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Today is my dad’s birthday. He would have been seventy and surely would finally be blissfully earning the moniker we gave him much too young, “The Old Man”. My dad would’ve been a good old man, the best really. He already excelled at it by his late forties and that sort of thing only gets better with practice.

For his 70th, I’d like to share a story from my 15th.

Once upon a time, there was a horribly selfish 14 and 364/365 year old, who was incredibly PUT OUT by the fact that her dad was going to miss yet another of her birthdays. You see, my dad {yes, I will be playing the role of The Selfish Brat for this story} was the secretary for something called the International Claim Association, or ICA. {Which, totally unrelated but worth mentioning~ when I was a young thing I was a little hazy about all of this so I used to tell people my dad was a lawyer for the CIA. Untrue! But probably impressed a lot of very confused people.} In fact, my dad was an attorney for a life Insurance company so he was deeply familiar with the claim department of his company which led to his involvement in this organization.

Let me just break here to say, none of this matters. Except that it did because the committee meetings for this particular organization were often held the second week of September which also happens to hold an extremely paramount moment in history: the date of my birth. And because these meetings were often held at warm, sandy-beach locations, my mother naturally wished to accompany my dad and where did that leave me? A neglected orphan cruelly left to suffer yet another birthday alone {or, you know, in the company of very loving, capable grandparents and older siblings who more than made an effort to give me a special day, WHATEVER.} {I should also note that while my dad did very well for himself and his family, 5 kids in parochial school and all the various other expenses so many grunions incur, of which there were numerous and plenty, is not easy on the checkbook so taking us kids along was just not a viable option.}

By the time my 15th birthday hit, I was OVER it. Had it been a year later, I probably would not have cared, being at an age where spending the day with my friends would be much more important than hanging with my family but at 15 I was not quite there yet and the memory of my 12th, and golden, birthday still stung. On that occasion, not only was I was missing my dad but out of the goodness of my mother’s heart {she stayed home this time}, she agreed to baby-sit my severely ADHD cousin who had been served sugar and Mountain Dew at a Boy Scout function and who subsequently had to be locked out on the porch for fear he would destroy our house. It was an unpleasant experience and I told my dad he wasn’t allowed to miss anymore of my birthdays until I was over 18. I’m sure he didn’t actually agree to this, but somewhere in my head he did, so when I found out he would again be attending the ICA meeting over my birthday I was… displeased.

He left a day or so before the 12th of September. I can’t remember the conversation we had or the hug I’m sure he gave me, despite the fact that I had not stopped giving him The Filch Eye since I found out he was leaving. On my birthday, from Wherever, USA {I can’t even recall which warm, sandy location he was visiting this time} he called and I told him, after careful consideration, I would forgive him for ditching me if he brought me home something really, really special. Something to make up for not only missing this birthday but the handful of others over the years. He just chuckled in his way and told me to “be good”. I took that as a confirmation that he was going to bring me home something awesome. Something truly spectacular. And really? I should not have been this naive. I can say with almost 100 percent certainty that my father didn’t pick out any of our gifts growing up. I’m positive that task was delegated to my mother and she did a fabulous job at it so I don’t know what I was thinking. By the end of my dads trip I had myself pretty well convinced that he was bringing me the 1995 equivalent of a time traveling, golden unicorn that shit money. {Spoiler alert! That did not happen. Disappointing, I know.}

Anyway I had built this whole thing up in my head, so sure, sososososo sure, that my dad wouldn’t want to disappoint me and would have been sufficiently guilted into picking me out something fabulous. And sure enough, when he got home, he intimated to me that he did pick me out something special. All my teenage angst and rage dissipated, I was immediately filled with love! admiration! and awe for this wonderful man. This beautiful father who brought his newly minted 15 year old daughter a special gift. He passed me a smallish green box. Oh! Jewelry! I hadn’t even thought about that! Diamonds? Sapphires? Oooooo definitely sapphires, they’re my favorite and also my birthstone which makes them awesome AND meaningful. I was so in love with the contents of that box for roughly 20 seconds and then…

I opened it.

And it was a fish.

A fish made out of shells.

It wasn’t even a pretty fish.

It was a dumb fish.

It was the goddamn dumbest, ugliest fish I had ever seen in my entire life.

I hated it.

I hated that fish more than anything I had ever hated before and I was an angsty teenager so I hated A LOT of things.

Here is where I’d like to tell you that I pushed that hate deep down. Deep, deep down. And graciously smiled and hugged my dad for picking something out just for me. I did not do that. “What the hell is this?” may have been uttered. Also “A fish? You thought of me and bought… a stupid fish? Really?” I was not happy and after making sure this wasn’t a gag and my REAL gift wasn’t waiting for me outside, I left the little green box on the counter and stormed off to my room.

