Archive | April 2012

for the love of clothes….

This morning as I peeled myself out of bed and jumped into the shower, I did the usual.  I tried to figure out what I could wear to work.  This part of the morning is one that I dislike.  Actually there are many parts of the morning that I dislike, but that’s for another post.  The reason that I absolutely detest this daily slog through my horribly crowded and messy closet is because I love clothes.  I know, that doesn’t make sense. It would make less sense if you saw me.  My favorite outfit is  jeans and a tee-shirt.  Nice jeans. The problem is actually two-fold.  First, my budget, like many of ours, doesn’t let me buy all the clothes I want.  The second part is that my closet, being tiny and crammed, doesn’t let me see what I have.    I seem to have a lot of clothes that I don’t wear because they are too old, but if I get rid of them would have nothing to wear.  Having to literally lean sideways into the doorway balancing on my toes to grab at a shirt just doesn’t cut it.  I long to look like some of the people I work with who are always so stylish and fresh looking.  I even have some clothes that are like that, and own an iron.  I walk into clothing stores and want to buy almost half of the store.  If only it fit me.  Not being blessed with height above 5 foot, its hard to find a lot of nice clothes without having to shorten them, which I don’t.  Hence I shop in the girls department, but that can create difficulties when trying to look professional (as if anyone can see me in my tiny cubbyhole at work). Also when I do go to the clothing store I end up blowing my budget on clothes for my daughters.   One day though I vow to redo my closet so that I can experience the dream of opening my closet doors and seeing rows of lovely clothes hanging with quiet grace, unwrinkled.  The I will be able to arrive to work in an enviously stylish yet comfortable outfit, with new shoes as well.  I also long to find a really great fitting pair of jeans.  That doesn’t seem to exist in our universe however so I will continue to wander aimlessly around the stores wanting clothes that won’t fit into my teeny closet. Which, I am ashamed to say, sometimes I just chuck my clothes into.  Any of you guru’s of organization and fashion who are reading this, please unburden yourself with your secrets…I am all ears (or eyes rather.)

Cats

I am undisputedly a cat person.  That’s not to say I don’t love a lot of other animals.  I just love my cat, and all my previous cats the most.  I grew up with a dog, many cats, a rabbit, and a mouse, not all at the same time though.  As an adult I adopted two cats who have sadly passed out of my life and a silly German Shepard for a few years.  Now our family of 3 is matched by two guinea pigs and a cat.  I would love a dog at some point when I don’t have small children, so maybe in 10 years.  Cats, though, make a lot of people uncomfortable because of their superior attitude and independence.  They generally don’t rush up to you at the door, follow you around or look at you with adoring eyes.  They come when they want to, rip your couch up and don’t need any help attending to their bathroom needs or bath, thank you very much.  In all of my years and at least 15 cats though, it has become clear how often this is a misconception.  Yes, there are definitely cats who are stereotypical and I respect them for that  in fact I love a cat’s sense of independence.  But the majority of my cats have been goofy, affectionate, and quite loud at times. 

The cat that now shares our living space is interestingly loveable.  We adopted her from the local shelter about 2 years ago as a kitten.  She’s a half Maine Coon, which is a large breed, sometimes reaching into the 20 plus pound size.  She is positively diminutive at 13 pounds.  I would have to say I have never had such a happy cat.  She purrs constantly, only while she purrs she likes to bite and play, very roughly.  She sleeps on my bed at night, and while not a lap cat, loves to be brushed and petted, until she starts acting like my hand is a rabbit.  She loves playing hide and seek and tag as well.  With two young children, she might be considered a risky pet to have, but she is incredibly patient with my little one,who has gone from being able to scoop up the tiny kitten that she first was to barely being able to stagger down the hall with poor Oreo the cat.   Needless to say my fears were unfounded . Oreo seems to know who to be gentle with and generally submits to adorations that would infuriate the mildest or personalities.   Cats always do seem to have a special sense for sickness as well.  I know that my daughters would be thrilled to have more cats, and so would I, if space were not at a premium.  Mostly I think our cat would not allow another one in the house.  I know we will have many more feline companions pass through our lives, but I hope to be a one cat family for a while.  No more guinea pigs either…..

Actual real live birthday party, at last.

