ninanevermore: (Bite Me)
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I took my 6-year-old son to see the animated film Rio last weekend. There was one line in the movie that made me laugh to the point that I almost fell out of my seat, but it didn’t strike the rest of the audience as all that funny. When I realized I was the only one laughing, I tried to keep quiet, but my shoulders still shook with silent laughter as I sank down in my seat with my hand clasped tightly over my mouth so that no sound would escape.

Art Imitates Life )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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Sometimes, you do go to be angry at your spouse despite the advice that you should not. A good night’s sleep is sometimes needed for both of you to pointlessness of a big argument you had when you were both tired and cranky. On these occasions, the best way to start the day is with an apology, which is why my husband turned to me in bed this morning and said, “I’m sorry about last night. And I want you to know that I don’t really want a divorce.”

I pondered this for a second. “I know, sweetie,” I said, “And just so you know, I don’t really want to shoot you.”

There is something to be said for going to bed angry. Sure, when you are trying to fall asleep it can be inconvenient to have to press yourself against the edge of the bed so that you don’t risk accidentally touching the person you share it with. But eating your words for breakfast is not so bad a start to your day, provided you pour some sugar on them first.


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ninanevermore: (Christmas)
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I need to boycott any and all events on my side of the family when my stepsister will not be there. When she and her family show up, it is easy to forget that my family is not actually fun. They are good people, mind you, but the kind of good people that bore you to tears.

Let’s take, for example, a typical gathering involving me, my two brothers who do not consider me to be the living dead, and my stepbrother. Mostly, they will all stare the TV watching what ever kind of sport is in season or maybe Fox News (which my dad watches when there is not a game that he cares about being broadcasted). Any conversation that takes place will happen during the commercials, when my father will try to convince me that America is in a state of decline and it is mostly my fault because sometimes I vote for Democrats. I will smile and make a comment about the weather, and my dad will say that no, I need to listen to him because…and then the game will come back on and the conversation will have to be continued during the next commercial.

Hours go by, and the pattern repeats at commercial intervals until I feel I have done my time and I can make an excuse to leave. But when my stepsister is there, the TV may not even be on. Even if it were, you couldn’t hear it over the ruckus. )
ninanevermore: (Christmas)
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We survived Christmas. Well, so far. Christmas is still happening this evening at my father’s house, when my stepsister and her kids come down from Fort Worth. My son will spend the night at his grandparents’ this evening along with all of his cousins, and Jeff will pick him up in the morning. I’m just praying that he doesn’t bite one of my stepsister’s kids this year, as he has each of the past two Christmases. Usually it happens as the kids (who range in age from 5 to 15) start to get energetic around 8 PM and Sweet Pea shorts out a little when someone bumps into him or fails to perceive that he no longer wants them so close. Not that they have time to perceive much of anything, since the moment between “everything is okay” and “I’m going into overload now” is so brief that science has yet to measure it exactly

I just hope he doesn’t bite the youngest child, who is 3 months younger than Sweet Pea. My stepsister’s youngest child is a cancer survivor. Cancer is a scary thing, and biting the kid who had cancer makes Sweet Pea look even worse than he already does. Even though my nephew is tough as nails (meaning he can take it) and has been blessed with a gracious and forgiving demeanor (meaning he won’t hold it against Sweet Pea), I cringe at the idea of hearing that my son has bitten him. The child who could have died is naturally a more sympathetic character than the child that has behavioral problems.

No, if someone must get bit, let it be one of the older children. Or maybe one of the adults. He almost never bites adults, though. Unless they are teachers (he seems to find PE coaches to be particularly tasty).

Should I stay or should I go? )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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To my dear niece,

I have not seen you since you were 11 years old, I think. It was around Christmas and your family was visiting your grandfather’s house. It was the last Christmas that y'all would visit that house when the rest of the family was there. I heard that your parents brought you and your siblings around a couple of years ago, after your grandfather got out of the hospital after being treated for the pneumonia that almost killed him, but it was done on a day when the rest of the family was around. I have missed half your life and am now a complete stranger to you.

You used to be a beautiful baby, and baby look at you now… )
ninanevermore: (Bite Me)
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My father called last night to ask how my son’s first day of Kindergarten went. After my son’s forcible expulsion from daycare a year and a half ago and the behavior problems that took him almost a year to resolve afterward, my dad worries. Since the last year hasn’t been too bad and did so well with his last babysitter and her kids, I was less worried.

“Is he close by?” my father asked.

“Yes, but he’s stuffing his face with pizza.”

“Oh. Well. I guess I don’t have to talk to him…”

“No, hold on.” I held the receiver to my son’s ear. “Tell your grandpa how your first day of school went.”

Stalking the Gingerbread Man )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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Finding the an old family photograph of my mother and her maternal grandparents last week got me thinking about family trees and the branches that grow off of them. My mother once told me a story about a branch of her father’s family tree – or at least the rumor of one – and how she may have brushed up against it one day when she was a teen-aged girl. My mother liked to collect stories, and she liked to tell these stories to her children. On a few occasions I asked some of my cousins if they had ever heard about this particular story, about this possible forgotten (severed?) branch of the family, and none of them had. Their mothers were not like mine, though, and even if they had heard the story they would not have told it to their children since it involves what would have been a scandal at the time it happened.