Such a brat. A complete, utter, ungrateful brat. To my mom’s credit, she was patient and understood why I was upset. Later that night, through the crack in their bedroom door, I heard her explaining to my dad that no 15 year old girl wants a fish made out of sea shells for her birthday. “They want CDs. They want pagers. They want Abercrombie shopping sprees. They really don’t want decorative fish.” And in true, unperturbed Garry form, he said quietly, “I thought it was nice.”

I did not forgive him easily. I did not take that dumb fish out of its box for weeks on principle. Eventually it made its way to my room, I’m sure my mom brought it there, and at some point I took it out. Inside was a little stand so it could be displayed and well, time is a funny thing, that ugly fish made it into that stand and was placed on a shelf in my room. I still hated it. It reminded me not only of being disappointed in my dad but of my own shitty behavior when I had received it… but there it stayed. Mostly forgotten, occasionally despised, for the rest of my years at home.

*         *        *      *

After he died I found myself in my old room. For the few months following the unexpected, I had abandoned my cozy loft apartment that still had my cats and my fiance, to give support to my mom in the wake of a loss that seemed as long and wide as all eternity. There, on my dresser was that dumb, ugly fish. And I picked it up, and ran my fingers over its cool, smooth surface, its sharp angled fins, and I cried. And I clung to it. I imagined my dad wandering off into the hotel’s gift shop. I saw him walking slowly along the shelves, scanning the various kitschy objects. Picking trinkets up, putting them down. I saw him pick up the ugly fish. I saw him smile at it. I felt him run his fingers along its surface. I heard him say, “I’ll take this one. For my daughter, she turns fifteen today!” And then they put that atrocious thing in that small green box and now here it was, 8 years later, a gift from my dad. A part of him here, waiting for me to love, and to appreciate the love it always had for me.

Ugly Fish {that’s its name… after all, a spade’s a spade} has spent every night since, these 10 long years of missing him, on my nightstand. It is a reminder to be gracious. A reminder that I was loved. A reminder of my dad. And I love him so much. And the dumb fish too.

Happy birthday, dad.

2.10.1

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This is how I spent my day internet…

11.24.1

That’s right. With the Monster Closet of Death. Oh God. It is just a wall of eight years’ worth of LIFE. I’m pretty sure I swore I’d never let it get this bad again but you know what happens when you create another miraculous human life? You also accumulate miraculous amounts of shi- I mean stuff. Lots of shitty stuff. Oh crap, I think I was trying to avoid cursing there. Oh well. So you know that moment when you finally clear out the closet but then all of its contents are spread out in gigantic piles all around your house and all you want to do is cry and move far far away from it all? Yeah. That’s what I was feeling here:

11.24.2

…Punctuated nicely by my second born, who kept creeping ever-so-quietly behind piles of junk, jumping up and shouting BOOOOOOO at the top of his very high-functioning lungs. I briefly threatened to look up orphanages in the phone book but then he said “What’s a phone book?” and I lost my will to threaten him further, for the laughing and the wonder at how much different life is for these small people. After MUCH to-do and a little help from Radio-Lab, This American Life and two Bloody Mary’s, I finished…

11.24.3

I know that all said and done it doesn’t look that impressive but trust me on this one. This is a closet that slopes downward under our entryway stairs. It is neither wide nor long enough but it happens to be the ONLY storage space for a family five we have in this entire house. I want you people with basements, extra rooms and/or storage closets full of shit to close your eyes and imagine putting all of that in one tiny, angled walk-in closet. It is the ultimate game of tetris, especially when you have to pull out your seasonal things every 2-3 months and if that seasonal item has migrated to the back GAME OVER CHRISTMAS IS RUINED, ALSO YOUR LIFE.

Balance in the force of the entryway was also restored and we are now semi-ready to put up Christmas decorations next Friday and host our family for Keaton’s 6th birthday..

11.24.4

Well, I’d write more but I need to go get really drunk* so I can effectively rid this day from my memory. I hope you understand, Internet.

*And by “get really drunk” I mean, have a glass a wine and fall asleep on the couch. This is what drunk is to old people.

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1. I just ate a giant burrito and my brain has officially turned to mush as my whole body is focused on digesting it. The mushy brain was for a good cause though since today the local Chipotle gave half the proceeds of purchases to Rowan’s dance studio {which is moving in January to a new, non-creepy-70s-strip-mall location} and needs help raising funds for dance floors, which are ridiculously spendy. Starting in January when I go in to watch her I can rest easy knowing my stomach helped the studio.

