Sunday, February 28, 2010

March New Year's Resolution Experiment

A quick review on February's challenge; to give up all snacking after 7:00pm each evening. I will come clean and admit that in 3 instances throughout the month of February I did not stick to my plan. Two involved being out for the evening and going to the movies. Hello!?!? You really can't expect me to sit in a movie theatre and not munch on popcorn, can you? And the 3rd time was, funny enough, as I am writing this blog entry. I am not sure what my thinking is right now on breaking the no snacking rule, but the irony of it all is right up my alley. :)

Overall, I do feel I accomplished the goal I wanted when coming up with this challenge. I consumed less calories by not getting carried away eating at night. I felt like I was back in control. And, I am happy to report that I've gone another month soda free! Ok, I did have one diet coke a few weeks ago at the movies. But the temptation to want to drink diet sodas has completely vanished. In fact, the one diet coke I did have 6 weeks later surprised me that I didn't enjoy the taste as much as I usually do.

As before, I will continue to give up soda and snacking after 7:00pm. Although, all bets are off on the no snacking thing if I am out for the evening!!

Now allow me to announce March's challenge: To stop double-booking, triple-booking me and the family. I've gotten into a seriously bad habit of saying "yes" to every invitation and then figuring out how to make it work. I am driving me and everyone around us crazy. For example, this past Saturday's schedule was as follows:

8:00am - gym for a training run (Robyn)
9:00am - grocery store to buy the necessary items for the company we were having over at lunch time (Robyn)
10:00am - shower, clean/straighten the house (Robyn and Jeff)
11:00am - begin cooking/preparing lunch
12:00pm - 4 adults, 3 kids, 1 baby enter the house for lunch/playdate
3:30pm - All company leaves
4:00pm - Attend 2 year old's birthday party in 2 cars (Jeff, Robyn, Kids)
5:30pm - Make my way to Tyson's to meet up with The Girls to celebrate Ivy's birthday; pick up Kristin along the way (Robyn)
6:15pm - Tyson's Corner for dinner and movie (Robyn)
6:30pm - Leave 2 year old's birthday party and go home to put kids to bed (Jeff, kids)
11:00pm - Come home (Robyn)

Granted, this was a particularly full day, but to some degree our timing on going to and from various activities is always this tight. Going forward, I am going to accept the first invitation that comes our way and say no to everything else that has us running around like a chicken with our heads cut-off.

Here's the problem - I am a very social person. I love getting together with friends and know that the kids do too. I want us to have full, active lives and be able to get out and do things.

No more! I pledge to stop and think before I automatically reply yes to everything. I promise to take a good look at the calendar and make sure that we have plenty of downtime and I don't feel stressed running from one thing to the next. Unfortunately a lot of the month of March is already booked. But I will take each week as it comes and if it looks like it will be too much for us to do everything, then I will politely cancel the most recent invitation.

Wanting to be everywhere, doing everything, seeing everyone is now going to get a makeover. Yikes! I hope I am up to this challenge.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Everyone says it is because she is a girl and this is what having a girl is like. Jeff says that we went through this same exact stage with Ian. Clearly I don't remember it and must've blocked it out of my mind.

Samantha, for lack of kinder words, is a handful. She is head-strong, stubborn, and extremely spirited. From the moment she wakes-up until the time she goes to bed, she gives me a run for my money. One moment she can be perfectly sweet and lovable and then, with the flip of a switch, she turns into this 2 1/2 foot monster you wouldn't recognize.

The tone for how the day will go is set when she wakes-up. She is not happy getting dressed. She doesn't want her pajamas off and she doesn't want a diaper change - no matter how wet or full her diaper is. It is a battle and I feel like I am wrestling a gator getting her clothes on. I tried something different the other day and decided when picking out her outfit to get her input. Maybe she wanted to have a say in what she was going to wear? So, I held up each top and bottom for her approval. Each one was a resounding "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO". I went through at least 20 different outfits and wondered if maybe this was the equivalent of 'I have a whole closet full of clothes and nothing to wear' most women experience at one time or another. But she isn't even 2 yet!! Does she feel the need for a wardrobe refresh already?!?!?!?

