I Always Feel Like... Somebody's Watching Me!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Peace Out 2009!

It's the time of year where I catch myself saying, "What... the... heck? Where has the year gone?" Yes, it's cliche to say that time is flying by; and that it's getting worse as I get older. But perhaps it's time to be cliche. Because time IS going faster. See? It's already the end of 2009.

Personally, 2009 has been pretty good to me. We've had some rough homeowner repairs and some slow/almost stagnant times at work. I went a few vacations and my kids are growing up happily and healthy. That's really all I should be asking for - but in my entitled, American existence - I want everything!

Since I only started the blog half-way through the year, I thought I'd give a quick breakdown of the year. Not that I think the world has missed out on hearing what happened in my life from January to June, but that I have the most terrible memory. If I don't write (type) it down now, I really will be asking myself, "What did I do last year?" and not have any idea.


- Dishwasher installed. Life-changing.
- Ayla gets stomach flu for the first time. And gives it to me. We learn the important warning signs of her cry, then cough, then... well, you know. The important thing to note is that she made it into a garbage can almost every time.
- Water pipes freeze and then explode. It's a good thing we are night owls, we would have never heard the rushing water at 3 am and would have had a flooded basement along with a busted shower.
- Gregory and I travel to L.A. for his job interview for the ATC position. The funny thing is he was offered the job. Yep, still waiting for a start date!


- Ayla's half birthday on the 14th. (Oh yeah, and Valentine's Day.)
- Gregory has surgery to remove his tonsils and fix a deviated septum. I sit through the surgery SO afraid that something bad is going to happen. Little did I know that two blood vessels would burst in his throat and he would return to the hospital two more times.
- Steeler's win their 6th Superbowl. We did not attempt to attend the victory parade.


- Gregory continues to recover from surgery.
- Subsequently, I re-watch almost the entire season of Six Feet Under.
- Mary Poppins is the new favorite movie in the household.
- A double stroller is purchased and we have newfound freedom to walk to the park. Life-changing.


- A visit to Holden Beach, and a stop at Monticello on the return drive. I use a Marriott gift certificate earned from my previous job - making me feel like a super grown-up, if only for a few minutes.
- Easter and Ayla's discovery of Peep's.
- Jackson makes use of his old-man walker and speeds through the house. But will NOT walk on his own.


- Jackson's 1st birthday.
- Gregory's 29th birthday.
- I obsess over the planting and layout of the herb & vegetable garden. I spend several weekends ripping up a new part of the yard.
- Stanley Cup play-offs and Gregory does his part by growing a goatee.


- And the penguins win the Stanley Cup. That's right.
- The new shower is installed and tiled. (We're catching up to the blog now). Life-changing.
- Jackson climbs UP the steps, but still does not walk.

And that's half the year, more tomorrow!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Aww, poor Tiger

Except not.

I can't believe the news coverage over Tiger Woods. Yes, another supposed upstanding man has cheated on his wife. Shocking. Yes, he is losing tons of sponsorship money. (But we all know that won't last long - he'll be back in good favor in just a few months.) But now we have to talk about how his celebrity friends are worried about HIM. They are actually devoting time to hear his "friends" talk about how concerned they are for him. HIM! Not his wife, not his children, HIM!!!!

I watch a lot of CNN at work - or at least I watch it with the sound turned off. We keep one tv tuned to ESPN, which is entertaining for about 30 minutes before the same stories are recycled. I like to keep updated on world news while I roll silverware.

Most news channels have their faults, no one is completely unbiased and the media frenzy often focuses on over-hyped, pointless stories. But this one absolutely takes the cake. CNN was showing clips from some useless, late night sports talk show where Spike Lee was talking about his concern for Tiger. "He's shutting us out! How is he?"

Out of any aspect of this story - I couldn't care less how Tiger Woods feels right now. If he's ashamed and embarassed and going into hiding, great! That should be the natural reaction after being exposed as a total asshole. Why are we always surprised when a sports superstar turns out to be a horny, selfish, weak... well, jerk? Just because a man is amazing at any given sport doesn't make him morally superior. Tiger Woods thought he could get away with it and got busted. He jeopardized everything. But then we have to hear his buddies sympathizing for him? It's bad enough that people watch this kind of crap the first time around (on aforementioned lame sports talk show), but then on CNN if they missed it! Uggghhh, it makes me sick.

The problem is that a lot of men out there are going to agree with what they're seeing on tv. I have already heard several people say, "Well, it's just what happens. He's tempted ALL of the time. It was bound to happen." Really? So you're saying it's okay. A successful man can only last so long before becoming so arrogant. WOW. If it was just fine for him to do it in the first place, I'm sure this same Tiger-adoring fan club will turn the corner now (along with CNN) and start feeling bad for the guy.

I mean, how can he be expected to remain faithful in this world? It's obviously someone else's fault. How could his family hold it against him? Please.

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's true what they say...

