Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Trip Down the DC Metro Moms Memory Lane

Hello! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! Before I get back to regular programming (or not-so-regular programming, as it's been around here for the past few months!) I hope you will excuse some very necessary house keeping business.

As many of you know, DC Metro Moms closed up shop this past summer. I'm going to be frantically moving all my posts over here before the end of 2010 so I don't lose them forever.

Thanks for understanding!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent Activity Calendar

I've spent the day putting together our first (and hopefully annual!) Advent Activity Calendar.

I'm so excited about it! I bought a similar calendar to the one above on clearance at Target a few years ago and have simply been storing it every year since. I didn't want to give Lucas candy every day (he's not a huge fan anyway, why encourage it?) and we don't need more little toys in the house so I didn't know what to do with it. A daily activity is just perfect!

Read more about it over at Out by Ten (my other blog which was even more neglected than this one, if you can imagine!).

{Can you believe it? Tomorrow is December 1!}

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Advice for my baby sister, on the birth of her baby boy

Dear Sarah,

Despite your radiant look, lovely locks and ever-growing belly, it is nearly impossible for me to believe that you are about to give birth to your first child. Yes, I realize that you are older than I was when Lucas was born. But, as you know, you're still my baby sister and always will be. And so you as a mom is hard for me to grasp.

Don't worry, though. I know you will be an amazing mom. There is no doubt about that. And, I am so excited to become an aunt, to begin my life-long love affair with my first nephew and future friend to my boys!

Now that Mike is back and your family is reunited, we're all ready for baby to arrive. And, so, I thought I'd better take the opportunity to give you my best advice.

1. Savor the moments. I know everyone says it, but it is so true: time will go more quickly than you can imagine, especially those first few hours, days and weeks. Hold your baby as much as you can. Truly, you can not hold him enough. You have my permission to be selfish. You'll be in a unique position of having a lot of family around for quite a while. Be selfish: hold him as much as you want and when you want. Others can hold him while you nap.

That brings me to...

2. Nap! It is so important. You'll need to get your sleep in small 1-2 hour increments. Take naps!

3. Get out of the house. Every day. It is hard: you may not have showered and most likely will have dried spit-up on your shoulder, but get out for at least a walk or a quick trip to the store every day.

4. Take my advice about teaching your baby the difference between night and day. Start early, by 3-4 weeks. I speak with the authority of a mom whose children are both champion sleepers.

5. Let Mike parent in his own way. Trust me, he will do things differently than you, and you may feel strongly that he is doing them wrong, but let him do it his way. Don't correct him. Let him figure it out. The day you leave the house without giving him written instructions, you will thank me.

6. Leave the house. This time I mean leave the baby alone with Mike. If you are breastfeeding, you can leave for an hour or so. Later, you can leave for longer. He can handle it. If you take the advice of #5 then you won't even need to leave instructions. It will make him a better father and you a better mother.

7. Go out together. At some point (but well before your baby turns one!) go out on a date. Get a babysitter (Andrea will be perfect!) and leave. Do this on a regular basis. As mom always says, having a strong marriage is the best gift you can give your children.

8. Always remember: this to shall pass. From getting through the first minute of terrible pain while breastfeeding Nathaniel, to getting through the first 6 weeks of no sleep with Lucas, to dealing with Lucas waking at 3am every night for several months not too long ago, the one constant with children is that things will change. That stage will pass, something else will come along. So you didn't get any sleep tonight? Tomorrow will be different (not necessarily more sleep, but different hours of being awake!). So baby cried all day today? He most likely won't cry all day tomorrow. Although you feel that you will never, ever sleep again, you will (especially if you listen to #4!). You might feel like you can't possibly breastfeed for another day, but tomorrow will be better. Or the very next feeding will. You can get through it!

9. Take an extra shirt for yourself. You'll (most likely!) remember to pack a change of clothes for baby. But that won't help when he poops or spits up all over you! Keep a t-shirt in your trunk for yourself. And, in a similar vein, when you are going out somewhere (especially if you're wearing a particularly favorite shirt or want to look especially cute) get dressed at the last. possible. minute. In fact, get dressed in your garage after you've said good-bye or, trust me, you'll end up with a sticky hand print on your cutest, dry-clean-only black pants!

10. Don't feel guilty. Oh, I get so sick of moms and their mommy guilt. Yes, you'll mess up. Baby will be fussing and you'll have no idea why, until 20 minutes later, you realize it's because you left the plastic tag thing in his shirt. (Not that I ever did that, ah-em!) You'll make mistakes. We all make mistakes! I can guarantee this: you won't make the same mistakes more than a few times, but you'll always make new ones! I so often think of your favorite Maya Angel0u quote, "I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better."

So, that's my best stuff. I hope it helps and of course you know that I'm only a phone call, text message or e-mail away for lots and lots more!

I love you. I know you're going to be an amazing mother. Your baby boy is so lucky to have you. And I absolutely can not wait to meet him!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A good laugh

Today was an amazing day with Lucas. He was awesome. Helpful. Kind. Fun. And it's something we all really needed.

We've had some rough days lately.

Tonight I put him to bed, and, while reading Olivia, we got to a page where she was just being annoying. We were talking about it and suddenly he punched the book. I immediately reacted, "Lucas. Don't hit!"

He immediately replied, "Mom. She's a pig. A pig who talks." (With a tone that said, seriously, mom, you're overreacting. She's just a pig. It's just a book.)

He was right. I started giggling and he was quick to join in.

For the remaining several pages, he interrupted every other sentence with, "Mom, she's a pig who talks!" Or, "Mom. Know what? She's a pig who talks!" Followed by us both giggling our heads off.

He loved making me laugh. He loved us both laughing together.

And so did I.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 11, 2010


I have wanted to join in the BOO! tradition that I've long read about on various blogs and despite the fact (or perhaps because of the fact!) that this is literally my busiest October in...well, ever, I made it happen this year!

The Trick or Treat bags are from the $1 aisle at Target. I thought that three would be a good number but then got home and decided to do a few more so the cones are just heavy scrap booking paper (which I've had for YEARS and have never used for any scrap booking related purpose!) that I just made into a cone and stapled. I taped in some twine to hang them. They are filled with varying assortments of plastic fangs, glow in the dark bracelets, Halloween stickers, Halloween pencils and lollipops.

If you google Halloween Boo poem, you'll get many results. I used the shortest, most simple version of the poem I could find and paper clipped three copies onto the front of each package (making it just a little bit easier for the person to BOO two more people. Here it is:

This treat is for you, we hope you enjoy.
The idea is simple, one we hope you employ.
You pass "BOO" along to two other neighbors,
Along with any kind of Halloween favors.
If we all do our part, and spread the good cheer,
By Halloween night it will be very clear,
We're a friendly bunch, we like to share fun
So please do your part to keep "BOO" on the run!

Of course, I'm desperately hoping we get BOOed back!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mouse-click activism

Do you want to know one of my biggest pet peeves? It's people who post a facebook status update about the latest disaster/thing-to-be-aware-about/societal issue and think they are actually doing something to make a difference.

Seriously, once upon a time, the youth of our nation marched on the streets to draw attention to a cause they believed in. Now, we think we're making a difference by writing "on the dining room table" as our facebook status.

If you want to do something, really do something, I have just the thing for you. It is as easy as typing a few characters and making a few clicks, and just takes a minute. Literally. Just one minute.

Join Army of Women.

In their own words, Army of Women is a "revolutionary initiative" with two key goals:

-To recruit one million healthy women of every age and ethnicity, including breast cancer survivors and women at high-risk for the disease, to partner with breast cancer researchers and directly participate in the research that will eradicate breast cancer once and for all.

