Saturday, October 30, 2010

November's New Year's Resolution Experiment

My change for October was to not use any credit cards and pay for everything in cash.  I have to say, this was probably my most difficult change to make all year long.  The first 3 weeks of the month, I was doing really well and was actually surprised at how far I was able to make $250 a week stretch.  Then I had to go to Costco.  Oy!  This proved to be problematic and ended up charging the $258. I needed to get all the stuff on our list.  In addition, I was caught short driving Jeff's car one afternoon and needed to get gas in his car.  Again, I had to charge that.  I went out for a late dinner with some friends and ended up charging that. And lastly, I walked into CVS for some stuff and the next thing you know, I hadn't planned in advance to be there and was short on cash again.  So October 23rd and 24th was my low point when I crashed and burned on trying to use only cash to pay for things.

Overall, I think this change helped me spend less during the month.  However, I don't think it is realistic to keep this change going beyond this month.  Or, maybe the answer is to do a combination of both and ultimately I should carry more cash in my wallet and not rely on always having a charge card available.  It was an interesting experiment and I am going to tinker with this until I find a good solution that is practical.

Ok, now to announce my change for the November:  Take more video of the kids. 
We used to take tons and tons of footage of the kids.  Then somewhere along the way, the last 6 months or so, we've taken hardly any.  I guess because we have few milestones happening now -- both Sam and Ian walk, talk, etc.  So the changes they go through are subtle.  I generally make sure digital pictures are being taken and Jeff's area is video.  However, I am going to make it a point to start taking more video as we hang out during the day and do our various activities.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Is she 2 or 42 ?

Samantha has become a bit of a mother-hen these past few months.  She takes great care with her immediate family and makes sure we are doing okay.  You would never know Sam was the youngest one in our family.  Her maternal instincts have kicked in and in her own way, lets us know she's got our back.

At least once, if not twice or three times during the day, Samantha will come up behind me and straighten out my shirt.  She likes to pull it down so it covers my butt and has no visible wrinkles or folds in the material.  At first, I thought I was getting goosed, but then I quickly realized when Sam said, "there you go mommy, there you go. All better now." what she was doing.  She's done this to Jeff too a few times and his initial reaction was to give a little jump in place at the surprise set of hands hitting his back.  I couldn't help but laugh.

Once we were at the table eating dinner and Sam noticed that Ian wasn't eating.  She promptly said, "Please eat Ian, please eat."

When I make myself a cup of tea or open up the oven to grab something I've made, Sam is right there telling me, "Please be careful Mommy.  Please be careful.".  

Last week at dinner, Sam got up out of her seat, came over to Jeff and wiped his mouth. 

Oh, and I should mention that each time Ian is headed to the table to sit down, Sam runs to his chair and pulls it out for him, "Here you go Ian.  Here you go."

The other week I was taking a shower and sure enough, Sam was opening the sliding glass door to our shower and handing me a washcloth.  "Here you go Mommy, here you go."  Then she stood there until she saw I was using it.

My hair is seriously long and I am just about ready to cut off 10 inches for Locks of Love.  Of course with hair this long it is all over the place.  Good thing I've got Samantha coming up to me and taking my hair and pushing it to the back.  All the while she is saying, "Better now Mommy, better now."

After Ian takes his bath, it's Sam who is picking out his pajamas to wear for the night.

Don't even get me started on how helpful Sam is when you are going to the bathroom.  :)

It is really sweet to see Samantha in action.  I had no idea that all these behaviors would come so naturally to her.  As Jeff keeps reminding me, she is a little me.  I just hope she realizes that I am the mommy and she can be the little girl.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ode to the iTouch

The microwave is in serious jeopardy of losing it's #2 position as the best invention ever.  #1 hands down is air conditioning.  Let's all bow to Willis Carrier on getting this invention off the ground in 1902.  Plenty of time for them to perfect it before I came along in 1971.

