Monday, May 31, 2010

Look out world, my birthday boy is 5 today!

This past year has been spectacular for Ian. So many wonderful changes occurred that I believe the word that best describes Ian is 'Mr. Independent'. He can get himself dressed in the morning, brush his teeth completely on his own, started requesting to take a shower over having a bath, can operate the tv remote control, fully mastered working the wii, buckles his own car seat, and has even shown a desire to learn to read.

Two changes that I am particularly proud of was his own initiative to stop wearing pull-ups at night and be more open-minded to eat what we are having for dinner; thus requiring less and less chicken nuggets as his meal.

Ian's interest in sports has skyrocketed. He can be found watching basketball, baseball and racing over any of his favorite cartoons most days. He'll go to bed watching a sporting event on tv and first thing the next morning ask daddy who won. He enjoys watching the sports news and will always ask what teams they are showing in the highlights. Although, at this point, Ian can tell me who is playing and point out specific players and their numbers. Ian played soccer in the Fall and Spring and did it with gusto. His enthusiasm for scoring a goal is a little over-the-top.

Ian's dreams on what he wants to do when gets older spans from wanting to be a race car driver, to being in a rock band, being a pilot and a teacher. He is by far the most social person I know. Ian is friends with everyone and does a great job keeping his calendar full on his own. He is great at taking turns and sharing. And he has all these ideas. He is planning to take guitar lessons during the summer and will be fully swimming without his arm floaties by the end of summer. He says he'll need to wear them for the first few lessons to get comfortable again in the water.

Ian's vocabulary continues to amaze and delight all who hear him. I figured out how it got so developed. When Ian hears a word he doesn't know, he'll stop and ask what it means. Next thing you know, he is using that very word in a sentence later on. His comprehension not just for words but math and sport scores is astounding.

Ian is funny. Very funny. He'll say something and just crack us all up. Like when Sam wakes up from a nap and is angry. Ian said, "well that didn't work out like it was supposed to." Or, when he watches a race on tv and comments "that is the most beautiful turn I've ever seen."

Turning 5 is a big deal! This is when Ian truly becomes a big boy and is no longer a toddler. Ian will start kindergarten in the Fall. It is going to be an exciting time of adapting to a new schedule, making new friends and getting even a little more independent. I have no doubt that my gregarious little boy is going to embrace this new chapter in his life like everything else he has done; with a smile on his face and ideas on how he can do it in his own style.

I love you so much my brilliant, witty, observant, considerate, playful, talkative Ian. You are becoming quite the big boy and growing into an awesome little person that I love to be around.

Happy 5th birthday! Mommy and Daddy love you so very much!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sam's balancing act

What makes Sam think this is a good idea? It started out that she would only let me change her diaper when she was laying on the bottom step. It was a little tricky, but doable. I knew if some reason, Sam fell off the step, it wasn't going to be that bad of a fall. Once she got the new diaper on, she'd get up and keep going about her business.

Then, somewhere along the way, Sam started laying on some of the higher steps -- just because. It became a place she enjoyed hanging out on. Sometimes with her blanket and lovey and sometimes with nothing in particular. It is a little freaky to turn the corner and see her on the steps. I fear that she will forget how narrow the space is and roll off. Or, I'll quickly run down the stairs for something and step or trip on her. For some reason she finds this space to be a comforting place. It makes no sense and since this is something that Ian never discovered doing, it never occurred to me that she would want to.

Very bizarre. Fortunately it is only a matter of time before she is longer than width of the step.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's a better world when you have friends

I joke with Jeff that I hope to never make a new friend. I have plenty as it is and already have a tough time staying in touch with the ones I have. It is a juggling act getting to see my friends often enough and still spending as much time with the family as I want. Adding more friends would only eat up time I don't have to give to these new friendships.

About a year ago, this woman and I were walking out of the gym at the same time and she commented on my workout. "It looks like you had a great run this morning." That's basically all she had to say and I was puddy eating out of her hands. We joke that she picked me up at the gym. I came home and told Jeff that my running got noticed and he said, "I'm sorry, you've made a new friend." Ha! Not hardly. I was not going to get to know this woman and do nothing to encourage a friendship. However, this woman (who I come to find out is named Maria) was extra friendly and would try to start a conversation with me each time I saw her. Eventually I met her for bagels one morning while our kids were in school and started getting to know her.

If someone told me that a year later I'd be leaving a surprise bouquet of flowers at her doorstep for her 40th birthday, you could've knocked me over with a feather. And if someone told me that I'd be going to a birthday party being thrown for her by one of her friends where I knew no one but her, you'd also be able to knock me over with a feather. But that is exactly what happened. Somewhere over the past year, this Maria has become a friend and I feel like my life has become so much more sweeter with her in it.

Maria is one of the main Gazelles I run with on Saturday mornings and go to the local races with. She is so inspiring and makes me want to be a better runner. She is incredibly dedicated to running, but also has a great time doing it.

Unfortunately all the other Gazelles were out of town and not able to attend her party. I was certain I would feel more than a little uncomfortable walking into a complete stranger's house and not know anyone but Maria. On Friday, I asked Heather if she wanted to go to the party with me. She said yes! Heather is a great person to take to a party. She will never embarrass you with her behavior, she can relate to almost anyone and she doesn't mind not knowing anyone. Plus, she offered to pick me up, what more do you need in a date?

Heather and I had a wonderful time at the party. There was about 25 people there and we met and spoke to just about everyone. It was an incredibly welcoming group and the laughs came easy. This one guy there named Greg looked very familiar to Heather. Heather has the most amazing memory for faces. If she says someone looks familiar, then you can bet all the tea in China that Heather has met them at some point in her life. It turns out that Greg and Heather went out on a date approx. 10 years ago. Nothing ever came of it and they quickly lost touch and never spoke again. Right away, Heather and I had the same thought -- this guy would be perfect for our friend Wendy. He is a really nice guy and his interests are right up Wendy's alley. Hey, who knows if they will have chemistry or not, but it is worth a shot.

