Friday, September 30, 2011

Throw me a snorkel, please.

As some of you may have noticed, my blog had been on hiatus this past week - for a WHOLE week!  I think this is the first unintentional break I've ever taken.  From the get-go, I got into a groove and wrote consistently every other day for more than 2 years now.   My blog has become a way for me to unwind and document the day-to-day life has in store for us.  It's nice to know my blog gets read by others, but more than anything I love this diary that has formed. From time to time, I go back and reread past blogs and what life was like with the kids at those ages.  Right now, this blog is more for me, than anyone else.  Still it was nice when a few family members called and were very concerned that the blog hadn't been updated and wanted to know what happened.  As my dad said, "We were worried you went bonkers."  Nice, huh?

I am not sure what is going on, but I feel like I am on the verge of drowning.  There are way too many balls in the air. I've done (mostly) a great job up until now keeping them from falling, but I am not sure for how much longer.  I really thought that with Sam and Ian back at school, I'd have loads of time to get things done; leisurely at that.  However, this couldn't be further from the truth.  The 3 to 4 hours I have (up to 4 days a week, unless a Jewish holiday gets in my way and closes Sam's preschool) is being spent with me running around like a chicken with their head cut-off.

Now that I have the power to schedule things and go without kids in tow, I made this month full of drs appointments, dentist, getting blood drawn, and running various errands. I've also signed up to volunteer at Ian's school on Friday mornings helping out at the library.  It seems like my to-do list just gets bigger each day when one place I go causes another visit for follow-up later that week.  Oy!

I'm guessing I was delusional earlier in the month when I dreamily planned to go room by room and really organize and declutter.  Oh yeah, and this was after starting my kid-free time at the gym each morning.  Ha!  In the last 3 weeks, I've only gotten to the gym once during the daylight hours - I mostly try to squeeze it in before Jeff leaves for work in the morning. 

It's a good thing the kids are safely at school and not a victim to my insane to-do list.  But once you throw in our ridiculously over-scheduled weekends on top of an already busy week, its making for a very cranky Robyn. 

Jeff likes to joke when about a year and a half ago I went through this phase of feeling like we had too much going on, I just went out and bought a bigger calendar to have more room to schedule things.  Ha!  I don't think they make a bigger calendar than what I found and is currently hanging in our kitchen.  It had to be moved from the refrigerator to a nearby wall because it wasn't staying put with the weight of the pages.  :)

Here me now - I am going to do less.  I am going accomplish less.  I am going to schedule less.  I am going to be okay with that.  I won't need to borrow a snorkel long, just need it until the kids are in college.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Time for apple picking

One of my most favorite things to do with the family each Fall is go apple picking.  This year was a particularly memorable adventure picking apples for my Toppall team.  The memories are sure to last for many, many years to come.

Was it getting lost to the same orchard we've gone to for the past 5 years?  Not only uncertain about how to get there, but also, improperly following Gertie and taking a wrong exit and turn.  And I am sure depending on who you ask, it will come back that it was my fault. 

Or, maybe it was the high humidity and the little bugs flying around being annoying?  Could it have been the tall grass and mixes of mud/dirt that formed from major flooding rain the day before?  Or, I was the heat.  Because by the time we go apple picking, we hope (expect) a little chill in the air to get us in the Fall mood.

And lastly, the icing on the cake could've came when Samantha decided she wanted to stay "FOREVER", as she yelled in the orchard.  She had no plans on leaving and was very happy picking apples upon apples....20 lbs to be exact.  Oh and carrying that bucket with more than 10 pounds of apples was something that she was easily able to do on her own, with no help whatsoever from Jeff or me.  No matter how often we convinced her to let us help. 

And I am sure carrying her off the orchard (against her will) and forcing her in her car seat, will be a memory that the other apple pickers will have with them for a long time too.

However for me, the most memorable part of this trip will be when we got in the car and Jeff announced that we won't be doing this ever again.  That he is done.  Done. Done. No more apple picking.  Ever.  And we will not be taking Sam out of the house to go anywhere.  Ever.  Again.   Yeah, that made for a fun "discussion" on the drive home.

But, when all is said and done, we have 20 lbs of delicious apples to eat and some great pictures of our time "enjoying" apple picking.  Can hardly wait for next year's outing to pick apples.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Last year when all my mommy friends sent their child off to an elementary school that offered full-day kindergarten, having lunch with their son or daughter in the cafeteria was a big thing.  I longed for the day that I'd be able to do the same with Ian. Now that Ian is in school full-time, I got my chance last week.

