Friday, November 29, 2013

Ian's hair

Ian has discovered his hair.  He has decided to let it grow beyond the crew cut he has had for the past 6 years and actually give it some kind of style.  This is tricky because Ian's hair has a life of its own.  He has not one, not two, not three, but four (yes, FOUR!) cowlicks.  There are two located on the front of his head and two are on the top back part of his head. It can get pretty crazy looking and does so pretty much each morning Ian wakes-up.  The only way to guarantee to tame these cowlicks was to cut his hair short enough so it blended with all the other hair on his head and didn't have a chance to go to haywire.

As Ian's hair grew so did the cowlicks.  It was going to be a tough few months before the hair grew long enough and could be heavy enough to provide gravity to the cowlicks.  It was these days that Ian would spend upwards of 20 minutes in front of the mirror before school and work on his hair.  I gave him a squirt bottle with water so that he could wet the rebellious hair and get it in line with the rest of the hair on his head.  I was expecting him to wet the hair, comb it down and be on his way.  Boy I was in for a surprise.  I walked by the bathroom one morning and Ian's head was so wet from the squirt bottle that water was dripping off his face.  He looked like he got caught in a severe rainstorm.  It was very funny.  Ian was trying.  He was trying very hard.  

Ian with his typical short crew cut haircut.

This was a little short for my taste, but those cowlicks didn't stand a chance.

You can see some how Ian's hair has grown and how a few of the cowlicks are sticking straight up. 

Crazy hair first thing in the morning!
Holy cowlicks Batman! 
A few hours later, the hair is starting to fall nicely.
Looking good!  Now I just need it to grow long enough to comb to the side.

I love Ian's hair and can't wait for it to get a few inches longer and some of the very short layers grow out.  Ian has a very thick head of hair.  You can't help but want to put your fingers through it.   I hope we can stick through the growing out process before Ian decides he wants to go back to a crew cut.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Checking in with the new parents

We've been skyping with Lori and Rachel almost every day.  It is not the same as being there in person, but it is very cool getting to see the baby in real-time.  She is adorable and I can't stop taking pictures of us skyping.  There is definitely something wrong with me. 
This problem didn't start with Rachel.  Since my first child was born, I take thousands upon thousands of pictures each year. I've documented everything from Ian's first poop (it was so exciting!!), to checking on the kids at night and finding them looking very adorable sleeping, to snapping photos while Sam is in the middle of helluva temper tantrum and every thing in between.  I love taking photos of the ordinary as well as the momentous occasions and milestones. Each year I do a separate photobook for each of them that spans that age (A book of them being 1 year old, being 2 years old, being 3 years old, etc). These books are the best to flip through and really capture them throughout the year.  My kids have given up telling me to stop taking pictures they don't want me to take.  I've won! 
Time goes by too quickly.  The years fly from one to the next and everything quickly becomes a blur.  I need my photos to transport me back to the day and age they were and relive those moments.  Without photos I won't remember as clearly and I will be lost.  I will always have a camera charged and ready to go.  Lori and Ben have so far sent out only one picture.  I am hoping they've been taking more and just haven't shared them yet.  I keep telling Lori it goes by quickly.  I am in shock that I am a mom to an 8 year old and a 5 year old.  Fortunately I have plenty of pictures from years 0 thru 8 or I wouldn't believe it.

You can see my Toppall team squeezed into the Skype box in the upper left-hand corner.
Sam likes to be front and center.  :)

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Super Special Shabbat Saturday

 I love our Jewish community and the synagogue we are members of.  When the kids are in 3rd grade they are given their Siddurs (prayer books) they will use for many years to come.   Our congregation makes this into an event.  Last Sunday, the 3rd graders decorated their prayer book covers.  This past Saturday, there was a special Shabbat service everyone was invited to when they handed each child their Siddur and recited a blessing. It was wonderful.  And, it was killing me that I couldn't take pictures.  You are not allowed to in the synagogue on Shabbat.  Oy!  I did get a few pictures outside of Ian holding his newly issued prayer book.

We were very fortunate to have Jeff's mom join us for services. Thank you so much for coming!!  Afterwards we let Ian pick the restaurant he wanted to go to for lunch.  Bejing Tokyo was his #1 choice.  It was a delightful morning and I was very touched (and teared up!) when they called Ian's name to go up to the Bimah (stage type setting in the sanctuary).  Can you imagine the mess I am going to be when Ian gets Bar Mitzvahed!?!?!

Ian is in a class with 31 kids.  This is a BIG class.  These are the kids he will be studying with for the next several years.  It is going to be so neat to see these kids grow over the years.  And it will be a heckuva year for attending Bar and Bat Mitzvahs!

