Sunday, August 30, 2009

Can we get that to-go?

We've been down this road before. The warning signs are there. We are approaching the end of eating at restaurants with Sam. We went through this phase with Ian and couldn't go out to eat with him for about 8 months. It just becomes too stressful and no one enjoys it; not us, not the wait staff and certainly, not the customers around us.

I look around at other families with toddler-aged children and I don't know how their kids can sit there so calmly waiting for their food or their parents to finish eating, or even for the check to arrive. It must be genetic because my parents never get tired telling me that when I was a baby, my dad would eat his food super fast and then take me outside while the rest of the family enjoyed their meal.

Jeff and I figured we've got 40 minutes from the minute we walk in the door of a restaurant to the minute we need to be walking back out. Our strategy we developed with Ian and now implement with Sam, goes something like this -

1. We only pick extremely child-friendly restaurants...think balloons, loud noise and usually a tv screen or two surrounding us. Our most favorite places we'll go with the kids include: Glory Days, Red Robin, Champps, Rio Grande, and Ho's Dynasty (not sure why, but we've always had a wonderful experience with the kids doing Chinese). We've gone to many other restaurants, many times (Villa Bella, Cheesecake Factory, Coastal Flats, Maggiano's, etc), that are kid-friendly, but the stress level for Jeff & I most definitely rises, because Sam needs to be on the quiet side. The noise level in the restaurant isn't loud enough to drown her out.

2. We try to arrive right at the 5:00pm hour. This is before real hunger sets in with the kids and we haven't ruined their appetite giving them lots of snacks.

3. Before we walk in the door, we pretty much already know what we will be ordering. Why waste precious time looking at the menu?

4, As soon as the waiter comes by asking us what we would like to drink, we tell them we are ready to order. We also add that as soon as the kids' food is ready, please bring it out. And, if we ordered an appetizer, we throw in that we don't need that first, just bring out whatever is ready as it is done.

5. When the food gets brought to the table, we tell the waiter we are ready for the check. We also anticipate any to-go box needs and ask for the container then too.

6. We pay the check usually halfway through the meal. This way if we need to make a quick escape, we are ready to do so.

Even with the strategy in play, we still have to juggle a very squirmy toddler and figure out what tricks we can do to keep her happy. It gets harder and harder the more she wants to move around and explore. With Ian, we had to take an 8 month hiatus from eating out and then it was like a switch had gone on and he was safe to take out in public again. We've now entered this same stage with Samantha. At least we know having lived through this before, that it is only a stage, and once we get through it, it will be enjoyable again for everyone at the other side.

Until then, we will just have to be content with Panera Bread, Cosi, and other fast food places that give you your food as soon as you order. At least this stage we have now entered is budget-friendly.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Benadryl Experiment

Our flight back home was today and I knew I needed to take drastic measures to avoid another experience like we had coming down 10 days prior. Completely against my mom and stepmother's wishes (they both made it abundantly clear how horrible of an idea this was), I decided to give Sam a dosage of Benadryl in the hopes of knocking her out on the airplane.

A few people told me that I should try it out in advance to make sure it doesn't have the opposite effect and make her super-hyper. When I gave her the test dose a few days prior about 1 hour before her regular nap time, it did nothing to alter the nap one way or another. It didn't cause her to fall asleep any faster, and it didn't make her sleep any longer than usual. It also didn't cause her to not fall asleep. So I figured maybe by giving her the Benadryl, it will take the edge off and cause her to be a little less "joyful" and hopefully be content hanging out in the car seat while flying.

I do have to mention that the flight crew and passengers on this flight were much more helpful than before. As I was boarding and nearing my row, a man 3 rows back jumped out of his seat and came to my rescue asking what he could do to help. I would love to thank his mom and tell her she did a good job raising him. The only thing I could give him at that moment to help was Samantha. He was a good sport holding her as I quickly tried to get the car seat off my back and adjusted in the seat.

And, I am happy to report that two of the flight attendants helped me strap in the car seat. Something that never happened on the flight down. No one even checked to see if her seat was strapped in.

I am not sure why we got on the plane so early. I didn't realize just how much time we still had before take-off. Rule number 1 in my book is try to board as late as possible. As long as you already have assigned seats (meaning, you are not flying Southwest), getting the kids strapped in their seats waiting out the rest of boarding is a bad idea. We were seated on the plane and ready for take-off at 3:30pm for a 4:00pm air time. Jeez!! And, we were one of the last on board too. So we basically just sat there until 3:55pm when they shut the door and began take-off procedures. So not cool in my book! If I had my watch on (it ended up getting left behind in my mom's car when I was trying to keep Sam entertained with it on the way to the airport), I would've realized what was going on. It wasn't until I called Jeff from the plane and saw the time on the cell phone. When you have a limited amount of time on how good your child is going to be, you want it to count when you are actually in the air, not sitting on the ground going nowhere.

I have to say that Ian was a rockstar. I am even willing to put it out there that I would fly with him anywhere, even flights longer than 2 hours. As long as he isn't getting drenched in orange juice, he was very well behaved and was very mindful of when the iPod Touch needed to be turned off. Every time the pilot made an announcement Ian asked if that meant it was time for him to turn it off.

