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June 2009

My girl

When I close my eyes it's like my eyelids have calendars printed on the insides. They look like Google Calendar, two months at a time, June on my left eye, July on my right. Although in a few hours the days will shift and July will move to the left and August will appear on the right. Hello, August. Holy hell. AUGUST.

Will my baby really be ten months old tomorrow? Have I taken time to appreciate her babyness? I close my eyes and look at the calendars and worry about this, worry whether I loved this baby's stages as much as the first baby's. It evens out, I think. The milestones haven't made much of an impression on me, but I do know that 8 and 9 months didn't drive me to distraction the way they did the first time around. Turns out 8- and 9-month-olds aren't the little beasts I remember them to be. In no way is this Jack's fault of course, but mine for timing the first trimester with the onset of mobility. I do not recommend it.

When Jack was a baby - I want to remember this - he rarely made eye contact with the person holding him. Would go out of his way to look in another direction. He was social and cheerful and happy to sit in anyone's lap, but he did not find you, the holder, particularly interesting, or anything else, really. He rarely cried. He laughed, but I don't think I heard real laughing, the deep belly baby giggles, till Molly arrived. Now this baby feels things. She makes a point to look deeply into the eyes of whoever is holding her, even if it's just to note that something is not right, this is the wrong person, where is my mama? She'll sit next to you on the couch and snuggle. SNUGGLE. Burying her head a little deeper into the crook of your arm, craning her neck to smile at you. When she laughs the house shakes. When she's angry, the house nearly falls down.

Phillip says Molly is a girl. He means that she's temperamental, demanding, arbitrary. Maybe. I think she's like me. Phillip already has dibs on Jack, the most laid back infant on earth. Like father like son. Like mother like daughter? Molly preferred me from the day she was born, did things her own way, was not at all interested in amending her schedule until she was good and ready. We are both a bit high strung. We both enjoy cookies.

I'm so tired. Molly's been waking up at 5 and 5:30. She's not feeling well, but I really wish she wouldn't make the rest of us feel unwell too. Can you tell I should just pack this thing up and go to bed?

If there's anything I feel badly about, it's that I'm all too eager for Molly to catch up to Jack. I loved my little infant Jack. I thought he was the most precious thing, I mourned every passing month. Poor Molly, we dutifully note her progression, but we can't wait for her to talk. Or walk. Or eat a grilled cheese sandwich. Or do whatever it is that Jack is currently doing, undoubtedly something adorable and heart-melting. I wonder if this ever stops. I'm sure it will eventually. I can't imagine wanting my daughter to hurry up and turn into a surly teenager like her brother.

Molly knows how to have fun. Maybe Jack did too (I really was not paying attention during months eight and nine and the first half of ten, I was simply trying not to throw up in front of him). Molly plays games. I know that babies do this, I know Jack did too, but it sill amazes me that Molly so obviously adores hanging upside down, and contorts her whole body in a way that shows she wants us to do it again. Even yesterday in the front yard, when I would put a little ball in her lap and she'd pick it up and throw it into my lap - over and over and over and over we played this game and each time she lit up with giggles. It's so easy to make her happy. And angry too - don't sit at your computer if you won't let her touch the keys.

Sometimes I can't believe I have a girl. I wanted a girl so badly, and I'm only a little ashamed to say so. Every time I go out I want to buy her something new to wear. I never felt that way with Jack. Shopping for Jack was business. With Molly I often want to buy one of everything, with matching hairbows. And sometimes I try to imagine her at Jack's age. Hopefully she'll have ponytails and words and favorite foods and cuter shoes.

She sat outside on the beach towel while Jack dirtied himself in the sandbox and I sprawled next to her with my iPod. She chewed on a ball, a measuring cup, the beach towel and a cookie. She watched Jack dart all over the yard, she patted my arm, she gasped when the wind picked up. And now she's sleeping in her own crib with her own bedding and it's like the guest bedroom has always housed two babies, like the pack 'n play has always been set up under the window downstairs, like the pink diapers have always been stacked on the shelf. Like I've always been up early enough to catch the East Coast morning news.