I decided I'd surprise Ian and not let him know that I was planning on coming.  I had a dentist appointment at 10:30am and wanted to leave the possibility open that if I got stuck at the dentist longer than I anticipated I wouldn't be disappointing Ian.  Plus, I love surprising the kids.  It's just so much fun!

Ian has lunch from 12:10 to 12:40pm each day.  Parents are encouraged to come for lunch and you don't have to arrange it in advance.  I arrived at the school at 12:00pm and signed in at the front office.  Upon walking down the hallway to Ian's classroom, I ran into another mom whose child was in Ian's class last year, but got assigned a different teacher this year. Carol had also been eager to have lunch with Anna-Kate and decided to do a surprise too.  We joked that you won't be able to miss us sitting with all the little kids. 

I found Ian standing in line outside the cafeteria waiting until it was their turn to go in.  The look on his face was priceless and instantly all the kids near him asked if I was him mom. I felt like a rockstar! 

Ian was purchasing his lunch that day and I joined him in the line to pick out something for me to eat too.  Ian chose the turkey hot dog and I picked the yogurt biteable (yogurt, cheese stick, orange slices, and sun chips - which after looking at the ingredients discovered they not gluten-free).  Ian found it humorous that I picked the chocolate milk to drink.  Hey, it was non-fat chocolate milk; there was no way I was going to pass that up!

I followed Ian to his table and he introduced me to more of his friends.  I then realized that eating in the school cafeteria is not for the faint of heart.  Oh my!  It is seriously noisy.  So loud that I kept feeling like a fight was going to break out and I'd have to duck under the table for cover.  The lunch room lady turns the light off and on when it gets too loud.  So you can imagine that it was flickering like a disco ball.  Then there is this clapping that happens when the lunch lady wants to get the kids' attention.  She'll clap and they have to clap back -- repeatedly, until everyone is listening.  Yowzer!  That's just a whole lot of noise going on!

I joked with Ian that I was going to come meet him for lunch every day.  He had this look of fear on his face and said, "Um, no."  Then about 5 minutes later he said I could come once a month.  Yeah, I think the headache I got from all the noise will be gone by then.  I can handle once a month.

Despite the noise, I had a great time.  I fulfilled this cafeteria dream on a few levels; getting to have lunch with my son and getting to have lunch in a true school cafeteria.  Growing up, I went to small schools that didn't offer this.  It was neat getting to experience this.

I wonder when it will no longer be cool to have lunch with Ian?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Welcome to Fall

With the start of a new school year, we begin all our extra-curricular activities again.  Here's a peek at our current schedule:


  • Mondays from 9:05am to 1:15pm
  • Tuesdays thru Friday, 9:05am to 3:45pm
Soccer - practice on Mondays from 5:30pm to 6:30pm
Soccer - games on Saturdays - time varies

Religious school - Sundays from 9:00am to 11:15am


  • Mondays from 9:30am to 12:30pm
  • Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, from 9:30am to 1:30pm
Gym Jam class - Tuesdays at 10:00am

Dance class - Wednesdays from 4:30pm to 5:00pm

Soccer - Saturdays at 10:00am

I have to say I LOVE our schedule.  The kids have enough to keep them busy and with full day school for Ian, the running around I have during the week isn't bad at all.  I definitely don't feel like I am a chicken with their head cut-off not sure of where I need to be next or in panic mode that I am going to forget to pick-up a kid.    I feel like we've got a great groove going on.  Each of the activities have a few of Ian and Sam's friends joining them.  This is the first year that I don't have to actively particpate as a parent and I can enjoy hanging out and watching the kids enjoy themselves.  And with the weather finally getting cooler, I can say I am enjoying too being outside.  Life is good.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


I am little superstitious and afraid I will jinx myself by even mentioning it, but I want so badly to shout from the rooftops, that my very strong-willed, will-do-it-when-she-is-good-and-ready, marches-to-the-beat-of-her-own-drum daughter is potty trained once and for all! 

As we all know, this has been a very long and  painful ordeal.  I don't think potty training is for the faint of heart.  There are few myths I'd like to debunk:

1. Potty training girls is easier.  FALSE!  As I can testify, this is not always the case.  Ian got it in 6 days flat.  I am not sure I even know how to count that high with how long it took Sam.

2. Girls can be potty trained at an earlier age; mostly likely they have the ability to get it at 2.5 years old.  FALSE!  We tried to potty train Sam at 2.5 years old.  It was a disaster.  We tried again at 3 years old.  Again, a disaster.  It took until Sam was over 3 years, 3 months old before it finally stuck.

