Tag Archives: Shabsky

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, as the Muppets say (in the best version of A Christmas Carol ever produced EVER): wherever you find LOVE it feels like Christmas!


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 🙂

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 using minted. 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!

F is for my Fisky sister!

Because I can’t let my dear friend Dawn down, ever, let’s return to the letter E for just a quick moment.

There they are– all the earrings in my right ear. Every day the same 🙂

Now on to the letter F!

April 9th, 1987 was the last “normal” day of my life. I was three and already an old lady in my mind.

The next day, I was sitting in the living room of a family I barely knew when a tall, glasses-wearing, balding man in work clothes came walking up to the door. I yelled out, “Daddy!” and was absolutely mortified when it wasn’t him. I was so embarrassed that the lady I was staying with thought it would be nice to give me some jello. Green jello.

Green?! Salt in the freaking wound! Of all the jello colors… green?! Ugh.

(Note: I have no opposition to the use of green jello as one of many layers in a delicious multi-layered jello salad, which incidentally counts as a side dish rather than as a dessert in the great state of Wisconsin. But green jello on its own? No thank you.)

Before that, I remember being in the hospital with my mom and dad and leaving without my mom. What the whaaaaaat?! As far as I was concerned, it was my mom’s job, passion, life to take care of me and now I was to be abandoned. Abandoned to the not-dad and lady with green jello.


Because Abby.

On April 10th, 1987, Abby was born and I was no longer an only child. I had a sister.

I’m a jealous and self-centered person by nature. I realize that sounds super self-deprecating, but it’s the truth and certainly not unexpected of a three year old. (Not so hot at 30; I try to be better.) My sudden realization that I was no longer alone, no longer the sole focus of my parents’ combined adoring attention was basically devastating.

In the months that followed, I came down with a severe case of what the doctor called “Abby-itis”… constant nagging, yet invisible, ailments that required frequent trips to the doctor. Ahhh… attention. Very astute diagnosis, Dr. Stone.

Sometime around high school or so I stopped calling my sister Abalucus (and singing the accompanying song that ended with “Abalucas, you smell like rotten po-taaaa-to peels!!!”) and switched to calling her Shabsky. I don’t know why. It just came to me.

Then she got a middle name– I started calling her Shabsky Balu. Short for Shabsky Baluga. Last name? Fisk. Why? No idea.

(Imagine my shock when I went to google an image of a “baluga” whale only to find out that it’s actually spelled “beluga”… too late to change the nickname birth certificate now!)

Most of the time I call Abby Shabs, short for Shabsky. When I use it after “I love you,” it’s Shabsky Balu (on account of it rhymes and rhyming is awesome). When I’m feeling a little more formal, it’s Shabsky Baluga Fisk. When I talk about her as my sister, I call her my fisky sister. And now you know.

This was probably near-ish the time Shabsky became Shabsky.
This was probably near-ish the time Shabsky became Shabsky.

Turns out, Fisk isn’t a terribly uncommon word. Johnson and Johnson’s CEO’s first name is Fisk. Fisk Johnson. And there’s a historically black college called Fisk University in Nashville. I doubt very much that I had ever heard of either of those things back when I started calling my sister that, but it’s good to know that I may actually be able to purchase a Fisk sweatshirt someday when I finally make it to Nashville. (Shhh… don’t tell Shabs!)

My fisky little sister is freaking amazing.

You don’t even know.

(Unless you do know, and then I have no doubt you agree.)

She’s gorgeous, like so gorgeous you want to hate her, but then she opens her mouth and you think “oh, poor thing, such a ditz” and you love her… except then she suddenly puts on some steel-toed boots and a hard hat and tours you around her million story chemical plant, knowing all the ins and outs and pipes and valves (she’s a chemical engineer) and you realize that, actually, she’s freaking brilliant, and you want to hate her all over again. Except you can’t, because she’s ridiculously and crazy and genuinely nice. She’s just so… fisky! It’s the only way to explain it!

Oh man, you should have seen us getting our grooves on later this night-- we love dancing together! Love it!
Oh man, you should have seen us getting our grooves on later this night– we love dancing together! Love it!

After I skipped third grade, Abby and I were far enough apart in school to guarantee that we were never in the same building. I never really knew how exceptionally sad that was going to be though until I went away to college and moving away from my sister was like leaving a little piece of my heart behind.

Imagine the surprise this warranted for the three-year-old self trapped in my 17-year-old body!

I’ve always loved her, but it took distance for me to really appreciate her. She told me when I moved away, “Don’t get drunk. Don’t get pregnant. I love you.” and then made me a bunch of killer soundtracks for life to take with me. I came home that year to watch her run in a cross country meet and to do her hair for her Homecoming dance (I colored the ends of her exceptionally bright blonde hair red with a washable marker– it was genius, she looked so great). We got closer that year, after I moved to the very opposite end of the state, than we had ever been before.

No amount of cold can keep us sisters apart!!
No amount of cold can keep us sisters apart!!

Since then, I’ve felt like my fisky little sister and I are basically intertwined. I love every single second of time I get to spend with her and I miss her always when I can’t. But, to be perfectly honest with you, I got really nervous about our relationship in December 2011 as her first due date rapidly approached.

I knew I already loved my niece more than anything, but I was jealous all over again. I like thinking of my Shabs as Rachel’s sister… I didn’t think I would like very much when Abby stopped being Rachel’s sister and started being Emma’s mom.

Shabsky makes such an amazing mom!!

