Saturday, December 31, 2011

End of the year wrap-up - 2011 Edition

I am truly surprised that we are at the end of another year.  As the kids get older, the time seems to go by faster and faster. Each month comes and goes with a blink of an eye and before you know it, we are ready to ring in 2012.


Hershey, PA (with mom, sister and both kids) - February

Great Wolf Lodge (with Jeff and kids) - March

Las Vegas (with Jeff) - June

Orlando  (with kids) - July

Philadelphia  (with Jeff) - November

Orlando (on my own) - December

Philadelphia (with Jeff and kids) - December

So one of my resolutions during 2011, was to travel more with the kids as a family. I had wanted to do at least 3 trips with them. That didn't go as planned. But we really had a great time at Great Wolf Lodge and I am super glad we did that trip. I could see us going back there in a few years.  We also just came back from Philadelphia as a family and overall, was a great experience and lots of fun.

This year was a challenge for me.  I came to the realization that I can't have all these balls in the air and juggle everything.  Taking on training for a marathon was the thing that did me in.  It ended up consuming me, day and night.  While I only had to do 3 training runs each week, it was all I could think of and I became too consumed by it.  I don't have any regrets deciding to do it, but I realize now that it was a huge undertaking.  Running the marathon was everything I wanted the experience to be and I am very happy, content and fulfilled that I can check this off the list. 

Ian has continued to amaze me in school this year.  We are spending loads of time working on his reading and I think (hope) it is paying off.   We may have found the perfect activity for Ian; gymnastics.  It's great for his upper-body strength, building confidence and letting him progress at his own pace.  We may finally be saying good-bye to soccer.  We'll know for sure in the Spring when I ask him if he wants to continue.  Ian has shown amazing restraint and patience for his little sister.  He loves her greatly, despite how much she can annoy him. 

Sam is a force to be reckon with.  All I can say is, we try do as little as possible to piss her off.  Her vocabulary is crazy-impressive, as is her memory.  We've been impressed with Ian's intelligence for a long time, but Sam is showing signs of being even smarter at a younger age.  Jeff and I shudder to think, what if she turns out to be the smart one?   One of Sam's favorite activities is to get under Ian's skin and do whatever she can to illicit a reaction from him.  I found the key to dealing with all of Sam's excess energy is lots of structured activities.  She is currently enrolled in gymnastics, dance, and music classes throughout the week.  Throw in our new, indoor trampoline and we seem to be doing better than we were at the start of the year.  Sam absolutely loves her dance class and I could see her continuing this activity for many years to come.  She twirls around and around practicing her moves all week long.

Jeff is still enjoying his job and we are very happy he continues to be employed with a great company that values their employees.  The gag order on talking/writing about him is still in effect, so that is all I have to say about that or him.  The good news is that I still love him more than I thought ever possible to love someone you didn't give birth to.  No matter how much he drives me crazy, I am still coming back for more.


I hope to obtain better balance and not let the small, stupid things become more important than it should.  I'd like to set up a good schedule for working out and if I don't make it to the gym one day, know that it isn't the end of the world. 

When it comes to my weight, I really need to get refocused and start making healthy choices.  It's always going to be an uphill battle and I need to get serious about doing a better job.

Also, I am making a commitment to the kids to step away from the computer more (email, FB, blog) and spend more time with them - reading, playing games, and having fun.

I want to take each of the kids on their own to Orlando during the 2012-2013 school year, when they have 2 days off and we can make it a 4 day trip.  I think it would be very special and a nice opportunity for the Florida crew to have some one-on-one time with their grandkids. 

Also, Jeff's 40th is coming up in November.  I hope we can do something fun to celebrate.  I had a great time in Vegas, and it would be awesome to go some place he hasn't been and would like to go.

To all those reading, I hope you have a wonderful New Year and a 2012 filled with so many good times and laughter that your sides hurt from giggling so hard.  It's been a fantastic journey for this mom from the suburbs raising 2 kids with her partner-in-crime.  I eagerly await the adventures that are in store for us in 2012.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The making of a real estate tycoon

Here was the scene at our house on Thursday evening:

Ian and I are playing monopoly.  Ian has a big assortment of properties he has bought.  Me, not so much.  I have a bunch of railroads though, 3 to be exact.  I also have 2 of the purple properties and need Virginia Ave. to make a monopoly.  All my other turns were spent getting sent to jail (a freaky amount of times) or landing on the Chance spots (again, a freaky amount of times).  Meanwhile, Ian is cleaning up buying everything left and right.

