Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Girl's Weekend

I have been very fortunate to go on not one but two girl's weekends in the last 4 months.  Each  trip was with a different set of women I hang out with.  My most recent one was to Berkeley Springs in early October with my neighborhood mom's group friends. 

We booked spa treatments for Saturday at my favorite spa.  I always like to try something new and this trip was no exception.  I booked a Steam and Herbal Wrap.  I had no idea what to expect.  Fortunately my friend Jen booked the same exact thing and we experienced the spa treatment at the same time. 

Here is a description of the treatment:

An Atasian signature spa treatment, this service begins in the herbal steam room, followed by a cocoon of hot, fragrant, herb soaked linens. Further perspiration draws out impurities while beneficial herbs nourish the skin. A scalp massage enhances deep relaxation.  20 minute steam / 25 minute wrap.

So here is what is not included in the description.  The steam room is crazy!  It's filled with so much steam you can't see your hand coming from your body.  You are wrapped in a towel (with nothing underneath) and told to enter this enclosed room.  Upon walking through the door, Jen says, "Is that you Robyn?"   Trying to get my bearings, I say, "Yes".  We had no idea each other was in the room.  Jen then says "Thank G-d you are here!!  I keep trying the door to make sure I don't get locked inside."

I am still not sure where I am.  I can't see anything.  I ask her if we just stand here.  She said no, take a seat. Um, where the heck is that!?!?!  I feel my way for the long built-in bench and find it.  I sit down and am amazed I've lasted this long.  I don't do well in the heat.  But I am game to try something new and find that this is not too bad.  For 20 minutes Jen and I chat.  It helps make the time go by faster.  We can't stop giggling on what we are putting ourselves through.  I am sweating something fierce, but find a bit of relief in letting the towel slip down.  Hey, no one can see anything.  Not even me.

Finally, the bell goes off and the steam stops getting pumped in the room.  Jen and I leave and make our way upstairs for the rest of the treatment.  We are each shown to separate rooms.  At this point I am a bit lightheaded and don't quite remember the instructions I am given on how to lay on the table.  I do it completely backwards.  Oh my!  Instead of being on my back, I am on my tummy.  I think my head is where my feet should be.  I feel lucky at this point I have not passed out.  Whoa, baby that was a lot of steam!!  The technician very nicely tells me to readjust my body. She then gets started on wrapping me up.  To begin with, I am on a heated table laying on top of hot soaked towels.  I get covered with hot soaked towels on top of me, only leaving my head free.  A plastic sheet goes completely around me.  It ends with a heated blanket put on top of that.  My arms are by my side and I feel like a mummy all wrapped up.  The technician puts a cold wash cloth on my face and leaves my mouth free for breathing.  She tells me she is about to leave the room and if necessary, break my arms free.  Um, ok. 

I try very hard to hang tough for the 25 minutes.  I am positive I can stay completely wrapped up and not look like a wimp upon her return.  After about 5 minutes, I can't take much more.  I have sweat dripping in places I didn't think was possible.  I break my arms free and feel a little relief.  I let myself enjoy the room temperature air on my arms for about 2 minutes and am certain I can stick my arms back by my side in the wrapping.  She'll never know!  I slide one arm back in and I freak out. YOWZER!! It is hot in there!!!  I think Hell is actually a few degrees cooler than what is going on under the hot towels and heated blanket.  What in the world was I thinking?  My arm comes back out and I make the decision to leave them out for the remaining time.

I am not sure how I survived this treatment, but I did.  Once it was over, I was actually shaking I was so hungry.  I sweated out EVERYTHING I had in me.  There was nothing left for my body live off of.  Those who know me probably don't understand why I willingly paid for this form of heat torture.  I am not sure I quite get it myself.  But I have to say, the next day I felt amazing.  And, get this...I would do it again!  Next time I would make sure to drink lots more water.  My 6 oz cup I had going into the steam room clearly wasn't enough. 

I love my girl's weekend getaways.  I love that I married a guy who is okay with me being gone and has no problem being 100% in charge of the kids.  And I love that I found a spa I can afford. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Field Trip Time!

