Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Scene: Abel is upstairs giving Lucas a bath.

Lucas: Washing is NOT necessary!

Abel: Washing IS necessary! You are taking a bath!

Lucas: NO! It is NOT necessary.

Hmmm...I didn't check behind Lucas's ears but hopefully Abel won this battle!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

A fresh day

Of course after Monday's post, Lucas was an absolute doll Monday afternoon and evening. He came home from preschool SO EXCITED about his Scholastic book order. I picked the books out and didn't tell him about the order so he was very surprised and pleased to receive the books at school and get to bring them home. First thing after getting home, we sat at the table, had a little snack and read through three of the books. Later, we read two of them again--with him attentively on my lap the entire time.

Ha! That goes to show you, Mama!

After his snack I wanted him to help me make oatmeal cookies because it was his turn to take in the class snack today. I took about 15 minutes to prepare all the ingredients in little bowls (like they do on TV!) so he could help me with minimal mess. There were a lot more dishes to wash afterwards (I've mentioned that we don't have a dishwasher, right?) but having him easily and successfully help me was worth it. And, a good thing I took the time in advance as I had planned to make a double batch but when I got to the oats (critical ingredient in oatmeal cookies!) I barely had enough for one batch. We were bummed that this meant only a grand total of 3 extra cookies after counting out enough for the preschoolers and teachers, but I have a feeling Lucas and I will make them again soon!

I can't wait to get today's report about snack time. He was so excited to take in a snack that he made.

This totally isn't a cooking blog, but I have to share that I'm trying some new things to make my favorite baked goods more healthy. I've switched over to whole wheat flour and recently bought some whole wheat pastry flour, which I'm told is lighter (density wise, not calorie wise!). I've tried incorporating ground flax into recipes in substitution for oil (not much success yet, I will report in when I get something that isn't as heavy as a brick!). With this recipe, I used 1/2 white sugar and 1/2 Sucanat, a natural cane sugar. That worked really well so next time I'll try using all Sucanat in place of white sugar or I may substitute raw honey for the white sugar and Sucanat for the brown sugar. I am very good at following recipes so it is a little stressful for me to try tinkering with them (especially when I get disappointing results!) so I'm trying little changes at a time.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sleeping with Dragons

On Friday night Lucas woke up around 1am running a fever. I thought the worst as the flu has been going around his preschool.* He climbed into bed with us. About an hour later, everyone is slumbering away but I'm wide awake unable to get comfortable and Abel is snoring. Usually I just shake his shoulder and he rolls over but with Lucas between us (and half on top of me) that wasn't possible without also waking up Lucas. About five minutes later Lucas bolts upright and says:

"Dada! Dada! Stop snoring! Everyone** thinks you're a dragon!"

Abel rolled over and I finally had the proof I need for all the times Abel swears he couldn't be snoring as he isn't even asleep yet.

*Luckily a few hours of a low grade fever seem to be all he got. By the next day he was fine.

**Who, exactly, is everyone?

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

So hard

I think one of the main reasons I was hoping for a girl was not really the pretty pink clothes (although: bonus!) but because I just have it in my head that girls must be easier. They play quietly. They sit quietly. They don't have to be moving all the time. They don't pull on you or jump on you or tackle you.

Right? Right?

(I'm sure some mothers of girls are laughing hysterically right now.)

The thing is that Lucas is just so crazy and over the top physical. He doesn't sit still. He is all about big movements--jumping, running, tackling his mama. He is loud.

And sometimes it is really, really hard.

Sometimes I just want a child who will play quietly. Who will sit in my lap for more than four pages of a book before he starts wandering around the room or playing with other toys (while still wanting you to read to him, of course). Someone who will walk next to me when we are out without me having to have a death grip on his wrist (yes, wrist; hand-to-hand is much too easy to slip out of).

This weekend was particularly rough. Allergy season has arrived and with it ended our few month respite from Lucas's respiratory problems. We started nebulizer treatments last week and those inhaled steroids make him crazy. More crazy than usual. Sunday I had to run out to the grocery store for one item before dinner. He came with me. I didn't think about the fact that he had just finished a treatment and let him walk with me instead of getting a cart. One item turned into four, but we still zipped through very quickly. After the 10 minutes it took to get through the check-out line, however, it was all I could do to get to the car before breaking down in tears.

