Sunday, December 31, 2006

Spare Change

It's New Year's Day 2007. Another year has ended and brought with it a year of hope and possibilities. Not a big fan of New Year's myself - I usually find it a little too reflective and instead of partying like it's 1999, I end up depressed about all the things I didn't accomplish and thinking of all that looms darkly before me in the year ahead.

But not this year. I had so many things to celebrate in 2006 and many more wonderful events planned for 2007 (ie. buying my first home, my sister's wedding, my cousin's wedding just to name a few) that moodiness was not on the menu; I enjoyed this New Year's Eve even though I didn't make it to midnight :)

But this post isn't about resolutions like trying to lose weight, cutting down on the chocolate (although I need to do both of those!) or watching less TV. It is about hope and it is about making a change, but maybe not in a way you've thought about before. And maybe it will move you to make a very important change in your own life as well.

It all started with my son (doesn't it always?) when he brought a letter home from school a few weeks ago that talked about a class project they were doing involving an organization called Pennies for Peace.

Pennies for Peace works with the Central Asia Institute to provide community based education in Pakistan and Afghanistan with a focus on educating girls who have historically not been permitted to attend school, for example during the reign of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

I think we all know what literacy can do to change the course of a life, but for these communities it can change the lives of an entire village or town. Literacy provides better economic opportunities, as well as loosens the grip of extremists who use fear as a weapon against those who are uneducated and feel that they have been abandoned by the world at large. In short, programs like these can literally change the world.

So what's with the pennies? Well, according to the organization's website: "The penny, 1% of a dollar, is symbolic of the '1% of Gross Domestic Product' goal set by the United Nations. The goal was for wealthy countries to give foreign aid to impoverished nations each year. . . A penny in the United States is virtually worthless, but in Pakistan and Afghanistan a penny buys a pencil and opens the door to literacy."

So my son's school is asking that the families of their students collect pennies at home and then bring them to school to be added to the collections of other students which will then be donated to the Pennies for Peace organization. Wow. What an amazing thought. By simply collecting pennies and combining them with the pennies of your friends and family you can change the lives of countless children - with just a few pennies. No wonder my four-year-old son is so excited. (No one gets out of our house without donating)

And I'm excited, too. It's a tremendous feeling to be part of such a wonderful program. So, yes, I'm doing it for selfish reasons. I'm going to be really selfish this year and work to make a positive, tangible change in the world. I think Pennies for Peace is a great place to start. Maybe your child's school would, too?

Or what about volunteering in a soup kitchen once a month, once every two weeks or even every week? Maybe the playground down the street could use some cleaning up, some fresh paint and some new equipment? Maybe your neighbor could use some help mowing his lawn or getting a ride to the doctor? Or maybe a grandparent loves to garden, but can't tend her own anymore; could you help?

So I encourage you to make just one promise to yourself in 2007, and to make it to the world. If we all just pitch in a little bit, great things can be achieved. Change begins with you. And when it's positive change, the effects will be felt not only by you, but by your family and the people that your family members touch and the chain of good will go on and on and on. There's no better time to start . . . Make this the resolution you keep this year and for all the years that follow.

This post is part of a blog exchange. My name is Nancy and I am the proud mother of two rambunctious boys, ages two and four. I've been writing fiction most of my life, but now have a new passion for blogging. You can usually find me over at Just Thinking . . . where I write about everything from family to politics to writing to, well, not much is off limits.

And to Damselfly, who you can find today over at Just Thinking . . ., thanks for letting me use your space :)

Friday, December 29, 2006

The evil part of the baptism

Oh yeah, I did think of something to write about. (See previous post today.)

JP and I are planning on baptising Flybaby next month. Now I have roughly one month to sew a baptism outfit for Fly. (Yes, I have been known to sew things.)

Why am I sewing his outfit? This is the evil part of Flybaby's baptism. When JP's sister, Sabee, had her son, a family friend offered the use of a christening gown that had been in her family. I am concerned this family friend will offer the gown to me, too. Except I don't want Flybaby to wear a long gown. First of all, he's a boy and shouldn't be in something that looks like a dress. Second, I never got why christening gowns are so darn long. (And I refused to have a train on my wedding dress, too, despite JP's mother's attempts.) I might be in the minority, but I think they look kind of silly.

So then I could just dress Fly in one of his nice outfits and be done with it. But if I say I am sewing his outfit, well, that makes it more personal and special, and a better way to politely refuse the family friend's christening gown. See?

