Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. If you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you've had a good week. I've had a great holiday so far, despite the fact that my ENTIRE family is in town.
I can't even begin to describe the variations of crazy going on in my family. For kicks, I'll try to sum it up a little...
My Dad. He's great. He's not your typical Dad. He's not the type I'm ever going to call for advice or for money. He's not the type whose approval is so important to me that I'd lie awake wishing for it. He loves me unconditionally, is mostly a child himself still, and this is all fine with me. For the last 15 years, he has been known exclusively to all of the grandchildren as "Grandpa Goofy." He lives up to that name. When I was in high school, he used to take me and my friends out to Denny's or Friendly's and would always get us kicked out. He'd shove straws up his nose, or would "paint" on the plate glass windows with the squirt bottles of ketchup, or would make farm animal noises until the other diners complained. Perhaps in another post, I'll tell you of all the specific times he's embarrassed me so much I could crawl under a rock and die (and let me tell you, I am NOT easily embarrassed). But he's a ton of fun, he's a good person, and he loves his kids. He lives in Florida, so I usually only get to see him once a year.
My Dad's wife Pat. She's a bitch. She likes me, so I'm lucky to stay on her good side. But otherwise, she's a real bitch. I don't see her much, so it's not a big deal. They got married almost 21 years ago, so they're now approaching being married as long as my Mom and Dad were. At this point, we accept that she's sticking around for the long haul -- but that might not be so long since she's in her late 60's and smokes a couple of packs a day. It's not a real problem until she laughs hard and then she starts coughing. And coughing. And coughing. She doesn't usually stop until her eyes are watering and her face is a frightening shade of purple. She only eats red meat (pref. wrapped in bacon) and drinks copious amounts of liquor. Having said all of that, she'll probably outlive us all. My Dad is her 3rd husband. Go figure. Like my Dad, she has 4 kids (2 boys, 2 girls), but her 14 grandkids outnumber our 6 and they almost all live close by in Florida.
My Mom. She is crazy. Not a truly dangerous crazy, but most certainly crazy. She is still able to function and live on her own, but we all assume that at one point we'll have to seek help for her. She has a pretty bad memory, and tends to just make up the parts she can't recall. Then she SWEARS that it's true. Sometimes it's entertaining, but mostly it's disconcerting. She calls everyone she meets "Honey" or "Sweetie" (regardless of gender or age), assumes that everyone finds her charming and hilarious, and will talk to a complete stranger for an hour without blinking an eye. She is kind to a fault, and an incredible friend. She will dance in public, or sing at the top of her lungs and couldn't give a damn who doesn't like it. She once re-wired our entire house from gas to electric (washer, dryer, oven, stove, water heater, etc.) in a weekend, just by reading a book. Yet she can't spell about 50% of the words she writes/types correctly. Again, we don't have the classic Mother-Daughter relationship. She wouldn't judge me (although she does give some crazy-assed unsolicited advice), and I also don't work to seek her approval or pride in me. She says things like, "I don't know why you and your sister have so much trouble getting pregnant. Your father could look at me from across the room and I'd get knocked up" and doesn't understand how inappropriate that is. But she is who she is. In my finite wisdom over the years, I realized that my relationship would be better with her if I chose to focus on her good qualities instead of dwelling on all the ways she's crazy or weird or embarrassing. After getting divorced from my Dad, she married the oldest guy on the the planet named Pete. He was so damn nice. But older than dirt. And not rich at all. Just very sweet, and he loved my Mom a lot. She was his 3rd wife, and the first 2 died. Anyway, he died about 8 years ago at the ripe old age of 87 so he had a good life. I miss Pete. We used to call him Stinky Pete because . . . well, I probably shouldn't share that. My Mom lives in Indiana so I don't see her often and I only talk to her on the phone every other month or so.
My oldest brother Michael. He's a spaz. He's the most competitive person you will ever meet. When he plays games with my 3 year old daughter, he PLAYS TO WIN. He must always one-up everyone in the room. He's always got something bigger, better or faster. All things are described in terms of how much more amazing they are than whatever you have. It's actually pretty sad, but he's always been like this so we are used to it. He's got a son from his first marriage who is a 23 year old loser. My nephew is finally straightening himself out, so I shouldn't call him a loser but he's a nightmare. My brother also has a 9 year old daughter from his 2nd marriage. She's a lot like her Mom (which is NOT a good thing), but luckily she lives full time with my brother so the evil effects of her Mom are somewhat minimized. He's now married to his 3rd wife who is a gift from God. We have no idea what she is doing with our brother and we have repeatedly stated that if they break up, we are keeping her and getting rid of my brother. They live in Indiana so they are in charge of taking care of my Mom for now.
My sister Maria. She is wonderful. She is smart and beautiful and loving and a great sister and a great mother. Her husband is a piece of work, as he somewhere along the line (presumably in his childhood) had a giant stick shoved up his ass which never got removed. He's uptight and judgmental and doesn't suffer fools gladly. He's dangerously smart and really has no patience for anyone who acts stupid. Um, like my ENTIRE FAMILY. So it always makes for a good time to check him out when the clan is together. Anyway, my sister is great. We live about 30 minutes away from each other and unfortunately we are both very, very busy so we don't get together nearly as much as we'd like. I don't know that I'd consider her my "best friend" but she is my sister which is a whole different, better relationship. She and my BIL adopted 2 little girls from Russia (they are sisters) over 10 years ago. My nieces are amazing people, despite the fact that they are both now teenagers and mostly evil. After 3 IVFs and 2 miscarriages (1 at 6 weeks, 1 at 14 weeks), they moved on to adoption and are a wild success story. They also are the ONLY members of my entire family -- including aunts and uncles -- who have never been divorced.
