Saturday, March 31, 2012

Riding around in the car

Sam and I were driving in the car.  The following conversation took place as we were approaching an intersection.

Sam:  Mommy, are you going to go right or left here?

Me:  I am making a right.

Sam: I thought so.

Me:  Huh?  You know your right from your left?!!?!?!

Sam:  Yes!

Me:  Ok, Sam, hold up your left hand.  (and she did it correctly).  Sam, hold up your right hand. (and she did that correctly).  WOW!!  That's great Sam.  Who taught you how to do that?

Sam:  Daddy.

Simply awesome.  :)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The magic of peanut butter

We pull up to the same traffic light every single morning, patiently waiting for it to turn green and get Ian to school.  This is the ONLY traffic light we encounter on our journey to his school.  Sometimes we see the light is already green from quite a distance away, and I've been known to 'gun it' trying to make the light.  When we do get there in time and can keep going through the intersection, there are cheers all around from me and the kids. 

Other times, we sit and sit (having just missed the light) and wait for what seems like forever, for all the sides to get their chance to go before we get a crack at it again. 

One day last week, we are sitting at the light and Sam says, "Ian, say peanut butter." 

Ian and me, in unison:  "What?"

Sam:  "Say peanut butter and the light will change!"

Ian and me, again in unison:  "WHAT!?!?"

Sam:  "Just say peanut butter!"

Ian:  "Ok, peanut butter"

And lo and behold, the light turned green at that exact moment.

Three days later, Ian and I are in the car, once again sitting at a light.  I guess Ian was getting a little antsy waiting for it to turn green.  And, without any fanfare or with Sam prompting him to say it, Ian says, "Peanut Butter."

Guess what?  The light turned green that very instant.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A birthday treat for 7

The weekend before last, my co-conspirator (Kelly) and I planned a girl's weekend to celebrate Jen's birthday.  It was a big one and we wanted to do something memorable to ring in this new decade. 

For several months Kelly and I have been meeting, unbeknownst to Jen, and planning this surprise getaway for her.  Oh what fun we've had coming up with the plans over lunch and/or ice cream (depending if Sam was in on the meeting too).  We wanted a weekend that would be relaxing, laid-back, not too expensive, and easy to get to.  I thought of my friend Ivy's parent's place at Chesapeake Beach and knew it would be perfect.  It's only an hour's drive to get to, but yet, you feel like you are a hundred miles away.  The views of the water from her parent's place is breathtaking and the place is spacious enough to accommodate a small crowd. 

From Friday night to Sunday late morning, we had 6 of Jen's close friends, plus Ivy, join us for 36+ hours of a kid-free, movie-watching, game-playing, pedicure-getting, good time.  Not only was this getaway for Jen, but it was a treat for all of us too. In those 36 hours, I got to the point where I missed the kids.  Really, I did.  I actually came back home on Sunday and felt relaxed.  Jeff did an amazing job while I was gone and still was in Command Central mode the remainder of Sunday.  He did the grocery shopping, took the kids to their swim lesson, made dinner on Sunday (even after I had been back for 5 hours), did a ton of yard work and handled Sam (with all her issues) like a champ.  It was a beautiful thing and I am incredibly grateful I was able to be gone and not feel guilty walking back in the door, thinking they all just barely survived in my absence.  Actually, far, far from it. 

It's amazing how just a small amount of time can make a big difference.  I've come to the conclusion that time away from the family is necessary for my sanity.  Feeling relaxed makes me feel like I can handle the day-to-day easier and not count down the minutes until Jeff walks in the door at the end of the weekday.  It's refreshing to feel like I am back to being a good mom again.  One who isn't on the verge of yelling at any given moment or ready to break down into tears.

I am not sure how long the benefits of the girl's weekend will last for me, hopefully until it is time to celebrate another occasion that calls for just this kind of fun.  Even if that occasion is just a random Saturday and Sunday. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

No time to learn Japanese.

Most days I don't know if I am coming or going.  My desire to multi-task and cross things off my to-do list mostly has me feeling like a hamster on a wheel, not getting anywhere fast.