The religious school director took pictures of each of the kids and put it inside the front cover of their books with a special name plate.  I love this idea!

I always say to Jeff that we could move to any city he wants (should a great job opportunity come along) and I would have no problems making us new friends and getting acclimated to a new location.  However, I need to rethink my generalization and say that I would have a hard time leaving these families we've become close to and this synagogue we are becoming very integrated in.  It's this kind of stuff that isn't easy to find wherever you go.

Having Grandma with us made it even sweeter!

Ian's cover he decorated himself.  The Hebrew letters spells his name, Simcha (means joy, happiness)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Leaves, leaves and more leaves

The wind is blowing and leaves are falling at a very rapid rate.  We've got more leaves than we know what to do with.  We don't make it more than hour of the ground being clear before leaves cover it all over again.  It is a vicious cycle.  Each year I feel like our Fall leaves situation has gotten worse.  Maybe the leaves falling are always this bad and I just block it out as soon as Winter sets in. Who knows.

Jeff and I have very different views on how to tackle the leaves.  He feels it is well worth the several hundred dollars to pay someone to pick them up.  Personally, I feel like we are more than capable to get them ourselves and should save the money for other things.  Anyone who knows us, knows this is a complete reversal of how we view all things financial.  Normally Jeff would rather save the money, and I am all about convenience as long as it is at a reasonable rate.  There is no reason why we can't  get some fresh air, wonderful exercise and rake till no leaf is left behind.  Because our viewpoints in the past have been so opposing, I have taken it upon myself to be the Main Leaf-Picker-Upper for the past 9 years we have lived in our house.  I pride myself on filling approx. 65 to 70 bags each year.  It's a pain in the neck, but at least I am doing something about it. 

Something happened this season.   I am not exactly sure what, but I didn't make it out to begin raking as early in the month as I normally do.  And I never voiced my plan on when I was going to make it out there.  I guess my silence got the better of Jeff.  He woke up one Saturday morning and said he was going out there.  WHAT!!?!?!?  I wasn't sure I heard right.  Jeff told me his plan was to mow over the leaves and use the bag attachment for them to sucked into.  I was eager to see how this was going to work.

Lo and behold, Jeff's plan was sheer brilliance.  And because the lawn mower chops up the leaves before putting it in the bag, the number of bags we end up with is easily 20% of what I would collect.  I actually got a little pissed that he had this solution to our leaf problem all these years and didn't try it out earlier.

Sounds great, doesn't it?   Only Jeff doesn't enjoy this.  Not one bit.  And its breaking his heart when he wakes up the next morning and it looks like he has done nothing to our yard.  Hey, I know that feeling.  I've had it many, many times before.

Jeff has now "raked the leaves" twice.  He probably has another one or two more times before all the trees will be completely void of leaves.  I am happy I've gone into "retirement" raking this year and will gladly let Jeff take over.  He doesn't do a perfect job (will only go where the lawn mower can be pushed over), but its a heckuva lot better than me being out there.

Jeff tried experimenting by picking up the leaves with his blower
(using the vacuuming setting),but felt this took too much time.

Then Jeff decided to go back to his lawn mower idea and
decided this was much faster.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

The baby is here! The baby is here!

I am beyond thrilled to introduce  RACHEL BELLA WRONSKY, my niece.  She finally arrived on Wednesday, November 13, 2013.  Her birth had a bit of drama (not only the very long, past the due date arrival, but also moments after delivery).  After an 1 1/2 hours of pushing, Lori wasn't getting anywhere with the delivery.  They ended up doing a C-section. Once out, Rachel wasn't breathing and had to be hooked up to a machine.  Thank G-d all is well now and Rachel is healthy.  Reports from the nurses at the hospital is that Rachel is incredibly strong, very feisty and a bit aggressive.  Ha!  She already sounds like the twin of someone else I know. 

Isn't this the coolest picture ever?
It almost makes me want to have another baby just to recreate this pose.

I am so excited for my sister and brother-in-law.  This is such a joyous time and an incredible blessing.  It is truly a miracle when the creation of a baby occurs and the process works. 

I told my sister to take lots of pictures.  The time goes by so fast and before you know it, you'll be looking down at an 8 and 5 year old.  I am counting down the days until I get to hold Rachel. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The great baby watch of 2013

Mission: Unaccomplished.  :(

My sister was due on November 4, 2013.  I tried hard to keep every weekend in November free so that I could go down at a moment's notice and see my brand new niece.  As she approached her due date, her doctor said he wouldn't let her go past 41 weeks.  Too many events came our way that I committed ourselves to and only successfully kept the weekend of Nov. 9th free.  Once I saw how airfares were starting to creep up to the crazy numbers, I booked a ticket for Sam and me.  Surely, Lori will have given birth by then. 