Sam, on the other hand, has a long way to go. I fear we are in for the same bumpy ride we had previously with Ian. The biggest issue was the shrieking. It is a loud, very high pitched scream that I am sure would be considered a form of torture in some interrogation tactics. It can produce instant headaches and make you wish you were deaf if you were sitting next to her. Sam has managed to perfect this shriek with and without a mouthful of food. And, I can't imagine it is for the sole purpose of getting attention because she shrieks when I play with her and when I try to ignore she is doing it. Sam shrieked on and off consistently the whole time we were in the air!!!

After about an hour, she had enough of the car seat and wanted to get out. Fortunately the guy behind us started making faces at her and she loved that. There was a young girl sitting in the seat in front us and they were checking each other out in the space between the seats. And, of course the poopy diaper needing to be changed took up another 5 minutes. In all my 4 years of flying with the kids, this was the first time I changed a diaper in the plane's bathroom. I have to say, it wasn't that bad.

I am happy to report that I survived the flight home. I didn't even feel like crying when it was time to get off the plane. We had a great time in Orlando, but I am happy to be home. I can breathe easier knowing that when we do this trip again in just 6 weeks, I will have Jeff with me to assist. We've already decided we are going to sit in different rows and each take one kid. I think that will help greatly. Sam was still throwing toys at Ian. I was watching her do it...she very innocently looked straight ahead and took a toy and flung it in his direction on purpose. Ian was still not pleased by this, but at least this time he didn't yell at his sister, he just threw it to me in the hopes I wouldn't give it back to her to play with.

And, I've come to the sad realization that Benadryl has no effect whatsoever on Samantha. It doesn't calm her and it doesn't make her overly excited. I guess in some way this is a good thing. I need to face the fact that it took Ian until he was 4 to be able to fly without giving me an anxiety attack afraid we will get kicked off the plane and just like his little sister, I fear I still have another 3 years to go with her too. Jeff thinks that Sam might be more 'spirited' than Ian and has just been holding back until now. If I wasn't so tired right now writing this, I'd be freaked out by that thought.

The Dark Weeks

Whenever there is no preschool or camp scheduled, I refer to the newfound free time as my "dark" period. There are dark days (such as school holidays) and dark weeks (such as when Spring Break or the time between Christmas and New Year's occurs).

We are currently in week 3 of a five week long dark period. Camp has ended and it is officially a little longer than a month before the new school year starts. Normally I'd be frightened by this downtime, but not anymore.

The first week went incredibly well and was easily filled with playdates of all types. During week one we had a pool party and ordered pizza for lunch on Monday. Tuesday was a playgroup at one of Ian's "best pals" home. Wednesday was a wonderful morning of outdoor play (think moonbounce, sprinkler, whale pool, & ice cream sundaes), Thursday found us at a traditional one-on-one playdate at another of Ian's "best pals" home and Friday was a greatly anticipated trip to Chuck E. Cheese.

Weeks 2 and 3 find us in Orlando hanging with the family. Throw in 3 days at the beach, a bowling birthday party for one of Ian's Florida buddies, a fishing trip with Pop-pop Jim, hanging with Dad and Rita a few days, and before you know it, it will be time to go back home. When we get back to NoVa, we will only have 2 weeks to go.

For the most part I've really been enjoying my time spent with Ian* (*see note below). He is cracking me up and a joy to be around -- that is when he gets enough sleep. His enthusiasm for our activities is contagious and I am having as much fun as him getting out and about for our playdates. Sam does her best to go with the flow and adjusted some what well to having her nap drastically change from 10:00am to something resembling the 1:00pm hour. She is a trooper!

I've come to realize that these carefree days of summer won't last long and to treasure the time and freedom I have with the kids. While it is always nice to have a plan, and know Ian is being entertained and busy, my remaining dark days aren't looking so dark. In fact it is quite bright and now requires the use of sunglasses.

*Just so know one thinks he is completely temper tantrum free, we've had a few real humdingers during our stay in Orlando. :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The passing of the torch

Whenever I was in town, I used to be my dad's buddy to hop in the car with him and run errands...home depot, the post office, bank, 7-11, whatever was a 'quick stop' and then head back home to the family. It was never that exciting, but it was nice getting some one-on-one time with just my dad. And, wherever we stopped if there was anything I could ever want at one of these stops, it was put in the cart faster than I could bat an eye. I'm not talking big ticket items, more like gum, magazines, and candy bars.

I think I've officially been replaced by my son Ian. On Saturday morning Ian was the one to go with my dad to get fresh bagels and cream cheese for the gang back at home. On Sunday, Ian was the one to go with my dad to the grocery store to get the makings for french toast.

It happened as naturally as it had always been done this way. Dad came down the stairs from his bedroom, saw Ian dressed in clothes and said, "Ian, put your shoes on and come with me to get bagels." Ian didn't question it and happily followed my dad out the door. The next morning, the same thing. Reports came back that Ian even helped my dad show him where to find the eggs at the grocery store.

It was a bittersweet moment for me to know I've been replaced. I hope that Ian treasures these errands with my dad as much as I have over the years. It's the day to day, ordinary things that make it special.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A vision in white.