I guess they were married in God’s eyes. )
ninanevermore: (Motherhood)
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My husband, Jeff, is very good at the whole parenting thing. In fact, he’s generally better at it than I am. Since our son was an infant, I have had to grudgingly admit that Jeff is a much better mother than I am. For awhile, I held an edge in the story-reading department, until Sweet Pea went through a phase where he insisted his father read the stories on the nights he was home. At first, he was a bit awkward, but after a few weeks he got pretty good at it. After a few months, he was very good at it, until he was even better than me (and I am good, darn it).

I suppose you know what a bad story-reader sounds like: monotone, dry, dull. A bad story reader can read the most interesting text in the world and make it sound like the instruction manual that came with your DVD player. Jeff is actually very confident in his story-reading abilities now, and even a little cocky. The Christmas before last, the Morning Edition show on NPR did a series of features on families and their holiday traditions. One family they featured made a point of reading The Night before Christmas together as a family out loud in the days leading up to Christmas.

”Depends )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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My Aunt Jo, who goes by her first name Leslie with everyone but her family, is recovering from a heart attack. She is the mother of my late cousin Carol, who went by her first name Leslie with everyone but her family. Since I considered myself to be a friend as well as family to her, I always called my Cousin Carol “Leslie.” I would love to hear my cousin Leslie’s take on her mother having a heart attack and not telling anyone in the family that it happened. She’d be fuming, but when she fumed she was catty and sharp-tongued and it was always entertaining to hear. Of all the things I miss about Leslie Carol, I think I miss her fury the most – she expressed it so much better than anyone else.

Deep Dark Depression, and Excessive Misery. )
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For the first time in a long time, I didn’t forget my father’s birthday this year. I have the internet to thank for this. My memory is not wired to remember birthdays. Actually, it seems wired to forget them. I remember my husband’s, but only sometimes. I remember my son’s, probably because I have a lot wrapped up in that day (his arrival was a life-changing event for me; most people’s birthdays are not). I am generally aware of what month the birth of people close to me occurred during, but I always forget the exact day. This last Saturday it occurred to me that my father’s birthday is in May, and I knew it falls around Mother’s Day because of the times I’ve visited the house to have my son deliver a Mother’s Day card to my father’s wife only to have her take me aside and tell me, “You know your father’s birthday was this last week.”

I really hate it when she does that.

Another birthday? Didn’t he just have one last year? )
ninanevermore: (Motherhood)
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When I first learned I was pregnant with my little Sweet Pea, I knew in my heart of hearts that my baby would be a girl. I felt it in my bones. I knew I was having a daughter because a daughter was what I wanted. This baby was a one-shot thing: an unplanned, high-risk pregnancy. Of course God, or the Universe, or Fate, or Lady Luck (what the Hell; I assumed all four of them) had no choice but to give me what I wanted. Besides, my husband already had a 15 year old son; what did he need another boy for? I grew up in a house full of boys, as the lone daughter in a family with three sons. My childhood had taught me that little boys were nothing but trouble.

Mostly I wanted a girl because it had been almost 20 years since I’d been a part of a mother-daughter relationship and I longed for that relationship back. My role would be reversed from what I had before my mother died, but having a daughter would allow me to retrieve a bit of what I’d lost when I was 15. When I was four months along, the first of two high-risk specialists I would see did an ultrasound and asked if I wanted to know the sex of my baby.

“Sure!” I said, excited to have my heart’s desire validated.

“Looks like a boy,” the doctor said.

I was crushed.

You Can’t Always Get What You WantYou Can’t Always Get What You Want )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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No rhymes, no reason, and no clever observations to this post. Just a few random photos of things I’ve written about in the fast couple of months. Why now? Because I finally loaded the pictures off of my camera last night, that’s why.

A teapot, Santa's air fleet, fishing for cats, red staplers, how to discourage free loaders, and tasty treats )
ninanevermore: (Default)
(locked)
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"You know, I'm gonna stay up until midnight on New Years Eve not to see 2010 roll in," my brother-in-law told me as he nursed a beer on Christmas Day, "I just wanna see 2009 finally come to an end and be over with. This year has been lousy."

Hey 2009, don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out. )
ninanevermore: (Christmas)
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I confess I'm one of those people who lugs around a lot of baggage in regard to Christmas. When you are a child, Christmas is all about fun and presents and singing and pretty lights. When you are an adult, it's about expenses and obligations and every memories of every dark thing that ever happened to you during this obligatorily "happy" time of year that still haunt you. Still, I think I'm getting better. I was able to decorate the Christmas tree without crying this year, and if that's not a sign of progress then I don't know what is.

Zombie Dads Are No Fun At Christmas )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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Thanksgiving Day started off with a phone call from my brother in law saying his wife wasn't feeling well and felt like she might be coming down with the flu. This meant that the Thanksgiving Day plans of his wife driving 50 miles out to fetch my mother in law from the nursing home and all of us meeting at my brother-in-laws house would have to be shelved.

