sibling rivalry

our topic of the day is sibling relationships with my experts Rex and Vivien.  They are also part of a blended family.  Under our roof right now we have off spring aged nearly 4, 7, and 27 with visits from a 19 year old.

In my mind I’m hosting a show with a large reach and today my guests are the two youngest kids in the house about how they feel about getting along with their siblings.

Let’s hear what these little pixies have to say!

Return to Stand up

This was very fun to do.  Cafe Mom Studios included me in a great line up of female comics who also happen to be moms.  I hadn’t done stand up in a long time.  It went very well. You will see my closing bit was pulled from something I developed here.

Enjoy and share.

how to talk with your teenager

Another exciting episode of my — I think– funny web series I did with Cafemom studios. This one is features my dear stepson Oliver.  He is not an actor by nature, but he was a good sport– and I paid him– to take part in this spoof of my pathetic attempts to be the B parent I can be.

NOTE:  the dub of him saying “mom” at the Dodger game was added in a later edit.  Not his voice, nor would he ever say that to me. He has a mom.  I’m always Daphne.  Or “stepmommy dearest”, maybe.  I think they needed to do that since I shot that part myself and the sound and picture were not optimum.

A Modern Fairy Tale

This is a romantic story.  A human one, but because of the romance I found my new love.

It’s baked fresh every morning around the corner from my sister in laws house in Amsterdam.  They don’t make cheesy, grainy, flaky yumminess like that in the States. Viv and I were equally in love with it and we would get our own almost every morning we were there.   Ok, to the main story.

Once a upon a time there was a bright little girl.  She had a keen mind and big heart.  She enjoyed her hippie youth yet, was a hard worker.  As she became a lady she met some men, married a couple, but they were not prince charmings.  In fact they cost the lady more treasure than gave.  Although she did get  a wonderful son and step children who she thinks of as her own.  Younger than she should, she also got devoted stepchildren to expand her large heart.

She was scrappy and worked to pay her bills, but still loved to travel when she could.  On one such trip in Italy she bumped into a man.  It was a few years of long distance courtship, but last week she married him and finally, got a man who treats her like a princess.  A princess with an MBA.

This is the thumbnail story of my sister in law Leslie.  She has moved to Amsterdam to be with my new brother in law and we are so thrilled.  Vivien was the flower girl.  It is so like Leslie that as she was planning this special day for herself, she was thinking of how to take care of her large extended family.  Things we would all do together in Amsterdam, paying for travel for those who needed it, a play room for kids at the wedding, chocolates on our arrival.

The night before the wedding ( we would call it a rehearsal dinner, but the Dutch don’t rehearse, those tall people just do)  the happy couple had an open house.  We got to meet “Dutch’s”( my nick name for my new brother in law) large blue eyed, blond haired family and were served traditional Dutch food.

it was lovely, but I was about to pass out

The staff were dressed in their kitschy Dutch best.  Dutch food?  Lots of little fried things.  It was a sweet affair, but sadly our jet lag was hitting me hard as I struggled to speak and eat.  Viv was laid out watching cartoons.

The next day we were recovered, thankfully!  Viv got into her flower girl outfit and she looked like an angel. Her hair was curled and she wore a garland of white roses. She loved that I let her wore “heels”.Leslie had suggested ivory.  Viv saw this dress and said “mommy, I don’t want to see one more dress that’s it.  ( my blow up bed in the background).  The weather was perfect.  Leslie had thought of everything even having sandwiches as we got ready.  So smart or we would have keeled over by the first toast.

She had asked me to keep a secret from Vivien HOW we were getting to the ceremony.  So Viv had no idea what was coming as we stood and waited.

I was so happy for Leslie, and felt so lucky to be part of such a happy day.  Loved Vivien’s excitement which was over the top when she saw what she would be riding in. 

Mark and I rode in the larger carriage behind with other VIP’s.  It was like a dream clopping through the tiny streets of Amsterdam, along the canals.  Tourist were snapping pictures.  A soundtrack in my head of “enjoy this moment, this is special”. The carriages were pristine. I knew Vivien must have been beside herself riding with the bride and groom over cobblestone streets.  A little girls dream come true. Pretty rad for her mom as well.

I loved my dress.  It was a mini with room to eat and soft trumpet sleeves.

My attempt at self portrait

We arrived at the place for the ceremony and reception.  Glad they were in the same building as I would hate to  have bike in these heels!  

The Dutch sit for their weddings.  Sure, they walk in like we do, but then they plunk themselves down.  They had a great officiant who read things the couple had written.  Most moving was what Leslie had written about her children and bonus children.  I got a bit weepy, which I always like in a wedding ceremony.  Also, since this was not a wedding of youths I didn’t have that cynicism I can have at weddings.  Where I’m inwardly rolling my eyes at the pledges for love greatness.  “Yeah, right”.  But, since they had been around the block it felt more meaningful.  They also had a great wedding singer ( I know seems like an oxymoron).  When she sang an acappella version of Van Morrison’s “Someone like you”  I sobbed anew. I was getting my moneys worth out of this show.

Vivien took her job very seriously to attend to her aunt. 

 

We went to the bathroom and Leslie had gone downstairs to the reception Vivien was outraged.  She turned on me, “I told you I needed to go down with Leslie!”

