Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Why is FUN so hard to keep?

I am embarrassed at how long it has been since I posted.  I can't begin to tell you how many times I wanted to write... But then was daunted by how long it had been.  Life got decidedly UN fun for me since my last post. My husband lost his job of 8 years, we struggled through the waters of unemployment only to find employment that still is in the "part time" category.  WE are definitely happier without his previous toxic job in our lives, but who wants to have that thrust upon them? Struggling financially is horrible. Then, just when I was recovering, on February of last year, I lost my dad to a devastating series of strokes set in motion by an undiagnosed heart condition he had.  To say that it has been hard would be the understatement of the year.

Fortunately, I am one that believes that from something negative, can come something positive. My husband and I are better than we have ever been in our relationship. My family has become closer than I could have imagined after my dad passed. I feel like I truly got to know my brother, and sister-in-law in a way I thought would never happen. We work to spend much more time together, and my boys are in love with their aunt and uncle! In fact, my husband's new job is working with my brother. My brother is... Well... He is a box salesman. It probably couldn't have been further from my husband's previous career if it tried... And he LOVES it! My brother (who is also a Chris) gets along with Chris (my husband) so well. They are a good team, and my husband loves what he does for the first time in his life.  It is so rewarding to watch. And yes, it is about as confusing as you can imagine to tell any stories in this family without confusing people about who we are talking about!

So what am I to do? I need to continue putting time aside for myself in order to make sure I don't let myself get overwhelmed. I do so much it is easy to get lost in it all. So I am going to try to get back into the swing of things. Life passes too quickly not to be enjoying it.

Me and my boys...

Friday, March 25, 2011

No, I am not turning 29 again.

Remember when you were little, and you couldn't WAIT for your birthday? As some people get older, they tend to "fudge" over their birthdays a bit. Or, perhaps you celebrate, but don't really look forward to it with the same glee. I do. I always have.

I used to count down the days till my birthday regularly... and then inform any and ALL close relatives, friends, random strangers, until my voice was gone. You know what? I still do.

Jessica (Queenie on this site) has always been there. Literally, I have known her my WHOLE life, so she has been a permanent fixture at my birthdays for... well, always. She never fails to try to plan something special for me. One year, it was a whole collection of small gifts, cards, poems, etc. One for every year of my life. One year, a high tea at The Pelican Inn, and a ferry ride to San Francisco. Last year, a ride on BART into the city, and a bike ride that included just about everything, plus tea at a fun, Alice-in-Wonderland-like place. Oh, and crazy hats she handmade. Oy the hats.

This year, an awesome Day-Long-Twilight-Saga-Movie-Marathon-Extravaganza-with-homemade-luncheon-of-awesomeness!

No, I am not turning 12.

Yes, I REALLY am quite unnaturally excited about this! I have even invited a few people to take part! Despite the fact that they may figure out what a dork I am.

Yes, my husband knows, and walked away shaking his head, sighing audibly. Hi Sweetie!

The bottom line is, I LOVE my birthday! I love getting older. I don't worry about sagging skin, or wrinkles. Not that I have any yet! *cough* To me, growing old really is a wonderful part of life. I think it is pointless to fight it, and frankly, who has the time? I am not talking about letting myself go, or not being concerned with common sense things like skin cancer, FOR GOD'S SAKE PUT SOME SPF ON THAT!!! But, why should I spend the best years of my life... trying to relive years that have gone by?

Every day, I see the effects of aging. My son, Zachary, had his first visit from the Tooth Fairy the other night. Jackson says SO MANY words right now, and will parrot ANYTHING you say. Zach just got his 2nd Kindergarten report card, indicating that he is 1/3 of the year away from being a 1st grader!! Jackson is close to outgrowing his crib (and let's face it, EVERYTHING else... Christ that kid is gigantic!) They both eat sushi like old pro's, even ordering off the menu for themselves.

I have so many great years to look forward too, why regret each one arriving? I am so blessed. Blessed to be alive. Blessed to have my husband, my son's, my family... even the dogs (although the Farf is ON MY LIST TODAY!)