My sister Lori is getting married in October. We threw a bridal shower yesterday for her at a lovely restaurant in Winter Park. It was a beautiful setting and the food was delicious. The wait staff and event planner at the restaurant went overboard in serving us and made sure everything was perfect. I found a wonderful bakery to make a gorgeous cake that tasted as good as it looked (think chocolate with peanut butter cream -- yum!!). We had two fun activities to do at the table - 1. using only various colors of play-doh make a wedding gown on a 6x8 card stock. Lori judged the top 3 designs for prizes. And, 2. On a heart shaped construction paper attached to a green pipe cleaner (to look like a flower) write down advice for the bride. Lori then read aloud each of our words of wisdom for her to live by in her soon-to-be married life with Ben. She can then take these 'flowers' home in the vase provided as a keepsake.

I even found these adorable, miniature black patent leather purses that opened to reveal a manicure set that made a great, useful favor; which had the ladies in attendance excited to put in their purse.

I wanted everything to be perfect because I know that Lori deserves this more than anything. She has been an amazing sister to me my whole life and I feel so fortunate to have been able to do this for her (along with my team of co-hosts).

To everyone who made the trip to come to the party and celebrate in Lori's pre-wedding festivities, THANK YOU!! I know it meant the world to Lori to have you there and it made my day to be able to include you.

I am close to feeling like the plane trip from hell to get here was worth the angst for how incredibly well the bridal shower was. Everything I envisioned played out perfectly.

Fortunately my other sister Meghan is only 17 and I have more than a few years before I need to host a bridal shower for her and take this flight again with 2 kids by myself. Although, now that I think about this, if Lori and Ben move as quickly as Jeff & I did on starting a family, I could easily be back in 9 months for a baby shower. Maybe so they don't regret their decision, I leave the kids at home with Jeff. :)

Friday, August 21, 2009


My sweet little girl has a very generous nature about her and likes to share her food. She will eat a piece of whatever it is on her plate and while chewing on it, pick up another piece and put it in your mouth for you to eat. She will actually put the entire piece she is feeding you all the way in your mouth. It is a bit hard to resist and not something you can easily say no to because it is so cute and sweet. Normally this is not a problem and since she is only eating regular, people food, you can't really go wrong getting a sample.

However, the other night, right before we left for our trip, we went to Glory Days for dinner and Sam took her 'sharing' a bit too far. Her meal came with a side of vegetables, which were carrots and broccoli. The carrots were the miniature kind and not cooked nearly enough for her to be able to chew. I only put the broccoli on her plate and decided against giving her the carrots. Sam's new thing is she'll start off eating sitting down, but prefers to really chow down standing up. It's a little strange, but for the most part harmless as we find ourselves in a booth when it seems to occur. So, with Sam standing next to me, she reaches over and gets herself a carrot. She manages to take a bite and really works hard to break it down and swallow it. Jeff and I were impressed. Sam then goes back and now puts the rest of the carrot in her mouth and begins to work on this piece. It was much bigger than I was comfortable with her having in her mouth and watched her like a hawk to make sure she didn't choke. After a full five minutes, she decides this is too much work and takes the carrot out of her mouth and puts it back on the plate.

Sam moves on to eating a piece of chicken tender and then proceeds to pick up the piece of carrot and try to feed it to me. Yes, this is the same piece that was in her mouth for a good 5 minutes. YUCK! I had just been fed some chicken and broccoli by her, but I had to draw the line at food she had been previously working on.

There isn't much I wouldn't do for her, but that was crossing the line. I am still grossed out by thinking about this. This piece of carrot was all mangled, soggy and the end was shredded where she managed to eat some. I guess Samantha felt like someone should at least enjoy it.

Next time I think I'll let Jeff sit next to her.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The GREAT clean-out of '09

Whew! It was a lot of work, but well worth the effort. I managed to finish just hours before leaving for the airport for our trip to Florida. Leave it to my husband to point out the obvious (more than a few times) that packing for the trip should be more important than continuing my obsession with finishing my HUGE decluttering project and I needed to stop. Unfortunately the urge to clean and organize coincided when Ian's camp ended. So of course everything took longer than it should. It took me 3 days on the kitchen and I must've filled up 3 big trash bags with stuff to throw out and two bins of stuff to donate. The rest of the rooms went a little faster as there isn't physically that much space to hold as much.

Some of the highlights from The GREAT clean-out of '09:

Found a box of tea that had expired in 1996. If it expired in 1996, then how long ago did I originally acquire it?!?!?

Got rid of Tylenol Cold that expired in 2002. And with one dose left in the box, how many had we used that were past its prime?

Hey, has anyone seen a "D" or "O" magnetic letter? I now know that we are only missing those two keeping us from a full set.

Got rid of every sock that didn't have a match. By now I've given up hope that the washing machine was going to give them back.

Threw out all of Sam's clothing that is stained and has no hope of looking presentable again or would feel good about giving to a charity. (And yes Mom, I tried Oxy Clean first.)

Got rid of every pair of underwear that I'd be embarassed to be caught in a car accident with and the paramedics having to see what was covering my butt. We're talking more than 10 years on some of these pairs. I did discover some nice underwear that hadn't been worn (EVER!) under the pairs that I had been wearing too much!

Went through every hat, scarf and gloves set for the kids and only kept the ones that will still fit them this Winter. There must've been a heckuva sale at one point because we have about 5 sets that are are no longer the right size for Ian and is too boyish for Sam to grow into.

