Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ian's invention

Back when Ian could first put words together, around age 3, he used to say all the time when we were in the car when it was raining, "I wish there were windshield wipers on my window".  It was brilliant and I loved the idea.

It's been more than few years since Ian has said this idea of his.  Just the other day he said it again. Ian didn't even realize he used to say this before.  He was surprised when I told him this was not an original thought of his.

I thinks its pretty cool that Ian said this again about 5 years later. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Documented by Sam

Jeff and I had a date night not too long ago.  We went to dinner and a movie. The babysitter we've been using, Patrick, is very good with the kids.  He only has to say to Sam, "Time for bed" and she will listen.  However, this most recent babysitting occasion, Sam started giving Patrick a hard time and refused to go when he told her it was time.  In fact, she started whining saying she wanted Daddy to put her down.  Patrick told her that her father was not able to do that.  After more resistance, Sam said she was going to call Jeff.  Patrick told her we were at the movies, but that didn't slow her down.

We got out of the movie and Jeff looked down at his phone.  3 missed calls from home.  I looked down at my phone and saw a text message from Patrick "Everything is fine.  Sam is fighting me on going to sleep.  She keeps calling Jeff." 

I call home and tell Patrick not to kill himself trying to get her to go to sleep.  It's not worth making him miserable getting her down.  Sam doesn't have school the next day and whatever happens is fine with us.  I told him to feel flattered he was going through this.  Sam only pulls this crap with me, Jeff and my mom.  This means that she feels comfortable enough to bring Patrick into her inner circle.  Hopefully Patrick was amused by this because I need to keep him to come back.  We don't go out very often, but when we do, its nice to know we have a reliable sitter to call on.

Once we get back home from our evening out, we find out that Sam is indeed asleep.  However, Patrick explains to us what happened.  As Patrick is fighting with Sam to go to bed, she is calling Jeff and telling Ian to help her quickly write these numbers down. 

The next morning when Sam wakes up, she comes out of her room holding a square post-it note.  In her own handwriting is the following info "Daddy  9:00".   The first thing out of her mouth when she sees Jeff is, "Daddy, I tried calling you at 9:00 (pronounced Nine Zero Zero) and you weren't there!!"

She actually documented the time she called Jeff.  And she remembered that this was something she needed to tell him right away when she woke up.  It is very impressive that she had the forethought to want to write down the time of the calls.  It's also a little scary that she is only 5 years old.

If this is what we are dealing with at age 5, what's going to happen when she gets older? 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Fire Alarm

With 30 minutes left to go in Ian's class, the fire alarm went off at the place where he takes gymnastics.  The entire place had to clear out.  I get a call on my cell phone with a South Florida number.  I think it is The Crazy Man and intentionally don't answer it because I am on the house phone line with my sister-in-law.  After finishing my conversation, I listen to my voicemail and come to realize it was Ian.  He borrowed someone's cell phone to call and say that everyone is outside due to the fire alarm going off and to come pick him up early.  Oh my!  I throw my jacket on and as I am running out the door, I yell to Jeff and Sam "Fire alarm at Capital. Need to get Ian NOW!"
I arrive and can't find Ian. For those who know this place, it is already organized chaos with bodies flying back and forth everywhere on the inside.  This training facility is always jam packed with action.  Imagine it late at night (with very little lighting) and everyone having to be outside. And to add to the scene, it has started snowing big, wet heavy flakes.

I park the car and start my search for Ian. There are too many kids all in the same patch of field.  Kudos to Capital for keeping them contained in one place.  A girl I don't know comes over to me and asks if I am looking for Ian's coaches group.  I say yes and she takes me to where the boys are.  A father of one of Ian's teammates opened his Suburban to the group and had them all wait inside his car.  Ian's Coach is standing outside of the car and sees me.  She opens the door and tells Ian I've arrived. At this point the snow is really starting to come down.  As Ian climbs out, he says, "So nice to have heated leather seats."  I had to chuckle; all the other kids are standing out in the cold getting snowed on with most of them only wearing a leotard and flip flops.  Ian is waiting for me to arrive sitting on heated leather seats while watching a video.  How wonderful this father was to his son's teammates. 

Ian thinks a fuse blew and that is why the fire alarm went off.  The fire engines were still checking things out by the time we left to go home.  Ian said it was nutzo with everyone trying to get their stuff and leave all at the same time.  Initially his group lost track of their coach.  Ian said they all huddled together outside and stayed as a team until she found them. 

