Sunday, December 31, 2017

End of the Year Wrap-up: 2017 Edition

I find myself getting more nostalgic as the years go by.  Maybe its because I recently spent more than a few hours putting together a slide show for Ian's Bar Mitzvah and it gave me the opportunity to pour over thousands of photos.  It's really hard for me to remember the kids at 2 years, 5 years, 6 years of age, even sometimes just last year. I mean, I know I lived it and was here for every single second right next to their side, but it all quickly becomes a blur as one season melts into another. 

Each new stage we enter seems like the best one to be in.  The kids can now stay home on their own.  They can get themselves breakfast, pack lunch for school, put away their laundry and many more milestones.  Sometimes Jeff and I are around just to handle logistics and get them from one activity to the next.  One of the coolest things is to have conversations with them and hear their ideas and what they are thinking.  Seeing life through our kids' eyes is a beautiful thing.   

And so we find ourselves, whether we are ready or not, to say good-bye to 2017 and hello to 2018.  When I was a little girl, the year 2018 seemed so, so far away.  And now, it's just a few hours away.  Again, I'm getting nostalgic for a time when life seemed so much simpler and our children's issues were much easier to deal with.  (Caveat:  Samantha's pooping problems was never easy and caused much angst for years.) 

Travel this year:

February:  Ian spent a weekend at Capital Camps
April:  Kids with Jeff's parents for 2.5 days.
April:  Virginia Beach for 2 days
April:  Orlando for 4 days (Samantha and me)
May:  Ian in Orlando for 4 days
June:  Jeff in England and France for 9 days
June:  New York City for 3 days
July:  Kids go to Orlando for 12 days (Jeff is there for 4 days, Robyn is there for 7 days)
July:  Ocean City, NJ week at the beach
July - August:  Both kids at Camp Ramah for 27 days
August:  Jeff and Robyn in NYC for 2 days
November:  Week in Orlando for Thanksgiving
December: New York City for 2 days (me and the kids with Susanne, Anna and their 6 kids)
December:  Pennsylvania for 4 days (me and Samantha for 2 days, Ian the whole time)

Two things stand out looking at this list:  1.  I didn't take one trip by myself in all of 2017.  And, 2. There was no girl's weekend.  None, Zip, Zilch.   What's up with that???

With that said, I was so pleased that Jeff went to Europe.  He very rarely does anything for himself.  And this trip was for purely social reasons.  He had a great time and it was good for him to go. So if someone was able to get a girl's weekend in, I am glad it was him.  :)

I am also so incredibly delighted we managed 3 (yes 3!!) trips to NYC this year. It is truly a favorite city of mine and the kids; maybe even Jeff's too as he more than "tolerates" it and seems to enjoy himself.  Or, maybe he is just happy seeing me and the kids enjoy it so much.  Either way, each trip is very memorable and unique in its own way.   A true highlight this year was making "Hamilton" happen.  The love of theatre is a spark that is growing in both kids.  I couldn't be prouder.  Singing show tunes with the kids in the car always puts a smile on my face.  Getting to see the performance come alive on stage is priceless.  Ian and I saw "Chicago" and "In the Heights" this year. As a family we saw "Hamilton" and "Kinky Boots".  The kids and I saw "School of Rock".  Jeff and I saw "On Your Feet", "Avenue Q",  "The Great Comet"and "The Book of Mormon".  Lastly, I saw "Mean Girls" with friends.  All this year.  I'd say that's a pretty darn good year seeing musicals. 

And, the icing on the cake is making the week at the beach happen again this past Summer.  It is a truly wonderful memory we make with the kids and our extended family.  There is nothing like it.  It's good, old fashioned fun, where we slow down the clock and simply enjoy being at the ocean and all that it involves.  

Ian has finally found his groove at Middle School.  It was a bigger transition than any of us expected.  He has a great group of friends (all good kids..I've made certain) and I am not so worried about him as much anymore with regards to school.  Ian stays on top of his assignments and needs very little hand holding getting his homework done.  Additionally, he is studying incredibly hard for his Bar Mitzvah (it's in MAY!!), and I know he will do his father and I very proud.  I am delighted with how serious he takes his work.  Drama is his extracurricular activity of choice.  It's always so much fun seeing him on stage and having a blast acting.

Samantha is being very challenged in the 4th grade. Jeff and I spend most of time worrying for her and how hard school is, not to mention how much she hates doing homework.  We've got the school making accommodations (paper tests/ not computerized, strategic seating, having a text book at home, and tutoring 2x a week), but its a constant amount of energy expended making sure Samantha is understanding everything and nothing slips through the cracks.  The best news is that I don't have to convince the world that 6x7 is 56.  We can all continue knowing it is 42.  For a few days there I thought it would be easier to get the whole world on board with 6x7 = 56 than Samantha believing 6x7 =42.  Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief, we are good.   Sam's extracurricular activity of choice is horseback riding.  She really loves it and I love watching her enjoy something that doesn't make any demands to learn, memorize or read something.  There is a very sweet side of Samantha that I absolutely love and adore. Each morning I wake-up and say a little prayer this sweet Samantha will be the one that wakes-up too.  My prediction about Samantha's future?:  She will run a big company and be very successful at it.  Her fierce personality will do her justice later in life.  In a bit of surprising news, the other day Samantha dropped in conversation something about her college dorm room.  Jeff and I looked at each other and all I could say was, "You know what I got out of that sentence?  That Samantha sees herself in college."  That was literally the first time ever Sam spoke of her future and have it include another 4 years getting a degree.  Obviously Jeff and I were both delighted.

Jeff had a great year at work and continues to enjoy his job.  He is always quick to help me when I've scheduled myself in 2 or 3 places at the same time.  I really appreciate that more than anything.  

Lucy has been with us for more than a year now!  It feels like she has always been in our family.  All of us (including Jeff) have their special thing with Lucy.   Lucy sleeps with Ian in his bed every night.  She comes into my bed at 5:00am most mornings to snuggle with me before I have to get up for my day.  She helps wake-up Sam each morning before school.  And she loves to lay next to Jeff at the end of the day and rest her head on his leg.  Lucy is incredibly sweet.  Other than being dog aggressive to dogs on leashes, she is perfect!

Last but not least, me.  Another year of being on the go.  Although I will say, I haven't scheduled us as much as I used to.  I did an awesome job continuing to exercise at 5:30am and love the group of women I get to work out with.  Another thing I am happy about was taking the time to schedule lunch with my girlfriends throughout the year.  I didn't let 'life' get in the way.  Spending time with my friends is like chicken soup for the soul.   I am still dealing with weight issues...I lose, I gain, I lose, I gain, I lose some more.  It is what it is and I am no longer trying to analyze it.   I am back on my losing streak...hello!  I have Bar Mitzvah pictures to be in in 132 days and I'll be damned if I have 2 chins doing it.