And if Sabee could sew, that would have been her out. Instead, she didn't have our adorable nephew baptised at all! One way or another....


I could just say, "When stuck for something to write about, point to someone else's blog post." Which would be true.

However, if you're looking for a little reality and inspiration, check out Bobita's post about Christmas at Blooming YaYas (formerly These Sisters' Journeys).

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Wordless Wednesday: My first Christmas baby loot from family and friends

Does a newborn really need all this stuff?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas top 10

Merry Christmas, everyone! I leave you with a photo of us being tapped again to be the Holy Family in a church re-enactment (those glowing circles behind us are the eyes of real sheep), and a list of the....

Top 10 Reasons God didn’t choose us to be the real Holy Family

10. The song “Away in a Manger” says, “But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes,” -- unlike some Jesus imposters (cough!Flybaby).

9. JP doesn’t stand for Jesus, Prince of Peace. (I guess that would be JPP, though . . . .).

8. If people are going to be baking goodies in honor of my son (aka Christmas cookies), I’d want a piece of the action.

7. I am more than twice the supposed age Mary was. That’s probably why she didn’t have any appointments with the genetic counselor.

6. I probably would have messed up and called them the three wise guys.

5. Donkeys just aren’t fast enough as a means of transportation. Although they do have heated seats. Hmm . . . .

4. My family just wouldn’t fall for the virgin birth story.

3. JP doesn’t like the adjective “hoary” when it comes to describing him.

2. It probably never occurred to Mary that, smell aside, spit-up makes great hair gel.

1. If God sent an angel to tell me I was going to have his son and I ended up giving birth in a barn, I would have been like, “This is the best you can do? Are you kidding?”

Saturday, December 23, 2006


My little old kitty passed away tonight.

My friend Missy's sister is in hospice due to lung cancer.

A minister's young wife battling MS had a seizure and is in the hospital.

This is why Christmas can suck so bad. These kinds of things just shouldn't happen at this time of the year.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I love a win-win

One secret about me is I love contests, sweepstakes and other things where I might have a chance to win something. I don't go crazy about it. Like, I don't buy lottery tickets or spend hours stamping my name and address on 3-by-5 cards. But if I can enter a contest fast and easy, then I'll do it.

The Her Bad Auction was one example -- a great, worthy cause that raised $3,000! -- and I even won something being raffled. Yay! The best part is that it helped Muscular Dystrophy research and boosted Her Bad Mother's nephew's spirits. In my humble opinion, it also helped the blogosphere to open their hearts a little -- and what better time than the holidays? It's a win-win, and I hope there will be more do-gooding raffles like this one again. (Er, not that I am signing up to organize them. At least not right now.)

Now there is a contest by Havins Originals children's clothing for sayings on a new line of baby clothes. I couldn't resist.

So here are some sayings I'd like to see on baby clothes:

Kickin’ it in my crib
Talk gurgly to me
I live hand to mouth
Love me
Bald and beautiful
Don't fear the sleeper (or Don't fear the creeper, I can't decide which)

I'm sure you blogland folks can come up with better than these. So you go and enter too!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Dear Target

Dear Target:

You and I have had quite an affair. There hasn't been a month gone by in the past several years when I haven't spent at least $100 at your store -- especially since you planted a Super Target just a few miles from my home. Oh, how I loved to look up and down the aisles for hats, lip gloss, chocolate croissants, frozen appetizers, door wreaths, candles, birthday cards, bird seed and the occasional -- OK, frequent -- fancy chocolate bar of your store. Your perky, mod-y commercials and the pronunciation of Tar-zhay made you even more appealing.

So it was natural that I would create a Target Baby Registry when I found out I was expecting. My family and friends far and wide would then be able to either buy a gift for Flybaby in the store or online. Perfect!

Except it's not perfect anymore.

It's not anything anymore!

I'm leaving you!

You killed my baby registry without a notice. No warning. I thought ... I thought you cared.

Now all those hyper-gaga-over-my-baby relatives won't know what was left on my registry as gift ideas for Christmas. Heck, I don't even remember what was left on my registry.

If you had just. Given me a little time. Given me a warning. I could have created a wish list of those items leftover from the baby showers so I would remember what the heck I wanted and needed for my baby.

And you? Congratulations, because you have lost out on sales. Including a big-ticket stroller that hyper-gaga relatives would have bought for my baby.

At least Babies R Us has had the decency to keep my baby registry around for more than 90 days after Flybaby's due date. And you can bet your sweet little round circle-in-a-circle logo that those family and friends will be heading over there instead to buy those leftover baby registry items. Because they know how to do things right.

