Saturday, October 31, 2009

Heard and Observed IV

At his first soccer session of the season:

Ian: My soccer ball is getting a little dirty. I think we need to give it a bath.


Ian picking out his clothes in the morning to get dressed:

Ian: I need fast underwear.


Upon hearing that Ian will be up way past his bedtime, in order to make an appearance at Lori's wedding:

Ian: Daddy, I can stay up all night if you need me to.


After wearing the suit for only 10 minutes to have pictures taken:

Ian: I am never wearing a suit again, not even for my own wedding.


Ian: Momma, I am going to be a racing man when I grow up. And, you are going to be in the pit crew. I will needed the fastest tires you can put on.


Ian: Is James going to turn 4 1/2 before me?
Me: Yes, Ian he is.
Ian: Then I am going to change my birthday.


Ian: When I get the Flu Mist, will I need a band-aid?
Me: No Ian, no band-aid is needed.
Ian: I am going to get the Flu shot in my nose every year. This is the only flu shot I am ever going to get again.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Spooktacular fun!

Every Fall I have a small list of things I like to do with the family; apple picking, getting a pumpkin from the local pumpkin patch, carving pumpkins with our friends, and visiting a few of our favorite Fall festivals (pumpkin playgrounds). Due to most of October being a blur (preparing, traveling, and recovering from my sister's wedding did me in) and seemingly endless amount of rain on the free weekends we did have, I was seriously behind in my favorite Fall activities.

With just one week to go until Oct. 31st came upon us, it took Ian to bring up the fact we did not even have a pumpkin in our preparation for Halloween. Since I am all about efficiency and multi-tasking, I said let's go to Burke Nursery, where they have the pumpkin playground, and we can also pick out a pumpkin to take home with us. In my personal opinion, the cost of admission ($12 a person for everyone over the age of 2 on the weekends) is a little high and and not completely worth the money for what you get, but you can't beat the convenience factor of how close it is to where we live and it was a beautiful day to be out. Plus, at the end of the day, I'd be able to cross two things off my Fall activity to-do list.

We get to Burke Nursery and do the wagon ride first. Then we start tackling the slides and take our cue from Ian on what he wants to do next. Everything was going well and after about 40 minutes we ask Ian where to next. He said he wanted to get the pumpkin. Jeff and I look at each other and realize that our time at Burke Nursery was so not worth it if we were about to go pick out a pumpkin and leave. One lesson we've learned over the years is that when things are going well, not to push it. If Ian no longer wanted to be there, we weren't going to force it. So we go pick out a pumpkin. Ian takes his time, looks at each pumpkin of interest at every angle possible. He picks up a few, says he wants that one and then changes his mind. Finally he settles on a pumpkin and we go pay for it. As we are walking to the car, Ian asks where we are going. Both Jeff and I answer in unison, "We are going home." Ian says he is not ready to go home and wants to go back to the slides, the wagon ride, all of it. Jeff and I stop in our tracks and realize what just happened. Ian's main goal was to get a pumpkin. He was focused on this single thing. Everything else was inconsequential. But Jeff and I had it in our heads that we would get the pumpkin on the way out as it would make the most sense on exiting. It's funny how this lack of communication shows just how literal Ian takes things.

So after delivering the pumpkins to the car, we head back to the pumpkin playground and spend another 2.5 hours having a blast. The weather was perfect and I am guessing that the pressure of having gotten the pumpkin picked and out of the way helped Ian to have a better time.

As a side note, the pumpkin playground that is worth the money is Cox Farms. This place rocks! It is a little more expensive ($15 a person on the weekends for everyone over the age of 2), but the grounds are enormous and you can easily spend the whole day having fun.

While we missed the boat as a family apple picking this year (however, Ian did go with a good friend of his and their family), we plan to tackle Cox Farms this coming weekend. Fortunately we won't have the interruption of picking out a pumpkin.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The electric company is very happy

Our recent hotel visit was at a beautiful Hyatt, with sleeping rooms that had been newly renovated. Everything was top-notch and done in a modern, contemporary design. The architects thought of all details, small and large and had included some wonderfully cool design elements, like a touch lamp and ceiling fans. Over by the desk, built in was a power strip for guests to use. I've never seen a power strip in a hotel room before and immediately felt like someone had read my mind on what a hotel room needs.

