Posts Tagged ‘family fodder’

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.


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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Hello, Internet! Happy 2013! I have a holiday re-cap in the works but I know how much you like to see embarrassing pictures of my family so I just could NOT put you through the agony of waiting any longer. So!…

We were back at the Mallinger’s for their annual New Year’s Gala {this year it was a gala because three of us were in a dress, shut up, it works}. Bill and I really didn’t know how the night would go with the baby, and it was definitely a little different from our usual care-free night of debauchery, but it really went surprisingly well thanks to a very cooperative Ezra. After almost a year of a stone sober wife, it was Bill’s turn to stay sober {normally we spend the night but we weren’t THAT adventurous with a two month old} so I packed a ton of expressed milk for later, breastfed the baby at 9 o’clock, pumped and was ready to join in the fun {read: drinking} by 10pm. I had a few drinks and champagne at midnight and around 1am, knowing Ezra would be due to wake up soon, Bill asked me where the bottle was. Uh. Yeah. So I had packed approximately one thousandy ounces of breastmilk but nothing to actually get that milk into the baby. SHIT. {And this is why exhausted parents of very small babies cannot be trusted}. Thankfully Ezra slept peacefully through the transfer to his car seat and the ride home, so it was really a non-issue in the end, but ugh. Christy – sleep + packing = DUMBASS.

Anyway! Sometimes we do a theme for these nights, sometimes we don’t. This year Bill’s brother bought Ezra a tiny tuxedo onesie for Christmas so when my sister asked if we wanted to do a theme I told her Ezra would be dressing up for the occasion so maybe we should too. Everyone was on board! We thought it would be fun to hit up Goodwill/Savers for terrible promwear and Jen and Jay came across some great finds but Bill was looking for a bow-tie get-up which we had no luck with. I really didn’t want to go out and spend money on a dress, even a goodwill one, so I was planning to just wear my bridesmaid’s dress from Snoreface’s wedding but then I had an even better idea! What if I didn’t have to wear a dress at all! All I had to do was talk Bill into a dress… It was a super tough sell that went something like this:

Me: I know! YOU should wear the dress.

Bill: DONE.

And so commenced Fancy New Year’s!

The Fancy baby that started it all.

The Fancy baby that started it all. So handsome.

And here it is, Ladies and Gentlemen, my husband in a very pink dress.

And here it is, Ladies and Gentlemen, my husband in my very pink dress. It definitely helped that I was 7 months pregnant when I wore it but we still had to buy a similarly very pink shirt to bridge the gap in the back so it would fit him. And it did. Like a very manly pink glove. {I’ll have you know that the headband/bow combo was his idea.} {The eyeshadow and blush were decidedly all me though.}

Jen's dress looked fabulous and set her back a whole 8 bucks. I'd tell you all about the terrible green jacket complete with FAKE BROWN SILK OMGGROSS shirt but I still can't get past that awful facial hair he's been sporting since Movember. So wrong.

Jen’s dress looked fabulous and set her back a whole 8 bucks. I’d tell you all about the DCFI’s terrible green jacket complete with BROWN FAKE SILK-I-touched-it-and-died-a-little-bit-inside shirt but I still can’t get past that awful facial hair he’s been sporting since Movember. So wrong.

We jumped right in to Just Dance 4. My neice Ellie decided her dad and uncles needed to preform One Direction together,

We jumped right in to Just Dance 4. My niece Ellie decided her dad and uncles needed to perform a One Direction song together…

So they did, and it was magical.

So they did, and it was magical.

Snoreface with the night's youngest revelers.

Snoreface with the night’s youngest revelers.

Jorie wore her mom's Junior prom dress. That is straight up, unadulterated 1989 right there, people.

Jorie wore her mom’s Junior prom dress. You are staring at straight-up, unadulterated 1989 right there, people.

The boys were very serious about their Final Countdown performance. {Bill soon realized that strapless dresses and vigorous booty-shakin just don't mix, but he kept the headband on like a good sport.

