Monday, July 30, 2012

Beach Funnies

I have one more post I'd like to write about our trip to the beach.  There were a few standout moments that made me laugh out loud.
We are all buckled in and ready to go.
This is Jen leaving her driveway and realizing
she forgot to put shoes on.

Several times, Jen was asked if all these kids were hers!

There was one morning when Ian was miserable and didn't want to go to the beach.  We dragged him with us anyway.  He spent about 20 minutes in the water sulking, and then decided to sit under the umbrella (in the shade) for the next hour or so.  He sat there by himself until it was time for us to join him for lunch.  After a pleasant 20 minutes with everyone eating the lunch we packed, Ian got up and ran into the ocean with Ethan.  He completely forgot he was supposed to be unhappy and grumpy.  Ian then spent the next 2.5 hours playing in the water with a big smile on his face. 

And a moment I am still in awe of:  After the beach each day, Jen and I (mostly Jen) got everyone showered and dressed within 10 minutes.  It was pretty spectacular how efficient and whirlwindesque (is that even a word?) our system was.  We'd leave the beach, after spending on average 4.5 hours each morning, hit the pool for another hour or two and then head back to the condo.  The older two boys would take off their bathing suits and leave them outside the front door and walk directly to the bathroom and take a shower together.  They were super fast and could be counted on to get in and out quickly.  Meanwhile, I'd take Sam and Nathan's bathing suits off and put them in the pile outside the front door.  I'd send them in and Jen gave them a fast shower together.  Lastly, Evan would get stripped of his bathing suit and be sent in and took a shower with Jen.  While the last group was getting bathed, I'd take our suits back down to the faucet by the pool and rinse them all out.  Lastly, I would return with the wet suits, get them hung to dry on the balcony and take a shower.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  We got this system going on day one and kept it the whole week.  It was awesome.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sun kissed

We are back!  Despite being outnumbered, we left with 5 kids and came back with all 5. Even if all else was a failure, we can say we were victorious in returning home with each kid in one piece.  But it was not a failure, far from it!  For the most part, the kids did great.

Going to the beach has now been ruined for me.  How will I ever be able to go again without friends for the kids to be with?  It was so nice how great everyone got along.  Listening to the giggling and the little conversations back and forth between them made my heart melt.  These kids are just so adorable, not only one their own, but together too. 

When inside, Nathan and Sam hung out on this
papasan chair together most of the time.

The one bedroom condo was like nothing you've ever seen.  There were 3 sets of bunk beds, plus a pull out couch in the living room.  Everyone had their own bed.  I have to say that it took at least a night or two for us all to get in a groove sleeping in close quarters.  By the 2nd night, we decided to put an iPad in every kid's bed after they went to sleep.  This way, whoever woke up first, could quietly play until the others had a chance to wake up on their own.  Yes, each kid had their own iPad.  Crazy, right? 

This past week was my first time ever sleeping in a bunk bed.  I had the top bunk and Sam was on the bottom bunk.  When I first heard I was going to be sleeping in a bunk bed, I had visions of the little wooden fence not being tall enough to stop by body if I started turning in my sleep and I'd fly off the top bunk.  Or, the whole bunk bed wasn't sturdy enough to support me and I'd crash down on Sam in the middle of the night.  And lastly, I'd forget I was even in a bunk bed and sit straight up and bang my head pretty hard.  Fortunately, none of that happened.  I eventually got used to sleeping in a bunk bed and can now cross this off my bucket list.  hehehehehehehe.

The condo was comfortable and believe or not, roomy.  The bathroom was configured in a way that allowed for two toilets, each with their own set of doors and another room in between with a bathtub.  Pretty cool.  The tv lacked cable and therefore, the children had a break (whether or not they wanted it) from watching cartoons for the week.  It didn't seem to phase them.  The funniest was when we had "So you think you can dance" on one evening and Ian asked me to fast forward through the commercials. Ha!  Little did he realize how old school this configuration was.  And, in another old school moment, Sam was mesmerized watching Jen make ice the old fashioned way, by filling up the ice trays.  She hadn't seen that before and wasn't sure what Jen was doing.  It was really funny.