2. Bill and I ditched the oldest at dance and the boys with grandma and grandpa so we could catch the 11:20am Catching Fire. Rowan has dance from 11-3:30 on Saturdays {I know. I KNOW.}. I usually sit at the studio for a good portion of that time in case we need to go in and record her dances, or just to give her a quick hug between classes but we skipped out for a day date and I felt really guilty for leaving her on her own. However I quickly recovered when I realized the theater had replaced it’s regular seats with barcalounger stadium seating. Umm… kid-free popcorn-fueled entertainment with roomy seats that recline and cushy armrests that I don’t have to share? Rowan, WHO.

3. The movie was really good. It followed the book exactly and I’m not normally one to even notice unless they are egregiously bad, but the special effects were impressive. My favorite part though, was the row of preteen girls in front of me who exclaimed to each other in the loudest whisper possible, “DO YOU SEE THAT?! THEY’RE KISSING?!”, every time J-Law made out with a co-star. It was annoyingly adorable.

4. Ezra came home from his day of being ditched with a fever and his wambulance cry in full swing wherein he actually sounds like a siren. It’s a combo of whine and cry with a cadence of EEEEEEEEoooooooEEEEEEEoooooooEEEEEEEEooooooo. It’s not loud but he drones on and on and onandonandonandon and it’s driving me B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

5. After the kids go down we will continue our current tv binge watch which happens to be Sons Of Anarchy. This show was a bad choice to follow Six Feet Under, which was basically devoid on action and all high emotional drama where nothing and everything seems to happen within each episode. And that ending… best thing I’ve ever watched as far as TV goes PERIOD. Because of this, SoA was really hard to get into, so much so, that as we were winding down on season one I told Bill I didn’t want to keep watching, but then HOLY HELL. Every episode became a trainwreck of a life or death situation and I started to care about the characters {which like SFU, are all incredibly flawed and fairly shitty human beings at times}. It has become so intense that I made Bill also download the first season of Friends to watch in tandem so I can restore balance and get a better TV equilibrium.

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I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that I’m again doing NaBloPoMo since my postings went from roughly one a month to everyday. To be honest, I’m really not feeling it, but when I realized it would be my fifth year posting 30 times in 30 days, I felt guilty about not at least making an attempt. The first few years I loved November posting because I had found a mini-internet-tribe of blogging moms/friends who played along with me and we could cheer each other on as the month wore on, even as we became desperate for ideas and started taking inventory of everything in our kitchen cupboards and/or closets just to make it through another post and cross that finish line together on November 30th.

It was fun! But life has pulled all of us in different directions and none of us, including myself, blogs with any sort of regularity anymore while some have quit altogether. I can’t tell you how important those people were to me when I was just getting over the Year of the Screams and found commiseration, humor and acceptance when there wasn’t much of that going on with the people I knew in my “real” life. It’s sad, but sort of how these things tend to work, I guess. Blogging was such a huge source of happiness for me a few years ago, but It’s amazing how life takes over and the hobbies and relationships that you build peel away and the new normal takes shape.

For the last couple of years, even though regular posting has been lite, I’ve still continued NaBloPoMo to serve as a slice of Us. A sampling of our busy lives throughout the year. A block of time that I can say, here, this is what we were up to, this is what our lives looked like every November for the last x years. In theory I think this is pretty cool and really want to keep up the tradition. In practice? I have an exhausted baby that’s oozing snot/goo from every facial orifice he has and because he has used me as a giant human Kleenex for the last 5 days, I woke up this morning with a ballooning head, swollen glands and the will to do nothing but sit on my couch, watch cat gifs  and eat my children’s copious amounts of Halloween candy.

I know I should probably just make my own rules up {it’s not like I even sign up for this through the official NaBloPoMo site anymore}, such as posting every weekday and skipping weekends, or allowing for days off when I feel like death {hello, today!}, or only posting pictures {which, let’s face it, is probably going to be the case anyway}. But I can’t, because RULES. Imaginary rules! That live only in my head.

So! Here we go! And we’ll just see how long before I completely forget to post until 11:53 pm and ah shit, come here, Kitty! Kitty? KITTYKITTYKITTY!!! Sit still so I can post a camera phone picture of you to my blog and where are you going? No! Don’t hide under the couch! Kitty! Kitty? Fine. Here’s a picture of my mostly empty wine glass instead. I DO promise to use a hipster filter though, to make it look like I worked harder for you, Internet. Uh, yup, I’m thinking that will happen by Thursday. At the latest.