The boys were very serious about their Final Countdown performance. Bill soon realized that strapless dresses and vigorous booty-shakin’ just don’t mix {so much man-nip-slip} but he kept the headband on like a good sport.

Even grandma got in on the fun!

Even grandma got in on the fun!

If you don't know what dance this is, I'm sorry, you're not allowed in 2013 because you clearly failed 2012.

If you don’t know what dance this is, I’m sorry, you’re not allowed in 2013 because you clearly failed 2012.

Jen and the Deps rounded out the night with a so bad it's really just awesome dance to "I've had the time of my life". Yes the lift at the end was attempted and No, no one was thrown directly into the fireplace {although it may have beeb a close call}.

Jen and the Deps rounded out the night with a so-bad-it’s-really-just-awesome dance to “I’ve had the time of my life”. Yes, the lift at the end was attempted and no, no one was thrown directly into the fireplace {although it may have been a close call and the headline would have been epic : Deputy Chief Fire Idiot Throws Fancy Wife into Fire in Romantic Dance Gone Horribly Awry}.

Needless to say we had too much fun for our own good, as it should be on this night. Happy 2013, Internet.

Needless to say we had too much fun for our own good, as it should be on this night. Happy 2013, Internet.

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I say it a lot without thinking or even really meaning it,  “I wish that…”

But I don’t wish.  Not really anyway.

I do wish he was here though. With everything in me I wish he could have met Rowan, Keaton and Ezra. I’m sure he and Rowan would have charmed each other with made-up stories and their shared superior negotiating skills. I’m sure he and Keaton would have love-love-loved to tell silly jokes to each other and play catch out on the front hill and basketball in the drive-way. They would have been best buddies. And when he met Ezra I’m sure all anyone would have said to him was Look! He’s got your hair, Grandpa Garry! Because he does, Dad. He has the long, fluffy, blond Norwegian hair that could only have come from you and when I look at it, it makes me happy and sad, all mashed together at the same time.

The reality is, I’m not so sure about any of this. Before my dad died I didn’t want anything to do with starting a family for years. No, really. YEARS. Bill and I made a tentative five year plan, but it was more of a check-point than a ‘we’ll for sure have kids in five years’ sort of thing. The whole reason we had planned to get married that summer {by what is pretty young by today’s standards} was because we wanted to move out to California as soon as humanly possible, as that is home base to all the cool digital creative companies that Bill wanted to get in at and we were more than ready to strike out of Minnesota.

Then he died. And everything changed. I was only 23 and life stretched out before me endlessly up to that point, until all of a sudden… it didn’t. Fifty-nine years seemed horribly short, terrifyingly unfair. He was so close to watching me graduate college. But he missed it. He was so close to walking me down the aisle. But he missed it.

The old “Life is short” adage became painfully, heartbreakingly true and the importance of knowing your family replaced any need for the career driven, lazy weekend mornings, life of a newly married twenty-something I had envisioned. It certainly didn’t help that my mom was older by the time I came along so, yeah, it’s morbid but I wanted my kids to know her before she was gone too.

The time between my dad’s death and when I got pregnant was exactly one year. It was by far the worst year of my life. I came home from work. Drank. Smoked a thousand cigarettes. And cried. It was not pretty. Hot mess doesn’t even begin to describe it. The landscape of all of our lives, of our family, had completely changed. We lost him so suddenly that my emotions just could not catch up with the reality of life without him. It was then followed by nine months of puking and agonizing over a baby I was not at all prepared to have… only it turns out I was. And Rowan turned something back on in me that had gone off on December 6th, 2003 and it has only burned hotter and brighter each year since.

So I’d like to think all those wonderful things about my dad and my kids would be our reality if he were still with us, but the thing is… I don’t think they’d be here if he hadn’t gone. Do I think we would have eventually had kids? Sure. Do I think my dad would have loved those kids? Sure. But they wouldn’t be these kids. They wouldn’t be Rowan and Keaton and Ezra. We had a completely different life mapped out before us, one that involved us living several states away, so even if we would have had kids sooner it wouldn’t have been the same.