Also, this was the year that I binged watch many awesome shows.  Wow!  There is some really amazing original programs being created by Netflix and Amazon.  Most of it is much better than what's on regular tv.  Although, I will always have a place in my heart for "General Hospital" and "This Is Us".

Somehow I also found time to read.  Since April 1st, I've read 25 books.  I am most impressed with this number. 20 books since July!   I think its been years since I read this much in such a short amount of time.  Definitely before having kids.

The Year ahead in 2018:

I can't even think beyond Ian's Bar Mitzvah.  The very idea that he is going to be 13 and be a Bar Mitzvah is mind blowing to me.   I have very little else on the horizon and very much look forward to this one event more than anything else this coming year.

But if I had to take a moment and outline some other things I am looking forward to:  My sister Meghan is graduating college!!  This is huge and something we've been waiting for quite a long time.  She is actually graduating a week before Ian's Bar Mitzvah, so the month of May is very important for our family. 

We have both kids registered for a month of camp this Summer.  Yay!  I am not sure if our week at the beach will happen again this Summer.  Money is quite tight and I've had to make some compromises. It would take a lot for Jeff to be ok with us booking a house, but stranger things have happened in the past, so we will see.  I never count anything out until the very end.

A New Year's Resolution I have is to say "No".  No to shopping, no to eating out, no to being on Amazon, no to going on spontaneous trips, no to planning vacations or weekend getaways, no to multiple trips to Orlando (other than Meghan's graduation of course!).  Just no.  I feel like if I put it out there in the universe, it could actually happen or come as close as I'll ever get.

I'm also going to try hard to keep my mouth shut more.  Most of the time I feel like I talk way too much and half of it is probably not even necessary.  I hate walking away from a conversation feeling like a dork because of something I said. No more!  I'm going to stay quiet.  :)

And, last but not least, I am on a major clean-out of my email inbox.  I am saying buh-bye to a countless number of opted-in email newsletters/discounts/promotions/whatever from everyone under the sun (from The Washington Post to to to and many, many more).  I must instantly delete up to 90 spam emails a day without even looking at them.  No more.  I am opting out of EVERYTHING!

My New Year's Wish:

I always tell Ian as he heads out the door, "Make good choices."   I think this is wise for all of us.  Let's make good choices and be kind.  Kinder than necessary and make someone's day doing random acts of kindness.  It is truly a great feeling to know you've brightened their day.  You just never know what that person may be going through and the effect a kind gesture can have.  Happy New Year!  

Sunday, December 24, 2017


That time we were sitting in the 2nd tier of Radio City Music Hall, 5 minutes after the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular Show started and a full(!!) beer spilled all over Susanne's daughter from the tier above us.  The 3rd tier did not extend all the way over our seats below and the beer spilling down was a direct hit.  Next thing you know, the 11 of us are moved to the 2nd and 3rd row in the orchestra.  It was pretty crazy and surreal.

That time we did all the Christmas decorated window displays and ended up at the Rockefeller Center tree just as the sun had set and everything lit up.  As soon as we got there the light show (complete with music) began.  Even if we tried to time it for that to happen we wouldn't have been as successful as we were by randomly showing up.  Wow!  

That time we stood in front of the Bloomingdales window and they managed to take a picture of you while you are standing there and have your head float around the display. So cool!

That time we got the kids awake at 5:15am so we could be at our friend's house by 6:15am to begin our road trip to The Big Apple.  We kept the kids going until well past 10:00pm, complete with a 5 1/2  mile walk around the city checking out the store window displays.  I'm happy to report no child melted down from exhaustion!

That time each child asked us 10 times each what we were walking to (check out the store windows) and why over and over again during the 1.4 mile walk to officially start the tour at Bloomingdales.  They finally got the gist of it once we saw how amazing the windows displays looked and stopped asking.

That time we went inside the Bloomingdales to use their bathroom and upon exiting the store, we decide to take the kids to see Santa on the 7th floor.  Santa had no line and allowed us to take pictures for free.  I bet this Santa never had 8 Jewish kids all on his lap at once before. 

That time Susanne was following the car I was driving and for some unknown reason got in the other lane next to me and didn't realize we were exiting off the beltway.  In a move I still can't believe I witnessed, Susanne's car managed to cross 3 lanes of traffic (while probably doing about 65mph) and made the exit just in the nick of time.  It actually looked like her car was traveling sideways.  

That time we found out the hard way that the parking garage the hotel uses charges a full day's rate ($60) even if you are only 1.5 hours into the next day.  The cost to park quickly doubled from what we were expecting it to be.  They do not pro-rate.  

That time we took the kids to see the Broadway musical "School of Rock" and we all loved it. All of us!

That time we walked one block in the wrong direction leaving Bloomingdales and ended up at Dylan's Candy Bar.  I guess we just had to go inside and let the kids pick out some candy.  

That time we made a stop at Dunkin Donuts to use their bathroom and the kids asked if they could get a donut while we were there.  At 10:00am, Dunkin Donuts (somewhere in NJ) was completely out of donuts. How is that even possible??

That time 3 awesome moms and their kids came together for 2 days and went to NYC just 4 days before Christmas.  We accomplished everything we wanted to see and do.  We stuck together and made the most of every minute. 

That time we left with 8 kids and came back with the same 8 kids.

That rare time Samantha gave me a giant hug and said thank you for an amazing trip.  It takes a lot for her to show and express appreciation.  It's ok though, Ian more than makes up for it.  It was just nice to hear Sam say it too.

That time we took the kids to New York City at Christmas time for the first time and showed them how magical the city looks decorated for the holidays.

That time we were all fearless and victorious.

Bloomingdale's...Sam's head above, Ian's head below.


Rockefeller Center tree

Perfect timing for the light show with music

Right before the beer spilled on Susanne's daughter

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The best kind of crazy

Everyone needs a best friend in their life who comes along and is up for all the crazy adventures the two of you can dream up.  For me, one of those people is Susanne.  Between the two of us, there is not a voice of reason or a practical bone in our bodies when we put our heads together. In fact we have list running of all the kooky things we've done with our combined 5 kids that most parents would shake their head at.  It's a pretty funny list...One of my favorite stories is when we went to Williamsburg and got a recommendation for a fantastic restaurant for dinner called "Food for Thought".  We arrived at 5:30pm and was told there would be a 1.5 hour wait.  Despite being surrounded by all these chain restaurants with empty parking lots, we go for it and wait it out.  The icing on the cake was when the kids complained they were starving and starting to meltdown from a big day spent in historic Williamsburg. We gave them multiple bags of potato chips to hold them over.  A side note:  For those needing a restaurant in Williamsburg, I highly recommend "Food for Thought".  It's worth the wait!  Even with 5 hungry kids.

