Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy Birthday to me!

When Jeff and I first started dating he asked me an interesting question. He wanted me to put in order of importance the holidays we would be exchanging presents. He wanted to make sure he knew when which days he had to make a big deal out of. Smart man. This was a no-brainer in my mind. Valentine's day and Hanukkah are days that have become so commercialized and lost their true meaning. Plus, everyone can celebrate these, so it really doesn't make it that special. Anniversaries are good because its just about you two and the day you got married. But birthdays are the best, because it is all about you!!

I absolutely love making a big deal out of other people's birthdays and love it when people recognize my birthday. All day long I am walking around feeling like I've got a huge secret and want to shout "HEY, DON'T YOU KNOW???? IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!!!!!"

My day has started off with a bang and I had the most amazing workout at the gym this morning. I pushed myself beyond all previous limits and it felt wonderful. I then came back home and gave Bailey his 30 minute walk. Jeff and the kids sang me happy birthday.

With an extra bounce in my step, I am getting a new 'do' while Ian is at camp. It used to be that when I'd get restless with my look, I'd take on a new color. Without hesitation I would become a blond one day or a redhead the next. Ah, back in the single days when it would be possible to keep up the look and get it colored regularly. Now my idea of changing things up is taking the plunge and getting bangs. Every time I cut bangs into my hair, I instantly want to grow them out again. So let's get that process started as soon as possible.

This evening we are going out to dinner to Rio Grande. It's my birthday and therefore my choice. I may even splurge afterwards and get my favorite sundae at Friendly's on the way home. The Reese's peanut butter cup sundae has a hold of my heart. I enjoy this better than anything Cold Stone or Dairy Queen has to offer.

And in a few weeks, rockclimbing is the activity I've chosen to do with the girls to celebrate my day. We are going to a nearby indoor rockclimbing gym. I am looking forward to doing something challenging and different. I've always picked going to a movie and dinner, so I am expanding our horizons and taking us to new heights -- literally!

The phone has been ringing off the hook with family and friends calling. Facebook has added a new high tech method of wishing someone a happy birthday. It's fun getting and reading the birthday messages.

I've got a smile on my face that won't seem to leave. All is right with the world and I am enjoying today. I am even proud to say that I am 38! I only hope in another 38 years I feel as good as I do today.

Monday, June 29, 2009


There are few places I won't drag the kids to. From the moment Ian was born, I learned my lesson the hard way in what I could expect from him in non kid-friendly places. I've come to realize that my kids are very different. Despite having the same set of parents and being exposed to the same environment, what might not work for Ian, is a winner for Sam.

Take for example my Weight Watcher meetings. Long ago I discovered that Ian outgrew being good for the length of the meeting at Weight Watchers. Therefore, I made certain to pick a weigh-in day that would have Ian busy at school. Unfortunately a school holiday fell on my usual day and I decided to tackle the unthinkable and bring both kids in, not just for a quick weigh-in, but to stay for the meeting as well. I had my strategy in place and was prepared with the iPod Touch (loaded with new episodes of Ian's favorite shows), headphones, snacks, and juice.

It was the middle of Winter and Sam was still using the infant carrier. As usual, I was running 10 minutes late and the meeting was already in full swing. Ian was very excited about getting to go and couldn't wait to find us a few seats. The room was packed and Ian heads straight for the front row. I never sit in the front row and am dying at the thought of us being the center of attention as we are passing each row. I quickly try to take Sam out of her car seat and remove her coat, hat and blanket, while trying to get my sweatshirt, sweatpants and shoes back on. Meanwhile, Ian is asking for the iPod Touch and a snack. While juggling Sam I give Ian the electronics and he manages to turn it on and put the headphones on. He picks a "Backyardigans" to watch and loudly starts singing the theme song with the show. OMG! The leader looks at me, takes a deep breath and smiles. At this point, I am lifting one of Ian's headphones off of his ears and trying very hard to whisper to him that he needs to be quiet and to stop singing. Ian can't hear me and shouts back "WHAT DID YOU SAY?" I attempt again to get him to be quiet and he is still singing like he is the only one in the room. It was a disaster in gigantic proportions! I fully realize how disruptive we are being and feel the enormous amount of disrespect oozing out of us. I tell Ian we need to leave right now and he begins to throw a temper tantrum that he isn't done yet or ready to leave. I get up and quickly make my way to the back of the room, complete with hands full holding Sam, her winter layers, dragging a screaming toddler and my shoes, which I never really had the chance to put on, all while pushing the stroller. As we are passing the attendees yet again, I apologize profusely and say this will never happen again.