The #2 slot was pretty solid with the microwave.  Oh, how this has transformed the way we eat and how quickly we can get food to the table; especially when you have a very hungry, cranky toddler waiting for chicken nuggets.  But since our latest trip to Lancaster and spending hours upon hours in the car driving with a 5 year old and a 2 year old, I do believe I am ready to knock the microwave out of it's #2 position and let the iTouch plant itself as the runner-up for the best invention ever.

How much do I love the iTouch?  Let me count the ways:

1. Much more portable than a portable DVD player.  And, much lighter and less bulkier too.

2. The iTouch can play tv shows (cartoons), movies, games, and a plethora of apps (educational and otherwise).

3. It's easy enough for a two year old to operate. 

4. Once you've bought and downloaded shows/movies/apps to iTunes, you can upload them on as many iTouches as you want.  For example, this is a great advantage when Ian used to watch The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse but is no longer into this show.  Now Sam loves The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  I still have 10 episodes ready to go from when I bought them for Ian 3 years ago.

You also have the ability to load it with Spiderman one week, Superman the next and then decide to remove them both and upload them again later.

5. It keeps kids entertained and parents sane.  Whether it is on a plane, during a long car ride, or waiting in a drs office.

So there you have it.  I am sure there are many, many other reasons as well, but these are the ones that work for me.  I got very lucky in that Amazon sent me our first iTouch by accident and let me keep it.  We bought iTouch #2 when we realized that Sam knew how to work Ian's and wanted to use it too.  Plus, with all the traveling we have had and will have in the coming future, we figured it is probably a matter of time, so why not just get it now?  One of the best decisions ever. 

There aren't many items in our kid's lives that if it were to break, we would replace immediately, no matter what the cost.  The iTouch is one of them. 

We've got some good ground rules in place - Can not be used in a restaurant....EVER.  Can be used in the car as long as where we are going takes an hour or longer to get there.  Can be used on the plane or if we ever travel by train.  Can be used if I am dragging them to a drs appointment for me and I know it will require some kind of wait on the kids' part where there is nothing for them to do.

I always wonder how my parent's generation managed to raise kids without these fabulous electronics.  I guess my sister and I turned out okay.  But I am sure my parents' job would've been a heck-uva lot easier if Apple existed.

Thank you, Steve Jobs.  You are a rockstar!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Respect? Not so much.

The other day Sam takes her straw cup (the heavy plastic Munchkin kind) filled with liquid and slams it into my ankle.  The bone-y part of my ankle.  I am not sure if it was done intentionally or may have slipped from her fingers with gravity helping it hit my ankle hard.  Very hard.  Oy!  Did it hurt and boy, did I let out a scream.  Which caused Samantha to get down from the couch and go running. 

I said, "Sam, please say your sorry."

Sam:  "No way."  (We can credit my mom for her teaching her this two word sentence.)

Sam continues running and heads upstairs to her room.  2 minutes later she comes back downstairs and I repeat, "Sam, please say your sorry."

Sam:  "No way." and runs back upstairs to her room.

We repeat this sequence 3 or 4 more times.  Each time I ask her to say she's sorry and each time she replies back with "No way." and runs off.  I finally give up and tend to my ankle, which is swelling up.

Two days later, Ian comes running to me and says, "Sam hurt my feelings."

Me:  "Sam, please say your sorry to your brother for hurting his feelings."

Sam:  "Sorry, Ian.  S o r r y,   Ian"  She made it a point to really emphasize the word 'sorry'.

Ian:  "Now Sammy, say your sorry to Mommy for hurting her ankle."

Sam:  "No way."

Nice, huh?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Back Home By Way of NJ - Part 5

You can imagine by now, Jeff and I are ecstatic that we did this trip.  It exceeded our expectations on how well the kids did and how much fun we all had.  Our conversation turned to when we will return to Dutch Wonderland, what other side trips we want to do in the PA area (Hershey?  Hanover? Sesame Place?).  I think we decided to visit Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg before heading back up North.

Anyway, I guess our guard was down because the next thing you know, Jeff takes the wrong direction on Highway 276.  We are practically in NJ before we realize our mistake.  Rather than turn around, we take the NJ turnpike and add on an extra 45 minutes to the already 4 hour drive heading home. 

