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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hanukkah 2017

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah.  Jeff and I have successfully navigated another holiday  not buying a single gift for either Ian or Sam.  Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of gifts for them to open.  All the grandparents and aunts/uncles are very generous and fulfill every wish for anything they want.  Even the kids realize they really don't need a new toy or game.  Ian and Sam always have requested practical things that are useful -- Sam got unicorn onesy pajamas and a bathrobe among other things, and Ian wanted a very expensive pillow we refused to spend the money on or a new case for his phone.

Jeff and I have moved away from wrapped presents and concentrate more on an experience. Time with the family doing something different than our usual day to day.  An adventure!

This year, the kids are getting two trips as part of their Hanukkah gift from us.  I am taking the kids to NYC for 2 days during Winter Break.  We are being joined by two of my most favorite people and their kids for a whirlwind couple of days doing all things Christmas related (Rockettes Christmas Spectacular Show, seeing the tree at Rockefeller Center, checking out the window displays on 5th Avenue and we have tickets to "School of Rock".)  There are 3 moms and 8 kids total  (all Jewish!) getting our Christmas fix NYC style and we can't wait!

The next part of their gift we have planned occurs during Spring Break.  We are hitting the road and making our way to Niagara Falls and Pittsburgh!  I have wanted to do Niagara Falls for years and Jeff has wanted to do Pittsburgh with the family for years.  We've combined the two and will be visiting at the end of March.  Exploring new cities and doing all the typical touristy things is where we excel.

I hope Ian and Samantha share our view about Hanukkah and enjoy our trips.  They're not extravagant (far from it!) and are pretty down-to-earth (think the Griswold's minus the dead grandmother on the roof), but they are fun.  And we are spending time together.  The best kind of present of all.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Much to be thankful for

For Thanksgiving this year we loaded up the car and headed south on I-95.  Team Toppall drove to Orlando to spend the week with my side of the family. We brought Lucy!  It was her first trip to Florida and meeting the rest of the family.  We stayed with my dad and Rita as they were the only relatives with open arms to welcome all 5 of us. 

I have the best news!  Lucy did not attack Kahlua!  Kahlua is Dad and Rita's 7 pound, 7 year old male Chihuahua mix, who I come to find out is also not neutered.  Yikes!  I wasn't sure how this would go given Lucy's history of not liking dogs on leashes.  We had the two dogs meet in the best way possible and made sure they were cool with each other before giving them free access to each other.  Other than Kahlua looking at Lucy like she is now his girlfriend and wanting to hump her every chance he got, they did fabulous together.  Believe me, I was holding my breath on how this would go down. I would've been devastated if something happened to Kahlua.

What a huge sigh of relief that Lucy is welcomed back and Dad & Rita still have their dog in one piece.  Lucy was actually the perfect house guest and very well behaved.  I was extremely proud of her.  She was also a rockstar being in the car for 13 hours each way.  

Lucy was very gentle with Kahlua and loved playing with him.  Here is a video of the two of them together.  


The whole week was just as fantastic.  We loved our time with the family.  We did indoor skydiving.  This was a favorite of Ian's from when he went to Orlando Memorial Day weekend. This visit Sam and I got to try it out too.  So much fun!   Thanksgiving dinner was at Lori's and very delicious.  We have much to be thankful for...most of all Lucy not eating Kahlua.  


I am particularly fond of this picture.  Lucy has the biggest smile on her face is totally posing for the camera.  
I am having a very good hair moment and it looks like I have long legs (which as we all know, I don't).
And having a beautiful baby in your arms always enhances the likeability of the photo. 
Actually, I've hit a homerun on two fronts, this picture features a dog and a baby.  


Another fave photo.  Look at Kahlua's face.
His eyes can't be any bigger watching Lucy come towards her.


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Still in Crazy Man hell

Can you believe its been more than a month since I wrote last?  Wow, that hasn't happened EVER since I started writing more than 8 years ago.  Yeah, I'd miss a day or two here and there, but never more than a month.  Insane!

I have to chalk it up to still working for The Crazy Man.  HE HAS NOT MOVED YET!  Really.  I am not kidding.  He is paying a ridiculously high monthly fee at a senior community in Chevy Chase, MD and still living in his home in NoVa.  It is quite insane.  And I am going out of my mind.

Fortunately I told him at the beginning of September that I could only stay working for him until December 31st.  I gave him 4 months notice.  I was fully expecting him to abandon me before I could abandon him.  At the rate we are going, he is going to still be a Northern Virginia resident come New Year's 2019.

