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!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lists are simply more lovely when written on Polished Pearl or Ivory Lace

I am in constant need for a scrap of paper to write a to do list or a grocery list or a note. And yesterday, while cleaning out a junk drawer (one of many, many junky areas that I'm slowly but surely working my way through!), I found dozens of paint chips Abel had brought home for me to choose from for the boys' bedrooms and the hallway. They are pretty much all light neutral colors and I just hated to throw them out. I grabbed a pen to see if I could write on them and TA DA! I have a new (and quite lovely) stack of paper to use for my various lists.

Now, if only all the tasks on my real TO DO list were as fun as those on the list to the left!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Lice happens...and it happened to us

Okay, what's your worst nightmare as the parent of a school-aged child? (Beyond illness or death or any really horrible thing happening, OBVIOUSLY!)


Am I right?

Last Wednesday that nightmare came true in the Smiling Mama household. That's right: Lucas had lice.

And how did I react? Not well.

I swore to my mom via text message (and she swore back!).

Now is the time to panic was the only thing going through my head. No matter how often I replied (all in my head): Don't Panic! All that came back was IT is TIME to PANIC!

Let's see: fussy baby, post partum hormones raging out of control, little sleep. And then lice was added to the equation. I told Abel I was on the verge. The verge of what, he asked. Oh, go ahead and fill in the blank. The verge of tears. The verge of exhaustion. The verge of going crazy. Any of the above will work just fine.

I remembered a little piece of information I had tucked away in case I needed it: a blog post written by fellow DC Metro Mom Sandie about her experience with lice and the success she had when she called Lice Happens.

Within one hour of finding three adult lice in Lucas's hair, I was on the phone with Lice Happens co-founder Nancy. I figured it would be a lot more expensive than whatever the drugstore treatment cost. But, my sanity was on the line and I was willing to pay the price. Nancy and her assistant Kara were at our house the next morning at 10:30am.

Almost from the moment I hung up the phone (when she told me to pretend we didn't yet know we had lice in the house; they'd walk us through everything we needed to know when they arrived) I felt the panic start to recede. Slightly.

It continued to recede after Nancy and Kara arrived. After setting Lucas up with a DVD, Nancy got to work on his Very. Thick. Hair. Kara checked Abel, me and the baby--thank goodness--giving us all the all clear.

Using a non-toxic treatment (I mean, really, I use natural cleaners on my toilet bowl, you think I'm really going to put toxic pesticides on my 4yo's head?) and a metal nit comb, Nancy worked on Lucas's head for just over an hour, pulling out literally hundreds of nits, nymphs and adult lice. The entire time, she was talking to Abel and me about lice--how they have evolved as a species, how they do what they do and what we need to do to get rid of them.

Fun fact #1: head lice like clean hair!
Fun fact #2: head lice have evolved to become experts at holding on to human hair. They want to stay put because on a human hair they're in their perfect environment. A louse off a human head is a dying louse.

By the time Nancy and Kara left, I felt I had the tools--both the knowledge and literal tools of a nit comb and hair treatment--to fight this episode of lice and ensure that lice never come back into our house.

And the price? It was definitely less than the price of my sanity.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!