Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rock Climbing.

Cousins!  Matthew, Ian and Sam
Our nephew Matthew just turned 10 years old.  His birthday party was at EarthTreks in Rockville, MD.  This was a great opportunity for Sam to try out rock climbing.  She had never been before and made the minimum weight by 1 pound.  We were prepared with her iPad as back-up entertainment if she didn't enjoy it.

Wow!  What an afternoon!!  Sam took to rock climbing like a fish takes to water.  She was surrounded by 9 and 10 year old boys and completely held her own.  As soon as she came down from climbing, she got right back in line and waited for her turn again.  She loved it!  It helps that Sam has no fear.  Plus, she loved being treated like a big kid. 

Sam getting in her harness.

That's Sam on the left!

Ian, on the other hand, has a major fear of heights and will get about 3/4's of the way up and then freeze.  Literally, he'll realize just how high he's gotten and can no longer function.  He'll start shaking and his voice will quiver that he needs to come down now.  If anyone tries to convince him that he can make it to the top, he bursts into tears and you know, there is no other option for him but to come down.

The key for Ian is to be blindfolded!  He will happily wear a blindfold and climb to the top of any height.  It is an amazing sight to behold.  Ian not only climbed on the 'easy' track of the wall, but also tackled a very challenging cliff type wall -- all blindfolded. 

Without blindfold, this is as high as Ian will go. That's Sam on the left, by the way.

With blindfold, that's Ian at the top!

Here's Ian at the top (blindfolded) doing a much more difficult climb.  

It was a great party and the kids had a ball. A big THANK YOU to my wonderful sister-in-law Elaine who said Sam could give rock climbing a try.  It has opened up a new world for her.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Weekend.

Want to know how to make the most of a weekend?  Take a lesson or two from Team Toppall.  I am not sure it is physically possible to do any more than we accomplished the weekend of November 16th.


10:00am - Jeff and Ian attend services at Olam Tikvah

Meanwhile, I clean the bathrooms and dust all surfaces. Sam helps!  We also change everyone's bedding and wash the sheets and towels.

12:00pm to 2:00pm - Ian goes to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese

12:10pm to 4:30pm - Sam and I go out to lunch and see The Nutcracker

2:15pm to 4:45pm - Ian goes to his friend Nathan's house for a playdate

2:30pm to 4:00pm - Jeff vacuums and mops the floors.  And, does his wash.

5:00pm - We leave (as a family) for Gaithersburg, MD.

5:45pm - We arrive at friend's house.  Drop the kids off and get them settled to share in the babysitter.  Jeff/Me and Brian/Stephanie have a date night in Bethesda and eat at Mon Ami Gabi (super yummy!).

 9:45pm - Arrive back at the house; kids go to sleep immediately.


9:00am to 12:00pm - Ian attends religious school

9:30am to 11:30am - Jeff and Sam grocery shop at Wegman's (Yes, the Sunday before Thanksgiving!!!  They are crazy like that!!)

While they are gone, I take two solid hours and clean out our shed and completely reorganize it.  AM VETS is coming by on Monday morning to pick-up a donation.  HUGE piles of stuff is ready to go.

12:15pm - Jeff and Ian arrive back at the house.  Lunch is had by all.

12:45pm to 1:30pm - I rake 4 bags of leaves and get a good chunk of the front lawn done.

2:10pm - We all leave for Matthew's (nephew) birthday party.

3:00pm to 5:00pm - Birthday party at EarthTreks in Rockville (rock climbing).  Both kids climb and have a great time!

5:30pm to 7:00pm - Dinner with all of Jeff's family at the nearby Ted's Diner. 

7:45pm - Arrive back at the house, Sam goes to sleep immediately.

This weekend was a great mix of being super productive (cleaning the house, organizing the shed, donating a ton of stuff, raking leaves, grocery shopping), being super social (date night with friends, playdate, birthday party for Ian, hanging with my great mommy friend for lunch and the Nutcracker), throwing in some quality family time (Matthew's birthday party, dinner with the whole family afterwards), not to mention a little culture on the side (seeing the Nutcracker).

I am sure that Ian is going to be very happy to be back at school, just so he can be in one place for 8 hours straight.

