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Collecting Leaves, Then and Now - Jessica McFadden is A Parent in America – One Funny Mother Blogger
leaves of 2004

Our front yard, Silver Spring, MD – site of most of our adventures in 2004

Back in 2004 as a new stay at home mom and new resident of Silver Spring, I was pretty clueless about kids’ activities, playgroups or making parent friends. Although a social person, I was kind of a mommy loner because I had no idea what was out there for my kid and I to do together or ways to meet other parents and kids. I was also so overwhelmed with the newness of parenting and the culture shock of my career abandonment that I truly didn’t have time to search for activities. Sometimes I’d find an item in the Gazette community calendar, sometimes I’d luck out and there’d be a storytime at the library or bookstore when we were there. Once in a while a veteran mom would take pity on me (hi Jen!) and invite me to an event that didn’t conflict with my child’s sacred naptimes or I’d hear about something cool while chatting in line at the Cherry Hill Babies R Us.

But most of the time it was just me and my kid taking lots of walks. Every fall when the leaves changed we would amass a leaf collection. I’d push him around the neighborhood and trails in the stroller and pick up every brightly-colored leaf that caught my firstborn’s fancy. I’d talk to him about the colors, watch the squirrels darting about preparing for the coming cold and he’d leisurely eat his Gerber Puffs. Then we’d come home and as the baby watched from his high chair I’d iron the best leaves between wax paper and placed the leafy stained-glass creations in cardboard envelopes. I’d send these pretty pages to everyone I knew back in my homeland of Southern California, addressed painstakingly from “my kid” with seasonally-colored markers and stickers. Then we’d take another stroller field trip to the oh-so-exciting post office, usually with my kid dressed in a perfect, brand new color-coordinated outfit that I received at the baby shower.

Nowadays, dude, who has the time? As I’ve learned, there is so much to do in the Silver Spring, MoCo and DC area! To look at my almost five and two and a half year old’s schedules, you’d think they were teenagers working towards becoming elite athletes, concert musicians or social butterflies. Seven days a week I, and often my husband, shuttle and accompany my son and daughter to soccer, playdates, music class, preschool, birthday parties and an endless stream of activities.

And although I have loved the past five years of Donna Reed-like blissful domesticity, it was time for a creative and pseudo-professional outlet. That’s why I started APISS. I also really wanted to help all the parents out there searching for fun stuff to share with their kids. It’s not perfect, but I’m creating the website that I ardently wished for when I was just starting out on the mommy gig.

So I am now also managing my own schedule packed with deadlines, meetings, interviews, calls bugging local organizations about their events and continuous computer time, whereas in my first years of momming it up I logged on only once a day to check email. But change is good. Just as I would not give up one minute of those quiet, sweet days of quality time with my little ones in the single and then double stroller ‘neath the trees, I love our routines now. The kids and I have all grown into a faster pace that needed more social interaction and stimulation. I’ve gotten the hang of taking care of the needs of two other people, and finally wrapped my mind around the enormity of the task. It took me five years, but I have found a way to carve out time for my own professional and personal pursuits amidst the parenting and food prep and cleaning and wife-ing and booboo-kissing and all the other requirements of this crazy, happy way of life. Even if no one read this website, I am so stoked doing it I would keep on truckin’.

But today, I have scheduled in my BusyBodyBook mommy planner “Leaf Collection with Kids.” All three of us are excited. It’s time for us to stop and smell the maples.

at Larriland Farm in Woodbine, MD

At Larriland Farm in Woodbine, MD in Howard County (Map) in 2008 – a great day trip!

Adapted from a piece I wrote for the DC Metro Moms Blog

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