Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Drum Roll Please!

I'm so excited to announce the launch of my new blog! I've been mulling this over for a few months and finally have bit the bullet to just do it! Inspired by Jessica's terrific blog, A Parent in Silver Spring, I wanted to highlight great family-friendly activities and venues a little closer to my neck of the woods. I also know that I will be more likely to move beyond my few favorite activities and venues and do more exploring when I know I will be blogging about it later!

The name Out by Ten was inspired by some great advice I received as a new mom (though, after wracking my brain, I can't for the life of me remember who gave me this advice!) that if you can get out the door by 10am do to something, anything at all, then the day will be successful.

And so my goal with this blog is to help get my family and yours out the door to explore all the wonderful activities in Cheverly, Prince George's County and the greater DC-metro area. I hope you'll join me by visiting Out by Ten!

Growing Pains

Lucas has never had a blankie or any sort of stuffed animal that he carried around constantly. What a relief as a parent not to have to worry about leaving the #1 most precious possession behind on a plane or hotel room or even at home when we left for an overnight trip. The funny thing is that just in the last two days, Lucas has become obsessed with carrying around his stuffed animal Baloo, a gift from my brother when Lucas was born, with him everywhere! Yesterday we took Baloo on many adventures and he even had to put his legs through the shopping cart just like Lucas.

On one hand, Lucas is very clear that he wants to do things by. him. self. And, that he is NOT a baby. There's a line in one of our favorite books that goes, "Without me, you'd be on Mount Trash-o-rama, baby!" and Lucas insists that we change "baby" to "boy" or "kid" or "man"--basically anything but "baby" when we read it at night.

And then on the other hand, we have this new attachment to a lovey-type-item. I'm very curious how long this will last.

In other growing-up-too-soon developments, Lucas seems to be getting one or more new teeth. He's 3 years and 4 mos right now. Are there 3 or 4 year old molars? I guess I should just google that.

Be right back. would appear that the next teeth Lucas is scheduled to get are his 5-6 year old molars. I know I got all my teeth very early so maybe he is, too. Ugh. I'm not ready for more teething pain quite yet!!

On Fatherhood

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to hear Ronald Warren, president of the National Fatherhood Initiative speak about the critical role of fathers. The facts and figures about children living in father-absent homes are astounding.

Although, thank goodness, I am not raising my son in a father-absent home, but rather with a fully involved and committed husband and father, many of Warren's points really hit home.

My father's father died when my father was six and my grandmother never remarried. She raised four young children on her own. I remember clearly, sometime during college, when it first dawned on me that my dad--the most amazing dad ever--hadn't grown up with a dad himself. I mean, I always knew that his dad died when he was young, but I never really understood what that meant. That realization made me even more appreciative of my father, my dad. The man who did does all the grocery shopping, made endless peanut butter sandwiches for my school lunches, took my friends and me on awesome camping trips, taught me how to drive with maximum teeth clenching but minimal yelling (even when I ran a red light or scrapped up the side of the car!), welcomed my boyfriend turned fiance turned husband into the family despite an intense football rivalry, is an amazing grandfather and who I know I can count on for anything. How did he learn to be a father like that when he, himself, did not have a father to learn from?

I also thought of my husband, truly an amazing dad. I remember vividly, when our son was just a few days old, thinking to myself that seeing Abel hold, care for and love Lucas, made me fall even more deeply in love with him. How often have I left for a few hours (often!) or even an entire weekend (rarely!) without leaving a single instruction behind? Although Abel gets Lucas to bed at least 30 minutes later than I would, or lets him eat a popsicle before dinner or doesn't dress him in the outfit I would prefer, he's a pretty amazing dad who can handle things on his own, without a single instruction from me. All this despite the fact that my mother-in-law tells me that my father-in-law never changed a single diaper!

Warren challenged the audience to consider the role of mother: gateway or gatekeeper? He defined gateway as an opening, a facilitator, someone who cares about relationships. As opposed to gatekeeper: a person who controls access, a referee, someone who cares about rules.

And, he told us that research has shown that "a mother's view of a father's role is a better predictor of the father's involvement than his own view of his role."

I think that my mom and I have tried our best to be gateways for our husbands' and our children. I am grateful to my mom for her view of my father's role in my life and that of my siblings. Sure, the ponytails he put in my hair tended to fall right out. But he put them in nonetheless.

