family

The Ghostess With The Mostess

I know I’m late getting this Post-Portland-Poltergeist update on the blog, but it took me this long to recoup from four days of acting like I was 23 again. Props to my scuzzin, Mikey, who is an amazing host, often making me and Vanessa dinner or late-night snacks, showing us all around his incredible city, and taking us to the coolest bars and restaurants. Isn’t he adorbs? (ahhh the pasty glow of our pigment-lacking genetics)

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Halfway through our “reds flight” wine tasting and we’re feelin’ no pain.

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Warped Reflections

 

water ripples photo: Ripples water1.jpg

The Past needs to stay there, they say.

Romanticized memories, made so by glass-half-full optimism and naivety. Or was it self-preservation? I suppose it was.

Is.

Blips from long ago, like jagged stone, tumbled and molded by the river of life. Transformed into smooth, round rocks that glow burnt orange and mustard yellow under the shimmery surface. I’m mesmerized by their simplicity. Content.

I take one out of the water to inspect it further. See it for what it really is.

It’s ugly, jagged stone.

I recoil and throw it back in the water where it can beautiful again. Clean. Harmless.

After the stone breaks the surface, ripples continue as far as I can see. This gives me clarity.

I understand now why the past is still here.

Ripples.

I don’t blame her. But I do.

I hate her. But I don’t.

I resent her. Yet I try to have perspective.

I lean over the bank to see my reflection.

But too often, it’s hers that stares back at me.

The horror.

The beauty.

Do you find silver-linings in things that don’t deserve them? Do parts of your past still ripple into the present? Have you ever seen yourself in someone you don’t like? Share your thoughts, I’d love to hear them.  

I’m Aggressively Competitive. But Also Covered In Glitter. So There’s That.

*TToT BECAUSE I’M COMPETITIVE*

Dyanne is tweeting shit already about winning this thing, so now I have to “do stuff” and “make an effort”. GAH. If YOU want your chance to actually WIN something, an actual concrete, tangible gift sent from English England by Lizzi herself, press THIS and enter the contest.

But SUCKIT cuz I’m winning that shiny package!

I knew ALL the answers! maybe.

I never get computer time on the weekends, but everyone is out of the house for like ten minutes so I got lucky! I’ve got to do this quick – like quickie style!

I’m thankful for:

* This week was my Birfday and I’m grateful for my family who goes so far out of their way to make me feel like the most special person in the world. I got coffee in bed, flowers, cake, dinner, hugs, cards, phonecalls, texts, e-cards, emails, and thoughtful gifts. I didn’t even announce it was my birthday in the blogosphere except in one location for a specific reason, but word got out and then I received a ton of SWEET WONDERFUL birthday wishes from my bloggy family too, which absolutely melted my heart and put a cherry on my sundae. I even got this handmade card from Lizzi on Facebook! I couldn’t stop smiling.

lizzis card

* ICE ICE BABY! No, not the rap song. Although I hear Vanilla Ice can re-do a house like a mofo. Real ice! We have cold weather and the kids got a snow day! I know this is usually a terrible thing with the roads being dangerous, travel plans being ruined, power outages and the like. And those things are AWFUL, but I’m talking about the sledding my kids have been doing for two days. They are so damn HAPPY and CUTE all bundled up with rosy cheeks and smiley faces. We are blessed to be in a warm, safe home. I’m so very thankful for that.

*GLITTER! And the English bloggy friends that come with it. I got a beautiful, sparkly card in the mail yesterday, but didn’t see it till this morning. As soon as I eyed some glitter my gut yelled, “Get that over the sink – it’s from LIZZI!!!” Thank goodness I listened as it exploded with bits of confetti stars and glittery goodness! A handmade Lizzi card filled with funny Christmas wishes (that only she and I could understand, of course!) for me and my family.   She.Won. Mail. Forever.

*Keurig coffee makers. Because they also make hot chocolate cups, and this is infinitely easier to make for the increasing number of children that have come in/out of my house since the ice storm hit. I happen to be “that” house on our block. You know, the one where ALL the kids end up, which I adore, but I also need to be ready with snacks and drinks when they come in thirsty and hungry! It takes forever to heat up four + hot chocolates (with marshmallows of course) in the microwave! Thank you Keurig for making my life so much easier!

*Birthday money. Cuz momma needed new running shoes. Cuz life is full of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th chances, which I’m also thankful for (hey, this one counts as two!) And maybe I will need those runnin’ shoes soon. *Chants: I will get outta this funk, I will get outta this funk*

*Wine

*Wine

*Wine (shut up. I’m really thankful for wine)

*Movies and Books. Because I love to escape. I love stories. Did I ever tell you all that I thought of that as a name for a kid – “Story”? I remember telling my husband I thought it would be the coolest name, maybe for a girl. I was afraid it was too feminine to be a boy’s name. THEN, Jenna Elfman (Dharma of Dharma and Greg) named her son Story like 2 years later! I know! I’m so money and I don’t even know it!

