Friday, November 27, 2009

Brothers

Happy Thanksgiving! We spent the day relaxing at my brother and sister-in-law's house with too much food, probably too much wine, and lots of laughter and fun together.

I have the best family ever. Seriously, I do. 30 years ago when my parents kept bringing baby brothers home from the hospital one after another, squashing my dream of having a pretty little sister to dress up and play Barbies with, I wasn't so sure about this 'best family ever' status. When I was in junior high school and my brothers got into my make-up and drew all over the walls with it, I wasn't so sure either. In high school, when they'd hide my car keys from me... you get the picture.

But now that we're all grown up, they're not so bad. These are our senior pictures. They hang prominently in my mom's house, above her staircase, forever capturing the youthful optimism we all had.
*photo of our senior pictures on mom's wall:
senior pics

Yesterday, as most of us hung out together to celebrate Thanksgiving, I thought about this gift of brothers that my parents gave to me.

My oldest brother, is Brother E. He and I once ran across a field together because there was a rainbow on the other side of the school that was behind our house. I remember running and running, but that rainbow never got any closer to us. We'd have been probably five and three at the time, but it's one of my earliest and clearest childhood memories. Today he lives closest to me of all my brothers; his house is only 10 minutes away. He and I also work downtown in buildings right near each other. He's got a wicked sense of humor, is a great father and husband, makes beautiful things out of wood, and can play a mean game of soccer. I mentioned that he's funny - yesterday at Thanksgiving, he was cracking me up about every other time he spoke.

The next brother is Brother S, who lives in the San Francisco area. He and I were four years apart and I still remember one time when I was back from college for some reason. I'd been asked to drive him home from driver's ed class before I left to go back to school, but I had totally forgotten. I remembered as I was about halfway back to school. This was before cell phones, so he had to walk home. As I recall, it wasn't very cold out and the walk was about two miles, so of course it didn't kill him, but I still feel guilty about it to this day. Brother S has been all over the place. He was in the Peace Corps for two years in Kazakstan, he's traveled all over the world, and of course he lives out in California now with his beautiful wife. They are new parents - their son was born at the end of May. I'm going out to visit them next weekend, and I can't wait!

Brother K is next. My kids call him their Crazy Uncle K because of his sense of humor. I remember one time, we were watching an exhibition soccer game that was being put on for charity. One of the teams was from the local hospital - full of medical professionals and the father of one of Brother E's best friends, who was a well known doctor in town. During the game, someone got hit with the ball in the face (nothing serious), and Brother K, who couldn't have been older than 7 at the time, stood up in the stands and yelled melodramatically, "Is there a doctor in the house?" Today, he's a successful CPA, and you'd never guess with his career choice that he's got the most off the wall sense of humor ever. He used to live nearby, and we'd see him about every other week. When he and his wife moved from Des Moines to KC last year, I wanted to kill him. Turns out that being 3 hours away didn't change things all that much - we still see him about once a month or so, which is great.

My second youngest brother, is Brother L. He lives in KC with Brother K. Brother L was the closest thing I had to a sister when he was tiny because he had these amazing blonde ringlets that my mom didn't have the heart to cut for a while. Today he looks an awful lot like Jusin Timberlake, and he's our family's computer doctor. Every time there's a problem with one of our PCs, we call Brother L. Poor guy, I'm sure he's sick of it! He's got a great job working for a healthcare IT company, and he's wicked smart - he's one of the most well-read people I've ever met. He reads just about everything - from Buddhism meditation handbooks to classic novels. I like to ask Brother L for reading recommendations because if I've heard of the book, chances are he's read it. He's going with me to San Francisco next week; I'm looking forward to spending the weekend with him.

Brother Z is my baby brother. He was born when I was in fourth grade. When I went away to college he was 8 and couldn't pronounce his 'r' sounds. I remember being shocked when I came home on Thanksgiving break and he could say 'rickety rackety rail road track' like a pro. He's the only one of my brothers smart enough to attend the same college as me. (Iowa Sate - go Cyclones!) The others had to settle for second-rate schools like Central College, the University of Iowa, and UC Berkeley. Brother Z is getting his Master's degree in Forestry at our alma-mater. He knows everything you can think of about trees and has a respect for nature that is admirable. He's also into photography and he lets me borrow his cool camera from time to time. We're lucky enough to get to hang out with him quite a bit.

Yesterday as I was relaxing in my food and wine coma, I sat back and watched my family interact with that easygoing, goofy way that we have. I thought about how thankful I am to have these brothers of mine. And also the sisters-in-law they've brought to the family. We have good memories together, and are making new ones each year.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Grandma B.

The Husband's grandma passed away on Sunday.
*photo of Bumblebee hugging Grandma B:
Grandma B and Bumblebee

What a sweet woman she was - I have so many fond memories of relaxing, old-fashioned family gatherings out at her farmhouse. My kids were lucky to be able to know their great-grandma for so many years.

I'm sad for The Husband, he seemed surprised at how emotional this made him. Grandma B. was his last living grandparent, and her death was sudden, so I know that has to be hard for him.

And my mother-in-law, poor thing. She's handling this very well, from what I can tell, but she has had such a crazy year - so many things to deal with, and now the sadness of losing her mother will bring 2009 to a close. When it rains, it pours. I just really hope that 2010 is a sunny year for her. She needs a good year after this one.

Tomorrow is the funeral for Grandma B. Funerals are always such a mix of sadness and fellowship. It's nice to see the people who are gathered to celebrate someone's life, but it's unfortunate that an event like death is what brings everyone together.