3. No matter how bad it gets, if you stick with it, the child will eventually get it.  FALSE!  I stuck with it for over 27 days straight when I tried to potty train Sam right after turning 3 years old.  27 days of pure craziness and insanity showing me again and again she wasn't able to successfully do it.

4. Just use a great reward system (stickers, m&ms, treasure chest, etc) and you will have no problems creating a reason for the child to want to use the potty.  FALSE!  This is a complete joke.  And you know who ate more m&ms than Sam?  Yes, me!  Not to mention, I have about a thousand stickers ready to be stuck on something.  Each reward we tried to implement lost its appeal within the 1st day. 

Here's the the end of the day, the child has to want to use the potty.  The child has to want to keep her underwear dry.  The child has to want to hold it until she can successfully make it to the bathroom.  There is no amount of pleading, begging, or anticipating if they need to go or not that will make potty training easier.  I've learned the hard way, you can't force a child to be potty trained.

And so, now we can close the chapter on this milestone.  Please stick a fork in me.  I am done.  This is the LAST CHILD I AM EVER POTTY TRAINING!!!   So far, in all my mommyhood experiences, potty training ranks up there as the thing I've liked the least.  I look at women who have lots of kids or are currently pregnant and all I can think of is, one day soon, you will have to go through this and I feel for you.  I don't see the joy in having a newborn or a toddler running around being all cute.  I just see the future struggle and pain in going diaper free. 

We just completed one whole week (at preschool, no less) with no accidents!  OH. MY. GAWD. !!  I didn't think I'd ever see the day.  Wait, there goes a pig flying by.  It just got cold in hell.  Ha!  I still have my sarcastic sense of humor...this excruciating ordeal has not broken me.  Crippled, yes, but not completely broken.

I'd like to take a moment and thank Samantha.  Thank her for finally getting on board the potty train and figuring this was a pretty good idea to do....finally!!!  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The 3's Class

No, that wasn't a 2nd earthquake felt in Burke on Monday, September 12th; it was Sam and I jumping up and down in excitement over preschool starting in a few hours.  Yay!  I'm not sure who had a bigger smile on their face, but it took no repeating myself to tell Sam to brush her teeth, eat her breakfast or put on her shoes.

Sam eagerly picked out what she wanted to wear and couldn't wait to get dressed.  Rita had sent this to Sam a few years ago, and finally Sam was big enough to wear it.   Since everything was going Sam's way, it was a great morning and we were all happy as we waited for school to open.

The official 1st day of school photo

Walking in to the preschool

Hanging with her good buddy, Jacob.

The smile never left Sam's face.  I made sure she knew where the bathroom was, gave her a big kiss good-bye and left.  Oh yeah, I also wished the teacher, Miss Linda well.  :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Heard and Observed XXVIII

Sam and I were at the mall on Thursday for a playdate and lunch with some of our friends.  After we said good-bye to everyone, we headed to the stores in search of a rain coat for Ian.  Ian is less than thrilled with his current rain coat and after 5 days of non-stop pouring rain, I promised I would find him a new one.

After going in and out of at least 8 stores in the mall, I silently thought to myself we would try one last place and then head home.  Sam had been excellent up to this point and I didn't want to push the envelope.  We walk into JC Penny's and head to their children's department.  Before I could ask the sales guy if they had any boys rain coats, Sam looks at me and says, "Enough with Ian, I need something with pink and purple." 

I couldn't resist and Sam picked out an outfit before heading home.  We pick Ian up from school and I break the news to him that there isn't a rain coat to be found in the whole mall.  I said I would find one online and order it right away.

I found a great rain coat at Lands End and showed Ian for him to pick which color he would like.  We scroll through the 8 or so color choices and Ian decides on a color I wouldn't have picked in a million years.  Before I could try to persuade Ian to pick a different color, Sam says, "Ewwww!  Gross!!".   Of course, Ian doesn't budge and this is the color that gets ordered.  I only hope the rain coat looks better in person.


Now that Sam is potty trained, we put underwear on her first thing in the morning.  For the most part, Sam is getting really good about recognizing when she needs to go and making it in time.  But if she hasn't gone in a while, I ask her if she needs to go potty every hour or so. 

One morning, I realize she woke up a little before 6:00am and hadn't gone all morning.  I kept asking her if she had to go and she kept saying "No."   I was trying to respect that as an answer and trust that she knew what she was doing.  At 9:20am, I said to Sam, "We are leaving in 10 minutes.  Before we get in the car, everyone tries to go to the bathroom."

