Saturday, June 30, 2012

Happy birthday to me!

Today is my birthday.  I turn 41 years old.  Yep, that's right...41.  I've never had a problem with getting older and am never one to lie about my age.  

Other than when I turned 30, age never mattered to me.  About a month before I turned 30 I got seriously depressed how far I was from where I thought I should be in life.  I wasn't close to having met The One, and I certainly didn't have kids calling me "Mommy."   But, once Jeff came onto the scene, we quickly made up for lost time and got to work on all those life events I found so important.

Anyway, back to today.  41.  Whoa-baby!  When did that happen?!?!  41 in my mind is definitely a grown-up...heck, we are approaching middle-aged.  I certainly don't feel middle-aged.  I don't even feel like a full-fledged grown-up half the time.  When I think of someone who is 41 (or anything in their 40s for that matter), I envision someone who is wise and has their act together.  This is certainly not me!  I am still learning something new each day.  I am still seeing things with a sense of wonder and getting surprised all the time on how the world works. 

I have a great time giggling and enjoy the simple things.  I like getting competitive and trying to outsmart, outplay, outwit my fellow competitor.  I am playful.  And I fully admit there is nothing better than some juicy gossip!  None of these in my mind makes for a mature being.

So go ahead, put 41 candles on the cake.  Even throw in an extra one for good luck.  But don't expect me to act like a 41 years old, because that's just not me.  :)

Thursday, June 28, 2012


As you read this, I am making my way back to Burke.  10 days.  I was gone 10 days.  So much happened back home while I was away.

Some of the highlights --

* Jeff took a trip with the kids to Dutch Wonderland.  He stayed overnight and continued to the Turkey Hill experience the next morning.

*A mouse in the house was discovered by Ian.  Within hours, Jeff sucessfully captured the mouse and disposed of it.  Plus, he set out additional traps to see if he had friends with him.  I am happy to report this mouse moved in alone.  Additionally, Jeff scheduled Orkin to come and consult on a potential mouse problem.

* The kids started a camp that neither had been to before or had any friends attending with them.  This is HUGE as Jeff had to get them ready, pack their bags and drop them off.  Plus, find the place.

*Bubbly, Sam's original goldfish since December, died. 

*Three additional dance classes got scheduled (one of which occured during the time I was away).  This is to help the kids practice for their upcoming performance.

*The outfit needed for Sam's dance performance got decided on.  Of course, it involved black shorts which Sam doesn't already have.  Oh yeah, a dress rehearsal is scheduled for this Wednesday's class - again occuring when I am not there.  Jeff squeezed in a trip to Kohl's and found a few options for Sam to wear.

*Sam's swim teacher told us she can't give lessons to Sam anymore.  It was a conflict of interest for her.

*Jeff came up with a brainstorm of an idea.  Before I left town, we consulted with 2 waterproofing companies and got estimates for $2,000 to do the work needed to prevent flooding in the future.  Then Jeff contacted a landscaping company and they are able to do the same exact work for less than $300. 

*Miraculously, Jeff managed to minimize the amount of vacation time needed and was able to work a few hours each day.

*And, Ian's teacher found some extra stories he wrote and needed someone to come pick them up.  Yep, this fell to Jeff to do too. 

Good thing the guy in charge had it all under control.  Jeff did an amazing job.  Not that I am leaving any time again soon, but its nice to know it is an option if needed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I am very happy to report on Sunday my mom got discharged from the hospital.  It took the better part of a day to get the final O.K,, but it was worth the wait.  Once we got home, my mom decided to take a nap and it was wonderful knowing that nothing was going to interrupt this period of rest.  No nurses, no doctors, no hospital personnel checking in.  No sirreee!

I have two full days left before I head back to my other life -- wife, mother, general crazy-person running around all over the place. But for now, I am just a daughter.  There is something calming about putting all my energy and focus on one thing.

I miss Jeff and the kids like crazy. I've never been gone this long before.  Thank G-d for Skype and I get my chance to check in on them and see their adorable faces each day. 

In the meantime, my mom, Jim and I have been hanging out. My mom's recovery is going well and I know that by the time I come back in August with the kids, she'll be back up and running.

There were so many moments when my mom was waking up from the anesthesia that were hilarious, but one of the funniest was when she looked down at her chest and got all excited. 
Mom:  "Look!!  The surgeon didn't cut me at all!  I have no scar!  Isn't this unbelievable?   He did the whole entire surgery and didn't even have to cut me open!"   
Me:  "Mom, yes, they did cut you.  You have a bandage covering it up."
Mom:  "No!!  I don't even have a bandage!!  It's all my skin!  This is unbelievable!!"
Me:  "No, Mom.  That "skin" is the bandage. Your chest is all covered in a flesh-colored bandage."
Mom:  "Oh."

