Sunday, January 27, 2013

Letter to my son

I wrote this letter to my son the night of this birthday. I hope that by sharing it, I encourage you to once in a while look at your children in a different light. I'm hoping you don't miss out on the true blessings they are. 


It is late. 1:42 AM to be exact. It is now the morning after your birthday and I am laying in bed going from looking at you through the monitor, to looking at your dad sleeping next to me, to writing this letter. It was your birthday when I started writing and one rewrite after the other has led me into the wee hours of the morning the day after.

I spent all day finishing up details for your birthday party later today. You know…the party I said I wasn't going to do anything for this time around.  I chose Toy Story as the theme because you love those movies so much I wanted to put a little smile on your face, even if you will not remember it when you grow older.

It is now 1:49. I am tired. I should go to sleep, but I wanted to write something for your birthday, so forgive me if at times I sound scattered or random. I started by thinking I would write a short blurb for my Facebook page. You know, the usual “on this day, you were born to forever change my life” kind of deal, but then I trashed it.

Then I thought about writing something witty and sarcastically humorous about toddler tantrums and needing more wine so others would chuckle at my expense, but I trashed that one as well.

I want to write something that is for you. Something that I know you cannot understand now, but something I hope will show you what you mean to my life even at your ripe young age. Something that when you have children of your own, you will understand even more.  Something that you can keep in your heart when I am no longer there.

Yes, two years ago on this day, you were born to forever change my life. I wont give you the usual “you are the biggest blessing” and “never sleep again” message because that is what everybody says.

As they tell writers….I will write to you from my heart. 

The past two years have been both beautiful and hard. Learning to be your  mom and everything that comes with the title has been and continues to be be overwhelming, exciting, scary, worrisome, and the list goes on and on.

It is now 2:28 AM and in thinking what to write, my thoughts go back and forth between the exhausting tantrums over boundary exploration, the immense and engulfing love that keeps me awake at night praying to God that he keep you healthy, safe, and happy, and the hope that you have fun in your birthday party. Yes, this is what it is like to be a mom.

But as I weed out all of the noise from my head, it becomes clear to me that you came into this world, not only to be my beautiful son, but also to be my dedicated and inspiring teacher. Every step you have taken, every skill you have learned, every new experience you have had, all teach me a valuable lesson in life.

 You taught me that many overlooked things in life, like boxes, and wooden spoons, and flashlights, can be fun if you just stop for a moment to enjoy them. You taught me it is possible to make the best of what you have.

You taught me that sometimes when you are having a bad day all you need is a blueberry, or a strawberry, or raspberry, or something colorful and healthy.

As I watched you play with the grass for the first time, I learned that blades of grass are as beautiful and awe inspiring as the most beautiful of flowers. I learned to admire all that is in nature by watching you discover it.

You taught me that no matter what it is, whether it is a plane, a bird, a cloud, or the moon…if it is in the sky, it is fascinating and worth looking at. I had grown so accustomed to the wonders of the sky, they were no longer wonders until you came around.

You taught me to dance. No, I knew to how to dance before you came around, but you taught me to dance like no one is watching. Watching you dance alone taught me that when I want to dance, I don’t need a partner, I just need to let go. Like my father, your grandpa, used to say “Music is the unconscious arithmetic of the numbers of the soul”. I sometimes think (wonder, wish, hope) that when you are dancing alone, he is dancing there with you.

I bought you a brand new lovey…a brand new replica of the scruffy one you hold dear. But no matter how many times I encourage you to exchange them, you refuse because your dingy and raggedy little monkey lovey has always been there to comfort you when you needed him…and you love him…and when you love someone or something that much, you never let them go. No matter how they look.   

After watching all of your little friends learn to crawl and walk months ahead of you, I grew worried that something was wrong. Months later I was happy and relieved when you took your first steps. You consequently taught me to be incredibly grateful for the ability to move and walk.

Your loud belly laugh is like sunshine in our house. It is the best part of my day. It makes everything better for me. I really mean it. No matter what is happening, what I am doing, or what part of the house I am at, when I hear you laugh I immediately cheer up. You taught me to make sure our house is filled with laughter…everyday. You also taught me that when all else fails, a good tickle or silly face goes a long way.   

In watching you painstakingly try again and again and again…to walk, to to climb…to use a fork…you taught me that persistence is much more important than ability when learning to do anything. 

You taught me that the world does not need me to be perfect…it just needs me to be present and not give up. This one speaks for itself.

By trying to keep up with you and be happy doing so, you taught me that I need sleep as much as I need air.

With all the times we were ill together, you taught me that just when I thought I couldn’t handle anymore…I could. That and more.

Through you I learned that your dad is an amazing loving father who is willing to do anything for us. Just looking at you tells me that we were always meant to be together.

