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.


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 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:

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:

3) Come to 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:

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!