Sam:  I didn't keep underwear dry.

Me (getting very upset and starting to lose my cool):   WHAT?!?!?!  SAM!!!  I asked you 4 times this morning if you had to go, and each time, you said no.  This is just not cool.  From now on, you are going to take off your dirty underwear, your dirty shorts and get new underwear and shorts to put on.  I am done helping you.

Sam takes off her underwear and shorts and leaves them on the floor.  She goes into the bathroom and starts peeing...a lot!  I can't understand how she is able to pee now on the potty when apparently she has already gone in her underwear.  I pick up her shorts and underwear and feel them to see how wet they are.  They aren't wet at all!  They are bone dry!!!!!  Now I feel really bad for yelling at Sam and go in to the bathroom to apologize.  She is still peeing!

Me:  Sam, I'm sorry I yelled.  You told me you didn't keep underwear dry.  They are dry!  You did a great job.  I am so proud of you.

Sam:  No, they're not clean.  I farted in them.

And with that, Sam got off the potty and got herself some new underwear and shorts to wear.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

1st Grade

I didn't realize just how much I thought Ian going to 1/2 day kindergarten was a joke.  I never took last year very seriously and his missing 9 days in the school year shows that.   I mean, come on, he went to preschool for a longer amount of time than his day in kindergarten.

There's my very cute 1st grader, all smiles!

It wasn't until this past Tuesday when I dropped Ian off at school for his first day of 1st grade, that I realized any of this.  I had a moment when I said good-bye to him and watched him go into the school, when this sadness overcame me.  I started tearing up and realized how much I was going to miss him.  Being gone for 7 hours every day is no joke.  This is the big time!  I got back in the car (of course I am going to be one of those parents that breaks the rules in the kiss-n-ride line and hops out when I shouldn't.  I just had to give him one final hug and kiss) and Sam said to me, "Why are you laughing?"   "Oh Sam, I'm not laughing.  I am crying.", I replied.  What a sap I am!

Fortunately I pulled it together and was happy for Ian because Ian was happy himself.  He was excited for school to begin and couldn't wait to make new friends and see some old ones.  I truly love being around him.  It was a great summer and not once did I have a countdown to when school was going to finally start.  That is, until Ian started school and it was just me and Sam.  Sam doesn't start preschool until Monday (tomorrow).  Another thing I didn't realize was the buffer Ian provided when the three of us are home.  Now that Ian is in school, Sam and I are getting along like oil and water.  I know I've been counting down each day to when she goes to preschool, but I have a feeling that Sam is too. 

There goes Ian, into school.
 Let the tears begin...mine, not his.

When it was finally time to pick Ian up from school, we got home and I grabbed him with both arms and didn't let go.  Ian told me all about his day.  I got so much detail that I feel like I was right there in the classroom.  I love that he wanted me know about his day just as much as I wanted to hear it. 

We have a tasty back-to-school tradition.  On the first day of each year, we go out for ice cream after dinner.  
Well deserved!

Bittersweet song of September

By Beverly Beckham
Globe Columnist / August 22, 2010

I’m glad I’m not a young mother shopping for school clothes and new backpacks, studying the bus schedule, filling in the calendar with “No school day’’ and “Early release,’’ scheduling gymnastics and dance lessons, switching gears and mindset, getting ready to give my children back to the world, bidding this long, hot summer goodbye.

I never liked September when my children were young. It meant the end of something, not the beginning. Every year, when they walked out the front door and down the walk to wait for the school bus, a little taller and a little wiser than they were just 12 weeks before, my heart ached because I knew that when I got them back again in June, they wouldn’t be who they were now.

Children grow in the summer, too, I know, but it’s different when school starts. They seem to grow faster then. Everything seems faster.

There is a song from “Big: The Musical’’ that sums up the bittersweetness of raising children. It’s called “Stop Time,’’ and the first time you hear it, it stops your heart. “Nobody warns you of this parent’s paradox. You want your kid to change and grow,’’ the song says. “But when he does, another child you’ve just begun to know, leaves forever.’’

Even when you win, you lose. That’s the truth of the song. And that’s the truth about kids. You love your children at every stage exactly as they are. You love the way your baby fits snugly in your arms, the way he opens and closes his tiny hands, the way he sighs and leans into you when he’s sleepy. And you want to stop time. But you love it when he’s bigger, too, when he sits up all by himself. And you want to stop time, then. And when he learns to crawl. And when he walks and talks. And look. He’s starting kindergarten. And he’s learning to read. Can it get any better?

