Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas

I'd have to check the employee handbook to be absolutely certain, but I do believe that I am not allowed to bring my white elephant present back to work and keep it in my cubicle, despite the fact that I really, really want to.


We're spending Christmas with Ash's family in Michigan, which means several hectic days of fun and family togetherness. And I'm totally not even being sarcastic! I really lucked out in the in-law department.

Ash's mom called us on Thursday to tell us that she'd thrown out her back. This is no laughing matter, as she's got a persistent and serious back problem from a car accident many years ago. This time, she's off work and only semi-mobile. As in: she can hobble around slowly for short periods of time, but mostly can't move normally. No bending over, no lifting or carrying anything, and even standing for more than a few minutes at a time is too much. So that meant that the task of finishing her mammoth Christmas baking project fell to the daughters and daughter-in-law. Mostly the daughter-in-law, as she is the only one of the three to really do much cooking or baking on her own. So on Saturday, I spent most of the day baking more cookies than you can shake a stick at. There were four different kinds, including one with nuts. The other two girls got stuck with that one, since anaphylactic shock tends to put a damper on the holiday spirit and all. But I rolled out, cut out, balled up, and dredged in sugar for hours anyway, losing count somewhere around the 20 dozen mark. See, she makes cookie plates for the entire extended family. And you may remember from my astonishment at the final guest list for our wedding that they have a very large extended family. Very large indeed. Luckily, the pain of churning out commercial quantities of cookies was lessened quite a bit by the 100 greatest songs of the 90s, as determined and presented by the brilliant minds at VH1. My super awesome sister-in-law, Liz, and I had a blast belting out the lyrics to such ageless classics as "Groove Is In the Heart".

We spent the next several days on the road, meeting up with Ash's college friends one day, spending Christmas Eve and part of Christmas Day with the big extended family the next, on to a different friend's house, and ending up at Ash's dad's house last night. It was kind of an overwhelming several days, but in a very nice, very fun way. The extending family get-together is something of a new experience for me, since my extended family is very small to begin with and we get together on Thanksgiving anyway-- most people go to visit in-laws and such ever since my grandparents died. Back when I was together with Finbar, Christmas at his house was even smaller, since his parents had essentially cut ties with their extended families many years before. So the idea of 25 or 30 people at this year's Christmas gathering seemed crazy to me-- even though it was slightly smaller this year than last. I think I'll get used to it eventually. This year, for example, was not quite as overwhelming as last year for me. But still, I had to sneak away for a little break a couple of times during the night. I think the hardest thing is the fact that they're kind of a little clique. Not in a bad, mean high school girls kind of way, but just in the way that people who've known each other all their lives can be. And I am the first newcomer of this generation. The last time that the circle was expanding was back when our parents' generation was getting married. I told Liz that I was paving the way for her eventual spouse to join the club.

We did get one really fantastic present-- though really, I suppose it was more of a wedding present than a Christmas present. Ash's Uncle Bob gave us his grandparents' wedding album. It is downright scary how very much Ash looks like his grandfather at the same age. They even hold their bodies the same way. As I was paging through the album, a small booklet fell from between two pages. I picked it up and realized that someone, I think most likely his grandmother, had saved the missal from their wedding in the album. How incredible to hold that in my hand, all these years later! The other thing that Uncle Bob gave us-- or is going to give us once we have a place to safely store it-- is Ash's grandmother's china. I am so excited about that, I can't even explain it. It just feels so good to have that connection going back all the years. And one day, we'd be able to pass it down to our own children.

So now, having told you about the best present, allow me to unveil the White Elephant:

I got nunchucks. Nunchucks weapped in gold glitter paper.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Just What I Always Wanted!

Guess what I got in the white elephant exchange at work today.

No, really, go ahead! Guess!


Monday, December 10, 2007

Playing My Part

*Blows dust off blog*

So anyway, living up to the stereotype of the married woman, since getting married, I have gained weight and cut my hair from pretty long to pretty short.

In fairness* to me, my hair has mostly been short-ish as an adult. It was down to the bottom of my ribcage as a college freshman and I cut it progressively shorter over the years, occasionally growing it out a few inches, then cutting it again. It was really only once I got ready to start law school that I started really growing it out. I had as a goal the ability to be able to pull my hair into a ponytail and leave for class with no further ado**. Then, when I got engaged to Ash, I started to seriously work at growing it long so that I would have as many options as possible for an updo on my wedding day.

I was good and sick of the long hair by July. In fact, there were many days when I was certain that I would not make it another week without begging my hair guy for an emergency hairectomy. I played with braids and twists, but the thing is, my hair is extremely thick. And as soon as it gets long enough to do something with it, it also gets too heavy to really do anything with it. A true coiffure conundrum. Anyway, I realized shortly before the wedding that I probably had nearly enough length to donate my hair to Locks of Love or some similar charity.

I know, I know: lots of people think that Locks of Love is a scam. I think that's not the case. They are really quite open about what they really do with the donations they receive and the very restrictive guidelines they have for who can get a wig. Now, it's not that I think that kids with Alopecia don't deserve a wig. But there was something about the restrictions that sort of rubbed me the wrong way. Certainly, Locks of Love may set any rules and restrictions it wishes on who may be the beneficiary of their largesse. Still, I wanted something a little more... flexible.

On this past Saturday, I sat in the chair and announced to my hair guy, "I want my short hair back." We looked at some pictures and then he brought out a ruler and a ponytail holder. From the base of the ponytail it measured 9"-- more than enough for Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which I found by a google search for "donate hair not to locks of love". Out came the scissors and several minutes later, off came my ponytail. Honestly, I wanted to run laps around the salon yelling "FREEDOM! FREEDOM!!"

I really thought that it would feel like a big change, but instead it sort of felt like coming home or returning to my natural state. I especially love the fact that from the moment I step out of the shower to the moment of being fully ready to go-- at least as far as the hair goes-- only takes maybe 5 minutes or so, and it looks so much more polished than the long hair did even after a long session with a hair dryer and a round brush (and frankly, that's pretty much always way more effort than I'm willing to put into my hair).

It also made me feel much younger, and perhaps this is a purely psychological phenomenon. After all, I was much younger the last time I had hair like this, so I suppose it's only natural to catch a glimpse of myself in a window or some other reflective surface and think to myself "Hey! Who's that cute little 23 year old?"*** At any rate, it apparently isn't an objective assessment of the effects of my new do, because when I mentioned to Ash that I thought the hair made me look much younger, he replied "I think you look like a mom."****

So yeah. I'm back. 10 pounds heavier and 9" inches of hair lighter. What've you guys been up to while I was busy working, writing thank you notes (if you haven't gotten one for your wedding present yet, I swear they're coming), and playing Katamari Damacy (More on that later, I assure you)?

* The first time I typed this, I wrote "hairness".
** Semi-pun totally intended.
***Which, holy crow, was almost a decade ago. Eek.
**** No, I'm not pregnant.


Pass the Brain Bleach

If I never hear one of the Chipmunks say "Bow chica bow wow" in his squeaky little Chipmunk voice again, it will be too soon.