Monday, November 22, 2010

Leave a message at the beep and I'll get back to you.

Sorry folks, I am on vacation and so is the blog, Mommy Meltdowns.  I will happily begin blogging again at the beginning of December. 

Did you really think I was going to keep this up while being away with the family?  Ok, I can see how you would think that, but noooooo I am taking a break.  I am sure this is going to come as a huge shock to most of you and relax, it's only temporary.

If you start going through withdrawal and really need a fix, might I suggest some classic entries from me over the past year --

This one's for you, Heather.  We are coming up on the one year anniversary.  Did you hear that Toys R Us is opening at 10:00pm on Thanksgiving this year?
"Not for the faint of heart"

What I like to think of as "The Incident"
"Longest two hours of my life"

And last but not least, an oldy but a goody:
"Only if you call it a trim"

Don't worry, there will be lots to discuss when I get back.  I never lack for new material.  :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Buckle your seat belts people, it will be a bumpy ride!!

We haven't flown with the kids in over a year. On purpose. Hard to believe we've been successful this long.  Our track record is coming to an end and this morning, we will be traumatizing the flight crew and passengers of a USAirways flight out of Washington, DC Reagan Airport, making our way to Orlando.

I am trying hard to not be all doom and gloom.  I am sure everything will be fine and the kids will do great.  In reality, it's really Samantha.  The last 2 roundtrips Ian was perfect and I even commented I would fly across country if need be.  My fingers (and toes) are crossed that in the past 13 months, Sam has matured some (her age doubled!), she understands more, can communicate better, and we will make sure her BFF (and ours!) is on the flight and fully charged -- the iTouch.  Plus, as an added measure of insurance, I purchased a sticker princess dress-up book that I think she will drool over.  She hasn't seen this new book yet and it will get unveiled during the flight.  Sam LOVES stickers and all things princesses, so I am putting a lot of eggs in this one basket that this book does the trick and gets us to our destination in peace; or at least without everyone knowing who we are by the time the plane lands.

My 3 goals when flying with the kids is still the same:

1. Do nothing that causes us to get on the 6:00pm news
2. Do nothing that causes an emergency landing
3. Do nothing that gets us kicked off the plane

Hopefully by the time you are reading this, we will be in Florida and all is well. 

We've got a wonderful trip planned and I am very excited to get started.  Within the bigger trip, is a 3 night excursion to Mexico for Jeff & Me, with the kids being watched by the fabulous duo of Lori/Ben and my Mom/Jim. 

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  We have so much to be thankful for.  I am grateful for having married a wonderful man and having his family come in to my life.  They are all amazing people who from day one, always made me feel like I was part of their family.  I am grateful for my own parents, step-parents, siblings and brother-in-law who are the perfect combination of loving, funny, supportive and just a side of crazy.  I am so grateful for my Toppall team (Jeff, Ian and Sam).  10 years ago, I had no idea my life would be this fulfilling or filled with this much love.  We laugh, we cry, it was better than "Cats".  And last, but certainly not least, to all my friends who I am so fortunate to have from all stages of growing up (childhood, school, work, mommy), it is such a blessing to have you in my life too.  To have a partner-in-crime and create wonderful memories is a reward I will always treasure.

Hope everyone takes a moment to realize what this holiday is about and gives thanks.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Please, just go to sleep!!

Here is some free parenting advice to all those mom and dad's out there who still have a child using a crib:  KEEP YOU LITTLE BOY OR GIRL IN THE CRIB FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE!!!  Whatever you do, do not, and I repeat, do not be eager to get them into a toddler bed or big kid bed.

It is not worth it!  It is not worth the sleepless nights.  It is not worth the early-crack-of-dawn rising.  It is not worth the delayed falling asleep at night.  And, it is certainly not worth all three happening each and every night.

This past Sunday, Jeff went to retrieve Sam after her nap and discovered she was just about to catapult herself completely over the crib rail.  A quick decision was made on the spot to assemble Ian's old toddler bed and move her out of her crib and into a bed that would not cause a safety issue.

