Well, A big one anyway. My step-dad's birthday ~ the big 6-0 ~ is at the end of the month. This man has been such a blessing in our lives - not just to our mother, but to all of us. And marrying into this family was quite an undertaking....we are many and we are....unique. He is a brave soul, I hope we have never given him reason to regret it ;-)
Why do I mention his birthday now, when it is still weeks away? Because I just got around to turning my calendar from August (yeah, so sue me) and noticed an anomaly that had never struck me before. September is almost devoid of family birthdays. There are only 2, and both of those are "married in's" In a family the size of ours, you'd think we'd have managed a September birth or two.
And the calendar? One of the greatest gifts I get each and every Christmas, from another man who has been an incredible blessing in all our lives ~ my brother-in-law. My sister started the tradition decades ago of gifting everyone with a calendar, pre-populated with all the family birthdays & anniversaries, each year (nope, no anniversaries in Sept, either. Odd). When she started doing it, that meant writing all the data, on all the pages, by hand. The task was eventually made easier when she could load all the relevant dates into a computer and print out labels, though they still need to be individually stuck in the right block on the right month. When she died, her husband stepped up and took over. It is a testament to the type of man he is that he still carefully shops for those calendars, making sure we each get a unique one which fits our interests and personality - and I can only imagine him with his assembly line of open calendars, peeling & sticking label after label from his printed sheets.
It is a great gift, and a great tradition, from a great man - and it reminded me that I have 3 weeks to come up with something for another great man in my life.
and 2 months to come up with something for THE great man in my life - D's birthday is in November. Along with 6 other members of the family :-)
This comic, other than the monster truck, could be showing my mother's vacations through the years. She's a firecracker, my mom.
She built a family, which they seem to frown on.
She built a career, which they seem to resent.
And she has made them completely lose sight of everything they claimed to represent.
Then along comes the beautiful and accomplished governor of Alaska, who has a successful political career, a loving (and faithful) husband, and a large and beautiful family. She appears to be the living validation of the feminist dream that it is, after all, possible to have it all. They eagerly look into the mirror of her soul hoping to catch a glimpse of themselves only to discover--horrors of horrors--that she is not one of them. Instead, she is a bona fide builder of the Culture of Life, who eschewed an abortion to give birth to a Downs syndrome baby. She is an advocate of traditional marriage, a serious Christian believer, a fiscal conservative who believes in local government, and a card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association.
No wonder the feminists feel angry and betrayed.
As they say, read it all.
(Hat Tip TCHOTP)
My niece got herself all married up yesterday. No pics yet, but thought I post this anyway. They chose Jack Johnson's Better Together for their first dance as Mr. & Mrs.
Cute song, nice easy vibe...not really easy to dance to, though. They sure looked adorable just the same.
To those members of my family who insist on getting married:
I hate shopping and I have no idea what is in style, so you can bet I will show up at your ceremony in something ugly that I bought at the last minute.
You have been warned.
Another beautiful bride, another beautiful wedding.
My nephew married this lovely young lady in July.
Doesn't this look like a magazine shot, too?
I posted before about the significant things that have happened on February 9th, the most important of which is the birth of my wonderful, amazing, beautiful mother.
Happy Birthday, thanks for being my mommy - I am the luckiest girl ever!
My family celebrates our Christmas a bit late, mostly for practical reasons, so today was the big to-do.
Waffles with strawberries and whipped cream :-) and lots of presents. Have I ever mentioned how much I love my Amazon wish list? I am so spoiled.
We have a long standing tradition in my family of making homemade ornaments for each other every year. I've always subscribed to the idea that they should be personalized in some way to signify the giver.
Generally, this has led to an ornament noting something that was going on in my life the previous year; when I was taking sign language classes I made the "I love you" sign out of clay, when I worked at MyGeek I made little teddy bears with taped up geek glasses, last year I was playing a lot of poker so I took the kings from a bunch of decks to make three kings under a star..... In 2001, however, I went with the event that affected us all and made my snowmen little patriotic messengers.
This year I am without an event, personal or otherwise, to commemorate.
I realize that most of you don't know me personally, so you may not have any suggestions that way (though maybe you remember something I blogged that would work, I sure don't) but you may know of some local or national event worth remembering in Holiday seasons to come.
