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

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Let me show you the door

I've written about our sleep routines before: my kids go to sleep pretty late. But I'm grateful that even though they are staying up later, they willingly go to bed when told. (Okay, MOST of the time). Jackson will kick around in the crib, playing with his musical fishtank and talking to himself. Ayla will either read books, play pretend with her princess or more recently, cook a little something in her play kitchen.

It makes me very happy that they understand bedtime is bedtime. They entertain themselves until they are ready to fall asleep. And usually without destroying their rooms in the process! That can't be said for other activities that make them happy.

Two nights ago, Ayla was clearly not ready to go to sleep. We read books, brushed teeth, went to the potty and then put her in her room. She told Gregory that she was going to cook herself a little snack.

I took the opportunity to put a few random things away in her room. What's the harm? I gave her a "little fuzzy" that I had found. Then I came back in for a second time to put away a few clean shirts. I think it was two times too many.

Ayla stood at the door, ushered me out an shut it promptly behind me. Then I could hear her saying, "Hmmm, what can I cook?" In a very subtle yet obvious way - she wanted me out of her room. Ten minutes ago. She is developing her own space and her annoying mother wouldn't leave her alone.

It won't be long before she is a teenager slamming the door in my face!

Monday, January 18, 2010

I'm with Coco

Is anyone else irrationally angry about this whole Tonight Show debacle? I watched Conan more often when he was on at 12:30, but was thoroughly excited when he was chosen to take over for Jay Leno. I watched his first episodes as the Tonight Show host over the summer and thought it was great. But as summer goes, we spend more time outside actually doing things instead of watching tv - and I didn't turn it back on until last week.

If only my ratings meant anything.

Since when does a man who supposedly retired get to take his old show back when his new show sucks? If Leno had any respect left at the end of his tired career (and hiring a tool from the Howard Stern show, subsequently turning him into a stereotypical pervert), it's certainly gone now. What an ass! Such a blatant display of greed, selfishness and ignorance of ethical behavior.

Everything about Leno is tired. I read a great review saying that he might just be the "perfect" host for his time slot. "Perfect", not best - because his lack of originality is exactly what his lame audience is looking for. I'm sorry, but if you prefer Leno over O'Brien - well, I don't think you have a very good sense of humor. If you need jokes about boobs and bad politics, Leno is your man! I can hear his punchlines in my head before he says them - they're that bad.

And of course I'm speaking out of my righteous anger (insert sarcasm here). I don't know why I care so much. I've always been a Conan fan. But it's not just that. This move is blatantly unfair and just SO pathetic! It's just another selfish, old man move that can only be about money and other immoral reasons - it doesn't make sense otherwise.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Some emotional bedtime reading

Ayla received a huge stack of books from my mother for Christmas. But like most kids, she already has her favorite books - and it's sometimes hard to sway her from them. Some of the new books are a little too advanced, like The Velveteen Rabbit (it's just too long). Another great one is an introduction to the Ingalls family aka: Little House on the Prairie. I can't wait to read those books again with my kids, chapter by chapter.

I don't know if my mother chose all of the books specifically for their content, or if it was a library sale or if because some of the books had won awards. But last week, I chose the two most depressing books out of the pile.

The first one was called Old Pig. It's the story of a grandmother pig and her granddaughter that live together. Then one day the old pig gets sick and morbidly goes to the bank to take out all of her money, settle bills at the grocery store, etc. and comes home to die. It doesn't say this explicitly; but I'm sure in a few years, Ayla will get the message.

If my mother did, in fact, pick this book for the content... well, it doesn't surprise me. What a sly way to inject a dose of guilt into your granddaughter! Watch out Ayla, I'm an old lady and I could just die any day! Needless to say, I was not pleased with this selection. I'm sure this book helpful to children when they do lose a grandparent - but it's not healthy to promote the fear of death into toddlers. Just an idea.

The second book was The Wall. Again, the concept is too advanced for Ayla and focuses on the death of a grandparent. (Morbid Christmas theme, right?) This time a boy and his father visit the Vietnam Memorial to find his grandfathers' name. The boy never knew his grandfather and comes to realize that there is something missing that he didn't know was missing before. And he realizes the pain his father feels as an adult. A multi-dimensional depressing book!

But this one was a little bit more relevant to me. Although my father didn't perish in a terrible war, he did die eleven years ago. My kids will never know him and any memories of him will have to passed down either through stories or pictures. Of course this is painful for me. While my father had his definite faults, he would have been important to my children. He could have told them ridiculous stories about putting them in shrinking machines to prevent them from growing up (like he did to me), could have shown them the house where he was born, could have seen an age of digital photography with them. The lost opportunities are endless.

I got about two pages into the book until I was crying and unable to speak. It was one of those cries. I was trying to hold my shit together and read the story. It certainly is a beautiful and important message, but doesn't make for a cheery bedtime! Every page seemed to open up even a deeper sadness. The boy sees another young boy walking with his grandfather. The boy sees a rowdy group of kids come to the Wall and not be affected. The boy puts his picture down near his grandfather's name and worries that his grandfather won't know who he is. I mean, come on! I could barely hold it together.

I miss my Dad. I always will. But that's my own pain. I've told Ayla that my own father has died. (We were having one of those family relations conversation when you try to explain that her aunts and uncles are actually brothers and sisters to her parents....) The saddest, and hardest realization of the story is that my kids will eventually experience grief over never knowing my father. They have a wonderful "Gramps" on Gregory's side, but a lot of kids get to have more than one grandfather - and they'll feel cheated at some point in life. That's the last thing I want for them.

And the real lesson learned, I need to proofread these new books ahead of time. Especially when they're from my mother! :) There is something cathartic about getting such an emotional response from a book, but children's literature is the worst! They really know how to get you.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How hard could it be to make your own club soda?