With the shape life has taken, with the path we did end up following, I still allow myself to imagine what it would be like if he was here to watch my family unfold. And it makes me happy. And it makes me sad. And there are those goddamn mixed up emotions again. But I expect it now because the truth of it is that his death was the catalyst to my life as I know it. And for that I am so sad, but so, so grateful.

Still though. I wish.

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Knowing that this fall and a new sibling would bring many changes, I really wanted to make an effort to make this summer about hanging out with Rowan and Keaton and enjoying the relative get up and go freedom that comes with a 4.5 and 6.5 year old- something that we’ll be missing for the next couple of years as we start this whole parenting adventure over with our new little guy. Pregnancy in general, plus the anemia and fatigue I get along with it, sometimes made things tough but we accomplished a lot of what I wanted to do {water park!, beach! bike rides!} did more of some things than I thought possible {so. much. dance.} and had to skip a couple of bigger ideas {lake superior getaway} due to lack of time/funds. Overall? I think we did a pretty good job of soaking summer up…

Went for a firefly walk, Rowan even made friends with one.

Talked to a real pirate.

Made a pirate flag. That rainbow is really gonna strike fear into the hearts of other pirates, huh?

Made a butterfly ring.

Played on the sandbar on White Bear Lake that Mama grew up playing on.

Weaved on a loom.

Went to science camp.

Watched a ridiculous amount of swimming events during the Olympics. Here is Keaton “on the block”.

Splashed mighty splashes in puddles.

Not wanting to be left in his sister’s dust, learned to ride a two-wheel bike at 4.

Ate ridiculously bright-colored ice cream. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that the brighter the hue the more natural and healthy it is…


Pretended to be cuddle fish at the beach.

Pretended to be lifeguards at the beach.

Took swimming lessons in a pool where we held our breath under water for many seconds and even really swam all on our own.

Refused to put our faces in the “yucky brown lake water” and also refused to swim without a life jacket at the lake which was the whole point of those lessons in the first place.

Hugged curious George at the Children’s Museum.

Planted peas and beans.

Went to Cascade Bay where we chilled on the lazy river and went down the big tube water slide.

Swam with flippers for the first time.

Rode bikes to the park.

Went swinging!

Went to a T-ball clinic with dad.

Went to a watercolor and acrylic class.

Picked carrots, peas and raspberries from our friends’ garden.

Shot a bow and arrow.

Ate Popsicles.

Had breakfast outside.

Told stories by candlelight during the power outage at Mallinger’s.

Went out for pizza with our cousins.

Slipped and slide-ed.

Visited Jorie’s work.

Went to Mama’s doctor appointment where we got to use a doplar on mom’s tummy and listen to our brother’s heartbeat.

Turned into Spiderman.

Turned into a butterfly.

Turned into a giant douchecanoe.

Hung out at the fire station.

Went to the N. St. Paul car show to see the cool cars and get ice cream.

Got into a water fight.

Watched the fireworks with our cousins. (Not Keaton, who went to grammy’s to watch Frosty the Snowman instead.)

Made marshmallow pops.

Turned 4 and a half!

Turned 7.

Got pet betta fish! Named them Harry Potter, Olympic Swimmer and Shimmer Dufenshmirtz Jr.

FINALLY gave up pull-ups at night so mom gets to enjoy approximately 3 whole months diaper free.

Went to the county fair and pet a fluffy bunny and went on rides.

Were ceremoniously introduced to daddy’s boyhood passion, TMNT.

Did not disappoint dad.

Had 3 friends over for a pajama-movie-night birthday party.

Went down the log chute and rode the big swings with daddy at Nickelodeon universe.

Had a fancy lunch at the American Girl Bistro.

Got Rebecca and Kanani’s hair done at the salon.

Had another birthday luau with Ellie!

Went to a summer ballet clinic.

Worked really hard at stretching and can almost do the splits.

Took first comp dance class.

Made the next line up in competition dance!

Got to be a flower girl.

Got to be a ring bearer.

Danced the night away at Auntie Susie’s wedding.

Finally decided it was safe to swim with heads underwater at the beach. Had a blast swimming around like fish, looking for shells and practicing underwater hand stands.

