Just Heather
Baby, my hometown cat

Baby, my hometown cat

I have had cats for most of my life.  It started when I was 4 and my dad told me absolutely, never ever are we getting that cat. Then I cried. Her name was Sweetheart and she went on to have 5 kittens, most of whom we kept.  Her last kitten lived until I was in high school. About a year after she passed, I started in on wanting another cat.  My dad said no way, absolutely not. We are never getting another cat. Then, I may or may not have cried. His name is Baby and he still lives with my parents.

Tommy the Cat, 1997-2008

Tommy the Cat, 1997-2008

When Spencer and I were getting married, we already had a dog.  Indy was almost one and tons of fun, but I still wanted a cat.  He said no, but finally relented (even without the tears!) and got me a kitten as a wedding gift.  Tommy was the greatest cat ever, even if Spencer never quite saw it that way. He was sweet, playful and never, ever cross with the kids (though each went through their toddler stage of torturing him constantly).


When he passed away, I always knew I’d eventually get a cat but it takes some time to heal. Apparently, for me, that time is always about one year.  I’ve been making noises for a month or so about getting another cat. In April, Brenia’s Girl Scout troop visited PetSmart, and their on location pet rescue. I, of course, wanted to take them all home with me. He said no, but announced on Mother’s Day that my present was getting a cat. I had my heart set on a kitten, but I also felt tugged to rescue one of the cats.

Captain Nemo

Captain Nemo


Earlier this week, my friend let me know that PetSmart’s rescue shelter had new kittens. We stopped by “just to look” and came home with two.  We picked out one of the baby kittens, but Captain Nemo’s soulful eyes kept calling to us so we had to bring him home. Both cats are affectionate, playful (a little too playful for my tastes at 4am) and good with the kids.  The youngest is not quite sure about Indy, but Nemo seems to have made his peace. He does hide from Lorelai, but that’s just common sense.


2003-01-122

"We named the dog Indiana."


When we adopt a pet, we would ordinarily change his name. Indy was once Snoop, but he didn’t really seem to know it. That happens when a dog spends 22 hours a day in a crate. Nemo seems to have stuck, though. Partly, because Finding Nemo is Spencer’s very favorite children’s movie, partly because it was rather funny to be looking for Nemo all evening when he hid and partly because he seems to come when you call. Bogey, however, is not our baby kitten’s name.


8-bit

8-bit

The problem is, we weren’t sure what was. We kicked around quite a few names but nothing really seemed to fit him yet. The girls suggested cliches like Shadow and Midnight, but I’m not really into that sort of thing. We’ve named most of our animals from movies or television shows (kids too!) so we kicked around Cat Kirk for awhile. The girls hated it and even though I loved the idea it just didn’t feel right. I liked Pixel, suggested by Spencer, but it was a blatant ripoff from some Twitter guy’s bunny. Somewhat related to Pixel, I suggested 8-bit. I think it stuck.


When I jumped back in to this blogging thing, I once again enjoyed the community aspect—reading other blogs, commenting on posts, chatting with fellow bloggers.  I discovered a lot had happened while I was away.  Gone were the useless memes and quizzes (those are all on Facebook now), but the space is now filled with giveaways and contests.

I entered one, mostly because I actually had a comment about the prize, at Gotcha Baby.  The prize was listed as a collection of Hallmark cards for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  Excellent timing, what with both holidays coming up (okay, so I’m a little behind on posting this), and me being too cheap to buy cards.  Anyway, as the title suggests, I actually won!

2009-05-266I wasn’t really thinking much about it, other than to be thrilled that I didn’t have to traipse through the store with 3 girls and attempt to choose cards for our parents.  Imagine my surprise when the package arrived just a few days later and it was chock full of photo cards, musical cards, recordable cards and a selection of their inexpensive (there’s the stuff!) recycled cards for every day use. I have been officially welcomed back to the world of blogging. Most importantly, I am set on cards for the next couple months.

I was super impressed, even if I am negligent in sending my thanks.  The cards themselves are a lot of fun. There are 4 that are clearly the highlight of the package—2 for Mother’s Day and 2 for Father’s Day.  Both are recordable music cards.  There is a song already in the card plus an opportunity for you to record your own, personal message.  The girls had a lot of fun with that part and I was impressed with how easy they are to use.  I figured the mic would have trouble picking up their voices, but they didn’t even have to be super close to the card for it to work.  In fact, you could conceivably make a recording with all 3 kids buckled into their respective carseats on the way to dinner with the recipient.  Just sayin’.

girlsTwo of the cards were also photo cards.  Unfortunately, it turns out that we don’t have a good, recent picture of all 3 kids.  That is probably in part because one of them is in constant motion.  Lucky for me, my hubby is rather talented.  He threw together a collage of the girls that I like even better than a posed still shot. I think it captures each girl’s personality quite nicely. Each set of grandparents will get a copy (though some have to wait until Father’s Day) and I printed another for us but I’m still not sure what I’m doing with it. I only know that I needed to capture this moment in time, when each girl has her own distinct personality yet somehow still forms a cohesive family unit.

