Tuesday, December 16, 2008

There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays

Well howdy. Here I am again. It's been a few days, but I think you'll understand why in a minute (not that I have to explain - remember, blogging without obligation...this blog is for me, blah, blah, blah)

I live in the Northeast. If you have been paying any attention to the weather, you will know that we had an ice storm recently. A fairly difficult one. Not a major one...if you measure the length of time the storm raged, but there was enough storm to cause some serious damage. Both my brother who lives in New Hampshire, and my in-laws who live in Massachusetts (North of Boston) lost power and heat. They came down to camp out at our house until they got both back. That meant, with nephews, we had eleven people at our house for about four days.

You'd think it would be tough, but it wasn't really. It was actually kind of fun. I am tired, don't mistake that, but it was so nice to have them over. Let me explain. My mother and father in law are nice people. They are very good at live and let live. When they arrived at our home they were tired, cold and sick. They had spent the night in a cold and dark house. We had offered to go and get them, but they wanted (understandably) to try staying and waiting for things to come back on. They were also both quite sick and did not want to get our children sick. But when it became clear that the power would not be going back on any time soon, they relented and allowed us to bring them to our home.

We set them up in our room so they could have peace, and rest (if not exactly quiet with the kids running around). Gave them the remote to the tv, showed them how to work the electric blanket, and handed them drinks (our mantra, like many who are caring for the sick, is "Drink, drink, and drink. And oh yeah, drink."). We told them that they did not have to feel obligated to be social, and if they needed anything to let us know.

They chose to join us most of the time. They probably did not get the rest they should have due to the stomping around of the kids, but they were at least in a warm house. They never complained once. They just kind of rolled with whatever was happening. They are good at the "go with the flow," mentality. Even when they are not feeling their best. I have great respect and admiration for them. I aspire to be like them as I age...although I suspect I will be a tad more crotchety as I get older, due to various negative influences.

The other people in our home were equally endearing. My brother Rob, while sometimes a bit brash and rough around the edges, has a heart of gold. He believes in a live and let live way of life too. So much so that he and his bride have chosen to live in New Hampshire. Isn't that the slogan for those who reside in New Hampshire? He is a funny guy too. He brings a smile to my face every time I see him. He can be a real clown. My kids love him. He knows how to have fun with them.

He also has a nice way of bringing humor to discipline. Let me share an example. My boys are at a stage in their young lives where the word "butt" or any facsimile is funny. They call each other buttheads, bummies, butholes, tushies, fartheads and the like. They find it equally funny to talk about their penises, pee pee, poop, or anything even remotely related to that region of the body. I have tried nine ways to Sunday to eliminate this kind of talk (my mind is being drawn to the fact that yes, eliminate is another word to describe those functions...but grow up for crying out loud). There have been time outs, there have been spankings. There have been chores given. There has been on one occassion, soap on the tongue. The boys have been for periods of time forbidden to speak since they cannot use appropriate language. They have been told that they will NOT be allowed certain priviledges (tv, computer, etc.). All of these disciplines have failed.

My brother's solution? Wedgies to anyone who uses the forbidden words. And it works. The boys laugh, but they suffer the consequences and stop talking nasty for a while. I won't say it's perfect, but I love that he administers the discipline in a humorous way. It's just the kind of guy he is. He's great. Here's a picture of him:

Now, you might think that this is an unflattering picture of him. I would say you are very wrong. It is actually one of the best pictures of him anywhere because it captures his personality. He is a class clown. He is a very smart guy that I love very much, but he likes to make people laugh. And right here, he is mugging for the camera to make me laugh. And it worked.

He could have chosen to be a real downer while visiting. His power was out. His heat was out. And because he has an electric pump, his water was out. He could have had pipes freezing back home as we took this picture, but he wasn't being a pill. He was laughing and having a good time in spite of his circumstances.

I have a lot of respect for my brother. He has done so much with his life and he cares so much about his family. If he ever happens upon this blog I want him to read this and know that I think he IS the best thing since sliced bread.

I'm not sure if the respect is mutual. I haven't done much to earn his respect. I don't really know if he respects me. I don't really know if I should spend energy on that anyway. I just think he's great and hope to continue to develop a good relationship with him and his family.

His wife Jackie is a great gal too. Here is a picture of her:
Jackie is a neat lady. She loves Rob for just who he is. She is funny, kind, generous and a wonderful mother. She and Rob met in a bar a number of years ago (10 or 12, I'm not sure) and they were married in 2000. I am so glad he married her. She is one of the sweetest people you could meet. While she was down, she decided that she would clean my kitchen. You might think that some would take offense at the implication that my home is dirty, but I do not take it personally. I keep my home sanitary, but not up to the level of expectation of most "Better Homes and Gardens" magazines. I have children. I have a dog. I have a cat. I want to do more with my day than clean. Cleaning does not give me pleasure. It only reminds me that I am not clean enough and that it will need to be done again soon. But Jackie receives joy from cleaning apparently. She says that it makes her relax to clean her kitchen. So I say, relax baby. Feel free to relax as much as possible in my home. Me casa es su casa. We aim to please and if it so happens that my home is cleaner as a result, so much the better.

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