It's crazy how you don't even think this stuff could happen until it does.  I am so proud of Ian for not panicking or freaking out that I wasn't there when the alarm went off.  And he used his head to borrow a cell phone to call me.

Whew!  What a way to get the heart pumping when you least expect it.   

Friday, February 21, 2014

The terrible, no-good, very bad day

Written on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 8:06pm. 

Today I failed Samantha.  I was the worst mother ever.  Although Jeff said I was not the worst mother ever because I didn't kill her.  So let me revise that sentence and say I was the 2nd worst mother ever, under the ones that actually do harm and kill their children.  No matter which number I rank, I feel like I was in the top 5 of bad moms.  I lost my patience, I lost all sense of logic and tried to reason with someone who clearly wasn't up for being reasonable.

The day started off with a 2 hour delay because of .03 inch of snow that fell overnight.  Sam woke up in a good mood and didn't give me her usual grief.  She got dressed, ate breakfast and even brushed her teeth with no fuss. I must've been extra vulnerable seeing how harmonious our morning was going.  It wasn't until I gave the 10 minute and then the 5 minute warning that we were leaving to catch the bus that all hell broke lose.  Sam refused to stop drawing.  She stood her ground and wouldn't budge.  Ian and I pretended we were leaving without her.  This usually does the trick.  She even yelled at us to wait for her while she put on her socks and shoes (or so I thought).  I told her I was only loading up the car and would come back inside.  After a quick trip to the car, I observe she still hasn't left the table or stopped her coloring.  I took her butterfly design paper and put it up high out of her reach.  I yelled her to get her shoes on NOW!  She screamed back she didn't want to take the bus.  She didn't want to go to school.  She wanted Pinky (her lovey) to go with her. I said fine, run and get Pinky.  Only she didn't run to get Pinky.  She walked very, very slowly.  I yelled "RUN!  IF YOU WANT PINKY, YOU NEED TO MOVE!!"  I ended up taking her iPad away for two days.  I was thisclose to taking it away all week.

Still with very little sense of urgency on her part, making me even more impatient, I grab her and get her socks and shoes on.  She is crying.  I put her coat on her. (These are all things she usually does on her own).  I push her out the front door.  She willingly gets in the car while crying.  We arrive at the bus stop.  I get out.  She locks her door and refuses to get out.  I unlock her door and grab her out of the car.  The bus arrives as I am carrying her out of the car.  She refuses to get on the bus. I PUSH her on the bus steps to get on.  Yes, I actually had to push her to get on the bus.

Later in the afternoon, upon pick-up from school we have to go directly to drop off Ian at religious school.  We get back home after drop-off and its just us until Jeff & Ian get home at 6:40pm. 

For over and hour and 40 minutes Sam and I are at odds with each other.  For the most part she is hiding under the table and whining.  She is not happy.  I am not either.  Its not a good scene. 

This is not the kind of mother I want to be.  I feel like she got the better of me.  She has beaten me down.  I didn't enjoy interacting with her at all today.  I hate thinking that.  I hate writing that.

Thank G-d I am not a single mother.  I appreciate Jeff more than ever on these kind of days when he can come rescue me and have a fresh perspective.  I go to sleep at night wishing to wake up tomorrow to start all over again with a clean slate.  I hate days like this.  She is one tough cookie.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sledding and Snow

"A childhood without snow is not a good one." 

 - Ian Toppall on February 13, 2014

We've had plenty of snow this Winter.  There are no complaints from the kids on the lack of the white stuff this year.  With all the snow, the kids have had many opportunities to go sledding.  They have an absolute blast!  Is there anything more wholesome than sledding?  It doesn't require batteries, is not electronic, gets you outdoors and doesn't cost money.  What's not to love?!!?

We've been on the hunt for good hills to sled on that don't require a 15 minute drive down somewhat icy, snow-covered roads.  We've managed to find a great place to go that is loved by me (for ease of access getting there) and by the kids (for the steepness and length of the hill).  It is a win-win.

The first time we arrived (it's off of Shiplett for those reading this who are local), Sam hops on her sled almost immediately upon arrival and takes off.  Ian and I are watching her shoot down the hill.  She is like a bullet moving so fast.  Sam is fearless until she has reason not to be. Sam comes to a natural stop and while sitting upright in her sled starts crying -- LOUDLY!  Without hesitation, Ian takes off on foot to go to her.  He has amazing balance and reaches her within seconds.  Me, on the other hand, is scared to death I am going to fall on my face, my wrist, my butt, twist my ankle or a combination of all of the above trying to get to her.  After a full minute of doing my best to navigate this steep hill, I give up.  Sam is still crying and is getting louder and louder that I am not by her side. 