Ian lands on one of my railroads.  He owes me $100.  He only has $26 in cash.

Me:  Ian, what are you going to do?  You need to come up with another $74 to pay me rent.  Do you want to mortgage some stuff to get more cash?

Ian:  No.  I'm not mortgaging anything.

Me:  Ok, I'll make you a deal.  How about I forgo the $100 you owe me, and give you an additional $200 in cash.  All I want in return is Virginia Ave. 

Ian:  I want $500 in cash.

Me:  Ha!  You are certainly not in a position to negotiate.  Virgina Ave. only cost you $160 to begin with.  This is a great deal.

Ian:  Ok, fine.  I'll take it.

As I am handing Ian the $200 in cash, he says, "Come to Papa." with a big smile on his face.

Before you know it, Ian has built HOTELS on every property possible on two entire sides of the monopoly board.  It is impossible to not land on something he owns.  He is giddy with joy every time you have to pay him $600 or more in rent.  It doesn't take long before you go bankrupt and Ian has won the game.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Festival of Lights

"Put on your yalmulka, here comes hanukkah
Its so much fun-akkah to celebrate hanukkah, "

-Adam Sandler, Hanukkah song. 

We are in the middle of Hanukkah!  What a magical time to be a kid.  Jeff and I decided to do something a little different and instead of getting the kids a present for each of the 8 nights, we chose to make a big part of their Hanukkah present from us a trip we will take.  Believe me, between gifts being given from 3 sets of grandparents, aunts/uncles, and cousins, Ian and Sam do not lack presents to open at Hanukkah.  

We would rather our money go for an experience than another toy the kids will stop playing with shortly after the month of December is over.  From Tuesday to Thursday, we will be hitting the road and visiting the Crayola Factory (Easton, PA), Please Touch Museum, Adventure Aquarium, and Franklin Institute, plus I want to squeeze in a trip to the Liberty Bell and Betsy Ross' house for Ian. (all in Philadelphia, PA). 

Jeff and I still did get the kids a gift for each of them to open the first 4 nights.  The night before Hanukkah started, I wrapped all the gifts and made a small pile for Sam and Ian.  On Tuesday morning, the kids were super excited to see their gifts and were already trying to figure out what each one was.  I told them they could pick whichever one they wanted to open each night.  Ian looked at the stack of varying sized packages and turned around to ask me, "Which one do YOU think I would like the most?"  Wow!  How totally brilliant of Ian to get my insight on which one to go for.  Sam quickly jumped on that train and asked me the same thing.

I told Ian which one I knew without a doubt he would be the most pleased with.  He has been wanting the entire Star Wars movie collection on DVD.  They just came out with it in September and I quickly grabbed the boxed set at Costco.  I've been hiding it in my closet ever since.  After lighting the menorah, Ian opened the gift and was jumping up and down when he saw what it was.  Instantly the sealed plastic wrapping came off and one of the movies went into our DVD player to be played.  Only it wouldn't play.  I made a major mistake of gigantic proportions.  I bought the blu-ray boxed set.  Oh my.  I felt horrible.  I quickly got in my car and drove to Costco to try to make it right.  They were great about giving me a store credit and trying to find the DVD set.  They don't have it and after doing a thorough Internet search (Amazon, google, everything!), it doesn't exist.  This boxed set only was offered on blu-ray.  If I were to purchase the 2 DVD boxed sets that each offered 3 of the movies, the cost would be over $300.  So not worth it.  Yes, it would've been cheaper to get a blu-ray player, but we don't have plans to do that anytime soon.

I have to say Ian handled the disappointment well and of course, we let him open another gift.  The next night Ian opened Monopoly.  The age recommendation is 8+, but Ian is able to play this game like he is channeling his inner Donald Trump.  It is most impressive to see him in action.  I love that he independently can handle all his own money transactions and subtracts/adds and builds houses/hotels like he has been doing this his whole life.  You soon forget you are playing with a child who is only 6.  I used to love playing Monopoly when I was little and I am enjoying it all over again getting to play with my son.  Watch-out if you play with him, he is a shark when it comes to making deals.

