Tag Archives: family

Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri (2008)

26 Jan

UnaccustomedEarth Unaccustomed Earth is such a lovely little book. It’s a collection of 8 short stories, each of them a glimpse into someone’s life. Lahiri stays within her comfort zone– most of the stories concern an adult child of Bengali parents, living in (or with connections to) Massachusetts, who is involved in a relationship with a non-Bengali. The stories are heavy with the themes of culture, family, guilt, trust, and independence, but balance those broader themes with an incredibly personal focus on the stories.

Although Lahiri’s characters have very specific characteristics, their decisions and struggles have many universal qualities. There was one story in particular that rang incredibly true to me. Without getting into the details (the story hit home on an incredibly personal and painful issue), reading that story provided me with kinship, feeling like there was someone else who has really been there and really knows how I felt.

This was my first Lahiri book, but I did see the movie based on her novel The Namesake. I’m typically not much of a crier with movies. OH BOY DID I CRY. Did I EVER cry. That movie will make turnips cry. They aren’t tears of sadness, it’s not an incredibly sad story. The struggles were just so personal and intricate and there was not one clear answer on how to sort through them and make everything better. And I cried and I cried and I cried.

Unaccustomed Earth is a perfect book for curling up in the cold winter, drinking tea, and feeling a little sad. Pick this one up for sure, just don’t take it to the beach with you. I’m really glad that my book club picked this book for January. It’s a book I ordinarily would not have chosen on my own, and I really loved it.

HBD to Lilly and Happy Ninth Blogaversary to Me!

25 Jan

carrot babyYou guys, I got so wrapped up in all the excitement of yesterday, that I forgot to share that excitement with the internets! Yesterday was a very exciting day in the Beez household. First off, my brother became a dad to little Lillian Mara! They live across the country, so it will be a couple months before we will get to meet the little one. But soon enough, Baby Beez and Little Lilly will begin their shenanigans! Happy Birthday Little Lilly! And happy sleepless nights, Little Lilly’s parents!

The other excitement of yesterday was that it was my NINTH BLOGAVERSARY!! I started blogging on January 24, 2004, and have now blogged almost daily for nine whole years! At the time I started I was using LiveJournal, and that blog is now under a password because it was so ridiculous and immature. I considered re-posting my very first post to commemorate the event, but I looked back at my first post and it was so ridiculous and immature and embarassing that I could not bear to subject the internet to it.

Blogging has seen me through:
-Whining about work and homework and other silly college things
-My college graduation
-The tumultous and heartbreaking dating life of a grad student
-My inability to be a functional, mature roommate
-Getting crazy about exercise and running two marathons
-Law school, start to finish
-My inability to say “no” to an opportunity, and spending a summer working three simultaneous law-related jobs
-My first publications of articles
-Mr. Beez’ sweet proposal
-Buying a house
-Getting incredibly frustrated because the house we bought is old and needs lots of work
-Marriage to my best pal Mr. Beez
-Lots o’ awesome vacations
-Introducing Baby Beez to this world, and all the awesome adventures we’ve had together
and of COURSE
-Adventures, adventures, adventures in Pittsburgh!!

Wow, nine whole years. It’s crazy. I’m going to have toget something BIG together when next year comes around!

PS- Celebratory cupcakes accepted.

Merry Christmas

25 Dec

Our family is Jewish, but Mr. Beez’ parents are Catholic, so we go over to their place to share Christmas with them. I feel like we’ve dodged Baby Beez’s questions about Santa (at least for a few years), because we’re OK with Santa leaving presents for her at Grandma & PopPop’s house. Even though she doesn’t understand yet, we are careful to explain to her that Jewish holidays are our holidays, and Christian holidays are not our holidays, but we share them with others. Balancing out competing traditions is always tricky, but I think we’ve worked out a system for our Interfaith family that works out OK.

Christmas this year featured a delicious, decadent yule log from Jean-Marc Chatellier bakery in Millvale.