Upon arrival, Jeff & I, start plugging in the various technology gadgets we have and realize that this power strip of 6 outlets will not be enough. How can that be?!?! We've made do before with just the one or two outlets we'll find randomly around the room. Now that we know we have 6 at our disposal we must prioritize what gets plugged in. Each of us have a cell phone that needs to get recharged. Then we must recharge the iPod Touch from the airplane ride in case Ian would like to use it over the course of our stay. We also have the white noise machine to plug in for Sam because she is such a light sleeper. There is the video monitor to plug in so that we can watch her while she is sleeping. We need to know when she is really awake to go in & get her and not disturb her prematurely. Lastly, I have a digital camera, video camera, and iPod that may need recharging at some point in the weekend and of course, we can't forget about plugging in the laptop. Oh my! When did we become so dependent on technology and create this need for all things electronic? It is crazy! And I know, I can't turn back now and give anything back. I love my gadgets and wait anxiously for each new invention and what cool, awesome conveniences it will do for me.

Fortunately we had adjoining rooms and had access to an extra power strip just waiting for our plugs. But as everything gets made these days smaller, more powerful and extra portable, you so easily want to pack it just because you can. Rather than decide what comes and what stays, why have any regrets and just take it all with you? Our kids today are growing up never knowing what the world was like before cell phones and iPods. As far as Ian is concerned he thinks touch technology has always been invented. He knows how to use the iPod Touch better than his father and has his own digital camera. In fact he never new what life was like not being able to view a picture instantly after having taken it. It is a very cool, advanced world they are growing up in, but I've got to stop and ask myself; when does it end? How many more things will we have a 'need' for in the future that will require us to plug in and recharge? At what point will we check into a hotel room and tell them to please send up 3 power strips for us to use?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

It's the little things

giving the kids their bath each night, de-icing my car during Winter when he is leaving for work and I still have no place to be for a few hours, running downstairs most nights to get me that last drink or snack while I am already in bed, unloading the dishwasher, no longer wearing socks 'straight-up', taking out never-ending bags of trash, thanking me for making dinner each night, filling up my car with gas every time he drives it, making sure my wallet always has some cash in it, being extra quiet in the morning when he is getting ready for work and I am still sleeping, alternating who will wake-up with the kids on weekend mornings, worrying we never have enough milk in the house for the kids and making special trips to the grocery store, thinking 2 steps ahead with logistics, re-stocking the diaper bag before an outing, doing his own laundry, for calling from the store and asking if there is anything else we need, for trying so hard not to laugh when he doesn't find me funny and fails miserably at this, for knowing when it's been an especially long day and saying 'let's go out to dinner', giving up wearing pants with pleats, offering to make me something to eat whenever I say I am hungry, cleaning the bathrooms, vacuuming my car....

For this and so many million other reasons, I love him dearly and so incredibly grateful that we met 7 years ago today.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Every day has one, unless you need to borrow yesterday's

Something Jeff and I started a while ago was asking Ian and each other what the highlight of our day was. It gives us a chance to reflect on the good stuff that occurred and be able to share it with the family. I enjoy this time during dinner and look forward to the answers Ian is going to give. Seeing as how I spend most of my time with the kids, I know what Ian goes through during his day and generally he doesn't give the answer I think he will. What I think might be the most awesome thing of his day sometimes doesn't even rank a mention when giving daddy a recap. It fascinates me how his mind works and I love coming up with new things to discuss with him to see what his take on it is.

Last week we experienced 4 days of non-stop rain in the Washington, D.C. metro area, with increasingly chilly temperatures that rarely got out of the 40s. Having a very high-energy little boy makes it difficult to stay indoors and find new things to keep him entertained without turning to tv watching as an all day activity. We invited one of Ian's best pals, Ethan, for a playdate on Saturday. The boys had soccer pictures to take in the morning (at 8:15am!!), but after that, we went back to our house and they did a great job of entertaining each other. As Jeff put it correctly, why does the addition of one kid make me feel like we have one less? Ah, this was so true. I almost wished that I had twins Ian's age for them to play like this all the time. At 4:00pm, the playdate was over and I took Ethan back home. He was incredibly well-behaved and a joy to have over.