Despite all the craziness of having 5 YOUNG (ages 2 to 7) kids to watch, there were a few moments that really stood out as my definition of Heaven.  Jen and I had our beach chairs in the shallow part of the ocean, we were able to watch the kids while sitting down, enjoying a nice breeze.  Everyone was happy.  No one was complaining.  It was really wonderful.  That was a really great 5 minutes.  Just kidding!  It lasted for at least 10 minutes.  :)

Another cool moment was watching Ian and Ethan body surf on boogy boards.  Ian had never done this before and took to it like a fish in water.  The two of them had a great time and spent hours upon hours in the ocean.

And one of my other favorite moments was when I had the camera out and asked Sam to smile.  She started posing.  It was super cute. 

How funny is this?  Sam posing for the camera.
Where does she learn this stuff?!!??!

The big drawback to our week at the beach?  Other than the beach and the pool, there was nothing else to do.  Topsail Island is not a typical beach town.  It is very quiet.  Very non-touristy.  On Wednesday, we went searching in the afternoon for an arcade or some type of amusement place for the kids to play.  Other than a miniature putt-putt, there was nothing to be found.  And without a boardwalk, we weren't able to go for walks after dinner.  We did make it out for ice cream.  After asking 4 different locals where they'd recommend we go, we took a pass on "Dairy Queen".  Each person gave the same exact answer.  Ha!  I've got a "Dairy Queen" a mile down from my house.  No thanks!  We did find two other places to go for ice cream.  Each one had their own little quirks to it.

Our night out for pizza was pretty strange.  We went to "Max's", which apparently is the hot place to go.  It is very family friendly and the place filled up quickly.  The restaurant has a kids menu.  They handed out paper menus with crayons wrapped in it to all the kids.  Sounds like a winner, right?  However, when it came time to order drinks, they only had soda and water.  No juice, no milk, no lemonade, no fruit punch.  How odd.  Fortunately my kids are used to drinking water and know that soda is not an option, so the complaining really only took the form of questioning why they couldn't offer a juice box or something similar for the kids to drink.  Personally, I liked the place.  They offered Gluten-Free pizza.  Totally made my day that I could eat pizza with everyone else.

I am pretty sure there is nothing Jen and I can't do as a team.  We traveled well together and could laugh at the kid's meltdowns and how at any given point, it seemed one of the kids wasn't happy.  Keeping a sense of humor is key!  Our next road trip takes place in 2 weeks.  We are going to Orlando.  Watch out, Florida may never be the same.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Beach Bound

Right now, my Toppall team and I (sans Jeff) is at the beach.  We are near Topsail, NC for the week.  Call us crazy, but we've got 5 kids (ages 2 to 7), plus Jen and me in a one bedroom condo.  Jen's Sister-in-law's Father graciously offered to let us use his condo.  How could we turn down an offer like that?

I love the beach!  Once I got married and started having kids, I had grand delusions of doing a week at the beach with the family each summer.  The one thing I didn't take into account is that Jeff hates the beach.  More specifically, he hates the sand.  He hates the ocean.  He hates being outdoors.  He pretty much hates it all.  And then there's the cost.  A week at the beach is expensive and this is one cost I am not going to press for us to incur when we'd have a big 'ole Mr. Cranky Pants hanging with us.

So, here's the beauty in our current situation.  I'd like to think of my friend Jen as my partner-in-crime.  She trained and did the Philadelphia Marathon with me.  We are going to pack up the kids and drive down to FL next month.  She is pretty much up for any adventure that comes our way.  She is super fun to be around and doesn't easily get thrown by whining, meltdowns or temper tantrums.  And, the icing on the cake is, she is magical with Sam.  Jen is as fearless as I am when it comes to trying something new.

Jen has 3 boys; one is Ian's age, one is Sam's age and then there is Evan, the 2 year old.   It's about as perfect as its going to get, with the exception of me having a 3rd too.  But we know that isn't going to happen!

