Category Archives: holidays

The Internet is Magic + Valentines

Well. Clearly you guys possess some kind of magical powers, or somehow WordPress and Facebook are functioning as spiritual modulation amplifiers or SOMETHING, because the very morning after I posted the heartbreaking saga of how I was ruining my tween child’s every dream and hope of happiness, the very next morning I tell you, she walked up to me and said, “Mama? I have decided something. I will be ok with moving to Georgia, if – IF – you will set me up so I can Skype with Addie and Maya.” (You may recall that this was something I had already offered her as a sweetener. Several times. To no avail.) “Well, of COURSE we can do that, honey,” I said, waiting for the other shoe to drop. A smartphone? A pony? A magical flying rainbow unicorn? She must want more than this!!! “OK, then,” she said. “We can move.” And just like that, it would seem, we’re ok. 

I can now make references to the move without conjuring tears. Tonight we looked at houses and schools online to get a sense for what it might be like to live there. Eleanor reminds Sylvia that we’re moving whenever she thinks Sylvia has forgotten. We go outside and she says, “I sure will be glad when we don’t have SNOW anymore!” Be honest: did one of you switch my daughter with an amazingly lifelike replica? No? (Good, because if you’re going to switch her out I want the house-cleaning, non-smartass model, with available bartender/barista option.)

I can only attribute her change of heart to 1) pure tween cussedness, and 2) the incredible outpouring of love and support my post generated, here and on Facebook.  Social media can suck sometimes, making us feel inadequate or like we aren’t keeping up with the shiny happy lives we imagine our friends are living. But it can also be a real lifeline when you’re going through shitty times in your life, as I have personally witnessed on more than one occasion. If you’re reading this, know that you are part of my village, part of my family’s village, and you are for realz keeping us afloat. And that is a blessing, because my swimming skills are for shit.

OK, enough sappy stuff. Wanna see the AWESOME card Eleanor made me for Valentine’s Day? She really outdid herself this year. First, she drew this picture:

EllieValentine1That’s me in the lounge chair/swing, with Chad behind me either giving me the world’s worst back rub or possibly about to push my chair over? My two friends Greta and Amy are happily clinking wine glasses in the background, while my friend Jessy is kindly watching over all the collected children. (This is inaccurate. In real life, all the adults except Greta would be clinking wine glasses and Greta would be engaging the children in a lovingly handmade educational craft activity. Everyone should have a Greta in their lives.) A happy little scene, n’est ce pas? On the other side of the page, she wrote this glorious little note:

EllieValentine2It says (and I imagine this performed in a sort of school-girl public speaking singsong, for best effect) (all wonky punctuation and spelling reproduced from the original):

“Happy Valentine’s Mommy. I hope you have a great day today. I love you so much, and that’s what valentine’s are for. On the other side of this page, I Have drew a picture of all my freinds and all of your freinds. For I have loved you forever and nothing can break that bond between us. xxxxoooo love, your very speciel dauther, Eleanor R.”

I mean, come on. That’s a straight up kick-ass valentine. And it’s ALSO basically how I feel about you guys. Nothing can break that bond between us. Love, your very speciel freind, Elise R.

Vacation, eh?

So I can FINALLY tell you that I’m up in Canada this week, a trip that’s been months in the making. My family has a cottage on Lake Erie about an hour north of Buffalo, NY, and every year some portion of us makes the trip for a week or two to enjoy the beach life. The Squab family hasn’t been for the last couple of years, because I don’t know if you know this but toddlers and babies are CRAP travelling companions, but this year Mr. Squab decided it would be fun to surprise my mom by showing up even though she thought we couldn’t make it. So we rented a whole ‘nother cottage (that way we can have a baby-friendly shut-up-at-8pm kind of space and an adult-friendly stay-up-and-drink-and-play-cards kind of space), and rented a van, and loaded it up, and drove out the entire 18 hour trip. With a four-year-old and a one-year-old. I’m not going to lie to you, I was a little out of my mind anxious about it. We took the trip in two days, driving a whopping 13 hours (thanks, rush hour in Chicago) the first day, and a jaunty 5 1/2 hours the second, and I have to say, the kids were total troupers about the whole thing. And it was really, really fun to see the look on Mom’s face when we showed up. It’s a fine line between overwhelmingly surprised and coronary arrest, but we walked it and everyone is good. We’re now ensconsed in our rental cottage with an AMAZING lake view, and the kids have been having the time of their lives playing on the beach. We have absolutely no internet access, so I’m posting this from the public library in town, but I’ll post some pix if I get a chance. Anyway, for all of you whose playdate invitations I’ve ignored, or who’ve moved into new housing with no help and/or housewarming gifts from me, etc, etc, this is why and I’m very sorry. Mom is on Facebook and reads this blog and all so I had to keep it a secret. Right – gotta go hit the beach!