Sam wakes up each day and the first thing she asks is, "Is it still Hanukkah today?"  It is too cute.  Then she'll ask when it is time for Christmas.  I keep telling her we don't celebrate Christmas and she keeps saying, "Oh, I forgot".  She is very much enjoying the gifts Jeff and I got her for the first 4 nights, but I can't wait to see the look on her face when she realizes what Grandma and Grandpa Toppall got her.  An aquarium for a fish.  We are getting her something she can take care of, keep in her room and have all to herself.  Stay tuned for what name she picks out for the fish.

Tomorrow is the Toppall family Hanukkah party.  Bring on the latkes!  Bring on the dreidal playing!  Bring on the extended family!  Bring on the gifts!  Each year my kids get older, they have more fun playing and interacting with their cousins.  It is wonderful.  Just like this holiday.  One of the best our religion has to offer.  3 cheers for Hanukkah!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Can you watch me now?!?!?

TUESDAY (late afternoon):

We all notice quite quickly that none of the 3 tvs currently on and each tuned to a different channel are no longer working.  We are getting a "Channel Unavailable" message on the screen and clearly, the FiOS signal is not coming through to the house.

TUESDAY (late afternoon, 2 minutes later):

Call Verizon and schedule a service call for 8:00pm the next night. 

8:00pm?  Really?  Really.  Hard to believe, but after questioning the service rep on the phone 3 times, she keeps confirming that yes, they do have an 8:00pm service time.  Since I will be out of the house the majority of the day running around like a chicken with her head cut-off, this was the first available time Jeff or I would be home.  It was perfect that they had this time available.

WEDNESDAY (morning at 8:30am):

Phone rings.  It is H. Greg, letting me know he will be coming to the house between 1:00pm-5:00pm to fix the FiOS. 

Me:  "1:00pm-5:00pm?!?!  What?  No, we have a service call scheduled for 8:00pm."

H.Greg:  "Sorry, we don't have service calls that late.  It's either 8:00-12:00pm, or 1:00-5:00pm".

Me: "OMG! I am not going to be home today.  That is why I needed an evening time."

H. Craig:  "Ok, I will see what I can do."

WEDNESDAY (morning at 9:00am - after being on hold for 30 minutes waiting for a live person):

I call Verizon to ask them what is going on. 

Them:  "Sorry, we don't do service calls in the evening."

Me:  "Yes, that is apparently what I just found out.  I am not going to be home from 1:00pm to 5:00pm today.  What is the latest time you can send someone to my house tonight?"

Them:  "We have an all-day appointment available - anytime between 8:00am to 5:00pm"


Them:  "You don't need to yell.

Me:  "Yes, I do.  I asked you what the latest time is you can send someone and you said, all day.  So obviously you didn't hear me when I told you the first time I wasn't going to be home during the day."

Them:  "We can send someone on Saturday or Sunday -- all day."

Me:  "Christmas is Sunday.  Really?  On Christmas you can send someone?  I don't believe you."

Them:  "My computer is allowing me to make that appointment."

Me:  "I still don't believe you.  I'll take a Saturday appointment."

Them:  "Ok, between 8:00am to 5:00pm."

Me:  "O.M.G.  Bye."

WEDNESDAY (2 hours later):

I called Verizon again.  I am very frustrated that we will be without television until Saturday and want to see if I can get someone to the house earlier.

Me:  "I need my FiOS working much sooner than Saturday.  Is there anyway to get someone to come over in the evening today?"

Them:  "Please hold and I'll see what I can do."

10 minutes later --

Them:  "Yes, I've been assured that someone can be at your house for the very last appointment of the day on Saturday."

Me:  "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.  I want someone to the house today!  I don't want to wait until Saturday for my television to be fixed."

Them:  "M'am, there is a lot going on with the Eastern Seaboard.  There are many problems all over Virginia.  We don't have any appointments available now until Sunday.  Do you want to keep your Saturday appointment?"

Me:  "Yes, I'll keep it.  But I want the FIRST appointment in the morning.  The VERY FIRST APPOINTMENT"

Them:  "Ok."

Me:  "No, put me back on hold and tell them that I want the first appointment."

After 2 minutes on hold:

Them:  "Ok, I've been assured they will get to you as early as possible."

Me:  "Great.  Bye."

