Moira’s Friend Totoro

Moira's Totoro horde

Moira’s Totoro horde

Setting up your first child’s nursery is a serious undertaking. Themes must be decided. Walls painted. Furniture found or purchased. Early on in my first pregnancy, I decided that our theme would be “My Neighbor Totoro” after the beloved Miyazaki classic. Truth be known, I never really cared for Japanese animation, and I had only seen the film once or twice when I made my decision. But ultimately it was the character and the forest scenery that I fell in love with. And with only one bedroom to share between our daughter and planned-for second child, it seemed like a safe bet in terms of unisexuality.

My Moira is five months old at the time of this posting and the nursery still isn’t quite finished. I’d really like to reapolster the rocking chair and paint a mural on the wall before I call it done. But here’s what we’ve got so far:

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It’s not easy to find Totoro merchandise that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, so a lot of what you see here was hand-made.

Water color and acrylic

Water color and acrylic

Crochet Totoro, from a free online pattern

Crochet Totoro, from a free online pattern

Quilt made with fabric sourced from suchnsuch website

Quilt made with fabric sourced from spoonflower.com

Even better, I was able to take things from my Totoro-themed baby shower in September and incorporate them into Moira’s room.

The dust sprite garlands that decorated the house during the shower became Moira's mobile

The dust sprite garlands that decorated the house during the shower became Moira’s mobile

Art projects from my baby shower: plush "nesting dolls" and more traditional wooden ones, painted with love by M's aunties and uncles.

Art projects from my baby shower: plush “nesting dolls”

and more traditional wooden ones, painted with love by M's aunties and uncles.

and more traditional wooden ones, painted with love by M’s aunties and uncles.

It’s a work in progress, but a labor of love. M seems to enjoy her room, much as a little baby can:

Sweet dreams, dearheart.

Sweet dreams, dearheart.

 

And since I never got around to writing a post about the awesome shower that my friend’s gave me, here are some more pic

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This entry was posted on April 25, 2014. 1 Comment

Our sisters on Whispernet

I wonder if the Widows of the High Tea Society would have similar confessions to the ones listed here: 29 Confessions from the Gamer Widows of Whisper

I can add a confession: Knowing that his gaming addiction is the primary reason that things don’t get done in our home causes a Doctor-Jekyl-Mister-Hyde type personality shift in me. Every time I see an uncompleted task I become so angry, I feel myself turn into a bit of a monster.

Undoing women’s lib?

Allow me to personally set the women’s liberation movement back 60 years: I totally want to be a stay-at-home mom. Call me the anti-feminist, say I’m being prosaic, whatever. Because if I had said “I want to be a career woman and never have children” I’d receive the same amount of criticism. Not that much has changed since women came out of the kitchen, it just that now we have more than one unfair archetype to compete with. I had this thought at our recent holiday party. Nicole was so excited to receive a Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas (And why shouldn’t she be? That thing is the kitchen gadget to end all gadgets.) but upon expressing her elation, she immediately became apologetic: “I know that sounds very un-feminist of me.” But why should she, or anyone else for that matter, feel ashamed of being “un-feminist”?

Women’s lib has done a great deal for the fairer sex, and I’m grateful. I like that I get to vote and have (ostensibly) the same earning and career potential as a man, but in the last fifty years since societal expectations for women shifted away from the home, a new prejudice has taken root. Now, it’s not only career women who are criticized for their ambition, but home makers, too. A woman with a family who holds down a full-time job is just as likely to have her motivations questioned as the woman who chooses to stay home with her children. Not to mention the side-long glances that women get if they decide not to have a family at all.

In my experience, having gone to college, gotten married, and started a career before starting a family (cheekily termed the “right way” of doing things), I’ve run into every passive judgment out there: “Oh, so, you’re not going to graduate school right after you get your BA?” “Wow, you got married young.” “You better hurry up and make some babies!” Oy vey. This is, in fact, a very popular trope in movies, TV, and books: the working mother, the stay at home mother, and the I-don’t-want-to-be-a-mother. The maiden, mother, and crone of our generation. In the movie “I Don’t Know How She Does It”, the class lines are fairly well drawn: you are a working parent struggling to keep up or you are career mommy, spending your days either at the gym or barefoot in the kitchen. As Sarah Jessica Parker’s character tries with dubious success to be everything for everyone, the viewer realizes that this is what society wants — a successful career person, who never misses a play date or soccer game. She keeps a functional and beautiful home, and makes sure her man is satisfied, all the while mastering the art of French cooking. But, no pressure.

