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I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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Entries in Family (10)

Monday
May092011

On Second Cousins, Twice Removed.

A few weeks ago I took a weekend trip to Charleston, South Carolina. The Candyman’s aunt put together a “Cousin’s Retreat” for the Ladies Only. It had been a loooong time since I’d shared a bathroom with that many females….

It was a wonderful experience getting to know these women from two generations, most of whom I’d never met before, who I was now (if not remotely) related to. How strange is that? A single ceremony suddenly creates this whole new family that never existed before, the dynamics of which a new bride (or groom, for that matter) must navigate, and sometimes blindly. I had lots of reservations heading into the weekend. Would my potty mouth get the best of me in front of a slew of born and bred Southern Ladies? Would I be required to sit on a porch and drink Mint Julep’s? Not that I’d mind sitting and sipping, but you know, I wanted to be prepared. Were my Low Country adventures that same as theirs? Do we shuck oysters the same? Are boiled peanuts considered gauche by Charlestonians standards? Would I show my ass to these nice people who welcomed me into their lives and homes?

I hoped not.

I learned a lot about my husband’s family: they shared childhood photos and stories a-plenty. When The Candyman and I first started dating, I was a bit shocked at how well he dealt with me and my general surliness. I am still shocked by this. He told me then that he had “lots of strong women” in his family. Boy howdy, he wasn’t kidding! His aunts and gaggle of female cousins all fit into this “Strong Women” mold. I honestly can’t remember a time where I have sat around with such a variety of women, backgrounds and experiences and had such great conversations. Oh wait, yes I can. It was That Really Cool Thing.  My bad. But seriously, it was so cool. The political representations were clearly divided in both young and old, yet our end goals and objectives always led us back to the same place. Is that a female thing? All the women there were highly educated and it made for thoughtful conversation. Me likey.

Our activities ranged from sitting around the breakfast table in our jammies sipping coffee and gabbing (until well into the morning) to watching the Citadel Knobs become fully recognized cadets. It was a mixed bag of activities, but they all seemed to end with several empty bottles of wine and slow, easy feeling of contentment. One of The Candyman’s first cousins lives locally and opened her lovely home to the festivities. And when I say “lovely home” I mean, a “holy shit” kind of house. I have fantasized about this house. I didn’t know the house actually belonged to anyone except to the house-I-want-to-live-in fantasy movie that plays in my head sometimes. (I know you have them too, don’t deny it.) I’ve dreamed of big, ol’ trees, dripping with Spanish moss (check), a long dock that leads out to a marshy inlet (check), a screened in porch (check), rocking chairs (check), a garden (check) and all the niceties one might want for a home (check, check, check).

Garden&Gun

Only in the South, I swear. The Garden & Gun Club, downtown Charleston.

A very rigid cadet, about to scream his brains out to a legion of “Knobs.”

A church in downtown Charleston.

Citadel1

Citadel Alum

A very cool chair I found for sale. It was only like, $800. Pa-lease! This is a DIY chair made in HEAVEN!

The following pictures tell the story of the outside of my fantasy house.

As House19

As House5

Mossy goodness.

As House4

Marshy goodness.

We spent a sunset here with a nice bottle/s of wine.

Because who couldn’t use a fountain?

As House2

Saltwater pool = cool.

It’s like an invitation home.

Lisa

One of The Candyman’s aunts.

As House6

AH-mazing, right? Check out some shots from the inside (below). We had brunch there our first morning and I took some shots of our incredible table setting, the yummy cheese grits (with LUMPS of gouda cheese…) and everything in between! A word of warning: the homeowners are hunters. The “game” room is literally, just that – their hunted game. The family realizes that hunting is not for everyone and warned us of the room from the start (which I thought was very nice). So if you’re an animal activist, pleas skip the remaining pictures. I felt they made interesting photography subjects myself.

As House11

In the billiards room.

Casserole

Super yum.

As House15

How Southern does it get? A little North vs. South chess set!

Yes, please.

Library Potty

I really thought the wall paper was kick-ass.