I do the next best thing I can think of to reach her.  I grab Ian's sled, hop in it and yell, "Hang on Sam!!  I'm coming to you!!"  With a quick push, I take off.  Like my butt is on fire.  I move faster than a speeding a bullet, faster than a locomotive, faster than a race car, faster than an Ostrich.  As I am FLYING down the hill I am also yelling "OOOOOOOHHHHHH SHHHHHIIIIIIITTTTTTTT" simultaneously.  Geez, I am moving.  I am moving so fast there is smoke coming off the back of the sled. 

I fly by Sam and Ian.  Their heads spin watching me zoom by them.  I am not even close to slowing down as I approach them.  This turn of events (seeing me in a blur pass them) is enough to get Sam distracted, forget why she is crying and get her to stand up.  Both their mouths drop open until I finally come to a stop.  Sam and Ian run to me and make sure I am ok.  Wow, that was fun.

From that moment on, Sam does not use her sled anymore.  She decides to sled either sitting on her butt or going down the hill on her tummy.  She feels she has more control that way. 

Ian, on the other hand, has decided to do the ramps made out of snow/ice by the kids who were there before him.  It is so much fun watching him 'catch air' and take off. 

These pictures were taken when we went back the next day with a few of the kids' friends:

Jeff helping the girls.  He is trying to pull
them back up the hill.

Sam and her friend.

Sam going down the hill on her tummy.

Ian and his friend sledding.

Ian catching some air!

Sam and Ian playfully push each other down the hill.

Ian and his friend.  Ian is on the right.

Sam and her friend trying to grab onto the sled.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Valentine's Day 2014

I decided to do something a little different for the kids for Valentine's day.  I came up with the idea to surprise them when they woke up on Friday morning with their doors covered in hearts; each one stating a reason why Jeff and I loved them so much.  I cut out hearts in various sizes and different colors (pink, red, white) and even used glitter glue on a few when writing to jazz them up a bit. Additionally, I created a banner up at the top of the door that said, "We LOVE...." and another at the bottom of the door that said, "Happy Valentine's Day!  Love, Mommy and Daddy"   And to top off this homemade creation, I found a "LOVE" banner that I hung across the bathroom door which is located directly across from their bedrooms.  The whole thing was constructed and put in place after the kids went to bed on Thursday night.  Additionally, Jeff bought each of the kids a card and I had gotten them Valentine's boxes of chocolate in designs they would like (Football for Ian, Hello Kitty for Sam).

How sweet, right?   Um, not so much.

I was so excited to see their reaction when they first woke up.  Sam got up first, got a kick out of her door, but wouldn't let either Jeff or me read her the 14 reasons we had written on the hearts.  She was pretty darn sure she could read each one on her own. Every time I started to read her one, she yelled, "I CAN DO IT!!!!!".  Ha!  Considering that one of the hearts said "How you love to learn to read", this was quite ironic.  Oy!  Who knows if she actually figured out what the hearts said or not.  I tried hard to get a few of them said out loud before getting screamed at.  How sweet for me.  :)

The older kid wakes up next.  He looks at his door, promptly slams it shut and goes back to bed.  It's another 20 minutes before he opens his door, tells us he does not like the hearts at all and wants them down.  Right now!  I was not expecting that reaction at all.  Ian especially does not like the heart that says "How you are with Samantha".  I told him to leave the hearts up until the end of the day.  I worked hard on the doors and want to enjoy it at least for a few hours.  Ian said he'd be inside his room until Valentine's day was over.  Ha!  Ian was acting like he experienced a bad break-up on the 14th of February and still hadn't gotten over the girl.  What got into him!?!?!  Jeff and I are not used to seeing Ian so grumpy early in the day.  I definitely didn't see that coming. 

When Ian emerged to go to the bathroom, I quickly seized the opportunity to run into his room and put the card and box of chocolates on his pillow.  After the trip to the bathroom,  he went back into his room, closed the door again and I could hear him unrwapping the chocolate.  At least he had use for that.