Once I manage to get her dressed, we go downstairs and the battle continues eating breakfast. She used to be an amazing eater and would devour cereal, oatmeal, bananas, milk, basically whatever you put in front of her. Now if she doesn't like what you've given her, it promptly gets thrown on the floor or in Bailey's direction. What a mess!! And, she still hasn't eaten, so you feel compelled to keep trying. Not fun at all. Sometimes she'll completely reject her bowl of oatmeal, but finish Ian's after he has had his fill.

After about 10 minutes of the breakfast disaster, we move on to her moping around the house like someone let the air out of her balloon. She keeps her head pointed low and shuffles from room to room to see what she can get into. Once she finds something that catches her eye, she goes to get the step stool out of the kitchen and creates whatever height is necessary to reach what she needs. Usually she puts the step stool in front of our pantry and examines package and after package of each item. Sometimes she'll decide on a box of cereal and eat it straight from the box. Hello?!?! This may have been the exact cereal I was offering 10 minutes earlier. Oy!

The rest of the day becomes a blur. We fight over EVERYTHING! It has to be her idea in order for it to occur smoothly. Nothing seems to make her happy. Sometimes she'll just stand in front of the tv and scream "ELMOOOOOO" until I put on Sesame Street. At least that is educational, right?

This behavior can't be because she is tired. She goes down easy for naps and at bed at night. She is getting enough sleep - 1.5 to 2 hours in the afternoon and easily 12 hours overnight. There is never a battle putting her down.

She is angry more than she is happy. She is quick to scream more than she is to laugh. Most of the day I feel like I am doing damage control. I feel like at the end of the day I have failed her.

Is it because she is a girl? Is it genetic and Ian was like this too (only I don't remember)? Is she hitting the TERRIBLE TWOs early? Who knows. I just hope like everything else, it is just a stage and my always-sweet-little girl comes back to me. Once the word gets out on how she is, no one is going to want to watch her and I need a break!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The morning that time stood still

We are morning people. No doubt about it. All of us. In fact I think the reason Ian and Sam get up so early is because they inherited it from Jeff and me. I joke that by 6:00am, you can find us all wide awake, completely dressed and ready to start our day. However, there aren't many places opened at 6:00am, so you basically will find us at home.

I hear about other families whose kids sleep in until 9:00am regularly. Kids who sometimes need to be woken up to get to school on time. This is definitely not something I'll ever experience. In fact if 9:00am came and no one was awake, I'd be waking them up to make sure they were still breathing.

On Sunday morning, I got a small taste of what it must be like to have a family who sleeps in. My body naturally woke up at 6:00am and I realized it was still the golden sounds of silence all around me. I reached for my iTouch and caught up on emails and FB status' that were generated overnight. Then I rolled over and went back to sleep. 7:00am came and still quiet. Really? Could this be happening? So I checked the iTouch again for the last hour's latest developments and then went back to sleep. It wasn't until 8:00am that Ian and Sam both started waking up.

Wow! What a wonderful feeling to wake-up and know that we were all starting the day completely rested. In 4.5 years of having kids, I can't remember this phenomenon ever happening. A nice way to start the Sunday; which appropriately is known as the day of rest.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Catch me if you can

There is this high that runners get after having a great run. It's appropriately called "Runner's High". It's like a major adrenaline rush that hits you and lasts for hours afterwards. You feel like you can conquer the world and nothing can stop you. Scientifically the feeling comes from a release of endorphins. Whatever the chemistry is behind it, it is an amazing feeling and one that I get each time I go running.

I am now entering week 5 of the 10 week training schedule preparing for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler. The mileage is steadily increasing big-time. I had forgotten how good it feels to be working towards a goal and pushing my body beyond its comfort zone.

Unfortunately, due to the snow and ice on the sidewalks & trails, I've only been able to do one run outside. My original plans were to do at least one or two a week with my faithful running partner, Bailey. However, I was able to stick to the training schedule and complete the runs at the gym. The one good thing with running on a treadmill is the ability to control the speed. I recently had an easy training week and only had to do (3) 2 mile runs. Each one I did, I pushed the speed and started adding an incline on the treadmill. Being able to do 2 miles in 18 minutes with a 1% incline had me smiling the whole day. I didn't come close to being able to do this the first time around when I ran the race 3 years ago. Back then, I could barely break a 10 minute mile. And on Saturday, I did one of the miles in 8 minutes, 34 seconds. I am still in awe that I was able to keep up with how fast the treadmill was moving.