So wish us luck and let's hope this week goes well.  Rain or shine, we are doing it.  We will do our best to not only survive being very outnumbered in the adult to kid ratio, but have fun too!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Shoes off, please!

It's here!  It's here!  Out with the old, in with the new.  The carpet has been replaced.  It is awesome!  I am so excited to have this done.  I love it!!!  I've been wanting to do this for so long.  I remember years ago, getting an estimate from Home Depot on what it would cost for new carpet.  I told the sales guy I just found out I was pregnant with Sam.  That was 5 years ago!!  So I figure in another 5 years I'll be able to tackle the kitchen.  Each year I wait, the renovation on what I want to do gets more complex. 

I was able to coordinate the carpet installation while the kids were at Grandma and Grandpa Toppall's house.  I needed to be home all day while the men got the job done.  It was so nice to not have to worry about the kids or keeping them out of the way. The carpet guys moved all the big furniture, but I had to take care of everything little. I mostly piled as much as I could in the bathrooms.  It took a good amount of  time to put it all back where it belonged.  Another great benefit of not having the kids around.  And then there was the ability to watch 9 episodes of season 4 of "Breaking Bad".  All in all, a good day.

I am thrilled with how it looks.

Next up:  The fireplace project.  Give me a month and I'll give you some before and after pictures.  There is nooooo stopping me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Gramps Camp

Recipe for FUN:

1 set of grandparents
2 grandkids
2.5 days

Throw in a trip or two to go bowling, the Baltimore aquarium, and a visit to the pool.  Mix regularly with lots of love and laughter.  Add a dash of phone calls from me checking in. 

What do you have?  Gramps Camp.

Serves:  6

Ian and Sam just got back from spending Wednesday afternoon to Saturday at Jeff's parents house.  Family is very important to me and it goes without saying, that I want Ian and Samantha to have a close relationship with their grandparents.  What a better way to promote this than with Gramps Camp?  This was a term affectionately given to the experience by Jeff's sister, Elaine who has a frequent camper of her own.

The kids had a great time!  It was meltdown- and temper-tantrum-free!  And it was nice to have Jeff all to myself when he got home from work on Thursday and Friday.  It was a win-win-win all around.  The best part about this sleep away camp?  I don't have to check for lice.

I am ready to sign up for another session next Smmer. 

Friday, July 20, 2012


I know I am very late to the game.  In terms of how fast technology moves, it might as well be obsolete now by the time I discovered streaming video.  But WOW!  Am I glad I did.  We've been Netflix customers for many years.  And usually it's just Ian that streams classic cartoons through the wii to watch. I prefer watching movies on the discs that get sent in the mail.   However, about 2 weeks ago I decided to give streaming a go.

There is very little on tv right now that has captured my attention.  I saw one of those newsy-entertainment shows the other day talk about the new season of "Breaking Bad" about to start.  I hadn't even heard of this show and the reporter was saying it was one of the best shows ever done.  Hmmm, it got me interested in wanting to check it out.  I started streaming the first season and watching it on the ipad, through the Netflix app.  This was incredibly cool.  I figured I would do one episode each night before bed.  It took exactly 2 episodes before I got ridiculously hooked to this show. I can't stop watching it!  I understand what all the hype is.  This show rocks!

The coolest thing is I can watch an episode anywhere.  When I am at home, I can stream it through my tv in the family room (where the wii is hooked up).  When I am anywhere wifi is offered, I can stream it though the iPad. And when I am just out and about (or Jeff is driving), I can stream it on my iPhone.  Going back and forth to Williamsburg for Great Wolf Lodge, I was able to watch 2 episodes each way.  The streaming capability is phenomenal and the show comes across without a hitch.  I love that it is commercial free too.  The best part is, I can stop in mid-show and pick it up exactly where I left off on another device.  Got to love technology!

