Tag Archives: nieces

Merry Christmas 2014

And here we are, it’s Christmas Eve! Perhaps one of the best things about getting married (besides the whole commitment to spending the rest of my life with the person I love and all that…) is that I get to celebrate Christmas even more.

And always with this guy!
And always with this guy!

We did the Vonck thing last weekend with my parents and siblings and nieces and aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents and puppies on that side of the family.

You can kind of tell that we're related... and that we enjoy our time together, eh?
You can kind of tell that we’re related… and that we enjoy our time together, eh?

Tonight, we start the party Stankowski-style, which as I have mentioned before is big, big, big.

No matter the “side” or the location or the event,Ā as the Muppets say (in the best version of A Christmas Carol ever produced EVER): wherever you find LOVE it feels like Christmas!

{Source}
{Source}

And it’s so true! Love, love, love… every where! In every way!

And to quote another immortal soul, one Mr. Frank Sinatra:

I wish you shelter form the storm
A cozy fire to keep you warm
But most of all, when snowflakes fall
I wish you love

That is truly my Christmas wish for you. For everyone. For myself even. Lots of love.

And especially for my sister’s dear friend Jackie, who I unfortunately did not get to meet when I was in Midland for a few days– I really hope she knows how much she is loved! To be loved by my sweet and fisky sister, that’s a big deal šŸ™‚

Claire knows it's a big deal to be loved by my Shabsky Balu-- look at that happy little face!!
Claire knows it’s a big deal to be loved by my Shabsky Balu– look at that happy little face!!

I love all the rest of you too and I thank you from the very bottom of my heart for hanging out with me for another year here at Under the Tapestry.

My goal for 2014 was to convince you that I am truly unhinged, but full of love. (The best kind of unhinged, really.) If I haven’t done that yet, let me just send you a quick Christmas card…

Created using Minted
Created usingĀ minted.Ā I’m so so so pleased with minted. Highly recommend!

Transition to crazy dog lady — complete!

Oh how I love that pup!!

 

Wishing you and all of your furry (or scaled or feathered or whatever) friends a very merry holiday season full of love, love, love!

My Uncle Ed. From Scotland. And a happy rant about sisters and aunts.

Do you ever have a moment where you just get really excited about something and have to share? This is one of those moments! And then it spirals. Man, blogging is justĀ happening right now.

My Aunt Susan, my beautiful and amazing aNut, who I have loved forever and ever and who I enjoy getting to love differently with each passing year (more on that in a minute) is married to a man named Ed. And he is from Scotland. And because he’s awesome, and he loves my aunt and is therefore required to love me (except I think he might even if he weren’tĀ actually required) he wore his real deal kilt to my wedding and lets me call him Ed, the Scot, and also plays the “Doctor.” “Doctor.” game with me (because we’re both doctors– the PhD kind)… so I was ridiculously pleased when I saw a series of recent posts on Facebook of my Uncle Ed, on tv, and basically winning a Dead Poets Society competition.

It was too good! All of it!!

Here he is, at the mic, on tv, basically winning…

On the news even!!
On the news even!!

And then they showed a picture of the audience, including those three people that make my heart swell!! Ed, my aNut, and my Grandma. Love, love, love!!

love, love, love!
love, love, love!

So exciting! I’m ridiculously proud! And not just because Ed is from Scotland and a PhD in physics and married to my Aunt… but mostly that’s why šŸ˜‰ Regardless, he’s my most favorite man that any of my mom’s sisters have ever, ever, ever been married to. Ever. So glad he’s in the familia!

Look how happy he makes my little aNut?! That's a good, good thing...
Look how happy he makes my little aNut?! That’s a good, good thing…

Anyway, about my Aunt, who I’ve been thinking about a lot lately (and not just because I’m working on a late birthday present for her– which I am, and it’s awesome), but also because she’s theĀ best person I know at talking about love and relationships between people. The best.

We talked before about how when my sister was due with her first little girl, Emma, I basically freaked out. I was terrified of losing my sister. We’veĀ all seen Frozen, weĀ should all be watching Once Upon a Time (because it’s awesome), so we all know there’s nothing worse than losing a sister. Television and movies don’t lie.