This has to have been one of our more packed weekends.  The kids were wonderful at every event.  The weather was beautiful and it feels great to have lived life to the fullest.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Nutcracker

When I knew I wanted to be a mom and have kids, I had no idea that there would be these moments when I could watch life through their eyes.  When you get to see them be in awe and amazed by the wonderment that unfolds in front of them.

I think this is why I get disappointed many times when I have these great expectations of how something will go down and then in the end, it is a temper tantrum or meltdown that sours the whole experience.  Hopefully, I've been doing better about setting realistic expectations.

I've been patiently waiting for over 4 years to take Sam to see The Nutcracker.  This is one of those things that I knew (HOPED!) she would love.  I couldn't wait for her to watch this magical performance with all the beautiful costumes, wonderful dancing, great music and bright colors, not to mention seeing all the kids that get to dance and participate in the show.

Each year, I'd hear about my friends who take their girls and I'd get impatient trying to find a kid-friendly version of The Nutcracker to get tickets to.   Finally, I couldn't wait any longer and had to do it!  We had to go!

Sam, at the ripe old age of 4, has now experienced The Nutcracker.  I love that I could do this with her.  We went with our good friends, Kelly and her girls.  Everything about the day was perfect!  SAM WAS PERFECT!  We went to lunch beforehand and then headed over to the theatre for the performance.

It was so heartwarming for me watching Sam watch the stage.  Her eyes never moved once from the dancers.  She was mesmerized by the performance.  What a great afternoon.

The icing on the cake?  Sam telling me she had to go to the bathroom.  We made it in time (despite the bathroom not being anywhere close to where we were sitting) and once there, Sam pooped!

All smiles!  That's the way I like to see her. :)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Uh-oh! My bad!

Allow me to make a public apology to a budding Julia Child, my mom.  She has pointed out to me that she has had more hits than misses.  And, she feels strongly she does have her mom's natural ability to cook.

I am sorry that I thought to the contrary.

A direct quote from my mom, "I have made some pretty spectacular meals.  Don't you remember that one Thanksgiving that went over the top?"

Enough said.

P.S. For anyone that missed why mom's feelings were hurt.  You can read about it here:  Cooking with Sam

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

More tales from the Crypt

"OY!!" is all I can say most days. The Man (you know, the guy I work part-time for) is still going strong.  I have come to the conclusion (having really studied him over the past 10 months) some evident truths -- he thinks he is more important than he really is, has ADDHD (how else to explain getting distracted from working on something as important as reporting fraud to throwing me off on some tangent to track down a magic store in Illinois or tell him how he can find a girlfriend on an online dating site), and The Man really doesn't like anyone who doesn't speak clearly with an American accent.  G-d forbid they have the slightest accent, he'll hang right up on them and call back until someone speaking English answers the phone.

Some interesting things I've been working on.  The Man wants to be the very first car to ride on the new Express Lanes on the Beltway.  Who in the world dreams this stuff up? So, I tracked down the guy who is in charge of the Mega projects.  Turns out The Man can be the first car when the Express Lanes open.  It will be at 2:00am on Saturday morning.  This bit of info does not deter The Man from wanting to show up.  In fact, he then gets me on a hunt for the name and number of someone who can lend him a vintage automobile to do this drive in.  Somewhere along the way, VDOT did the ribbon cutting ceremony during a more reasonable time of the day, days before the lanes officially opened.  No one contacted The Man to be there for this event. 

Additionally, there have been numerous hours spent helping him draft  (2) 10 page letters to the State and administration at the hospital on his recent hospital stay (Don't worry, nothing serious.  And, nothing that impeded  him from getting the names of about 6 Hospital staff and write direct quotes from what they said).  One letter deals directly with how dirty his hospital room was.  The other letter was on the lack of patient care.  And while editing and adding to these letters, I've been getting on the horn to call "60 Minutes", "7 On Your Side", "Washington Post", "Washington Times" to see if they are interested in this story.  So far, no one has bitten.

And don't get me started on the "Kennedy Center Honors" and the letter he is working on for that.  Apparently he attended legitimately in 1983 and got to dance with Lauren Becall (who said he was an exceptional dancer).  He's gone back for many years after, but without a ticket.  He has crashed the Kennedy Center Honors dance many, many times and gotten away with it.  Now, the head event person has figured out who he is and what he looks like.  He's never allowed back in, even if he had a ticket.  He is trying to figure out a way around this.

