Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of the year wrap-up

I always get reflective this time of the year and take stock as to where I've been and where I'm headed. I thought you would enjoy an update on some of the topics I blogged about. I've linked the stories to the original blog entry in case you need a refresher.

I Am Mommy; Here Me Roar!

Time and time again I've been told that kids love boundaries. I have found this to be true. I am very happy to say that the majority of Ian's outbursts and defiance is under control. When I see the start of temper tantrum or meltdown, I go through my checklist of what to do and get the situation under control. It is not always 100% effective, but for the most part I am very pleased with the progress we've made. And, we've more than survived a few days with no television allowed.

A little bling never hurt anyone

I've had lots of requests for a picture of the ring. It's hard to get a good picture, but here ya go. The ring is much prettier in person. BTW, a big thank you to everyone who supported me in my point of view in this matter. No one understands Jeff's side, but I love him very much anyway. Jeff says the only people who agree with me are women. Is that true?

It Really Is The Thought That Counts

Jeff was never able to get a replacement on the iTunes gift card he lost before giving it to me, but he found himself back at the Reston Town Center 2 weeks later and surprised me all over again with another gift card. This time the sweet note written on the gc holder was "Your still worth it."

Not For The Faint Of Heart

The selection of toys I brought home from the midnight madness sale at Toys R Us on Thanksgiving night for the kids was perfect. Nothing needed to be returned and I did a good job in my sleep-deprieved state shopping. HOWEVER, two days later, a Toys R Us circular appeared in the newspaper and 3 of the toys I purchased were now marked for a lower price than what I paid for it. Oy!! Of course, I went back, got a price adjustment and $42 credited back to my credit card.

Playing Hooky From Raking Leaves

We ended up paying the landscaper to rake and bag our leaves. For all of 3 days it was glorious to look at the ground and not see any leaves. I really got excited about not having to go out there and do the job myself. Jeff was right, this was much nicer. However, I think we had him come two weeks too early, because within a week's time it looked like nothing had been down to the lawn. So, in the end, I got out there over the course of a weekend and did the front lawn (1.5 hours) and the backyard (3 hours) myself. It was great exercise and I didn't mind doing it, but next year we are going to have to work on our timing better if we are paying someone to get the leaves.

Going For It

I am happy to announce that I was officially selected to run in the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler this April. I am scared and excited all in the same moment. Is it possible to be smiling while throwing-up? I ran it in 2007, so I know I can do it; but right now it feels like a huge mountain for me to tackle. I will officially start following the training schedule in January.

R.I.P. Pasta

I've been getting used to eating gluten free. It is not fun and still doesn't come as the automatic choice in ordering something on a restuarant menu. The thing I am most blown away with is how my friends have gone out of their way to accomodate my new dietary needs. The girls in my monthly bookclub offer almost all gluten-free snacks. Dinner and/or parties at my friend's houses are very much aware of what I can and can not eat. They make sure that I will not go hungry. And, a few of "the girls" have even purchased packaged foods (pasta, oatmeal) for me when they see them being sold. It is very touching to have this much support. And, I love how many people have come up to me to share their Celiac story and give some wonderful tips and advice. I am not alone!

A New Year's Wish

I hope everyone reading this has a wonderful 2010, filled with much love, laughter and happiness. Happy new year! I am looking forward to a great year, being surrounded by my darling husband, two wild-n-crazy, adorable kids and not take any of the good fortune and blessings I have for granted. My big new year's resolutions this coming year will be to live in the moment and continue to do what I can to be a healthier, stronger woman and mother who has the energy to keep up with two of the most highly spirited kids she knows and loves.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A One Man Show

On Saturday night, Jeff read Ian his last of the bedtime stories and left his bedroom. I was downstairs in the kitchen and could hear Ian talking to himself, as was usual when he is trying to fall asleep. About 10 minutes later, I hear a loud, boisterous sound and asked Ian if he was ok. Ian replied with, "Yeah, I was just laughing, my hand sneaked up on my butt."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Tissues, please.

It's funny how a movie you know so well, backwards and forwards, seen at least 50 times, can have the same effect on you time and time again. Yesterday on tv, I was flipping through the channels and came across the movie, "Beaches". This movie is easily in my top 5 favorite films of all time. It was playing on the WE network, which stands for Women's Entertainment and needed 3 full hours to play to fit in all the commercial breaks. It doesn't matter that I own the movie on DVD and could've played it straight thru without interruption. There is something special about finding a classic on tv, when you aren't expecting it and tailoring your original plans (read a book? play with the kids? start dinner?) to accommodate watching it.