I really do think everything happens for a reason. And now I feel like becoming friends with Maria is part of my inspiration for being the runner that I've turned into. And taking Heather to this party was supposed to happen too. Maybe this is the guy that Wendy will end up with. She is such a wonderful person and deserves to be with someone who is worthy.

I didn't realize I had room in my life for another friend until Maria came along and showed me that there is always room for one more.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Green means go!

The wedding we went to almost 2 weeks ago was held at the beautiful location of Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, VA. There are exactly 36 traffic lights separating us from this destination and our house. How do we know this? I counted.

495 was the primary road we used to get to the wedding, but on the way out of the parking lot at the end of the evening, Jeff & I debated briefly which way to go to get home. I commented that we could take 123/Chain Bridge all the way and Jeff said that there are too many lights we could get stuck at. I believe my reply was, "You never know, they could be all green." At which point a challenge was issued and we gave it a go.

To our amazement, out of the 36 traffic lights we had to drive thru, 34 of them were a solid green! One light (#17) was yellow turning red and we probably should've stopped, but I think even Jeff got caught up in the excitement and went for it. Light #33 was red and that was the first time we had to actually come to a full stop. I can attest to the fact that Jeff did the speed limit the whole way and no trickery was involved. We made it home in 18 minutes; probably the same amount of time as if we took the beltway, but I know for a fact we had more fun this way.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My sweet and fiesty birthday girl!

Sam turns two years old today. Every day I spend with her, I am amazed at her spunkiness. She has become this very head-strong, opinionated, loud little person. If she gets an idea in her head, she will stop at nothing to make it happen. Whether it is putting on a pair of my shoes and walking down the stairs in them, or telling us exactly which bowl she needs her oatmeal to be served in, she can be stubborn and funny all at the same moment.

Sam loves to wear a hat, any kind of hat, and will do so 24/7 if you let her. She enjoys playing dress up and will spend a good deal of time wearing either Ian's soccer cleats, daddy's flip flops or my dressy shoes around the house, completing the look with a bicycle helmet on her head. No room or staircase is off limits with her making the rounds. She will take my watch and wear it, load up her baby stroller with my purse and start circling the kitchen. I absolutely adore watching her in action and see what she will think of next. She is all girl and loves a good outfit change as much as the next person. I am no longer surprised when she has gone off and disappeared for a little and returns wearing something completely different than what I dressed her in. Unfortunately, this means the diaper has come off and is no longer part of the new ensemble. She loves to wear her pink, sparkly sunglasses, but only on top of her head. Most of the time, the sunglasses are upside down.

Sam hates being cooped-up in the house too long and will 'take' Jeff on walks frequently. Her need to be out and about makes her a dream to run errands with and doesn't mind the constant getting in and out of the car. When she realizes we are getting ready to leave the house, she will start bringing each of us our shoes to put on and go "here mommy" or "here daddy" as she puts them on the floor and helps guide our feet in them. She does a quick walk around the house and grab a few things to put in the diaper bag; "here bag, bag, bag" until we take it from her and put it in the bag. We've had to leave the house with everything from several pinky dolls (her loveys), Ian's Cars computer, an Elmo balloon and more.

Her vocabulary has become something extraordinary. I know Ian didn't even come close to having this many words when he was turning two. Sam will put two words together and repeat them over and over again until we figure out what she is saying and help her get what it is she wants. Bonus if you can do this before she starts getting louder each time she repeats herself.

Sam is advanced for her age and entered the 'terrible twos' a long time ago. If you tell her "no" or when she does not get her way, her temper tantrums are hilarious. She'll stop crying/screaming, gently lower herself to the ground and lay head first pointing down. Only after she has placed herself on the floor in the proper temper tantrum position, she will then start crying/screaming again. You can't help but laugh when this display is put in action.

Sam loves to people-watch and is just as happy hanging out seeing what others are doing as she is getting in the action. She will mimic the behavior of her brother and completely & utterly adores him. The hugs and kisses she gives Ian come freely and sitting on his lap is one of her most favorite places to be. Fortunately, Ian doesn't mind. The rest of us have to work hard to get a kiss from her.

She loves to color and is very proud of herself after each drawing. "Look, look" she'll say holding up her latest creation. If she's done something she is particularly proud of, she'll clap her hands and has a smile that goes from ear to ear. Sam is the best little helper around and enjoys emptying the dishwasher and filling it up again with the dirty dishes in the sink. She takes her step stool around the kitchen and will instantly pop up and be very quick to lend a hand.

Sam's smile lights up her face. Sam loves to drive with her window all the way down and faces the strong breeze coming through her window directly head-on. She is quick to laugh and loves to cuddle. She'll tell you what she wants to wear and let you know if you are on the approved list to do her hair or not. That list changes daily.

I am so madly in love with my funny, adorable, sensitive, clingy, beautiful, charming, spirited, talkative cutie pie. She is my sunshine and brings me more joy and happiness than I thought possible.

Happy 2nd birthday Sam. Mommy and daddy love you very much!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Heard and Observed X

At a soccer game, the coach on Ian's team put a list together of who he wanted to pair up and have play against the other team. Ian was told he would be playing with one of his best buddies, James.

Coach: Ian and James, you'll be playing together.

Ian: I've been dreaming about this day happening.


After the first quarter was over, the coach called all the players in for a water break and to give them a quick pep talk. The coach asked the kids how it was going.

Ian: These boys are taking away less of my breath and energy than the girls we played last week.