Sam, on the other hand, loves to cheer on the big losers each week. Every time someone announces overcoming a challenging situation or hit a weight loss milestone, she is the first one to put her hands together and clap. If she is not giving the leader her total attention and having her eyes follow the leader's every move, she is making many fans in the row behind her by blowing them kisses. Lots and lots of kisses. The weight watcher participants eat it up. Fortunately, these type of kisses carry no calories.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


As I approach my 38th birthday in a few days, I have no choice but to reflect back upon the year and notice that I am falling apart. Physically and mentally, my mind and body is starting to go. I really do think this is a combination of the medical industry being able to test and figure out things more than any other time in history, the Internet being a hotbed of trouble for someone like me who loves to google things, and my age starting to catch up with me.

Over the course of this past year, I had an unexpected appendectomy, a really gross eye infection in my left eye causing me to give up wearing contacts for 3 weeks, and a host of mental issues losing everything under the sun from my cell phone to forgetting appointments made by me.

Most recently I went to the doctor for an annual physical and it included blood work. The results came back surprising. I apparently have a deficiency in iron and B-12. Lovely. So I was told to start taking vitamin B-12 supplements right away and will need to have blood redrawn in a week to make sure it is properly working in my body. While I am there to be tested again, I am given a shot of B-12 for good measure and told that regular, monthly shots will be the norm if the vitamins don't do their thing. It just keeps getting better and better. Fortunately the updated lab results come back that my new daily vitamin is kicking in nicely, but now I am also showing a deficiency in folic acid and the Dr would like me to start a prescription of this supplement. In 3 months time, I am to go back and get rechecked.

Meanwhile, the iron deficiency is something the Dr would like me to see a GI doctor to explore and see if there is some kind of blockage that is not allowing this nutrient (and I am going to take a leap here and say all the other nutrients I am deficient in too) from being absorbed in my body.

I can only hope that this results in the GI doctor finding something on the minor side that would also explain my horribly slow moving (almost non-existent) metabolism. Wouldn't it be nice to think there is an underlying cause to why I have such a hard, hard time losing weight? Who knows what is brewing in my body?!?!?

The recommendation from the GI doctor this morning was to have a colonoscopy and endroscopy. One procedure gives you a view coming in from one direction and the other gives you a view coming from the complete opposite direction. I think you know what I'm talking about. Fun, fun, fun (written with most sarcasm possible). Fortunately you are knocked out and don't feel a thing.

It's hard for me not to associate these ailments with getting older. I try to take care of myself and am huge advocate for being pro-active when it comes to your health. I always thought the earlier and more knowledge you have, the better off you are in preventing something bigger, worse from occurring. But maybe doing these procedures are unnecessary and it is something my body would work out on its own. While I am the first one to appreciate a Kodak moment and can whip out my camera faster than you can say "cheese", who needs all these cameras going in me from every direction!?!?!

The weird thing is, I've never felt better. I firmly believe I am in the best shape of my life and this is even after having 2 kids. I can run faster and farther than ever before. I am eating well-rounded meals with plenty of veggies and fruit. My weight is at an all-time low (believe me this didn't come easy -- I always thought my metabolism lived in my sister's body). I am making it to the gym 5 days a week and have lots of energy throughout the day to keep up with the kids. Sure I could use a nap from time to time, but what mom with 2 small children can't?

A 'nap' is now scheduled for Friday, July 17th from 3:00 to 5:00pm. Stay tuned for all the gory details. I hear preparing for a colonoscopy is the worst part of it. Fantastic. (Please add much more sarcasm than before for this last word).

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hard to believe I grew up in Florida

Anyone who knows me, knows that I have issues with the heat. I hate being hot. I hate feeling sticky and sweating is something I do my best to avoid at all costs. Unless of course, I am at the gym where ironically, I crave working up a good sweat.

I despise weather above 75 degrees and desperately require a body of water nearby in order to tolerate being outdoors. Being outside longer than the couple of minutes it takes to walk from the air conditioned car to an air conditioned building is not for me. I am the first one to complain about how hot it is and my friends can count on me saying some of my more favorite, familiar sayings; "Air. Me. Now." when getting into a friend's hot car and I have no control on how fast they are turning it on. Or quoting one of my favorite all-time movie lines; "This is like Africa hot. Did you know it was going to be this hot?!!??!"

I love Winter and count down the dog days of summer for its glorious return. It can never get cold enough for me and wearing hats, gloves and scarves makes me a happy camper. You can always add layers to get warmer, but you can only take off so much clothing (without getting arrested) trying to get cooler.

Now that you have a sense of how much I hate the heat, you'll understand what a big deal it was to take the kids blueberry picking today. We've gone every year and it's become a bit of a tradition with me, the kids and our friends. Unfortunately I have no say on when the blueberries are ripe for the picking and the end of June is always the best time to go. We found an awesome farm where the blueberries are a beautiful shade of blue and as big as grapes ready to be picked from the bushes. Ian loves our annual trek to Amissivile, VA (about an hour a way) and we make a great day trip out of it, complete with a stop at Panera Bread for lunch on the way home. I love my kids too much not to give them this experience. We live in such a fabulous area and it would be a shame to not take advantage of what is just a short drive away to get to.