So celebrate April 3rd with me! Let's drool over some vampire, and were-boy! Let's eat tasty things! And let's feel AMAZING while doing it!

This year, and EVERY year God blesses me with.
"I lick the glass because I LOVE you..."

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Party till the cows come home...

Do you remember the unabridged fun of birthday parties as a child? You were in some NEW house, with NEW toys, BALLOONS (OMG!!!!!!!), games, other kids, and CAKE! Throw in a pinata and maybe some hotdogs, and you were a MADE kid!

Lately, we have been experiencing the birthday parties of my memory. Zachary was invited to a birthday party recently for a boy in his kindergarten class. Originally, I put off RSVP-ing because I dreaded the mass "invite-everyone in your class" parties that I knew were inevitably coming. But eventually, I sent our response, that we would be there. Holy cow.

Turns out that only a few children from his class were attending, and they were doing a "Jedi Training Academy" party. Right up Zach's alley. Zach and I headed over to the party at the designated time, unsure of what to expect. I was probably just as apprehensive, since I didn't REALLY know these parents. Was I supposed to drop Zach off? Stay? As we entered into the child's backyard, his mother greeted us, and invited me to stay. This family had gone all out. They had set up a huge obstacle course in their backyard for the "Jedi" to train on. Zachary immediately started playing with the kids and fit right in. I recognized more of the children from his class, than the parents. Surprising to me, every other parent there was... a father!

After running through the obstacle course to train and hone their skills, the boys then had a surprise. They were going in search of "evil"... the neighbor helping to run the party was pretty vague, and "the dads" and I were looking a little skeptical. Finally, they handed each kid a light up generic light-saber and let them run to the front yard 2 by 2 searching for "evil". The kids run off, and we hear screeching and laughing, screaming, and yelling. We head up to the front to find that the birthday boy's dad has dressed in a Darth Vader outfit, and wielding a light saber is fighting off 9 blood-thirsty 5 year olds. They are having the time of their life. Some of those boys weren't playing around! I heard some pretty solid whacks, but the laughing never stopped. When all the Jedi had finally melted onto the lawn in wheezing, giggling, puddles of exhaustion...and "evil" had been officially vanquished (mostly due to his bad shoulder...) it was cake time! AWESOME! Cake, presents, play, and DONE! We got to keep the light saber. Zach was thrilled.
Awww! Look how calm they all look!

If you look in the corner, you can see Darth Vader's legs...
surrounded by little piranhas... I mean boys!
I was left in awe at the bravery of those parents. I think there is an unspoken rule somewhere that you try to keep weapons and numbers of small boys down to less than a handful... but their bravery was commendable. We both had a blast.

Yesterday, I took the boys up to Sacramento for a friend's kids' birthday party. Both her children celebrate together since their birthdays are close. It was party heaven again for the boys. Playing with someone else's toys, riding someone else's big-wheel, cake, presents, pinata, jumping, laughing, aaaaaaannnnnddd scene! On the way home, both boys were asleep within minutes, Version 2.0 clutching, proudly, his baby-blue My Pretty Pony birthday balloon.
Party pooped. With a My Little Pony balloon.
I have memories of parties like this as a child. Both my own, and others. I hope that my children can keep these memories in their small heads, and remember the fun they had. What glorious, worry-free time it is, as a child.

I need to get me some more of that!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

It's like a train wreck... I can't look away!

Jess and I outside the Legion of Honor
Click to inBIG-en any picture...
To say that I was amazed by the works of art we saw at the Legion of Honor would be an understatement. To see the way that the paper was manipulated, colored, painted, glued, pulled, and gathered was breathtaking. The remaining art at the museum was just as amazing. Portraits of people from hundreds of years ago, painted by people that I actually recognized! Renoir! Degas! WOW! I found several paintings that totally spoke to me, for various reasons. All of which I have included, although, I didn't take the time to actually jot down names or artists. Who really cares anyway? The art is the reason I cared, not the artist. I found several paintings that I just couldn't stop looking at. The signs say, "Stay 1 foot away from uncovered art!" Yeah. Whatever! I got within inches. Longing to see how the simple brush strokes and daubs of paint brought forth such emotion.