I was advised to get the book "Everyone Poops" and read it to Sam.  Not just once, but over and over again.  As soon as I heard this, I promptly got in the car and called Barnes & Noble (while I was headed in that direction) to see if they had the book in stock.  After being told they don't have it, but should expect a new shipment to arrive in a week, I quickly decided to order it from Amazon.  So much easier to get stuff online and have it come to you.  I actually thought about downloading it to my Kindle, but decided this was bad idea if there were cool pictures, colors or illustrations Sam would benefit from seeing.

Within 2 minutes, I had the book ordered and was very happy in my decision to not track it down somewhere in Fairfax.  Bookstores are actually getting to be far and few between where we live, and if Barnes and Noble didn't have it, then it was going to take a few phone calls to track it down, not to mention many miles to drive there.

The next day, I receive an email from the vendor who is fulfilling the order I placed on Amazon.

Dear Buyer,

This message is to confirm to you that the book you ordered is written in Japanese.   If this is not what you want, please let us know as soon as possible.

Thank you,
Chew's Books

Whoops!  Thankfully someone caught my mistake before it got sent out.  Way to go Chew's Books and Amazon.  I have enough issues getting Sam to poop, I certainly don't need to add translating Japanese to that list too.

Friday, March 23, 2012

When can you fit us in?

I am up to my eye balls in drs appointments.  Each week I've been going to anywhere from 1 to 6 appointments a week.  Some are with Sam, some are without.   Between my follow-up blood work for Celiac, visiting the dentist (it just happened to be time for my bi-annual cleaning), all the therapy Sam and I are doing, and her GI appointment on Wednesday morning, I think we've maxxed out the FSA account in co-pays alone.  It's crazy! 

Just when I thought I was done with drs for the week, Ian pulled a real humdinger. Yesterday morning, Ian's eye looked a little red.  I wasn't sure if it was pink eye (we've never had pink eye in our house before) or if his eye was a little irritated.  I went with my gut instinct and sent him to school. 

Meanwhile, I've given Sam something to induce diarrhea and was fighting with her to put a pull-up on before I left her at preschool.  While in full wrestling mode, my cell phone rings and it's Ian's school.  He hasn't even been there for 30 minutes and they are calling. 

School:  "Hi Mrs, Toppall, could you please come pick up Ian?  He has pink eye. It's going around the school and two kids have already had to be called."

Me:  "Yes, of course, I'll be right there"   Ha! Ha!  If the nurse only saw what I still had to accomplish before I could leave Sam at her school and go get Ian.

On my way to get Ian, I call the pediatrician and make an appointment for him to be seen in the next hour.   Here is our conversation in the car ride over:

Me:  "Ian, did the teacher take one look at you and send you to the nurse?"

Ian:  "No, I raised my hand and said,  I have pink eye."

WHAT!!???!?  OMG!  No, I'm not looking like the worst mother in the world or anything. 

Once at the drs office, Ian was NOT diagnosed with pink eye.  There was no gunk coming out of his eye.  Therefore, he does not have pink eye.  Ian was diagnosed with allergies. The first year ever it is affecting him.  We got some drops prescribed and Allegra to give Ian some relief. 

Ian and I made good use of his time out of school and we went for lunch at Panera Bread (his choice), followed by frozen yogurt (my choice).  After picking Sam up from school, playing in her school's playground, going to CVS to pick up the medicine and heading back home, Ian says to me he is ready to go back to school.  WHAT!?!?!  There is only 1 hour left in the school day.  I try to tell Ian its okay for him to take the rest of the day off.  He insists on going back to school.  Ok, then.  Off to school he goes.  Good thing Ian's dr gave us a note informing the school it is only allergies and not pink eye.

And without batting an eye, we managed to fit in another drs appointment this week.  Let's hope today is doctor free.  I think we all need to start eating apples regularly -- an apple a day, keeps the doctor away.  :)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

All for a good cause.