To my dismay, today was one of the hottest days we've had so far. The temp hit 92 degrees and by the time we were ready to get back in the car, we were drenched in sweat. Ugh! We filled up half a jug of beautiful blueberries to bring back. Fortunately they don't weigh the kids before we go picking and don't weigh them again when we are done. We only have to pay for what manages to go into the containers, not their tummies while picking.

I am now going into hibernation mode for the rest of the summer. I am done doing any activities outside unless I am in a bathing suit (and everyone else is too!). Crank up the air conditioning and let's all pay homage to Willis Carrier, who invented AC and is my personal hero.

The funny thing is, I don't even like blueberries!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Louder than thunder

I've gotten really good at ignoring my son when he is throwing a temper tantrum in public. In fact, I've gotten embarrassingly good at it.

We had a fun outing planned yesterday afternoon to the local bowling alley with friends. Ian LOVES to bowl. Actually, he loves the whole experience; from getting bowling shoes to picking out a ball, to cheering on his fellow friends when they take their turn. Everything was going great until Ian realized he took his last turn and it was time to put his crocs on and call it a day. Looking back, I should've given him the "this is your last turn Ian" warning so that he could savor it, rather than hitting him blindsided after the fact. But I was having a great time myself hanging with mommy friends and before you knew it, all 5 kids were at the end of the round. We've gotten to the point where the kids can follow the game by themselves and take turns appropriately. It was super cute how they helped each other get a ball and then gather as a small crowd next to the bowler rooting each other on.

Fortunately our lane was located at the far end of the building and nowhere near the other, more serious bowlers. The guy behind the counter must have seen us coming and knew just where to put us.

When Ian was told it was time to go, he promptly asked if he could play one more time. When I said "no, it is getting late and we need to go", his screaming escalated nicely until he had the attention of everyone in the bowling alley. You know you've got a loud kid on your hands when he can manage to top the noise level above bowling balls rolling down the lanes and hitting pins down. Refusing to give into his demands, Ian kept at it. I was not thrown in the least by his behavior and went about my business gathering our stuff and making our way to the bathroom before getting in the car.

I am sure the reason behind Ian's outburst wasn't because he was dying to stay and bowl some more, but that he was tired. He had a full day at camp and gave up taking an afternoon nap long ago. The more tired he gets, the crankier he is. Anyone can see the writing on the wall that he is worn out and needs some downtime. But when he crashes in his bed by 7:00pm each night, I feel like I've taken one for the team by keeping him entertained for most of the day. I just feel bad for others (especially those without kids) who have to also suffer when Ian gets like this. My fingers are crossed these outbursts get less and less frequent when he realizes he won't get his way. Fortunately we tend to only go to kid friendly environments and lively noise from children is to be expected. Who defines what 'lively' means depends on if you have a headache or not at the time.

The funniest part of our bowling excursion came when one of my mommy friends asked how camp was going for Ian. "10 straight weeks, from 9:30am to 1:30pm, all 5 days a week -- how do you think it is going?" was my reply. Guess who started clapping and had a big smile on her face as I gave my answer? You got it, Sam! Even at just having turned one year old, she gets it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

You can never have too many

Less than a month ago, Ian celebrated his birthday and was showered with presents by his family and friends. The other day we were in the car discussing what we could do to make Father's day special for daddy today. After tossing around a few ideas, Ian then asks "When is it going to be Kid's day? Because I could sure use a new toy."

All my life I've been surrounded by amazing fathers. My first experience came from my own father, Jeff Mazer. No topic was off limits on what we would discuss and time and time again, he came through on always being there for me. I never questioned who would be the first parent to show up if they needed to come to our rescue. My dad may think he has a tough exterior, but my two sisters and I know that he is a huge softie in the inside. He is the first one to go to bat for us and will not stop checking in if something or someone is causing you pain. My dad has a wonderfully wicked sense of humor and enjoys a good laugh. He gave me my first American Express Card (age 15!) and will do his best to give you the moon if that is what you desire. I couldn't have asked for a better childhood and half of that is due to my dad being my father.

About 6 years ago, another father came into my life and that is my father-in-law, Harold Toppall. The love Dad Toppall has for his family runs deep. I've seen his sensitive side and his ability to tell a story that keeps you interested until the end. Dad Toppall is an incredibly warm and caring man and makes you feel like you've always been a part of the family. You don't just marry the guy, you get the whole kit and caboodle, I got very lucky.