I even hosted book club one evening and was able to give to every guest who wanted one a bottle or two of wine. Jeff and I aren't going to drink it and as long as the girls understood that the wine could've turned to vinegar by now, they were game to give it a try. Reports have come back that some of the wine was still good (and tasty!). Although it was a pretty funny remark when Terri said, "why get rid of the wine? It's not like you can put something else in that space, it is only supposed to hold bottles of wine."

Buh-bye to all my CD's and VHS movies. We don't have a VCR anymore and all my music is loaded on iTunes. Got to love the electronic age.

Recycled the phone books on the shelf above the coat closet...seriously, who uses phone books anymore!??!?

Scary to think that most of this stuff moved in with us. Probably would have made the load for the movers a lot lighter if this clean-out occured before moving. And to think that I had so much more time on my hands back then too before kids. I seriously wonder what I did with it all that extra time.

Next up: The car.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The longest two hours of my life

I didn't actually break down and start crying until I saw my mom at the gate (she and Jim got a gate pass to assist me once off the plane). Then with a big sigh of relief that the worst was over, I shed a few tears and was thankful that help was available.

Getting on the plane proved a little challenging and I am sure this is when I started making friends left and right. I had a convertible car seat strapped to my back, the duo-sized Skip Hop diaper bag (so filled with stuff it wouldn't zip), carrying Samantha and helping Ian with his rolling backpack going down the aisle to row 17. I barely fit width wise and was bumping into seated passengers trying to pass by them. Of course I apologized, but the head shaking thing from passengers had started already. Where was the love?

Once we got to our row, all was seemingly going well. Ian was very excited to be at the window seat and Sam was quietly sitting in her car seat, strapped in the middle seat. As we were taking off I gave Sam her bottle and she was doing great drinking it. Ian got the thumbs up from me to turn on the iPod Touch and start watching "Cars" the movie. It was a peaceful 5 minutes and I felt like I could conquer the world.

Then Sam finished her bottle and I started pulling out some new toys for her to play with. They were getting promptly tossed in Ian's direction. Ian was getting agitated by the flying toys and would pick them up and throw them back at her. I did my best to put a stop to this and decided to give her some snacks.

Somewhere during the first 25 minutes of the 2 hour flight, Sam mastered the ability to shove a handful of goldfish in her mouth while continuing her shrieking of delight at full volume. Oh, and simultaneously wave the baggie of goldfish (something she didn't do before) all over the place and have them fly in every direction. It wasn't pretty, but at least Ian calmed down from not having toys thrown at him.

At this point I am pulling out all the tricks in my bag trying to find something to entertain Sam. She kept putting her arms out for me to unstrap her from the car seat and hold her. Her moaning had kicked in and she meant business. So, I figured it would be harmless and I could have her sit on my lap for a little. Now the flight attendants are offering drinks and Ian said he'd like orange juice. I told them to not fill it up all the way. It wasn't on his tray for 2 minutes before the whole thing spilled in his lap. UGH! Samantha at this point is like a monkey climbing all over me; she is way past tired and wants to be off the plane. Ian is crying and screaming that he is all wet and needs his back-up clothing on pronto. I can't even reach Ian to help him as he is a plane seat away and the car seat is taking up any available space for me to reach over. Sam has now chosen to take her whining/moaning to a new octave and really let people know she is not a happy camper.

I tell Ian his clothes are in his backpack (on the floor of his seat) and to get them and we will go to the bathroom to put them on. Before I can even finish the sentence, Ian is 100% naked and screaming that he can't find his clean, dry clothes. He is also very upset that his seat is soaking wet in orange juice. Oh yeah, the guy in front of him chooses this exact moment to recline his seat. WTF?!?!!? I looked at him and said you are now crushing my son (who is still completely naked by the way) and could you please put your seat back upright. Fortunately he complied.

I talk Ian down from the ledge and convince him he can put his clothes on himself. I am still wrestling with Samantha and her noise level is just getting higher, so I bring out the cheerios.

I then need to figure out what to do with Ian's wet seat (the flight attendants saw the whole scene go down and did NOTHING to help. N O T H I N G. I decide to take Sam's car seat and move her to the window seat. It's not like she is sitting in it anyway. Ian throws a mini fit because he doesn't want the middle seat, he just wants a dry window seat. OMG! It is a full flight people....there is no relocating to another row!!

Finally, I get Ian happy again and his movie back on the iPod Touch. Sam is now grabbing everything on Ian (his headphones, the tray, the wire to the iPod, etc.). Ian is back to complaining and causing a scene.

We start our descent and I throw Sam back in the car seat by the window. I strap her in and give her the 2nd bottle I had ready for this moment. She is very happy and now has had 16 oz of milk in less than 2 hours. And in between the 2 bottles was non-stop snacking. I still can't believe the girl could shriek as loud as she did with a mouthful of cheerios and/or goldfish.

We land. Everywhere I look passengers are shaking their heads at me. I did witness some during the flight holding their head in their hands in disgust. The bell rings that is okay to stand. It is then I and everyone else notices that a family with 2 young boys (both younger than Ian - but not twins) were sitting 2 rows in front of us. No one heard a peep out of them, at all. Of course they didn't hear them, we were making so much noise to mask any anyone else was making. The guy across the aisle sees this perfect family and says loudly, "Wow, you should get a gold medal. Your boys were perfect. They should let you off the plane first."