Of course, my list of 8 books I want to read has now taken a major back seat.  Kindle?  What's that?!?!    There are 46 episodes to watch until I am caught up with the beginning of Season 5, which just started.  I am recording that on my DVR, so I can start watching it right away and not need to wait for Netflix to offer it.  I am proud to say (or is it very pathetic?) that I did it and have managed to watch all 4 seasons by the time you are reading this.  It helped greatly that I was home all day yesterday, kid-free, because we had new carpet being installed. 

It's funny, sort of like when you get a new car and then you see that same exact model all over the road.  It seems like everyone I know is watching this show. Every time I turn around I hear another person say how they've just started watching it.  And they've all gotten hooked as quickly as I did.  It doesn't take long. new favorite thing.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Return of Great Wolf Lodge

It's official, Great Wolf Lodge is my new favorite place!  My Toppall team and I went back for a return visit last week.  We didn't wait the six years (until the kids were a bit older) like I previously reported wanting to do after our first trip in March 2011. 

An opportunity came up when I heard some friends were going in mid-July.  School was out, Summer was on!  Our trip was scheduled for Tuesday/Wednesday and I made this our big activity for the week.  We kept these plans from Ian and Samantha and surprised them two days before we left.  Over the past year, Ian had kept asking when we'd be able to go back. He loved that we'd be going with 3 other families.  It was so much fun!  I've said it before, traveling with friends is the way to go!

Everything could not have been more perfect!  There was literally no crowds at all, the kids all had friends to hang out with, and Ian & Samantha behaved fabulously.  One thing Jeff and I couldn't get over is how well the kids slept.  Everyone was out for the night by 9:00pm (including Jeff).  Sam slept until 8:40am the next morning!  And Ian slept until 9:15am!  OMG!  I am pretty sure this has never happened before.  Usually our kids are the ones waking up before the roosters. 

During this visit, the outside area was open.  How nice to have another pool and restaurant at our disposal.  I can see the benefit of going during the Winter months and the Summer months.  There isn't a wrong time to do Great Wolf Lodge!

I think I am going to make this an annual trip.  There was a wall of pictures going down one of the hallways.  It showcased their most loyal customers.  Each frame held a picture of a family and a small plaque stating how many visits they've had.  It ranged anywhere from 35 to 53 visits each.  Yowzer!  And these kids in the pictures were on the young side.  I can't imagine going that many times -- they must be averaging once every other month at least.  I am not looking to break any records, but for a fun, easy to get to, great family place, this is where I'll pick to go!   The kids love it and so do I.  So.  Much.  Fun. 

The more, the merrier!

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Black Short Drama

Sam has been taking a dance class on Wednesday afternoons for over a year and a half.  She loves it and its the one thing in her life she has never said she wants to quit.  The class consists of her and 3 of her best girl friends.  Sam takes the class very seriously and will practice new moves all week long. 

The dance class is very laid-back and low key compared to other dance studios in Fairfax County.  There are no big recitals each year or crazy costumes requiring the parents to spend a ton of money on a 4 minute performance up on a stage. 

The class is held at the Lorton Workhouse and each summer, they do an ice cream social.  You can buy a bowl one of the artist's made and get it filled with ice cream.  Additionally, you can wander around all the galleries and check out the various artists and their work.  It's a great idea.  And would be a better idea in the Fall.

This year, they wanted the two dance classes (Sam's and the one right after it with the kids 2 years older) to perform.  Yes, outside.  And the day this occurred, it was 104 degrees out.  Sam and all the other kids were a trooper and did an amazing job.  I am very proud of my little girl.  She was focused, had a smile on her face and did all the moves, despite melting at the time.  It was super cute.

The outfit Sam's dance teacher wanted everyone to wear was black shorts and any solid, color t-shirt.  Like I mentioned earlier, this is very low-key.   Of course, this combination of clothing did not get decided until I was out of town.  Jeff ran to Kohl's and found some black shorts.  My friend Stefanie ran to Target and found two more styles of black shorts.  She made sure to buy double of everything so in case Jeff didn't find anything, Sam would be covered. 