As our time to depart to Orlando got closer, there were still no signs of the baby.  Sam and I continued with our trip and hoped for the best.  It is now officially 41 weeks, 2 days as I write this and still no baby has been born.  Sam and I returned to NoVa and will have to wait for the good news from home.  It is very disappointing to have missed the opportunity to hold my sister's baby moments/days after she was born.  My next opportunity will be during Winter break; a little more than 5 weeks from now.

While in Orlando, Sam and I made the most of our time.  We not only saw the family, but spent a morning with my friend Amanda and her family and spent a day at Hollywood Studios.  The weather each day was 82 degrees and sunny. Although, I don't mind the cold weather and was excited that it has finally gotten chilly back in Burke.

On Tuesday (yesterday), a few hours before it was time to head to the airport, we all met at the hospital and hung out with Lori one last time.  She was there because her doctor told her to come (at 1:00am!) to administer the cervidil, to get her cervix softened.  If by Thursday nothing has happened, they will take more aggressive steps to get the delivery going.   Geesh, at this point, she could still be pregnant when we come back in December. 

Having the 8 of us descend upon her hospital room (at the same exact moment) during times like this is when I love my family the most.  There is something about all of us coming together and being the loud, vibrant, gregarious bunch we are that makes me so happy I am one of them.  We know how to have a good time.  And we can pretty much find humor in just about anything.  My sister's room was on the 5th floor and had this beautiful ceiling to floor window that took up the entire wall.  Directly outside her window was an elevator used for construction work being done on the higher part of the building.  This elevator was going up and down about every 30 seconds filled with anywhere from 2 to 10 men.  My sister was told that they can't see in to her room, but its hard to believe when we could see them clearly and at times, it looked like they were staring right back at us.  It was pretty humorous.  Meanwhile, my dad is raiding the box of surgical gloves attached to the wall and we are cracking up that each set probably costs $100 when they submit it to insurance. 

Best family ever.

Construction elevator directly outside Lori's room. 
This is the 5th floor. :)

Hanging out and waiting.  Blowing up the gloves into balloons.

I'm disappointed I won't be there when the big moment finally happens.  I like to think that everything happens for a reason and this wasn't meant to be.

The great baby watch of 2013 continues.....

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Theatre.

I have been a big live performance kick lately.  I can't seem to get enough of plays, musicals, any kind of theater.  There is nothing like seeing it live and right there in front of your eyes.

Jeff and I saw "A Chorus Line" at the Olney Theater in August.  It was wonderfully done and made me remember why I love this broadway show so much.  I remember my mom taking me to New York City to see it when I was in high school.  It was my most favorite musical growing up and still has a spot in the top 3 of all time faves.

In October, the family and I went to Imagination Stage in Bethesda to see "Lulu and the Brontosaurus."  Another well-done performance and some great musical numbers.  What a great space that theater is.  I am definitely on the look-out for future shows to see there.

November is a busy month! Sam and I are going to the Burke Civic Ballet's production of The Nutcracker.  The kids and I are going to see "Elephant and Piggies:  We are in a play!" at the Kennedy Center Family Theater.   And Jeff and I are going to see "If/Then" at the end of the month at National Theater.

The more I see, the more I want to see.  I can't stop buying tickets to different performances.  I think I've got a problem!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cupcake Madness

I've gone off the deep end.  There I admit it.  I am full aware of how absurd this behavior is.  I have now been to Georgetown Cupcakes (you know the cupcake shop used in the TLC show, "DC Cupcakes") 3 times (YES, YOU READ CORRECTLY!!  Not once, not twice, but three times people!!!) in a 3 week period. 

The first time, as earlier reported, was with the kids during the Columbus day holiday.  I had never been before and thought it would be fun to take the kids. See what all the hype is about.  So we stood in line and got our cupcake on! 

The second time came a week later when Jeff and I found ourselves in Georgetown for a friend's son's baptism.  Sam and Ian were being watched by Jen and her family while we were away for the church ceremony and the party afterwards.  I knew how much Jen loves cupcakes and couldn't possibly be thisclose to the cupcake shop without getting her half dozen as a token of my appreciation.  As I was standing in line with my friend Kristin (who drove with us), Jeff was circling around the Georgetown area.  I even mentioned to Kristin how nutty it was that I am standing in this line again -- just a week later!  Fortunately I have no need to come back here again.  This visit will be it for a long time.

