Trick or I’m Thankful for Ho ho ho

It sounds silly but I wish there was more to Thanksgiving. Like, songs or something. Yesterday they began playing Christmas music on the radio (someone texted me this; I have XM, who is also playing it) and I was commenting today that every year, we start on Christmas earlier and earlier. When I went to get some last minute – like October 23rd or so – Halloween stuff, half of Target’s Christmas displays were up and operational.

I don’t want to say that we now gloss over Thanksgiving because we’re “less thankful” or a country full of materialistic assholes but one could surmise this from the small amount of time spent on the November holiday. Personally, I love the progression from Summer into Fall, to Halloween and then Thanksgiving before the whole holiday insanity and the inevitable letdown come January. For me anyway, I feel terribly depressed when it’s all over and done with. But the build-up is so great.

Thanksgiving in our family was always something we did big and spent time on. I always got this cozy homey feeling in November; one of harvesting and gathering and getting ready for a big feast with family that you love. My mom and I always set up this paper village:

And that always put me in the mood. Most years, we visited my dad’s family in Alabama but sometimes we spent it in South Florida with my maternal grandparents. The meals were vastly different but the company was no less warm and inviting.

I get excited thinking about the food every year. I don’t want to say that it’s an excuse to stuff myself but in some ways, we all like to say so. My mom’s meals now – since we no longer have my paternal grandparents and my mom’s parents aren’t able to cook anymore – are a mixture of the Southern and the Yankee meals of my youth. She still makes the yams with the little marshmallows and sometimes turnips. We find the frozen cream corn like Mema made but we forgo chicken and dumplings because they are labor intensive and never taste the same as Mema’s anyway. The dressing – or stuffing – doesn’t have giblets in it but it’s not plain ol’ Yankee cornbread stuff either.

Mom makes her own turkey recipe but it’s juicy and tender. I make the mashed potatoes so they’re creamy and buttery and not like cement, which my Grammy is famous for. I like that our family get-togethers now are a conglomeration of the old days and wat we’ve become now. We have a new generation of family to show this to and new traditions to build upon. If you couldn’t tell, I am really looking forward to next week. It’s like it can’t come soon enough. Though I don’t look forward to the drive down or the craziness of everyone sleeping in one house and dogs who don’t like each other… it’s still going to completely rock!

Give credit where credit is due

For a very long time, I held myself very high in comparison to Ash. I mean this only in terms of household chores, mind you. I do most everything. As do most moms/wives/. I read an article in the newest Fit Pregnancy/Parents/Parenting magazine (whichever one it was; we’re inundated even though I don’t even want those things anymore) that said something like – if I remember right – 30% of mothers say that their husbands are doing about 20% of the chores while they do the rest. The part that struck me as the most true is the “mental to-do list” that moms keep track of, whereas most fathers don’t realize that the diapers are running low or we need more raisins, etc.

But I want to take a second to list a few things Ash has done recently that deserve a shout out. For one, he’s been really good about writing general food things on our grocery list. I pounded a nail into the wall right by the back door and hung a small notepad and this was all it took for him to remind us when we need peanut butter, bananas, or other foods he typically eats.

Secondly, since I do the laundry, it tends to end up on our guest bed in a state of unfoldedness for a while and then I get to it but I tend not to put it away. The other day, I noticed that he’d taken all of his clothes and put them into the armoir. He should have taken them all, yes, but this is a big step!

Thirdly, he asked me to pick up Elliot yesterday – which is rare unless he’s getting a hair cut or, like then, having to do some extra work project. He managed to finish up and get home about 10 minutes before us and I came home to see him washing the dishes. Mind you, these were dishes from meals he did not eat. Because one of his unwritten all the time jobs is dishes after a meal that I make for us. So again, another big point for him noticing something and actually taking initiative.

I am pretty sure he doesn’t read my blog but in case he ever did, II think it’d be nice of me to acknowledge these things. We all want credit and approval for the things we do, even if we ever say it. So, thanks babe. I appreciate it!

