Ready for Summer!

May 27, 2011

Susan May 2008, post-surgeryHere at the WhyMommy house, we are totes ready for summer!  We have our flip flops, our summer t’s, and our rashguards all out and ready for action — and this weekend we get our first taste of the lazy hazy days of summer.

What’s a rashguard?  I was asked that twice this week, so I want to show you.  You can see the general look in the picture at the left, one of a very few that we took after my double mastectomy, when I was nervous about going to the beach with the beautiful people.  I had lumps and bumps everywhere after surgery — except in the places you’d expect.  But I wasn’t ready to give up on the beach or the pool forever.  In fact, we were headed to the beach to relax and recuperate!  After some conversation on twitter and the blogs, we came up with this solution — and now, I’d recommend it for anyone who’s tired of feeling overexposed at the pool.

A rashguard is like a t-shirt made of swimsuit material.  You can get them fitted to your body for serious swimming or looser (unisex style) for additional coverage of post-baby tummy or post-mastectomy scars.  I *adore* the rashguard look and the ease of which the kids and I can get ready for the pool – there’s no struggles with vast quantities of sunblock on their pale tummies and backs anymore, or worries about missing a spot, because except for their limbs, neck, and face, they’re covered!  We can be ready in a flash — everybody throws on board shorts (the boys) or bikini bottom (ok, that’s me) and their rashguard t, and we’re off to the pool!

Ah, summer.

This post inspired by Curvy Girl Guide’s Project Real – National Swimsuit Confidence Week!  Real women all over the internet are donning swimsuits and showing the world that it’s ok not to be perfect or to look just like the models in the catalogs.  The project is popping up on blogs all over and has even been covered by Marie Claire!  I’m not part of the campaign — I’m just a fan!  Let’s get back in the pool! 


Space Station Challenge: Grades 5-8

November 23, 2010

I’m still recovering from a nasty virus.  Day 7 of fever and such – not something you want to hear about, trust me!  Instead, feast your eyes on this – and please pass it along to your school or homeschool group for kids in 5-8 grades!


HOUSTON — NASA’s “Kids in Micro-g” challenge is accepting proposals from students in fifth through eighth grades to design a classroom experiment that also can be performed by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Proposals are due by Dec. 8.

The experiments should examine the effect of weightlessness on various subjects: liquids, solids, the law of physics and humans. The experiments are expected to have observably different results in microgravity than in the classroom. The apparatus for the experiments must be constructed using materials from a special tool kit aboard the station. The kit contains items commonly found in classrooms for  science experiments. The experiments must take 30 minutes or less to set up, run and take down.

“This is a wonderful program that gives students the opportunity to have their experiments carried out in space by astronauts,” said Mark Severance, ISS national laboratory education projects manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “The students will compare the results of experiments conducted in the classroom with those conducted in the microgravity environment of the International Space Station.”

A panel of microgravity scientists, classroom teachers, NASA education and station operations personnel will select the winner and five runners-up. Their experiments will be performed on the orbiting laboratory next spring. During this past summer, astronauts performed nine student experiments aboard the space station. NASA selected those experiments from 132 submissions.

To learn more about how to submit proposals for the 2011 challenge, contact the ISS Payloads Office at or call 281-244-6187.  More information about the challenge and other NASA education programs also is available at: For more information about the space station, visit:

Sounds like fun!

Beagles, beagles, beagles!

May 4, 2009

One of the happiest times in my life was a few years ago, when WonderDaddy and I became foster parents. No, we didn’t take in teenagers, or cuddle new babies as we rocked them to sleep, although that would have been wonderful in its own way. No, we were a foster family for very little ones who were acting out, who had been abandoned, who would take out their anxieties by … barking.

We were a foster family for BREW beagle rescue. Each month, we’d meet the other volunteers at a local PetSmart and pick up a new beagle. We’d take him or her home, housetrain him, feed him good, healthy food, help him exercise out in the yard, hang out with him, and generally cuddle him until he felt better. At the end of the month, we’d go back to PetSmart for Adoption Day, hang out with a couple dozen other volunteers with their rescue beagles, and hopefully make a match with a lucky adopter. We’d say goodbye, get a little teary-eyed … and then pick out a new one to take home and love on for the month.

We did this for years. It became part of our routine, interrupted only when a potential adopter fell in love with our beagle’s picture on the website and wanted to come meet him. Then we’d open our home, clear our schedule, and invite them over to meet each other and see if they clicked. Since these people had already passed several levels of review, and we didn’t have kids, it was a fun thing to do, and we loved to see beagles go home.

Once a year, we’d all pack in the car, drive an hour to a local kennel with a big fenced yard, and let all the rescued and adopted beagles run around together while we talked, played games, ate yummy food, shopped, and, you guessed it, petted the beagles like crazy. It was amazing to see 200+ beagles run around together, tounges hanging out of their mouths, tails wagging, acting like the pack animals of their heritage.