It wasn't too long ago that we started talking about Winter Break and what each of us had planned.  An idea to go to Busch Gardens for the day with the kids has turned into an overnight trip to New York City.  We quickly added a third amiga and invited Anna to join us with her 3 kids.  Yes, that's right.  3 moms and 8 kids all loose in New York City.   What could be more fun? 

I was fortunate enough to go to England and Portugal with Susanne and Anna. We did great traveling together for 10 days without any kind of break from each other.  Now lets add in 8 very active, very noisy, high energy kids and we'll see how it goes.  These kids are all great friends with each other as are the moms.  I believe we have the recipe for a getaway we might have to describe as "epic".  :)

We have such awesome plans!  Given that we are going 4 days before Christmas and expect it to be a busy time, not to mention we are a traveling group of 11, we have our visit pretty well planned out with reservations and tickets bought.

We are going to the Rockette's Christmas Spectacular Show!  We are seeing the broadway musical "School of Rock"!  We plan to go down 5th Avenue and see the store window displays!  Reservations for dinner have already been secured.  Seeing the big Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is on the list.

I love New York City!  Ian and Samantha have never been there during the holidays and it will be so much fun for them to see how NYC goes all out making Christmas magical.

Susanne and I took the kids to NYC at the end of June 2015.  It was high time we returned and took it up a notch in the city that never sleeps.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Having a dog in the 21st Century

The other morning it dawned on me that as our society becomes more technology advanced it has also had an effect on our pets.

It used to be that when I reached for my keys and it made that iconic noise of keys clanging together, Bailey would come running.  He knew I was headed somewhere and was hoping I would take him with me.  Now, with having an electronic front door lock and a keyless car (the keys stay buried at the bottom of my purse), the clanging of keys has no impact on Lucy.  None at all.  She doesn't associate the sound of keys with anything other than just a noise.

And when I used to open a can of dog food with the electric can opener, Bailey would come running knowing food was on the way.  Now, all the cans of dog food have a flip top that doesn't require any kind of can opener.  Lucy in no way associates the can opener with her eating.

There are gadgets available now that allow you to be in another location and remotely give your dog a treat.  Many kinds of cameras are available to let you spy on your pet while you are gone.  It's pretty cool.

I find it fascinating how even the times have changed for our pets too.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hanukkah 2017

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah.  Jeff and I have successfully navigated another holiday  not buying a single gift for either Ian or Sam.  Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of gifts for them to open.  All the grandparents and aunts/uncles are very generous and fulfill every wish for anything they want.  Even the kids realize they really don't need a new toy or game.  Ian and Sam always have requested practical things that are useful -- Sam got unicorn onesy pajamas and a bathrobe among other things, and Ian wanted a very expensive pillow we refused to spend the money on or a new case for his phone.

Jeff and I have moved away from wrapped presents and concentrate more on an experience. Time with the family doing something different than our usual day to day.  An adventure!

This year, the kids are getting two trips as part of their Hanukkah gift from us.  I am taking the kids to NYC for 2 days during Winter Break.  We are being joined by two of my most favorite people and their kids for a whirlwind couple of days doing all things Christmas related (Rockettes Christmas Spectacular Show, seeing the tree at Rockefeller Center, checking out the window displays on 5th Avenue and we have tickets to "School of Rock".)  There are 3 moms and 8 kids total  (all Jewish!) getting our Christmas fix NYC style and we can't wait!

The next part of their gift we have planned occurs during Spring Break.  We are hitting the road and making our way to Niagara Falls and Pittsburgh!  I have wanted to do Niagara Falls for years and Jeff has wanted to do Pittsburgh with the family for years.  We've combined the two and will be visiting at the end of March.  Exploring new cities and doing all the typical touristy things is where we excel.

I hope Ian and Samantha share our view about Hanukkah and enjoy our trips.  They're not extravagant (far from it!) and are pretty down-to-earth (think the Griswold's minus the dead grandmother on the roof), but they are fun.  And we are spending time together.  The best kind of present of all.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Much to be thankful for

For Thanksgiving this year we loaded up the car and headed south on I-95.  Team Toppall drove to Orlando to spend the week with my side of the family. We brought Lucy!  It was her first trip to Florida and meeting the rest of the family.  We stayed with my dad and Rita as they were the only relatives with open arms to welcome all 5 of us. 

I have the best news!  Lucy did not attack Kahlua!  Kahlua is Dad and Rita's 7 pound, 7 year old male Chihuahua mix, who I come to find out is also not neutered.  Yikes!  I wasn't sure how this would go given Lucy's history of not liking dogs on leashes.  We had the two dogs meet in the best way possible and made sure they were cool with each other before giving them free access to each other.  Other than Kahlua looking at Lucy like she is now his girlfriend and wanting to hump her every chance he got, they did fabulous together.  Believe me, I was holding my breath on how this would go down. I would've been devastated if something happened to Kahlua.

What a huge sigh of relief that Lucy is welcomed back and Dad & Rita still have their dog in one piece.  Lucy was actually the perfect house guest and very well behaved.  I was extremely proud of her.  She was also a rockstar being in the car for 13 hours each way.  

Lucy was very gentle with Kahlua and loved playing with him.  Here is a video of the two of them together.  

The whole week was just as fantastic.  We loved our time with the family.  We did indoor skydiving.  This was a favorite of Ian's from when he went to Orlando Memorial Day weekend. This visit Sam and I got to try it out too.  So much fun!   Thanksgiving dinner was at Lori's and very delicious.  We have much to be thankful for...most of all Lucy not eating Kahlua.  

I am particularly fond of this picture.  Lucy has the biggest smile on her face is totally posing for the camera.  
I am having a very good hair moment and it looks like I have long legs (which as we all know, I don't).
And having a beautiful baby in your arms always enhances the likeability of the photo. 
Actually, I've hit a homerun on two fronts, this picture features a dog and a baby.  

Another fave photo.  Look at Kahlua's face.
His eyes can't be any bigger watching Lucy come towards her.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Still in Crazy Man hell

Can you believe its been more than a month since I wrote last?  Wow, that hasn't happened EVER since I started writing more than 8 years ago.  Yeah, I'd miss a day or two here and there, but never more than a month.  Insane!

I have to chalk it up to still working for The Crazy Man.  HE HAS NOT MOVED YET!  Really.  I am not kidding.  He is paying a ridiculously high monthly fee at a senior community in Chevy Chase, MD and still living in his home in NoVa.  It is quite insane.  And I am going out of my mind.

Fortunately I told him at the beginning of September that I could only stay working for him until December 31st.  I gave him 4 months notice.  I was fully expecting him to abandon me before I could abandon him.  At the rate we are going, he is going to still be a Northern Virginia resident come New Year's 2019.

