ninanevermore: (Motherhood)
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“I need next month’s book club selection,” I told Kristin, the proprietress of my local used book store and the founder and host of the book club I attend. At the last meeting she had made apologies that the selection for the June meeting had not yet come in, so I was here to pick up a copy since she had sent me a message on Facebook that it now was. “And I have a very serious request in regard to children’s literature. Do you have any Captain Underpants books?”

Kristen leaned forward and returned my own serious expression. “I have tons of Captain Underpants books. Tons. Want me to show you where they are?”

“Yes, it’s a Captain Underpants emergency at my house,” I said.

At Least He Likes Books )
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: (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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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: (Default)
I handled the announcement well. We all did. No one got too emotional, no one panicked, and no one had to be consoled. Not me, and not my oldest or my youngest brother, either. We were told to keep quiet for now, because my middle brother – who is estranged from us siblings but no longer from our father – had not been told that our father has cancer.

It took me a full 24 hours to fall apart, right in the middle of congratulating myself on how well I was handling the news. I hate it when that happens.

We don’t want you kids to worry, but I guess you need to know. )
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 )
ninanevermore: (Motherhood)
Post Mother's Day Musings
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It's been 4 years and 4 Mother's Days now, and I still can't get used to the idea of this holiday having anything to do with me. I remembered that Mother's Day was this weekend late in the week, and on Sunday I drove my son over to my Dad's house to hand deliver a card from him to my stepmother because I'd only just bought it the day before and didn't have time to mail it. The cool thing is that due to my not mailing it on time, I got extra credit for having the tyke hand it to her.

Then I got reprimanded for forgetting that Saturday was my father's birthday. I've known Jehovah's Witnesses who keep better track of birthdays than I do (perhaps because they have to go to the trouble to remember what date not to celebrate on). Since my mother died in 1984, my father probably has 24 birthday cards stashed away that I've given him, and they are all those "Happy Belated Birthday" type cards. By next weekend, he'll have 25 of them.

Is anyone missing a holiday? I seem to have one I don't think is mine. )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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Today, March 17th, is Saint Patrick's Day. It is not my husband's birthday. My husband's birthday is March 7th, and has been for decades. I've got that part down.

Saint Patrick's Day is, however, the last day I allow myself to acknowledge Jeff's birthday and not be officially "late." I'm not good at birthdays, and I allow myself this 11 day window to keep from having to acknowledge that I'm an inconsiderate and forget spouse.

I'm such a bad wife, I may as well be a husband.

Why the $%#* Can't Everyone Just be Born On Christmas? )
ninanevermore: (Motherhood)
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I telephoned my father yesterday to see if I could score some free babysitting for the afternoon. Grandparents are good for that sort of thing. In fact, if I don't offer my father and his wife a chance to babysit at least every two weeks, I get a lecture. It had been 3 weeks, in this case, so I was surprised to hear hesitation on my father's part.

"We've had some changes around here," my dad said, "We've got a dog now."

Look what followed me home! )
ninanevermore: (Default)
Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about Mazin, the husband of my stepmother's best friend, Jackie. Jackie and Mazin were looking forward to two big events: their 20th wedding anniversary, and his return from Iraq, where he has been working as a translator and consultant for at the United States government. My stepmother mentioned that Jackie had stopped by the other day to ask that they go with her to the airport for Mazin's homecoming. He was due to come home in two weeks, and she had been making plans for a grand reunion. Now there is a change of plans, and he is coming home early. He will not be running to great her with hugs and a kisses like she had hoped, however. She wants my stepmother and my father there with her because this homecoming is not something she wants to face alone.

Mazin is not flying home as a passenger on the plane. He is coming home as cargo. News sources mentioned late last week that two civilian contractors were killed in the Green Zone on the 27th.

One of them was Mazin.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone… )
ninanevermore: (Duckies)
Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about how important it is that I remember that when my husband is home and my son drops a piece of food on the floor, that I must pretend to be horrified and yank it out of the boy's hand before he eats it. You see, my husband was not brought up the way I was. He was not reared by a woman whose motto was, "I never saw a kid die from eating dirt."

Adding Minerals to your Diet )
ninanevermore: (Default)
Today over my morning coffee, I was thinking about my stepsister's son, Reese, who is having surgery today to remove his right kidney. Late last week his doctor discovered a tumor on this kidney the size of a tennis ball. Once removed, the tumor and the will be biopsied. It is fully expected that he has cancer. I will call my father this evening to see how everything went, and meanwhile will pray for the best.

Reese turned two in January, which makes him three months younger than my own son. A tumor that size on a child that small makes it as big as, or bigger than, the kidney it took over. They believe he has something called Wilms' Tumor, a form of kidney cancer that usually affects children under the age of 6. The doctors say they are lucky it was caught this early. Usually, these fast-growing tumors are the size of a softball by the time anyone discovers them.

Oh, for a Saber-Toothed Tiger to Fight )
ninanevermore: (Default)
Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about why I buy The Woman My Father is Married To a Mother's Day card. Everyone seemed to be wondering about it yesterday. If I don't like her, why do I bother getting her a card? The answer is that I do it to score points for my team. Families are competitive by nature. Sibling rivalry does not end with childhood. Even as an adult you don't want your siblings to do too much better than you do and make you look bad. When the people you are competing against are step siblings, this rivalry is multiplied 100 fold.

Running up the score on sibling rivalry )
ninanevermore: (Default)
Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about Mother's Day and how every year I have a hard time finding just the right card to buy for That Woman My Father Is Married To. Mother's Day is less than a month away, so I need to start looking for one now. You see, greeting cards are funny things for my family. They are exchanged on certain holidays for reasons having more to do with diplomacy than affection.

I'm sending you a little card to let you know that I am utterly indifferent towards you... )

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