I did it.  I finally made it to one of the kids' school field trips.  This was my first opportunity since the kids started school that I was able to go. 
It wasn't a given that I was going to make it.  It didn't look good when I got notice that the preschool director I work for unexpectedly was not coming in.  But thanks to the marvelous team of women I work with, they made it possible for me to run out and be there for the field trip.  It was a surprise to not only me that I was going to make it, but Samantha too.  She was so excited to see me show up.
The field trip was to our local Fire Station.  No bus needed for this field trip, the fire station is located right across the street from the school.

It was a whirlwind morning for me running back and forth, but I wouldn't have done anything different.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Not too long ago I was making the transition from working for The Crazy Man to dropping the car off at home and walking to get the kids at school.  I needed to use the bathroom and quickly went inside the house.  I saw there were 2 voicemail messages on our home phone and pressed play.

Call #1:

Hi, this is Ian's gymnastics coach.  I am so proud of Ian.  I think he is totally a different child from last year.  He is stronger, he has a fantastic attitude and he is a very positive influence on the other kids.  I am really proud of how he's doing and the skills he is getting.

Call #2:

Hi, This is the guidance counselor from the school.  No emergency.  I am just calling with good news.  Samantha won the Soaring Falcon Award for the week.  This is a new program we are rolling out to identify and congratulate students that are doing a great job, always doing their best, following directions, being a good role model.  And Samantha certainly fits the bill.  She was nominated by her teacher to get this award.  She should come home today with one in her backpack.  It's a certificate.  She is invited to have popsicles with the principals tomorrow afternoon. She is a super kid.  Please know how proud of her we are.

How amazing is this?!?!  I hardly ever get messages that aren't the robocalls.  And this wasn't just one amazing phone message, but two!  It was perfect that each child got their own call. Listening to these made my eyes tear up with joy.  For one brief moment I felt like Jeff and I were doing a great job raising them.  At least for that day.  I couldn't wait to get the kids from school and have them listen to these calls.

I've listened to the messages about 5 times now.  I do not plan to erase them for a very long time.  I am so proud of the kids.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

In Love with Fall.

It's Fall and time for another one of our Fall favorites, Cox Farms.  This year we mixed it up a bit and brought a friend for Sam.  Can I just say this was the best idea EVER!  Sam having a friend made her a much happier child to be around.  Sam's friend was an absolute dream and a rockstar all day.  Actually she spent the night and I couldn't believe how easily the girls went to sleep at 8:30pm.  Not one peep out of them!  I told my friend I want to borrow her daughter whenever we have some place we need to go. :)

We spent over 4 hours at Cox Farms on Saturday, October 19th.  It had rained the weekend before and I was concerned the crowds would be out-of-control on the day we picked to go. Since we got there right as they opened, it was pleasantly empty.  We had a good 3 1/2 hours before we noticed how full the grounds had gotten.

Always  start off with the wagon ride!

Sam and her friend.

Sam LOVED the slides!


I do believe this was our best trip yet. Until next year Cox Farms....see you when we are another year older.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

This is a yummy reality

On Monday, October 14th (Columbus day), the kids had off from school and I had the day off from the preschool job and The Crazy Man.  I had scheduled my semi-annual trip to the dentist for a routine cleaning that morning knowing that I could make this appointment and not have to change my schedule on anyone to get there.  I had never taken the kids with me before, but I figured with 2 iPads and only needing a simple cleaning, it wouldn't be bad. 

My dentist's office is on Wisconsin Ave, NW in Washington, DC.  It is the least convenient place it could be in relation to where I live.  In fact, it takes 40 minutes to get there, 40 minutes to get back home and the appointment itself is always less than 30 minutes.  Not the best use of time when every minute counts.  But I love my dentist and have been going there for 19 years.  When I find a medical professional that does a great job and manages her/his time correctly to keep my waiting to a minimum I refuse to make a switch.

