Tag: In-Laws

Hither and Yon

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.”
– St. Augustine

Sorry for the hiatus, darlings, J. and I went on a roadtrip with parents, brother, sister, brother-in-law, and five assorted nieces and nephews and a partridge in a pear tree.  The purpose for this jaunt was to celebrate J.’s grandmother’s 90th birthday.

Let's not dwell on the grossness that is the unnamed Small Dog and focus rather on my nice husband and his awesome grandmother!

And she is well worth celebrating!  She was a nurse in WWII and was stationed in Wales, but made it all over the place, including France, Luxembourg, Ireland, and England.  She brought her uniforms for the kids to try on and dozens of books filled with pictures and memorabilia.  Apart from that she raised a large family by herself after her husband, a police officer, was killed in action.  And she is one of the happiest people I have ever met!  I’ve never seen her without a smile.  And she manages to make it to ever family function in spite of age, distance, or inconvenience.

In case you can't tell, that's a horse's, er, bum as it's grazing by the local salon.

Now, as to the vacation itself, it was a novelty.  My family hasn’t done much in the way of small trips.  We’ve either been living on a forsaken island in the Pacific that required a dozen hours flying to escape, or in Europe where if you drive an hour you’re in another country.  My parents just had a trip to Sicily (where they were waylaid by a volcano).  In the past few years we’ve gone to Australia, China, Italy, Austria, and my parents also got Thailand squeezed in there while J. and I visited England for Christmas.  Plus a rather lot of traipsing back and forth across the Atlantic.  But short roadtrips to and through towns with a population of less that 600 are foreign!

Atticus tries on his old high school jacket...and it fits!

One of the uncles made homemade root beer with dry ice that bubbled away like witches brew, another made cotton candy.  An aunt was in charge of the whole thing and sent everyone out on treasure hunts, got the entire clan to play dress up (and in some cases, Cross Dress, which in less capable hands is normally an awkward game…), and organized enough food for everyone.

Sidenote: people pronouncing this sort of sign "Yee old" anything drives me absolutely up the wall. It's an Anglo-Saxon character pronounced "th." Nerd rant over. You may be seated.

Which was good, because other than that almost every meal we ate was deep fried in some capacity and my internal workings have not yet recovered.  I mean, deep friend bread!  I thought that was just in the South…I was so wrong.  These foolish Americans actually call such things scones!  And while I remain adamant that scones are something of a more biscuit variety to be consumed with tea, eating something (anything) deep friend and slathered in honey butter is not something to turn one’s nose up at.

And finally, despite living here for years, I’ve not actually seen a lot of the American West.  Las Vegas, some parts of Colorado, fin. And while it will never convert me away from trees and lush grass…the mountains, rugged emptiness of it, and the oases of vibrant life are quite lovely!

We stopped to watch this go off a couple of times, and even ate dinner at a turn of the century hotel overlooking the site. It smelled of eggs and spattered the car with minerals, but isn't it fun?

How to Look Creepy in Front of Strangers

“When all of a sudden, people say, ‘Wow, you look nice,’ and carry on, it’s shocking.  Really awkward.”
– Nikki Cox
 

Hey kids! Let's learn about history from your bizarre Aunt C.!

If ever you are participating in a group game night with a bunch of people you have only met once before and with whom you share absolutely no history, conversation, or shared interest (because they are part of your brother-in-law’s set and that one time you met them before was over a year ago), and you a playing a game in which you have to describe a person from history…who might not have been a palatable choice for a conservative crowd… 

…do not, under any circumstances, try to get your teammates to guess the name on the card you chose.  Skip it and go to the next card.  Trust me on this. 

Dear, dear. Now we're all uncomfortable, aren't we?

Example:
“Ok!  He’s an 18th century French writer who was extremely controversial.  Got locked up for years because of what he wrote, both in the Bastille and an insane asylum.  To be fair he was basically a filthy, vile pornographer who wrote about horrible things.  Word “sadism” comes from his name.” 

Example Response:
“Um, wow, C., you know a lot about this weirdo…”  

Blast.  I look a pervert.