The anesthesia lasted in my mom's body for a full day after the surgery.  She was pretty much completely out of it all day Wednesday.  She'd wake up and then fall back asleep in mid-sentence.  This was her pattern during our 30 minute visits.  During each waking period (which lasted only a minute, maybe two), she'd say or do something that had us giggling.

Me (watching my mom hooked up to at least 10 different tubes and wires trying to get up and leave):  Where are you going?
Mom:  To the 3rd floor.
Me:  Why?
Mom:  I have to say hello to everyone there.

We still don't know what was on the 3rd floor that appealed to my mom so much.  She had never been to the 3rd floor of the hospital.  But she was very intent on trying to get up and leave her ICU room.

Another time when she briefly woke-up, I asked her if she was thirsty and would like some water.  She put her hand up in my direction and said, "Wait".  Then she looked at the nurse and said, "I can't have any water, right?  Because I am supposed to have surgery soon."

About 3 or 4 different times she'd look at me and ask what year it was.  That's it -- not what day or month, but what year.

And lastly, at one point, while still heavily medicated and hooked up to a million different tubes, she said in a whispered voice, "I'm ready to leave now.  You can take me home."

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Hospitals do not allow those who need the rest to get it.  During the night, a minimum of 3 interruptions occur.  At 11:00pm, one last check of vitals.  At 2:30am, someone comes to take blood and then at 4:30am, a mobile X-ray machine shows up to take a chest X-ray.  All interruptions require full-on bright overhead lights so the nurse can see what they're doing.  By 6:00am, they want my mom up and showered to get her day started.  Um, hello?  The day hadn't ended yet in my book.  Where were the 8 hours of sleep?   How can someone recovering from open heart surgery get any rest in these conditions? 

My mom is doing great.   She is able to walk the halls now without a walker.  Plus, when everyone sees us making the rounds of the 8th floor and comments how good she is doing, she stops to give them a little dance.  We've now left the Rocky theme song behind and moved on to showtunes.  The cast of "A Chorus Line" and "Chicago" have nothing on my mom when it comes to doing a little boogey. 

A few of the nurses have remarked how positive and upbeat my mom is. Yes, it is a wonderful trait that I've inherited.  Triple By-pass surgery is nothing to make light of and my mom is certainly very uncomfortable, but you wouldn't know it by her cheery disposition. I am happy to report the surgery has done nothing to diminish my mom's wonderful sense of humor.  If laughter is the best medicine, than we've got this recovery part down cold.

The days seem to fly by.  I am frankly a little surprised at how little time I've had to read.  I had big plans to plow through my list of about 8 books.  I read pretty quickly and expected to have finished at least 3 books in the last 5 days.  Ha!  I haven't even completed one.  Helping my mom and trying to make her more comfortable takes up a lot of time.   This is what I'm here for.

Friday night was especially rough and exactly no sleep occurred.  My mom was given a pack of steroids to start and the first dose resulted in sky-high blood sugar and blood pressure.  It was out-of-control and all I could of think of was my mom is not leaving this hospital any time soon.  In addition to the regular interruptions, every half hour the nurse came in to try to see if blood pressure medication would help.  It didn't and each hour got more frustrating than the next.  We finally convinced the doctor the steroids need to stop.  Between that and my mom going back on her insulin pump, all the readings started getting back to normal.  But it took a lot of persuading on our part to make this happen.  By Saturday afternoon, the chest tube had come out and more than one hospital staff remarked my mom was coming home on Sunday.

As of this posting, my mom is still rocking the hospital scene.  My sister Lori spent last night (Saturday) with my mom and I went to my dad and Rita's house.  It was very helpful to get a good night of sleep.

I am looking forward to getting my mom home and starting the next phase of her recovery.

Friday, June 22, 2012


I've learned something about myself in these past 3 days.  No one I know and love can get arrested.  I simply don't do well with limited visitations.  Waiting for the next 30 minute visit, four times a day has to be a form of torture.  Give me sleep deprivation.  Give me my sister with an unending case of the hiccups.  Even give me the power going out with none of our electronics (phone, iPads, etc.) not fully charged and ready to go.  But please don't tell me I can't see my mom for however long I want and whenever I want.

I am doing my best to abide by the rules of the ICU.  Slowly over the past two days, I've been sneaking in earlier for each visit and leaving it much later than the 30 minutes allowed.  I can tell you exactly which nurses like me and which ones wish my mom didn't have me for a daughter.  Most of them have been super wonderful and even thanked me for keeping an eye on her when they had to step out of her room. 

I tell you this; once my mom is moved to her regular room, I'm not leaving.  I keep bringing my suitcase packed and ready to go. I'm moving in to Florida Hospital and no one better stop me.

