Saturday, April 21, 2012

Spring is here, summer is coming....

Spring is here and summer is coming, we can feel it. Especially today with the cloud-free sky and our alley garden both planted and watered. 

 When it comes to watering, J isn't messing around. She takes it seriously.

But not our S. She doesn't take anything seriously, especially not spring. (or, at this very moment napping. She is not taking that very seriously at ALL.)

I'll admit that this is the time of year when I dream about a very specific sort of summer, the sort that never really happens but always might. It's a summer with long lazy afternoons and days at a time spent at Grandma's house, where things look like this:

But even before then there are spring things to be done, lots of which are not just worth doing but also worth looking forward to. I am co-presenting a paper at a real live academic conference, and we're turning it into a family road trip for one. And of course we're planning to take a certain not-currently-napping baby to court, for another.

Spring is here. (summer is coming)

Monday, April 9, 2012

On kitties and heartache

Samwise, who loved shoes. 
 Last night after the girls were in bed and I had made a couple unwise eating choices, while I was on the phone with Andrew who called to check in because the girls and I went to a party before he woke up in the afternoon and got home after he left for work so we hadn't seen each other all day, while we were talking about this and that my beloved cat Sam suddenly and unexpectedly died. One moment he was fine, tussling with Penelope, getting a drink of water and then he was on the floor and then he was gone. I thought it was a seizure and then I knew it wasn't because you can just tell when a living thing has stopped living especially if you are stroking its head and pleading with it to get up, to breathe, not to go.
just a wee nugget

Sam was my first baby - the first wee tiny creature whose care was totally and completely entrusted to me. I was twenty-five and finally living somewhere that allowed cats. A friend of a co-worker had found some kittens and their mama in a parking lot and I got the first pick. They were all grey tabby cats and then there was Sam - bright blue eyes and impossibly big feet. He slept in the crook of my arm and when my still-new boyfriend Andrew stayed over he would dive under the covers and attack his feet, legs and other parts.

Raising Sam was the first glimpse I had into how satisfying it is to nurture a life into maturity, and I will always love him for growing into such a good adult cat. His only major problems were around six months of age - Andrew and I were gone a lot and he was angry about it. So we got him a kitten and the problems cleared right up. I might have raised Sam but Sam raised the P-cat pretty much all on his own, from comfort nursing her until his nipples were visibly chafed to teaching her his personal ethics around how to play without using claws and run eagerly to the door like a puppy when the people came home no matter what time of day or night it was. Raising his kitten took all of Sam's time and energy for a good long while and we had no more behavioral complaints.

This isn't to say our boy didn't have his eccentricities. His depth perception wasn't the best, so he always stuck to the lower reaches of wherever we lived. And coordination wasn't his strong point - he's the only cat I've ever seen trip while walking across a flat surface.  He was a super affectionate guy but a little OCD about it. When Sam wanted some love he would come and find a human and use his extensive, expressive vocal range to compel the human to one of several pre-approved petting areas. These usually included whatever couch we owned (one end only), one of our chairs and maybe a particular area of the floor.

I wondered if having kids would change my feelings for my animals, and was a little surprised to find that it didn't. There is something precious about the gift of loving a not-human creature, of getting to form a relationship with my own cat. In a way that is sort of similar to babies the only way to really know a cat is to live with him day in and day out. But of course a pet doesn't ever outgrow you - they grow up and stay reliably in the relationship, doing whatever it is they have established that they do. If you are lucky that includes cuddles and pets and those deep throaty purrs with the alto overtones that mean there is no one like you. It's not really comparable to parenthood, I know this very well, but it is a special gift. I have never been able to feel at home without animal friends, and Samwise has been there for all of the home making that I am most proud of. He'll forever be in my heart and lurking somewhere in the background of most of J's baby photos, but it hurts my heart that he'll never be in my lap again.

RIP sweet goofy cat. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

On turning seven (no itch in sight)

photo by Jenny J.
Seven years ago today we got married. In the oldest photos of us - eight years ago or so- we are super cuddly, like puzzle pieces. I love those photos. But this is my favorite photo of Andrew and me from the past year. It just seems obvious to me, looking at this, how far we've come together.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Happy Birthda-geek-aversary to me!!

I turned thirty-four on Friday and to be honest I barely noticed. I celebrated, don't get me wrong there was cake everywhere this week and all of it delicious, but I don't feel older or different or happy or sad. I like that my birthday is in the middle of our special week of fun because there's no pressure to make the day of it anything in particular - we have fun before and after and during our Birthdaversary and that works really well for me.

As it turns out, this years Emerald City Comicon was also this weekend. Hello amazing birthday present to me!!! So Friday afternoon Andrew and I headed downtown just us and my parents who happened to be in town came and watched the girls. We did all the grown-up stuff that the wee ones would never stand for, like spend an hour looking through comic bins and going to panels and wandering slowly hand in hand through the convention center people watching and planning for Saturday.

Admiral Adama stole my baby! (Was I jealous? Little bit.)
Then Saturday we were totally one of those crazy couples who dragged two small children to Comicon. We have taken J the past two years but obviously this is our first attempt at managing a day with two kiddos. We have, however, been paying attention to how other people do it and I think we did a good job. There were a couple things that were different. For example, you will notice there are only two pictures in this post and they are the ones we paid someone else to take of us.  In past years we have done a lot of posing with costumed folks and candid shots and whatnot. Turns out that J is still not comfortable with people in scary costumes, though she did make a sort of desperate peace with the stormtroopers who were simply inescapable. She offered them high fives to move along. So we didn't push that. She's got time to overcome her completely reasonable instinctual response and grow into the idea that posing with a giant sword-wielding alien is actually really cool.  This, combined with our decision to wear both kids and leave the stroller at home simply left us with not enough time/arms/willingness to traumatize our child to do a bunch of picture taking. But these two photos were worth it.
 We also couldn't do as many lines or panels now that J has her own priorities and ideas, but that was fine with us - we had Friday for that. And there was so much to see that simply walking around and looking at the banners, art, and cosplay was a super fun time for all four of us.

We met Edward James Olmos first, and he was so adorable. He went straight for S and loved all over her before he would let the picture people corral us over to get the photo. The way to any mama's heart is to love on her kids so suffice to say I will love him forever and ever until the end of time.
And George Takei was equally amazing - friendly and taking time to say hi to the girls even though you only get five seconds with the celebrities before you are moved along. I have so much respect for him as a person as well love for his iconic role in my beloved Star Trek.

Also you will see, as I did, just exactly why my photographer friends are always telling me to lower my chin in pictures. I finally put two and two together and achieved the impossible - looking good in a famous geek person photograph. (alas, too late for Olmos..) Yay me!!!

Why yes, we do plan to continue the tradition of collecting awkward family photos with comicon celebrity guests why do you ask? I think it's the sort of eccentric that our girls will look back on fondly someday. Probably someday long after their teen years are well behind them.

Well tomorrow is the last day of the Birthdaversary. One more post, dear readers, and then we will return to our regularly scheduled programming.