Despite my 6-year-old daughters belief that Saturday would never come, it did.  And then passed.  But while it was there it was fun and tiring.  Mostly tiring for me.  As I had indicated in a previous post, the whole week was filled with pre-birthday activities.  The preparations for the party went swimmingly, despite not being completely sure who was coming since half of the invites never RSVP’ed either a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’.  After a full day friday, we got the little one to bed and my older daughter and I started on the cake.  The cake, it was a project.  After becoming addicted to the show “Cake Boss” this past summer, my daughters both insisted on a cake with fondant.  Hence at 10 o’clock at night we were taking cake pans and cupcake tins out of the oven to cool overnight.  All I can say is thank goodness the party wasn’t at my house because I didn’t have an inch of counter left in the kitchen, and you can imagine what the rest of the house looked like.  After the cakes, we wrapped up some presents and both fell into bed.  The next morning was bright and sunny, absolutely amazing after the weather reports had been predicting rain with mournful certainty all week.  Dealing with an extremely excited 6-year-old is always exhausting.  Dealing with MY over excited and normally hyper six-year-old was a feat.  That’s an understatement.  At least we were able to get her to watch a movie while wrestling with fondant.  It really wasn’t so bad for the first time.  The cake was colorful, I’ll say that.  a little cartoonish if you ask me, but then I wasn’t choosing the design.  It was sort of like 3 presents stacked on top of each other with different colors and then a few garish looking flowers and bows that my 9-year-old bestowed on the cake like some over zealous fairy godmother.  Needless to say my birthday girl LOVED it.  After that was done, we whipped ourselves to the church hall, where we feverishly put up decorations (this being at 12.30 with only a cup of tea in me)  After this we raced back home, I threw some food on a plate for the kids, and breathed a sigh of relief.  Now all we had to do was have the party and hope there were enough goodie bags.  A few nervous moments ensued as only a few children arrived at 2, but then the rest gradually made an entrance.  As is usual with children’s parties, they do tend to do what they want as opposed to what’s been planned.  For them it was running around the back lawn and crawling up the treehouse like little monkeys.  I shepherded the kids back inside for the ‘activity’, cupcake decorating.  They were to make a cute little cupcake with the icing and sprinkles and fun things I provided and then take the cupcake home in the little sparkly take out containers.  Most of them ate the cupcake.  I am sure I could have done the same, they looked pretty good and gooey.  Once that was done, the kids ran back outside again and my parents and I got ready to bring out the cake.  Presents followed this timeless tradition as the kids dove into the fondant.  By this time parents started showing up to collect their children.  After successfully remembering to give them a goodie bag (for the most part) I breathed a sigh of relief as we started to clean up, with the help of one of my friends, whose daughters thankfully stayed until evening and kept my kids out of my very tired and probably sugar covered hair.  However, the party was deemed a success by my daughter, and that was all that mattered.  Her favorite gift seems to be one of the cards, which is a picture of a hamburger that sings a happy birthday song and a large doll I had gotten her.  She solemnly thanked me for giving her a ‘new friend’ and spent most of Sunday playing the card so many times I am surprised it is still working.  All in all it was quite an experience, and more than once I asked my self if it would have been easier just to have the party at some skating rink, or even pick up a cake at the store instead of making it so complicated.  But I wouldn’t have traded seeing the happiness on my daughters face or hear all her little friends giggling while they spooned icing into their mouths instead of on the cupcakes.  Looking back, I realize that I don’t remember the times I was angry or grumpy at my parents as a kid, or when they were in a tired or bad mood.  I remember the fun times and the family gatherings.  That’s what I want to give to my daughter too.