I have a few women that I am friends with who I see regularly at the gym. It has become somewhat of a social hour for me when I go. One day, one of these women stopped and asked me if I was feeling ok. Apparently my face was all shades of red and she was a little concerned that I may have pushed myself too much. I told her that if I ever pass out and fall off the treadmill, to please make my body look like I was in the middle of stretching.

In addition to the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, I've also registered for a quarter marathon on Mother's day (May 9th). This translates to 6.55 miles. I think it will be a wonderful way to keep up my motivation for running and celebrate being a mommy who has managed to be in better shape having had 2 kids than any other time my life.

Watch out world, here comes Robyn! Catch me if you can.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Heard and Observed VII

Ian: When can we have a playdate with Audrey again? It's been too long. The last one we had was in my dream.


When Jeff's parents came recently for a visit, Ian helped create a mii for each of them on the wii. When you play any wii games, it will populate with people either playing with you, against you or watching in the crowd using some of the miis you have created. One morning I was walking by Ian getting ready to do some wash and I overheard him say during his game of basketball:

"Way to block the shot Grandma." Definitely not something you hear everyday!


Ian had a playdate over the other day and they were plotting out all the sports they will play and in what order.

Ian: Momma, Ethan and I are going to do soccer this year, then T-ball, and then play college football.

I wonder if he realizes he actually needs to be in college to play college football?


Ian has been having trouble going to the bathroom. Jeff and I discovered his favorite flavored oatmeal (Maple and Brown Sugar) also comes with a version of 'extra fiber' included. Without telling him, we gave him the new oatmeal and he instantly could taste a difference. Immediately we switched back to his regular formula so that he would at least continue to eat oatmeal.

Me: Ian, time for oatmeal.

Ian: I don't want extra fabric in it.


Driving around in the snow (before the plows arrived) three days after our big blizzard in February 2010:

Sam: WHOA!


Finally making it to the mall after being snowed in for days.

Ian: I just need to leave all this energy behind.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Valentine's Day

The movie was good. Very good. And we all enjoyed it, probably a little more than we should have. I am sure we didn't make any friends in the theatre that night and even more sure that there were a few moviegoers who wished they picked a different time to see it.

But you have to understand, we had all been cooped up in our houses for way too long. The blizzards gave us more quality time together with our kids than anyone could willingly want. There was no school, no playdates scheduled, no getting out. We had a date on the calendar to gather a few mommy friends and make a beeline for the movies. "Valentine's Day" was our target. It has a fabulous cast, chick-flick written all over it, and who doesn't enjoy a good love story? The idea to go see the movie was long decided before any forecast of the first blizzard and of course, the 2nd blizzard had been spoken. The words 'movie with Kelly' was written in pink marker for the night of Monday, February 15th on my calendar and stood increasingly lonely as various plans preceding it days prior kept getting cancelled.

There was a small amount of excitement as the weatherman kept forecasting more snow for Monday afternoon/evening. We could expect 1 to 3 inches to fall in the NoVa area. Oh no!! Nothing was going to ruin my plans to get out and enjoy one of my favorite pastimes. Going to the movies is truly the only thing I miss getting to do now that I have kids. I quickly emailed a few of us and made them promise that no matter how much snow we were to get, we could still go. In all seriousness, I would've understood if it wasn't deemed safe to drive. No matter how much I love the movies, I wouldn't want anyone to risk getting hurt.

I believe we were all on the same page and started getting disappointed when we saw heavy snow begin to fall around 4:00pm. And it was sticking!! Oh no!! Make it stop!! Fortunately, Mother Nature heard my cries of desperation and ended the snowfall.

There was 7 of us total. 7 mommy friends who hadn't experienced the joys of school being opened for the past week and a half. Yes, we laughed a little too loud. Yes, we cried at a scene in the film that only the 7 of us could truly appreciate. Yes, we made comments without even trying to whisper. And, yes, we all gasped (pretty loudly) when we thought a particular on-screen kiss was about to happen.

But so what? We were 7 women who really needed a night out. Are you going to mess with that?