When I got back home, I laid out all 3 pairs of black shorts and told Sam to pick which pair she would want to wear.  She took a careful look and decided to go with BOTH pairs that Stefanie found. Yes!  Sam wore not one, but two pairs of black shorts at the same time.  And this is just the way she rolls. 

It's quite interesting Sam's sense of style.  She actually took the small, hoochy-mama pair (but very cute with these little bows on the side) and put them over the longer, biker style shorts.  I was impressed with Sam's ability to put together this look.   It is quite cool how this sense of fashion came natural to her.

A picture of Sam on stage, outside in 104 degree heat,
wearing both pairs of black shorts.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Up in the air

I am going to interrupt my usual blogging about life with the kids for this little rant....

While flying to Florida for my mom's surgery, I actually had time to think on the plane.  Usually I have a kid or two with me, and never have the opportunity to think about anything other than what disaster is about to happen and how can I divert it.

I find it very antiquated in this day and age, that all electronics need to be turned off for take-off and landing.  Why can't I have an ipod on or kindle going?  I'm not talking about being connected to a wifi or messing with any radio waves (for lack of more technical term), but being able to read an e-reader should not interfere with the pilot flying the plane. This makes no sense to me.  And I lose about 40 minutes of time I could spend reading if  follow the rules.  Which by the way, I do not always comply with.  I go for the window seat and keep the kindle hidden until the flight attendant makes their final walk-thru of the cabin before buckling up. 

The other thing that makes no sense is that some planes do have the ability to offer wifi up in the air.  Why isn't this standard on every single plane, regardless of carrier or destination?  Why isn't wifi available EVERYWHERE!?!?  And for that matter, it should be completely free. 

And while I am at it.  You used to be able to make phone calls (albeit, very expensive ones) from the plane.  Maybe its just on the newer planes and the ones I fly to Florida, but I haven't seen any phone service being offered these days.  Since this technology clearly exists, why can't we all use our cell phones on every flight?  We all hear the stories of passengers who are aware they are about to crash, and make last minute, desperate phone calls from their cell phones to their loved ones.  So we know it does work.  Why then, isn't it an option for the regular, every day, non-crashing type of flights?

Just some random thoughts as I tried to play by the rules on this last roundtrip to Orlando, when I didn't have kids distracting me.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


I found myself in the rare situation where both kids were at camp from 9:00am to 3:30pm and I had the day completely to myself.  Yay!   The Man was out of town and didn't need me to work.  And the house was relatively clean and didn't need any upkeep by me.  I was able to get all my errands run within the first 2 hours (it's amazing how fast you can move when you aren't moving at the speed of a 4 year old) and could meet my friend for a movie and lunch.  With plenty of time available afterwards to do pick-up from camp.

I have to tell you, I felt like I was playing hooky!  Going to the movies during a weekday, without kids, when the rest of the world is in an office somewhere, is divine.  I loved this!  It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.  So incredibly delightful.   And a leisurely lunch afterwards was lovely. 

And the best part is, I can actually see this being possible to do more and more as the kids get older.  So very exciting!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


In the 7 years we have lived here, we've done very little to the house.  Other than immediate repairs and other items that require getting fixed or replaced (like a new refrigerator, stove, AC/Heating unit) to keep the house running, nothing cosmetic has gotten done.  Basically, it has to be a need to have, not a want to have. 

Understandably so, this strategy has been put in action by my lack of income. It was a choice that was made back in May 2005, when Ian was born.   There is only so much you can do with one income. Living in one of the most expensive counties in the country, we make Jeff's paycheck go as far as it can.  But it leaves very little for anything above the necessities.  I wouldn't change a thing about the choices that were made.