Ian: Momma, your Mother's day present from me is ME!

Me: Yay! Just what I always wanted.


Driving to school one morning:

Ian: Momma, can we go to McDonald's the next time we go out to eat? I really want to get one of those Train Your Dragon toys they are giving away with Happy Meals. I don't think it is fair that I don't have any.

Me: Ian, I am trying to get us to eat healthier than McDonald's.

Ian: Well then how about we get Sam a happy meal to eat and then you can give me her Train Your Dragon toy that comes with it?

Me: Yes, I guess that would solve the problem.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Snug as a bug in a rug

It finally happened. Saturday was the first time ever (since Sam was born almost 2 years ago) that it became necessary to see if all of four of us could fit in our queen-sized bed.

At 5:30am, looking at the video monitor with one eye open as I was turning over, I noticed that Sam was standing in her crib. I went to retrieve her before she started getting loud and calling for me. My plan was to get her diaper changed and bring her into bed with me and Jeff before Ian woke-up. The goal was to try to grab another 30 minutes of sleep before the day officially began.

As soon as Sam wakes up she likes to know the status of everyone's whereabouts:

Sam: "Daddy? Daddy?"
Me: "Daddy is still sleeping"
Sam: Makes the motion she needs to keep quiet and puts her finger to her mouth, "sssshhhh."
Me: "Yes, that's right...ssssshhhhhh"
Sam: "Ian? Ian?"
Before I could even say, "Ian is still sleeping too", Ian answered with a very calm voice from his room, "Boy, Sam is up early."

Um, by my math that makes TWO kids up very early. Ugh! Aren't weekends for sleeping in? I don't think my kids ever got that memo.

I told Ian to go to the bathroom, grab Gymbo (his lovey) and come join us in bed. We've never been in this situation before where both kids are up at the same time (before the crack of dawn) and there is absolutely no reason to be. Usually the kids alternate on who is going to take that honor and the other one will sleep to a more manageable time in the morning.

So there we were, Jeff, Me, Ian, Samantha, and two loveys (Ian had his Gymbo doll and Sam had her pinky doll). Believe it or not, we had enough room and no one got crushed. However, an extra 30 minutes of sleep never happened. As you can imagine, Ian starts talking, Sam chimes in with whats on her mind and I start thinking of everything that I could be doing instead of trying to pretend to be asleep. I think at the most we made it another 10 minutes and by 5:45am, we were all up.

No wonder I never have a problem meeting my Gazelles for an early 6:00amish run. If I am going to be awake, I might as well start the day on a good foot. :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

A funny thing happened on the way to dinner

Friday morning I woke up and started thinking about what I was going to wear that evening. I had plans to help celebrate a good friend's last days as a single woman. Karen was getting married on Sunday and her sister planned a great evening to send her off in style.

Still feeling down in the dumps over Bailey and not being excited about anything in my closet, I decided a quick trip to Kohl's was in order before taking Sam to the gym. Retail therapy is sometimes the best medicine to cure the blahs.

I found a cute little skirt and some killer sandals. I tried the skirt on and was pleased with the size I needed to get. I left Kohl's with a smile on my face and headed for the gym. Once I got back from the gym, I took a shower and put on a t-shirt and a pair of shorts to wear for the rest of the day, until it was time to get dressed.

I picked Ian up from school and Sam went down for her nap. Needing to be at the restaurant between 4:45pm and 5:00pm, I told Jeff I would bring the kids to his office at 4;40pm and switch cars with him. Jeff's office was only 5 minutes away from the restaurant (Maggiano's in Tysons) and this would alleviate Jeff from having to leave work super early to come home in time.

I was hoping to be in the car by 4:00pm, but unfortunately Sam was still sleeping. I absolutely hate having to wake a sleeping a baby and decided to give her 10 more minutes. During these 10 minutes, I decided to get dressed and put on the new skirt. I gave myself the once-over in the mirror and to my horror I discovered the sensor tag was still attached the skirt. OMG! Well actually, I think my exact words were "Oh Shit!!". I yelled to Ian, "Get your shoes on now! We need to leave!" I ran into Sam's room and woke her up. Very quickly changed her diaper, got her shoes on and ran for the door. I told Ian we needed to make a stop first on the way to daddy's office.

Fortunately Kohl's is across the street from my house. But still, the idea of getting two kids in and out of their car seats twice and adding 10 minutes to my travel time with the big unknown of how bad 495 was going to be, was totally stressing me out. I double parked in front of Kohl's, put on my flashers, grabbed Ian and Sam and headed for the front door. I carried Sam the whole time because I knew the minute I put her down, she'd be off shopping. I told Ian to stay close to me at all times. As soon as we walked through the sensors, the alarms went off. Everyone stopped what they were doing and started wondering who was trying to steal merchandise. In my loud voice as I am rushing to the first register, I said, "I bought this skirt this morning to wear tonight, and the cashier never took the sensor off. I need you to take it off now! I am running very late!". The person I was talking to was a young man in his 20's and replied with, "this is going to be awkward ma'am." He said that because the sensor tag remover was a permanent fixture on top of their counter. I replied with, "This won't be awkward" and proceeded to jump straight up on the counter, still holding Samantha. It was one smooth move and I had no idea I could get myself that high up off the ground without needing a running start. I guess it is true what they say about adrenaline and having super powers kick in when needed. The cashier was able to take a hold of the side of my skirt and run it through the machine to remove the tag. Yay! I jumped down and made a beeline out of there. In and out in under 60 seconds. It helped the alarm went off to announce our arrival. The woman who was in the process of getting checked out, was hysterical with laughter.