-Two challenge the scientific community to expand its current focus to include breast cancer prevention research conducted on healthy women.

Sign up today. Then read your e-mails and sign up for a study if you are eligible.

Then you can go ahead and post "on the stairs" on facebook as a little joke while feeling good about the fact that you are actually doing something about it.

Because we don't need another pink cookie or kitchen appliance. And I don't care what color your bra is or where you keep your purse.

Chant it with me:

What do we want? Research!
When do we want it? Now!


Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Every day, The Washington Post delivers an "afternoon update" to my inbox. Here's a portion of yesterday's update. Do you think that ad for a mattress is a big coincidence or was it placed next to that particular study intentionally? Either way, it cracked me up.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Favorite Things Friday: Curbside Cupcakes

Picture shamelessly stolen from Curbside Cupcakes.



I know I haven't done a Favorite Things Friday in, uh, forever, but this post just had to be written.

Two words: Curbside Cupcakes, my friends, Curbside Cupcakes.

(You can thank me later.) (In cupcakes.)

So, here's the story, last Saturday we attended what is most likely the most casual, relaxed, fun wedding we ever have or ever will attend. The wedding itself took place by the Jefferson Memorial, guests sat on blankets or bag chairs or ran around (um, this was mostly the kids in attendance). Then we walked through the FDR Memorial (only my favorite memorial in all of DC!) to the polo fields where the Salahis met us. (Totally stole that joke from the officiant!) Okay, where there was a big white tent waiting for us along with...wait for it...wait for it...a taco truck and a cupcake truck.

Fun, right?

The tacos were amazing (and probably deserve their own FTF post) but the cupcakes? The cupcakes were divine.

I had two.

And, the next day the bride dropped off three extras at our house.

I had 1.5 of those.

Yeah. That good.

So, apparently this truck drives around DC (find out where it is at this very moment) and you (if you are a lucky duck who lives or works in downtown DC) can buy one. Or 12.

(But let me warn you: if you by 12, do not, I repeat, DO NOT, take them all home. You will eat them. I know, you will try to resist, but it won't work. See above: 2 + 1.5 = 3.5.)

I did receive 3.5 cupcakes for free. But they were paid for by my friend (or whomever funded that totally awesome wedding.) However, if Curbside Cupcake would like to compensate me in any way, the truck is More. Than. Welcome. to come to my house any day of the year! (Do you hear me Curbside Cupcake?!)

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Twins

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Which is Nathaniel and which is Lucas? Everyone says that Nathaniel looks like me and Lucas looked (and still looks!) like his dad, but I think these two boys look so much alike!

In a last-minute decision, we sent both boys to my parents' house this weekend--both boys gone for three nights and two days! It was great, we got a lot of campaign work done, I made some dents in our mountain of laundry and ironing and we even went out on a classic DC date night (dinner followed by a moon-lit tour of a monument!).

I was nervous about being away from Nathaniel for so long because I'm still breastfeeding. And, it did pose some challenges. Pumping was fine for about 24 hours then my body fully rebelled about the fact that there was no baby involved. Luckily in just the first few hours of Nathaniel being back things seem to have, um, regulated.

Answer key: Exhibit A is Nathaniel, B is Lucas. Did you guess correctly?

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 3, 2010


Lucas drew this picture of a good deed during Children's Liturgy at church last week. It's a picture of him standing next to Nathaniel's crib and singing to him. Indeed, that very thing had occurred just the day before. Someone was at the door and Nathaniel woke up from his nap and started crying. Before I could say goodbye and close the door, Lucas was up the stairs singing to his baby brother. It was the sweetest thing you can imagine.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Vote early, Vote often

Nathaniel joined me this morning to kick off the start of Early Voting in Maryland. It was pretty exciting to mark the "X" next to my own name! I lingered just a bit before hitting submit. Here's to victory!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"Hi," she said quite sheepishly, "I've missed you."

Hello there, dear readers. I presume the only ones to get this will be those who have me in a feed or some sort of reader. I mean, when someone hasn't posted in almost two months, you kind of stop checking, right?

Well, I'm back. For today. No promises about tomorrow or next week. But, for today, I'm back.

And, I'm going to let you in on a big secret. Well, not a secret, really, but something I haven't shared with you, my dear readers: I'm running for office. Yes, that's right. I have yard signs (and even get to see them when driving down the road, which is very strange), campaign literature, a website and even a few endorsements. I was given a passing mention on a prominent news site and subsequently a prominent blogger was outraged on my behalf (and on behalf of the other even more amazing women who weren't mentioned either).

I'm running for School Board in our county and campaign season is in full swing. Every. Single. Day. I have campaign stuff to do, usually more than what I can possibly finish in a day. And, of course, it's summertime and Lucas and Nathaniel are both home with me all day (ya' know, cuz I'm also a stay-at-home mom!) and so life is insane. But, also really, really exciting. Abel is 110% on board with this and so incredibly supportive. (Thank goodness, because, if he wasn't? None of this would be possible.) When I don't feel like I can do One. More. Meeting. or knock on One. More. Door. He pushes me to do it, to go, to smile, to knock, to talk, because we believe in this effort and we know that it is worth it. Worth it for our sons and their future. Worth it for all the children in our county. Worth it.

But, now that my "secret" is out to you, friends, I'll be even more honest. It isn't just being busy that has kept me from blogging (but it is being too busy that has kept me from reading and commenting on your blogs, however, and I truly am missing you!), it's also a feeling of being too exposed.

I am putting myself out there, publicly, and asking thousands of people to either vote for me or against me. To say: yes or no. To me. And, even though I have not ever blogged anonymously, and I do think it is a very good thing that voters could google me and come here and learn more about me than literally any other candidate on their ballot, it is also a little scary. Because it's me. Yes or no to me. And, damn, does that cause some major writer's block!

But, with the wonderful encouragement of my dear friend, Dr. Blondie, I decided to come back, let you in on my adventure, ask you to cheer me on (and if, by God, you live very near to me, I ask you for your vote!), and support me in my cozy corner of the world here on Smiling Mama. A corner I hold near and dear to my heart and a corner that I have been missing very much.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Favorite Things Friday: Hydrangeas


I can not tell you how much I am adoring my hydrangea bush! I have had beautiful purple and pink blooms adorning my dining room table for weeks and it is still blooming! I know there are methods for trying to control the color of your blooms but I am so pleased with our beautiful deep pink and purple flowers that have come with no additions to our clay soil other than some mulch each year. Oh, I do hope that the blooms continue for at least a few more weeks!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Perhaps I let him jump a bit too long

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Solo Living

Sorry I have been gone for so long! I find that whenever I let a few days pass without blogging then let a few more days pass, I start to feel intense pressure to make the next post a really good one. Which, of course, means that a few more days get the picture!

So, what's been going on? Well, a few weeks ago, Abel and Lucas went on a 9 day epic father and son adventure to Ohio, leaving Nathaniel and me home alone! It was quite strange and also quite lovely to be home alone (well, essentially alone!) for more than a week. Since neither Abel or I have ever traveled for work for more than a few days at a time, this was an entirely new experience for me and the longest I have been home alone in more than seven years. Here are a few things I learned:

- If Abel had left me alone for 9 days with a 5 month old Lucas, I would have been having panic attacks about caring for a baby solo for so long. When he proposed taking Lucas and leaving me here with Nathaniel, I practically jumped for joy at the thought of such an easy week.