I first saw this movie with my mom in the theatre when it came out in 1988. To this day we can still get a good laugh over how I started bawling in the theatre in mid movie (when you realize that Barbara Hershey's character is going to die and Bette Middler's character is on her way to her) and couldn't stop. Really. 30 minutes after the movie had ended and we were driving back home, I was still crying. And crying hard at that. It was insane. At one point during the movie when my crying was in full effect, I couldn't catch my breath and the sobs got harder and louder. I am pretty certain that everyone around us in the theatre stopped their tears because they were distracted by the display I had going on. Yes, it was bad and I went through a lot of napkins.

To this day, I am not sure what caused me to cry that hard or for as long as I did. But each time I've seen the movie since then, I can still start crying - no matter where I join in the film too.

Now here is the crazy thing about watching it yesterday at home. I would cry up until the commercial break, take the 2 minutes to do something and then start crying again when the movie came back on. Is this normal?!?! I can't imagine it is.

Towards the end of the movie, we had dinner on the table and I had it playing on our little tv in the kitchen. I managed to not fully lose it while eating dinner with the family, but the minute we started clearing the table, it was all over. Fortunately Jeff has seen my reaction to this movie a few times before in our relationship. He's good about coming over to give me a hug, comforting me and moving on. Since it has been a good 21 years from when "Beaches" first came out, I no longer cry past the ending. I am getting good about only giving the appropriate amount of tears and keeping it short and sweet. Although, by now you would think that I could recite every line, know what is coming up and brace myself for it. But that is not the case. Even putting in commercial breaks every 20 minutes did nothing to dull my sadness.

From a rational standpoint, I find this absurd. But this is me, who I am. And, if I channel flipped tomorrow and came across it, I'd still stop everything and watch it and have a good cry.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Back home where he belongs

There are not many national stories that make the news that capture my interest. I generally find myself more drawn to the human interest type stories that a magazine like "People" or "US Weekly" would write about.

There has been this one story that I've been following since before Sam was born. We're talking more than a year and half ago. In fact, the updates on The Today Show every few weeks has become so constant, that I can't even truly remember when they first began. And, now it appears we finally have a happy ending to the saga that was David Goldman's life in trying to get his son Sean back.

For anyone not familiar with the story (although if you watch The Today Show, how could you not be??!?!), back in 2004 David Goldman's wife took their 4 year old little boy to her country in Brazil for a visit. While she was there, she refused to bring their son back home, got a divorce from David and ended up remarrying in Brazil. In 2008, the ex-Mrs. Goldman got pregnant and died in childbirth. For the past 5 years, David Goldman has been desparately trying to get his son back home to NJ. His battle has escalated all the way up to Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton and President Barack Obama. The mother's family in Brazil refused to give him back and the Brazillian courts time and time again kept ruling against David.

Over the course of the 5 years, David Goldman has made dozens of trips to Brazil and never gave up hope. Finally, this past week the ruling was in his favor and the family was made to hand over the boy to his father. As of December 24th, they were making their way back home to NJ, just in time for Christmas.

It's about time. This father lost so much time with his son that he will never get back. In a million years I'll never undestand how a mother could do that to a father. Maybe their were problems in their marriage? Maybe he was cheating on her? Maybe she was miserable living in NJ? We will never know, but to take away a child from his parent is uncomprehensible.

I am so happy that Sean can now go back to where he belongs and reconnect with a father who loves him so much.

And now, I can put visiting Brazil back on my map of places to go. I was refusing to take a trip there until justice was served. Okay, so maybe that wasn't the only thing keeping me from vacationing there. :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Getting into the Christmas spirit

This is the first year that Ian truly realizes we do not celebrate Christmas, nor will we ever. And, because of this, I believe he has a strange fascination with the holiday that seems just out of his reach.

For the past few weeks, every time we find ourselves in the car driving when it is getting dark, the Christmas lights get more pronounced on houses throughout the neighborhoods. I will hear Ian muttering under his breath, "they have Christmas lights, they have have Christmas lights, they celebrate Christmas...." And it goes on and on until we get home.