Oh, and for those who thought this blog entry was going to be about Jeff and the actual holiday, I will tell you what he got me. He tracked down and surprised me with gluten-free cupcakes from CakeLove. Yum-O! The bigger surprise came when he managed to keep his plans a secret and not tell me in advance.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Plenty of the white stuff - 6 (last one, I promise)

I really didn't think I would have this much material to write about regarding our two back-to-back blizzards in February. And, I really thought my last entry (Plenty of the white stuff - 5 a.k.a as stick a fork in me, I'm done) was going to be my last on the topic. BUT, I have one more left in me and as each day gets further and further from our last snowfall, I find myself getting more and more worked up about it. I am talking about the snow removal and plowing done by the county -- specifically Fairfax County.

We haven't had any significant snowfall since the afternoon on Wednesday, February 10th. And, if you were to look at our roads, sidewalks, and parking lots, you'd think the snow just stopped coming down. I get that we received roughly 4 feet or more in some areas within a week. I get that our area is not used to this amount of snow. I get that there is only so many places you can move the snow to. Yes, I get all that. And I am sure that everyone is doing the best job they can do. I do want to give appropriate kudos to the plowers who take care of the main roads. Fairfax County Parkway, Ox Road, the Beltway, Route 66, 395 are in great shape and got that way almost immediately post snowfall. Even Burke Centre Parkway was almost perfect during and after the snowstorms. But first you would have to navigate the side roads to find this out.

It's these side roads, the neighborhood roads, the secondary roads that I am ranting about. Enough is enough!! It makes absolutely no sense to me why some roads are in pristine condition, with 2 lanes and visible concrete on the road and other roads are like a rollercoaster ride, complete with divots, huge chunks of ice, many, many unleveled areas and a measly one narrow lane to drive in. Heaven forbid you encounter another vehicle coming in the opposite direction and need to figure out how to get by them. Currently there is much goodwill and considerate drivers who are patient and will do what they can to help you get by, but for how much longer? And some roads are still one big sheet of ice. And when you come to a stop sign, you hold your breath, the car will stop and not slide straight through it.

I am at a loss why 5 full days after the last snowfall we still have roads in these conditions. What other job do these plowers possibly have that keep them from working on this to make it better? The county should be especially ashamed of the conditions of Spring Lake Drive, Split Oak Lane, and Oak Green Drive. Having had to use these roads to get where I needed to go, I was appalled at the condition of them. Obviously no one important or anyone who works for VDOT lives on these roads.

I fear for the kids who need to get to bus stops and don't have sidewalks to use. I feel for the bus drivers who have to use these roads to get to the kids. It is embarrassing that the county feels these roads are considered plowed and someone has a check mark on their to-do list for it being completed.

I have one thing left to add before ending my rant and never speaking of this again. If women (specifically MOTHERS) were in charge of getting the roads clear, it would've been done and done right within 24 hours of the snow stopping. I know for a fact we have special multi-tasking powers that wouldn't allow us to stop until the job was done and up to our standards. And believe me, these mothers wouldn't allow 7 school days to be missed before our kids were able to return.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Plenty of the white stuff - 5 (a.k.a stick a fork in me, I am done!)

We did it. My Toppall team and I made it through 2 really big, back-to-back snowstorms. Digging out has not been fun and finding places to put all this snow has proven to be challenging.

My heart goes out to Samantha who couldn't understand why we didn't go out for days on end. Even mentioning the word "out" got her running to the coat closet to reach for her jacket and got her pointing to her head saying, "hat, hat, hat." From time to time, she would look longingly at her boots and say "boot, boot, boot" until we helped her put them on. I guess she needed this to feel like she might actually go somewhere.

I wouldn't have minded taking the kids out in the snow and going for a walk, sledding or building a snowman. But as we found out with the blizzard in Dec. '09, the kids do not like the snow and all they do is complain. Sam has to be held the whole time because if you put her down, she'll either fall or completely disappear in the snow. The amount of time we are actually outside does not justify how long it takes to prepare them with layers beforehand and then delayering them afterwards. It is just easier to stay inside, dry and warm.

I hit my breaking point on Thursday. I just couldn't take it anymore and getting out became a top priority for my sanity. Jeff was toying around with the idea of taking my car to work on Friday. Of the 2 cars we own, only mine stands a chance on our neighborhood street. (Don't get me started on what I think of the county and their plowing. Oy!) When Jeff siezed up my mental state, he offered to work from home again on Friday and allow me the opportunity to be free roaming Fairfax with 2 kids. Fortunately it didn't come to that. I went to the gym at 6:00am on Friday and saw that the street was driveable (barely) and could be done with his car. He was able to go to work and I was able to be mobile in my own set of wheels.