It does. It gets better and better. Parenting is filled with bests and a million happy tears. But it’s filled with lumps in your throat, too, and yearning for what was because even as you’re snapping pictures and head over heels in love with the moment that is, a part of you misses the moments that are not anymore. The infant your child was. The 2-year-old you pushed in her carriage all over town. The 5-year-old who said “pinuter’’ not computer. The 6-year-old who raced in from school every day eager to show you what he’d colored and learned and made.

September whisks kids away and entertains them and beguiles them, but returns them not as they were but changed and in a different size. That’s why parents cry as they stand and wave goodbye. Because first grade becomes fifth grade becomes high school becomes college even as you watch.
How is this, I wonder, that a day alone with a colicky baby and an I-don’t-take-a-nap-anymore 2-year-old can feel like a year? But 18 years can go by in a blink of an eye? How is it that both my daughters, who just yesterday were upstairs trying on their new school clothes, are this year dressing their own children ready for first grade?

They’ve bought new clothes and a lunch box and a backpack. Just as I bought new clothes and a lunchbox and a backpack for them, just as my mother bought new clothes and a lunch box and a green cloth book bag for me.

It’s a big step, first grade, the first in a journey that will take their children physically, emotionally, and spiritually to places they cannot begin to imagine. And not only will their children change, but the world will change, too.

The kids are excited. We’re all excited. A stop-time moment is on its way.
But time won’t stop. It won’t even slow down. That’s why we’ll pay attention and take pictures. So we’ll never forget the day. So that even when it’s passed, it will remain.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Been down this road before

It's a big coincidence that Chris' wedding was in the Charlottesville area during Labor Day weekend.  Last year, Jeff and I had a long weekend sans kids and spent the day in Charlottesville celebrating our anniversary, which also occurs during Labor Day weekend.

Much of our time going to and from Charlottesville was unintentionally reminiscent our of road trip the year before.  For both trips, we decided in advance to travel on 95 to get there. It wasn't until the drive home when we spontaneously took Route 29 to get home, that we realized we did the same thing the previous year.

Another big coincidence was when we stopped for gas, went inside the station to get a snack and in the spur of the moment, asked for a lottery ticket.  The year before, Jeff got one and this year, I asked the cashier for one.   When we made our way back on the road, it all began to get very deja vu like and so much of our experiences traveling was exactly the same.  I guess we are creatures of habit and we went with our instincts, which didn't vary in the last 365 days.

It's funny, Jeff and I hardly ever play the lottery.  In fact, it takes my dad mentioning to me on the phone how big the jackpot is before I even pay attention to what is going on.  The size of the payout has to be making national news before I get a clue to get a ticket or two. 

But, there is something about an anniversary, birthday or a special occasion that makes you feel like something magical can happen.  Here's the moment when your life can completely do a 180 degree turn, turn it upside down and oh yeah, it's the start of another year of marriage.  The reason to play (and hopefully win) isn't to escape the current situation, but somehow turn it into a fabulous moment.  I hope what I am writing makes sense.

Just like last year, we started dreaming again of how the money would be spent.  It's fun to make plans and what a better way to kill 2 hours in the car.  Jeff figured in a lump sum payout, if we were the sole winners, we'd walk away with approx. 60 million.  Not a bad chunk of change.  Of course, we'd give each family member a million, put a few million in a trust for each of the kids (not to be received until they are 35 and have earned an B.A.), buy a new house, 2 cars, hire a personal trainer (this was my personal contribution to the plan), and try do good with a big portion of it.  It goes without saying that I'd cover the registration fees for all of members of The Rack Pack, and buy a vacation home on the beach (again, my idea).  Lastly, I told Jeff we'd have to put 10 million in a Swiss bank account to just sit there in case it got so out of control that we spent all the other money and didn't have any left.  That would be our little nest egg.

I am pretty certain that the money wouldn't change who we are as people.  I'd still have a hard time buying clothes at full price and spending lots of money on kids clothes when they grow out of them so quickly.  I'd still want us to have dinner together each night as a family and I am pretty sure I'd still be a stay-at-home mom.  :)

Towards the end of the discussion, we also decided we'd come up with a list of 50 friends and give them each some money to go have some fun.   And if another person also had the winning numbers?  No problem, we already figured out that scenario and decided we would do everything we came up with, just at half the amount.