NaBloPopMoFo’s Past

2009

2010

2011

2012

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And why not? It’s not like I have a very expensive, super awesome Canon 7D to record my family’s precious memories with. Oh wait! I do! It’s just currently being pulled apart by some camera surgeon, or more than likely, sitting on a shelf until a time when said camera surgeon deems it acceptable to actually take a look at the thing. I don’t really know anything other than last Sunday at the pumpkin patch it would not turn on, as if the battery had died, only I had just charged it two days before and that battery is a total rock star, going weeks before having to be plugged in. I couldn’t even freak the eff out, which is what I wanted to do, because it was Bill’s birthday and I didn’t want to stress him out or ruin his day so I just said, “Let’s not talk about it, we’ll figure it out tomorrow”. Then, all of a sudden it popped on. Huh. And YAY. Annnnnd it’s off again. Um. Shit. By the time I tested it the next day {when it was officially safe to freak out as much as I wanted to} it wouldn’t turn on at all.

So! After asking around we realized there was only one Canon specialist anywhere near the Twin Cities so Bill dropped it off on his lunch break and there it still sits. I’m more than a little distraught as the technician’s best guess {after checking the battery, which was just fine} was a faulty wiring communication thingy {technical term!} that will be pretty spendy to repair and is fairly common in these cameras. Turns out, after a quick google search, I found that the 7D is lovingly referred to as Canon’s Lemon. I really wanted the 5D mark III, with the 6D being more probable, but both were a liiiiiitle out of our budget and Bill’s co-worker had only owned this 7D for 2 years, it was way cheap comparatively and in great condition so I went for it, figuring I couldn’t be picky. Now I’m really, really thinking I should have been picky. I am normally a giant snob about items like this being completely new, but situation as it was, I just really wanted a new camera and getting a used one made that possible. I just hope it comes back as an easy fix and soon, as I sort of feel like I’m missing an actual appendage.

The good news is that these are the very best cell phone pictures money can buy! I know this because the very next day after the camera broke, my cell phone drowned in an unfortunate toilet incident here-by to be referred to as “Bill drops and shatters his phone Monday morning, Christy chastises him {from her very tall, some might even say high, horse}, Christy drops her phone in toilet that very same evening and this foot is never ever going to come out of my mouth”. Or just “Christy’s a Big Fat Idiot” {CaBFI}, for acronym brevity’s sake. After following all the instructions the internet had to offer it was sadly determined that all the rice in the free world would not save this phone. Luckily my contract was up for renewal so the new phone came at the best possible rate it could, which is to say, it’s a freaking iPhone so still ridiculously expensive.

{Okay it’s taking a little too long to get to these damn photos.}

Here you go, Internet!!

Halloween started off right with some gore.

That’s a real live Jack-O-Lantern, folks!

Halloween started off right with some gore. While I was up feeding the baby, Rowan awoke and under the supervision of her father proceeded to yank out the 2 front teeth that have been loose for over one full year {I know it’s me so it’s hard to tell, but this is not hyperbole. She’s been tormenting me with wiggling these suckers since mid-October 2012}. I guess it was an extremely bloody extraction, one I’m thankful Bill had to deal with, not me. Teeth are gross.

Rowan was excited to dress up for school as Galadriel. Bill was excited he has thoroughly nerdicised our offspring.

Rowan was excited to dress up for school as Galadriel, the Queen of the Woodland Elves, from LotR. Bill was excited he has thoroughly nerdicised our offspring.

Keaton, or PJ Frodo, missed got sick on Tuesday morning with a crappy virus that gave him a fever and a sore tummy.

Keaton, or PJ Frodo, got sick on Tuesday morning with a crappy virus that gave him a fever and a sore tummy. He stayed home again on Halloween and studied up on his character by watching The Return of the King.

In case you missed it, this is the second time this kid has gotten sick on this holiday. Thankfully there was 100% less puking this time. He was feeling moderately better on Halloween but since he had to miss his school party I set up trick-or-treating in the living room which he thought was pretty cool. He seemed to be doing well that evening but he only lasted for about 25 minutes of ToTing so Bill brought him back and he laid on the couch and watched a movie with his candy bag close by. He was MUCH better today.

11.1.6

Getting Frodo ready. WHAT?! Hobbit’s have curly hair ERGO this was completely necessary! {Maybe I should have edited out that wine glass?} {NAH.}

You have to admit it was worth it.

You have to admit it was worth it. Big thanks to my friend Annie, who suggested it.

This guy was super good about keeping that lion head on for approximately 4 seconds.