Oh, and I was told to next year hang the "LOVE" banner higher up.  Apparently having it their height was too low.   And on Sunday, Ian came to me and said he wasn't a fan of the chocolates.  They are "too chewy".  Whatever. 

It's so nice to do something fun and special for your kids and not have it be appreciated.  I can't wait for them to see what I do next year.  It will require very little effort on my part.  Very, very little effort.   Who am I kidding?  By the time another 365 days roll around again, I'll be ready to come up with another kooky idea to show them how much we love them. 

Sam's door

Ian's door

Thursday, February 13, 2014

House of Cards.

Ever since I discovered streaming, I've tried very hard to find a show for Jeff and I to watch together.  With each series I'm about to start watching, I ask Jeff if he wants to join me in this endeavour.  "Breaking Bad"?  No.  "Orange is the New Black"?  No.  "Weeds"?  No. "Mad Men"?  No. 

It sucks that we don't have any pop culture interest in common.  I hear of couples all the time that stream television shows together.  They get into the series and start binge-watching.  How awesome is that to have the one you love get all caught up in the action too!  Someone to discuss the character development and plot twists right there next to you! 

I was ready to start watching a new series. And yet again, I asked Jeff if he wanted to watch it with me.  "House of Cards"?  Yes.  Yes?  Really?  Yes.  WOW!  I couldn't believe it.  We made plans to begin the next night.  If it was me, I'd be ready to start watching then and there.  But Jeff needed another day to prepare.  Whatever. :)

We watch the first episode. Jeff says he can see the appeal of the show.  I love Kevin Spacey and am already hooked.  However, I love Jeff too and am willing to go at his pace on streaming these episodes.  Therefore, the 2nd episode will have to wait for another day.  Since watching a show together is a dream come true, I restrain myself and patiently wait for when Jeff is up for watching this show.  We average an episode every other day; sometimes we go two full days between episodes.  It is hard to go at this snail's pace, but I do it.  I do it because I LOVE my husband and that's what you do when you love someone. 

It should be noted that as we are watching each of the shows, I've leaned into Jeff (very lovingly) and said to him, "I love that we are doing this!  This is like a dream come true for me."   Ugh, I could throw-up now having said that.

We make it to the end of episode #6 and Jeff says to me, "You can keep going if you want.  I'm not that into the show."  Um, ok.  Watch out people, because I can stream like no one's business.  I could be in the streaming Olympics with how I am able to squeeze in watching shows on my iPad, iPhone or TV at home while also getting everything else done.

I am now taking my iPad to the gym and getting in an episode each morning and another in the evening after the kids have gone to bed.  I come to the part where Claire has turned on Frank and I exclaim out loud, "Ooooh, Claire just double-crossed Frank."  At which point Jeff goes, "I know."

WHAT!?!?!?!!?!?!   I pause the show and look at him.  How do you know this?  Because the last time I checked, you weren't that into the show.  Jeff says he went online and read a summary of the remaining season.  OMG!  I am not a happy camper.  Obviously he was interested enough to want to find out what happens, but not interested enough to want to watch the show with me.  Sooooo not cool.  And to think that I showed such amazing restraint not binge watching this show for close to two weeks. 

I am presuming that Jeff must feel bad at this and not only apologizes but also offers to start watching season 2 with me when it comes out on Friday.  Yeah, thanks buddy, but I'd rather keep watching at my own pace.  I'll be done with Season 2 by the time the snow stops falling.  :)

I've learned my lesson. I am not going to try so hard to find a show for us to watch together.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I think I am going to Israel.  OMG!  I can't believe I just typed that sentence.  And I can't believe this trip may actually happen.  It's getting exciting for this mom of two from Burke, VA.  

My sister Meghan did a trip last Summer to Israel with Birthright.  Birthright's focus is to strengthen the Jewish identity and make a connection for young Jewish people.  The age range on who can go is 18 to 26 years old.  The trip is heavily subsidized and gives an amazing opportunity to a young Jewish person on experiencing the culture.

Meghan's time in Israel sounded magical.  I was completely mesmerized with her stories and loved that she got to experience all of this.   I kept thinking if they only offered something like this for older Jews like myself.  Going to Israel was never on my radar.  The distance (halfway around the world!), the expense and having young kids at home were enough obstacles to put the idea of traveling to Israel on the back burner; way, way back on the back burner. I mean just say I could come up with the money, I couldn't go for just a week and then come back home.  Flying that far requires staying longer and taking it all in.   If I had the time available to be away, the thousands of dollars for plane, hotel and sightseeing would make it near impossible to justify.  While it would be a dream to go to Israel, I never thought it was possible.

