Sunday, October 30, 2011


The tv getting all quirky on us was just the beginning.  In the next 24 hours that followed, all sorts of things decided it needed to retire:

1. Headlight on Jeff's car

2. One of the charging inputs for the iTouch

3. Dryer no longer has heat (but hey, it still turns on!)

4. Battery on Jeff's watch

Fortunately everything is minor and easily fixable.  But how bizzare!  Every time we turned around, we were discovering yet another thing not working.  I guess that episode of the Twilight Zone just got picked-up for the whole season.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Yep, this is me!

Many thanks to Jennifer Guirguis for forwarding this to me.  Every time I look at it, I giggle. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Putting on my detective hat

I've been hard at work getting Sam to various doctors to see if there is a medical reason for why my little girl behaves the way she does. 

In the last month, I've done the following:

Went to an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat specialist) to find out why she is getting nose bleeds and if there is anything I need to be concerned about.  Also inquired about her erratic sleep and questioned whether or not she is getting a deep enough sleep or could possibly have sleep apnea.

Working with an Occupational Therapist to see if a Sensory Integration Disorder is coming in to play.  She tends to overreact at the littlest things.

Visited the pediatrician and requested blood work to be done to see if she could possibly have Celiac disease or may not be getting the nutrients her body needs.  Also, spoke to the dr about the incredibly frustrating pooping issues we are experiencing.

It was an A-HA! moment when Heather and I was talking on the phone one morning.  She asked me what some of the symptoms of Celiac are.  There are over 200 associated and I started listing them.  Lo and behold, I was describing Sam!  Nosebleeds, insomnia, constipation, irritability.  Hey, maybe I couldn't see the forrest through the trees. 

Right now I feel like I am spinning my wheels.  Yes, this could all be nothing.  And she could be your average, high-strung, strong-willed 3 year old exhibiting typical 3 year old behavior, but I need to exhaust all avenues.  I want to go to sleep at night knowing I did all I could to see if there is a cause and thus, a solution for why she is challenging to parent sometimes, heck, most times.

The pediatrician thought I was crazy.  I could tell that she thought I was off my rocker and I didn't recognize what a healthy 3 year old looks like.  Apparently her daughter refused to poop on the potty until she was 8 years old.  Really.  So I guess I shouldn't be concerned that Sam poops a little in her underwear through out the entire day - up to 4 or 5 times a day, for the past 3 weeks straight.  That alone is enough for a mom to get in her car and drive off a cliff. 

As for the blood work, she did indulge my wishes and requested the various blood tests needed.  We should have results back in the next day or two.  I just know that if your body isn't operating like it should, your behavior and temperament could easily be affected.  And Sam is too young to communicate effectively if she is feeling run down or maybe her iron is low or something similar.  Plus, with my history of Celiac, there could be a real possibility that Sam has a gluten allergy too.  It would completely suck if this is the case, but it would an easy solution to fix.  I know that kids diagnosed with autism or aspergers are told to eat a gluten-free diet to help with their behavior.  I KNOW Sam is not autistic or even close to being on the spectrum, but it doesn't hurt to give it a try and see if it can help her.

I am a mom on a mission.  My detective hat is on and I am on the case.  I hope at the end of the day, I am told that I am crazy and nothing is really wrong.  But until that time comes, I will continue to look at this from every angle.

Monday, October 24, 2011

My last long run

I've been wanting to update on how the marathon training is going for some time now. But, with each long training run looming ahead in the schedule, I get seriously freaked out and feel like I am better off not speaking too much about it.  Now that I've just completed my last long run, I feel like I can reflect on what this journey has been like getting me to race day.

7 months ago when I decided to sign up for a marathon, it felt so far away that anything was possible.  I could talk all the 'game' I wanted, but knew that I still had more than half a year before my foot had to actually cross the starting line.  As of today, I've got just 26 days to go  and the countdown is on!  We are in taper city and the mileage I have to log now is reasonable and not nearly as taxing as what has been recently done.

I have discovered a lot in these past 6 months of training.  The biggest thing I found out is that I am not cut out for long distance running.  I think after I get to mile 12, I get seriously bored and am ready for the next activity.  To keep going takes a huge amount of will power and determination.  I've always known that once I am committed to something, I'll see it through to the end and this marathon training had me displaying that type of mental strength over and over again.

