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

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Some Rockin Keyboard Action

The hours before dinner can sometimes turn ugly. Pulling Dada's old keyboard out of the cloest kept everyone rockin some pretty hard core dance moves.

Well, everyone but Ayla.
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

And Knitting... And Knitting... And Knitting

 We have a distinct agenda in this household to pass down all of our favorite movies, books, clothes and hobbies onto our children. While the fashion trends of the '80s abound in stores to my absolute horror - pegged pants! stirrup leggings! - we fully embrace the popular movies of that era at home. At least once a day, I suggest that we watch Muppets Take Manhattan or The Dark Crystal. My friend Erin got the kids hooked on Labyrnth (especially the "beep" swamp part) and Pee Wee's Big Adventure has been playing nightly for a few weeks now.

 So, if you could, please repeat the title of this post to yourself (or out loud) in your best Pee Wee imitation. "And knitting, and knitting...." If it's been a few years since you have watched the movie... it is from the scene where Pee Wee is about to break over his bike being stolen, and he has invited all of his friends over for an important fact-finding meeting.

 Now I will randomly link that random Pee Wee Herman reference to promoting my new shop on Etsy!

Say what?

Well, my inner voice is crazy; and as I have been working on sewing projects, I almost always think to myself, "...and knitting, and knitting...". I may not be knitting (my first attempt was pretty pitiful), but I am sewing up a storm. It's a struggle, but I am trying to work on it every day. I must admit that I also roam the aisles of Jo-Ann fabrics and have probably taken on more remnants and projects that even a person without three kids would think possible.

 I have reawakened the love affair with my sewing machine - I just wish this endeavor was more profitable. Which leads me to shamelessly plug my own Etsy shop here on the blog. So, in case I haven't been annoying enough with links to new items, here is my information again:

 You can find me under alexisabell  (original, right?) on www.etsy.com The shop name is "ThreadAbell", which I cannot take credit for its' cleverness at all. Please add me to your circle, add my items to your favorites if you so desire or please buy an item if you like it! I am also open to "freelance" sewing jobs. I rock pillowcases, pillow shams, curtains, t-shirt quilts, cloth wipes, waterproof bags and bibs. Of course, I am always willing to broaden my sewing horizons. 

 Some of these items are listed for sale, but thought it only prudent to post a few pictures here!

A washable (yes, have already washed mine twice!) pillow sham. Just add your own picture!

I loved this fabric. Especially on a pillowcase.

Cute diaper and wipe carrier.
I can't stress this enough: every parent should have a waterproof bag. The top is turned out to show you the interior.
Some his & hers pillowcases as a wedding present. These are my favorite for some favorite people!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Day One in the Education System

 Last night I went to Ayla's school for Open House. Since I am a super nerd and love school - I was really excited to get into her classroom and hear what the teachers had to say. Right now, Ayla's teacher is a young grad student who is filling in for the veteran teacher who is on her maternity leave. They both seem like wonderfully attentive people and I am optimistic that Ayla will learn from them too.

  I could tell that our interim teacher was nervous and trying her hardest to explain state curriculum and teaching strategies. And on Day One, it seems that she is already facing tough criticism from the parents.

  Honestly, sometimes parents are the worst. One mother was freaking out that too much information was being thrown at the kids. Seriously? Five year olds are the most curious bunch on the planet. They want to know everything! God forbid the teachers tell them too much. Another mother made the snotty comment, "Who's great idea was it to give them PlayDoh?" Manners. Please. The playdough is given to the children as a reward for good behavior. Ayla's teacher replied that she thought it was a nice alternative from candy. I agree.

 Hello, Kindergarten! What are you going to teach my child?

 Maybe I am a bad parent... but I am just so happy that I don't have to be held responsible for teaching my kids everything! I didn't get an education degree. I don't research the best phonetics approaches. I commend any parent that chooses to home-school. I truly don't think I would be good at it.

  So I am grateful that Ayla attends a reputable school district. I am going to give her teachers the benefit of the doubt. I'm not ready to jump on the critical parent bandwagon.

 It's Kindergarten! This pressure is so unnecessary at this stage of life. If her teacher was slacking in SAT preparation, that would be one thing. Being in a district that has a full day program is change enough from when I was little. Coloring, letters, numbers, seasons, friends, reading, etc. - we've got it! I just want Ayla to enjoy school before we are bombarded with homework and last minute projects.

Let's hope the parents were just nervous and not ready to crucify the teachers because they don't like the book choices!

