Monday, November 29, 2010

A bit of a change

This was my Thanksgiving, 2010:

1. Woke up (late!) in a rented condo.
2. Had a leisurely breakfast cooked in the condo kitchenette.
3. Had some more leisure time, audially decorated by three v. excited children.
4. Donned eighteen layers of snow and cold protection, in as leisurely a fashion as such an activity allows.
5. Went skiing en famille. Despite the inevitable bouts of screaming, the disappointment at low-bar goals unmet (I always begin a day of skiing hoping to ride the lift at least five times, and am always laughed off the mountain by fate), the cold, the inopportune demands for food, drink, or bathroom breaks, the day was lovely and made lovelier by the thought of a steaming warm dinner to come.
6. Went back to the condo and helped my SIL prepare Thanksgiving-in-a-box (turkey, gravy, rolls, three sides, cranberry sauce, and a pumpkin pie). My role was primarily confined to rereading the directions and confirming that, yes indeed, you left the plastic bag on the turkey to bake.
7. Ate said dinner, watched a movie with the kids, got to bed by 9 pm.

Nice, right? It's a bit of a departure from our usual Thanksgiving, although the past few years have been a steady exercise in the art of letting good traditions go. I haven't cooked a Thanksgiving dinner since 2007 and I don't think I've made a pie since well before that (and for so many years I was dedicated to the making a pie that began with an uncooked pumpkin and a pile of flour and ended with something that was definitely different than what you could get at King Soopers, but not necessarily better). We hastily dropped the midday-meal tradition after the Family Fiasco of 2008 (it involved plate pushing and bread throwing by a seven-year-old who'd just moved and changed schools, was expected to endure the guarded tensions of having both divorced grandparents at the same event, and broke when asked to come to the table at 2 p.m.) (the fiascality of the tantrum was enhanced by a certain relative, who, instead of a gentle comment about how children are such sensitive instruments or, perhaps, a hearty laugh, commented acidly that she found his behavior "very disturbing" and that, furthermore, I ought to be careful--someone might call social services if they found out he preferred to sleep on the floor.) (GOD) Thanksgiving has always been about friends and family, and it will definitely continue to be--but sometimes it's nice to have it be about family members who actually enjoy each others' company.

Anyhow. While I might tweak with this year's formula a little--by adding some brussels sprouts, maybe, or remembering to pack some whipped cream--I think we've found ourselves a new tradition.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Grateful, Part 1

My to-do list for the weekend:

1. Make Silas take the floor lamp out of the treehouse;

2. Clear out the old tomato vines;

3. Clean the house (or what is cleanable, anyway).

Not bad, eh? (Also: success. My life is so much easier when I give myself to-do lists that are actually possible to accomplish.) (Although, as easy as Item # 2 seems, the years I actually manage to do this before it snows and the rotting garden becomes encased in ice for the duration of the winter are rare.)

In all it was a lazy weekend, by which I mean we had relatively few things scheduled and M could actually say to me "I'd just kind of like to do NOTHING for a while today" and he could actually do that. Sort of. The state of our lives right now meant that M got to "do nothing" only while playing North American Animal Memory with Helen and overseeing a noisy game of Spongebob Monopoly between Silas and his friend and that these activities took place in our bedroom.

(I was on a run, by the way. Later I got to "do nothing" while sorting laundry and gently reminding small people to please bring their toys back to their own rooms and also planning the meals for the week. I think I planned the meals, anyway. Somehow dinner still ended up being spaghettios, donuts, and store-prepared salad. I SWEAR I will get back to eating well, or well-er, when we have a kitchen. UGH.)

Well, it's Thanksgiving week. I was all set to do a daily post about the things I am thankful for, except that it turned out that enumerating online the things for which I am thankful was the mental equivalent of stating online that no one in the house has thrown up lately or that the kids aren't having sleep issues. In other words, I can't bring myself to do it for fear of the hex. So, instead, I will say: I am so, so very grateful. I am grateful that we are in a position that we could do something about the mold and the ants. I am grateful that we are able to go into debt with a reasonable hope of getting out of it again. I am grateful that I am able to think of money as something abstract, most of the time.

Monday, November 15, 2010


The past few weekends have devoted almost exclusively to Stuff Management, a term that will be familiar to anyone with children (or anyone with stuff, although children seem to cause an inordinate and staggering amount of it to pour into the house). Unpacking, sorting, organizing, discarding, and, oddly, repeating (it's like the stuff packs itself up while I'm not looking.) However, after this weekend I feel like we really, truly have Made It, and the stuff is in its place and will remain so for the time being. The doors are back on, the kids' rooms are in order, the summer clothes have been sorted and put away or given away, the hats and coats have been exhumed and put where we can both access them and put them away. Hooks are up. Curtains are up. It feels possible that we might be able to live uncomplicatedly for a while, or at least as uncomplicatedly as it is possible to live when the cooking activities are being conducted from the garage and half the house is still a barn.

In a lot of ways I like the coziness of our current arrangement. We all eat dinner in our bedroom; we watch movies together here, the kids do homework, and M dispiritedly works away on his laptop. Lately I've been preparing dinner here, too, bringing the vegetables and compost tub and only dashing out to adjust the heat on the hot plate when I absolutely have to. On Saturday night I fixed a salad while some tortellini cooked in garage, and then we ate it while watching Where the Wild Things Are. We do our arguing over money and contractors here, too, and it helps that the files, digital and paper, are all an arm's length away ("How much did that glider cost? Well, let's find out!") Well. It sort of helps. Sometimes it's a little too cozy. Also, I still manage to forget what I was going to do between walking to the computer to go look up the kids' online school lunch account and actually sitting down in front of it with my fingers ready.

We try to get out as much as we can, although that isn't always possible.

This weekend, though, I did get away for a little bit, to attend Jess's baby shower. I kind of love baby showers, even when I don't really know anybody, like at this one. I mean: babies. What's not to love? And it was lovely to meet so many other women, and eat some delicious food, and just generally sit around in someone else's house and not worry about my own, for a while.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Another holiday down

I'm feeling a bit gloaty on this morning after election day--all six of the statewide races/ initiatives that I really, really cared about went my way, and most important, we don't have a racist buffoon for a governor (so there, officemate-who-insists-on-talking-loudly-on-the-phone-about politics-while-I-am-trying-to-quietly-mind-my-own-business). Perhaps M's job in publicly funded higher ed is safe after all.

Of course, my gloating is tempered, as it always is, by the lingering existence of actual problems. Some of them are potentially solvable. Some aren't. I still kind of believe that there isn't much that the people in office can do, most of the time. Still: cheers. I raise my glass, from the comfort of home.

Which means: yes, we're finally home. (Hurray.)