We made it to Jeff's office in plenty of time. And, to my delight, out of the 13 women attending the dinner, I was the first one to arrive at the restaurant. Never a dull moment! And for a few minutes my mind was on something completely different than Bailey.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Moms On The Run

I've become part of something fabulous. This group of amazing women formed a few months ago and we meet each Saturday morning to run, usually a distance of 6 to 7 miles.

When we first started there was 4 of us. These women are anywhere from 4 to 6 inches taller than me and easily weigh 30 pounds less. I call them Gazelles because that is what they look like when they are running....their long legs stretched wide apart, gaining speed as their body warms up and running like the wind. Then there is me. It takes me about 3 steps to equal their one. I feel like a hamster on wheel doing double-time to keep up. We all start out together, but soon, no matter how badly I want it, I'll never be running right beside them. I feel happy when I can keep their bodies still in view, knowing I am not doing that bad of a job too far behind. We are all run at our own pace and it is inspiring when our per minute mile time gets quicker. The crazy thing is, while I coined the term "gazelle" to describe these women, they think of me as one too. And they've seen me! It makes me want to do a better job. I'd hate to disappoint them. We are each other's best cheerleaders and together there is nothing we can't accomplish.

We meet very early on Saturday mornings, usually in the 6:00am hour. It is important that we do this before the kids' activities have us running in all directions. This is something we do just for ourselves. It is "me" time. It helps me clear my head, get the day off to a great start, and is a great stress-reliever. Running for me is free therapy! After coming back from a run, I feel incredible! On top of my game!

I find these women so inspiring. All of them have their reasons for being out there. One of the Gazelles will find a race for us to run and the next thing you know, we are standing at the starting line waiting to take off. Since the end of February, I've run more races these past few months combined, than I have in all my years prior. I've done the "Love the run you're with 5k", Cherry Blossom 10 miler", "Rockstar 8k", "Island Creek Crock Trot 5k", and most recently, the "Pacer's Mother day 1/4 quarter marathon".

I ran the 1/4 marathon (6.55 miles) on Mother's day in Bailey's honor. I had a heckuva scare when I realized I didn't have my headphones with me and left them at home. Wendy was going to join me at Mile 2 and run with me for a little bit. I called her in a panic and asked her to bring me an extra pair. As hard as it was going to be to run with no music, I figured I could do it for the 2 miles before relief came. However, I didn't see Wendy at Mile 2 and just kept running. Each time I thought of slowing down, my mind went to Bailey. I knew he would never slow down and I wasn't going to either. I managed to run for 4.5 miles before Wendy somehow miraculously found me. She had an extra pair of headphones to lend me and we ran the last 2 miles together. I ran the entire race and the majority of it was done in a manner I never thought possible. But it goes to show you that with the right mindset, nothing is impossible!

Due to the impending summer heat, I am taking a break from the registered races over the summer, but will still be an active participant in our Gazelle runs on Saturdays. I hope these never go away. Riding on the coat tails of the Mother's day race, we have all registered for the Marine Corps 10k on October 31, 2010. One of the women, Maria, will be doing her first marathon on this day.

Another one of the Gazelle's, Amy, formed this group on Facebook called "MOMS ON THE RUN"....coming together to run away from it all. Our group is slowly growing and we post pictures from our races on this page. I never in a million years thought I would be a part of something so wonderful.

I look forward to our runs each week. I love being around these women. With their support and encouragement there is nothing I can't do.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My little Rainman

One of the items on the "Is my child ready for kindergarten?" checklist is TRIES TO COUNT TO 10. Really? I hadn't realized how advanced Ian's math skills were until I saw this checklist and had a conversation with Heather. Not only can Ian count beyond 100, but he can do addition and subtraction too. I know for a fact that he isn't using his fingers either.

The other day we were in the car with Jeff driving and Ian was doing his usual announcement of what the speed limit is (Daddy, speed limit is 25). Only this time he was adding 5 to let Jeff know how fast he can legally go. (But you can do 30). Ian was able to successfully do this no matter what the speed limit was. It had become so natural for me to hear this that I didn't realize he was adding 5 to the number each time until Jeff pointed it out.

Last Monday, we were dealing with a pretty gross situation that I now know was due to him getting a stomach bug the next day. He went through 3 pairs of underwear before school even started and then during kindergarten orientation, we had to change him into his back-up pair we keep in the car. I was on the phone with Heather later in the afternoon telling her we threw 4 pairs of underwear away (I simply refuse to even consider washing it). I said to Heather, it is a good thing we started with 27 pairs this morning. Almost immediately after Ian hearing me say this, chimes in with, "We have 23 pairs left". WOW!! Again, I didn't realize how spectacular this calculation was until Heather commented on what just transpired.

Ian gets on the phone with Heather and she asks him several more math problems to see if that first one was a fluke. No sireeeebob! I've got GoodWill Hunting on my hands! Not even 21 + 5 stumped Ian.

But wait! There's more! Ian asked what time his birthday party at My Gym is set to start. I told him it begins at 3:00pm. Ian said he wanted to get there at 2:50pm. I asked Ian, "If we get there at 2:50pm, how early will we be?" Ian very quickly answered "10 minutes". Then Ian said, "if anyone shows up at 3:20pm, they will be late'. I asked, "How late will they be?" Again, Ian answered without hesitation, "20 minutes."

And the icing on the cake came on Wednesday when I picked Ian up at school. He asked if he could go into the bike room with his friend Harper and play for a little before we headed home to put Sam down for a nap. I said, "Ian, we can stay for 5 minutes only". Ian then replied with, "Harper, you get the big bike for 3 minutes and I'll get it for 2 minutes."

I've said it before, I'll say it again. My boy is a genius!

