Thursday, July 29, 2010

Having Fun Even if it Kills Us

My husband took this week off. We don't have any big trips planned for this summer because of baseball (i.e. Angus playing on the competitive team and Matt assistant coaching and very few baseball-free days, hence the customary appellation 'goddamned baseball' as in 'are you guys going to Gerry and Erica's cottage next week-end?' 'Just me and Eve -- you know, goddamned baseball', 'So what's Angus up to tonight?' 'Goddamned baseball', 'Did you hear about that earthquake in Mexico?' 'Yeah -- goddamned baseball'), so the plan was to get some stuff done around the house and do some family stuff.

Stuff around the house: I think a few weeds got pulled (five to seven, I'd say). We plugged in a fan in Angus's room and then an alarm clock in Eve's, because she did an informal poll and realized that two out of three bedrooms in this house had a fan AND an alarm clock and one room which happened to be hers had neither. We actually cooked a couple of nights.

Family stuff: Monday we went to the beach. Tuesday everything sucked. Wednesday Eve and I went shopping (for an alarm clock, among other things) and to the chiropractor, while Matt and Angus, on a rare baseball-practice-or-game-free day went to the driving range to hit a couple of buckets of balls. Then, for a change of pace, they went to watch the East Nepean Junior team play (everyone say it with me) goddamned baseball.

So today we were going here. This would be our grand family adventure, our glorious summer pilgrimage. We would arrive early, we would leave late. We would laugh in the face of gravity and tighten our sphincters in the face of danger. It was going to be epic.

Did I mention that my kids are totally lame?

Okay, that's unfair. They're not daredevils, they've never been daredevils, I have no grounds for expecting them to be daredevils. The distinctly un-epic nature of this adventure was a combination of the unknowable and the unfortunate. I thought the park might have some slides that fell somewhere between zebra-striped four-foot-long kiddy rides and scream-til-your-throat-bleeds gut-wrenchers. But it really didn't. Unless your seven and ten year old are adrenaline-junkie thrill-seekers (which I realize a good number of them are), there just isn't a lot for them there. I have a policy where once a year or so I push the kids to do something that scares them because I know how great it feels once you do it. This policy went horribly wrong in the Midway-Octopus-Ride Incident of '07, (and don't think Eve failed to bring that up today), but usually it works out splendidly. So there we were in the lineup for the Canyon Rafting ride, because we could all go together and hey, four family members in a raft, what could go wrong? Okay, it was a little embarrassing standing there with Eve sobbing in terror while I patted her back saying 'it'll be fine, it'll be fine', and then Angus said 'my stomach feels a little sick' which is not-terribly-sophisticated code for 'actually I just realized I'm scared shitless', but we persevered! We stuck it out! We stooped to the ignominious level of telling them how much it cost to get us all in here and chucking them in the raft and hoping they'd be too scared to complain on the way down.

It was... okay. It was less of a balls-up than the Octopus Ride Incident. However, Eve was most emphatically done after that. We hung around the wave pool for a while. We went down the Jungle Run a few times, which was lovely. Angus said he would go down the Fast Track with me. Halfway up the stairs I realized he had really just said it to make me happy and was wearing a 'I'm approaching the steps to the guillotine' expression, so I told him I had already pushed him to do one thing today and I wasn't going to do it again, but I really hoped he would do it because I knew he'd enjoy it and feel great after. So of course he gritted his teeth and conquered his fear and loved me for it, right? Oh hell no, I went down that sucker ALL BY MYSELF.

Also, note to self? Don't use Neutrogena sunscreen next time. We got home and Eve looked at me and said "you got sunburned, Sister. I mean... Mother."