Lucas was running around, jumping, bumping the cart in front of us and grabbing everything in sight. When I tried to hold on to him he started YELLING that I was hurting him. (I was not.) I really can not adequately describe it but I felt like the worst mother in the world. Like I had the worst child in the world. What an awful feeling.

Later at home I was crying again. (Lucas didn't see my tears on the drive home.) And he came over to give me the biggest hug. He opened the living room window (with some help) so that "the birdies can sing you a song and make you happy." He brought me his most favorite cars to cheer me up. He was his wonderful, amazing, kind and loving self.

Later that night, after his bath, he sat on my lap and I cuddled with him. I apologized for yelling at him and told him how much I love him. He said, "I forgive you, Mama. I love you, too."

I wouldn't change Lucas for anything in the world. But sometimes it is just so, so hard.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Favorite Things Friday: Brain, Child Magazine

Last December, I was the lucky winner of a contest over at Mummy's Product Reviews for a year long subscription to Brain, Child. Brain, Child calls itself "the magazine for thinking mothers." I've enjoyed reading it so much over the past several months that I just renewed my subscription. That's why I'm featuring it for today's edition of Favorite Things Friday.

Now, don't get me wrong, there are plenty of "non-thinking" magazines that I love flipping through. But I also really enjoy that Brain, Child's feature length articles are always interesting and always make me think. They're also short enough that I can read an entire article before bed without staying up too late.

Sound interesting? You can check out several of this month's essays here.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bra Poll: More or less personal than asking how much money you make or your opinion on breastfeeding?

So a very fun thing happened with the post I wrote about visiting my family's hometown earlier this summer. First, a local website found the post (I assume via google alert) and included a link on their main page. Then, someone from the local weekly newspaper (did I mention how small the town is?) asked if she could run it in the paper.

At first I was excited. Then, I was a little hesitant.

I mean when I write for DC Metro Moms I fully understand that there is a slim possibility that my posts could get picked up for syndication (I was lucky enough to have it happen once, not again) but on this blog, well, it is all pretty much straight from my little brain to my fingertips to publish without much thinking in between.

So after a few weeks I decided to re-work the piece a bit to put it in present tense (since by then we'd already made the visit). Then I sent it in. Well, it got published last week. I got a few comments from people who know my parents and grandparents and my mom sent the text to all of her first cousins. If you think I have a lot of first cousins at the count of 18 then she really has a lot of first cousins. I think it's somewhere close to a total of 50 (though I'm guessing they aren't all on e-mail).

Yay! Fun! Exciting! (Warm welcome to Emporium locals and distant relatives!)

But also, today I really want to talk about ask you about bras and really, how bizarre is it to blog about bras when your 60 year old second cousin once removed might be reading?


But, I'm plowing ahead anyway: look away if you must.

Okay, so bras. On Friday morning when Lucas is at preschool and I have my precious 6.5 hours ALONE I plan to head to the mall to do some shopping. At the top of my list is new bras.

Is it just me or is bra shopping second only to bathing suit shopping as The. Most. Dreaded. Shopping. Activity. Of. All. Time?

A few years ago I decided to listen to all those "studies" which show that approximately 110% of women are wearing the wrong bra size and went to Nordstrom to get fitted. Despite the fact that purchasing 3 bras that day basically drained my bank account, it was a very refreshing experience. A very nice saleswoman measured me and then brought me several sizes and styles to try on. She got my fit perfectly and she was the one who went out to wade through the racks to find the correct size in different brands and styles, not me.

Holy heck, those babies were expensive. But, I came home with 3 bras that fit really well and that would work for pretty much all occasions (except strapless).

So, just over a year later when I'd completely worn those babies out, I did it all over again. Now it's been about 15 months since my last bra purchase, and wear and tear coupled with this pregnancy, um, growth, necessitate another trip.

Thinking about all this has made me SO curious about how many bras most women have, how often they purchase new bras and how much they spend. So, here's the deal: I'm going to lay it all out for you and ask you to do the same via the totally anonymous polls to the right. (If you're reading through google reader please click through here to get to the questions.)

About how many bras do you generally own at one time (not including athletic bras)? 3
How often do you purchase new bras? About once a year
Approximately how much do you spend (on average) per bra? $60

Thanks in advance for playing along. I can't wait to see the results!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Playing the Name Game

Now that we officially know that Baby #2 is Boy #2, Abel and I have started getting serious about names. It took literally hours and hours of reading through lists, vetoing left and right and getting suggestions from family and friends to come up with Lucas last time around. We had one other boy name under consideration, Gus, which despite many people telling us they hated it, we both really liked. (It still bubbles up in conversation these days so be careful not to share your intense hatred if that's how you feel!)

