Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year's Eve!

It's become a family tradition to put together a slideshow of our past year to watch together on New Year's Eve.  Getting together ours this year made me realize what a big year 2012 was!  Here are just a few of the special moments.

Andrew, just a few days old, February
Holding his head up! June

Grocery shopping, December

Will, just under a month before Andrew was born, January

Will in Cape Cod, August

Will, October
Uninvited wedding guest, Turks & Caicos.  May
My brother is a DAD! September

Elizabeth graduates! May

E with just barely home Andrew, February

Two days before Andrew! February
Brothers.  April

Brothers. November

Christy's baby shower.  June
Tea, January.

Holding my niece, Christmas Day.  
Polar Express, December
Drawing with Dad, August.

Wishing you and your family and everyone a wonderful, happy and healthy 2013!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Card Bloopers, 2012!

I know I promised this post on Christmas, but when the day arrived, I was up in Maine away from my computer!  Hey, at least I'm sharing them this year :)  Thanks to my family and friends who contributed!  Starbucks gift card going to B,E&O courtesy of Will!  Merry Christmas :)

Uh oh.  Whose idea was this, anyway?

Photo from ACE

"Where's Grampa?!"  

"Give me everything I want for Christmas or else!" Photo from B,E,O
"No, Andrew, No Andrew, NO!"
"No, Andrew, No Andrew, NO!"

Floppy reindeer antlers, from ACE

More fun with the three grandchildren at Mimi and Grampa's! Photo from ACE
Don't eat the bubbles!!!

It'd help if they held still!  Photo from B,E,O

Best for last!  That's right... she's puking.  And smiling.  I'm not sure how this is a blooper, it looks pretty magical to me!
Photo from ACE.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Easy Toddler Craft: Star Ornaments

Will's finished star from our playgroup craft!

Will goes to a playschool for a few hours two mornings a week, and he comes home with the cutest craft projects, singing new songs, and generally making me feel so grateful that he has the opportunity to attend and wistful that I don't do more singing and crafting with him at home! 

Of course I'm saving all of these forever.  How else are we going to decorate for his wedding or make sure his college dorm room doesn't have empty walls?  

Recently, he came home with a decorated star to hang on our tree - and was so proud to show it to Greg and I and hang it on the tree himself. 

The inspirational star ornament from playschool.
Thank you Miss Hillary!!!

I liked it so much that I wanted to make more with his playgroup friends when we hosted the week before Christmas.  Here's how we did it!

I went to a craft store and bought adhesive backed glitter foam, two sheets each of four different colors.  I unpeeled the adhesive lining and stuck the sheets of the same color together to make a big sheet that was glittery on both sides.  I then traced a star outline using marker, and cut out the stars with a craft knife.  If you're patient and don't have an exacto or craft knife, scissors would work instead - I used them to clean up the edges if I missed some of the marker, and it cut through fine.

I then hole punched one of the star points (actually Greg did this while I drank coffee.  Thanks Greg) and cut yarn scraps for the toddlers to thread through.  For decorations, I bought some self-adhering white dots, little red pom poms, and sequin stars.  All the craft supplies came to about $10 and I had enough to make at least 12 stars.  The same project could be done for less with plain felt or construction paper.

Using a coffee table tray was helpful - once the craft project was over, one of my friends just picked the whole thing up and dropped it on the counter before our toddlers sprinkled pompoms and glitter stars all over the floor for Andrew to eat.

"Will do it?"
We helped the kids thread the yarn through the hole punch on the star, and then they could peel and stick the little white dots themselves.  For the pom poms and sequin stars, it was easiest when we put dots of glue on their big star and they then pushed a decoration on top of the glue.  The whole craft project took less than ten minutes for them to do, which is about perfect for a two year old's attention span :)

Waiting for the glue to dry :)

Happy crafting!

PS -  I don't plan to keep ALL of Will's school projects forever... I'm keeping them in a box in our office until the end of the year, then we'll pull them all out, take a photograph, and ask him to pick some favorites to save forever.  In the meantime, they're a great resource for ideas for things I can start doing with him now that he's getting older and more interested in arts and crafts!

My mother knit him the adorable Santa vest!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Responses to Newtown: Where do we go from here?

The recent school Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT cost 26 lives.  It is everywhere I look on social media sights and in the news.  People are holding candlelight vigils, holding their own children tight, and finding ways to grieve.

It was my initial expectation that this tragedy would lead to legislative action to help prevent future shootings and keep our children, our educators, our citizens safer.  But I have read some things online that leave me deeply disturbed, and worried about our nation’s ability to work with one another to respond appropriately to this horrible tragedy – not just with candlelight vigils, but with action.

