Sunday, May 25, 2008

Big Blessings Come in Small Packages

Here's our latest little blessing with his mommy (my stepdaughter) and my daughter. And he wasn't the only one we had around this weekend.

This is his second-cousin with her great-grandmother (my mother-in-law).

And this is my baby showing me that she's not such a baby anymore--she just suddenly looks so grown up when someone truly tiny comes into the picture.

But really, despite all those tiny fingers and big eyes and sweet-smelling scalps and such, it wasn't the babies that I set out to talk about. No, the sense of gratitude and good fortune really came over me while I was weeding my mother-in-law's garden with my sister-in-law.

My mother-in-law was sitting on the porch and my daughter and stepson were playing a little more roughly than I'm entirely comfortable with. My "niece" Katrina was standing on the sidewalk holding the beautiful and charming Brenna, and she said, "Show Aunt Tiff how you..."

And all was right with my world, for the moment anyway. You see, my mother-in-law's house has always existed as a kind of respite from the world. When I first started dating my husband, she had goats in her backyard. Summer Sundays a dozen family members would play football or badminton or whatever someone happened to suggest, usually barefoot in the grass alongside her house, while someone grilled. I've never really lived in a world where things moved slowly, no one kept an eye on the clock, and the grass was always thick and soft under your feet.

Her town is so small that the first time I sat alone on her front porch, each car that passed slowed and the driver squinted at me, clearly trying to work out who I might be and why I was there. I sat with my husband on the covered porch in the middle of the night and watched it storm.

But, as you probably know, my mother-in-law is my mother-in-law no more. The niece who told her daughter to "show aunt Tiff" was my niece by virtue of a marriage that is no more. I separated from my husband four years ago.

But my former in-laws are still the people they were all those years ago, when I was shocked by the ease with which they accepted me into their family and the comfort I felt barefoot in their grass. I'm not sure what their reasoning is. It could be that they're still Tori's family and I'm still hers. It could be that relationships grow independent of the one that kicked them off. It could be that they don't reason at all, and they're just generous and loving people who are more concerned with opening doors than closing them.

Whatever it is, it's a gift. It even felt like a gift when my stepson--whom I hadn't seen in two months--said, "Mom, will you buy me minutes for my TracPhone?" That's right, kid--you just stay that comfortable. Please.

Here are some more pictures of my new "grandson", just because I feel like it.

With my stepson Matt and daughter Tori.

With his daddy, Shawn.

In his mommy's arms.

Monday, May 19, 2008

So I'm Kind of Sort of Almost Going to Be a Grandmother Tomorrow

I suppose technically the child of my ex-stepdaughter is not my grandchild, but "ex" and "daughter" don't really work well together, even if there is that pesky prefix involved. When you've sewn a child's curtains and made her breakfast and taught her to write her name and later helped her fill out her first job application, when you've walked her to the door the first day at a new school (and been shocked that, at thirteen, she kissed you goodbye in the hallway) and cheered her on during swim meets, there's no end to that.

At seven, holding on to MY this space next week for pictures of her cradling her own.

Her ninth birthday, at Discovery Zone.

Creeping up on adolescence (with brother Matt, cousin Branden and my daughter)

And all grown up...I'm still not quite sure how this happened, how we got here from homemade Power Ranger pillows and Barbies and even N'Sync and summer jobs and teenage boys at the door.

Friday, May 16, 2008

It Can Only be a Divine Message

After much soul searching and some hard questions about refrigeration and shipping, my sister and I have decided to offer up the Miraculous Onion Ring on ebay.

We can only hope that it will go to someone who will truly appreciate and draw on its special properties, rather than just popping it in his mouth as my sister nearly did.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

So--Just Curious--Have You Ever Gotten Locked in a Bathroom?

Several years ago, I took my daughter to a birthday party at McDonald's. She was always a little shy in new crowds and she didn't know many people at the party, so she asked me to stay. I wanted to give her a bit of security and also a bit of independence, so I got a coke and sat down in the restaurant, but outside the party room--she was on her own, but she could see me.

For a while.

And then I had to get up and go to the bathroom. All went as could be expected until I attempted to leave the stall and discovered that the door wouldn't open. I worked at it quite a bit before speaking to someone outside the door. I'd actually been about to use my cell phone to call the restaurant and tell them I was locked in the bathroom when someone mercifully entered.

She didn't answer the first couple of times--I guess you don't expect a stranger to be speaking to you from inside a bathroom stall. When I finally got her attention, she reluctantly attempted to open the door from the outside. She failed. Eventually, she fetched an employee, who was able to open the door. Amazingly, after she let me out she said, "That keeps happening."

I suggested that perhaps a sign on the door would be in order. She said, "Maybe" and left the room without posting one. I didn't see her go back. By the time I returned to the outer area, the party was ending, and my daughter had mercifully settled in and not noticed my absence.

But that's not the funny part. The funny part is that five or so years after this happened, I mentioned it to a friend of mine. She laughed uproariously and insisted that I was the only person in history ever to have been locked in a bathroom. I knew that couldn't be right, and pointed to the fact that the McDonald's employee had said, "that keeps happening." Obviously, it had happened to other people RIGHT THERE IN THAT VERY MCDONALD'S.

Still, my friend protested that she'd never heard of anyone getting locked in a bathroom before. She demanded to know whether I had, and I had to admit that I had not. We were in our late thirties at the time, so it seemed likely that, if this kind of thing was happening, we'd have heard about it a time or two. So we started asking around.

Guess what?

Exactly 50% of the people we asked had been locked in a bathroom at some point in their lives.


Apparently, they'd just done a very good job of keeping it under wraps.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The White Castle Straw

Okay, I KNOW it defeats the purpose of the whole Wordless Wednesday thing, but I just have to explain. It's been more than two weeks, and I was biting my tongue (or sitting on my hands, perhaps) to keep from explaining when I posted it, and the urge never passed. And then, when I posted ANOTHER Wordless Wednesday photo a week later and the VERY FIRST PERSON TO COMMENT saw my point exactly...well...I just can't help myself anymore.

Take a look at the ends of the wrapper. You may have to enlarge the photo.

And then tell this a really clever and subtle joke, or a really, really stupid design?

White Castle Straw

So It Turns Out I'm Too Pissy To Blog

I've got medical problems. Nothing life-threatening this time around, just temporarily debilitating enough to be really frustrating. I can't move around much and I'm too medicated to do much work, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to catch up on blogging...but it didn't quite work out that way.

First, I headed over to RockStories, my writing blog. I planned to post about the fact that a publisher had asked to see the first three chapters of the romance novel I've had lying around my hard drive for a year and a half. Apparently, though, that ws too positive for me in my current state of mind, because instead I ended up starting a post about a spam comment I got on that blog.

Now, the irritation was legitimate. The comment linked back to a THESIS WRITING SERVICE. Right. Because writers always need those. And besides, anyone who read my writing blog would DEFINITELY think I'd be up for promoting plagiarism and academic fraud, right? (As you can see, I'm not really over it.)

Eventually, I wandered over here, where the subject matter is broader. Maybe I could write about how I'm celebrating my birthday next month (# 42) for the first time in as many years as I can remember. Maybe I would write about how my friend Barb's cat miraculously came home after being lost in a strange city for six weeks. Maybe I could even write about how much it sucked to spend half the night in the emergency room--not everything is going to be roses, right?

But no. I'm still writing about the $#!@**# spam post.