The end of a very long Monday

Thank you for the nice anniversary wishes. All those "you take such good pictures!" comments were HIGHLY AMUSING to me, as I spent hoooouuuurrrrs trying to find pictures that 1) were not totally embarrassing, which are MOST OF THEM, and 2) wouldn't ruin my picture post for Culmination of Hot By Thirty Day. I have a LOT of choices for the 'Before' section on that post, people, and several times I barked at Phillip to get over here, look at this, THAT WAS ME. GAK.

So anyway. Six years. Moving on.

Oh wait. Let me tell you what we did for our anniversary. We went to church. Then we drove to my grandma's house to see my aunt, because we missed her last time she was in town. And then we went home. And I spent I-kid-you-not two hours dredging up all of those pictures while Phillip ate one entire flat of Costco strawberries and watched MMA. (If you do not know what MMA stands for, be thankful.) Aaaand then we went to bed. GOOD TIMES.

But that's okay, since we're spending Friday night here, sans children natch. There will be massages and jetted tubs and beautiful scenery and hot weather and adult beverages and total breaking of the Hot By Thirty rules and you KNOW I've been compiling my various outfits. We are more excited about our one night 30 minutes away from our house than we've been about... oh, pretty much anything. Possibly the actual experience cannot live up to our anticipation, but I almost don't care because even the anticipation is fun.

And that's just the FIRST event in the Cheung Family Summer O' Awesome.

What I am mostly not doing is dwelling too much on what happens at the end of the Summer O' Awesome, which is the start of a new era: grad school. We are elated, of course, that he got in and it really is the Perfect Program for someone like Phillip and there's no better time to do it, but if I really sit and imagine how our lives will change I start to get a little, ah, shaky. Ideally my husband will be working Monday through Thursday and attending classes on Friday nights and Saturdays. Not so much ideally he'll be working Monday through Friday and going straight to class on Friday nights and Saturdays.

On the drive home yesterday I tried to think about what our Sundays will be like. A while ago we decided we wouldn't do anything except church and grocery shopping on Sundays, because church throws off the nap schedule and it's too hard and we're too tired to wield our Menacing Schedule Batons on Sundays. (Unless a beloved aunt is in town, with handmade dresses for your daughter, in which case you most definitely get in the car and visit her.)

But when Phillip is in grad school, Sundays will be the one day a week we might actually be able to do something as a family. Even if that something is Sitting Around In Our Living Room. So I was trying to think of a better day to do the shopping, or maybe I should go to the more expensive store because it has carts that hold more than one child and I can go during the week. I was wondering if we should try and make it to the earlier Mass to maximize our time. Or start going on Saturday nights, even though that means going to a different church, and DO YOU SEE WHY I AM TRYING NOT TO DWELL ON THIS?

I know it's not the biggest deal in the world and I know it's just something we'll get used to and not all of my neuroses are valid. And even if they were, I still want this for Phillip. I am so proud of him, and even a little excited about this new thing in our lives.

Still. The paranoia, it persists. I might write about it every so often. A random incoherent stream-of-consciousness freakout here and there. You won't mind, right?

Molly is in bed already because she woke up at a most unacceptable hour of the morning. Phillip is making stirfry. Jack is cooking in his kitchen. Oh, and now Phillip just said, "Is that POOP on the FLOOR?" and Jack just said, "POOP!" and then Phillip said, "That's POOP! On our FLOOR!" and Jack is looking rather proud of himself and Phillip is marching him upstairs and I better go and clean it up. Night night.


Six

I went through all of my old anniversary posts (two, three, four and five) (yes, I've had the blawg for a while) so I wouldn't repeat myself and then I asked Phillip if there were any married-to-him stories I hadn't yet shared with the internet and he looked at me like, "My God, woman, like I am going to PROVIDE you with stories about ME for your NOT ANONYMOUS WEBSITE."

Right now, numerous jobs, one apartment, one house, two kids and six years later, for the first time I'm not feeling all that sentimental and nostalgic. I don't know if it's because Five felt like the cap on the newlywed years and I'm moving on? Or because Phillip was accepted to graduate school on Friday and I'm very much focused on the future?

This is the earliest picture I can find of us. There might be others, glued into one of my college scrapbooks, but I'm too lazy to figure out how to use our scanner. Just be thankful I feel close enough to you to share my unfortunate choice of college haircut.

We're at some retreat. I'm a sophomore, he's a junior, I am desperately in love and he is... not.

Merry-go-round
Certain people should thank me for cropping them out of this picture.