And neither does my aunt. She was so re-assuring and honest. She told me that Abby would still love me and I would still love her, but that it was true, our relationship would change… and that I would be amazed at how much I would love her little girl.

Right. On. The. Money.

And now she has another one– precious little Claire, who I also adore with all my heart. Abby is different now, because she’s Emma and Claire’s mom, but she’s still my sister and I love her something fierce. And Emma and Claire are so different, yet I love them both in a crazy auntie kind of way. Differently, because even so young, they’re already very different people, but so so so intensely. I was so worried about Abby changing that I forgot to consider that possibility that being an aunt my just changeĀ me too. I’m so glad that it did!

The point I’m trying to make here though, most of all, is that the way I love my sister and the way I love her girls, my sweet little nieces, changes the way I love my aunt. Not for better or for worse, but from a different perspective and with a whole new sense of complete and total gratitude for the way she has lovedĀ me for so many years. I had done nothing to earn it, except by being an extension of my mom, but now I know what it feels like to love that little being anyway and I can appreciate just how loved I was (and am, of course!) by my aunt.

It’s a special bond, you guys. And I’m so excited that Abby has two little girls and that someday Emma and Claire will be like Rita and Judy (my grandma and her sister), Beth and Susan (my mom and her sister), and me and Abby. It’s a crazy and beautiful thing.

It’s interesting to note though, that Judy had three boys and so did Susan… perhaps that’s what will be in the cards for me! IĀ do like patterns.

And Scots. I like Scots too.

Ed The Scot 3

Congrats, Ed!! I love you, aNut Susan!

V is for a vacation… with and from my values. With is better. Trust me.

I started writing this V-themed blog post in the wee hours of the morning on Thursday, August 21stĀ on a chartered bus headingĀ from LAX to San Diego after a very long day of traveling.

This is what the inside of the bus looked like at 2 am PST somewhere between LA and San Diego... because I thought it might be blog-worthy.
This is what the inside of the bus looked like at 2 am PST somewhere between LA and San Diego… because I thought it might be blog-worthy.

V… vacation… values… it popped into my head, I started writing (and then got very bus-sick, so put it away), and it’s been writing itself in my brain since that day. More and more and more. Time to get it on the screen and then out into the ether.

Since that super late night/very early morning bus trip in California, I visited friends and got an opportunity to see their new house and ridiculously adorable new puppy.

Oh how I want to steal this sweet puppy and make her my own!!
Oh how I want to steal this sweet puppy and make her my own!!

I boarded a cruise ship with my husband and said friends (plus some new ones!) and cruised down the coast of California from Long Beach to Ensenada and back.

I think we all know that the towel animals are legitimately the best part of a cruise, am I right?
The towel animals are totally the best part of a cruise, am I right?

I got on a plane, came home to Wisconsin, weathered an eczema flare and a bit of a head cold, and welcomed my sister, her husband, and their two ridiculously cute little girls into my home.

GAHHHH!! The cuteness of my nieces! I can barely stand it!!!!
GAHHHH!! The cuteness of my nieces! I can barely stand it!!!!

And now here I am, back and ready to tell you about my vacation– with and from my values.

 

We’ve talked about all kinds of values in this space– some explicitly, more often implicitly. But based merely on that word cloud that pops up on the right, I think we can get a pretty good picture of the things that are important to me: family, friends, kindness, love, health… Harry Potter. These are things that I value and I try to live my life accordingly.

Except when I don’t.

When it comes to kindness and health, I spent some time on vacation with and from both. With was where it’s at. Trust me. Let’s talk about that.

 

Kindness

Getting to our friends’ house in San Marcos was quite trying. I’ll spare you the details, but you’ve all traveled by air, you know what it’s like to miss your connecting flight… Long story short: 12 exhausted passengers (including three fromĀ first classĀ and one mom with two young children) were waiting at the closed gate when the agent came back from sending off our flight without us. That’s a recipe for aĀ veryĀ angry party. And that gate agent? She was a very easy target.

Lots of people were yelling lots of things at her… demanding managers… using the phrase “first class ticket” over and over again…

But kindness, you know?

Patience and such… catching flies with honey… it’s something Seth and I value. And we made it to San Diego that night. Late, yes. But completely unscathed and super happy to see our friends. No yelling necessary.