"If she's got the flu, I don't want to expose Mom to that," he said, "and I don't want to expose [Sweet Pea] to it, either." I agreed this was wise, and woke up my husband to discuss what we should do instead.

"We can't just leave Mom alone for Thanksgiving," he said, "I guess we'll do what we were going to do in the first place and take a Thanksgiving dinner up to her."

The turkey was already cooked, carved, and ready for transport. Jeff had wanted to cook a turkey since his German born sister in law saw nothing unreasonable about serving bratwurst as the main dish for Thanksgiving Day. But the rest of the feast had to be cooked and assembled, since we were now providing side dishes as well. I had already bought some yams to take over to my brother-in-law's house, since Doris likes them and neither of her son's do. Jeff made some instant mashed potatoes. I assembled a fruit salad, steamed some fresh green beans and made some gravy from the drippings of the turkey. I made some iced tea and put it in a jug, because in Texas and other parts of the American South that is what we drink with our nice meals. Jeff is not from Texas, and he would drink a coke, but Doris is a Louisiana-born girl and I knew iced tea would be a touch she would appreciate. We loaded all the hot food in a cooler and all the cold food in another cooler, and we hit the road about 1 PM.

To Grandmother's House We Go )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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"Our dead are never quite," my cousin Aly commented to me recently.

On my father's side, my Swedish side, the dead are as quiet as in any other family. Swedes are a quiet, mind-your-own-business sort of people when they are alive, and they remain so after they die. It's my mother's Celtic (primarily Scotch-Irish) bloodline that is so ornery in life that they continue to kick up havoc after they die. The opinions on that side of the family are often so strong that nobody is going to let a little thing like being dead keep them from putting their 2-cents worth in.

Saints Who Raise Hell )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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A strange thing happened last night as Jeff and I sat outside and talked about his brother. Jeff's anger and my dislike of Pete sort of dissolved, and we found ourselves feeling something akin to sympathy.

"He wasn't a bad guy," Jeff said, "I mean, he wasn't a good guy, but any means, but he wasn't…" He stopped, and seemed search the sky for the right word.

"He wasn't evil," I suggested. "He was a schmoozer and grifter."

"He was a conman, but he didn't have a malicious bone in his body. He wasn't mean. He didn't take pleasure in hurting people, I think he just didn't realize the damage he did. It honestly didn't occur to him that what he did was wrong. It never did, from the time we were kids."

You can only get by on charm for so long. )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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Last week as I was preparing to leave to visit my father's lake house for a few days, someone told me they hoped I would "have a blast." I smiled politely and thanked them, because I knew they meant well. The truth is, that it is physically impossible to "have a blast" with my side of the family. I can have a blast with my husband's family easy enough: they are mostly of Scotch-Irish decent and like to drink, so boisterous merriment comes easy to them. My father, however, is a cranky old Swede. The best you can possibly hope to have in his company is "a nice time."

We had a nice time, for the most part, despite the weather and a few other things.

Off to a rough start )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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I'm notorious in my family for not liking to have my picture made. I'm not as bad as some people are about it, mind you. I have a certain cousin who you have to catch by surprise to take her picture, because is she sees the camera before you take the photo, you end up with a picture of her hand blocking the whole lens. She's a big woman, but she's lighting fast when it comes to blocking a camera.

She's a big woman, but not as big as some of her sisters. She's a plain woman, but not ugly. She just has never liked having her picture made.

When I was a kid, I thought this was peculiar. That whole branch of the family is peculiar, though, so I marked it up as a just another quirk of that clan. Now that I'm grown, I am more sympathetic. In fact, I understand it completely. I'm not aggressive enough to put my hand in front of someone's camera and ruin their whole shot of everyone else. Passive as I am, I chose to turn tail and run instead. If I can't get away, my expression in the photo is either a pained smile or a pleading grimace.

The Invisible Bride )
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My kid brother Ron has always been weird, from the time he was small. My mother worried it was her fault. She was almost 39 when he was born and had scheduled a tubal ligation immediately after his birth, so he was induced in order to accommodate the surgeon's schedule. In addition to this, my mom's policy was to stop nursing her babies as soon as they got teeth and started to bite. Ron's teeth came in early, at 5 months old. She thought that taking him out of the womb and away from the breast before he was ready may have adversely affected him.

As a child, I was too guilt ridden to tell her that I was pretty sure it was my fault that Ron was weird, because when he was 4 and I was 5 I stood by and let him take an ass beating that I had coming and he didn't. Until Ron was in college and was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, I thought that perhaps this whooping had warped him beyond repair.

My mother died before she got the chance to learn that her youngest child was simply organically and physiologically strange, through no fault of her own. I was glad to be off the hook. Twenty five years after the whooping, I even apologized to Ron about the whooping. I hoped he didn't even remember it, but he did. Decency prevents me from typing out what he said I ought to have done to me for putting him through that, but lets just say he did not graciously accept my apology the way I hoped he would.

Little Girls Will Look You in The Eye and Lie )

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