If you send any kid a present in a big box... they are going to play with the present for about .3 seconds and then go for the box.

For days.

My brother sent their Christmas presents (which I didn't let them open, of course) and a wooden stove that my Dad had made for me when I was little. They played with stove for a few minutes and then unloaded ALL of the shipping paper and made themselves comfortable in the box.

We cut out a few windows, and it's the obvious choice for watching tv or reading books. While they were busy with that - I was enjoying the stove! Even though I spend a lot of my time playing "real" kitchen, there is nothing like a pretend kitchen or stove.

But enough about stoves, it's a far second from THE BOX!

Breaking out...

I think Ayla was trying to look at me and the camera at the same time, the cross-eyed crazy!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Introducing... Walter!

It's been four days and we haven't returned him to the shelter... so it looks like we have a new member of the family!

Meet Walter the beagle!

It took a few unsuccessful trips to Animal Friends and The Humane Society before finding a dog that fit all of our criteria: the right size, calm demeanor, friendly and not a murderer of cats.

But on Thursday, we met Walter, aka "Droopy" at the Humane Society and brought him home. It must be a very weird adjustment for him, because his first days were rough. Peeing on the floor every time Gregory turned his back, barking at the cats (who are justifiably taunting him) and whining in his cage at night.

He was just neutured a few days ago, hence his awesome cone. We don't even know what he will look like without it! The estimation is that he is 5 months old and was given up by a person who was "moving and couldn't keep the dog". On a side note, I've always thought that was a weird reason.

It's going to take us a few episodes of the Dog Whisperer and our obedience classes at the Humane Society to get it right - but I think he's improving. He spends a lot of his time staring at our two kids, probably thinking, "What the hell am I doing here...".

Ayla came up with his name because of these hilarious books we read called Walter the Farting Dog. We thought of the name Giant Eagle (or Giant Beagle if you want to go that route), Boy Foofa (from Yo! Gabba Gabba) and Sweetums (my favorite big furry Muppet). But Walter it is.

Jackson likes the puppy, but since he's a bit of a wimp sometimes - he doesn't really appreciate the rowdy play yet. They had a tug of war battle tonight over Jackson's bunny slippers.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Read the Fine Print

If you look closely, there are advertisements, slogans, nutritional advice, recipes, directions and games printed all over the house. On our food and body products, that is. I don't pay much attention to most of them. But doesn't everyone read the cereal box at breakfast? There's something mind-numbing and soothing about reading the vitamin and mineral content, and now that we have more kid varieties - there's usually a maze with some cartoon boy racing through with his skateboard. Breakfast, around here at least, is not ripe with conversation, so the box gets a lot of attention.

But companies pay a lot of "branding" money to fill up every possible spot on their packaging. If you bought that box of barley for a one-time recipe and don't know what to do with the rest, I guarantee there is a recipe on the box. The Catch-22 is that the recipe usually calls for more than you have left...off to the store to buy another barley I don't know what to do with!

It's every once in awhile that I catch something ridiculous. Either the manufacturer paid too little or too much for the writing on the side of the bottle.

Too little money:

Mouthwash, "Rinse or gargle after meals and before social engagements." Straight out of a 1950's etiquette video! If you're reading the mouthwash label actually looking for directions - I think there's a problem.

Too much money:

Paul Mitchell Hair Serum, "Spend more time living and less time styling! Super Skinny Complex helps smooth hair fast with reduced dry time." Yay! More time for living! Is that why I spent the extra $10 on this product? A longer life?

Another place I always find myself staring at the packaging is in the shower. The shelf is eye-level, whatever, I don't know why. I love how every brand recommends using their products for every step along the way. Use this shampoo with our conditioner, styling products, deodorant, toothpaste, razors and socks! It's the only way it will work.

Pantene is good at stating the obvious. "Pantene Pro-V Full & Thick Shampoo. You have: thin hair. You want: Thick, full and strong-looking hair." Glad that's cleared up.

And other products hype themselves up to be way more than they really are. Kiss my Face Shaving cream, "Hope you love our shave! There's never a dull moment with this moisturizing formula! Try all of our other soothing scents to expand your shaving experience!" That's right, never a dull moment while you are scraping the hair away from your body with a razor. Now I'll pay attention...

It's fascinating if you notice the fine print telling us how, when and where to use the products we've purchased. Stay tuned for the kitchen fine print post!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Two Thumbs Up for Children's Movies

I remember reading a list about "must-have" children's movies to invest in when I was pregnant with Ayla. I had, ummm, all of them. And I didn't consider owning these movies just in case I was babysitting. I loved them truly for my own viewing pleasure. Now it is just an added bonus that Ayla & Jackson sing along to my favorite movies of all time.

All of the critic's choices are different now, with the addition of more Disney films (and Pixar). I can't remember exactly what was on that list several years ago, but I'm certainly willing to add new titles to my children's movie library.