So, goodbye, Target. If I have another baby, you won't be seeing me make the same mistake twice. I mean it! I've fallen into the arms of another store. It's not me. It's you.

Yours Truly,

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas, shopping, an anniversary and a meme

Mom bloggers, I don't know how you do it. It's Christmas time, for crying out loud. How have you managed to take care of your little ones, prepare for the holidays and have time to blog? Spill those secrets! I've been swamped. I'm actually turning down some jolly-holiday events out of concern for being overcommited.

Not too swamped to go to the mall with Star, though. Last time we went to the mall together, it was her, Flybaby and me. Now it was the three of us plus her little one, who's only two weeks old! So cute. I know she didn't want to hear it, but I told Star her little Lancelot has a sweet baby cry. Flybaby pretty much shrieks. Loudly. I mean, you can hear him from outside the house. If you're at the mall, just follow the trail of the crying babies being pushed in their strollers -- that will be Star and me. Going to the mall with a friend used to be so different. Star, we had fun. (It was fun, wasn't it?) Today, I felt so many things went unsaid because we both had to tend to the boys. And you're still recovering from giving birth, for goodness' sake! But getting out of the house -- nice!

Also, this weekend is the one-year anniversary of the weekend, ahem, that Flybaby was conceived. Yay, baby!

So M from My Journey said she'd like to see me answer the following new year questions, so, tag -- I'm it! Here goes:

Things you learned this year:
I learned what it’s like to be a mother! And it’s not the way I had imagined -- which is both good and bad, but mostly good.

People you met:
My doula, Charlie Brown. My pediatrician. My genetic counselor. Hmm, guess I haven’t gotten out enough in the right places . . . .

Things you don't want to take with you into 2007:
Gosh, I'm stumped.

Things you want to hold close as you pass into 2007:
My family and friends! Oh wait, they’re not things. Well, I guess that would be my iPod. Is that sad?

Things you're looking forward to in 2007:
Watching my baby grow and change, learning something new every week. Speaking at a book festival. Celebrating my 12th wedding anniversary. Working on that “meeting new people” thing above. Submitting a second book proposal to my publisher.

Things that were life changing in 2006:
Um. Other than having a baby?! Blogging.

Things you hope to accomplish by the end of 2007:
To feel I’ve really lived each and every day to the fullest

Friday, December 08, 2006

Talk about riding your ass

Guess what? I have a post at Rookie Moms today. Well, sort of. I entered a contest they were having -- I didn't win, but they were kind enough to put my entry on their site today. Thanks, Rookie Moms! I have been reading their blog since I was pregnant.

My post is about taking part in re-enactments, which JP, Flybaby and I did for a Christmas re-enactment in which I rode a live donkey as Mary, Jesus' mother (thus the cheeky blog post title!).


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Three months!

Happy three-month birthday, Flybaby!

As a special present -- to me -- Fly slept for nine hours last night. Nine! That's the second time he has slept that long. He's usually good for at least six hours at night these days, and even six is something -- waaaay better than the "up every two to three hours" business during his first weeks.

People in the blogosphere and in real life have told me it gets easier after three months. I think it really is easier now, if only because I know Flybaby better and am a more practiced parent. But as my friend Roo says, people will also tell you it gets easier after six months, then 12 months, and on and on. At least until the teenage hormones kick in.

I can't let myself worry about the teen years right now....

Anyway, I thought I'd list some of the things that make my life as a new mama a little bit -- or a whole lot -- easier, and baby stuff I just love.

Nightlights. They live in almost every room of our house now. Thankfully, Flybaby was born just as days were starting to get noticeably shorter, so that may be a contributing factor in how we've helped him get to sleep longer. But around 8 p.m. now, JP and I have started turning off lights and letting the nightlights do their job.

Flybaby's Amby Baby hammock. I seriously think it helps him sleep better and longer. It's cute. And it's quite a conversation piece. (Although those co-sleeper thingies I've seen would be great if I could do this -- h&b's comment, whose permanent link doesn't seem to be working.) I'll post a picture of Fly in his hammock once Blogger lets me.

Gerber cloth diapers, used as burp cloths and drool wipers. And so much more. Flybaby has even taken to holding onto them like a little security blanket.

The mobile hung over the play yard and the Ocean Wonders aquarium toy in the crib. They give me 10 minutes to do stuff I need to do while Fly raptly watches the little characters go around and around.