I've told him that after I leave his place, my day is awfully mellow.  And, that's hard to do with being a mother to a four year old.  I can't beat the flexibility I have working for him.  It's nice that I only work when Sam is in preschool and am always available for the kids when they are home.  But, I do dream of working one day for someone who is a bit more grounded and doesn't have such grandiose ideas.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The unhealthy-not good-for-you-lacking major nutrition-lunch

(And, I am not talking about the cafeteria food either!)

Ian's school holds a Thanksgiving day lunch.  Parents, grandparents, siblings are encouraged to join their student for lunch and give thanks for all we have.  It is even more poignant when the school picks Veteran's day to hold the Thanksgiving day lunch and really gives the working parents a fighting chance on making it during the day.  Standard Thanksgiving day food is served (Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, etc). Ian got a nice surprise on Monday when not one, but both of his parents were able to show up and have lunch with him.  This was actually the first time that Jeff has done lunch with Ian at school.

My two most favorite boys in the whole wide world.

During the 40 minutes I was there, it seemed to me that most every student had a parent or someone with them.  However, at Ian's table, I noticed the boy directly across from me (let's call him "Steve") was by himself.  I started a conversation with him and asked him about his weekend.  While chatting, I noticed that he was all done eating his lunch.  Steve had brought his lunch from home.  Given that it took him less time to eat it than the amount of time it took me to go through the lunch line to get my fruit salad and yogurt, I had to ask him what he had to eat.  Steve answered Pringles (one of those individual servings container) and a baggie with a baby pickles.  That's it. No sandwich, no fruit, no drink. Nothing else.

Instantly, my mind starts racing with a ton of questions -- "Did you pack your own lunch?"  Yes, with a smile on his face is Steve's answer.  "Does your mom know what you packed?"  No is his reply.  "Do you think your mom would be happy if she knew?" A shrug of the shoulders was his answer.

Ugh!  I am not sure which is worse -- that Steve was allowed to pack his own lunch and his mom didn't take the time to double check what he packed, or that Steve doesn't know enough that Pringles and pickles does not make a suitable lunch.  Even IF (and this is a big IF because it won't be happening any time soon!) Ian were to pack his own lunch, he knows what constitutes a healthy, appropriate lunch. 

My heart was breaking for this kid as I looked down and saw all the food I had in front of me to eat -- not to mention I was headed home afterwards and could always get something else if I was still hungry.  I quickly offered Steve some of my fruit and started a pile of apple slices for him.  He said, "No, I'm fine."  I  then offered him my unopened yogurt with a clean spoon and again, he said, "No, I'm fine."   Then I pushed my unopened chocolate milk his way and said, "Surely, you must be thirsty."  And that got returned as well.

At this point the woman sitting next to him, who was there for her daughter sitting on the other side of her, noticed what was going on.  She couldn't believe either what Steve had for lunch and started offering food from her tray.  Each time Steve said, "No, I'm fine."  the other mom and I looked at each other.  I told her 'the Mom in me' is having a very tough time letting this go.  She nodded her head in agreement.

So badly I wanted to send Steve's mom an email and tell her to get a clue and help her son pack his lunch.  But I restrained myself and waited until my bookclub meeting later that day to find out the best way to handle this.  All the women unanimously agreed that it was best to let this go.  Oh yeah, this is what Jeff initially said too, but he's a guy, not a mom.  :)   They felt that this kid packed his own lunch and he should suffer the consequences of being hungry.  They further explained that the mom could very well know what was going on and was letting Steve be held accountable.  Hmmmm.  Ok, so maybe I need to attack this from another direction.

At dinner the next night, I made it clear to Ian that if he ever sees a friend or a classmate hungry, he has my permission to offer them some of his lunch (barring any allergies the kid may have).  I always pack more than enough food for Ian to share.  And I asked Ian what Steve had for lunch that day. Ian said he bought his lunch.  Whew!  The next day and the day after I asked what Steve had for lunch, and Ian described the lunch he brought from home containing a sandwich and a yogurt, plus of course, the Pringles and pickles.  Still no drink, but its a start.

I think I will let this go.  But it still doesn't sit right with me what this kid was allowed to leave the house with so little in his lunch bag, let alone having all his food void of nutritional value.  You know me, I'll be keeping an eye on him, even if its just a daily report from Ian on what he had to eat that day.