Here is my personal Top 10:

1. The Dark Crystal - there is absolutely nothing like it, not even Labyrinth. I appreciated the fantastical storyline when I was four years old, and now that I own it on DVD (instead of the recorded from tv, scratchy VHS tape) I marvel at all of the details.

2. Annie - I watched it for 48 hours straight once. Again, this movie is just getting better with time. Ms. Hannigan is drunk almost the entire movie, which completely went over my head as a kid. ("Why is she stirring a clear liquid called gin in the bathtub?") I literally forced this movie upon Ayla. It is pure joy to hear her sing along to "Tomorrow".

3. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory - Another VHS favorite, it instilled my love for Gene Wilder. My friend Jenn always did a perfect imitation of Veruca Salt's bratty song. We have an angry debate in our house every once in awhile about the "scary" factor of the Oompa Loompas. Strangely enough, tiny orange men don't scare me at all.

4. The Muppets Take Manhattan - It's hard to choose a favorite in the Muppet Category, but this one has some of the funniest human characters. When Joan Rivers is throwing powder on her face with Miss Piggy, I can't contain myself. It was while watching this movie that I discovered my life's dream of meeting a Muppet. (And I would totally act as if they were real - wait, they ARE real.)

5. The Secret of Nimh - Old-school animation, but I loved the song that played during the closing credits (the two crows flying in the air with their string - you know what I'm talking about!)

6. Star Wars - ALL of them. I watched these with my brother and used to pretend I was Princess Leia climbing up the basement stairs. And Luke Skywalker was hot.

7. The Lion King - I may have been in junior high at the time, but I was obsessed with this movie. I saw it maybe five times in the theater, bought the trading cards AND action figures at Burger King, and even had the commemorative plates. It was the first time that a Disney movie showed a dead parent, so unfortunately, some critics say this movie is traumatizing for kids.

8. Wall-E - this movie is profound. There is no leftist, political agenda behind this movie. We do consume and throw away so much garbage that we are ruining the planet. (Regardless of what you think about global warming, you have to admit we buy too much plastic shit). We do rely on robots to take care of us. Someday we will probably live in space. But it's still a hopeful outlook on the whole situation - I always cry when they return to earth. And Ayla is screaming, "They're coming back to earth! They're coming back to earth!!!"

9. The Muppet Christmas Carol - yes, I was in junior high with this movie too. But it's hilarious. And I can watch Christmas movies, year round.

10. Back to The Future - Michael J. Fox is synonymous with growing up in the 80's. TBS still shows the reruns every weekend for a reason.

Of course I've left out a lot, I still love The Little Mermaid, E.T., Sleeping Beauty, Charlie Brown and many others. But these are the movies I watched over and over during childhood (minus Wall-E, unless you consider parenthood my second chance at childhood) - and would gladly do the same today.

Feel free to comment or add to the list!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

If anything can motivate me to clean the house...

... it would be watching the show Hoarders. It is on A&E, which is turning into the reality channel that showcases all of the nightmare scenarios. You can either watch Intervention (about drug or alcohol addiction) or Paranormal State (about ghost/demon hunting) or this new show about hoarding.

Hoarding: a bona fide mental disorder in which a person cannot, or isn't willing, to throw away any item - regardless of worth or condition. This isn't just like having cluttered closets or a few outdated items in the fridge. This is dead cats buried under garbage in your living room and buying a second home to house all of your crap. And crap it is - empty shampoo bottles, rotting pumpkins, newspapers from 1988, every razor you've ever owned.

This show is crazy! Well, the people are certainly crazy. And I say that in a nice way - but most of them did know that there was a mental problem. When you've lost custody of your children because you can't throw anything away and your house is infested with mice, you know you're not exactly right.

I was expecting to feel some sort of sympathy for these people - but for most of them, this is a symptom of an uncompromising or nasty personality. One man's wife fell down the stairs (tripping over piles of magazines) and broke her arm. You would think he might clean up after that? No. He was unwilling to get rid, or move, anything. An old lady was blaming her daughter for her unlivable conditions - a daughter that hadn't lived with her in decades! I am NOT a fan of mothers who blame their children for how miserable their lives have turned out.

But how does the hoarding get so out of control? Like the show Clean Sweep, most messes are contained to certain areas, like an unused room. It takes a catalyst to finally tackle those moving boxes that haven't been touched in 5 years. We don't clean out the junk drawer in the kitchen until it can't be closed anymore. I have old report cards and college textbooks in boxes. Is that minor hoarding or just a part of having a busy life?

After seeing all of the junk, mold and mouse feces on tv- I went on an OCD cleaning spree yesterday. I wiped down the refrigerator shelves and scrubbed the bath toys with bleach and a toothbrush. Several broken toys were thrown in the garbage. My next mission is the kitchen junk drawer and my craft supplies (those borderline on crazy, I admit).

My advice to anyone whose ever lacked the motivation to clean up? Watch Hoarders. You'll be knee-deep in Lysol before you know it.