We also laughed lovingly as Sex and the City’s Miranda made the awkward transition from career powerhouse to fumbling single parent. The coworkers at her firm sneered when she made her son a priority, while her housekeeper shook her head in disappointment when Miranda had to tend to work obligations. Moms just can’t win.

I still remember the look of utter disdain my senior advisor gave me after I told her I was getting married after graduation, a look that clearly said, “another smart woman lost to girlhood fantasy.” She actually seemed a little offended that I had decided to put graduate school on the back burner (a decision that had nothing to do with getting married and everything to do with a serious case of senioritis), as if it were her potential I was wasting and not my own. In telling her the truth about my decision, I hadn’t given her an answer that she wanted nor one that she respected. Neither did I answer satisfactorily when asked by my family how I feel about going back to work now that my daughter is 7 weeks old. I was honest: “It sucks, and I’m depressed about it because I already know that I’m going to miss her. I wish I were able to stay home with her full time.” The sort of half-smiles and indulgent glances I got after that admission made me feel like I was lacking the proper enthusiasm. Might they have been happier with “No, no, I’m not sad to leave my child in the care of others! I am thrilled to go back into the work force and make lots and lots of sweet, sweet money! Pass the seared baby seal.” Because it is, for many, about money — if women want equal treatment, they should be equally financially responsible, not dependent on their husbands to pay all the bills. For me, if the world was perfect, I’d go back to work part-time — you see, wanting more time with my child is not a ploy to avoid the work force or shirk my financial responsibility. Yeah, I’d love to be a stay-at-home mom, but the pay is terrible.

My husband is sympathetic to my plight, but alas, doesn’t really understand. (He, after all, didn’t become a mother when our child was born: see this blog post.) When I first admitted how increasingly despondent I was feeling as the date of my return to work loomed, he chuckled, “Yeah, if I had had two months off of work, I wouldn’t want to go back either.” But that really isn’t it. This isn’t like the kicking-and-screaming tantrum you once had as summer vacation ran out and you were once again relegated to the toiling primary school masses. Becoming a child’s primary caregiver is not an easy occupation. We all know there’s a great deal of work involved — unpleasant, dirty, smelly, frustrating, back-breaking work — so clearly, it’s not a lack of work ethic that I’m talking about here. It is a change in attitude, a shift in my passions, a new calling. Some where along the way, I woke up and I was Moira’s mom, and no one is going to do that job better than me.

I made this perfect little person, carried her in my womb for nine months, gave birth to her, and have spent the last eight weeks devoted to her every need and desire. And now I’m expected to just hand her off to someone else and trust that they will do as good a job as I would do. And I’m one of the lucky ones — I am blessed to not be a single parent, as many working parents are, and my daughter isn’t going to day care with a stranger, she’s going to be either with her father or with a family friend while I’m working. This ought to alleviate some of my anxiety, but it doesn’t. There are 168 hours in a week and I will be away from my child for nearly a third of that time. That’s not a vacation from parenthood, as some may suggest. That’s torture.

Very few people understand why a successful, educated person would want to stay home to raise their children. Won’t you miss adult conversations? Don’t you want to do more in life? You mean, more than nurture and educate my kids? I achieved a lot in my early twenties and I’m proud of those accomplishments. But there is more pride in seeing my baby girl smile up at me in joy than in any academic commendation or career accolade.

Admittedly, this isn’t the case for all mothers. Among the Widows, there’s a pretty even divide amongst the moms that work in the work place and the moms that work in the home. And as is often the case, we sometimes want what the other has. Lady M, for instance, had her first baby in the middle of her college career, and now with number two on the way, sometimes wishes she could focus on her education and her career rather than mommyhood. Still others have confided in me that they were relieved to get back to work after their babies were born, as the din of the office became a haven for some much needed quiet. To each their own — I’m not here to judge. I wish we could all say that, but as I mentioned before, when it comes to the motherhood versus career-woman dichotomy, everybody has an opinion, even if they’re not aware of it. From my professor who wrote me off after I married, to the kept women that sneer at a mom trying to balance home and work obligations, we all seem to lack insight.