Finished my pre-k workbook and started working in my kindergarten workbook!

Passed the first two levels of Super Mario Bros for Wii.

Did the monkey bars all by ourselves.

Helped the neighbor girl with a lemonade stand to raise money for Tanzania.

Completed 20 hours of summer reading for the library’s Bookawocky program by devouring Cam Jansen, Disney Fairies and Rebecca and Kanani books.

Was brave enough to finally try the big scary silver slide.

Went for a sunset climb.

And? On Tuesday it will be on to new things…first grade, pre-k, new dance classes, new piano teacher and a very full schedule. After being so sick and apart from the kids all late winter and spring, I hope that what we did this summer made up for the time they spent watching me crawl from my crypt of a bedroom to the bathroom, only to miserably crawl right back in again. I know they won’t retain it all but hopefully the memories they do keep tucked away in the folds of their little brains will tide them over until their next adventure of becoming a big big sister and a big brother begins in October.

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You guys? It was so much fun. The Mallinger’s hosted another bang-up night filled with so much terrible{ly awesome} dancing and unnecessary loud singing, that that one time when your dog wouldn’t stop barking Saturday night? Was probably because he was trying to drown us out, poor thing. Added to the mix of various versions of Rock Band and Just Dance were Glee Karaoke and the real hero of the night {unless your name is Bill and probably everyone else in which case you would maybe switch out the word hero for horror} ABBA karaoke. IT WAS SO HORRIBLY AWESOME I CAN’T EVEN TELL YOU. Except I’m going to. Tell you it’s awesome. Because it is. SUPER AWESOME.

The night started out innocently enough…

Taking a nice picture of five little people is harder than it looks. {Especially when you're busy over-seeing the creation of your Flirtini.} IRREGARDLESS. Here's the kiddos that were present and accounted for at this year's celebration.


Pretty soon the Mario Kart tournament was on and although I didn't remember this at the time, my archives tell me that after beating almost everyone Jason used some sort of witchcraft to knock me off my game. That's two years' in a row, Deps. NOT COOL.

Soon after the dancing began. My brother joined us for the first time this year and was quickly introduced to the love and humiliation of dancing while the rest of your family heckles you.

Suddenly all those thousands we've spent on competitive dance were worth it when Rowan won at Just Dance. Sad but true.

We switched gears to Rock Band at some point, probably because while Just Dance is hilarious and fun? It's also a shit load of work. Here Snoreface is reminding us to Don't Stop Believing and also to Hold on to that Feelaaaaang. Streetlights and People may have also been involved.

At five to midnight we paused the game just in time to throw some champagne in some glasses and toast to the New Year with the people we love. {Again awww, and again HURL.}

By roughly 12:03am the new year was assaulted with so. much. ABBA. What was that? Yes my four year old DID know the lyrics to 75% of the songs already, thanks for asking.

After putting Keaton to bed we snuck out to light a small celebratory fountain. Unlike 2010, this one wasn't marked XXXRUNXXX. You really never know what you're going to get with my brother.

And there you have it! It was one of the best New Year’s Eve parties yet and trust me it took a good thirty-six hours to fully recover from it. I guess that’s really it, nothing else to see here- OH, WAIT!

Easter wouldn’t be Easter without the Bunny. Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the turkey. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Santa. And…

NYE wouldn't be NYE without the DCFI being...well...the DCFI. And it doesn't get much better than when he's outfitted with a pipe and a neon Polaris jacket from 1984. And now starts my campaign for this image to be included on the Mallinger's 2012 Christmas card.

Merry New Year, Internet!

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We have been so busy celebrating this season that I’ve had approximately zero time to document the last two weeks. Rest assured it was full of bright colors, over-excited/over-sugared children and lots of time together as a family. We have a get together with my mom’s side of the family tonight which will end our Christmas celebrations just in time for the New Year’s Eve party tomorrow night. So the best way I can recap is to show you a butt-load of pictures and call it a day, okay? Okay.


At six and four we have two expert cookie decorators.

And expert cookie eaters.