Ah, but it gets better.  After crossing over the Delaware Memorial Bridge we soon hit a major traffic jam.  It takes us almost a full hour to go 4 miles.  Oh my!!  Once we make our way through the traffic, we stop at a Cracker Barrel for dinner and find there is a 45 minute for a table.  This is at 7:00pm!!  We get back in the car and cross the street to McDonald's.  Funny enough, there is no wait for a table.  :) 

These setbacks on the drive back home would take much more than this to break my spirit.  We had a wonderful couple of days doing and seeing things we haven't done before.  I have a taste for traveling with the family now and want to keep it going.


DoubleTree Resort Willow Valley

Horse and Buggy Ride
Aaron and Jessica's Buggy Rides

Cherry Crest Farm

Strasburg Railroad

Dutch Wonderland

Outlet Shopping

Manoff Market Garden Farms

Tips that made this day such a success:

1. I can not say enough good things about the iTouch.  In fact I am composing a blog titled "Ode to the iTouch" because I adore it so.  It made the drive to Lancaster, Solebury and back to NoVa very enjoyable and peaceful.  The kids got to watch or play what they wanted and the hours on the road flew by.

2. Sam slept for about an hour on the drive back.  It was just long enough to refresh her and not too long that she couldn't go to sleep the minute we walked back in the door at the end of the trip.

3. Snacks, snacks, snacks.  We packed plenty of food and drinks to keep the kids fed in case we weren't in a position to stop to eat.  Which just so happened when it was 6:00pm and we were stuck in traffic for one hour trying to go 4 miles making our way to a toll that only had half the toll booths opened and caused a major back-up.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hanging on a farm in Solebury - Part 4


It was time to leave Lancaster and make our way to Manoff Market Garden Farms in Solebury, PA for Aunt Miriam's 70th birthday party.  It was a big celebration and most of Jeff's extended family came out to honor Jeff's Mom's sister.  The farm is owned by Jeff's cousins, Amy and Gary and is a magnificent piece of land.  They grow apples, peaches and strawberries.  More notably, they are known for their jams, apple pies and also their flowers.   Solebury is one beautiful area. I am sure it didn't hurt any that the weather was in the high 60's/low 70's and a gorgeous color of sunny!

Ian making ice cream with his cousins; two flavors - Vanilla and Maple Walnut.  Yum-O!

A definite highlight for Ian was helping to make ice cream from scratch and playing with his cousins. Sam loved the sandbox, swing set and unlimited access to apples. I enjoyed the wagon/hay ride and getting to see the farm and surrounding area.

Stay tuned for the last installment aka The Toppall's family adventures continue getting back home.

Tips that made this day such a success:

1.  After driving 2 hours to get to Solebury, PA, the kids' iTouches were almost completely drained.  We "borrowed" an electrical outlet from Amy and Gary's farm and recharged the devices.  So we were ready to go when the party was over and the drive home started.

2. Sam was starting to fall asleep when I was holding her at the party.  She hadn't taken a nap that day and it was now a little after 4:00pm.  It was our cue to leave and let her sleep in the car on the ride home.  The plan was to drive for a few hours, stop for dinner and finish the ride home.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Loving Lancaster - Part 3

DAY 2:

Dutch Wonderland 

I've wanted to go to Dutch Wonderland with the kids for so long now.  Everyone I ever spoken to who's been there, raves about this place.  My expectations were at an all-time high and my fingers were crossed it would not disappoint. 

When parking the car and getting out, I felt like the Griswald's when they finally get to Wally World (Movie reference: National Lampoons; Family Vacation).  There is theme music that can be heard as soon as you open your car door and its hard not to get excited about going in.

We arrived when they opened at 10:00am and came close to still being there when the park closed at 6:00pm.  Ian said he didn't realize he could have so much fun.  Wowee!!  What a fantastic place!  Several days later and Jeff & Ian are still walking around the house singing the theme song, "Dutch Wonderland, Dutch Wonderland, have a Dutch Wonderful Day."