The one thing that keeps tugging at my heartstrings is when my mom looks at me and says, "Why don't you stay here with me tonight?"   She is very repetitive because she doesn't remember a whole lot from hour to hour due the anesthesia still heavily in her system.  Oh mom, how I would love to be able to do that.  But that is going to have to wait a day or two.

So here's the upside to all this waiting around.  I've been so fortunate to be able to spend loads of time with my two sisters.  I don't remember the last time (had to be way before kids and even marriage) that I've gotten to do this.  Meghan and I do lunch together and even squeezed in a movie late Wednesday night.  And Lori and I have a pattern of doing dinner together in between the 5:00pm and 8:00pm visits.  Lori has been showing me all the new trendy hotspots in Orlando and let me tell you, they are yummy.  We even went to a 100% Vegan Raw restaurant, where none of the food is cooked over 118 degrees.  You wouldn't believe how delicious this place was. 

And last but certainly not least, I've logged in lots of time with my dad and stepmom, Rita just hanging around and talking.  Again, another benefit to me being here and making the most of my down time.

I am happy to report all seems to be going incredibly well back at the homefront.  I've gotten to skype daily with Jeff, Sam and Ian.  Boy do I miss those guys.  What an amazing family I have -- everywhere I turn around.  I am filled with such love right now.  I wish everyone in the world could experience the kind of people I have to call my own.  May they never be taken for granted. 

UPDATE:  Mom got moved to a regular room on Thursday afternoon.  And I am finally able to have that extended non-stop visit I so badly wanted.  The room is quite spacious, private and has a pull-out couch that becomes a bed for me to use. 

It took a while, but we got mom to take her first walk.  We are shooting for 3 a day while being in the hospital.  We saw a fellow patient walking by with a Michael Jackson tune playing.  Ah, what a great idea!  Love it!  Music always helps get you moving.  So what was Mom's song of choice?  The theme from "Rocky" of course. With a quick hit of a button on my iPhone, we were off. 

Each day my mom is getting better.  It's going to be a slow process, but progress is getting made.  And that's a great thing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tuesday, June 19

Today is a not a day I was looking forward to.  My mom had triple by-pass surgery.  I came down for the surgery and plan to be here to Thursday, June 28th.  Leading up to the surgery, I heard tips and advice from so many of my friends whose parents have been through the same thing.  This was not going to be easy.  And it was not going to be fun. 

There aren't many people in this world I love as much as my mom.  She HAS TO be ok.  I am so grateful that I can be down here and help my mom through this.  Jeff is an amazing source of support and is in charge back at home.  A few months ago, I had planned with a bunch of my friends and their kids to do a trip to Dutch Wonderland (in Lancaster, PA) for this exact day.  Without hesitation, Jeff said he would go in my place and take the kids.  So imagine this sight -- Jeff is hanging out with 6 moms and over 20 kids.  He is going to spend the night in Lancaster and continue with my original plans for Wednesday to do the Turkey Hill Experience and see how ice cream is made.  Seriously, Jeff is going way beyond my expectations and is stepping up big-time in my absence.

The past two nights I haven't been able to sleep.  My mind keeps racing back and forth between my mom and praying all will turn out with her surgery and recovery.  And then, my mind shifts gears to Jeff and the kids.  Hoping that being gone for 10 days is not too long and all will go well with the Lancaster trip.  I really want Sam to be on her best behavior and not have one meltdown after another, causing much undue stress for Jeff and Ian.

When we got one last chance to see Mom before they took her away, I asked the nurse if I could be in the operating room during the surgery.  I know this was an absurd request and was appropriately denied. But maybe if I could be there first hand and see that everything was going as planned, I'd feel better.  I have 36 years of watching "General Hospital" under my belt, surely that could somehow help in the operating room, right?!?!

The duration of the surgery was about 3 hours.  We had another 2 hour wait until we could see my mom in ICU.  She wasn't awake yet and still hooked up to everything under the sun, but she looked good.  It was a big sense of relief to see her and know she was going to be alright.  The rules are pretty strict in ICU.  You are only allowed to visit for 30 minutes, 4 times a day.  So, when I go back at 5:00pm, she should be awake.  I asked her nurse if I could just hang out there and not leave.  This woman thought I was off my rocker and without hesitation, she said very strongly  "No, you need to go."  

The 5:00pm and 8:00pm visits were almost identical.  30 minutes of watching my mom sleep.  Apparently once she has anesthesia in her, it takes a very long time to leave her body.  I hope that on Wednesday when we see her it will result in a two-way conversation.  Because right now I am all talked out speaking for the both of us for the whole visit.

I heard from Jeff and it sounds to me like the day could not have gone better for him and the kids.  I am so happy they had fun.  At 9:15pm, Jeff said he got the kids down and will be going to sleep himself.  It was a long day for him.  And me for that matter.