Fire Safety - The Perfect Weekend Activity

 This past Sunday, when my mother and sister rolled out of town and returned to Pittsburgh... I was faced with a weekend afternoon solo with three restless children. That is quite possibly my least favorite time of day as a parent. If we have an activity or plans, it can be heavenly to lounge around the house. But if my kids are a mixture of tired, hungry, restless or bored... we can really get on each other's nerves.

 I have been spoiled since Gregory's departure to Oklahoma. My mother had been here to stay with Elliot during naps, help manage the get-ready-for-school chaos and allow me the freedom to take a shower! As a bonus, my sister came to visit too!

 Alas, they had to go home.

  Instead of depressively counting the days until Gregory was to return (at that point it was 3 weeks), I knew we had to get out of the house and do something. Hello fire safety event! Free hot dogs, free rides in the firetruck ladder and free time spent out of the confines of the house. What more could you ask for?

Jackson's version of a thumbs up

Bashful fireman?
 All in all, it was fun. We returned home with our "fire safety" goodie bags and found this gem tucked in with the coloring books.

I have no words, really... this is not the image I have in mind when I consider gun safety!

  On a serious note, though, the local dispatchers were there teaching kids how to dial 9-1-1. They had a simulated operator that asked all of the right questions and a fireman coaching the kids to answer. It seems simple enough, but I would have panicked as a young child if I had been forced to call 9-1-1. I have a phone phobia as it is!

 My one concern is that in the event of a problem... am I creating a disaster by not having a landline? Jackson knows how to change the screensaver on my cellphone, download games and call people based on their pictures. But would he know where to look for my phone at any given moment? I misplace my phone at least 10 times a day and forget finding it quickly in the abyss of my purse. After almost a decade of not owning a landline phone, I am considering it just for safety's sake.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Power of Greek Yogurt

 With Ayla starting Kindergarten and Jackson setting off to preschool three days a week, Elliot had to step up his game (literally) and start walking! He took a few wary steps last week and all of a sudden it clicked. Two steps turned into three, four, five and next thing I know... he is walking all the way across the room. This is how it happens. All or nothing. 

  What this means for me is that I am struggling to keep up with all of his shenanigans. Walking leads to climbing, which leads to his ability to get himself in and out of the tub without warning. He is reaching onto tables, standing at the inside of the door while I am outside and trying to dance along to the MJ Experience game. Watching him cruise the house as a biped is so adorable and he is mighty proud of himself.

It also means that he can get himself out of our hipster highchair unless he is strapped and locked in. I constantly assume that I have placed a drink, plate, utensil or snack out of his reach... only to return and see that he has attacked that item. Nothing compels him more than a spoon and yogurt to completely lose his mind. 

In the midst of trying to get dinner ready and served, Elliot just couldn't wait one more second and did this to a yogurt container. 

He stabbed it with his spoon and was digging his fingers into the container. I am panicking, rushing to put half of it in a bowl (because you know the whole thing is getting thrown on the floor for entertainment) and Elliot plunges his entire fist into the yogurt. 

Baby - one. Mom - zero.

It was like The Exorcist, and I'm yelling, "The power of yogurt compels you! The power of yogurt compels you!" Elliot could not be stopped. 

What? Clean up WHAT mess?

Let me touch YOUUUUU!!!

This boy is trained well... Elliot says "cheese" on command!

But who could begrudge this little man his favorite snack?

Monday, September 19, 2011

All this Blogging Nonsense

 I just got lost in the internet for an hour. First I was catching up on my friends' lives through their photos, blog posts and status updates. Then I started onto craft blogs and their giveaways. Then I read about the non-consumer lifestyle and family budgeting. Finally, my brain started to hurt trying to comprehend using coupons in coordination with Rite Aid's UP rewards. Too many codes. Too late at night.

My point being, there is a blog for everything. Everyone has a blog. Blogs are everywhere. I follow them. They are, in fact, following me!

I am constantly humbled by the number of "mommy blogs" out there and their writers' limitless creativity and humor. It makes me feel like an amateur... and I suppose there is nothing wrong with that, since I am. Two years of sporadic anecdotes and frustrations doesn't make me the top mommy blogger.

 But I like blogging and for some reason, I find it somewhat "normal" to air my life on the internet. Perhaps it is because I receive a dose of understanding and validation in return for being open. Perhaps it is just our generation that has wiped away any boundaries of privacy. I write (and share it) for my own mental health. The summations of my daily experiences helps me put it in perspective and preserve the feelings that I know I would quickly forget otherwise.

 So why not keep a diary, you say? I can't explain! I reserve my diary for all of the ugly, tormented things I want to say. There are so many things that remain private and solemn. I don't find everything that I write to be extremely interesting, either. I share in good faith: some stories deserve to be repeated. There is a degree of narcissism in any blog, for sure, but I constantly check my posts to make sure I don't go too crazy-in-love-with-myself.