My husband is the latest version of what it means to be a father. I've never seen a more passionate or proud daddy when it comes to his kids. When he is spending time with Ian and Sam, he gives 200% of himself and nothing else in the world going on at the moment matters. He is a big kid at heart and wants more than anything to do the best by them. Jeff has achieved a great work-life balance and makes sure he is home each night to have dinner as a family and put the kids to bed. As Forrest Gump says in the movie, "Mama said life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what your going to get." I had no idea what kind of father Jeff would be and my expectations have been far, far exceeded. He is good guy through and through and an excellent father. If anything ever happened to me, I know the kids will do well being raised by their father. However, I hope for Samantha's sake, she would know how to dress herself by then, because Jeff has this knack for putting all her clothes on backwards and not realizing anything is wrong.

Happy Father's day to all the amazing dads. I feel fortunate to have you in my life and love you very much.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Baby Steps

Every parent has a running list of things to worry about. Is my child getting enough vegetables in his diet? Is he behaving himself when he is at school? Are his writing skills where they should be? Why can't he throw a ball? And what is on one parent's list might never see the light of day on someone else's list. Furthermore, a mother's list might be very different than the father's list.

It doesn't matter the age of the child, the list of worries can easily transform to what is appropriately going on at that stage, specific to who the child is....Will my child get into a good college? Is he is drinking when he goes out with friends on the weekends? Is the girl he is dating good enough for him?

There are an infinite number of items on my worry list. Some days the items on the bottom of the list can find themselves in the top position of importance and other days, the list and what is on it doesn't seem so necessary to give two shits about.

Today my concern of Samantha never getting beyond the crawling stage of moving is no longer a worry. Slowly, but surely, Sam has learned to pull herself up to a standing position and actually took a step or two holding onto the couch to cruise this morning. It doesn't seem like a big thing to most people, but to me, my husband and her brother this was a very big deal. Given that most babies, on average, take their first steps unassisted on their first birthday, it seemed like Sam was never going to realize her role model for moving shouldn't be the dog on all fours.

After the excitement died down and we went back to our regular morning routine, I noticed Sam was following me out of the playroom. Lo and behold, my girl on the move started climbing up the steps after me. She made it up halfway and then decided to take a break by going into a sitting position. It doesn't take a brain scientist to realize that wouldn't have been a good idea. Before she was able to tumble backwards down 3 steps, I caught her. We have baby gates at the top of the steps to keep her from falling down them, now I guess we need to put another set of baby gates to keep her from falling up them!

Never one to keep the list of worries from getting shorter, Sam learning how to walk is now being replaced with "hoping she doesn't crack her head open or break her neck if I can't get there quick enough to catch her from falling."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Only if you call it a 'trim'

Let the negotiations begin! The conditions needed to be met for Ian to agree to get his haircut was a mile long and completely out of control. It all started harmlessly by telling Ian he could have a lollipop. Then he'd ask for two. Give an inch and he'd take a mile.

Before you knew it, this is what had to happen before Ian would get anywhere near a Cartoon Cuts:

1. 2 lollipops (and one of them better be blue!)
2. No robe will be worn or even a towel around his neck
3. Do not call it a haircut, only a 'trim'
4. No scissors can be used, only the electric razor
5. Thomas the Tank Engine (specifically "Calling All Engines") had be on the tv
6. One hand held the lollipop, the other must be holding trains
7. Directly afterwards going to the candy store Fair Oaks Mall opened for specially chosen colored m&m's
8. Only Abby can do the cut
9. Must be sitting on mommy or daddy's lap

It's surprising to learn that we'd go through this ridiculous exercise on average once every 2 months, since Ian was 12 months old. Seriously. And, even with all the conditions met, it wouldn't guarantee that Ian would sit still and be a well-behaved boy. Oh no! Either me or my husband (usually me because I was the lucky one to take him during the week) would have to use our arms and legs to wrap around his body and try to keep him still. All the while, the haircut was occurring, Ian would scream "NOOOOOOOOOO", "It's over", "We're done" Or, "Time to go" at the top of his lungs while crying and working his way out of our hold. Abbey is a pro and amazingly was able to work her magic fast and get us out of there in under 10 minutes, with his head looking completely even.

Somewhere about 3 haircuts ago, Ian all of sudden stopped asking for his list of demands when the mention of getting a haircut came up. It was a Saturday and tears came to my eyes watching Ian (who announced he could sit in the chair all on his own) doing his absolute best trying to sit still with a robe on and a towel around his neck. I never thought I would see the day that Ian became mature enough to handle the haircut experience like every other little boy and girl out there.

I guess no one knows Ian better than he knows himself. He knew when he'd be ready to do it on his own and not need a list of bribes to be met. Ian still only wants Abbey to cut his hair, but I have to agree with him on this one. She and Binh are the best stylists at Cartoon Cuts. And, now believe it or not, during the last visit, Abbey was even able to pull out her scissors. This is great news for someone like me, who is dying to give Ian a real style to his hair. We are currently a work in progress on creating something very cute.

