April 29, 2010

Full House

Posted in Children, Family, Home, Pets tagged , at 7:08 am by Liliana

Busy House

Busy House

Sometime this week, my sister Branka, brother-in-law Joe, niece Nicole, nephew Sasha, and their Siberia Husky Kaya, will be moving into our house.

Joe lost his job in the book industry, and is going back to graduate school to become a high school teacher. They are renting their house out, and moving in with us for about a year. Last night we were laughing about it. I said something like – “Not too many families have done this and lived to tell the tale,” when my husband Jeff stopped me. Always logical, he pointed out that we haven’t lived through this experiment yet; in fact, we are only on the very cusp of starting it.

In any case, it will be interesting, the summer especially. Jeff and I have three children of our own, although Mike and Nena are about to embark on their own adventures. Mike will spend the summer at home, but will be starting law school on the East Coast in the fall. Nena is graduating from college this June and, freshly engaged to a young soul mate named Peter, is planning to move to New Orleans in the fall. They will come to visit, but will mostly spend this summer in our cottage on Lake Michigan. Sam, our youngest, is still in high school and will be home for the next year and a half.

My nephew Sasha is graduating from college together with Nena. He got an impressive community organizing job and will travel and work (who knows where) for the next three years. He will only spend a few weeks with us this summer, and then come for visits. Nicole is starting college this fall (although she still hasn’t made up her mind on where she’s going.) She is taking over Nena’s room for the summer.

Also, we will be having visitors. Mike’s girlfriend Karen will stay with us for a few weeks. Grandparents from Florida will join us to celebrate graduations, engagements, etc. Friends will be coming from Chicago and Alaska.

It is probably impossible for anyone not related to us to keep this family tree straight. To put it simply, summer will be chaos. I myself am not sure who is coming, who is going, and who is staying for how long. But in September, the house will seem awfully quiet. It will be one boy, one dog, and four adults.

March 26, 2010

Family Life

Posted in Children, Cleaning, Family, Home, Pets tagged , , at 7:05 am by Liliana

Joe, Branka, Jeff, Liliana - 1982

Joe, Branka, Jeff, Liliana - 1982

My sister and I are married to two brothers.

Jeff and I met first. I was in graduate school in St. Louis, his hometown, and one of my roommates introduced us. We were married a year later. His younger brother, Joe, was the best man at our wedding. My younger sister, Branka, was the maid of honor. The younger siblings danced at the wedding and seemed to like each other, but they were both in college and in other relationships. Three years later Branka (then a high school teacher) spent her summer vacation with us. She and Joe (a public radio DJ at the time) went to movies, jazz concerts and walks by the Mississippi River. By August, they were engaged.

Over the years, we have mostly lived in close proximity to each other. Our Siberian Huskies (Bella and Silver) were sisters. Our children are close in age and devoted to each other. Nena and Sasha attend the same college. Nicole and Sam share teenage angst and have double dates. Mike teases them all indiscriminately.

Now that Joe will be losing his job in May, the closeness of our families will be tested even more. Joe has decided to go back to school, get his MA and become a high school English and French teacher. To make this plan possible, they have chosen to rent out their house, and move in with us. Our house is fairly spacious, but we’ll have to organize the space carefully, so that everyone has the privacy they need.

For the last month we have been preparing Joe and Branka’s house for renters. Everyone has been doing their part: painting, cleaning, moving furniture, fixing things that were broken, preparing food for the workers, etc. Sasha and Nicole have expressed sadness about leaving their childhood home, but really, for the most part all of us have been upbeat. We are excited about Joe going back to school and doing what he loves. We are happy that we have each other to help now that the need has arisen. It won’t be easy, we all know that. Some of us are very private, some very extroverted, but we are all willing to find a balance and make it work.

You might remember my sister’s dining room table. Well, it is now in my dining room and will stay there until Joe and Branka are ready to move to another place. No one thought for a second that the table could be left behind. We took our set to the basement and my sister’s Amish table and chairs are again the hearth of our family get-togethers.