As of right now, I am not sure what will bring us to Charlottesville again next Labor Day weekend, but since everything runs in 3's, it won't surprise me when we are driving home on Route 29, pointing out all the same landmarks we remember driving by before.  And when we stop to get gas, I bet Jeff and I will again get a lottery ticket and have the same lofty discussion all over again.  A year is just enough time that we forget what we discussed and our conversation is new all over again- with just a hint of deja vu.

And for those wondering, we did not win.  Not in the lottery anyway.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Manipulation at its best

I am frequently asked where we are with Sam's potty training.  So, let me paint the scene for you. 

I am done messing around.  Sam knows what she needs to do and has proven she can do it.  However, she chooses not to.  She takes the easy way out and pees in her pull-up.  Once and for all, I've had it and decided that we done with pull-ups and its now or never to getting potty trained.

In the morning we put underwear on Sam and she does great.  We pack up to go to Chesapeake Beach for the day and tell Sam we will put a pull-up on her. It's an hour drive, and I can only imagine it would be a recipe for disaster to expect her to stay dry.  She says no and promises to keep underwear dry.  About 50 minutes in to the drive, Sam says she needs to go potty.  We pull over to the side of the road and she successfully pees in our portable potty.  Yay!  It's at this point she demonstrated (again) she can recognize the urge to go and hold it until she can relieve herself.  I am now ready to never turn back again and put pull-ups on her, even on long car rides.

All day she does great in underwear.  I feel we've completely turned the corner and are headed down easy street.  We drop Sam off at our friend Jen's house at 3:00pm.  Sam will be spending the rest of the day and night at her house.  I don't even pack a pull-up, but include another change of clothes and 7 pairs of back-up underwear.  Unbeknownst to me, Jeff did throw a pull-up in her bag.  I tell Jen I am confident that Sam has this potty training thing down.  Jen says she will put a pull-up on Sam for the birthday party they are attending in an hour.  I want the experience of watching Sam to be as stress-free as possible and totally understand Jen doing this.  However, Sam doesn't get more than 5 minutes after we've left before the accidents begin.  She tells Jen she has to go, but by the time they make it to the bathroom, Sam has already wet herself.  It's pull-up city from here on out for the rest of the time and I am completely on board with this thinking. 

We pick Sam up and come home. By 10:00am, I've got her back in underwear.  This is it. She can do this!  At 11:15am, Sam puts herself down for a nap.  This is her new thing to do and I am very pleased when she recognizes she needs one and goes up to her room to sleep.  I follow her and ask if I can put a pull-up on her while she sleeps.  This, in my opinion, is the only time I want her to be in one.  It is not fair to ask her or expect her to stay dry while she is sleeping.  Sam refuses and within 2 minutes she is fast asleep.  Sam sleeps for a little more than 3 hours and I can only imagine the huge mess that will have occurred by the time she wakes up.  Believe it or not, she stayed completely dry!!  Wow.  She went from 10:00am until 2:15pm not going to the bathroom.  As soon as she wakes up, we encourage Sam to go use the potty.  Surely, she must have to go by now.  Sam refuses and a HUGE fight ensues between Jeff, me and her.  Sam is flipping out about going on the toilet and is demanding a pull-up.  Of course we all know why she wants the pull-up.  No way, Jose. 

30 minutes later of us all yelling and screaming back and forth at each other, Sam is still refusing to try to go on the potty and hasn't peed at all yet.  It's pretty unbelievable. She is getting all nutzo about wanting to wear a pull-up and keeps taking her big girl underwear off.  It is insane. At this point, Sam is tired of us hounding her to try to use the potty and also keep her underwear on. She says she is tired and is going to take a nap again.  She crawls under her comforter, takes the covers over her head and lays there quietly.  After 20 minutes Jeff and I go up to check on her.  She is still laying there quietly.  Jeff and I try to come up with ideas on what to do to make this situation better.  One of the things she was screaming about was her underwear was too small.  They were sized 2T-3T, so I guess we could officially go up a size.  I offer to go to the store with her and get her new, big girl underwear in a bigger size.  She finally agrees to this and says she will come pick them out with me.  I tell her that they only way we can leave the house is if we all try to go to the bathroom first and get dressed in clothes. 

Within 30 seconds, Sam is out of her bed and sitting on the potty. She lets loose a big amount of pee and I fully realize at this moment how incredibly manipulative Sam is.  She held it for more than 5 hours!!  She only went to the bathroom when it was completely on her terms. 