Having been to Disney with the kids, more times than I can count (It's easy really when your stepfather works there), I can honestly tell you, that I like Dutch Wonderland more.  Disney tries to be everything to every age group.  There is a ton of ground to cover and the lines usually include crazy, long waits for all of a two to five minute ride.  Dutch Wonderland, however, is catering only to little kids, mostly in the 8 and under age group.  The rides are located close together and by going in an off-peak time, we didn't have long lines and the weather was spectacular; again, unlike Orlando, where the weather can be a hot 85 degrees even in February. 

As we were walking back to the car, my husband, the planner, was already figuring out when we would do a return trip.  Yes, it was that much fun.

We rounded the day out with outlet shopping and made out like a bandit on snow boots and Stride Rite shoes for the kids.  Now that we are more prepared this Winter than last, I've pretty much guaranteed we won't even get one dusting of snowfall this year.

Stay tuned for the Toppall's adventures as the road trip continues.

Tips that made this day such a success:

1. We went off-season.  No long lines and the park wasn't as crowded.

2. The weather was spectacular.  It was in the low 70's and sunny.  I can't imagine how miserable the kids would be if it was a sweltering 90 degrees or hotter; as it would be in the summer months.

3. The food offered at the park was actually good for you and had healthier options to chose from.

4. We didn't try to do everything.  The water rides were closed and that made it an easy decision to not have to work those into our time.  We were able to focus on all the other rides and enjoy not having to carry an extra change of clothes with us.

5. We made it fair from the get-go and rotated to each of us for choosing the next thing we would go on.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Living Large in Lancaster - Part 2

DAY 1:

We started the day with a horse and buggy ride through the Amish Country.  I had a good time explaining to Ian who the Amish are and what their lifestyle is like.  He is probably still in shock from when I told him that Amish kids more than likely have never heard of a wii.  After explaining the Amishes' beliefs to Ian, the only question he had was, "Could they have a television if it used solar panels to power it?"  Got to love it.  Ian is trying to figure out a way to bring TV to the Amish without going against what they stand for.

The horse and buggy ride was really neat and at the end of the day, it was Ian's most favorite thing we did.  The ride lasted approx. 45 minutes and we rode through an Amish farm, some Amish businesses and got all of our questions answered.  Yes, the Amish still come together for a barn raising if a barn or house is needed to be built.  Approx. 150 people will turn out for this.  Also, they will go to a hospital and be treated if need be.

This was our horse and buggy.  The horse's name is Bill.
Our next stop was Cherry Crest Farm, near Strasburg Railroad.  Originally we were going to Strasburg Railroad first and taking the train to Cherry Crest Farm, playing there for a few hours, and taking the train back to Strasburg Railroad.  However, when I found out that Strasburg Railroad, on this particular day was only opened from 12:00pm to 4:00pm and Cherry Crest Farm was open from 10:00am to 10:00pm, we reversed the order. 

Cherry Crest Farm is full of outdoor fun; petting zoo, big slides, rides for the kids, pillow bounce, go karts, etc.  Ian and Sam had a good time and before we knew it, it was time to board the train for Strasburg.  I know we picked a day that wasn't associated with Thomas the Train day out, but I have to say, I was still disappointed with Strasburg Railroad. I thought it was going to be bigger, different somehow.  The train ride was nice, but when all is said and done, we probably could've skipped it and not diminished our visit to Lancaster any.

After the train ride back to Cherry Crest Farm, we did a few more slides and then headed home to the hotel.  I picked this hotel because of the indoor water playground and pool.  I figured we would have some downtime and the kids would need something to do.  How right I was!!  On Thursday, we had about 1.5 hours before needing to take showers and head to dinner.  It was the perfect activity and the kids loved it.  This hotel really rocked!