That’s it peeps! If you wanna be part of THE MOST supportive and fun blog community, RUN to link up with Ten Thing of Thankful!! RIGHT HERE. You will never, ever regret it!

Ten Things of Thankful

Katie, Bar The Door!

I’ve been off the grid for four days with NO Wifi or TV!

DA FUH? Who does that? Thank Jesus and all things holy for 4g or I would have gone rat shit crazy on some people. I was able to do some things with my iphone, but was way more disconnected than I’m comfortable with – in other words – I missed you!

Now I’m back and BUSTING. I’m about to unleash everything that’s been pent up in my head for the past five days, hence the title of this post. Enjoy.

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Literally while on the road I find out via twitter that Inion N. Mathair are spotlighting me on their blog this week! I was gobsmacked (been waiting to use that word)! They are an infinitely talented mother/daughter writing duo who’ve been a HUGE support to me since the very beginning, and who’ve taught me what it means to be a supportive blogger. Please do yourself a favor and explore their wonderful blog, and even better, their books! Nightwalkers: The Secret of Jessup.
From the Dark and Twisted Mind of Inion N. Mathair.
The Perfect 7.

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Both boys were late to school a week or so ago because my 6yo had a last minute outfit dilemma (HAD to wear his red converse which had no laces). Each day when they get home I have to sign their binders which have detailed entries from their school day. That afternoon, this is what I found in my 9yo’s binder when I went to sign it:

tarty dangit

makin’ the family proud

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Remember two weeks ago when I went to the art reception and the hubs got me the awesome necklace, but it had to be shipped to me? Here it is. I love its simplicity. It’s a greyish green. Falls just under my collarbone.

birthday necklace

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MY TRIP!

Okay, so this was the annual girls trip I do with my mom and three aunts. Last year was in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. This year we stayed somewhat local and visited Ingram, Texas (just outside of Fredericksburg for those of you familiar with the area). The leaves are just starting to change here so it was beautiful. I always forget how pretty the Hill Country is with all the picturesque small towns, dreamy rivers, and enormous trees that stop me in my tracks and take my breath away. And you know, you KNOW, there were so many laughs. It got down-right crazy more than a few times. There are only three of us who drink, and managed to cash five bottles of wine over the weekend.

*A selection of photos for your viewing pleasure*

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Replica of Stonehenge

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My climbing tree

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In the branches

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view from up here

SO, I got talked into (bullied) being the test kayak to go down a very narrow (choked with roots and branches) neck of the lake (stagnant water shit hole) to see if it connected to an adjacent fishing pond. It didn’t. On the way to discovering the dead end, I managed to knock the low lying, dead branches onto myself and my kayak, along with about five hundred (okay a dozen) spiders. The area was so narrow I couldn’t turn my kayak around so I had to stand up and turn around to row the other way back out, subsequently knocking more branches – and spiders – onto my kayak, my shirt, and my hair. During this, two of my aunts were hanging back in another boat saying things like, “You’re doing great!” and “You’re so good at this!”

Whatever.

I wasn’t freaking out about the spiders. Much. I mean, I was squealing and stuff, but that’s all. UNTIL….I glanced over and there’s this freakin’ huge one right next to me coming straight for my shirt – then I just knew they were all over me and I did some sort of Bugs Bunny – Cirque de Solei freak out that I’ll never be able to repeat or explain, and like a cat I flew straight outta my seat and ended up on the end of the kayak balancing on my fingers and toes, but somehow, someway, stayed in the boat. My aunts rowed over and started killing spiders until I felt sure there were none left. I then collected my oar that I’d hurled into the water during my  acrobatic maneuver, brushed myself off, and gracefully rowed back to shore as if nothing happened. I’m resilient like that, however, I’ve officially retired as guinea pig.

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pre-spider invasion

MY amazing family managed to organize and cook the most incredible Thanksgiving meal in our condo. We celebrated early so we wouldn’t have to all travel twice this month to be together. As usual, they give me jobs like: bring wine. This is wise because I clearly don’t have the skills to pull off what they did. In case you’re wondering, the effins were perfect.

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WE went to Fredericksburg’s trade days on Saturday, and while very eclectic and fun, my favorite find was a particular booth that gave me an endless source of amusement while terrorizing friends via text and twitter:

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Does my hair look okay?