BTW: Just to head off you smart alecks, Britney & K-Fed divorcing and TomKat's wedding are not the sorts of things I am looking for :-P
Today marks the 24th anniversary of the debut of TCHOTP's oldest son, a child who continues to prove himself a worthy heir (and an all around cool kid).
Proof that the step-family thing can work. My step-sister and her husband are in New York visiting another step-sister (I guess that is proof enough that it can work, but we were mostly all grown up when our parents got married).
Their kids; two of his and one of hers, are staying with my mom and step-dad. His daughter, the cutest little 3 yr old in town, wanted to see the wedding pictures I have on my computer. As we clicked through she would say, "that's my dad", "that's my mom", "that's ME!". At one point she pointed to a picture and said, "that's my mom - I love her"
How sweet is that!
One of my sweet, smart, gorgeous nieces called this morning. Three weeks to go and she graduates from Notre Dame - then, after a pit stop back home this summer, she is going on to graduate school.
How did that happen? She was just running around in bare feet and pigtails, like, yesterday....!?!?
On this episode Kia was doing a round bed in her really ugly room. I commented that Ikea had a round bed that I thought would be fun as a couch in my living room, especially since it splits into 4 wedges you could move around. Mom didn't say anything.
When they finished the rooms (Did I tell you Kia's was really ugly?) I mentioned that I would take the bed, which also rotated BTW, as a couch. I think it would be fun for watching TV and stuff.
"That's because you're weird"
To my sister, who has teenage boys, I can only say, "count your blessings"
But you might not want to show them that post.
I am in Arizona, the Bronx Opera is in New York.
Why do I care? Because my step-sister (you really need to update that site chicky) will be appearing with them in January and I would love to see her do it. I have had very few opportunities to see her perform live, and I would love to see her and NYC. Any of you that are there, I recommend you catching the show.
I don't even know if I can find the words to describe how great the past weekend was - even the memorial gathering for my grandmother.
I have a ton of work to get through, but I will try to post the whole story later.
My Grandmother died early this morning. She was nearly 90 and had been battling Alzheimers for years. And she was amazing - I will try and write about her at a later time.
I finally put a link to my sister's blog on my sidebar.
Sorry it took me so long
My sister (along with her kids and our mother and step-father) is in Hawaii, and so has an excuse for not blogging. She is sending me pics from her phone, though, so I am posting them for her.
She is photoblogging without even trying
I have mentioned before how wonderful my mother is, but maybe I haven't said it often enough. I have been reminded this week just how special she is, and how lucky I am to have been raised by someone with her heart.
She, along with most of the rest of the family, is on a cruise this week. That means that I have been left running the office - alone. She arranged for one of her friends to come in on Monday and help with some of the data entry since we knew there would be a LOT. This woman has been friends with Mom since high school - how cool is that? Anyway, talking with her reinforced all the things I have always believed about my mom; how kind she is (and has always been it seems), how fun she is to be around, how much people respect her, how smart she is, how generous, how loyal, how warm, how supportive..... I like knowing that my impressions of her aren't just my personal bias - other people see it too.
I was reminded again yesterday when a friend had an issue with their mother - one that involved her doing/saying what I'm sure she felt was loving and helpful, but which gives me a headache just to think about - and I realized I would never have to deal with anything like that from my mom. We were all so spoiled by her that any behavior different than hers is a complete puzzle.
Mom was described by everyone who married into our family (including my ex) as "the perfect mother-in-law". Perhaps because she is always there when you need her, but not nosing in when you don't. In fact, I never really got those mother-in-law jokes till I had one...who decided before we even met that I was not the right one (she was still hung up on his high school sweetheart - 7 years later) - what a nightmare that could be sometimes.
Anyway, I am grateful everyday that she is my mom - and I'm sure the other 5 feel the same way. Thanks, Mom, for being your own fantastic self!
Hope you are having a wonderful, relaxing time on your cruise - see you soon.
As in all wars not involving the French, each side wins its share of battles. The challenge is that most of these training skirmishes are fought by the combatants unawares, such that occasionally one discovers, in a moment of frightening clarity, that one has been programmed to do the bidding of a little fartling.
BTW: Dictionary.com doesn't have an entry for "fartling".....