The other day Ian asked me if we will see Santa. I told him, only if we are at the mall and watch kids go sit on his lap. He said, "nooooooooooo, will we see Santa deliver presents to our neighbors? Can we see Santa go to Fritz and Kat's house?" These are our neighbors who are in their 60's that live across the street from us. I wasn't sure how to answer this. I mean, do I keep the magic of Santa alive for a 4 year old Jewish boy? I didn't want to be the one to tell him that Santa wasn't real.

I am sure none of this helps that during this time of the year I listen to 97.1 on the radio. They play Christmas music 24/7. I love all the songs and happily sing out loud to my favorites. I am sure I am sending some very mixed messages to my kids.

I did download an album of Hanukkah music on iTunes so that I could give equal time to our religion. Can you believe they were actually able to include 25 songs about Hanukkah? Who knew? It was a great find and I was certain it would do us all some good when driving around neighborhoods filled with Christmas-lighted houses. Of course two of the songs on the album titled "Hanukkah - The Basics" is Adam Sandler's two versions of the Chanukah Song. Gosh, I love these songs. And I think Ian might too. The other night I heard him getting ready for his bath singing "...what a fine-looking Jew".

It all balances out in the end, right?

Monday, December 21, 2009

More snow than we know what to do with

The snow started at exactly 9:00pm on Friday night, just as the weatherman predicted. When we woke up at 7:00am, we already had 6 inches on the ground. The snow didn't stop falling until 9:00pm on Saturday night. All told, we got a little less than 2 feet. The Washington, D.C. metro area doesn't get snow like this - EVER! If we are lucky, we sometimes get 6 inches and even that is rare.

In my opinion, this was the perfect snowstorm. It came on a weekend when plans could easily be rescheduled and we weren't missing anything super-duper important (Sorry Heather! We WILL get together for your birthday outing!!). We didn't have any travel plans. There wasn't any kind of holiday shopping that needed to occur and staying in for 48 hours with the family was even kind of appealing. I can honestly say, 2 days later, we all still genuinely like each other and could very well spend another couple of days together before needing to interact with other individuals besides my immediate clan.

Jeff and I got a shocker of a surprise. After the kids went to sleep on Friday, we set-up the wii and created the appropriate looking mii for each of us. I had an idea to create a mii for Ian and surprise him the next morning. He has never really seen a wii before and this would all be new for him. Jeff thought that maybe he was too young and wouldn't be able to fully grasp the concept. I've done my research and everyone says that 4 year olds really like wii bowling. As soon as Ian woke up on Saturday, I showed him the wii and the mii we created to look like him. I thought I did a pretty good job making him look like Ian, but after a few tweaks being directed by Ian, he was able to transform the mii to even more of a resemblance. Ian even gave his mii some blue sunglasses to wear. I showed Ian how to play bowling. After a few frames, he was able to master how to hold the remote, but didn't really take to it. We moved on to wii tennis and I was instantly blown away at watching him play. It was like Andre Agassi had come alive in my family room. Ian was a natural. He was serving like a superstar (from the first try) and volleying back and forth 8 or 9 times. It was almost like he had been practicing for years. But since I know what he does and where he goes every day, I know this isn't the case. Boxing, golf and baseball were all hits too. We'd show him how to do it once and he would instantly get it and be able to play. Ian loved the games and really got into them. As he was hitting the tennis ball back and forth, he'd shout to the tv, "Keep it coming, baby". Still not sure where he is picking up language like this, but it was really funny.

While Ian and Jeff were playing the wii, Sam was having a tea party and playing with Lego's. I decided to tackle cleaning the house and got 3 uninterrupted hours to do so. It was wonderful. Jeff went out twice and did some shoveling to keep up with it. When Sam woke up from her nap, we bundled the kids in layers and ventured outside to play. It was then we've come to the realization that our kids prefer a nice warm house over being outside in the cold, trying to navigate and walk in snow that comes up past their knees. It took us longer to dress and undress the kids for the snow, then the amount of time spent outside. Of course, we got the obligatory pictures we needed to take.

Later in the afternoon, Ian and I had fun making sugar, cut-out cookies and frosted them in some wacky colors (think army green and turquoise blue).

Before we knew it, it was time to put the kids to bed. I decided to watch my netflix film ("Julie and Julia" -- good movie!) and Jeff watched some football. The day went surprisingly fast.