You taught me that sometimes it is ok to cry when things don’t go our way, or when we are tired, or hurt, or scared. Watching you also taught me that sometimes when you cry, you just need someone to hug you and tell you it will all be ok. 

You taught me how much fun it can be to go outside and get some fresh air each and every single day. It is easy to be reminded of it when you stand by the kitchen door looking outside like the whole world is waiting for you.

You taught me that just like sometimes you need your mommy for no reason at all, sometimes I need mine as well.  My mommy, your granma, says this never goes away. No matter how old you are.

All of the times I did not let you climb things because I thought you could not do it and would get hurt only to find out you could climb things perfectly fine taught me that just because you don’t know how to do something or you don’t know how to do it well, it does not mean you shouldn’t try. It also taught me I should never assume someone cannot do something just by the way they look.

What a great teacher you are…

Yes…I am blessed. I am blessed that you came my way. I am blessed that through all of the noise of everyday life, I am able see you as the great person that you are. That through the tears, and the tantrums, and giggles and wiggles…you are and always will be my greatest teacher.  You came to slow things down to enjoyable speeds, to shed light to sometimes dark rooms, to fill the random voids of everyday life with laughter.

I think it is fair to say that two years ago yesterday…we were both born.

I love you son.

Happy Birthday.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Isn't it time you made a list?

This is not a post about weight loss.  You will not find tips on better snacking and quick exercise tips for busy moms.  You will not read about how to keep motivated or how people will try to sabotage your efforts. No, this is not a post about losing weight. 

This is a post about finally doing something you either have always wanted to do or simply never thought you could do yourself.   Been there before?  Ever said to yourself “I wish I could do that ” or “one day I am going to do that”.  I know I have.  I think I say that almost every day.  Whether it is something I see on TV or something I run into  while doing errands, I am constantly wishing I knew how to do something or saying to myself that one day I will do so and so. 

Then the other day, after weighing myself for the 400th time, I realized that I used to say that about losing weight. When you are fat, you see the process of losing weight as the hardest thing in the world. Giving birth is not as hard as losing weight. And when you have unsuccessfully tried to lose weight a number of times, the thought of trying again is heartbreaking.  I know. 

Happy to say that 11 months later and 60 lbs thinner, I am amazed everyday that I was able to do it.  I know I have more to go, but just getting to where I am is the hardest thing I have ever done.You know how I did it? I just did. I decided to get off the couch and start eating better.  It was all about just going for it knowing that I might not be successful at it, but that if I didn’t go for it, it would never happen.  It was reminding myself that it wasn’t a race or test and that if I failed, it was ok.

Then I wondered how far I would get if I actually just went for it every time I mumbled to myself “God I wish I could that. From a simple standing rib roast to learning how to blow glass.  Just going for it.  What better motivation than the fact that I did it once already! I did the “impossible”. I lost weight. 
I am blessed with the opportunity to be a stay at home mom, even though I still do some consulting work on the side (purely to keep me in the loop with my career).  But between changing diapers and picking up the toys in the living room for the millionth time, life can get a bit stale. 

So what if I started a list and officially keep track of every single time I say “I wish I could do that” and actually started doing some of these things. What if every single silly idea of “I wish I could carve an ice sculpture” actually turned into one of my things to do?  What if I started the bucket list, and actually worked on it every week? Would I feel more fulfilled or would I just appreciate my simple life even more? 
Do you have a bucket list? A real one? Not an imaginary one you talk about but never keep track of. An actually bucket list on paper that you look at and update frequently. Maybe it’s time we build one, before life just creeps on by.

It doesn’t have to be a life-long list. It can be anything you like.  Check out these bucket lists.

It can be as simple as a seasonal list.

Or a simple list of things to do before leaving somewhere. 
Check this site out for more inspiration. 

Whats on your bucket list? Ill go work on mine and post it soon.     

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Between you and me, Just Between Friends is the place to be!

Any parent can tell you that buying clothes for children while staying on a budget is a major challenge, especially when they sometimes seem to grow two inches overnight. Don’t even get me started on toys. Your kid goes to a friend's house, loves a toy, you go out and pay full retail price for it, and your kid never looks at it again. Instead, he LOVES the box. You gotta love em.    

I still remember my best friend complaining about how she had to drag her kid shopping because her jeans where starting to look like clam diggers.  I also remember her complaining about how she just spent $35 dollars on a pair of jeans she knows will not last her kid more than a few months.  In all honestly, this was B.A. (before Aiden) so I never really cared.  I listened and sympathized but I couldn't relate.  I figured that spending $20 dollars on a cute little outfit is not such a big deal. 

That is, of course, until you realize that the cute little outfit that you just bought last week, does not fit because your kid grows like an alien! Now the $20 dollars of cuteness has become either a $20 dollar hassle if you even have the time to go back to the mall and return it, or a $20 dollar "maybe for the next baby" outfit (if you are brave enough to have another one or lucky enough to have him or her be the same gender).  Oh, and did I mention the full retail toys my son never looked at twice? Nah...not bitter at all.  