During dinner that night, I asked Ian what the highlight of his day was. Without hesitation, he said his playdate with Ethan. Since they were together for 8 hours, I figured as much that would be his answer. The next day we went to the gym in the morning and Ian made a new friend in the childcare center at Gold's. We had a hard time getting him to leave after being there for an hour. Then I took Ian to a birthday party at one of his favorite places to go, a bounce place called "Kids N Motion". It was a fun-filled day for Ian and despite another day of rain, he got a great deal of activity and play with his friends. At dinner that night I asked Ian what the highlight of his day was. He took an extra moment or two to think about all he did earlier in the day and replied with the following: "I had so much fun with Ethan yesterday that my highlight today is that he was here all day yesterday."

How cute is that?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Here comes the bride, the groom and the Toppall's

There are many parts to a wedding we told Ian. He wasn't technically in the wedding, but we needed him to dress up and put on a suit for pictures. Therefore, it was important that he felt like he was included in the festivities. Jeff came up with the perfect idea to tell Ian he would be part of the rehearsal and a big part of pictures. And, my mom wanted him to be able to see the wedding reception in action and get to dance with the family and guests. Ian was very excited about all the parts he was included in and didn't realize what he was missing when the real ceremony, dinner and reception took place. My 1st cousin Leslie's little boy Max came to Orlando for the weekend and the two boys, only 6 weeks apart in age, had a blast getting to spend so much time together. Since Leslie and her family live in CT, it was a wonderful opportunity for the boys to reconnect.

Despite 95 degree heat, Ian did a great job participating at the rehearsal. He was able to step in for Ben's sister Anna, whose plane was delayed and she couldn't make it to the rehearsal. This was more than we could've hoped for in terms of giving Ian a reason to participate. He performed his 'bridesmaid' duties beautifully and looked awfully cute walking arm in arm with Luke, Anna's matched-up groomsmen.

Pictures were scheduled for 4:15pm; a good 2.5 hours before the wedding was to begin. I was a little nervous about how Ian would take to wearing a suit. It was ordered online and when it arrived in the mail, Ian was incredibly excited about the pants (they had no button or zipper) and said ok to the tie. The button down shirt and jacket however, he was a little leery of. I had visions of him looking like a Chippendale dancer in the formal pictures, rather than a sweet, 4 year old little boy. Fortunately the groomsmen, groom, and his grandfathers were in a tux, so he felt incredibly grown-up getting to dress like them.

When we got the kids dressed, we headed to my sister's suite to help her get in her gown. Ian and Sam were a big hit in their formal clothing and we couldn't resist a few pictures before letting the professional do his thing. It never occurred to me that this is when Ian thought the pictures were being taken and that his part was done. Convincing him to keep his suit on for another 30 to 45 minutes was tough. Fortunately Nana came to the rescue and completely changed his tune. It is amazing the effect one, very much loved grandmother (my dad's wife) can have on the attitude of a 4 year old. She took him down from the ledge and got him to cooperate fully. It was pretty spectacular and the photographs turned out fabulously. I don't have access to the original files, so unfortunately I can't post a picture.

Our weekend nanny whisked the kids away, got them changed into comfy clothes and fed them dinner while Jeff and I finished with the pictures and partake in the wedding. Due to needing the sun to set before the Jewish ceremony could take place, Lori had the cocktail hour first, then the ceremony, followed by dinner and dancing. I found out from the wedding coordinator (it would've been a BIG mistake to ask Lori anything in the hours leading up to the wedding) that the Horah (traditional Jewish dance to mark a celebration) would be one of the first things played by the band before the 1st course was served. This was the perfect opportunity to get the boys and have them come see the wedding. The hour was already quite late and well past Ian's usual bedtime, but it was a special occasion and anything goes when the grandparents are involved. :)

Ian couldn't believe his eyes when he made it into the room and saw Aunt Lori and Uncle Ben raised on chairs, being lifted high above everybody's head. Once they were safely back on the ground, Lori scooped up Ian in her arms and started dancing with him. Ian also got to dance with all the grandmas (he's got 3) and have a 5 minute glimpse of a what wedding reception is all about.