And then we graduated. That was fast!

Graduation
I? Am just beginning to get a taste of my future husband's love affair with small electronic gadgets. I am not impressed.

I wish I had more pictures in between the Not Dating Yet and the Graduated Already scenes. I should go through those scrapbooks, if only to show my kids one day. Of course, this does show you that it took me two YEARS to grow out the unfortunate haircut.

A year later. I was 22.

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Back when you could afford to ride the ferries for fun. Dear State of Washington: You are a total bummer.

A few months after we got engaged, on Phillip's first trip to Italy:

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Public Service Announcement #1: Do not bring your fiance and your two closest friends on an extended trip to Europe. Unless you think Being Stuck In The Middle is super duper fun.

The day after our wedding, setting off on our road trippy honeymoon:

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Bonus glimpse of Father-In-Law.

Christmas in our first apartment:

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Santa did not bring us good lighting.

A year later, hanging out in our half-empty new house. I'm a few months away from 26.

Summer 2005 091
We gave this couch to my brother, and when he was cleaning it out he found a rubber bandish type thing and a BURNED SPOON. WTF?


My 27th birthday...

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...in HAWAII. How you gonna top that, Phillip?


Then we had a baby.

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I cannot BELIEVE that is Jack, people. CANNOT. BELIEVE.

And ANOTHER baby.

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Quite possibly my favorite picture in the world, even though I have, like, 40 pounds of baby weight to lose, apparently all in my cheeks.

Okay, maybe I was a bit nostalgic after all. I haven't looked at those pictures in a long time. I look so... young. I met him almost eleven years ago. Nineteen, in a dorm room, still awake, listening to the first CD anyone ever made just for me.

Happy anniversary, Phillip. It's been a blast growing up with you.


Seven quick things that do not suck

1. Baby headbands. Photographic evidence:

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(Not very good photographic evidence. I broke our good camera, remember?)

I bought this last weekend at my parents' town's founder's day celebration (catch all that?) and dudes, having a baby girl is making me BROKE. I was doing the drive-through-farmer's-market thing when I saw this stand and HAD to examine the cuteness galore. Lucky for you there is an Etsy shop! The owner and I totally bonded over our shared love of all things internet. LOVE this stuff, you guys.

2. Swiffer WetJet. I had a Swiffer, maybe two or three apartments ago, and was not impressed. I don't remember why, exactly, but I think it had something to do with feeling like I was just moving dirt from one section of my kitchen floor to another. But lately I've been thinking: Self? Surely there is some middle ground between spending an hour on your hands and knees with a bucket and a sponge, and a full on cleaning service. Don't you think? I believe that middle ground is called Swiffer WetJet. I swept up the stray Cheerios and raisins and then cleaned my floors in about one forty-sixth the usual amount of time. Amazing! I don't even really mind the headache I've had all afternoon from the "scented" cleaning solution! (I know it's supposed to make my house smell nice, but I don't want my house to smell like ANYTHING. Wait. I would be okay with cookie-scented cleaning solution. Do they make that kind?)

3. This plant.

Flowers .
Behold, the Mysterious Purple Flower

I've been trying to figure out the name of this flower and where I can find it since my WORKING DAYS, people. When I stole a stem out of my neighbor's yard and brought it to the office so the self-described garden expert in accounting could help me figure it out. DID NOT WORK. These are growing all around my neighborhood - against fences, around trees - and WHAT ARE THEY? Do you think I should just dig some up when my neighbors aren't looking and transplant them into my yard?

4. Audrey, Wait. My sister left this book at my house to give to my other sister, but then I started reading it and IT IS FUNNY. I'm only a few chapters in, so I can't give you my Final Recommendation, but a book about a sixteen-year-old girl whose ex-boyfriend writes a song about their breakup and gets famous is SO UP MY ALLEY. I know I'm supposed to be into Important Literature and books with big words and heavy thoughts, and I am, on occasion, but I'm sorry, my favorite books are about teenagers written for teenagers. Got any good ones for me, Kate?