Some other discoveries include:
  • It doesn't matter how much I run, I will never get faster.  My pace stays consistently slow.  Friends can start out with me at the same pace, but somewhere along the way, they get faster and I get slower.
  • I'm okay not wearing underwear under my running shorts or capri running pants if it means I don't get any kind of chafing.  I really thought I would be grossed out by this, but after the first long run trying it, it made a huge difference. (Sorry if this is TMI).
  • Training for a marathon did nothing to help me lose weight.  Actually, just the opposite.  I've been gaining weight as the weeks and mileage progress.  I really don't think I am eating more and any different types of foods, but for some reason my body is in starvation mode and doesn't want to let go of my excess fat.  And believe me, I have enough excess to come off and not be needed.
  • Running for hours on end in the months of July, August, and some of September really sucked.  That's all there is to it.  Me and heat still don't do well together.
  • Going through the training process became a much more enjoyable experience when you have a friend or two to commiserate with.  I can't imagine not comparing notes or venting or doing any of this without J.W.   When you know you aren't in this alone, it becomes more bearable.
I am at the point now where I want this marathon to be over.  I am ready to get my life back and not think about the running I HAVE TO do each week.  Running is no longer something I enjoy.  It has become a chore.  One more thing on a long list of items I HAVE TO DO.  

I admire all those who make a career out of running marathons.  Those who do this year after year and of course the crazies who do multiple ones through out the year.  I can't even imagine what that involves. I said this before at the beginning and feel it now more than ever -- I am only doing this once. 

Don't get me wrong, I am so happy I decided to go for it.  To prove to myself I can do this.  Come November 20th,  I am not going to be the fastest, in the top 50%, or possibly even in the top 75% of finishers, but I will go out there and enjoy it and give it everything I've got.   The t-shirt I will be wearing will say, "You don't have to go fast.  You just have to go."  

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The tv just got quirky.

We are living in the Twilight Zone.  Our tv in our master bedroom, which has been working perfectly for a  little more than 7 years, has recently started doing some freaky things that defy logic.  I turn the tv on and the picture comes on for a second, then goes blank.  The sound stays on.  We can change channels and the picture will come on for a second and then goes to a blank screen (not blue, but black).  We turn the tv off and on and the same exact thing happens.  The picture comes on for a second and then goes black. 

So in an effort to test other devices, we put on the DVD player that has always been attached to the tv and see if we can get a DVD to play.  The only one close by was Barney.  On it went.  Barney played with no problems and the picture never left the screen.  With the DVD still playing, we switched the input on the remote and clicked over to regular tv.  The picture stayed on!  We could change channels and everything.  Not a problem and it continued working like it always had.

Turned the DVD player off and the picture on the tv flashed for a second and went to a black screen.  Turned the tv off and then on again, the same exact thing.  Put the DVD player back on, the regular tv works again.

So incredibly bizarre.  I hope Barney enjoys spinning around and around.  Because he is never leaving our DVD player.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My new personal assistant

I feel we are now one step closer to living like The Jetson's with the new technology the iPhone 4s brings to our lives.  The cool new software, Siri, is simply amazing.

So I went and did it. I couldn't resist and took the plunge. I am now the proud owner of the iPhone 4s.  It's very different than the blackberry I've been using and very similar to the iTouches the kids have.  There are quite a few things I love about it, and likewise, a few things I am not so crazy about.  But so far, Siri is in bold, large-sized type face at the top of the PROS column casting a big shadow over anything in the CONS column. 

For those not familiar with what Siri is, it is best described to be like a personal assistant.  All you have to do is press a button on your phone and speak in a regular, conversational voice what it is you want.  Directions to a specific address?  Done.  What Japanese restaurants are nearby?  Done.  What will the weather be like today?  Done.  Text Jeff and tell him I am running late?  Done.  Find me the closest Old Navy?  Done.  Call mom at home?  Done.   Remind me to download a book?  Done. Yes, it can do all that and more. 

