Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Delinquent Blogger

Yes, yes, I know you all are dying to know how Disney World was. I'm afraid I must keep you in suspense a bit longer. You see, I caught a bad cold on our last day there, and I haven't been the same since. Luckily the Army Man is off of work until Monday, and is taking care of Laura. I still feel overwhelmed though: I am on load number 8 of laundry and still not done, and I also have pre-K applications to fill out, dresses to make, and a multitude of other things to do.

But enough of my complaining! I'll share a few pictures for now, and hopefully be back tomorrow or the weekend with more pictures, and full details. For now, the recap is: Laura was thrilled with her surprise, we had a lot of fun, and it rained every SINGLE day we were there. Full on storms too, not just a light sprinkle. But we were at the happiest place on earth, so it didn't really matter. Although it didn't help me in my quest for a tan.
Laura talking with Ariel. She was in awe of her.Laura and I on our first day at the Magic KingdomLaura and Daddy in the Robinson Family Treehouse
Laura on Shamu at Sea World. She was in heaven there, as was the Army Man.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Disney World, Here We Come!

Before I leave you all hanging for over a week with no Claire fix, I wanted to pop in and let you know that the Army Man survived his survival training. He called yesterday afternoon and sounded really good. Apparently he lost 15 pounds in just 3 weeks (sign me up for that program, minus the torture, please!) and ate, among other things, a grasshopper, clover, a snake, and a rabbit heart. But I don’t want to tell his story for him. Maybe I can convince him to write a guest post when he gets home.

Home from where, you ask? Oh, that would be DISNEY WORLD! Or, as I have been calling it, “D-World”. That is my most excellent code name, as I decided to keep it a secret from Laura where we were going. I figured if she ever had a really rough day of missing Daddy, I would whip out that little bit of info, but I never needed to tell her, and I’ve been successful at keeping my lips zipped. I mean seriously-when you’re 4, how awesome will it be to just roll up to Disney World one day? She’s beside herself with excitement as it is: she gets to see Daddy tomorrow, and stay in a “hoe-and-tell” (that would be a hotel for those who don’t speak Lauraese) with a big pool.

She has been harassing me nonstop today, asking what the surprise is, but I’m remaining strong. Although with the weather forecasting rain EVERY SINGLE DAY of our trip, the surprise might be that Mommy and Daddy spent a nice sum of money to sit in a hotel room all day.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Is My Daughter One Of “Those” Girls?

So, I’m starting to think that my daughter is really cute. And that’s not a statement I make lightly, because I certainly don’t want to a braggart. I am merely going off of what the general public has made perfectly clear to me over the last few days. And that is-if you are cute and sweet, like Laura, you will get attention and gifts for no reason.

Now Laura has always been the type to get a smile or some conversation out of even the most ornery people. I attribute most of that to her personality. When she is in a good mood, she is downright bubbly. She’s talkative and fairly easy to understand when she speaks, and is often the one to start a conversation. So I think a grouchy person can’t help but be charmed by a tiny little thing who approaches them with a story about how we need to get a new toy for our dog because she is trouble and chewed the last one to bits. I have so many examples that it’s hard to pick just one. An anecdote from when Laura had just turned three is one of the best ones. We were walking into a store and a middle-aged man was walking past us, looking somewhat sour. Without any prompting, Laura looked up at him and said loudly and clearly, “Good morning!” It was such a sweet, innocent gesture that I basically melted right there on the spot, and I’m pretty sure that man did too. He perked up so quickly and chatted with Laura for a few minutes before going on his way.

I provide that background so that those of you who have never met Laura will understand that she is not a shy 4 year old. She has no problem speaking to adults, and in fact, seems to relish it. So yesterday when we stopped by our local nursery to buy some sod, I wasn’t surprised when the store owner struck up a conversation with her. He was so taken with her that he couldn’t stop smiling and complimenting her. She was wearing a rather fancy dress (poor Mommy was slumming it in jeans and a t-shirt) and was really using all of her charms. So naturally, the man just HAD to take a picture of her. He wanted to show his wife how fancy this little girl was, and she was happy to oblige (don’t worry-he wasn’t creepy and I have met him before). Laura knocked out several pictures with a multitude of poses, loving every minute. I kept thinking how if such a thing had happened to me as a child, I would have been mortified. Then I thought to myself, such a thing would never have happened to me a child, or as an adult. Must be nice, I thought.

Today was no different. At the craft store, one worker thought Laura was so cute and “such a good helper” that she just “had” to give her a lollipop. I wanted to know if Laura whining while we walked through the store qualifies as quality helping, but I kept my mouth shut. Then, not 30 minutes later, I decided to treat us to lunch at one of our favorite hamburger stands. We took our food to go, and while we were waiting, the store manager AND the district manager came over to ooh and aah over Laura. The district manager was a big, tall guy, but Laura wasn’t intimidated. She smiled, laughed, and wound up with an offer for a free cheeseburger on her next visit.