Tomorrow is a new day.  I'm in Orlando and the skies are sunny.  Hope the sun will be shining brightly over Jeff, Ian and Sam too.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Top Notch!

A few of my wonderful mommy friends took me out to dinner to celebrate my birthday.  It's at the end of the month in case you were wondering.  Since I'll be gone for the next 10 days, we fit the celebration in before I left. 

Several years ago, when I was visiting home, my friend Amanda suggested we go to dinner at this  restaurant that had recently opened in Orlando.  Seasons 52 was its name.  Given the location, very close to where my dad lives, I said yes.  Wow, what a delicious meal.  Plus, they pride themselves on offering seasonal, fresh food that is not only healthy, but low in calories.  Nothing on the menu is more than 475 calories.  Such a great concept!

I got very excited when I heard a Seasons 52 was opening in Tyson's last year.  Yum-O!  So when I got to chose where to go for my birthday dinner with the friends, I picked this place. 

Susanne made the reservation for 8:00pm.  Originally there was 4 of us who could make it.  Susanne checked in and we started gathering outside the restaurant, waiting for all of us to show up.  At 8:10pm, we realized we were still waiting for Dawn and Susanne texted her to see what was going on.  Dawn's daughter was sick and she didn't realize how late it had gotten.  We proceeded in the restaurant without her and told them we were all there.  We got a table and sat down.

At the table was an envelope with card in it for me.  It was a birthday card from the restaurant thanking me for celebrating my special occasion with them. Nice touch!

After finishing our salads and waiting for the entree, the manager stopped by our table to say hi.  She said she noticed that we had an 8:00pm reservation, but that we didn't get seated until 8:15pm.  She said she wanted us to know that she monitors these things and because we had to wait, she will be taking all of our starter salads off the bill.  Seriously?? 

We eat the rest of the meal and its time for dessert.  One of the best things about Seasons 52 is how they serve their desserts in shot glasses.  I remember the first time I went with Amanda, I thought the idea was so cute, that I am pretty sure I ordered one of each on the waiter's tray.  They are sooooo good. 

Fortunately that was back in my glutting-eating days and I got to do that.  This time around, its the fresh fruit for me.  But its still served in the cute shot glass. 

Our waiter goes to put the check down on the table, tells us my dessert is comped (it's my birthday!) and gives us his card.  The next time we come to dine there, we should request him.  I don't think I've ever seen that before. 

I think this is as close to the royal treatment as I'll ever get.  The whole evening at Seasons 52 was perfect.   How could you not want to come back here again and again and again?   Hey, it beats making dinner at home, when you get treated like this.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Green thumb no more.

So I planted some flower bulbs out front.  They were finally starting to come up, above ground.  It was very exciting as I've never grown any kind of flowers before and had success. 

Jeff thought it was weeds and used "Weed Be Gone" all over them.  Needless to say, they are now all dead.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My little gymnast

Ian has been taking a recreational gymnastics class for one hour a week, all school year.  A few weeks ago he was asked to join the pre-team.  The coach even thinks that by this time next year, he could be competing.  Oh my gosh!! 

When I first brought the idea to Ian to take gymnastsics, it was with the intent he does something to stay active.  He had done soccer both in Fall and Spring for a few years, and this was truly cringe-worthy watching him play.  While he had major enthusiam for playing, any kind of natural ability did not exist.  Same thing with basketball. 

Apparently Ian not only enjoys gymnastics, but seems to be good at it too. What a nice change!  By being on the pre-team, he will go from his one hour class once a week to (2) two hour classes each week.  Wow!  Talk about a huge jump in practice time. 

We've told Ian that as long as he enjoys it, we will support him.  But when it becomes a chore and something he has to get dragged to, we'd want him to stop.  We live in too competitive of an area that I fear Ian (or more likely, me!) could easily get caught up in.

Until then, it is very exciting and I am a proud mama.  Goooo Ian!  Projecting ahead, I hope summer Olympics 2024 is in Australia.  I've always wanted to go there.

Here is video of Ian doing a flip for the first time.  This was taken on April 30, 2012.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Friday, June 8th

We survived, barely.  Sam and Ian each had their four-year-old and seven-year-old annual check-ups, respectively.  Each year is the same thing.  I schedule both kids' appointments for the same time and day.  Ian always goes first so that his little sister can see how harmless the appointment will be.  Ha ha!  Not this time though.  Sam had to get 3 shots and a finger prick and Ian had none.