On Sunday, we were able to dig ourselves out in under 4 hours. I shoveled for 2 hours and Jeff did 2 hours. We put Sam down for a nap and then it's off to Ikea when she wakes up. I have some organization and decorating ideas I'd like to implement. Please, I can't possibly spend that much time indoors and not think of things I want to change. :)

As we were watching the snow fall and pile up higher and higher on Saturday, Jeff was pretty certain that he wouldn't make it to work on Monday. By early evening Sunday, the Federal Government announced that they will be closed today and Fairfax County schools announced they will by closed for the next 3 days, leading up to Winter Break and open again in the new year. It looks like my Toppall team will be staying close to home for at least another day. It's good thing we are all still getting along.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

14 to 20 inches

Just like the motto of the Boy Scouts "BE PREPARED", my Toppall team is ready to go.

The news media does everything in their power to create mass hysterics and get everyone in a frenzy. Current predictions is the Washington, D.C. area could see up to 20 inches of snowfall starting Friday night and continuing through Sunday morning. This would easily put us at the top of the list for the biggest storm the area has had during the month of December since 1932, when the snowfall then only totaled 11.5 inches. We are talking some crazy numbers here!!

Yesterday morning, my darling husband got concerned about the lack of milk we had in the house. Not knowing when I would be able to get to the grocery store and still have adequate supplies of milk available to purchase, I went at 6:30am on Friday morning and stocked up on all of our weekly grocery needs. It was actually the best time to go because as the day wore on, the estimates on our impending snowfall just got higher and higher.

At some point during his workday, Jeff went out and got Bailey more of his dog food from this speciality pet store because not everyone carries this particular brand. And, while he was out, Jeff also stocked up on more rock salt to have on hand.

We are ready! We recently did our monthly trip to Costco and stocked up on toilet paper. We have plenty of milk, bread and peanut butter. I can make 7 nights of dinner and still keep it interesting. Not to mention, I've got all the ingredients for Ian and I to make frosted, sugar cut-out cookies.

And, to my good fortune, the house never got cleaned this week and we will have plenty of time over the course of the next two days to tackle this. It's always good to have something to do!

Unfortunately all the wash I had planned to do is going to have to wait. Ian's is done, Sam's and Jeff's is too. However, the washing machine started giving me an error message when I went to wash a load of towels. I called Whirlpool and apparently we need a service call to fix the problem. The dirty towels have good company with my clothes too as I always leave mine to the end. Good thing I have plenty of clean underwear and can lounge around all weekend in sweats, because it maybe days before I see a service repair guy at our house. Should've bought a Maytag. :)

I have to admit, I am a bit excited about getting a storm this big. It has been a long time since our area has seen something of this size. I am sure by the end of the weekend, I will be going stir crazy and ready to escape these four walls, but until then, I'll enjoy the time with the family and work on my snowball-making skills for snowman and of course, snowball fights.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The power of an extra minute or two

I can tell you the exact moment in my day when my blood pressure goes through the roof. It occurs precisely at 1:25pm each weekday. For it is at this time that I realize I am late picking up my son up from preschool.

Ian gets released at 1:30pm, Monday thru Friday. Before having Samantha, I had a stellar record of always being on time to retrieve him and in most cases, was a few minutes early and could spy on him, without him knowing. For some reason the addition of Sam in our lives has made me perpetually holding my breath, hoping that we make only green lights and there are no slow pokes in front of me. It is a race to the finish line to park the car at the closest spot possible, grab Sam from her car seat and race walk up to the front door. I scurry inside and hope that we aren't the last to claim our own. Sam's body is usually bouncing up and down and she is holding on for dear life, as we make our way through the lobby and to Ian's classroom. 80% of the time, the moms are still lined up waiting for the classroom door to open. A big sigh of relief comes that I've made it. It's the other 20% of the time that I have to hope Ian has at least one buddy left to hang out with waiting for their mommy to come too.

Sometimes I am welcomed with the following;
Ian: "Mommy, why were you the last one to come?" Is there anything more sad to hear?
Or, "Mommy, why are you so late?" Oy! Again, it makes my heart melt.

It's then that the mommy guilt fully sets in and I quickly offer the chance to get a cookie from the Synagogue's kitchen on the way out.

To my defense, I have to point the finger towards to Samantha who takes a nap from 11:00am to 1:00pm. Sometimes she doesn't wake up right at 1:00pm. I try so hard to not to have to wake her and see if waiting another 5 or 10 minutes will have her waking up on her own. Or, if she does wake-up by 1:00pm, I try to feed her a quick lunch before having to get in the car to go get Ian. And, about half the time, Sam will wake up with a dirty diaper and I have to change it. There goes a good five minutes taking care of that mess.