Each day we speak, I ask him "Have you booked the movers yet?"   And every time it is the same answer, "I am working on it.  I need the top two contenders to come back and give me another estimate because I keep taking more and more stuff over to Chevy Chase."  I have used pretty strong wording to tell him what a disaster this is and how he just needs to pick a mover and move!!   He can't keep paying for two residences.  And his house needs to be completely cleared out before the minor renovations happen (2 weeks worth) and before it can get listed on the market.  You do the math, that's another several thousand dollars of unnecessarily paying both the HIGH monthly fee and his mortgage.

I keep looking at my calendar and get a smile on my face when I see I only have 3 weeks left.  No matter what, I am D.O.N.E.   I know I've done the best by him and giving him 4 months notice is very generous.   The Crazy Man has these high expectations he will find someone else to take over the administrative stuff I do.  I do wish him well that he is successful.

In the meantime, for the next 3 weeks, my afternoons working for him are filled with writing letters with either compliments or complaints, sending emails, updating doctors with all the tests he takes and medications he is on, and calling long lost friends and ex-girlfriends.  Or, tracking down a more recent girlfriend (friend that is a girl, not an actual girlfriend.  His main chickadee is still in the picture, living in Bethesda.) for him to take to a dance.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Tales from the Crypt: Fingers crossed!

I think we might be nearing the end of my work with The Crazy Man. I can't believe I even typed that last sentence.  It's been a long time coming and many hoops were jumped to make this a reality. I am pleased to report there is a senior living community in Chevy Chase, MD that has accepted him and gave him an apartment.  The Crazy Man has already signed the lease and started paying the monthly fee.

This could actually be the end this time.  Really.  He has begun moving stuff in to the new place and the movers are scheduled for this coming week to get the rest of his stuff.   I am not exactly sure when my last day will be.  There is still too much that needs to be done to shut down the office; change his address on a gazillion businesses, doctors offices and subscriptions, go through the files and pull the important ones that need to go with the move, and trash a lot of very old, nonsensical stuff.  Not to mention cancel his current service with Verizon, his gym membership, and get new service started.  It's exhausting thinking about it, but at least I am nearing the end and he can start driving a new person crazy.

I've worked for The Crazy Man for 6 years!  How I lasted that long is beyond me.  I am not sure what will become of him now.  Not that I am tooting my own horn on how great I am, but there is probably no one who would've lasted this long. He really is emotionally exhausting to be around.  And over the years he has gotten worse with his crazy ideas.

I expect at first there will be a ton of phone calls asking me questions and needing help.  I will do what I can over the phone, but as for going to Chevy Chase, I've said no, absolutely not. This is my chance to make a clean break.  Or, as clean as I can since he will still have my phone numbers.  But at least I can chose to answer the phone or not answer it.

I am looking forward to Thanksgiving in two weeks and being thankful that I was able to get out while I could.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

10 very popular digits

It's quite apparent that Verizon has recycled their phone number a little too soon.  Ian's cell phone is seeing a lot of action these days.  We've determined that it must've belonged to an elderly woman who died.  A woman's medical practice called and said her insurance info is now out of date.  Another call came in asking if she'd be interested in a making her bathtub a walk-in shower. Ian receives a ton of calls from the Tampa, FL area.  Like up to 20 a day!  We think she must have moved to Florida at some point.

The funniest was a phone call from a landscaping company checking on the project they would like to start.  I told Ian to go ahead and ok the job. Start it immediately!  (Just kidding.  Ian never spoke to them.)

We've told Ian not answer his phone for any number he doesn't recognize.  And I've told Ian to block the number so he doesn't get bothered with it again.  But the calls keep coming. The woman gets more phone calls than Ian does. Actually Ian gets no phone calls.  Most of what Ian does is text.

I wish there was a way to ensure a phone number sat unused for a year or more to weed out calls like this. It would certainly make Ian feel more like a 12 year old boy and not get mistaken for an elderly  woman. :)


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Lucy and the Halloween candy

We've had Lucy more than a year now and she is darn near perfect inside the house. She NEVER, (and I mean never!) chews on anything she shouldn't and doesn't get into any trouble in the house when we leave her by herself.  We've never taken the steps to put anything away or out of her reach before we leave her alone.  Well, knock us over with a feather on how shocked Samantha and I were when walked in the house Friday evening, just 3 hours after being gone.  Jeff and Ian were at the movies so they didn't see what happened and it was all cleaned up by the time they got home.

Lucy got into Sam's Halloween candy.  Sam had a pretty big bag full (I'm talking like a Wegman's recyclable grocery bag size).  The bag was located in Sam's bedroom.