We enjoyed the subtle lights on our house...

And the not so subtle lights of Santa waterskiing at the Lights in the Park display.

One of our favorite advent activities.

Followed closely by this one. Such an understated design, don't you think?

As macabre as it sounds, my favorite moment of the season was this beautiful, peaceful walk through my dad's cemetery. It's been a completely brown December, but we got this dusting on the 23rd. It lasted a whole 24 hours, but it was a pretty 24 hours.

Christmas Eve morning we headed over to Bill's parents' house for brunch and of course...

Presents! Around three we left for mass which was long and packed and hot and not the most fun I've ever had. The kids did well considering, but two hours is a long time for a four year old to suppress his four-year-old-liness.

That night Santa was a busy guy, assembling a huge arts and crafts kit for Rowan J...

and the world's loudest drum set for Keaton Sir. {We will not speak of my stupidity over this one for the time being, I'm sure this lovely instrument will be heavily featured as my worthy foe over the coming weeks before it has an untimely, unfortunate and violent meeting down both of our staircases.}

Christmas morning, enduring the torturous obligatory photo at the top of the stairs before seeing what Santa left.

We had a relaxing morning playing with Santa's spoils.

And decapitating Santa in his chocolate form.

Christmas Day was spent at my mom's with all these crazy kids, ranging from 21 months to 17 years.

A more accurate pictorial description.

After the intense process of present opening for 20 people we chatted and relaxed by the wood stove...

and watched the kids dance while my mom accompanied on the piano.

For all its busy-ness, we had a pretty awesome holiday. Bill was off all this week and we planned absolutely nothing so most of our time was spent in our jammies playing with the kids. This weekend is packed full of more holiday crap and then Tuesday we’re back to reality and a diet with 98% less chocolate Santas. Hope everyone’s holiday was wonderful and here’s looking to 2012…

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I know I joke a lot about my family but really? This thanksgiving I’m thankful I have a family to joke about. From my wonderful husband who on my whim re-does our whole downstairs and doesn’t even divorce me for it, to my sweet little gunterlings, to my strong, passionate sisters, to the DCFI, to my nieces and nephews, to my mom who cooked a humongous, fabulous meal for all of us crazy birds. We are big and we can be a bit messy but we are a family and we are love.

After a whole, long day of that though…I’m mostly thankful for this…

Happy Thanksgiving, indeed.

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I’d like to say my love for the theater is inborn. And, who knows… maybe that’s true. But even so, I came to its exposure from a source I don’t often, or enjoy, talking about because the person who is most likely responsible for that love is someone for whom I have very complicated feelings for, and no, it’s not an old boyfriend who jilted me, that would be extremely preferable to the actual situation.

It was my paternal grandmother. And she was…ummm…let’s be delicate…not a good person.

One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn in my life, and that I am still struggling to grasp, is that life is not black and white. People are not solely good or evil. Choices are complicated and messy and therefore the reflection of who we are becomes complicated and messy. Our intentions may be good, our truth may seem whole and wise, but paths twist and wind and things that were never meant to become who we are, are somehow part of us, tattooed onto us seemingly without asking permission. Add the personal filters of the countless individuals that interact with us on a daily basis and wow, the definition of who and what we are can be so vastly different from what we even think ourselves. And there it is, so is life.

But as a habitual idealist and a cynical realist, {I swear these qualities are in my very nature, but also helped along by my nurture} my not immediately labeling someone “bad” or “good” is a real challenge. I have to constantly remind myself that repetitive bad choices, while undesirable, don’t make a person entirely bad.  And those that I admire and put up on pedestals are not the saints or angels I have made them out to be in my mind. We all stumble. We all fall.  Some of us get our asses right back up again and others take longer. Writing these things down, they seem pretty elementary, cliché. Nevertheless. I still haven’t figured out yet that the guy who cut me off and then slammed on his brakes isn’t  the reincarnation of Hitler himself, out there just being an asshole for asshole’s sake.