AND HERE'S THE REST OF THE STORY (with a tip of the hat to Paul Harvey):

Around 1:00pm, I received a call on my cell phone from H. Greg.  He apologized it took him a while to get back to me and that he was still trying to find someone to come to my house in the evening.  I was pleasantly surprised and delighted that Mr. Greg was still working on my behalf to have my FiOS looked at.  I couldn't believe he was still trying to help me.  He asked me to explain what the problem was with my tv.  Mr. Greg thought it was probably an outside thing.  He said he had a little bit of downtime in between jobs and would come to my house and see if he could fix it without me being home.  He then told me he would leave his card and if he hadn't fixed the problem, then I could call him to come back later in the day to access the inside of the house.

Within the next hour, Mr. Greg called back my cell phone and left a message letting me know he thought he found the problem and was able to fix it.  When I made it back home, I was jumping up and down with joy that the FiOS had been fixed and all our channels were working properly.  And I was ecstatic for not having to wait until Saturday to get my television back to working order.

It's a pretty wonderful thing how one person can totally change your opinion about a company.

Major kudos to Mr. Greg for providing amazing customer service and helping this tv-obsessed family in Burke get back to watching their favorite shows.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Moving on up!

Sam and I came home from preschool one afternoon and noticed something pretty fascinating as we were getting out of the car.  Samantha was the first one to see it and pointed way up high in the tree tops and told me to look up...way up. All the way at the top was a HUGE nest.  As we were both checking it out, it was then that I noticed the next part.  A squirrel was making its way up to the nest.  He had a big pile of leaves in his mouth and he was going to add to the nest.  We stood and watched the nest building for a good 15 to 20 minutes.  The squirrel would come back down the tree, go to the ground, use his paws to pick up the leaves and store them in his mouth.  When he couldn't hold any more leaves in his mouth, he would then begin his climb back up to the top of the tree.  We must've watched this squirrel go up and down about 15 times.  It was very impressive.  And, very fascinating.

This is the size tree I am talking about!
Look how high up the nest is. Wowee!

I pointed out this activity to our neighbor who was doing some work on another neighbor's house and was outside in their driveway.  He was just as fascinated as we were and soon, all 3 of us were watching this squirrel go up and down the tree, making many trips to expand the size of his nest.

Here's a close-up shot of the nest.

A couple days later, we walked outside to go to the car, and my neighbor was back outside doing more work.  He told me that the squirrel was still very busy making trips with leaves in his mouth. He said there is a family of about 4 baby squirrels living in the nest.

Every time Sam and I go outside now, the first thing we do is look up and see what is going on.  I wish there was some way we could get a 'bird's eye view' and check it out from a different angle.  Kudos to Sam for noticing this nest and pointing it out.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Never to be seen again!

Jeff recently pointed out something very cool to me regarding the kids.  This is the only time in their whole lives that Ian will ever be twice Sam's age.  Never again will he be exactly twice as old as Sam.  For the 358 days this year that Samantha turned 3 and just 7 days later, Ian turned 6, he became double her age.  How cool is that?

I think back to when Ian was Sam's age now.  At 3 years old, Ian seemed so much younger.  If I remember correctly, we were still trying to teach him to do so much.  Sam mastered getting dressed, learned how to button, drink from a cup, use big girl utensils so much earlier than Ian.  Her vocabulary seems more advanced and her ability to work electronics (mainly any kind of Apple product) is also happening at a much earlier age.  Sam is a much more adventurous eater and will try almost everything.  Back then, Ian pretty much subsided only on chicken nuggets, noodles, and bananas.

However, the one area Ian excelled in that could run circles around Sam is in potty training.  Ian got it in 6 days flat.  Sam is still trying to figure out the pooping, that is when she decides to go every once in a blue moon.

Sam, at age 3.
 At the very core, we have two very different kids. 

At age 3, Sam couldn't be more girly than if a real live princess lived with us and gave her lessons.  She is all about wearing skirts and dresses each day, getting her nails done (toes and fingers!) and designing different hair do's for me to do in her head.  She loves accessorizing each outfit with beads, bracelets, rings and dress-up heels. She loves to twirl around and practice her dance moves.  All of this came very natural to Sam as there is no role model she is trying to copy.  I am not a girly-girl and can't remember the last time I wore a skirt, dress or heels.  It is definitely her own doing!  Now that she has a set of lip glosses, she won't leave the house without putting on her "lipstick".

