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

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Patience is a freaking Virtue

I've noticed a major theme in my life over the past couple of weeks. The major changes of having a third baby, Gregory gone in Oklahoma, preparing our house and stuff for a major move, going back to work at Azul.... I'm moving at a fast pace pretty much all of the time.

Someone is always waiting on me to finish one task and get started with the next. I'm changing Elliot's diaper, while Jackson waits with his own mess and Ayla is repetitively asking, "Can I have a drink with juice and ice and water in it?". The cats are meowing and tripping me first thing in the morning for their food. Customers at work are watching me with hawk eyes as I serve a margarita there, run a credit card here and take food from the kitchen and back and forth. I'm rushing everyone into their clothes in the morning (not every day, though, which is an amazing break!) and compulsively grocery shopping without a list in twenty minutes.

There's sometimes even a line for the toilet at our house. Ayla is taking her sweet old time, talking about her day while I'm holding a dirty cloth diaper and jumping up and down because I haven't gone to the bathroom in six hours.

And I keep repeating the same request aloud (and in my head): Be patient!

Last night while I was cooking dinner, I served Ayla and Jackson their veggies while waiting for the rest of the meal to cook. Two seconds later, Ayla is making her way back to the computer and complaining that "the bacon wasn't coming!" Jeez, give me a minute!

Toddlers are one thing - the concept of patience might not even be humanly possible for them. I get that. But all you grown-ups that are frequenting restaurants, please wait your turn. Waving me over to your table to ask me for your food or tell me you need more water (which I already had noticed, thank you very much) or that you NEED the channel changed to the game that started 20 seconds ago (biggest pet peeve ever). Your interference in my chain of actions has only made your desired request take longer.

I'm always thinking about the next thing I have to do - and when that list gets to more than ten items, I start to freak out a little. My request for patience turns into swear words and I suddenly lose patience with everything else on the planet.

 Maybe that's how we truly learn our virtues: to be put to the test by toddlers and restaurant patrons! Sometimes there really isn't much of a difference between the two.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Boo! (then barf)

 It's time!

 All of our Halloween costumes are here - we have a Star Wars theme with Snow White thrown into the mix because Ayla apparently is already at the age where she gets to pick her own costume. Beware parents, you only get to choose for a maximum of three years!!! Choose those first costumes wisely. My pumpkin is half-carved and we're anticipating another great year of roaming our neighborhood for delicious treats.

 For some reason, this holiday is one of my favorites. It's short, to the point and creative. You get to dress up, be crazy and get rewarded with candy. My parents always made it fun while we were growing up and it was even more exciting once I got to college. I remember being at a bar in State College and seeing someone slowly walk down the street in his 8 foot tall Transformers costume. He literally got a standing ovation. I love seeing all of the ideas people come up with and can't get enough of  newborn babies dressed as items of food! It's sick, I know!

 I have a million fond memories of Halloween: one year in elementary school when I was dressed up like a clown and HATED it, I went across the street to Nanni's house (always our first stop) and she didn't recognize me. Later, in junior high, my Dad would take me and a group of my friends to whatever cheesy haunted house we wanted.

 But this is one of my favorite memories to recall when I really need to laugh and remember that sometimes the ridiculous and retarded days of our lives are the best:

 If I'm recalling perfectly, it was myself, my sister Eve, my father, Erin (Werner) Gibson and Phil Benner. We met up at the Twin Hi-Way Drive-In for yet another scary haunted house. It was ridiculously gory and had several scenes set up to horrify you. One was a plane crash (which does seem to be in bad taste), another was a mental hospital, etc, etc. The course took you from inside to outside and back again.

 I love these things, yet hate them. The actors always seem to get too close and take it too far. I start to wonder if the "psycho wielding the chainsaw" really isn't a psycho wielding a chainsaw.