Oh well. It was an adventure. Of sorts. I did eventually apologize for tossing around the word 'wussy' a little extravagantly ("How can you call me that? You're my mother!" "I know. I'm the mother of a couple of WUSSIES.") Truthfully, I wouldn't have done any of that stuff when I was their age either. Thankfully, it never would have occurred to my parents to spend that unholy amount of money in order to give me that opportunity. It's not their fault we clearly have too much disposable income. Tomorrow? They can play with the hose in the front yard. Safe, unthreatening and free.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Think I've Sprained my Mind

I'm kind of a mess. I don't really know why. Well, because I'm neurotic and obsessive and delusional and incapable of appreciating what is by all accounts a very nice life, that's the short answer.

Eve and I just played a duet on the piano. We've been away a lot and piano practice has fallen by the wayside so we've been picking it up the last few days. Today she brushed up one of her old songs and then I learned the instructor's accompaniment and we played a duet. It was lovely.

That's...what? Like, probably six minutes of quality time.

Other than that I've been useless to my children today. No -- worse than useless. Angus asked me to rent The Tooth Fairy on itunes and (sob) I did. I didn't even argue. I didn't even point out that it got a 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and that clearly there is something so monstrously wrong about trying to convey the obvious truth that children should be allowed to have dreams and believe in themselves by putting The Rock in a pair of sparkly wings and having him spout some cheesy dialogue.... I just don't have the energy. And what the hell is up with that. It's summer! No school! No housework! (what? You do housework in the summer?) We're up to our ass in fresh organic fruits and vegetables from the farm lady down the road. Why am I not leaping from my bed in the morning bright-eyed and singing about buttercups and shit? Well, partly because we took the kids to the beach yesterday and it was blissful, they built sandcastles together and Angus decided to be amused rather than annoyed by Eve's exuberance, and we played ball in the water which was hilarious because the wind was so strong and the ball was so light that every time someone missed it it would immediately sail jauntily away at an alarming clip and we would have to swim a marathon to get it back -- and so today I can't so much lift my arms above waist level or move my head from side to side (and I tend to nod when people are talking -- NOT GOOD). And then, Angus's baseball team is in the District play-offs and after being undefeated for the last ten games LOST the crucial first game and if they lose again they won't be going to Provincials, which I've assured Angus is TOTALLY FINE, they've played really well and all they have to do is do their best -- and now I can't even sit and watch them play because I constantly feel like I'm going to throw up and when Angus comes up to bat I have to get up and walk away because I feel like I'm going to faint. And if they lose, I'm going to be devastated. Because they won't be going to Provincials -- in Timmins, for crying out loud. Who has ever cried over not getting to go to Timmins?

And then I went grocery shopping today. Which is a little fraught, because even though I said it was okay for Angus to play for and Matt to coach the competitive team, even knowing it would be a ludicrous amount of practice time, the fact that we've had supper as a family maybe three times this entire summer does sort of bother me. And by bother me, I mean surgically remove my desire to cook. I don't mean we're eating a lot of fast food. I do mean sometimes we ONLY have corn on the cob for supper. Or cheese. And eggs are really not just for breakfast any more. And we had no food left in the house so I went shopping. And I went to Loblaws instead of Farm Boy because we needed a few (ahem) items that Farm Boy doesn't carry. Like masking tape and light bulbs and Thinsations Chocolate Covered Pretzels. But then every damned box of processed hydrogenated edible-oil-product icing-filled I-never-buy-this-except-when-it's-on-sale thing WAS ON SALE. And what do you do in the battle between 'it's summer and my healthy active kids deserve a treat' and 'in our house we don't eat food that has a half-life of four centuries'? You just decide one way or the other and go about your business? Do you? Because I prefer to walk up and down the aisles putting boxes in my cart and then taking them out again or holding them while reading the ingredients and weeping openly until strangers stop and ask me if I'm okay or if I should possibly speed-dial my therapist while they hold my car keys.

