#10 – Challenging Family = Interesting Reading

Let’s just start by saying, if you don’t have challenges in your family, you are wrong… you do.  Everyone does.  The only way to get through life is with family, or people you might consider your family, and the fact of the matter is… families are challenging.  Am I being too politically correct by using the word “challenge” and not just calling a spade a spade?

The first thing that I’d like to explore during this topic is sports.  I am from New England.  My husband is from New York.  There lies a “challenge” in itself, but then throw in the New Yorker complex, where more is better, and add a 2nd or 3rd team for all major sports: baseball, football, hockey and basketball.  Really??  (I just thought it was baseball and football that had multiple teams, until I did a quick little google search for “why NY needs 2 or 3 of everything”).  New York is not that big, it’s really not, look at a map.  New England is made up of 6 small states, but is 20,000 square miles larger than New York state and there is only ONE baseball team, ONE football team, ONE basketball team and count ’em ONE hockey team.  So amongst any given New York family, you’ve got constant rivalry.  Throw in a homegirl from New England and look what you’ve got…

My dad’s speech at our wedding was actually based on the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry.  It was pretty funny.  A moment I will always treasure.  He opened up by saying that I will do ok among a bunch of New York fans because I had to grow up with one in our house (my mom’s “lifer” Bobby is a random Yankees fan – he lived in Albany for like the first year of his life… that’s some serious patronage to the home land).

During this current football post-season Casey and I have been keeping it light and betting on who will win the games.  We tied last weekend.  I got the Pats and the 49ers and he had the Giants and the Ravens.  TIP #1: Throwing fun little bets into any situation that could potentially contain “challenging” material is a great way to keep it light with the fam.

The next area I’d like to explore is the Art of the In-Law.  This is an inevitable part of life.  If you get married, you will have in-laws.  Some will have more than others.  Even if you don’t get married, but you have siblings, you’ll likely obtain in-laws.  I call it an art because it is.  (I know – I am so profound.)  To learn how to accept your partner’s habits, ways and means is a “challenge” in itself.  To learn how to accept the extension of your spouse is a feat of great magnitude.  This new family is not very likely to be like your own flesh and blood, but this is a good way to broaden your horizons and try new things.  The Art of the In-Law is the ability to accept those you love for who they are.  TIP #2: You love your spouse for a reason or two, so remember that your in-laws likely made him to be the person whom you love and you can thank them for that.

As you now know, my husband’s family is from New York.  Their volume is a little higher than what my family’s volume was on a day to day basis growing up.  But it’s ok, because I can get loud, I can get opinionated, and I can merrily join in with the best of them when the occasion arises.  Plus, for all of my seriousness and quiet-time, I can always use a little more action.  When I first showed up on the Canevari front, it was said that I could “hold my own” with them.  That was important, because if I was to take the Canevari name, I had to be able to fit in!

Now, don’t forget about the other type of in-law… the brother or sister-in-law.  I get along great with my 2 brothers-in-law.  They are really wonderful, warm-hearted individuals.  But as you do the math, you’ll realize that my mother-in-law has 3 BOYS.  And at the moment she only has 1 daughter-in-law (yours truly).  Can you imagine having THREE daughters-in-law?  Yowser!

Welcoming the spouse of your brother or sister can be tough, especially if it is before you yourself have the opportunity to become an in-law.  It is hard for a sibling to understand this new relationship with a person that eats up your beloved family-member’s time, and who is perceived to be possibly changing your sibling.  Before going through it yourself, you don’t understand that a spouse doesn’t change you, they enhance you.  Lifestyle changes can be hard to accept, especially when this new person in your sibling’s life and family is different from that of your own.  But your sibling’s new life is what makes them happy and that is all that matters.  I have 1 brother and 1 sister-in-law and it wasn’t always smooth sailing.  But over time, and through many uphill battles, everyone came to accept one another.

There are plenty other things that create challenges in family.  I hesitate to get too “heavy” so I’ll keep it short.  Divorce is probably on the top of the list.  I went through a divorce when I was 9 years old.  It wasn’t too bad for me at that age, but it was much heavier for my brother who is 2 years older than me.  Now having 2 children of my own, I can’t imagine our lives if we got divorced.  The thought of not spending every day and night together with my kids makes my stomach churn.  It gives me some serious perspective into my parent’s lives, and it makes me think twice about picking a fight over dirty laundry or a tv station.  I am glad that my parent’s separated because I truly believe that they were not meant to be together.  I believe they are better people separate and I love that I get to spend time with them individually.  I often refer to their divorce as the “perfect divorce” which is a complete oxymoron.  But in this case, I couldn’t be happier for the outcome.  Except…

That brings me to a whole other topic… Holidays!  How on earth are you supposed to keep up with your entire family on the holidays?  Here’s a list of “challenges” that we face with our family during the holidays:

  • We live in Florida and our parents live in NY, NH and MA
  • Flights are expensive
  • Driving with 2 toddlers is a nightmare
  • Everyone drinks too much
  • Everyone buys too much
  • Everyone eats too much
  • Ahhh, forget the list… just read ‘Tis the Season!

Family… we miss them when they’re gone… we can’t wait till they go home… and we love them through thick, thin, up, down and all around.  We can’t live without them, and we need them no matter how hard we try not to!!

Run Drive Sleep Repeat

I have spent the last 24 hours (it’s 10 am on saturday) with 6 dedicated runners, carting them around in a 12 passenger van from Miami to our current location, just south of Marathon in the Florida keys. We’ve got a few hours left before our other van team of 6 takes over for the last 38 miles.