All this to say, I recognize that my grandmother was not wholly evil but if we’re on the color scale between black and white, I think it’s safe to say that she altered between a murky grey to about as charcoal as you can get during varying periods of her life. In her defense she suffered from severe alcoholism at points and I’m not sure what {or if there was ever an official diagnosis} but there was definitely some form{s} of mental illness. She was enabled by many people who loved and/or tried to love her and this contributed to her reign of terror over her household and family. Needless to say, she made some terrible choices in her life and my dad did not grow up in a stable, loving home and for that I am sad. For him and for the trickle effect that had on my family as a whole.

My dad was strong though. And had a sense of humor surpassed only by his remarkable sense of responsibility to those he loved. And though I know he struggled with his upbringing he was a firm believer in the fact that no matter how bad it was, no matter how bad she was, at some point you have to stop blaming your parents and take responsibility for the life you were given. He was a remarkable man, a good father and do you see the pedestal I have him up on? Yeah, I know, I just told you, I’m a work in progress. Yes, he made many mistakes over the years but his true self, his character, the stuff he was made of…shines through all that.

The theater, which I seriously do love with my whole heart, was introduced to me by this woman I find myself so despising. For the greater majority of my life, my parents cut ties with my grandmother and even after a reconciliation of sorts was hammered out, my contact with her was so limited that I barely have any memories of her after I turned eleven years old, {and the ones I do have that fall after that aren’t of the fond variety}. But before that, in an ebbing and flowing period of relative calm, I had a great relationship with both her and my grandfather {who was a favorite of mine, but was also the chief enabler of so many of her bad choices, something an 8-year-old is blissfully unaware of}.

As for the flip side of a woman who could be so ugly, so horrendous? Was a woman who was extremely intelligent, quick-witted, charming and savvy. She loved culture and gourmet cooking and exploring different religions and philosophies. She was very into meditation and yoga, long, LONG before they came the official New Hipster Religion. She loved her grandchildren, though sometimes her judgment was so far off I have to wonder if she ever knew what loving unselfishly outside of herself, really was. It’s hard to say. I only knew one facet of her along with the things that I gleaned from the hushed tones of grown-ups in other rooms.

I think I’ve made it clear she wasn’t your typical grandma and that was true in the positive sense as well. She didn’t take us aside and give us crocheting or needlepoint lessons…she gave us meditation lessons. She took us to the Renaissance Festival and bought us bona-fide medieval veiled princess hats. We didn’t watch old cartoons at her house over a bowl of buttery, gooey popcorn, but instead ate air-popped corn seasoned only with sea salt while curled up to watch The God’s Must Be Crazy and The Bells of St. Mary’s countless times. At Christmas she would take Snoreface and I to a truly fancy, white linen, completely-unsuitable-for-children restaurant before visiting the elaborate holiday display complete with an audience with Santa himself at the huge downtown Minneapolis Dayton’s. I can shut my eyes and see us all seated at that restaurant, beside a warm, glowing fireplace, wondering where the hell the kids’ menu was yes, but still loving every minute.

And the plays, oh the plays. Season tickets to the Children’s Theater Company including performances of Cinderella, Bartholomew Cubbins, Streganona, and so many more. The kids’ plays were one thing but it was the yearly trip to the Guthrie at Christmas time to see their annual production of A Christmas Carol that was it for me, and then later when she took me to A Midsummer’s Night Dream there, well, it was all over. I was hooked. And while my own brief stint as a performer culminated in the role of the Nana in The Velveteen Rabbit at my school play in Fifth grade, I never lost the love and respect for the theater as I aged into a know-it-all teenager and again into the “asshole years” {a phrase my father coined for the ages of roughly 17 through 22 when your children believe they are invincible and also that they have life all figured out and those old folks {particularly of the parental variety) have nothing of value to add to their extreme awesomeness}.

I went on to see many shows at the Ordway, Orpheum, The Jungle Theater, Park Square Theater and Theater in the Round. I loved it all. From The Belle of Amherst, a modest one woman Emily Dickinson play, to the sullen Shakespearean works of Hamlet and Macbeth, to the enormous productions of Miss Saigon, Les Mis, Rent, Into the Woods and Wicked. The rush of emotion I feel as the theater lights dim and the stage lights shine up is the very same every single time. This is true love and it is beautiful.