And, I hope that I can continue to be a gateway for Abel and Lucas, even if it means holding my tongue because that outfit simply does not match!

Original post to DC Metro Moms. Aimee writes about life with a toddler, some of her favorite things, and anything else that crosses her mind at Smiling Mama.


KC said...
Your dad sounds like an amazing person. The thought of your dad putting in ponytails in your hair is so, so sweet.

I'm amazed you don't have to leave instructions for your husband. I at least have to leave a couple to make sure all meals and nap times are observed - but he's otherwise a wonderful father too.

Sounds like a great talk.

ilinap said...
Your dad sounds awesome, just like the dad I always wished for. I grew up with my dad when my parents divorced (unheard of in 1978!), but it was hardly a happy Cleaver household. We pretty much coexisted because he had no idea what to do with us. What breaks my heart is that he's the same way with my kids, as unengaged as ever, even when the universe has given him a second chance. My husband, however, rocks. Seeing him as a parent melts my heart.

amy m said...
Great post, Aimee! Gives me something to think about, that's for sure!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lunchtime adventures

You know that easy and delicious lunch I was talking about yesterday? The yummy tortellini salad leftovers I was soooo looking forward to? Well, I forgot it at home. I realized that about 10am, the time I generally break out my handful of almonds for a morning snack.


After weighing my options, I made the decision to drive back home over my lunch hour just to eat that lunch. Crazy, right? It takes 20 minutes to get home (without traffic) so the round trip drive only left me with 20 minutes to eat. Even as I was driving home, I was thinking that I was crazy! But, my only other options were the university dining hall (bleh) or a nearby Subway. If I was going to drive to and park at Subway, I may as well drive another 15 minutes to be home.

I called Abel on my way with the slight suspicion that he may have taken my lunch with him when he noticed it by the door. Here's our conversation:

Smiling Mama: Ugh, I left my lunch at home today!
Smiling Husband: I know, I'm about to eat it!
Smiling Mama: (Horrified) NOOOOOO! I'm on my way home!
Smiling Husband: Hurry up!
Smiling Mama: You're home? Okay, put it down. I'm on my way!

Abel was working from home that morning because he forgot his phone and had to come back for it so just started working. (I think the heat got to our heads!) I usually eat lunch at my desk (while reading blogs!) so it was really nice to get out of the office and share lunch with my hubby, even if it was a bit hurried!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Easy meals

Here are a few meals that I "created" recently which were very quick and easy. I know that I am always looking for easy tips so thought I'd pass these along.

1) Easy dinner

One of our favorite easy dinners is "taco bar"--it's a hit with everyone. I tend to leave out the tortilla and put all my taco ingredients on lettuce to make a taco salad. Abel will eat his on torts and have a salad on the side. Lucas is hit or miss and sometimes just eats the ground beef mixed with some cheese. I've also found this to be a very easy and popular dinner to take to friends in town who have just had babies because everyone in the family can put together their own meal.

Here are some ideas for ingredients:
  • Ground beef, browned mixed with a packaged taco seasoning or whatever you want to throw in. And--drum roll, please--here's my big tip and real reason for including this entire meal in this post. Recently, I've been adding a can of beans to the taco meat! So far, I've added black beans and kidney beans (two different attempts). I know beans are really good for you, but struggle with ways to incorporate them into meals. Lucas has consistently turned his nose up at them. But, when combined with the meat and seasonings, no one notices! So, not only do we incorporate beans into the meal, but we also make the meat go further! One note, if you are using canned beans, be sure to rinse them to get rid of all that unnecessary sodium.

  • Shredded cheese
  • Lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced onions
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole or plain avocados
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Corn

2) Easy lunch or side

Yesterday I offered to take in a "light lunch" for a meeting that was taking place right after church. I knew one vegetarian would be attending. So, my challenges were that it needed to be something I could make ahead, something that could be served cold, something that was vegetarian. And, I thought we'd have about 5 people there but more could have decided to come at the last minute, so I couldn't just pre-make sandwiches. Late Saturday night, I came up with what turned out to be a really easy and delicious light lunch!