Full disclosure -- Ian can't read. We are working on this. Kids have all areas they excel in. Math just happens to be Ian's.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ode to Bailey

Ah, I miss the little booger something fierce. Despite having 2 kids with a volume level of loud and louder, the house seems so quiet now. I can still feel his fur brush against my leg as I move from room to room with him following thisclose to me. And when I open the back sliding door, I can hear his collar jingle rushing to run outside.

These past few days I've taken comfort in talking with family and friends who knew Bailey. There are so many wonderful stories about the kind of dog he was. This blog is going to be dedicated to sharing some of these stories with you.

Gosh, where do I start?


I would take Bailey with me everywhere. Grocery store, CVS, Home Depot, Bank, etc. There was no place off limits and it is amazing what you can get away with if no one thinks they should stop you. Bailey was always well-behaved and fortunately never got into trouble. I remember driving to Florida when he was a few months old and I had to stop to use the bathroom. I didn't want to leave Bailey by himself in the car and therefore, took him into the bathroom with me. Of course there was a big sign that said "No Dogs" we had to walk past, but that didn't matter. Bailey and I took up a lot of space in the stall and like a true mom I told him, "Don't touch anything. Public restrooms are dirty." He just looked at me and obeyed. Didn't even sniff anything. I am sure the people next to us must've thought I was off my rocker.

One time I flew to Orlando with him and had to purchase an extra large crate for him to fit in. When you get a crate this big and it is approved for airline use, it comes on wheels. No kidding. This was before husband and kids and it was just me and him flying to Florida. I did get some doggy Valium from the vet to give him beforehand so he wouldn't be nervous about flying. We were standing in line at the counter to check in and I kept Bailey out of the crate for as long as possible. Once it got time that I had to put him in, he wouldn't willingly go inside. So there I am in front of US Air, trying to shove this very big German Shepherd into the crate, which was on wheels. I quickly had 4 guys who were standing in line come to my rescue to try to help. Two of the guys held the crate in place and the other two guys tried to shove Bailey inside. Bailey kept stretching his long legs out sideways, preventing him fitting through the doorway of the crate. Oh, it must've taken 15 minutes with 5 of us working on the task. We gave everyone at the airport quite a show.

The first major snowstorm after Bailey was with me, found us outside with all my neighbors digging our cars out. Bailey loved the snow and never missed an opportunity to play in it. When Bailey saw what everyone was doing with their shovels, he positioned himself behind my car and started digging. His legs were moving ridiculously fast. The snow was flying up high behind him and was making it easier to get my car out. Everyone wanted Bailey to come over and help them.

Before getting married, Jeff and I would take Bailey down to the Mall and go for long walks. One time he saw a group of boys playing with a ball and Bailey wanted to join in. The boys let Bailey play and a fun game of soccer got underway. Bailey did a great job of kicking the ball and running with it, while the boys were trying to steal the ball away.

Whenever Bailey had gotten professionally bathed, the first thing the groomer says when I arrive to pick him up is how incredibly well he behaves getting a bath. Bailey will just stand there and not even try to flee the scene. You can pretty much do whatever you want to him and he will let you. For the first year or so of his life, every Sunday was bath day. I'd put Bailey in my bath tub and turn on the shower. Eventually he outgrew my bath tub and the baths got less frequent, but he grew up not knowing any thing different and always smelled so sweet.

When we first moved into our house and before I quit my job, we had a cleaning lady come clean the house. After the first cleaning, I received the following message on my answering machine:

"Barney did great with me being in the house. However, when I went in your shower to clean it, I turned around and Barney was standing right there in the shower with me."


When Ian was first born and we brought him home from the hospital, Bailey had full access to his new little brother. I would find Bailey standing on his hind legs up against the top rail of the crib and peering inside, gazing at Ian. He would do this multiple times a day to check on him.

When Ian was 3 months old, I had the crazy idea to take Bailey and Ian to get professional pictures taken. At the time, JC Penny's at Fair Oaks Mall was the only place that would allow dogs. The photo studio is located on the 2nd floor and has no doors. Even the individual rooms only have curtains. When it was time for our appointment, I took Bailey's leash off so it wouldn't look awkward in the pictures. Ian was propped up on this pillow and Bailey positioned himself up on the table next to him. All was going well until Bailey decided he had enough and jumped down and left the photo studio. I couldn't very well abandon Ian on this table to run after Bailey and was in a pickle on what to do next. I found Bailey hanging out in the women's department at JC Penny's. I am sure he scared some women big-time when they saw him unescorted wandering around the clothes.


The Holiday Inn at Olde Towne used to do doggy happy hours in their courtyard. For halloween they would have doggy halloween parties and you brought your dog in costume. Bailey was Batdog and I was Robin!

We've lived in our house now for 5 halloweens. We leave the front door open and have the glass storm door closed to show trick-or-treaters that we home and handing out candy. Each year, Bailey's favorite position to sit right in front of the storm door and wait for the kids to come up the walkway. Bailey loves that all these little visitors were coming to see him. Of course some of the kids were terrified seeing a huge dog waiting for them at the door. But isn't being scared part of Halloween?!?!?


Before Sam was born and we had to turn the guest room into her room, my sister would come visit frequently and stay in this room. For some reason Bailey loved her bras and would stick his head in her bag until he found one and pulled it out. He used to walk around the house with it dangling from his mouth. It would only be her bras that he did this with.

After the wedding, my sister Lori took Bailey back home with her to Blue Bell, Pennsylvania to watch him for the 3 weeks we were away on our honeymoon. Somewhere along the drive on I-95, Lori got stopped for speeding (see? It is a Mazer thing!). When the officer approached Lori's car he noticed Bailey in the back. German Shepherds are great thing to have when trying to suck-up to a cop. The cop was so enamored by Bailey, that he had Lori take him out of the car and let him play with him a little on the side of the highway. Lori told him he was the ring bearer in her sister's wedding and put Bailey's 'tux' on him for the officer to see. Needless to say, Lori got away with a warning and Bailey made a new friend.


