Tag Archives: holidays

Sometimes Love Means Buying Your Own Flowers

12 Feb

Whine: I just spent 2+ hours in our local specialty grocery store with two little kids and high-heeled boots (hey, they were the only twelve-inches-of-snow-appropriate footwear I could find). By the time we exited Lil’ Sis had mauled an apple –I’ve never seen such carnage this side of applesauce.  She also alternated between sweetly saying “Thank you, Lady” or “Hi, Sir” and screaming/growling/roaring at me and the general public.  That’ll teach me to try and shop during naptime.

Cheese: That store is faaaaannnncy. I bought lots of yummy things for tomorrow’s Valentine’s Feast, including some cheese, of course. Queso Blanco with Serrano Chiles and Epazole. Like I know what epazole is. For what I paid, I sure hope I like it.

Valentine’s Day. Some people love it. Some people loathe it. Many people fear it — forgetful men and commitment phobes, especially.  Lots of people let it pass by like any other day.

I’ve been at pretty much every stage with this day. I remember one very special year when I decided to commemorate the (lack of) love in my life by wearing black. I remember lots of years trying really hard not to care. And then I snagged Mr. Dad.

When we were first together, I loved Valentine’s Day. Mr. Dad’s mother raised him right and taught him how to choose a schmaltzy card and some nice flowers. Which probably had something to with the fact that her first Valentine’s Day card from Mr. Dad’s dad was presented to her all those years ago unsigned in the brown grocery sack he’d just run in and bought it in while she waited in the car.

But after a year or two things changed. I wouldn’t say the romance wore off. I’d say I got more picky. I didn’t want a bunch of roses that he’d picked up on his way home from the tent in the grocery store parking lot. I wanted him to have thought about his overwhelming love for me and found a way to express that through flowers, gifts and handwritten cards, but without breaking the bank. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

One year, my expectations hit fever pitch. I spent all day long choosing a new outfit and perfect accessories to wear on what Mr. Dad had assured me would be a magical surprise date. Then I got home and began to get ready and realized that we weren’t going anywhere. Mr. Dad was making dinner for two in our apartment. And this was no hotdogs and macaroni feast. No, if I remember correctly, it involved steak, steamed crab legs and chocolate-covered strawberries.

And I was disappointed.

I know, I know, I know. Go ahead and make a dartboard from my picture. I was a terribly foolish and ungrateful woman. But I had spent all day choosing the perfect outfit so I’d look just right. I needed to go out. To be seen. Honestly, I had been planning on going out. And we all know how I do when the plan changes.

We somehow survived the Valentine’s Debacle of ’02. Dinner that night was delicious. (Score another point for Mr. Dad’s mom, who apparently passed down some of her kitchen skills to her eldest son.) And we learned a few things about us. Mostly that I like to be in charge. Surprise, surprise.

Fast forward a few years and things are a little different. Tomorrow night’s Valentine’s celebration, will, in fact be a dinner for two served at home. I planned the menu, and incidentally, steak and steamed crab legs are on the menu. I bought all the ingredients. And since I was the one who was going to be at the faaaaannnncy store today, I bought my own flowers. Well, I bought myself one flower; they really hike those prices around this time of year. Plus, I’d rather spend my V-day budget on steak and chocolate strawberries than flowers.

Lots of people spend lots of time stressing about Valentine’s Day. Lots of guys have been in Mr. Dad’s shoes. Trying their best to get the right thing and still managing to strike out, standing outside the locked bathroom door trying to understand just what was so wrong with the box of generic chocolates and the card that had no personal message, just his signature. (Hey, at least it was signed.) Lots of girls have been in my shoes. Locked in the bathroom, wondering if he actually really loves her or not, because if he did surely he’d know that tulips are her favorite flowers and that chocolate upsets her stomach.

At a wedding I once heard the officiant give the best advice I’d ever heard given to a groom. He said, “Become a student of your wife.” And that, in my personal opinion, is what Valentine’s Day, what Love, boils down to. It’s about knowing someone and being known. And in that place of vulnerable trust, being loved anyway.