Each day we speak, I ask him "Have you booked the movers yet?"   And every time it is the same answer, "I am working on it.  I need the top two contenders to come back and give me another estimate because I keep taking more and more stuff over to Chevy Chase."  I have used pretty strong wording to tell him what a disaster this is and how he just needs to pick a mover and move!!   He can't keep paying for two residences.  And his house needs to be completely cleared out before the minor renovations happen (2 weeks worth) and before it can get listed on the market.  You do the math, that's another several thousand dollars of unnecessarily paying both the HIGH monthly fee and his mortgage.

I keep looking at my calendar and get a smile on my face when I see I only have 3 weeks left.  No matter what, I am D.O.N.E.   I know I've done the best by him and giving him 4 months notice is very generous.   The Crazy Man has these high expectations he will find someone else to take over the administrative stuff I do.  I do wish him well that he is successful.

In the meantime, for the next 3 weeks, my afternoons working for him are filled with writing letters with either compliments or complaints, sending emails, updating doctors with all the tests he takes and medications he is on, and calling long lost friends and ex-girlfriends.  Or, tracking down a more recent girlfriend (friend that is a girl, not an actual girlfriend.  His main chickadee is still in the picture, living in Bethesda.) for him to take to a dance.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Tales from the Crypt: Fingers crossed!

I think we might be nearing the end of my work with The Crazy Man. I can't believe I even typed that last sentence.  It's been a long time coming and many hoops were jumped to make this a reality. I am pleased to report there is a senior living community in Chevy Chase, MD that has accepted him and gave him an apartment.  The Crazy Man has already signed the lease and started paying the monthly fee.

This could actually be the end this time.  Really.  He has begun moving stuff in to the new place and the movers are scheduled for this coming week to get the rest of his stuff.   I am not exactly sure when my last day will be.  There is still too much that needs to be done to shut down the office; change his address on a gazillion businesses, doctors offices and subscriptions, go through the files and pull the important ones that need to go with the move, and trash a lot of very old, nonsensical stuff.  Not to mention cancel his current service with Verizon, his gym membership, and get new service started.  It's exhausting thinking about it, but at least I am nearing the end and he can start driving a new person crazy.

I've worked for The Crazy Man for 6 years!  How I lasted that long is beyond me.  I am not sure what will become of him now.  Not that I am tooting my own horn on how great I am, but there is probably no one who would've lasted this long. He really is emotionally exhausting to be around.  And over the years he has gotten worse with his crazy ideas.

I expect at first there will be a ton of phone calls asking me questions and needing help.  I will do what I can over the phone, but as for going to Chevy Chase, I've said no, absolutely not. This is my chance to make a clean break.  Or, as clean as I can since he will still have my phone numbers.  But at least I can chose to answer the phone or not answer it.

I am looking forward to Thanksgiving in two weeks and being thankful that I was able to get out while I could.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

10 very popular digits

It's quite apparent that Verizon has recycled their phone number a little too soon.  Ian's cell phone is seeing a lot of action these days.  We've determined that it must've belonged to an elderly woman who died.  A woman's medical practice called and said her insurance info is now out of date.  Another call came in asking if she'd be interested in a making her bathtub a walk-in shower. Ian receives a ton of calls from the Tampa, FL area.  Like up to 20 a day!  We think she must have moved to Florida at some point.

The funniest was a phone call from a landscaping company checking on the project they would like to start.  I told Ian to go ahead and ok the job. Start it immediately!  (Just kidding.  Ian never spoke to them.)

We've told Ian not answer his phone for any number he doesn't recognize.  And I've told Ian to block the number so he doesn't get bothered with it again.  But the calls keep coming. The woman gets more phone calls than Ian does. Actually Ian gets no phone calls.  Most of what Ian does is text.

I wish there was a way to ensure a phone number sat unused for a year or more to weed out calls like this. It would certainly make Ian feel more like a 12 year old boy and not get mistaken for an elderly  woman. :)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Lucy and the Halloween candy

We've had Lucy more than a year now and she is darn near perfect inside the house. She NEVER, (and I mean never!) chews on anything she shouldn't and doesn't get into any trouble in the house when we leave her by herself.  We've never taken the steps to put anything away or out of her reach before we leave her alone.  Well, knock us over with a feather on how shocked Samantha and I were when walked in the house Friday evening, just 3 hours after being gone.  Jeff and Ian were at the movies so they didn't see what happened and it was all cleaned up by the time they got home.

Lucy got into Sam's Halloween candy.  Sam had a pretty big bag full (I'm talking like a Wegman's recyclable grocery bag size).  The bag was located in Sam's bedroom.

When we walked into the house, it looked like a Halloween candy massacre!   There were wrappers everywhere.  Most of the candy she wasn't able to get into and gave up after smooshing the fun size bar flat in her mouth and spit it back out.  But the tootsie roll lollipop was 1/2 eaten and after finishing the yummy center, she stopped eating the rest of the lollipop.  I wonder how many licks it took her to get the center?  Hahahaha!

The candy trail continued up the stairs to Sam's bedroom.  That's where we found the biggest mess of her efforts.  She took the grocery bag and turned it on its side and got most of the candy to come out.  She apparently loves whoppers and once she opened the wrapper, she ate all of them.  But when it came to the peanut m&m's, she put each one in her mouth and then spit it out without even taking a bite.  How do we know?  Because when she spit it back out, each peanut m&m was left colorless.  Lucy also has a liking for 100 Grand bars.  That she managed to open the wrapper and finish.  On top of Sam's bed was a kit kat bar that was placed there by Lucy.

After Samantha and I cleaned everything up, we go into my bedroom and Sam notices that there is now a twix bar on Jeff's side of the bed by his pillow.  I guess she was bringing him a present. I am not taking it personally that she didn't leave me any candy.  We get a good laugh and are happy that she didn't manage to eat more of than candy than she did.  Dogs are not supposed to have chocolate.

The next morning, I go downstairs and see a 3 Musketeers bar in the middle of the room, on the floor.  I know for a fact that it wasn't there after we cleaned up the mess the night before.  The candy bar was smooshed flat, but she wasn't able to get in the wrapper.

About 3 hours after that, Lucy comes up from the family room and is carrying a Milky Way in her mouth.  WHAT??!?  I'm now thinking that Lucy has a secret stash of candy hiding in the house somewhere.  What a character!

Lucy must've been very busy as soon as we left the house on Friday evening. I would've loved to have video footage and be able to see her in action.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

187 days to go...

That's the number of days to go until Ian's Bar Mitzvah. I still can't wrap my mind around this upcoming milestone.  I remember every bit of mine like it was yesterday and now, I've got a son about to become a bar mitzvah.  Holy smokes!