Happily, my kids don't take that junk for granted. While I was unpacking the bags, Eve stood there staring with her eyes wide and her mouth hanging open. Then she made a list of all of it and closed her eyes and waved her finger over it ouija-board style to pick what she was going to have for dessert. Then she picked this, which is basically frozen applesauce. If she could drive, I would totally be making her do all the grocery shopping from now on. Don't shop hungry, people. Or crazy.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Throw the Book at Him

ERFG, I'm tired and I really just want to go to bed and I'm only here because I'm obsessive and feeling sheepish about the fact that there's been no Biblio and hardly any Mama here lately. So, this. Guy steals a bunch of rare books worth a million pounds, goes to jail for four years, gets out and steals more books, goes back to jail for three and a half years. They call him The Tome Raider which, god help me, I find amusing. Clearly they're not going to call him the Einstein of the book thieving world, although who knows, maybe he just wanted to go back to jail to catch up on his reading. I looked up the definition of 'biblioklept' in a variety of dictionaries and was fairly dismayed to find the pedestrian description 'someone who steals books', not quite conveying the irresistible nature of the compulsion that I always imagine such people must feel. Some people steal them to sell them, true, but some people steal them just so they can have them and love them and pet their smooth covers and name them george. I don't think I've ever stolen a book. Once I lost a Sue Grafton mystery from the Hamilton Public Library, so I bought another one to replace it and when I brought it in the librarian (totally stereotypical) said sniffily 'we're not your own personal bookstore, you know', which was idiotic, because if I'd wanted to buy the book I would have just bought the book, because I HAD just bought the fucking book to replace the book I lost. Yes, I will BECOME a librarian to right travesties of justice such as this.

When I worked at this adorable bookstore in Toronto, there was one crazy guy who would always call up and dictate extravagant lists of rare and hard-to-find books for us to buy for him. Then his mother would call us back and tell us to ignore him (he wasn't a kid. He just had -- and perhaps needed -- one of those mothers). Then he came in a few times and got caught stuffing books under his shirt and trying to leave. Then he became sort of abusive and threatening and started hammering the counter yelling about what a great customer he was. Then my friend Kathy, who was very sweet and demure, yelled back "No you're not! Good customers don't yell at the staff and steal stuff!" Ah, I miss it.

I just finished reading this and I am now reading this, resulting in an unintended convergence of Jewish stuff -- I bought the first to fill in a 'classics gap' and got the second from the library because I heard the author interviewed on the radio. I find Judaism fascinating, although my knowledge of it is shallow and riddled with lacunae (fun word), and I hate the word 'Jewry', I don't really know why. The philosophy in the second frequently leaves me behind in the dust, coughing on expressions like the 'is-ought gap' and the like. Basically I'm getting that Spinoza pissed off a lot of other Jews by thinking what he thought, but I'm still wrestling with what, exactly, the things he thought were. Maybe it's because it has to do with Pure Reason and honey, my reasoning ain't never been pure.

Gah, it's twelve-fucking-thirty, how the hell did that happen? We saw Inception tonight, speaking of getting left in the dirt by philosophical questions, then picked up the kids at my parents and spent the drive home having a conversation including questions like "but why did they miss the first kick? Did they CHOOSE not to wake up? And why didn't the floating guy wake up, since he was on the second level, not the third? And if there was no gravity, how did the elevator do that?", and then I had to explain science fiction at an hour and a half past bedtime, which was fun. And now I should go to bed so I can go watch the first District finals baseball game in the morning and not look hungover, which would result in trying to decide if it's more embarrassing to pretend I did drink too much tonight or admit that I just look hungover because I'm old and stayed up too late writing a stupid blog post.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Right Lane Ends

You know when lanes go like this?:

What, exactly, is the thinking behind that? Are the planners envisioning some idyllic, utopian world where people will yield and merge one by one while beaming and singing operatic arias? Did they not realize that, in the real world, this type of set-up is an open invitation for assholes to keep the pedal to the floor and go screaming right up to the very end of the ending lane and then gesture helplessly to everyone else to let them in because OOPS! there's suddenly no more road! While the people in the other lane who have dutifully waited to be able to proceed sit there viewing the over-entitled instant-gratification-seeking asshats on the right with an icy hatred that threatens to bubble over into murderous rage at any second, resulting in an unspeakably grisly inside-outing of steel, fibre glass and Standard Canadian Jerk-Brain.

