Family


The Christmas cheer edition.

So this past weekend was that time in the fifi household during which we run around like banshees transforming the house into a holiday wonderland. You may have wondered where I was all weekend – I was decorating. The Madre LOVES both decorating and holidays and so we don’t just put up a tree, throw some fake pine boughs around the place (fake because the Bro is horribly horribly allergic to real pine so after a couple of years of torturing the poor kid, the parentals invested in a fake tree and fake garlands because they finally figured out what he was allergic to decided their love of the Bro outweighed their love of that wonderful Christmas-y pine scent), put up some lights outside and call it a day.

Oh no. In the fifi household, artwork comes down, pictures get hidden away, and the normal decorative accents all get stowed away for a month. We put up eight trees in total (Most get stored with all their decorations on, fyi) and artfully places countless Father Christmases around the house (the Madre rarely sees a Father Christmas that she doesn’t love, particularly if he’s decked out in maroon robes). We take our holiday decorating VERY seriously in the fifi household.

I’m working on two other posts right now, but with all the aforementioned decorating and then getting back to New York and work I haven’t had time yet to finish. Instead, let me present to you the fifi house, in all of its holiday glory:

main tree

stockings (with a couple of Father Christmases)

kitchen tree

kitchen window

reindeer!

entry tree

living room

nutcrackers

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That’s a good way to start off a post, no?

The boyfriend’s sister-in-law and brother had a baby last week. Everyone of course is thrilled, except perhaps for the newly annointed big sister (“Uncle Boyfriend. You take baby home.”) and he is very cute and sweet as babies generally are. So this is all very exciting and a happy time.

But the boyfriend’s sister took it upon herself to post 50 of the pictures she took at the hospital when they all went to meet the baby on facebook. Which is nice and all, but shouldn’t the parents get to do that? The boyfriend’s sister-in-law is all about facebook so I can’t imagine she’s going to be thrilled about this. Especially now because the boyfriend’s sister is now getting congratulations from both friends and family, i.e. “Congratulations Aunt Stephanie. He’s adorable!”

I mean, he IS extremely cute but Stephanie really gets no credit for that, right? I find it weird.

The parentals and I spent the weekend down at OSU with the Bro for Parents’ Weekend. As I have no life, I got to tag along (stadium tour! Woot!). Before we left, the Madre made up a huge batch of chili and brownies and other goodies for the boys. I decided at that point to be a good big sister and go pick up some beer to add to the mix. The Madre was not a fan of this plan.

the Madre: Why would you get them beer? They probably already have beer. They probably don’t want more beer.

fifi: Have you met college boys? They never have enough beer.

the Madre: Call your brother and make sure he even wants beer.

fifi: You are kidding, no?

the Madre:

fifi: You are nuts.

5 minutes later…

the Madre: Well? What did he say?

fifi: That you are nuts. And he wants the beer. SHOCKING.

Or, as the boyfriend calls it, an example of the Bro seeing how the other half lives (I think he means the non-athletes, but I will ask him to clarify).

My brother has decided that he wants to try and go to law school. To which I say: NOOOOOO!!!!! SAVE YOUR MONEY. ABORT. ABORT. ABORT. Awesome. Goals are good. Anyway, as such, he has decided to go out for Moot Court.

I got this text from him a short time ago as he attended the first meeting (All typos are his own) :

“im at the mock trial meeting and these kids are so obnoxiously nerdy. like they all keep talking about how many times theyve been to nationals for mock trial. i thought it was a club not a sport and theres tryouts. how do u try out for this?”

It is kind of adorable, no?

Subtitle:

“Moving A Queen Box Spring Up a Teeny-Tiny Extremely Narrow Set of Stairs That a Full Box Spring (the Bro’s) Just Barely Fit Up”

Subtitle 2:

“I Wanted A Hot Dog, Not A Hamburger”

Document1Mattress moving step twoMattress moving step three

The background you need here is that it was Zack’s (the Bro’s friend and the now former owner of the queen box spring) dad’s idea to break the box spring in the first place (and my dad went right along for the ride). The moms suggested things like, say, going to the Lowe’s 5 minutes away and buying a saw, but Zack’s dad saw no reason they couldn’t just snap it over the edge of the porch.

The hot dog vs. hamburger comment stemmed from the fact that Zack thought they were going to break the bed lengthwise. Instead, his dad broke it widthwise. Zack repeated this comment multiple times in varying tones of shock and disbelief. (The picture in the middle above is actually an attempt to break it lengthwise, after Zack’s dad and my dad had already broken it widthwise). What you can kind of see in the background of that picture is my dad, Zack’s dad, Zack’s mom, and my mom sitting on one edge of the box spring while Zack and my brother attempted to snap it again. The whole thing was, of course, awesome and hilarious and the highlight of moving day for me.