1 package Bertolli Spinach & Cheese Tortellini
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 jar sun dried tomatoes in oil (I chopped them up a bit more)
1 can artichoke hearts (again, I chopped them up a bit more)
Shredded Parmesan cheese

Prepare the tortellini as directed. Drizzle with EVOO, add the sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and Parmesan cheese. Mix and chill.

It worked out perfectly. Not only did it fit all the above criteria, but it was loaded with great veggies. I even have some leftovers which I brought for lunch today and can not wait to eat!

Bon appetit!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Favorite Things Friday: Wordle

For today's edition of Favorite Things Friday, I bring you a very cool website: Wordle. I realize that Wordle has made its way around the blogosphere already but perhaps it is new to you! I first saw it before Christmas but had never tried it myself. Now that I have, I'm completely addicted and am trying to think of more text to turn into word clouds!

Here's Wordle in it's own words:

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.
I made this one from the text of my post for Lucas's 3rd birthday. I really like the fact that "love" "Mama" and "Dada" are the biggest (e.g. most used) words!

Here's one I made from the text of the poem, "Blessing for a Marriage" which I read at my friend's wedding in December.

Cool, right? Go check it out for yourself!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A loss

I already wasn't sure what to write about today. I knew I didn't want to do a buy-reusable-bags-use-reusable-water-bottles-change-your-light-bulbs Earth Day post. But I didn't have much to say, especially after posting here and over at DC Metro Moms yesterday.

But then I got an e-mail that really put me at a loss for words.

Two dear friends of mine, sisters, lost their father today. They are all I can think about. I just keep thinking that I hope they know they are loved and supported. And I just keep thinking that I can't imagine what it is to lose a parent. I realize that this is the natural order of things. That it is worse for a parent to lose a child. And, yet, that doesn't lessen the grief, the difficulty of losing a parent. It is something I pray I won't experience for many, many, many years.

My friends and their mom and their brother and all their loved ones are in my thoughts and prayers as they suffer this loss.

And, I ask you to keep them in yours, too.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

On Fatherhood

If you can get past the glaring apostrophe error in the second to last paragraph (I edited the sentence but forgot to take out the possessive!), you might enjoy my thoughts on fatherhood and the role a mom plays in the relationship development between a father and his children over at DC Metro Moms.

Randomness punctuated

So I am not going to die from an infection in my jaw that has spread to my brain. Nor am I already dead from it, despite what you may have surmised due to my lack of recent posts. I did drive up to Pennsylvania on Friday to see my oral surgeon who picked out a few stray pieces of bone from my gums and prescribed an antibiotic just to be sure.

And then Saturday and Sunday flew by in a total and complete blur. I'm serious. At this moment, I can. not. remember. what. we. did.

[Thinking hard.]

Oh, yes. Now I remember.

Saturday morning Abel and Lucas went for a "hike in the forest" aka the National Arboretum, a truly under-appreciated gem just a few miles from our house, while I finished my display, copied fliers and purchased additional white vinegar and baking soda to take my green cleaning show on the road to a local "Going Green on a Budget" fair.

Whenever I do things like that, I always thoroughly enjoy and have tons of energy during the talking and schmoozing and whatnot but then afterwards am completely wiped out and drained of every ounce of energy. This is now I know that I really am an introvert though I think most people would never guess that. Extroverts would find themselves refilled and recharged rather than exhausted after being with people all afternoon, right?

On a side note, I took this really interesting course in college which explored US Presidents based on their character, personality, etc. It was fascinating to find that many of our past presidents were introverts, too. You'd think all politicians are extroverts, wouldn't you?

Sunday. Lucas was really bad. At Mass. Again. Despite me using every single trick I can possibly think of. The worst part is that I had taken my mom's advice to sit up front--we're talking the first pew--in hopes he'd be distracted! by! the! transfiguration! happening! priest! talking! and! the! choir! singing!

He wasn't.

[And this concludes my apparent attempt at breaking the Guinness Book of World records for most punctuation used inappropriately in a post. Thank you.]

Friday, April 17, 2009

Favorite Things Friday: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Photo via HBO.

Over the past few weeks I have become completely enamored with the new HBO series, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. I've told people in real life how great it is, updated my Facebook status about how great it is and now am featuring it for this week's edition of Favorite Things Friday. I truly love it!