Now, I don't know about you, but that's $20 dollars I would rather not flush down the toilet, and given the state of our current economy, I think most people are on the same boat.  That is why I am so thankful to have discovered children's consignment sales a few months before my son was born.  Consignment sales give you the opportunity to purchase good quality children clothes at incredible savings. They also allow you to sell those cute little outfits that your kid outgrew in 2 hours so they are not a complete waste. Well organized sales pay good attention to quality, weeding out clothes that are stained or torn and making sure toys are in full working mode.

I mean, seriously, I bought this Gap romper for my son at a sale for 2.75.  Can you possibly get any cuter?

Or how about the “Give Peas a Chance” shirt I bought for $1.00.  How could you possible not give peas a chance with that face? Now if only I could get him to smile for the camera.

Do you all remember this cute outfit? I believe this one was $3.00. 

Or how about this one?

Ok, I snuck this one in. No outfit or deal here, just cute. Thank you to my dear and very talented friend Heather for snapping this pic for me. :)

Between clothes (for my son and nephews) and toys, I must saved thousands of dollars by now. And for those of you who know my son, you know he is always stylin. J I swear this kid dresses better than I do.  Now the question is, “Do I need to go to all of these sales?” The answer is…not necessarily. Some are definitely bigger and better than others. 

Right now I am particularly excited about the Just BetweenFriends (JBF) Consignment Sale coming up this weekend September 15-16th at the Dulles Sportsplex in Sterling Virginia.  Not only is it a very large sale, but Just Between Friends has a reputation for being very organized.  Trust me, you want organized.  Lots of brand names and high demand items (have you ever tried to get a Bob stroller on Craigslist before? They are gone in minutes!)

Check out some of their pictures from their Facebook Album Spring 2012 event:

The sale is open to the public on Saturday, September 15th from 10 AM to 6:30 PM with a $5 admission fee (totally worth it, trust me) and on Sunday, September 16th between 8AM and Noon with a 50% price sale (no admission fee).

If you volunteer your time at the sale (which I believe they still have slots available), you can qualify for presale passes which allow you entrance before the general public. JBF also has bartering opportunities for those who cannot volunteer too much time, but if you can’t do either, not big deal. You will still find tons of good deals during normal sale hours. 

Visit their Facebook page and get a pass for free admission on Saturday (no $5 dollar fee!). I believe you can just show them the pic on your phone.  If you like their page, you can get notified of upcoming events as well. 

I cant wait to pick out Aiden's outfits for the winter. Maybe a good warm snow suit?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Magazine hell no more!

Hello, my name is Lissette and I am a magazine hoarder. I have visions of the Fairfax County Hoarding Task Force (yes it does exist) knocking at my door and dragging me away from a pile of magazines while I yell and scream that I am going to sort through them one day. 

The problem is not that I want to keep every magazine that I read. The problem I have is that there is always something on the magazine that I would like to recreate one day (one very far away day when my 19 month old child goes to college). It could be a recipe, a foyer entryway, or the step by step instructions on how to build a box car or my son. The challenge was how to keep track of said "projects". 

At one point, I would neatly cut out the picture, recipe, etc and tack it to my bulletin board. Unfortunately, they took over my whole board and became so messy I never got any done.  

Then I tried cutting them out and putting them in a folder. I still dont know where that damn folder is.

 I tried putting them into a file sleeve only to have them all collect at the bottom.
Thus, I hoard magazines.   In the hopes that one day I will remember to leaf through the pages and find the one recipe that I want to make.   Trust me, it doesnt work. 

During a recent trip to the thrift store, I saw these very cheap photo albums (the ones with the sticky clear laminate inside) and it hit me that these would be an awesome way to store these clippings!  They were pretty ugly though so I decided to wrap them in contact paper to make them durable and Voila! A perfectly easy way to keep magazine clippings! 

This album was only 1.60!

Now as I am reading my magazine, I tear out the page of interest and put in a folder by my bed so I can cut it out neatly later in the evening. 

I then use contact paper (this is the only one I was able to find in a hurry but they have really pretty ones online) to cover the albums. Ugly album no more!

I can then put my clippings in the album and they stay in place. Once I am done with a  clipping (either I have made the recipe or recreated the picture), I trash it and make room for new ones. 

These albums are cheap enough that I now have one for each category! Some include recipes, kid projects, storage ideas, and home d├ęcor! I haven't had time to label them, but the plan is to use a stencil and a Sharpie pen to label each one.  One day....when my kid goes to college 17 years from now. 

I guess the Fairfax County Hoarding Task Force will have to find work somewhere else.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Squid on a stick? I wish. How about Salmon Cakes instead?