Six Month Anniversary

“So, every once and while I look up and go, ‘Oh, hey!  We have a fan in our kitchen,’ because I forget about it and you have these short little arms that can’t reach.”
“Shut up!”
-J. and C.

We spent January 1, 2010 flying in from London at 2am, crashing at my in-laws so we wouldn’t have to drive home at that ungodly hour, sleeping until 10 (jet lag), and lounging around waiting for nieces and nephews…who didn’t show up until ten minutes after we left, reading The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (which I couldn’t put down, go read it at once!), and crawling pitifully back in bed for a fitful night’s sleep.

It was also our six month anniversary. 

Now, J. might have an awful penchant for cracking short jokes, think that me getting furious is about the funniest thing possible, and not do the dishes as often as I would wish, but he also tolerates my stupid TV shows, kisses me at every opportunity, and flat-out orders me to a masseuse when my jet lag weariness won’t abate.

And that, my dears, is a very nice sort of husband to have.  I am terribly fond of him!

(Editor’s note: YES!  England trip updates are coming, I just keep forgetting to upload the – very sparse – photos we took!)

Turkey Day

“Thanksgiving is, after all, a word of action.”
– W. J. Cameron

Small Dog's first married Thanksgiving. Aw...

My immediate family has always been rather insular, we live far away from my extended family and haven’t always had the best relationship with them anyway.  So holidays have mostly been just us and I’ve always liked them that way: smaller, inundated with our own bizarre traditions (I think I’ll discuss some of our more quirky holiday habits at length later), and just plain cozy. 

And then I married the youngest of five children (three others of whom are married with kids of their own) whose parents live nearby and who like to get everyone together on holidays. 

So yesterday when we had our first faux-Thanksgiving (another one with godfamily may or may not be forthcoming…they haven’t celebrated a holiday on its designated day for some years now, thanks to Drill’s work schedule.  Who knows?  Maybe we’ll just eat pie and go to a movie!) because Darling and Atticus are going out of town this week, it was quite the event!  Four kids, two babies, eight adults, three ovens, two dozen rolls (not enough!), four pounds of yams (barely enough), one turkey, approximately four million toys all over the kitchen floor, and one minor blizzard.

Do not stand in the way of hungry nieces and nephews.

Absolute madness!  In a fun way.  I met J.’s oldest brother and sister-in-law for the second time (first time was at the wedding) and tricked their baby into liking me.  My brother-in-law misunderstood instructions and dumped a bunch of boiled potatoes onto the counter instead of mashing them up and then took a picture of his baby’s new trick of grabbing onto things (I taught him!).  Unfortunately, baby was grabbing onto my necklace and the camera was perfectly angled down my shirt.  The kids had already eaten a bunch of the rolls before dinner even started and then spent a good chunk of the time crawling around under the table as we adults tucked into turkey.  Afterwards they disappeared upstairs for a while only to return shrieking and pasting post-it notes over everything and everyone in reach and one of the boys punched the other in the face.

Aunt C. is becoming acclimated.

Fake It Till You Make It

“Do we have any plans tonight?”
“We could get dinner or catch a movie.”
“Sounds good.”
“By the way, my parents are coming tomorrow.”
“Gah!  Scratch that, we’re cleaning!”
-C. and J.

stressedFuture parents-in-law coming to see the flat where their son will be living once he marries me = mad dash to scrub bathroom, wipe down kitchen, throw multiple lemons down (our incomprehensibly aggravating) garbage disposal, make bed, stash Victoria Secret bags/boxes and issues of Cosmo from scandalous friends (seriously, people, are you trying to get me killed?!) , and spray whole house with happy, fresh apple scent.  All for half an hour of sitting in our living room making small talk.  And since I have NO food in the place (thank goodness they didn’t look in the FRIDGE!) I had to wait until today to buy myself a post-parental Cafe Rio Tres Leches cake! 