A windfall came when a great mommy friend emailed on Thursday night offering to pick Ian up on Friday at 10:00am and have him hang out with them all day. She has 3 boys of her own (the youngest is 2.5 months old, the middle is Sam's age, and the oldest is Ian's age) and is one those moms that makes it look easy. I took Sam and traveled a little more lightly having only one child with me. Sam excelled at being out on Friday. We went to Costco, Wegmans and got the car emissions/safety inspection done. She was giddy with joy and was standing outside ready for our outing by 9:15am. Ian wasn't getting picked up until 10:00am. She indicated she wanted to be put in her car seat and sat there perfectly content for 45 minutes until it was time for us to leave.

At the end of the day, after dinner was eaten and the dishes cleared, Sam (completely on her own) put on her shoes, and got her coat and hat on. She went to the door and tried to open it to leave. I am not sure where she thought she was going, but she wanted back out. And, in a very, very bad way. Once she realized she wasn't going anywhere, she just stood there and cried. So I tried to distract her with a lollipop. Ha! All she did was come take the bag of lollipops from me and go back to the door to try to leave. I guess she had a taste of the good life (getting out) and wanted to experience it all over again.

A few friends and I had registered for a very fun sounding 5k race on Valentine's Day in Pentagon Row- 'Love the run your with'. Unfortunately the race got rescheduled due to unsafe running conditions. I can hardly blame them and now know why I usually don't register for races during the height of Winter.

While there were a few disappointments on events getting cancelled, the one thing that wasn't a disappointment was the wii. This brilliant gaming system came into our lives just in the nick of time. Ian, Jeff, and I have been having a fabulous time playing it. And since Ian pretty much gives himself an aerobic workout from jumping up and down playing each game (even when you only are required to move your hands), it has been a great form of exercise for him. In the morning I've been able to continue my workouts using EA Active and feel better about being stuck indoors.

I am looking forward to getting back into our routine and Ian getting back to school. I am also looking forward to sunshine-filled days with warmer weather spending hours on end outside at the local park/playground. Yes, I like to dream big. :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Plenty of the white stuff 4

Mom and Jim were originally scheduled to go back home on Wednesday morning at 8:00am. Once we saw what the forecast had in store (another 10 to 20 inches starting on Tuesday through to Wednesday), we realized that they stood very little chance of that flight actually taking off. We worked a little magic and managed to get their flight switched before Southwest Airlines officially allowed changes to be made free of charge. It's amazing what can be done when you ask to speak to the supervisor.

We moved up Mom's birthday dinner to Monday night and had a wonderful evening out before the next wave of snow started falling. I am most grateful that they were able to come for a visit and equally grateful that they were able to get back home relatively trouble-free and in plenty of time to make it back to work. It was like hitting the lottery having them snowed in with us. Not having to be the main entertainers for Ian and Sam for 4 days straight took a lot of the pressure off Jeff and me. Even with my house on the small side, we did a great job keeping our wits about us, had many laughs and could probably manage another week before going completely stir crazy.

During this most recent snowstorm (blizzard #2 in Feb. 2010) I've missed the extra set of hands and eyes. The harder part in all this is the amount of school Ian is missing. Granted, it's preschool, but when you get used to your little boy being gone from 9:30am to 1:30pm, Monday thru Friday, it is hard having him home all day, every day. At this rate, I am not sure when he'll be able to go back to school.

I've resigned myself to the fact that the tv and/or wii is on non-stop. Just when we were finally able to start going back out in the world, we had to stay in and prepare for the next snowstorm. This latest batch dropped another 12 inches on us and officially put us at the top of the list in the 1st position for the snowiest winter the D.C. area has ever seen. It's pretty exciting that years from now when they flash the list on the news to compare future snowstorms with, I can say we were there for it and survived. Not bad for a girl who grew up in Florida.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Plenty of the white stuff 3

