Thursday, January 20, 2011

Laundry Tips

1. Do not ever wash a Pull-up.

2. Do not ever let a down comforter get a little tear while in the dryer.

Consider yourself warned.

Ugh. Obviously these were both total accidents but they happened literally on back-to-back days. Oh, and did I mention that during this time I had a horrible head cold (notice that I'm already setting up this story to push the blame onto something else?) and Nathaniel was (still is, poor buddy!) sicker than he's ever been in his short little life. (double ear infection, congestion...)

NOT the time when you want to have to rewash a load of laundry 3 times to remove the bizarre absorbent granules that apparently make up a pull-up.

NOT the time when you want to scoop down out of your dryer by the handful, have it fluff out all over the piles of other dirty clothes, have to vacuum out the dryer and vent all while getting yourself coated in down.

Honestly, beyond the excuse that I was a little foggy, I'm just not sure how either of these things happened. I do feel confident that the Pull-up had been dry. Lucas must have really tangled it up with pajama pants to the extent that I didn't notice it when I threw it into the washer. (He's always quick to rip off and throw away a wet one.) (Yes. We are still dealing with these issues.) And as for the comforter? Maybe a small corner was stuck in the door and then ripped? Who knows.

All I know is that every time I walk into the laundry room now, I see at least five more pieces of down floating around. It's enough to make a person stop doing laundry for good!

Yes. That's the answer, for sure.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fondly remembering my encounter with the Shrivers

Today I am fondly remembering my brief encounter with Eunice and Sargent Shriver in 2003. Below I've re-posted what I wrote about it in 2008. This may be familiar to some of you as I also re-posted it when Mrs. Shriver passed away. Although I mostly focus on my time with Mrs. Shriver in this post, it meant so much to me to be with Sargent Shriver as well. He was so incredibly kind. Meeting and spending a brief amount of time with each of them truly is something I will remember for the rest of my life. My only regret is that I didn't' wear my "McGovern Shriver '72" button on my lapel that morning!

Edited to add: This piece by Colman McCarthy is a wonderful essay and tribute. The line, "the legions with whom Shriver had shared himself were no doubt recalling those chance run-ins as encounters with grace." That rings so true for me!

Originally posted May 2008:

It’s Commencement-time across the country and famous and not-so-famous people are addressing the nation’s Class of 2008. This morning as I was driving into work, there was a short story on NPR about Maria Shriver putting an Obama sign on the front lawn of their California home and Arny following suite with a McCain sign.

It reminded me of one of the most exciting experiences of my life.

It was Commencement 2004 and I was working at a local university. My department had the unlucky task of working commencement every year (which also always fell on Mother’s Day), handling the VIPs, press and other behind-the-scenes details. That year my sister was graduating from the same university so I was technically excused from working. However, my boss did offer me one opportunity, for which I will be eternally grateful.

You see, two people receiving honorary degrees that afternoon were Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Two of my heroes. Knowing what it would mean to me to meet them, my boss offered me the opportunity to “staff” them that morning. Of course I jumped on the opportunity.

Mr. Shriver took most of my time and attention. I knew he was suffering from Alzheimer’s but was surprised at its toll. He was amazingly kind, personable, funny and attentive to me, but also asked the same things over and over again and needed constant attention.

Mrs. Shriver was perhaps the most elegant person I’ve ever encountered in real life. She was very kind but also quite reserved.

At one point, however, Mrs. Shriver asked me to go over her speech with her. We sat down and she started reading it quietly to me. She began, “Throughout my life I’ve been known as many things. I’ve been known and John’s sister and Bobby’s sister and Ted’s sister. I’ve been known as Sargent’s wife. Now, I’m best known as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s mother-in-law.”

I know it is rude to interrupt. But, I just couldn’t help myself. I quipped, “But you’re still a Democrat!”

Laughing she said, “That’s a great line!” and proceeded to hand-write it into the speech!

Minutes later I was standing back stage as she addressed the crowd and when she got to my line the crowd went wild—laughing and cheering. I was beaming.

Due to the length of the ceremony and their advanced age, Mr. and Mrs. Shriver left the stage immediately after receiving their degrees and giving their remarks. As I escorted them out of the building and into their waiting car, Mrs. Shriver thanked me for the great line.

It really did make the speech.

And, it was one of the best moments of my life.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Freestylin' at Wegmans

Waaaaaay back in November I was lucky enough to be invited to an event to debut the Coca-cola Freestyle at the new Wegmans near my house. I replied immediately because:

1. It was right about the time when I needed a big pick-me-up after losing the campaign.

2. I had already tried out the freestyle and, while I thought it was pretty cool, I was also a bit confused about it.

3. W-E-G-M-A-N-S. In just a few short weeks, I was already a certified Wegmans devotee.
Hot shot Coke exec (and by hot shot, I really mean super nice!) giving us a personal tutorial

I don't think I've mentioned Wegmans on this blog yet. But, let me tell you, it is The. Best. Place. Ever.