Which, just in case it was not clear, to update you all, I spent Wednesday in Columbus helping the parents and the Bro move into his house at Ohio State. Monday & Tuesday were spent getting ready for the move (note: Target furniture is kind of impossible and overly difficult to put together and, therefore, kind of sucks), which is why I have not yet written about the weekend. I’m going to IKEA tomorrow to get furniture for my as-yet-unselected apartment, but will try and update again sometime tomorrow night. We shall see. I may come home so enamored with my Hemnes that I will feel the urge to put it together immediately. To know Hemnes is to love Hemnes.

The boyfriend’s sister (Stephanie) and I played phone tag for the better part of last week, with the result being that I am not playing a minor role in the wedding (they are having a full Catholic mass and I will be carrying the gifts (i.e. the not-yet-blessed eucharist and wine for you non-Catholics)). Based on her messages, I was expecting something along those lines, although my guess had been “guestbook attendant” and I was actually really looking forward to coming on here and quoting Miranda from SATC:

Carrie : Are you sure you can leave the Guest Book unattended?
Miranda : Its a bullshit job, Carrie. People know what to do with the guestbook.

But no. I am the gift bearer. Of course, it is nice of her to include me in the wedding (although, really, I was fine with just being a guest). I would probably be feeling more charitable about the whole thing if, in the conversation in which she told me this was my role, she did not keep making comments in the vein of: “of course, you’ll understand how it is when you and the boyfriend finally get married” or “I’ll have plenty of tips for you by the time you and the boyfriend ever get engaged.”* Ugh.

Hmmmm….

Those of you who’ve been around for a little while and who have read this and this and, well, the above may have picked up on the fact that I am not the biggest fan of the boyfriend’s sister.  I probably ought to provide a little background.

Now I realize that reading this you may think “Gosh that fifi sure is petty” or “Wow-fifi is a mega-bitch” or even “fifi is f-ing crazy,” and, well, fair enough. I can see why you’d think that. And I do know that I’m not perfect and that part of me not liking the boyfriend’s sister is me and my issues. But she’s also really annoying.

Stephanie is one of those people who consciously makes an effort to act in what she thinks is an adorable manner – like you’re supposed to look at her and think “oh gosh darn it, that Stephanie is just too cute.”

Example: [FYI, Stephanie does consulting. And from all appearances, she’s good at her job and she’s definitely rising in the ranks with her company. She may be annoying, but she’s driven and seems to work hard]. A few months ago, she worked with a famous person (FP) and part of what they were working on involved photographs. FP had complete photo approval. They ended up needing three pictures, but FP had only approved two pictures. Stephanie then decided that instead of getting in touch with FP to sort this out, she would just pick the third picture. FP was extremely upset about this and Stephanie had some problems at work as a result, although, because other than this, she’s good at what she does, it’s pretty much been forgiven. You might ask how I know this, considering it seems like something a person might not want to share with the world? Because she tells everyone this story. And when she tells it, it’s with a giggle and a “isn’t FP so silly for getting mad at little old meeeeee since I am so cute and adorable and no one in their right mind would think that anything I did was not cute and adorable?” shrug. I really don’t understand why she tells people this story. It does not reflect well on her. FP had a contract that gave FP certain rights. Stephanie completely disregarded said contract. You just can’t do that people.

In addition to the cute and adorable thing, Stephanie also thinks that everything she does is extremely special. I find this trait particularly irksome because we have several overlapping interests and I often feel like she’s trying to trump me (I know, I know – paranoid fifi alert). But it’s also annoying because the things she does aren’t actually as special as she thinks.

Example(s): The title of this post. I have previously made reference to Stephanie’s wedding-related “calligraphy” kick. Well, the invitations came this week and…still not calligraphy. Now, I think it’s great that Stephanie hand-addressed all the invitations and I think they look very nice (although, FYI, the address should be on the city/state level if you want to be all etiquette-ly correct about things). BUT don’t go around telling people that you spent all this time teaching yourself calligraphy and talking about how calligraphy comes naturally to you when you are NOT actually doing calligraphy. I give you:

DSCN0534(It’s kind of hard to make out here, but she used a regular pen to address the envelopes so her lettering lacks the varying thickness of true calligraphy).**

Or, there’s the cooking thing. The boyfriend’s sister enjoys cooking. Which is great. But she wants everyone to think that she’s is the greatest cook EVER. Whereas other people might be satisfied with throwing parties and the like, Stephanie self-published a cookbook. Which, okay,*** but the recipes are pretty much things like pigs in a blanket (Take cocktail hotdogs. Wrap in crescent rolls. Bake. Serve). She gives this to people as gifts. My copy may have gotten lost in the move (although, never fear, the Madre has a copy). She’s currently planning another cookbook, which she described to the boyfriend and me a few months ago over dinner. She pretty much described this cookbook to a T, down to the shopping lists, and tried to pass it off as an original idea. Not so much.

