Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Christmas celebration started at the lovely Casa del Amo, home of Tio Pepe and Tia Haydee. Tom helped Chef Jorge with the traditional roasted pig in "caja china" -- a photo as well as video are below. Lucas loved the pork and even the chicharron (AKA pig skin -- must be channeling my Mom since that was her favorite! I'm not a fan.). We left after a late dinner thinking Lucas was tired, but after our 30+ minute drive, Lucas was all wound up and ready for some late night caroling -- he really enjoyed tracking Santa too and watching the videos of where he'd been (courtesy of Google Earth -- very cool!).

By morning, Santa made his way to our home and Lucas was overwhelmed with all the gifts. There's a little video of him waking up to the tree -- he's so his father's you'll see, he really needs his cup of coffee to get going in the morning. My Dad woke us up at 8 AM and our glorious day began; I made cinnamon rolls and poured sister and niece brought more GeoTrax toys so Lucas has his own little GeoTrax universe.

Hope your Christmas was merry and bright!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ready for Christmas

In preparation for Christmas, Lucas made reindeer antlers at school, we decorated the Christmas tree (Lucas loved the lights and helping to hang ornaments including the star), and baked Christmas cookies (don't miss the look of glee on Lucas' face!).

We also visited a farm (Lucas loves animals so he's been asking to go back ever since to see the horses and the goats), and Lucas discovered the wonders of the bubble bath!

As we've done in years past for "Noche Buena", tonight, we head to Lucas' godfather's family home to celebrate the holiday Cuban style! More on that later...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

12 Days of Giving: Day 12

Today's giving included donating new toys given to Lucas by his school since there are other children in greater need -- we gave the toys to Toys for Tots at our neighborhood grocery, Publix. We also made our way tonight to the Enchanted Place, a full block of homes strewn with Christmas lights and as part of the occasion, made a donation to Care Resource, a service organization for Floridians with HIV/AIDS.

Now that I've fulfilled my commitment to the "12 Days of Giving" although I won't necessarily report on my daily giving, I can promise my eyes have opened up to all the giving taking place all around me and the many opportunities available to get involved, give a little, help a lot.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

12 Days of Giving: Day 11

Today's giving was part of my job -- as the marketing department for the University of Miami's cancer center, we helped coordinate a holiday lunch for more than 1,000 employees. By the end, my feet were throbbing (high heels were NOT a good call), my face partially paralyzed from smiling, and I was just worn out. What was most important and gratifying was that after a particularly trying financial year when morale has not been great, it was good to see employees smiling, enjoying themselves, and feeling acknowledged.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

12 Days of Giving: Days 7-10

I was in Nashville until Monday and have been trying to come up for air since. I'll keep my giving report brief: I gave of my time by helping make my best friend's birthday party truly fabulous (running errands, helping setup, and serving as photographer) -- it was a beautiful night thanks to her husband and parents. We also gave in the traditional holiday way by purchasing gifts to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of Lucas' teachers and therapists. The best part of the latter was using my $50 American Express "holiday bonus" toward gifts for these amazing women -- I know Lucas wouldn't be where he is now if it weren't for them.

What's been humbling is to be on the receiving end of the best kind of gifts -- people opening their lives up to us, especially while in Nashville (they don't call it the friendliest city in America for nothin'). I've been genuinely touched by the spirit of the holidays, more so this year than in recent ones. I'd like to think just being more conscious of all the giving taking place every day has made my daily life experience that much more meaningful this season.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

12 Days of Giving: Day 6

I'm in Nashville visiting my best friend and her family; celebrating her 40th with a party tonight. I'm welcoming a 50 degree change in temperature (those living through winter hate me for speaking such blasphemy, but seriously, heat and humidity are over-rated, especially this time of year...not festive).