A few funny moments:

I pre-ordered the iPhone 4s and was eagerly anticipating its arrival.  The UPS guy got quite the welcoming committee when a friend who was over, Sam and me all ran outside to greet him when we saw the UPS truck go by.  I don't think he ever had anyone come meet him outside before.  Then a few minutes later, this same friend was back at her house and got the same exact UPS guy stopping by her house with her new phone. 

When I was trying it out and having fun with it, I hit the Siri button on my phone and said, "Please tell me what the weather is today."   Before Siri could answer, Sam got her mouth really close to the phone and said, "Wet.  It's going to be wet today."  It was super cute.

A few hours after I received the phone, Jeff was trying to call me.  5 frustrating calls from him later and I finally figured out why I couldn't hear him and he couldn't hear me.  I still had the plastic protector on the screen, blocking out the speaker.  hehehehehehehe.

My friend, who I will call "Mary" to protect the innocent, also got the iPhone 4s.  We were both playing around with it on Saturday morning.  I wasn't positive I was answering the phone correctly when it was in the locked position and Mary said she would call me.  She was super excited about using Siri to make the phone call and said, "watch this....  C A L L   R O B Y N  T O P P A L L  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  I couldn't stop laughing. Um, hello...Siri is not deaf, and she is not a foreigner; English is her first language.  It was hilarious and we both got a good laugh.  Then the call went through and I figured out how to answer my phone. 

Siri is my new fun friend.  I am going to keep her close by at all times.  Now I just need to ask her advice on how to raise a strong-willed, brilliantly smart three year old girl.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Heard and Observed XXX

Me:  Sam, Mom-mom's on the phone and would like to say hi.

Sam:  (While shaking her head no and putting her hands over each ear):  I have no ears!

Ian:  Sam, I don't like your sense of humor.


While in the car, on the way to school:

Sam:  I want to do my flash cards.  You can drive with one hand.


Sunday, October 16, 2011


I remember just a day after Ian was born, it was my mom and me in the hospital room hanging out.  We were in awe of this little life that had been created and couldn't stop looking at him.  We began dreaming out loud our plans for Ian.  We were determined that this child was not going to grow up to be a dork and in no way, was going to do anything that would get him made fun of by the other kids.  We quickly came up with a list of things that would guarantee him to be one of the 'cool' kids.

1. He's got a great name.  Ian.  It's not like we named him Stanley or Hubert.
2. Make sure he always has a stylish haircut.  No mullet or something that looks like I did it myself.
3. If Ian ever needs glasses, Ian's glasses would look good for his face, or get him contacts or lasik if he wanted.
4. His clothes would be current.  Not necessarily trendy, but his clothing would never be the cause of something that could get made fun of.

There might have been one or two more items for the list, but I can't think of them at the moment.  I do know that when I see a really cool shirt, I have to get it for him.  Convincing Ian to wear it is another matter all together.  It sometimes takes a little bribery until he wears it that first time to school and then everyone tells him how cool his shirt is.  After that, there is no convincing or bribes needed for Ian to wear the shirt again. 

Exhibit A.  How great is this shirt? 

There aren't that many great boys clothes out there.  When you see something this good, you've got to jump on it and get it.  I think this is my most favorite item of Ian's clothing.  Now I just need to tell him that it's not necessary to have the buttons all done up to the top.  Just because you now know how to button something, you don't have to do take it to the extreme. It's just not cool.  :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thank you.

My last post, "Getting help." created a flood of phone calls, texts, replies and emails.  I want to say thank you to each and everyone of you.  It made me feel so good to know how much you care. 

Your kind words and concern melted my heart.  One text came across my phone while I was at the post office.  I am sure people in line with me thought I was getting dumped via my cell phone because I instantly teared up reading this very sweet message.

My mom had the best suggestion ever and called to request I send Sam down to her for a few weeks and thus, give me a break.  While shipping her off isn't practical and not going to help me in the long term, I was incredibly touched and of course, burst into tears at the mere thought of it.  Yes, I am that emotional right now.

