All the Nieces & Nephews

Yesterday I was in the checkout line at Target. On the belt I had two little play aprons with oven mits and stir spoons, a basket of play food, a bin of play pots and pans, a train set with track, three birthday cards, and three tubes of wrapping paper.

The checkout lady said, “oh, looks like you are shopping for a triplet birthday!”

“What? No!” I blurt out. Then laughing, “I mean, yes it’s three kids with November birthdays, but they are all from different families. Although they are all nieces and nephews.

Today we were at my nephew Ezra’s first birthday party. I thought about how just six years ago I was pregnant with Eddie and we had just one 5-year old nephew. My brother’s oldest son.

Now my brother has three kids, Cortney’s brother has one with another on the way, and his sister has three kids.  We have two with one on the way. It’s been an explosion!

It’s fun though, ya know?

Holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving and even birthdays are so much more fun now. When we get together with all the family on one side or the other, it’s like flashing back to when I was a kid. The grownups being grownups and the kids being kids. Playing for what felt like all day or evening, but was probably just a couple hours. Eating tons of food–almost none good for us–and laughing a lot.

I love watching Eddie and Charlie interact with their aunts and uncles and play with their cousins. Eddie can’t even keep track of everyone anymore. I was telling him that tomorrow we have his cousin Maria’s birthday party and he said, “Wait. Is that the baby in Liz’s tummy?” Um no. Wrong aunt. Also, wrong side of the family. ALSO? Maria is two, not still in anyone’s tummy.

As the Target checkout lady said, “wow, pretty expensive right before Christmas then, huh?”

Yeah, but it’s worth it.

So worth it.

Nieces and Nephews are the coolest.

functional family

Every other week I sit in a surprisingly uncomfortable chair in my therapist’s office.

Rarely do I feel like going.  If I am crabby and busy I think, “man, I don’t want to waste and hour sitting in that chair just talking,” and if I am having a great day I think, “I don’t want to go and have a big old Debbie Downer discussion.”

The weird thing is that I never walk away thinking, “see? Waste of time.”

A couple weeks ago we were talking about family.  My family and Cort’s family and how we communicate with our families.  I told Dr. Melissa,

“I never have to wonder if someone in my family is mad at me or if there is an issue or what.  If someone asks like an ass, the other people tell that person.  There is no silent treatment or passive aggressive jabs.”

Then I told her about something super disappointing my mom shared with me recently.  After my mom had told me, she asked me if I was mad at her and I said yes.

I festered about it for a few hours, then started to cry.

Eventually I called my mom and said, “I’m not mad at you guys, mom.  I’m just super disappointed.”  We talked about it for a bit and I told her I wasn’t going to dwell on it. I just needed to tell her that it bothered and disappointed me.

My mom agreed and we were Ok.

I told all of this to Dr. Melissa.

She looked at me for a minute and then said something I wasn’t expecting.

“You know, Katie, many many people would not be able to talk about that as openly as you did with your mom.  And they most certainly wouldn’t be able to stay disappointed, but let the anger go.”

I was sort of baffled.

“Really,” I responded,  “because in the entirety of life, it’s not that big of a deal.  It’s not worth losing my mom and dad over or anything.  It sucks.  It’s really sad and disappointing…and I’ll probably be disappointed about it for a LONG time…but it’s not worth having a feud over or anything.”

“That’s the thing,” she told me.  “This is exactly the kind of thing most families do have feuds and harboring resentments about.  It’s amazing that you have this kind of communication with your family.”

I have been thinking about that conversation for the past two weeks.

This past week, Eddie has been very sick.  Cort and I each took two days off from work to stay home with him, but both of us really needed to be at work on Friday.

Thursday night my mom, knowing about our struggles, called and said that my dad had Friday off and would be cool with hanging out with Eddie in the morning.  Then she would take the afternoon off from work, and stay with him.

It was a lifesaver.

She didn’t do it because she felt guilty for disappointing me weeks ago.  She did it because this is what our family does for each other.

I can’t imagine holding anything against my parents or my brothers.

I tried to think of a time before this that anyone did something that was truly disappointing or that angered me that I didn’t say something.  I couldn’t.

I couldn’t even think of something that I would have gotten mad about…other than crap we did/said to each other when we were kids.  And even then we just yelled at each other and got over it.

What’s funny is back when I was in high school, friends of mine and friends of my brother, Chris would come over for dinner and refer to our family dinners as “having dinner with the Yelling Match.”

Everyone in my family talks over everyone else.  There are only five of us (parents, me, my two younger brothers), but it gets loud.  Then the talking over turns to disagreeing about topics or calling each other names.  Things get louder and louder.  My parents try to intervene, but it never works.

By the end of the meal, everyone leaves full and happy.

Yelling Match Completed.

I know my parents used to worry about how much my brothers and I argued and name-called.  I think they still worry sometimes since we are all adults (34, 32, & 27) and maybe shouldn’t be calling each other “buttface” at the dinner table.

But we all have a close, happy relationship.  We love doing stuff together and spending time together.

We miss each other and give our mom grief when we haven’t had a Sunday dinner together in a while.

We enjoy each other’s company even when we disagree.

If someone falls short of someone else’s expectations they are told, but a real beef is never held onto for long.  Oh we don’t let the person forget about it, but we don’t seriously harbor ill-feelings toward each other.

We let it go.

Apparently this is not something all families do.

So I guess what I am trying to say is this:

Hey mom and dad, you done good.  All those times you worried about us being so mean…at least we were being mean and not holding it in.  Because had we held it in, we wouldn’t be able to be the communicators we are now.  And we wouldn’t want to come over and have you feed us.  And we wouldn’t want to spend a week all together in the summer at the cottage.