It was also amazing to meet so many kind, good-hearted people who had taken in beagles of no known heritage: abandoned hunting dogs, mouthy puppies, enthusiastic two-year-olds, hungry dogs, all of them, and our favorite, the cuddly, sleepy seniors who just wanted a comfy couch and a sunny patch of the yard to lie in. Everyone greeted each other like old friends … and some of them were, as the bond between foster beagle and foster family lingers on, much longer than the time spent with each dog, teaching them how to behave in a family, and treating them with kindness and love, so that they would remember what it felt like to have someone love them.

It’s been nearly three years since we fostered, between the babies coming and my illness, and I don’t think we’re quite ready to foster again for a little while, but we went to Beaglefest last week, and it was just like old times.

We hugged the volunteers, watched the beagles run, played games, ate yummy food, shopped, and, yeah, helped the children safely pet the beagles like crazy with us. Little Bear had the time of his life with all the little dogs (ours is now on the high side of 50 pounds, 10 years old, and a bit … um … cranky). Widget got down on the grass and crawled around with the young ones, and they ate it up. We all had a purely delicious time, and it got me thinking.

I loved that time in my life, and I look forward to us all being healthy and settled enough again to help. To take a dog into our home, love him, train him, and give him up to a family who will love him forever.

We called it “Beagle of the Month Club,” since our goal was to get our beagle adopted each month. We never knew that the memories — and the warm feelings of love and satisfaction at a job well done — would stay with us for years.

Little Boy Heaven

April 24, 2009

If the Council of Four Year Olds decided at its annual meeting (what? they talk! how else do you think they would all spontaneously arrive at the concepts for war games and rescuing bugs at the exact same age, <i>despite</i> being assiduously overprotected and/or warned since birth?) to define a universal definition of Little Boy Heaven, it might look something like this:

6:30 a.m. Wake up and jump on Mom’s head.

7:00 a.m. Eat waffles, with fresh blueberries and syrup to dip in, as a special treat

8:00 a.m. Take a ride in the car, past not one but TWO construction sites, and slow down to identify each and every truck, by name AND function.

8:20 a.m. Wave at the horses.

9:30 a.m. Take a break, and run around on the playground with Mom.  Bonus points if the toddler brothers go down the slide all by themselves, squealing with delight.

9:50 a.m. Races across the fresh-cut grass.

10:15 a.m. Meet friends at a neighborhood rummage sale.  Decide with colleagues (all four year old boys) to buy battleship game.  Then change minds in favor of chocolate cupcakes.

10:20 a.m. Smear chocolate icing on shirtsleeves (don’t forget to lick the sprinkles off the wristband).

10:40 a.m. Invite each other back “to check out mine car.”

11:15 a.m. After a thorough inspection of the Minivan of the Day, complete with automatic door testing, agree to part ways, briefly, and meet up for playdate after lunch.

12:00 p.m. Arrive home, discover men in trees, with ropes and chainsaws.  Sit on the driveway to watch.

2:00 p.m.  Realize that we’ve been sitting on the driveway and circling the garage with our bikes for several hours.  Demand snack and capri suns.

2:25 p.m. Dirt delivery.

2:30 p.m. Adjourn with friends to the back yard, to dig in the garden and fill it with even more dirt.

2:35 p.m. Pick up first worm.

2:40 p.m. Cordon off area of the garden where the baby worm was found, and put up a sign so no one disturbs it.

2:45 p.m. Abandon afternoon’s plans for impromptu wade in the creek.

3:15 p.m. Get stuck, and figure out how to get unstuck.

3:30 p.m. Allow mothers to fuss over us, and to change us from the waist down because all our clothes are wet, and it’s getting a bit chilly out here, don’t you think?

4:00 p.m. Submarine play in the Splashatorium.

4:30 p.m. Another snack.  Something sweet this time.

4:55 p.m. Battleship.

5:30 p.m. Pizza for dinner.

6:00 p.m. Wii with Daddy.

7:30 p.m. Snuggles and stories, and dreams of high adventure.

Friends, this was (yet another) perfect day.  My little boys and I were in Little Boy Heaven, and we’re happy to finally spend bright spring days together outside, digging, climbing, exploring, learning, and adventuring together.

It may not seem like much, but to me, it’s everything.

All those months sick in bed, taking poision through my veins, willingly burning my skin, and submitting to surgeries … today, they were worth it.  Today, my heart sang with the birds and laughed like a two-year-old.

I’ve been waiting for this day for so long. And now, I’ve had it not once, but two or even three times in one week.

I wonder what we will do tomorrow.