I have a sister (well, step-sister actually, but why split hairs) who is currently living in New York while she pursues her singing career (Opera).
She is someone who I wish would get a blog, but I am grateful that she maintains an email list and keeps us informed of the happenings in her life. I so envy her courage and drive - not to mention her tremendous talent.
Here is just a small excerpt from today's email, I love her comparison of learning to ski with learning to sing:
And so in the meantime I'm working with Mini on "correct places to pee" (don't laugh... sometimes this can be confusing) and hoping for some version of prince charming, or at least the artist formerly known as prince charming to come get me. Or I him. Or something. To overuse this tired metaphor, it seems lately my life is filled with frogs... I'm practically a French chef. I read in a funny book that men are like free furniture... impossible to find when you're looking.I sent her some wisdom I found on a keychain - "I'm not looking for the perfect man, he's looking for me!"
And what else? I signed another year's lease on my apartment. New York is still crazy... the range of experiences I have every day is sometimes astounding. Most recently? I went skiing for the first time... well... "falling", really. What an experience. Skiing is just like singing. You have to learn stuff that doesn't really make all that much sense at first, let it fall into your body, and then trust that those things are there... and then you get to experience magic... but the more you try to control things, or force your muscles to get what they've just learned... the more you fall on your butt. LOL!!! Sometimes, I was thinking, the best thing to do is just throw yourself down on it. No sense in trying to turn once the spirit's left you.
We were so busy celebrating Christmas today that I completely forgot it is my mom & step-dad's anniversary.
When we scheduled it I remember noting that it was the same day - then I just spaced it. Not just any anniversary, mind you, their 10 year anniversary.
Worst daughter ever ~ that's me.
Go say Happy Birthday to my sister tomorrow - it is her first birthday with a blog.
With my sister's birthday coming up on Saturday, our mother and step-dad decided to take us to lunch to celebrate.
She chose Oregano's - mmm mmm good choice.
I got the enormous Chicken Ceasar Salad - which means I have enough left for dinner :-) This is a tremendously tastey dish - I whole-heartedly recommend it. However, I haven't found anything on their menu yet that I wouldn't recommend.
Because we were celebrating her birthday, they gave us a free PizzOokie (pizza cookie) This is usually to die for. Today, though it was still good, it was a disappointment. The cookie, which is always just lightly cooked so it is still soft, was undercooked so it was still doughy. Always in the past the cookie has covered the bottom of the pan, today it barely covered half. The cookie is topped with ice cream, but they were so stingy with it today I almost sent it back - and it was a free dish. Don't know what was up with that. I am mainly disappointed because it was a first visit for the three of them and I wanted it to be perfect.
I guess we'll just have to force ourselves to go again another day ;-)
Word of mouth scale:
Tony nails it, that special something children bring - "why we do it" as one commenter said - and what we risk missing.
I have none of my own, one of the only things in my life that causes me regret. However, I see my brothers and sisters in that post. I have been fortunate to have amazing nephews and nieces. I am blessed, also, to have friends who share their little treasures, their offspring, with me.
Time flies so quickly - the first child born to one of my siblings (wasn't it just a couple of years ago?) has children of his own now.
I have memories of when my sister let me borrow her boys for a whole month one summer - when I lived out of state. They were 4 and 6 (?) at the time and we had such fun, and I wish I had taken more pictures. I remember being amazed she was able to part with them for that long a time, especially when it came time to send them home - I didn't think it was possible for a heart to shatter in that many pieces...even knowing I'd see them again soon, at Christmas, didn't ease the ache. (there was also a plan to borrow them the following year, but it is hard to deal with homesick boys when you're dealing with your cheating husband and the end of your marriage. I will always regret that missed opportunity with them and the way I handled it) Now they are grown, making us all proud with their smarts, making us all crazy with their fashion choices
I know that my brother's children will do well in the world because of the example he and his wife set. He is one of the greatest fathers I have ever had the pleasure to watch - where he found his example I don't know, perhaps seeing our mother be great in both parenting roles.
I often see people rushing to "get through" the weeks, or months, or years, with their kids - not realizing that time is rushing all on it's own.
The chance to just be with them is now. The time to make memories is today.