Ian, at age 3.
Ian, at age 3, was all about Thomas the Train and all Thomas' friends. Ian ate, slept and breathed his train table.  Jeff would design new tracks each night after Ian went to sleep and surprise him in the morning with a new, cool, design.  The Thomas DVDs, television show, Thomas flashlight, Thomas coloring books, and Thomas books all dominated our play area.  If it had something to do with Thomas, you can bet we had it.  Ian soon got into Monster trucks and could name all the championship trucks and who's who.  It was quite impressive that as soon as Ian learned to talk, his main source of conversation was who was riding which monster truck and what tricks they could do.  Ian was a hellion on his tricycle and made those plastic wheels turn so fast you'd think his legs were battery powered. 

Ian never cared about what he wore and was okay with me picking out his clothes each day.  Sam, however, if she hasn't actively voiced loudly what she is going to wear, then you might want to take her temperature, because she is not feeling well.

It's fascinating to see the big kids these little people are becoming.  I love watching their interests wane, slowly disappear and a new one come to light.  At age 3, they most definitely have their own personalities well-formed and know what they like and what they don't.

We are halfway through this uncommon year when Ian is double Sam's age.  The kids have already started counting down until their next birthday, which is at the end of May.  This is a trait they both have and planning far into the future must be genetic as it runs in the family.  Ian wants to do laser tag (but we think he is still too young for this) and may opt for rock climbing instead.  Sam has requested a princess cake, hello kitty cake, and a barbie cake.  She hasn't gotten specific about what kind of party she would like, just as long as 3 birthday cakes are represented. 

And before we know it, the magic with their ages this year will be over. :)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Yes, there is an app for that.

So I am very much enjoying the iphone 4s. I did something very cool with it in the car the other day and love, love, love all the technology.

During the month of December, you can pretty much guarantee I will have the radio on to 97.1 listening to the holiday music.  How can you not instantly be put in a good mood driving around listening to Christmas carols?  It's such a festive time of the year.  The only thing that would make it better is if there was a fresh layer of snow on the ground.

One of my most favorite Christmas songs is, "All I want for Christmas is you."  Ever since the movie, "Love Actually" came out in 2003, when I hear that song, I am transported back to the scene at the end of the movie when  Joanna sings the song and looks directly at the little boy playing the drums and makes his day.  One of my most favorite movies.

The kids and I were driving in the car and this song comes on the radio.  Only, it wasn't being sung by Maria Carey.  It was being done by a guy with a very sexy voice.  Who was that!?!?  Harry Connick, Jr?  Could be.  hmmmm.  So, I start the app, "SoundHound" and within 4 seconds, I have my answer.  It is Michael Buble.  Wow!  What a great remake.  Right below my answer on the phone's screen is a button to tap if I want to download it from iTunes.  Do I ever!   Within 1 minute, I have the entire song downloaded and the kids and I are already listening to it again in the car.  So incredibly cool that I was able to do that.

Now I wish there was an app for getting me to stop listening to it.  I can't seem to turn it off.  :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chicken Soup for the Soul

After my big breakdown about 2 month ago, my mom and Jeff each came up with the idea that I needed a break.  To get away without the kids and have some time to breathe, sleep, rest and not worry about the pooping, sleeping issues, temper-tantrums, and meltdowns of those around me.  Well you don't have to hit me on the head with anything heavier than a feather for me to jump on board and know this was a good idea and much needed at that.

I decided to book a long weekend in Orlando as soon as the marathon was over.  I figured if I went before, I'd still be stressed/anxious about the upcoming race and would be trying to fit in training runs while on vacation than taking the time to relax.  I left on Thursday night and came back early evening on Monday.  Those 4 days was perfect.  My sister (also known as my hero) booked us a 2 bedroom suite on the beach for the weekend.  I got to have lunch and spend time with my dad, stepmother, sister Meghan, and brother-in-law on Friday.  Come Friday night, my mom, sister Lori and I checked in for the next 48 hours at St. Petersburg and enjoyed 80 degree sunny weather, sitting in cabana on the beach, lounging, doing nothing.  It was wonderful.

Sunday night I had dinner with my best friend, Amanda and her family.  Amanda's 2nd child was born since I had been in town last and I finally got to meet the now 3.5 month old, Olivia.  What a cutie. 