I’m not saying Mr. Dad and I have it all figured out. And I’m not saying I love him perfectly or he me. I chastised him just yesterday after he worked all day out in the snow then stopped on his way home for a few groceries for buying four more items than I requested. I may never learn. 

But you know what? He knows that I am, ahem, a little tightly wound. That I do my best to take care of our house, our budget, our kids, and that sometimes a little change in plans is a hard thing for me to assimilate. So he smiles (ok, maybe his teeth are gritted), offers me a little grace and goes on his way.

And you know what else? I know that he (somewhat inexplicably) is happiest when he can be with me. Sitting on the couch watching dvr and playing backgammon. Perhaps enjoying a bowl of ice cream. Even though he does love them Cowboys (and Mavericks and Baylor Bears), when it comes down to it, he likes to be with me. Even though I’m me. Or because I’m me. Imagine that.

And so when Valentine’s Day rolls around these days what I need from him is not a box of chocolates I won’t eat or a dozen roses that I’ll forget to water.  What I need is to know that he knows me and that he loves me. Which means I’d rather have him spend his time emptying the dishwasher without my asking than running around town trying to find just the right card. And I’d rather be home with him, eating a meal we cooked together (that I planned, of course) than out for a fancy night at the opera. But mostly because we both hate opera.

One flower for each of his girls. Who cares if I had to buy them? It's the thought that counts.

The Turkey IS a funny bird. . .

26 Nov

Whine: Sorry, too full of pie  for any whine today.

Cheese: No, really, I’m too full for any cheese either. There were actually fourteen pies at dinner tonight. I’m ashamed to say I only managed to sample four of them. In my defense, two of them were gone before I even had a chance. What can I say, these guys eat like a pack of wolves (my husband’s side of the family, of course.)

About a week before Thanksgiving last year Big Sis’ three-year old preschool class hosted a Thanksgiving feast. We walked in to find a handsome table, that they had set themselves: forks on the left, spoons on the right (no knives, of course, they’re only three for heaven’s sakes) sitting atop little homemade placemats and turkeys. Being a first-time preschool parent, my eyes welled up a little to think that my BABY was setting a table. Those sentimental tears transitioned almost immediately into ones induced from giggles as they performed their Thanksgiving song in tradtional mumble-sing, stare-at-the-ceiling toddler style:

The turkey is a funny bird

His head goes wobble-wobble

He just knows one funny word

Gobble, gobble, gobble.

Speaking of those funny birds, I like them soaked in a mysteriously tasty brine and roasted until they’re juuuuust right.  And then I like to keep them company on my plate with overly-sweetened sweet potatoes, stuffing whose butter-to-bread ratio is roughly 50/50, a healthy portion of just-like-my-momma-makes sour-cream mashed potatoes, and most importantly, a  special helping of the Thanksgiving classic, the “I’ll-kill-you-if-you-eat-the-last-of-it” green bean casserole. (You gotta stand your ground when you’re surrounded by wolves. Wolves, I tell you, wolves.)

I was going to tell you this long story about how our culture has ended up calling boy turkeys “Toms” that I heard on the radio on my ten-hour traffic vomit whiny baby road trip to Kansas City. How it all started because Ben Franklin was mad at Thomas Jefferson, etc, etc, etc. But then, because here at Whine and Cheese we value the whole truth and nothing but the truth and we never exaggerate or anything, I googled it. Turns out it’s probably not true at all. But still, I can’t complain, it passed at least three of the six hundred minutes I spent in what felt like a very small car with what felt like very loud and irritated birds in the back seat.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dad is driving contentedly along. Why? You ask. Was it because he is just that zen and can tune out the whole back seat? No, though he is very zen. Was it because he loves driving that much that he didn’t care about the Antsy Pantsies constant demands? No, though he does love driving. A lot. Was it because he brought along his industrial-quality noise-reduction headphones and piped Johnny Cash in from his blackberry? Yes, that is exactly why.