As for a girl, we were all set: Isabel Ramona. Isabel is a name I've loved for years and years, long before I met Abel. And, as it happens to also be his mother's name, I can't think of anything more perfect for a daughter. I was a bit concerned with it's current popularity and had a slight fear that someone would think I named a daughter after the main character in the Twilight novels. So, if we eventually have a daughter in a few more years, maybe those issues will be resolved. Ramona, a name that is s l o w l y growing on me, is the name of Abel's maternal grandmother. For me--and perhaps you?--the first thing that comes to mind when I hear that name is crazy-haired, knock-kneed, Ramona Quimby! Oh how I loved those books when I was younger. But, really, is the the kind of character you want to name your daughter after?

Well, all that is moot anyway.

Back to boys.

As I mentioned, Lucas has been intent on calling the baby Lucas. Just yesterday, however, he got to meet the new baby brother of one of his friends. This baby's name is Thomas. Now, the name Thomas is a wonderful, solid name. One I like a great deal. But what does it evoke in any toddler or preschool aged boy? Thomas the Train! Lucas immediately suggested that we name our baby Percy, a leap that makes total sense: Percy is Lucas's favorite engine.

Let me be clear: Percy is not under consideration!

I've been scanning baby name websites and even borrowed a few baby name books from some moms in town. So far, it looks like we're both leaning toward Old Testament names. They do seem to be en vogue right now, don't they? Lucas is the Latin for Luke, a biblical name. And, of course, Abel fits in the Old Testament category as well.

We've got a few months to figure it all out so who knows what we'll come up with. In the meantime, though, I think it would be funny to start telling anyone who asks that we're naming the baby Cain.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Favorite Things Friday: So You Think You Can Dance (Take Two)

The lovely host, Cat Deeley

For today's Favorite Things Friday, I'm doing something I've never done before. Something I've never considered doing before: I'm repeating one of my favorite things. That's right, again this week, I featuring the awesome TV show So You Think You Can Dance.

I originally posted about SYTYCD back in July and since then I've felt so badly that I talked about it so far into the summer season. By the time I told you about it, dear readers, the auditions had been completed, Vegas week was over and the Top 20 had been whittled down to the Top 12. Even if you had jumped in and started watching upon my recommendation, you had already missed so, so much.

But, now, for the first time ever, SYTYCD is in the fall line-up! That's right, season 6 has just begun and it is off to a great start. Right now it's on Wednesday nights at 8pm eastern on Fox. They'll most likely add a second night later in the season for the results show. Set your DVRs right now to record this gem.

Below I've re-posted what I wrote this summer. All I have to add is that I love this show so much that Abel actually purchased us tickets to see the Season 5 tour in Baltimore next month. Woo hoo!

Originally posted July 3, 2009

For today's Favorite Things Friday, I bring you my favorite summertime show for the past few years: So You Think You Can Dance. This show is awesome!

If you're already a fan then I'd love to know who your current favorite is. If you haven't ever watched it, then I'm only sorry I haven't told you about it earlier. Like American Idol, the show holds auditions across the country, takes a certain number of dancers to Las Vegas then chooses 20 to take to LA. The dancers are paired into couples and each week draw a dance style from the hat. The perform, the judges critique and America votes. From the bottom 3 girls and bottom 3 guys the judges then send 1 girl and 1 guy home.

Unlike American Idol, the host is just awesome. Not only is Cat Deeley beautiful (I can't wait to see her dress each Wednesday and Thursday evening) but it is clear that she genuinely cares for each of the dancers. The judges, too, clearly care a great deal about their craft and give thoughtful critiques. Well, everyone but Mary Murphy who kind of drives me crazy but I guess there's always a spot for a crazy female judge, right?

Next Wednesday the remaining 12 dancers will perform. The judges have said, and I agree, that this is probably the strongest season yet in terms of talent. These men and women are simply amazing. If you tune in, you won't be disappointed

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Losing My Disfunctional Family

Photo via CBS.

Dear readers, you have learned a great deal about me over the past few years of blogging, but I bet there's something that I've never shared before: I'm a Soap Opera fan!