Arriving at our appointment, Sam refused to come through the door.  I sign us in and the nurse (who knows us quite well) seizes up the situation and recommends that Sam gets her shots first, over and done with.  Sam hears this and goes extra ballistic.  She is not a happy camper. This is where the screaming fully kicks in.  I get her off the floor outside the doctors office, and carry her inside.  Even though we are only in the waiting area, Sam is already trying to escape.  And oh yeah, have I mentioned the ear-piercing screaming too?  With a big bear hold, I've got my legs and arms wrapped around her, waiting for the nurse to tell us she has her shots ready to go.  Sam is fighting me something fierce and kicking with what little freedom her legs have. After about 5 very long minutes, we get called back to the individual exam rooms.  Ian brings up the rear carrying my purse and big diaper bag.

Inside the exam room, the nurse grabs hold of Sam too and does her best to not get kicked along with me.   At this point the dr has stuck her head in the door and asks if she can help.  The screaming is out of control,  made its way to all the individual rooms and everyone is on high alert, offering to do whatever they can to help.  The shots and the finger prick go mercifully quick.  But Sam continues screaming at the top of her lungs for another 20 minutes.  She has now been screaming for more than 40 minutes non-stop.  

The nurse tells me that she'll give Sam a few minutes to calm down and then try to do the stats (height, weight, eye check, ear check, etc).  Ian is a rock star and demonstrates to Sam how easy it all is.  Sam refuses to get on the scale.  At this point she is scooting along on the floor, refusing to get up.  Let me tell you, this is freakin fabulous and I am happy its the end of the week and Jeff will be taking over the next two days.

The rest of the appointment becomes a blur.  Somewhere along the way, Sam starts nodding off in her chair.  The Dr. takes this opportunity to listen to her heart.  That's enough of a stir to cause Sam to go for round 2.  Sam FREAKS out all over again and this time I am holding her again, with all my limbs wrapped tightly around her, so the dr can do a quickie exam (listening to her heart and look in her ears).  At some point, I get peed on (through her wearing a pull-up) and Sam yells she needs to go to the bathroom.  But not before she takes off her wet dress.  Yes, again, we have the naked girl screaming at the top of her lungs.  Only this time, the only back-up clothing I have is a t-shirt.  The irony is, the shirt says, "Too Sweet".  Oh, what fun! 

By the time the appointment has ended, Sam has not had a proper exam.  Major parts of her went without being looked at.  She did not cooperate during any part of the appointment.  We visited the bathroom twice, neither time she actually went.  I had to bribe her to get on the scale and to stand against the wall for her height.  She did however, think the eye exam was fun and was game for that.

We had the drs sole attention for over an hour.  I filled her in on everything Sam-related, all the while Sam screamed and acted like a raving lunatic.  I asked the dr if this reaction was considered normal and she said, "No.  It is extreme."  My last question to the dr was, "When can we start medicating?"  The dr said,  "Sam is way too young to medicate.  I strongly do not recommend it."

I saw the nurse on the way out and thanked her for all her help.  I told her I hope we don't have to see her again until the Fall for flu vaccines.  That's always a fun time too.

Sam left the appointment wearing her back-up t-shirt.  She only agreed to put it on, if she could wear it backwards.  Whatever.  Since I had nothing for to wear on her bottom, we jimmy-rigged her sweater and wrapped it around with the opening on the side.  She seemed ok with this as there was no other option.  Once we made it to the car, she flipped out again and refused to put on the pair of shorts I had stowed there.  "I DON'T WANT TO LOOK LIKE A BOY!!!!"  I could care less if she even put on anything.  I was fine with her driving home with nothing on.  But it mattered to Sam.   After another 15 minute screaming battle, she put the shorts on.  Within 5 minutes of driving back home, Sam crashed hard and fell asleep.  Ah, finally some quiet.

We get home a few minutes before Jeff.  We were meeting him at the house to take his car and drop it off for service.  I run inside to grab a drink and the phone rings.  Without looking at the caller ID (I honestly thought it was Jeff calling), I answer the phone and hear that it is some Conservation Fund Group wanting something or another.  I politely answer with, "This is not a good time in my life to talk to anyone unless I absolutely have to."  All she could say was "Sorry" and hung up.  :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tie shoes? Check!

We did it!  Or more specifically Ian did it, with lots of Jeff's help!  As previously reported in Taking the plunge in buying shoes with laces, I am proud to report that Ian can tie his shoes!  Woo-hoo!! 

Tie a kid's shoes and they stay tied for a day.  Teach a kid to tie them and he can do it for a lifetime.

Needless to say, I am so incredibly proud of Ian.  I sometimes feel that Ian gets a raw deal when it comes to my time and attention.  And because he is so good-natured, it's easy to let some stuff slide, like having to teach shoe tying instead of doing the easy thing and keep buying velcro shoes. Jeff took this shoe tying teaching lesson very seriously and within (3) 10 minute sessions each night, Ian got it.  And now, there is no stopping him.  This is very exciting.  Go Ian!!!!!!!!!

Friday, June 8, 2012

And how YOU doing?