Other than a few glitches; the rabbi showing up 35 minutes late, the ceremony having to be moved inside because of impending rain, and the top of my dress having a tough time staying up, it was an absolutely beautiful wedding. I've never seen my sister look so gorgeous. She was an absolutely stunning bride. And Ben, my new brother-in-law looked very handsome.

Ian reports that he is done wearing a suit. He says he won't even wear one for his own wedding. Ha! That is a battle his future wife can try to win.

The weekend was exhausting and I am super glad it is all behind us. It will be nice to get back to my routine of life with the two kids and no longer worry about all the little things -- who will take care of the kids while we are at the hotel? How will we manage with Samantha being such a light sleeper? Will we survive the plane flight to and from Orlando? Is Ian going to cooperate and justify spending the money for him to be wearing special clothes for only 30 minutes?

In the end, it all worked out. Ian was incredibly well-behaved and Samantha was a real trooper. My Toppall team represented us well and I couldn't be prouder.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Big Boy Bed Surprise Caper

According to me, everything went exactly as planned. But if you ask Jeff his opinion, the plan should've never been executed. We have a big difference of opinion on when the switch from Ian's toddler bed to a full size bed should've gone down. Once the bedding arrived, I felt there was no reason to wait a second longer than necessary. Jeff, however, was happy to wait until we got back from our trip and then only schedule it on our calendar when we basically had nothing else going on. Ha! Like that was ever going to happen.

I saw an opportunity and I took it. The plan went as follows: One of my best girlfriends enjoys seeing the kids and was happy to come to the house after work one day and take Ian to dinner. While Ian was out of the house, Jeff & I would jump into action and go to work. All we had to do was disassemble the toddler bed, rearrange the furniture in his room, and vacuum the floor. Once that was done, then we go to the shed, get the bed frame, carry in the box spring and mattress and set-up the new bed. The whole time we are in execution mode, Jeff is in a seriously bad mood and keeps chewing me out for my lousy timing. I guess he felt there were other things we could better do with our time the night before we left for my sister's wedding. Eating dinner, packing, and taking the dog to a friend's house was at the top of his list. Plus, I don't think Jeff fully appreciated the time crunch to get everything done before Ian returned from dinner. His idea was that Ian go to a friend's house for a playdate (several hours long) on a free Saturday or Sunday and we leisurely make the switch. Has he seen our calendar!?!?! This switch wouldn't occur until the month of January when we don't have a new calendar yet to fill up.

Thanks to our awesome teamwork we got the job done in time and anxiously awaited Ian's return. I stood in the corner of his room with my video camera and digital camera ready to go to work. Ian and Wendy walked through the front door and Jeff told Ian to go straight upstairs to get his bath. As Ian enters his bedroom to take off his clothes, his eyes got bigger than saucers and he instantly went speechless. His mouth fell open and nothing came out. Ian being speechless in itself is no small feat. He was blown away by what he saw and couldn't believe his eyes. He ran to his new bed, jumped up on it and yelled, "This is better than I could have ever expected." Then Ian started kissing the new "CARS" comforter and pillows.

It was a really cool surprise and I, for one, is happy that we didn't wait any longer than we needed to. When you have something that you know your child is going to absolutely adore, you want them to experience it as soon as possible.

And, as an added bonus, Wendy took Bailey home to our friend's house for his stay while we went out of town. That alone, gave me more than an hour of my time back. Yes, so I could pack and eat dinner and hear more from my husband about what a terrible idea it was do this tonight.

Friday, October 16, 2009

And, she's off...

At Sam's 15 month well-baby appointment, the dr said if she hadn't started walking in 6 weeks, to call her and she would refer us for physical therapy. Most babies take their first steps around 12 months of age, but have until 18 months before they are considered developmentally delayed. Knowing how long it takes to get in the system, have the evaluation and be recommended for PT, we needed to get the process started. When I spoke to the contact and told her how Sam would take one step, maybe two and then instantly go to crawling, she said it sounded like a confidence problem. How could this be? I tell Samantha how great she is all the time!!

