Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

And they who for their country die shall fill an honored grave, for glory lights the soldier’s tomb, and beauty weeps the brave. — Joseph Drake

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My Baby is a Big Boy!

So, we had his party last weekend, and for all intents and purposes, he's been 4 for about a week. Then why I am I getting so nostalgic today??

Today is Little Guy's 'official' birthday. Four years ago today, he made his grand (and very fast) entrance in to our family's hearts. He was 3 weeks early, and I was in the hospital for all of 45 minutes before he was born. I guess he just couldn't wait to get his life started! He hasn't slowed down since.

Happy birthday, ya wee monster -- we love your crazy energy, your boundless passion, and your beautiful soul.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Weathering Wanderlust II - Seychelles

Ahhh...the Seychelles Islands. The Seychelles have been a longtime tropical fantasy for me. Located off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, Seychelles is comprised of 115 islands. In addition to the main island of Mahé (which I hear boasts lots of fun, tourist-y things like bars, restaurants & shopping), there are 16 other islands that offer rest and respite for the visiting traveler.

Everything I've read about the Seychelles Islands just screams (or rather whispers softly in your ear) romance. From the many secluded spots on island beaches to the enchanting acommodations to the intimate restaurants -- all of these elements would make for the perfect quixotic getaway for my husband and me. The boys would definitely have to stay home for this one!

I close my eyes, and I almost feel the year-round warmth of the Seychelles sun...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Weathering Wanderlust

"I'm shakin' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum..." -- George Bailey (James Stewart) It's a Wonderful Life

There's nothing in the world like the feeling I get when I know I have a trip coming. From the moment I book it, just the knowledge that I am GOING somewhere, anywhere, gives me a combination of stomach-flutters, body tingles and involuntary idiot-like grinning. I am big on countdowns; I love watching the number of days 'til I leave get smaller and smaller. I produce detailed packing strategy spreadsheets (this is very ME) and when I can actually put clothes in a suitcase, I get so excited that I nearly jump out of my skin!

However, since I became a mama, our freedom to travel has been just a little inhibited. With our first son, it was more difficult to get away, but we made it work. We took the Big Guy to London for a week when he was just ten months old. But as he got older, and Little Guy came along, it just became too difficult logistically to do it. Our travel destinations were rerouted to Walt Disney World. Make no mistake, though -- I love, love, love to go to Disney and I am truly blessed to be able to share my childhood memories with my boys. But we will have to wait until the boys get a little older to do the kind of traveling we fantasize about. Until then, I must patiently suffer through this wanderlust I have -- the voracious, ever-present desire within me to GO. SEE. EXPERIENCE.

'Weathering Wanderlust' is going to be a multi-part post. In order to deal with my temporarily postponed adventures (the aforementioned weathering), I am constantly dreaming of new places to go. This list is long, varied, and fantastic. I am excited to delve a little deeper into the culture and character of my dream destinations. And even more excited for the day my dreams become reality!

The Yanks are Coming...

If there's one thing to know about me, it's that I love Manchester United. No, I don't root for them, or follow them -- I LOVE them. It's actually kind of comical. I was never particularly fond of any sports team up until I fell in love with United. Sure, I had school spirit in high school and college and rooted for their teams when appropriate, but nothing has ever reached the kind of epic proportions that my devotion for United has. In spite of the fact that a.) United plays in a league based across an entire ocean and b.) soccer isn't the most popular of sports in the US, I have found a fervor for the boys in red that knows no bounds.

That brings me to the point of this post...the 2010 World Cup in South Africa will begin in less than three weeks. The United States Men's National Team (USMNT) is set to play their first match against jolly old England. And of course, who are some of England's players? United players! This presents somewhat of a pickle for me.

Being a United fan (a gift that keeps on giving, thanks much to my husband) has taught me to appreciate the intrinsic value & beauty of soccer itself. I love its fast-pace, the skill and fitness it requires, the whole spirit of the sport. I dream of a US that has the kind of football culture that England, Italy, Argentina -- basically every other country in the world has. It has become my mission in life to tell anyone and everyone, at every opportunity, why soccer is a superior sport. Therefore, it is my patriotic duty to change the hearts and minds of Americans - which starts with supporting the USMNT in the World Cup. Of course I must! I can't expect my fellow Americans to ever catch up with the world in terms of soccer if we don't cultivate our fledgling program.

So patriotism vs club loyalty in the World Cup. I have to admit that it will be awkward, unfamiliar, and even perverse to root against Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand from United. (I am kind of hoping to win 2-1 with Wazza scoring the only goal.) But, if I am ever to live in a United States where soccer is king, I know what I have to do...