My friend Siobhan and I would take Bailey for hikes in the Great Falls area. One time we met after work and wanted to fit a hike in before nightfall. Not one of our smartest ideas as we only had a couple hours of sunlight left in the day. I know the rule is you must keep your dog leased at all times, but again, I am not one for rules if I don't think they make sense. I would take Bailey's leash and wrap it around his neck, so technically he still was a leashed dog, but I just wasn't holding his leash. In all the times we went hiking, Bailey never ran off. Even when passing other dogs, he couldn't be bothered by them and just kept near us. HOWEVER, on this one particular hike as it is getting increasingly darker and darker, Bailey spots some deer and takes off like a bat out of hell after them. OMG! He chases them deep into the woods and we tried very hard to keep up. Obviously we'll never be as fast as a dog or deer and we also didn't want to leave the trail for fear we'd get lost ourselves. We called for Bailey (yelling at the top of our lungs for over 30 minutes) walking back and forth this particular stretch of trail over and over again hoping he would come back out of the woods, where we saw him go in. Siobhan and I were both completely freaked out and realized we needed to go find the park ranger before they left for the day. At this point, it is almost completely dark out and we are scared finishing the hike with nightfall so close. There are no street lights in the woods! As we are heading back to leave, we walk for a few minutes and turn this corner in the trail. We can hardly make out this figure, but there in the distance, coming towards us is Bailey. He was walking very, very slowly and was panting big-time. He was coming to find us! He was so exhausted and worn out from his chase of the deer. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw him. Siobhan and I just stood there and hugged each other. We will never know if Bailey caught the deer or not, but I guarantee you, he gave them a run for their money.

I used to also do the Billy Goat Trail with Bailey. I don't think they allow dogs on it now, but they used to. For anyone not familiar with this trail, it is very rocky and you have to climb over various rock formations to get to the other side. It is a fun trail and goes on a for a few miles. Excellent form of exercise! One time I was with a group of friends and we had Bailey with us. We came upon this medium-sized set of rocks we had to climb over. Bailey was having so many problems being coordinated enough to do this particular climb. We ended up having to pick him up and carry him some of the way. It was quite funny and he was okay with us carrying him.


When we first moved into the neighborhood, Bailey figured out how to open the back gate to our fence and would let himself out. On beautiful Spring and Fall days, some of our neighbors would keep the back or front door open and just have the screen closed to let fresh air in. A few times a neighbor would come running outside saying a very big German Shepherd just let himself in. Bailey would make himself at home and take a tour of their house.

Another time Bailey let himself out of the back gate and bit this dog that was walking along the trail with his owner. Bailey bit the dog on his penis. Not one of Bailey's finer moments. After that incident, the gates in our fence got reinforced with chain link and he was never able to let himself out again.


Whenever service men would come to the house, they would instantly fall in love with Bailey and vice-a-versa. He thought everyone who came over was his best friend and would greet them with a toy in his mouth for them to throw and play catch. One time an air conditioning and heating guy had to get down on his knees and go through our crawl space. There is not a whole lot of room in this space and wouldn't you know, right behind him was Bailey following him closely. Even Bailey had to crouch down to make his way through.

Bailey was particularly fond of my Father-in-law, who I can not state enough is NOT A DOG PERSON AT ALL! He tolerated Bailey when he came to visit, but the idea of having a dog as a pet is something he never totally understood or appreciated. Of course, my father-in-law would be Bailey's favorite person when he came over and followed him everywhere. Bailey would lay down at Harold's feet and just hang out there.

Bailey also loved my mom and stepfather and would follow them around the house too. No matter where my mom and Jim slept at night, Bailey would have to be in the same room and be next to them. The night would start off without Bailey being allowed in the room, but the minute my mom or Jim got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, Bailey would seize his opportunity and sneak into the room. When they came back, he was always fast asleep and a happy camper.


One time I was folding laundry and a sock fell on Bailey, who was laying on the bed. Bailey did nothing to move and let the sock be on top of him where it landed. It got me thinking, I wonder how much laundry I can pile on top of him before he gets agitated enough to want to get up and move. It never happened! Bailey was covered in clothing and never moved.

When I first started dating Jeff, Bailey found out he was ticklish before I did!

We took Bailey to Olde Towne Pet Resort for a day of fun (swimming, playing) and grooming. When we came at the end of the day to pick him up, Bailey was behind the counter checking people and their dogs in. He was standing on his hind legs, with his front legs on the top counter ledge and watching everyone come and go. The staff said that Bailey didn't like being confined in a cage waiting and he was so good, they decided to let him be up front with them.

Bailey had no idea just how big he was. Up until the very end, he thought he was a lap dog. He had these big brown beautiful eyes and I would have staring contests with him to see who would blink first.

I miss him lots, but I have these wonderful memories that will keep my heart filled with him forever.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

I feel so fortunate to be a mother and have a family. I am living my dream. I thank my husband for all he does to allow me to be home with the kids. I am pretty sure that I couldn't hand them over to a stranger to raise and since we don't have family close by, that is what would happen.

Some days being a stay-at-home mom is better than others. But the good far outweighs the bad. I love the little people these two offspring are turning into. I treasure each day I spend with them.

Mother's day takes on new meaning when you have someone calling you mommy. I can now appreciate how tough the job is to take care of a baby and raise a child. The sleepless nights, the endless diaper changes, making a boo-boo feel all better, dealing with temper tantrums and meltdowns, infinite meal preparations, and being a chauffeur everywhere from school, sports, classes, playdates and dr appointments. But with one smile, one giggle, one hug, one kiss, one 'I love you', all of the mommy challenges and monotony instantly disappears.