IF you’ve ever read my comment section after a post about my family, you’ve seen what’s lacking (comments from them!) and put it together that they don’t read my blog. That’s because they don’t know about it. I’ve often been tempted to tell them. I think they’d be mildly horrified, but mostly tickled and proud. I’ll share an enormous secret with you: They don’t even know I write.

Oh, they know I do Nanowrimo, but that’s because it was introduced to me by one of my cousins, so we talk about it amongst family. But they don’t know I belong to writing groups, or have a blog, or have written a novel for Pete’s sake! I’m one of those people who’s pretty private (I know, seems ironic given the blog) and am more comfortable doing something behind the scenes (in case I fail) and then announcing it when I’ve succeeded.

I need autonomy first.

I’m the only granddaughter/niece in the family, so I look to them, study them as women, and often wonder who I take after most. Each of them artistic, strong, giving, talented, smart, organized, unorganized, funny as shit, dynamic, amazing women. This weekend I realized for the first time something that made me very proud. I’m not like one of them. I’m like all of them.

But there’s this one facet of my being that’s unique to me. This enormous, yet fragile writer part. I envision publishing one day and surprising them, letting them into this sliver of my world. Someday it will make sense to them why I’m always staring off into space. Or why I’m so busy doing….what? What the hell does she do in her free time?

Someday they’ll know I’m a writer.

And then I’ll know it too.

Do you keep your blog secret from anyone? Do you think you’re most like one person in particular in your family, or a mixture? I love your comments!

Pass The Effins, Please.

Abundance

Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion for ushering in the holiday season; it’s a time for stories, projects, cooking and sharing. That’s exactly what this post is about. I’ve linked up with 5 other bloggers, each sharing a piece of what the season has to offer. We have humor, thought, family projects and food.

I hope you’ll click on all the links below to see what we’ve put together for you:

Home on Deranged has a family post about the first and last Thanksgiving spent with mom.
Kiss My List is sharing a simple but meaningful family craft project that does double duty as Thanksgiving decor.
The Rowdy Baker  has posted a recipe for an Iced Pumpkin Roll with Butterscotch Cream Filling.
PinkWhen  shares a project you can display for Thanksgiving dinner and guests.
Baking In A Tornado will share a recipe for that leftover turkey.

Me? Well, I have a humorous story (surprised?) about what happens when someone is pushed just one step too far.

Living several hours away from the majority of my extended family, often the only time I see them is on the holidays. So it’s odd that when I think of Thanksgiving, my first thought isn’t so much warm/fuzzy family nostalgia, or the amazing food, but more like when you reminisce episodes of your favorite comedy series, because the laughter is what I remember and what I look forward to most. As I’ve posted about them in the past, they are a lively crew with, shall we say, eclectic personalities.

There are too many stories to recount in just one post…like the time my one cousin walked into the glass patio door holding a full plate of food…or how Aunt Jane will inevitably show up behind you with a vegetable hanging out of her nose….or how my brother, who’s notoriously either late or a no-show for every event, will make my mother a nervous wreck until the very last minute, but then stroll in, sometimes even mid-meal, and my mom will be so happy he showed she’ll practically throw a parade for him – and I’m all, hey, where’s my frickin’ confetti? I drove 5 hours to get here with two kids and I was on time….ahem, I digress…

But there is one story that stands out above ’em all and continues to sort of define the holidays with our crew. The story of how mashed potatoes became known as the “effins”.

Approximately fifteen years ago, “the hens” – as I refer to the ladies who plan everything – were divvying up cooking duties, making lists, and getting organized for the upcoming holiday. I’m constantly blown away with the amount of preparation a Thanksgiving meal requires. Thankfully, I’m still given jobs like: bring wine and canned cranberries. Sometimes it pays to suck in the kitchen.

Anyway, as usual, Aunt Anne (of Superhero Otter fame) was given the job of making mashed potatoes, because, well, that’s her thing. She rocks mashed potatoes. What nobody realized was, she didn’t really plan on it being her thing. In fact, she aspired to contribute casseroles and desserts, yet was always assigned mashed potatoes. That particular year, she’d had enough and protested. After a few go ’rounds between the four sisters, where they continued to insist she make them because she did it best, this happened:

Aunt Anne: Fine! I’ll make the fucking mashed potatoes!

Initial stunned silence was quickly replaced with hysterical laughter. Although her outburst didn’t result in alternate meal assignments, it did birth a new family joke: mashed potatoes have never been referred to as such again. Instead, they became the f#*%ing mashed potatoes. Of course, to negate the necessity of repeating the F-word, they altered it to “effing mashed potatoes”…and now simply, the effins. For years since, Aunt Anne has received antique potato mashers for Christmas, lest she forget her special kitchen calling. I’m sure she burns treasures every one of them.

