Wednesday, January 27, 2016

It's SnOwAwesome!

When I was little girl growing up in the 70's, my dad had a CB radio.  We used to have fun with it while driving around.  My handle was "Snow Girl".  Yep, living in Florida and with any name I could imagine to call myself in CB land, I chose "Snow Girl".  That's how much I wanted to be around snow. 

When it came time to pick a college to attend, I knew I had to go somewhere it could snow.  I need 4 seasons in my year! I packed up suitcases and moved to Washington D.C.   26 years later and I am still here.  26 years later and I am still in love with the city every time it snows.  This past blizzard that dropped close to 30 inches where I live was no exception.  I never get tired of snow.  I love it!   You know the saying, "Less is more"?  Well in my case when it comes to snow, "More is more!"

A few random thoughts by me on this latest snowfall aka Snowzilla!:

1. I still get very excited when I hear snow in the forecast.

2. 30 inches is a lot of snow!   Go big or go home!  30 inches is just enough to satisfy my need for snow this winter. Although I wouldn't be opposed to more snow this year.  :)

3. Digging ourselves out really brought our community together.  On my pipestem, the neighbors and Jeff/I worked like a team and got it done.  Furthermore, we branched out into the neighborhood and helped a few neighbors who needed an extra hand.  It feels good to be united and come together.

4. I've posted more status updates on Facebook in the 3 days we were stuck at home than I have in the last 6 months combined.

5. I enjoy baking when I know there is no where I need to be.  I made Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins, Blueberry Oatmeal Bread and Chocolate Chip Cookies.

6. It's always fun to guess when the kids will have school again.  They've been off now since Thursday.  5 days of cancelled school and we're still not sure when they will go back.

7. Our area just can't handle this much snow!  See item #6 above.

8.  My husband does not take snow days off from work.  If anything, he'll log more hours in his day working from home because he doesn't have the commute of driving to the office.

9. I truly believe this will go down as one of those events my kids will forever was a historic amount of snow.

10.  I will never not live within walking distance of a shopping center.  It is truly a blessing to know that no matter how snowed in we get, we can always make our way to Chipotle, Safeway or Kohls.  Seriously, what more do you need?

11. Even though each night I go to bed knowing I can sleep in the next morning (as we really have no place to be), I still wake up at 4:45am.  There is just no changing my internal clock.

12. I've never been more proud of my son as to when he saw an elderly gentleman across the street from our house trying to dig himself out.  Ian volunteered to help him.  I love the heart and compassion this kid has.  Makes me feel like Jeff and I are doing a good job.

13. It's funny how life can be so, so busy and over-scheduled.  And then NOTHING!  It's like everyone is given a pass to 'hunker down' and hibernate.   With one fell swoop, all of our activities, school events and life in general gets put on hold.  When you think about it, it's a pretty cool phenomenon that makes us all equal.

14. Kudos to Silver Diner.  They were brilliant in their marketing and sent out an email to all their loyalty customers letting us know they were open on Sunday; a mere 4 or 5 hours after it finally stopped snowing.  Their strategy worked and we went for dinner Sunday evening.  We were able to dig ourselves out earlier in the day and made it to the restaurant.  What a nice treat to get out of the house.

15.  My family goes through a ridiculous amount of fruit when we are all home together for 6 consecutive days.   I guess there are worse things to overdose and snack on, but wow!

16. The crazy man I work for got snowed in at his girlfriend's house in Bethesda.  As of Tuesday evening, her street still hadn't been plowed.  Despite a 3 week trip they are scheduled to take on Feb. 1st, they have a very volatile relationship and he can't stand to be around her.  To know he has been stuck with her in the same house (with no way out!) from Friday to Wednesday makes me laugh.  I can only imagine what it is going on.

17. I believe we are close to purchasing a snow blower.  As soon as there is mention of another snowfall in the forecast (with at least 6 inches or more), Jeff is open to the idea of discussing getting one.  My idea of discussing this is telling him what I am doing as I press "Confirm" on the Amazon Prime payment page. (Ha! Ha!  Just kidding, honey!)  I hope to make our lives much easier the next time something like this comes around.

Ok, that is all I have to say about this snow event.  :)

Ian helping the neighbor across the street.

Snowball fight!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Heard and Observed #56

Last Thursday was a snow day and school was cancelled.  I had told The Crazy Man I would work for him for a very small amount of time (1.5 hours) and I would need to bring Sam with me.  As he is getting ready for a big trip, he appreciated any amount of time I could give him. 

I set Sam up with her iPad and logged her into The Crazy Man's wifi.  She was watching The Disney Channel and had her headphones on. 

The Crazy Man comes into my office and says to her:

"Happy New Year, you sweet thing."