Lap pads, or whatever you want to call them. Before Flybaby's diapers started fitting, they were great to protect everything he was on. I still have the pads in place on his changing pad, in the hammock and in his car seat.

My Echoes of Nature Ocean Waves CD. I got this in a boxed set of nature sound CD several years ago, and now the waves CD is one of the main ways we calm Flybaby when he's overtired.

And of course, a great husband, JP. I couldn't do this new mama stuff without him.

I guess every parent has his or her favorite things. What are yours?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It is finished

I just ended a seven-year project that was my main work. There are so many mixed emotions about this that I don't have the energy or the time to blog about them. But in a nutshell, it makes me sad and numb at the same time. Also, in the back of my mind, I fear not having a career again.

The project wasn't working out anyway, so ending it isn't because of Flybaby. But when you have work that is going nowhere and suddenly have a giant priority like a newborn, it makes it that much easier to let the non-working project go.

So now, effectively, I am a stay-at-home mom instead of a work-at-home mom. At least until I start working on my second book, which my publisher wants.

On the bright side, I got to review another manuscript for my publisher. It doesn't pay much, but I feel it keeps me in the loop.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The backpedal of the year

Me (she who formerly couldn't pump even two ounces of breast milk): Here are two bottles of fresh milk going into the fridge.

JP: Two bottles?! Holy cow!

Me: (dirty look)

JP: I mean ... sorry, wrong choice of words....

Friday, December 01, 2006


Today is Rosa Parks Day. It’s also World AIDS Day and Eat a Red Apple Day.

And . . . my birthday!

Not that it feels like my birthday.

This morning, I cleaned up three messes our oldest cat made during the night and then begged JP to take her to the vet on his way to work this morning, even without an appointment. She hasn't been eating well and is wasting away.

Having your baby cry for no reason at all is also a birthday joy killer.

But then a newly unemployed Roo (who quit a stressful job that was seriously ruining her health!) came and took me to breakfast. She gave me some sweet presents. And then we picked up a latte and some Kilwin's chocolates and took them to Star along with some new-baby gifts. Star's little guy is so precious! He has the most amazing eyelashes I have ever seen on a baby. They are so long it's a wonder he can see through them.

Back at home, my mother called to wish me a happy birthday and some nice weather. (She's really getting hammered with it up north.)

So, the birthday is looking up!


I can be laidback about some things (see: dog hair on floor, presence of; vegetables in children’s diet, absence of). But there are Rules about Christmas Trees, and they cannot be broken, at least in my house. (Whatever you want to do at your house is cool with me, especially if you are serving Champagne and eggnog.)

1. None of this artificial business. The tree has to be real. Yes, I know I will be picking up needles, and probably finding them in my son’s diaper too, long past Valentine’s day (oh, and they have to be short needles – not those long silky kind). Yes, I know it’s a hassle to wrestle it on top of the car, through the front door, and into the tree stand. I know there are fake trees that look very real. But you will never, ever, ever convince me to have one in my house.
1a. Corollary: Proper scheduling. Fake trees can go up anytime, but a real tree must be purchased, decorated, and disposed of in a more reasonable time frame. There is no need to follow the lead of the department stores and put up the tree in October. It should go up on or about December 10 and be out on the curb by New Year’s Day.

2. This is my living room, not the Sunset Strip. White or colored lights are both acceptable, but there must be no flashing. Lights must be small, plain bulbs, not huge reindeer or chili peppers or any other funky shape. Ornaments should most certainly not require batteries to power lights, music, fog machines or any other "special" effect.

3. Ornaments must be one-of-a-kind. No generic packages of 12 multicolored balls or 24 icicles or 6 of those weird upside-down ice-cream cone thingies. (I will make an exception for candy canes—if they are edible.) Ornaments should be fun, interesting, homemade, acquired for a reason or received as a gift. They should commemorate vacations, new babies, new homes, hobbies or jobs. And no tinsel!

4. Decorating is a family affair. Everyone must go together to pick out the tree; everyone must help drag the boxes of ornaments and other goodies from the basement; everyone must help put the ornaments on the tree. And everyone must listen to Bing Crosby’s Christmas album.

5. Enjoy it! Every night before bed, turn off all the lights except the ones on the tree. Squint a little so everything’s all twinkly. Admire, and go to bed dreaming of Harry Connick, Jr.

- - - - -

Mayberry Mom lives in the Midwest with a husband, a preschooler, and a toddler who's sure to be an Evergreen Menace this holiday season.