We pack up all the crap, which at this point was strewn in every direction and covered with a layer of orange juice now. The best was the underwear sitting at the top of the pile. Make our way off the plane and realize that no matter how far ahead Ian gets in front of me getting off the plane, I know in my heart, no one will kidnap him.

Previously flying with Ian proved to be nightmarish, but this was a whole new level of hell for me flying with 2. I am done. I have to get back to NoVa in 10 days, but after that I refuse to do this again. We will now be at home for the Winter break. I need to wait a year or two before I attempt this again on our own. Or else, it just won't be the plane boarding, it will also be the Betty Ford Clinic.

And away we go...

To my fellow passengers:

My two kids and I are getting on your flight later this morning. I'd like to apologize in advance for the execessive noise, commotion and chaos that will ensue upon us boarding and flying the two hours it will take to get to Orlando.

I have three main goals when flying with my kids;

1. Not get thrown off the plane
2. Do nothing that causes us to have an emergency landing before reaching our destination
3. Do not make the 6 o'clock news

I realize that I am pushing my luck each time I plan a trip. It isn't fun flying with Ian. I will remain cool and collected on the outside and you will think that I am the most laid-back mom ever, but really inside I am a nervous wreck hoping that we can get to Orlando in one piece, or at least without me having a heart attack or breakdown.

We make this trip to see family approx. 3 times a year. Unfortunately this is the most effecient way to get to Florida. I do everything in my power to make this as successful an experience as possible. Both kids get their own seat, we have one or two new toys for Ian that he hasn't played with before, we are loaded with movies and the portable DVD player, snacks and juice boxes ready to go, lollipops and m&ms. Furthermore, I will only book direct, non-stop flights and pick flying times that would seem to most agree with the kids being awake.

The older Ian gets, the louder and stronger he is. I've tried hard to mentally block out all the ways in the past I was certain we would be asked to leave. There was the time when Ian refused to get in his seat. Absolutely refused and started to throw a big temper tantrum. He managed to hide underneath the seat in front of him. The flight attendant was standing in the aisle waiting for me to give her the nod of the head that Ian was safely fastened in his seat. Ha! Everyone around us could see what was going on and no one spoke up. I think they wanted to take-off as badly as I did. I gave the nod and off we went. Believe me, I held my breath the flight attendant wouldn't check the window seat by me for Ian.

Then there was the time when Ian was so upset and nothing calmed him down. For close to 2 hours, he screamed at the top of his lungs. Passengers everywhere were passing their child's toys to our row to see if that would distract him a little from his screaming.

I clearly remember this one flight back home when a woman 4 rows back came up in mid-flight and said to me (loud enough for everyone around us to hear), "I have 3 kids and they never acted like that. You should take him to the back of the plane." Nice, huh? I simply replied, "It's a shame I can't be as good a mother as you."

Needless to say, if you can get Ian to be quiet and somewhat behave, we are never told to put the electronics away when it is time to land. Ian gets the royal treatment and is allowed the tray down and the dvd player on. Not once has anyone dared to come by and tell us to turn it off.

One time we approached the runway with Ian standing up in his seat looking out the window. That was priceless when the flight attendant looked the other way when walking by.

I realize I should have better control of my kids and they should obey and listen to my every command. However, I plead with those of you who think like that, please, you fly with Ian and tell me if you get him to behave any differently. I've pined for the day that Suppernanny will be do a special episode "Flying with the problem child" and see if she can help me deal with this.

And, now I'll be flying with 2!! By myself. How fun! The only saving grace I have is that it is Orlando we are going to and coming from. It is somewhat expected to always be full with kids flying.

And, if you ask Ian what he wants to be when he grows-up, his first answer is, "a pilot". Ah, the irony.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Getting all girly

Now that I have the pleasure of having a little girl, I can't resist putting stuff in her hair. I always knew I'd want to and couldn't wait for the day when she would have enough hair to hold a barrette or pony tail holder. Unfortunately Sam has other plans for her hair and refuses to allow a barrette stay in longer then the amount of time it takes for her to discover it in there. She is wise to me and will now randomly put her hand through her hair to see if anything is there for her to pull out.

Since I am just a little smarter than the 1 year old, I was finally able to track down some ity-bitty rubber bands and put them in to create tiny pig-tails. I put them in while she is having her first bottle of milk in the morning. She is too busy drinking to be fully bothered by what I am doing and then she gloriously forgets I did anything to her. It is wonderful. For the time being I am able to create these adorable hair styles and it gives the added bonus of keeping the hair out of her face.

I know I won't be able to keep this up much longer. Sam has her own mind and makes it known when she doesn't like something. But for the time being I am going to take joy in having a little girl and getting to do her hair.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

For some time now, Ian has taken it upon himself to give everyone in our house a nickname. There is "Sammers" (Sam), "Bails" (Bailey), and "Pooh-Bear" (Jeff).

I am most impressed with the consistency and frequency at which he uses these names. Ian refers to himself as "Tigger" and pretty much got most teachers and other kids to call him this too. It's always a trip when you take him to school and other activities and the leader has to call him Tigger to get him to respond. Or when we go through airport security and the agent from TSA will ask him what his name is to make sure it matches to the boarding pass. The agent gets a good chuckle out of it when Ian answers matter-of-factly, "Tigger". So far we haven't been told we can't proceed through the security screening. Thank God!

