Saturday, November 30, 2013

Love Notes

Over the years, I've collected quite a few love notes written by husband. Some of them are very well-written. Some of them have a lot of flowery language. Some of them sweet and sentimental. Some grateful and thankful. Some of them funny. It's always a fun treat to go back and read them.

Lately, my husband's love notes have been very short and simple.

Nowadays, he just gets right to the point.

How very practical.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Smiles, Love, and Food

So often, holidays do not live up to expectations. For me, this is usually true of Thanksgiving. We've gone to different places the last couple years and so it just hasn't felt very traditional lately. With so many families to try to include, it has been hard to find our "place."

When we go to other peoples' house, it doesn't always feel right. Everyone is on their best behavior. But my family is loud and crazy. To me, holidays are just not the same when there isn't loudness, people fighting for food, and trying to talk over each other.

Also, somehow the stress of the holidays always results in tension between my husband and I. This is the single biggest holiday killer and has a domino effect on everything else going on that day. But yesterday was perfect in every way.

Yesterday, the kids woke me up at 7:00 am and, after making them a fancy breakfast of crepes stuffed with eggs, chicken meatballs, and cheese (which they totally did not appreciate), I got to work cooking for dinner. I made this sweet potato casserole recipe. This recipe for scalloped potatoes. And my favorite ricotta gnocchi recipe. It was all so amazing!

In total, I spent four hours in the kitchen, sipping a vanilla cappuccino, singing along to the music of Annie, and taste-testing as I cooked. My husband got the kids started on coloring hand turkeys and every other minute, one of the kids would storm into the kitchen, grinning from ear to ear, to proudly show me their art.

I was done cooking by noon and got to putter around the house and hang out with the kids. My sister, whose husband is overseas, came by to join us for Thanksgiving. We hung out and created a very amateur, impromptu Thanksgiving skit for the kids to act out, complete with costumes (nothing Martha Stewart would approve of!) The skit and the costumes came together in less than an hour, thanks to our pathetic creativity, leftover Halloween felt, and a hot glue gun.

It was awesome having my sister there for Thanksgiving since I couldn't be with my parents or other siblings. She helped me bring more chaos and loudness to the Thanksgiving celebration and was my partner in crime for our grand performance. She was also there to snap a rare family photo.

The kids loved that they got to eat olives and grapes for dinner (and only olives and grapes)

Then we had our grand performance. My sister was the narrator. Jacob was the Pilgrim. I had to be the Indian since my nephew (for whom I had designed the part) was not too trilled about the idea. With some coaxing and with the promise of going into the hot tub, we convinced my nephew and niece to be Turkey 1 and Turkey 2. Please note my fantastic turkey costumes on the right:

We only did a couple pre-performance run throughs but Jacob memorized all his lines well and impressed the heck out of me. He just may have a future in theater.

Here we are singing our Turkey Song: "I like big butterballs and I cannot lie."

At the end of the day we all gathered in the living room to chat while the older kids were upstairs playing. Ryan, getting a rare opportunity to have all the adult attention to himself, stood in the middle of the living room entertaining everyone. He kept taking a funny exaggerated stance, pointing his pointer-finger at everyone (including the dogs) and yelling "shoot, shoot!" (something wonderful he learned from his older brother). Then he kept marching around in circles, totally hamming it up, and doing pig impressions until he would make himself laugh too hard to keep going.

Ryan is usually the quiet, overlooked child in a large gathering of people because he is so content and easy going and shy. But he has such a big, lovable personality which he usually reserves just for his parents and grandparents. It was wonderful to see him take a turn in the spotlight.

We got home, tucked the kids right into bed and snuggled on the couch to catch up on our favorite shows (Homeland and Boardwalk Empire). Then we just sat and reflected on the wonderful day and our home full of blessings.

The day was so full of smiles, our hearts full of love, our bellies full of food, and our glasses full of champagne. It was a fantastic day.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Toaster Husband

Sometimes, I don't know why women get married. Most of the things a husband does in a marriage can be accomplished by a toaster.