After a few hours of driving in this most inequitable situation (he says it was only an hour, but time flies when you are not wishing you could rid yourself of the gift of hearing) I ripped the headphones from his head, tuned into some Tim McGraw and immediately felt my blood pressure drop from “I hate this whole stupid road trip idea” to ” why this isn’t so bad.” I could see him dealing with the demands from the backseat as I blissfully tuned them out. Which, since he was driving may not have been our safest bet, but then, hey WELCOME TO MY WORLD, MR. DAD.

But we arrived safe and sound last night to find many, many excited relatives jockeying for position at the front door as we clambered up the walk. I’m surprised nobody got hurt, really. There was actual pushing and shoving. And this morning, certain other relatives, after staying up waaaayyyy past their bedtimes chatting, got up with my kids. So I could sleep. And that is one the nicest gift I’ve ever received. We had our traditional Thanksgiving church service this morning. And this family, though we all just cram into the living room, is bigger than some actual churches. The little girls sang the aptly titled “Make a Joyful Noise” with a little bit of bicycle horn, tambourine and harmonica. (Sound familiar?) But mostly cowbell. Lots and lots of cowbell. Which is a good thing, cause I had a fever. And the only prescription was more cowbell.

This was a good day. A very good day. Full of family, food, naps (for the kids) and football. And although Thanksgiving is about all those things, it’s about a lot more too. It’s really about attitude. About being able to find something to be thankful for even when you kinda just think everything stinks, like the vomit-covered car seat positioned directly behind you. About listening to a cowbell symphony and thinking it’s the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard. And about tasting everyone’s pie and telling them how insanely delicious it was, even if you they may have burned the crust just a little.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, I hope you can find lots of little somethings to be thankful for today!

The 10-Step Plan

17 Dec

Whine: So very, very behind on every item on The List.

Cheese: Got a handmade ornament that  Big Sis made at her awesome preschool–an ornament with her handprint on it. Totally made me cry. In fact, just typing it is making me verklempt.

 

Anyway, I don’t like to toot my own horn. (Who am I kidding? I totally do.) But I have to confess to you that I have very nearly perfected the art of procrastination. Since it’s Christmas and all, I figure there are some of you out there who may be new to the procrastination game, so I thought I’d share the 10 Steps of Procrastination. Consider it an early Christmas gift.

 

1 ) Optimistically overestimate your time, talent and ability to complete a project.

2 ) Put it to the back burner (figuratively) while you deal with urgent tasks on the other burners (literally)–try not to burn the house down.

3 ) Realize that you may eventually have to complete the tasks/projects you committed yourself to.

4 ) Get overwhelmed and pretend you don’t actually have to do any of them.

5 ) Avoid, avoid, avoid. (This can be achieved a number of ways. I prefer reading the blogs of strangers and playing word games on my Social Gaming Network. Twirl is totally the new Solitaire.)

6) When you have less than 24 hours (or 12 if you’re good) to the project deadline, give up on all other tasks including, but not limited to cooking, cleaning, sleeping and personal hygeine so as to focus 109% (you gotta save 1% for blogging/facebook) on the project at hand.

7 ) Cry.

8 ) Figure out that you will have to cut at least 50% of your tasks.

9 ) Make a mad dash to the finish line. Throw some stuff together (onto a blank page, into a gift bag or into a suitcase) and tell yourself it’ll be fine.

10 ) Crash. Swear never, ever to be so foolish again. Until tomorrow.

 

Speaking of procrastination, I’ve got 130 unmailed Christmas cards, 6 loaves of unbaked banana bread, piles of unwrapped gifts, and lots of unfinished shopping to do. So what am I doing? I’m curling my hair with a curling iron and photographing myself. (Clearly I’m on Step 5.)

Don’t ask me what possessed me to do this*:

Awesome Hair

Clearly I had forgotten about this**:

nice-hair

Well, it’s almost 5pm, my kids will be up any minute, and I’m due to head to Step 6 & 7. Gotta run! Merry Christmas.

 

*First of all, is my forehead really that big? And yes, I’m wearing a lumberjack-inspired bathrobe. It’s a hand-me-down from my mother.

**Dude, why didn’t Mr. Dad ask me out way back then when he had the chance? I was smokin’ hot.