So here I am, a girl who was a nerdy and rather goofing looking child and teenager (and adult, I’m afraid!) with a pretty and outgoing daughter. It’s honestly really weird. Sometimes I wonder if this will last or if she’ll take after her mother and end up just another nerd with bad hair. I try to imagine what it would be like to have a teenage daughter who is popular and pretty. Maybe I'll share my wisdom with her, so she can relate to all of the nerds. Most of all though, I am astounded to find out that it is true, that pretty girls really do get things handed to them. Must be nice.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


I’ve been meaning to post about our trip to Pittsburgh, and since my blogging mojo is still MIA, I have to admit that I’ve been putting it off. I guess with this particular post, there’s not much witty to say, no clever way to write about attending my Grandfather’s memorial.

I think the thing that was the most interesting for me about this trip and the memorial was realizing how little I knew about Grandpap. So much of his personal history was unknown to me, but even more upsetting is how much of his personality was a mystery to me. I suppose such a thing was to be expected-when I was born, he had just turned 67. I grew up in California, and I didn’t see him that frequently. As I child, I knew him to be quiet, yet kind. Still, I couldn’t help but be intimidated by him. When I did see him, I never thought I had much to say that would interest him, and never could quite figure out how to talk to him. Our whole dynamic makes me so sad for what I missed out on, and I have to be honest-it scares me since I don’t want that situation repeating for Laura and her grandparents.

We live far away from both sets of Laura's grandparents, and I want her to be close to them, to be able to talk to them on the phone if she wants. I want her to feel like she knows them. I have heard so many wonderful things about Grandpap from my Dad, and I heard so many more interesting things at the memorial. I’m so happy I was able to attend and to celebrate his life and his family. And I’m grateful for the wake-up call, that NOW is the time to get to know our family members. I got to talk quite a bit to some of my cousins, and surprise, surprise, they are all really interesting and fun people! I suppose that is why memorials and funerals are so bittersweet. They remind us, all too clearly, of what has been taken from us, yet seem to nudge us even closer to our loved ones.

It was a great memorial, and a wonderful trip. I was so sad my Mom couldn’t come. We all missed her, and my two brothers, and my two cousins who couldn't come. The day after the memorial we did a little bit of sightseeing in Pittsburgh, one of my favorite cities. I have some pictures to share, and except for the picture of Pittsburgh, they were all taken by my sister Marla. She has a much nicer camera than me, and is also a lot more skilled than me when it comes to taking pictures.

I also want to recommend this post written by Citizen Grouch (aka my Dad) which is his very moving tribute to his father. He read it at the memorial and had me in tears, and it will give you a glimpse into my Grandpap’s life.
Me at lunch after the memorialOur table, with Dad, Aunt Louise, and JuliannaMe with my Godmother, JuliannaLaura, harassing her cousin FisherLaura with Fisher and Sam-they had a blast togetherGroup shot of the family (most of us)Laura and Grandad, at the Soldiers and Sailors MuseumAfter much searching, Dad found the name of his great uncle who had fought in Gettysburg!
Pittsburgh, in all her glory

There were so many more great pictures, but if I add any more it may be the longest blog post ever. And while the writing itself may have been a bit vague, I don't feel like there is much else I can say. Even though we weren't as close as we could have been, I think it's safe to say-I love you Grandpap.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Flowers For Laura

I have never in my life just sat down and randomly sewn something. My crafts usually take weeks, if not months, of preparation before I can actually begin work. There’s so much planning, purchasing, arranging, thinking, and generally delaying going on that it’s a wonder I ever make anything. But last night, fresh off of my nine hour drive home from Pittsburgh, I managed to feel so inspired that I whipped up a little shirt for Laura.

It all started because I had a rocket ship onesie to prepare, since someone bought one (hooray!) Then, since I had all the appliqué goodies out, I figured I would try out a different design. I wanted to do flowers for Laura, but I am such a bad artist that I ended up settling on circles as flowers. It’s all very abstract, you see. To make my flowers even more modern and abstract, I purposely did not sew straight. Or maybe I can’t sew straight-you decide.

I think it turned out pretty well, for a last minute job. I stayed up way too late working on it, but once I got started I was determined to have it done for Laura to wear to school this morning. I left it in her room last night for her to find, and the reaction was a good one: I was woken up by a small child jumping around my bed singing about her beautiful new shirt.
The completed shirt
A close up of the "abstract" flowers
Laura wearing the shirt to school today

I'll be back soon with details and pictures of our trip to Pittsburgh!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Getting Mail At 8pm Would Be Preferable

Note to self: when your mailman misdelievers mail to you so many times that you just can’t take it anymore, do not punish him by leaving him a nasty note, because someday he may punish you by stealing your mail. I suppose that sounds more dramatic than what actually happened, but when it comes to my package of fabric that has gone missing, it feels really dramatic.

A small package of fabric and a pattern was supposedly delivered to me on Friday at 5:29pm. I know this because there was Delivery Confirmation on my package, and the post office confirms this delivery. All it really means though is that the mailman delivered it to SOMEONE on that day and time, and it sure as heck wasn’t me. How do I know, you ask? I was stalking my mailman that day, waiting for him to come, because I had an outgoing package I wanted him to take. When he arrived, I ran so quickly out of the house that I slipped on the kitchen floor (Angela can attest to this). I handed him my box, and he didn’t give me one in return.