Yup, my family lets me down sometimes, but rather than shoving that down into my heart and muttering, “that’s ok.”  We say our feelings and we let it go.

I’m so thankful for this.

Also, mom? Really. I’m not mad.

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You have until Friday to treat yourself to some great skin care products and/or enter to win some!

all that’s merry and bright

I was pretty terrible with my camera this year for the holidays…especially considering it was Charlie’s first Christmas. But I think I have enough to give a pretty good glimpse into what our celebrations looked like…

Christmas actually started the week before for us.  Each year we pick a day to get together with Cort’s siblings and his stepmom. This year it was the week before Christmas.  Grandma Lynne spoiled her five grandbabies with gifts, we all ate too much of her yummy reuben dip, and we all gave her a bracelet with each of the grandbabies’ birthstones.

Christmas Eve EVE brought our friends from afar to our house for some cocktails and great company.  Cort’s best friend lives in Denver, and one of my best friends lives in Urbana, Illinois, but both were in town for the holidays.  My BFF who lives in Chicago was too sick to join us, which made me sad though.

Before we knew it, it was Christmas Eve.

This was the first year Eddie actually “got it” and could look forward to all the things that Christmas means.  And of course, it was Charlie’s first Christmas all together.

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Because Cort was gifted the day off on Christmas Eve, we spent a good part of the day snuggling and lounging around…until nap was over.  Then it was time to gather up all the yummy treats we made and pack the truck full of gifts and head to Cort’s mom and stepdad’s house for our traditional Christmas Eve party.

beer and a baby niece.

beer and a baby niece.

Grandpa Ray read the Christmas story and we were ready to dig in to the presents.  Since Eddie is the oldest of the five grandkids, he got to help Granny play Santa. Everyone got wonderful gifts, but most importantly we had so much fun being together.  There is something new about Christmas now that we all have children…something wondrous and magical.

The grandbabies: Kingston (his profile) (20 months), Eddie (3.5 years), Charlie (9.5 months) Kyrie (20 months), Lilly (under a month)

The grandbabies: Kingston (his profile) (20 months), Eddie (3.5 years), Charlie (9.5 months) Kyrie (20 months), Lilly (under a month)…hey, it’s not easy getting a pic with 5 under 4!

After all the fun of Granny’s we got home and got everything set up for Santa.  Eddie was very particular about the cookies he chose and it was his idea to leave a Coke instead of milk (thank goodness).  He also dictated what I should write on the note.

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After Eddie was in bed and we were sure he was sleeping, Santa came.  And yes, he left Eddie some chocolate milk (and a bowl of dry Fruit Loops).

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This year was the first year Eddie wasn’t in a crib on Christmas morning, so after we went to bed, neither Cortney or I slept well…at all.  Both of us kept waking up checking the clock just waiting for Eddie to bound in.  What would his reaction be?  Would he come get us right away?  He’d been SO good about not going in our room…aka The Santa Room…for the past month.  I was pretty sure he wouldn’t rip into anything without us, but would he barge in our room or would he be cautious?

Around 5am, Cort got up to use the bathroom after waking up a million times in the night.  He turned the Christmas tree lights on for effect.  Then, around 7:30ish, little feet padded into our room.  “Dad? Dad?  Mom? Santa came!” an excited Eddie softly proclaimed.

And just like that…we were up.

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stupid crappy camera and the fuzzy pictures.

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new slippers.

new slippers.

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this one had more fun with the mess than with the gifts…as expected.

Expert gift opener.

Expert gift opener.

Eddie got absolutely ecstatic about every single gift…it could have been a shirt or a race track…didn’t matter. He LOVED it all!  And he was SO grateful! After everything we heard,  “OH THANK YOU!!!”

It made me smile so hard.

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Cort and I didn’t have much to spend this year on each other, but I think I picked a winning gift in the new Pearl Jam tshirt I bought him.

We had a Christmas party with my dad’s side of the family in the afternoon meaning the boys didn’t go down for nap until after 3pm…and so did I.  Cort got us all up after 5pm.  Eddie thought it was morning and asked if he was going to daycare and if he could have breakfast.

This was the beginning of a slippery slope of lack of schedule for the week.  Have I ever mentioned that Eddie starts to slowly lose his mind when his schedule is disrupted?  Like mother, like son, I suppose.

Oh, and Charlie got a molar.  At 9 months.  And as usual, this molar caused horrible poops and butt rash. The worst butt rash I have ever seen complete with bleeding butt.  His little biscuits looked like he had sat on a tanning bed for three days.  So he was miserable all day on Friday.

By the time Cort got home from work and was ready to whisk us to my parents’ house for the last Christmas party of the year, we were all a hot mess.

But I popped an anxiety pill, Charlie got his butt smeared with $45 Rx butt cream, Eddie got a talking to by his daddy, and we jumped in the truck with gifts and goodies and headed out.

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More awesome Tshirts for Cort.

this was probably a shirt. and he probably squealed...because he is awesome.

this was probably a shirt. and he probably squealed…because he is awesome.

oh look! I AM in a picture! With a very clingy, butt hurt Bird. Poor baby!

oh look! I AM in a picture! With a very clingy, butt hurt Bird. Poor baby!

So this is Christmas...

So this is Christmas…

Usually I get a family picture by my parents’ Christmas tree.  But this year it just wasn’t happening.  By the time gifts were done, the boys were on the verge of sleep and/or meltdown because it was a good two hours past their bedtime.  So no family Christmas picture this year to end the post.

Instead, I have pictures of the “aftermath”…

We were definitely spoiled, though.

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Today we packed it up and put it away in an attempt to take back the house.  Eddie helped take down each ornament and put it in the correct box.  He helped me pack up my new nativity scene and put away the Advent calendar.

And in the end, it was put away.

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We are ready and watching for 2013 and all the new adventures we will have.

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