- I am pretty messy when left to my own devices! Without Lucas here to make an even bigger mess of my mess or destroy important papers, etc., I spent the time starting a project, leaving it out and moving on to the next one. The house got quite messy throughout each day.

- I have hermit tendencies. I rationalized this based on the 90+ degree temps, but without a 4yo or husband urging me to get out of the house and do something, I was quite happy to simply be home.

- I can't blame Abel for keeping me up too late. Abel and I are both night owls but our love of sleeping in ended abruptly with Lucas's birth. Now, with two young children, it is nearly impossible. Abel still likes to stay up quite late, but I try to be more realistic and get us to bed at a reasonable hour. I always blame him when we stay up too late! So, you'd think with him gone, I'd be in bed and asleep promptly at 10pm every night (my usual goal!). Wrong! I stayed up until around midnight almost every night.

- By the same token, I can't always blame Abel for not replacing the toilet paper when it runs out. Man was I annoyed with myself when I did that!

- Our house creaks and groans at night. It freaked me out a little. No wonder Lucas prays that God will get us a new house that doesn't creak. (True story!)

- As much as I savored the time to myself (and got a lot of stuff done that is hard to do with an active 4yo underfoot), 9 days without my big boys was Far. Too. Long. I am incredibly glad they had such a great time together but am even more glad to have them both back home.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Baby in a Bucket

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Local and Organic Homemade Baby Food

Nathaniel is five months old and we've been giving him rice cereal for a few weeks. I think he is actually starting to enjoy it--he seems to know what is happening when the bib comes on and eagerly opens his mouth for the next bite. (He also likes to try to grab the spoon which makes for some messy eating! But what can you expect from a baby?)

He's ready for something more than rice cereal and I'm ready to start him on veggies. Our pediatrician actually mentioned starting with fruit, but I distinctly recall starting Lucas on veggies and I feel like it is good to get a palate for veggies developed before introducing wonderful, sweet-tasting fruits he's sure to love.

As I was thinking about what to start him with, I realized that he's starting foods just as our local farms are about to explode with a bounty of organically grown produce. Perfect! My goal for this summer through the fall is to see if we can feed Nathaniel only locally grown, in-season, organic produce.

So at Saturday's market I was ready to hunt for the best-looking veggies out there. There wasn't too much to choose from, though. If I wanted to start with fruit, I could have chosen from wonderfully red strawberries and raspberries or plump little blueberries. There was tons of lettuce, but that's not such a great baby food. Luckily, there were some adorable little summer squash--3 for $2--that I picked up from Radix Farm.

On Sunday, I peeled the squash, cut them into chunks and steamed them for several minutes until they were nice and tender. Then a quick whirl with my immersion blender and they were perfect. I filled up 12 holes in an ice cube tray to freeze them for use throughout the next two weeks. The whole process only took about 15 minutes--if you haven't ever made your own baby food, you should try it. It really is easy, I promise!!

My only regret is not buying six squash instead of three--I have enough for one cube of squash per day so I can do cereal in the morning and squash in the evening, but if he really likes the squash, I may run out too early. Luckily, there are a few more farmer's markets in the area to find more squash, but it certainly is most convenient to prepare it all at once.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Market Lunch

Friends, pictured above is one of the most simple but delicious lunches I've ever had! Yesterday morning was week 2 of our community market and there was so much wonderful stuff to choose from that I totally ran out of money before I got to the Maryland wine tent! (As an aside, thanks to state legislation initiated by the woman who is the force behind our market, sponsored by one of our state delegates, and passed this year by the MD General Assembly, Maryland wineries can now come to Maryland community/farmers markets!) (And you say government doesn't do anything for you!)

Anyway...I came home and promptly put this meal together. I was so proud of it that I just had to take a photo to share it with you! (The hydrangea is from my garden--my attempt at being an artsy food photographer.)

Here's a description of the meal with links to the vendors:

A hearty slice of farmers bread from the Cheverly Breadbasket with Caprikorn's to-die-f0r goat's milk gouda (toasted to crisp the bread and melt the gouda) with a salad of crisp lettuce and sliced cucumber from Shlagel Farm. For dessert, fresh and wonderfully sweet strawberries from Rebert's Farm. (The only component not from the market is a drizzling of my homemade Sweet and Sour Dressing.)

It was so good, I'm having it again today!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Random Birthday Thoughts

Lucas picked out my birthday card this year. Can you tell? (Please note that Abel crossed out the 6 and wrote in 33.) Within minutes of giving it to me (with a huge grin, BTW) he very sweetly asked if we could share it--how could I refuse?--and promptly took it back. He carried it around all day!

If you aren't on Facebook yet you should join just to be on Facebook on your birthday. What fun to get dozens and dozens of birthday wishes!

I know what I want next year for my birthday: to not be a mom. Now, now, don't get me wrong, I love being a mom! But just for my birthday, I'd rather not be a mom. Because all day I just kept thinking, "don't you know it's my birthday?" As in, "why are you whining about that inconsequential thing, don't you know it's my birthday?" Or, "why do I have to change this poopy diaper, don't you know it's my birthday?" Or, "your nap can't be over already, don't you know it's my birthday?"

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Letter Project

Friends, I am so excited about Sue from Laundry for Six's new project. She's calling it Letter Project and the idea is to write one letter a week for an entire year--52 weeks totaling 52 letters. She'll be writing about her own letters and offering readers a prompt each week for their own letters.

And I'm totally in!

I have stacks and stacks of letters from friends and family, the large majority of which arrived when I was in college. I was a prolific letter sender during those years as well. I only knew one person with e-mail during our freshman year and honestly, I didn't understand it at all! I eventually got e-mail maybe during my sophomore or junior year but still rarely used it. Instead, I wrote letters! I have long letters from my then teenage sister and short chicken scratch letters from my dad (he was the best care package sender ever!) and my grandparents. During summer break, my college girlfriends and I wrote to each other with actual letters as well. What wonderful prized possessions those letters are!

And of course, this project will be the perfect excuse to fuel my love of stationary--especially my love of finding cute stationary on sale! (Though, truth be told, I have boxes of cute note cards this very moment!)

I am not starting this project from scratch, actually, I imagine that I still write--and actually mail!--more written notes than the average person. I know what a joyous thrill it is to receive a real live letter or even a note that isn't a pre-printed card in the mail and so make an effort to send notes on a regular basis.

In honor or Memorial Day, Sue's first prompt is to write to someone in the military or someone who is deployed or living overseas. And I actually participated without even realizing it because I sent a care package and note to my sister whose husband is in Afghanistan for a year. (Sarah--check your mail!!)

I'm looking forward to next week's prompt! Won't you join me?

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ecstasy, Despair and Ecstasy: The Story of a Cake

Nathaniel's baptism was today and it was absolutely lovely! When Lucas was baptized we spent a decent chunk of change on a cake by the same bakery that did our wedding cake. It was delicious! (And actually in the same flavors of our wedding cake, we had one delicious wedding cake!) But this time around, I was determined to make a lovely and delicious cake myself.

I have no idea why baptism = nice cake in my mind, but it does.

So, my plan was a yellow layer cake. I would bake two 9" round cakes (the size I happen to own and lest you think I've turned Martha on you, please note that the mix was from a box and the icing from a can!) and slice them each in half to have four layers.

It's strawberry time and also Saturday happened to be the first day of our amazing Community Market. So, I planned to buy lots of fresh strawberries and some strawberry jam at the market.

The plan was executed flawlessly. I bought perfectly amazing strawberries, had the jam-maker select the perfect jar for me to use on the cake and baked the cake to lovely golden perfection. The, I sliced it. Not perfectly but fine enough.