When we walked into the house, it looked like a Halloween candy massacre!   There were wrappers everywhere.  Most of the candy she wasn't able to get into and gave up after smooshing the fun size bar flat in her mouth and spit it back out.  But the tootsie roll lollipop was 1/2 eaten and after finishing the yummy center, she stopped eating the rest of the lollipop.  I wonder how many licks it took her to get the center?  Hahahaha!

The candy trail continued up the stairs to Sam's bedroom.  That's where we found the biggest mess of her efforts.  She took the grocery bag and turned it on its side and got most of the candy to come out.  She apparently loves whoppers and once she opened the wrapper, she ate all of them.  But when it came to the peanut m&m's, she put each one in her mouth and then spit it out without even taking a bite.  How do we know?  Because when she spit it back out, each peanut m&m was left colorless.  Lucy also has a liking for 100 Grand bars.  That she managed to open the wrapper and finish.  On top of Sam's bed was a kit kat bar that was placed there by Lucy.

After Samantha and I cleaned everything up, we go into my bedroom and Sam notices that there is now a twix bar on Jeff's side of the bed by his pillow.  I guess she was bringing him a present. I am not taking it personally that she didn't leave me any candy.  We get a good laugh and are happy that she didn't manage to eat more of than candy than she did.  Dogs are not supposed to have chocolate.

The next morning, I go downstairs and see a 3 Musketeers bar in the middle of the room, on the floor.  I know for a fact that it wasn't there after we cleaned up the mess the night before.  The candy bar was smooshed flat, but she wasn't able to get in the wrapper.

About 3 hours after that, Lucy comes up from the family room and is carrying a Milky Way in her mouth.  WHAT??!?  I'm now thinking that Lucy has a secret stash of candy hiding in the house somewhere.  What a character!

Lucy must've been very busy as soon as we left the house on Friday evening. I would've loved to have video footage and be able to see her in action.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

187 days to go...

That's the number of days to go until Ian's Bar Mitzvah. I still can't wrap my mind around this upcoming milestone.  I remember every bit of mine like it was yesterday and now, I've got a son about to become a bar mitzvah.  Holy smokes!

187 days from now is going to be here before we know it.  We are approaching Thanksgiving and you blink, it will be January 2018. I have a master to-do list of all the items that need to be taken care of, and then small to-do lists broken out by months on when to do them. I've been made fun of because of all I am trying to get done as early as possible.  The more I feel I can accomplish now, the better I sleep at night.  I've become obsessed, really. And I see no plans of stopping until it is May 13th.  I am planning to take Monday, May 14th off from work and sleep the whole day.

I never intended to get caught up on all the traditional things that go into a bar mitzvah  (programs, slide show, personalized kippah, centerpieces, party, entertainment, hotel room blocks, etc), but our original plan of doing a destination bar mitzvah in St. Thomas never really took off.  Jeff, Ian and I fell in love with the idea of just going away and having the service in this really beautiful, very ancient synagogue, located in the Virgin Islands.  I especially loved the part of not getting caught up in having to plan and execute a gazillion different things.  The thought was, if you wanted to come, we'd love to have you, but we really wouldn't be expecting you to make the trip.  We knew the immediate family would go; it would be an intimate gathering and no crazy fuss.  For several reasons too long to go into here suffice to say we scrapped that idea and decided to keep it local.

Ha!  So now we've gone in the complete opposite direction and this evening event on Saturday night is growing bigger by the week.  It's going to be spectacular (we've got a very fun and awesome theme), and I am really excited.  Ian is putting in the hard work studying and this party (dare I use my most favorite word "Extravaganza!") later that day will be very special and joyous as we celebrate. I don't do anything halfway and I'm all in.   I've gone from one end of the spectrum to wanting to do the bare minimum and just show up, to already logging many hours of effort, planning, and worry on making this entire day a success.

It's funny, I am finding out a lot about myself that I probably already knew and its just become more apparent on this much bigger scale of planning needed, more than probably anything else we've done (other than our wedding). I have reconfirmed that my mind doesn't stop, ever!  Subconsciously I am always thinking and can't let it go.  For example, even after I invest more than 12 hours putting together a slide show and feel really great about it, I let it go for a week and find that in my sleep I am continually working on tweaking it.  A week later, I give it another 1.5 hours and have turned it into a masterpiece in my opinion. I am so, so proud of it.  Fortunately I have now viewed it more than a dozen times and no longer tear up watching it.  So there's that.  

I'm making progress on my to-do list and am now working on December and January's items. I'm still hoping for lots of snow days this winter to move things along.  I've only got 187 days and there is a lot to do!