I hadn't fully realized just how great it was that I made my appointment on a federal holiday.  The kids and I sailed into town, found a parking spot and didn't have to pay!  Then, we met Jeff for lunch at his office in Arlington.  Found a spot on the street right near his office and didn't have to pay!  Wait, it gets better!  On the way to the dentist office, I always make a turn on 33rd Street, NW (in Georgetown) and pass right by DC Cupcakes.  You know the cupcake shop run by the two sisters that was made into a reality tv show on TLC called Georgetown Cupcakes?  Every single time I drive by there (minimum 2 roundtrips each year), the line is out the door and up the block with people waiting to get in.  It's been like this for years. Given the huge number of cupcake shops in the metro area, it's pretty crazy how popular this one is.  I guess having a tv show will do that for the business.  I had never been there, but have always been intrigued.

I was explaining this to the kids as we did the first drive-by on the way to my dentist.  Ian asked if we could go there and get some cupcakes.  I said, let's see how easy we can find parking after my appointment.  We left the dentist in record time.  The dentist loved getting to meet the kids and even commented I am doing a better job flossing.  Ha!  Once I had the corner of M Street and 33rd Street, NW in my view,  I did two loops around the block and couldn't find a parking spot.  Ian said it was ok and we could just go to Cold Stone across the street from our house for ice cream when we got home.  (That wasn't really the point).  We gave up on our mission and met Jeff for lunch.

While eating lunch, Ian said he'd be willing to walk up to 2 minutes from wherever we had to park to get to the cupcake shop.  Jeff and I figured this gave me like a 4 or 5 block radius in finding a parking spot.  Since Jeff's office is only a 3 minute drive to get back to Georgetown, I was willing to give it another shot.

We lucked out big-time!  We found a parking spot right away directly across the street from the cupcake place.  And, because it was a federal holiday, we didn't have to pay for parking in that spot either.  Sweet!

The line was only about 15 deep when arrived.  Soon after, I'd say there was easily about 50 people behind us.  Nuts, right?  While we were waiting to get in, Ian asked the lady guarding the door how many cupcakes they make each day.  She said between 5,000 and 10,000 a day.  Yowzer!  Apparently they start at 4:00am each morning.  The line moved pretty fast and before you knew it, we were in.  We got a half dozen cupcakes to go and ate 3 there, and brought 3 home.  We did do a drive-by of Jeff's office on the way home and gave him a cupcake to eat. 

Checking out the menu on what is offered for a Monday.

Standing in line, waiting to get in.

We made it inside! 

Yummy!  They even have a gluten-free cupcake each day.

Eating cupcakes = happy children.

It was a neat experience.  After going to my dentist appointment, meeting Jeff for lunch, getting to experience DC Cupcakes, we get home about 5 hours later.  15 minutes after walking in, Ian looks at me and says, "This has been a boring day."  WHAT!?!?!?!  I thought it was one of our more fun days. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I've got a list a mile long of various blogs entries I want to write about.  Despite my silence, life is definitely happening.  It feels like our days blur from one to the next.  Before I know it another full week has gone by. I am exhausted by the end of each day.  I no longer attempt to watch my favorite tv shows live.  It's too hard to stay awake once I've finally stopped moving.  I am in this super strange cycle where I am in bed by 9:30pm and wake-up ready to go at 4:00am.  Not fun!  No wonder I am ready to drop by the time the sun is setting.

I am slowly losing contact with a lot of the people I speak with on the phone.  For years (like 8 of them!), Heather and I spoke faithfully each weekday morning.  Even if we had nothing to chat about (which was NEVER the case), we'd still call and check in.  She knew my day and I knew hers.  It was not only comforting, but expected.  Now, we speak sporadically.  We still can fill a lot of time talking about everything, but it doesn't seem to have a set schedule or pattern for when these calls take place.  I find myself texting more and more to keep in touch with everyone.  It's a quick one or two lines and takes very little time.  It can be done at 5:00am, 10:00pm, whenever, and it's easy.  I love this method of communication.  I know nothing will take the place of actually having a conversation with someone over the phone, but this way of communicating is personal, quick, and you get to the point right away.  I can't tell you how many group texts I am a part of each week.  It's pretty funny how we all manage to stay in touch through texting. 