It's amazing how quickly you can lose the endurance, stamina and physical condition your body achieves.  After surviving the marathon on November 20th, I was burned out from running and have barely set foot back in the gym, let alone run even a 1/4 of a mile.   I think I might just now be missing the running and that awesome feeling of having done it, but every time I decide to get back in the game, I change my mind.

My next big fitness challenge is the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  When I originally registered to do this event, I was certain that the walking 26.2 miles the first day and 13.1 miles the 2nd day was going to be relatively easy for me.  I mean, come on, I was logging some crazy miles each week training those last few months of the marathon.  It was the fundraising part that had me most concerned. 

Lo and behold, the fundraising part has gone splendidly.  I am so proud to say I was able to raise (as of today's date) $2,460.29.  This is $660 over the minimum required.  Wow!  How awesome is that!?!?  I no longer am worried that Jeff might leave me over having to self-pledge the amount I failed to fundraise.  Beyond that, this is a cause I feel passionate about and am so thrilled to do a great job going above and beyond. 

It's now time to go out there and lace up my shoes once again and hit the pavement.  I recently did a 10 mile walk with a few teammates.  We went twice around Burke Lake Park.  In all my weeks of running and training for the marathon, I was never this sore.  Oy!  This was definitely a wake-up call to get back out there.  I've got about 7 weeks to go and will need to concentrate on not only building up the mileage, but doing it in back-to-back days. 

I don't give up easily.  I will carve out the time and do it.  I may not finish first (Ha!  I am sure I will never know what that feels like, no matter what the sport/event), but I am going to give it my all and get the job done. 

Of course, right about now, I am thinking what did I get myself in to?  I hadn't gone back down that road of thought since the morning of Sunday, November 20, 2011.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Swimming lessons continued...

Believe it or not, these swim lessons are still creating lots of drama for me.  I was hoping that by now (well, truth be told, after the 1st lesson) that Jeff and I could fully divide & conquer.  I would take Sam for her lesson at 10:00am and be long gone by the time Jeff got there with Ian, for his lesson at 11:00am.  Ha!

I can't do it.  I simply can't leave the building knowing Ian is about to have his lesson.  There is something in me that has me stuck to the chair wanting to watch Ian.  I've become obsessed where they've placed him and who his instructor is.

While I love the place we are taking the swim lessons and can't beat the price, convenience of location or the parking situation, I fully realize that the right instructor will make or break the lesson.  Now, that I've made certain that Sam and Ian will never have that first chick, the instructors for one reason or another, keep changing.  Oy!   The irony is, the assistant swim director sees me first thing in the morning and comes over to fill me in on who my kids are having.  It is quite funny really, given that she doesn't bother to tell any of the other parents their kids are getting a different instructor.   I told her it is fine if Ian gets somebody different each time, but my 3 year old can't seem to go with the flow.  I need to give her a little warning if there will be a new teacher. 

They got a clue pretty quickly when Sam was given her 3rd new teacher in 4 weeks and refused to go in the pool.  Now they've assured me Miss A. will be back each Saturday.   You should see how I talked up Miss A. for the 6 days leading up to her 2nd lesson with her.  Anyone listening nearby would've thought Miss A. was my long lost sister.

I am not certain why they can't seem to keep consistency from week to week, but I've long stopped questioning that.  Now I am sitting on the edge of seat, with my eyes glued to the pool, making sure both kids are in the water and moving.  There is still a class (Ian's old group) standing by the side of pool hardly doing anything.  Yes, I am watching all the kids get their lessons!

I don't think I have it in me to walk away and let these lessons happen without me watching.  The endless grilling of questions I would give Jeff and Ian upon their return would be longer than the lesson itself.  And anyone who has seen Jeff at the lessons knows that its "Angry Birds" that has his attention.

Maybe this is what helicopter parenting is all about.  If so, then I am definitely in the pilot's seat. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Heard and Observed XXXIII

The other evening Jeff was stuck at a work event and it was just me and the kids at dinner.  I was busy clearing the table and Sam comes downstairs with her big, oversized Barbie head that you can style and create different hair styles. 

Sam sits down at the table and begins to play.  I am cleaning up after dinner and start singing the song, "You got the moves like Jagger."  "You got the moooooooooves like Jagger."