I recently found out about JWRP (Jewish Women's Renaissance Project)  They do a Jewish moms version of Birthright. Various cities come together and send groups of Jewish moms to experience Israel.  The idea is make that Jewish connection and transform and grow through the experience.  Upon your return, be inspired and take an active role in the community, while also instilling the Jewish values within your family.  The ideal participant is a Jewish mom who has kids living at home under the age of 18.  As with Birthright, the trip is heavily subsidized and only requires paying for airfare and incidentals.

I applied for the trip!!  Holy moly!!!   It all feels like it is happening so fast, but if I am picked, the trip would leave on June 29th.  Like this Summer!  As in 4 1/2 months!!!  I met with the woman last Wednesday who runs the program for the D.C. area.  I was so nervous!  First day of school jitters kind of nervous.  I am still not sure I made sense or spoke in complete sentences.  I feel like I babbled my way through all the questions and answers.  And of course on the drive home, I thought of all this wonderful stuff I should've said. Isn't that always the case?

My friend Dawn applied to go on this trip too.  Her interview was on Friday.  She called me after it was over and filled me in on how it went.  According to the woman who interviewed us both, we are in.  Dawn said she loved us and wished there were more women like us who applied from the NoVa area.  I won't believe I've been accepted until I see it in writing.  The decision gets announced in March.  However, ever since Dawn told me how her interview went, this trip is all I can think about.  I can picture myself there.  The sample itinerary on the Website is amazing.  Not only is it all the great sites (dead sea, Western Wall, etc), but there are many lectures/classes mixed in throughout the days.  This itinerary really spoke to me. It sounds like a dream trip!   Camel rides, kayaking on the Jordan River, challah baking class -- so, so cool!

It will be a long couple of weeks until I hear officially if I've been selected.  I've already worked out the childcare issues.  Jeff parent's have very graciously agreed to take Ian and Sam for half of it.  The other half I will sign the kids up for full day camp at a place nearby our house.  Jeff will still be able to work and it should be manageable.

What a way to kick off the Summer!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Passport photos

I've gotten a special pass from my wonderful husband to tell this story.  Gosh, if I didn't know him as well as I do, I'd think he was doing these kind of things on purpose to get to me.

There has been much talk lately about international travel.  Jeff and I are celebrating 10 years of marriage in September and I am hoping we can take some kind of trip over the summer.  Jeff is less hopeful that our budget will allow a trip, but I want to be ready to go at a moment's notice should a good deal and the ideal timing present itself. 

I recently checked both our passports.  Mine doesn't expire until 2019. I am good to go!  Jeff's expired this past November.  I told him to please get it renewed now while we have time on our side and not have to pay expedited fees if we need it later on.  I pretty much did all the work for Jeff.  I went online and filled out the application to renew.  I printed it out.  I gathered his old passport and got it all ready to mail.  All Jeff needed to do was get new passport photos.  I even googled a place nearby his office in Arlington that could take the photos.  The CVS right across the street from his office offers this service.  And the best part, I found a $2.00 off coupon for getting these photos taken at CVS!!  Does it get any better?!?!  Just wait....

Jeff got the photos taken.  We are eating dinner later that day and I casually ask Jeff, did you use the coupon for the passport photos?  I always expect the answer to be, "No, darn, I forgot about the coupon."   Jeff has had this happen many times before.  I find a fantastic coupon and he completely forgets he even has it.  Surprisingly I've gotten ok with that.  It's a small price to pay to have Jeff do the shopping.  However, what happens next is a new one I have never encountered before.

Jeff:  No, the coupon was expired.

Me:  No, it wasn't!!  It expired on 12/31/14.  I checked before giving it to you.

Jeff (Now going to his coat pocket to take a look):  Oh yeah, your right.  I thought it said 1/31/14.

Me:  HUH? 

Jeff:  I asked them if they would take an expired coupon and they said no.

Me:  OMG!!  You are kidding me, right!?!?!  Let's just say that the coupon was expired (WHICH IT WASN'T!!!), why in the world would you point out to them that it was expired?  Why wouldn't you just give it to them and hope they didn't notice?

Jeff had no answer.  At this point we all couldn't stop laughing. 