Good news, though! They’re one in the same! And as much as I think babies are cool and whatevs, no one is as cool as this crazy little Emma girl that my sister (and her husband, the illustrious Stu man) managed to produce– she’s amazing! A little mini-Abby! And I adore her!

I just love, love, love them both! My sweet Abby and Emma!!

Abby’s got another due date rapidly approaching at the end of June… she’s going to have another little girl, I’m going to have another niece, and Emma, that lucky ducky, is going to have a sister. I know how it’s going to feel for her at first; her world is going to be turned completely upside down. Little does she know, it’ll be the best thing that ever happens to her… because there is nothing better in this world than having a sister. Especially if she’s a real fisky one 🙂

Emma, darling, what does your shirt say?! Big sister?! You’re going to love it– trust me!

Abby and I have always said that if we ever have a girl, we can’t stop having babies until we have another girl because every girl should have a sister. I know my mom and Aunt Susan would agree. So would my Grandma Rita and Great Aunt Judy. So far, my Shabsky Balu is batting a thousand– good work, Fisky!

Fun! Always, always fun!

What about you? Do you have a sister? Is she fisky? I hope so!


PS: My brother, aka my Stubby little Stubnitz, is pretty dang ah-ah-ah-mazing too. And he’s lucky enough to have TWO awesome sisters. If you ever wondered how wonderful life would be with a sister, he’d be the one to ask. Eh, Tombo?

Believe or not, Tom's the tallest of us all these days!!
Believe or not, Tom’s the tallest of us all these days!!

Also, he’s going to write a book. He’s really good at writing dialogue. Like reeeeal good. Sometimes he sends me snippets of said book via text message in the middle of the night and I always, always, always want to read more. I’ve given him permission to use a couple of my more spectacular blog sentences (mostly because it flatters me when he says he likes them) and I fully plan to be acknowledged right at the beginning. Look for it someday!


Even Seth is a pretty big fan of my fisky sister-- he sang Soft Kitty to her the night before her wedding. Nothing calms the nerves quite like Soft Kitty!
Even Seth is a pretty big fan of my fisky sister– he sang Soft Kitty to her the night before her wedding. Nothing calms the nerves quite like Soft Kitty!





E is for earrings. Earrings from Esther.

Getting my ears pierced was a huge deal to me. HUGE!

My mom took me to Meijer’s (and yes, I know it’s Meijer not Meijer’s, but I’m from Michigan and therefore allowed to make the names of stores arbitrarily possessive) on Carpenter Road to get it done. The woman we paid was Indian and she had a piercing in her nose— I remember being super impressed by that, but also very, very happy with my ears.

My mom and I timed the piercing so that I could take out the studs and put in my first pair of new, real deal earrings on the first day of kindergarten. We even ordered special gem stone earrings from Avon for the occasion– one pair deep green-turquoise and the other a deep yellowy-orange.  I think I wore the green ones on the first day of school, and man was I ever proud of them.

You know who else was proud of them? My Great Grandma V,  Esther Van der Voort.(although as far as I was concerned “Grandma” was her first name). She lived a few miles from us in Sumpter Township and we used to go there a lot to eat a bucket of KFC in the breakfast nook, look at old pictures, and snack on Windmill cookies. (Mmmm… I still get cravings for Windmill cookies.)

To my Grandma V (yes, she was my mom’s grandma, my great grandma, but we always just said “grandma” and I’m not going to belabor the “great” part at this point in my life) having my ears pierced was an awesome right of passage and something to be celebrated. Every time we came to her house after that, she would give me a little baggie full of earrings from her own collection– how I treasured those!

Truthfully, part of it may have been her participation in the taunting of my sister that I treasured so much… “You know, Abby, you could have earrings too if you would get your ears pierced.” I’m a real sucker for teasing my sister (so sorry, sweet darling, Shabsky Balu– you know I love you, ardently (look it up)).

I must have been in first or second grade when I started bugging my parents for a second piercing. It was obviously out of the question at the time, but they told me I could get one when I started 6th grade.

Ladies and gentlemen, an elephant never forgets.

The second 5th grade was over, I was back to begging. (Please note that this was around the time of the hair, so you can imagine it was relatively easy for them to give in to something that might make me just a bit more satisfied with my appearance.)

Ultimately, my mom and dad relented (good call, parental units), and by the time I was in 8th grade, I had three piercings in each ear and was jonesing for a cartilage piercing… which I got two of when I was in high school.*

Even now, at 30 years old, I still love, love, love my earrings. I feel completely naked without them. So naked that I pretty much just leave them in always and rarely ever change them. Three sterling silver hoops in each ear, one more in the cartilage on the right. It’s my look… my thing… what makes me feel comfortable.

On special occasions, I slip into the big, creamy pearl studs that Seth got me with two smaller pairs of chocolate pearls or two other pairs of diamond studs. Those always make me feel special, too.

Some people dye their hair, wear crazy make up, get their nails done regularly, get tattoos– most people, women especially, have a signature thing. My thing (besides this crazy curly mess on my head– raise the roots!, and this square-jawed robot head… my thing that I can control, anyway…) is most certainly my earrings. And likely always will be. Earrings never go out of style after all. And even if they did… like I would care!

Much thanks to my Grandma V. No matter how old and cranky, arthritic and drug-dependent (sadly), she became, there was no ruining my memory of her– her big cheeks, hearty laugh, multi-colored bingo markers, beautiful tea cup sets, and the earrings that slowly became mine.


*Later, my new-ish boyfriend Seth would literally rip both cartilage piercings out of my ear. It hurt. A lot. But I missed them. So I got one of them re-done with a gift certificate his parents got me for Christmas. Earrings 🙂