Quiet reflection

Last night, I went to a Gentle Yoga class, because I cannot seem to find any prenatal ones that aren’t already full. So I get there and I like the room (this matters, you know) and they had ample blankets and bolsters, etc; things you could really use during a pregnant yoga session. But I tell you – and it didn’t really bother me – I was the youngest person there by maybe 20, even 30 years. In a lot of ways, the session was really good. We did some stretches that  helped a lot with the soreness I have been having and we relaxed, which was what I ultimately hoped for. The thing I liked the most was Yoga mudra:

Yoga Mudra

Imagine, though, that the guy is holding a tie (scarf, etc.)  wrapped around both hands, arms held shoulder width apart. It was an interesting pose, one I had no trouble doing. The instructor said it was the ultimate pose of surrender, which I thought was interesting. I’m not much into the bondage scene but I saw some definite connections between this yoga pose and that. That was actually sort of thrilling, in a weird way.

Though it did relax me, I don’t think it was enough. When I did prenatal yoga with Elliot, it was still a workout in which I sweat and felt worked afterward. I am seeking something more along those lines; it was missing the element of connecting to your baby, which I thought was cheesy the first go-round but find that I enjoyed immensely. I am going to seek out something more focused and see if I can’t work that into my weekly routine. It was super nice to get out of the house between 5:30 and 7, the prime Elliot care time. I came home to see that Ash had made mac and cheese and green beans and they were sitting at the table, eating together. This is a gigantic step for Ash because a.) he hates eating dinner at the table and b.) he doesn’t like dirty kid hands. But he handled it very well. You know, like an adult. Like a father.

Maybe I should have started on all this yoga stuff earlier but to be honest, I was waiting to make sure that the kid was really in there and that I wasn’t going to miscarry again. Not that I am in the clear but at 12 weeks your risk decreases  exponentially. And I am glad for it. I don’t need anything else to worry about.

So we’ll see how it all goes. Meanwhile, Ash and I celebrate our anniversary on the 15th. I just booked a room here: The McFarlin House. It’s out in Quincy and we’ve stayed there before. The last time was in November of 2007 for a little getaway. This time should be a little nicer for me since back then, I was still breastfeeding Elliot so in order to not be uncomfortable, I had to pump milk before bed and once in the middle of the night. I’m also planning on doing something traditional for Ash on the actual day of our  anniversary (we’re doing the overnight thing a week later when my mom can come babysit). The traditional 4th anniversary gift is fruit. I’m going to try to be creative with that.

If you have any creative fruit ideas, let me know! ‘Til the next blog post…

Discretion is the better part of valor

Well, supposedly it is. I am only choosing to write about this because I am pretty sure the people involved don’t read my blog. And I don’t think it would matter because I’m not saying anything that isn’t already just true.

So, our Christmas plans were to go to Chicago and stay with the BIL. Since he lives in the midwest and their dad in the west, we usually alternate between one of us going to the other’s locale. This year was ours to travel so we had this idea, cleared it with the BIL and put the bug into their dad’s ear. He said he was pretty much game.

Now, I had this weird feeling like the BIL would up and decide to do something with his girlfriend’s family but he assured us no. And then I was talking to him on AIM a couple days ago and it went a little something like this:
” I have to call Ash about Xmas.”
“Oh?”
“I don’t think Dad’s going to come. And I got invited to go north that weekend.”
“Oh. Ok. Well, he has football tonight so call him later sometime.”

And then I proceeded to tell Ash about it and man, was he fuming. The thing is this: he’s always the one who organizes family get-togethers on his side. If it weren’t for him, we’d never see his brother or dad, because they’re either lazy or they just don’t care, we can’t tell which. And this is why the whole thing is so sad; because Ash is realizing now that everything he thought he knew about his family is turning out to be false. I’m not going into backstory but suffice it to say, Ash is through even trying to get with them for holidays or otherwise. It’s all so bitter-sweet; I’d really like Elliot to know his grandfather and uncle. But it seems like they don’t have similar sentiments.

His brother still has not called him. Nor has his father.