5. Babies. Maureen had her baby today! Mary's going to have hers soon! So is And Not By Sight! Squeeeee!

6. Friends who send you links to cool stuff. The second part of that sentence should read "even though you haven't had time to look at the link." Sigh. Former Roommate, the one who is off Saving The World, sent me this video of Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love) talking about "nurturing creativity". I haven't read the book and I haven't watched the video. But if Former Roommate sent it, it's worth watching. I haven't yet, my excuses being 1) it's 20 minutes long and 2) it might inspire me to DO something and I am much too lazy for that. But I WILL, Former Roommate, I WILL.

7. Good posts. Here's Elizabeth on division of labor. Jennifer on how to survive the baby/toddler stuff (I LAPPED THIS UP, PEOPLE). Jen on writing for your audience vs. writing for yourself.

More quick takes at Jennifer's. "Things that don't suck" willfully stolen from Charlotte.


An explanation of sorts, although I end up even more confused

I stayed home today. It was just what I needed. And I can tell, because I actually feel like writing here instead of staring miserably at the computer screen and wanting to climb into bed instead. Much of that is due to my first grade teacher sister, who is on her summer break and looking for stuff to do, and decided to drive up to Seattle and play with her niece and nephew. And by "play" I mean "babysit while Maggie organizes her life." I promised we'd do something fun next time she makes the trek up here, like the zoo, which is actually NOT fun, but has potential when seen through a two-year-old's eyes. Also: baby gorillas. Who doesn't love a baby gorilla?

I had a very full weekend, an intense Monday and a Tuesday in which we spent all of our waking hours with friends. Those were good days. We had fun. Extra time with grandparents, a movie (The Hangover, recommended by the aforementioned sister, NOT recommended by me, except maybe the Ed Helms musical sequence), a small town carnival, deep thoughts with corporate types, catching up with friends, other people feeding my kids - ALL GOOD STUFF. But last night, after I put my kids to bed, on my own because Phillip was at a baseball game, I was done. Shot through. THE END.

I used to think being an introvert was all about being afraid of large groups of people. Or not having fun at parties or overwhelming shyness when meeting someone new - stuff like that. I started to think that maybe I wasn't an introvert anymore, because now I have all these people I really enjoy. Before we had kids I couldn't stand to spend more than one or two nights a week at home doing nothing. We always had friends over (I MISS YOU JANET, LET'S GO DRINK WINE) or friends had us over or SOMETHING we were doing SOMETHING. And then I had kids and we couldn't get out much in the evenings anymore, but I was meeting even MORE fun people BECAUSE we all had this kid thing in common and I LOVE hanging out with them. I can't say I'm big on large groups, but I'm not exactly afraid of them anymore. I'm just more confident about where I fit in. And I almost always have fun at parties (thank you, wine) and more often than not I am the one wanting to meet the new person. So. Maybe not an introvert?

But then I remember how introversion/extroversion was once described to me, as an indication of where you draw your energy. Do people recharge your batteries? Do you need people around to bring you back to life? Extrovert. Do you need alone time? A few quiet hours on your own to think and process and get back into the swing of things? Introvert. And if this is the criteria, I am, most decidedly, an introvert.

I hate saying that, because everyone knows introverts = not cool, but it's just best for me to suck it up and admit it. Knowledge is power!

I have a hard time remembering though. I think because my kids are so much EASIER when there are other people around. Are yours? And it doesn't have to be Grandma, it can be the next door neighbors. Just someone else to engage Jack's interest, someone who might want to throw a ball around for five minutes. For those five minutes the whining ceases, the kids aren't clawing at me for attention, and I can, you know, use the bathroom without getting shrieked at. So I'm operating from this place of Always Better To Go Out And Do Something when I'm home with the kids. And then I wonder why I'm completely exhausted after three or four days of Nonstop Fun.

But I also don't know if it's time away from PEOPLE or time away from my KIDS. Hmm, this is problematic. The introvert/extrovert thing is not all neatly wrapped up, is it? Right now I am specifically thinking of coffee hour after Mass, which I always want to go to in theory, but am oftentimes completely worn out from wrangling the kids in church and ready to go home. It's not even that they're horrible in church, it's the watching-every-move-they-make so they're not irritating whoever is sitting around us, or making noise, or coloring on the pews or drooling on our neighbor. The constant vigilance. (That's a Thing for me - it's also the most exhausting part of dealing with anxiety.) So even though I want to hang with our church friends and let Jack devour a DOH! NUTT!, sometimes I can barely muster a hello.

