Tag Archives: family


My great-grandmother’s name was Grace.  She passed away when I was little — I think I was eight years old.  Thus I don’t remember too much about her, and what I do was a little kid’s perspective on who was then a pretty old  lady.  She was quiet, and kind, and had a canary.   She didn’t really go out much, as far as I knew.  Her house was always dark, but not in an unhappy way… more in the way that people might keep their curtains drawn so the furniture doesn’t fade.  She gave me candy, so overall she was OK in my book.

What I also knew was that her husband then, who passed away when I was five, was not the father of my grandmother.  Sometime after she was born, my great-grandparents, in a time when it was pretty nuts to do so, got divorced and both remarried other people.  My great-grandmother had two more sons (my half-great-uncles) with her new husband, who we called Papa H.

Nana Grace was, all tales told, not very forthcoming with the details of how this all panned out.  We knew my great-grandfather, Papa Bill, had been away for awhile, in Canada, finding whatever work he could, as he grew up in Canada and one would assume he knew people who were hooking him up with opportunities to earn a wage.  (It was the Great Depression after all, and he was by trade a construction worker, though he would also work for a long time caring for and tending horses once he returned.)  Nana Grace’s parents, also needing income, rented out rooms to boarders.  One of those boarders became my Papa H.

And beyond that… the story was fuzzy.  Especially in relation to dates.  When asked on their anniversary how many years she and Papa had been married, the answer was always something vague… “Oh it’s been so long, I can’t really remember.”

After she passed away, one of my half-great-uncles came across their marriage license.  It turns out he was born only a couple months after they got married.  So the story the family sort of pieced together is while her first husband was off in Canada, she was living with her parents, and when Papa H came along as a boarder, something “clicked” with them… and clicked enough that she ended up pregnant.  Oops.

Nana Grace seemed much cooler after I found that out.


This post is a part of Kate‘s “madhouse”, of whom all these other fine people try to participate when they can:

Allison – Allimonster Speaks
Barb – Spencer Hill Spinning & Dyeing
Batty – Batty’s Adventures in Spooky Knitting
Dave – Notes from the Field
Evil Twin’s Wife – The Glamorous Life of a Hausfrau
G – Not-A-Box
Heather – She Flies With Her Own Wings
Jennifer – Ask Poops, Please
JMLC – Daydreams and Ruminations
Kate – yoyu mama
LC – LC in Sunny So Cal
Louise – Child of Grace
Marcy – Mittentime
Melanie – usually, things happen
Nikki – Land of the Free, Home of the Depressed
Sara – yoyu mama


Math geeks are weird

Being married to a math geek has its advantages. He can calculate the day of the week for just about any date. He knows how many miles per gallon both our cars get because he actually tracks it. Of course there’s the big one, the super shiny actuarial career that has provided the opportunity for me to stay at home with the kids.

Naturally there are disadvantages… like come playoff time during any of the various sports seasons he follows, he will create for himself and get absorbed in various Excel spreadsheets wherein he figures the odds of each team making the playoffs, and I-don’t-know what-else. I know for a fact that actuaries often create complex Excel spreadsheets for fun; his co-worker Paul runs an Us Weekly celebrity pool, and oh-my you should see the spreadsheets this man puts together and sends out each week that tabulate the scores. Criminy. Also, since he likes the really complex math stuff, simple math is apparently boring and blase for him, because I often beat him to quick calculations in the head, and somehow early in the marriage all the bill-paying and balancing fell to me.

Then there’s just the funny consequences. Frank slept in a bit today, (and actually this reminds me he might still be sleeping, because I don’t hear him up. Better check after I’m done here!) Anyway! About 8:30 I give him an elbow and tell him it’s 8:30 and he should probably get up (I was nursing Jake in bed at the time). I have to repeat it with another elbow accompaniment to get his attention. He sits half-up and says, “830? 830 what?”

I say, “The time. It’s 8:30 a.m. What the hell else would I be talking about?”

And he says, in his sleepy haze: “I don’t know…. average minutes, maybe?”

I can’t even fathom what average minutes he thinks I’d be working on in the morning, in bed, and that would be so important as to wake him up to tell him the results.

I hate thinking of posting titles

Even when I know exactly what I’m going to type out, the clever words rarely come for a title.  And if I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to type, well, forget it.