As House14

OhmygodItotallyfantastizeaboutthis. It’s the “second kitchen.”Yes, that’s right. Industrial sized everything, for your serious parties. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to steal the 8-eye gas range. Any ideas?

DisneyMovie

This reminds me of a Disney movie for some reason.

Pretty pretty tablescape!

As House18

What the fuck is this?

The bathroom off the work-out room. Please note the massage table in the mirror reflection. Nice…

Private whirlpool-style tub with a lovely, private view.

TableSetting2

More tablescape.

I have no idea what this thing is either.

A random hallway.

The piano.

Incredible, right?

So this post brings to mind two questions. I’m assimilating to a new family albeit very slowly. Much thought wasn’t put into this when we got engaged. I mean, we talked about our family differences, but not how to become part of them. I definitely think there are some families that need to  discuss how to manage certain members before the knot is tied. What kinds of talks are you having? Are these tough talks or easy ones? Is there a sense of trial by fire (how we did it) or is there a plan of action? Do tell.

The second question is this: Are these pictures too obnoxiously big? I like to keep the same width for consistency’s sake, but is it a pain in the ass to scroll down a ton? Myself? I prefer large pictures on a blog. I want clarity and details. but sometimes scrolling annoys me.

Weigh in on either or both questions, will ya?

Friday
Apr222011

Keeping Secrets

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Source

I’ve never been really great at keeping secrets. I can keep secrets of the surprise-party, Darth-Vader-is-Luke’s-father, the-island-on-Lost-is-actually-heaven/hell/purgatory/WHAT? variety. What I’m not good at is the big ones.

I remember in 1998 when I headed back to Virginia for my 10 year high school reunion. I spent a few days hanging out with my brother in Richmond first and we thought it would be a hoot to call my parents together. We took turns talking to the folks and I spoke with my dad first. In the course of our conversation, he accidentally said, "I’ve gotta go. I need to take my meds.”

“Uh, excuse me….WHAT medication would that be?”

And then my dad goes, “Oh shit. Nothing. No medication. Nothing here to look at. Move on. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” 1

Turns out my dad was dealing with prostate cancer and he and my mom thought it was a good idea to NOT TELL ANYONE. WHAT THE FUCK? Yeah, so he tells me all this while I’m standing right in front of my brother, my eyeballs popping and my jaw resting comfortably on my shoes. He then says, “Please don’t tell your brother.” And I’m all, “No fucking way!” and I immediately turn to my brother and say, “Dad has cancer!” and then we all freak out for a bit. In the end, my dad came away cancer-free (WHEW!) and my parents had a stern talking to about keeping important health issues to themselves.

Not long afterwards, my brother pulled a fast one on us too. Not wanting to air my family’s dirty laundry on the internet, I’ll just say that there was a secret. A pretty big one. It was emotionally embarrassing to my brother, which is why he didn’t tell us. When he finally did, all he got from us was the love and support he could have been getting all the while he was sitting on his secret. He drove himself crazy for nothing.

Recently, a very good friend of mine has been exploring, through therapy, some deep rooted emotions and behaviors surrounding the untimely death of her sister over a decade ago. There was a lot of secrecy surrounding her death and since my friend was a child at the time, a lot of information was kept from her. As an adult, she’s requesting more of that information and no one wants to share. There is a lot of emotional work she has to do in order to heal herself, as well as deal with the grief other family members have been harboring for so many years.

After writing an article for International Women’s Day, a dear friend wrote to me and told me of her date-rape and subsequent abortion. She never told her parents the truth about how she got pregnant, just that she was.

Me? I could never keep cancer to myself. I couldn’t ever keep the kind of secret my brother had to myself either. I imagine myself in my girlfriend’s shoes and I want to march right into her parent's house and demand answers about her sister. I would hope that if I had ever been raped, that I’d be able to tell my family and the cops about it. Family secrets can be huge. Family secrets can be small. Why people choose to keep certain secrets can be shame-based or fear-based.