I let it cool. For a long time.

Then, the creation began!

I arranged strips of wax paper on the cake stand so that I wouldn't get a messy ring of icing. I moved the bottom layer. I spread strawberry jam on it and then I began to move the second layer.

It broke.

No worries! Icing can fix that. I spread a nice, thick layer of icing on the second layer. Perfect.

Hmmm... it is lopsided.

No worries! The third layer was a bit crooked as well. If I placed it strategically, it would certainly all balance out.

I moved the third layer, placed it on and stood back: the cake was pretty much evened out. I spread a nice layer of strawberry jam. Oh my! It smelled delicious!

I began to move the top layer. It broke! In half! No worries. Plenty of icing left. I gently mushed it together and began to ice. Lots of icing. I was doing just fine.

I used all the icing. The top crack was slightly visible. Hmmm...

But! I'm wasn't finished! I had strawberries!

I decorated with some strategically placed berries and ended up with this divine creation:


The glory! The pride! Ha! I didn't need an expensive bakery cake! I created perfection!

I placed the cake in the dining room, returned to the kitchen to wash the dishes and began to compose sonnets to the cake in my head. I awaited the compliments Abel and my in-laws would surely heap upon me when they returned!

Abel arrived home and said, "Great. You made the cake."

"Yes," I replied, "isn't it amazing!"



"Isn't it?????????????"

"Well, the berries are sliding a bit."


And again:

The heat! The humidity!

My! Cake! Is! Ruined!

And so I despaired for about an hour. Then, I moved the cake into the fridge. And brooded for another hour. Then I pulled the cake back out, removed the strawberries, redistributed the icing and put just a few berries on top where they couldn't slide. It was somewhat salvaged.

But today, after lunch, when I took my first bite of cake, the ecstasy returned. It may not have been the most beautiful cake ever but oh man oh man, it was DELICIOUS!

(And I enjoyed the ecstasy again with my second piece, too!)

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Summer Break Scares Me

My four year old son's first year of preschool ends in just a few days. My baby is almost five months old. And, I recently resigned from my part-time job. All this adds up to mean that starting next week, I'll be home seven days a week with two boys until after Labor Day.

Can I tell you a secret?

Come closer....

I'm scared of summer!

Yes, of course, I am grateful to be able to stay home. It's taking some penny-pinching and coupon-clipping but we're going to be able to swing it. And, of course, I feel so blessed to have two beautiful boys.

But, I'm also a little scared. We've always been the type of family to go on a lot of outings and spend tons of time at the nearby park, but I've never been very good about art projects or educational games or much of a schedule. And, let's face it, even my busiest days at work were my easy days!

I'm determined to do more this summer, to really step up my game. There will be art time, there will be rest time, there will be strictly limited TV time and fun educational activity time. There will be structure and a schedule. But, I'll be sure to leave a little room for mornings in our jammies and rainy day movie time and spur-of-the-moment fun.

Hmmm....maybe this summer will be pretty fun after all!

Original post to DC Metro Moms. Aimee writes about life with her boys at Smiling Mama and about family-friendly outings and activities in Prince George's County, MD at Out by Ten.

MaryK said...
Sounds like you're on track to have a great summer. Try to have some water fun at a nearby park's kiddie pool, and maybe enroll your oldest in swim lessons too. Do some 'field trips' to the National Zoo, the Smithsonian, or even just the local farmers markets. Nothing helps beat boredom than a change of scenery, even if it's just for a half day. At 4, riding the Metro is a huge adventure! Savor every moment!!

May 26, 2010 at 09:22 AM Suzie P. said...
We are quite the opposite. I have four kids and I am looking forward to the unscheduled flexible summer time. I subscribe to the let the kids run and play and be bored some so that they create school of thought. And after five summers off (started when my oldest was in school) we are all about the unscheduled time. I'm positive that they kids will enjoy having you around regardless of what you guys do, and do leave some time for them to just be over the summer - it's a great learning experience for all involved!

May 26, 2010 at 10:52 AM Thrift Store Mama said...
I've had two kids within 22 months of each other every summer and I only work 2-3 days a week. I plan out each day, but permit/allow/encourage myself to change plans if I want to. I also try to alternate physical activities with mental ones (play time around the house, then playground, then coloring, then an errand to the grocery store, etc.) I also try to map out what chores I can do that they can help with, what chores I can do while I can still keep an eye on them while they play, and what chores are best left for when they are not around. That way I don't waste naptime doing things I could have done when they are awake.

All transitions take some getting used to - for you and your kids. Of course, you know yourself and your kids best. Look forward to another post on how it's working out.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Mouse in my House

Eeek! We have a mouse in our house! (Yes, indeed, my friends, I am absolutely certain it is just ONE and it is a MOUSE and not a rat. GOT IT?!)

Seriously, between the lice and a mouse in our cupboards I'm certain you all think we're the dirtiest people ever. But, truly, we are not!!!

So, feel free to assure me that a mouse in your kitchen is a common occurrence. Something pretty much everyone has to deal with at some point. Perhaps you've even had one? (And don't forget, lice like CLEAN hair!)

I discovered it--or the signs of it--yesterday morning. The cheddar goldfish cracker bag had a little shredded hole. I showed it to Abel who suggested that perhaps Lucas had done that. (What's that saying about denial?)

I cleaned out our cupboards (unfortunately the lower cabinets are our only space to store food) like they had never been cleaned before--seriously, a major cleaning. Yesterday was SUCH a busy, crazy day for both Abel and me that we just didn't get to the store for a trap. And then this morning we discovered a little hole in a bag of microwave popcorn and and the oatmeal. UGH!

I've put all our remaining food into a big plastic bin and traps will be set within moments. And then....what? I guess wait to catch one (okay, okay, where there's one there are more, right?) mouse and then...what? Wait to catch another? How do you know you've gotten them?

I just hate stuff like this. It so totally creeps me out.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sometimes yelling is necessary

I took the boys up to my parents' house for Mother's Day. On the drive there, as we were coming down a mountain (well, a big hill for any West coast people!) Lucas and I both noticed the sky. It was full of thick, puffy clouds (whose specific type I'm sure I learned in 7th grade but certainly can't remember now!). The sun was above them, shining down in beautiful rays.

Lucas said, "Mama, I see God's face."

And before I could even comment, he started yelling, quite loudly: "God! Wake up! Can you hear me? Wake! Up! God! Wake up! Can! You! Hear! Me!"

Then he stopped. And we continued on.


A few weeks ago I joined a bible study. It really is the last thing I have time for, but it has become one of the nicest few hours in my week. I have considered joining bible studies in the past but this time felt very strongly compelled and so against my internal protests that I already had too much on my plate, I joined.

Maybe God was yelling at me, asking if I could year him, too.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Favorite Things Friday: Mother's Day Bouquet Artwork

Oh my! What a long hiatus for Favorite Things Friday! I'm back today with a lovely print for Mother's Day or simply as a treat for a friend or yourself.

I became a big fan of Children Inspire Design as I was searching Etsy for artwork for Nathaniel's nursery and the Spanish 1-10 flashcards are from that shop. Now, of course, I'm on their e-mail list and was pleasantly surprised when this beautiful bouquet popped into my inbox earlier in the week. The artist to share it with every mother I know so, my friends, here it is! You can open up the PDF of the lovely paper flower bouquet here and then print your own copy. I think it would look lovely in a frame or as part of a card for your mother, yourself or anyone who needs a little pick-me-up!