I hardly ever get to watch these days, but I've been a devoted follower of the CBS line-up since, apparently, age 3. I have a new post up over at DC Metro Moms talking about losing what feels like part of the family, albeit a very dysfunctional part of the family, on Friday when Guiding Light goes off the air. Click here to read more!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Finding our Groove

This is the first week of the new school and work schedule for Lucas and me and we're still working on finding our groove. Lucas loves school--he's making new friends and brings home new art projects every day.

He also is very, very happy to see me at pick-up time which is such a great feeling. The school is on a big hill and every day (in nice weather) they dismiss the kids from the top of the outdoor steps with all the parents waiting below. (That way they can dismiss the kids one by one without a big crowd of parents and kids getting all mixed up.) The feeling when Lucas spots me, waves, then hurries down the steps wearing his backpack and clutching his latest work of art is just priceless. He gives me a big hug at the bottom of the steps and we walk home.

This next statement will sound crazy to all my full-time working readers, but I've had to go into the office three days in a row now (tomorrow it will be four) and it is exhausting! I'm only at work for five hours each day but just the idea of getting up and out the door early every day without breaks in-between is a real mental shift after having Tuesdays, Thursday afternoons and Fridays off for past three years. Now, I'll most certainly be singing a different tune this Friday when I drop Lucas off and then have 6.5 hours ALL TO MYSELF before pick-up time! I've got a rigorous schedule planned for my first solo Friday: take a nice walk, head home to shower and get ready then meet two fabulous friends for a L O N G lunch. If I am able to squeeze in a pedicure then it will be the perfect day :)

I'm sure I'll get used to is soon enough, but as of now, this going to work every day thing is for the birds!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Losing my Dysfunctional Family: Guiding Light Goes Off the Air

On Friday afternoon, I’ll lose part of my family. Admittedly, it is the most dysfunctional side, with more affairs, marriages, scandals, and people coming back from the dead than everyone else I know combined. But, they still feel like family.

Who am I talking about? Why the residents of Springfield on the daytime Soap Opera “Guiding Light.”

After 72 years on the air, “Guiding Light,” which the NY Times calls “the oldest longest-running scripted program in broadcasting history” will be replaced with a game show.

My love affair with Soap Operas started young. My mom tells me that she had to cut back on the daytime viewing when I was a toddler. The story goes that we were having one of those talks in the car that every mom knows well and I brought up babies. She stated that you had to be married to have a baby and I replied that Cricket was having a baby and she wasn’t married. Cricket, of course, was a Soap character!

When I was a young girl, Phillip and Beth were the ultimate love story. I vividly remember him weeping at her grave one Christmas. (Of course, Beth later came back from the dead and they both went a bit crazy. Beth married Alan, Phillip’s adoptive father, after Alan shot Phillip. Then Phillip came back from the dead a few years later. But, that’s another story entirely.) And I can't forget Riva and Josh. Their wedding at Cross Creek—she arrived via boat and carried a parasol—was the ideal wedding in my adolescent mind. (Let’s not discuss the fact that before marring Josh, her childhood sweetheart, she had been married to both his father and brother.)

Admittedly, I deserve part of the blame for the cancellation of “Guiding Light.” At one time in my life, I watched religiously. It was a family affair: my mom and maternal grandparents (that’s right, my grandfather was a devoted fan as well, though he’d never publically admit it!) watched every weekday at 3pm on CBS and I did as well. Now, I can barely follow the story line on the rare occasions when I turn on the TV in the afternoon. If anything, “Guiding Light” (and the rest of the CBS daytime line up) occasionally serves as background while I pay bills on-line or fold laundry during my son’s afternoon nap.

I won’t be home Friday afternoon to tune in to the final show, but I’m setting my DVR for it right now. Even though I haven’t been as devoted to them as they have been to all of us in recent years, I sure will miss the Bauer, Spaulding, Lewis, Marler and Cooper families. Thanks for so many years of great memories!

Original post to DC Metro Moms. You can find more from Aimee Olivo at Smiling Mama and Out by Ten.

Dr. Blondie said...
I cannot believe that Guiding Light has been on the air for 72 years! I too loved soap operas as a child/teenager. I think that I was addicted to Days of Our Lives for about ten years.... during the beginning of Bo and Hope's relationship, but as best I can tell from the magazines at the grocery store checkout, they're back (of course!) and still kicking!