Growing up, I had a wonderful example of seeing a fantastic mom in action and hope to do even half as a good a job. Happy Mother's day to all the moms out there who make it look so easy, when I know full well it is anything but.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A sad, sad day

My Toppall team lost a key member today. It was decided after a pretty big nose bleed last night that it was time to put Bailey down.

The outpouring of support has been overwhelming. I started the day off making the appointment to put Bailey down at 4:30pm this afternoon; Jeff coming home early to take care of the kids, while I took Bailey by myself. Once word got out on what was going to happen, my friend Stefanie insisted on picking up the kids and taking them back to her house for a playdate (she has 2 kids the same ages as mine). She didn't think it would be a good idea for them to see Bailey leave the house. Heather heard the news and instantly got her husband Mike to come home early so she could go with me. She was with me when I took him home at 7 weeks and wanted to be there with me during this very difficult step. My other friend Wendy didn't want me to drive by myself (the vet is right across the street, within walking distance) and she insisted on coming. Coming back home today from picking Ian up from school, we found a beautiful bouquet of flowers, two frosted cookies for the kids and a sweet condolence note from a wonderful family friend. This is in addition to countless phone calls, emails, and text messages.

Before you knew it, we had quite the entourage. Jeff, Heather, Wendy and me filled up the room and was there for Bailey during his last moments. Bailey held his head up high and never showed an ounce of pain or slowing down.

The dr was wonderful and spent a lot of time beforehand talking us through the procedure. Right before giving him the drugs that would put him under, she came back in the room with oreo cookies for Bailey to enjoy. When we said we were ready for her to proceed, it happened very quickly.

Today was one of the hardest things I've had to live through. The vet said she noticed the divot on Bailey's nose was getting bigger. Something I didn't notice. Also, the neighbor who lives across the street came over to say good-bye and said she could tell Bailey had lost a bit of weight. Again, something else I hadn't noticed. Doing this today was the right thing. Knowing this doesn't make it any easier.

I'd like to share a favorite story about Bailey. When Bailey was about a year old, Heather left on a trip and parked her car on the main street outside my condo development. She asked if I could keep an eye on it while she was away. Wouldn't you know, the one week she chooses to park her car (and didn't leave me the car keys, mind you), Arlington Country decides they need to dig up the road right under the spot her car is parked. Signs were posted the day prior requesting that no one park there when they come back the next day to do their work. I quickly called the road work people and asked what will happen to my friend's car if it is not moved. The woman on the phone said that I should go to the work men and tell them the situation. They will tow her car around the corner and let me know exactly where they are moving it.

So the first thing the next morning, Bailey and I go out to find the work men. I found the main guy in charge and started talking to him. In mid conversation, another one of the work men, who was standing across the street, started shouting, "Lady! Lady! Lady with the dog!" I said, "Yes?" The man replied with, "Your dog is eating a dead bird." I look down and to my horror, Bailey who was on leash and barely moved from the spot we stopped at to chat with the guy, managed to find a dead bird to eat. It was a HUGE, black crow-type of bird and he had half of it in his mouth and the other half was still sticking out. I shrugged my shoulders at the guy and replied with "You pick your battles and this isn't one of them." I was not about to go in Bailey's mouth and wrestle him for that bird. Yuck!

I will miss my furry baby. He was with me each step of the way for the training on getting to the first 10 mile run I ever did. I'll never forget his support. And before I met Jeff, he would sleep right by my side. We'd start the night off with him on his half of the bed and me on mine. It was a queen sized bed and plenty of room for us to each stretch out. By the time morning came, he'd be sharing my pillow with me and his long front leg would be stretched out across my body. I swear Bailey was spooning with me. Bailey always made me feel safe too. I knew that no matter who was at the door, he would be there to protect me.

I will miss you greatly my faithful companion. You were one of the best there was and lived up to the great honor of being named after Brandon, my childhood German Shepherd. I hope you two have found each other by now and started chasing squirrels and getting into trouble together. I love you forever.


There will never be a good time to put Bailey down, but I think last night Jeff & I decided it was time. Around 10:00pm, he had a horrible nose bleed. If the kids had been awake, it would've surely terrified them. It freaked me out on how much blood came out of his nose.

I called the vet this morning and was able to get an appointment at 4:30pm this afternoon. I think Bailey has an idea of what is going to happen. He is acting very calm and keeps looking at me. We've already given him Frosty Paws ice cream for breakfast, and that has never happened before.

With Bailey, the nose bleeds are only going to get worse. Last night's was more blood than I'd ever want to see come out of one my kids. I keep telling myself this is for the best. Let him leave with dignity and an image in our minds we will want to remember him by.

Jeff is coming home early. He'll be with the kids while I take Bailey to the vet. I am going to stay with him during the procedure and hold his paw. I know, without a doubt, he would do the same for me.

This is so hard. But it is the right thing. Oh, I would give anything right now to be a little girl being told my dog went to go live on a farm.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The more glamourous side of Motherhood


At 5:45am, I could hear Ian wake himself up and head to the bathroom. Having my bedroom (with the door open) located so close to the hallway bathroom, I can hear perfectly what is going on when that door is open too. His aim was anything but perfect and I could tell when the stream of urine had finally reached the intended target. I guess at this early hour, he was still half asleep and I counted myself fortunate that he at least made it to the bathroom and didn't wet his bed.

It was about 5 minutes later that Ian started yelling for "DADDY!!!". Jeff went in there and found that Ian had to do more than pee and didn't make the toilet for the next little gift that came out of him either. Next thing I know, they are both taking a shower to get extra clean from the early morning bathroom episode.

By the time I reach this particular bathroom, the rug and his pajamas are being washed in the washing machine (thanks Honey) and it is ready for me to go in and disinfect. I feel like the clean-up crew from Pulp Fiction.