If you click over to Children Inspire Design today you can even enter to win an original collage valued at $500! The giveaway ends at midnight central time tonight, so click on over!

Be careful because you might just fall in love and purchase some art for yourself!!!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Constant Companion

Nathaniel is almost 4 months old and this past Saturday I was away from him for about 7.5 hours, the longest we'd ever been apart. (Of course I had to pump during that long stretch!) When I got back home, I missed my little buddy so much!

Of course, when Lucas was an infant, I spent a lot of time with him as well. But during those first few months, I was just so overwhelmed with being a new mom that I took every opportunity to make a quick run to CVS or Safeway without him when Abel was home. Obviously I adored Lucas but I do remember savoring those strolls down the aisle of the grocery store as some much needed "me time." And of course by the time Lucas was 4 months, I was also back to work 2.5 days a week and so spent some long stretches away from him.

This time around, I'm home full-time and I'm much more comfortable and casual with the infant stage: It certainly is easier to tote a 4 month old to the grocery store than a 4 year old! Nathaniel and I hang out while Lucas is at school, then we usually all go to the park. Evenings and weekends Abel and I often practice what I affectionately call "divide and conquer parenting"--he has charge of one kid and I have the other. Usually it's Lucas is with Abel while Nathaniel is with me.

And so Nathaniel and I are together pretty much all the time. He's my constant companion at home, on walks, running to the grocery store or post office. His good nature and good looks draw comments and compliments from almost everyone we pass. And I have become a pro at taking my baby everywhere I go.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lucky No. 7

Just a few of the lovely lilies of the valley that are now planted in
our garden and in bloom right now!

Happy Anniversary, Babe! You are my biggest champion and fan and I am so lucky to have you.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 30, 2010

In two minutes

Nathaniel is this close to rolling over. Rolling over! As soon as he does that he'll be crawling then walking then running like a crazy big boy at the park. Well, maybe that will take a year or two but it feels like it will only take two minutes. Because, wasn't it just that long ago that Lucas rolled over? Yes. Yes it was.

And now Lucas is SO big. I can walk away from him in the tub. Heck, he can wash himself. He can get dressed (but still prefers to be dressed!). I can barely pick him up and sometimes his running hugs on my legs literally knock me back.

How did this happen? Where did those two minutes go?


If you live anywhere in the DC Metro area, you have to come to Truck Touch tomorrow from 10am-2pm. Head over to Out by Ten for all the details!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Busy, busy

Dear readers, I can hardly believe it has been two weeks since I last posted! Even as I apologize (so sorry!) I have to warn you that postings may be slim around here for the next many months. I'm jumping feet first into something big. Really, really BIG, and all my focus and attention needs to be on it and my family right now.

I promise I'll let you in on the secret soon, but in the mean time, I ask for your good thoughts!

Last week, I wrote a post over at DC Metro Moms, so if you're not a regular reader over there, you can find my post here. I am pleased to say that the votes are coming in strongly in the "still cool" column. Do you agree?

And, if you live anywhere in the DC metro area and have a toddler, preschooler or early elementary-aged kid, you must check out my latest post at Out by Ten about the 13th Annual Cheverly Truck Touch. It will be grand fun and I'd love to see you there!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Drove a Minivan to Adams Morgan

Every now and then something happens that confirms for me, once again, that I am old and uncool. And, not just old and uncool, but an old and uncool mom. I look in my closet and realize that "comfort over fashion" has replaced my once-upon-a-time mantra of "fashion over comfort" in the large majority of my footwear. A younger colleague comes to me for Tylenol or a Band-Aid because "moms always carry that kind of stuff." I accidentally change the car radio from NPR to my old favorite Hip Hop station only to discover that I don't recognize a single song.

One such incident took place last Saturday night: I drove to Adams Morgan in a minivan. Yes, I drove one of the most uncool vehicles possible to one of the coolest neighborhoods in DC. Adams Morgan, for anyone from out of town or maybe even less cool than me, is defined by Wikipedia as, "a culturally diverse neighborhood in Northwest Washington, D.C. centered at the intersection of 18th Street and Columbia Road...and is a major night life area with many bars and restaurants."

During college and after college--when my husband and I were dating and even after we were married--I went to Adams Morgan often. Unless I was there shopping during the day, I never stepped foot on 18th Street before 11pm. And I was almost always chilly in Adams Morgan. There's really no place for a winter coat in a packed bar or club, right? So I just didn't wear one.

Before Saturday, however, I can't even remember the last time I was in Adams Morgan. Years? But, a friend was having a birthday. And she wanted Indian food. Specifically, this great little restaurant in her old (aka pre-kids) neighborhood. Since there were three couples from our neighborhood going, it only made sense to car pool. And since six people can fit so comfortably in our minivan, it only made sense for us to drive.

And so we went. Six people. (Two nursing moms and one pregnant woman.) Wearing appropriate jackets. In a minivan. To Adams Morgan. And back home to relieve the babysitters by 11pm.

Now I am asking myself: Was that the very last nail in my coffin of cool? Or, does just the fact that we went to get Indian in Adams Morgan instead of some chain restaurant at a strip mall mean there's just a hint of coolness left?

Original post to DC Metro Moms. You can read more about Aimee Olivo's very uncool life at Smiling Mama and about family-friendly adventures in Prince George's County at Out by Ten.

Cristie said...
Definitely still cool. You totally could have taken the van to Chili's! Rock On mama.:)

April 21, 2010 at 05:35 AM Sue @ Laundry for Six said...
I'm taking ye old minivan to the 9:30 Club. Embarrassing but necessary. We are still a little cool.

April 21, 2010 at 05:39 AM MommyTwinGirls/LindaD said...
Oh, hahaha...great post! I think it's the latter. It's just a different kind of cool - no need to dress up to impress anyone but yourself and have some fun with husband and friends. But imagine one day, if you end up having to drive there (in your mini van, if course) to pick up your twenty-something kid for some reason.

April 21, 2010 at 06:11 AM BananaBlueberry said...
You are so cool!
I wouldn't have driven down to Adams Morgan :)

xoxoxox !

April 21, 2010 at 06:48 AM Stimey said...
I feel that way every time I drive a minivan into DC.

But still cool. I woulda stayed in Maryland. :)

April 21, 2010 at 09:58 AM Jerseygirl89 said...
I think you definitely still have some cool going. I can't even remember the last time I was in a cool neighborhood!

April 21, 2010 at 01:52 PM amy m said...
ha! I love it--it's definitely the latter, my friend. Uncool is staying close to home because that 20 minute drive to the better restaurants is just too exhausting.

Super cool! Hope you had fun!

April 24, 2010 at 11:11 AM cecilia reifschneider said...
great post! But there is a new space for cool moms (yes- i think not all hope is lost- still a bit of cool left):Pigment. Pigment is a new art studio opening in Adams Morgan and having an open house on Saturday, June 5th.

Pigment's mission is to provide a platform for communication, collaboration & motivation among young artists in the local community by offering accessible high-quality art instruction.

We would love to have you AND your kids drop by for the open house.

For more information about the studio or our summer camp please visit

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Three Months

Dear Nathaniel,

Today you are three months old! I can hardly believe that I've already filled one large tub with clothes you've out grown.

The insane amount of snow that fell when you were just a few weeks old has melted and our yard has exploded with color. Like the world around you, you have also awakened in the past few weeks into an aware little baby. All day long you watch me and your big brother; you want to be in the center of the action and hate being left alone in a room. Whenever Dada, Lucas or I look right at you and smile, you respond with the most amazing open-mouth grins. You're pretty quiet overall, hardly crying except to let me know you'd like a change of scenery or that you're STARVING (you go from content to starving in about 3 seconds, it seems!).