This was my favorite. I could just imagine the mother going "Gentle! Gentle!" as I have SO many times!

The sight of the little baby, with his sweater of chub, just reminded me of the wonder of being a mother. I have struggled lately with juggling the jobs I have: mom, wife, daughter, teacher, etc. This was a reminder to me of what a HONOR it is to be a mom. There was also this one:
"MOM! Are you sleeping!"

"I SEE you!"

Sigh. THIS is why I never get to sleep past 7:39 every morning. I love, however, how DEDICATED my children can be in getting my attention. I also saw things that remind me of why I love my husband... and I made sure to text him to let him know! (He was, after all, parenting solo the whole day so that I could have this little excursion... Thanks babe!)

"(insert sounds of kissing here)"

Jess and I had a great day at the Legion of Honor... ate a great lunch, saw some great art, laughed at some of the paintings... I mean seriously?

I would cover up too if those creepy old men were trying to get a gander at my goodies!

Our weather today... geesh!

"I stare at you because I LOVE you..."

But. Little did we know what would happen next. Heading home via Geary Street, we decided to stop in Japan Town. We have been there before, and wanted to visit a few of the shops to get a look at what they had. It was a CHALLENGE to find parking. Raining a ton, hills everywhere, impatient drivers behind us, and Jessica with a stick shift. We voted: parking garage. It was a WAIT to get in, due to everyone having the same thought we did. I almost told her to just head home. THANK GOODNESS we persevered!
As we headed for the elevator up out of the garage we were confronted with some sort of... photo shoot? Some completely costumed, stiletto heeled, masked... cat? Bunny? Wombat? Do they wear short skirts? Hmmm... As we stood in line for the elevator, we each made little comments.
"That was odd."
"Yes. Weird place to have a photo shoot."
"Man this elevator is taking forever!"
Eventually, deciding on the stairs (I am WAY out of shape by the way!) we entered into the Hotel Kabuki lobby. Jackpot! We were surrounded by hordes (seriously!) of costumed, masked, and home-made weapon wielding adolescent (and NOT so adolescent) individuals. HOLY cow! I couldn't help it. I started snapping photos with my camera all covert-under-cover style. I couldn't WAIT to tell people.
This was right out of the stairwell. As you can see we walked right into the heart of the Animation on Display 2011 Convention. Score!

Do they make these costumes? Buy them? They were SUPER elaborate.

O.K... This one we asked. Zachary was SO excited to learn I took a picture of THE Mario.

Everywhere we looked we were surrounded by groups of people just like this. Jessica and I were just dying over some of the outfits and conversations we observed. BUT. Despite the humor, and the awkwardness, and the... lack (?) of deodorant we found... comfort. These guys were COMPLETELY comfortable doing what they were doing. Being who they truly enjoyed being. There was no embarrassment evident on their faces. Society may laugh (and yes, so did I) at their displays, but they were having a GOOD time. They had found a place were judgement had no place.
Sometimes I can't say that for my everyday life. I would like to believe I am less awkward than those I saw, less "nerdy", I fit in... but really? I don't possess that confidence. I couldn't do what they did.

I also, couldn't look away.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Life IS like a box of chocolates...

Do we really know what we're in for on any given day that we swing our legs over the edge of the bed and boldly embark on a new day? We think we do. As we shower, eat our breakfast or drive to work, we think about the tasks we'll accomplish, colleagues we'll talk to, appointments we're expected to keep. But the miracle and beauty of each day is that we don't actually know what's going to happen, and sometimes the unexpected detour is the thing that ends up being the most fun.