I am my parents

When you are a kid, you try as hard as you can to push the boundaries and be your own little person.  When you become a teenager, you ignore your genetic make up, and insist you have been adopted.  You deny that you will ever be like your parents.  As you grow older and start actually behaving like an adult, you start to realize how very much like your parents, biological or otherwise, you are.  It some times amazes me how much I am like my parents.  Growing up, I was a lucky kid.  There is no doubt about that, and I have pretty much always known it.  My parents had their quirks and refused to give up their individualities to become mindless parents at my beck and call, not that I wouldn’t have minded that at some points.  I got to tag along on a lot of my mother’s craft shows since she was an artist, and also go into the ‘big city’ (aka New York) with my dad where he was an executive.  So I saw both ends of the spectrum on career day.  As I grew older, my mother went back to school, completely changing the feel of our family to one slightly more conventional.  My dad’s quiet yet deeply intellectual personality balanced my mother’s highly energetic fun yet sometimes maddening person.  My dad was always a writer.  He had been a journalist, and had a great flair for writing and story telling, which I now hear my own kids listening too eagerly.  As for myself, I also loved to write, just like my dad.  I had some of my mother’s incredible talent for art, but much, much less.   One thing I lacked was passion.  But you don’t really think about that where you are growing up.  Now I realize it was that passion that kept my mom working those long hard hours making and selling pottery and although my dad’s passion was more subdued, it was there.  You could hear it in his voice when he talked about various subjects and especially showed in his diverse knowledge and love of reading.  But as I said, I didn’t really have that.  I did the college thing, kind of liked history and literature and hence got a degree that, unless taken farther wouldn’t do me much good.  OK well I guess I could have joined a renaissance fair with a degree in medieval studies.  Now I realize I took that path to prevent me from having any real responsibilities.  From there I sort of wandered around the corporate world in low-ish level jobs.  I kept writing as a hobby, on the  back burner until the last few years.  Lately it has become kind of an obsession of mine.  I don’t have the best imagination, kind of a difficult thing if you are trying to write fiction, but I found my comfort zone.  In researching and writing, and also in the creation of this blog, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my motivations and how I came to be the person I am today.  I realize now how very much my parents actions, not words, shaped me as an adult.    I certainly don’t have my mothers boundless energy and wide areas of interest, nor do I have quite my father’s thirst for information and intense knowledge of the world, but I can see that it isn’t that I lack passion, it’s just that I never allowed it to flourish.  I see in me the same way my mother would throw herself into a project 150% and then move on when it was done, never staying still for very long.  I have that to a lesser degree, but the urge to keep moving is there.  I also see my fathers love of writing in me, and just recently found that we share many other views, even though we have never really spoken about them.  Now at the wise old age of 37,  (OK I really am not wise) I have started thinking more and more about my beginnings, and I think that’s in part from watching my children experience things I did when I was little.  I can see my parents very clearly in the ways I interact with my daughters.  I have come to the conclusion that we are all much more like our parents than we thought or hoped we were.    It gives me great comfort to find that I really am like the people who I most admire.  I am proud to feel a such connection with them, even when we don’t speak every day.

Love of Science Fiction

I’ve been a fan of science fiction my entire life.  Growing up, I must have read every Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clark book my mother owned, in addition to the other numberous paperbacks stacked on our many book shelves.  I don’t even remember most of the names now, but they were always favorites.  As I grew older I moved on to the mystery genre, but maintained my love of science fiction, especially when it came to movies.  When you bring up science fiction or sci-fi, most people think Star Trek or Star Wars.  There are so many other movies, shows and books, but Star Trek definitely started a trend in my life.  After swearing that I would never watch it (scarred at age 7 by ‘Star Trek II’), I fell in love with its second series in later years.  From that I progressed backwards to the original series.  Although I have watched all the series’ faithfully, it’s the original that holds the most fascination for me. (There, a Spock reference.) I loved the quirky, cheesy lines, and appreciate the creativity that went into making special effects when there were no CGI characters.  I also find it wonderful that many things we use today in everyday life were conceived of by fans of the original series.   I did always want a cell phone which beeped when I flipped it up.  I moved on to other shows, and read other books though, staying away from some of the more depressing bleak visions of the future.  Throughout the years, another show which is definitely considered sci-fi, but hardly about the future, or the past, is of course Doctor Who.  My family has always been faithful watchers of this show, which is so varied in its storylines and characters that there is no trend which I hope humans follows as we progress into the 21st century.  But it is  a highly entertaining show and one which I have started my daughters on at a young age.  Some science fiction is actually quite believable, and others, we wish were possible.  The vision of the future that Star Trek has developed is very positive, though not at all idealistic.  According to the creators of that future, of which Gene Roddenberry is the foremost, there are tough times, and wars, but in the end, it looks like a pretty good future.  We even have whales in our oceans all thanks to Captain Kirk and his cohorts.    I find that fellow lovers of science fiction pop in and out of my life, and it is quite gratifying to bond with them over reminiscences of our favorite episodes of Star Trek, or recommendations of books.  I think that on the whole, many lovers of science fiction tend to be fairly optimistic people.  Perhaps that is why we find one another.  I don’t have much time to watch or read all the sci-fi (or mysteries) that I used to, but I always find myself grabbing an old Arthur C. Clark (or Agatha Christie) when in need of some relaxation.   In writing this post, I hope that it reaches other fans of science fiction and cheers their day as perhaps it triggers a memory or two of their favorite show or book.  As my favorite character would say “Live Long and Prosper”.