Candlelight vigils are important; we need to take time to grieve as individuals, communities and as a nation after what has happened.  But I am no longer content to do a few commemorative things to make myself feel better and then get on with my busy holiday schedule.  I am a mother of two, and my throat gets tight, my eyes burn, and my hands shake when I think of the possibility of living life after losing one of my children to violence.  I cannot imagine the feelings of those who have lost theirs.  We owe it to them, and to all of our children who we are still lucky enough to have with us, to do better.

Where do we go from here?

This is not a one solution problem.  When I posted asking people to join me in sending extra holiday cards to legislators, I focused on gun reform.  But as the heart-wrenching post titled “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” illustrates, we cannot forget the importance of making quality mental health care available in this country either. 

Ask yourself; “What could help prevent a future shooting tragedy?” If you believe in advocating for better mental health care, I agree with you, let’s do it.  If you believe that semi-automatic weapons have no place in a civilized society, I agree with you, let’s push for gun reform.  If you believe that funding violence prevention programs and addressing school bullying is important, I agree with you.  Let’s do it.  What I don’t agree with is doing nothing.

Here are some things I believe:

I believe that everyone in this country who is of sound mind is horrified by the tragedy that occurred on Friday.

I believe that this nation is capable of change, great change, and that our legislative system is one of the most powerful instruments of change.

I believe that we can reform gun legislation without violating people’s second amendment rights, and without jeopardizing our citizens’ ability to hunt or to protect. 

I believe that adding regulation to the process of purchasing and possessing firearms to increase people’s safety is not only possible but necessary.

Here are some things I do not believe:

I do not believe that arming our teachers is a realistic solution to this problem.  I have actually read posts where people state that if a teacher in Newtown had had a gun, lives would have been saved.  Even if it were realistic to expect our teachers to be trained in gun safety, and agree to carry firearms, can we possibly believe that having more guns in our classrooms is worth the risk to our children?  One tired teacher forgetting to lock a cabinet is one too many.  I believe it is a much more practical, economic, and sensible solution to make it more difficult for potential perpetrators to obtain firearms than it is to arm our teachers.  I can’t believe I feel compelled by a number of online posts to write this.

I do not believe that second amendment rights necessitate hobbyists being allowed to purchase semi-automatic guns and 100 round magazines in order to have fun in their backyards. 

I do not believe that illegalizing semi-automatic firearms and placing greater restrictions on gun sales is useless because “anyone determined to hurt people will find a way.”  I don’t believe in making it easier for anyone to hurt my children, and if the number of people in this country who lock the doors to their cars and houses is any indicator, I’m not the only one who feels this way.  Any extra step someone needs to take to obtain firearms is an extra chance for a family member, counselor, or law enforcement to notice that someone could be planning to hurt themselves or others and step in. 

I hope that you will think hard about what you believe, and join me in supporting our legislators, our educators, and any organization that is doing work that helps prevent violence.  Please help keep my children safe.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Response to the CT School Shooting: I'm Sending My Extra Christmas Cards to Legislators

A photo card of our children, with a handwritten message asking a politician to help keep my children safe.  

How many children will it take before our country's gun policies change?  One of my friends posted a link to a well-written article in the New York Times about gun control in this country, titled Safe From Fire, but Not Guns.  The part that made me feel even sadder after reading the article was that it was written in July in response to the movie theater shooting, not today in response to what has happened at the elementary school in Connecticut.  It didn't provoke change in time to save those children's lives.

I believe that this country is capable of passing legislation that will keep people safer from guns.  I went to undergrad in Georgia, and I met some people who like guns a lot.  I don't agree with them, but I don't believe any of them aren't deeply saddened by what has happened today.  I'm not sure they would oppose legislation intended to restrict firearm sales and ensure that guns are sold to people who know how to use them safely, have pledged to store them safely, and have been checked out to make sure they don't have a criminal background or history of mental health issues.  That type of legislation would be an improvement on what we have now (I would advocate for even more extreme legislation), without removing guns from the people I knew who would never use them to harm a person.  I like Canada's requirement that two people vouch for someone buying a gun, as mentioned in the New York Times article linked above.  I had to have witnesses for my wedding, and it was a lot less dangerous.

Legislators in this country need to know that public opinion would support efforts to keep our children safer, and I would like them to know that they have my support now.  I don't need to see news of another child lost to gun violence to give my vocal support and my vote to gun-restrictions.

This afternoon, I took some of my extra Christmas cards and mailed them to my representatives asking them to do whatever they can to help pass laws that would keep my children safer from guns.

It's personal.  I am sending them my plea, with photos of my children, who I am lucky to still have, whom I hope will always be as safe from gun violence as they are today.  I hope it will help them realize that these horrible events may have influenced public opinion enough for them to bring about change that may prevent the loss of more of our children.

Perhaps you agree with me.  Perhaps you have extra holiday cards of your own, that you could scrawl a quick note on, letting someone know that you'd vote to restrict access to guns and keep our children safer.  Perhaps we can get the word to our legislators that this should be a priority.