So if Ian is Tigger, then Jeff must be Pooh. For close to a year now he started calling Jeff "pooh-bear". At first Jeff resisted and would keep saying, "Ian, my name is daddy." But Ian was persistent and now Jeff doesn't even correct him anymore and will answer to any version of "pooh-bear". There is "Pooh-beary", "Pooh-daddy" and "Big Pooh-bear".

Before you knew it, Ian gave everyone else in the house a nickname too. Everyone that is but me. The closest thing I get to being called something other than "mommy" or "mama" is "Robyn". Ian will threw in references to me when talking to Jeff or Aunt Lori and say, "Is Robyn coming with us?" Or, "Where did Robyn go?" It is always a little shocking at first to hear your four year old ask for you by your real, grown-up name.

Ian's new names for us must be catching. I heard Jeff call for the dog the other day and yell "Bails". "Bails" came running.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Don't get too attached

Tchotchke. Now there's a great word. It's fun to say on its own and its fun to fit into a sentence. My house is full of tchotchkes. I am not a pack rat by any means. I don't think you'd even come close to using the word "hoarder" when describing me. But, everywhere I turn in my house I see more and more stuff that is taking up space. Valuable space. Our house is not big, but it works perfectly for us. We make the most of our square footage and live in every square inch. We've been here for 5 years and never had a good clean-out. More and more stuff comes in and nothing seems to leave. We do manage to clean out closets regularly and make sizable donations to local charities. And, about 18 months ago, Jeff and I did a major re-org on our shed and proudly got rid of huge amounts of stuff that we hadn't even looked at in the 4 years prior to it taking up residence in there. That took two full days and the employment of a babysitter to keep Ian entertained and out of our hair. Money well spent.

Now I am getting the bug to do the same inside our 4 walls. I want to go through every drawer, cabinet, closet, shelf, open space and if it hasn't been used in the past year or has no need, then I want to get rid of it. I want to box up all the cookbooks I have sitting in our kitchen; I want to get rid of all these candlesticks we were given as wedding presents and just seem to be collecting dust; I want clear all the pictures and magnets we have on the fridge and give it a clean look; I want to get rid of all these bottles of liquor we will never drink; I want to say bye-bye to this big bag of dum-dum lollipops Ian will never eat because all the blue ones are gone; I want to clean out the pantry and throw out everything that has been there longer than 6 months; I want to toss 3 bottles of vitamins that we can't seem to get Ian to eat; I want to go through the crock that holds all the cooking utensils and clean it out; I want to clean out under the sink all the extra vases that came with flower deliveries and will never be used; I want to tackle the junk drawer! And, this is just in the kitchen.

No room will be safe from me and the trash bag. Anything of value will get donated or make its way to the shed for later evaluation on what to do with it. I want to walk in my house and only be surrounded by items that serve a purpose to me, my husband or the kids.

I have not officially started my clean-out project, but I've definitely given it a lot of thought. I've thought about when I will find huge chunks of time to do this. I've thought about going to Target and getting storage bins. I've thought about how great the house will look when I am done. Unfortunately thinking about it doesn't accomplish squat. I need to stop thinking and start doing. Currently I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the scope of the project. I figured if I write about it, I will somehow be held accountable and will make it happen. I do have a deadline looming ahead, Ian's preschool is holding a huge yard sale to raise money for some additional programs they would like to add. If I can get my butt in gear, then I will have some place very worthy to donate my stuff to for it to get sold. Let my perceived clutter be someone else's treasure.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A big thumbs up.

I love the movies. In high school and college, I worked at a movie theatre. I even had a pair of parakeets named "Siskel and Ebert". The only thing I miss in life by having kids is the ability to go to a movie any time I want or as much as I want.

I owe a huge part of this love and admiration of the movies to John Hughes. His death is affecting me more than Michael Jackson or Farrah Fawcett ever could. I was the perfect age when his movies came out in the 80's to experience them on the big screen as a first run. He had one amazing hit after another. He understood teenagers, the popular ones as well as the nerdy ones and the outcasts. Teen love, teen crushes, teen angst. All of it. He knew what it was like to be A Brain. A Recluse. A Jock. A Rebel. A Princess. Who wouldn't want to spend 8 hours on a Saturday in detention with these kids? He made you appreciate Jake Ryan getting back your panties for you. John Hughes got it. He wrote brilliantly and has some of the best movies lines ever quoted. "Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?" "What's-a-happening hot stuff?" "Just answer the question Claire." "Donger's here for 5 hours and he's got somebody. I'm here my whole life and I am like a disease." "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop look and around once in a while, you could miss it." And, there are hundreds more I could include.

Just a few weeks ago I quoted "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" to my husband on the phone upon hearing that him and Ben were sharing a bed in Lake Tahoe. "Where's your hand?" "In between two pillows." "THOSE AREN'T PILLOWS!!"

I couldn't wait to introduce my sister Meghan to his movies. Maybe I did start a little young when she was only 10 and asked "What is a nymphomaniac?" after watching "The Breakfast Club" with me. I think I'll wait a few extra years when playing his movies for my kids.