Kate Coveny Hood said...
I LOVE that story from your childhood.

I only really watched soaps as a pre-teen and in highschool - but I sure did love All My Children, Another World and SANTA BARBARA (like you - I was so sad when that went off the air - even though I never watched it anymore.)

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 14, 2009

It's a Boy!

Newsflash: there's a baby in there. Seriously. There really is. And it was kicking and holding its hands and moving all around. Can you believe it?

(Yes, I realize that you all are thinking that I am being silly, I mean, of course there is a baby in there. Didn't I tell you months ago that there was a baby in there?)

But, folks, really: there is a baby in there!

I know this sounds ridiculous but as much as I know there's a baby and I've even heard it's heartbeat and I've started to feel some fluttering movement and I have to pee all the time (seriously, like every 15 minutes, especially at night), somehow it just really sunk in on Friday morning when I was looking at the screen that...there's a baby in there!

And that baby is a boy.

Pretty much everyone knows that I was hoping for a girl. I even have Lucas using female pronouns to refer to the baby (note to self: need to break that) but now we know with pretty good certainty (we definitely got the money shot if you know what I mean) that baby #2 is also boy #2.

So I lose out on pretty, pretty girl clothes. But, I gain, too.

I gain brothers. And I gain the fact that every single article of clothing in the many, many boxes in our attic will not only be the right color but also the right season.* And, of course, I already know my trucks and am learning my dinosaurs. And I don't mind bugs or mud and do allow jumping on the furniture. I gain the phrases "the boys" and "my boys" and I get to be the only girl (for now). Yeah, I definitely gain.

It will, however, most likely take every single day of the next 19 weeks to come up with a name. We were all set for a girl and for a boy, we've got nothing. Well, I have a name that I love and adore and think is perfect which Abel has strongly vetoed.

(Lucas has suggested "Lucas." It's a great name, he tells us. No, there won't be any confusion. "I'll be Lucas and my brother will be Lucas." Hmmm....)

*Note to self: money not being spent on pretty girly clothes should now be spent on massages, pretty new diaper bags or some other girly-pampering for the only girl in the family! Don't you agree, dear readers?

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My Consequential Strangers

Have you ever given much thought to those people in your life who you see everyday or on a regular basis who are strangers but also more than strangers? Maybe the barista at Starbucks who has your order memorized? Or the dry cleaner who asks about your kids? Maybe the bus driver who gives you a little extra help now that you have a stroller to carry on? Authors Melinda Blau and Karen L. Fingerman gave them a name: consequential strangers and recently wrote a book titled The Importance of "Consequential Strangers" on the topic.

I'm over at DC Metro Moms today talking about a few of the consequential strangers in my life. I'd love to hear about some of the consequential strangers in your life.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

My Consequential Strangers

It’s not unusual for a story on NPR to catch my attention or make me think, but it’s not often that a story stays with me for days. That’s what has happened with a story that aired last week titled, The Importance Of 'Consequential Strangers' on Talk of the Nation with Neil Conan.

The show interviewed authors Melinda Blau and Karen L. Fingerman about their new book, Consequential Strangers, which explores the importance of all those relationships you have in your life—not with your friends or loved ones, but rather with the people who play a smaller, background role and yet still make a difference in your life. Maybe this is the barista you see at Starbucks every morning or your hairdresser or the person you see when walking your dog every evening.

And so I started thinking about some of the consequential strangers in my life and some of the ways these more-than-strangers have made a difference for me.

One consequential stranger was my college’s shuttle bus driver. Of course there were several, but this particular woman had the weekday afternoon into evening shift, the time I was most likely to ride the shuttle to the Metro. At the end of my freshman year, she was the first person I told that I had been offered an awesome job and would be staying in Washington, DC for the summer. It was a dream come true (for me, anyway, maybe not for my mom!) and I was literally bursting at the seams to tell someone! Of course, this was years before I had a cell phone so I couldn’t tell any of my friends until I saw them in person back at the dorm and I couldn’t call my parents until I got to my room. So, I told the shuttle bus driver, the first person I saw.

Another consequential stranger was the guy who made the sandwiches in the liquor store/deli across the street from my first out-of-college job. A little reminiscent of the soup man in Seinfeld, he was gruff and you had only seconds to give him your order. It had better not be too complicated, either. But, oh man, those sandwiches were delicious! I tried to kill him with kindness and after a few years I started getting smiles from him—and maybe just a few extra seconds to place my order!—in return.