187 days from now is going to be here before we know it.  We are approaching Thanksgiving and you blink, it will be January 2018. I have a master to-do list of all the items that need to be taken care of, and then small to-do lists broken out by months on when to do them. I've been made fun of because of all I am trying to get done as early as possible.  The more I feel I can accomplish now, the better I sleep at night.  I've become obsessed, really. And I see no plans of stopping until it is May 13th.  I am planning to take Monday, May 14th off from work and sleep the whole day.

I never intended to get caught up on all the traditional things that go into a bar mitzvah  (programs, slide show, personalized kippah, centerpieces, party, entertainment, hotel room blocks, etc), but our original plan of doing a destination bar mitzvah in St. Thomas never really took off.  Jeff, Ian and I fell in love with the idea of just going away and having the service in this really beautiful, very ancient synagogue, located in the Virgin Islands.  I especially loved the part of not getting caught up in having to plan and execute a gazillion different things.  The thought was, if you wanted to come, we'd love to have you, but we really wouldn't be expecting you to make the trip.  We knew the immediate family would go; it would be an intimate gathering and no crazy fuss.  For several reasons too long to go into here suffice to say we scrapped that idea and decided to keep it local.

Ha!  So now we've gone in the complete opposite direction and this evening event on Saturday night is growing bigger by the week.  It's going to be spectacular (we've got a very fun and awesome theme), and I am really excited.  Ian is putting in the hard work studying and this party (dare I use my most favorite word "Extravaganza!") later that day will be very special and joyous as we celebrate. I don't do anything halfway and I'm all in.   I've gone from one end of the spectrum to wanting to do the bare minimum and just show up, to already logging many hours of effort, planning, and worry on making this entire day a success.

It's funny, I am finding out a lot about myself that I probably already knew and its just become more apparent on this much bigger scale of planning needed, more than probably anything else we've done (other than our wedding). I have reconfirmed that my mind doesn't stop, ever!  Subconsciously I am always thinking and can't let it go.  For example, even after I invest more than 12 hours putting together a slide show and feel really great about it, I let it go for a week and find that in my sleep I am continually working on tweaking it.  A week later, I give it another 1.5 hours and have turned it into a masterpiece in my opinion. I am so, so proud of it.  Fortunately I have now viewed it more than a dozen times and no longer tear up watching it.  So there's that.  

I'm making progress on my to-do list and am now working on December and January's items. I'm still hoping for lots of snow days this winter to move things along.  I've only got 187 days and there is a lot to do!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Girls with their dolls - Take 7

And rounding out the trifecta in Fall traditions, we celebrated being back-to-school at American Girl Restaurant.   I am pretty certain that this is something that has probably started to shift from originally being done for our daughters to now leaning towards more enjoyment for the moms.  We really get a kick out of our tradition and don't see it stopping even when the youngest of the girls heads off to college.  It is such a special thing we do each September.

Sam's very BIG milkshake - cotton candy flavored

The girls decided to see how many things they can balance on their dolls' heads.

Our wonderful group!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

How do you like them apples?

We are knee deep in our activities involving our Fall traditions.  We managed to accomplish 3 (yes, 3!) of them all within the same week.  Right after Flu Shot Extravaganza we followed it with our annual pilgrimage to go apple picking. 

We had such a great experience last year that we returned to Marker-Miller Orchards in Winchester, VA.  While it was unseasonably hot to be apple picking (86 degrees!!), the orchard had tons of apples ready to pick and it was not overly crowded.  We arranged to go with our good friends who we go with each year and have our strategy mapped out perfectly.   Apple picking and then ice cream!  I am realizing that my kids don't lack opportunities for ice cream.  We seem to work it in most everything we do.

Jeff believes that the amount of time spent at our destination should be at least equal to if not longer than the amount of time it takes to get there and back in the car.  Unfortunately Apple Picking in Winchester (a 1 hour, 20 minute drive each way) does not fall into the equation of a worthy outing.  However, the apples are yummy and its a fun thing to do with the family. And did I mention that ice cream is involved?   So without questioning the amount of time sitting in the car, we do this and we enjoy it.

I think we've officially added buying apple cider cinnamon donuts as part of our apple picking outing.  A dozen of these way-too-yummy-to-stop-at-only-eating-one of the donuts found their way into our car as we headed home.  Just 24 hours later and we only have 4 left.  And, no, I can't even eat them.

I've been busy and already made 2 loaves of Apple Cinnamon Bread with the apples we brought back. Yum!   And we've put smiles on our neighbors faces and gave them some apples too.  Apples for everyone!

Quality control - it passed!

3 people stopped Samantha and told her they liked her shirt.  :)

Our apple picking crew

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Flu Shot Extravaganza 2017

Gosh, I love our tradition of how I get the kids (and myself) vaccinated from the flu each year.  Flu Shot Extravaganza has become quite the event.   Each year we meet up with our good friends, get the vaccination, do dinner and then get ice cream.  Can you ask for anything better when having to get a shot? 

Unfortunately the mist is no longer manufactured and therefore, it's the needle or nothing.  This doesn't sit well with Sam and I can never tell if she is going to go thru with getting it done, but somehow the idea of dessert at the end of our evening is enough of a motivation for her.  And we are making progress in Sam's resistance.  Last year I believe it took approx. 40 minutes of trying to get her to stay still before the nurse could stick her.  This year it only took about 10 minutes.  Albeit, it was a loud 10 minutes.  But she did it!

Ian was a rockstar and wasn't even sure the nurse stuck him.  Dinner this year was at Olive Garden and ice cream after was Baskin Robbins.   Flu Shot Extravaganza = best idea ever!

Don't let the smile on Sam's face fool you.  It went quickly downhill from the very next second.

Our very sweet ending!

Friday, September 22, 2017

It's too much.

There is too much going on and I don't feel like I am doing a good job keeping on top of things.  I hate this feeling that I am just treading water, trying hard to keep my head above the surface.

Due to other commitments, Jeff and I weren't able to make it to Ian's back to school night at school.  I am not sure how much we missed, but I do know meeting Ian's teachers would've been really nice.  Also finding out about his classes and what is expected would make me feel more at ease with all this new middle school territory we are in.  Fortunately, Ian has a good head on his shoulders and I'm hoping he can stay on top of it.  (Other than you know, losing all his stuff.  Ha!).

We did make it to Sam's back to school night and I'm frustrated to learn that the teacher didn't know Sam had a 504 plan (504 plans are put in place for those students who need some accommodations in school to help with learning).  So now I'm working on remedying that situation.  Furthermore, her teacher said info would be available on blackboard (school's website) each night and to check it daily to see updates.  Unfortunately Sam's teacher didn't have her site set up yet and now I'm needing to follow-up with her on that.  Seriously??!!

The Crazy Man has got some major crap happening to him and therefore, I am roped into it too trying to help him.  I was really hoping I'd be done working for him by now, but it's the complete opposite.  I can't go into much details, but know that he has been wronged in a big way and we are working to fix that situation.