Ian went to a birthday party over the weekend, and Steve and his mother were also there. Upon meeting the mom, Jeff and Ian chatted with her.  The first thing out of Ian's mouth?  "My mom asks what Steve has for lunch every day."   OMG!  I am mortified.  Maybe the mom thought she heard wrong, because she didn't say anything to this statement.

I am officially done now worrying about Steve's lunch.  I am going to crawl under a rock and hide now.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Where will we put the Oscar?

I know now what Sam will be when she grows up.  An actress!  Just as we end one stage (withholding poop), we smoothly sail in to the next stage that I can't wait to get out of.  In the last 2 weeks, Sam has demonstrated performances worthy of Meryl Streep and Sally Fields. 

When we are in public and Sam is not getting her way, she has been known to scream and throw a fit in the hopes she will wear me down and hope I will do whatever it takes to get her to be quiet.  My plan of action since day 1, has been to pay no attention to the temper tantrum or screaming that ensues when I tell her "No" and give her a reason why.  Eventually she gets the screaming, stomping, and arm flailing out of her system when I fail to reward her horrific behavior.  I will not cave or let her get away with it.

Not to be outdone, Sam has stepped it up a notch and came up with a different tactic when she doesn't get her way.  She will wrap her arms around the front part of her stomach, bend over slightly and start gagging.  Meanwhile, she is yelling loudly, "I'M GOING TO BE SICK!  I AM GOING TO THROW-UP!!" 

It's real fun when we are in public and everyone around us thinks she really is going to be sick.  It's even more fun when they see my lack of reaction to this and get appalled that I am not taking my 4 year old seriously.  And, the fun gets really out of control when I keep walking to wherever we were going and she adds in her yelling, "YOUR GOING TOO FAST!! I CAN'T KEEP UP!!!  I'M GOING TO THROW-UP!!"  And then for added measure, Sam will make the coughing/gagging sound like something resembling bile is about to emerge from her mouth.

So in the last 2 weeks, I've been lucky (said very sarcastically) enough to be witness this on three separate occasions.  The best was when we were at the grocery store, running in for one quick item.  Sam wanted more cheezits and I told her no, that we no longer had anymore.  So, she dialed it up a notch and gave the performance of a lifetime.  Everyone around us quickly sprung into action and looked at me with panic in their eyes.  One woman offered to run get a bag from produce for her to throw-up in.  Another woman offered to go get paper towels.  I just looked at these women and said, "No need to do anything.  Just enjoy the show" and kept walking.  The horror in their faces and those of the other strangers around us told me that I was being judged and about to win the "Worst Mom in the world" award. 

The best reaction came from my friend who saw Sam give one of these performances after an issue she had with her dress, once gymnastics class was over.  She knows Sam quite well and just started laughing.  It was very funny and a very appropriate reaction. 

I have to give some props to Sam.  Her bending over ever-so-slightly and holding her tummy with both arms is genius on her part.  It really adds flavor and authenticity to her claims she is about to be sick and throw-up.

I wonder what I will wear to the Academy Awards? 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cooking with Sam

My mom's mom was a very successful Jewish caterer in South Jersey. Back in the day, she did Bas Mitzvahs, weddings and events.  Her food melted in your mouth and 40 years later, people still talk about her cooking.  My grandmother didn't know how to cook for only 2, there was always a ton of food at the table when you came over for dinner.  Her favorite thing to read were cookbooks. I miss my grandmother greatly and fondly remember letting me help her roll out the rugelach.  Oh my, they were the best. 

I can safely say without hurting anyone's feelings that my mom did not inherit my grandmother's natural ability to cook.  In fact, I have a ton of examples to the contrary that even when following a recipe exactly, something doesn't work out.  And as for me, I'm just happy to get dinner on the table most nights.  I am not looking to change the world with my cooking and the less time I can spend in the kitchen, the better.

But, if there was a cooking gene and someone were to inherit it, it is Samantha.  At four years old, Sam is my right-hand in the kitchen.  She is very quick to put on an apron and pull up her step stool.  She wants to be a part of every dish I make.  She asks questions about what we're making, how long it will take to cook and what ingredients we need.  She is not afraid to stand at the stove and stir continuously or to work her dull knife and cut stuff up. 

This is Sam wearing her apron. 
She made it at mom-mom's house over the summer.