The series is based on the best-selling novels of the same name by Alexander McCall Smith and apparently he has been very involved with the television production. The episodes are filmed on location in Botswana and this is the first major film or TV project to have been shot there. It is my understanding that many of the extras and some of the regulars are locals.

I really could go on and on about how much I love this show, but here are just a few of my favorite aspects:

1. Jill Scott as Precious Ramotswe is just amazing.
2. The setting and scenery of Botswana is stunning.
3. The pilot episode, at almost 2 hours in length, could stand on its own as a wonderful movie.
4. The spirit and spunk of Grace, Precious's secretary, is fantastic! I can't wait to learn even more about this great character.
5. The adorable Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, the "finest mechanic in Botswana" who is clearly so in love with Precious.

If you have HBO then set your DVR for Sunday nights at 8pm and catch up on previous episodes On Demand. If you don't get HBO then consider getting it for this wonderful show! :) Or, hope that they come out on Netflix soon!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

At least I don't have to worry about Mad Cow Disease

This tooth thing is still bothering me. In fact, last night at approximately 10pm I was convinced it had gotten infected. I mean, today is a full week since the tooth was extracted and it was hurting more last night than it had the few days prior. Plus, my sinus seemed to be hurting a bit. One of the complications with my particular mouth is that my sinus cavity runs low, and so there was concern about that and, in fact, I may need to have another procedure to push that sucker up a bit.

I was tossing and turning and fretting about this certain infection and questioning my decision to have this done at an office that is approximately 1.5 hours from my house. And about what the doctor would say when I called. Would he possibly just call in a prescription or would he want me to drive the whole way up to Pennsylvania so he could peek in and declare an infection then give me a prescription? And what would I do with Lucas? Would I take off work, leave him at daycare and drive up and back all before 6pm pick-up (almost impossible considering the rush hour traffic I'd be sure to encounter)? Would I take him with me and subject him and me to 3 hours in the car?

Tossing and turning, indeed.

Luckily, I woke up this morning with a completely stuffed up nose (ah! ha! no sinus infection, just a cold on the way!) and in much less pain than the day before. So, I'm ruling out an infection. And all my worried planning of various scenarios was for naught. Or perhaps the power of worry just kicked that infection in the ass. Either way, things seem to be on the upswing.

The craziest part of this whole procedure is the bone graft aspect. When I went in for the consultation the Dr. told me he used cadaver bone for grafts. Or, if that skeeved (my word, not his) me out, he could use bovine bone. I figured I'd rather have a dead human inside me than a dead cow so opted for cadaver. After it was completed, he informed me that occasionally the bone granules slip out before they fully fuse and if I feel a few not to worry. Wha?

The first time I felt one in my mouth I had no idea what it was. I fished it out and, indeed, about the size of a grain of kosher salt, was a bit of bone. About 10 total granules have slipped out over the past week and each one completely skeeves me out.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mud Puddle Hunt

On a normal day, Lucas is an insanely crazy pretty intense kid. Combine some rainy days with his nebulizer treatments which are basically inhaled steroids and he was literally bouncing off the furniture this morning.

So, when the rain let up, we put on his new firefighter rain boots and some already mud-stained pants and went on a "Mud Puddle Hunt." I made it clear that I didn't want to get wet or muddy but that he could jump as much as his little heart desired. First, we walked up and down our block. Since we're at the top of a little hill, we didn't encounter any good puddles. Next, we headed to the park. Jackpot!

After about 45 minutes of solid mud puddle hunting, finding, jumping and splashing, we headed home. He got stripped down at the door (I had left an old towel there before we left), headed straight up to the tub for a quick wash, ate lunch and is now sound asleep.

I can't remember how well I did with my resolutions last spring but I'd say we're off to a great start this spring!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Gonna' take my new ride to Target for a prescription and also maybe some 1/2 price Easter chocolate!

Oh my goodness, where do I begin?

First, we bought! a! new! car! Apparently, I won out because we are the proud new owners of a 2009 Toyota Sienna in slate metallic. OMG. I love it. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love it. This is the first new car I have ever owed five digits on owned. Ever. My parents got their first new car ever after I was away at college so I never even had a new car by proxy through them. It's fantastic. But, also quite disconcerting. Like, this teeny tiny little scratch. I mean, it wasn't there when we pulled out of the dealership, was it? I'm obsessed over it. Obsessed. And since I live in a major metropolitan area and since my workplace has the smallest parking spaces EVER and since we don't have a garage well, I am certain that there are more marks to come and I just can't stand that thought! How will I deal? So anyway. Abel thinks he could have played hardball a bit more (I was given strict orders to not say a word during the process. Not a word!) but we got the deal we needed to get for our trade-in and even are paying $5 below what I wanted for a monthly payment so I'm pretty happy with it all.