Take a second to consider social behaviors and traits that you and/or your family might regard with contempt and/or pity, versus compassion and understanding. Here are a few to ponder:

rape   abuse   bigamy   imprisonment   "mental illness"  abortion   child neglect   being fired   fraud   divorce   betrayal   rage   crying in public   homelessness   desertion   slavery   addiction   rudeness   bigotry   dishonesty   cruelty   obesity   incest   infidelity   murder   lying   homosexuality   theft   atheism

There are a few words there that send a red flag waving in my heart and head. How about you?

I found the following info about family secrets:

Family secrets are different than unawareness of information about members and ancestors. They're conscious decisions to withhold details of a shameful, scary, or illegal event or relationship (like a crime, abortion, an affair, or desertion), a personal trait (like an addiction or perversion). Some family secrets stand alone. Others are part of an inherited family distrust-policy that says "We don't tell outsiders our family's business." *

Last year when I visited Thistle Farms, I listened to women recovering from addiction talk about the day’s topic: Secrets. There were a few statements from that discussion that resonated with me so much that I wrote them down:

“The only person I was keeping secrets from was myself.”

“I’m breaking the cycle of secrets.”

“I’m not ashamed of my past, "I’m proud of my future!”

“Freedom ain’t free.”

There is so much truth in these simple statements. To be free of the weight that a family secret can have, you have to first free yourself. Sometimes that comes with a price tag. Sharing secrets can cause long-buried emotional pain to come bubbling to the surface. Then you have to deal with that, whether it be your own secret or someone else’s.

Just like my own family, The Candyman’s family has their share of secrets too. I am privy to them because my husband trusts me with them. I remember right after we were engaged, The Candyman shared one of his family secrets with my parents. When he started to speak, I felt my heartbeat quicken. I held my breath, scared of what my parents might think. In my head, I was screaming, “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!” I was embarrassed. I was scared. I didn’t want my parents to think less of my betrothed or of me, for that matter. I didn’t want to think or talk about it. But you know what? My parents were totally cool. They asked a few pertinent questions regarding the “secret” and then without actually saying the words, offered their love and support and that was it.  After that exchange, I was still embarrassed. I was embarrassed at my own emotions. I felt ashamed of myself and the fact that I thought so little of my parents and their ability to cope and of my own acceptance of the “secret.” It was at that very moment I had absolute clarity, that Oprah AH-HA feeling, that I could and would accept all that my husband-to-be had to offer up to me, both good-to-hear and not-so-good-to-hear. To assume how someone will react to a secret, whether your own or someone else’s, encourages the fear and the shame that the owner has assigned it. 

I realize now that there are few secrets that are so dark and dangerous that they cannot stand being brought out into the open and light, where they suddenly lose the fear and shame that once surrounded them. What was once said of war is true about secrets and the decision to reveal them: "There is nothing to fear but fear itself." *

I would like to start a discussion here about family secrets. I’m not asking you to air your dirty laundry nor am I encouraging gossip (as some family secrets turn into), but to talk about the theory behind the fear, the shame, the habit of family secrets. I want to talk about the fall-out from secrets left unrevealed, how they can be detrimental to families and more importantly, to marriages. Are you keeping your own secrets from your fiancé or husband? Why? How are you and your partner dealing with adopted family secrets? Feel free to post anonymously if that gives you a particular comfort level.

 

1Not sure why the Star Wars references are peppered here today, but let’s just go with it, OK? Also, not really what my dad said, but it was something along those lines.

Saturday
Jan012011

The Sound and Some

Happy New Year, party people! Normally, I don't post on the weekends. Weekends are when The Candyman and I get to spend some time together minus electronic devices (meaning Blackberries and laptops - I felt the need to clarify that after reading it the first time). However, since me and The Candyman have been up each other's butts since the 24th, it's OK that I'm upstairs blogging and he's downstairs playing some Star Wars II death match type of video game I now regret giving him for Christmas. A little afternoon separation is good for the soul sometimes.