(Hat Tip to Brutally Honest, who says it much better than I - "The T-ball games, the Christmas mornings, the wagon rides, the times at the beach, the bed-time stories, the reading times and the family get togethers where our little guys were the center of attention.
Dear God how time does fly.")
UPDATE: I can't seem to get enough of Tony's blog. His writing is thoroughly enjoyable. He captures the tiny moments in life and touches your heart - I should be working, instead I am chuckling, tearing up, nodding in agreement, all of the above...
I have a step sister, Piper Pack, who has been pursuing a career as a professional opera singer for several years. Her dedication, determination and guts are a constant source of amazement to me. She moved to New York a couple of years ago, on her own, because that is where the auditions are. And audition she does and does and does. I can't imagine a life that involves constantly putting yourself out there for critique and possible rejection. She lives it and, literally, makes it sing.
She has an interview online this month at Operaworks.
And some swag for sale from a concert she did before she moved to NY.
As some of you know, I was in Mexico at a wedding the day Ronald Reagan died. We were blissfully unaware anything had happened to him - thankfully. It allowed us all to fully enjoy one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever attended.
I am hoping my step-sister won't be mad at me for posting one of the pictures because I just can't help it. They are such a gorgeous, loving couple.
But she doesn't...yet.
I didn't think it would make much of an impact on most of you, what with Ronald Reagan and Ray Charles passing last week, but my grandfather died one week ago today. My step-grandfather, actually. My mother was only 9 months old when her father died (fishing, Lake Superior), and Grandma married Jim a few years later. They were married for 20-some years before they got divorced, and he always remained part of the family.
I wasn't very close to him; certainly not as close as I would have liked to be, definitely not as close as I should have been.
I can't tell you if he was a good person. Maybe not since there must have been a reason for the divorce. Maybe not because, though he suffered from Alzheimer's, it was the years of drinking and smoking that got him. I can tell you he was always good to me.
I know he was in the Jaycees for many, many years. I know he loved the outdoors. I know he used to take the Grandkids up to 'Ditch Camp' for fishing. I only went once (too young when he was doing that) and didn't catch a thing, but he did and cooked the only fish I have ever been able to eat.
He had a beautiful little cabin up in Pinetop/Lakeside where he spent his final years. He had a standing invitation for us all to come visit him but few of us did; it was too far, we were too busy, or (my personal favorite) it was too cold up there in the snow. Once again, I missed the opportunity to spend time with someone before they were gone. I missed the chance to be sure he knew that I loved him.
This is one of my favorite pictures,
the two of us dancing at my mother's wedding (9 years ago)
The song was "As Time Goes By"
I just read an email from one of my sweet, smart, gorgeous nieces (the sweet, smart, gorgeous niece currently attending an exclusive college on the Pacific Coast). She has just finished her first year, and has decided to switch to a double major for next year - apparently she wasn't busy enough. Here is what she was doing this year:
On top of attending games and classes, I am involved in writing sports articles for the school paper, I volunteer for a mentor program called Campus Kids (I am a mentor to the coolest 5th grade girl ever! ), I play intramural basketball, softball, soccer, and flag football, I am in the philosophy club, the bike club, a hall council member, and I am in the paintball club. I also had an on campus job working in the library--I basically got paid to do homework, which was nice. I got a job in the Housing office and I am a summer RA (Resident Assistent). I basically take care of the needs of residents of the dorm, which happens to be apartment building.Whew! Tires me out just to read about it.
I just got off the phone with one of my sweet, smart, gorgeous nieces (the sweet, smart, gorgeous niece currently attending Notre Dame). Her boyfriend of several years, himself a Notre Dame gradute, joined the Navy not too long ago. He is currently stationed in Monterey where, due to his receiving the highest score ever on the language aptitude test, he is learning Chinese. Once he completes the course he will be stationed in Hawai'i for the next three years. Rough duty.
I wonder, though, about the bigger implications. Here is an incredibly bright young man, very linguistically agile (he already knows those highly useful languages Latin and ancient Greek) and the direction they go with him is Chinese. With our current conflicts I would have expected a focus on one of the Middle Eastern dialects. Perhaps we are flush with Arabic interpreters already...
Is the military seeing a potential problem with China in the future (something my ex has been predicting for years) or do they just like to have a well rounded group and Chinese is where they are lacking? Just wondering.