We went to Kohls and bought 42 pairs of new big girl underwear.  I think we are set for a long, long time.

It's not pretty, but I think we are making progress.  There is no going back to pull-ups.  If anyone asks me now if Sam is potty trained, I say, "Yes, she is...she gets it and knows what to do."
She is a girl and this is a whole different animal than I am used to.  I previously thought Ian gave me a run for my money, but we are talking a very different universe with Samantha. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Seven years!

Yesterday Jeff and I attended a good friend's wedding at a beautiful winery near Charlottesville.  I think it was fitting celebrating this event as the anniversary of our wedding 7 years ago was just about to see the light of day.

Here's pictures of Jeff and I being silly in the photo booth Chris had for her guests. 

I was reminded of the first picture Jeff and I ever took together.   The girls and I were throwing Kristin a surprise 30th birthday party and I told Jeff that if he was free that evening to come stop by the party.  This, I consider to be our 3rd date.

It was during this party that I heard back from a few of the girls that Jeff was off on his own introducing himself to everyone as my "boyfriend".  Really.  Um, hello?  This was only our 3rd date!  We never even had the boyfriend/girlfriend discussion.  You can't just go around and give yourself that label!!  I was taken aback by Jeff's confidence that things had progressed as far as they had and sort of went with the flow.  It's a good thing I did too, because it didn't take long before I was happy that "he was so into me."  :)

Jeff later told me that he bought a new shirt to wear to
Kristin's party.  He even arrived with a box of
chocolates to give to Krstin.  He was raised well. 
Happy 7th anniversary to the guy that never made me wonder what I meant to him.  I look forward to many more picture taking opportunities with you.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sam at her worst

I really wanted to get a sitter.  I tried asking two different people if they were free for the afternoon and both said no.  So I thought, how bad could it be?  It's an open house at Ian's school, from 1:45pm to 2:45pm.  It's totally casual; once you've met the teacher and checked out the classroom, you are free to go.  Everyone brings younger siblings with them and there would be no reason that Sam couldn't hang with the big kids for at the most, an hour of her day.

To say that things didn't go as planned, is a huge understatement.  I am not sure when the nightmare started but I have a feeling that when we were standing in line waiting to pick up the school supplies we ordered through the school, I probably should've gotten a clue.  Sam had already started a combo whining/crying over needing to wash her hands from the popsicle she just ate.  It was so unlike me, but I didn't even have my supplies with me and was lacking the big thing of wet wipes I always carry.  I honestly thought for one hour we would be okay sans diaper bag.  While I was checking out every single parent in the gymnasium looking for anyone with a baby, Sam now escalated her demand for clean hands by also sitting on the floor, taking off her shoes and refusing to get up.  She was causing quite the scene, but I refused to give in and lose our place in line.  It was moving plenty fast enough and I knew in a matter of moments we would be out of there and could locate a bathroom.  Fortunately for me, Sam doesn't like being left behind and scooted her screaming 3 year old self to the front of the line as Ian and I moved up.  And, another fortunate occurrence came when a woman walked in pushing a baby in a stroller.  I knew she had to have wipes.  She didn't speak a lick of English, but her daughter translated what I needed and this made Sam a happy least temporarily.

We got our big box of school supplies and made our way to Ian's new classroom.  How exciting!  Upon entering the room, I noticed the teacher right away and figured we should meet her while there was no line and only one mom/son currently talking to her.  As we are patiently waiting for our turn, Sam decides she has had enough and kicks it in high gear letting me know she wants to get out of there PRONTO!  She starts saying she needs to go to the bathroom, she needs to go home, she is hungry, she is thirsty, she is tired, she needs a nap, SHE DOESN'T WANT TO MEET IAN'S TEACHER!!!!!!   She is so revved up and in the moment of throwing the biggest meltdown ever, that Sam is now incoherent and not making much sense of anything.

I do my best to ignore her while I try to give Ian my attention who is now getting to meet the teacher - I should mention this is after a mom cut in front of me in line and another mother stood up for me when she saw the situation I had going on.  Come 'on people, work with me!!  Really, you need to cut in front of me!?!?!?

We get as far as Mrs. Shackleford asking Ian if he went there last year, to which Ian replied, "No."  I am still not sure what that was about, but I knew we needed to get out of there fast.  Sam is in full blown screaming/crying, on the ground laying there, taking off her pants.  She is out of control and won't let me hold her or pick her up.  She won't listen to anything I am saying and its best to get home asap.

