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

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Tundra

 Hey, why didn't anyone tell me it was going to snow in Buffalo? I mean, someone could have given me a heads up! Back to reality: everyone mentioned the snow and (duh!) they were right. Buffalo has held up to its reputation quite well in the week that I've lived here.

 Here's the good news: they know how to handle it here. Snow plows are out and about; and this city lacks the hills, turns and ridiculous bridge traffic, so snowfall isn't treated like the end of the world. I'll know for sure, though, next fall as Buffalo prepares for the onset of winter again. It's usually in the months of October and November that people in the northeast seem to forget how they survived the previous winter and charge the grocery stores like crazy people for water, toilet paper and white bread at the first sign of flurries.

Ayla, Jackson and I ventured out into our huge backyard the other day... and the fun lasted for about a half hour longer than it usually does. Jackson loves picking up the snow but refuses to wear gloves, therefore he is screaming after 5 minutes because his hands are frozen. We explored the awesome swing set (I say awesome not because it is out of the ordinary, but just because we have one) and the shed that will be transformed into a playhouse.

So cute and puffy in snowpants!

My mountain man: breaking a stick over his head.
Gregory's search for a proper rental was worth it: we are outdoor people that will make good use of this yard, even if it looks more like the Antarctic tundra right now.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Put a shirt on it

 Anyone who knows our dog Baxter, knows that he is annoying. He howls unnecessary, he gets way too excited ALL of the time and generally doesn't know how to be cool. He has even peed directly on babysitters.

 Baxter makes my daily life just that much harder. He chews the toys that are left on the ground, whines to be let in the house five seconds after being let out and tries to eat food off the table.

He also runs away. And refuses to come back until HE is ready. Bastard. Really. He nearly made me a mental case yesterday while he roamed the new neighborhood (which is pocketed between two really busy roads) and just looked at me while I was screaming his name.

So tonight I decided to just make fun of him and make him wear a t-shirt. It's the most I've ever liked him!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Breaking the Habit

 It was a clean break. The end of a habit that has, well, existed as long as I have. For the first time in my life, I don't have cable. Consider this more of an experiment than a revolt against conformity and consumerism (although it feels good to be out of the mainstream even a little bit).

 My two motivators are money and time; neither of which I have very much of anymore. I had to be honest with myself in regards to time. Many a night I have stayed up late caught up in a marathon of Hoarder, Law &Order SVU or in a desperate attempt to catch up on the 98% full DVR that we've committed ourselves to. It has been several years, actually, that I have not watched much live tv at all. That saved time in itself by avoiding commercials, if you exclude the fact that I could have been saving infinitely more time by not watching tv in the first place. But now I can sit down at the end of the night and not feel some strange obligation to watch one of the thirteen back episodes of Oprah that I never had the chance to watch.

But I'll miss my time with Oprah - much like I miss lounging on the couch and flipping channels for a few hours on a Saturday. That's a luxury that kids have replaced; and I'm fine with that. So now cable is a luxury that honestly, I don't have much time for. And I'm happy to keep a little money in the bank account every month.

We are managing very well with tiny doses of Netflix, DVDs and the Internet. Gregory has the laptop hooked up to the tv and we are good to go! Yeah, we probably won't watch the Oscars or keep up with the local news (but hey! shouldn't I be reading the paper on the internet anyways?), but we'll see how much I miss it.

Like a lot of things that are lacking my daily life (free time, relaxing showers, eating a meal without getting up a million times, a full night's sleep) - I just tell myself... someday. Someday you'll wonder where all of the kids are on a Saturday night. Someday you'll buy quality clothes again without fearing that they'll be ruined by spit up or "washable" finger paint. And someday I'll have cable again, or maybe not.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


As this is my first blog from Buffalo, I thought it appropriate to write about home. Where is home? More importantly, what makes a house suddenly feel like a home? All of us have spent our first night in a house, either as owners or renters, and thought, "Okay, now I live HERE." But months or years pass, and we are so emotionally attached to a building: a place where we may have been married or single, brought babies home from the hospital, made dinner every night, sat with friends in the living room and experienced every possible emotion.

And then we move...