I'm a lot busier now than I was when I was home as a new mom with your big brother. I can barely remember how he and I spent our days but I know most of them were just the two of us staying at home or going for walks around the neighborhood. You and I, however, are very busy and get out and about every day. We go to the grocery store or run errands and you've already joined me at numerous meetings for all the civic and volunteer activities I'm part of. You're a wonderful companion at meetings, by the way, and will sleep quietly or lay on my lap looking up at me without fussing. And, of course, everyone comments on how beautiful and good you are!

Just before 2:45 every afternoon we walk over to pick Lucas up from his nursery school and the day seems to move into warp speed while we go to the park or do some other Lucas-centered activity.

I am also proud to report that in the past week you've gone from waking every 3 hours to sleeping for 8 hours each night. (Trust me, I'm knocking on the wooden dining room table as I type!!). THANK YOU, my son. Your brother was sleeping at least 6 hours by about 6 weeks and I truly was about to lose it after 11 weeks without getting more than 4 1/2 hours of consecutive sleep. I also am totally getting a kick out of the fact that you jumped from 3 hours to 8 in a single night. I do believe you're going to keep us on our toes, little Nathaniel!

I love you so much, little buddy, and am trying to savor you at each and every stage of your life. Thanks for coming into our lives and for being such a wonderful you.

Love always,

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Team WhyMommy's Virtual Science Fair

This post is in support of Susan Nieber, aka WhyMommy of Toddler Planet, a real live rocket scientist (okay, okay, technically an astrophysicist) who is undergoing surgery today after the doctors discovered a local regional recurrence of breast cancer in the lymph nodes under her armpit. Susan has been fighting inflammatory breast cancer and educating others about it since her diagnosis in 2007.

Also in her honor, and in honor of my mom who also battled breast cancer in 2007 I recently joined the Army of Women. I hope you'll click over and join today. We need more research. For Susan. For my mom. For all of us.

I am definitely not a scientist so taking on the challenge of being part of this Virtual Science Fair in honor of WhyMommy (as conceived by the amazing Stimey of Stimeyland!) was a bit out of my comfort zone. You see, if we were at home right now, Lucas, Nathaniel and I would have simply packed a picnic lunch, hopped in the car and spent a lovely afternoon at the NASA Goddard Visitor's Center.

But, alas, we are still in Pennsylvania for an extended Easter visit with my parents so I had to think a little bit harder about what to do. Lucas has been quite interested in volcanoes lately, and you know I just love anything to do with baking soda and vinegar, so I did a google search for "easy volcano with baking soda and vinegar." Among the things that came up were directions to make a rocket! A baking soda and vinegar rocket in honor of an astrophysicist? Perfect!

Of course the rocket was a big FAIL.

Why aren't you exploding high in the air little Ziploc container rocket?

(The directions were to pack a small container with a tight-fitting lid with baking soda, add a few tablespoons of vinegar, quickly close, turn upside down, stand back and watch it shoot up in the air. We packed and repacked and added more vinegar and still, there it sat. What? Went? Wrong?)

Lucky for me, I had prepped Lucas about how experiments are a way to try something and sometimes they work and sometimes they don't but it is fun to try and see what happens.

(Whew! Score one for Mama!)

Also to be filed in the lucky-for-me category, baking soda and vinegar produce a ton of foam which is really, really cool to a 4 year old.

So cool, in fact, that we used the entire bottle of white vinegar to watch the baking soda foam over and over and over and over and over again!

Also cool to a 4 year old: a paste of baking soda!

So, thanks WhyMommy for inspiring this mama to step outside her comfort zone and conduct a fun experiment with her son. We're thinking about you today!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Wonderfully busy Easter

We had three Easter egg hunts. (With a boy who really doesn't care much for candy!)

We dressed in our Easter Sunday best. (The tie didn't last through Mass!)

We made and cracked Cascarones. (Don't you just love an untucked dress shirt on a little boy?!)

We went to the "beach" in the mountains.
And hunted for minnows and tadpoles with Uncle Eric.

Add to that about a million trips to the park and a zillion bike rides around the cul-de-sac and lots of time with Aunt Sarah and it has been a pretty great Easter in Pennsylvania!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 2, 2010


We're making our cascarones today! This is my absolute favorite Mexican tradition from Abel's family. They are fun to make and even more fun to crack over the heads of your loves ones on Easter Sunday! Here's a tutorial from a few years ago, although if you haven't already saved empty egg shells you'll need to quickly make a few quiches to get enough!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy Census Day!

Have you mailed yours in?

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Our Very Own Cherry Blossoms

I am so in love with the new weeping cherry tree in our front yard. It is in full bloom right now--just a few days ahead of the peak bloom for the cherry trees down on the Mall.

Abel put in this flower bed last summer and built a lovely little half circle stone wall in front (sorry I couldn't seem to get everything in with my the camera on my phone!). I dreamed of putting in a crape myrtle but when I went out to our local nursery to just look around, I fell madly in love with the shape of the weeping cherry trees. Not to mention, the day I happened to stop by was the last day of a big sale: all the flowering trees were 50% off! I was almost late to pick Lucas up from nursery school so bought it on the spot (with very little deliberation and no input from Abel--so unlike me!). Since I was also several months pregnant and had our little car, Abel picked it up a few days later.

We planted it fairly late last fall and then when it got covered by so many feet of snow this winter, I was sure it was going to be a goner. But, I'd say the little tree has done quite well! The cherry blossoms are one of my favorite things about DC and now we have our own little tree to enjoy each spring. Yay!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I'm sure over the past four plus years and into the next 20 plus years, I've made and will make about a million parenting mistakes. But there's one success I claim with GREAT PRIDE.

Nathaniel, like Lucas before him, falls asleep On! His! Own!

Yes, my friends, when it is time for bed (at whatever hour I deem that to be...usually between 10pm and midnight), Abel or I change his diaper, wash his face, put on his jammies and sleep sack (yes, my little baby has already moved beyond the desire to be swaddled!). Then I feed him, burp him and put him down in his little bassinet. He lays there for a bit and falls asleep On! His! Own!

Sweet Success!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Great Weekend

I'm so totally lucky to have lots of awesome cousins and one of them had a wedding reception this weekend giving us the kick in the behind that we needed to spend a very fun weekend in Philadelphia with my brother. Philly is so close! And, it is a great city, with or without kids. If you haven't ever been there or haven't been there recently, GO!

We got to my brother's apartment mid-afternoon and trekked all our stuff up to his 3rd floor apartment before heading right over to the oldest zoo in the nation. It was chilly but very sunny and there were only maybe a few dozen other people there--it kind of felt like we had the place to ourselves which was very fun. Plus, the animals were all out and about and pretty active.

Saturday we spent most of the day at the Please Touch Museum. That place is totally worth the trip to Philly if you have a preschooler. It was awesome! Lucas had a blast and we all enjoyed watching him play and playing with him.

After the museum, we went back to Eric's apartment and quickly got ready before Lucas's babysitter--a friend of Eric's--came over. Kids weren't invited to the reception (only a reception because the couple had eloped a few months earlier) but I requested and received a special dispensation to bring Nathaniel. (Of course he was a hit, but he was also very good. Grandma held him for much of the evening and he slept in his car seat for another good chunk of time!)

Sunday afternoon my parents, aunt, uncle and cousin came over to Eric's for lunch and then we headed back home. Both boys slept for most of the drive and it took almost exactly 2 hours to get home.