See you in a few weeks, my crazy-wonderful tribe. Aunt Anne, make plenty of effins. I’ll be having two helpings, as usual, because you know yours are the best.

tday

Lucy! You’ve Got Some ‘Splaining To Do!

I think every relationship has a Lucy and a Ricky. The Lucy obviously being the one who’s always getting into trouble, having to be reminded of everything, can be expected to screw up, etc. In our marriage, that’s yours truly. Or it was. Until this past Spring….

My husband and his buddy decided they could build a patio cover for our existing arbor by themselves. Who needs professionals, right? They had “built stuff” before and owned lots of tools, that’s all it requires, right? With an almost cocky confidence and a case of beer, they set off to make a patio cover. I begged Jim to call someone qualified was slightly doubtful, but tried to be optimistic. After all, this DIY project had the potential to save us thousands of dollars.

My Bob Vilas

My Bob Vilas working hard

For two solid weekends they toiled on our arbor until announcing it was finished. They couldn’t wait for the first rain to test their labor of love. We all stood underneath the patio, anxiously looking up. Hey, no leaks! It actually worked! They patted themselves on the back and strutted like peakcocks for days.

About a month later we had torrential rain for a solid week. One morning I stepped on the tile at the backdoor to let the dog out, and it squished under my feet! Water was bubbling through the grout! As I inspected the area (in a panic at this point) I noticed a giant bulge in the drywall over the door.

Uh...dear...I think there's a problem

Uh…dear…I think there’s a problem

Turns out there wasn’t enough of an incline for rainwater run-off because my Bob-the-Blunders didn’t think the type of shingles they used would need it. Also, in their infinite wisdom, they hadn’t put up splash guard, so now gallons of rainwater was being absorbed by porous grout and sucked into our house….along the entire length of the family room. I suddenly could relate with Walter from Money Pit, in that delirious moment when the bathtub falls through the floor and he comes completely unglued in hysterical fits of laughter.

we didn't need that money anyway

we didn’t need that money anyway

What I didn’t realize until months of tile replacement, cussing, caulking, check writing, ranting quiet meditation was the gift this colossal F#@* UP truly was. In that moment, every idiotic thing I’d done up to that point was erased. I was a clean slate, and frankly, would never have to worry about doing stupid shit again, because nothing ever, ever, never, ever is going to trump the time Jim rotted the back of the house off.

I’m the new Ricky, and damn if these pants aren’t comfortable!

Does your relationship have a Ricky/Lucy dynamic? If so, which are you? Have you or your other half ever done anything SO bad the tables turned? DO TELL!

It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s An…Otter?

I have a special story coming out to play today. A legend, really. Remember my loon-bird family? (if you’re new here, read this) Well, one of them came to my house dressed as a Superhero Otter once. I shit you negative. Let me explain.

It all started when a conversation began about what super power you’d choose if you could. My family had no trouble picking theirs, ranging everywhere from mind-control to invisibility. This morphed into picking actual Superhero identities, and yes, even designing hypothetical costumes cuz we’re weird detail oriented like that. But this story is about Aunt Anne, who chose to be the Superhero Otter, because they have the power make people smile and diffuse uncomfortable situations with their water acrobatics and undeniable cuteness.

One day my eldest son – nearly four at the time –  was home sick from preschool when Aunt Anne called. We were chatting away when my son demanded to know who I was talking to. Aunt Anne said, “tell him it’s the Superhero Otter.” Upon hearing this he wanted to speak to her, of course. They spoke on the phone for a few minutes while I watched my son’s eyes light up with wonder.

Because things can’t be dropped at this stage in my family, an idea grew that Superhero Otter would come visit my son; he had questions, after all, and wanted to see this Otter in person. My Aunt is not one to let little boys down. One might assume she just bought a mask and came over one day.

*throws head back in laughter*

Nearly six weeks later, she arrived at our door in a handmade, head-to-toe otter costume, complete with whiskers and claws. The hubs and I could barely keep a straight face. Her voice was diguised with a deeper, huskier one. She brought fried fish to share for lunch, and real seashells for my son to keep. She spent over an hour with him, chatting and answering his many questions. My son was amazed, mesmerized, gobsmacked! He took her by the paw and showed her his room and toys. It was all at once the most bizarre, hilarious, precious thing I’d ever witnessed.

Yes, our now 9yo still believes in the Superhero Otter, as does our 6yo. Periodically, Otter leaves small toys and shells hidden around the house to let them know she’s been there to check on them. And they know if they ever need help, all they have to do is think to her real hard, and she’ll always be there for them.

