February 2012

For anyone with an iPhone – check out the newest feature of the Google Search mobile app for your phone – Google Goggles!

What a great way to teach kids about the world around them. Not to mention getting help with finding a cool spot for date night!

I used to think that Valentine’s Day was a grown-up holiday and anything we did to celebrate it as kids was just practice for the REAL celebration of the day that would happen in the future – when we were grown ups. Then I grew up and decided that Valentine’s Day really just causes me more trouble than it is worth (whether single or coupled).

Now I think I have come to some peace about Valentine’s Day. It is clear to me that it is a holiday concocted by the greeting card industry that as a grown up I am ok not participating in. But it is also a day that is super fun for kids – and a great opportunity to teach them to “shower the people you love with love”. I have some issues with the generally accepted concept of romantic love (that is for another post perhaps), but I am all about loving each other in a true sense and not being afraid to express it.

So – this year the kids made a list of all of their family members and spent an afternoon creating Valentine’s Day cards for them. The cutest part was that they were very clear that each card was for a specific person. No “one-card-fits-all” for these kids. They were deliberate in their art and each person got exactly the card the kids wanted them to get.

Aunt Emily and Aunt Lexi posted their cards on Facebook – one right after the other, which was funny:
Valentine's Day via Facebook

The kids made chocolate-covered heart-shaped rice crispy treats on-a-stick for their classmates and they seemed to be a big hit:
Valentine's Day

Next year I want to try these cute stained glass Valentine cards.

So Happy Valentine’s Day to you and all those you love!

There are some things I am good at. I can’t really think of one off the top of my head right at this moment, but I am confident there are areas of life where I do ok and maybe even excel.

One area I do NOT excel in – fashion and design. I think most people who know me would use the word “dramatic” to describe my emotional state but never my sense of style.

I know what I like when I see it, which is probably why I love Pinterest so much. No creativity required, just one click and my board looks like I could be hosting a make-over show on HGTV. But if I try to actually put together a room around a cohesive design style: luh-ame. If I try to create a remotely interesting work wardrobe, heck outfit even, drab and dreary.

Which is why when my daughter asked me yesterday morning if she could help me get dressed – so I could “look pretty” – I figured why not? I have known for quite some time that Emma far surpasses me in the GirlyGirl category, so why not let her loose in my closet and see what she comes up with?

At first she chose a long gauzy summer skirt – tie-dyed with sparkles sewn in. Think BollyWood by Old Navy. When I explained I thought it would probably be a little chilly for the expected 35+ degrees of the day she explained impatiently “Well mommy, you could wear TIGHTS.” DUH. I steered her away from that and she fixed on another summer outfit, silk capris covered with large pink and orange flowers (what in the h*#@ was I thinking? Clearly a drastic cry for help.) Again I explained the summer/winter issue and that I would be too cold to do any work if I wore that particular outfit, but hey, fthanks for playing.

With reluctance and some nudging from me she settled on a dark wool skirt and a nice blouse from Coldwater Creek with a tank top underneath it. More conservative than she wanted to go for sure, but she seemed mostly pleased.

Then she asked to choose my jewelry. I allowed it and she chose a nice pair of turquoise earrings (thanks Joc!) and a matching necklace that she made for me with the help of our last au pair Claire. I put the jewelry on and marveled at how nicely it went with the outfit I had on. No really, it did. This girl can accessorize.

Throughout the day I got no less than five comments on how nice I looked, with specific and multiple mentions of the jewelry. It is not lost on me that although I mostly chose the clothes and artfully convinced her that she had, the choice of jewelry was all Emma.

Today I am in another Emma inspired outfit, complete with necklace and earrings. While yesterday’s theme was “pretty”, today Emma told me she wanted me to look “fancy”. The second person who laid eyes on me in the office said to me “Ooh you look so fancy!” True story.

Maybe next week I should go with the flowered capris.

Mommy do you know I love you?

I stopped in my tracks in the darkened room and turned towards the bed.

What sweetie?

Mommy do you know I love you?

I smiled a huge smile, my heart flooding with love for this little boy, Yes William, I know you love me. Do you know I love you?

Yes Mommy, I know you love me. Goodnight Mommy, sweet dreams.

Goodnight William. Sweet dreams.

It has become our routine ever since that first time. I am still as amazed by it every night – fascinated that his construct is not “I love you” but “Do you KNOW I love you” as if to say his loving of me is not the question. Ever. The question is only that I know it.

I hope this is a routine that will never grow old for him…

All that survives after our death are publications and people.

So look carefully after the words you write, the thoughts and publications you create, and how you love others. For these are the only things that will remain.

— Susan Niebur

Susan Niebur - WhyMommy

I first discovered Susan Niebur a few months after Emma was born. I had been blogging for a while, but was just tuning into the world of parenting blogs and somehow I stumbled across WhyMommy at Toddler Planet. We both had a six month old baby, we both lived in the Silver Spring area and we were both bloggers. There were a few differences though – Susan was a rocket scientist, and she had just been diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer.

Her writing captivated me from the beginning. She was a beautiful and honest writer who loved her family and friends with all her heart. But I almost couldn’t stand reading her posts as she underwent chemotherapy and contemplated questions that no parent wants to even imagine – how long would she be able to fight the cancer, how much time – measured in years, months, days – would she be able to spend with her children. Then I decided that I had to read it, as uncomfortable as it was, because she had to live it. So I read. For years I read and followed and wondered at the courage and grace and joy of this woman. I read as she had recurrences of the cancer. I read as she lived and loved and fought. I always hoped I would meet her – at a local mommy blogging event or maybe even at BlogHer some year. I never made it to BlogHer and I never met Susan.

Susan fought and fought against IBC for years – more years than the doctors said she could – but her fight ended yesterday.

The blogosphere is weeping with her loss. She was an amazing mother, friend, rocket scientist and blogger. She has made me want to work at being a better mother and friend and… person, really.

I weep too – for her children, for her husband and family and for her closest friends. Her friends who did meet her, and who were there for her and who are now devastated by her loss. The world is a much different place without her in it.

Goodbye Susan. I am glad you aren’t in pain anymore, even though I know you would endure never ending pain if it meant just another day with your boys. I hope in the end you knew how much you meant to so many many people. How inspired we all are by you and how loved you are.