Second, we spent several hours of Easter Sunday afternoon in the after-hours urgent care place. Ugh. Lucas had a runny nose all week last week which, of course, turned into major cough/congestion on Thursday-ish (as we left town). We commenced nebulizer treatments hardcore but by Sunday Abel was totally freaked out that it was a recurrence of pneumonia. He called our pediatrician who recommended we not wait the measly 15 hours until Monday and take him somewhere. The thing is that my family is friends with no fewer than 3 physicians in our home town--good friends--but were any of them around to give a quick listen with the stethoscope? No. So, we headed off to urgent care only for him to tell us there was no wheezing, no pneumonia, nothing. The pediatrician this morning, however, did hear some wheezing but said we were doing exactly the right thing with the nebulizer treatments. And so there we are with that.

Third, I had oral surgery on Thursday and my mouth still hurts. I totally feel like a baby about it all, but I also feel like when your mouth hurts, even a little bit, it just effects everything else. Don't you agree? The short story is that I have had this tooth--this problem tooth--that had already had 2--two!--root canals and needed to come out. Plus there was some bone loss. And I'm nothing if not crazy about my teeth so wanted to get it taken care of. I went to an oral surgeon in DC, recommended by the dentist I love, and hated her. Literally left the office crying. CRYING! So, I decided to get it done in my hometown by the oral surgeon who took our my wisdom teeth approximately 17 years ago and who has done some work on my dad's mouth. He was so great in the consultation but what really sealed deal was the fact that he was charging me approximately 60% less than the fancy-DC-will-not-deal-with-insurance doc. Nice.

So, I got it done on Thursday and expected major pain that would last a day or two. What I got is very minor pain which has lasted 4 days now. And so I'm a little whiny about it. And the other thing I'm whiny about is that I left the large majority of my Easter candy at my parents' house so I wouldn't eat any more of it and now I really, really want some chocolate!

Grace in Small Things, 10

1. Home.

2. That new car smell.

3. My son, probably the only kid in the US to exclaim, "Ewwww yuck! Candy!" when he opened his 2 eggs which contained candy rather than a few coins or a stupid little toy.

4. Cascarones!!

5. Singing Alleluia. It's such a small thing, but I do miss it during Lent!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Favorite Things Friday: Easter Candy

With Easter just two days away, I thought I'd use this week's edition of Favorite Things Friday to highlight my favorite Easter basket candies.

Really, no additional explanation is necessary. But, I do think it is interesting to note the strong trend toward Hershey's chocolate here. Perhaps due, in part, to the fact that we went to Hershey Park every single year growing up. Who knows.

The funny thing is that I'm totally a chocolate girl while my sister is all about the candy. It actually worked out pretty well growing up. My siblings and I all got completely even Easter baskets, but I was always happy to give up jelly beans or sweet tarts for the chocolate in her basket. I think we each secretly thought the other had gotten the bum deal in our trades!

Whether you're a chocoholic or have a pure candy sweet tooth (or both!), I hope the Easter Bunny fills your basket with all your favorite treats!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

TV lineup is hitting pretty close to home, literally!

Okay, so first I find out about the new show Parks and Recreation which totally could be my dad. If, that is, my dad was a woman who was played by Amy Poehler.

Then, I do a double-take when I see the preview for Glee. The new Fox show by the creator of Nip/Tuck.

So what? you ask.

Two things, my friends, two things.

First, I was a total glee club geek in high school. Here's the evidence*:

Did you spot me? I'm top row, dead center, frizzy hair.

Second, Abel is from Lima, OH, the setting for Glee! Seriously!

So, here's my plan: Dad consults for Parks and Recreation offering up his decades of experience. And, Abel and I consult for Glee to help keep them real. Me, on the dorkiness of being in high school glee club (the photo really says it all, doesn't it?) and Abel, on what life is like in good ole' Lima, OH.