Let the fun begin!  Sam absolutely loves her new bed and of course, her new freedom.  She used to go to bed at 8:00pm; now she averages 9:30pm each night.  Her M.O. is to let us tuck her in bed, read her a few books, kiss her good-night and sing her a song.  We close the door to her room and within 5 minutes she is standing in her doorway either asking for another book to be read, a tissue for her nose, or to watch Elmo.  After about 6 of these stalling tactic episodes, she finally gets the idea that she has to stay in bed.

Then somewhere in the middle of the night, Sam wakes-up and all kinds of things happen.  One night she asked for a diaper change.  Okay.  Another night, I hear her opening and closing her bedroom door over and over again.  One night she announced loudly, "I'm awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaake".  Another time, I caught Sam going into Ian's room to see what he was up, he was sleeping!!!

Each morning, a little before 5:00am, I'll turn over in my bed, look at the video monitor and notice she is not in her bed.  Not sure what she is up to, but I know she is in her room (a dark room too!) and hanging out in there.  One morning, about 5:30am, she crawled back in bed, covered herself very carefully and laid back down.  However, after about 10 minutes, she heard Jeff wake-up and ran to the door to let us know she was awake.

My little girl was averaging 11 to 12 hours of sleep each night.  Now, I am not so sure if she is even getting 5 hours a night.   Oh my!

Of course Jeff keeps mentioning that we went through the same exact thing with Ian.  And, of course, I've already blocked those long, sleepless nights from my memory.

My advice to you is this:  If you have the choice to keep your toddler contained in the crib, do it for as long as possible.  Learn from us and keep your sanity in the sleep department.  This is one milestone that is not worth jumping up and down with joy for.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Happiness is...

....Completely forgetting you put a book on the library reserve list months ago (way before the Kindle came into my life); getting the notice that it is available and finding out the day it is due back at the library is when you get back into town.  Hello new book to bring on trip!

....Going to Kohl's and feeling like the amount due of $116 is an amazing deal and then finding out that $116 is what you SAVED and the total due is only $56.!

....Hearing the test result's from a good friend's breast cancer surgery and finding out all 18 lymph nodes they took out came back negative for cancer spreading.

....A beautiful Fall day when the air is crisp, the trees are magnificent to look at, and you only need to wear a sweater.

....Getting to spend my days with 2 of the most adorable, lovable kids I know.

....Being interviewed by a Wall Street Journal reporter for a potential upcoming story; she found me through my blog.  O.M.G.!!

....Ordering 7 dresses online in the desperate hopes that one (just 1) will look halfway decent for my husband's upcoming company holiday party; finding out that 2 dresses look great and needing to make a tough decision.

....Keeping both dresses.  :) 

....Being married to a guy who is ok with me keeping both dresses.

....Getting to see my family in less than one week.

DAMN THE SCALE!!  There are too many reasons to be smiling these days.  :)

*It should be noted that the above list is in no particular order.  Obviously getting the awesome Cancer test results and spending the day with my kids is of higher happiness importance than the library book and beautiful Fall weather.

**It should also be noted, that many items on the above list are admittedly superficial and really don't mount to a hill of beans.  True happiness is having healthy family and friends you love and they love you right back.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

JRIBS minus 1

You know J-Lo (Jennifer Lopez), P-Diddy (Sean Combs), Jackie-O (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis)?   Well, my sister Lori came up with the nickname JRIBS (Jeff, Robyn, Ian, Bailey and Sam) for us.  This is how we sign cards, letters and emails when referring to my whole Toppall team. 

This year we were without a very important part of the nickname JRIBS, the "B" was no longer here.  It was our first annual family photo when Bailey did not join us.  As previously reported in the past, the morning of the photo appointment is one of stress and anxiety for me.  No one wants to do this picture but me.

We had a lot going against us.  I had thought our 9:00am appointment was the first one of the day, as this is the time Portrait Innovations states they open on their website.  However, when we walked in at 8:55am, the place was packed with kids and adults everywhere!!  Apparently, they started taking appointments as early as 8:00am and had no problems double and triple booking the two studio rooms.  It was a crazy, chaotic scene and I instantly thought about the disposition of my husband and two kids  waiting an hour until we got called for our photos to be taken and I shuddered in panic.  It was not going to be pretty.