At the Family Reunion this past weekend, I was asked how I'm doing.  The one word that kept popping out of my mouth was "Exhausted".  I didn't realize how much this was at the forefront of my thoughts.  But its true, I am very tried.  I am so worn out from all the running around.  The back and forth to all of Sam's appointments.  Not seeing any progress and trying to be incredibly patient is not a good combination.  Being told that we should go see this specialist or that one is getting insane.  Having all these parenting books strongly recommended I read ("The Out-of-Sync Child", "The Explosive Child", "Effective Parenting for the Hard to Manage Child" and others) is enough to make your head spin.  Every time I think I can start seeing my therapist every other week instead of weekly, I realize I am still far, far away from this happening.  If I wasn't so busy running around, I'd request seeing her daily.

Last week at Sam's therapy appointment, we arrived a little on the early side and was waiting for Sam's therapist to come get us from the lobby. Sam took one look at her clothing and FREAKED OUT.  Apparently, a good 6 1/2 hours after getting dressed, she felt like she looked silly.  Her clothes didn't 'twirl'.  And she was not happy she wasn't wearing a skirt.  She wanted to put something different on IMMEDIATELY!  My only option I could offer her was the back-up clothing I carry with me.  I had a pair of jean shorts and short sleeve t-shirt ready to go.  She was adamant that these clothes would not help the situation and quickly took off the offending articles of clothing she was wearing.  So now Sam is standing completely naked (she did keep her socks on) and is screaming at the top of her lungs.  Screaming so loud that the walls have started to shake.  Of course, this brings out every therapist, from behind their closed doors to see what in the world is going on and if they can do anything to help.  Ah, its just a naked little girl screaming for no reason.  Ok, then.  Back to their offices everyone went.  About 20 minutes later Sam finally calmed down.  When I could talk her into putting her clothes back on, she decided to put on everything!  Both shirts and both pairs of bottoms.  And for the rest of the day, that is how Sam stayed dressed.  Even when we got back home and she could change into something else.  You know, something that could twirl.

Sam showed her therapist the way she used to be.  All. The. Time.  We had been good for awhile, but now I am seeing some of the old ways coming back.  My tired self no longer has any fight left in me to deal with this.  The endless complaining, screaming and whining is mentally draining. 

On top of this, Sam's therapist seems to think there is more sensory stuff going on and has us getting Sam evaluated again for Occupational Therapy.  We've already gone to one appointment and need to go back again this Monday.

Let's see what else - our downstairs sprung a leak somewhere from the outside through the door to the inside.  Water, water, everywhere.  Jeff and I dealt with this late Friday night before we left town for the weekend.  We pulled up a huge chunk of carpet to see where the water was coming in from and to minimize the damage.  The adjuster came by and told us that since it was surface water, none of this is covered by homeowner's insurance.  This is making for some fun conversations between Jeff and me.

When initially trying to put the call into the adjuster with the insurance company, I couldn't get a dial tone on our home phone line.  Ha!  It was starting to get comical now all the things I was dealing with at the same moment.  It took 42 minutes on my cell phone (which gets horrible service at my house, so I was stuck in my front door way so the call wouldn't drop) to get a date and time for the repair guy to check our wiring.  The appointment was going to be a full 2 days later because I honestly had no other 4 hour window to be at the house to wait for him.  But it gets better!  At 11:00pm the night before the long awaited service appointment, for some strange reason I go to the main handset and notice it is not plugged in.  At all.  Even when I did my trouble shooting, I unplugged it from the wall jack and didn't notice that it wasn't connected to the base of the phone.  Oh what fun!  Seriously, I feel like I am losing it.

My mom has her triple by-pass surgery scheduled for Tuesday, June 19th.  I'll be down in Orlando from the 18th to the 28th.  During this time, Jeff is running the show solo and leading Team Toppall all on his own. Many friends are offering to help, but part of me worries about Jeff and the kids being without me for this long.  I've never been gone 10 days before.  Of course, I will have everything written out (where the kids need to be, what to pack in lunches, etc) and will get a bunch of dinners made before hand, but 10 days is still a long time.  And when I am not thinking about the situation I'll be leaving up here, I am thinking about my mom and hoping for the best.  This is pretty major surgery she is having.  My mom already deals with a host of other issues (Type 1 diabetes, thyroid, high blood pressure, etc), any kind of surgery is going to be harder because of this.  Recovery is going to be longer and harder.  I so badly just want her to be okay.  Being down there is where I need to be.  Jeff and the kids will do fine.