As I type this one-handed on my iPad with my daughter asleep on my chest, I am dreadfully aware of how many moments like this one will soon slip from my grasp. Some women struggle because they want to discover who they are outside of motherhood. I am struggling because I want the opportunity to discover who I am within it. And in the end, whatever you choose, or whatever you have to do, we should respect each other for the obstacles inherent to the path we have chosen. Mothers can only overcome the Good Mother, Better Woman archetype if we support each other. (Except those mean, holier-than-thou types. They just suck.)

Learning about Men from GQ

As a general Rule, Gamer Men are stereotyped by the mass populace into a group ranging from zip faced kids who talk about too much Magic and wear costumes on the weekend, to the middle-aged men living in their mother’s basements while they play gamess with other hermits, to the Video-game loving WarCraftians. And I will not lie. All exist. After all stero types are based on some nugget of truth, and people make those judgements based upon what the “average” person in that group fits.

Today, I thought I would take a look at the “Average man” as observed by a magazine. Plenty of people will talk about the airbrushing done to women, the unrealistic expectations publishers put onto little girls to try and look like these twigs in junior sized clothing, and the ridiculous expectations of the fashion world to attempt to keep up with the latest trends.

For a change, I thought I would put the shoe on the other foot as it were. I would see what kind of “example” these magazines would teach girls about men. Realistically, I was waiting for my gamer to get his hair cut today and found myself sitting on the parlor of the local Fantastic Sams surrounded by other men also waiting to get their hair cut. The March 2013 issue of GQ was sitting on a table. And this is what I have learned world!

White. White is the new grey. I cannot explain the sheer number of pages that are just a tiny photo on a large white background. As someone with experience in page design, I understand the concept of using void space to get an idea across or to even emphasize a point, but more than 1/10 of the magazine was things like “a face on a white canvas” or “Shoe on white back ground.” And probably five to ten years ago, they were all over steel grey items, steel had it’s own category of cool, and this mag still had it’s fair share of grey, don’t get me wrong. But it felt like I was looking pretty seriously as the same page over and over.

Speaking of over and over…. I have learned that all real men wear suits. No matter the activity. No matter how mundane the task or simple the idea, men shall wear a full three piece suit. I saw a man wearing a suit lounging on a deck, I saw one posing on a moped, even one running. Now perhaps it’s true in the “big city” and I am just from a place too small and used to tropical weather, but men do not wear suits EVERYWHERE. Most men I know who aren’t like Vice Presidents or CEOS’ own two suits. One for weddings, and one for everything else. Interviews, first dates, funerals, what have you. They do not in fact wear suits to walk down the street in every day gear. That is saved for Jeans and ratty old t-shirts, in the gamer case, super hero themed t-shirts.

And Jeans have a special place too so I found. Jeans are worn by large stud-ly men who all are team Jacob (one literally had a wolf head… it was creepy…) and do not wear shirts through most of the event. There was a brief glimpse of a man in a nice sweater and jeans, but it was a shoe advertisement… >_> All the rest of the jean-clad men seemed to be in some state of undress.

There are also three things a man needs, judging by the adds in the magazine. Cologne, Shoes, and a Watch. There are as many cologne adds as I used to seen in Cosmo as a high school girl. Probably appropriate considering their demographic is 18-35, but GQ? Gentlemen’s Quarterly? Really? I can’t tell you one person who would read this under the age of 25. By the age of 25 men have amassed a storage of cologne they have received through christmas/birthday via mothers and considerate significant others. Unless they are, to quote Homer Simpson “More of a cologne man,” the stuff will probably ferment into alcohol before they can use it all…

Men always love to tell women they have stuff they will never use. “You will never wear that dress dear…” “Why so many shoes? You only have two feet…” things like that. According to this magazine I counted 7 shoe advertisements. Seven! This is a 200 page magazine, but I only got to 150 before we were done at the barbers. That’s 5% of the pages dedicated to shoes. These magazines are researched and developed through meticulous planning, and apparently men like to buy shoes. Seriously.