Sam:  ...........(dead silence).

Me:  "Crazy man, she can't hear you.  Sam has headphones on."

Sam:  "No, I can hear him."


Monday, January 11, 2016

Taking control of the situation.

We had two VERY ugly mornings in a row.  Especially, more-than-usual, ugly!  Maybe because it was the lazy, easy-going days of Winter Break were over and the kids needed to get back in their routine, but it was enough to make me want to start drinking heavily.  Like at 8:00am.

Ian sets his alarm clock to wake himself up.  He now sleeps right thru it.  I go into his room to check that he is up and after I've woken him up, Ian says to me, with his eyes still closed, "Come back in 10 minutes and make sure I am awake."   I am now Ian's own personal snooze alert.

Meanwhile, Sam is throwing fit after fit after fit over her self-created fashion dilemmas.  She originally picked out all her own clothes at the store.  We periodically go thru her closet and take out everything she has outgrown. She has dozens upon dozens of clothing options appropriate for whatever the weather is.  Her closet is organized for easy retrieval on the items she should be focusing on to wear for that season.  Sam getting dressed should be a no-brainer.  However, that is far from the case.  Even when she picks the outfit out the night before (as usually is the case), she will put it on the next morning and then scream & whine she doesn't like it.  5 outfit changes later and she is no closer to being happier in anything she puts on.  It is a very loud, emotionally draining, and exhausting process.  With seconds to spare, she begrudgingly settles on something to wear and we make it to school in time.  Even Ian gets in on the act and tells her she looks fabulous; please just keep that on!   It is so not fun.

Enough is enough!  I've tried various things to alleviate this pain.  My big idea I came up with a few months ago was to not make her breakfast until she came downstairs dressed.  That worked for a little while until she outsmarted me big-time.  She'll come downstairs dressed, get breakfast and then start the whole brouhaha over her outfit of choice and the need to change repeatedly, ad nauseum.

No more!  I am stopping the insanity.  Round 2.  I called a meeting with Jeff, Sam and me.  I said this needs to stop.  From now on, here is how it will go down at Casa del Toppall.  I need everyone on the same page and ready to follow these new set of rules.  The evening before school, Sam will pick out her outfit.  If she needs to try it on, she should.  Sam should have as much time as she needs to pick out something she will want to wear.  Therefore, we need to start this process earlier than the 5 minutes before bedtime we've been doing.  Since Jeff does the bedtime routine, it was important he give Sam additional time to assemble her outfit for the next day and not get impatient if it was taking too long.   The next morning Sam gets dressed with the chosen outfit.  If she throws a fit, changes her mind or protests in any way on what she is wearing, she loses her iPad for the whole day.  Since Sam LOVES her iPad, this is a consequence she doesn't want to encounter.

And that my friends is the new plan.  We've already had a taste of the good and the bad.  The first morning was major success.  The next morning, the old Sam returned and was in rare form.  She put on the outfit she picked out the night before and had a change of heart.  Jeff was working from home and witnessed first hand what I go through.  I now have Jeff fully on board with my plan and the consequence.  We've adjusted it slightly to say that when she comes home from school, she needs to pick out her outfit for the next day before she does anything else (snack, homework, tv, iPad, etc).  

Time will tell how successful we are.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

You blink and you miss it.

I was at gymnastics this past Thursday after a two week Winter Break, reading my book and periodically looking up to see what Sam was currently working on.  The first time I raised my head to her direction I couldn't find her.  It took a good few minutes of backtracking to find her coach and then eliminating my way thru the group of girls one by one until I was left with Samantha.  (Ok, maybe I am over-dramatizing just a bit.  It's true that I didn't pin point my daughter among a crowded floor of girls within seconds, but it is a crazy environment to begin with.)

Oh my gosh!  When did this happen?  When Sam get so grown up looking?  I swear in the  last month Sam has blossomed.  Her face is more mature and there are no signs of the little girl she used to be.  She has gotten so tall too!  And with her hair the longest its been in years, she is aging faster than I can keep up.

I am not sure why this revelation is hitting me this way.  I was just with the kids every day, all day long for over 2 weeks -- seriously! There. Was. No. Separation. At. All.  But yet when I go to quickly find her in the crowded gymnastics "circus" (no better word for the chaos that is the place Sam does gymnastics), I couldn't easily spot her.  My memory of what Sam should look like hasn't progressed.  I think I just got zapped with a big dose of "My baby is growing up."

It's a bit weird when this happens and you realize it.  She is only 7 1/2 years old.   Today 7, tomorrow 27.

See what I mean....Where's my baby girl???