*Photo courtesy of some fellow glee club geek who felt the need to post it on facebook and tag every single person in the photo. In the spirit of full disclosure, I feel the need to tell you that the group pictured above, of which I was a proud member, was actually the "elite" singing group of Glee Club--The Chorusters. We got those gawd-awful polyester outfits and "toured." In this photo we're standing outside the state capitol building in Harrisburg. And as long as I'm coming clean, I was in band and on the public speaking team, too. Now, dear readers, you can understand the full extent of my geekdom.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Yesterday, in tweet* form

9am: Surprise! Play date this morning at our house that I completely forgot about. Well, actually I thought it was next Tuesday. This is becoming a trend.

11am: Looking for a great book for preschool boys? Let me recommend I Stink by Kate and Jim McMullen. Lucas has it almost completely memorized and just recited it for his little buddy. Too cute!

2:30pm: That boy had better nap. I know he's exhausted and I've started cleaning out his toys. I'll never succeed in the much-needed purging if he wakes up!

3pm: Is it okay to fill Lucas's Easter eggs with matchbox cars he already has? I'm sure he won't notice as he has about 1 million of them!

4:30pm: Lucas looks sooooo grown up with his new haircut ($12 at a little mom & pop barber shop). Hello there my 6yo son!

7pm: I'm sooooo jealous of Abel's new iPhone. Seriously. He hated his BlackBerry Storm so they upgraded him to an iPhone. How crazy is that? Am currently plotting ways to make it mine.

7:30pm: So, what apps should my husband get for his new iPhone? (Also, is my typing coming across green from the massive jealousy?)

8:30pm: Watching 2nd episode of Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency on HBO on demand. Highly recommend this new series!

10:00pm: Off to bed. Tomorrow's the last day of work before the long weekend! (Woo hoo except that I'm only off on Thursday to have a tooth pulled. May need to take my Easter chocolate in shake form!)

*None of which was actually tweeted.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Just Say No

I'm up to my eyeballs in commitments these days and have vowed to say no from here on out. It's just so hard, though, because I'm a yes person and an idea person. The problem is that I truly believe I can do it all.

Here's a taste of all the things I've got going on right now.

1) Politics. I'm co-chair of the local progressive political group in town. It's kept me quite busy and although I enjoy it, I'm really looking forward to the end of my term in October.

2) Schools. I helped found and serve as a co-chair of a local group advocating for improved public schools. (Hence the conference embarrassment of yesterday.)

3) Church. We got a new pastor recently and I approached him about starting some kids programming at the parish. I thought long and hard before approaching him because I truly feared that if I brought up the idea I'd be the one put in charge. My fears have come true. We're launching a children's Liturgy of the Word in June and guess who's organizing it? Yep, me. I am committed to it, though, because it will be great for Lucas and I think my spiritual life will greatly improve if I can be fully present for at least half of Mass each week while he's out for the children's portion.

Beyond those huge commitments, I've got some one-time projects going on as well. I'm doing a table at a local environmental fair about green cleaning later this month. And I'm helping put together a yard sale to raise money for a local family in need in early May. (Live nearby and want to donate some items? We'd love to have them!)

Socially, I have book club and of course, I'm committed to blogging here and at DC Metro Moms.

Beyond all that, I have a million ideas of things I want to do. Like, my new blog. Some fun activities for our local parents group. Starting a Ladies Activity Club. Not to mention what will hopefully be my biggest spring/summer/fall project!

Oh, yeah, and I've got that kid and work outside the home 20 hours a week!

Seriously folks, I think that the quote "If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it" was written for me. But from here on out, I just need to start saying no! (Music to Abel's ears, most certainly!)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Right place, right time, wrong day

Looking ahead to Lucas's entry into the public school system in a few short years, I've gotten involved in our local public school system. As such, I was invited by the principal of our local elementary school to join some parents, teachers and herself at a conference. I thought this conference was this Monday. Today. Last week, I arranged with work to switch around my days this week so I could attend. But by Friday, I hadn't received any of the details. Assuming that the teacher who was supposed to send them to me wasn't going to check her work e-mail over the weekend, I did a few google searches and found it on my own. I left the house early and walked in. But the conference wasn't there! Another (quite interesting looking) conference was taking place. I asked the concierge and they had no record of the conference I was attending. I stepped aside and looked back in my e-mail (yay! wonderful new phone!) and indeed, the conference is scheduled for the 20th! I tried to quickly slink away, but they followed up so I had to tell them my error. "See you in a few weeks!" they cheerily replied.