On Monday, my mom decided to come back to NoVa area with me and surprise the kids with a visit.  It was awesome.  The look on Ian's face was priceless and the last thing he was expecting when coming to get me at the airport.  My mom was able to stay until Thursday afternoon.  I loved having my mom around.  I can't explain the relationship we have, but it goes beyond mother/daughter.  We are truly friends and there is no one I'd rather go shopping with, out to lunch with, run errands with or pal around with.

I feel rejuvenated and ready to tackle motherhood again.  I miss my family and its hard to have them live so far away.  But I have to say, it was a great destination and nice place to have to go.  Other than the cost of a plane ticket, it doesn't cost anything and the benefits of going are priceless.

I came up with an idea that I am hoping to implement next year. Other than our usual trips to Orlando as a family during the year, I would love to go 3 additional times.  Once by myself, once with just Ian, and again with just Sam.  Ian has a 2 day school holiday each quarter for teacher work days and we could easily make a 4 day excursion to Orlando.  And Sam's school is always closing for one Jewish holiday or another and could easily string 4 days together for that.  I think it would be pretty cool to visit the family separately with each child and do specific activities they would like.  Princesses, tea parties and shopping with Sam.  And for Ian, Legoland, Star Wars at Hollywood Studios, and Wii playing with his cool Uncle Ben (who by the way, designs video games for a living).  We could space these trips throughout the year and really have some special one-on-one time with each kid.   And if planned correctly, the other kid back at home would still have school and Jeff wouldn't have to miss that much work.  A win-win-win situation.  4 days was perfectly long enough to feel like you really got a break and do everything you want.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Getting my groove back

Lately I've just not been feeling liking writing.  I love updating the blog and keeping an online diary of what life is like at the Toppall house, but for some reason I am just not feeling inspired.  Usually I don't lack material.  But every idea or topic I come up with is feeling more like work on getting my thoughts written, rather than the usual flows-quicker-than-a-3-year-old-playing-with-water-in-the-sink momentum I typically get. 

Jeff noticed that my blog hadn't been updated lately and asked what gives.  I told him I just wasn't feeling it and he promptly sent me an email with some ideas on what to write about.  While this particular blog wasn't on his list, I felt it necessary to explain the lack of presence in the recent week and to let you know I am back.

For what its worth, I've been in a bit of funk lately.  There is some high school-type drama bullshit going on around me that is utterly ridiculous.  People need to grow up and act their age.  There is a community that I love being a part of that is starting to go quite sour.  For the record, I would like to say I am a straight shooter. If I like you, you'll know it.  If I don't like you, I'm not going to bother with you.  Ever.  I am so torn between standing up for a cause (which can be done in varying levels from having an all-out verbal war, to leaving the community on principal and starting over somewhere else) to keeping my mouth shut, my opinions to myself (something new for me!) and letting all this blow over.  Either way, it has become a train wreck to watch and I am all too caught up in seeing what will happen next.  Oy!  I try to take the high road, but its hard. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

For the love of reading

Both Jeff and I love to read.  Very different books; him anything non-fiction, the bigger and more having to do with someone's life or a piece of history, the better.  And me, anything but non-fiction.  Generally I enjoy something a level or two above Danielle Steel, more along the lines of Jodi Picoult, Wally Lamb or Chris Bohjalian.  You probably can't get more different in book tastes than Jeff and I, but the foundation remains the same.  We love to read.  Always have, always will.

It would be fantastic if the kids loved to read too.  But that is something you can't force. It has to come from within.  The kids have tons of books and each night, we make it a point to read a book or two before bed to the kids.  Ian is slowly learning how to read by himself.  It hasn't come naturally, and I've personally logged many, many hours working with him on sounding out words and trying to get the hang of it.  I didn't realize how hard it is to teach someone something that comes so easy for you to do yourself to another person.  But, wow, the English language is tough!

I have a fellow mommy friend who has twin 1st graders.  She had recently put on her FB status something to the effect of the following:  "Highly recommend the book, 'The Strange Case of Origami Yoda' to all your kids who are Star Wars fans.  I've been reading it to the kids each night and we are enjoying it. Beware, there is is some questionable language (crap, idiot), but I just change those words when we get to them."