I am so ridiculously in love with this guy that all I can do is laugh.  It's a good thing too.  Book smart?  Yes, brilliant!  The absolute smartest guy I know.  Street smart?  Not so much.  :)


Friday, February 7, 2014

A travel tale from the Crypt

I don't think I've ever fully explained what is involved getting The Crazy Man ready for a trip.  It's not the normal "let's look at the upcoming weather forecast for the city I'll be staying in" and decide what kind of clothing is needed.  Nor is it as simple as stopping the mail or the newspaper for the time The Crazy Man is away.  Oh no, it's so much more than that.  It's actually a process that starts many weeks in advance.

In order to get The Crazy Man to leave the NoVa area (either by plane, car, train or boat), the following gets done (by me!):

A Notebook (1 inch in diameter) is created.  The following sections are included:
  • Reservation Confirmations
-All plane, car, hotel, cruise confirmation pages
  • Phone numbers
-A list of all the phone numbers stored in his cell phone.  (Because you never know when the cell phone may go missing or completely break
-A list of emergency contacts with name and phone numbers
-A list of the doctors, medical professionals, and pharmacy contact info - complete with names, nurses, phone numbers.
-A sheet that includes anywhere from 5 to 10 names and phone numbers of who The Crazy Man wants to call while he is away.
  • Back-up Info
-A list of all the medications currently being taken, including dosage, quantity and frequency
-A xeroxed copy of all the current credit cards and drivers license (including phone numbers on who to call if it needs to be reported lost or stolen)
-A xeroxed copy of the passport
-A xeroxed copy of car insurance info, health insurance card and triple A card
  • Other Info
-A section that includes all museums, shopping, performances (plays, theatre schedules), and maps of the area being visited.
-Return address labels, stamps, his son's address labels to send postcards.
-FedEx prepaid labels ready to send boxes back.  (Not sure what is in these boxes he ships back. But he always ships a box or two back from wherever he's been).

Ok, so that is the binder that needs to be created.  And unfortunately, the information is always changing, so this information does not get transferred from one trip to another.

Next a day-timer gets created.  It is one of those pocket calendar type books that have a spiral bound and each page is a different week.  Only, The Crazy Man uses a day-timer from 2005 or sometimes older.  Yes, really.  So what I do is create these mini-pages on the computer and then tape them into the first few pages of a 2005 pocket calendar.  In the day-timer goes the following information:

A detailed trip itinerary that has flight info (airline phone number, confirmation #, date, flight #, time departing, time arriving, seat #s), hotel info (address, phone number, confirmation #, date checking in, date checking out, number of nights staying), car rental info (phone number, confirmation #, date and time picking up the car, date and time dropping off the car). And any other reservation information -- for example all the cruise info.

I also include a few blank pages because The Crazy Man loves to take notes.  The rest of the day-timer sports calendar pages that are over 9 years old.  Personally, that would drive me crazy, but The Crazy Man loves to recycle.

It should be noted that with each reservation that has been made (hotel, car, etc), I've called to find out the General Manager's name and direct phone number.  The Crazy Man (as soon as he knows he'll be traveling) has spoken to the General Manager many times about his impending visit.  About what?  Who the hell knows, but he finds something or other that has the utmost importance to be discussed.   So all of the General Manager's contact info is also included with this trip itinerary info.

Other items to be taken care of to prepare The Crazy Man for travel is:

1. Calling all his various banks and seeing if they can get in (100) $2.00 bills.  But they must be BRAND NEW.  Never been used.  Just so you know, banks can not request hot-off-the-press brand spanking new $2 bills. But I always try. And I always have to make the request to see what they do receive. This is always a fun exercise to do a few times a year.  The Crazy Man gets a kick out of handing out new $2 bills in whatever town he is visiting.

2. Calling all his various banks to see how many gold $1 coins they have available for him to get.  He likes these to be brand new too, but it isn't a deal breaker.  He also needs to know which president is on the coins before he decides if he'll go get them.

3. Stopping his newspaper and mail for the time he is away.  However, even if The Crazy Man lands at 11:30pm on the evening of his return, he will still want the newspaper delivered that day.

4.  The Crazy Man always has me call both UPS and FedEx to find out who will offer the best rate on shipping boxes back.  These boxes don't actually exist yet.  I use imaginary specs and weight to see what the shipping rate will be.