For those that know Portrait Innovations, they encourage outfit changes, doing many different poses, and changing backdrops.  Ha!  It's nice to dream, isn't it?  All I ask is that we get one photo with all of us, wearing the clothes we walked through the door in, with one neutral backdrop.  IF (and this is a big IF) the kids (and of course, Jeff) haven't melted down by the time this one shot is taken, then please, by all means attempt a picture with the 2 kids together without me and Jeff in it.

It took 45 minutes for them call our name.  Melissa was our photographer and we explained our situation.  Work fast and don't worry about doing anything fancy.  We explained the kids are ticking time bombs and you never know how long you'll get.  She understood and was up to the challenge.  We were done within 15 minutes and then it was another 30 minutes to view the pictures.  Oy!  Fortunately at this point the kids are happy to be running around and playing with the lego table. 

I could not be more pleased with how the photos turned out.  And, as you can see, Melissa was able to change up the backdrop and our poses.  Goooo Melissa!!

I'd like to point out that no bribery was used in any way to get the above smiles.  :)

We can now cross this off the list and rest easy until November 2011.  More than likely by then, we will be back to a full JRIBS in the annual photo. I believe every time Sam looks at Jeff  and says, "New dog please, new dog" his tough exterior on not wanting another dog soon is breaking down little by little.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Great Depression

Ugh, I am seriously depressed.  I've had it.  I am ready to crawl under the bed and hibernate until Spring.  My problem?  I keep gaining weight.  And gaining, and gaining.  I looked up the last time I weighed in at Weight Watchers -- 8/31/09.  I am officially 18 pounds higher.  OMG!!  I have to say that 11 pounds ago, I hit the scary number that I never wanted to see again.  And now, I am more than 7  pounds PAST that.  I am ready to shoot myself.

I've tried everything -- working out harder, working out less, eating more protein, eating less altogether.  Somewhere along the way, I've lost my focus.  I wake-up, get on the scale and the number flashing on the little screen sets my mood for the whole day.  If I've had any kind of setback, the bad foods start yelling my name.  The next thing you know, the chips, GF brownies, cheese, ice cream is no longer a problem.  I feel like if I can just finish it, then I won't have to worry about eating it the next day.  I am pretty sure this is called binge eating; only I am doing it in small, controlled patches of time.  I'll eat all of something (pretty pathetic, huh?) and then stop.  The Halloween candy was the icing on the cake and I can't tell you how horrible the over-indulging was.  I kept mentioning to Jeff we needed to get the candy out of here.  It took Jeff to actually pack it up before it happened.  I didn't have the strength to do anything more than just talk about it and keep eating it.

I am not happy.  Wednesday was pretty much my breaking point.  I am going back to Weight Watchers as soon as we get back in town on December 1st.  Until then I hope that I can regain my focus and hopefully lose a few pounds before I have to officially own up to the new number.  This goes to show you how sad I am.  I want to a lose a few pounds before starting WW.

Here's the thing -- I really like being on the thinner side.  I really like putting on clothes where the size is a single digit.  I really like that I said good-bye to Size 12 and Size 10 (and 95% of Size 8) at a New Year's Eve "burn the bad from last year" fire a few friends had two years ago.  I really like running and knowing I can run faster because I am not carrying an extra 18 pounds.

So, what is going on!?!?!  Why can't I get my act together?  Why is this always a struggle?  Have I not found the true reason I overeat?   Am I doing it because I am stressed?  Bored?  Anxious about something?  I have no idea.  I really think I eat the wrong foods and too much of it because it tastes good.  Can that be a reason?  I believe I do such a good job justifying the food, the eating, the whole process, that before I know it, I've gone and done it again.

Each day I wake-up mentally saying, "THIS IS IT!!  START THE DAY FRESH!!  STAY ON TRACK.  You can do it."  And by the time the day ends, I feel nausea at the thought of getting on the scale again the next morning.  But I do it, I get on the scale to hold myself responsible and to know just how bad the situation is getting.

I am so over this.  My weight has been a life long struggle.  Even when I was 18 pounds less, I still felt like I had to lose another 13.5 pounds.  Oh, how I would love to be that 18 less number right now.