Or maybe that's just me?

Are you a wait-er or a speed-er to the front of the ending lane? Am I being oversensitive and intolerant? I am distressingly susceptible to road rage, for such a mild-mannered individual (snort). I always wonder what's going through the minds of people who pull this trick -- is there a possibility that they're NOT all inconsiderate shitheads? Do they just need a little love and understanding? Is this actually the way it's supposed to be done? Is it just my insipid little rule-follower persona that leads me to stay demurely in the left lane, letting everyone ram their way in front of me? Should I free myself to become a blaze-to-the-front beeyotch?

Ain't gonna happen. And those meatheads who keep pressing their luck squeaking by my front bumper? Squeak at your own risk. You're in imminent and grave danger of being sworn at. Well, berated severely without excessive profanity, if my kids are in the van. You've been warned.

And now, to distract you from the navel-gazing inconsequentiality of this post, a bright shiny Funny Eve Story:

Last night Eve came home from Farm Camp full of stories about brushing calves, feeding cows, documenting the bathroom habits of various farm animals and who got how many cubes of cantaloupe. She spent the evening while Angus was at baseball practice rearranging her room and making shelves out of kleenex boxes (I'm conflicted: I'm all for recycling and reusing, but man, kleenex shelves are really ugly). Angus came home with a friend from baseball who was sleeping over and I said I'd make popcorn for everyone. Our microwave is really, really old. If I have to pop two bags of popcorn in a row (yes, sometimes I feed my kids fake chemi-corn, I'll say ten Hail Marys and make a donation to Greenpeace later as soon as I'm done this) the microwave has to have a little nap - the display goes blank for a while, then pops back up as if nothing ever happened. And yes, we ARE the kind of people who manage to convince ourselves that this is a perfectly normal way for an appliance to behave -- we hate shopping that much. So Eve came down for her popcorn and asked me to put some butter on it. I explained the situation with the microwave and told her it should be working again in a few minutes, and she went away. A few minutes later, I saw that the display was on again so I called upstairs:

Me: "Eve, do you have any popcorn left?"
Eve: "Yeah."
Me: "Bring it down here then."
Eve: "Why?"
Me: (in an exasperated tone, as she walks down into the kitchen) "Whydya THINK? You just asked me for butter on your popcorn and then I tell you to bring your popcorn back? I mean seriously -- aren't you supposed to be the smart one?" (it came out less mean in real life).
Eve: (haughtily, after having the butter poured onto her popcorn): "Well...I will leave with my pride AND my popcorn." (starts to leave, turns back while looking at the kitchen counter): "...and, if I'm allowed, can I also leave with some mini-Oreos?"

Saturday, July 17, 2010

If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, Say it Loud

We just had the most riculous weather event -- from bright yellow, wet-blanket steamy heat to a sudden fast, hard, dense rain and back again within minutes. Why do I have the distinct impression that Mother Nature just said "hey, all you people who are constantly bitching that it's too cold or too hot -- psych!" (or something a little cruder, but today in my imagination Mother Nature doesn't want to set a bad example).

I haven't written about BOLO yet, because the day after we went back to the cottage and resumed killing fish and brain cells in a wirelessless location. But it was really great. As we were driving downtown I was a little disappointed in myself that I wasn't reading, which is kind of good -- I'm starting to crave the adrenaline rush that comes with doing things that scare me (playing the piano for friends and family at my birthday party; sleeping over at the cottage with twelve other people; reading out loud to a room full of friendly, supportive people -- tune in next week when I say 'thank-you' to the grocery clerk who hands me my change, that should be a real rush). I wasn't sure what to expect, if people read previously posted material or wrote new stuff, which was one of the reasons I decided not to read this time around. Pam and I drove up and down Bank Street a little looking for Irene's Pub. Irene's Pub was hot. Really hot. After the first hour or so we decided we were just going to have to embrace the heat and think of trickling sweat and increasingly frizzy hair as sexy.