How did I miss that? HOW?

That feeling of embarrassment is a familiar one to me. I've done this before. On multiple occasions.

The time that looms most large in my head took place in 8th grade, a time when I had a very, very tenuous grasp on the outside edge of the "in" crowd. I'd been invited to a Halloween Party--a costume party--by one of the cooler kids. I had my costume all planned out, it was pretty cool, in my opinion, and on the appropriate Saturday night my mom drove me over.

As we pulled up, the house was completely dark, not a car in the driveway. I walked up and it took forever for someone to answer the door. Finally, the hostess's mom came to the door in her bathrobe! I was a week early and her daughter--thank the Lord--was at her father's house that weekend. Probably knowing that her daughter could sometimes be, how shall we say, not the nicest girl, she promised me she wouldn't breathe a word of this to her daughter. Luckily my mom is the type of mom who always waited in the driveway until I was safely inside, so she was still there to whisk me home. Where, I am sure, upon arrival I stormed up to my room to nurse my supreme feeling of dorkiness.

That Monday, I was terrified of being the laughing-stock of class. But my friend seemed none-the-wiser. Apparently her mom had kept her promise to me and had never mentioned it to her daughter. The next Saturday I donned a new costume (after all, the former was a bit tainted, don't you think?) and had a great time at the party.

That's me: Miss Right Place, Right Time, Wrong Day. No wonder I am such a freak about putting everything in my calendar!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Grace in Small Things, 9

1. Cherry Blossoms!

2. Lucas and I walking home from a birthday party while he held tightly to my hand with one hand and even more tightly to a red balloon with the other hand.

3. Going to the park twice in one day.

4. Planting some pretty flowers.

5. Spring!!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Favorite Things Friday: God's Dream

March 26th was the 3rd anniversary of the day Lucas was baptized and at some point in the past year, my sister, a Catholic school teacher, was at a retreat where someone suggested that Godparents should celebrate the baptism days of their Godchildren. She took it to heart and decided to start celebrating this date for Lucas.

Part of her gift to him was this lovely, lovely book. It has been one of his book choices almost every single night since it arrived. And I haven't minded reading it over and over again because I thoroughly enjoy the message and illustrations myself.

And so today I'm pleased to feature God's Dream by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams, illustrated by Leuyen Pham, as my Favorite Things Friday.

I'm sure that part of my affinity for this book is that I had the opportunity to hear Archbishop Tutu several years ago and it truly was amazing. As an activist against apartheid in South Africa, then chair of the country's Truth and Reconciliation Council and later winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, his message about peace, love and the intrinsic value of each person is amazing.

In this book, it is conveyed in beautiful, simple language. Language even a 3 year old can understand. For example, it tells us that it is God's dream that we share and care but that He does not force us to do so. The book talks about each person being important and equal even if one is taller and one is smaller. After that line, Lucas always chimes in, "Just like I am taller than Will!"

The message conveyed through the illustrations is equally as powerful as what is conveyed through the words. We see toddlers of all sizes and colors. Dressed differently and praying in different ways. Each page is more beautiful than the next!

Thanks, Aunt Sarah, for sending along such a wonderful book!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Pretty Cool Kid

I was thinking, recently, that maybe I don't write often enough on this blog about just how incredibly cool and amazing Lucas is. Because, really, despite the occasional accident or sleep issue or general craziness, he really is an awesome kid.

He's the kind of kid who will, several times a day, completely out of the blue, look up and say, "I love you, Mama." The kind of kid who says hello to every single kid that is approximately his size or smaller at stores. The kind of kid who says thank you when someone holds the door for us.

And, oh man. He cracks me up. He remembers random lines of dialogue from cartoons and pulls them out at the funniest times. He picks up on everything as exhibited recently by the fact that he has gotten obsessed with the 1-page Geico ads which were recently in the Washington Post. On one side they have a stack of bills with googly eyes. You know, the print version of this ad. He carries these ads around saying "This is the money you save with dieco. 15 minutes." or "15 minutes. This is the money you save. dieco."

Hysterical and a little scary at the same time.