, being pregnant and sticking mostly to those two drinks feels so, well, restrictive. This is especially true when I'm out for dinner or some other event where everyone else is enjoying a delicious glass of wine or a beer or cocktail.

So, last week when I hosted the monthly meeting of my uber-fabulous Book Club at my house, I was determined not to feel like I was missing out. Enter my favorite new mocktail! (I really should have come up with a catchy name for it, any ideas?)

Not only did I thoroughly enjoy drinking this mocktail out of fancy glassware, several of my friends who could have been drinking wine chose to drink this as well. I do believe it was a hit!

Here's the super-simple recipe -- ice, 3/4 sprite and 1/4 Pomegranate Blueberry juice. Enjoy!


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy Birthday, Babe!

It's my 3rd October writing this blog and I've never written a "happy birthday" post to my darling hubby. I guess it's about time to correct that.

The big 3-5 will be a bit low-key this year. Partly because we're I'm counting Abel's expensive trip for an Ohio State football game earlier this season as his birthday present but mostly because it has snuck up on me in the middle of a very busy week. I don't think he minds, though. Celebrating at home with his requested meal and favorite cake and having Lucas sing "Happy Birthday dear Daddy" might just be the perfect celebration.

Where would I be in life without Abel? Probably a conservative librarian who looks spooked walking home from work in the evening (that's a reference to It's a Wonderful Life!). Seriously. Abel is so much that I'm not: he's every one's friend. He's the life of the party, just downright F- U-N. When Abel and I started dating, all his fraternity brothers made a point to tell me what a great guy Abel is, that he's their best friend. I didn't disagree but kind of figured this was a thing--you know, they had each other's backs when it came to girls. But then the long-term girlfriends of his frat brothers started telling me what a great guy he is and that he's such a great friend. Well, THAT got my attention.

Fast-forward about a million years and certainly the addition of about a million responsibilities and Abel is still a great guy, the guy everyone wants to be friends with. And he's also an amazing husband and father. I swear, he can do anything. Fix the car? Sure. Renovate our basement? Of course! Re-wire and install new lighting? Okay! Build a stone wall? Not a problem! Make Lucas an awesome Halloween costume? Yes!

In the daddy department, Abel is first-class. How lucky am I to be able to take off for entire afternoons, days and weekends without leaving so much as a list or a reminder behind? How incredible is it that this man, whose father brags about the fact that he's never changed a diaper, cares for Lucas in every way from giving him his first bath to changing countless diapers, to jump-starting the potty training? Pretty. Darn. Awesome.

So even though he drives me CRAZY very, very, very, very often, I wouldn't trade him for the world. Happy 35th birthday, babe. I look forward to many, many more!


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The truth will come back to embarrass you in public

Understandably, Lucas has been very interested in the whole concept of this baby. Specifically, how in the world he is going to get out of my belly. (Thank goodness he hasn't been asking how he got IN.)

First, Lucas asked me if the baby came out of my mouth. Actually, he didn't really ask so much as state in a very incredulous tone that the baby didn't come out of my mouth, did it? That one was easy: no, the baby doesn't come out of my mouth!

Next, Lucas wanted to know just how he does come out. Again, I thought I had an easy answer: the doctor helps the baby come out. Unfortunately, that didn't quite cut it. If only I had a c-section with Lucas or was planning on one (hopefully not) with this baby, I could have agreed when he said, with wide eyes, "The doctor reaches into your belly to pull the baby out??"

Ummm...no.

So, I continued with my easy answers: "Mama has a special place the baby comes out of."

"What special place?"

Okay. So we've always used appropriate words with Lucas: penis, breasts and now...vagina.

"Mama has a special place called a vagina that the baby comes out of."

That seemed to satisfy Lucas. He does still ask and I respond that I have my special place called a vagina and the conversation is over. At least, our conversation is over. Lucas's conversation continues with just about everyone he meets. Here's how it goes:

"I was a baby in my mama's belly and I came out of her special place called a 'gina. Now she has another baby in her belly and he's going to come out her 'gina, too!!!!"