After what we've been through, it's hard to imagine we are now at the point where Ian is requesting to get his haircut. As I was saying good-bye to him at camp this morning, he didn't ask to go to the pool when I come to pick him up or to go to Chuck E. Cheese or go bowling. He said, "Mommy, can Abbey cut my hair today after lunch bunch?"

We've come a long way baby!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Down they go...

Ian has named him "Beary". He is white, soft and about half the size of Ian. "Beary" is the stuffed animal his school (or better known as camp if you are attending during the month of June) gives to kids who get hurt and need a little extra TLC. Apparently Ian was the recipient of such a gesture today.

I discovered this oversized bear in Ian's cubby when picking him up at the end of lunch bunch. Both Sam and I were surprised to see such a thing coming out of his cubby as it took up the entire space. I inquired who this new addition was and why did we get so lucky to have it. The teacher who stayed to run the lunch bunch group explained that Ian fell down and this bear was given to him to make him feel better. He can take the bear home and bring him back to camp tomorrow.

Since I could visibly see that Ian was ok and nothing seemed broken or required a band-aid (plus, I know the school well enough to know they would immediately call me if such was the case), I asked how this fall happened. Ms. Dori fell on Ian and Mitchell (a boy a little older than Ian) fell on Ms. Dori. So if I am doing the math correctly, Ian had about 250 pounds (if not more!) on top of him at one point during the day. All I could think of was, "Ian, were you able to breathe?" His answer was, "A little." Then he added, "Eliza put my helmet back for me." I am guessing that Ian was on his way to put his helmet back and this domino effect of bodies falling on my son happened. It was very sweet of Eliza to complete Ian's task.

My husband says that I laugh at the most inappropriate times. There must be something wired in me a little different than the normal, compassionate person next to me, but harmless injuries, slips and falls can bring tears to my eyes (from laughing so hard) just even thinking about it, much less witnessing it.

Picturing the events of today (and fortunately no one was hurt) has been the best laugh I've had in a long time. I know, this is soooooo wrong.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Feeling at home at the Zoo

We tackled the National Zoo today. It was a great time and since we only had one major temper tantrum, I'd say it was a huge success too.

We got to the zoo right when they opened at 10:00am. Our strategy was to park at the bottom, and start off at the top, working our way back down. This way, we'd knock out the big, ugly hill (almost a mile in length) at the beginning when we'd be most up to the challenge. We have a sit-n-stand stroller that we pull out on these exact occasions to move both children from point A to B to C to D to E and so forth. Normally, Ian is not big on using a stroller, but the minute he knows walking is involved (and a hill no less), all of a sudden his legs don't work. We instantly cut off any potential whining from the get-go and make everyone happier all around that he has a place to rest his feet while enjoying our outing.

That screaming you heard at 11:45am wasn't a new wild animal exhibit on display, it was our 4 year old son being convinced he needed to eat the other half of his peanut butter sandwich before getting any treats he had his eye on. We packed a picnic lunch and around 11:30am Ian said he was getting hungry. We made our way to some park benches and began eating. We already promised Ian we'd get ice cream on our way out, as a last stop before getting back into the car. In our walk up the hill, he noticed popcorn being popped at one of the many food vendors the zoo offers. Ian asked if he could get popcorn and we both said, if you eat the entire peanut butter sandwich, we will get popcorn. Getting Ian to eat peanut butter sandwiches has been a bit of a battle for us. Usually for lunch he'll ask for pizza bagels, or noodles or a hot dog; not really the type of food you can easily pack in a picnic setting. And, now that he is going to camp and then pre-k for 5 days a week, it would sure make things easier to be able to include a peanut butter sandwich every now and then. We've successfully gotten to the point where he'll eat half of it without an argument, but then he'll finish eating the other stuff in his lunch (goldfish, cheez-its, etc.) or drink his juice/water mix until he feels full.

As Ian is throwing his screaming fit, Jeff and I did nothing to stop him. I mean, if you can't scream at the top of your lungs at the zoo, then where can you? We completely ignored him and continued eating our lunch as if nothing unusual was going down. Every mom and dad walking by smiled and nodded in our direction giving us a silent thumbs up. The screaming lasted about 5 minutes and Ian finally realized he wasn't getting his way and said he'd finish the other half. Score one for mommy and daddy!

Of course, our plan to start at the top and work our way back down the hill backfired and we had to go right back up and get the popcorn. At which point we pass the Panda exhibit for a 2nd time and asked Ian again if he wanted to go see the Pandas. No, was his answer. Apparently Ian wanted to see EVERYTHING except the pandas.

The mood seemed to lift and Ian was in great spirits again having gotten his popcorn and Jeff & I were feeling pretty good too having won the food battle. Sam was her amazing self and quite the trooper. She totally skipped her morning nap and you'd never know. In fact, she made it all the way until we got home at 2:45pm, had her bottle and went down for a 1.5 hour nap.