Something has awoken within me. Once we had the small flooding occur downstairs in our family room/office/playroom and general everything-you-need-this-room-to-be-room, I have now put working on our house at the top of my list.  The carpet and wood floors has been something I've wanted to replace for a very long time.   While the floors looked awesome when we moved in, who knows just how old the carpet actually was.  Additionally, small kids and Bailey have taken their toll.  Jeff felt that the carpet from our flood could be salvaged.  I felt very differently and looked at the flooding like the icing on the cake for being time to get new carpet.  Also, while we were at, the bedrooms really needed new carpeting too.  Believe me, it was time.  I feel like we have to start putting some money into the house.  Jeff feels it is not necessary for our survival.  Obviously we are not seeing eye to eye on this.  So, I am taking matters into my hand and paying for the carpet myself.  Yes, with my little job working for The Man, I am doing it.  And then when I get the carpet paid off, I am moving on to the next thing on my list -- the fireplace.  I hate the cables coming out of our tv (which is mounted on the fireplace).  I don't like that you can see them.  I hate seeing the FIOS box, DVD player and wii.  I want it all built into the wall and hidden.  Also, the front of the fireplace has a brass frame around it.  Can you say ugly?!?  I want it removed.  And, while I am at it, I think the whole brick front would look much better painted white. 

And then after that is paid for, I am moving onto the kitchen.  New cabinets and counter tops.  Maybe by the time, I've gotten on to this renovation, the kids will be in school full-time and I'll actually be making some money. 

I don't see us moving any time soon.  And I don't see my dream remolding happening of knocking down the back wall of the whole house and expanding on every level (bigger master bedroom/bath, bigger, updated kitchen, and then adding in a guest room/full bath on the bottom floor).  So in the meantime, I am going to do my best to knock off the things I can do, one by one. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A new development

So, I finally read a parenting book that really spoke to me.  "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene.  This book is written in a way that makes the most difficult situations seem easy to defuse and avoid the big, inevitable confrontations that can abound.  It comes up with a plan (simple, really) that helps you and the child collaboratively (this is key!!) work together on solutions for any issues that arise.  The big thing is to identify in advance (again, another key action!) what the lagging skills are (hard to transition, doesn't like change, hates certain foods/textures, etc) and the unsolved problems (refuses to cooperate getting dressed in the morning, hates to wear the proper shoes needed for that day's activity, lots of screaming when coming to get picked-up, etc).  Together, you talk thru each situation and really listen to the child as to what is going on causing the issues.  Together (again, it's all about being collabrative!), you work through to a solution on how to address this specific thing the next time this situation is presented.  The goal is to get it solved ahead of time, before it comes up again.  It's brilliant, really. 

The other thing I've taken from this book is to drop all expectations.  Does it really matter?  It's not giving in, but finding a way to compromise.  Sam is incredibly head-strong and has many ideas of her own.  There is no imposing my preconceived notions of how something should be.  Case in point -- if we are going to the park for the day and she wants to wear her flip-flops or crocs.  I know for a fact, this is not practical and Sam will be very upset when sand, mulch and twigs gets in her shoes.  So in the past, I've had many, many battles telling her she can't wear these shoes to the park.  Instead, I want her to wear the shoes that will protect her feet, allow her to run and climb without slipping or falling and generally better suited for playing.  In the end, I've won the battle, but not without much yelling and forcing my point.  Now, my new plan is to let her wear the impractical shoes and bring the more suitable shoes with me.  I'll let her fall (once!) or get mulch all stuck in her foot (therefore, complain) and be ready with the shoes I think she should be wearing.  This is an easy way for us to both win and we've gotten out the door realatively trauma-free.

I was never a big fan of Sam's therapist.  This is the woman we've been seeing since the end of February.   I felt like Sam completely ran every session and the clinician had very little control on how they spent their time together.  Now whether this was part of the master plan on the therapist's part or she was truly in over-her-head with the likes of Sam, I'll never know.  It had been 4 full months and the therapist had yet to address the potty training issues (withholding poop) we are dealing with.  After speaking with a few close friends who have degrees in therapy, I was encouraged to drop this therapist and find someone better suited for Sam.   Why did it take me this long to come to this conclusion?  Because everyone has said, the road to Sam pooping and peeing like the regular population will be a long, long road.  Like upwards of 18 months long.  I needed to be paitient.  I am not a naturally paitient person, and was doing my best to let the process happen.  I knew results wouldn't be seen overnight and had to give it time.  But Sam never really took to the therapist and I was trying to let a bond happen that wasn't coming easily.