A toaster would be a great stand-in for a husband in the evening. After work, all I would have to do is plop the toaster in front of my husband's computer. Add a pair of headphones...voila....a husband.

Having a conversation with a toaster is the same as having one with a husband.

"Hey toaster, can you take a break from your computer to tell me how I look in this dress."

"Thought so."

Also, when I have a really bad or interesting day at work, I can come home and tell my toaster. It's basically just like telling a husband. Our conversations involve the same level of empathy and emotional intelligence.

"Toaster, my day was really hard today. The boys screamed the whole way to my mom's. I had this really long meeting and then I had to write a 20 page brief."

"Oh...and I may have scratched your car...just a little."

Raised eyebrows? Is that a hint of emotion?

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Tribute To Brothers

A relationship between brothers is as complicated as is each brother individually. For the big brother, becoming a brother is a lot like being slapped in the face. Except everyone expects you to enjoy it. 

 The little brother has absolutely no clue what is going on and will never realize the turmoil he has wrought about his sibling. He is born content and accepting of his lot in life. He knows nothing else.

To big brother, little brother is a new thing, like a weird birthday toy. New thing is interesting. Big brother picks up the cues of others to learn how to react to the new thing. Big brother is told to kiss it. Big brother kisses it. Where did this new thing come from? It has tiny fingers. It can yawn but not speak. It's kinda loud. Ok, really loud.

But then the new thing is no longer exciting. Big brother may be a little disappointed. It turns out that little brother does not like to play Thomas the Train. The little brother is kinda boring.

For a while, a lot of the smiles are forced. Except for when the little brother does something hilarious. Like pick his nose or toot. And in something as trivial as a bodily function, a love-seed has gently sprouted.

Big brother and little brother, learn their new roles. And as little brother can do more and more, he once again becomes interesting. There is no milestone more sweet than that first moment big brother sees little brother mimicking him. A light bulb goes off. "He is like me," thinks big brother. A lifelong friendship sprouts  from that tiny love-seed.

This doesn't mean brotherhood is easy.

Sometimes, there will be a struggle to find enthusiasm.

But is does have its rewards. Like companionship. When you have a brother, you will never have to be alone.

There will always be someone to toughen you up.

To walk by your side.

To share the brunt of Mom's latest "ideas."

In your brother, you have someone to keep awake on Christmas Eve. An ear to catch your excited whispers each time you think you hear Santa. 

A brother is someone whose life parallels yours. You start in the same place and collect shared memories. Until the day you each branch off and start new adventures. And then, your brother only shows you what you could be, if only you were different.

He is always there to give you a push.

And wrestle you down when you need it. Sometimes you are on top. Sometimes you are on bottom.

Sometimes, you are just lucky the prank is not on you.

Brothers learn side by side. Each seeing the world from a different angle and opening up the other to new possibilities.

You don't always get it right the first time around. But don't worry. Your brother is there to laugh at you and show you the way. In that order, of course.

Affection often comes in many forms. Sometimes it is reluctant. But always it is there.

In your brother, you have someone to loiter with.

Someone to teach you a lesson in sharing: i.e. that it doesn't always happen.

Someone to party with. To get dressed up with.

Someone to take the spot light when you would rather not.

Someone to share in humiliation.

Someone to squirt water in your face when you need it.

To explore. 

And enjoy the wonders of life.

To laugh with.

To help you create a good thing from a bad situation. 

To teach you the important things. Like golf.

And whatever this is.

And to check you for skid marks before the doctor comes in.

Before you know it, your brother has become an extension of you. Big brother. Little brother. The two are inseparable.

The years that separate you are forgotten.

The experience and knowledge of the bigger brother is exchanged for the adoration and the wonder of the younger.

Where there once was an intruder, there is now a best friend. Because really, is it any fun to eat a Ring Pop alone?

And only your brother would want to play half-naked, teeth brushing, laundry-pillaging pirate games with you.

The blood you share is thicker than the tears that occasionally fall. It is stronger than the stubbornness and selfishness that will no doubt arise. Because despite these things, it binds you. Two rivers, running side by side. With just one source but different destinations.