A few observations:

1) Little Nathaniel pretty much doubled the amount of STUFF we had to take with us!
2) I'm getting soft as an official 4 year suburbanite. My brother's neighborhood is somewhat sketchy and I was totally worried about our mini van!
3) Maybe everyone should have their wedding and reception on different days. My cousin got to wear her (stunning!) dress twice and had a totally relaxing day before the big par-tay.
4) If you take a baby to a wedding reception, arrange to have a grandmother there to hold him most of night so you can mix and mingle and dance the night away!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

500 Winner

Because practically everyone who commented on my 500 post for the $50 gift card to Barnes and Noble is either a close friend or family member, I made sure to not look at the comments before drawing the number via I just glanced at the number of comments and put it right into the random number generator. And so you shouldn't be the least bit suspicious about the fact that my sister won! I truly, truly wanted each of my readers to win and wish I had a gift for each of you. But, I also have to admit that if anyone deserves a little treat right now, it is Sarah.

Congrats, Sis! I'll hand you the gift card at Easter right after my great big hug!

And thanks again to everyone--even those of you who didn't comment--for reading Smiling Mama. Here's to 500 more!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thoughts Elsewhere

I'm over at DC Metro Moms with a fun little post about my future at the park. You can read it here.

However, my thoughts today and yesterday and tomorrow are really out in California with my little sister who had to kiss her hubby goodbye last night as he heads to Afghanistan for a year. Let me repeat: a year. I can't even imagine. They've weathered two 7 month deployments already (both of those to Iraq) and came out stronger as individuals and a couple.

At Mass on Sunday, in the Prayers of the Faithful, one of the prayers referenced "as we mark seven years since the start of the Iraq war." I thought, can that be possible? Seven years. Indeed, it has been that long and even longer that we've been in Afghanistan.

No matter what your feelings are on war and peace or these two wars in particular, it is so so important that we all keep our troops and their families in the forefront of our minds, our hearts and our prayers. And if you want to put particular names to your prayers, please make it Sarah and Mike.

I can't wait to give Sarah a big hug when she comes to visit over Easter. Hopefully some newphew therapy (and meeting Nathaniel for the first time!) will help just a bit.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Have Seen My Future at the Park (and I Like It!)

Over the past week and a half of wonderful, gorgeous DC spring weather, we've been at the park approximately 100 times. Seriously. Lucky for us, the neighborhood park where everyone congregates is about five houses up the street. Quite often we are there and back multiple times during the day.

One day last week I caught a glimpse of my future at that park. And let me tell you, it was pure bliss.

But let me back up a bit.

I've been through several different stages of park life with my 4 year old son. When he was a few months old, big enough to sit up but not yet crawling, I'd take him over to the park for my own socialization. I'd push him a bit in the baby swings or hold on to him down the smallest slide, hoping as we walked over that there would be another adult there to talk to.

As Lucas got a bit older, my socialization decreased because I had to stay within a foot or two of him as he careened around the park on unsteady toddler legs. I'd get about five words of a sentence out before having to move along with him on his next adventure.

Most recently, my conversations have resumed. Lucas is big enough to be across the park without me worrying too much about him hurting himself. But, I still need to keep an eagle eye on him because these days when he does something dangerous, it is VERY dangerous. I find that I'm able to get good conversations in with the other moms of the 4 year old boys: as the boys rove the park in a pack, the moms rove together, too, keeping an eye on our sons.

But last week, glorious last week, I got a glimpse of the next stage: being a mom of a mid-elementary school aged child. You see, the second, third and fourth graders are big enough to do anything they want at the park. They don't need pushed on the swings or watched on the big slide. Their moms aren't worried that they'll chase a ball into the street because if they do, they'll look for cars first. Their kids aren't going to knock over the smaller kids or careen around with sticks flailing. Their kids barely need supervised.

And so what does the mother of an elementary school aged child do at the park? She sits and chats with the other moms. She doesn't break eye contact every 10 seconds searching for her child's shirt. She doesn't suddenly dash away while yelling for her child to "come back" or "put that stick down" or "share!" Rather, she sits and chats, occasionally fielding a request when her child runs up to her. But, this request is never to be pushed in the swing (her kid has already mastered the sacred art of pumping!) or to make so-and-so share.

She sits and chats; starts and finishes conversations; enjoys a lovely day at the park.

I have glimpsed my future and I like it very much.

Original post to DC Metro Moms. Unfortunately for Aimee Olivo, just as her oldest son reaches elementary school, her younger son will be in the stick-yielding, non-sharing phase of park life. But, the sit and chat is in her future, she is sure of it! Read more about life with her boys at Smiling Mama. She also blogs about getting out and about with kids in Prince George's County, MD at Out by Ten.

Dawn Mooney said...
I hear you on this one! But for me, I'm still chasing after the 2 year old and calling to the 3 year old (4 soon) who's usually in her own imaginary world. The 9 year old, though? He goes off to the playground with his buddies, leaving me to either hang with the little ones or, if it's naptime for the little ones, *gasp* have some Mommy time! :)

March 22, 2010 at 05:38 PM Suzie P. said...
Same here! I glimpsed that world briefly when I just had three. Now that there's a fourth, I've been ripped away from the precious sit and watch your kids play at the park stage. day soon!

March 24, 2010 at 02:10 PM Meg said...
I don't miss chasing the wee ones in the park. And it gets even better: Just wait till they get old enough that you can read a magazine while they confidently swim in the pool!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 19, 2010


On our way into Panera for lunch today, Lucas held the door open for me pushing the stroller, his dad and a very, very tall gentleman who was right behind us. As I went through, I said, "Thank you very much, Lucas." As the tall gentleman went through he said, "Thank you very much, Sir."

Abel and I stepped to the side to let the very tall gentleman pass us and to wait for Lucas. He practically ran past us and tapped the very tall gentleman on the thigh, saying, "Excuse me! Excuse me!"

"Yes," the man said as he leaned way down to Lucas's level.

"You can just call me Lucas," my son replied.

"Okay, Lucas, thank you very much," chuckled the man.


Lucas was at the park for hours this afternoon. First with his dad, then with me. About an hour into his second trip, Nathaniel got very fussy and needed to be fed. I'm not very comfortable breastfeeding in public anyway but I didn't even have so much as a blanket with me. As we're literally five houses from the park, I thought we could all just run home, I'd feed Nathaniel and we'd be back in less than 20 minutes (the babe is a very fast eater!). Of course Lucas as not so happy with this plan. I explained that we'd be back really soon, I just needed to feed Nathaniel. He asked, "Why can't someone just watch after me?"

There were about a million people at the park including no less than four moms I knew well and would totally have been comfortable with. But for some reason I didn't want to ask for help. In thinking over the whole situation now, I realize that is just silly: had any of them asked me, I would have agreed to watch their child or children in a heartbeat. I guess I just don't like to ask for help.

Luckily for Lucas, he has no such problems. He marched right over to one mom and asked her, "Can you please look after me? Mama has to feed baby Nathaniel." Of course she and another mom standing right next to her both looked over at me and I explained that I just needed to run home to feed the baby and would be back in 20 minutes or less. If they were planning to stay that long, I asked, would either of them mind keeping an eye on Lucas?

Of course, both agreed.

Nathaniel and I walked home and were back at the park in no time.


At dinner tonight, I asked Lucas what his favorite thing was about playing at the park.

"I. Like. Playing. With. Big. Kids."

(Seriously, he said it just like that, as though he knew I was going to blog about it!)

"Why do you like about playing with big kids?" I asked.

"Because they are mighty and fighty just like me."