All grown up!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Heard and Observed #55

While we were driving to D.C. to see the monuments (about a 25 minute drive), the boys started a conversation on the stories they each heard from their grandparents on what life was like for them growing up.  My mom is Ian's grandmother and Max's grandfather is my mom's brother.  It was very sweet listening to the boys go back and forth describing what life was like for Mom-Mom (Ian's grandmother) and Poppy (Max's grandfather) as children, until they came to a conflicting part of the story and Max & Ian were no longer on the same page.

Ian:  You know we can't really believe everything they say.  This is like 60 years ago for these people.

Hahaha!  I LOVED listening to the boys speak.  You just don't realize the impact it made on them to hear these stories.  Ian had been hanging on every word that his Mom-mom has told him over the years, just like Max was hanging on every word that his Poppy told him.  You could hear my mom's voice and my uncle's voice come thru the boys as they spoke.  So. Very. Cool.  This is what family is all about.

It's a lot of work to get our visits coordinated (the boys have VERY different school schedules), not to mention the drive up and back to Cherry Hill, NJ.  But its worth it.  My side of the family does not live close by and its very important to me that my kids have a relationship with their relatives.


Later that night, as we are driving in the car listening to an oldies station, I'd say to the kids, "Who can tell me who is singing?"

Ian:  Cyndi Lauper
Max: Madonna
Sam:  Pink!  (hahaha, I guess this qualifies as an "oldies" person for her)

Me:  Nope, you're all wrong.  It's Michael Jackson.

Ian:  You mean that's a guy???

Me:  Yes.

Max:  I don't mean to be rude, but that guy sounds like a girl.

hahahahahah!!  After that, every time I asked them who was singing the next song, they would always throw in Michael Jackson's name, even when it was clearly a female voice.  The kids were so confused.  How funny!


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Max comes for a visit!

Winter Break found us at home for the 2 weeks the kids had off from school.  We racked up more time hanging in our pajamas than was probably healthy.  But hey, given our fast pace, usual craziness of a schedule, it was nice to slow things down.  Going back to school and work on Monday, January 4th hit us hard!  I think we all could've used one more day.

One of the highlights of the break was having Max, my 10 year old cousin, come for a visit.  Ian had gone to his home in Connecticut last Summer and now it was our turn to have him here.  We met in Cherry Hill, NJ (the halfway point and where my Aunt and Uncle live) to do the drop-off and pick-up.  From Tuesday, 12/29 to Friday, 1/1 we got the chance to show Max what life was like in the NoVa area.

There were so many things we wanted to do with Max.  We whittled the list down to 3 or 4 ideas and took off for our adventures each day.  I made sure there was plenty of downtime at home too.  I knew the boys would want to play Xbox.

In the 2 full days we had Max with us, we did the following:

  • Flight Trampoline Park - this was Max's only request
  • Meadowlark Gardens for the Winter walk of lights -- So beautiful!
  • Dinner out with friends
  • Udvar-Hazy Museum
  • White House / Capital Building / Washington Monument, plus a 4 mile walking tour of: Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial, FDR Memorial, WW2 Memorial, Vietnam Wall
  • New Year's Eve party at my friend's house (very family friendly)

We had a wonderful visit and loved having him. The ONLY hiccup was how much he missed his family.  I knew his younger sister was 'clingy', but I didn't realize Max had some issues too separating from his parents.  I felt so bad for him.  He never had a sleepover before in his own city, let alone in another state for multiple days.  Wow!   Max missed his family something fierce and would Facetime his mom throughout the day when we were periodically back at the house.

The first night was very shaky and I wasn't sure we were going to make it another 2 nights.  Max figured out a way to make it work for his comfort level.  He'd Facetime his father on his iPad and have Matt (father) on one pillow and him on the other.  Max and Matt would talk to each other until Max would finally fell asleep -- it took about 1 hour to 1.5 hours.  Inevitably, Max would wake-up in the middle of the night and he'd text his mom (Leslie) to see if she was awake too.  Of course the texting is what woke her as she is normally asleep at 3:00am.  Leslie did a good job of texting back and getting Max to take deep breaths and work his way back to sleep.

By the time we got to the last night Max was at our house, he managed to sleep thru the night without waking up.  I felt like we had made some major ground just by making it thru the 3 nights and not making an emergency trip back to Connecticut.  Each night was touch and go, but Max did it.  Whew!

Fortunately none of this separation anxiety is keeping Max from returning.  He already said he'd be back.  Ian quickly responded that he wants to go back to Connecticut to stay with Max and his family.  Looks like we have a recipe for success!

Meadowlark Gardens Winter Walk of Lights

Max and Ian in a deep conversation about the Presidents

Walking along the Vietnam Wall

Washington Monument photo bombing!

Ringing in the new year!