Each new day is a new opportunity for me to try to get it right. I say to myself, this will be the day we are in the car, strapped in ready to go by 1:15pm. If only this could happen on a regular basis. Usually, on a good day, we are pulling out of our driveway by 1:19pm. My heart really starts beating fast when I put the car in reverse to back-up and the clock is flashing 1:21pm. It is a 6 minute drive (if all the lights are green). I've been known to seize up the traffic lights at Old Keene Mill Rd and Lee Chapel and go straight instead of turning left. I can shave 2 minutes by making a LEGAL u-turn and not waiting for the lights to turn in my favor. And, on the days we are really pushing it, I'll park in front of the dumpster because that is the closest spot without blocking any other cars. Ian has long stopped asking me why the car is parked there.

It's crazy that I do this to myself and I don't see it changing any time soon; at least not this school year. When anyone asks if I am ready for number 3, I'll have to direct them to this post. I just don't think my blood pressure can take it having to juggle a third child into this.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I love technology; love it, love it, love it. I embrace every new invention with open arms and can't wait to get my hands on the latest gadget to see what it can do. Some of my favorite inventions have been the computer (hello Internet!), the microwave (good-bye long cooking times!), the iPod (good-bye Walkmans!), the DVR (good-bye VCRs!), and the digital camera (good-bye film!)

My first cell phone came in 1989 when I left for college. 21 years later I still have the same cell phone number. I refused to switch cell phone carriers until number portability was available. I absolutely love my blackberry and don't even have a job that requires one.

Living on one salary has been 4 1/2 years of compromises. I wouldn't trade one day with being home with the kids for any of the latest gadgets. It is more than worth it and I am very happy with the choices we've made. I am also happy that sent me a $300 iPod Touch completely by accident. If it wasn't for them, I am sure we wouldn't have one of those in our household either. But as I've said before, Apple made something brilliant and it has become so invaluable to us that if it broke, we would have to replace it immediately. Plus, in a matter of months, we will become a 2 iPod Touch household when we get Samantha one. Yes, it is that much of a lifesaver when traveling by plane or long car rides.

To my delight, we were given money by my dad and stepmother for Hanukkah, with the clear instructions that it had to be used for fun -- no college fund and no bills. Last year when faced with this windfall, Jeff and I put the money in our savings account and used it in September to celebrate our 5th anniversary. We went away for the weekend and it was wonderful. This year Jeff came up with the brilliant idea to use the money on a wii. Yay!! To say I am excited is an understatement. For 3 years now I've longingly looked at the wii and its games and accessories. We've played it many times at friend's houses and at my sister's place. We've bowled, boxed, played tennis and golf. I've done the wii fit balance board, the step aerobics and hula hooping. Plus, there are so many other great games and fitness exercises. And, I've asked my mommy friends for suggestions for games for Ian and can't wait to introduce him to them.

Look, I am not trying to replace Sunday pizza and game night. There is something very old fashioned and wholesome about playing non-electronic, classic board games with the kids, but I feel like we are finally entering the year 2000. :)

In my effort to always get a great deal, the price for a wii officially went down to $199 from $249. And, Target this week was offering a $30 gift card with the purchase of one. Can't pass up a good deal like that, right? I guess it was good to wait 3 years and 24 days for us to purchase one. Not that I am counting or anything.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Religious school for 2

I've already been down this road before. I attended the Hebrew Day School in Orlando, FL from first grade thru the 6th and experienced half my school day learning regular math, English, history, science, etc and the other half of my day learning all about Judaism; Hebrew, writing, history, etc. This is not something I need to do again or anytime soon. In fact, school in general is not my thing. I do much better in real life. Jeff is in charge of academics (I get fashion and pop culture). If the kids need help with their homework, it will be Jeff coming to their rescue.

So, I ask myself, why do I find myself attending religious school with Ian each Sunday?!?!?

Ian enthusiastically attends preschool at the synagogue and bounces in each day with a big smile on his face. He LOVES going to school each weekday and always has for the past 3 years. During the summer months, he gets so excited for the camp the preschool offers and doesn't even mind if sometimes was the only boy in a group of girls.

So when the synagogue offered a special religious school introduction class for the pre-k set, I thought this would be a no-brainer and he would be just as excited. Boy, was I wrong! Just when you think you have your 4 year old figured out, he goes and surprises you. Getting Ian to walk out of the house, get in the car and then be good for the 6 minute drive to the synagogue is not an easy task. Each Sunday he tells me "THIS IS THE LAST TIME I AM GOING TO RELIGIOUS SCHOOL."