The biggest casualty of the new school year schedule is dinner.  It is quite scary how late we push eating each night.  The kids essentially have two dinners almost every weekday.  A light one before the after-school activity begins and then as a family around 7:00pm.  It's 8:15pm for Ian on Mondays and Wednesdays due to gymnastics.  There have been a few nights where stopping at Subway and picking up subs to take home was the best solution to eating that night.  It's nights like this that Jeff gets very concerned having dinner ready is falling through the cracks**. He has recommended I stop working for The Crazy Man (to give my afternoons while the kids are in school are little more sanity) and to get ready-made meals from Costco.  On my last Costco trip I stocked up on some dinners that are fully cooked and just need to be warmed.  It is surprising how tasty these were and pretty healthy too.  We are still eating pretty darn late, but at least getting the food on the table is a bit more effortless.

Jeff has been working hard on a client project with a deadline coming up soon.  He is putting in crazy hours and can't be counted on being home in time to eat with us.  Not that we are even home in the evening if he was able to make it.

I miss us eating dinner as a family at a reasonable hour each evening.  I didn't realize what a good thing we had going for the last 8 years.  The only weekday we don't have anything after school is on Fridays.

I am sure I will think I am crazy come June and will change my mind, but once school is done this year, the kids and I aren't scheduling ANYTHING this Summer.  No day camps, no activities, nothing!  Just our weeks we have at the beach or Orlando.  I want to wake up each day with a blank schedule and do what we feel like, instead of where we HAVE TO be.

Don't get me wrong.  I don't want this to be mistaken for complaining.  I am very happy that we have a lot going on and the kids are doing so well.  And I am beyond grateful that I have found 3 part-time jobs to fit so seamlessly during the time the kids are in school. Additionally, I couldn't be more pleased that Jeff is employed and working on something he enjoys.  It's just taken a lot to get used to this 'new normal'.

You know that question, would you rather have a personal trainer, chef or live-in maid if you could pick one?  My answer has always been personal trainer.  I need to revise that and now pick 'chef'.  It would be so nice to have someone make dinner (other than me) and have it ready for the mostly 2, sometimes 3 shifts we need it eat it in.

**Please don't suggest that the slowcooker is the way to go.  While I do enjoy the convenience of having dinner cooked and waiting for us when we walk in the door, it does have some drawbacks.  There is no recipe that that says you can cook something for 11 hours (yes! 11 hours from when I turn it on to when we are back home) and have it still look like edible food that isn't completely mush or dried up.

**And I am fully aware that I can make several meals ahead of time on a Sunday and simply reheat during the week.  I am slowly coming around to this idea and implementing it.  It's just one more thing to do on a weekend, but it would make our lives easier during the week.

Anyway, if my blog goes silent for days on end, this is why.  It is not from lack of material, but lack of energy.  I am getting a better perspective on what's important.  Doing homework with Ian and Sam (GAWD!!!!  I AM SOOOOO OVER HOMEWORK!) has to take precedence over keeping this blog going.  And going to sleep soon after the kids do each night is a very close second.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Opening weekend.

The trailer for the movie, "Gravity" came on tv one day last week.  Jeff very casually mentioned, "I'd like to see that."   It's rare to hear him say these words.  While Jeff loves the movies, he can usually be found wikipediaing it rather than going to see it on the big screen.  I know, there is something very wrong with this method.  But hey, that's Jeff for you.  Me, on the other hand, can't get enough of the movie theatre experience.  I even get a strange perverse thrill from seeing movies that are so horrid you want to run screaming from the theatre.  Those films give me material for years to make fun of with my movie-going friends  (you know who you are! :)

When I heard Jeff's comment, I knew I had to act fast.  I arranged a babysitter to come this past Sunday evening and surprised Jeff with a date night.  This is HUGE!  We don't usually spring for a babysitter unless it is absolutely necessary.  It's hard to justify spending $60 to $80 just to be able to walk out the door; not to mention the cost of the movie, munchies and if we are really living large, dinner too.  Jeff has been working his butt off these past few months and I knew he (and of course me too!) could use a little fun -- you know, other than our regularly scheduled Sunday mornings.  :)

I was away on a girl's weekend when I called him and said I had a surprise for when I got back home.  Knowing me the way he does, he said it'd be best to tell him the surprise right then and there.  I guess Jeff missed me because he was totally ok with the surprise date night and said "I do want to see the movie.  And I do want to do a date night with you.  Ok."  Yep, just like that it all worked out.