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We also had a TurDucKen. I wanted to try it because it just sounded crazy and over the top, but it really just tastes like a turkey. It was fun for one year, but I think we’ll stick to regular (and much cheaper) turkeys from here on out.

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It looks like Jabba the Turkey.

Santa brought lots of presents for Baby Beez. Lots of presents with lots of parts, like a grocery cart/cash register, magnet ABC’s, and a pizza kitchen thing. Lots of small parts means these toys are staying at Grandma & PopPop’s house.

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And tonight, Baby Beez gets to spend the night at Grandma and PopPop’s house, while Mr. Beez and I go catch the Hobbit at the movies! I hope you all had a fun and wonderful Christmas.  I could really go for some Chinese food right now.

A Day of Joy and Celebration

31 Oct

My mom and I started the morning off at the salon. This beautiful bride was earthshaking. Literally! There was a little earthquake while we were getting out hair done.

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Then we were off to the ceremony!

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Baby Beez was a very enthusiastic flower girl!

MAZEL TOV!

And then it was time to celebrate!

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Baby Beez invited herself to their first dance.

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And what would a Jewish wedding be without a Hora and a chair dance?

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Ommmm nom nom nom

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The wedding was a wonderful event.  I’m so happy that they have found such joy together, and am so excited that our family has expanded by new brothers and sisters in law, cousins, aunts and uncles.  Baby Beez had such fun playing with her new cousins, and keeps singing the “jump up and down” song with their names.  We all can’t wait until our next big get-together!

Ladies’ Night!

30 Oct

Mr. Beez, Baby Beez and I ventured to Los Angeles this past weekend for my mom’s wedding (or, according to Baby Beez, the wedding of Nay Nay and Poppy Sam).  Since every party is a good excuse for another party, I decided to throw a bachelorette party for my mom!  Don’t get crazy now, we had a fun but tame evening out, with country line dancing  and dinner at Buca di Beppo.

I never managed to get the line dancing genes. At one point, the teacher told me I am hopeless.  But my mom is pretty good at it, and she had a ton of fun, so that’s a win!

Mom was a good sport about the car getting decorated and getting all dressed up.

It was a really nice evening, and it was so much fun to get to spend time with friends and relatives I haven’t seen in a long time.  The line dancing was QUITE a workout, so even though I was terrible at it, I burned a couple calories.

What fun did you have this weekend?

buying fun baby stuff!

1 Jun

So the big news today is that my brother and his girlfriend are having a baby! Even though they live across the country, I’m excited for Baby Beez to have a cousin!  When Baby Beez gets older, I’d like her to spend time during the summer on the West Coast, and it will be fantastic for her to have a cousin so close in age!

Of course one of the best things about having a little baby niece or nephew is BUYING ADORABLE BABY STUFF!  There are plenty of months to stock up on goodies before that little one arrives!!  HELLO HANDMADE BABY SHEWS AND HATS!

BABY MONSTER HAT!

BABY SOCK MONKEY HAT!

BABY YODA HAT!

LITTLE BABY COWBOY BOOTS!

LITTLE BABY BUMBLEBEE SHEWS!!

Hooray for spoiling a new baby!

Back…

18 Mar

I’ve been remiss in posting over the last few days.  I’m waiting at LAX to return back to Pittsburgh, after my weekend trip to visit my Grandparents.  I’ve tried to spend as much time as possible with them during the trip, and I’ve also been hustling to finish up an appellate brief.  In between the two of those, there hasn’t been much time for blogging.

Even though none of us are Irish, we had a big family St. Patrick’s Day yesterday.  A TON of my relatives had come out to visit Grandpa and Grandma, and we had corned beef and cabbage, Irish Beer (Guinness, Harp, Killians, AND Smithwicks!) and Irish Coffee.  We ate way too much, and sat and talked, and had a lovely but mellow time.  It was a really wonderful visit.  Even though I couldn’t bring Baby Beez on this trip, I had Grandpa record a little video message for her.  I’m really happy for that.