Upon entering the synagogue, I have to drag him to his classroom and promise that I will not leave the building. Ian can access me in an instant should he need to. His group moves back and forth through the synagogue lobby a few times throughout the morning going from music, to the sanctuary, sometimes the rabbi's office and back to their classroom. I think Ian gets much joy and satisfaction seeing me sitting there, keeping my end of the deal.

Over the last few Sundays I've gotten more and more prepared for my 2 hour, 15 minute stay -- I come armed with hot tea, the newspaper, a fully charged cellphone and to my delight, I discovered the synagogue is equipped with WiFi that I can tap into with my netbook. Now this is religious school that I can be excited about attending! If only Ian can get on board with my enthusiasm. Ian even admits to having a good time when class is over, so I am not fully understanding why he isn't happy about going in the first place.

Even Jeff looks forward to religious school because he gets uninterrupted one-on-one time with Sam. It is a win-win-win situation for everyone -- everyone that is but Ian.

Friday, December 11, 2009


We've been found out! Our house is not that big and there are only so many hiding places to store the presents for the 8 nights of Hanukkah. My big mistake came in not wrapping everything as soon as I had a chance.

Ian had a friend over a few days ago for a playdate. He told Henry how excited he was that Hanukkah was starting on Friday night. He said he couldn't wait to open the GeoTrax and the CARS Racing Set. I heard him tell Henry this and I asked Ian, "How do you know you are getting GeoTrax and a CARS Racing Set?" Ian, with a HUGE smile on his face, replied, "Because I saw the boxes." WHAT?!?!!? My hiding place was discovered!! I told Ian that since he knew what the gifts were going to be, I would have to take them back to Toys R Us and return them. I would need to replace them with something that he hadn't seen, like broccoli and cauliflower. Ha! Ian quickly backpedaled and told me he really didn't see the gifts. He said that he just joking.

The gifts were being stored in our laundry/utility room. Since this room also has some major cleaning supplies/chemicals, this is the one room that Ian knows is off limits. I guess he figured his gifts had to be somewhere in the house and couldn't help himself. What a smart, little booger we've got on our hands. The only surprise is now what he gets to open on which night.

Happy Holidays everyone! Hope everyone has a wonderful Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and a fantastic Kwanzaa. May it be filled with fabulous surprises.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Yummy, yummy in my tummy

It's so hard for restaurants to make it and survive. About 26% conservatively (more likely somewhere in between 43% to 60%)* fail within the first year. And, in today's economy it is even more of a challenge to get people out of their houses and to a restaurant. Jeff and I hit a goldmine over the weekend and I want to shout it out to the world. CHOICES BY SHAWN in Fairfax VA. It is in the heart of Fairfax City, where The Sweet Life Cafe used to be. What a fantastic find!!

As reported earlier in my blogging, The Girls threw a party to celebrate the engagement of Jennifer and Karim. As a thank you, they sent the hosts a gift certificate to redeem on's website. It was there that I discovered a restaurant I never previously heard of. The listing mentioned they cater to those individuals with gluten sensitivities. No way!! I couldn't believe what I was reading. OMG! The decision to go there was easy and the next date night Jeff and I had would find us there for dinner.

Our first attempt didn't go too well when we tried a few weeks prior and found they were closed for a private event. But this time I called twice; once on Friday to confirm they were open to the public and again on Saturday to confirm they were still open despite the snow the D.C. area experienced. Success!!!

The menu in person looked as good as it did online. The gluten-free gnocchi was no longer an option, but I inquired with the waitress about it and she said they had it. Yay! We put our order in and waited. The owner came to our table to tell us that yes, they do have GF gnocchi but it needs to be called in the day before as they make it special. She told me they would be able to fulfill my order as someone had called in the request earlier. But next time, know to call the day before to request it.

My entree came with a salad or soup and a side. I ordered broccoli/cheese soup, gnocchi and a side of fries. Can you say comfort food!?!? On this chilly, snowy night, it was the perfect meal! I have to admit, I would find this the perfect meal even on a beautiful day in Summer. :)

Jeff, not needing to keep it gluten-free ordered an appetizer of crab cakes, salad, rib-eye steak and mashed potatoes.