About an hour later, we have a similar episode in the downstairs bathroom. This time, "IT" manages to hit the walls and is dripping down. How in the world that managed to occur, I'll never know. But you would really have to see it to believe it. Again, I feel fortunate that Ian at least made it into the bathroom and the mess is contained. I start the wash with this bathroom rug, his clothes and underwear. Ian and I have a quick discussion about not going to school and decide it is for the best that we stay at home and have him near a bathroom at all times. It wouldn't be fair to bring anyone not related to him into this situation.

Meanwhile, Bailey's nose bleeds have started again. This time they are getting more frequent and seem to have no rhyme or reason when they occur. I usually discover a nose bleed has happened by walking into the room and seeing it on the floor. Over the past 2 days, I'd estimate he has had about 15 separate incidences. When it is on the hardwood floor, I get out my Clorox Anywhere spray and clean it up. But when it hits the carpet, I use the spot shot spray and then leave the remaining evidence on the floor for when Jeff gets home. He takes out the steam cleaner and hits all the spots in one fell swoop.

Oh yeah, and my perfectly trained dog who didn't even need one lesson in where to go to the bathroom when I brought him home at 7 weeks old is now peeing in the house. I guess with all the water he is drinking from being on the medication is making it hard for him to hold it. I let him out constantly now, but it is still not effective 100% of the time.

The majority of the day yesterday was spent running and back forth between Ian and Bailey cleaning up after each of them. It was probably one of the least productive days I've had. It was all I could do just to make it not look like a crime scene had taken place in our house.

I am not sure how much longer Bailey is going to be with us. It hit me yesterday that he really is sick and will just keep getting worse. I think one of his nose bleeds scared Sam and that is the last thing I want happening. I feel like I am somehow giving up on him and I wish there was more I could do. Maybe by putting him to sleep is the best thing I can do for him right now.

I didn't get to the gym. I wasn't able to get my run in, which at this point, I liken it to breathing it has become so necessary to my well being. I didn't get to the post office. Obviously it is not the end of the world and can easily wait until tomorrow. I did manage to do 8 loads of wash (the first 3 loads involved cleaning what was soiled by the little one and furry one in the morning) and changed the bedding on everyone's bed.

It's been awhile since I've been stopped in my tracks and needed to spend an entire day at home. Hopefully this bug in Ian's tummy won't last more than a day and we can resume our normal schedule again tomorrow.

Motherhood -- It's not all eating bon-bons and watching Oprah.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to registration we go!

Today we register Ian for kindergarten. It will happen at his elementary school from 1:00 to 2:45pm this afternoon.

This is a big deal for the Toppall family. I can remember when it came time to register Ian for preschool. Back then, if I could've found a boarding school option for preschool, there are some days I may have sent him. But I felt fortunate in finding a really great preschool that didn't require kids to be potty trained. I was able to start him right after he turned 2, and he has enjoyed the last 3 years at Adat Reyim.

Ah, but it is time now to register for kindergarten. Jeff has taken off a few hours from work to join us. I've got a babysitter lined up for Samantha. I'll pick up Ian early from school. We'll get a quick bite to eat beforehand and then meet up with Jeff. I've heard that this orientation is set-up for you to take a tour and move through 4 different stations. I am hoping that Ian instantly gets a good feeling from this very big boy experience. If not, then it will be a long summer trying to convince him otherwise that Kindergarten is going to be great.

I've been a bit of a freak lately trying to find other boys who we may know that will be in Ian's class. Someone told me that soccer would be a good place to find fellow classmates. Of course, at the first practice, I'm running around to all the parents going "Fairview? Anyone? Fairview?" No such luck.

I did find a mom who recently joined my Burke MOMs Club and has a little boy named Alex. The family moved to the area not too long ago from Australia. Ian and Alex hit it off and now I just need to hope that they get placed in the same class. From what I understand, there are two morning sessions and one afternoon session. My fingers are crossed that Ian is put in the afternoon session. The morning session gets done way to early in the day and leaves a big 5 hour window for us to fill up each day.

I am not really concerned about Ian making friends. He is by far the most social person I know. He is incredibly friendly and has no problems going up to a complete stranger and saying hi. I think I need him to know a few boys in his class before school starts more so for me than for him. This is all new territory for us. Getting to know new kids, getting to know new moms. If I can get a jump start on checking them out, then by the time Fall comes, I can be anxious about something else completely.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May New Year's Resolution Experiment

Another month and another change can be checked off the list. My task for April was to take better care of my cuticles. Overall, I am happy with the progress I've made and for the most part, I did a good job of not picking them. I just don't think I'll ever have those kind of fingers that people would want to see modeling something...but then again, I guess these hands go along just fine with the rest of me. :)

I always thought my nails couldn't grow and if by chance they did, they'd break within the next day or two. But, I am came to find out that when I paid attention to my cuticles and put cream on them each night, miraculously, my nails would grow too and be somewhat strong. Who knew? My fingertips aren't perfect and I suspect it would take regular manicures and lots of effort to get them to improve much more than I am willing to do. I am happy I tried this change and will do my best to keep up the nightly cuticle cream application.

Now to announce my change for May. For the month of May I am going to do my best to bite my tongue - figuratively speaking of course. Jeff feels that I pick on him too much and my resolution experiment is to not find any fault or sarcastic remark to throw his way. This also includes the helpful suggestions I make when he is driving...sometimes it needs to be pointed out that the lane next to him is moving faster. Furthermore, if Jeff does something extremely dorky, I will not laugh at him either. I have a big mouth. This is going to be tough. But I am pretty sure I can do this. I'll check back with Jeff at the end of the month and see if I was able to accomplish my goal for May's change.