I know death happens and is a part of the life cycle. So I am trying to figure out why this is affecting me so. Is it because he was only 59? And had so many more years left to produce the sequels I've been so desperately wanting and waiting for? What happened to Ferris Bueller? Did him and Sloan really get married? Did Ferris ever grow up and get a job? What happened to Jake Ryan and Samantha after they leaned over the birthday cake and kissed? And did Blaine's friends finally accept him after he chose Andie at prom?

Ah, John Hughes was a good man and will definitely be missed. Thank you John for getting my love of the movies off to a most excellent start.

SIDE NOTE: this website was discovered by a friend of a FB friend and I think it adds a wonderful inside look to the man that was John Hughes.

Friday, August 7, 2009


I wasn't expecting much yesterday when we went to the dentist. I always schedule the appointments for first thing in the morning for several reasons; get it over with quickly, no waiting when you are the first one scheduled and the most important factor, Jeff can join us before he heads off to work.

I definitely require reinforcements. With 2 kids, it is hard to give all your attention and energy to the 'problem' child and then ignore the good, sweet, angelic one. Now that Sam is aware of what is going on, she definitely requires a little attention thrown her way too.

We've gone to a really amazing pediatric dentist every six months since Ian was 18 months old. By my math, we've seen him now 5 times before going back yesterday. There is no reason Ian should be throwing a major fit, but then again, it is Ian we are talking about and he just recently got better at getting haircuts and getting his hair washed when taking a bath.

The last visit to the dentist had me laughing so hard I had tears running down my face and continued to weeks later when telling the story to friends and family. Ian's dentist is located in a big medical complex. The building is filled with medical offices of all kinds. Ian won't willingly walk in on his own and Jeff has to carry him and hold him against his will. Ian is of course kicking and screaming at the top of his lungs the whole time. Right next to the dentist is a Retina/Eye medical office with a huge picture window that looks into the hallway. I was pushing Sam in the stroller and was slightly ahead of Ian and Jeff coming out of the elevator. I wanted to get in the dentist office and sign Ian in as soon as possible. I come to find out that right behind me, Ian kicked Jeff pretty hard in the 'family jewels' and caused them both to fall to the ground. An older gentleman in the Retina office sees this happening and rushes out yelling "MAN DOWN OUT HERE. WE NEED HELP."

Even writing this story I am still laughing pretty hard. Ah, suffice to say, we were not off to a good start for that appointment and it pretty much went downhill after that. I am not sure if what the technician is able to accomplish in Ian's mouth even qualifies as getting the job done. But I figure the more we go, the more used to going he'll get and hopefully at some point it will be a slightly pleasant, productive visit. Plus if some type of dental emergency happens, I want to have established a relationship with a dentist for the kids.

So it had been six months and yesterday it was time to go back. Surprising to me that Jeff was willing to come and assist again. What a great husband I have! Again, Ian refused to walk in and even tried hiding in the garage when getting out of the car. Jeff carried him in the building and Ian caused a scene screaming in the elevator. Everyone riding up to the 3rd floor with us was very happy they weren't going to the dentist.

We left a trail of Ian's crocs when it was time to go back for the cleaning. He had tried to make himself invisible in the back of the coat closet when they called his name. Because it is August, no coats were hiding him. Jeff scooped him up and took him to the chair. Jeff started out the appointment sitting on Ian to keep him in place. It wasn't looking good and I couldn't see how Ian could possibly calm down and catch his breath with his father sitting on top of him. I told Jeff to get up and give Ian a second for the hygienist to explain what she was going to do. Ian said he needed a minute to look out the window and see what was going on Route 50. I then told Ian he needed to come back to the chair and he could either sit in my lap or hold my hand. At some point during the next couple of minutes, a miracle occurred. Ian WILLINGLY laid back on the chair and opened his mouth for the hygienist to do the cleaning. Furthermore, she was able to get each and every tooth (front and back). It was unbelievable and Ian even commented on how fast the cleaning went. Yay! We then had a few minutes until it was time for the dentist to come and do his examination. Ian was thrilled with how white and shiny his teeth looked and had the biggest smile that went from ear to ear. We told him the dentist was just going to take a look inside and see how beautiful his teeth were. When Dr. B showed up, Ian jumped in the chair, laid back and opened his mouth bigger and wider then I've ever seen it. It was pretty fantastic. A mom and her two girls had just arrived a minute before Ian saw the dentist and she was blown away by how eager Ian was to have him look in his mouth. Ah, if she only knew what transpired 10 minutes prior.

Just like wine, Ian keeps getting better with age. I look back and realize how normal I thought it was for him to have major, heavy-duty temper tantrums and fits every where we went he didn't want to be. My fingers are crossed that we are getting the worst of it behind us. What a strong-willed, determined little boy I have on my hands. I know these qualities will serve him well when he gets older, but for now, I wish he would be like the majority of his friends who don't cause a scene and don't require two parents to take him places that are going to be tumultuous.