5. Calling the Walmart Pharmacy and finding out how many refills are left on each of his many, many prescriptions.  He wants to know that if he has to get a refill it will be available without having to call the doctor to get a new prescription written.  If there are no refills left, then I have to call that specific doctor (while also the pharmacy is doing it too) and make sure they get a new prescription on file.  I give it a day or two and then call everyone again (pharmacy and doctor) to make sure it got done.

6. Doing an analysis with a few different car rental places to see who will offer the best rate.  Then, once a car rental place is chosen and a reservation is made, I have to call AAA and find out if they will match the rate through their car rental program. I have to make sure I've spoken with a supervisor to make sure they understand that they could lose potential business by not matching the rate.  BTW, they have yet to match the lowest rate we've already managed to find.

6. For this particular trip The Crazy Man wanted to speak with Princess Cruise Lines many, many times.  His most outrageous request was asking if they could move Talent Night on the ship to earlier in the week.  Again, I have to ask myself, 'What the hell!?!?'   I think he simply dreams this stuff up to see how much he can get away with.   Seriously, he was putting in a request to get Talent Night on the night he wanted it to be.  Who does that!?!?!  Also, the woman he is traveling with is an Elite cruise member.  She has sailed over 185 days which means she is entitled to many privileges that normal cruise travelers don't get.  The Crazy Man wanted to discuss in detail the Elite status they will be enjoying on board.  For example, they get a complimentary minibar in their room.  Many questions stemmed from this particular benefit: What gets stocked in the minibar?  How often will it be restocked?  Do we have to call to get it restocked?  What if we only drink the water from it?  What if we drink one kind of liquor but not another?  What if we need it restocked more than you normally do?   Once he got "Elite status" confirmed with one staff member, I had to make sure another 3 or 4 people associated with Princess Cruise Lines also was aware of this.

7. Calling Triple A is always lots of fun.  The Crazy Man wants driving maps of everything under the sun.  Directions to all the museums, shopping, theatres and a listing of all the performances and shows playing for the time they are in the city.  I've offered to do this for him through google, but he is determined to use Triple A.  I think this an old school thing.  He loves the format it gets mailed to him in.  However, it takes a few calls of bugging them over and over again before we can leave Triple A alone.

There are a few other things that needs to get done in preparation but the above items are the big ones. 

The thing that really gets me is when I've done all this work and then at the last minute The Crazy Man will tell me he has switched hotels, or decided to change the car rental agency they are using.  That's the stuff that drives me crazy.

By the time The Crazy Man has left town, I am a happy girl seeing him go. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Not as with "IT" as I think.

As of January 26th, I gave up my unlimited data plan on my cell phone.  I had been grandfathered in for years.  I paid $30 a month and could use all the data I wanted.  It didn't matter if I streamed episode after episode of "Breaking Bad".  It didn't matter if I watched YouTube videos or surfed Facebook.  I had no limits and was not in jeopardy of going over.  It was a freedom that I loved.  I never intended to give it up.  However, if I ever wish to upgrade my phone, I can no longer be grandfathered in.  Therefore, when the new iPhone 5S came out, I had a tough decision to make.  Do I get the new phone and give up the unlimited data plan or be content with the iPhone 4S I have now and enjoy my limitless data?   Oh, to have these first world problems.  :)

I decided to sit and wait.  Then Jeff's phone broke and he needed to get a new one.  He had no choice to but to go off the unlimited data plan and be put on the 2GB plan they offer.  It turns out that by going to the 2GB data plan, we will save money each month.  If I make the switch with him, we could save $40 a month together.  Wow.  Now I am convinced it is worth it to make the switch.  Especially after the Verizon lady does a quick analysis and tells me that I never even come close to using 2GB of data each month.  Sure, maybe not now, but what happens when they invent that next new thing that requires a ton of data usage?  What will happen then!??!   I guess this is a chance I'll just have to take.

Now that I made the leap, there is no reason to not get the iPhone 5S, especially after the Verizon lady tells me that I'll be given $199 as a trade-in value for my current phone and this will completely cover the cost of the new iPhone 5S.  I grab my purse and head to the Verizon store to get the upgrade. 