“We will find her now.”  But, when she saw Leslie happily chatting with guests and drinking she became more distraught.

“Mommy, there is nothing for me to do.” I told her about the kid room where there were games, videos, art, young gals in tight shirts with enthusiam, but she wanted none of it.  She had been to the mountain top, she had been somebody, she did not want to go back to being an ordinary kid, to being a pumpkin.

“She wants people to sign the guest book, you could help with that?”  I suggested.  She just glared at me.  She knew that was a crap job.

Nothing was pleasing her and I was worried, because I could see the antique bar in the other room and was imaging a nice bourbon on the rocks just out of reach…  Fortunately, my mother had also come to the wedding and was staying across the street.  She wisely surmized that Vivien was exhausted.

“Would you like to come to my hotel and rest for a while?”  Yes, she did.  I love multi generational travel.  I hunkered down eating and drinking with some lovely Dutch people and she napped for an hour.  Later she returned and had a great time in the kid room with her second cousins.  

I got one humorous toast out.  My first stand up gig in a while.   From start to finish it was a HAPPY DAY.

The next day Leslie had arranged a boat tour through the canals for all of the out of town guests.

me and my Mom

Viv and I had gone shopping earlier in the day.  Since the exchange rate does NOT favor the Yanks, I took to browsing in the many second hand shops.  I picked up this pink blouse and another flower one which was French ,looked very ’60′s.  I felt so clever and chi  until I got back stateside and saw that the label said in French “pre natel”.  No wonder if fit over my belly which had grown larger with Kass vlinders. Well, that is what love will do!

self portrait number 2

I love this picture of Vivien and her buddy, and second cousin JJ trying to touch the tunnel on our cruise.  JJ’s two younger brothers were also on the trip and I when I would see their cute round faces having fun I missed Rex and wished I brought them.  Then I would see their parents dealing with a meltdown or a tantrum and I would think, phew, dodged a bullet.  However, on this cruise I got to talk to Rex after not being able to for a couple of days.  It was starting to get to me.  I didn’t have an international phone, and then a friend of Leslie’s helped me make a call.   When Rex got on the phone he said,  “Momma, it’s me.”

This broke my heart and I started crying.  Could he really think I wouldn’t know my own baby?  He was having a good time. He was fine.  I cried with relief after we hung up.

Next time we come, I’ll bring him.  Fortunately, there is no rush.  We now have a dear and deep family presence in Holland.

A dream come true.

Second-Hand Husbands

Gal pals I know who obsess on having the “cutest” boy on their arms are often dissapointed if they marry him. I liked the hunks for a weekend to six weeks (back in the day). But for boyfriends, I gravitated to funny and smart.  

I also think there is something to getting a pre-used husband.  Yes, you have to suspend the fantasy that only you two were brought together to share love and make babies. Hard to imagine your husband a virgin when he comes with three kids, and there’s no thinking that he had stored away all his love, waiting only for you. And there is a strain to having to negotiate a blended family and ex-spouses.  

But, aren’t vintage t-shirts more comfortable than brand-new ones? Don’t your bed sheets feel a lot better after a few washings than when you took them out of the bag? I hate new sweatshirts. My favorite one is from college. Some things need to be worn down to fit.

Blended Family

Hey stepparents! Some of you have mentioned that you’d like me to address our delicate family position a bit more. Well, here’s something to gnaw on.

This is how one aspect of the blended family affects our own children. It is important also to note how Vivien is improving my new haircut.

Step Mommies

From time to time, it’s good to hear from a mother wiser than myself – my mom!

My mom, Morency, not only raised three girls but has run her own small private school for close to 30 years. She deals with kids who would otherwise fall through the cracks, so I think she has a lot of insight.  Since I am a step mom, I wanted to ask her about the step parents she has known through the years.

Anyone who has had that job knows it can be a little dicey to navigate. And I am lucky. I never had the ABC Afterschool Special moment I thought I would have, a step child running down the hall, screaming, “Leave me alone, you aren’t my mother!” as they slam the door to their room.

Vacation Rehab

I was so excited there was water on our vacation at Yosemite this year, because for many years our butts have scraped gravel while we tried to raft.

I pushed the stroller and carried Vivien up to Bridalveil Fall so she could take in the wonder of the huge, beautiful, glorious falls. See how excited she is? Yeah, that was worth the effort.

Vivien in Yosemite

When I called my sister Cecily on Sunday and she said, “I am so tired.”

“Thank God,” I said, “I thought it was just me.” I came back from my whirlwind, blended-family vacation in Yosemite and Mammoth on Friday the 4th, yet still felt pooped and hit the ground running with work Monday. Also, a National Park vacation means days of laundry upon return. I also had my assisted-living-bound dad over which takes some energy… and clean up.

What’s the vacation people come back refreshed from?

But it all went great. There were 11 of us: sisters, step-children and more. Hiking, biking… and we weren’t camping, we stayed in cottages. I CAN’T camp anymore, I’m too old. (God, then I’d really be tired.)

More favorable than the waterfall, later that day I asked Vivien, “How do you like your hot dog?” Here’s her response.

Vivien gives the hot dog a thumbs-up