Having her funeral the day before Thanksgiving will be hard. But I like to think about how long and full her life was, and what a wonderful family she leaves behind.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
~Kahlil Gibran

Friday, November 20, 2009

Licensed to Drive

Hollywood got her driver's license on Tuesday. I embarrassed her by taking a photo at the DOT. She was mortified, but I was actually surprised that no other moms had their cameras out too.

This is a momentous occasion, people!

And anyway, I only have a short time in this life to embarrass my kids, so I'll enjoy it while I can:
*photo of Hollywood in front of the DOT sign:
Hollywood at the DOT

Here she is after getting her license. I waited until we got outside in the parking lot to take this one, at least:

Hollywood with her license

It's really hard for me to believe that she's old enough to drive by herself now. But don't get me wrong... I'm not hating the idea. I sent her to the grocery store first thing. Having a kid who can drive is going to be veeeeeery useful, I think!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Squeaky Season

It's that time of year again, can you hear the squeak of basketball shoes on a gym floor?
*photo of the Boy in his basketball game:
The Boy Basketball Game

The Boy had his first junior high basketball game last night. Here he is (#2) on the court with two of his best friends - that's trouble right there...

See the kid on the floor in the picture below? There's always a kid on the floor of a 7th grade boys' basketball game. It's how they roll. Girls' basketball? Not quite so crazy. Boys, though? Chaos!
*photo of the game:
The Boy Basketball Game 2

It was an exciting game that went into overtime. Our Comets lost. But... it was a good start to the season.

The very long season.

The very, very, very long season.

I was adding the games to my google calendar earlier this week and couldn't believe that I had game entries in November, December, January, and February.

That's a lot of basketball to watch!

Good thing my guy is fun to watch:
*closeup photo of The Boy playing:
The Boy Basketball

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Comfort

*photo of Hollywood, Bumblebee, Uncle K, and Aunt D all snuggled up together on the couch:
couch_snuggle

Sometimes, when things in life don't go as planned, it's just a good thing to have family around. It's therapeutic to watch football and fight over couch space snuggle together on a cold and dreary day.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sixteen

Hollywood - Sweet 16
I want to cry today
But I’m not certain why.
It’s not sadness, really;
More like a longing for the past.
A wish for one last time to hold her hand
As we cross the street;
Or to kiss a scrape on her knee.

I should not mourn the passing
Of her childhood:
The Mickey Mouse Motorcycle in his time out,
Bedtime stories and snuggle hugs,
Those Avril Lavigne days.
(Why’d you have to go and make things so Complicated?)

Instead, I must look forward to the firsts that are left:
Her first love.
Her first heartbreak.
Graduation, college, life.

She’s flapping those wings.
In an instant, she’ll soar high above me,
Taking on the world.
And I'll watch, tear-streaked, as she goes.

But today I will focus on the present.
I’m so proud of who she is.
My heart is full to see the joy of this day for her:
Sixteen.
Cars.
Boys.
Music.
Friends.
Living, loving, being.


***

Happy Birthday, Hollywood.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mmmm... Bacon!

"Momma? I don't think I want to grow up."
*photo of Bumblebee with a quizzical look on her face:
Bumblebee thinking

"Why not?"

"Well... because I love bacon. And animal doctors can't eat bacon."
*photo of Bumblebee with another questioning look:
Bumblebee thinking 2

"They can eat bacon. You're thinking of vegetarians, not veterinarians. Vegetarians don't eat meat. Veterinarians are animal doctors."

"Really?"

"Yep - the words just sound the same."

"So you're positive that animal doctors can eat bacon?"
*photo of Bumblebee with a funny face:
Bumblebee goofy face

"Yep. I'm positive."

"Good. Because I really want to be an animal doctor, but I really, really, REALLY love bacon."
*photo of Bumblebee laughing:
Bumblebee laughing

Monday, November 2, 2009

What do you call a flying skunk?

Wait for it....

Wait for it...

A SMELLicopter!
*photo of Bumblebee dressed as a skunk.
skunk

In Iowa, we make our kids earn their Halloween candy. They have to tell us a joke. And if they don't, well, then we might not give them any candy. A laugh for a snicker bar seems like a fair trade to me.

I made a skunk costume for Bumblebee this year. It turned out pretty cute, even though she kept going 'pppssssssssssssssssssss' to pretend like she was spraying everyone. We got the inspiration because Grandma J dressed her dog up in a skunk costume. She decided to make herself a skunk outfit too, so there was a cute little family of skunks who went trick or treating for the night. I wish my camera would have cooperated, but for some reason, it took awful pictures of the skunk family. But believe me, they were adorable.

The night before Halloween was one of those special nights. The kids didn't have any social engagements (only because they were both grounded, but hey... I'll take my quality family time any way I can) so we carved some pumpkins - which is always so much more work than I remember it being:
*photo of Bumblebee and me scooping out pumpkin guts:
pumpkin carving

But they turned out nicely. Hollywood carved the ghost pumpkin and I did the other two.
*photo of carved pumpkins. One with four ghosts, one with a cat, and one with a dragon:
pumpkins

The older kids were too old to trick or treat (since they were grounded, they couldn't talk me into letting them go...) - so they stayed home and handed out candy.
*photo of all three kids in front of the house with their pumpkins:
kids halloween

I'm surprised at how quickly Halloween came and went this year. And now it's November, which is crazy because someone I know turns 16 this month. And her mother isn't ready for that milestone one bit.