As I am singing, Sam, very cutely replies, "What me?  I got no moves like Jagger.  I am just sitting here."


My friend Chris and I were finally able to get together for lunch after several months of not seeing each other. Chris is very pro Sam and even when giving her multiple dates and times to get together (with kids and without) she still chose a Tuesday when she knew I had Sam with me all day.  She wrote in her email to me, once we had the date finalized, "...ask Sam where she would like to go."  That's just the kind of awesome friend Chris is.

So I posed the question to Sam before replying back.  "Sam where would you like to go to meet Chris for lunch?"

Sam:  "Kohls"


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

So not fun or funny.

It's not going well.  More specifically, I am not doing well.  I am struggling with Samantha. I feel this more in the past few weeks, than ever before.  But in reality, I am not sure it has ever been "the living is easy" with her.  Each day is a challenge for me to get through.  She fights me on everything.  She has this need to be in control and everything has to go her way.  She is quick to anger and even quicker to demand what it is she wants at that very moment.  Furthermore, I am convinced she has Encopresis.  It is a disorder where you involuntary or voluntary hold in your poop.  You can read more about it here:  What is Encopresis?  This has become a huge issue at our house.  Unless you've dealt with this either personally or in an offspring, you have no idea what a nightmare it is.  I do believe that if we can get this Encopresis fixed, Sam's behavior might resemble that of a normal 3 year old.  I am actively working on getting her diagnosed.

My therapist says I need to work on my relationship with Sam.  I need to find activities to do with her that don't stress me out.  I should seek out parts of my day to spend some one-on-one time with her.  Do you have any idea how hard this is to do?  Her whining, incessant need to get her way, the endless changing of her mind on what she picked out to wear, the going-out-of-her-way to annoy her brother, and the constant little poops getting stuck in her butt cheeks 6 to 7 times a day needing to be excavated out drives me absolutely insane. 

The thing that really gets me is when she has a major temper tantrum lasting 15 minutes or more and its all you can do to not scream, abandon her, or start drinking to get through it.  Once Sam has gotten over "it", she'll become this sweet, little angel again.  However, I still haven't gotten over it and I can't switch gears like that.  I look at her during this "quiet time" when she is worn-out, exhausted, and sitting there sucking her thumb and feel like the worst mother in the world that I don't want to be in the same room as her.

In all fairness, it's not all bad.  There are moments when Sam is so sweet and loving.  When she loves to give me hugs.  When she wants to share and is good natured.  Moments when Sam makes me laugh and is silly.  These are the moments that I cling to and help me get through the more challenging times.

I am worn out.  I am exhausted.  I am planning Summer 2012 for the kids and am trying hard to fill every day for Sam.  Is that horrible?  Summer should be a time for lazy days, hours spent at the pool, sleeping in, not having anything planned, doing what sounds like fun at the last minute.  I can't do that.  I am jealous of the moms that can and actually do look forward to a summer spent like this.  It is going to be a very expensive Summer for us, but I think I need this to survive and stay sane. 

We are working on getting help. Between upcoming appointments for therapy, a Pediatric Gastroenterologist, and Developmental Pediatrician, I am hoping we can get some answers in the next month or so.  Fortunately, Sam only acts like this with me, Jeff and Ian. But because I am the one with her most, I take the brunt of it.  She holds it together at school, her activities, and at playdates.  Yesterday, I wanted to lay on the floor and just let everything run amock.  Whatever happened, so be it.  I am so close to giving up and giving in.  Letting Sam have her way 100%.  Just agree with her. Could you imagine the monster that would be created in that scenario?

I love Sam.  I love her so much.  I so badly want to hug her tightly and never let go.  Make everything better with lots of little kisses.  I wish I had answers on what was causing this deplorable behavior.  If someone could just tell me that in 6 months, or a year or whatever amount of time, it would get better, I'd be so grateful.  I hate feeling like I am on the brink of tears at any given point in my day.  This whole thing really sucks.  Parenthood is not for the faint of heart.  It is tough.  Plain and simple, very tough.