So far the kids at the park don't seem too fazed by this knowledge. The adults get a sort of embarrassed look and just smile and nod. And then I get a little bit of an embarrassed look and smile and nod as well.


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 26, 2009

I knew you

On a handful of occasions throughout his short life, Lucas has talked to me about the time before he was born. Just the other night when I was putting him to bed, he told me that he was searching and searching for his mama and dada before he got into in my belly. Other times, he's told me that he was with Jesus until he found me.

There's an oft-quoted bible verse from the Book Jeremiah chapter 1, verse 5, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you."

Those conversations with Lucas have always been brief but they are very meaningful to me. Although I don't talk about it much, I do have a strong belief in God and do believe strongly in heaven.

Yet, I feel pretty sure that I've never "planted" those specific thoughts in Lucas's head. Perhaps someone else has; I haven't asked Abel about it. Both our mothers are very religious and his daycare provider was as well. Maybe one of them said something to him once about being with Jesus before he was born and it really stuck with him. Maybe.

Or, maybe this is one of those examples of brilliant truths coming from the mouths of babes. Maybe there is just a teeny, tiny piece of him that does remember his soul searching for his parents. That does know that his soul was with Jesus before his earthly life began. Perhaps this is just a vague memory that gets smaller and more distant with each passing year, until one day, as adults, we can hardly fathom that truth. Perhaps.

It is both comforting and awe-inspiring to think that, of all the millions of egg and sperm and combinations, God did know Lucas and his baby brother before they were formed in my womb. That Abel and I were formed to be their parents. That even though there are times we, as adults, feel so distant from God and from heaven, that the smallest babies know and remember.


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Favorite Things Friday: An Occasional Feature

So apparently Favorite Things Friday is going to become an occasional feature. I missed it last week and have nuthin' for you this week as well. Hopefully the upcoming holidays will help inspire me.

In the meantime, if you have something you absolutely love and want to share with Smiling Mama readers, please let me know! It would be a blast to have some FTF guest posts.

Have a great weekend!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

First Born

More and more I am realizing that Lucas truly is a first-born child. He's already developed so many characteristics of an oldest child. (Of course, as an oldest myself, I see the many positive characteristics associated with this place in birth order!)

You already know how good he is with speaking up and introductions. He's a natural leader on the playground and also loves playing with older kids. Two recent incidents have made me realize that he can also take things in stride pretty darn well.

First, Lucas was talking about show-and-tell at school. What's this? I didn't know there was show-and-tell. I vaguely remember seeing something in some paper about future show-and-tell and that the kids shouldn't bring in items that could easily get lost, etc. But, I was waiting for further notification. According to Lucas, show-and-tell was already taking place so I asked Abel to ask the teachers about it the next day at drop-off. Here's Abel's report:

Yes, they have show-and-tell every Friday. And, Lucas somehow has managed to find something to talk about each week.

That totally cracked me up because it is so Lucas. If every other kid had something to talk about, you'd better believe he'd find something, too. I'm imagining that one week he might have talked about his new Lightening McQueen winter hat. Another week it might have been a stray rock from his pocket. And yet another Friday he may have told the class about his lunchbox. Now that we know that show-and-tell takes place each Friday, I'll remind him to take something special in each week.

Speaking of his lunchbox, I am still adoring the Laptop Lunchbox and think it is even more perfect for nursery school than it was for daycare. He can open it and there aren't any packages that need to be opened for him. (Not to mention no waste!) I always pack his lunch the night before, but lately I've been including a freshly cut pear for his fruit. Since I hate browning fruit myself, I wait until the morning to cut up and add the pear. Yesterday I totally forgot to put it in! The container I use for fruit actually has a lid and it was already in the lunchbox with the lid on so I assumed it was full. It wasn't. That afternoon after school, Lucas very matter-of-factly informed me that his blue container was empty. I apologized and asked if he was sad when he realized he didn't have any fruit. His response:

Yes. I was a little sad. But, in the meantime, I ate my other food.

In the MEANTIME??? Am I sending an 8 year old to nursery school or a 3 year old? Seriously.

I try hard not to fall down on the job very often, but I think whenever I do, this kid will be just fine.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!