Sam rolling out the pizza dough.
When dinner is served, we all thank Sam for making our meal.  The smile on Sam's face extends from one ear to the other.  She loves getting complimented for a job well done.  One of her favorite things to make is scrambled eggs for Ian in the morning. 

Sam is an excellent student.  I can only imagine the kvelling my grandmom syl would do if she had Sam in her kitchen helping her.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Um, hi!

Lately, with increasing frequency, I've had people notice me and give me that look that they know me.  They'll wave or nod their head with a big smile from across the room, or even come up and start a conversation.  More times than not, I have absolutely no idea who these people are. 

It would be very embarrassing if I admitted I had no idea who they are, so I play it off.  I am the friendliest stranger you'll ever meet! 

A few weeks ago, I was standing next to a woman I do know in the office at gymnastics and another woman comes up to me and starts telling me about her mom and how she isn't doing well.  Her prognosis doesn't look good.  This woman looks at my friend and says, "It's ok I'm unloading like this, Robyn and I go way back."   WHAT?!?!  We do?  At this point, I wasn't sure if I should be hugging her in consolation over the news of her mother or offer to bring her family dinner.  Just how far back do we go?  No clue.   Hopefully I played it off appropriately.

While at a restaurant in Arlington, having dinner with my friend Ivy, we stood in line waiting for a table.  The place was unusually packed because of a fundraiser underway.  As more and more people were walking through the door, a ton of people looked right at me, smiled in recognition and said hi.  I just played it off, smiled right back at them and said "Hello."   I haven't lived in Arlington over 8 years and had no idea who any of these people were.  It was too funny and my friend and I got a good laugh about it. 

Voting for the election took place at Ian's elementary school.  You can just imagine how many people spotted me in line during those whole 15 minutes we were there.  I was constantly nodding and saying hi back to everyone who looked at me and said hello, with a visible sign of recognition on their face.  Fortunately I did know one of these women and could actually have a conversation interacting instead of racking my brain trying to figure out if I should be doing more than smiling, pretending like I knew them.

People seem to know me wherever I go.  I wish I knew them back.  My friend, Heather, has the most amazing memory for names and faces.  She will remember seeing someone from like 20 years ago as if she just met them 5 minutes before. I am continually impressed with this magical memory skill she has.  I seem to use my memory for less useful info; like what seat I was sitting in at the movie theatre watching almost every movie I've ever been to.  What good is that going to get me?

It's too bad that we don't live in a world, where I can be completely honest and say, "You seem like a really nice person.  Can you tell me how I know you?".   Or, what if we all just walked around with name tags on?  Wouldn't it make life so much easier?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Flu shot fun? Oh yeah!

Some people dread getting the flu shot each year.  Not my Toppall team and me.  We make getting a flu shot an event!  Our pediatrician offers 3 flu shot clinics each year.  The clinics are two hour blocks of time, where you walk in, get the traditional shot or the mist in the nose and then walk out.  It's easy-breezy! 

My friend Beth takes her two kids (same ages as Ian and Sam) to the same pediatrician as us.  The doctors offices are located in Fairfax Corner and conveniently situated one floor above the Ben and Jerry's.  Seriously, how great is that!?!? 

Beth and I purposely pick the flu shot clinic that is offered on a weekday evening and meet for dinner beforehand.  Our restaurant of choice is Rio Grande.  Afterwards, the kids get the vaccination (or as Ian calls it "The flu up the nose") and then we finish our outing with ice cream at Ben and Jerry's. 

We've been doing this for 4 years now and have no plans of stopping.  It is so much fun for everyone that the kids don't even know what hit them when walking into the pediatrician's office.

Getting your medicine goes down so much easier with good friends, good food, and a good time.

How can you not want this frozen yogurt with a cutie-patootie like Sam?

Friday, November 9, 2012


Faster than a three year old wearing out a toy.  More forgetful than the absent-minded professor.  Able to induce a sense of deja vu similar to seeing a set of identical triplets.

It's a bird, it's a plane, no it's Jeff losing his umbrella again.

Singlehandedly, my husband is protecting the greater Washington D.C. Metro area one raindrop at a time.  Each time it looks like bad weather is in the forecast or even hinted at, Jeff reaches in the hall closet for an umbrella to bring with him to work.   And each day, upon his return home at the end of the day, he tells another tale of losing (misplacing) his umbrella at Union Station.