OR. It could even be needing a break from packing a toddler lunch and baby lunch to go. What if it was that simple?

Oh dear. Now I don't know what I'm talking about anymore. And even though I stayed home and got a few things back in order (like my sugar snap peas that fell over in the middle of the night, you would not believe how much that was STRESSING ME OUT) I am still tired. Phillip is at a meeting but he'll be home soon and then we're going to watch the last episode of Burn Notice Season One. Now there is something that recharges my batteries: television. Shameful? Maybe. I AM a little too excited about the return of Don Draper.

One of the things I was doing while my sister danced to the Sesame Street soundtrack with Jack was finishing up my post for Parenting. Which should be published sometime tomorrow (Thursday). Blogless Shannon asked if there was anything new on the Multicultural Front and my immediate response was "No, and how lame of us" but then I had the most interesting conversation with my mother-in-law this weekend and VOILA: blog fodder. It's the kind of post that actually requires forty-seven follow up posts, bursting with details and background info, like the fact that my mother-in-law arrived in the United States when she was sixteen and OF COURSE all you would care about when you are sixteen is Fitting In, forget retaining your culture, BLAH BLAH BLAH. But I was too busy misspelling pinying words. Oh well. If you're into the How To Expose Your Kids To Their Heritage talk I'd appreciate your input.

Back later. I think Seven Quick Takes this week is going to take the form of Charlotte's Things That Do Not Suck. Now to come up with a list...


This one's just for me

In the interest of sparing you yet another I Can't Keep Up With My Own Life Let Alone My Email Inbox post (which is all I've got lately) I thought I'd just tell you about some of the places I've lived. Get us all (or just me) out of the tired guilty trap I've been in the last several days. Weeks? Anyway.


To get to Sicily, a place I had never heard of, we had to fly from Seattle to Detroit. Then Detroit to Philadelphia. In Philadelphia we sat in a huge waiting room, on the floor because it was so crowded, and waited for a military charter to fly us over the ocean. We boarded a huge jet full of men in uniforms - my first brush with Air Force life. And they were all smoking, because you were allowed to do that then. The back rows only, although why that even mattered I have no idea. Our first layover was in the middle of the Atlantic, on an island I'd move to a few years later. Our second layover was in northern Italy, where I'd move a few years after living on the island. I didn't know these things then. I remember getting off the airplane there and helping myself to the Tang and cookie spread provided by, I'm assuming now, the officers' wives club. Then we got back on the airplane and flew to Sicily. There was a base very close to the airport, but we weren't moving to that base, which belonged to the Navy, we were moving to the brand new Air Force base another two hours away. Someone picked us up at the airport in what must have been a Eurovan, and it was one of the longest, hottest, car sickiest, hallucinatory trips of my life. I was ten years old. 

At that point I think the farthest I'd ever been from home, the area where my parents live now, was Texas. I'd never felt so out of sync, so disjointed with time. Jet lag was a disturbing and confusing phenomenon, something I didn't feel so strongly again until I went to China a few years ago and experienced it all over, just backwards. It was hot, SO hot. There were no trees, and large parts of the base were just dusty empty fields. It was flat, at least it's flat in my memory. And it was a military base, so all the buildings looked alike, a monochromatic palette for buildings, sidewalks, signs. 

My most vivid memory is a certain smell. Every time I smell this smell, which isn't often because this is America, I instantly fly back to Sicily, where I'm sitting on my bike in front of our house, a blistering day. It's a sickly sweet smell. It might have something to do with sewers and the heat, although I remember smelling it most often in the car with the windows down. I hate it and long for it at the same time. 

We lived in 'old' base housing, which meant the houses were four or five years old. 'New' base housing was only a year or two old, but that's where all the important people lived- officers, cute boys. Our house was one in a fourplex, which was embarrassing to me at first, since the people who lived in duplexes at home were, I knew, not very well off. But everyone lived in these houses, which all looked exactly alike, and formed little windy neighborhoods, with small playgrounds popping up in between every few blocks or so. There was a perimeter road around the base which we could see, since our house was as close to the fence as you could get. A tall fence with barbed wire on top, and an empty moat on the other side. There were guard boxes staffed by Italian soliders with guns, and we'd try to get them to wave at us as we flew by on our bikes. 