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Toppall's on vacation.
Tips that made this day such a success:

1. I had an idea of everything I wanted us to do and see.  However, we had no set time we had to be at any of the places on our list.  I knew when everything opened and closed in advance and would be happy if we made all the stops I wanted, but it wasn't going to be a deal breaker if we couldn't fit it all in.   I think because the kids got a good night of sleep the night before, we were able to accomplish as much as we did.  The day went smoothly and believe it or not, there were no meltdowns or whining.  Woo-hoo!!

2. The hotel was amazing!!  Sam's favorite saying the whole trip was "back to hotel....back to hotel".  I think she loved staying there more than anyone.  While the DoubleTree Willow Valley Resort was not in the heart of all the action (it was a 15 to 20 minute ride to Dutch Wonderland and Strasburg Railroad), it was absolutely perfect for us.  It should be noted there are plenty of hotels within walking distance of Dutch Wonderland. 

3. Our hotel room had a mini fridge that we put plenty of chocolate milk and juice boxes in.  We knew that as soon as the kids woke-up they would want something to drink.  We were prepared with cheerios to munch on and chocolate milk/juice boxes to drink until we were all dressed and ready to go to a restaurant for breakfast.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lancaster or Bust! - Part 1

During the Columbus Day holiday weekend, we took a trip.  We hit the road and planned a fun couple of days in Lancaster, PA.  Our final destination was Jeff's cousin's farm in Solebury, PA for his Aunt's 70th birthday celebration, but first we were going to have our own brand of Toppall fun.

We left on Thursday, after Ian got out of kindergarten and made it to the hotel by 9:00pm.  Not too bad considering all the traffic we hit.  Upon check-in at the hotel, we were handed 4 huge, warm from the oven, chocolate chip cookies.  The kids were delighted by this and it started our trip off on a good note.

When we walked into the room, Sam took a quick tour of her new surroundings and realized she was missing a bed.  She opened one of the dresser drawers and exclaimed, "Sammy crib here."  She really thought she was going to sleep in a drawer.  Too cute.  We told her a crib was being sent up and her bed would arrive soon.  She was so excited when her port-a-crib arrived and instantly tried to climb in to go to sleep.

The kids did not fall asleep on the drive up and were more than ready to crash as soon as their heads hit the pillows.  We had a big day planned for Friday and everyone needed to get a good night of sleep.

Stay tuned for the next installment of The Toppall's visit Lancaster.

Tips that made this day such a success:

1. The irony was not lost on me that in order to visit the Amish in Lancaster, we traveled with 2 iTouches, 2 blackberry phones, a digital camera, a kindle, netbook, white noise machine, and video monitor.  The last two items were to ensure Sam would sleep and if not, we would be able to tell if she was standing.  Lately, she has been screaming in her sleep and who wants to get out of bed, if it is not completely necessary?  We had more electronics going on then Times Square being lit when the ball drops on New Year's Eve.  But all of these items were very much needed and helped us get from Burke to Lancaster in comfort and settle in to the hotel easily.

2. Getting two rooms with a door in the middle is key!  We had a "Family Suite" at the DoubleTree in Lancaster and it was a Godsend.  Very necessary when Jeff and I wake-up before the kids.  We can turn the tv on, go to the bathroom, talk and move around without being in jeopardy of waking up the kids.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

There's nothing sweeter!

There is something so sweet and innocent about being 3, 4, 5 years old.  I love that Ian warmly greets his friends (both boys and girls) with open arms for great big, bear hugs that envelop their whole body.  And when walking from the playground, to the picnic table, to their bikes, through the mall, to ride the train, or even in the school hallway, they hold each other's hands making their way from point A to point B. 

What a wonderful world we live in that Ian and his friends can express their genuine like for each other and not feel compelled to conform to society's view of how two people should interact.  I am not sure at what age these kids will stop the huge hugs hello, good-bye and openly holding hands, but I hope it continues for a long time.