We saw the lions, tigers, cheetahs, gazelles, emus, apes, small mammals, zebras, elephants, rhinos, visited the kids' petting zoo, and of course, got ice cream on the way out. It was a full day and Jeff & I are exhausted from conquering the hill not once, but twice (actually there was a 3rd time we had to back track up the hill again trying to find the outdoor elephant exhibit - but we won't go into too much detail about that) while pushing two kids (combined weight of kids = 63 pounds, stroller = 15 lbs, diaper bag and cooler = 10 lbs) in a double stroller.

As we were leaving the zoo and driving home, Ian says, "I wish we saw the pandas."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Do you want fries with that?

It's been a tradition in our house that on the night of your birthday, you get to pick the restaurant and celebrate. Two years ago Ian picked Glory Days. This past May 31st, Ian picked Red Robin. Both are big favorites of his.

This morning on the drive to camp, Ian is telling me where he will pick next year for us to go. "When I turn five, I'll pick Glory Days. Then when I'm six, I'll pick Red Robin. That will be the pattern, Glory Days, Red Robin, Glory Days, Red Robin and then Wendy's".

I quickly responded, "Ian, Wendy's isn't really appropriate to go celebrate your birthday."

Without missing a beat, Ian says, "Why not? I like getting my food fast."

Can't really argue with that logic!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tea for three

Ian received some very cool birthday presents 3 weeks ago when we had his party. He very much enjoys playing with the new toys, leapster, puzzles, moon sand and play-doh, but the surprise hit that keeps him coming back for more, is this tea set that Samantha received for turning 1 the week before. It has a tea pot, two tea cups and a little tray of treats. The whole thing is in shades of pink and purple and the tea pot makes some adorable pouring noises and plays other tunes.

Each morning before camp, the three of us have a tea party and Ian fills up our tea cups over and over again. He offers Sam and I treats to eat while enjoying our cups of tea. It is very cute and makes me happy that Ian has a little sister and can explore this more sensitive, feminine side to him.

I am not sure where Ian learned how to have a tea party, but I'm thinking it has to be at the same place he learned to be a princess, cook in the kitchen, wear jewelry and take care of baby dolls. Preschool has done wonderful things to expand his horizons. I know before too long he'll only want to play 'cops and bad guys', fire fighting rescue and race cars 24/7. It's nice to know that for the time being he can be a great role model to his little sister and show her the proper way to host a tea party.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A big sigh of relief

It is over. I had every intention of giving a month's notice on quitting the sausage job. In fact I wrote a nice email last week and felt like I was doing the right thing in seeing my schedule through to the end of June. However, after working this past Saturday, something clicked in me and I can't continue. I feel horrible about moving my resignation date from 30 days notice to no notice, but I realize I need to do what's in my best interest.

Everything about Saturday's shift was a disaster. From the head of Theft and Loss coming over to introduce himself and letting me know this could be a rough crowd. If I needed any help, he'd be nearby. WHAT?!?!?!?!? Then, I had two tasters mess with me, not to the point I was in danger, but more like, can I taste 5 samples and make you think I am going to purchase 2 packs of sausage and then come back a minute later and throw the packs back on the table and loudly say, "I don't need to buy this, someone is cooking me dinner tonight." Normally, this would've never even registered on my nuisance scale, but on Saturday it threw me.

The icing on the cake was not even coming close to making my goal. Store goal was 36, and I barely eeked out 32 packages in sales. Jeff took the kids bowling while I was working and all I could think of was how much nicer it would be to be with them.

Jeff made a good point, had I had a great day selling sausage, maybe I wouldn't be feeling like this. But we will never know. I am done. I had a long conversation with my supervisor last night and she completely understands.

What a relief. I feel like I am getting my life back and I am looking forward to my weekends now more than ever. And big hugs to my husband for sticking by me and being incredibly supportive on my decision to not go back.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Only now can I Iook back and laugh

We are now embarking on the one year anniversary of Ian being potty trained. I've got to say that potty training was one of the scariest undertakings ever! You just never know how it is going to turn out or what you are in store for.

I knew Ian was on his way to being ready when we met at the playground behind our house one afternoon with friends. After we were done playing, we walked back towards our house where some of my mommy friends had their cars parked. Jeanne asked if Jacob could use our bathroom before loading her kids in the car. Sure, no problem! All the kids ran downstairs to either get a quick play in with one of Ian's toys or to use the bathroom. Jeanne and I stood upstairs and continued our chat. Jeanne felt it was taking Jacob (who was about to turn 4) a little too long to go to the bathroom and come right back to her, so she went down and investigated. OH MY GAWD!! She had a huge smile on her face and said I'd want to come see this.