My eating is sooo out of control.  It's no surprise that I am feeling much stress and of course, delicious food is too easy to come by and make me feel better.  I hate waking up each morning hoping that the clothing I want to wear still fits.  This feeling alone can put me in a depression.  Each day I say I'll get back to being hyper-focused on what I'm eating, but yet another day goes by and I'm disgusted with myself.  :(

Being sick for a full week didn't help and I still feel like I am playing catch-up with everything.  Having my head no longer feel like its in a thick fog is definitely helping me get back on track.

I have to check my calendar constantly to make sure I'm where I'm supposed to be and figure out what activities we have after school.  More than a few times I've thought of letting the kids Uber their way around town.  Ha!  Our activities are going in full force and I am back to spending lots of time in the car.

Oh yeah, I managed to get in a fender bender about 2 weeks ago.  It was with an Amazon delivery van of all things.  And no, he wasn't about to make a delivery at my house. It was very minor and fortunately no one was hurt. It was the other guy's fault, but still this makes it one more thing that needs to be taken care of and fixed.  I

Ian's Bar Mitzvah planning is at the top of my head as something that needs to be addressed.  It's crazy all the details that will need to be taken care of in the coming months.  Currently, Jeff, Ian and I are going around in circles trying to figure out the guest list. We need to get that finalized sooner rather than later so we can send out save the date info.  We've also had about a million different ideas on how we envision our Saturday evening celebration.  It's crazy all the ideas we are coming up with.

I am finding myself constantly stopping what I am in the middle of doing and taking deep breaths.  By the time I crawl in bed at the end of the day, I have very little trouble falling asleep.  As soon as I can shut my brain off, I happily do.  Although, I have this knack to work things out in my sleep and wake-up with a fresh, new perspective that helps.   It's funny, sometimes my to-do list is super long and I'll put it aside and take Lucy for a 4 mile walk.  I've never done that before...not be super-focused in wanting to get the stuff done on my list.  But for some reason getting outside and taking Lucy for a walk seems like the best idea at the time and I just go for it.  And my usual method of crazy multi-tasking is taking a back seat too.  I'm either getting good at being present in the moment or I'm just realizing maybe everything is not as important as I thought it was and it can wait.  Whao!  Who is this new person I've turned into??!?!?

I long for the days of Summer past.  We had a great summer and I miss how I spent my time.  I feel like with school starting one week earlier than normal I was not mentally ready to be back.

I realized about a week or so ago that I had gone almost 3 weeks without seeing any of my friends.  I didn't realize how important it is for me to be around my friends.  I quickly fixed that and scheduled some fun outings (movies, lunch, shopping, etc).  It certainly helps me feel better and lifts my mood.

And of course, no matter how much I feel overwhelmed, I turn on the news and see what the people in Houston are dealing with, or the attack in London, or the island of Barbuda. What about the fact that all of Puerto Rico has no power and most likely won't for the next 4 to 6 months.  Seriously, nothing I've got going on can be as bad as that.  It quickly puts it in perspective and my issues quickly seem very trivial.  I know how fortunate I am, what an amazing family I have, and how loved I am.  And what a great life I have.  I just need to keep reminding myself.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

No more Febreze for you!

Allow me to get gross for a minute or two. 

I just found out that Sam has been using Febreze and lots of it.  All on her own, Samantha has decided that it would be ok to keep wearing the same clothing (in this particular case, black capri leggings) over and over and over again without having them washed if she sprayed it with Febreze first.  WHAT??!!??!

OMG!  I don't even know where to start with this one.  How in the world did she figure this out?   It's not like Jeff, Ian or me wear our clothes multiple times without washing it.   Also, at what point did it occur to her that Fabreeze would make it 'clean' again?  And with a closet full of clothes, why can't she manage to pick something that hasn't been worn earlier that week?

I do all of our wash every Friday.  Every single Friday without fail, all of our clothes we wore that week get cleaned.  Sam knows this.  She will never have to wonder when her favorite items will be washed and ready to wear again.  There is no reason for her take matters in to her own hands and "Fabreeze it clean".    Ugh.

Once I discovered what Sam was up to, I told a few of my friends.  They were surprised by her ingenuity and her solution to wanting to wear the same items again.  I don't find it smart.  I find it gross.  And if this is what she is capable of at 9 years old, what will her teen years be like?

Sam and I had a big talk about this and I left her room with the can of Febreze she had nearby. She no longer will have easy access to it.  I hope she realizes the importance of wearing clean clothes.  I told her that she doesn't want to get the reputation as 'The stinky girl'.  She replied, full of attitude, "That would be MY problem".  I don't see it like that at all.  Her problems are my problems too.  And I am nipping this problem in the bud.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Lost and Found for the win!

Ian is having a tough time acclimating to Middle School.  If you ask him how it's going, he'll reply with "I'm scraping by."   I'd like think he is doing better than just scraping by, but maybe the transition to a much bigger school is more challenging than I thought it would be for him.  He says he is feeling all these symptoms of anxiety - his back starts to hurt, his stomach is all in knots, and he feels like he is going to be sick.  Some days are better than others, and I do hope these ailments start to go away permanently.

He keeps losing all his stuff.  His Robinson ID card, his pencil pouch, his history folder, etc.  He loses stuff he didn't even realize he lost.  Ian goes to the lost and found box daily and comes across all his school supplies.  I am not sure why Ian is having a difficult time holding on to his items, but fortunately the good people of Robinson who keep finding his stuff seemingly everywhere is nice enough to get it to the lost and found box.  

Middle schoolers  are not allowed to use backpacks from when just after they arrive to school to right before they leave for the day.  Their backpacks must remain in their lockers.  This could be a big problem for Ian.   However, since he tells me that he goes to his locker after every single class, I find it hard to believe he must be going back to his locker empty handed most times and not realize it.

The other day Ian went to lost and found with his buddy who was looking for his lunch box (birds of a feather flock together...).  Upon arrival to the lost and found box, Ian sees his math folder. He didn't even realize he was missing it.  Oh my!

I told Ian maybe he should just move his locker to the lost and found box.  He seems to spend more time there than anywhere else.  And it would be a shorter distance for his stuff to find its home.

We are 3 weeks into the school year and it has become a bit of a joke.  Every day I ask Ian what he found in the lost and found box and every day he has a new answer.  So yeah, maybe he is just scraping by.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Heard and Observed #58

The other morning Sam and I were watching The Today Show before school.  The anchors were killing time and doing a fun of exercise of answering what they thought was the more acceptable way to handle a situation -- call or text?

For example....if you need to apologize to someone.....should you call or text?    Break up with someone..... call or text?   RSVP to a or text?   And so on.   Each of the anchors are giving their opinions.

Then we come to this one....Cancel plans with someone?  Call or text?   Before we even hear what Matt, Savannah, Al, Sheinelle, and Harry Connick, Jr (he was a guest that morning) think, Sam speaks up and gives her opinion:

Sam:  Text for sure because you don't want them to hear you lie.  