I try my best to get her to calm down and decide maybe if we get to a bathroom, we will be fine.  Of course, I have no idea where the closest bathroom is and I run into my friend Kelly who helps me find one.  At that moment, the bathroom felt like it was a mile away down the hall.  I gave up looking for the women's restroom and jumped into this closet of a restroom that said "Staff Only" on the door.  Sam wanted nothing to do with being in there and ran back out into the crowded hallway.

Oh yeah, this whole time, the hallway and every classroom is FILLED with parents and kids.  Lots of fun, let me tell you. And the only way to get from point A to point B with Miss Cranky Pants is by me holding her -sometimes sideways/upside down/ or by one leg as she continues to scream at the top of her lungs and fight me with everything she's got to put her down.  Oh yeah, this is exactly how I envisioned Ian's open house going down.

I am ready to leave.  I am ready to put Sam down and run far, far away and hope that a mom who is better handling her takes her home.  I tell Ian we need to go back to his room, pick up his big box of supplies and leave.  I feel so bad for him and the crappy open house experience he had because of his sister.

When we get back to the classroom, I put Sam down and turn to talk to the teacher (interrupting who she is currently speaking with) and ask her one quick question so that we can get out of there once for and all.  Sam is STILL SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF HER LUNGS and has now taken her pull-up off.  She is nudie kazudie from the waist down - no pull-up, no pants, no shoes.  Yeah, we look like we raise her in a trailer park and I am ready for the worst mother award of the year to be handed to me on the spot.  While trying to hear the teacher (who sounds like she is talking in slow motion...hello!?!?  I need to get out of here NOW, can't you talk any faster!?!?), Sam is running back and forth in the room, out in the hallway, all over the place like a deranged, psycho nut.  She is completely incoherent and everyone in the room and out in the hallway has taken to stop and stare at this freak show we have going on.  One guy looked at me and said, "Two years old, huh?"   No, buddy, she is 3.  And may I suggest you don't get in her way.

Finally, poor Ian who hasn't had any chance to walk around his new room, correct the teacher who thinks he never went there last year and is now being asked to juggle the big box of school supplies tags along behind me as I do my best to hold Sam, her clothing, her shoes and make our way through the crowds to get to the car as fast as possible.  Again, Kelly came to my rescue, took the box from Ian and helped escort us to the car. 

Once I threw Sam in the car, I closed the door and stood outside the car literally shaking, with tears in my eyes over having lived through that last 20 minutes.  A few moms who know me from Ian being in their kids' kindergarten class last year tried to sympathetically say, "we've been there too before" as we whizzed by them making our way to the car. 

My heart brakes for Ian and how what should have been a fun, exciting moment in his life became a memory of  his sister causing a ridiculous scene.  A meltdown so big and momentous that I believe it could be aptly included in the Guinness Book of World Records for its intensity, loudness, humiliation/embarrassment factor, and of course, complete and utter nonsense.

Next year I will work harder on getting a sitter. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ladies who lunch (with their dolls)

The week the American Girl Doll store opened in April at the Tyson's Corner Mall, I got an email from one of my mommy friends asking if Sam and I would like to join her and another mommy friend with their daughters for lunch.  Heck ya!  You can most definitely count us in.  Sam is finally getting to the age where we can do special things like this.

Our reservations were made for Sunday, August 28th at 12:30pm. Fortunately Hurricane Irene and the ensuing power outage didn't stop us from our American Girl lunch experience.  I knew going into this, we'd have to get to the store early and let Sam pick out a Bitty Baby for her to have.

We got through the store having only bought a bitty baby and a swing for bitty baby to hang out in.  It took a lot of will power to not also get matching outfits for the baby and Sam.  Also, Sam wanted the crib, but I had us show even more self-control and make her choose which she wanted more; the swing or the crib.

Now it was time for lunch!  We made our way upstairs and after about a 10 minute wait, we were shown our table.  Our table was back in the deluxe party room and it was very nice having our own, private little space.  Each Bitty Baby or American Girl Doll was given its own little chair that attached to the table.  It was very cute!

Right away the maternal instincts kicked in and
Sam fed her baby.

To my delight, they had a gluten-free menu.  The chef came out with the official allergy book and went over what the dishes were.  The food was delicious and we were all pleased with what we ordered.

We decided this was too much fun not to plan an annual trip.  Every August we will be back and celebrate the return to school.  I hope Sam enjoys it as much 15 years from now (when she goes to College)  as I enjoyed it today.

Home Sweet Home with our new Bitty Baby and swing