Lynn (Turtlehead -- who I previously met in person at World Trivia Night) posted Pam and me at the welcoming table, either because she hasn't been reading my blog enough to know that meeting new people swells my throat closed, sort of like shellfish or peanuts for allergic people, or she'd forgotten, or she thought it would be fun to watch me try to welcome people through the wheezing. Anyway, Pam took it like a pro, and I just sat there beaming at people like an idiot. Oh, except for when, shortly after Lynn had given us press kits, a man came and introduced himself to me and Pam and, noticing that he had a big camera and thinking he might be press, I went over to Lynn and said "hey, there's a guy with a camera", and she said "yeah, that's Milan". Then I looked around and saw there were quite a few people with cameras, and remembered that some of the bloggers use a lot guessed it....photographs in their blogs. I asked Lynn if she wanted me there mostly as comic relief to make the nervous people less nervous. She didn't say no.

Listening to bloggers read their material out loud was more fun than I thought it would be. Even people who were nervous and not natural performers were easy to listen to -- something about it being your own writing read in your own voice, I guess. Then there were people who were clearly born to perform (this woman, with the velvet whiskey voice and the amazing face, except I couldn't stop staring at the gorgeous pattern in her dress). I saw some old friends and some newish blogging friends and met some even newer friends. When I started blogging I never would have imagined that anyone I didn't know would read my blog, and if they read it I never imagined they would comment, and if they commented I never imagined that I would meet them and love them and make up stories about us having tea parties and doing each other's hair and... oops, sorry, was that out loud? Lynn is one of those women who do too much -- organize giant fundraisers at their kids' schools, spend the summer at museums and art galleries instead of letting their kids watch Igor four hundred times, plan and execute events whereby people who generally hunch anti-socially behind their computers actually have to meet and interact and stand upright (strangely, no one seemed to find that difficult other than me). I sort of have a love/hate relationship with her, because even though she's admirable and all that, she keeps making me leave the house. Oh, also, she has this kick-ass sister Fame Throwa who I would like even if she didn't say I was her favourite blogger (without arm-twisting or payment). She looks like a slightly younger slightly thinner slightly lighter-haired Tina Fey, which Lynn said would make her roll her eyes, so I wouldn't mention it except when I was telling my husband about everything the next day and I alluded to her looking like Tina Fey, he got this weirded-out slightly nauseous expression and I said 'What?!', all ready to be offended on either FameThrowa's or Tina Fey's behalf. Then his expression cleared and he said "OH. TINA FEY. I was thinking of TAMMY FAYE". (Sincere apologies to the very attractive Fame Throwa for having that image associated with her, however briefly).

So this year I was more than content to drink quietly and laugh loudly. Next year I may be prepared to blog out loud.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Knowing Me Knowing You July 2010

We're back from the cottage again. At least I am. On the way home we stopped at another cottage belonging to our friends who are moving to Edmonton next week and Eve refused to come home, the little cottage tramp. I went on another GPS adventure coming home (I really need to stop being so certain she's trying to get me lost and leave me for dead) and saw some parts of the province I've never seen before. People on tractors and large, gorgeous swathes of tiger lilies waved at me. Now I'm home, the kitchen is mostly cleaned up, I haven't washed my face yet (I know -- cottage living has turned me into a total non-up-tight free-living slob), and I flung my bra across the room with gay abandon (straight abandon? not that there's anything wrong with gay abandon if that's the abandon that floats your boat). There's a suspicious lack of cooking evidence and a pizza flyer out on the counter - I think I just won't question the boys too closely. I got a quick, edifying lecture on delayed slide plays from my insanely adorably pin-striped baseball-uniformed son who will never ever know I just said that uniform was adorable. All this gorgeous weather, reading on the dock and hanging out with my endlessly snugglable and entertaining water sprite has totally buggered my blogging flow, so thank God it's time for Shan the Fairy Blogmother's monthly (or something) Knowing Me Knowing You (becasue you know you want to know me -- I'm awesome).