I'd never known such freedom. I was allowed to ride my bike practically anywhere. 

There was a commissary and a burger bar (all the bases had burger bars, although now, I think, all the bases have brand name fast food joints.) A bowling alley. A chapel. A library. I don't remember any of these places. I remember the TLF (Temporary Living Facility) where we lived when we first arrived and when we were just about to leave. I remember the school, and the huge huge field between our housing area and the school. We trekked across that field every day. I remember the guard boxes and the more deserted area of the base where I thought the Russian missiles lived. 

Did I mention it was hot? So very hot. 

The beach was nearby. Remember I was from Washington State. We do not have beaches in Washington State. We have rocks and near-black sand and waves that steal your breath they're so cold. People in Washington State wear jeans and sweatshirts to the beach, with their hoods up because of the wind. The beach in Sicily, by comparison, was paradise. I think it was dirty - I remember my mom talking about the beach being dirty - but the water was warm. The waves were gentle. The chocolate gelato you could buy on the boardwalk and eat in the sand was quite possibly the most delicious thing I've ever eaten. I was afraid of water and I didn't like the salty taste, but I can't remember having anything but an insanely good time at the beach. 

My parents liked to drink cappuccino at a cafe in a nearby town with their teacher friends. The kids would eat gelato and play pinball, or run around outside. There were different kinds of treats in Italy - pastries, candies, packaged ice cream bars. Groups of teachers and their kids would go out for dinner. I remember my first calzone, and the thick stretchy cheese inside, the layers of ham, the bubble on top that you stabbed with your fork - the first thing you do when you eat a calzone. I had been afraid of moving to Italy, because in Italy they eat spaghetti and I didn't like red sauce. But I ate swordfish. Antipasto. Spaghetti carbonara with heavy cream and homemade pasta. I might be drooling as I type this. 

My best friend lived a few houses away. We might have lived in Sicily, but we listened to the New Kids On The Block and spritzed ourselves with Debbie Gibson perfume. We played many hours of Mario Brothers on her personal Nintendo.

The only reason I remember the layout of our house is because I know exactly where I was standing when I answered the phone and it was my uncle calling to tell my mother my grandpa had passed away. I remember sitting in the kitchen with my parents' friend who had just dropped by, waiting to find out what was wrong. I remember all the kids on our street. I remember my best friend a ways down the block, and the girl who lived two houses down from me, who wanted to be our friend too, but we didn't like her very much. I still feel horrible for the ways we left her out. 

The base was so new and everything outside the base was so old. And then my dad would make us drive hours and hours away to see even older things - ancient temples, Roman villas, amphitheaters. I was always carsick. Our huge van was always having to turn around so it wouldn't get stuck in tiny Italian alleys. We were always going somewhere on the weekends, and during Christmas and spring break we went even farther. The smells and hotels and names of the towns all run together, but I am still sure there is no better place on earth to live. I know it's because I was ten and my thoughts are blurry and can life be any better when you are slurping up your gelato before it melts all over your hand, at the beach with your best friend, turning brown, washing off the stickiness in the Mediterranean? 

We only lived there two years, and then everyone was transferred somewhere else. Something about a treaty with Russia? The Berlin Wall coming down? No need for whatever weapons lived in the far reaches of the base? I don't know. It was a waste of money, my dad said, all these new beautiful buildings the United States only used for four years. 

Purpose

I'm up early with the baby, checking my email.. Jack will probably wake up in a half hour and then Phillip will start getting ready for work. And then he'll go to work and I'll start breakfast and I won't see him till late, because he's going to a baseball game tonight and God created baseball to be nearly as long and boring and endless as golf.

I have a handful of things I could or could not do today, depending. I tend to weigh my options till the very last minute, especially when we've had a slate of off-schedule days. I'm tired, I don't want to deal with getting ready and packing and making sure my two kids don't fall asleep in the car on the way home. On the other hand, our days are much more fun when we see friends.

I'm tired.

My kitchen and floors and bathrooms and stairs are making me depressed, because they're dirty, and desperate, because I can't keep them clean. I should stay home and do a few loads of laundry today. And dust- if you could SEE the dust in my living room right now, thank you morning sunshine. I'm pretty sure the lettuce I picked two days ago is still sitting on the table outside. I need to wash the bottles and unpack yesterday's going-to-grandma's-house diaper bag and unpack my toiletries bag from our weekend overnighter at my parents' house.