It's true. Lucas loves to play really rough and generally the bigger kids are into that, too. Plus, when he's wrestling with someone bigger than him, I figure the other kid can handle himself and don't tell Lucas to stop or to be careful. So bring it on, big kids! (But watch out, because my little buddy is one tough guy!)

*Don't forget to enter my $50 giveaway in honor of reaching 500 posts! Also, if you have a tween girl in your life and live in the DC-area, head over to Out by Ten to enter the giveaway for a set of tickets to attend Rosalind Wiseman's Girl World Tour event.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


There are 500 stocks on the S&P

500 Days of Summer

500 laps at Daytona

And right now, as of this very post, there are...

5oo posts at Smiling Mama!

Since the day I stared this blog on July 18, 2007--2 years and 8 months ago--I never dreamed that it would be alive and kicking 500 posts later. I was thrilled to get to 100 posts and now I'm at 500, practically a book!

In honor of this milestone I want to thank each and every single one of my five readers. Just kidding, my 10 readers. No, seriously, I mean it. I am so, so grateful to every single person who stops by my teeny tiny corner of the blogosphere to read what I have to say.

I have secured (with my own dinero, no FEC disclaimers here!) a $50 Barnes and Noble gift card to give away to each and every one of you. Er, I wish I had one for each of you. But, instead, I just have one and so please, please (yes, YOU!) comment on this post and I'll use to select a winner from among all the comments.

You don't have to do anything fancy like tell me what your favorite post was or add me to your reader or follow me on Twitter (where I haven't posted in months, anyway). Just leave a little ole comment, anything at all, to be entered into the drawing. (Just be sure that your e-mail is linked to your blogger profile or leave your e-mail in the comment so I can reach you.) I'll choose the winner in one week.

Best of luck and THANK YOU very much for reading Smiling Mama!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Even though everyone seems to be Irish on St. Patrick's Day, in college I disovered that those with even a trace of actual Irish blood seemed to party extra hard on this holiday! Officially able to claim both Irish and Mexican heritage, I forsee a lot of celebrating by these two boys on many a future St. Patrick's Day and Cinco de Mayo! For now, though, we'll just dress in green and toast with some green milk!

May the road always rise up to meet you, my friends!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Falling in love

When I found out I was pregnant with Nathaniel in mid-May 2009, I instantly loved him because of the anticipation of him. His big brother had paved the way in my heart; my arms anticipated cradling him and my eyes anticipated beholding him.

When he arrived in the world on January 11, 2010, I loved him simply because he was here. Because he existed.

But it is only in the past few weeks that I have begun the amazing and wonderful process of falling in love with Nathaniel. More than loving him because of what he will be or because he is, quite simply, here, I am falling in love with him because of who he is.

I am certain I can trace the start of this process back less than two weeks, to his first smile on March 3, 2010. He was laying on the changing table and very clearly looked right at my face. He took several seconds to open his mouth into a large O and then gave me a wonderful, amazing, gummy smile.

Since then, I've received dozens of smiles, heard many coos and have even stared back at him as he stared at me. Not stared at my direction into a void of haze, but right at me, into my face and my eyes.

A true love affair has begun!

I can say with certainty that I am madly in love with Lucas. My heart swells daily because of him: his hugs, when he whispers, "I love you, Mama", and yes, even when he is his crazy, crazy self. I now recognize that although I did love him instantly as well, my being in love with him has grown over the years as I have gotten to know him even better.

And so, again, Lucas has paved a path for his brother: I am so, so grateful for the start of a second love affair and am so excited to see how it grows and develops (as Nathaniel, himself, grows and develops) throughout the years.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


So far, Nathaniel is hitting all the little developmental milestones right on target. He follows with his eyes, lifts his head, smiles and coos. I feel like I'm hitting some pretty big milestones, too and wrote about it over at DC Metro Moms.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Milestones of Motherood

After the birth of my first child, Lucas, my husband and I celebrated all his developmental milestones: his first smile, the first time he sat up by himself, the first time he crawled, the first time he stood up. You know exactly what I mean. At almost two months old, our second son, Nathaniel, has just marked his first milestone by giving me a nice, gummy smile. But this time around, I'm also celebrating some other small victories: my own personal milestones as the mother of two.

When I was pregnant with Nathaniel, I wasn't nervous about labor and delivery. I wasn't nervous about caring for a newborn or the nights of little sleep. I was, however, worried about getting through normal life with two kids. How would I handle the nights when my husband worked late and I was solo for dinnertime, bath time and bedtime? How would I wrangle two kids at the store or get two kids to the doctor?

And slowly but surely I'm hitting those milestones.

When Nathaniel was just three weeks old, I successfully maneuvered a fussy infant while giving my 4 year old a bath and getting him to bed. Just two weeks later, I conquered double doctor appointments. And most recently I took a solo road trip with both boys to visit my parents. Each was a small but important victory for my self-confidence: maybe I really can do this.

I will admit that I'm still terrified of going to the grocery store on my own with both kids. Luckily the grocery store delivers!

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

Susan said...
My daughter just turned 2 months old, and my son will be 2 y.o. next month. I had my first attempt at solo bedtime with the two of them when my husband had a business dinner earlier this week; it was kind of a disaster. I've done okay at the grocery store though!

Good luck with the continued milestones. :)

March 11, 2010 at 05:35 AM Aimee Olivo said in reply to Susan...
Thanks, Susan! The advantage I have at bedtime is that my 4yo can get dressed, brush his teeth, etc. with minimal help. The advantage you have at the grocery store, I'm guessing, is that your 2yo still fits in the cart! Good luck with your next solo bedtime, I'm sure it will get easier!

March 11, 2010 at 01:54 PM Dawn Mooney said...
I hear you on this one, Aimee! I very clearly remember when my husband and I took all three kids out and were thrilled to come home with all of them intact. :) Pretty soon it will all seem like old hat to you!

March 11, 2010 at 05:48 AM Aimee Olivo said in reply to Dawn Mooney...
Dawn, too funny! Three must definitely be a new ballgame: you're out numbered!! Thanks for the encouragement!

March 11, 2010 at 01:55 PM Renaissance Dresses said...
Mothers are the ones who are very excited when it comes of the firsts of their child.

March 11, 2010 at 08:58 AM Melissa Joffrion said...
That is what I'm nervous about! How in the world can I handle two! Obviously it is done, and done well by many mothers (plus more kids). I just can't comprehend it yet. I'm impressed with your milestones, and I love thinking about it that way! :)

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Getting Counted

Am I a total dork (okay, don't answer that!) for being super-excited about filling out the census form this year? Because I am. Super-excited. I honestly can't remember if I filled one out in the year 2000. At the time I was living in a group house on Capitol Hill, having just graduated from college. What a motley crew we were in that house. (Other than that awesome guy who rented a room on the 3rd floor, that is!) (That would be Abel for anyone new here!)

And now, just ten short years later, Abel and I have a wonderful home in an awesome community and two incredible kids. I just can't wait to fill out the form and have all that be counted! Plus, I know how important it is for our community that everyone mails back their forms.

Back in college I went down to the National Archives and did some research for one of my mom's cousins who was working on the genealogy of our family. It was so cool to look at the microfiche (remember that stuff?!) and see the signatures of my relatives in the census books. Can you imagine if the census was still conducted like that? (Future generations will probably be amazed that we filled it out with pen and paper!)

Yesterday we received a letter letting us know that the 2010 Census will arrive in about a week. Watch for yours and make sure to fill it out and mail it back. I'm pretty sure I'll be mailing mine back the very next day!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!