Apparently, Jacob was long done with the bathroom and had moved on to Ian's train table. Ian, however, had decided to take over and had his POOPY DIAPER hanging half in and half out of the toilet. Poop was everywhere! His shorts were down by his ankles. His legs, socks and brand new sneakers (first time wearing them that day) were covered in poop -- because he used his legs as leverage to pull everything down or off. The floor was covered in random poop that flew out of his diaper and the bathroom rugs had a new tint of brown grounded all over it. Then, there's Ian who is standing at the toilet holding his 'wee-wee' over the poop smeared bowl trying to pee like a big boy. He does manage to pee something and then looks at me and says, "m&m now please." WHAT A MESS!! However, I couldn't be more proud of my little guy for trying to go on his own. He had never shown interest in trying to pee standing up before. He must've seen Jacob doing it and tried to imitate him.

A few days later I woke up one morning and decided to go cold turkey on Ian wearing diapers. I am not sure what got in me, but somehow I knew that day was the day to begin. Below is a snapshot view of what we went through with Ian before he got "it".

Typical conversation:

Me: Do you need to go poopy?
Ian: No
Me: Ian, it looks like you are pooping right now.
Ian: Yes, I am. All done.
Me: Why didn't you tell me you had to go?
Ian: I don't know. Can I have 5 m&ms now?
Me (while cleaning up Ian): Ian, this is such a mess. If you could just tell me that you need to poop, it would be so much easier for mommy.
Ian: Will you make my underwear as good as new again?
Me: (as I am putting his dirty underwear in one of Bailey's poop bags, tying it with it knot and throwing it in the trash); Yes.

Yes, only now I can look back and laugh. And, thank God for us all having survived.
They say girls are easier to train and I look actually look forward to finding out.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Here's your change for the day

My most favorite child-rearing book hands down has got to be "Raising Your Spirited Child" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. It is like the author deconstructed Ian piece by piece and explains in great detail what makes him tick and the best way to relate to him. It really changed the dynamics of our relationship. Not only did it do wonders for the parent-child relationship, but it was an eye opener on being married to Jeff. I could so easily picture what he must've been like as a little boy. Jeff and Ian are cut from the same cloth and tactics on being a good mommy to Ian, also enabled me to be a good wife and partner to my husband.

Hindsight is 20/20. I knew that Jeff doesn't deal well with change and long ago learned the best way to get him to do something, wear something, or change something about him is you've got to start slowly. Plant a seed and then subtly bring it up a few times and gauge his reaction. Before you know it, Jeff will verbalize this new thing like it was his idea all along. It takes time on my part but it is more than worth it and we've found this works for us.

Looking back, I should've done the same ground work in quitting my part-time job. Instead, stupid me just sprung it on him Saturday morning on my way out the door. You don't need a crystal ball to know this was a huge mistake. It's been a few days and the dust has settled. Jeff has gotten used to the idea and never ceases to amaze me how fabulous he is. I even joked the other day when I caught him smiling at me that he must love me again. He said, "I've always loved you and will always love you. But sometimes I don't like you very much." A few hours later he said he was liking me again.

Believe it or not, I pushed the envelope a little further and went into territory most people wouldn't dare to go. I do a Kodakgallery photo album for each of the kids as they turn a year older. The photo album is a compilation of them throughout the year from the day after their previous birthday to the very next birthday. I had an online coupon offering 25% on all kodakgallery orders and was prepared to place the order on the photobooks. The total was $190.00. I figured it would be a good idea to run this purchase past Jeff to make sure he was comfortable with me spending this amount of money on something not necessary for our survival. These books could be ordered 2 years from now and it wouldn't make a difference. Jeff asked when the coupon expires. I told him on June 23rd. To my delight and amazement he said let's see how well we are doing with our budget on June 22nd and if we are pacing to be under, you can order the books before the coupon expires.

I was blown away by how awesome his answer was and felt like he met me more than half way. I was sort of expecting him to say, "work another weekend and you'll have the money for the photobooks." But fortunately this was not his response.

He knows I need to quit to be happy. I saw something on the news this morning that cemented my decision for me. Included in the passenger list on the missing Air France flight was a flight attendant flying for the first time since her maternity leave ended. She is leaving behind a 4 month old. I tear up thinking about this and her family. My heart goes out to them. I will cherish my time with the family and enjoy it to the fullest.

And just when I think I can't love my husband any more than I already do, he accepts my decisions despite him not agreeing with them and supports me in what I want. I know it isn't easy for him and I went about telling him in the absolute worst way. Jeff is my soul mate and we balance each other out. There is no one else I'd want to be with having to warm up to my ideas.

The downside of turning 4

Ian & the dentist. Ian & trimming his finger and toe nails. Ian & getting his head wet while swimming. Combos you don't mess with or willingly go near with a 10 foot poll. And now, we can add Ian & 4 shots at the doctor to the list. It wasn't pretty and a day I can't wait to block out of my mind.