This guy was super good about keeping that lion head on for approximately 4 seconds.

But it was an awfully cute four seconds.

But it was an awfully cute four seconds.

ready for Trick-or-Treating! Everyone thought Rowan was an angel and honestly who can blame them. Much to Bill's chagrin, most people didn't open the door and say, "Look it's Galadriel! The Lady of Light!". Weird, i know. It did happen to coordinate well with Ellie's costume since they looked like Devil and Angel.

Ready for Trick-or-Treating! Everyone thought Rowan was an angel and honestly who can blame them. Much to Bill’s chagrin, most people didn’t open the door and say, “Look it’s Galadriel! The Lady of Light!”. Weird, I know. It did happen to coordinate well with Ellie’s costume since they looked like Devil and Angel.

And there's my husband, who for whatever reason chose to dress up like a hotdog. Surprising that he didn't tell me about this beforehand, huh? Whatever. The DCFI was Frankenstein so Jen took to calling them Frank and Weenie all night which helped some. Also wine. The wine helped.

And there’s my husband, who for whatever reason chose to dress up like a hotdog. Surprising that he didn’t tell me about this beforehand, huh? Whatever. The DCFI was Frankenstein so Jen took to calling them Frank and Weenie all night which helped some. Also wine. The wine helped.

Til next year, Internet! Hope everyone had a happy, safe Halloween!

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It’s done. NaBloPoMo has reached the end and I’m not going to lie, I’m glad. This was both the easiest and hardest of the four National Blog Posting Months I’ve participated in. Easy because, with a newborn, I almost always had something to write about. I never had that panicked feeling of Shit! Maybe I can dress the cat up in people clothes and post pictures to buy me an extra day. Hard because, uhhh, we had a newborn, and I don’t know if you know this or not but they’re kind of a lot of work.

Coordinating writing time went great when I could sit up to the computer, lay Ezra on the boppy to feed him and then hunt and peck with my free hand to cobble together a post or edit and upload pictures. Unfortunately it didn’t always work out so smooth and much of the time when I was writing I felt guilty because there are always just so.many.things. I know every mom says it and I will again freely admit how bad I am at math, but how one little baby can add up to so much extra laundry is just not mathematically possible. DOES NOT COMPUTE.

Having the completely imaginary pressure of the internet waiting for me to post will not be missed but it has been nice to have a focus. When one minute you’re holding a sweet, peaceful cherub, plump and happily slumbering in your arms, and the next minute the dog barks and said cherub turns on you and is all of a sudden simultaneously shooting spit-up down your back while having a massive poop and when you go to change that massive poop he starts peeing all over you and himself at the same time he is spitting up again HOW IS THERE EVEN ANYTHING LEFT IN YOU BABY and you have no idea which end to wipe first and how did things go so wrong so quickly so…yeah. To have some control amidst the chaos was a welcome break.

Another plus? Having this record of Ezra’s first days. One of the first things people ask you right after you’ve had a baby is So… are you done? For the record I think it’s totally unfair to ask someone who’s just had a baby if they’re “done” because more babies are really the last thing on your mind in the days after giving birth. And my go to answer is, well, Bill is done, so unless things fall through with Brad and Angelina, I’m probably done too.

In truth, I want four. The reality is though, that kids are expensive and holyhell a lot of work {also: THE PUKE} so I really understand why three is more than enough for Bill. Still, I think we’re both in the never-say-never camp as who knows? I might win big playing Bingo someday… you know! If I start playing Bingo! Point is, circumstances do change so we’re not closing any doors permanently but Ezra will more than likely be our last so having this record of his first weeks is pretty invaluable to me.

And now? I’m going to ride off into the sunset to revel in my family and enjoy the peace of the impending holiday season. HA HA JUST KIDDING! Did I mention we are throwing a pool party for many small preschoolers in honor of Keaton turning the big OH- FIVE? Because I am throwing a motherfucking pool party for many small preschoolers. And it is in two days and I don’t know what the hell I was thinking because DUMB and STUPID and I think I should probably buy some cake plates or a balloon bouquet or something oh god what is wrong with me. At least we don’t have another birthday to attend tonight, a full day at the dance studio tomorrow and our own packed evening of getting our tree and decorations up in the evening. OH SHIT WAIT. Of course we do.

With that? Thanks for once again for sticking out NaBloPoMo with me. I’m so grateful that people take time out to read about our adventures, even if it is only to laugh and be thankful you’re not as ridiculous as we are. Pray for my stupidity, Internet! I will need all the help I can get.

 

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Ahh, yes… the magical properties of mustaches. Touche, Baby. Touche.

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