I have no idea why I’m so terrified of his parents, they are some of the world’s nicest people!  I think I’m afraid that they’ll find out that I’m not very nice myself…

The Ties That Bind

“His family is so laid back and relaxed, very cool with no drama.  I can’t relate at all!”
“Yeah, sorry about that.”
-C. and Mom

Although they turn me into a quivering mess of fear and anxiety, I have to admit J.’s family is pretty nice.  His parents are very generous and kind, his sibs are nice and friendly, and they are the least drama-filled group of people I’ve ever met.  A totally foreign concept to me!

313Now, my family is fantastic, but I’d have a nose the length of London Bridge if I said we were healthy and normal.  We’ve had a lot of problems, not that other families don’t of course, and they have spanned generations and decades with a lot of resentment built up.  Hey, we make it work, but my family has always been a major hold-up for me in relationships; my parents’ marriage and our dynamic as a family worked, per se, but it wasn’t what I wanted for myself.  But it was the only example of marriage or family I grew up with, so I didn’t really expect to be able to break the cycle.  I have higher hopes these days but I still get nervous about thinking of being a wife (and MANY years down the road, a mom).  I have this awful fear that one day I will be the one sitting in a psychiatrist’s office casually reading a magazine to hide the inward guilt gnawing at me that my kid is in the next room having his brain picked apart to undo the damage that I have done.  Ghastly!

Wise and I were comparing thoughts on this, she’s been married a while longer than me, but she had a similar home situation growing up and had the same trepidations.  Unfortunately, she said with a laugh, she still has them.  Great.  Hope.  Seriously though, I don’t think there’s a cure for the common family, but I do think there’s treatment.

Adventures in Family Planning

“Contraceptives should be used on every conceivable occasion.” 
-Spike Milligan,
The Last Goon Show of All


I was rushed on Friday so I didn’t get to share the full glory of my anti-pregnancy adventures.  Let me tell you about the ghetto fabulous place I went to!  I had a couple of friends recommend Planned Parenthood as a convenient and relatively inexpensive place to go for birth control consults, but I very nearly backed out when I saw the “clinic” (and I use that term very loosely). 

Emphasis on the "hood" part...don't let pink and happy fool you!
Emphasis on the "hood..." don't let pink and happy fool you!

It was housed in an old apartment complex place that I would go nowhere near after dark, if it had even been cloudy outside it would have looked like a set from a slasher movie.  Dark and crumbly are two words that spring to mind, with just a dash of menace.  What really almost cinched it was the sign on the front that said, “No Cell Phones Allowed, Please Leave in Car.” 

“So no one can hear you scream?” I thought, “Oh hell no!” 

I just put mine on silent and nervously walked in.  Thankfully the inside was much better and my panic abated somewhat, but still I will laugh in the face of anyone who recommends PP to anyone else.  Upside is the pill there is about $10-15 cheaper than a pharmacy. 

The rest of my weekend was taken up with family planning of a different variety.  My little godniece Elle’s blessing was on Sunday and the preparation for the whole shindig took the better part of two days!  GS and GBIL moved into their new apartment while she was heavily pregnant and never really got settled in before baby came.  So come Saturday Fairy, Brando, Pieter and his girlfriend Benz, and I all decamped to GS’s house for a major overhaul.  Painting, washing, hanging drapes, you name it we did it.  And then on Sunday, after the blessing in church, what seemed like half the population of this side of the Rockies descended on us ALL bearing food.  It was a sight to behold!  Little kids, cousins, second-cousins-a-couple-dozen-times-removed, grandparents, great-grandparents, friends, and almost-family were everywhere, we eventually had to spill into the front yard to clear room in the house for people to eat.

This will not be me, this will not be me, this will not be me...
This will not be me, this will not be me, this will not be me...

And then on Sunday night, we had dinner with J.’s family at his sister’s house.  Two parents, three kids, two in-laws, five grandkids (with one more on the way), more Tickle-Me-Elmo dolls than I have ever seen at once in my life, and me: incumbent daughter-in-law.  It was fun, but a little weird.  My family doesn’t really have a relationship with grandparents etc., I can count the times I’ve seen my cousins on one hand and here I’m going to be an aunt half a dozen time over the second I say, “I do.”  I don’t even know how to be a grand-daughter, how am I supposed to be a daughter-in-law without horribly offending someone?!