Well, hello.

My mom says I have to put up a new post because every time she checks the blog she gets depressed about my anger issues. Fair point. Also … uh, how is it that I haven’t blogged in a month and a half? That was a longer-than-intended break! I guess traveling for Thanksgiving, hosting two Christmases (Christmasses?), traveling for New Year’s, cooking a ton, making a veritable shitload of gifts by hand, shopping, finishing up classes and grading, celebrating five family birthdays, hosting out-of-town guests … yeah, I guess I can see where the time went, after all. Anyhoo: Happy New Year! Does it bug anyone else that 2010 is being treated as the first year of the new decade rather than the last one of the old decade? No? I mean, I guess it doesn’t bother me THAT much. We’re not talking misusing-borrow-and-lend levels of bother. Just, you know. It’s wrong. That’s all. And how are you opting to pronounce the new year? Me, I’m going for the “twenty-ten” option. Goes more trippingly off the tongue.

Did anyone make any New Year’s resolutions? I blow hot and cold with them. On the one hand, I hate setting myself up for failure. On the other hand, it is kind of nice to take stock once a year and think about where you want to go. This year I decided against concretely measurable goals (Read a book a week! Exercise daily! Try ten new foods!) in favor of more, uh, abstract pursuits. Basically I have one resolution, if you can call it that: to become more Zen. By which I mean, essentially, to chill the fuck out about things generally, and be kinder to myself, and be more present in the moment. Frankly, making a resolution to be more Zen is a bit oxymoronic if not just flat out moronic, but there it is. I’ve always been interested in Zen Buddhism and Taoism, in particular, but haven’t had much time for it lately. But our pediatrician, who is this great guy with a sarcastic sense of humor and not at all the kind of person you’d think would be into eastern philosophy, is an unlikely Zen devotee, and once he found out I was also interested he started throwing vaguely Buddhist catch-phrases at me when I freak out about parenting things in our appointments. “Expect nothing” is one of his favorites. Like, when I’m all “the girls are going to have to share a bedroom and I don’t think it’s going to go well and they’re just going to wake each other up and none of us will ever get a full night’s sleep again but we don’t have enough bedrooms for them not to share and what should I do?” He’s all, “Expect nothing.” And I’m all, “Blink.” And he’s all, “Just do what you need to do, find out what happens, and respond accordingly.” Expect nothing is difficult for me, y’all. I EXPECT THINGS. Mostly baaaad things. Mostly in advance. And not just for myself – I can expect bad things for anyone. And WORRY about it. But I’m really trying to catch myself when I get into trouble-borrowing mode and remind myself to “expect nothing” and just do what I need to do. We’ll see how it goes, but I feel like it’s a resolution I can manage, that might also improve the quality of my life and the lives of those poor souls who have to live with my anxiety-ridden ass.

So … is this post less depressing than the previous one? I better throw in a cute baby picture just in case. LOOK! A CUTE BABY!

What a ham! (closeup)

Mother’s Day

Oof. It has been quite the week around here. Nothing terribly traumatic, but let’s just say the Hatchling has begun to embrace her three-ness with a vengeance. Highlights have included a massive poop-on-the-sofa incident and the spilling of an entire glass of iced tea all over the keyboard of my laptop. (which, incidentally, appears to be relatively unharmed except for how I can’t type a capital w. I love Macs!) Anyway, around about the time I was obsessively scouring the couch upholstery and wondering just which part of my graduate education prepared me for cleaning up shit, I thought maybe it would be appropriate to acknowledge some of the many, many incredible things my mothers have done for me. Here’s an abbreviated list:

  • read out loud to me incessantly
  • enthusiastically responded to all my accomplishments, major and minor
  • sewed everything from my Halloween costumes to curtains for my house to my wedding dress and all my bridesmaids dresses
  • professionally edited my school papers whenever requested
  • provided on-call medical advice and the occasional pharmaceuticals when needed
  • sat with me and held me as I labored with my first child
  • asked about my dissertation
  • didn’t ask about my dissertation
  • taught me how to cook and bake
  • faithfully attended all my performances, and sent me flowers for every opening night
  • made a welcoming home-base to return to from my travels
  • took me on amazing trips to Europe
  • spoiled your grandbabies rotten
  • and most of all, taught me the meaning of unconditional love

I can only hope to do so many things for my girls. Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day

I know it’s all chic and cool to hate on Valentine’s day, but fuck it: any holiday that includes nice flowers and the consumption of good chocolate is A-OK with me, fabricated or not. However, just because I like V-day doesn’t mean I don’t have a sense of humor about it:

Don’t be a whore, kids! Enjoy that chocolate! (Thanks to Sally for the image.)