It has happened so frequently that I can't help but break out into giggles when he calls to tell me he is at the train station waiting for the VRE, and then inevitably, he groans and says with a pained voice, "OH NO!  Not again!!".   At some point, he has put the umbrella down and then walked away.

I am sure the people at Union Station must be thinking this is their lucky day.  A few more months of Jeff working downtown and it will be everyone's lucky day at some point.

Anyone know if they sell umbrellas in bulk at Costco?   It's time to stock up again.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Even if the guy we voted for doesn't win,
we are still winners for getting out to vote.
As I write this (Tuesday evening, just before the polls close in VA), I have no idea who has won the presidential election.  But I do know, that I absolutely love living in a country that allows us the freedom to chose who we want.  We can vote for Obama, Romney, or even write-in a candidate if we so feel the urge. 

Even if we can't unanimously agree on who should be in the White House, I am grateful that voting is a right we have.  One that shouldn't be taken for granted.   How fortunate we are that our voices are heard and our votes get counted.  There is no better place to live than the United States of America. 

I felt such pride going to vote on Tuesday and taking Ian with me to experience the process.  I wanted him to feel like he was a part of it.  We chose the electronic version for voting and Ian pressed all the buttons, after appropriately letting him know which ones to push.  When it came time to the final big, red button to "VOTE", I said to Ian I wanted to get a picture of him pushing it.  He looked at me and whispered, "No, Mom!  I'm not really supposed to be voting."   It was super cute and the button got pushed too quickly before I could get the camera ready.

Even Sam got in on the voting process and her Pre-K class had an election on which snack to serve -- noodles or crackers.  I asked her how they voted...did they raise their hands to show which one they wanted?  Sam replied with, "No, we had to keep our answers a secret.  No one could know what we were picking.  We had to cross something out on a piece of paper and put it in the box."   In case this particular election doesn't get announced on the nightly news, the majority picked crackers, despite Sam, Ainsley and Jacob picking noodles.  So much for confidentiality among the 4 year olds.

I remember fondly the first time I ever got to vote.  It was the 1992 election and I was in college.  The election had Bill Clinton and H. Ross Perot running against the incumbent George H.W. Bush.  How great that all 3 men running were left handed?  I was so giddy and excited to be able to vote that on my way out of the local voting hall, I had to restrain myself from hugging the complete stranger walking out the same time I did.  I really don't think this man would've appreciated being assaulted on the way to his car.  One of my friends in college came up with the idea to call the Democratic National Headquarters and ask where the party was going to be held for the volunteers.  We were told the Hilton in downtown D.C.   The four of us crashed the volunteer's party, celebrating everyone's hard work (not ours, of course!) during the campaign.  It was beyond exciting being there and I remember going to a pay phone and calling my mom to tell her to look for me on tv.  My friends and I stood out among the thousands of partygoers, because as soon as we walked in the gigantic ballroom, we noticed the table centerpieces and quickly made them into wearable headwear.  The centerpieces were patriotic red, white, and blue standard-sized cardboard hats with red, white and blue carnations sticking out of the top of the hats.  I can imagine how silly we looked, but we got caught up in the moment and was having a blast.  I remember people asking us where we got our cool looking hats and some even offered us money for them.  

When the results were announced, during a live broadcast at the party, the entire room erupted into cheers and applause.  It was pretty amazing.  As the party was winding down, we jumped into a cab and went to Au Pied De Cochon in Georgetown (totally dating myself here -- this restaurant has been closed for some time), because they were opened late, late into the wee hours of the morning.  When the four of us walked in (still wearing the centerpieces on our heads), the entire restaurant clapped and cheered for us.  It was pretty darn cool.  Ah, how wonderful to be living in Washington, D.C. during this time. 

My subsequent voting experiences have been incredibly dull compared to the one in 1992.  However, yesterday made me all giddy again with joy as I showed Ian democracy in action.

No matter how this election turns out, we will always have another chance to have our voices heard and our votes counted.  That's just one of the reasons that makes this country so fantastic.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Butter on our popcorn, please.

It's well known that I love the movies.  My love affair with the movies goes way back to when I was a little girl.  I can remember going to the theatre and seeing every movie that came out.  I even worked in a movie theatre in high school (Florida) and then again during college (Washington, D.C.). 