Once I realized that I was supposedly in possession of my package when I actually was not, I started making some calls. Eventually I got to talk to the Post Master of our local branch. She was very helpful at first, and said she would check into it and call me back. She called back today and said she spoke to my carrier who claims he put it on my porch. Huh? You mean when I was standing right there? I think not! The post master said she “did her part” and that now I should contact the police to report a missing package.

Well, that was when I stopped being nice. I proceeded to tell her about all of the problems we have had with this carrier. The W-2 that was missing for 2 weeks and finally showed up with “not at this address” written on it. The official looking mail for our local grocery store that I got a few weeks ago. The package for my next door neighbor that was in my mailbox. The days upon days of getting the mail for the lady next door, and then it finally stopping, only for her to start getting ours. The missing magazines. The jury duty notice that was delivered not once, not twice, but three times to the original owner of this house who hasn’t lived here for over 3 years. That was the letter that got the nasty note, since he apparently was unable to read “Return To Sender” on it the first two times.

Once I spewed all this out to the Post Master, she confessed that today is her 6th day at this branch, that she is brand new, and that she will be making some changes. She did not elaborate, but I sincerely hope that those changes involve slapping our mailman around a little bit until he figures things out.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fly Me To The Moon

I’m leaving on Wednesday to drive up to Pittsburgh for my Grandfather’s memorial. I have about 20 million things to do before then (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit), but instead of tackling any of them, I decided to waste my time by fiddling around with the new appliqué paper I bought yesterday.

And for once, my goofing off has paid off! I created a little appliqué that matches my newest bib perfectly. I sewed it onto a onesie, and presto: a shirt so cute that it makes me wish I was 3-6 months old! I plan on doing more shirts with appliqués, if I can figure out how draw anything other than a rocket ship.

Hopefully once I return from my trip I'll get back to posting more frequently, because for now, on top of everything else, I feel like I've lost my blogging mojo.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Brains Anyone? They're Fresh!

So I’m finally here with my review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I finished the book a while ago but I just couldn’t figure out how I felt about it, which wasn’t making writing a review all that easy. But good news: I finally made my decision! So let us begin. I’ll try very hard not to include any too-important spoilers. But then again, if you’ve read the original, you already know how it ends. Or do you?

I never would have imagined that zombies and Jane Austen would have any place together, and for this successful "collaboration”, I applaud Seth Grahame-Smith. As his biography states, he once took a class in English literature, and it pays off here. The story was very well done, the writing exquisite. The novel flowed seamlessly from proper English life to zombie gore and back again. There were some one-liners so hysterical that I made sure to make note of them to include in my review.

Elizabeth watching her friend “suffer through a quarter-hour of sickness so severe that decorum prevents its description in these pages” is funny. Mr. Darcy attending a meeting of the League of Gentlemen for the Encouragement of Continued Hostilities Against Our Most Unwelcome Enemy is funny. Elizabeth telling her sister Jane that “this unhappiness is best remedied by the hasty application of a cutlass to her [Miss Bingely’s] throat” is really funny. But humor alone wasn't enough, and I’m forced to say that I didn’t really like the “And Zombies” part of this work.

I think my problem with this novel was twofold: first of all, I am so used to reading the masterpiece that is Pride and Prejudice that I couldn’t keep from being annoyed every time new material interrupted me and reminded me that I wasn’t reading the real deal. Things just don’t seem as romantic and proper when zombies are feasting on people. My other complaint is that the Elizabeth Bennett character seemed too different from Jane Austen’s description of her. Where we once had a clever and feisty young lady, Mr. Grahame-Smith created a professionally trained fighter, a lady unconcerned with killing, consumed with honor, and possessing more than a touch of bloodlust.

One part of the novel finds our Miss Bennet, blindfolded, killing Lady Catherine’s ninjas. Now here’s Elizabeth balancing herself, upside down, on one finger, while Mr. Darcy looks on in amusement. Her rejection of Mr. Darcy ends in a physical battle that includes her kicking him so hard that he shatters part of the mantlepiece. Wait, now she’s eating someone’s still beating heart (those poor ninjas). Seriously? We’re supposed to believe that faced with zombies, this is what Elizabeth Bennet would do?

Still though, I must again commend Mr. Grahame-Smith. His clever writing was admirable, and he even included illustrations and a handy reader’s discussion guide, which was my favorite part. The final question had me laughing out loud in the doctor’s waiting room, which is never a good thing when you’re reading a book with a bloody zombie on the cover.

"Some scholars believe that the zombies were a last-minute addition to the novel, requested by the publisher in a shameless attempt to boost sales. Others argue that the hordes of the living dead are integral to Jane Austen’s plot and social commentary. What do you think? Can you imagine what this novel might be like without the violent zombie mayhem?"

That question to me sums it up for me perfectly: a really funny novel, but yes, I can imagine what it is like without the zombies, and I’m sorry to say I like it better that way.