I’ve been doing a lot of pondering of late.  Frank and I have both been wondering if we want to have another baby.  By the time Lane was Jake’s age, I was already pregnant with Jake, after making the deliberate decision to have my IUD removed.  Frank was on board, and we were excited.  These days, the idea of trying to get pregnant has us both looking for the nearest fallout shelter.  Mostly, I waffle on the idea.  I love the idea of having another baby, but am generally freaked out by the reality of adding another body to the madness.   It probably doesn’t help that Lane’s never been the easiest kid on the block, and Jake’s steadily gearing up for the terrible twos (mostly by finding writing implements and leaving his mark on any inappropriate surface at his eye level).  Lane is so interested in babies right now, and breastfeeding, and playing Mommy to her baby dolls, and I know she would be beyond the moon over a new, real baby.  But that’s really little justification for conception.  🙂

And even though the idea of pregnancy sends me into heart palpitations right now, who knows how I’ll feel a couple years, or months, or even weeks from now.  For a long time after Lane was born I couldn’t imagine adding another child to our family.  I just couldn’t even create the mental pictures of what it would be like, of how I could love that baby as much, of why would I want to mess with the perfection that is my beautiful daughter?!?  But then one day, I could.  And a few months later I was pregnant with Jake, and he’s just completely awesome.  So, it will probably happen.  Maybe once Lane starts kindergarten in the fall and the quiet:chaos ratio improves a bit in my favor.

The other big thought-provoking subject for me is what I’m going to be when I grow up.  I’ve toyed with the idea of starting my own photography business to do portraits, or to becoming a birth & postpartum doula, but both require the whole working-for-myself thing, and at this point of my life I’m not feeling the energy to be super entrepreneurial.  I also keep coming back to the idea of going to school to become an RN.  There are loads of programs around for people who already have college degrees; you go to school for about 15 months, give or take a couple depending on the program, and you have another bachelor’s degree and you’re an RN (once you take the certification exam, of course).  And there are a number of schools with programs in reasonable driving distance.  And, I definitely find myself leaning toward state schools for the affordability factor, which reduces my choices to Brooklyn or Binghamton.  Or Long Island… but who in their right mind wants to go to Long Island every day?  There’s also a private college only a few miles away with a program, which would certainly lend itself best to the juggling act that being in school full time would require.

So no decisions there, but I may get started on those prereqs in the meantime at the local community college.  If nothing else, I love taking classes, and can you THINK of a cooler way to spend your time than by taking Anatomy and Physiology I?

Sometimes the wisdom comes from unexpected places

My kids were, in a word, challenging tonight.  Lane was defiant and oblivious to all adult vocalizations, and I hit my breaking point when she fibbed about the whereabouts of the contents of an entire bottle of bubbles she’d been playing with earlier.   Jake is normally my easy-going, happy guy, but tonight was full of evidence that the terrible twos are a-comin’.  In a span of ten minutes he managed to find crayons and write all over the tile floor in the kitchen, and then while Lane and I were cleaning that up (her one redeeming point of the evening when she offered to help and actually helped) he got into the junk drawer in the kitchen, fished out a Sharpie, and wrote all over his left hand and a bit on the carpet in the hallway.  And there was other stuff, but the point of this post isn’t to bitch about my kids.

Mark spent at least a moment or two telling me how he just can’t imagine how I do it…. how these children can be so insanity-rousing, and yet I can, in the next moment, find the energy to be affectionate.  Or more simply, how I don’t go off the deep end and sell them to Gypsies.  Of course he gets the whole loving-them-with-a-fierceness-you-can’t-fathom-until-you’re-there phenomenon, but still.  And I had a hard time expressing it.  I just shrugged and said something like, “You just deal, and then something good happens.”

And then I was reading an article at CNN.com about some meeting that GWB had with some anti-drug people about anti-drug stuff, and the article quoted him talking about the power of prayer in his life, and he ended his thought by saying, “Some days are happy. Some days are not so happy. But every day is joyous.”  Now I’m not into prayer and all that sort of thing, but what he said pretty well sums up being a parent.  I never thought I would quote Bush 43 in an inspiring way, but it truly has been one of those days.

Uncle Mark

One of the new things around here, and I’m very unsure if I mentioned it, but my brother’s living with us now. So far, it’s going great. He’s working at a bank branch about 15 minutes away from here, in a position that’s sort of between a teller and a platform banker, so he’s earning his keep.