An amazing abuse of alliteration for (nearly) Wordless Wednesday:

There are dozens of amazing deals this week at Meijer. I headed out to snag them on Saturday night after dropping Stacia at a friend’s house to sleepover. Quite impressed with the bargains and selection, I moved on to the checkout, where my good impression was quickly replaced. The cashier was rude, clueless and superbly slow.lush

So when I got home with my spoils, I was really not in the mood to put it all away. Since much of it required refrigeration, it had to be done anyway. That was when I realized I had accidentally purchased many of the ingredients for my favorite summer dessert. It’s an old family favorite and I needed only to buy pecans. I put it on my mental list (because actually writing it down was just too taxing at that point).

While digging through the freezer on Sunday (for the ingredients to make grilled pizza), I noticed a nearly empty (but just enough) bag of nuts. I was so excited about my pecan discovery that I immediately twittered about my need for a pitch-in so I could have an excuse to make the dessert. At nearly the exact same time, I got a text inviting me to an impromptu Memorial Day picnic. Friends, fun and an excuse to showcase my bargains in chocolate? Sold!

Just in case you also need a yummy, cool dessert (and/or you scored all the same deals), here is the recipe for Lush (I know—how can you resist something with a name like that?):

Cut 1 stick butter with 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Spread into the bottom of a 9×13 dish and bake 10-11 minutes at 375. Meanwhile, set out a brick of cream cheese and 16 ounces Cool Whip to soften. Cool crust completely before continuing the delicious layers. For the 2nd layer, mix cream cheese, 1 cup Cool Whip and 1 cup powdered sugar. If you plop the mixture onto the crust in a bunch of different places before attempting to spread this layer, your crust will remain intact a bit better.

2007-07-031The 3rd layer (this is where it gets really good) is 2 small packages of chocolate pudding whisked with 3 cups milk. Honestly, you could use any flavor you want but why wouldn’t you want chocolate? For the final layer, spread the rest of the cool whip onto the pudding after it sets. You can also garnish with crushed pecans, sugar crystals or fresh fruit (totally kidding—I would never attempt to make it healthy!).dessert You could also use fat free cool whip and fat free cream cheese, but, really—what’s the point?

The free summer film festival starts at our local theater in less than 2 weeks.  I’ve already gone over the list with the girls, allowing them to choose which of the 2 movies we’ll see each week.  Sure, we could see both but Wednesday is Water Day so a 2nd movie is only our rainy day backup.  Sometimes, they pick the same movie; sometimes, they pick separately.  That’s fine now that Stacia is older.  At eleven, she’s nearly babysitting age (which she reminds me constantly) so she’s perfectly capable of watching a movie in the theater next to mine.n506119855_1100465_5097

It appears they’ve picked several books turned movies this year. That means I have a lot of reading to do. I’m kind of obsessive about reading the book first, even when it’s ordinarily an author I wouldn’t choose. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, really, because it tends to make me hate the movie. Since I could never really hate anything that features Will Smith, I have learned to view them as separate entities. That helps a lot, as does lowering your expectations. If you go in expecting to see a beloved book come to life, you are bound to be disappointed. However, if you go in expecting to find a director has ruined your favorite story you may just be pleasantly surprised.

Still, a trip to the library is in order, and soon. I’m worried I’ve left it too late to snag copies, if they have any popularity at all. I have only 2 weeks to read Inkheart before the free showing, but over a month to finish Nim’s Island in time to watch with the girls. I may insist on a family reading of Charlotte’s Web before the kids see the movie again, but I have read it more than once. I guess I better get busy, even as I hope to talk them into a few selectionsthat don’t require homework.

5995377I love food. I love musicals. I love pirates, a fact which everyone in hubby’s family now knows (thank you, Jagermeister). All of this adds up to the Beef and Boards production of Treasure Island being tailor made for me. It was always our intention to visit this local dinner theater as part of our Alphabet Dating journey, even before I discovered they were featuring pirates through the spring.

We had plenty of letter choices—dinner theater, play, musical—but when I won tickets last month it was obvious we would be using the alliteration for our B date.  I was very excited.  Him? Probably not so much.  Musicals aren’t really his thing, especially when he has to dress for the event.  I, personally, couldn’t wait to get dressed up, have dinner with my husband and catch a show. About pirates.