Right before the trip I watched Midnight in Paris and finished reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. On the flight to LA, I watched The Artist, but fell asleep halfway through.  Then I woke up 3 minutes before the end, rewound it, and went to watch the second half over again but fell asleep again. So I’ve only seen the second half in reverse. All of this is to say that I may have posts coming up about each of these (or maybe not, if I think of more interesting things to talk about).

Baby Beez has not taken kindly to me being out of town.  She woke up last night at 3am and screamed until about 5am.  When Mr. Beez called tonight to say he was going to bed, she was screaming again.  He can’t wait for my return.

I scheduled an interview for my Legal Intelligencer article at 11am tomorrow. My flight gets in at 9:30.  I’m confident I’ll get to the office in time, but interviewing someone right after hopping off a red eye flight maybe wasn’t the best planning on my part.

Sadness and selfishness

12 Mar

My family lives mostly on the West Coast, and I live in the East.  Although my Grandpa has been sick for a few years, he has taken a turn for a worse.  I don’t want to go into details other than to say that he’s reached a point where family members are flying out to visit him this week.

When my dad told me about his travel plans, my first thought was about my schedule.  Then my stomach sank.  I was so incredibly selfish and guilty over asking myself “when would be the most convenient,” other than dropping everything and saying “Yes, I’ll be there.” Is this terrible of me? I don’t know.  But it feels terrible.

I am flying out to visit.  I leave Friday evening and return on a redeye Sunday night to Monday morning.  Mr. Beez and Baby Beez aren’t coming with me.  I would love for Grandpa to get to hear Baby Beez giggle and kiss her chubby cheeks, but flying with her right now is a complete nightmare.  I can’t handle the stress of a 48 hour cross-country turnaround trip, on top of five plus hours of nonstop screaming, flailing toddler.  I just can’t do it.  And for that I feel selfish, too.

I moved from Lancaster, CA to Pittsburgh, PA when I was 17 years old to attend college.  I was a kid.  I was eager to be independent.  I wanted to be somewhere new and exciting and different.  A few times I considered returning back to Southern California, but as easy as it is to live in Pittsburgh, it’s difficult to live in Los Angeles.  I have limited professional contacts in Los Angeles, but many in Pittsburgh.  There’s no way my husband and I could afford to buy a house in Los Angeles, but housing is affordable in Pittsburgh.  My husband’s family lives in Pittsburgh.  We decided to stay here.  And for that decision, I feel selfish, too.  I haven’t been able to drive my Grandpa to his doctor appointments, or make dinner for them, or even just give my Grandma a hug when she’s feeling stressed.  I understand now why people move back to their hometowns after college.  I didn’t.  And for that, I feel like I’ve abandoned my grandparents.

I do my best to send letters from time to time, and send pictures, and call.  My Grandpa’s hearing has been gone for so long that I can’t talk to him on the phone, I can only talk to my Grandma and ask her to relay messages for me.  I’ve visited them a handful of times over the last few years, and have gotten to talk to him personally then, but those times have been few and far between.  I’m trying to make the best I can out of the situation.  I’ll be taking several videos of Baby Beez over the next few days, and hopefully Grandpa will be able to see them on my computer.

“The War on Only Children”

17 Jan

Mary Elizabeth Williams published a thought provoking piece last week on Salon.com entitled “The War on Only Children.”  Her title overstates the point of the piece–it’s not genuinely about aggression toward only children.  It’s about people making assumptions about other people and saying obnoxious things to them…which could also be called “the entire internet.”

Williams laments how only she is frequently confronted by well-intentioned but ignorant people who make exaggerated assumptions about her personality because she is an only child.  People are quick to assume she’s self-centered, ill socialized, and doesn’t work well with others.  She goes on to explain that she, like most other only children, is–gasp—normal.