I am working on getting better and mentally stronger.  I've got a call into a therapist to schedule an appointment.  If we click, then I will hopefully be able to see her weekly. And if I need to find someone else, then I will do that too.  Also, if it turns out medication is recommended, I am open to that idea as well.  For the moment I am hoping that talking with a licensed professional is enough.  Lastly, I am going to plan a long weekend getaway and go back home for a bit of a break.  I think it will do me a world of good to see the family, completely relax and if I want to not talk to anyone for 72 hours, so be it.  Plus, some of my mom's cooking will be a nice touch.  Jeff recommended I go as soon as possible, but I think leaving town before the marathon (11/20) will be more stressful than helpful.  I am sure this marathon training is contributing to some of my worn-out, exhausted state, but I am determined to see this until the end.  I've made it priority #1 and I can't go away for a long weekend and mess with that.  So as of now, I'll go the first weekend in December.

Meanwhile, I am still working with Sam and getting her help too.  Together, we will come out of this healthier, stronger.  I do realize it is not all her fault and a large part, is me not dealing with it as well as I could have.  As my mom accurately pointed out, Sam senses that I am stressed and reacts to this too.

Thank you for making me realize I am not alone.  We all go through this at one time or another.  Parenting is hard.   For what its worth, Sam and I had a great day together yesterday.  Each day is a new day to get it right.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Getting help

I am having a hard time lately being happy.  Sam is continuing to be a handful and I am in the process on getting her help.  I've been working with an occupational therapist to determine if her need for control, her sensory issues or if her behavior is just typical 3 year old stuff or something more serious.  I know that if we don't do something now, it will only get worse as she gets older.

I am determined to get her help and along the way, have discovered I need help too.  It's hard for me to be around Sam.  It's certainly hard to be around her when she is having a temper tantrum or meltdown, but I am having a hard time being around her when she is in a good mood too.  I can't enjoy the moment for what it is and find myself being driven crazy.   I am constantly walking around on egg shells, hoping nothing sets her off and I think the stress of this is finally getting to me.  I am exhausted, stressed and close to tears at any point in the day, every day.  Overall, I just feel worn out.  I have fantasies of running away and figuring out where I could go that no one will find me. 

Additionally, I feel like the worse mother ever because I know I am failing Sam as a mom.  She is only 3 years old.  She deserves a mom with more patience and understanding.  She deserves someone who will take the time and really try to hold her, comfort her and soothe her when she is upset.  She does not deserve a mom who can't wait to escape to another room in the house or get her strapped in to her car seat to get beyond the situation.   The hard part is, I am so grateful that Sam is in my life.  That she is a healthy, active child.  I know so many other families that are dealing with some real major medical and behavioral problems.  The kind of stuff that they would only be too glad to take on what I am dealing with instead.  And of course, this makes me feel worse because I don't know how good I've got it.

And its not only Sam I am failing, but Ian too.  Who has the energy or attention to give to the good child when the troubled one is sucking all the life out of you?

Lately I've been thinking that staying at home with the kids was the worse decision I've ever made.  What if Sam would've been fine in daycare and not have all these issues?  Maybe being around someone else (not me) for 9 hours a day would have been the perfect solution for her and we wouldn't be in the situation we are in now.

So today I came to the conclusion; I need help.  Either therapy or medication or possibly, both.  But I am going to work on getting the help I need, so that I can be a better mom for Sam.  And for Ian.  And a happier me.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall Fun

We went to Cox Farms yesterday.  I have to believe that between the holiday weekend, the amazing weather and all the rain we've had recently that prevented other weekends from being available to go, that Cox Farms experienced an all-time high attendance.  Fortunately, the place is huge (over 90 acres their Website says) and even with the entire parking lot at capacity, the lines for each of the slides, rope swings, and other things moved pretty briskly.  We would never hesitate to go back on a holiday weekend or a day full sunshine in the future.

This was the first year that we didn't bring the stroller in with us.  How nice that Sam was able to walk and keep up with us without needing to be carried or become too cranky to want to keep going on her own two feet.  The other thing we did different than in previous years was bring our little portable potty. It folds nicely into a small, compact form and we were easily able to put it in our backpack we used.  Now that Sam is potty trained, I felt like she was too innocent yet to experience a port-a-potty.  There are many years ahead that I know we will have to tackle that.  But for now, this smelly, gross experience was going to have to wait a little longer.  When Sam said she had to go, we found a private area, away from the beaten path and set up the little potty.  Sam went pretty quickly and all was well.  No was traumatized and I loved that she was comfortable enough to go out in the open; usually our portable potty has only been used in the car.