We saw the movie in 3D.  It was worth the extra $.  I hadn't seen a movie in years in 3D.  Normally it is not worth it.  But for the movie, "Gravity" it totally worked and added an extra depth to Space.

The movie was fantastic. Sandra Bullock is amazing and an incredibly talented actress.  I highly recommend everyone see it, even if you need to plan a surprise date night to be able to go.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I got your digits

Ian has made a new friend in school.  His name is Michael and is new this year to Fairview.  Ian came home and said he wanted to call Michael.  Since we don't have the directory yet, I told Ian he'd have to get Michael's number at school the next day.  Ian comes home with Michael's number written on a post-it note.  Ian walked around the house carrying it from room to room, not quite sure the best place to keep this important square piece of paper.  I believe Ian settled putting it on the desk in his room as the final resting place.

After dinner, Ian made THE phone call:

Phone rings and the answering machine picks up -

IAN (with an incredibly shaky voice, in a low tone):  Um, this is Ian.  Could Michael call me back as soon as possible?  This is Ian.  Thank you.

No return phone call that evening.  We come to find out that Michael was in the shower at the time.  No return phone call the next day or the next.  The weekend goes by, still no call from Michael.

It should be noted that Ian and Michael are in class together and see each other all day, every day of the week.

Monday, I drop Ian off at gymnastics and come back home.  The message light is blinking.  I play the message.

MICHAEL (with an equally incredibly shaky, nervous voice):  Um, this is me.  Please call me back.  It's Michael.  Ian, call me.

Because Ian wasn't going to be home until 8:15pm, I called Michael's house right away to find out how late it would be ok for Ian to call back that night.  Michael answered the phone and found out from his mom that 8:00pm is the latest to get a return phone call in.  I asked to speak to the mom and introduced myself.  I said that Ian would love to have a playdate with Michael and set something up for later in the month.   Michael's mom said it would be ok for Ian to call Michael at 8:15pm.  I ended up speaking to her for 10 minutes. Super nice mom!

Ian comes home from gymnastics.  I let him listen to Michael's message and told him it was ok to call back.  Here is the conversation when Michael picked up the phone:

IAN:  Hi Michael.  This is Ian.

MICHEAL (I am assuming Michael replied with):  Hi Ian.

IAN:  Um, I just got back from gymnastics. I'll see you tomorrow at school.  Bye.

The whole conversation lasted 20 seconds.  It was super cute how they had nothing to say to each other, but it was SOOOO important they told each other in their messages to call each other back immediately. 

This was Ian's very first phone call to a friend.  He did it all on his own; got the phone number, dialed it on his own and left his own message.  It was very adorable to watch the whole thing play out.

Ian is growing up.  It's fun to watch these new milestones. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Apple Picking!

Yes folks, it's time for our annual trek to pick apples.  Same place, same time of year.  The only thing that changed this year was Jeff didn't come with us.  Hmmmm.  Could it be that he really had mountains of work and a looming deadline?  Or, possibly was it that he didn't want to deal with apple picking this year?  We will never know for sure. 

It is now very apparent that I am the only one in the family who really enjoys apple picking.  When I told the family our plans, everyone was coming up with reasons why they didn't want to go.  I gave my little speech that I use only in rare situations:  "I don't ask much from this family. This is something I want to do, so we are doing it."  After I got done being laughed at it was decided we were going. 

Losing Jeff didn't stop me or even give reason to reconsider.  We arranged to go again with the same family as last year.  I got us to our destination in record time and didn't get lost.  Woo-hoo!!  This is cause for celebration.  It was a very fun afternoon.  And I am proud of the kids for not whining or asking if it's time to leave yet.  Between me and you, they had a wonderful time too.  But you can't tell them that I know.