Watches fall into a different category. My gamer own one watch. A beat up old black thing with a velcro band he had had for a minimum of ten years – it came with him when i first met him. It’s water proof, adjustable band, and still wakes me up at 2am on occasion since he has never bothered to reset the alarm. The watches they want you to buy are gold and silver, really nice pieces that could easily be family heirlooms, and may cost as much a downpayment on a car. They are large clunky one size watches – you know the type, they are circles and they expand out and then click into place, to change the size you have to take the durn thing apart and insert more links? My father has one, and it is also the same one he has had for years. All the funny faces inside the face, circles inside the numbers to indicate dates, seconds, months, your wives ovulation cycle…. >_> Seriously, there so many mini faces inside these watches it’s amazing you can still tell the time…

There are of course the common stereo types, big muscle cars (because who wants to look at ad’s for the volvo’s minivan right?), interviews with tough macho men (this month is Bruce Willis, ultimate 90s macho man, “Yippie-Ka-Ye!” right?), and women (but it was a miraculously low number of women… I saw the same – literally the exact same – woman three different places with the exact same picture. I couldn’t count more than 20 women’s photos….).

Stereo typing isn’t right in any sense of the word. But gamers are subject to their fair share of prejudices and judgements. But put the shoe on the other foot for just a moment. And I realize these are just the ranting of a Gamer Widow, but perhaps it will make you think. Just a little. The next time you do think someone who plays “role playing games” is just dumb or stupid closet nerd who lives on Mountain Dew and Doritos, remember that to him? You are a shallow man with six pack abs, a closet full of shoes and overly strong cologne, telling time on a watch you can barely see.

Think about it.

Lady N.

All opinions expressed here are the subject of the author and are not intended for serious use and do not solely express the opinions of the GWHTS.

Aloha Out There

Gamer Widow: (Noun) A wife, or significant other, of a gamer, (a board, video, role play, any man who spends a considerate amount of his personal time dedicated to his gaming) who is left on her own specifically because of the other significants gaming

Aloha Everyone–

Nikki reporting here from my little island in the middle of the ocean. As was previously stated, this blog was started as both an out reach for other “gamer Widows” and as a blog for ourselves to share and discuss ideas. Mary – introduced in the previous blog – was the brains behind this operation.

As of right now, our group number 6+ women on a good day, but it is usually three or four of us hanging out and spending time together. Our cast is a motley and diverse crew, but the thing that got it all started? Our men.

I’m sad – but also glad – to say we met because of our men. The local game shop has had a gathering night every Monday night for the last like… ten years or so? Anyway a very long time. And we being the supportive women we were, went to a few of the game nights. Then were promptly abandoned. Just to be clear, it isn’t intentional usually or mean, and our men are all wonderful, but when posed with a room full of other nerdness, rule lawyering, and painted plastic army men…. welll … they are boys at the end of the day and easily distracted.

And it was with those events that led us to being friends. We realised over the course of time that we are actually extremely lucky to have each other. I think i have been going to the game store the longest now at almost a full ten years, and it was almost four before i even saw another girl there. Hopefully this blog will act as a way of reaching out to other women, other Gamer Widows, who are in need of a friend or a way to spend some free time.

Now understand most of us do actually game as well. it gives an interesting perspective that we can share this hobby with our men, but for us it’s a time killer most of the time, for them it’s a serious hobby.

*** The definition is still a work in progress, and it more a mentality than something can be put into a specific phrase.****

Aloha All! ~Nikki

‘Allo There

407563_10100121533343196_19513277_40921938_1317822238_nHi, Welcome to our little corner of the gaming community. Presumably if you are reading this, you are one of the women in our at present small group.  If not, let me welcome you to take a look around and contribute to a list or two.  My name is Mary, and you will soon see posts from the other Gaming wives,widows and what-have-yous.

This blog is our way of reaching out to other women within our community, and as a way to discuss books,crafts and do so over a good cup of tea (or beer, on occasion.)  It started mostly because two, then three, then four of us, and more now drifted together on Monday nights as the guys got together to game.  We talked about hanging out outside of that and eventually built up to hanging out just because.

So we will have a running bucket list of tea places we want to try, reviews of books we have read, and crafts we are working on.  My daughter was just officially made a part of our H.T.S.  and welcomed with her very own tea set. My first craft project will be a tea tray I am decorating for her.

Some of us do game, in fact most of us do be it board games, console games, or war games.  So there is something here for everyone because we will probably talk about games also.  Anyway welcome and come inside and meet the misses!