Back to the giving...before I left Miami, I made a pit stop at our ghetto grocery store and was approached by two Black teenage girls who were raising money for college -- I thumbed through their official-looking stuff, asked them what they wanted to be when they grow up (doctor and lawyer), and they seemed serious enough. I gave them $5 to split and walked away hoping I was investing in their dreams and their futures (and not in drugs or booze). Living in an urban area -- not to mention being a former New Yorker and getting scammed one too many times -- that's where my mind usually goes in these situations, but I gave in the spirit of the holidays and my "12 Days of Giving" commitment...and it felt good!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

12 Days of Giving: Day 5

There was a Scholastic Book Fair at Lucas' school so giving was effortless (even if it cost me $34). I love supporting Scholastic and encouraging reading for Lucas and his peers. I picked up a few books for Lucas as well as one for Lucas' teacher to enjoy with his class.

I also rounded up my gently-read Entertainment Weekly and Parenting magazines (I think I even had a People) for the magazine drive at the cancer center where I work. Easypeasy.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

12 Days of Giving: Day 4

I'm now four days (or a third of the way) into my "12 Days of Giving" and it has felt different to be so aware of our giving. It's been eye opening because I do more giving than I imagined, in mostly small ways that add up...although we all want to affect real change in the world, small acts of kindness and generosity by many can lead to that change...and giving should start at home.

Which brings me to today's giving which was all about our family. We made a commitment to formally adopt our "foster" kitty Maxine who we brought home with our six-toed wonder, Roxie...we knew all along we weren't going to be able to separate the two, let alone send Maxie back to PetSmart. We are giving this formerly homeless, spunky, loving (albeit stinky) kitty a loving home.

Then tonight, my chef-husband gave of his talent by patiently teaching Lucas how to make PIZZA! It was a simple, but memorable family night and both Tom and Lucas were having a seat from the counter stool with wine glass in hand made me a happy spectator.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

12 Days of Giving: Day 3

Today's giving was simple...the shirt off our back (Tom's actually). Our friend Alex borrowed Tom's t-shirt "When it rains, we pour" (so clever and so Seattle--purchased at Pike Place Market); but Alex brought it back and said he loved it, so we decided he needed to keep it. A great t-shirt needs good love.

In other giving news, we went through Lucas' drawers and gave up all his T2/24 month clothes and his super cool sneakers (including the much-raved about orange Adidas pair) to Ethan (Lucas' speech therapist's son). Lucas has graduated to T3 pants and T3/T4 shirts...he's growing like a little weed.

Monday, December 7, 2009

12 Days of Giving: Day 2

Today's giving was two-fold. The first is a tradition: donating gifts to children or sponsoring a family/child, and this year was no different. Tom brought two unwrapped toys for the "Toys for Tots" program at Toys 'R Us.

My second gift was much more personally meaningful and satisfying. A family friend, who I consider an uncle, has cancer, and because I work at UM's Sylvester cancer center, he is getting treated there after a stay at MD Anderson in Houston. I spent all morning with him and his wife in an attempt to help manage his care with what I know from the inside -- it's been a juggling act and emotionally draining because I care so much for them. They have shown us great kindness, love, and support and it is a privilege for me to help shoulder this burden and to assist in whatever way I can during this trying time for the family.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

12 Days of Giving: Day 1

I'm taking Bethany (of Life with Bubba, Chicky and Nika) up on her challenge to the blogging community...12 days of giving! Even though I'm behind (it's suppose to be for the first 12 days of December), I am catching up. It's not just about giving, but inspiring others to give too. Just today, in lieu of getting a few bucks for a Graco system (stroller and infant car seat) on Craigslist, we washed and cleaned it and gave it to our next door neighbor who has a huge family, knowing it would come in handy for one of his kids or nieces/nephews. It always feels good to give.

Even during this financially challenging time for us with Tom still out of work, there are so many others who are in more need than we are. Not to mention, sometimes, all someone needs is an ear or a shoulder to lean on.

Some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections, some literally give their life's blood. But everyone has something to give. ~ Barbara Bush

Thanks, Bethany, for this wake up call during the holidays...I look forward to chronicling my giving here and to being inspired by you and others who are doing the same.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Scooby Doo

Lucas as a penguin (towel), and later, at a birthday party for his friends, the twins, Ana and Nina. I was mortified when Lucas beat Nina to the punch and blew the candle out on her little cake after "Happy Birthday." He's so three! Great fall weather and cute Scooby Doo themed party...face paining (Lucas preferred it on his arm), balloon animals, pinata (not a favorite), cake, and lots of running around the playground.