There were two moments that stood out for me yesterday --

1. We waited 30 minutes on Braddock Road with just 1/4 mile to go to turn into the entrance; it was painful sitting in the car not going anywhere.  That intersection right before turning has a 4 way stop and it was taking forever waiting for each of the cars to take their turn going through the stop sign.  We timed our visit to arrive right when Cox Farms opened.  Now we were a good 30 minutes behind that schedule and another 15 minutes of standing in line to purchase tickets.  By the time we officially got inside, we were very ready to have some fun.  Here's the moment that I will remember fondly:  There was still a little bit of a chill in the air (obviously this is way before it hit the high of 80 degrees) and since the crowds were at an all-time high, we planned to go straight to the hay ride and do that first.  If anything was going to get backed-up with a long wait, it was going to be this.  The wait for the hay ride was minimal.  Everyone in my Toppall team was in a great mood, the temp was still on the cool side and we were excited about going on the hay ride.  There was a lightness about those first few minutes.  No stress, no walking on eggshells waiting for a meltdown, no whining by anyone, no complaints.  We were all on the same page.  Our visit at Cox Farms was off to a fantastic start. 

2. By the time we were ready to eat lunch, the temperature was hot.  Our Toppall team doesn't do well in the heat.  Plus, being that it is October already, I think we were all a little miffed that it was as hot as it was.  It just didn't seem right to be at a Fall Festival with 80 degree temps outside.  All the main picnic tables by the place that sells food is out in the full sunlight.  This wasn't going to work for our group and I knew the key to us staying beyond lunch would be to find shade to eat.  We bought food and made our way to the closest tables that offered shade.  There were 4 tables and all were of course, filled with others seeking shade too.  The last table in this group was being used by 2 families who came to Cox Farms together.  They saw us looking to see if there was any open spaces and instantly started scooting down to make room for us.  They had more people at their table than others had at the other tables, but this family went above and beyond being nice and made room for us.  We actually had a wonderful time eating our lunch.  These two families were super nice and brought us in to their inner circle.  They had packed their lunch and had quite the spread.  When they saw Sam had some fries, they quickly passed down their bottle of ketchup in case she needed it.  When they saw Sam had stuck her arm in the ketchup, wipes got passed down.  When they broke out their sweet item to eat after their meal, they sent down two packages of chocolate chip cookies for the kids to have.  Plus, we had a nice conversation with them.  When Ian was done eating he got up and started playing their 6 year old boy, named Mitchell.   It was time filled with unexpected kindness.  It made me feel good about the human population.  I loved how friendly everyone was.  I loved how "easy" it was...again, no stress, no anxiety, no meltdown/temper tantrums, whining or complaining.  It was cool in the shade. 

At the end of the day, when we were eating dinner and talking about our day, we decided to each say a favorite thing we liked at Cox Farms.  I went last and said my favorite thing was sitting next to these 2 families and having a great experience at lunch.  Instantly Jeff and Ian agreed and said it was their number two favorite thing.  Thus, we then went around our table again listing our 2nd favorite thing.  And then our 3rd favorite thing each.  Before dinner was over, we exhausted the list of our favorite things and Ian then said his least was the kiddie area.  I think the time has come that he has outgrown this area and is ready for more excitement.  But how can I resist getting this picture updated?  --

That was then (2009):

This is now (2011):

Wagon Ride then (2007):

Wagon Ride now (2011):

We spent about 4 hours at Cox Farms before deciding it was time to leave.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that a good number of cars we pulled in to the parking lot with had already left.  Us lasting longer than most is something new for this group. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Yes, this is what I am dealing with.