Luckily, we are only four hours from my family so that’s the fall-back. At least they’re willing to travel and/or accommodate us any time. In some ways, I was a little relieved, because I hate flying (not the actual plane part but the getting there on time and all the pat-downs and stupid protocol, etc.) and I was wary of taking Elliot on a plane for the first time. But we’re going to miss out on snow and I wanted to see Ell’s reaction. Guess we’ll have to settle for a fire at my parents’ house, where it’ll probably only be about 50 degrees out. Nevertheless, I will enjoy spending time with them and try not to think about my in-laws’ lack of desire to see us.

I’m not a poet, really

My grandmother had gall stone surgery Monday and she seems to be doing alright. She was really groggy at first and my mother was pretty concerned. They got her to eat some food and gain back her strength so she could go home, which she is now. I guess they have a nurse staying with them for a bit to help. My grandma is 89. I was worried, I admit. I had this underlying feeling that something awful might happen during surgery. I am just thankful she made it ok. I hope she can hang on just a little bit longer so she can see Elliot at Christmas. Here’s a poem I wrote a while ago that I just re-found. I just thought it might be nice to juxtapose with the above.

What I Remember of Early Morning

Waking up before my parents,

the first to disturb the TV from it slumber,

the settled dust on the hallway tile.

Cautious, like a man checking out the sound

she heard mid-night,

I crept towards the den, that comfy couch retreat,

to revel in the four straight hours

of animated barrage of nonsense.

Sun just beginning to spread an orange hue on the canal,

no one awake but my Grammy in the kitchen,

doing her crossword

eating her milk toast

calculating so many pills to swallow with juice.

In the garage amidst the backdrop of the jazz station,

my grandpa has set up two bicycles on the swale.

First through the neighborhood of sleeping houses,

darkened windows closed eyes, shutting out the sun.

Then the café for food to take home and coffee

for grandpa, which he lets me sip while we sit on a bench,

in a park, overlooking the Atlantic.

Sun triumphantly forging its way above the horizon

painting my face with a memory.

Some things I wanted to bring to your attention

While this front over the entire Southeastern part of the country moves its way down over my little city, bringing with it a ginormous migraine (ugh), I thought I’d bring up some thoughts that I haven’t really addressed lately. A sort of collection, if you will.

  1. Elliot has thrown some “tantrums” lately. I wouldn’t say “we’re having a tantrum problem” because for about 90% of the time, there is no problem. However, I’ve experienced a couple times with him when I took something away he shouldn’t have (guitar pick, rawhide, gardening shoe) and he has gone into melt-down mode complete with ear-shattering cries that are unlike his normal whining. I’m sure all toddlers go through similar phases and this too shall pass. Though with the recent teething, the whining is at an all-time high. Yay us.
  2. It is November 13th, which means that I have roughly one and a half months before I’m going to purposely NOT take birth control. That’s right: we’re going to try again and hope for kidlet #2 to appear sometime about 1-2 months after Elliot turns 2. In a lot of ways, this scares the ever-living crap right out of me. Though in others, I am relieved to know that we only want two children and this could be my last time being pregnant. That last bit there makes me say “oh thank god” and “hmm, really?” at the same time. For one, I actually enjoyed most of pregnancy. But now that I know what I’m in for, I sort of dread it. Though I look forward to seeing the differences/similarities in the two pregnancies, I absolutely do not look forward to sleepless nights, carpal tunnel flare-ups, gas, heartburn, strecth marks (how many more can I fit on there, anyway?)… the list goes on. But perhaps at some point I will look back and actually revel in the miracle of creating another human being. Though, I doubt I’d regret the decision.
  3. EDITED TO PROTECT THE INNOCENT.
  4. I usually start Christmas shopping when December begins. I find it hard to be motivated otherwise. And yet, I totally bought this for Ash yesterday while on my lunch break. I can tell you this because I am pretty positive he doesn’t read my blog. This is the ideal gift for him because he’s A.) always forgetting to charge his HD cam and when Elliot goes and does something Extremely Cute or Genius, there’s no battery left and B.) his Blackberry has a tendency to, uh, disappear. I have never met anyone who misplaces their phone and subsequently freaks out as much as Ash does.  In my defense, it’s on sale and I didn’t want to miss the awesome sale price. So I admit that I got a head start on my holiday shopping. The problem now is that I can’t seem to stop. I feel compelled to go out Right Now and buy buy buy. It’s true; I was even looking at chairs for Elliot. Can you believe someone would pay nearly 300 dollars for a prissy little pink couch for their toddler? I was hoping to spend 40 so he could sit with us like a big boy.
  5. On Saturday, Elliot will be spending a few hours with his Godparents so that Ash and I can go see Quantum of Solace (where I just might drool as much as Elliot, though for an entirely different reason) and then have a nice lunch together, alone. (Aside from the other restaurant patrons, of course.)  I would be lying if I didn’t say I was totally excited about it but then, I just remembered that my mother and father are – suppsoedly – coming through town this weekend. Well, it’s up in the air. My dad needs to go to Dothan to tend to more probate crud and my mother mentioned possibly coming with. There’s something I hate about my mother and it’s her way of avoiding things like this until the moment when it can wait no longer. I think the only reason she said she might come with my dad is that any day now she’s going to break it to me that they’re not going to come for Thanksgiving afterall. My grandmother has gall stones which need to be operated on. And since it’s risky business operating on an elderly person, my mom’s in freak out mode. I wish she would just tell me already instead of assuming I have no clue and I’ll be ok when she drops it on me. Which I will but only because I’m on to her. She’s frustrating me and I’m just trying to Whoo-sahh my way into calmness about it all. If they don’t come for Turkey Day, no biggie. Less food I need to prepare. But if they do come – either tomorrow and/or Turkey Day – well, I’d like some GD notice, you know?