I no longer remember the process for making new friends.   But I've gotten a glimpse, through Ian, of how 5 year olds make friends.  Each day, I'll ask Ian who he spoke to and if considers them a friend or not.  I find it interesting that Ian can talk to the same kid each day, even sit next to them, but doesn't think of them as an official friend.  There was this one little boy, named James, that Ian spoke about all the time.  I asked Ian if he thought of James as a friend, and Ian said, "No, I haven't asked him yet."   Apparently, another classmate doesn't get the label "friend" until a formal conversation occurs; where one person asks another person if they would like to be friends.  The other day, Ian got in the car after school was over, and had the biggest smile on his face.  He said he is now friends with Olivia M.  I asked him if he said, "Hey Olivia, do you want to be friends?" and Ian replied back to me with, "No, Olivia came up to me and said, "Please, do you want be my friend?."  Ian said he will never say no if someone asks him to be his friend.  He said he wants to have two girlfriends and two boyfriends, but he'll be friends with everyone.

Everyone who knows me, is aware how concerned I was Ian wouldn't have any friends, especially having entered kindergarten not knowing anyone,  I had no idea the rules for making friends, but I like that these kids have a figured out a way to make sure the friendship is mutual.  I don't remember ever getting specifically asked or me asking anyone if they wanted to be friends, but I like this updated 2010 approach.  It lets you know instantly where you stand with the other person.  And, it makes me feel better that Ian has confirmation on the friendship.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Heard and Observed XVI

Riding in the car one day, Ian tells me the following (completely out of the blue):

"For my 7th birthday, I do not want to have a surprise party.  Because when you have a surprise party, you have to arrive last.  For my parties, I always want to be the first one there."

I think I find this even more amusing because Ian is only 5.  He still has yet to celebrate turning 6.  But, because in his mind, that party (a monster jam truck party) is already planned down to every, little detail (a good 8 months from now), he has moved on to dreaming about turning 7.

Friday, October 8, 2010

More hip than I realized

The other day I was reading The Washington Post's Style section and came across the following article, "Back to prep cool:  Lisa Birnbach updates her preppy guide".   It was a book review on Ms. Birnbach's updated version of her Official Preppy Handbook (written 30 years ago).  At the end of the article, was a summary from the new book that gives a description of what a preppy residence in today's age looks like.  Besides listing an extra-large sized box of goldfish from Costco (check!), the following was also included:

Ashes of ancestral dogs.  Birnback keeps the cremains of her late Yorkie, Archie, in a box. Says Birnbach, "A dead dog is a decorating must." 

Wow, this just cracked me up.  I had to laugh at the thought that Bailey's remains, sitting on top of a wine/shelf cabinet in our dining room makes us 'oh so hip.'   Every now and then something will happen and I get a good chuckle from that lovable dog. I still miss him dearly, but now I feel like he is meant to be hanging out in our dining room (very discreetly, of course) making me feel more in fashion than I realize. 

"...a decorating must."  were the words used.  Huh, I wonder if Nate Berkus and Martha Strewart know about this latest trend.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

All the news you need to know re: Sam


The first day in the 2's class was rocky!  But Sam has rebounded nicely and likes it very much.  It is a great group of kids in class with her.  She was a little unsure about me leaving her, but the report from the teacher comes back that this is all for show and once I've left the room, she instantly stops crying and has a great time.  And, I am happy to report that yesterday upon drop-off, Sam gave me a kiss good-bye and then pushed me away.  She was more than ready to start playing and I was only getting in her way.


Gymnastics - Circle time and the warm-up exercises are not for her.  But once you get on the real gymnastics equipment, she goes crazy.  The teacher sets up obstacle courses and Sam will run from obstacle to obstacle, only to stand in line and wait till it is her turn.  She loves this class.

Ballet/Tap - Oy!  The first class was a disaster.  If you heard screaming on the morning of Sept. 22nd, it was because we were having a knock-down drag out fight trying to get her dressed in her leotard and tights.  "NO TARD!!!  NO TARD!!!  NOOOOOOOOOOO TAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRDDDDDDDDDDDD"  Sam would scream over and over again at the top of her lungs.  She ended up going in shorts and a top. We made it to the class and Sam refused to put on her ballet shoes.  Heck, for that matter, she refused to go in the class without me.  The whole morning was a nightmare and I was ready to officially drop her from the class.  I decided I would give it a 2nd try before making that decision final.