At any rate, I just thought I'd share some of the pictures I took on our jaunt to Wilmington, NC, to visit family. The Candyman's dad lives less than mile from the water's edge. We took an afternoon stroll and I played some more with my new 50mm Christmas lens.

Sigh.....so pretty.

I wonder what it takes to get a boat named after you....

Barnacle type stuff. Or whatever.

A pensive Candyman. He misses his coast.

Afternoon on The Sound.

I'm not sure I understand this, but it makes a statement.

A fishing lure I found on the ground. Apparently, the fishies like the sparkly thingies in there. At least that's what The Candyman says.

I think living in this house would definitely not suck.

I saw at least 6 different houses with these flanking driveways on our walk. Coincidence or neighborhood driveway decor must-have?

Later that day, we headed over to see more of The Candyman's family. I played several rousing rounds of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em. Probably one of the best games EVER. Things got a little crazy when the Silly Putty (remnants can bee seen on the Blue Guy) was introduced to the match. Final score? The Thirty-Something Bride: 1, five year old cousin once removed: 137.

And did you know that the lastest Mr. Potato Head talks? He TALKS! And he sounds exactly like I thought he would. AND, if you make a loud noise and scare him, all his parts pop off his body and he says, "Look at that! You scared me to pieces!" I, of course, found this hysterical. Even better was what the five year old Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Champion of the World likes to scream to scare the talking Mr. Potato Head to pieces. The scariest word? "HIPPO!" We all took turns screaming "HIPPO!" at a Mr. Potato Head. Oh, the hilarity.

And just because I'm having too much fun with my camera, I'm adding in a few from Christmas day.

Table setting love. I wish I had a decent picture to show you of the whole shebang, but none of them really look as good as the table did. Even the guys were all telling me they liked my table scheme. How strange is that?

My brother and his wife gave us all framed albums of our all-time favorite artists. Yes, mine is Prince. He da man.

My husband wears enormous Rocket Dogs.

My satanic looking brother, throwing horns. We lean more towards the untraditional side of things (third row, first photo).

And last but not least:moi.

Christmas morning via my pop. I had to change this to sepia purely for vanity reasons. 

All I have to say now is thank GOD the holidays are over. I'm beat.

Happy New Year everyone. I'm wishing us all peace, health and prosperity.

 

Monday
Dec272010

Winter Break

I so hope everyone had as wonderful a Christmas holiday as I did! As I write, the clan of The Thirty-Something Bride is gathering up gifts and left-overs and lamenting the hours drive we all must shortly endure. The Candyman and I are headed out to visit his family and I'll have little to no internet access.

*GASP*

Consider this The Thirty-Something Bride's winter break. Lord knows, I do need a break from all the eating that's been going on. How many pounds is it possible to gain in one weekend? Who can answer that question for me? Seriously, is there a real number?

Anyway, we had us an honest to goodness White Christmas! In southern North Carolina? WTF? I have to say though, it was beautiful. My pops and I went out and took a few pictures with my new nifty 50mm lens The Candyman gave me for Christmas. WOOT! So I'll see y'all on the flip side. Until then, here are some images of the wintry wonderland we're experiencing!

And you know what I can't wait for? The new crop of Christmas/New Year's Eve engaged brides-to-be who will soon find their way to the joy of internet wedding planning! SO EXCITED!

Thursday
Dec162010

I Married The Grinch.

The tree is up. There are presents beneath it. My DIY swag (thank you, Dancy for the proper descriptor!) hangs on the front door with little 99 cent snowflakes from Target hanging in the windows. Frosty, Santa and an Angel are out on the front porch too, waiting to greet our friends and family. I've made little yarn ornaments just like the ones Veronica made over at My Hands Made It and they are SO CUTE. Our Christmas cards are out. I'm getting almost daily emails from my mother regarding what she can do and/or bring when they come for Christmas. "I can make that Mexican casserole and freeze it and bring it!" Next week, the baking begins. More peanut butter bacon cookies (of course) and a myriad of other goodies for the family to indulge in. I'm readying the new house to within an inch of it's life and I'm just all twitterpated about it. Throw in  the fact that I'm also DIYing my friend's Save The Date/Holiday cards (more on that to come when they are finito!) and you can color me one busy lady.