Ha!  The strange thing about this is, I NEVER cancel on anyone, neither does Jeff.  So I am not sure where she got the idea that you should lie to get out of doing something.  But I do find it very funny.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Sleeping beauty

We have a social experiment happening in our house.  Just how late can Samantha sleep in if there was no where she has to be?   10:30am?  11:00am?  11:30am?  12:00pm?   Yes, yes, yes and yes!

Our 9 year old has entered a new phase of sleeping in. She still goes to sleep by 8:30pm, 9:15pm the latest, but her sleeping in the morning after is getting later and later.  It's quite crazy.  While we all enjoy the peace and quiet of having her asleep, we are in awe just how late she will sleep till.

Yes, you can even go in to her room and take a picture and she'll sleep right through it!

This past Monday on Labor Day we had plans to take Lucy and go down to the Mall to walk around in the morning for a few hours.  Be back home in time for lunch.  If there is some place we don't have to be, we try to let the kids sleep as long as they'd like.  Rule #1, never wake a sleeping baby still applies to us even though the kids are 9 and 12.   However, by 11:45am, it was getting a bit ridiculous that Sam was still sleeping.  It had been over 14 hours since she went to bed!   Jeff finally went in and woke her up.  After all, she was going to need to go back to sleep in about 9 hours.  

Back in the day we were all early risers and got up as the sun rose.  We'd be up, dressed and having eaten breakfast and it would only be 6:30am.  I'm not kidding.  This went on for years and years.   Now, Jeff and I still wake very early, Ian gets up around 7:30am and Samantha doesn't stir until about half the day is over.  It's very weird.  She is epitome of why "brunch" was invented.  Her breakfast has turned into lunch.  

We've decided there are going to be some mornings when we still need to get things done but its not necessary to wake up Sam.  We will leave a note for her letting her know where we went, but most likely she won't even be up by the time we get back.  Sam is getting a jump start on her teen years early.  It's a whole new world for our sleeping beauty and we are still adjusting. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Being sick sucks!

All last week I had a horrible cold.  It started as an annoying sore throat and then moved to my nose and finally, it landed in my chest and a horrible cough developed.  I was a mess to say the least.  Sleep was not happening and as the days went on, I felt my body shutting down more and more.

Timing for this cold was the worst!  The kids started back to school, my job at the preschool was kicking in at full speed, and The Crazy Man had quite a few issues that he needed help with.  There were dentist and orthodontist appts to go to, therapy appts that couldn't be missed and a few back-to-school events.  My usual strategy when I feel a cold coming on is to pay no attention to it and know that it will go away shortly.  Power on with everything I need to do and be everywhere I need to be.  For some reason this "mind over matter" stay strong way of thinking works out and I hardly miss a beat.

Not this time.  This time this cold kicked my butt.  By day 3 I threw in the towel and went to the doctor.  He said I had bronchitis and prescribed me an antibiotic. It was still another 48 hours before I felt human again.  It's amazing how a good night of sleep can make or break you.

I hate being sick.  I don't have time for it.  I wish there was a way I could find out in advance when I'll be sick and then I'll schedule it in.  But since that can't happen, I will never have 4 or 5 days completely responsibility-free to cater to a cold or bronchitis or whatever is ailing me.  No way.

I am thankful for a husband who is quick to offer to work from home and help me. I am thankful for an employer who is quick to take one look at me and tell me to go home early.  I am also thankful for medications that help me breathe and cough less. And Nyquil is a good thing too.  A very good thing.

I don't get sick often but when I do it is very memorable.  And it sucks!

Monday, September 4, 2017

7th and 4th Grade...Seriously, I'm not kidding.

Here's a crazy thought, Jeff and I are now the parents of a 7th grader and a 4th grader.  It's a bit mind blowing that these kids of ours are in 7th and 4th grade.  I really do feel like I was just watching them crawl around on the floor or pushing them on the swings.  And now their in 7th and 4th grades!  Yowzer!

First day of school came even earlier this year.  Fairfax County approved starting school the week before Labor Day and this was the first year it took effect.  So that means we had our usual late ending of school last year and our first ever early start this year which made for a very short Summer.

Two very different start times this year for us too.  Ian leaves the house to catch the bus at 7:15am.  And Sam doesn't need to leave the house until 8:55am for when her school opens their doors at 9:00am.  I got my first day of school photos, but wasn't able to get any of them together.

First day of 7th grade!

First day of 4th grade!
Sam walking into school.

Every year after dinner on the first day of school we get ice cream.  This is a well-loved and looked forward to tradition by the whole family.  We've been doing this since Ian started preschool.   This year we went to Cold Stone Creamery.  Yum-O!

Gosh, I love these kids and how silly they are.  There are days when they get along so well and its simply wonderful!  XOXO

Saturday, September 2, 2017

First week of Middle School is in the books

Ian survived.  He didn't die.  Despite all his concerns that he wouldn't make it in one piece, I am glad to report he did.  Of course he was going to be fine.  We all knew it would be okay.  But in Ian's mind starting middle school was the end of the world and surely, he was going to die.

By the time orientation and locker day arrived, Ian was a nervous wreck.  His anxiety was sky high and he walked around the house muttering to himself, "I'm going to die.  I'm going to die."  Jeff and I tried to tell Ian that kids don't die from going to 7th grade.  If they did, there would never be an 8th grade or a 9th grade.  I told Ian that if there was a chance kids could die from 7th grade moms would never send their kids.

Fortunately Ian saw one of his buddy's first thing in the morning for orientation.  That alone helped him to survive the morning.  And then when Ian found out he had friends he knew in all his classes, his anxiety was greatly reduced.  Three of his core classes is with one of his best friends.  That's huge! It was still going to be challenging for Ian to be okay with this next big step but he was seeing a bit of the light shining at the end of the tunnel.

Ian learning how to open his locker.

Ian's locker...all set-up and ready to go!

Transitioning to middle school is no joke!  Ian had a class size of 108 in elementary school which has now jumped to 603 students in 7th grade. And since the middle school is also in the same building as the high school, it is like the size of a small country.  Other new things for Ian to get used to include using a locker and a rotating block schedule where half of his classes meet on one day and the other half meet on the other day.  And to top it off, Ian is now riding the bus to and from school.  This is a new experience too as we were close enough to the elementary school to be considered walkers.

It's a lot of changes all at once.