He’s 25, and so in that goofy not-quite-a-kid, not-quite-an-adult phase. (Heck, I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not sure *I’m* out of that phase yet. If I’m lucky, I’ll never really leave that phase.) He has so much fun with the kids, even though he has times where he’s not quite accustomed to the chaos and locks himself in his room. The kids practically worship him. Lane finds it physically impossible to leave him alone when he’s home and Jake walks around looking for him yelling “Mar! Mar? Mar!” So, so cute.

So, they do annoy him sometimes. But heck, sometimes they annoy me, too. But mostly they really dig hanging out together. He and the kids spent about 20 minutes before running laps around our house. Now, they are downstairs in our family room/playroom/catch-all room and he’s teaching the kids how to hit a whiffle ball with a plastic bat, and the giggles are incessant. I’m of course doing the responsible thing while the kids are occupied — blogging and Facebook.

It’s really been fun having him here. I’m glad I offered him the room, and I’m glad he took me up on it.

Moral conundrum

I believe I had shared earlier that there was a possibility my brother might come live with us for awhile.  Well, it has come to pass!  He secured himself a full-time job only a few minutes from our house, and he starts in three weeks!  So he’s moving down here in two weeks, and we are all excited.

He’ll be staying in the spare bedroom we have on our lower level, which has an adjoining full bathroom.  Comfy enough, I think, for cheap digs.  We still need to paint the room before he moves in; it is in SORE need of a coat of paint.

I have a leftover can of off-white and was going to use that.

But my brother just called me a loser in a message board.

I am tempted to exact revenge a la paint color.  Pink perhaps?  Chartreuse?  Neon orange?  A dingy, depressing gray?

Alas, I am too cheap to spend $30 on a new gallon of paint for such a purpose, so he will get his off-white anyway.

The fact that he’s calling me a loser and that I’m contemplating revenge for it shows we often act like bratty little kids with each other, rather than the grown-ups we are.  That’s one thing I am worried about with him living here, that we will end up being stupid and jerky with each other.  Hopefully we can both make a conscious effort to act like adults and avoid the name-calling and shouting matches that have occasionally plagued our ‘adult’ interactions.  I theorize it’s because I haven’t lived at home since going away to college and we don’t really have much practice being adults together, so when a little conflict arises we both revert to how we acted ten, fifteen years ago.

Trekkin’ around the state

It’s been a whirlwind few days!

As I mentioned previously, Lane went to Buffalo on Monday.  My dad was here visiting for one night with his fiancee from Sunday to Monday, and as they were preparing to leave, Lane started saying she REALLLLY wanted to go to Buffalo with Grandpa Jerry.  Well, he’s retired, and she wouldn’t miss anything more than a few days of preschool and a dance class.  So she went.  By all reports they had a blast.  Tuesday was an off weather day in Buffalo so they hung out at home and watched movies, and Wednesday they went to the Buffalo Zoo.  (I am happy to report no polar bears died while they were visiting.)

Then, Jake and I drove up there on Wednesday afternoon and got there about 9:00 p.m.  Thursday was general hanging-out-with-relatives, and my dad took Jake to see choo-choos (my dad used to work on the railroad).

I also had a very sweet, very frank conversation with my brother about life stuff and relationship stuff of which I will not violate his confidence by divulging the details here, but it make my heart sigh, in that good way.  He’s a good egg who just needs to sort out his priorities a little and really realize he’s more grown-up and mature than he gives himself credit for.

Then, Friday, the kids and I headed for the Albany area, where we visited with my friend Amanda and her new, perfect little baby, and where Frank rendez-vous’ed with us.  We stayed there last night, and then went to my friend Cari’s daughter’s first birthday party, where we also saw other friends we hadn’t seen in awhile, being caught up in the whole moving-into-our-house-and-getting-it-spiffied-up whirlwind, as we are.  But there are tentative plans to get together with the other friends in the next couple weeks, and for Amanda to visit at some point in November, so we’re getting caught up, socially, which feels good.

And now we are home, and I’m sitting on my own couch, and I’m relishing that we don’t have to travel anywhere until Christmas (unless we choose to do so otherwise, before then).  Not that we won’t be busy – we have a dining room that needs wallpaper stripped and a coat of the “tomato bisque” paint I bought before Thanksgiving, among a couple other rooms that need painting.  But after our last two busy weekends… bring on the paint.  🙂