I'll see what people are doing on Twitter.

I need to reschedule my hair appointment. Again.

Lunch will be okay. Jack is on a macaroni and cheese and hot dogs diet, but at least he is eating those things and not just practicing his fork skills. Molly's eating better too, which makes me feel like I'm a good mom. I wish I didn't connect whether or not my children are willing to eat with how good a mom I am. Maybe I'll read some blogs about that.

Which reminds me: maybe I don't want to do one of my handful of things to do, because my friend's daughter eats things like tofu and kimchee and raw broccoli and I feel woefully inadequate when I see her do this. I think the reason my son is afraid of peas is because I don't eat them either. I wish I didn't compare myself to other moms.

Naptime will be a good time to shrug all that off. I haven't exercised in four days, and while I'm proud to say that is a rarity, I'm sad to admit I don't miss it and was doing just fine without exercising. Except for those couple of pounds I gained. So back on the treadmill for me, which is good for the brain, good for the heart and gets me thinking about things other than my failures as a mother. My iPod might shuffle over to that Taylor Swift song and I'll start thinking about the story I want to write, which I think is the reason I'm having such a hard time finding things to write here. Brain space is getting tight.

I have no idea what we'll do this afternoon, but the morning news says the weather will be decent and it's been a while since we dragged out the tricycle and zoomed around the block. I should check on my garden - the zucchini have taken over. My tomato plant came back to life, but the zucchini are drowning the beans and the squash and oh yeah, there's a big pile of lettuce sitting outside. I'll probably check my email.

Dinner. Chicken nuggets? Ravioli? Try the blueberries again? I don't want to think about food. I never know what to feed them. Something nutritious? Or something they'll eat? Sometimes I get completely overwhelmed at how many more times I will have to figure out what a toddler will eat that day.

Thank God Phillip fixed the TiFaux last night. I don't know how to get through the evening with VeggieTales. Or Sesame Street. Or anything bright and animated, preferably with puppets. I can check my email.

Bedtime is hard when there are two of them and one of you. I usually set Jack up with a treat and the TV (two strikes) while I leave him alone (third strike) to take Molly upstairs and get her ready for bed. She's down a whole hour earlier and it works best that way. If she stays asleep. Then I clean Jack up, take him upstairs, get his pjs on, read stories, say prayers - it takes forever. Sometimes it's a good forever, sometimes I'm just impatient to enter grown up world for the first time all day. Maybe I'll write a blog post.

Yesterday I took a break from the usual and spent a good four or five hours at World Vision headquarters. I went for the free food, I left with increased faith. More on that later. At the end I said something to the effect of, "This made me feel like what I do all day is actually worthwhile." And people gave me that patronizing Mommies Make The World Go 'Round! sympathetic smile and that was okay, I understood, I know my job IS important, I know SOMEONE has to get some food down my kids' throats. But yesterday people took my website seriously, including myself, and that was weird and exciting and purposeful.

It's seven. The whining has just begun. I'll need a sense of purpose today.


The last word on Father's Day

I met Phillip when I was 19. As humiliating as it is for me to admit this, I was Instantly Smitten. Humiliating because it took Phillip a good two years to even acknowledge my existence. During those two years I filled several journals, went on many Determined Walks, made many I Am Going To Forget About This Stupid Boy resolutions, repeatedly broke those resolutions, and was basically a pathetic bore who valiantly attempted to redeem herself with Women's Studies courses and post-modern novels. I was a fun time, people. We would have been besties for SURE.

I feel pretty safe saying that not once during those two years did I ever wonder if Phillip would be a good dad. Nope.

We started dating the summer I turned 21. (And now I am wondering what I am going to write about NEXT Sunday, our 6th anniversary? SUGGESTIONS?) We got engaged and married when I was 23. And the entire sum of my baby-related thoughts during that time were "Yes we will" and "Oooh, mixed babies are SO! CUTE!"

That's it.

I didn't have kids when I wrote this post about getting married youngish, but it's pretty much all I was thinking about. When when when when when were we going to have a baby? I was so excited to be a mother, and even though Phillip had these silly ideas about college funds and mortgages and jobs, I felt certain he would take exactly .0002 seconds to fall in love with our baby.