Someday they’ll learn the truth about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. But Otter will sting the most. Or will it? For the boys to know Aunt Anne cares so much about them she would go to these lengths just to entertain and be a part of their lives….I hope, if anything, it proves to them Superheroes really do exist.

If I could pick a power it’d be the ability to instantaneously time travel, any place, any era. Let’s play! What would your power be? Who’s your inner Superhero? Do you have someone in your life that could be defined as a Superhero? I LOVE your comments!

The Apple Don’t Fall Far From The Nut Tree

One of my favorite childhood recollections is one where my whole family is gathered around the table for a big holiday meal. I glance over, and there’s one of my aunts looking right at me, completely serious…with an entire stalk of broccoli hanging out of her nose.

This is my family in a nutshell.

The most consistent theme running through my family memories is humor. Not just witty remarks and fart jokes, we’re talking complete lunacy. It would take a novel to recount all the bizarre/hilarious stories (and don’t think for a second I haven’t thought of that), but a recent conversation on a group email stream inspired me to really think about where I come from. The following conversation is verbatim, except where it isn’t, and yes, they are being completely serious. *names have been changed to protect the deranged. **yes, everyone still calls me Bethie, which I adore.

Polly: Meredith, do you have my braid of hair?

Anne: Yes, I believe I do. It’s somewhere around here in a paper bag.

Marge: Aunt Destiny’s hair? That has to go to Bethie when we’re all gone.

Polly: No, I’m talking about my hair. Aunt Destiny’s hair is being kept by Karen and probably won’t go to Bethie, although you never know. It does have to stay in the family. If they run out of people to hand it down to, it will have to come this way.

Me: What the what? A bag. Of hair. Why does Anne have a bag with your hair in it (ew)? And why is there some other hair (who is Aunt Destiny? that’s a stripper name btw) and why does her hair have to stay in the family? IAMNOTTAKINGIT.

Polly: Aunt Destiny’s hair is charmed. It is carried to ward off evil and disease. Generations ago, she died at a young age but had magnificent hair which they cut at her death. The family thought it brought good luck (but not for Aunt Destiny). So they kept it. Now our cousin Karen has it.

Marge: We’re a very superstitious family.

Me: How can I just be finding out about this? A bag of dead-girl-charmed-hair is a big matzo ball. You can’t just drop that in casual conversation. Wait, why does Anne have a paper bag of your hair, Polly?  Don’t tell me yours is “charmed” too? *winces while waiting for answer*f

Jane: What until you hear about the knife from Da’s shop. You’ll probably get that too.

Me: WHAT

Polly: Don’t listen to her. My hair is just from when I cut it all off ages ago. You couldn’t give it to the Cancer Society back then, so you just kept it. Somehow Anne ended up with it.

Me: Uh-huh. I can’t believe I’m going to ask this, but if your hair is in a paper bag, what is the charmed hair in?

Polly: An ivory case

Me: Of course it is

This is my family. They’re zany, superstitious, clever, dramatic, funny, creative, and you should avoid taking them in public.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How would you describe your family? Does yours have strange traditions or superstitions? Are there things about yourself you’re glad you got from them? Can’t wait to hear from you!

 

Happy Birthday, Sweetie…

TODAY is my husband’s birthday. That poses more problems that you would think. It’s very hard to buy for him. Why? Because he shops for himself so damn much he has freaking everything. He is a deal-hound with shopping tenacity that beats me down to NO end.

I. Don’t. Shop.

THAT IS WHY when he told me last week specifically what he wanted: the brand, the size, color, and where to buy it, I said, “done and done!”

FRIDAY, I took the Chaos Elves into a store (this is ill advised) and we picked out several of these *special* workout shirts for him per his very specific instructions. We were in/out in ten minutes. Frickin’ brilliant.

PLEASE recall this was Friday, after a week of being home with the elves for five days – 11 hours a day – and it was now evening and I’m wondering where my husband is at 7:00, starving-because-he’s-supposed-to-be-picking-up-our-food, when I get this text:
(mine are in green)

photo

A) Yes. Those shirts he’s asking me about are precisely the ones he told me to buy for him. AND he’s out shopping when he should be home. With food.
B) Note that my needs have heavily prioritized to food at this point.
C) I am very cranky when I get hungry.
D) We have been together 17 years. How has this man not learned when it is time to feed me?
E) You’re right, that was a harsh word to say to my husband on his birthday weekend. He’s such a great man, really. Okay, I take back “Duh”.
EFF!) It took me 17 times to get this text photo to upload right. I said bad words. I hope I get more tech-savvy soon.