We did everything right in preparing "The loud one". We brought Gymbo (his lovey) and a bag filled with m&m's, chocolate chip cookies and lollipops. In addition, the doctor's office is strategically located right above a Ben & Jerry's. For days prior I prepped him what was going to happen and each time we discussed it, his outburst got less and less. By the time the appointment was going to occur, he was more than ready and even had places picked out on his arm for the needles to go through. The only stipulation he had was, whatever you do, do not give him a flu shot. He still reminisces about how much that hurt from back in November.

We went in to the doctor's with smiles on our faces and left with every parent in the waiting room happy they don't belong to this newly 4 year old.

It went pretty much as I expected. Ian is D-O-N-E with going to the doctor ever again. NO MORE SHOTS FOR HIM EVER!!!!! Ice cream at Ben & Jerrys and a big chocolate chip cookie did very little to the soothe the pain of 3 shots and a major finger prick filling up a little straw tube of blood.

Ian had a band-aid covering a scrape on his elbow. When he realized he was getting 4 more band-aids covering all the new needle pricks, he very loudly said, "I don't want any more boo-boos. I only want the one I have. I don't need any more."

He is not a happy camper and I suspect I will now be hearing about it for months and months to come.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Stick a fork in me, I am done.

It's pretty cold at our house. Over the weekend I dropped a big bomb on my darling husband and told him I wanted to quit the sausage selling job. I am no longer enjoying it or find it fulfilling. I want my weekends back to spend with the family. I knew it was mentally over for me when I was getting dressed to leave on Saturday morning and desperately wanted to stay and hang out with the kids and Jeff. The weather was beautiful and it would've been a great day to go the pool or a local park.

My heart is no longer in it and I feel like I've done my duty by getting the job in the first place when it was most needed to step up. I was willing to do whatever it took to bring in some money and contribute the best way I could. However, now that Jeff has a great job and is making a nice, steady income, I want my old life back. I want to go back to the way things were. I want us to be a family again on the weekends.

Jeff feels very different than I do about this. For the first time in 4 years, he saw us being able to do all the things that were not easily possible; getting new carpet/hardwood floors installed, taking a vacation, covering the costs associated with attending my sister's wedding, paying for Ian's preschool, etc. While the money I am making is not nearly enough to cover all these wish list items, it is plenty to give us the opportunity to pay for some of it and not stress where the money will come from or do without it.

Jeff feels a lot of pressure being the sole breadwinner. I know its been tough for him and each year our expenses only go up. In my mind, I feel like we made it work for the majority of the past 4 years and Jeff wasn't making close to the salary he is now. In fact, when I first started being a SAHM, it was a considerable amount less. Looking back, it wasn't easy and the sacrifices/compromises we made were plenty, but we have some great memories of things we did together as a family.

The air in our house is cold. Very cold. Jeff is not happy with my decision to quit the weekend job. Over the last 48 hours we've had quite a few discussions about this and I am not sure what a happy compromise will be. Last night we reviewed our budget to see where we can cut back and give ourselves some extra cushioning each month. Of course, dining out and buying gifts for people are the easiest things to take a hit on. Also, we are going to try to go back to living solely on cash for the month of June. We did this about two years ago for a couple of months and found we thought about each purchase that was made. Was it worth it spending the cash we had in our wallets to buy it? Funny enough, 9 times out of 10, it was not necessary. We don't have any credit card debt, so the savings should be instantaneous.

I told my supervisor I will give them the month of June of continuing to work each weekend before handing in my demo kit and saying good-bye to my sausage selling career. I am hoping that we have an excellent month of making our revised budget work and Jeff can breathe a little easier about this 2nd source of income ending. Plus, the extra income still coming in over the course of the month of June should help cover at least one item on our ever growing list of things we'd like to do.

I just read what I wrote and fully realize that I am coming off as a spoiled brat. I know there are families who have it so much harder and work 2 or 3 jobs in order to make ends meet. People who never get to see their kids awake and being home with them Monday thru Friday would be a dream come true. However, we ARE making ends meet and taking care of all our basics, plus usually being able to cover unexpected expenses that inevitably hit us each month. Jeff just wants more than that for our family and of course, I do too. But the bigger question is, do I want that more than spending time as a family? In my opinion life is too short to not enjoy it. It can all end tomorrow or next week. I want us to be able to savor every second we can have together. The rest of the stuff we want to do or buy will all figure itself out. Yes, it isn't easy. And, yes, more than likely we will have to do without. And, I've come to the conclusion I am okay with that. Before we know it, Ian and Samantha will be in school full-time and I'll be able to get a job during school hours. I feel like there is plenty of time for us to catch up and get the new car, start taking vacations other than visiting family in FL, re-do our floors, etc.

It's not easy being a grown up. And right now I think I need to go put on a sweater.