1. Do you like to garage sale?

In theory. Although my focus these days is on getting crap out of the house, not in, I like the voyeuristic aspect (although the stuff they're NOT getting rid of would be more interesting... okay now am I just being creepy?) and the fact that you just never know what you'll come across. But they start too freakin' early. I'd be more likely to stay up for one than get up for it.

2. What do or would you garage sale for?

Fake fingernails and false teeth.

3. Cloth or paper napkins?

Mostly cloth except for parties -- and not because it's easier but because when I start bringing out the cloth ones my friend Collette mocks me loudly, rips them out of my hands and throws them back in the cupboard and if I didn't have paper ones everyone would just have to lick their fingers.

4. Ever re-gift?

Oh hell yes. It's the new recycling.

5. Are you watching Big Brother or Last Comic Standing?

I hate, loathe and despise reality TV. Not because it's exploitive, ridiculous, embarrassing and offensive -- holidays with my family are all those things, and I love those. I just prefer my exploitive ridiculous television to be fictional and have unionized actors in it. Maybe if the people in Big Brother occasionally broke into ostensibly spontaneous but clearly excrutiatingly meticulously rehearsed and choreographed song and dance numbers...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Why I Didn't Blog Last Night

Eve and I came back from the cottage last night -- I was desperate for a night in my own bed and Eve needed to see her friend Marianna before she leaves for Greece for the summer. Angus and Matt are in Cornwall for the week-end for a baseball tournament (just got the word that they are undefeated, 5 and 0 for the week-end -- go A-team), so we were planning to have a girls' night, which generally means a movie, a bunch of stories, then she sleeps in my bed. We were both kind of beat from a few days in the sun and a few late nights and a few too many alcoholic beverages (for a seven-year-old she can really pound back the Bud), so we got some dinner and watched The Last Mimzy (pretty good, with a less distressing ending than the story, which I remember reading years ago and being completely freaked out by). We read a couple of stories, then my plan was for her to crawl into my bed and me to have a couple of hours to unpack, do laundry, do some blogging, read the paper etc. The cottage has been wonderful and seeing various parts of the family who we don't see nearly enough has been really great, but you're pretty much with people all the time, and I do kind of feel the need for some alone time after a few days of that.

Eve went up and brushed her teeth and put on her pajamas and came downstairs and said "can we go to bed now?" I said "why don't you just crawl into Daddy's spot and look at some books and I'll be there in a while?" She looked at the clock and said "okay. How about...either you can come up sooner, or I'll tell you when it's ten o'clock?" I blinked at her and said "...are you telling me that ten o'clock is my bedtime?" She raised her eyebrows hopefully and said "yes?" Clearly, her going to bed without me was contravening the rules of the girls' night.

And that's why I didn't blog last night.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wordless 'It's Wednesday Somewhere': We Are The Champions

My Blog Out Loud Ottawa post will have to wait, even though I'm seized with the urge to find the address of everyone there and stalk them all separately until they agree to be my friend or present me with a restraining order (no, Sabrina, that wasn't me behind that tree last night). I'm headed back out to the cottage for a few days (I get a bed this time and I didn't even have to arrange a boating accident). Instead, I present you with my two baeball championship gold winners (three guesses which one was more gracious and self-deprecating about it. Hint: it wasn't Eve.)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Stepping out of my comfort zone

I'm a bit of a control freak. This isn't a big startling admission, because it's not like I hide it well. I can let my husband load the dishwasher the way he wants to, or pick out clothes for the kids. I can let my kids pick out their own clothes. I can watch someone else make a stir-fry. I can do all these things, but it murders a little piece of my soul, because those other people always do it just a little bit wrong. It's worse in matters of my body and environment. This is where I'm an anxiety wrapped in a neurosis inside an obsessive compulsive disorder. I have to wash my face and hands several times a day. I have to brush my teeth right after eating something. I shower more than once a day. I hate it when it's too hot. I need access to a wide range of clothing because I never know what I'm going to have to drape over my considerable bulk in order to make facing the world bearable. I love my bed, in my room, attached to my bathroom.

