Friday, August 29, 2014

Hello Not-a-Kitty!

This is something I think everybody has heard about by now, and apparently has shocked millions of loyal fans worldwide. Honestly, I'm not the least bit surprised by this news. When I first heard about it, I think one of my friends tagged me in a Facebook post saying the tweets for this thing were amusing. I'm not very good at following Twitter, so I had no idea what she was talking abut. Then I saw a link on my Google+ feed from a friend and read about it this morning.

All these discoveries keep falling under the category of Things I Wish I Had Known About Sooner, because I am not made of money and I would love to be a part of this sort of epic celebration. What are you rambling about now, Stacey? Oh. Right. Well.

Newsflash: Hello Kitty has never been a cat.

I am not the least bit blown away by this news as I think so many other people have been, crying in outrage. It probably helps that we own quite a large collection of Hello Kitty cartoon DVDs and that my eldest, Your Future Overlord, watches them constantly. Our love for Hello Kitty in this house is not unknown. At least 40% of my daughters' wardrobes consist of Hello Kitty something-or-other, and every time one particular outfit of Lilah's is washed and available for wearing in her drawer, she immediately picks it out to put on.

The Overlord's current favorite outfit.
Hello Kitty has become such a big thing since I've had children. I fondly remember it from my own childhood, but never knew it quite so well then as I do now. To children everywhere, she is not a kitty in any case. Even to my daughter she has always been "a friend" and "a little girl" just like her. As far as my daughter is concerned, she is Kitty White, and her little sister is Mimmy White, which is conveniently coincidental since we've dubbed the Usurper with the nickname Mimi since as long as Lilah first started trying to say her name. She responds to that more than her actual name.

We have so many Hello Kitty accessories and toys in this house that I don't even think I could ever gather them all together for a "collection" picture. Besides, I don't do collectibles all too well. In my daughters' eyes, these are toys, and to keep them from playing with them would be too cruel for me to bear. Every year around Valentine's Day my husband has traditionally found the Overlord a new TY Beanie Baby, and Santa even put one in her stocking once. We're up to four now, and are likely to eventually end up with a swimming pool full of the things by the time she heads off to college or a trade school or an apprenticeship, whichever she chooses to do with herself.

"Snowman Kitty," "Glasses Kitty," "Kitty," and "Lollipop Kitty."
As for the celebration I mentioned above? Well, it turns out that Hello Kitty is turning 40 this year, and there's a first ever annual Hello Kitty Convention scheduled to take place in Los Angeles, California at the end of October! By the looks of things, tickets are going to run us $60/day for me and my husband to attend. Fortunately, both the Overlord and the Usurper are young enough to get in free. If we went for just one day, that would be all right. All four days add up to more money than we should be willing to spend, but gosh wouldn't it be nice!

Add on top of that figuring out how we're going to get there. I, personally, have never flown on a plane before in my entire life, and admit a little bit of trepidation. It's not really the plane itself that makes me nervous so much as all the security and check points and degrading searches people have to go through these days in America, that I've heard of, just to travel. Flying would be the fastest and probably best way to get there with two small children, I imagine, but I have no idea how much it would cost! Very likely it would exceed our budget.

Traveling by train would be a fun adventure for all of us. Again, I have no idea how much that would cost, but I would not be averse to the idea. With two small children, I'm even reasonable enough to consider only going to one day of the convention and not trying for the couple hundred dollars worth of an entire weekend trip. Seeing more of California on the side would be a bonus, though.

Attending Hello Kitty Con would be a better first convention for my girls than Bronycon, I think, which I still want to go to with them some day. But why does it have to be so far away? This gives me a sad.

I always find myself envious of my sister-in-law and her family going on all these family vacations anywhere. I envy my friends who go on family vacations. We have never been on a family vacation. Ever. Had I known about this sooner, I would have squirreled away so much money so that we could go, if even just for one day to the convention. Factoring in the cost of hotel stays, too, and it's just not something we can afford at all. So, so terribly disappointing.

Oh well. I suppose I can hope that they'll do it again next year. I'm going to start saving now, just in case.

Because we love it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Back to Zoo

At the beginning of this week my Facebook wall was flooded with photos of all these kids posing for their first day of Back to School. Many of my mom friends rejoice about this time of year with exasperated relief. Finally! I hear them shout, because once again they get to be rid of their children for several hours a day, five days a week.