If anyone asks Sam when she really first started walking, she can proudly answer it was in a bowling alley. One of my favorite hang-outs with Ian, we spent the perfect rainy day afternoon at what has got to be the most kid-friendly, sparkling clean bowling alley known to man. As reported back in July "A girl on the go", Sam has been intrigued by the game and does her best to get as close to the action as she can.

Yesterday she proved she can move. Every time I put her down, she would waddle as fast as her legs would take her and make her way to the ball return machine. When she realized I was hot on her tail, she would pick up the speed even more and attempt to go down the alley. Fortunately there was only one other family playing so it was ok for her to feel her oats and see how far she could get. She got a big kick out of it every time I scooped her up and had her start over again. This never-ending cycle must've gone on for over an hour. Not sure who got more exercise, me or her going back and forth, over and over again.

Our appointment with the service coordinator to get Samantha's evaluation is scheduled for November 10th. I have a feeling that in the next week or so, I'll happily be calling Carol and telling her we no longer need their help. Sam has proven in the past 16 months that she is doing everything in her own sweet time, on her own schedule. She needs to be motivated to want to do something, before she will practice the skill. Once she gets the idea planted in her brain, her determination kicks in high gear. While it is refreshing that she is her own person and plays by her own rules, I just wish she wouldn't push it so close to the edge of what is considered 'normal'. Although, I have a feeling that this is the beginning of many worries to come with her. After all, she is a girl.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A number best when going down

I used to have two weights. The real number and a number I was comfortable saying out-loud if I HAD to tell someone and I knew there was no way for them to check. For example, when you go to the DMV or when an agent comes to your house to do the medical exam for life insurance and you see he has no scale in his bag. I'm not saying I threw out my dream number of 110 (ha! I don't think I was even born this weight), I'm just saying I shaved off 10, 20, maybe 30 pounds so I didn't sound like such a porker.

When my sister got engaged, I absolutely refused to be photographed looking chunky and went all out, giving it 100% to lose weight. I had 56 pounds to get to my goal weight (and this only puts me at the high end of what is supposed to be a healthy range for my height) and joined Weight Watchers to help me lose it. By the time Lori's wedding came along, I got within 14 pounds of my goal and felt pretty good about my progress. I would even be happy if I can just maintain my loss and not lose another a pound. But I am determined to keep going and figure out how to work being a vegetarian, going gluten-free and being on Weight Watchers.

I have now gotten to the point where the number I was willing to say out-loud is now higher than the actual number. I remember back in January when they were wheeling me on the stretcher for the appendectomy surgery and the nurse asked how much I weighed. Knowing there was no way they were going to break out a scale, I gave my "ok, here it is" number. 10 days later when I had to go for my follow-up appointment, I didn't realize I would actually have to get on a scale. Yikes!! It was the middle of Winter; there were only so many layers I could take off (I was wearing JEANS!!); I had just eaten lunch and was expected to get on the scale. Furthermore, the nurse had my chart and was about to compare the pre-surgery number with the post-surgery number. OMG! I was in trouble!!

Lo and behold, no one was more surprised than me when the number was one pound less than what was documented in my chart. Whew! It was then that I realized I needed to re-evaluate my verbal weight number. I was so used to saying this number, that it didn't dawn on me that in reality I was weighing less. I could now easily take another 10 to 15 pounds off what I told people I weighed. And yes, I have since been told that they were asking me my weight probably to figure out how much anesthesia to give me. Fortunately everything turned out and they sufficiently put me under.

I've always had issues with my weight and generally have no desire for anyone to know what I really weigh. A few years ago, my sister was in town and accompanied me to the dr to have something on my skin looked at. I told Lori she could come back with me to the exam room. On the way back to the room, the nurse stopped in front of the scale and asked me to get on. I replied back with a very nice, polite, "No thank you." Lori started laughing and said she had no idea that was optional.

I thank my lucky stars that my sister gave me enough time to lose weight for her wedding. It felt good to show up and feel like I had given it my all and this was the best it was going to get. I actually lost 25 pounds more for my sister's wedding than I did my own. Who knows what magical things I'll be able to accomplish by the time my other sister Meghan gets married.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Good Life

So this is how the rich and famous live. I can get used to a life like this. We just returned from my sister's wedding in Orlando and the babysitter situation could not have worked out any better. Having a wonderful nanny available at your beck and call is a really cool thing. Jackie came highly recommended from my friend Amanda, who uses her as a nanny for her little girl during the week. Jackie was warm, friendly and brilliant at her job. Not only did the kids instantly take to her, but Jeff and I did too.