There are so many people like this in our lives. We may or may not know their names, we probably would never consider adding them as a friend on Facebook, but their presence in the world has made a difference for us.

After I started thinking about some of the consequential strangers in my life, I started to wonder if I am a consequential stranger for anyone. I wonder if there are people out there who don’t know my name but for whom my presence in the world has made a difference in their lives.

I certainly hope so.

Original post to DC Metro Moms. Aimee Olivo listens to NPR as she works, blogs and parents. You can more of her writing at Smiling Mama and Out by Ten.

Elaine said...
I really like this idea of stopping to notice the many layers of people in our lives. Not only do they have an impact on our lives, but we also affect them! I bet you made your shuttle bus driver's day by sharing your exciting news, a positive lift which likely spilled into her interactions with people in her own life.

The book sounds intriguing ... I will check it out.

Aimee Olivo said in reply to Elaine...
Elaine, I love the layers idea as well as the concept of the ripple effect. Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

Stimey said...
This is such a great post! I feel this way too about a lot of people I've met or interacted with over the years. There are so many quick interactions that never go anywhere, but for some reason are important and stay with you. What a great name for them.

Aimee Olivo said in reply to Stimey...
Thanks, Stimey! I agree, the name is just perfect!

Kate Coveny Hood said...
That's an interesting idea... I've often wondered how many photo albums I'm in (as a stranger in the background - since I grew up in DC and have spent a lot of time in the touristy areas). And I've also wondered how many people from my past think about me (since so many people I didn't keep in touch with pop into my head so regularly). AND I've even wondered how many people remember me but I don't remember them (since I know exactly who I remember but doubt they remember me). But I've never really given much thought to whether I'm a small but important character in someone else's life story. I wonder...

Kate Coveny Hood...
Kate, I agree, it is fun to think about all those things! My sister went through a phase where she would try to get into tourist photos--not ruining them, just casually walking behind or something like that. Too funny!

BananaBlueberry said...
Thanks for this post!!!!!
It reminds me to be self-aware and kind- because I'm a consequential stranger to others :)

Melinda Blau said...
Aimee, I was tooling around the Internet (ok--I'll admit it: I searched "consequential strangers"!) and I found this great post and fabulous replies. Thanks for spreading the word about CS. You know I've written many parenting books (Secrets of the Baby Whisperer being the most popular), and I know from personal and professional experience--not to mention my daughter who is mother of three boys, 6, 4, and 4 mos--how important CS are to moms. There's one thing
I wish I had said on NPR: The first step is being aware of CS. But to really see how these everyday encounters lead to life-changing moments and learn how you make those connections work for you, I hope people will actually read the book. It takes you to lots of different places--the office, the play ground, the health club, your doctor's office, the coffee shop on the corner--and shows you the fascinating and often subtle ways that consequential strangers make a difference in your life. To my delight, people who've read the book says it changes the way they walk in the world. A journalist can't ask for much more than that!
Keep in touch!
Twitter: @melindablau
Blog/Website: www.consequentialstrangers.com
Facebook: http://bit.ly/19Lkrp

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering on September 11

I'm taking a break from Favorite Things Friday this week because I just can't seem to write something light and airy about a thing on this day. I feel like the longer it has been since September 11, the less we pause to remember the tragedy of that day. Certainly, it was one of the most defining times of our generation. Every single American alive on September 11, 2001 will forever be able to answer, in detail, when our children or grandchildren ask where we were. Working 6 blocks and living 2 blocks from the Capitol building certainly was intense, to say the least, not only on September 11 but in the months following.

My most heartening experience surrounding September 11 was a professional one. I left the world of politics for educational fundraising in November 2001 and one of my first projects was to work on a scholarship created in honor of an alumna who had been killed in the World Trade Center. Although I never had the opportunity to know the woman who died, I came to know her friends and family quite well.

The have inspired me more than they could ever imagine. Even in their profound grief, they asked what good they could do for others, how their daughter/friend's memory could live on for generations in support of others. Because of their generosity, each year a student receives help funding his or her education in the name of their loved one.