The hype started on our town listserv about 2 years ago. Yeah. People were doing count downs. On opening day, people were sending e-mails via their smart phones with traffic, crowd and check-out wait status updates in between their screams of glee that WEGMANS had finally arrived.

Being me, I waited for the hype to settle a bit and went about a week and a half after it opened. Let me just say that I haven't been to another grocery store since. In fact, if the other bloggers at this event didn't know me already, I think they would have assumed I was a Wegmans plant by the way I gushed about everything.

But before we got to learn about Wegmans and have a tasty dinner, we got to check out the Coca-cola Freestyle. It's a sleek, familiar-yet-unique device:

And with it, you can dispense 106 different types of drink. 106. So, I'll admit that I'm a little boring with my (delicious) strawberry Sprite. But, for our next grocery run, Abel and Lucas spent a reported 10 minutes (and so I'm guessing it was more like 15 or 20 as Abel tends to underestimate time!) standing at the Freestyle trying all different mixes. They both LOVE it!

Our doesn't-need-caffiene-to-be-crazy Lucas got to feel like a big kid but actually just tried different versions of Dasani water, like grape, strawberry and peach. Abel mixed it up Cherry Coke, Lime Coke and Peach Sprite.

Needless to say, we're all fans!

So, if you haven't yet been to Wegmans: GO. And if you have been to Wegmans but haven't checked out the Freestyle: GO. Take your time with it, taste different combos and enjoy. We sure are!

Disclaimer: Wegmans and Coca-cola provided some yummy food, free sodas, swag and a giftcard for attending this event. But, I certainly didn't have to write about it and all opinions are my own.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Surviving in Style: Free Lymphedema Sleeves Thanks to Susan Niebur

I've found that when someone is a giver it is very hard for them to accept--let alone ASK--for anything from someone else. My friend, Susan (that's her on the right), is a giver. And, I'm sure that even as she has battled cancer, and the effects of cancer, time and time again, it has been very difficult for her to accept the kindness of others.

The thing is, that when you allow someone to give to you, you really are giving to them. You are giving them the joy, the satisfaction, the happy heart that comes from giving to others.

And so, even as her body was being ravaged by the effects of chemo, Susan was thinking of others. Even as she was feeling the pain of her lymphedema (very painful arm swelling that happens to many breast cancer survivors--or warriors, I like that term better, don't you?--because they had lymph nodes removed and therefore don't have lymph nodes filtering our the yucky stuff) she was thinking of others who were battling lymphedema.

You see, Susan, like my mom, purchased her oh-so-stylish lymphedema sleeves from LympheDIVAS. Luckily, they were both able to afford them, despite the little or no coverage their insurance provided. These sleeves help keep the lymphedema under control and their cool designs tend to elicit compliments instead of rude stares. For many breast cancer warriors, a sleeve and/or gauntlet is a medical necessity, but too often insurance doesn't cover their steep cost (around $100 for just one sleeve!)

And so, Susan (being the giver that she is!), with the help of another giver (and friend!), Sue (that's her on the left), has arranged an amazing partnership. LympheDIVAS is now working with Crickett's Answer to Cancer to provide lymphedema sleeves and gauntlets FREE to those who need, but can't afford, them.

Most people assume that once the hair grows back (there's my sister, mom and me--wasn't she a beautiful bald warrior?--during her chemo) and a few scans come back clear, breast cancer is over. But, for many, the long-term effects are real and painful. Thanks to Susan and this partnership, many more warriors will survive in style and with with less pain.

And one of the best parts is that every time someone posts or Facebooks or tweets or just picks up the phone and calls a friend to tell them about this amazing act of giving, Susan is feeling the joy, the glow, the happy heart that comes with giving to others. And for that, I am especially grateful.

Here are the specifics:

Read about this project directly from Susan, leave her some comment love and then share her post with everyone you know (the share options are at the bottom of her post). Read more about it from Sue. Check out the awesome designs at LympheDivas and read about the co-founder and inspiration behind the company's continued mission, Robin Troxell.

Then, click over to Crickett's Answer for Cancer and be inspired by Crickett then download the enrollment materials here and write in "lymphedema sleeve and gauntlet" on page 2. Or, forward, e-mail, snail mail or fax the forms to someone you know who needs one. Better yet, just tell everyone you know about this, because who knows who might know a warrior who continues to suffer because they can't afford a lymphedma sleeve.

And then enjoy the joy, satisfaction, and happy heart of giving!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Resolution

Happy New Year!

I have SO much to catch up on, blog-wise, not the least of which is a report on Lucas's fun birthday party and a post in honor of him turning five.

But, in the meantime, I wanted to jump on-line for a quick second to post my New Year's Resolution. Although generally I'm not a fan of resolutions, this year I hit upon the perfect one and I very much look forward to keeping it: spend more time with my friends!

2010 was an incredible year but between the birth of Nathaniel, my run for office, then dealing with the loss, I pretty much focused on my self all year.

And how I missed my dear friends!

So, let's plan lunch, drinks, dinner, brunch--or, all of the above!

Either way, I look forward to seeing more of you in 2011!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!