Jackie was with us on Saturday for 13 hours and 10 hours on Sunday. For a good part of the time she was an extra pair of hands and jumped in when needed. She had these amazing instincts on when to help out and when to take a step back. Plus, with very minimal instruction, she was fantastic with Sam and remembered everything the first time.

Jackie made the logistics part of how we would take care of the kids for the wedding and all related activities easy. Because of her there was no stress and definitely no worry on if the kids were in good hands. She rocked!

I told Amanda we were keeping her. Since I am not rich or famous this of course will never come to be. But for 48 hours, it was nice to live like a rockstar and have a traveling nanny for the weekend. Fortunately we didn't have any run-ins with the paparazzi.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fly no more

That's it. I am done. All done. I consider myself to be fearless and willing to go where most individuals would dare not attempt, but I've officially found a brick wall that is too challenging to climb. No more flying with me and the kids for a very long time. A very, very long time. I don't want to fly again until I can have a two-way conversation with Samantha and be able to have her understand the bribes I am more than willing to throw her way.

During the Summer season to the beginning of the new year, I generally make 3 trips to Orlando to visit family. We'll go for a few weeks during the summer, come back for the Thanksgiving holiday and go back a third time to spend Ian's Winter break from preschool (the weeks of Christmas and New Years).

I've always had my work cut out for me when flying with Ian. But he has since become the golden boy and does incredibly well flying. I even temporarily misplaced the iPod Touch and he went the whole 2 hour flight without any electronic entertainment. And I know he was so looking forward to watching the CARS movie for the 100th time. Wow is all I can say for how far he has come.

What has really done in me in is Sam. She is a screaming, crying mess. It doesn't make sense. It can't be her ears because the screaming starts well before we even start pulling away from the gate. By the time we land at our destination, she has screamed for a good 1.5 hours out of a possible 2. It's bad. Really bad. Jeff and I even spaced ourselves and each took a kid to a different row. At least on this flight everyone was understanding and even came up to us afterwards and apologized for what we went through.

Until she outgrows this and I can get her to tell me what is going on in her pretty little head, I have no desire to go to Florida. I will be happy being grounded for the next year or so. Jeff thinks that by Thanksgiving 2010 we will be able to make a return trip. Right now that feels like way too soon.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Finding "The One"

In 3 days my sister is getting married. Just like I never thought I would meet "The One", my sister Lori felt the same way about herself. In fact, the year she met Ben, she was invited to 4 weddings, all occurring in the same calendar year. These weddings took her all over the country from L.A. to Aspen and Miami. In most cases, each involved good friends who Lori knew since grade school, if not longer. I can remember her telling us how it was a 'couple's world' and she was never going to meet anyone. She was not looking forward to going to these weddings solo.

And, BAM!, just when you don't expect it to happen, when you think it never will, the perfect guy for you comes into your life. It all becomes clear and you know it was meant to be. This guy is your bashert (yiddish word, meaning 'destiny'). Lori was meant to meet Ben. It happened at Jodi's wedding in California; a family friend whose parents (hers and mine) were friends before Lori was even born. Jodi was marrying a guy named Dave, who went to college with Ben. Looking back and realizing all the crazy things that occurred to get Ben and Lori on the same shuttle from the hotel to the ceremony makes you realize that bigger forces were at play. And to boot, my mom was on the shuttle and witnessed the very first meeting too. Ben even asked my mom to dance that night. Anyone who knows my mom, knows this is HUGE!