No, this is not my kid, and no, its not a bug. Its squid on a stick! If I could buy these squids on sticks here, I would be all over them but since we cant all be that lucky, how about Salmon cakes instead?

Pat, pat, pat. Yes, that it is me patting myself on the back for managing not only to keep my son alive for the past 16 months, but also staying somewhat sane myself...somewhat. What I have not managed to do very well is expand my son's taste in food. 

Don't get me wrong - I make sure he eats very healthy (always eats veggies, never has sweets, sodium, or saturated fats), but for some reason I just never think of making him more complex meals.  It doesn't help that my husband and I have been on a controlled diet for the past 6 months so feeding him what we eat simply does not work for a growing baby. Honestly after a long "toddlery" day, the last thing I want is to have to cook two different meals.  

However, I cringe at the idea of having a child that will only eat chicken nuggets and/or spaghetti. I had my first raw oyster when I was two years old and to this day have no reservations in trying whatever weird dish you put in front of me. It is therefore critical for me that my son be flexible and open to different food choices and although I understand that he may still end up being a picky eater when he is three, I need to know that I tried my best.  

So in an effort to expand my son's palate, I am determined to cook two new meals for my son a week (preferable something that is freezable so I have something for those long "I hate my kitchen" days).  I have also given my mom a laundry list of Puerto Rican food items she absolutely must bring me on her next trip up and I cant wait for my son to try "dulce de batata"!  

Today I made salmon cakes that I haven't done in years and they were a hit! My son had tried very boring baked and pan fried salmon many times before but was not crazy about it.  He did, however, LOVE these salmon cakes and I was able to freeze some for some other day!  Yay!  

I figured I would share the recipe in case you need an easy and quick go to for dinner.  

Salmon Cakes

  • 1 15 oz can of pink salmon or 1 1/2 cups cooked salmon, flaked  
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 3 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallions and garlic. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in dill; remove from the heat.
  3. Place salmon in a medium bowl.  If using canned, you can remove the skin and bones or leave them in for an extra source of calcium. They are very soft. (I removed mine). Flake apart with a fork; r Add egg and mustard; mix well. Add the scallion mixture, breadcrumbs and pepper; mix well. Shape the mixture into 8 patties, about 2 1/2 inches wide.
  4. Heat remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in the pan over medium heat. Cook patties until the undersides are golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a wide spatula, turn them over onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining patties.
  5. Bake the salmon cakes until golden on top and heated through, 15 to 20 minutes.  Serve salmon cakes with a squeeze of lemon. Once cooled, these can be frozen and reheated in the microwave within 30 days. 
If you wish, you can make a creamy dill sauce (recipe below) to top these cakes but they are delicious without as well. 
Creamy Dill Sauce

  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste


Mix all ingredients in a bowl and serve on the side with Salmon Cakes

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The last 7 months

On January 25th Aiden Tyler McNair was born and from that moment on he has been on a mission to remind me, at every single minute of the day, that life will never be the same.  And so it journey into Mommyhood.  Gone were the days of tailored suits, power lunches, and business happy hours. Gone were the days of excel spreadsheets, board room meetings, and power presentations.  

Nowadays a tailored suit is what I wear when trying to feed my child so my concoction of oatmeal, peaches, and peas doesnt get all over my hair (blah). Who the hell thinks of these combinations?!?!?! Thankfully it also doubles as a diaper changing suit. 

No, that is not Aiden. Its random messy baby in need of a power wash.  

Power lunches no longer involve brainstorming ideas on how to penetrate a new federal agency. Nooooo, power lunches are now the extreme workout I have to do every single feeding to get my son to open his mouth to eat.  I am now officially an expert at landing airplanes, driving trains, counting in french, sparring, karate chopping and dancing the macarena.  Hey, at least I dont make him eat my foot.

NO, this is not Aiden although teething has tempted me to do so. :)
And happy hours, oh yes, good ol care free happy hours of drunken debauchery are gone.  This is my new happy hour:

Yes, that is my beautiful child sleeping and yes for that hour, mommy is very happy. :)

Boardroom meetings have become baby meetings!

And although I still have to use PowerPoint for various consulting reasons, I am happy to say that excel sheets are hardly existent in my life now. THANK GOD!

Yep, life is certainly different and although there are times I miss my executive life, I wouldnt change getting to see my little man morning, day, and night for anything in this world.  I spent 34 years working to define me and it took him less than a minute to completely redefine me.  What can I say, I love the little guy.

Aiden Tyler 02-01-2011

Adam and Aiden Tyler 03-07-2011

Aiden Tyler 04-18-2011

Aiden Tyler 05-18-2011 (makes guest appearance on South Park)

Aiden Tyler 06-22-2011

Aiden Tyler 07-24-2011

Aiden Tyler and his Grandad 08-11-2011

Friday, July 8, 2011