The kids and I met up with some friends for a bowling playdate.  Both Ian and Sam love to bowl and it is a fun way to spend the afternoon when I get to catch up with one of my favorite mommy friends.  I knew in advance that Sam was probably not going to want to wear the bowling shoes.  I was mentally prepared for this and waited for her to request the shoes after seeing her brother and friends put theirs on.  I got Sam the correct size and put them on her feet.  Sam was in some kind of mood and nothing was making her happy.  After taking her turn bowling, she flung herself on the floor and picked-up her temper tantrum from where she left off before her turn.  She took off her bowling shoes and  as threw them, she yelled, "I can't wear these.  They are too comfortable." 

Really?  What in the world do I do with that information?  Yes, folks, this is what I am dealing with.  G-d help us all.


I picked Sam up from school one day and she was wearing different bottoms than what I dropped her off in that morning.  Sam saw me at the doorway and ran, yelling in excitement, "I pooped, Mommy!  I pooped!"  As the teacher explained, she didn't make it quite in time to the bathroom and they had to put her back-up pants on her. 

Before I could say, "Yay" to Sam for pooping, Sam burst into a hysterical cry and I picked her up to console her.  I asked her why she was crying and once she caught her breath, Sam said, "My pants don't match my shirt."

Oh my.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My shining star

The first Friday I went to volunteer in the library at Ian's school, I got a bird's eye view of what my child is like during the school hours.  I was able to be in the shadows helping shelve books when Ian's class came in.  The first part of their library time is spent getting a book read to the kids and then the students can find a book to check out and take home. 

The librarian was reading a book to them having to do about opera.  She asked the children if they knew what an opera was.  One little girl said something to the effect of "a lady dressed as a viking who sings really badly".  I had to chuckle to myself when I heard this answer. 

Then I saw Ian's hand go up and get called on for his answer.  "An opera is a play that they sing."  The librarian said (in a very even-keel voice):  "Yes, something like that." 

How awesome was Ian's answer?!?!?!  Where was the cheering and clapping and jumping up & down for the most amazing answer ever!?!?!?!  I so badly wanted to jump out of the book shelves I was hiding behind and give Ian the biggest hug for the most awesome answer ever.  I was so proud of him and had no idea he even knew what an opera was. 

I wanted immediately to call everyone I know to let them know how brilliant my son was.  Fortunately I held it together and didn't reveal myself until it was time to check out the kids' books.  I did tell Ian how great I thought his answer was when I picked him up from school later that day.  Don't you worry, I more than made up for the librarian's lack of enthusiasm.

I guess its a good thing I am only volunteering at the school once a week.  :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Heard and Observed XXIX

Ian participated in a fundraiser for his school. All the kids had to run laps. Parents were encouraged to come and cheer for their child.  It was perfect timing for me to go cheer for Ian because Sam was conveniently in preschool at the time. 

At the end of the day, Ian looked at his little sister and said, "Sam, you would've been so proud of me if you saw me run today."

Awww, how sweet.  :)


Driving home from school one day and Sam spots a convertible with their top down.

Sam:  Look, that car has no lid.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Sam has a reputation.  She is not even old enough to go to elementary school and most everyone is fully aware of who she is and what she is capable of. 

At back-to-school night at Ian's school, I was looking forward to signing up to volunteer. I picked working in the library on Friday mornings, during the time when Ian's class would be there.  This falls perfectly when Sam has preschool and I would be able to go solo. 

However, there are a few Fridays coming up that Sam's school is closed due to the various Jewish holidays found in the months of September and October.  I emailed the volunteer coordinator and told her that on these specific dates, I couldn't come in.  She tried to tell me it was okay to bring Sam with me and she might even enjoy being around the big kids.  I guess this woman was nowhere near the school during the open house incident.

A few days later I ran into another mom who I got to know from us both having kids in the same kindergarten class last year.  Her daughter is in the same 1st grade class as Ian this year and we compared notes on what we are volunteering for.  When I told her I was doing library but wouldn't be able to make it every week because of Sam's school schedule, she looked at me and nodded her head in complete understanding.  She said, "Because, after all, it is the library." 

I have this fear that Sam's picture is hanging up in the school's front office with a big "BEWARE" printed on it.  I envision teachers everywhere are planning for their retirement in the next 2 years. Can you get kicked out before you even begin?  How bad is it that my daughter already has a reputation and isn't even a student there yet?