What I most remember is the level of panic this particular haunted trail presented in us. I freaked out at one point inside the "mental ward" because some lunatic chased me and I fell into a bathtub, completely tearing up my leg. We kept screaming and running and laughing.... until it was one BOO! too many and Eve barfed in the middle of the trail. BARFED. She got over it quickly and we kept walking. Except she heard people behind us commenting on the "fake barf" that laid on the ground.

We got so scared that my sister threw up. And sorry to say it, but that makes me laugh. Thanks for the best Halloween memory ever!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Couch Potatoes

 After nine o'clock, I'm done for the day. I may have had ambitions to read a book, work on a project, sort through any given mess in our house, fold laundry or even write this blog. But most days, if the kids are asleep, I'm parked on the couch working my way through the DVR.

 But every once in awhile I have a companion - a wide awake toddler named Jackson. Some days he is so grumpy in the middle of the afternoon, that I surrender and let him take a nap. I'm hesitant to do this because he is then NEVER tired that night. It might be eight hours after he has taken that nap - but it doesn't matter, he is always up late on days that he takes a nap.

My parenting energies are spent by this time, however, and I am intent on catching up with Oprah, The Apprentice (yes, I still watch it) and Community. If Jackson wants to stay up - he now has to do what I want. Luckily, he doesn't fight or complain as Ayla would do. He happily sits on the couch for his late-night special treat of watching tv with mama.

It's the cutest thing to watch (appropriate) prime time television through his perspective. Tonight, he loved the opening credits to The Apprentice and kept saying "WHOA" every time they showed a helicopter or aerial view of New York City. He loves commercials and laughs at anything that seems remotely silly.

My growing boy snuggles up next to me on the couch and we watch trashy television. It all goes over his head and after about fifteen minutes, he is looking through our collection of books anyways. But I'll let him enjoy this special time every once in awhile, just because he's so adorable. (And he'll wreck his room if I just leave him up there instead.)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"I'm Crying because I miss my Dada."

I've been hearing this statement more and more from Ayla.

She says it when she wakes up in the morning, before going to sleep at night and after, well, anything that doesn't make her happy. Jackson takes away one of her princess toys... tears of shock and anger turn to tears of sadness that she misses her "favorite Dada in the world". I tell her that she can't play computer games for more than an hour or that it is bath time or that she can't have more candy; it leads to a total breakdown about missing Dada and how it is so hard to be apart. She was even crying in school the other day because one kid told her not to put animals on the road they were playing with. The teacher knew the issue was more than your typical preschool bickering when Ayla was crying so hard. Uggghhh, the poor girl doesn't know how to handle it all.

Tell me about it. I feel the same way she does. When you are latently sad or depressed about something - life is livable. But when something goes wrong, it's usually the first thing you think about. All unhappy issues turn into the same unhappy issue - a part of our family isn't here. We're just going through the motions and waiting until everything can go back to our version of normal.

It has now been exactly one month since Gregory left for his training in Oklahoma. And since he didn't turn around in Kansas (ha!), he's doing well in his classes and this ATC thing might just stick. We have to make it to December before we can at least spend weekends together and know that Gregory is only a short car ride away.

For now, we have Veteran's Day to look forward to. My birthday present was a group effort to get a round-trip ticket for me to visit Gregory (with Elliot tagging along in the baby Bjorn). What a thoughtful, amazing, perfect present. I booked the ticket and could lift my own spirits thinking about a visit only a month away as opposed to December.

 Only the guilt nagged at me. How was I going to tell Ayla that I was getting on a plane to visit her beloved Dada without her? She wouldn't take kindly to any excuse or reasoning. So, two nights ago, I put one more ticket on my itinerary. Budget be damned. It's too hard to watch a 4 year old struggle with sadness when we can at least offer a temporary solution. (Jackson is another story. He is too young and maybe too self-absorbed to get upset about it. He's very happy to talk about Dada and Skype with him on the computer. It might even traumatize him to see Gregory and then have to say goodbye again.)