And so today I am remembering in a special way that young woman and her family and friends, even as I remember all who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First Day of Preschool

Today was Lucas's first day of preschool! The school is located very close to our house so Abel and I both walked him there this morning. The second we walked out of our house, Lucas was so excited to get going that we could barely get him to stand still long enough to snap a few pictures! This is the best of the bunch.

Most of Lucas's best friends in town (including several from his daycare) are in school with him now. Plus, lots of other great kids that I know he'll get along with really well. Once we got to his classroom, he was off to play without a glance back. But, he was equally excited to see me at pick-up, which was a really great feeling.

Even though I've been dropping Lucas off at daycare 3 days a week since he was about 4 months old, this just seems different, and to be honest, I was a little emotional about it all. I know it will be a great experience for him, though, and a year where he'll grow and learn a great deal.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

We had two encounters with very kind strangers today. The kind of encounters that not only renew your overall faith in people but make you vow to try to be kinder to strangers yourself.

First, on our way into Panera for lunch, Lucas's hand got hit by the door. It didn't close on him, but almost did. Lucas started wailing. A man was walking in right behind us and saw the entire thing. He asked if Lucas was okay and then went into the restaurant. To be honest, I would have judged him as someone who wouldn't have given us a second thought. He was in his 30s and was wearing very hip clothing (just the fact that I can't adequately describe his clothes better than that shows you how totally un-hip I am these days!). But, by the time I got Lucas calmed down and started inside to get some ice from the soda dispenser (all I could think to do) he had gone to the counter and had gotten some ice in a little baggie for us. It was so unexpected and completely appreciated.

After Panera, Lucas and I hit up the 'ole Safeway for a grocery store run. As usual, Lucas begged for a toy and, as usual, I gave in. For most of the trip around the store, he was holding two different $1.99 matchbox cars but I repeated several times that he was only getting one and would have to choose. He finally chose and then, of course, regretted it and started begging for the other car as soon as we were through check-out.

Too late, Buddy.

I stopped at the ATM on the way out and he was throwing a not-quite-full-fledged tantrum about wanting the other car. I was ignoring him. About that time, an older gentleman came up and tried to say hello to Lucas. Honestly, I was a little annoyed. Couldn't he see that Lucas was in no state to be polite to a stranger? I finished my transaction and he launched into a story about Opie and Andy from the show Mayberry. I'm thinking, seriously, I just want to get to my car and unload the groceries and Lucas into it!

He continued about an episode where Opie's friend taught him to throw a "fit" so Opie could get a new bike. Long story short, Andy just ignored Opie and he eventually wore himself out and later reported to his friend that "fits" just weren't worth the effort.

The man said that Lucas was a really cute kid and even though these times were hard they sure do go by quickly. After all, his son was about 3 years old just a few months ago and now he's 16!

By the end of our conversation, Lucas was smiling and laughing. And so was I.

Thanks for the reminders, Sirs.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Do you ever make a "pro" and "con" list even though you know what you're going to do in the end?

(Here it is, just in case you don't want to click back)

So I was just looking at my post from Friday and thinking about what to write today and I decided to click on the link to that adorable print just in case they decided to add more to the shop or some other miracle of e-commerce made them available again. And, lo and behold, I had not taken note of the fact that while the $20 8x10 print was sold out, there were still prints available in the larger sizes.

At this very moment 141 copies of the 11x14 print are available for $50 each.

What to do?

Admittedly, $50 is a lot of money to spend on one print for the baby's nursery.

But, I love it.

Admittedly, I don't yet know (Friday can't come soon enough, folks) if this little heirloom tomato (last week's size description courtesy of Baby Center) is a he or a she.

But, the color scheme of the print will match both the boy and girl decor I'm currently thinking of.

Admittedly, I will probably want to purchase a few more decor items.

But, most of the items that I have in mind are on Etsy and are very reasonable.

So, I'm about to click over and officially purchase the very first thing for this baby.

(But, of course I had to come blog about it first!)

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Favorite Things Friday: 20x200

Ideal Bookshelf 1, JMMby Jane Mount via 20x200

For today's edition of Favorite Things Friday, I bring you 20x200. I'm featuring it today for three reasons.

1) I just discovered it. (Although since the site has already been featured in the NY Times, Dwell, GQ and a million other places, I may just be the last person in the world to hear about it!)

2) I'm obsessed with the fact that the print above is sold out. How amazingly adorable would it be in our baby's nursery? Let me repeat: obsessed.