I text Jeff and tell him we've got the goods and to drive around to the entrance.  As we get in the car and head towards Ivy's house, Jeff asks where his cupcake is.  WHAT!?!?!?!?!  What do you mean where is your cupcake?  I laugh in response.  Um, no, I don't have a cupcake for you. I only got the 1/2 dozen for Jen and her family.  Jeff can't believe I didn't get him one.  I can't believe I was supposed to.  It never occurred to me that he would want one.  I feel bad.  Just as I should've asked Jeff if he wanted me to get him one, Jeff should've made sure his desires for a cupcake were known (before I got out of the car to stand in line!).  I feel like we are both equally at fault.  Jeff truly was hoping for a cupcake. 

I come up with a plan.  Jeff's birthday is one week later and fortunately falls on a Saturday.  I can go a third time (this is me getting crazy!!!) and get him a cupcake. This will help make up for it.  I know, I won't get just one cupcake, I will get a whole dozen.  That should do it.  I subtly mention to Jeff my plan (more than a few times) during the week leading up to his birthday.  He is very vocal about never wanting anything.  And he makes it abundantly clear he never wants me to make a fuss or get him any presents.  I keep thinking Jeff is going to tell me forget it and not make the trip back to Georgetown Cupcakes.  Ha!  Not once does he say this.  I guess I am going a third time in 3 weeks.

For my third trip, I finally get smart and find out you can order ahead of time.  I pick out which cupcakes I want (Hello Gluten-free Peanut Butter Fudge!) and pay in advance via their website.  I just have to drive down to D.C., find a parking spot (or double park) and skip the line.  Yay!   I arrive 2 minutes early before they open and drive once around the block before locating a legal spot.  I am back in the car within 3 minutes with the goods in hand.  Easy-breezy.

Now I can say I am done.  Any more trips to get cupcakes and they are going to know me.  That can't be a good thing!

The results of my third trip.  Yum-O!
I would've taken a picture of the full dozen, but Jeff ate one too quickly.  :)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The dog that almost was('nt).

Lately there has been a lot of talk from my our NoVa friends on adding a new member to our family.  I am talking about the four-legged kind.  Without realizing it, friends from each of the areas of my life (Mom's club friends, preschool moms, etc) who know me well have all been campaigning hard to Jeff to convince him we need this in our lives.  I agree our Toppall team does not feel complete. 

Jeff feels strongly that he is not ready to go down this path again.  However, the argument can be made that when he met me I had Bailey and therefore, a dog is grandfathered in.  He knew what he was getting into by marrying me.  It wasn't like I sprung a dog on him after we were together.

One last reason I firmly believe we need another dog; not for me, but for the kids.  I feel very strongly that kids should grow up with a dog.  I always thought one would be a staple in our life and it wouldn't even be a question that our children didn't have a dog in their lives.

When I was down in Orlando by myself in September for my sister's baby shower, the topic of getting another dog came up.  My dad and I are on the same page.  Heck, the whole family down in Florida would love to see us have another German Shepherd.  I came very close to agreeing to let my dad buy me one and surprise the family with it on Sunday night when I flew back home.  Oh, how sweet that would be. 

Here's the thing.  I love Jeff way too much to do something I knew he wouldn't be on board with.  How could I intentionally cause strife in an otherwise healthy and great marriage?  I just wish I knew how upset Jeff would be.  Would it be a week, a month, a year, forever?  At what point would Jeff get over it and be ok with the idea?  If it was a week or a month I could deal with that.  But what happens if the dog needed unforeseen medical treatment or was causing excess damage to the furniture and our shoes?  What if the dog barked non-stop or had other behavioral issues.  You hope this isn't the case, but you never know.  And I wouldn't want to be a stressed-out mess waiting to see how Jeff was going to handle each issue that was anything but sunshine and roses.

Jeff is getting aggravated hearing from everyone about the dog thing.  It is definitely having the opposite reaction.  He is more adamant than ever about us not getting one.  I keep thinking there is gong to be something that happens and the right dog will come into our lives.  Either a dog that needs to be rescued, or it will be a stray that find his/her way to our house or someone will ignore Jeff's wishes and get us one anyway.

So now all I can do is wait and hope the perfect opportunity comes along soon enough.  I've stopped talking about it to Jeff, but the desire for a dog is still very much there.

It probably doesn't help that I am Facebook friends with the page "I love my German Shepherd".  It is basically a compilation of pictures of German Shepherds posted each day.  This one has been my favorite by far.