 Here's to Veteran's Day (a Thursday holiday), the generosity of friends and family to buy my ticket in the first place and Discover Card to handle the rest! We can't wait to visit and make the rest of this separation bearable.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

We all fall for Fall

 Fall is my favorite season. It's for selfish reasons - I love anticipating my birthday in October, enjoying my birthday and getting a little bit of both worlds with the weather. It is cool at night, but beautiful in the afternoons and we can still entertain ourselves outside without stuffing our bodies into snowsuits.

 It seems appropriate that my last season here in Pittsburgh is the fall (unless we can't sell our house, then this is only the beginning of the end!). It is bittersweet. I'm taking in the colors of the changing leaves, the scenic drive through Sewickley and its' rows of mansions and all of the familiar "landmarks" of my hometown.

But more on my sappy, teary-eyed, philosophical drives around town later... here are some photos of Ayla, Jackson and Elliot enjoying fall for their own reasons.
Oh, how good it feels to jump into a pile of leaves!

This is while they were both still happy playing together.

Then I turned into a target.

Amazing! Ayla is looking at the camera.

Had to capture the snot.

Ayla tries to rake leaves directly from the source.

Pockles disapproves?

Next year will be different for you, Elliot, I promise!

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ladies Man

 It started out as just another normal trip to the playground. We were climbing steps, swinging, rushing down the slides, playing hide and seek, laughing, chatting with a group of teenage girls...

 Wait, chatting with teenagers? Yes, one of my kids was captivating an entire group of tweens and it wasn't Ayla (or Elliot)... leave it up to my ladies man Jackson!

He walked right over to a group of girls and parked his butt in the middle of their conversation. They were so nice to sit with him and giggle at his one word answers to their questions.

"Baby." "Momma" - pointing over at me with my camera.
"Neeno". (That is his word for lightsaber.) Showing off his temporary Star Wars tattoo on his stomach.

Squeezing his tiny butt into the mix.

Just me and my ladies! Yeah!

I think this might have been the start of a dance performance.
I'm just pleased that he wasn't hitting anyone.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What's Cuter than a 2 month old?

 A 2 month old sitting in an armchair, that's what.

So serious!

Jackson may be passionate with his brotherly kisses, but always gentle.

Rocking the double chin!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Family is the new "F" word?

 It's not coincidence that I've heard basically the same statement from two different people in the same week - that they've come to know the word "family" as a negative one. What I mean is that the word family is now being used as a weapon to fight anyone different, anyone who doesn't fit the stereotype - Mom, Dad, married with children.

It baffles and saddens me that people have the ability to turn the concept of family into something exclusive - as if only some people deserve it. If you aren't 100% normal (and news flash, NO ONE is normal), then watch out! The term "family values" is about to get thrown in your face.

My opinion might not matter much since I am living that typical society-sanctioned life. I have somehow followed life's acceptable plan - I got married to a partner of the opposite sex and then had kids. We've both remained healthy and together and at the moment, do not have anyone else living in our household.

We are blessed - but we are not necessarily the only way to do it. We are not "right", therefore making anyone else wrong. I love my life but I'm not going to use it as ammunition to stop other people from living their own way. If there is love and respect - do what you will. A family is who you love and who loves you. Gay, straight, white, black, adopted, estranged, real or imaginary.

Today, on my 30th birthday, I had a moment of retrospect. I never quite imagined this is the life I would be living. I have three beautiful, healthy, inspiring, amazing children and I am married to quite possibly the most perfect person on the planet. I live in suburbia; I cook dinner and cut coupons. I obsess over a garden and care about household cleaners.Who knew I'd turn out to be such a housewife? :)

 My family is a product of doing what felt and feels right. I love them and try to do the best for them. It just so happens that it is considered acceptable by some people's standards. I want to honor all of the families out there - may you have the joy you are searching for and the rights to pursue them!

Eff this idea that family is an exclusive club. That's boring.