3) I was on the site for approximately 2 minutes when I felt the incredible urge to e-mail approximately 10 people about it. Thus, it fits the Favorite Things Friday criteria of something I want to shout about from the internet rooftop.

So the concept is simple: there are lots of artists and lots of people wanting to buy art--but how to connect the two? Each Tuesday and Wednesday at 2pm EST they offer new editions for sale. When they sell out, they're gone. (Like the one above. Sob.) 200 8x10 prints are $20 each and they go up in price as they go up in size.

But, holy cow, awesome artwork for $20? How can you beat that?

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

20 Weeks

When the Baby Center e-mail arrives tomorrow announcing 20 Weeks, I will not be able to believe it. How in the world am I half-way through this pregnancy? As with all things of this nature, in some ways, it feels like ages ago that I finally got that positive pregnancy test and in other ways it feels like yesterday. And, at the same time, I think January 21 is going to take forever to arrive but also be here in the blink of an eye.

So far, things have been going really well. Yeah, the nausea and tiredness for those first few months was hard. Yeah, the ups and downs are tough. But, those are truly minor bumps in the road, and things which are to be fully expected. The big things--like my platelets--are good so far and for that, I'm truly grateful. There's no sign of gestational diabetes, either. So far my blood sugars are normal which is also wonderful. I know, however, and am bracing myself, that both of those could become factors in the next few months. And, my doctors and I are prepared.

Last week (an already rough week) I was convinced that my platelets had dropped. I had an unexplained bruise on my shin and woke up one morning with a bloody nose. I'm sure these aren't things that a normal person would think twice about but I know that bruising and bleeding can be very scary for me. On top of that, the results of my blood test took more than an hour to come back. Everything seemed to be running behind in the office that afternoon, but as the minutes ticked by--doubling and tripling the normal 15 minute turn around--I was expecting the worst. Luckily, they came back the same as last month--still well below the "normal" platelet count, but still well-above the danger level.

But, this post wasn't supposed to be about the what ifs. It's about the what will be. In another 20 weeks we will have the most amazing gift--a second child. A new member of our fam-ill-lee (as Lucas says).

And in one week, we will know if the baby will be a boy or a girl.

I am secretly (but obviously not-so-secretly!) hoping for a girl. I'm ready to buy some pink and see for myself if girls really are a little more calm. And I'm ready to name her the name I've dreamed about for years.

But, I will embrace a boy as well. (Though his nursery will be much more babyish than Lucas's!!) The boxes and boxes and boxes of clothes in the attic will be the right color and the right season. The trucks and cars and tools will get played with even more. The idea of brothers--and hopefully best friends--is just awesome.

Either way, I know Lucas will be an amazing big brother.

There is so much I want and need to do before the baby arrives. Two rooms to prepare. Things to buy. Clothes to get down and wash. Projects to finish. Quality time to spend with Lucas, savoring this alone-time with our first born.

And we've got just 20 weeks to do it!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Brad Pitt taught my son to eat worms

So another crazy thing about being pregnant is the dreams--my pregnancy dreams are incredibly vivid. Last night I dreamed that Brad Pitt taught Lucas to eat worms!

So the dream started out that we were visiting my mom's good friend Ellen and it just so happened that Ellen was dating Brad Pitt. Now, everyone totally realized that this was a HUGE deal. I mean, it wasn't just a guy who looked like Brad Pitt but it was really and truly BRAD PITT. Brad was on his way over and Ellen even warned us all to just be ourselves.

Well, obviously that was impossible!

So he comes in and I stammer an awkward introduction. Then Lucas, who had been out playing in the yard, wandered in carrying a worm he had found in the dirt. Of course Brad, being the experienced father that he is, expressed great interest in Lucas's worm. Then, as Lucas was leaving to find more worms, Brad remarked he has known some pretty bizarre people--no names mentioned!--some who even eat worms because they are high in protein but low in fat and calories.

Apparently Lucas overheard the "eating worms" part and came back inside with a chewed up worm in his mouth.

Obviously it tasted disgusting so he wanted to spit it out into my hand. Obviously I totally wanted to FREAK the heck out but there was BRAD PITT. So, I totally had to act cool and accept the chewed up worm into my hand before taking Lucas to the sink for a glass of water to rinse out his mouth.

I woke up a little mad at Brad Pitt for teaching my son to eat worms but was also like WAY TO GO Ellen!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!