My clothes are starting to fit tight.  I refuse to go get a larger size.  Could this be the motivation I need? 

Anyway, my plan is to go back to WW on December 1st, when we get back into town.  I am done.  D. O. N. E.  And I need help.

I love writing my blog and I am hoping that by getting this topic out in the open, I will want to try harder so I can report back with the good news.  It's worked with my 11 New Year's Resolution changes I've done so far.  Knowing I need to report back at the end of each month, helps me stay focused and on track.

*The reason I stopped WW back in September 2009 is because I was just diagnosed with Celiac Disease and it was way too overwhelming to get a grip on doing it all.  I did do a great job maintaining my weight for approx. 6 months, then 1 pound, 2 pounds started slowly creeping back on.  It's really only been the last 3 months, that the number started to skyrocket.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

And now, time for a little rant!

I visit my local Hallmark store once a month and stock up on all my greeting card needs for that month.  It's a little trick I do to keep me organized and ready to go when I need to mail birthday cards, anniversary cards, etc. with enough time to get them where they need to go.

Within the past month, my Hallmark store has undergone a transformation.  The store is no longer full of cards.  It is now filled with almost everything else.  This Hallmark store now carries Pillow Pets (really?, yes, really).  It now carries flip flops.  It has an assortment of clothing.  You've got to be kidding me!

The card section occupies a measly 1/4 of the space.  They've condensed all their cards and made room for everything else.  It is crazy!  I am all for change and keeping up with the times, but this seems like a bit much.  People go to Hallmark to buy greeting cards, not a purse. 

I made a comment at check-out that their card selection now rivals what you can find at a grocery store.  The woman just looked at me and made a face.  Really, my Safeway across the street or Wegman's down the road offers just as many cards as this Hallmark does now. 

Maybe I am off the mark here, but I really wish Hallmark would stick with their brand and excel in what they know.  I was all for moving ahead with the times and making sound-enabled cards.  Heck, I even paid the $5.00 a card more than a few times and sent them to people.  I am all for them making recordable, personalized cards.  And by all means,  please sell stationary, frames, and photo albums.  That all seems to be in line with the greeting card industry.  But coffee mugs?  Or bags?  Or dishes?  Really?

And that folks, is my rant for the day.

Monday, November 8, 2010


5:22am.  That's the time Sam woke up this morning.  I firmly believe that Daylight Savings Time was invented to solely mess with me.  I'd like to know at what point do you stop looking at the clock in the morning, at nap time, and then again in the evening and think to yourself, "well, the clock says it is 6:00, but our bodies think it is 7:00." 

We had FINALLY gotten into a great stage where it was getting to be the norm for Sam to sleep until 7:00am.  Oh, how nice it was that I was waking up before her and not the other way around.  Now, she is bright-eyed and ready to party before 6:00am again.  And, its not like you can blame her because her body thinks it is 7:00am. 

I heard a news report that Daylight Savings Time is still being kept around to help conserve a ridiculously small amount of energy each year.  However, I beg to differ with those scientists doing the calculations...we are now just turning on the tv and lights one hour earlier.

To all the moms & dads out there who are dealing with my similar pain and suffering, misery loves company.  Let me know if you would like an early, before sunrise playdate.  We are up!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Hair today, gone tomorrow

I did it!  I finally had the 10+ inches I needed to cut and donate my hair.  And, boy does it feel good!  It feels good to know that I am not only helping others who are less fortunate and will be needing to wear a wig because of Chemo, but it also feels good to get rid of all that hair!

I do not enjoy having my hair long.  Most of the time I kept it in a pony tail and did very little to style it.  While I saved a lot of money on hair cuts, I would rather be able to keep my hair in some sort of shape and style.  And, I want to have fun with color again!

The irony is, the last 3 days before I got my haircut, I was really enjoying the length and how healthy it looked.  Maybe because I knew the end was coming?  I am not sure.  But for a split second I was ready to hold on to it for a little while longer.  Then I remembered the bigger reason I was growing it (Locks of Love) and made my way to the salon.