After my return from Florida, I met with Sam's therapist on a one-on-one session to check in and see where we were.  She was ready to address the toilet training problem and tell me her ideas.  Finally!  I figured after all this time, I had to hear what she had to say.  If our chat didn't result in making me feel better about Sam's sessions with this woman, I was prepared to call her up and tell her we are going to try someone else. 

SO here's the real kicker -- Sam's therapist dropped us before I could drop her.  Wow.  Just wow.  She said that this other clinician in the practice has an opening and Sam and I would be better suited with her.  She is certified in this "Parent-Child Interaction Therapy" and it would be beneficial for Jeff and me to go through this 14 session training intervention.  I was given a brochure on what this training is all about and how it will help.  It apparently is designed for the "disruptive" (a term used many, many times) child and how to avoid confrontations.  Oh and by the way, she can also address the toilet training issue.  (This was said very after the fact.  The main concern being the interaction therapy.)

OMG!  Can I tell you how pissed I am!!?!?!?!?!?  Seriously?  How Jeff and I interact with Sam is such a concern that she is recommending this program??!?!?!   And when you read the brochure the first thing it says is:  "Who is PCIT for?"  "Children who have experienced stress or trauma".    What the hell trauma or stress has Sam had to deal with?  You'd think Sam was abused or neglected or being raised by a crack-whore, or her father was no longer in the picture.  None of this is further from the truth! 

And as for my parenting skills (you know interacting with my child), this is not my first time at the rodeo.  I do have a 7 year old son who is very well adjusted and not showing any signs of "stress" or "trauma". 

In my "EXPERT" opinion, Sam has control issues.  Plain and simple.  She likes (no, LOVES) to be in control.  It has to be her idea and if its not, then G-d help us.  Her withholding poop is another sign of her exerting control.  But somewhere along the way, it has become all about the way I am a mother to her.   

Personally, I think we need to leave this practice of clinicians altogether and find someone with more of a psychriatric background that can really help Sam.  Someone who can recommend testing if needed. I know Sam is very young to be diagnosed with any kind of disorder, but it would be helpful if someone (who knew what they were doing) could tell us that Sam's control issues could be a sign of this or that.  Someone who thinks dealing with the encompresis (poop withholding) is a top-priority and not an after-thought.

I spoke with Jeff and he thinks we should just give Sam the rest of the summer off from therapy.  Let her have a break.  I am inclined to agree with him. 

Before we got dropped (uh, I mean referred to someone else), Sam's therapist did tell me her thoughts on what we should do with the toilet training.  We are currently trying it now.  Wish us the best that this is the beginning of the end of this nightmare.  And oh yeah, that it is Sam's idea to want to do this too.

Friday, July 6, 2012

And we're on a roll...

I've now been back for more than a week and part of me still feels like I am on a big break.  Jeff has gotten so used to doing everything himself, he has yet to fully escape from this mode of movement. 

Before I can walk from one of end of the kitchen to the other (and let me tell you, it is not that big of a kitchen), he'll be multi-tasking emptying the dishwasher and taking the trash out.  Don't get me wrong, its not like he never did this stuff before, because he did.  I never had any complaints how helpful and ready to pitch-in Jeff was.  However, it usually takes the clean dishes or the trash a little while to sit there before he notices and takes action.  More times than not, I'll be the one to swoop in and just get the job done.  Now, its the other way around and Jeff is on it!   It's pretty impressive.

Or, when I come back from the pool with the kids, before we can all get through the front door, Jeff has already gathered our wet towels & suits and started the wash.  Really!

And don't get me started on the grocery store. Yeehaw! We are going on almost an entire month since I stepped foot in one. 

The best is at the end of the day when he takes 5 minutes and packs the kids' backpacks for camp the next day.  I love watching him gather their bathing suits, and towels, and everything else they need to be ready.   There was one evening when I (foolishly!) told him he didn't have to do that, I could do it in the morning and he replied with, "You'd be surprised how quickly 8:30am gets here."