While I am gone, the kids will be starting a camp they've never been to before with kids they don't know.  I know Ian will be fine adapting, but it will interesting to see how Sam does getting dropped off.  One of the Tuesdays I am out of town, Jeff will be getting a taste of just how crazy my schedule usually is.  He'll drop the kids off at camp at 9:00am.  Go back at 1:30pm to pick Sam up for a 2:00pm to 2:50pm therapy appointment.  Pick Ian up at camp at 3:30pm and then drop Ian off at gymnastics from 4:00pm to 6:00pm.  Yowzer.  I think the kids and Jeff will be sleeping well that night.  Note to self:  Make sure copies of the kids' immunization records get sent to us in time.

And here's the icing on the cake.  The Man told me two days ago, that one of the things that drove him into retirement was a lack of competent people helping him do his job.  Guess what?  He is so happy to have found me that he is now thinking of getting back in the game and working. He wanted to know that I could give him 4 days a week, at least a couple hours each day. Hahahaha!  Seriously? The Man is 75 years old.  Enjoy being retired.  I replied with, "This is a good time to tell you my summer schedule.  I have at least 6 full weeks and a handful of individual days from now until Labor Day that I am not available whatsoever.  Here, I made you a color-coded calendar outlining each day."  I then suggested maybe he consider coming out of retirement in September. 

I feel like everything is piling up.  Any of these issues on their own would be enough to deal with, but all together it becomes too much.

I realize It's all minor in the big scheme of things.  Sam being as challenging as she is just makes everything else that harder to deal with.  Because by the time whatever has happened happens, I no longer have any strength or gusto to tackle it. 

Tired. Yes. That's me.  I am looking forward to my mom napping after her surgery. As of right now I will be too.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Here a Frost, there a Frost...everywhere a Frost!

This past weekend we went to Brigantine, NJ for a Frost Family Reunion.  My mom's mom (Sylvia) was a Frost.  While my mom only has one sibling, the generation above that was numbered quite high.  Most of the family resides in New Jersey.

For those that don't know, Brigantine borders Atlantic City.  My Toppall team and I got a place in Atlantic City to stay.  I was excited to make a weekend out of the reunion and show Ian all the streets that he loves to buy and trade on the Monopoly board.  Growing up, I used to spend my summers in Ventnor, which borders Atlantic City on the other side.   I have very fond memories of the boardwalk.  Unless you are my sister or my mom, I don't think any one can understand my appreciation for Atlantic City.  A lot of people think I am crazy when I say how much I love this part of New Jersey -- or New Jersey in general, for that matter. 

The reunion was a wonderful party!  My Uncle David (one of Sylvia's remaining living siblings) hosted it at The Country Club in Brigantine.  I don't believe a reunion like this has ever been done.  There was a great turnout of relatives and I met a lot of them for the first time.  Many of the relatives I do know, I haven't seen in easily 10 years.

Check out Sam's expression.  Too funny!  That's my sister Lori, by the way.

The next day we had no choice but to get an early start, as Sam and Ian were both wide awake for the day at 4:55am.  How nice for us!  We walked on the board walk, went to a few arcades, met Lori and Ben for lunch and went Go-Carting!  Watch out when the Mazer sisters are on the track.  No one is safe.  My ride was cut short (because I didn't have two hands on the wheel) and Lori stood up for me. After a very heated "discussion" between the pier manager and my sister, Lori got thrown off the pier.  It was quite humorous.

Foreshadowing -- I didn't even have both my hands
on the wheel in this picture.

Lori and her husband, Ben.

Sam has got her hand firmly on the wheel ready to drive!

It was a beautiful day.  And we are already looking forward to the 2nd Annual Frost Family Reunion in June 2013. 

All smiles!

Now this is how you enjoy ice cream!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Hair Hair

Sam's had all of 3 hair cuts in her life. The irony is, she LOVES to get her hair cut. But with her being a little girl, the need to get it cut as frequently as Ian is just not going to happen. A few weeks ago, Sam said she wanted her hair cut short. Sure, why not? It makes my life much easier when needing to get a brush through it. I made an appointment with our most favorite hairdresser, Abby, from Cartoon Cuts, for a Thursday afternoon.

Abby knows us very well. She was the only one who was fearless enough to take on Ian. Yes, we had a few other hairdressers at Cartoon Cuts (a place that SPECIALIZES in kids) refuse to cut Ian's hair.

Since Ian was 8 months old, Abby had been cutting Ian's hair every 8 weeks. Ian had to have been her most challenging kid ever to cut hair on. Little by little, Ian got better at having it done. Then by the time Ian was 5 years old, all the idiosyncrasies and crazy demands, complete with ear-piercing screams went by the wayside. It was pretty spectacular to see the transformation. Abby stuck with Ian through his worst and never complained. She is amazing like that and can cut a straight line no matter how much a kid is squirming, flailing around, or screaming at the top of his lungs, or lucky us, all 3 at the same time.