Waiting for our friends to arrive.

I love this picture of the 3 of us.

Checking to see if the apples are tasty.


Climbing the trees is part of the fun.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sunday is my fun day.

Sunday has now become my most favorite day of the week.  Sam is old enough to join Ian at religious school on Sunday mornings.  From 9:00am to 12:00pm (most Sundays during the school year), Jeff and I are kid-free.  This is well worth the cost of tuition alone. 

This past Sunday was our first time we got to experience this little slice of Heaven.  Not that I don't enjoy being around the kids mind you, but for Jeff and I to have alone time together, it usually requires paying a babysitter big bucks.

Upon drop-off, I felt a bounce in my step and a smile on my face that went from ear to ear.  How awesome this will be each week.  I was high-fiving the other parents in the same situation as us.  Most of Sam's friends from preschool are enrolled.  I want to organize a breakfast date for the couples one Sunday, but I can't bring myself to share Jeff right now.  hehehehehee.

First day of religious school photo:  Ian was willing to pose, Sam was not. 

Sam is not entirely happy about having to go. 

Ian is pleased to be among his religious school friends.

Ian waving good-bye.  Telling us it was time to go.
Go on, get out of here already.

Drop-off was successful!  Could we be any happier? 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Enemy #1

One of my biggest fears has now come to be.  The big "L"....lice.  The elementary school the kids go to has always been known to run rampant with these little blood suckers.  I've been very lucky the past 3 years because Ian has never come home infected.  But you put Sam in kindergarten for just 3 weeks and what do you know, it happened.  Ugh. 

We were out to dinner in Hershey on Saturday night with one of the families we traveled with.  My friend looked at me and said, "Sam just scratched her head."  NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!  I don't want to hear that.  I want to be in denial forever.  Once we were done eating, I asked my friend to come to the restaurant bathroom with me and take a closer look at Sam's head.  She would know what to look for and could give me a definitive answer on if Sam was infested.  Upon closer inspection, the answer was what I feared.  Sam had nits in her head.  My friend and I went into action.  Can I just say, THANK G-D FOR MY FRIEND!!!!  She knew what to do and was able to keep me calm and walk me through those very important first steps. 

We sent Jeff and the kids back to the hotel with the other dad and his kids.  My friend and I went to Target (same shopping center as the restaurant we were eating dinner).  I bought the Rid system, a new hairbrush, and headbands (obviously Sam couldn't wear what I packed for her).  As soon as I got back to the hotel, I did a treatment on Sam, Ian and myself.  I wasn't taking any chances.  I wanted to do one on Jeff too, but that would've been overkill -- the guy doesn't have any hair. 

Sam was wonderful about the situation and if there was going to be a time I needed her to be patient and sit still while I combed out her hair with the nit comb, this was it.  Fortunately, she has been excellent the two times each day I've been keeping this up for the first week. 

As soon as we walked back in our front door on Sunday, I went into attack mode.  Within 10 minutes I had all the beds stripped and the many, many loads of wash started.  I packed up all of Sam's stuffed animals and hair accessories into trash bags.  They will sit there for the next 21 days until its safe to put them back in her room.

I am so skeeved out by this whole thing.  It is incredibly gross to think that bugs are hatching in your kid's hair.  Maybe mine too!  Ugh.   From the "RID" instructions sheet:  "Also, lice can hold their breath when immersed in water making it difficult for the active ingredient to penetrate the lice."  Seriously, how gross is that?

There is a special, natural lice repellent shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in spray (Fairy Tales) on the market that has been recommend by another good friend.  I've already started using it on Sam and will do for the rest our lives.  It's expensive, but can you really put a price on trying to prevent this from occurring again?

Also, in my research, I've been told that lice like clean hair.  I am no longer washing Sam's hair every day.  If she is lucky, we will wash it every 2nd or 3rd day.  Who needs her hair to be clean anyway?