My brother Kenny. He's a character. He's had careers as a chef, a tractor-trailer driver, and for the last 10 years, he's been steadily working his way up the technical chain at Intel as a chip engineer. Now he's a product manager for some of their new technology coming. He's incredibly smart, but he's also a train wreck of sorts. He and his 1st wife (who was a raging bitch) committed dozens of crimes (I guess one might call it a "crime spree") about 18 years ago and then disappeared -- with their 1 year old daughter -- for almost a year. He's since resurfaced, gotten divorced, gotten remarried (to a different woman who was his high school sweetheart, and is very nice, but is really very crazy too), gained sole custody of his daughter, gotten divorced from wife #2, and is now dating wife #2 again. My niece Tara is 19 and a sophmore in college and is astoundingly well-adjusted. My brother Kenny is mean and selfish and the biggest smart-aleck you've ever met. But he's a good Dad and a good brother. They live in Arizona so I don't get to see them much except when we all meet up in Vegas to gamble.
I've got a whole host of crazy cousins, Aunts and Uncles that would make your toes curl. But when we get together it's always a ton of fun. At Thanksgiving this year, it was my crazy Mom, my competitive brother Michael, his 23 year old son, his 9 year old daughter, (his 3rd wife couldn't make it because she's home with pneumonia -- or perhaps she's the only smart one), my wonderful sister, her pain in the ass husband, my 2 teenage nieces, my colorful brother Kenny, my amazingly almost-normal niece Tara, me, Kevin, Megan and our family friend Cyndy. We told many stories, laughed incredibly hard, and ate too much. We realized that the last time we all were together was at my wedding over 5 years ago. Although there were a few stupid or inappropriate comments made, all in all it was very pleasant.
Today we all went bowling (plus my Dad and my Aunt Rosemary joined us) and out for pizza to celebrate my niece's 9th birthday. It was a blast! Tomorrow everyone is coming over to my house for a fancy dinner that my brother Kenny (the ex-chef) is preparing. YUM!!
Although my family is wild, and loud, and embarrassing, and unconventional, I wouldn't trade them for the world. My husband and BIL are both sort of uptight and don't see the humor in most of my family's shenanigans, but they can kiss our asses. They knew what they were getting into before they married me and my sister, so they can suck it up. We have fun, we laugh, and we usually don't hurt anyone else in the process.
To say that I am thankful for my family, for the fact that we were all able to get together this year, and for how lucky we are to truly love each other, is an enormous understatement. I didn't mean to get all sappy on you guys, but after trash talking my relatives so thoroughly above, I had to end with some happy thoughts.
On a different note... I went shopping this morning. On black Friday. I have never done that before in my life. I was inspired by TeamWinks' enthusiasm and got bullied into it by my neighbor and good friend Lynn. It was actually a lot of fun. We got to Toys R Us at 6am (missing the rabid psychopaths that charged the doors at 5am), then went to KMart, Target, and Wal-Mart and were home before 10am. Most places were surprisingly well stocked and had plenty of employees there to help and work the registers. I can now check this off my list of things to do before I die.
Tonight, all the girls (my nieces, my sister, my Mom and I) went to the movies. We saw Enchanted. I laughed my ass off. I think I laughed sort of inappropriately hard at some stuff because Megan is so deeply entrenched in the Disney Princess phase right now that I can hardly breathe. So a well done, entertaining movie that spoofs the whole obnoxious Princess thing struck my funny bone in a particular way. I just loved it. Then we went to Johnny Rockets for dinner. When the waiters got up to sing and dance, my Mom got right up there with them. She made a total fool of herself, but she had a great time. My nieces tried to pretend like they didn't know her, but eventually ended up running out of the restaurant and part of the way down the mall once my sister and I started dancing (particularly since the waitstaff wasn't even dancing anymore). Ah, good times.
In pregnancy news, we finally told my family. We told my Mom, my Dad and my brothers the day before Thanksgiving via phone. While it would have been a real Hallmark moment to make a grand announcement over Thanksgiving dinner, it would also have been incredibly rude to my sister and BIL who are IF vets. Despite the fact that they are 10+ years on the other side of it and have 2 beautiful daughters (adopted) that complete their family, it's still not cool to make a huge production about a pregnancy announcement. Plus, I'm still a little leery of telling people anyway. Despite the fact that I'll be 14 weeks tomorrow, I still worry daily that something will go wrong. We haven't told Megan yet, or any of our friends (except the few that knew pretty early on) and I don't plan to tell anyone at work until sometime in January. Normally that wouldn't fly because I'll no doubt be showing by Christmastime, but I've got just over 2 weeks off at the end of the year, so I think I'll be able to keep it under wraps until after New Year's. Plus, by then, we'll have our 20 week ultrasound out of the way and hopefully we will be the proud owners of a healthy baby with intact, fully-formed internal organs. I think then I'll be a little more comfortable telling people. Maybe.
Good grief, this is the longest post ever typed. I guess that's what I get for not posting regularly anymore. I promise to do better. I still read faithfully every single day, and comment as much as time permits, but I just haven't made enough time to sit a type out posts on a regular basis. Not to mention, how many times do you want to hear me say, "I feel somewhat better, but I've got horrible heartburn and a raging headache." That's mostly what I have going on each day, and it's not exactly news-worthy, you know.
On a final note, I am OUT OF MY MIND EXCITED that the DC Metro bloggers will be getting together in a week for our cookie exchange! Wahoo!! I promise to post some pictures of all the treats -- too bad I don't have smell-o-vision to offer you because it's sure to be great.