Earlier this year, Ian sort of outgrew Cartoon Cuts and decided to get his hair cut at the barber shop across the street from our house. I guess he's a big boy now!

Fast forward to me bringing Sam in for her haircut. Abby was so excited to see us and kept saying how much she missed Ian. And to tell Ian Hi. It was very sweet. Sam was fantastic and really enjoyed the whole process. On the way to the mall, I asked Sam how short she is going to tell Abby to cut her hair. Sam replied with, "Buzz cut". Um, no! Sam is so used to hearing Ian give those words. Uh-oh!!! Good thing Abby knows better.

Yes, Sireee. We got the "stacked" back going on. Super cute!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Spectacularly Serendipitous

Back in May 2008, when Sam was born 5 weeks early, clearly the stars and moon were aligned. Having the kids born within one week of each other has proven to be a wonderful thing. I am able to throw their birthday parties in the same weekend and knock them out in one fell swoop. I love it! Not only is the weekend that I pick smack dab in the middle of Sam's birthday (which is the 23rd) and Ian's birthday, (which is the 31st), but it is a holiday weekend to boot. Got to love it! When my family from Florida flies in and Jeff's family makes the trek from Maryland, they get a lot of bang for their buck! No having to decide which kids' birthday party to go to that year. They get two parties for the price of one trip. Now, that my friends, is a very efficient birthing strategy. 

Since Ian was born, seven years ago, my mom has never missed a birthday. Unfortunately this year, some major health reasons kept her from coming to town. It was tough for her not to come, and it was equally tough for us and the kids to not have her here to celebrate with us. But, it was the best decision possible for her to stay home and not risk it. I know that her missing this year will mean that we get many, many more years with her. 

However, we did get my dad, Stepmom and sister, Meghan here for the weekend. This was a wonderful treat and I had a smile on my face since the day I found out they were coming. To say I am close to my parents is like saying Mac & Cheese go together. I couldn't ask for a better family. They are funny, fun and lively. It's impossible not to laugh and have a good time being around them. Seriously, you can't ask for better parents, steparents, and siblings then the ones I've been fortunate to be born to.

The whole weekend was phenomenal. Sam's party was on Saturday at Color Me Mine in Fairfax Corner. Ian's party was at Burke Racquet and Swim Club on Sunday. From meeting for lunch at PF Changs to going to Sam's party, to coming back to the house for dinner on Saturday, the whole day flowed perfectly. It was so wonderful being around the family. I loved every single minute of it. It made me incredibly wistful to want to live closer to everyone and give my kids this kind of time with their relatives much more frequently. I guess it makes us treasure these experiences and not take them for granted when we do get together.

Here's a list of the best of the best moments (according to me!):

-Dad rock climbing at Ian's party.  This one moment made my entire weekend.  I know it was supposed to be all about the kids' and their birthdays, but I absolutely loved that my dad got off his chair and wanted to participate.  This was the best ever.  My dad is going to be 66 years old in 2 weeks and he showed all the kids a thing or two.  Way to go, Dad!  You still got it! 

Dad and me ringing the bell at the top of the wall. Waiting for my dad to reach the top and ring the bell together was not optional!  We were in it together.

 -Meghan and Rita talking a good game on how they play Monopoly brilliantly and will not lose against Ian. Ian showing them a thing or two and winning!

-Dad, Rita and Meghan walking in my house Friday night, thinking dinner was moments away from being served and seeing instead, Ian, Sam and me in the middle of frosting 7 dozen cookies. They instantly sat down and helped us finish.

-Both sets of grandparents coming to Toys R Us when Ian picked out his new bike from Grandpa and Grandma Toppall

-Rita jumping in and having fun at each of the parties. She painted pottery at Sam's and rock climbed at Ian's. Way to go on being super cool!

-Sam getting a new bike from Nana and Papa Mazer and getting to ride it while they were here.

-How incredibly well-behaved 11 three and four year olds were at Sam's party. It was drop-off and the kids were amazing sitting at a table for 1.5 hours. They even raised their hands when they needed something.

-My sister Meghan (who is 21 years younger than me) buying clothes for Ian and Sam as part of their birthday presents. I remember when Meghan was my kids' ages and I would buy her clothes.

It's like no time is lost when we all get together. The kids will be in Florida for 3 weeks in August and get to spend lots more time with the family. Plus, we have a family vacation planned for Myrtle Beach in October. Usually Go-Carting is our family's thing. We are fiercely competitive, even though everyone knows I am the best and fastest driver (hehehehe), but love to talk a good game how we will take each other down. When I saw how much fun everyone was having with the rock climbing, I vowed to find an indoor rock climbing place in Myrtle Beach. We will have to do this again.  I loved seeing this side of my dad and Rita.  It was definitely the highlight of my weekend.   A note to Lori, Ben and Jeff - you have 4 months to train!