Good Riddance, 2008!

Looking back, I have to say that 2008 was not exactly a banner year. We had a break in and robbery, both cars broke down and had to be replaced, lots of pregnancy-related ill health, grandma going crazy and then dying – not to mention the economy going to hell and all kinds of political craziness. There were good things, of course – getting back in touch with old friends, my sister having her first baby, the Hatchling getting more and more interesting and fun(ny), satisfying projects around the house, etc. But overall, I’m not really sad to see the year go, you know?

Lately I try not to make uber-specific New Year’s resolutions on the principle that they just make me feel like a wanker when I don’t achieve them, but here are my sort of generalized ones:

1. Write more. In any area (blogging, academic, personal, etc.)
2. Keep working on being a more chill, zen-type person instead of the anxiety-ridden freakazoid that my genetic background wants me to be.
3. Find ways to enjoy being healthier.
4. Learn to say no without feeling guilty.
5. Breathe deeper and enjoy the ride.

Frankly, I’ll be happy if I can achieve (1) at any level. The rest is just gravy. How about you?

Oh, and a little post-Christmas cheer: here’s the Hatchling opening presents on Christmas Eve.

Opening Presents – Yo Gabba Gabba (Xmas 2008) from Squab on Vimeo.

Not so much with the Merry and Bright

The funeral is Friday, so I’ll be flying south tomorrow afternoon, returning Sunday evening. We’ve done some abbreviated Christmas celebrating, with plans to do the rest once everyone is back in town in the New Year. Right now I’m mostly just glad that the Hatchling is so little that she doesn’t really know the difference; she’s just excited to be getting awesome toys and eating so many cookies.

Anyway: posting will be minimal or naught for a bit. Hope you’re all having festive, relaxing, holidays, through which I can live vicariously.

… and then my Grandma died.

For one reason or another, this has felt like a particularly stressful Christmas. I really have been trying to cut back on plans and obligations, but this pregnancy is cutting back even further on my ability to cope, so there have been numerous breakdowns this week, and they haven’t all been the Hatchling’s, if you know what I’m saying. All I want to do is sit in front of the fire and knit or read, but instead I feel obligated (by whom? No one knows!) to finish the baking, or make yet another run to Target, or do some other damn holiday-related project which only has the effect of making me more Scrooge, less Cratchit. Or something.

So anyway, given the general tenor of this year’s pre-Christmas season, it should surprise nobody that Fate has seen fit to have my Grandmother, the one who’s been slowly losing her marbles since July, die today. About 20 minutes ago, actually. She’d been hospitalized earlier this week with kidney failure and pneumonia and a host of other ills, so we knew it was only a matter of time. And I’m happy she’s gone, because she hasn’t really been alive since the summer and it was past time for her to go. But I’m also really, really sad, because she was the grandparent I was closest to and I’ll miss her so much and I wish with all my heart that my two girls could have known her. Stupid death. And stupid timing, because now of course the holiday plans are all thrown into chaos; my parents are going down south today or tomorrow and as soon as we know the funeral plans I’ll be heading down, too. If I were a more Zen person I could probably come up with something vaguely heartwarming about how it really puts everything into perspective, and how I won’t be stressing over the little things anymore but just enjoying my time with family. But I am, sadly, not in a Zen frame of mind, and stress is my major talent, so, you know. I’ll still be stressing. And sad.

Hint to Fate: now would be a REALLY good time for me to win the lottery. I’m just sayin’.

Christmas Countdown

We’re in the final stretch, y’all. Less than a week until Santa-day. Are you ready? Because I AM NOT. I’m trying to adopt a Zen attitude about it, but it’s not working very well. Probably because it’s a Judeo-Christian holiday, and what goes better with that than a healthy sense of guilt and general overwhelmedness? I have some packages that MUST get mailed today (and I shudder to think how much I’m going to have to pay to ship them), and then it’s on to more assembling, grocery shopping, baking, and cleaning. And I mean, sure, yes, the world would still turn happily on its axis even if I didn’t make five varieties of cookies plus peanut brittle, but who would be satisfied with THAT? Only someone with a much healthier outlook on the world in general, that’s who.

How are you all out in Squabland? Everyone ready for the festivities (if you’re celebrating them)?

Fa la la la la, la la la la

This is the first year the Hatchling is old enough to want to help with the Christmas decorations. We finally got the tree up this weekend, and she was very “helpful” with the ornaments (or as she likes to call them, the “wondaful decowations”). Sure, she wanted to hang all of them off the same small branch, but at least she did manage to actually hang some all by herself!

Decorating the Christmas Tree, 2008 from Squab on Vimeo.