That’s all for now. I needed to throw that stuff out there. It had all been weighing on me for some time, especially the thing about having another kid. I don’t want you to get the wrong impression; I’m totally stoked about having another baby. And I’m also scared to death.

The known and unknown

Things I knew about my sister:

  • She has always loved art history/Egyptology
  • She has never finished her AA, despite multiple attempts
  • She is a great salesman and has worked retail since 16
  • Working has always been her cop out for quitting school
  • She is kind to friends and helpful
  • She can be terribly irresponsible
  • She has fibromyalgia
  • She was a happy kid, one who loved to laugh and play and ham it up for a camera
  • She is too picky about who she associates with; doesn’t let people really know her

Thing I just found out about my sister

  • She is clinically depressed but will not get help
  • She was terrified to leave her NY apartment all these months
  • She doesn’t feel like she has anything to offer men except sex
  • She has cut herself
  • She needs attention yet doesn’t want to inconvenience anyone
  • She needs help
  • This all happened last night. For a while, she and her roommate/best friend had been feuding. My sister finally decided she would move back home – again – and one of her home friends offered to fly to NY and drive back down with her in the U-Haul. Apparently, she and this friend had a big fight in the middle of NYC and one left the other, etc, etc… And my sister called my mother, freaking out, threatening suicide etc. Even though I know – in my heart of hearts =- she is just reaching out for attention. I don’t think she means it. But then again, I don’t know. Her best friend called me and told me thing I never knew before. She said, “She’s not the same person I used to know. She has a lot of demons in her head. I just don’t know how else I can help her if she doesn’t want it.”

I know this is sensitive material here but I needed to write it to work through it. She and I have never been close. I mean, we talk on the phone a lot and have fun together but she always has a barrier that keeps people an inch away from getting to know the real her.

My mother in on a plane this morning bound for LaGuardia. My sister is incapable, both mentally and physically, of getting home. She is a prisoner inside herself who is depressed, has low self-esteem and poor self-image. She cannot pull herself from this rut on her own, yet refuses to let anyone actually help. My mother is hoping that showing up on her doorstep will finally break through the walls, show my sister that we care and that she is worth it.

Her life is worth living.

Humpday – a camel’s favorite day of the week

It’s already Wednesday? How did that happen? This week feels weird. I think it is my brother-in-law’s impending departure from Florida and our lives (for a while). As mentioned before, he was living in Ohio for college and then decided he’d move down here to be near us while little Elliot grows up. In not so many words he and Ash had a sort of pact that they’d live in the same city and our families could grow up together (when/if he ever settled and had children). And then, seemingly out of nowhere, he decided that he has always wanted to live in Chicago. Is it no small coincidence that his newest girlfriend is attending Loyola in the Fall? Sigh. When he moved down here, his then g/f had just moved back in with her parents just three hours South of us. And yet, on the day before his drive to Tallahassee, he broke up with her. No wonder their dad thinks he has committment issues. (Don’t all most men?)