Funny enough, the woman who cuts my hair, hadn't seen me in so long, that she got pregnant and had a baby girl who is already 2 months old.  We had a good laugh about that and then I told her to go for it.  There is no looking back.

Here are the before and after pictures.

Two things should be mentioned about the "After" picture.  1., The color is actually much more blonde than the picture is displaying.  For some reason this picture is making it look very gray.  That is not the case in reality.  And 2., You'll notice the band-aid on the side of my cheek is because I am in the healing phase of having the mole taken off.  Yes!!  I did it!!!  Woo-hoo!!!

I really wish I could report on the 3rd part of my transformation (lose 25 lbs by Thanksgiving) was going as well as parts 1 and 2 (haircut and mole removal).  But unfortunately, in my quest to lose 25lbs, I've successfully gained 4 lbs.  Ugh!!  I will not give up and plan to keep trying to get to my goal weight.  Of course, I need to stop gaining first!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It will be a Halloween to remember!

October 31st will go down in the Toppall history books as the day that Ian lost his first tooth.  It was an incredibly exciting moment when it finally happened.  As reported back in July, we discovered the tooth was loose and have been waiting patiently for more than 3.5 months for it to fall out.  It seemed like it was never going to wiggle free and come out.  I am sure Ian eating everything on the left side of his mouth (opposite where the bottom tooth was loose) didn't help the cause either.

It was really cool that it happened on the weekend and both Jeff & I could be home to experience this milestone.  The jumping up and down that occurred, was not by Ian alone, but all of us.

Jeff and I were ready for the Tooth Fairy to come.  We had decided the first tooth is extra special and deserves a special, over-the-top kind of treat.  Every tooth thereafter would get the standard payout of a $1.00.  This we've heard is the going rate among Ian's friends.  For a few months now, we've had the Batman wii game that Ian has so desperately wanted in storage ready for the Tooth Fairy to leave under his pillow. 

And, to top it off, it was Halloween!  We were invited to a very fun party beforehand (given by one of my most favorite mommy friends) and the trick-or-treating with all of Ian's friends would be kicked off in style.  Could this day get any sweeter?  Pun intended!

Here is a picture of Ian with the newly missing tooth!

And, here is a picture of the Tooth Fairy visiting Ian's room that night.

Many thanks to Steve N. for letting me know about this Website.  It's called  I caught the Tooth Fairy and you can upload a picture of your child sleeping and insert a variety of different fairies into the picture.  You can even add a border and really jazz up the picture.  Plus, Steve gave me the promo code "Fairy-Proof" (a $10 value) to get the first photo free.  Yay!

I did my photo magic, printed it out and couldn't wait to show Ian the next morning.  I told him that Daddy and I heard a noise in his room and went to investigate.  Good thing I always have my camera ready, because I caught the Tooth Fairy in action!  Ian's eyes got so big.  He was very surprised!!  And then he played it off saying he got a peek at her when no one was looking.  Hahahahaha!

One cute side note about trick-or-treating with Sam.  She refused to wear her costume.  Ugh!  But that didn't stop her from going up to the houses and collecting candy.  The very first house we went to, she followed all the kids up the front steps.  Took a piece of candy, put it in her bag and then stepped over the threshold into these people's house.  She turned around and was now standing next to the woman handing out candy.  Sam looked at me and said, "Come in Mommy, come in."  She was inviting me inside.  It was hilarious.  I had to tell her, just because these people seem nice and are handing out candy, they really don't want us to come in and stay.   After that, she happily sat in her stroller for almost the entire time of the 1 mile loop (yes, you read right -- 1 mile of houses!!) the kids did trick-or-treating.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

On this day in history....

The most amazing guy was born.  His name is Jeffrey Arthur Toppall and I have the wonderful distinction of being his wife.

I feel the need to break from my every-other-day pattern of blogging and give a special shout-out to one of my most favorite people.  He is my best friend, my partner-in-crime when it comes to raising the kids, and the love of my life.  More than anything, Jeff gets me.  He puts up with my hair-brained ideas, my goofy moments, my moodiness and still comes back for more.

And I get him.  He is caring, generous, sensitive, loving, incredibly hard-working and one of the funniest people I know. 