And you know what The Candyman is doing? Sulking.

He hates Christmas. He hates the holidays. I don't blame him. The Candyman was only 11 years old when his mom died of cancer. The last time he saw her alive was on Christmas Day. It chokes me up every time I think about it, not just because the event in and of itself was tragic, but because it's a yearly reminder for him, regardless of the date she passed away on (which was 7 days later on New Year's Eve). From a selfish standpoint, it also makes me so sad that my husband can't ever be completely 100% joyous on Christmas. I love Christmas. LOVE IT. I just love the decorations everywhere and Christmas music and baking goodies and giving gifts and wrapping gifts! I love it all. And my husband doesn't.

Gift giving has always been something I take great care and thought with. I think about the person, what they have going on in their lives, what they like, their passions and hobbies. I like giving gifts. Most times I go overboard. I'll give gifts to co-workers (mostly food stuffs I've made) and they squirm because they did not reciprocate. I've learned to drop gifts off in offices when people aren't in them so they don't have to squirm. I don't expect anything in return because it's CHRISTMAS. Christmas is about giving and giving makes me really happy. I mean,  I totally get Oprah and her ability to give a ton of stuff to people around the world. If I had that much money, I'd build some schools and give people cars and such too. When it comes to giving gifts, she's a woman after my own heart.

So last week The Candyman was sitting on the bathroom counter while I took a bath and we were talking about gifts for family. He heaved a huge, annoyed sigh and said, "I hate Christmas." This had happened a few days earlier at Costco too. I had picked up a mag light set and asked if his brother would like it. Again, more annoyed sighs and non-answers so I put the cool mag lights back on the shelf and wandered over to the meatball samples they were handing out as my own private consolation. How did I end up with a man who hates Christmas? It baffles me every year. Well, we struck a deal in the bathroom. No more "I hate Christmas" statements until the 26th in exchange for...well, that's none of your business. :)

And since then, he's been really good about the negative Christmas comments. I went back to Costco and bought those mag lights. I called him from Costco and asked what size hoodie I should buy for his other brother. Between clearly stifled sighs, he told me which size would be best. Last night I asked him if he wanted to go to Belmont, NC, to see the Christmas lights. I'd been once before when my parents lived in Charlotte and it was amazing. Seriously, it's like this whole tiny little town goes ape-shit with the lights and it really is beautiful. I heard once that the town pays the electric bills for the month of December so everyone can go nuts with the lights. Not sure how true that is, but it's really a pretty sight to see. So I asked him if he wanted to go and there was a moment or two of silence and a tight-jawed response of "Sure, honey. I'd love to go."

*Sigh* So maybe not the Christmas lights. No need to push him further than is really necessary, right?

But what I decided after our bathroom negotiations was that I will proceed as usual with my love of Christmas. I will give gifts to his brothers and his dad even though they don't "do" Christmas. I will send his family Christmas cards. I will. 

I know my husband hates it. My hope is that slowly, year after year, I will create a Christmas for him that is filled with joy instead of memories of sorrow.  Of course, I don't want him to forget his mom. I just want his memories to be happy ones and not sad ones. I can't do that for The Candyman. I can't change how he feels on Christmas, as much as I want to. But what I can do is create the atmosphere of Christmas every year. I can fill the house with yummy smells and treats and warmth and love and family and all the little things that make him (and me) happy. I won't stop loving Christmas just because The Candyman is a more like The Grinch than a law-abiding citizen of Whoville.

I know that when my parents get here, my little 5'2" mom will give my 6'6" husband a big ol' hug and his heart will melt a little. I saw it happen last Christmas. I swear I heard the *plink* of an icicle drop from his heart. Maybe this year another one will fall. Maybe when we're old and gray he'll soften towards Christmas. Maybe not. But in the spirit of giving at Christmas, I will continue to give him my love of the holiday. Whether he likes it or not. :)

 

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