And from the grocery store to the folding & putting away laundry, the examples are endless and too many to list here.

I have to admit, it is very nice having someone be this on top of it.  All the other times I was away from the family for a girl's weekend or to go to a wedding, I guess I wasn't gone long enough to have had this reaction.  10 days must be the right number. 

I call this "The Jeff Effect".  It was unintended, but still a very nice result.  Who am I to get in his way? 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Got lunch?

We started the school year telling Ian he could buy his lunch at school one day, per week. It was up to Ian which day looked like his best bet.  After a few weeks, Jeff and I realized it was more cost effective for Ian to buy his lunch than for me to make it.  Plus, I got the benefit of not having to pack one.  Win-win!

When Ian was given carte blanche to do lunch at school every day, he was momentarily very excited. Then Ian realized he didn't think he'd like enough options offered on the Fairfax County public school menu to want to do it every day. Back in kindergarten when his class was given a test run doing lunch, Ian tried the pizza and hated it.  Normally, one of Ian's favorite foods is pizza, so it must've been very bad.  That took Fridays out of the rotation for the entire year!!

The other days during the week all depended for Ian on a combination of what sides and entree were being offered.  He has high standards and won't accept just anything.  Ian very rarely did lunch more than 1 or 2 days in any given week.  You can imagine my disappointment when I would tell Ian that the sides were broccoli and orange quarters (his favorites), but the entree was a bean and cheese burrito or a hamburger.  I knew if Ian just gave it a chance, he'd probably like it. Back-up each day in case you didn't like the featured entrees was a packaged boxed of items called a "Yogurt Biteable".  It contains yogurt, fruit, sun chips, and a cheese stick.  Another winner as Ian would normally eat all these items on their own at home.  However, at school, Ian wouldn't do it.   I never argued and made his lunch each day.  Hey, its my job!

The entire year passed.  I made many, many lunches and sent them with Ian to school.  On the Sunday before the last week of school, Ian and I went over his cafeteria menu.  It wasn't looking good, even for one day for Ian to buy.  Each day gave one or two options, none that had Ian excited about.  However, there was this "Manager's Choice" written in for each day.  Ohhh!  Jeff and I quickly deduced that meant whatever extra food they had leftover they wanted to get rid of.   I told Ian he could take a gamble and maybe get lucky with something he liked.  He was willing to take the risk!  Every single day!!  Including pizza Friday.  Wow. 

One by one, Ian tried all the foods I knew he would like all along.  The yogurt biteable?  Check!  The bean and cheese burrito?  Check!    It was very exciting hearing Ian tell me what he got and that he liked it. 

Too bad this all happened the last week in school.  Good thing it was in 1st grade.

The funniest moment came when Ian jumped in the car and told me he loved the nachos! 

Me:  Really, Ian?  You liked what they put on top of them? 
Ian:  I told them to keep it plain. 
Me:  So basically you had a chips for lunch?
Ian:  Yeah, they kept it as an entree too.
Me:  Lovely. (said sarcastically).  What sides did you get with it?
Ian:  Ice cream!  Wasn't that great?!?
Me:  Yes, perfect.  (again, said sarcastically).

Maybe it was a good thing that I packed his lunch for the majority of the year.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Heard and Observed #35

Ian came in the house after some major running around in the heat of the day.  Ian was all sweaty and his face was flushed.  Ian said he just wanted to take a shower and get in his pajamas.  About 10 minutes later I see Ian and ask him if he feels better.  Ian replies with, "No, I just feel wetter."


A very wierd conversation overheard in the car.  Sam was talking to Ian.

Sam:  I really like your nose hairs, Ian.


Ian gets in the car after picking him up from school. 

Ian:  What's for dinner?
Me:  Grilled chicken, veggies and rice.
Ian:  Oh man, I'm not really fired up about that.


Ian:  Oh Man, all Sam wants to watch is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  Can't she watch anything else!?!?!?

Sam:  I just love Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  That's the way I roll, Ian.