I have mixed feelings about this phenomenon. On the one hand, I am super envious. I wish I could be free of my children for several hours a day, five days a week. I would love to have more than a couple minutes a day to myself in which I can just sit down to think and don't have to meet the needs of my demanding little monsters, only one of which can form actual sentences and talk to me, whereas the other just points and squeals urgently to get my attention for the things she wants. More aggravatingly often than not, she wants to sit on my lap and keep me from doing anything at all but being her chair.

Don't get me wrong. I love my children. I wish them only the best. I want to do right by them. I want them to have the best education possible. I want to see them succeed in their futures and not be delegated to just another fast food drive-thru attendant. I also super hope that by the time they are adults all this misogyny and gender stereotyping that goes on these days is obliterated from the world entirely.

While I would love to be rid of them for just a little while, to have a vacation to myself, I still find myself frowning at all these bright and smiling faces of children dressed up in the nicest thing they're likely to put on all year in an effort to make a good first impression. I remember those days with a certain sort of eye-rolling bitterness. What you wore the first day of school sealed your fate for the entire year. Either you'd be that kid with the brand new designer jeans that will instantly make you everybody's best friend, or you'd be the kid in your Great Aunt Lucy's hand-me-downs taken in at the waist to better fit you and ridiculed the rest of your life.

These are things I don't have to worry about with my children, yet, and desperately hope I never will. I think the only guarantee that I won't have to put them through that sort of exhausting social ringer is if I stick with my plan to home school. But that also means sacrificing my sanity and me time, and as an introvert this is an extremely difficult need for me to give up.

On the other hand, however, I've noticed that with so many other kids going back to school, everywhere else becomes virtually abandoned for several hours a day, five days a week. This is a bonus for us, with my husband's new work schedule. On the first of September he'll have switched up his week to having Sundays and Mondays off. This is nice because most of the nation goes to church (which we do not) on Sundays and kids are in school most Mondays (except those pesky holidays that always seem to fall on one; I'm looking at you, Labor Day). Therefore, the world is our family outing oyster! Free of crowds! An introvert's dream come true!

Last week was a primary example of the wonders of not being bound to society's expected nine to five grind. We took the opportunity of most of Cleveland going back to school last week and decided to have one last final end of Summer hurrah by visiting the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, just the four of us. The place was wonderfully deserted. Though we were a little sad to see the dinosaur exhibit was no longer operating, it was nice to be able to walk the park (even the Usurper) without having to dodge around the self-important and rude we encounter just about everywhere else.

The girls loved it. My husband and I loved the fact that we could actually enjoy ourselves and not get super cranky from having to deal with so many people. The last time we were at the Cleveland Zoo, we went with his sister and family, and the littlest monster pictured above left was so tiny that she slept in her car seat in the stroller the entire time. The place was packed with people then. We missed out on some of the exhibits both times, but it was nice to sit in the picnic patio and eat overpriced McDonald's for dinner without another living soul around us this time around. We actually got to hear the lions roar when they came out of their cave to bask on the sun rock. 

This time we got to see the timber wolves, too, unlike last time, but neither me nor my husband could get a good picture of them. However, the littlest Usurper was immediately drawn to these statues, so she and her sister stopped to ride on them a little bit. I think, perhaps, she was remembering our temporary dog Lucky who went back to live with his original family before she was even crawling. 

Sadly, the tiger was napping in his cave by the time we got to him. This was more disappointing to me, I think, because I was the only one who knew what we had hoped to see. The Usurper's favorite animal in the world is a tiger. She absolutely loves them. Probably in part thanks to Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Had she seen the tiger, though, I think she would have tried to climb into the exhibit, like she kept trying to do when we walked through Kangaroo Land and saw the grizzly bears. Regardless of constantly having to battle her with her insistence on walking everywhere (I'm shocked she didn't pass out in the car on the way home), we had a good time. Admittedly, it was nice to be able to unleash her without fear of losing her in a crowd. Though having to pull her down off of everything and keep her from trying to squeeze herself through the bars of certain enclosures was an adventure, let me tell you.

We'll be going back to the zoo in a little over a month, but not the one in Cleveland. Ever since the Overlord was born, we've tried to continue carrying on a tradition with our friends to attend the Akron Zoo's Boo at the Zoo event. Of course, Cleveland does this too, but Akron is much closer for everyone involved. I'm hoping this year to get a bigger group of us together, now that more of my friends are having kids too. So look forward to October when I'll talk all about it!