After waiting 30 minutes for an available sales person, I have my order put in the system.  I ask the guy about transferring over all my stored info in the phone (notes, reminders, photos, etc).  He says it would take way too long to transfer and he can only do the contacts.  He says I should do a back-up before handing over the phone.  He is happy to charge me the $200 for the new phone and then credit me later the $200 when I bring back the old phone.  Um, no thank you.  I'll just give you the old phone now.  Meanwhile, he says to go look at the cases and see if I want to get one.  I can't find one I like.  Not even a little bit.  It took me FOREVER to find the case I have now.  As we all know, the case for the 4S is not compatible with the 5S.  Why, oh why?!?!  I am hating the fact that I will have to settle on something I don't like.  The sales guy asks me about other accessories.  What about a charger for the car?   Ugh.  That's right.  None of my current chargers, adapters, etc will be compatible either.  I can no longer just plug my phone in any of the gazillion chargers I already have for my phone and the iPads.  So not fun.  I am now getting depressed about starting over with everything.  What is happening to me!?!?!  This isn't the Robyn I've grown to love.  I used to lose sleep getting so excited about the next new thing.  Now I am finding myself very content when my phone still works and doesn't need to be messed with.

The sales guy sees my hesitation and lack of enthusiasm over getting the phone and offers a suggestion.  Don't get it.  Wow, he is actually advocating losing a sale.  And it would be a big one with all the extra things I'd need to buy with the phone.  The sales guy actually tells me I should just wait for the next version of the iPhone to come out and then get that one.  I guess he doesn't want to see me back in the store for a long time. 

I thank him for his honesty and leave.  And with that, I still have my iPhone 4S and now 2GB of data to use each month. Somehow this doesn't feel like progress.  Could I be growing up? I am totally ok with saving money on not having an unlimited data plan that I wasn't really using lots of anyway.  And not needing the newest iPhone because what I have now works just fine?  Hmmm.  I guess so.  At age 42, my "needs" have won out over my "wants". 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Tale from the crazy crypt

The Crazy Man's pattern each year has him traveling for most of February.  This year finds him in California for a few days hanging out in LA and a week long cruise to Mexico.  Then he comes back for a day and heads to South Florida for 8 days. 

The last day I went to work for him before his trip was a new situation I had yet to encounter in my two years of knowing him.  It was a Thursday and of course was one of the many snow days we've had in the D.C. metro area this Winter.  This meant that Sam and Ian were home from school. I could leave Ian at home by himself, but I needed to take Sam with me to go work for the Crazy Man.  She has gone with me two or three other times in the past, so I knew she'd be fine hanging out with her iPad, sitting next to me.  As Sam and I were putting on our jackets to head over, the phone rings.

Me:  Hello?

Crazy Man:  Hi Robyn, I need your help. I'm in a crisis. I have an emergency.  You are about to come over here, right? 

Me:  Yes, Sam and I are putting on our jackets now.  What can I do for you?

Crazy Man:  I need you to go to the Pharmacy at Walmart. (He has been a customer there for years.  They know him and me without having to identify ourselves when calling).  They open at 9:00am.  When you get there, don't stand in line.  Cut the line and go to the front window to speak to the pharmacist.  This is an emergency.  I am constipated.  I need help.  Don't wait in line.   Whatever you do, don't stand in line.

Me:  Ok, I can do that.  What would you like me do once I get to the pharmacist's window?

Crazy Man:  Have the pharmacist call me immediately.  This is an emergency.  I am constipated.  I need to talk to her.

Me:  Ok, I'm on my way there now.

5 Minutes later, I get to Walmart.  I call The Crazy Man.

Me:  We are here at the pharmacy.  They don't open for another 5 minutes.  Don't worry, there is no one here standing in line.  I will call you back when I see the pharmacist.

Crazy Man:  Ok.  Good job.

I get to the pharmacist and tell her The Crazy Man is about to call her.  Could she please take his call immediately. He is dealing with a crisis and desperately needs their help.  She is wonderful and says, 'Not a problem.'   I can hear her talking to the Crazy Man.  She keeps saying, "That's alright.  That's why were are here.  Don't worry, you just need to be patient and let it work.  Yes, just be patient.  You will be fine."

The pharmacist gets off the phone and tells me it will only be a few minutes.  I take Sam and we go buy her some Swedish Fish for being so good about this little side trip.  Once I get back to the pharmacy, the assistant tells me they are done with his prescription and I can be on my way.  In a bit of TMI (too much information), I come to find out that after the Crazy Man's emergency constipation situation has been taken care of, he had a prescription of Viagra called in and needed to be picked up.   OMG!  I can't even begin to imagine what this pharmacist thinks of the Crazy Man. 

Apparently the Crazy Man plans to have a very good time in CA and on the cruise.