The introduction and exposure of theater to my world was something so lovely, so wonderful, done by someone…not so lovely. Not so wonderful. Sometimes I think I should hate all that the woman stood for even though I know it’s such a stupid thought, throwing out the baby with the bathwater, etc. etc., but there it is. I see…she was not all bad. Somewhere in there I know this is true. There was good in her, a love for something that shined out of her and into me and that is something. I know there are those that must have loved her. Those that I know that have forgiven the things she had done to hurt so many in her life, but I, for better or worse, am not one of them. Not yet.

My father did forgive her. And I don’t count this against his judgment but as a testament to who he was.  Of all the things she’s done I think the hardest one for me to reconcile is that she, this grey, grey woman, lived to ninety-seven years, because although the rest of her body was a mess, her heart was ridiculously healthy and refused to quit beating, while my dad’s heart, so good, gave out after just 59 years. I guess when you don’t use it to love more than yourself, it has a lot more time to just tick away {yes I know that is patently untrue, immature and mean but sometimes I have to just let it out somewhere}.  I do pity her though, and recognize that my perception of forgiveness as a tool to enable those that are consistently dickheads has a few holes in it. I’m working on it, but for now, forgiveness might be a ways off and that’s okay.

This isn’t a story about forgiveness anyhow. It’s about reconciling that some of the good in my life came from her. And that doesn’t mean it has to be tainted by negative. It doesn’t mean I should feel guilt over loving something that she succeeded in cultivating in me. It doesn’t mean that I can’t take that love and pass it on to the next generation…

Because that's just what I plan to do.


PS~ At six, Rowan’s an old pro, having seen Cinderella and Annie already but this was Keaton’s very first play and we’re so happy at how great he did and how much he enjoyed it. Rowan loved “all of it”, “the mean, wicked witch” was Keaton’s favorite part, and I can honestly say my favorite part was watching them.

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And I have… not much to say about that. Yesterday was pretty painful to get through, but I’m so glad I made it out to celebrate Jen and Bill’s birthdays even though I had to stick to water all night in fear I would throw up all over the birthday festivities. Now usually when a Felland is not drinking on an occasion such as this, it means one of two things: 1.) She’s too hungover, or 2.) She’s pregnant. I was/am neither of those things so I felt a bit out of place all night and as you can imagine, it was hard for my family members to comprehend why or even really recognize me in this environment without a drink. My favorite quote of the night was from Jennifer {who you MIGHT remember was quite stern about not doing any shots} after her third shot:

“But you’re drinking water and not throwing up! Have a drink- WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?”

Hmmm. Now a normal human can tell the difference but it’s a little trickier with us Fellands, so when I told Jennifer that there is actually quite a big difference between a glass of ice water and a mojito, she was still a little confused so I just dropped the subject. It was really for the best.

This morning Bill was pretty much mostly dead and I’m still not feeling great so it was a very good thing the kids were with grandma and grandpa for the morning. Aside from taking Rowan to dance it’s been a slow day so I have really nothing of import to share with you and if you can’t tell by now I’m just typity-typing away here to try and stretch this thing out into a semblance of a post and oh look- three hundred words! That’s probably good enough, don’t you think?

I’m not doing so hot am I?

Quit judging me, Internet.

Monkey Jane is judging me enough for the both of you.

Laugh all you want but she's judging you too, Internet.

And now she's bored with us. I'm gonna take that as a hint to just put this post out of its misery~ Happy Saturday.


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Today my OLDest sister Jen turns a certain even number that many MIDDLE-AGED women have come to dread. Since her and Bill’s birthdays are within a week or so of each other, we decided to plan an adult’s night out of grown-up socialization, yes, but most of all? DRINKING. {This should come as no surprise to you if you’ve known my family for more than 30-45 seconds.}

Last week the DCFI asked if I’d send an e-mail inviting everyone out so naturally I accepted. Here is the e-mail thread but before you go on you should know that not only are the Fellands partial to booze, we’re also kind of jerks. But! Rest easy knowing this is how we show affection so it’s all okay. {Also, my younger sister Susie and I better hope Jennifer doesn’t draw one of our names for Christmas}.