There are three things I find very off-putting in a blog: know it alls, mushy gushy in loves and debbie downers.

 Know it alls write about how smart, amazing, talented they (and their kids) are and their unbelievably great decisions. They know everything and never falter. It's not that I don't think people can't be this way, but this is borderline bragging and not especially good reading. Who has ever fallen in love with the heroine of a book because she was perfect? A great blog is about successes and struggles, not one that tries to prove they should be the valedictorian of internet writing.

 Mushy gushy in loves just go overboard about their significant other. He or she is absolutely perfect and can do no wrong. In a grown up world, there are so many people that aren't interested in hearing about it! I am not condoning spouse-bashing or discussing marital spats. But it goes back to the entertainment value of a blog: is a seemingly perfect relationship good reading material? No. I want to read about someone's real experiences, not the plastic coating. Then again, I've never been a fan of anything super-duper romantic. Bah humbug, this makes me sound like the Scrooge of love and happiness. Let me put it this way: I love my husband. He is fantastic. We are happily married and I don't want to imagine my life without him. I just said enough. To me, that is the proper amount of gush.

 Debbie Downers write about hateful ideas or being victims. They write to gain sympathy, pity and a following. Complaint after complaint after complaint. They create drama and revel in it. We all have a bit of trauma and unhappiness in our lives, but find some balance! It's bad press!

And now that I have complained about bloggers and their endless babble... I shall press "publish post".

Happy reading!

Friday, September 9, 2011

You'll never forget your first gas leak

 Who knew the first week of Kindergarten could be so eventful? Fathers making cross-country drives, broken water heaters, midnight evacuations to the Tim Horton's due to high pressure gas leaks and you know, that whole riding on the bus and spending all day at school thing.

The first day! Of course it was rainy and cold; but that was countered by the adrenaline of bus ride anticipation!

  I am dying to know how Ayla fares in art class, gym, music and buying her lunch in the cafeteria. This might be the reason why I am pumped to be a parent volunteer. I am wondering if parents get involved with the parent-teacher-association, not so much to help the school but more opportunities to watch our kids in action!

Mimi is here to experience the back to school spirit.

Jackson always loves his solo time - he chillaxed with the movie Labyrnth right away.

  It's friday night and Ayla is passed out in her bed, exhausted from her week and last nights escapade to the firehall. (Side note: I knew something ridiculous would happen after Gregory drove to Oklahoma - last year Jackson developed croup right away and Elliot experienced his first double ear infection. But a super dangerous gas leak in our neighborhood? Bizarre, scary and hopefully a one-time occurrence.)

I am looking forward to the weekend, with Miss Sassypants hanging out with us all day long. And more opportunities for me to pump her for more information!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Avoiding the Obvious

 This post is dedicated to avoiding the obvious changes going on around me. Yes, Ayla started kindergarten today and my soul panicked as I sent her away on a bus with a stranger! What was I thinking? And yes, Gregory is safely in Oklahoma, far far away from us. Booo.

But I am too tired and emotionally raw to discuss either of those events... so I will just post the video from this weekend when we "harvested" the last of our pears. We haven't done much with our pear tree, other than watch squirrels nibble away at them and clear them off of the grass (after they've attracted crazy amounts of bees!).

 I am in sweet, sweet denial that my oldest has entered school for real and that my husband is yet again across the country.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Elliot loves Buffalo (and Milkshakes!)


I cannot believe that our family has been living in Buffalo for over six months. I really cannot believe that it was over a year ago that we took our real estate and neighborhood scouting trip to Buffalo.

Last July we spent a day driving around in the minivan in an attempt to survey our new potential home. Oddly enough, the one suburb we didn't look at is where we are now renting a house.

Our driving was very random and we let ourselves be led by newspaper real estate listings. We happened to pass by a cute hot dog stand/restaurant called Taffy's, which is quite a popular Buffalo institution. Ninety percent of the seating is outdoors, some standard picnic tables and others that are connected to gliders. You can happily swing away while munching on hot dogs, french fries and the biggest milkshakes I have ever seen.

So last weekend, we went back to Taffy's for dinner as a full-circle celebration. Last time we were there, I was so pregnant with Elliot that the owner at the restaurant asked if we had enough time to eat before I went into labor. This time, our big boy Jackson used the potty at the restaurant and Elliot maniacally enjoyed his portion of the family milkshake.

From a wandering family of four to five reluctant Buffalo locals - this hot dog stand will always be a special part of this New York adventure we are taking!

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