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Soccer: Our Family Fetish

Last night was the final game of U6 Spring 2010 Soccer. This was the 5th season the Big Guy has played, the 5th season his dad has coached, and the very first time the Little Guy got to be part of the team, too. My husband, in addition to coaching the boys for two seasons a year, also plays in two different over-30 leagues. Indoor, all year round, and outdoor in the spring and fall. Myself, I am relatively new to soccer, but for the past six or so years, I've been slowly transforming from a vocal supporter of our favorite club to a knowledgeable soccer fan. By no means would I ever call myself an expert - I am definitely still learning. I voraciously read everything I can about the strategy and tactics, the current players, and the various coaches. We're fans of British football, but both my husband I try to keep abreast of the happenings in other leagues. It makes us delighted beyond words that our sons love soccer as much as we do, and that they are being raised to play, live and breathe it.

So, it's not unusual to see our entire family dressed exactly the same on a weekend - of course, we'll all be wearing Manchester United jerseys. It's not unusual for Fox Soccer Channel to be almost constantly on our television while not one NFL game is ever turned on. It's not unusual for us that the Big Guy has a Manchester United duvet. It's not unusual that Little Guy could say "Liverpool - blech!" since he was 2.

We are a soccer family -- it's our fetish, our fixation, our faith.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Aloha, LOST

It was the fall of 2004. I was still working on Capitol Hill, in the lobbying/political action division of a professional union. I was excited about the new television show premieres, because I was a new mommy (all of 9 months under my belt!) and the TV was my new social life. I replaced the happy hours, events, and fundraisers with watching my television -- which I could happily do while holding my sleeping baby.

So, I was very excited for Lost. (I also was excited for "Jack & Bobby" about the future president and "Dr. Vegas" with Rob Lowe, but - um, yeah.) The premise was very intriguing and hadn't been done before. Little did I know that this intrigue would morph into a six-year relationship with the passengers of Oceanic 815 and their adventures.

It's been a crazy ride, filled with polar bears, smoke monsters, time travel, "Others," fab '70s clothing, boars, and Sawyer with his shirt off. There are soooo many questions to be answered in the finale - who will be the caretaker of the island? What/where is the island? Is Ben good or bad? Who is Jack's baby mama? Most importantly, where is Vincent?

A lot of Lost fans I know have been analyzing, critiquing, and scrutinizing this journey every step of the way. There is a lot of pressure on the writers to make this finale something grand. There is no path to take that will please all of the Lost fans. But you know, what? From where I sit, that's okay. It doesn't matter how it all ends. For the last six years, the creators of Lost have entertained me, made me laugh, and made me cry. I have enjoyed every minute of being a 'Lostie.'

Aloha, LOST. It's been one helluva ride.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Choo-Choo! All Aboard the Birthday Express!

Happy birthday, Little Guy! Today was my youngest son's birthday party. His birthday is actually May 29th, but that always falls on Memorial Day weekend. Lots of folks travel that weekend, so it's tough to get a party together then. Lucky boy -- he gets a week-long celebration!
For the party, we did a Thomas the Tank Engine theme. He's really into Thomas. No, I mean REALLY. This actually the third year in a row that we've had a Thomas birthday party for the munchkin. But, I don't mind - Thomas stories always have good life lessons about caring for others, working hard and being kind. And the engines all use impeccable grammar, which is key!
The Tumblebus also came to entertain the kids, which is an incredible idea. It's an old school bus that the Tumblebus-sters converted into a mobile gym for little ones. They have installed padded walls/floor (of course), a zip line, trampolines, tumbling mats, balance beams, and a ton more. The bus drives to your house and provides an HOUR (yes, a lovely, beautiful, entire HOUR) of kid-centric entertainment. While they tumble and play to their hearts' content, the parents have a little downtime to socialize themselves. It's fabulous.

All in all it was a fabulous party...the weather was beautiful and the Little Guy got to share his special day with family, classmates and friends. He had a wonderful time. And I am EXHAUSTED!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hello, my name is FWM.

There are all kinds of mommies out there. There are working moms, stay-at-home moms, moms who work from home, etc, etc...but I belong to that crazy group known as "Formerly Working Moms."

Being a member of this group manifests itself in many ways. I have laminated grocery lists, spreadsheets for vacation planning, and intricate schedules that chart my sons' summer activities. Now, don't get me wrong -- all this would imply that I miss getting up everyday and going to the office. I don't. I do, however, miss feeling passionate about something, the sensation of accomplishment that comes with completing a project, and throwing my energy into a thing which results in an actual, physical, work product output.

One of the things that made me good at my job was my ability to organize, execute, and follow-through. And now, my world and the things in it have changed, but those obsessions - um, I mean qualities - in me have not. These days, I don't dissect the proposed budget for the Justice Department and create a memo with graphs and analysis for my boss, or scrutinize a potential tax cut package. Instead, I study the crowd flow patterns and weather for Walt Disney World to determine when we should go. I breakdown my grocery list based on where different items can be found in the supermarket. I compare and contrast summer camps and break-down timing and value of each.

So, my meticulous planning and researching every aspect of our family's life might be a tad bit of overkill and smidge unnecessary (not to mention a damper on spontaneity) but it's really hard to turn off that part of you that has been ingrained with the protocols of the corporate world! Besides, those Disney World spreadsheets come in preeeetttyy handy...!