Friday, October 28, 2011 10:16 AM

From: Christy Gunter
To: Family
On November 4th, 2011 we are all going to gather to celebrate the extreme old age of Jennifer Noelle Mallinger {who is going to be a whopping FORTY years of age!} and William Richard Gunter, {while at 33 is not quite forty, but I think we can all agree he’s pretty old too}.
The plan is to meet at Whitey’s in Stillwater around 7:30pm and see where the night takes us. The only rule is that no one is allowed to buy Jason tequila shots as we do not have the No St Paul fire department on hand to carry his sorry ass back to his car. You can of course buy them for Jen because she is small and easily transportable, no fire department required :).
Let me know if you can/can’t make it!
PS Bill and I plan to start a little earlier in the evening for a drink at Marx or Domacin so if you’re interested, feel free to join us.
From: Susannah Felland
To: Family
Vince and I will plan to be there, but might not be out too late as I have a training in the morning. Jen, don’t forget to take your arthritis medication before you come out in case a gentleman caller asks for a dance. If it gets to be too much for you in your old age, we’ll conveniently be in Stillwater and can just switch over to antiquing. 🙂
From: Jennifer Mallinger
To: Family

HA!  I will NOT be doing any shots, so you can either save your money, or watch me dump them on the floor, the choice is yours!!   J

I’m looking forward to it!


From: Susannah Felland

To: Family


You mean no shots except for flu and Botox right? It is very important to protect the health and well-being of people your age. 🙂


From: Christy Gunter
To: Family
Susie, maybe we should just mix up a flask of Boniva for her ahead of time? I really don’t want her to get over excited and break a hip. Brittle bones are no joke at her age.
From: Susannah Felland
To: Family
Excellent idea! We can mix in some Aleve and Aspercreme – she’ll be good to go!
From: Vince Barnes
To: Family
Jen, what was the name again of the wrinkle cream you got for Christmas? I’m guessing you are probably out. I need to know what to get you for a gift.
From: Jennifer Mallinger
To: Family


Christy and Susie:  You’d better stop!!!   Just you wait you evil, evil sisters.  Revenge will come.

Vince…  Really?  Curse you and your little dogs too!  P.S. just because you’re the baby doesn’t mean your time won’t come and when it does you’ll have ALL of us to contend with.  Wahahahahaha (evil laugh)!

Giacomo:  Curse you for getting me that cream, which, I might add, Vince, was NOT wrinkle cream, it was cream for cellulite.  Which really isn’t any better now that I think of it…


From: Christy Gunter

To: Family


Wow the resemblance in that picture is uncanny. Or would be if the old lady were showing more cleavage. You know Jennifer.
From: Jennifer Mallinger
To: Christy Gunter
You are evil.
From: Jennifer Mallinger
To: Family
I will take this time to remind you that I’ll be going to sunny warm FL in just 13 short days.  AHHHH, the beach, the surf, the sand, the fun drinks.  Too bad you’ll all be here in the cold November air.  I sure hope it snows in the metro that week…..
From: Susannah Felland
To: Family
Do you know where old people spend their winters? You really aren’t helping your case…
Okay, I’ll stop now. Mainly because I have to leave. Have a good weekend!


Turns out the joke’s on me anyway- after the week of puke and fevers with Keaton, I was really, REALLY looking forward to a grown-ups night out to drown my sorrows in, but last night I woke up at one-thirty and my stomach was very, very unhappy. At first I thought it was probably because I stole one too many chocolate bars from the kids’ Halloween stash but no, this morning I have myself a nice fever of my own. I got the nasal-mist flu vaccination for the first time yesterday so it might be a reaction to that, which would hopefully make it short-lived but with all the sickness we’ve harbored here the last week…who the hell knows. What I DO know is…

I really do love my sister. Even in her advanced age. Happy Birthday, Jen!

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