Apparently it takes eight months, two faulty ebay purchases, two paypal refunds, lots of internet research and a coveted "charger holder " to make it work! What am I talking about?

The iSi soda siphon.

I bought the first one for Gregory's birthday in May. We are constantly buying seltzer water from the grocery store - to add to both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. I actually only like to drink juice if it is cut in half with soda water, otherwise it is too cloying. I thought this soda siphon would be a cool addition to our "bar" and quite convenient for creating less plastic waste.


We bought the individual soda chargers and loaded it up. We must have spent a half hour trying to screw it in, afraid that it was going to backfire and explode in our faces. We had every part listed in the Amazon.com description; the online tutorials did not show anything we didn't have lying on the counter. My birthday present was a lame dud. The beautiful, shiny iSi soda siphon was now decoration for the kitchen.

Attempt number two came at Christmas. I had bought the item from ebay, this time in the original packaging with complete instructions. I suppose it's my fault for not trying it before Christmas morning, but I think I was more excited than Gregory to give this another try.

Fail. Again.

I almost let it ruin my day. What was I doing wrong? What kind of engineering mystery was this? But leave it to Gregory to find an obscure beverage supply website that sells the indispensable "charger holder". Why was this not mentioned on any other site or any of the iSi packaging, I'll never understand.

We wait two weeks for the package to arrive. Gregory receives it while I'm at work. It's one of our days that I come back in the door at 2:35 and he's out at 2:36 and we don't see each other again until midnight. I see two damaged soda chargers (imagine very tiny CO2 containers) in the sink and am practically devastated. I could only imagine Gregory swearing over the sink while trying to screw on this extra piece we just bought! Why, God, why can't we just have soda water???

Fast forward to midnight and I finally get to see the soda siphon in action. Except the second siphon I had bought for Christmas leaked. You are supposed to fill the siphon with water and keep it in the fridge so the water is a nice, cool temperature. We resort back to the first soda siphon purchased in May, which does NOT leak. I'm beginning to understand why these things went out of style.

But with the siphon filled, water cooled and charger holder attached - we heard the beautiful *whish* of CO2 being released into the aluminum container. A light squeeze to the nozzle and we have carbonated water! I might as well have been a pioneer in the wild west who had never, ever heard of such "bubble water" - it was so gratifying.

It tastes closer to Perrier than club soda, but it's extra delicious because it took us eight months to figure out how to do it!

Friday, January 1, 2010

And in conclusion...

And the remainder of 2009....


- Our 5 year wedding anniversary! I feel too young to be accomplishing such milestones, not that it feels like work or anything.
- Jackson takes those first steps, in pursuit of a girl.
- The Leetsdale 4th of July parade tradition continues for the third straight year, which goes right by the front of our house. I love festive activities that I have to make absolutely NO effort to attend.
- Gregory and I escaped to Ohiopyle for some kid-free camping. We also toured Falling Water, which actually exceeded my expectations.


- Kicked it at Holden Beach! We saw a pregnant Rachel for the first time and celebrated Ayla's third birthday! With Wall-E cupcakes, of course.
- I got a minor promotion at work, which always brings the dreaded responsibility of making the schedule and dealing with irate customers. But it also comes with the perks of free Mexican food!
- My brother and family came to stay with us for a week. We all fared well, considering the nine people sharing one bathroom. We visited a lot of museums that we rarely take the time to see. And our kids learned several new tricks from their older cousins!


- Ayla starts dance and gymnastics classes, with my severe coaxing. I think I have more fun putting on my ballet shoes and hopping around to nursery rhymes.
- Our awesome trip to Chicago - finally meeting my college friends' 2 year old daughter. And since they are expecting another baby, I have a feeling it might be just as long until the next visit! Also, an amazing meal with my cousin Austin and his now fiance Khaylen. I'm still thinking about it actually. Yummmm.
- Lots and lots of work for Gregory & I to catch up on all that wondrous time off during the summer!


- You know, my birthday. Gregory bakes his first cake solo, which surpasses anything I've made. Fresh raspberry drip icing? Yeah. I was licking the cake stand.
- Jackson continues to explore, going up the steps alone...all the way to the attic. It was often that I would turn off the water from washing dinners (a max of two minutes) and find him up in the attic, listening to music.
- Ayla cuts her own hair. A parenting cliche I didn't really think I would encounter!
- Rachel's baby shower!
- Our first really interactive Halloween. (Last year Jackson didn't know what was going on and our daughter just tried to give all of her candy back to people.) Ayla wanted to be Dorothy and Jackson was nominated for the part of the Cowardly Lion. Amazingly, our candy stash didn't last very long!


- Ayla is almost completely potty-trained at night. Life-changing. It took a few weeks of changing the sheets and blankets every night and really putting the washing machine to the test - but our little girl figured it out!
- We take our final trips to the park, before it is sadly too cold and miserable.
- Another tasty Thanksgiving at the Abell's.
- Jackson discovers his love for Yo! Gabba gabba. (It's a family tradition).
- I work briefly at the new Market District. I'm talking a week, before they started to say that a part-time job is a minimum of 30 hours a week. Hmmmm.


- My on-line Christmas spending bonanza begins. But I finish early and just enjoy as the packages arrive.
- We bring Baxter the beagle into our home, re-introducing our need for the wet vac.
- Jackson still refuses to use many words, but he picks up more sign language. And he nods enthusiastically when we finally understand what he wants.
- Ayla spends every day asking whether Santa has come yet. We, as parents, take full advantage of using Santa and his presents as threats to behave.
- We have a relaxing Christmas at home, however knowing that Christmas really won't be over until we are able to celebrate with Gregory' s family in January.
- And Rachel's baby - Noella Diane - is born dramatically in the last few hours of 2009!