Saturday morning we woke up to 17 inches of snow already on the ground. By 8:00am, Jeff and I were outside digging us out. We live on a pipestem and the five houses located on it are responsible for clearing this long, private driveway. Fortunately the neighbors directly across the street from us are really awesome about doing their fair share in shoveling the snow. They are a couple in their early 60's and while they travel several months out of the year, when they are in town, you can count on them to be out when the sun is rising helping out. Together, we make an awesome team and get the pipestem cleared in no time - at least from our houses on up to the main road. There is still the lower half of the road that needs to be done, but the two houses located at the end of the driveway should take care of that. These two houses are very late risers and it would drive me nuts if I had to depend on either of them to take part of the shoveling load. I should also note that the 5th house located technically on the pipestem is the very first one you encounter. This family parks their cars next to ours and should be doing at least one-fifth of the pipestem. But for the past several years we have yet to see any of the family come out with their shovels. They have one of those enormous SUVs and just drive over anything in its sight. And, to make matters worse, this bonehead doesn't even clear the snow off his car roof. Ugh! How infuriating. But, I digress. Thank Goodness for our neighbors across the street.

So Jeff, Jim and I were out there for 3 hours and got our driveway, cars and the pipestem cleared. Within an additional 3 hours you couldn't even tell we had ever been out there. And the snow currently falling was the heaviest we had been experiencing. It was crazy. Jim and Jeff went back out there to shovel the same areas again. They were running out of places to pile the snow. You could only stack it so high on the side of the road. All told we probably received close to 28 inches by the end of the day.

I started the day nervous about being stuck indoors the whole time with so much food readily available to eat. Me, food, and no where to go, isn't a good combination for trying to lose weight. But after shoveling for 3 hours, I looked up a few calorie counter calculators online and determined I burned a conservative 1,200 calories. Plus, I was busy for 3 hours. A much better strategy for combating oversnacking.

All in all, the day was a success. The kids got outside for a little fresh air and we found out yet again, that they do not like the snow or the cold weather. Bailey loves playing in the snow and kept burying his toys and then digging to find to them. We should've put him to work in the front of the house, not the back. :)

With us home for every meal and two additional adults in the house, the dishwasher is getting more use than normal. On average I am running 2 full loads each day. I suspect this will be the next appliance to go.

Our food supply held out nicely. At the end of day 4, we still did not lack anything and have plenty to keep going for another few weeks, most definitely through this next snow storm we are in the midst of. We got word on Saturday that our superbowl plans had been canceled. I am disappointed, but understand that it would be too difficult to get to the house we need to go to. The chili I was planning on bringing still got made for dinner, but instead of doing a triple batch, I got away with the normal amount I usually make.

The other disappointment we faced was the fact that Jeff and I were supposed to go away Saturday night to the JW Marriott in D.C. We had a nice evening planned in the city and then was going to have brunch with a few of Jeff's friends on Sunday morning. Fortunately we were able to cancel our reservation and not lose any of the Marriott points we were redeeming. Unfortunately the opportunity to have my mom and Jim babysit doesn't come around very often. We will have to reschedule for another time; hopefully when they are back in May for the kids' birthdays. At least we know there isn't a chance of it snowing then.

Stay tuned for the next installment of "Plenty of the white stuff 4".

Monday, February 8, 2010

Plenty of the white stuff 2

Here is the scene at the Toppall house on early Friday afternoon. I am in my bedroom and watching the show "Mercy". I had to DVR it because when it aired on Wednesday evening I was at the grocery store stocking up for the rest of Winter. :) Sam was in her room napping and Mom, Jim, Jeff and Ian were downstairs.

Rumors were that I was napping. The door was closed so I guess I could see how that would appear to be the case. Towards the end of the show I am smelling lots and lots of smoke. Then I hear the smoke detector go off. I put 2 and 2 together and am now worried that the downstairs is on fire and decide to go investigate. For a split second I am a little concerned and wonder if I should go get Sam out of her crib and take her downstairs with me. I didn't know if this was going to be my one opportunity to grab her and make a run for it. I hear Jeff's voice and feel better knowing that I will find everyone still conscious. There is smoke everywhere. A fire has been started in the fireplace and the window located next to it is wide open trying to clear the smoke out.

So it is now freezing downstairs and there is smoke all over the place. Not a pretty scene. Mom, Jim and Ian are sitting on the couch watching all of this. Jeff is looking for a flashlight so he can see if the flue is open. He knows that there is one in our bedroom, but he didn't want to come in and wake me up.