Happy to be Alive

Now, don’t get your hopes up.  This isn’t about some death-defying adventure or situation fraught with anxiety.  Last night I was speaking with a friend, someone who I started out working with years ago, and have kept in touch with through our daughters, and now more so with her, as our two girls have grown apart.  She had recently moved back to my town, after about 8 months, and had been looking for a job for some time.  This is a woman, I may say, who I have always regarded with high respect.  She has always been a pre-school teacher, but with a background in art education.  She had, in fact, been an art teacher in her country of origin.  She is a highly creative, and passionate woman.  What struck me last night, however, was her enthusiasm for life.  I hadn’t spoken to her in a while, yet we live literally 2 minutes from each other.  I inquired about her job hunt, to which she replied with an enthusiastic yes.  She had found a job at a another pre-school, in a different area than before.  I have taught pre-school.  Its hard and demanding.  The kids are challenging because of their young age.  The pay is ridiculous.  It hovers around minimum wage.  But my friend was so happy to have found a job, and her enthusiasm carried through the phone and made me feel as happy as she was.  It struck me that she was always so intensely passionate about her opinions, and feelings.  You can feel her alive-ness even when she is not speaking (no it’s not a real word but it describs her better than any other).  When she has a situation which would send most people into a state of anxiety, like changing locale’s  with no job prospects, she seems to always look on the bright side.  Most people say they do, but then we all have days where we feel like nothing we do makes a difference and there is no way out of our bad situations.  My friend though, is one in a million, and truly is just happy to be alive, no matter where life takes her.  Which I am very glad happened to be near my path.

Birthday Week

Finally, the long-awaited week (day) is here.  My youngest is turning 6.  After months of asking when it was and how much longer it will be, it’s finally here.  The eve of her birthday.  She is very concerned about the state of her birthday treat (chocolate chip muffins for her class) and how many friends are coming to her birthday party on Saturday.   For me, I can hardly believe she is six years old.  She is such a little munchkin still, and so snuggly.  But on the other hand, I can scarcely imagine not knowing her and find myself wondering how she can only be six, when I feel as though she has been here my whole life.  I say birthday week, because as we all know, for kids, their life centers around this milestone, weeks of counting down turn into weeks of telling their parents how much older they are.  For adults, it’s a day, in which hopefully nothing catastrophic happens, like tripping over your own foot in the middle of a crowded room, or dropping the birthday cake.  (No, neither of those things have happened to me, amazingly)  Personally I would prefer to stay in bed with the covers over me for the entire day.  But, for my little one, not so little anymore really, it is all about her.  Today involved buying cake pans and muffin tins since I couldn’t find mine.  Now that I have the muffins in the oven, I remember that the old muffin tin rusted away and that the old cake pans were on loan to a friend.  Tomorrow is the official birthday dinner.  I always take the kids to the restaurant of their choice on the actual birthday.   Thursday, hopefully, I will know how many little friends will be attending her party and can pick up decorations and party favors.  Friday will be the making of the cake, an endeavor which is fraught with a little anxiety, being the first time I am using fondant.  Sometimes I wonder why I get so swept up in the details.  Saturday will be the last, the finale and the most tiring day of all.  Knowing my daughter however, it will be as fun as can be because she is essentially a happy kid.  It’s a tiring and slightly more stressful week than usual, but all in all it’s well worth the smiles and hugs.  Then I have a month or two respite, so that I can gear up for my older daughter’s MUCH more detail oriented birthday…..