So there’s an air of sadness and disappointment floating around our house this week as BIL packs his bags, does final laundry and cleaning. He has taken the house key off his keychain and placed it on the kitchen counter. Small items he has borrowed are finding their way back to desks, laundry baskets, and shelves. He bought his dog a new, sturdier collar, cleaned out his storage area, and paid all his outstanding debts. Things feel very final. I keep thinking about getting in that room and reclaiming the space, making it nice and clean. But I am overwhelmed with guilt if I express this out loud, because I know it’s hurting my husband inside to see his best friend – one of the few people who mean the world to him – (in his words) scumbagging us. This feeling will only calm with time; time can heal all wounds, they say.

Meanwhile, work is busy and I am doing last minute preparations for the incoming graduate students. I have to come up with a list of the most pertinent information because every summer I go into the class and talk to them but, inevitably, they forget everything I say. It happens; I know they’re being inundated with information.

For your viewing pleasure, a comic from a site I read daily but seldom actually “get”. Today, it makes sense.

Voices from the past

Right after Christmas, my Papa died, four years after my Mema. He had been ill for some time. I think it was colon cancer or something to that effect. My father, being the executor of the will, has been collecting tid-bits of things from the house in the months following the funeral. When I went home for Easter, there were bills of currency from all over the world, coins, and letters strewn across their dining room table. I picked up one of the letters and realized that my Mema had written it to Papa when they were both in the Navy. (click for full size)mema-letter1.jpg

I was fortunate enough to have four living grandparents until I was 24 years old. My mom’s parents have always been easy to talk to and more… aware, than my dad’s parents.They could tell you about their past but my dad’s parents were very private with the details of their youth. So I was really interested in seeing what my Mema said in this letter.

mema-letter2.jpg

I don’t know anything about this point system she’s talking about. I guess you can earn a certain amount – by way of, maybe, reasons – to get out of the military. I deduced this when she mentions counting her mother as a dependent. I’m also fond of the part about buying a chicken farm. Where they grew up in Alabama, my grandfather was more in the city, in a neighbourhood and near the train depot. My grandma was on the outskirts of town, living on a farm.

mema-letter3.jpg

I always thought my grandmother was a crafty woman, quick with the tongue and a little mischievous. I think it’s awful how she badmouths her own intelligence! Also note: “gallavanting around.” Ha ha. I am most intrigued with the language used in her letter. I somehow thought it might sound more old-fashioned and outdated but it’s pretty modern.

I gained a little more insight into my grandparents from this letter and a few others she wrote to him. I understand now how difficult it was for Papa when Mema died. He said, as he stood at the podium underneath the funeral tent, that burying her was the hardest thing he had ever done. It all seems so true now.

Goodbye

I have waved goodbye to the Christmas feeling; now all that’s left is the setting up of new gifts like my Brookstone Weather thingy, this nifty game called Ladderball, and my life-sized Maurice Jones-Drew Fathead poster. Also, I’ve only just begun to explore my newest camera: the Canon Powershot SD850. I have the 550 so it’s an upgrade for sure. It was the most unexpected gift, aside from all the stuff Ash got me: apple corer, spice rack, crock pot, etc. He really hit the jackpot on random but useful gifts. He knows how much I like gifts that have a use – I hate pointless crap. Ok ok, that’s not always true. I also got this nifty Jack Skellington bobble head thing.

I also say goodbye to my grandfather today. He passed early this morning at 88 years old. When I was a little girl, he held sardines in his hand for me to eat, and poured me sweet tea in a little orange cup. He drove all the grandkids out to the fireworks store and loaded us up for the new year. He would pull you aside and give you little butterscotch candies in between meals. Granted, he also always asked why I didn’t wear dresses or enter beauty pageants like my cousins, told me to lose weight constantly and ragged on everyone. But he was a kind man at heart and I am sorry that I no longer have paternal grandparents. (My grandmother died in 2002). He is the grey-haired smiley guy in the middle:

all-of-us1.jpg