With one fell swoop, I go to the fire place, put my hand up to the flue and open it the rest of the way. Problem solved. Leave it us to keep it exciting even staying indoors.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Plenty of the white stuff

We in the middle of the biggest snowstorm the D.C. area has ever seen. Reports of this storm started earlier in the week and the predictions of the amount of snow we were to receive just kept getting bigger and bigger. When the snow started falling on Friday afternoon, Channel 7 news was reporting an expected snowfall of up to 30 inches. Really.

On Wednesday night, the weather map on Channel 4 news used the word "crippling" to describe our area with relation to the upcoming storm. This one word adjective was more than enough for Jeff to strongly urge me to go grocery shopping after dinner and stock up on all necessities. With my mom and stepfather due for a visit on Friday, I needed to plan out what food we would need to not only make dinner for several nights, but also be sufficiently stocked and ready to go for 2 extra adults in the house. Jeff and I had just done our weekly grocery shopping on Saturday at Wegman's and broken a personal record on the amount spent -- $311. This was just for one week's groceries. 4 days later, I found myself at the Safeway across the street and we broke another spending record there -- $323. And, get this -- they didn't even have milk left on the shelves. I was contemplating giving the kids buttermilk to drink. I got a grip and realized I still had 48 hours before the snow was even expected to start falling.

Come Thursday morning, the reports that you should be prepared to stay put for 3 to 5 days is what got to me. Now I was ready to take this storm seriously. I was at the gym with Sam and decided to go to Wegman's afterwards and see if they had firewood and milk. To my delight, the food was flying off the shelves, but they were restocking it just as fast. Wegman's was the busiest I've ever seen it. Not even Thanksgiving or Christmas could rival the amount of business they were doing this particular Thursday morning. So I decided to buy more fruit, some chicken salad, cole slaw, lots of ice cream, milk and firewood. Every register was open and each checkout lane was about 20 deep of customers waiting. It was crazy! Fortunately everyone was in good spirits, the cashiers were efficient and Sam was happy munching on the unwashed strawberries we had in our cart. $92 later we were on our way home and really ready for the snow to arrive. Let's do the math -- $726 spent in under a week. Yowzer. And guess what? I went to change a light bulb on Friday and we didn't have any. :)

Mom and Jim were due to arrive Friday afternoon. Fortunately they were able to change their travel planes and take the same exact flight out on Thursday. It's a good thing too, because their original flight was cancelled. Many kudos to my mom and stepfather for forging ahead with their plans to come visit knowing full well what they were about to experience. Considering they live in the Florida, it is extra special. I am so excited they are here. The kids are having a great time and it takes the pressure off of Jeff and me to keep them entertained 14 hours of the day.

Before even one snowflake fell, Fairfax County (along with the rest of the D.C. metro area) cancelled school and all activities for Friday. In another bold move, Southwest airlines cancelled over 100 flights into BWI and Dulles for Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning. And as I write this on Friday afternoon, hoping to tune in and watch General Hospital, ABC has preempted my soap opera for minute-by-minute coverage on the storm. Really? You've got to be kidding me. The storm has really just started getting underway, it is not even sticking on the streets yet, and regular programming has been taken off the air. This is just not right. You've warned us to get off the roads. You've warned us to get to the grocery store days ago. You've warned us to stay put. And, now you are making it impossible for me to see my favorite show. Ha!! Guess what? Just as I finished that last sentence, Channel 7 (it is on as background noise) reported that they will re-air the soap operas and Oprah tomorrow. I can catch Friday's General Hospital at 5:00am on Saturday morning. Nice try, but I think I'll DVR it and watch it at a more appropriate hour. :)

Stay tuned for the story on how the house almost burned down...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It takes a village

I had a lot of friends before becoming a mommy and having children. I've been fortunate to make some amazingly close friendships that no matter where I live, we will always be a part of each other's lives. I've spoken time and time again about "the girls" and am thankful that I have them. Beyond having a great time together, I know I can count on them and they can count on me.

But I found an unexpected treasure in the friendships I've made since having kids. Giving up my career and staying home put me in a whole new world. I didn't know anyone else who stayed at home and I wasn't entirely sure what a new mommy does with her day when she doesn't really have to be anywhere. Surely you don't stay in, watch Oprah and eat bon-bons? And, there are only so many trips to Target and the grocery store you can make in a week.