Here's my letter, which I mailed with my address and full signature to four of my legislators:


Dear Barney Frank, 

Today’s school shooting in Connecticut upset me very deeply as a parent.  I wonder if we had some of the gun safety laws adopted by other countries, if those children would still be alive.  I am worried about the lack of gun control in our country and about the safety of our children in our communities until there are better restrictions on firearms.

I know that legislation in our communities and country is influenced by public opinion, and I want you to know that I would support any and all legislation restricting the sales and possession of firearms in this country, nationally or locally.  I would support any legislation that would increase my children’s safety, whether it’s designed to regulate the purchasing of firearms or safety precautions once they’re in someone’s possession.

I am a mother, not a politician, and I realize that bringing about change can be difficult.  I am grateful for your public service, and am hoping that if there is any legislation you can think of that will help keep my children safer, that you will work towards it.  You certainly have my support.

Wishing you the best this holiday season and thanking you for your public service.




UPDATE: It's been 5 days since I posted this blog and asked people to help me spread the word.  Thanks to my sister-in-law, who emailed the idea to her favorite bloggers, and bloggers such as, I've had over two thousand hits to this post.  If even a fourth of those hits result in cards to legislators, every member of the house of representatives could receive cards asking them to work for laws that will keep our children safer.  I am deeply grateful to everyone who has participated by sending cards and spreading the word.

This afternoon, I received an e-mail from my mother that made me feel really hopeful and thankful.  Here it is.

I just had very nice call from Andrew McLean, my ME state legislator, thanking me for the letter and card.
These issues have been on his mind for years and he feels that this time, finally, positive action will be taken.
He plans to work for gun reform and with mental health issues. He expects to see both parties work toward solutions here in Maine.



Thank you.  

Friday, November 30, 2012

Send Your Holiday Card Bloopers!

My favorite Christmas card blooper from 2011

The short version:

E-mail me the best of your holiday photo card bloopers to holidaybloopers at polgie dot com!  I will post them here on December 25th!

Why?  Because it will be hilarious and awesome.  Also, I will enter you into a drawing to win a $25.00 gift card to Starbucks.  That's right, my blog is cool enough to have a give away.  For $25.00, you too could feel this awesome.  Will is going to draw the name of the winner on Christmas!  If he accidentally draws two, we'll let Andrew crawl towards them, and whichever piece of paper he picks up and eats first is the winner.

The long version:

It's that time of year!  Parents everywhere are frantically lining up their little angels to try and get the perfect Christmas card photo, or Hanukkah card photo, or New Year's photo, or whatever else the photo card industry can convince us is a holiday worthy of a mass mailing.  (I send photo Halloween cards... I'm so weak.) 

Did I say perfect photo?  Well, sure, ok, we're probably all trying for perfect for at least the first five minutes of the first photo shoot of the first year of these shennanigans.  I was surprised at how quickly my vision of "perfect" deteriorated to "no one looks like they're in pain, it's somewhat focused, and you can see everyone".  Luckily I have Greg on board to make taking pictures fun enough so that it's more entertaining than torturous... for me AND the kids.

Looking through all the photos we took for our card this year, I realized that there were some pretty funny moments, and some pretty funny photos.  I'll post mine along with everyone else's on Christmas (but I won't enter us to win the card, that would be weird and anticlimactic).

You don't have to have children or pets to participate - if you're sending a Holiday photo card and you have a photo from your attempts that makes you smile, please pass it along!  Captions / story optional.  Photos sent will be posted online, let me know how you would like them credited or if you'd prefer names to be omitted!

Here are some of my photo bloopers from LAST year:

Not what I was going for at the time, but now I think it's pretty card worthy!
No Santa Hat!
No Santa Hat!
No Cookie Face!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ice Cream for Andrew!

When I sent out the recent e-mail with Andrew's 9 Month photo, it sparked an e-mail conversation with my mom about how it was around 9 Months that Will began to look like himself.  This inspired a search for photos of Will at 9 months, and I discovered that the fun ice cream photos at Beal's in Maine are of Will when he was 9 Months and 2 days old!  Guess it's time for Andrew to try ice cream!

We waited until Andrew was 9 Months and 4 days so Dad could come with us to get our ice cream downtown on the weekend :)

Here are some photos, then and now!  It's interesting to note that although I wasn't aware of it at the time, Andrew was with us in the ice cream photos for Will, too!  I was 6 weeks pregnant :)  So weird that I wanted ice cream.

Can you tell from these photos that they're brothers?!

Will's very first bite of ice cream in June of 2011

Andrew's very first bite of ice cream in November of 2012
Will's response...
Andrew's response...
"Ok, I'll try some more of that!"
"Ok, I'll try some more of that!"
"Why did I stick my hand in this... it's COLD!"

"Hold it like this, Andrew!"
Elizabeth, Will, Kelly, (Andrew), and Mimi at Beal's in 2011
"I got to try ice cream!  It's all over my pants!  YAY!!!"