Never one to rest easy and enjoy the progress we've made, on the way out of the dentist office when making Ian's next appointment 6 months from now, I added Samantha to their schedule.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Psychic Powers (aka I knew you'd be reading this)

It is a small, small world and I am always pleasantly surprised when random connections are discovered. We met a lovely mom and her 3 kids last year when Ian was doing gymnastics during the Fall/Winter. Each Thursday, Ian and Grace would be inside the room and the moms would be on the other side of the glass wall sitting on chairs watching. I got to know Kari and we exchanged our contact information before that last class of the session ended. Since March, emails were exchanged back and forth a few times trying to find a day and time to get the kids together for a playdate. It has been since the end of May that we last communicated and trying find a mutual date that worked was too challenging.

I hadn't thought about Kari since then and had no reason to either one afternoon last week as I was taking the kids to our friend Bridget's house for a playdate after camp. It was weird that she popped into my mind and I thought that maybe Bridget and her family might be friends with them. They have very similar family values (believe in a big family (4+ kids), very much into church, didn't do the preschool route readily, etc.). It wouldn't have been that far of a stretch for the two families to have found each other over the past 4 years.

No, Bridget did not know Kari and that was the end of that. Later that night an email comes from Kari to Jen (another mom, along with Bridget I met from my Burke MOMs Club) and me. Jen recently signed up to Facebook and Kari (one of Jen's friends) notices my name as a friend. She wondered how I knew Jen and invited us to all come together for a playdate. Jen used to live across the street from Kari before they moved to another part of Burke.

How completely random is that?!?!?! Bridget didn't know her, but Jen did. And, I hadn't thought of Kari or heard from her in months and on the very same day, she sends me an email about another mommy friend I do know.

It's stuff like this that happens that makes me believe I am a little bit psychic. However, my psychic powers seem to have the same sense of direction I have on the road getting from point A to point B. Apparently it got a little misdirected.

Got to love Facebook for having GPS and helping bring these connections to light.

And, in other completely cosmic-sort-of-wierd-psychicness gone astray: I emailed my friend to tell her I would pick her up at 6:41pm for the movie we were going to see (which started at 7:05pm). Not sure why I picked 6:41pm, just thought I would be a little quirky and as Ian says, "mix things up a bit". The same exact day my other friend Wendy was in the process of texting with a guy to meet up for drinks/date. Guess what time he said they should meet? You got it. 6:41pm. How weird is that?!?!?! Sometimes I do think there is more than coincidence at play.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Heard and Observed II


Ian: "Do we have to do my hair? Didn't we do it last night?"
Daddy: "Ian, you haven't had a bath in two days; we are definitely doing your hair."
Ian: "Ok, then let's also do my penis."



Waking up the next morning after being sick the previous day throwing-up.
"My tongue is as dry as the desert."



On the way to camp, Ian tells me the following --

"You know, our teacher says it is okay if we want to play by ourselves. But Henry and I don't listen to her. We like to play together. But yesterday, our love broke and Henry was building something and I was cash registering."



Ian: "Bailey is looking like Lori's weddding gift. I don't want a dog anymore. I'd like a goldfish now."



Ian: "Mommy, daddy and me love the Redskins. It is our favorite football team. We don't call them the Blackskins. Just the Redskins. I can't wait to watch football with daddy. Do you love the Redskins too?"



One of the cutest things is when we pull into the synagogue parking lot that houses Ian's preschool during the school year and camp during the summer and I get to witness first hand how well-liked Ian is. As we are getting in or out of the car, other classmates and campers will be driving by and the kids' windows will be down. Girls and boys alike shout as the car rolls by "HHHHHiiiiiiiiii IIIIIIAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNN" It is truly adorable and makes me appreciate what a friendly, social little boy I have in my midst.



Chixo Girls - "I don't want it for MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. I want it for Sam."

Space Bags - "Mommy, if we get more stuff and we don't know where to put it, let's get Space Bags. Space Bag products are sold in thousands of places."

Big City Slider - "If daddy needs something else to grill, he should get this."

Touch 'N Brush - "When we get this, we won't need to have the cap on the toothpaste."


Saturday, August 1, 2009

R.I.P. Pasta

I am not a happy camper right now. I need a few days to digest (no pun intended!) what is going on and come to terms with it. I believe I've been given the diagnosis of having Celiac Disease. Ugh!! To anyone not familiar with what Celiac is, here is an informative link that will answer all your questions. Celiac Disease

My GI doctor's office called and said the pathology report from the biopsy is in and it appears my malabsorption of nutrients is due to Celiac. They would like me to have a blood test to confirm the results as my small intestine was a little too inflamed to be 100% conclusive. Freakin' Fanstastic. Good-bye pizza, good-bye pasta, good-bye popcorn. Good-bye to anything I think tastes good. My life as I've known it is over.

Fortunately my follow-up appointment with the doctor is not until September. So I still have a little more than a month to enjoy food before it becomes something solely eaten for sustenance. For the time being, I am going to live in denial and savor each bite of wheat, grain and gluten.

I realize in the big scheme of things, this is not the end of the world. I know there are people who suffer from much, much worse and would probably welcome the opportunity to only have to deal with something minor like Celiac. But, this is the end of MY world. I enjoy eating pasta and popcorn more than the average person; actually probably more than the average family combined. And getting gluten-free versions is not going to be the same. It will take advance planning, major effort and just not a whole lot of fun. But if it means that my body will function the way it is intended and help ward off more serious ailments, then it will be worth it. Right? Right. At least I keep telling myself that. Got to wrap this up, my bagel just popped out of the toaster.