So maybe you can see why 'going to the cottage' is something different for me than the blissful, idyllic retreat it is for many other people. Especially because we don't own a cottage, so when we go to the cottage it is ALWAYS someone else's cottage. There is never a my bed or my room, and forget about the attached bathroom -- it's an undreamed-of luxury if you're not sharing one bathroom with six other people.

We used to go to my husband's grandparents' place, which is about an hour away, for Canada Day. A good number of his family would come, we'd have a great day, set off fireworks when it got dark, then jump into the car by ourselves or, when they came along, with the kids and drive home. It was perfect. But they're older now, and it was too much for them to have everyone at the house (which is sad, but I'll save that sad for later). For the last three years, my mother-in-law and her husband have rented a cottage around the same area for everyone to come and stay. And, reasonably enough, my husband and my kids have thought that it would be a good idea to, well, stay.

I actually managed to avoid sleeping at the cottage until this year -- it just always worked out for me to get home at night, and the one time we might have stayed there were too many people so we got a hotel room not far away. Eve snored like a lumberjack all night and I barely slept, but there was an attached bathroom that I didn't have to worry about bumping into anyone not directly related to me when I got up to use. Angus and Matt stayed over a couple of nights to go golfing early with everyone the next morning, but I don't golf. This year, I still thought maybe I would go home for the night, but I packed so I would be able to stay if I wanted to. And once I got there with Eve a few days ago (Matt and Angus had gone out the night before after baseball practice) as I was walking up the steps, I suddenly thought maybe this would be the year.

It was! It was totally the year. And I was way out of my comfort zone, and I wasn't always totally comfortable, but it was kind of a rush to realize that I could do it. Things with my family always tend to be pretty well organized -- we know what we're doing and when, and what we're feeding people and when. Things with my husband's family are... not. People come and go in a dizzying whirl, things get planned and executed and cancelled and rescheduled and re-planned on the fly. This sometimes makes me a little crazy -- but only when I'm not with them. Once I'm in there I remember how much I adore them all, even though they make me do quizzes and share personal anecdotes in turn out loud and wear funny hats.

Here's what was difficult (I hope I don't make anyone weep for me):

-I'm kind of big. I worry constantly about what I'm wearing, I have a hard time believing that people aren't thinking about how big I am and whether what I'm wearing is appropriate and it makes me self-conscious, which can really interfere with having a good time.
-My hair looks stupid when it's wet.
-I forgot my Dove. I can't wash my face without my Dove. I think I mentioned that I NEED to wash my face several times a day, or something terrible might happen. Like breaking out or contracting a deadly facial infection or a terrorist attack.
-the bathroom on the main floor didn't have a lock. I mean, seriously, this cottage was on the market for 1.2 mil, and NO LOCK on the BATHROOM DOOR?
-DUDE : I slept on the COUCH.

Here's how I coped:

-I stopped looking in the mirror, and drank heavily.

I tried to remember that these people all love me and, frankly, have more important things on their mind than whether I'm a little heavy and my hair is flat. Plus, I totally distracted them with my sparkling witty banter. And my fruit plate with chocolate dip. And when my husband kept waking me up to make me stop snoring and I was both humiliated and annoyed because first it took me two hours to fall asleep and then he kept waking me up, I thought oh well, I'll sleep when I get home. And lying on the lumpy couch, a little too warm to be comfortable, with my unsatisfactorily-cleaned face (I borrowed my mother-in-law's Oil of Olay something-or-other), looking up into the high-ceilinged woody darkness, listening to the breathing of a lot of people I really really like, I was pretty sure I'd make the right decision. So I'd like to thank my children and my in-laws for reminding me:

not to be self-conscious about what you're wearing at the cottage;

to enjoy yourself without holding back;

and not to worry

about looking silly.

(You weren't expecting a picture of ME, were you? Look, I'm all about the personal growth, but let's not get crazy here.)