I was duly impressed when the waitress came back to our table and told me that they were making gluten-free bread and would bring some to the table when it was ready. Until then, Jeff didn't get served his bread yet either. Moments later both our baskets of bread arrived. I could get used to service like this!

For dessert we were offered a nice size list of many gluten-free choices. Jeff and I decided to split the fudge cake with chocolate frosting, complete with a side of homemade vanilla chocolate-chip ice cream. YUM-O!

As we all know, I have a big mouth. I am going to use it for good and help get the word out about CHOICES BY SHAWN. I would really love to see it succeed and know that I have an excellent place to go that is only 4 miles from our house (I used to run there in my training runs!) and offers a great selection of safe food that I can eat. I always use to say, "When you see gnocchi on a menu, you need to look no further." Now I can call in advance and get it made special for me. Love is in the air more than just where Jennifer and Karim are concerned. Bon Appetite!

Choices By Shawn
3950 Chain Bridge Rd., Fairfax, VA, 22038
(703) 385-5433 phone

*Source: The Restaurant-Failure Myth (Business Week: Special report 4/16/07)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Heard and Observed V

While watching a football game with daddy:

Ian: Why are all the players hitting each other? The players need to stop that!

As I was filling up Ian's cup with a juice box:

Ian: Look at all that crap in the cup.

Me: What did you say!?!?!

Ian: Look at all that crap in the cup.

Me: Ian, are saying the word "crap"?

Ian: Yes, you know's when you have a whole lot of something.

Me: Oh no Ian, please don't say that word. It's not a nice word. I guess I need to find a new version of a bad word to say.


Ian told us his desire to start doing Shabbat on Friday nights at our house. He inquired about a kiddish cup, shabbat candles and getting a challah on the table each week. We were more than pleased that he is showing an interest in wanting to do this and happy to oblige. So we told Ian we would start that week.

Ian: No, not this Friday. I want to go to Glory Days to eat. We can start next Friday. And, I only like kosher when it is hot.

Me: What? Kosher when it is hot? What are you talking about?

Ian: Popcorn. I only like kosher popcorn when it is hot.

I guess this is something they served in his preschool as a snack. I hope Ian doesn't think that Shabbat dinner only consists of popcorn and challah to eat. Although, I have to admit, in my world that wouldn't be so bad.


Hearing a thunk.

Me: Ian, did you fall down?

Ian: No, the stairs just gave me a ride.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Going for it

There are certain events that will forever be etched in my memory and no amount of time will dull these "mental movies" when recalling them. The sigh of relief that my Bat Mitzvah was over and I no longer had to practice my haftorah or prepare for the Friday night/ Saturday morning service, my first dance with Jeff after getting married, holding Ian for the first time, the moment when I found out that Sam was going to be fine (we had a scare that required getting an amniocentesis), and crossing the finish line of the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in April 2007. That's a picture of me doing just that on the left.

I had been toying around with 5k (3.1 miles) races here and there; mostly for fun and to keep my motivation for running. I have to say that every time I go for a run, whether outside or on the treadmill, I have an out-of-body experience that I am actually the one running. I still can't believe it is me that is moving. Deciding to do the Cherry Blossom 10 miler was a whole new level of commitment. I had no idea if my body would be able to pull off 10 miles. It was daunting and exciting all at the same time just thinking about it.

I found a great training schedule that promised I could be running 10 miles in just 10 weeks. Could this really happen? Each time I hit a new running milestone and finished 5 miles, then 6, then 8, I was in awe. Wow, I was really going to do it. I even did a practice run a few weeks before the big day and was never more proud of my legs for completing 10 miles. What a great way to start the day! I was making it happen.

And, I am going to make it happen again. Wish me luck, I am entering the lottery system for the 2010 Cherry Blossom 10 miler. Last year they had 12,000 participants register within the first 2 hours and 45 minutes. This year they decided to give everyone an equal chance and will hold a lottery system. You have 10 days to enter by email and then will be notified if you get in.

I figure if I get in, it is a sign for me to do this race again. I am starting to get used to the idea of getting up again at 5:00am, doing my training runs 3 times a week outside, in all kinds of weather (my limit is anything below 20 degrees) and slowly building up the mileage with my running partner Bailey. Knowing I've done it before helps greatly, now its just a matter of doing faster.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

She gets it

Samantha's sense of humor is starting to come through loud and clear. She is in on the joke. She gets 'it'. I love seeing her have fun and can't help but laugh with her -- even when we are in the midst of telling her no.