Or the photography thing. The boyfriend’s sister fancies herself a professional photographer. Which pretty much means that she shows up to any and all events with her camera around her neck (when we picked her up before the engagement brunch thing, despite her many bags, she still had her camera around her neck). Which is great at family bbqs and birthday parties, but tends to annoy the hell out of irk the real hired professional photographers at weddings, particularly when said photographs are trying to get complete family and wedding party pictures.

And this is just me being bitchy, but, while she has a nice camera, she doesn’t really do anything special with it. She sticks with the basic 18-55 mm lens and is AF all the way. There’s a reason the pros use multiple cameras and lens.

AND, on that note, that’s probably enough bitchy-ness from me for the moment. Beyond the now well-documented fact that I find the boyfriend’s sister annoying, I actually do have a very specific reason for not liking her very much which I should probably give you as a a form of defense of my character so you don’t think I’m completely petty, but this is already a long post and it’s late so maybe I’ll follow up on that tomorrow.

*Although, I did actually find this whole emphasis on the fact that she is getting married and I am clearly not kind of amusing because she had to give Russ multiple ultimatums hints before he finally proposed. We spent a good year and a half with every holiday or family event or vacation with her telling everyone that this was when Russ was finally going to ask her dad or that she knew Russ was going to propose at Christmas/on Valentine’s Day/in Italy/etc. And with every holiday/family event/vacation that passed and Stephanie was still ringless, she got a little more cranky. She then took matters into her own hands and booked the church and the reception site and pretty much every vendor she needed, told Russ that they were getting married on X date, and then waited. 6 weeks later, he proposed and people who did not know that her parents had been writing deposits checks for awhile were shocked at how quickly Stephanie got everything planned/reserved/whatever for the wedding. So if you were wondering why I said this, well, yeah.

**The other not-correct-etiquette (and I actually think this one’s straight up weird) thing the boyfriend’s sister did with the invitations is that she invited the boyfriend and me twice. I got an invitation addressed to “Ms. fifi and Mr. boyfriend” at my parents house and I promptly filled out the response card and sent it back in for both of us (of course, the boyfriend is IN the wedding, but it’s still a nice gesture). However, it then turned out that Stephanie had sent a second identical invitation to “Ms. fifi and Mr. boyfriend” to the boyfriend’s apartment. I do not get this. The boyfriend told me that the rationale behind the two invitations is that Stephanie though that I would like my own copy (probably so I can save it to use as an inspiration in the event that the boyfriend and I ever get engaged 🙂 ). Which, okay, but then I should have gotten my own invite to “Ms. fifi” and the boyfriend should have gotten his own to “Mr. boyfriend.” Or she should have just sent the invite for both of us to me. Her solution = fail.

And, in case you were wondering, the invitations are nice, but not great. They’re very traditional in format, which I like, but I’m not a fan of the brown ink (I like classic black). And maybe I was spoiled by my friend Hope’s invitations which were absolutely gorgeous Vera Wang with really thick cream cardstock and embossed printing, but these were just plain paper so they feel really flimsy. They’re just not really my taste. The thing is, if you want to not spend as much as Hope did (and she spent a FORTUNE on her wedding, which is also not exactly to my taste), there are tons of nice invitation options out there. But what Stephanie did feels kind of like a knock-off of the traditional embossed-on-nice-thick-cardstock approach, which in turn just makes them look a little cheap. It’s like if you can’t afford a LV handbag, then I think it’s better to buy a nice handbag from a designer you can afford instead of carrying a fake LV. But that’s just me.

***Full disclosure: the Madre and I have put together a family cookbook. It’s just a binder of our favorite family recipes collected from various sources printed on pretty paper. Whenever we find a new recipe we like, it gets added to the cookbook. But this is for us – we do not, say, give it to people as a gift.

Subtitled, “Optical Illusions”

Scene: The Madre and I are in the sunroom looking at the backyard.

The Madre: Look at all those branches in the flower bed. One of the squirrels must have slipped.

fifi: Well, if you didn’t feed them so much, they wouldn’t be so fat. [We have EXTREMELY large squirrels. The cats are terrified of them]

Branch

The Madre: Honey! [to the fifi Dad] Come see what the squirrels did to this poor tree.

The fifi Dad: Hmmmm. Honey. That’s not a tree. That’s a BRANCH.

The Madre: Ooohhh. Now that you mention it, I didn’t have a tree there in the middle of my hostas.

Branch2

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