I met him one week before his 30th birthday and I feel so fortunate that I've been around to see every birthday since.  Birthdays are special and should be celebrated.  I celebrate the day Jeff was born and Thank G-d my life has become so much better because of it.

Happy Birthday honey!  I love you so much.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Disaster Averted!

On Sunday, I ran the MCM 10k (6.2 miles. Woo-hoo!).  This was part of the much bigger Marine Corps Marathon.  The expo to go pick up your bib number and goody bag was available the two days before the race, on Friday and Saturday.  My friend Amy had registered for the 10k run as well and we had decided a few weeks in advance to go on Friday afternoon to pick up our race stuff.  Saturday was booked solid with activities and not an option to go.

Amy and I were going to make this an adventure.  After her child and mine got out of school, we'd meet up at a central location, take all 4 kids on the metro, hit the expo (located at the Washington Convention Center in N.W. D.C.), have dinner, and then make our way back home.  Sounds like a fun time, right?

It took my husband's brains and foresight when he heard this plan, just the evening before, to reason with me and decide this was a disaster in the making.  For one thing, we would need to switch trains on the metro.  Plus, there are no kid friendly restaurants near the Washington Convention Center.  And to top it off, we are doing all of this during the height of rush hour in the Washington, D.C. Metro area. 

Now, I consider myself somewhat fearless when it comes to taking the kids places.  Like I've mentioned many times before, I will try everything once and then decide if it was a success to be repeated or not.  However, this just wasn't me attempting this field trip, it was Amy and her two kids too.  And, Amy wasn't even going to be able to run on Sunday. She has some knee issues that she is dealing with and has been sidelined from any races.

I heard what Jeff was saying and in a rare moment of clarity (on my part), agreed with him and said we needed a new plan.


Drop Ian off at kindergarten at 11:40am.  Sam and I would drive to the Washington Convention Center, run in, get the stuff and then make our way back to Burke to get Ian from school.  The two things going against us on this plan was, A. Sam wouldn't get a nap, and B. Everyone who works in the area would be going on their lunch hour and creating a mad rush.

Back to the drawing board....meanwhile, Jeff keeps asking, "And why do you need to go do this?  Just to get your race bib?  Really?"  He so didn't understand, but was ready to provide assistance wherever possible.


Take both kids in the morning before Ian needed to be at kindergarten.  Get to the Washington Convention Center when they opened the Expo at 9:00am and avoid the major lunch or after-work crowds.  A major benefit to this plan was having both kids with me.  This meant that we could take HOV-3 on 395 and fly into the city.  It was brilliant.

On Friday morning, I packed the kids up, hit the road and arrived at the Washington Convention Center at 9:25am.  We got a bit of a later start than I wanted, but I still got to take advantage of HOV and miss sitting in traffic.  Nice!  I pulled up in front the of convention center and found a metered spot right outside.  Nice!  The kids and I made our way inside and discovered new sights and sounds that delighted the kids.  Among the many vendors set-up, we listened to a marching band play music, almost ran smack dab into a guy wearing a Dog mascot uniform, with a man dressed like a warrior right behind him.  Many of the vendors came over, talked to the kids and give them their giveaways. 

There was plenty of room to walk and move around. It was the perfect time to go.  We stayed for about 45 minutes and decided we needed to get back home so Ian could get ready for school.  On our way out of the Expo, we passed a Marine Corps booth with a Harley Davidson motorcycle spinning around on a turnstile next to it.  This motorcycle was roped off from the public, but that didn't stop Sam from wanting to get on it. "Me on it.  Me on it."  I told Sam that it wasn't a toy and she couldn't sit on it.  The head guy looked at me and said, "I'll let anyone this tall or shorter sit on it." and pointed to Ian's height.  Oh boy!  Did this make the kid's visit complete.  Good thing I always bring my camera.

These marines really took a liking to Ian and Sam.  I told them in a few years if Ian ever came to me and said he wanted to join the Marines, I would think back to this experience and remember how nice these guys were.  Then I would still say, "No way.  You could get hurt."

We got back in the car, hit no traffic on the way home, and walked in our front door by 11:00am.

What a pleasant turn of events.  Good thing I always listen to Jeff.