Samantha is no longer in her high chair and has been sitting at the dining room table with us for the past 2 months. She has a booster seat that is strapped onto one of the chairs; it gives her the same height as the rest of the family. Her latest thing is to take one of her feet and put it on top of the table while we are eating. She will look around and see who is watching her do this. In under 30 seconds, Jeff or I will tell her "Sam, please take your foot off the table". She instantly obeys and down goes her leg back under the table.
Then, as soon as we turn our head, she not only takes one leg back up, she'll take both her legs. And this time, she won't put them on the table, she'll just shoot them straight up in the air, near her head. It is an amazing feat of acrobatics and flexibility, but more so, it is hilarious how in her own way she is defying us, but also doing as she was told. Her feet aren't on the table. Legitimately, they are no where near the table. And, when we look at her doing this, she cracks herself up laughing. You can't help but also start laughing with her. It is truly funny. We will go through this back and forth several times during many, many dinners.

Some evenings when it is nearing her bedtime, I'll take Sam and cuddle with her in my bed. We just hang out watching either that day's General Hospital, Oprah or Sesame Street. It is some great one-on-one time and one that I treasure. As we get closer to the witching hour of putting her down, I'll say, "Sam, time to go to bed." She instantly takes her body and nose dives straight into the bed. She'll lay there face first in the mattress, completely still, for like 30 seconds. Then she'll lift her head, with a big smile on her face and look at me. Once we make eye contact, she'll start giggling. I wait about 5 minutes and we do this all over again. It is seriously cute. In fact, her actions actually get her a delayed bedtime because I enjoy it so and she knows it.

I am loving her personality and sense of humor. She gets 'it'. At 18 months old she knows what funny is. I can't wait for her to get older so we can have two way conversations with words other than "doggy", "more", "book" and "whoa".

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A little bling never hurt anyone

It has been almost a full year since I lost my engagement ring. I have no idea when it even slipped off my finger. I am pretty sure it was when I was cleaning the house and it may have fallen down a drain, the toilet or in a bag of trash. We retraced my steps, turned the house upside down looking for it and to this day, I still look for it when walking around the house and find myself in a closet or sticking my hand in various places. Fortunately we had insurance and received the check within a few weeks of putting in a claim.

However, according to Jeff: He worked hard to buy that ring. He saved his money, put a lot of time and effort into picking out just the right one. He put his heart into it and it can't be replaced. You only get engaged once.

Me, however, has a different theory. Yes, I loved that ring. Absolutely adored it. I appreciate all Jeff did to get me it. It was a beautiful princess cut solitaire diamond in a platinum setting. And, I felt absolutely heartsick that I lost it. I was in a big depression for days over the whole episode. BUT, this is why you have insurance. And the ring is only a symbol we are married - that particular ring does nothing to make us more married. But the ring does give the message that I am taken and not a single mother of two.

By the way, I should make note that since losing the engagement ring, Jeff asked that I take off the wedding band and put it in a safe place. Something about him not wanting me to lose that one either. Once I get done losing all the weight I am going to, then I can get it resized and put it back on.

The only way Jeff saw putting a diamond ring back on my finger was that over the next 20 years or so, he would work and save his money again and surprise me with another engagement type looking ring at a 20 or 25 year anniversary. Seeing as we have only been married 5 years, this was going to be a long time to wait for a diamond to reappear on my fourth digit.

The money has been sitting in our savings account while we go back and forth rehashing our very different views about this. The closest compromise we've gotten is that instead of a traditional engagement ring, I get an eternity band and wear it next to the wedding band. However, Jeff still feels very strongly that this is wrong and can't be happy for me getting the ring. I very much want Jeff's blessing and will continue to go without until he is on board.

To my good fortune, Bailey Banks and Biddle is going out of business. Jeff realized that a lack of a ring will be a continuing sore point in our relationship and that the 40% off being offered was a great deal. As Jeff said he wanted to "get this issue behind us so we never have to talk about it again", he finally agreed to buy a ring. I picked out a very pretty 5 stone diamond ring as an eternity band would've been difficult to resize and Bailey, Banks and Biddle was not taking any orders. The rest of the insurance money is going toward our 2010 car insurance bill.

Looking back, it is no wonder that the original ring fell off. My ring size went from 5.25 to a 4.75. Yowzer!! I had no idea that my finger is that small now. The ring never felt that big. I promise to do my best to keep this one on my finger. I do.