Thursday, February 25, 2016

It all starts with one step.

Earlier in the month Jeff made a comment about how I should get back into running; specifically, I should make it a goal to run the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in Spring 2017.  He remarked how happy I was after completing a run and it would be nice for me to get back to that.

Since the marathon in November 2011, I stopped running.  I was burned out big-time!  I look back at my training and can't believe that was me out there logging those miles.  I never thought of myself as a "runner".   It's fun to do the impossible.  

Before I got the crazy idea to run a marathon, I was doing a pretty good job of running 5ks and 10 milers.  I actually enjoyed it and felt such a sense of achievement when crossing the finish line.  For someone who used to be a big 'ole couch potato, I am still in awe that its me running for fun and not because I am being chased.  

So when Jeff planted the idea in my head to get back to running and begin again, I thought to myself, "why not?"   I am starting from ground zero. I've downloaded a running app and I am following it diligently. It will get to me to running a 5k and then I'll keep adding the mileage slowly.  
I am loving the small victories of being able to run for a minute, then 90 seconds, and doing it repeatedly throughout the 36 minutes allotted.  It feels good to break a sweat.  And it feels great to know my legs are able to get me where I need to go.  I run for everyone who can't.  And that feels awesome.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Sam sleeping soundly

Sleep has never come easy for Sam.  It takes her a long time to fall asleep.  When Sam finally does fall asleep, she doesn't seem to get in a deep sleep.  And Sam doesn't stay sleeping for very long.  It's almost like she has trained her body to not need a good night of sleep.  I can't remember ever a time when she "slept like a baby".   Maybe when she was first born?  I can't remember. It has become all a blur and it seems like Sam has always been like this.

Lately, it seems like its gotten worse or should I say, continually as bad as its ever been.  We had been giving Sam melatonin (based on her pediatrician's recommendation) to help her fall asleep.  After many, many nights of giving Sam the melatonin and then her telling us 2 hours later it wasn't working, I decided we needed to revisit the pediatrician.  We've got an action plan to implement; derived both from the doctor and by Jeff/me.  We will give it a try for the next 3 months and see if we can acclimate Sam's body to fall asleep easily and stay asleep.

1. Stop the melatonin
2. No ipad or video games after 6:30pm.
3. Limit tv watching (we allow her one 30 minute show a full hour before bedtime)
4. Give her an iron supplement.  The doctor thinks there is a correlation between low iron and sleep.  Sam's iron levels, while not below normal, are considered low.  
5. Stop the obnoxious multi-color bright flashing night light. Sam can pick one color for it to stay on. 

Sam is less than thrilled with the lack of screen time.  It had become such a way of life.  But we need to start shutting her brain down before bedtime and this is one way to do it.  Sam is also less than thrilled with the taste of the iron supplement.  Both drops and pills are hard for Sam to take.  I was able to find a chewable gummy iron in the recommended dosage.

Each morning I ask Sam if she had an easier time falling asleep the night before.  She replies back with how long it took; on average an hour and a half.   Obviously this is going to take a while to make any kind of real progress.  While I think Sam is telling the truth that it is taking her a long time to be asleep, I do think we are making small amount of headway.  Sam used to come in our room around 10:00pm at night reporting on the fact she still wasn't asleep.  At this point we'd give her a melatonin, but we've stopped doing that now.  

Every day Sam asks me if she has always been like this, a bad sleeper.  Yes, unfortunately this has been the case.  Some months are better than others, but for the most part, Sam's sleeping habits need help.  If in a few months we haven't been successful, the next step is a sleep study. For the foreseeable future Sam is in sleep boot camp. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The joke's on you.

We've had our fair share of snow days and delayed openings this Winter.  The kids don't lack those bonus days when they wake up and find out "Guess what? There's no school today!"  You may have even heard their squeals of delight all the way to your house.

Because these snow days have become all too common place, we've now taken to playing pranks on each other.  It's gotten pretty funny when we all had a hand in it and didn't realize the other was doing the same thing.

Here's a classic example of what I am referring to:

Recently, we found out the night before there would be a 2 hour delay the next morning.  Both kids were still awake and we were approaching their bedtime.  We intentionally did not tell Sam so she would go to bed at her normal time. We did tell Ian so he wouldn't set his alarm and could sleep in.  By 5:15am the next morning, the county reassessed the roads and the announcement was made that there would be no school. 

The next morning:
I see Ian as soon as he wakes-up and tell him, "Guess what, the county changed their mind and you have a full day of school today."

Ian:  What?

Me:  Yep, you have school today.

Sam then wakes-up (remember, she has no idea there was even a delay happening).

Ian to Sam:  We have no school today (trying to be funny).

Sam:  Yay!!!!

Ian looks at me and smiles like I am in on his joke.

It was the funniest conversation as we were all trying to have a little fun with each other.  It took a few minutes to convince the kids that there was in fact no school. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

One very sweet weekend

Team Toppall had unusually great weekend this past Saturday and Sunday.  This is one for the record books!

Jeff was given the PenFed skybox tickets at the Verizon Center for "Disney on Ice".  I had never experienced sitting in a skybox before.  Oh-la-la!  This is the life!!  I am now forever spoiled having to sit in regular seats with the riff-raff.   What a great way to see a show.