The next day I was volunteering at Ian's school. It happened to be during the book fair and I asked the librarian if they had this book. She said it had sold out and she could order it, but they did have the sequel to it, "Darth Paper Strikes Back".   The librarian did caution me that this book was a little above Ian's level and that maybe I should hold off on getting it.  Then she reconsidered and said that Ian was mature for his age and could handle it.  I ordered the one that was sold out and got the sequel.  I was very excited and couldn't wait for the book to come in.

The book finally arrived!  Ian and I had a plan to read a chapter or two each night after dinner.  Between the reading he HAD to do for school each week and the reading of the books Jeff does with him before bed each night, Ian and I managed to find a few minutes to spend reading another kind of book.  This was a big, meaty book!  We're talking a 160 pages!   This was brand new territory for Ian.  He hadn't yet experienced a book that couldn't be finished in one sitting or two. 

We kept to plan for the first week or so and managed to walk away from the book after our 15 or 20 minutes of reading.  Then something very familiar happened.  Ian and I really got into the book.  It was getting great and we couldn't put it down.  Before you knew it, Ian was requesting we read the book before the table got cleared and dishes were put in the dishwasher.  The last 50 pages were read all in one sitting.  Neither Ian or I could put the book down.  His enthusiasm on seeing how the story was going to end reminded me of how I am with a really good book.  I was just as into the book as he was and was tickled pink that we found this reading happiness together.  Yes, that's my boy!

I have to say this author, Tom Angleberger, rocks!  He managed to do something that I thought would've been near impossible.  He wrote a book that not only spoke to the 6 1/2 year old Stars Wars-obsessed boy I have given birth to, but also wrote a book that speaks to the chick flick reader in me. And I don't even care for Star Wars!  The ending was so good and made me fall in love with reading all over again.

Ian and I were very excited to start reading the follow-up book.  Score one for mommy on thinking ahead and getting this book already purchased. 

It appears that Ian's love for reading has started to see the light.  May have to get him a good bedside light for him to continue reading through night.  Just like I did when I was a little girl.  Because some times finishing a good book is much more important than sleep.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Heard and Observed XXXI

Sam:  Mommy, my drink spilled all over the couch
Me:  No problem Sam, I'll clean it up.
Sam:  I didn't do it.  My drink did it.


Riding in the car on the way back from school:

Sam:  When is Christmas?
Me:   It is at the end of December.
Sam:  Oh, I forgot.
Me:  But Sam, you know we don't celebrate Christmas.  We are Jewish. We celebrate Hanukkah.
Sam:  When is Hanukkah?
Me:  This year, it is around the same time as Christmas.
Sam:  Oh, I forgot.


Ian is telling me all about the kids in his class who are boyfriend and girlfriend.  I asked him, "Ian, what does it mean to be boyfriend/girlfriend?

Ian:  Well, you know, you annoy the person so much that the other person starts to annoy you back.

hahahahahaa.  Funny at how age 6, Ian totally gets it.


Sam sees my headband on the bed and says,

"Mommy, I am going to put on your headband."
Me: Ok, you can put it on.
Sam: Look, I am a running Mommy now.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Run, Robyn, Run! (Part 6)

As I am nearing the finish, I put it into top speed and gave it all I got it.  Darn it, I was going to run across that finish line!  I even managed to pass a woman as I got closer.  Take that, speed walker!

Just after crossing the finish line.  I call this my "Tiger Woods" pose.

I did it in 6 hrs, 17 minutes, 10 seconds.  I was #10,128 out of 10,270 runners who finished the full marathon.  I am sure I could've done it faster.  But I am proud of what I did and I am super happy that I met my two original goals -- not to be last and not to be swept.  No, I wasn't last!   There were 142 people behind me.  :) 

During this marathon, 2 people died and 10 others were taken to the hospital. So I am very pleased that I was able to finish.  And I managed to complete another goal I had.  If there was anything left in me, I was going to run up the Art Museum steps a la Rocky.  And by G-d, I did just that!

This weekend was everything I wanted the experience to be.  It was challenging, exhausting, exciting and rewarding.  I loved it all!  I have no desire to do another marathon, but its funny that I've already got a list in my head on everything I would differently. They say you run your first one to finish, and the next one for time.  I am only doing this once.  But I have to think that there are plenty of areas that I could easily improve on and make that finishing time so much better. 

Major kudos to my husband for sticking by me through the last 7 months, encouraging me along the way, and letting me have an entire weekend be all about me....other than when he had to stop and get a cheese steak.  :)