There is just something magical about watching a movie and being transported to a different time and place.  I have some very distinct genres that I do not enjoy -- horror, western, and period/historical movies, but all others are fair game.  If its a chick flick and a comedy, I'm there.  A drama with a sappy ending, I'm there.  An action film starring any number of leading male stars and I'm there.  There is no twisting my arm to go.  Just showing up, with a big bucket of popcorn on my lap and watching a script coming to life is entertainment enough.  Even the movies that bomb and make us cringe while watching it, is fodder for many laughs for months to come with my friends and I. 

I've been patiently waiting for Ian to get old enough to show him some of my favorite movies.  Movies that are age appropriate and he'd understand and appreciate.  I think we've finally gotten to the point that we can do PG movies.  We watched "Back to the future" and Ian instantly wanted to see "Back to the future 2" and "Back to the future 3".  That's the kind of reaction I like to see.  How cool for him that he didn't have to wait two and three years between the next installments of the movie.

During our week at the beach, we brought the DVD of "Big" with us.  Got to love Tom Hanks.  It was really neat pausing the movie explaining to Ian how iconic the scene with Josh and his boss playing the keyboard piano at FAO Schwartz has now become. 

Last week, it occurred to me how much Ian would love the movie "Rudy".  This is easily in my top 5 all time favorites.  Ian loves football and what better, inspiring story of the "underdog" wanting to play football at Notre Dame, who has everything going against him.  I actually own this movie and couldn't wait to watch it along with him.  Unfortunately, I don't think Ian loved it as much as I thought he would.  He liked it, but didn't get moved to tears like I do at the ending, when the crowd starts cheering "Rudy! Rudy!  Rudy!" and Rudy finally gets his chance to play in the last 4 seconds of the last game of his Senior year.  Ah, what a movie. 

This weekend, we've got "Uncle Buck" at the ready.  I've found a great website, "Common Sense" that rates almost every movie out there and explains what the youngest age that should see it and what specifically gives it that age rating (violence, language, sex, etc).  I am not a stickler making sure that it has to be 7 years old or younger for the rating.  We are taking it case by case.  While Jeff can't wait to show Ian "Meatballs"  (Really?), I am eager to show Ian "Planes, Trains and Automobiles".  Both are not within shooting distance of being age appropriate yet.  I can still laugh out loud, without the movie even playing, just at the thought of the scene of Steve Martin and John Candy in the hotel room together.  "Where's your hand?"  "Between two pillows."  "THOSE AREN'T PILLOWS!!!!"   Ah, I can't wait until its ok for Ian to watch this gem.

Jeff and I have a list going of all the movies we can't wait to show Ian.  And, we get to do it all again once Sam gets a few years older.  What a great reason to stay in and make it movie night at Casa del Toppall.

Friday, November 2, 2012

This is who she is!

On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, between when Sam gets out of preschool and Ian's school day is over is a span of about 2 hours of time.  Sam and I have been known to go to Josie's with some preschool friends and get frozen yogurt from time to time.  This does not sit well with Ian, who LOVES going to Josie's just as much as the next person.  Inevitably, Sam lets it slip to Ian that we went to Josie's while he was at school.  As you can imagine, this causes a normally jovial Ian to become upset and bitter.

Time and time again, I tell Sam to not let Ian know where we went while he was at school.  And of course, somehow, it comes out to Ian.  One time, Sam made it a point to play with Josie's frequent visitor card while Ian was entering the car.  Another time, Sam said, "I am so full!" within Ian's earshot.  Each time, Ian quickly deduced where we went.

This last incidence of going to Josie's and not telling Ian took the cake.  As we are making our way through the kiss 'n ride line, I said to Sam "Remember, do not say anything to Ian about going to Josie's.  We don't want to upset him."   About 30 seconds later Ian gets in the car.  The first words out of Sam's mouth are, "What am I not supposed to tell Ian again?"   

And that was Sam's way of telling Ian without actually saying the words, "We went to Josie's."   :)

Shhh! Top Secret Frozen Yogurt Mission.


One morning before school, we are sitting at the kitchen table.  Sam is grunting loudly and making a face, visibly straining very hard.

Me: "Sam, are you ok?"

Sam: "I am trying to fart myself."