From the way the story goes, Lori and Ben hit it off instantly. At the end of the evening, Ben inquired about seeing Lori again. Lori laughed and said, "I'm going on a cruise with my Aunt Hilda tomorrow morning. It is a 5 day cruise." In a move we come to later find out that is incredibly out-of-character for Ben, he got himself on the sold-out cruise and called Lori on her cell phone to tell her he was aboard the ship. Really. Lori and Aunt Hilda (who by the way grilled Ben endlessly for 5 days trying to get any kind of dirt on him. She couldn't find a single thing wrong with him.) enjoyed getting to know Ben better and had a fun week cruising. At the end of the trip, Aunt Hilda invited Ben to spend the weekend with them before Lori needed to head to the airport and Ben needed to drive back to where he lived, in San Francisco. Lori lived in Philadelphia at the time and upon telling her boss her great story of meeting someone at the wedding, arranged for Lori to go back to L.A. later that week for a work meeting. Lori called Ben, told him she could be in his area that weekend coming up and had a follow-up date in his city of S.F.

Fast forward 2 years later and Ben proposed to Lori. To say my family loves Ben is an understatement. He is easy going, very talented, musically gifted, incredibly nice and an all around great guy. He complements Lori and together they make a great pair. Ben started showing up at our family events and it is like he has always been there.

Lori ended up not having to go to the rest of the weddings that year or any of the other myriad of weddings she has been invited to since by herself. More than just finding a date to go to weddings with, she found someone to go through the rest of her life with.

It will be my pleasure to stand next to her and witness her nuptials. I can't wait to dance and celebrate the journey that brought her to this day. And I couldn't ask for a better man to become my brother-in-law.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sweet dreams

No matter what time Ian wakes up in the morning (and usually it is early, very early), he'll hang out in his dark room and wait to hear or see some movement from our bedroom across the hallway. The minute he does, he grabs his lovey, Gymbo, and heads straight inside our room. We keep our door 3/4 of the way shut, but he can still get a bird's eye view to see if we are awake.

The other day, he woke up at 5:45am and proceeded to talk non-stop about how much he disliked his bed. Due to the hour it was in the morning, I laid very still in my bed and listened to him speak. And, yes, he was the only one in his room, talking to himself. He discussed how his bed is too small and very low to the ground. He said his pillow itched. He started listing all his friends who had bigger beds than him. He compared his bed to the one Papa Bear uses on the show "Bernenstain Bears". He spoke for more than an hour and didn't run out of things to say about his toddler bed.

Yes, we agree it is time for him to get a bigger big boy bed. Fortunately Jeff and I have a plan of action for upgrading Ian's toddler bed. The toddler bed has served him well and it would be nice to do something to reward all the magnificent behavioral changes we've been experiencing. We told Ian we would get him his new bed for Hanukkah. However, the mattress set is already in our shed (it used to be in the guest room before Sam took over this bedroom) and I ordered online the CARS bedding he has been requesting.

Ian thinks the bed transformation will not take place until December (when Hanukkah occurs this year), but Jeff and I have planned a surprise. As soon as the bedding arrives, we will keep him occupied and do a quick switch - out with the old, in with the new. We won't say anything to him about it and just wait for him to discover it on his own....mostly likely when it is time for him to go upstairs and get his bath. Or, the worst case scenario being (and I could see this being just the way it goes down), he is sent for a time-out in his room and discovers this wonderful treasure during a punishment. Ha! What kind of time-out is that going to be?!!?!?

I am looking forward to this surprise and will have our video camera ready to record his excitement. Who knows, maybe this will be just the trick to get him to sleep in a little later in the morning?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

a.k.a. Bailey's Mom

Bailey, my German Shepherd, was born on April 29, 2001. I brought him home 7 weeks later, weighing in at just 6 pounds. Over the next several months he grew into the big boy he is today and now proudly tips the scales at 95 pounds. To anyone who doesn't know him, Bailey is a bit intimidating looking and not something you would want to encounter in a dark alley. However, to the guests at the party last night, he is a big cream puff. Bailey I've come to realize has a very big fan base and it seemed that all the major players were in the same room as me.

One of "the girls" recently got engaged and the other girls & I co-hosted an engagement party for family and friends. It was a fabulous evening and everything turned out beautifully. There was a small group of guests who I hadn't met yet but they were all too familiar with Bailey. It was really weird being introduced, "This is Bailey's mom." Or, "I heard you are Bailey's Mom."