That first day of school, I wanted nothing more than to walk Ian to where the bus stop is in our neighborhood.  As soon as he saw the other kids gathering at the stop (no one had any parents!), he looked at me and made me go back home.  I couldn't wait with him for the bus to come and I certainly couldn't take pictures of him getting on the bus or even call out to him one last time "I love you Ian!  Have a great day!".   The air was let out of my balloon and I walked back towards home disappointed.  UNTIL, I crossed the street and started hiding behind the cars in our neighbor's driveways, crouching down lower and lower, making my way back closer to the bus stop. Some of the lawns I had to cross were wet from a recent rain and my shoes got soaked.  So there's that.  But I did it!  I got to see the bus come and Ian get on it.

Ian turning around and telling me to leave.  Go away!

From my hiding spot behind a car.  Waiting for the bus to come.

There it is!  There's the bus.  
The bus passing by.  I hope Ian doesn't see me hiding behind this car. :)

It's been a full week of school and Ian is doing very well.  He can open his locker most times without having to make too many attempts.  He finds the right bus (out of over 50!) for which one to take home in the afternoon.  And he has a group of boys he sits with at lunch that he knows from his elementary school.  All in all, he is off to a great start.

Friday, August 25, 2017

While the kids were gone...

I made the most of my time while the kids were at camp.  It felt good to catch-up on some projects I had started.  It was great to be able to just read a book, or 5 or 10 to be exact!  It was wonderful to binge watch a few new shows -- OMG!  Must check out "Ozark" on Netflix.  Sooooo good!  A bit like Breaking Bad, which in my opinion is like the highest compliment you can give a show.  Love Jason Bateman!

Jeff and I spent 48 awesome hours in NYC and a beautiful sunny day in Annapolis.  I met The Girls for lunch - each of them on their own day near their offices.  I was even able to meet up with my Sister-in-law for lunch and a little shoe shopping afterwards.  Fun!

I managed to keep up my 5:30am bootcamp workouts 3x a week.  This is pretty amazing given the fact that I didn't have to be up by any certain time to take care of Ian and Samantha.   I was able to keep the house clean -- for longer than two hours too!

I logged many, many miles with Lucy and started each day with a long walk with her.  This was definitely a highlight.  I also logged many, many hours working for the Crazy Man.  While the increase in money from working for him was nice, I discovered I can really only take him in 3 hour increments.  That 6+ hour day was a killer and not repeated again!  Wine was definitely on the menu when I got home for dinner that evening.

I had enough free time to start and finish a big billing project for Susanne's therapy practice.  It felt good to get that done.

I got all my doctor appointments in -- my mammogram, my yearly physical and my bi-annual dentist appointment for a cleaning, plus a training session with Lucy and her trainer.

Jeff wasn't expecting me to cook dinner the whole time the kids were away and I surprised the both of us by cooking at least 6 different evenings with leftovers for more dinners and lunches.  Wowee!

One of my greatest achievements while the kids were away was taking on the Pipestem Repavement project.  This was a HUGE deal and something the rest of the houses on my pipestem weren't touching.  Nothing had been done to the pavement in the 39 years this pipestem existed.  It was in bad shape and really needed to be resurfaced.  Can I just say how great the road looks now?  It's smooth, no cracking, and doesn't have big chunks missing or sinking down. It was several weeks of complete frustration figuring out the details and contacting several companies to give us an estimate.  Plus, contacting Fairfax Water and Fairfax Sewer to discuss their separate access points and issues on the pipestem.  Not to mention navigating the process with the Conservancy office on using the appropriate funds and getting it disbursed.  But it all got done and the effort was more than worth it. Yay for me on this one!

It was a jam packed 28 days where I didn't slow down much, but even so I had lots of time to miss the kids.  I am glad they are back home.  Our lives have resumed its normal la vida loca and we are back to running around like a chicken with its head cut-off.  Very quickly my zen existence of doing as only I please has ended.  We are very busy preparing for the first day of school on Monday.  There is much to be done and our lazy days of Summer are definitely over.  

I am currently feeling very overwhelmed...not just by one thing, but by all of it together...the starting of the kids' activities, two different school schedules, Ian now has Bar Mitzvah tutoring once a week in addition to religious school twice a week, getting back into the groove of working at the preschool, The Crazy Man being at "full moon crazy", making sure the kids are doing their homework, and being responsible little people helping out. Not to mention cooking dinner again every single night except Saturdays -- I'm still taking that day off each week.   And let's not forget all the back to school nights.  I really don't know how families with more than 2 kids manage all this.

I am counting down big-time to when The Crazy Man has sold his house and finally moved to the retirement community village he has put a deposit on.  I am hoping that by this time next month I am no longer his go-to person for everything under the sun. It will be nice to not have every hour the kids are in school filled with a part-time job.  As of right now, I plan to fill that newfound free time with a nap.  :)

A final thought - While the kids were at camp, Jeff asked me if having children was something I always wanted?  Without hesitation, my answer was "yes".  Not because there was ever a time in my life where I had to consciously think to myself "do I want kids?", but because it was never a question in the first place.  I never pictured my life any other way.  In my opinion it was always going to be this way.  I love it.  I love the craziness, I love the noise, I love watching them grow into these amazing people, I love listening to them talk and their opinions and seeing the world from their perspective, I love how it feels to be a part of this family.  I love my kids so much.  I know that I am mostly in survival mode getting thru each day, but when I have a month without them around me, I realize just how much I was meant to be their mother.  And how much this is who I am.  But yes, a nap does sound awfully good.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Camp is awesome!

The kids are back from Camp Ramah!  And its a good thing too because the house was so quiet without them. 

How quiet was it?  Jeff (all on his own, without any prompting from me) said we could get a 2nd dog when Sam leaves for college.   Yep, you know the house must've been quiet. Like hear the mosquitoes buzzing around outside quiet.  The kind of quiet when Lucy was shedding some of her fur you could hear it hit the floor.  It was so quiet that we could hear the ice maker in the refrigerator make each ice cube. 

I've come to the conclusion that a month is too long for the kids to be gone.  We're used to them visiting the family in Orlando or doing Gramps Camp in Baltimore without us, but the difference is, its for much less than a month and we can still talk to them on the phone or see the kids thru facetime as much as we want.  It's hard to miss them so much when you still feel connected.

I honestly don't think I would've survived this past month without my friends Susanne and Dawn working at the camp.  Their texts, photos and videos they sent me made it bearable. I am so fortunate that they were able to check up on them, make sure Ian wasn't getting homesick, give them lots of hugs and report back to me what they were up to. 

Here's the thing -- the kids had a great time.  Even Ian who was so worried about being away from us for a month had a fabulous time.  They both want to go back next Summer.  So Jeff and I will try to work our magic and see if we can make the impossible possible again.   Fingers and toes are crossed.  Because as much as I miss them, I know this experience is so good for their development.  And to be in a setting that surrounds them with other Jewish kids is the icing on the cake.

Sam looks like she is up to no good!

That cucumber in Ian's hand never stood a chance.

It is so wonderful to see her so happy! 

At the airport picking up the kids! 
Everyone's happy to be going home!