  I have spent the last 6 weeks packing, sorting, organizing, purging and cleaning. I went through every closet and every junk drawer and somewhat streamlined my family's existence. Gone are the broken toys and baby clothes that don't fit even Elliot anymore. I've put my closet through a rigorous TLC What Not To Wear test - and still have too many shirts that I never wear. Extra furniture was sold and countless trips were made to the thrift store. And here I am with all of the "stuff" that made the cut - in a house in Buffalo.

  Gregory had been living here for about a week before we moved the rest of the family. He painted and unpacked a few boxes. A few nights before moving here, he sent me a picture of some unpacked mugs and glasses set up in the kitchen. I hadn't seen the inside of the house at that point (except for a few pictures) and it was surreal to see my things in a place I couldn't see in my mind's eye. I had just had coffee that morning and wanted to use that exact mug that was already waiting for me in a Buffalo suburb kitchen somewhere.

House/home - there is a big difference between those two words.

 Is a home where you know which cabinet your favorite coffee mug resides? At what point in the un-nesting process of taking down pictures and packing away towels does a home look more like a house? Because I was still living in our Pittsburgh home, I couldn't pack the essentials until the last couple of weeks. So I started putting away all of the decorations, books, photos and mementos. It may have been at that point that our home tipped the scales towards becoming just a house. A house that I was struggling to let go of emotionally. The photos of my family were taken off the wall, artwork was carefully wrapped and my home was devoid of personality.

  It goes without saying that my home is wherever my family is. And now I can be even more specific - home is wherever my family is together. After five months of separation - we all sleep in the same place! What a novel idea! I'm asking the questions about our comfort items and familiarity. How does a house invite us into making a home? What's important to you?

  I'm starting over with a new yard, for example. I don't know what is going to pop up in the springtime. I know in Pittsburgh that our renters are going to enjoy the strawberries I planted 3 years ago or the grapevines we planted the summer after Jackson was born. Home is walking into a room and remembering all of the stories there. But home is also looking forward with the people (and animals) who knew you in that old place too.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Good Luck Babies

As the Pittsburgh Steelers approach another Super Bowl, hoping for our seventh win - I thought I would post something to give a little peace of mind to all the Steeler fans out there.

My babies are good luck for Pittsburgh sports.

1. We won the Super Bowl in 2006 when I was pregnant with Ayla.
2. We won the Super Bowl (ahem, again!) in 2009 when Jackson was about nine months old.
3. Then we won the Stanley Cup that same year right after his first birthday.

Pittsburgh fans, have no fear - I have another baby here! Elliot is almost seven months old and now it's his turn to have a winning title within his first year of life. He'll have his Steelers gear on today and might just stay awake for the whole game!!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Mom, don't kill the pig!"

 Ayla has had a huge awakening about dinner. About where dinner comes from. I think she might be a little conflicted - or we might have a budding vegetarian in the family.

 She already knew that fish was a "meat"; that we take it out of the sea and then eat it. Hence, the animal dies in the process. She didn't show a lot of empathy for the fish. But that sentiment changed when we started discussing farm animals.

 I've read a lot of books about our food systems, marketing, home farming, etc. and I always get queasy when we start talking about animal meat. I'm not queasy eating it (except when I was pregnant with Elliot), but I know it would be hard for me to face the facts about what it takes to slaughter an animal for dinner. On the one hand, I don't think being carnivores is a bad thing if the animals have a chance to live a humane existence. (Is that kinder though to treat an animal with care right before you cut its' head off?) On the other hand, I would probably become a vegetarian if I had to hunt for my own dinner.

 Ask yourself the same question: how many of us even think about the source of our dinners anymore? We have sly euphemisms for our food: we should call it cow and pig. For some reason, the lowly chicken and anything from the ocean can be called by its proper name. 

Now Ayla seems to be facing that dilemma - only in more subtle ways. Every meal I've served since our discussion of what beef and pork is, she has eaten but also commented that I shouldn't kill any more animals. I don't know where she gets the idea that I have the time (or inclination) to go killing animals! But from a moralist vegetarian standpoint, my crimes are the same just by consuming meat at all.

 Ayla doesn't want us taking any more shrimp from the ocean, and while she loves her deli ham... "Mom, don't kill the pig!". Granted, this was said with her mouth full of ham/pig. I think her hunger is winning the battle over her moral dilemma. Should I dare get into the details of lamb or hot dogs?