But then there were new friends of friends and I got super scared. I was a little Judgey McJudgerson, assuming I wasn’t going to like people… mostly because I assumed they wouldn’t like me. They were all from SoCal and had cool hair, listened to cool music, owned cool companies, wore stylish clothes, and so on and so forth. No way could they have all that and still beĀ nice… except they were. And then I felt like a big ol’ dummy for not giving them the chance I would have wanted them to give me… and that they didĀ give me.

Kindness. It’s something I value. That was a good little lesson about it. Also, I have some new friends (with cool hair and cool jobs and cool music and cool locales– suh-weet!).

 

Health

I also value my health… and it’s a constant struggle to uphold this value in my daily life on account of all that stuff withĀ weight and food and gastrointestinal issues and such. You’ve read about it if you’ve been reading along.

First, the upholding of the value: I packed weights! In my carry-on bag! That I dragged across the country! And more importantly– I used them every day!! They were just 2.5 lbs a piece, but a 20 min Jillian Michaels-based circuit workout once a day plus some “olympic jogging track” walking with my friend Melissa and I felt awesome, awesome, awesome about getting some physical activity in, even while on vacation. Yes, TSA and I had to chat about the weights, but I joked with them and it was all good. (Oh how I wish I could have gotten a picture of the weights on the xray screen– it was hilarious!)

TSA guy (to other TSA lady): come look at this!

Me: It’s weights!

TSA guy: How much?

Me:Ā Just 2.5 lbs a piece… I’m not very strong!

TSA lady: I only do three [grin].

We all laughed… ahhhh ha ha ha ha! (And Seth just rolled his eyes…)

Health FTW!

Except… I decided that since I was on vacation and since it was super hard not to eat gluten while traveling, I was just going to do it. And I did it. On the plane (Biscoff cookies… nom nom nom…), in the airport in Minneapolis (I got the chicken nuggets rather than the sandwich on a bun– a feeble attempt at limiting gluten intake…), a Subway cookie on that crazy bus (because it was my consolation prize!), and by the time we made it to San Diego, my hands were starting to get puffy.

I didn’t eat gluten the rest of the time, but the damage was done. And by the time I got home to Wisconsin, I was in a full blown eczema flare.

Boom.

In retrospect, it actually looks much worse while healing... those blisters don't seem so bad. It's the complete loss of skin after the fact that's hardest to bare.
In retrospect, it actually looks much worse while healing… those blisters don’t seem so bad. It’s the complete loss of skin after the fact that’s hardest to bare.

Super suck. I beat myself up about it for a while, mostly because my hands freaking HURT.

Then my therapist made a really good point: health is hard, even if you value it. AND… what would I say to my friend Melissa? (I think that’s his new favorite line…) I’d be kind to my friend Melissa, of course, so I gave myself a little break. (A little one.)

The blisters are gone now, all my skin has peeled or flaked or done whatever it’s going to do (I’ve coined the term “handruff” to describe the skin flakes my palms leave behind on pretty much everything I touch until the new stuff grows in), and some new fresh stuff is finally growing in nicely. It was a rough week — definitely not worth the cookies and nuggets, no matter how delicious. (Biscoffs… so delicious!)

 

Basically, vacations are tough for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love them… they’re awesome. But sometimes I make them harder for myself than I really need to, just because I don’t stay consistent with my own values. I value kindness… I value my health.

The most important thing I think I learned from all of this is that your values are your values, no matter the place, no matter the circumstance…. that’s what makes them a value and not just a passing fad.

 

(Good news: I also value blogging and the wheels seem to be perpetually turning and turning and turning! I’ve got some words percolating about family and friends of friends that I’m excited to say. WOOOORDS! Yay!)

 

PS: Harry Potter

Also, real quick, Harry Potter is a value that I never leave behind… and our little cruise vacation was no exception. Melissa, Emily, Christian, and I went to Harry Potter trivia night on the ship. We were late and didn’t get to officially participate, but I can say with absolute confidence that the four of us would have ROCKED IT had we been there the whole time. That ship on a stick would have beenĀ ours! Lucky for the other contestants, we were only playing for fun!