Gosh I love this picture.  It truly captures how wonderful and loving a German Shepherd can be.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Breaking news!

This just in!  We have a reader in our midst.  The switch has been flipped.  Ian enjoys reading.  He is now reading for pleasure and not because he has to log a minimum of 20 minutes each day for school.  He is sailing through series of books.

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid (as of now all 7 books)
  • Big Nate (as of now all 5 books)
  • I Survived.... (as of now all 8 books)
  • Play Ball (finished the first 3 books, waiting for the next 2 to be published.)
  • Origami Yoda (currently reading the 4th in the series)
I note "as of now" because these authors are still coming out with more books.

It's quite exciting that Ian is choosing to read and loves it.  He no longer uses the traditional hardcover/paperback book, but reads on his iPad's Kindle app.  It makes it super easy to download books and have them available to read lickety-split. 

I think the coolest thing is when Ian goes to bed for the night and decides to read for 20 minutes or so before falling asleep.  I have no problem with him blowing his bedtime if it means he is reading. 

The other night, Ian knocks on our bedroom door at 9:30pm.  This is a good 1/2 hour to 45 minutes past his bedtime.  He is so excited he finished "District Double Header" (from the Play Ball series) and wanted to share the news.  His enthusiasm announcing his accomplishment was priceless.  I told him we'd download the next book in the morning.  For the first time ever, he chose starting the book and reading over playing wii or watching tv before school.  Whoa, baby!  He finished this next book, "State Showdown" (169 pages!) in 4 days.

There is nothing better than losing yourself in a good book.  :)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Flu Extravaganza 2013

I think there need to be awards given to parents who come up with excellent ideas. You come up with a great idea and get nominated either directly by you or someone else.  Once a year (similar to the Academy Awards, Emmys, Country Music Awards, etc) an awards show happens and statues are given out in various categories.  I am positive my friend Beth and I would be given top honors in "How to make getting flu vaccine each year so much fun" category.  Seriously, this is one event we are not messing with on the logistics or execution.  It works perfectly as is each and every year.
It is now Fall 2013 and we've been meeting year and year.  We've lived through needing strollers to get the youngest from point A to point B.  We no longer need high chairs or booster seats at the restaurant. And we've most definitely survived running to the bathroom hoping to make it time because my youngest wasn't doing a good job of getting potty trained. 

If all else goes bonkers during the year and I don't get to see my friend and her kids as much as I'd like, we will always have "Flu Extravaganza".  :)
We started the evening at Rio Grande for dinner.  The waiter came over and asked what we would like to drink.  Kyle (Age 5) answered before anyone else could say anything.  "I'll have a beer." he said.  It was pretty funny and officially started off a great evening.

Then it was time for the flu shot, followed by our sweet ending to the evening at Ben & Jerry's.  With the pediatrician's office located at Fairfax Corner, it is a one-stop shop for all the places we go.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween weirdos

I have two weirdos for kids.  Seriously, what child doesn't want to get dressed up and go trick-or-treating?  I tell you what child...MINE!  

I loved Halloween growing up.  It was the best holiday EVER.  Oh what fun I had over the years getting to dress up and collect candy.  I loved coming back to the house at the end of the evening and sorting through it all.  Back in those days, your parents had to check to make sure there were no hidden razor blades. I am glad that doesn't seem to be a concern any more.

Unfortunately, there is no need to go through the kids' candy this year.  There is no candy.  Both kids chose to not dress-up or go trick-or-treating.  I am still not sure why. Ian is 8 and Sam is 5 years old.  This is prime trick-or-treating years for them!!!!  I must've asked at least 2 dozen times since the beginning of September what they wanted to be.  Ian and Sam stood their ground; they didn't want to dress up or leave our house.  They wanted to stay close to the front door and hand out candy. 

I couldn't believe it.  I was certain they would change their mind.  But they never did. I feel cheated.  I love trick-or-treating- even as an adult.  It is a great social activity going around the neighborhood with your friends while the kids run up to each door.  I am not sure I can transition to the next holiday (Thanksgiving/Hanukkah combo this year!).  My Halloween is feeling unfulfilled. 

The best was when I came home with having bought the candy we were going to hand out.  Ian and Sam got excited and wanted to eat a piece or two.  No way, Jeff joked.  He told them they'd have to put on a costume first in order to get some of this candy.  hehehehehe.

So bizarre.  I am not sure what happened to the kids I gave birth too.  Because the ones I carried around in me for 9 months most certainly liked candy.  :)

Ian and Sam on the lookout for trick-or-treaters.