A week later I was able to get her leotard and skirt on her, but no tights or ballet shoes.  She wouldn't go in the room without me.  After 20 minutes of me (yes, me!) doing all the ballet and dance moves the teacher was doing and Sam just stood there doing nothing, I was at the end of my rope.  We left the room and I put in a request to drop the class.   Maybe we will try again in Spring.  Maybe never.  :)

But, you have to admit, Sam does look awfully cute in the pieces I did manage to get her to wear.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Read all about it

One of my great mommy friends, Amy, told me about something a few months ago and I filed it in the back of my mind and forgot about it.  She had told me about a company that can take your blog and turn it into a book.  She didn't know the company's name, but knew that one existed.  I loved this idea and had been wanting to print out my blog and stick it in a binder since day one. 

I never really started printing it out, but the idea to have all my stories in a tangible form really appealed to me.  I love that I am keeping a day-to-day diary of our life and what the kids are going through.  From the mundane to the momentous, I am documenting most of it and I hope one day Ian and Sam will appreciate the opportunity to go back and read about their lives growing up. And in a more morbid view, I like that I am leaving something behind that I hope the kids will find special.  Something that tells them all the stuff we experienced (good, bad and crazy!) and just how much I loved them. 

About 2 weeks ago, the idea to turn my blog into a book popped back into my head.  I quickly googled "turning blog into a book" and about 4 different companies appeared on the search page.  I decided to go with Blurb and in about an hour, had downloaded the software, uploaded my blog entries and formatted the book.  It was super easy.  Since my blog is an ongoing, never-ending project, I decided to create volumes.  Volume 1 is May 2009 (the start of my blog) to December 31, 2009. Each January, I will create another volume of the previous year and order it.  I found the pricing to be incredibly reasonable.  156 pages, in 4 color, with an image wrapped cover (complete with photos on the cover and back cover) was only $60.  I'd probably pay more in printer ink if I printed out that many pages.

I love how easy it was to pick the dates of the blog to input.  It made each page a new blog entry (I had my choice to keep it continually flowing or create page breaks after each entry) and it included all the photos I used.  In addition, I could go through and edit or change any of the pages.  Actually, every aspect of creating this book could be customized to my heart's content.

I am very excited about this discovery and so pleased that I  started my Mommy Meltdowns volume set before too many years of material got written.  Many thanks to Amy for letting me know this was possible.

This is the cover I designed for Volume 1

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Like peanut butter and jelly

Alright, I am announcing to the world that I am going to stop worrying about Ian fitting in at Kindergarten. Monday's homework assignment was to draw a picture of a new friend at school and write his/her name below the drawing.  Ian instantly picked a boy named Reese to draw.  I was pleased that Ian could come up with someone so quickly that he considered a friend, but I began to worry that this friendship was one sided.  What if Reese didn't feel the same way?  What if Ian was setting himself up for future disappointment if he found this out?  

Ugh, the over-protective mother in me was coming out loud and clear.  I hate being like this.  I just don't want Ian to ever get his feelings hurt.  I know how sweet and sensitive he is. I want him to enjoy going to school and getting to see his fellow classmates.

The next day I was walking Ian to school and the line of kids for the PM kindergarten class had already started.  As Ian was making his way to the back of the line, this little blond-haired boy breaks free from his spot in line and runs up to Ian saying, "I want to move back here and be next to Ian."  Ian replies back, "Hi Reese!!!!"  

So this was the infamous Reese that Ian talks about and drew in his picture for homework.  The friendship was mutual!!  Reese started hugging Ian right there in line and Ian hugged back.  It was very cute. I was so happy to see that they both liked each equally, that I started tearing up and wanted to hug them both.  Of course I managed to restrain myself. 

Yes, I am such a sap.  It has been a long 3 weeks for me since school started.  I know what a fabulous funny, caring, sweet, gregarious little boy Ian is.  I was holding my breath until someone else found this out also.