Over the past 8 years, Bailey has made his way into some of my friend's homes and even a friend's boyfriend's (now fiance) brother's home. In the case of the latter, Mike lives in a fabulous house (complete with huge pool in the backyard) and graciously opens his doors for Bailey to come and stay for a few days while we are away on trips. For the first time last night, I got to officially meet Mike's parents, who also live in this house where Bailey goes to stay. Bailey has quite a life away from us. Mike makes YouTube videos, set to music, and features Bailey swimming and playing catch. It is very sweet.

Also in attendance last night was the friend whose house was recently broken in to and she no longer felt safe living by herself. She borrowed Bailey for a week to help her sleep at night again and to be seen in the neighborhood with a scary-looking new companion. Sabrina had Bailey come visit once before when he was just a little puppy when I went out of town overnight. Now that Bailey was full grown, it was time for him to go to work. Bailey rose to the occasion and proved to be an invaluable help to Sabrina. She said if it weren't for her two bunnies she has as pets, she probably wouldn't be giving him back. They went for super long walks every day and he would lay at her feet if she was working from home. Sabrina brought a friend to the party last night who had met Bailey while he was at her house. He too, thought Bailey was amazing.

Before you know it, we had quite a conversation going about the 'fabulousness' of my dog. I do believe that Bailey really prefers living with a single person who has no entanglements (like kids or a spouse) to get in the way. For his first few formative years of his life, it was just the two of us. Bailey would sleep in my bed with me and even though he had his own pillow, most nights would find us sharing one together. I am sure we were quite a sight.

Now Bailey's life consists of two toddlers who test his patience, play with his food and cook up new ways to bug him. He no longer sleeps in my bed and is banished from being on the furniture altogether. I am sure he pines for the days of his youth when it was just the two of us.

For a brief period last night I got to remember just how cool my dog is and what he means to everyone. How much joy, fun and comfort he brings into the lives of those around him. I was "Bailey's Mom" and that was a pretty good person to be.

I think I will take him for a long walk this morning. Of course, his sister Samantha will be in the stroller next to him.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Where there is a will, there is a way

Once I have my mind set on something, there is very little getting in the way of seeing it happen.

A few days before I left for my Girl's Weekend, I heard that Judy Blume was going to be at the National Book Festival. Instantly I had visions of getting the book "Are you there God? It's me, Margaret" signed for my sweet little girl, Samantha. My mom gave me a box set of Judy Blume's books when I turned 9 or 10 and they forever changed my life. Judy Blume started my love affair with books. I absolutely love to read and owe this all to the wonderful books Blume wrote about being an adolescent.

One of the girls I was enjoying the weekend with is the wife of a good friend, John. Dana told me that her husband was taking their girls (ages 5 and 3) to the Book Festival and would be more than happy to get me a signed copy of the book. How wonderful!!

John made a valiant effort, but the line was more than 300 deep and not something that would be realistic to stand in and wait. I very much appreciated the effort and planned to come up with another way to accomplish my goal. Now that I had this in my head I wanted to do it, there was nothing going to stop me. Although, my back-up plan was to wait for her to come back to town and camp out if needed to get to the front of the line. I had 8 years to see this through.

John (determined to get me a signed copy too) and I must've come up with the same thought, because we both found an email address for Judy Blume and wrote her.

And to my delight, here is her reply:

Hi Robyn,

Thanks for your email. Judy feels terrible that so many readers waited so long and then were turned away. It was really a problem of the organizers, most of whom were volunteers and so had no experience dealing with long lines at a book signing. They should have cut the line off but they didn't until it was way too late. Of course Judy will sign a book for your daughter. If you send it to the address below with these emails and your daughter's name we'll get it back to you ASAP.

Very best regards,
Pippa Mills
Assistant to Judy Blume

How incredibly cool is this!?!?!? I've always greatly admired Judy Blume as an author, but have now taken my love for her to a whole new level. It is so refreshing when you put someone you admire up on a pedestal and they don't disappoint.

I am most excited that when Samantha turns 9, I'll be able to give her a personalized, signed copy of "Are you there God? It's Me, Margaret". This means more to me than Samantha will probably ever know. However, if she is anything like me (and so far, indications strongly point us to being 'cut from the same cloth'), I know one day she'll appreciate the gesture and look forward to handing down the copy to her daughter.