Not being an only child, I was never confronted by this particular stripe of assumptions.  I’m the only girl and the oldest of 4, and have had people assume that I am over-achieving, bossy, and self-centered…which I am. So no surprise there.  This could explain why I’ve never been much bothered by people making assumptions about my personality based on my birth order.

Mr. Beez is an only child.  He’s not extremely outgoing, but that’s likely more attributable to him being a computer geek than to not having siblings.  He’s certainly patient and good at sharing.  Every time the poor guy gets himself a soda, I steal it from him, and he never complains.  He’s much better at sharing than I am, and I’m the one with all the brothers.

Mr. Beez and I are somewhat vocal about our intention for Baby Beez to remain an only child.  I acknowledge that the entire universe doesn’t care about the size of our family, but I’ve noticed that as soon as you have one kid, everyone keeps asking you when you’re having the next.  They get pretty confused when you say “we aren’t.”

I’ve heard so much about how only children are maladjusted, or how they’re not well socialized.  It’s reassuring to hear someone like Williams speak out and say “Um, No. We’re fine.”  And Baby Beez for sure is well socialized and adaptable.  Kids are people, not puppies.  You don’t have to have a bunch of them so they can “keep each other company.”  Baby Beez is, and will be, continue to be surrounded with love and friends, and she’ll be a-ok.

Rough night

31 Dec

I left work a little early yesterday, and was very excited that the weather was dry and fairly warm (high 40s). I planned to pick up Baby Beez from daycare, bundle her up in a hat and blanket, and take her for a nice long walk in the stroller on the Jail Trail.

She was whiny when I picked her up from daycare, but this was to be expected because she had just awoken from her nap.  By the time I got her home, it was clear she wasn’t feeling right.  She was a little warm and extra whiny.  All she wanted was to cuddle with me, suck her thumb, and moan.  We skipped the walk and stayed home.  She curled up with me for the rest of the afternoon and evening, occasionally sipping her juice.

an old picture of a snoozing Baby Beez

As the evening progressed, so did her fever.  She usually goes to bed around 7:30, but I let her snuggle with me and sleep as I watched a movie.  I finally put her in her bed around 10.  Throughout the night, she woke up every 1.5 to 2 hours.  Her fever was in the 101 range, and she had occasional “shudders” which woke her up and made her cry.  I did give her tylenol every 4 hours, but it seemed to wear off after about 2.  When she’d wake up, I’d snuggle with her and rub her back and try to get her to calm down.  I felt so bad, because I was doing everything I could for her, but she still didn’t feel well.  Finally around 4am, the fever wore off, and we did get a good stretch of sleep from 5 to 8:30. She’s not 100% now, but she’s doing considerably better. She’s interested in eating and in her toys, and I have a feeling once she wakes up from her afternoon nap, she’ll be full of energy and happy again.

When Baby Beez was a newborn, this waking up every 2 hours thing was a daily occurrence.  We’ve been extremely lucky in that she’s been sleeping through the night since she was about 4 months old.  It’s been almost a year since she’s woken up at night with any regularity. I am not used to this waking up at night thing, and consequently am feeling extra-rough today.

One Christmas when I was a kid, my 3 brothers and stepmom got the stomach flu.  My dad and I were lucky to avoid that plague.  My dad stayed up all night doing 16 loads of laundry, then as dawn broke, he put the turkey in the oven.  I think he and I were the only ones physically capable of even eating dinner that year.  That was a Christmas to remember. My dad likes to retell the story of that Christmas, but he never does so with bitterness.  He always retells it like a joke, and laughs heartily.

I’m constantly surprised by how love can convince you to do something that really, really sucks.  There are few people I would give up a night of sleep for, just to rub their back and try to soothe them.  I am even more surprised by Mr. Beez, who constantly tolerates all kinds of absurd things for me, just because he loves me. I’ve dragged him through countless movies, events, and concerts he’s in no way interested in, and he tolerates it without complaint because he loves me (or because he’s a sucker).

Here’s to hoping you have a healthy New Year’s, surrounded by the ones you love!