We have covered about 83 miles so far and by the time we’re done we’ll have run 109 out of the 199 from Miami to key west for our team of 12.

You know you want to say it, so I’ll do it for you: WTF?? Seriously, I agree! They are slightly crazy, but it’s a pretty awesome feat! It’s kinda cool just to be their designated driver too. That was until 3 am and my eyes were crossing, closing, and causing hallucinations. So I pulled over for the final 10 miles to let Casey drive to our checkpoint. My body was done and I had to give in.

It’s been a blast and we have all gotten a little closer sharing our bodily function needs and ailments. We have all come up with different ways of sharing with the group when we have to or just did poop. Some examples… “I gotta go drop the Cosby kids off at the pool guys” or “I just sent a brown trout back to sea man”. It’s not for the meek or faint of heart. If you don’t like to talk about your feces that’s cool, but don’t shame us for tossin’ the comments around.

We slept in a tent last night (this morning) for approximately 2 hours. That, the monstrous breakfast sandwich from a greasy dive, plus a baby wipe shower and new underwear totally knocked me back into shape. We are on the road again…

Drinking will be next on the agenda after runners 2-6 finish up and I suppose that’s partially why they do this. They get to drink their adrenaline-less, exhausted asses off and then get driven aaaalllll the way home by yours truly.

It’s fine by me though. I haven’t wiped anyone’s ass but my own in close to 2 days!

#8 – I need an outlet/hobby

Someone asked me recently “what does Christine Canevari do for fun?” and I was surprised by my lack of an answer. The immediate things that came to mind were the things that used to be what I do for fun like skiing, paddling, working out, bar hopping, etc. But I realized I couldn’t steal the answer from my former existence. So I carried on with giving an answer and came up with “finding quiet time, reading and writing.” While that is a true answer, it’s not exactly what I do for fun, it is what I do to keep me sane…

I guess life has changed so much that what I do for fun now is drag my kids to the neighborhood bar in their Radio Flyer, chug a beer as fast as I can while saving Connor (1) from oncoming traffic and keeping Parker (3) from crying about his brother’s inability to share the goldfish, and then drag them back home as fast as I can to save myself from any further embarrassment. But that was all way too much to admit at that particular moment when questioned about my hobbies.

Writing this blog has become a great hobby for me. I have a lot more I’d like to be posting about, on a more regular basis, but I’m feeling a bit meek about publicizing something that turns out to be lame. I’m reading this awesome guy’s blog (jasongood.net) and since his life (minus being an actual comedian) is so parallel to my own (and millions of other people with 2 male toddlers), I feel like I would be publishing something completely inferior. So I am working through my issues and giving myself the following reality check: he’s not going to read your blog, so stop thinking he is and will publicly shame you for your amateur writing and less-than-witty quips.

So case-closed – back to posting. And since the holidays are basically over… oh yeah HAPPY NEW YEAR… I should have a few minutes to spare again.

Besides blogging, I plan to gain a couple more hobbies in the new year. Casey and I don’t make new year resolutions, we make annual goals. We both accomplished some, actually many, of our goals in 2011, so I’m confident in doing this again. So, one of my goals is to start 3 new hobbies in 2012. Here they are:

  1. Raising dragons. It seems exhilarating, and possibly lucrative in my particular line of work. We have a nice sized back yard, and when they start getting large (don’t worry, I’m not going to focus on the fire-breathing sort) then I could bring them to work and keep them in the warehouse with the boats. They ought to feel at home there because there are lots of boats named after their species, and even heads and tails meant to mimic them. Parker and Connor could learn some responsibility by being charged with poop detail, and they may just solve the feral cat problem on my block. Many benefits, can’t really see a downside to this hobby.
  2. Another hobby I’d like to pick up is taking an art class. Parker’s idea of coloring is picking a utensil, pointing to an object and instructing me to color it. This I don’t mind so much since I am particularly fond of coloring and staying in the lines is fairly easy, depending on the utensil. But when he instructs me to draw “Halloween” or “a bird” or any other assortment of creatures and scenes freehand… I’m basically still at the 4th grade level. It’s “fine art” to him, however when people come to our house and see “Parker’s drawings” they are often convinced that they are actually his (again… he’s 3… that’s a direct hit). So, I’d like to start producing some still-life vegetables and vases with serious shadows, so not only will our friends not be misled by my son’s lack of creative abilities, they will actually be impressed by my professional artistic skills.
  3. And the last hobby that I think will benefit my life in 2012 is drinking more than my husband. I don’t really mind being the designated driver because I feel good enough in the morning to berate him for drinking so much and still effectively take care of our kids. But recently I found how interesting it can be to learn about your evening from your partner the next morning. Feeling like ass (truly… what is that?) the next day is not the goal here though. It is learning how to maintain a solid stomach, staying hydrated to avoid headaches, get enough sleep to be able to start my day on time, but still get drunk enough to not remember what the hell I did, or how I got into my pajamas. It’s also a ploy to teach Casey some DD responsibility through force. On the flip side, we might just start spending a lot of money on cabs, I will gain a lot of weight and my 3rd hobby for 2012 will ultimately be sippin’ the fail sauce.

So, lots to do. Lucky for my 7 readers, that also means there will be lots to write about (in the case of #3, Casey will need to do the writing) and report back on. Positive and constructive feedback welcome.