We went to Occoquan for their annual chocolate walk.   40 shops were participating, handing out samples of chocolate. Really.  One gallery even had a chocolate fountain set up!  Of course it was 10 degrees outside (and felt like 0), but what a cool thing to do.  The family lasted all of 20 minutes in the insanely cold day.  I guess we have something build upon next year. 

Saturday evening had us seeing "The Lion King" at Robinson Middle School.  Wow!  These kids did such a great job.  It was very well done.  Ian and Sam very much enjoyed it and seeing the smile on Sam's face through much of the performance was priceless.  She had a great seat for all the action.

But wait, there's more....Jeff made 3 different reservations for us to do dinner on Sunday evening, which was Valentine's day.  Jeff let me decide where we would end up (all excellent choices!) and then cancelled the other 2 reservations.  How awesome was that?   It was a wonderful surprise.  I ended up choosing "Jackson's" at the Reston Town Center.  I hadn't been before and it was nice to try something new.  After dinner, we took a stroll to Teavana and I purchased 3 amazing teas, which I currently can't stop drinking. 

Throw in Jeff getting the chance to see the movie "Deadpool" earlier in the day and there you have it.  What a fun 48 hours.  

Monday, February 8, 2016

Stranger danger.

As of this week, I can safely say that I am more advanced than Ian when it comes to social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.  Ian doesn't use or communicate on any of these sites, so without a doubt, I know I am more aware of how they work and what happens when you go online.  As Ian is only 10 years old, this is the way it should be.  But I don't know how much longer this will be the case or what the next big thing will be that Ian participates in and I'm just a bystander.

The Xbox is a different story.  I can barely get our tv downstairs to change back to regular tv watching or switch to the wii.  Ian is the expert and the one we all look to for help.  The other morning I was walking by the family room while Ian was playing on the xbox.  Ian was wearing his headset and I could hear him having a conversation with someone.  I asked him who he was speaking with and he looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and whispered "I don't know who he is."   WHAT?!?!?!?!?

I thought for sure Ian was playing the game and on the other end of his headset was one of his friends or his cousin Max playing the same game at their house.  Within seconds of quickly realizing that a random stranger connected with Ian (through the xbox gaming system), I asked Ian for his headset.  I put it on and had a few words with the guy on the other end.

Me:  Hello?
Guy on the other end (now known as "GOTOE"):  Hi.
Me:  Who is this??
GOTOE:  Justin
Me:  Justin, this is the mom of the boy you are playing with.  How old are you?
GOTOE:  I'm 19.
Me:  I want you to know my son is 10.  He is 10 years old.  Please do not use bad language when you talk to him.
GOTOE:  Ok. 
Meanwhile, Ian is telling me that this guy has never used bad words.
Me:  I am going to put you back on with my son. 

And with that, I was freaking out.  OMG!  Doesn't this online communicating with strangers start later, like when Ian is a teenager?  I wasn't sure if it was ok to let Ian continue to talk to this guy.  I needed Jeff's perspective on the situation.  I called Jeff at work and filled him in.  He too, was surprised that Ian was playing people he didn't know.  We decided that Ian has a good head on his shoulders and we will trust him.  HOWEVER, we will have a big conversation with him on the dangers of speaking with strangers.  We were going to talk to him after dinner.

I couldn't wait that long and when Ian was done playing with the game, we started the conversation on how dangerous this could be.  It turns out that Ian had connected with this kid before. Fortunately there had been no one else he didn't know.   Ian told me that he made his last name invisible and this guy could only see the nickname xbox uses.  Ian also said he never told the guy how old he was or what his name was.  I felt a little better after hearing this, but I was still shaken.  Especially after earlier in the week, it was all over the news about a 13 year old girl who was killed after meeting a guy online who goes to Virginia Tech.

Jeff and I had a very in-depth conversation with Ian later that night.  Every time I walk by the family room and Ian is chatting with someone on his headset and playing xbox, I ask him who he is on with.  I will never stop doing this.

The thing that gets me is, at some point, Ian is going to be way smarter than me with the technology.  He is going to know how to work it better than me.  I have a feeling we are only a few years away from this happening.  Already, I can't get the xbox to do things Ian can make it do.  If Jeff and I want to watch a movie on it, we need Ian to take off the parental controls and help us launch Netflix.  Ha!  It's a very scary world out there.  I only hope we can teach the kids to be cautious, and have their guard up, but still not lose their innocence of being only 10. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Feeling like Spiderman

Since September I've been working out with this great group of women.  It's boot camp style workouts and I go to the 5:30am classes, 3 times a week.  It's a wonderful environment and I'm continually pushed beyond my comfort zone to do more than I imagined was possible.  I love the feeling of being inspired, empowered, and stronger when I leave the class.  Heck, it's only 6:30am at this point and I still have the whole day ahead of me!

On Wednesday's class we did box jumps as part of our workout.  Out came this pretty big box.  We normally do the box jumps on the regular step-ups.  You can see them in the video.  This new box just made these jumps a lot higher.  OMG!  I had to give it a try and see if I could do it.  And I could!!  It was awesome.  Karen and I traded off doing the jumps on the box in each of our sets. I was able to keep her pace the entire time!  4 rounds of 40 seconds, plus 2 rounds of 20 seconds.  What an amazing feeling to be able to accomplish this.

I left the gym feeling like I was on top of the world!  Doing something for me, that makes me healthier, stronger, and a bit more bad-ass is a pretty powerful way to start the day.