About 6 weeks after Ian was born, I joined my local MOMs club and instantly bonded with a few of the women in the club. Many daytime activities were planned for us and in the down-time we organized our own get togethers. We would go to the baby-friendly movies, meet for lunch, check out the various play areas, go to the park/playground, and on many, many occasions each other's houses. Our kids were babies together and now 4 1/2 years later, they love and adore each other. Furthermore, our group has grown and now the addition of younger siblings (sometimes 2 or 3) have made it all the more livelier.

There are few of these moms that are my favorites. Women who amaze me in how they keep it together, can laugh at the craziness, and relate to the madness. Women who I can call at a moment's notice and tell them I am having a tough day and know that a playdate will be arranged within 5 minutes. Women who offer to take one or both of the kids so I can go to a drs appt by myself or have the opportunity take just one child to their appt. Women who will track me down in my car enroute to pick up my son from preschool and throw out the invitation to drop him off at their house on my way home for an impromptu playdate; thus allowing me some wonderful "me" time while Sam takes her afternoon nap. Women who drop everything they are doing when they hear you are in labor 4.5 weeks early and very quickly come to your rescue and wisk your 3 year old away until the grandparents can get here. Women who love to do the near impossible and take a gazillion kids blueberry picking or the National Zoo in 95 degree heat during the summer and knowingly mess up the much beloved nap time. Women who feel as fortunate as I do that our kids get along as well as they do because we love spending time together too. Women who lend that extra hand without being asked and swoop in to help parent when we are out and about doing something with the kids. Women who still want to hang out with you and go to the movies, once the kids are in bed and they finally can get some quiet time. Women who have 3 or 4 kids and make it look effortless.

I can't imagine going through motherhood without these fellow moms by my side. Just thinking about it makes me cringe. I know as our kids get older, we will not need each other as much, but I hope that our kids will remain good friends and realize the history that exists. I worry that Ian will make new friendships in kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd, 3rd, etc and want to go over to these boy's houses after school and on the weekends. I am not going to know the parents like I do my mommy friends. How will I know Ian is walking into a good environment? How do I know what their parenting style is like? I wish (as I am sure Ian does too) that we could just all go to the same kindergarten next year together. That these kids can continue to be each other's main buddies. It would make my life so much easier. I may get lucky and meet some new amazing women, but in my heart I'll know they just won't compare to the first set I've met.

My Toppall team and I showed up at just the right time for each of us to make some amazing friendships.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

February New Year's Resolution Experiment

So I survived January's challenge to give up soda. It was much easier than I was expecting. I was all geared up to experience a caffeine withdrawal headache the first few days and was surprised that one never came. Which got me thinking... Had I given up one evil and replaced it with another? Up until mid-January, it never occurred to me that all the hot tea I was drinking (up to 3 cups a day) had probably as much caffeine in it as the diet coke/diet dr. pepper/diet black cherry soda I was giving up. Essentially I made it a seamless transition. So I went to the grocery store and found a perfectly tasty non-caffeinated tea to drink. I've been slowly incorporating this into my day and doing away with the other kind of tea. Since my goal was to give up soda and not necessarily caffeine, I feel like I am still victorious in my small change for the month of January

I do admit the time I miss drinking soda the most is when I have popcorn. For some reason diet coke and popcorn go together like peanut butter and jelly for me. My new fave liquid to have with popcorn now is Chrystal Light Fruit Punch flavored water. Not sure why, but this seems to do the trick.

So my plan is to continue to give up soda and incorporate another small change in the month of February. This is going to be much more challenging for me as I have been trying (unsuccessfully) to do this for sometime and keep failing. I figure if I put it down in my blog, I'll have a better chance of succeeding by being held accountable.

Here goes.... I am not going to snack after 7:00pm. I think the reason I am having such a difficult time losing these last 20 pounds is from all the eating I do after dinner. It's not like I am hungry and there is no reason for me to raid to the kitchen. So I will give myself a cut-off time and do my best to stick to it. I am going to be interested to see if this makes me eat better throughout the earlier part of the day knowing that I am not going to be stockpiling up on food late at night.

February is going to be tough month for me...good thing its the shortest one we have all year.