April 2010

Pirates of the Chemotherapy

A couple of weeks ago a friend asked me if I would be interested in performing with her in a staged reading of a play to raise money for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. It has been years (and years and years) since I last performed on stage, but I said yes immediately, excited at the opportunity to help an important cause and get back on stage, not to mention the added bonus of getting out of the house.

So tomorrow night I will be brushing off my acting shoes to perform in a staged reading of “Pirates of the Chemotherapy” with five other local actresses, two of whom are breast cancer survivors themselves and are walking in the Avon walk. It is a play about a breast cancer support group and the issues the women in the group deal with as they struggle with their illness. It is a tough topic and rehearsals have been emotional for me. I turn 40 this year and will be having my first mammogram. Hitting middle age and having young children has made me much more aware of my own mortality and the play raises issues that frankly I would rather not think about.

Don’t get me wrong, despite the topic, the play is actually very funny at times. It would have to be, with a title like “Pirates of the Chemotherapy.”

So if those of you in the DC area are around tomorrow night I would love to see you – here are the details:



Doors open 7:30 PM
Staged reading 8:00 PM

Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church (www.cedarlane.org)
9601 Cedar Lane, Bethesda, Maryland

Suitable for adults and teens

Admission is FREE, but donations to benefit the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer will be gratefully accepted

This month marks my sixth anniversary as a blogger.

When I started JustPowers it was a blog mostly about politics – my first posts in April 2004 were about a new congressional race in NY 29, the female Chief of the Park Police being mistreated by the Bush administration, and the power of grassroots organizing.

Nowadays, my posts are all mommy all the time. I am still aware of politics and active when I can be, but the things that fill my days are sleep schedules, diapers, discipline and documenting it all for friends, family and the future.

Someday I may get back to politics as my main focus, or maybe my world and my life has changed so much that I will now always be more focused on my family, hard to say really. It will be interesting to see what the next six years bring…

Back when I was single and child free, I was pretty organized and relatively neat. Now? Well, let’s just say, I am not. I live in a constant state of panic over the clutter and mess that is my home, wondering when I will ever have enough time to get on top of it, or stay on top of it.

Despite this, there are a few organizing tricks I have put into place in our life that provide me with tiny little moments of peace and a sense that I may one day get on top of this mess:

  1. Make coffee the night before. The only thing worse that dealing with a hungry, weepy three year old first thing in the morning is doing so without the immediate assistance of coffee. When our old coffee maker broke about six months ago I got one that allowed us to schedule the coffee to start brewing at whatever time we want each morning. It has changed our life.
  2. Have a bin for junk mail right next to the front door. I stand right next to ours as I go through the mail, and every envelope that I drop into it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
  3. Have a special place for your cameras to live so that you can grab them at a moments notice. Whenever a photo op or great video would present itself we used to scramble around the house looking for the cameras. Now we have a basket in the book shelf in our living room – they go right back in the basket when we are finished with them and are almost always right where we expect them to be when the cuteness happens. We keep our camera card reader and other related accessories in the basket too, for consistency sake.
  4. Put hooks at the kids level for their coats. We just put ours up last week and we immediately saw an end to Emma dropping her coat on the floor when she walked in the door. She is thrilled to have her own hook, plus she is in the “I want to do it myself!” phase, so it works perfectly.
  5. Use bags or boxes for clothes as they don’t fit. I have one of those XXL Ziploc storage bags right next to Will’s changing table and drop clothes into it as he outgrows them. Once he is out of a particular size completely I zip the bag up and store it to be donated or handed-down later.
  6. Have a dry erase board in your kitchen. I love love love my dry erase board. I make lists on it, notes, reminders, or even just silly pictures. I put another one at Emma’s height and she loves to doodle on hers too. I highly recommend it.
  7. Don’t have pets. It’s too late for us, but I figured I would pass along this little nugget of wisdom in case there are those among you considering getting a pet and starting a family in the next few years. Pick one, doing both is nearly impossible.
  8. Don’t blog. Think of all the things I could be doing right now…
  9. Figure out what calendar system works for you and use it. I have one calendar that I hand write all of my dates onto, plus I use Google calendar AND iCal. It gets a little confusing at times, but since Google and iCal can sync, it is nice to be able to put things in when I am reading email (Google calendar) or when I am out somewhere (iCal on my iPhone). I am also really visual and like to have it in written form in my kitchen (right next to the dry erase board). FWIW I also just downloaded Intuition – a free organizing app for moms with iPhones (includes grocery lists, to do lists and syncs with Google calendar) and so far it’s a winner.
  10. Let go of the angst about getting organized. In the end, having kids (and pets, GAH!) is chaotic, especially when they are young (right? this gets a little easier right?). My biggest tool in finding some happiness in my day to day life is to let go of my angst over the chaos and disorder. A friend once told me that the only thing she regrets when she looks back at the period of time when her kids were little (they are in high school and college now) is that she spent so much time worrying about and making sure her house was clean. Cause no one cared except her really, and it took away from precious moments with her little ones. Obviously we all have our own comfort level with the chaos (no doubt most of you would be horrified at the level of my comfort…) but don’t forget the reason the chaos is there in the first place. Someday my house will be spotless and completely organized, and I will be devastated about it.

So what are your organizing secrets?

This post is part of a blogging contest from the TwitterMoms community. There is a chance this post could be randomly selected to win a $50 Target GiftCard, so wish me luck! For more details, you can view the contest page here (http://icomp.ly/IconApps).

Emma and Will

Mike was off work today, so we struck out for our annual visit to the cherry blossoms down on the Tidal Basin.

It was like the perfect storm for the blossoms this year. They hit peak bloom today, according to the National Park Service, which also happens to be Good Friday, of Easter weekend, at the end of spring break, and the weather was perfect. All of this combined to mean more people on Metro and at the Tidal Basin than I have seen in a long time.

Mostly we had a great trip. It is the kind of thing that reminds us why living in DC is kind of nice actually.

Here is what I wish we had done today when we went – and what I plan on doing next year – and I figured I would post it here in case anyone reading is going down in the next few days. Go on Metro of course (someone I know, who lives 15 minutes from the blossoms, was stuck in traffic for two hours this week trying to get to the Tidal Basin – don’t drive) but don’t go to the Smithsonian stop like everyone else. If you are up for a bit of a stroll, take the red line to Farragut North and walk down 17th Street past the White House and Old Executive Office Building, then past the Washington Monument and the World War II Memorial. After that, you practically dead end into the Tidal Basin. If you go left, you cross a bridge and then find yourself with the food vendors, paddle boats and (important to know) the porta-potties. If you go right however, you will be in a grove of cherry blossoms directly across from the Jefferson Memorial, the perfect spot for a picnic and lots of pictures (where the above photo was taken.)

Being there today, with all the people, reminded me that when I was in high school my favorite time to visit the blossoms was at night. The memorials are all lit up and beautiful and there are way way fewer people. Maybe in a few years we will make that trek with the kids.