Then the weekend arrived and brought one of our biggest fights yet.  The night was rocky, the next day tough and I didn’t think we’d last to the evening much less feel up to a date.  We hashed through a lot over the course of the day and finally got to a pretty good spot.  It’s been one step forward, two steps back since we began the rehabilitation journey.  We’ve been on our current path for a month now so this time I’m convinced we’ve made lasting progress.

Anyway, the evening arrive and we were still married; I got all decked out (he told me I was beautiful—bonus points), he suited up (yum!), the babysitters arrived (Thanks, Mimi & Papaw!) and we set sail (ha—get it?) for our musical adventure.  I knew very little of what to expect, though I’ve been wanting to visit the place for years.  My parents and extended family all love Beef and Boards but that was the extent of my knowledge.  I didn’t even have real tickets, just an email telling me the show was at 8pm and the hostess had our reservation.

We arrived at 7:30 feeling pretty good about our promptness only to discover that the show starts at 8, yes, but the dinner buffet is 6-7:30.  Oops.  They were gracious to us and the waiter brought us each a plate anyway.  I couldn’t eat most of mine, due to my gluten intolerance, but I picked through what I could (off both plates, of course).  Turns out, the food wasn’t worth an extra hour of our time anyway. We did enjoy our intermission sundae but even that seemed to be nothing more than ice cream from a bucket with Hershey’s syrup.

The show, however, was well worth the price of admission even if it hadn’t been free. The production was fun.  The all male cast was a hoot.  The songs were lively and fun.  I loved that the stage direction kept putting pieces of the show right in front our table.  My one disappointment was that the gift shop was closed after the show.   I wanted a pirate flag, but it’s probably just as well that I didn’t add to our junk collection.  I’ll scrapbook the playbill instead along with the single, slightly blurry picture above.

The “rules” of Alphabet Dating specifically exclude movies because the point is to create experiences and reconnect.  That really requires something other than sitting next to one another in the dark.  It’s my game, though, so I make things up as we go. Still, the lighting and seating arrangement made the play acceptable for our purposes, I think.  We were able to cozy up together to enjoy the show and each another.

Here’s to 24 more letters (plus a lifetime) of enjoying one another.

pirates

The Middle of Nowhere

The Middle of Nowhere

This past weekend I took my oldest daughter’s Girl Scout troop camping. I drove 2 hours to the middle of nowhere leaving my wonderful hubby alone with two kids, one of whom puked as I was walking out the door. Then I proceeded to spend 2 rainy, sometimes cold, days sleeping on the ground. When I come home tired, sore and smelly I want to say I’m too old for this shit but I know I’ll be doing it for years to come.

PreTeen Angst at Bay

PreTeen Angst at Bay

There is something about the camping weekend that brings out the best in Stacia. She’s affectionate, cooperative and barely even embarrassed when I dance the Hoedown Throwdown with her friends. Maybe it’s having me all to herself. Maybe it’s knowing her friends wouldn’t have these experiences if I weren’t willing to volunteer. Or maybe it’s just the way I let loose myself when we camp.

Trying Something New

Trying Something New

I am not an outdoor person. At all. I hate every part of it—the mud, the bugs, the air, the creepy crawlies, the wildlife. I want no part of it most days, but I love Scout camp! I love the goofy songs, the campfire cooking and the new shared experiences (my girl is quite the archer!). I love the friendships—those camp friendships that seem so intense for the week or weekend you’re camping, but who you’ll probably never see again.

I remember all of that from my own Girl Scout years and it is so fun to watch it all over again through my daughter’s eyes. Some things just never change, but on these camping weekends I do. I’m a different person—romping in the wilderness, stomping through the mud, sleeping on the ground, singing silly songs and feeling those same fleetingly intense connections with my fellow camp parents as the girls in my troop.

Campfire Cooking

Campfire Cooking

I hope some of it is lasting. I hope my daughter always knows that I’m the mom who will sleep outside in a thunderstorm, cook over a fire in the rain and take her friends on a journey when she’d ordinarily rather be anywhere else. I hope the girls in my troop always know I’m someone they can count on and see that I really am in it all for them. I hope someday they remember that while the camp cleared out in the rain (1400 people down to 200 by nightfall), their leader stuck with them.

A Calm, Relaxed Me

A Calm, Relaxed Me

Part of me wanted to leave in the torrential downpour, but my competitive nature prevailed and I wanted desperately to “beat” the other troops that surrendered to the storm. Plus, I left it up to my troop; they decided since we survived the first night, we should stay the rest.  We did survive and I’m so proud of the girls. They weren’t scared at all even when the thunder and lightening started at 2am. They were cool and calm, just enjoying one another and having a great time. And so was I. I need to remember to bring some of that home with me.

The latrines, mud and zero cell phone reception can stay, but I hope I brought a little bit of the carefree me back home.

This week’s Wordless Wednesday post is inspired by the school carnival, featuring a rousing game of Extreme Cabbage.