The Legion of Honor and Pulp Fashion were fantastic. We loved it so much that we bought a membership, which can be used at the De Young too. $64 for a two-person membership--not bad. We marveled at the detail and skill involved in making Isabelle de Borchgrave's paper clothes sculptures, which were truly amazing! As we looked at the pieces, I found myself pondering how anyone could have the audacity to devote their life to sculpting clothes! How could she be sure she wouldn't starve before someone appreciated her brilliant, yet impractical gift? It is absolute proof that people are just wired differently.  I don't know how much money I would have to have in the bank to give myself permission to play with paper all day, which by the way, I would LOVE to do.

We ate a delicious lunch at the gallery cafe, took a spin around the various collections, and then headed home via Japan Town, where we found ourselves in the midst of the 'Animae on Display' convention at the Kabuki Hotel.  We couldn't believe our luck as we waded in among the colorfully quaffed, skimpily clad and somewhat ripe-smelling adolescents, who were relishing a rare opportunity to cavort with their kind. They were exuberantly geeking out on animae, being photographed together in sultry super hero poses, and Kari and I, choking back giggles, shamelessly snapped photos and drank it all in. It was like adolescent awkwardness and arrogance on steroids, and we couldn't look away. Fortunately, everyone there was completely exhibitionist and far from offended by our gawking in disbelief. Now that was fun!

But the best part of the day--the time when I laughed the hardest--was in the car, driving with Kari to the Legion of Honor. I have no idea what we were talking about.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Wane, Wane, Goooo to Bay"

This is the song my son was singing today. Maybe he didn't quite get the words right...

When it is raining I always have a hard time being responsible. I don't mean that I get the urge to suddenly binge on Jack Daniels and smoke a blunt... but being at work... like an adult... is hard.

Maybe the fact that I work in a classroom filled with 5th graders has something to do with it. Today was a NO recess day. Not even 1 minute of outside-running-around-get-your-freakin'-wiggles-out-OH-MY-GOD-FINALLY! time. sigh. In addition to being rainy, it was also LIKE a Friday, without the relaxation of ACTUALLY being Friday. We had SO much to do, to cram in, because it is a short week. I am VERY excited about my 4 day weekend.

Jessica and I have decided to officially launch the Fun Chronicles with our first FUN event! We are taking some time to go see an exhibit this weekend that we have been looking forward to. A time to geek out a little with our crafty, origami-minded brains. We are heading over to Legion of Honor in San Francisco to see Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave. It is a mouthful, but I am unnaturally excited about it.

When you are little, you always hope that you will grow up to do something that you love. I am lucky enough to have found that. But when you are younger you hope that the thing you will end up doing will be something you loved THEN, like coloring. Or making little crafts out of pipe-cleaners and puffy balls.

Anything with googly eyes would make a great career...

I think that this exhibit will be like finding someone who DID grow up to do those things.

I just hope we have good weather. Go to Bay, Wane!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fun: noun. 1. A source of enjoyment, amusement, or pleasure.

Sometimes life gets away from you... it seems like you forget who you are. I am a mom, I am a wife, I am a daughter, I am a teacher. Somewhere, I forgot to be Kari. Do you know what pulls you back into being yourself? Something that can remind you who you are? A friend. Sometimes all you need to pull you out of your lost feelings is someone that can remind you of the life you have already lived.

I need to remind myself of not only who I WAS, but who I can be. I need to step outside of my label of mom, wife, teacher, etc. and into the life of KARI (who happens to be a mom, wife, teacher...). My best friend is just the person to help me do that!

I once walked through downtown New York City in a rainstorm with no one but this person.
I once fell from a rope-swing and broke her leg.
I rode my bike all through San Francisco having high-tea and visiting the beach to celebrate my birthday.
I made her 2 tiered- chocolate covered wedding cake complete with frosting bees, gold leaf, and flowers.

I have to remember how to do those things more often.

Fun. Such a simple word. My 5 year-old can sound it out, "fff-uuuu-nn" and write it down in his shaky left-handed print. My almost-two-year-old can parrot the word back to you, always making it sound like a question, and then break into giggles. Maybe it is time to take part in the simple word... more.