So the fact that, three years later, he's an awesome and devoted dad is the least surprising thing ever. When I asked him what he wanted to do today he said, "Oh, just hang out with the kids." (For comparison's sake, let's examine what I TOLD him I was going to do on Mother's Day: Go shopping all day with my girlfriends while he took care of the kids. I? Am decidedly less awesome.)

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But I think I'm trying to write a Father's Day post that isn't so much about fatherhood as partnership. One day Jack and Molly can write their own My Dad Is The Coolest essays, and I suppose I could be writing one about my dad (because he is) if it weren't for the fact that I've been told repeatedly over the last several days that this is a manufactured Hallmark holiday blah blah blah I bought him a book anyway. (Because I want to read it.)

No, I'm trying to say something about what kind of father Phillip is for me, which is something I don't think I could have known or figured out, even if I'd been aware enough at the time to realize I should have an idea. It's not just about getting up in the middle of the night or volunteering to feed the baby or cheerfully changing diapers, although he does those things and I am very grateful.

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It's more like the fact that when he gets home from work, he doesn't need fifteen minutes of peace and quiet before he can be part of the family. He washes his hands and asks what I need him to do. Feed the baby? Get Jack in his chair? Set the table? He doesn't complain when I rattle off our list of things we did that day, forgetting to even ask him if he had a good one. He works at the office all day and immediately jumps into the baby work when he gets home.

It's also dawning on me, two years after the fact, how smoothly Phillip adjusted from DINK to Dad. I've been taking this for granted, people, something I'm reminded of every time I read a blog or hear a friend talk about how hard the baby stage is for her husband.

I don't think the baby stage is easy on anyone, and Phillip and I have had our share of moans about our lives pre-kids, things we have to do because we have kids, things we can't do because we have kids. But my husband? Stepped up. He's the one who's always saying, "This is the way things are, this is the new normal," and maybe he doesn't say it with a smile, but he says it responsibly, firmly, with commitment. I've never doubted whether he wants to be here, whether he wants to be with his kids, whether he's willing to make the sacrifices and do the dirty work and meet me in the uncertainty. It sounds like something to take for granted, but it's not.

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This is where Jack would say, "HOPPY! FARRS! DAY!"

(And seriously, what am I going to write about next week? That was poor blog planning, getting married so close to Father's Day!)


Seven easy takes

1. I yelled at my first Kid Who Isn't Mine To Yell At today. We were at the zoo; Jack had his nose pressed up against the glass fence looking at the ducks when he should have been looking at the giraffe within spitting distance. Suddenly some seven- or eight-year-old boy comes busting out of nowhere nearly trampling my kid and shoving him out of the way so he could get a good view. I said, "HEY, kid, look where you're going!" and "These are LITTLE BOYS you just stepped on!" and "NOW THEY CAN'T SEE, YOU LITTLE @*#($#!@ PUNK." Okay maybe I didn't say that last part. But I thought it. And then I looked around to focus my stinkeye on this kid's mother, who slowly sauntered up and handed her kid a granola bar, either oblivious or not caring. It took everything I had not to slap that granola bar clear to the giraffe, people.

2. I feel like I've received a lot of emails lately, and comments requiring email responses, and I just want to say: for someone who spends large chunks of her day in front of the computer, I'm pretty rotten at returning emails. I'm sorry. But I have good intentions. I will be spending all day Saturday at my in-laws' and I forsee some quality emails happening that afternoon.

3. I am cutting my bangs. I even made the appointment, although I think I need to reschedule it because I'm going to try and meet up with a couple local bloggers and 5 Minutes For Mom peeps [again!] at World Vision headquarters. Something about sharing my expertise with Social Media? My fabulous Web 2.0 tips? Whatever, all I saw was "free food". If you're local and want to go (Monday afternoon, Federal Way), email Shera for more info.

4. Oh, so my hair. PRIORITIES. It's long. And thin and straggly and greasy. But I'm going to keep it long because I LIKE thin/straggly/greasy. I'll think about chopping off my ponytail in the fall. But I am cutting bangs because DUUUUDE I am so very grossed out by my hairline. First it all fell out (shiny bald temples, anyone?) and now it's growing back so I have these sticky outy short little hairs all over and it drives me NUTS. And I know I'm not the only one who notices because OTHER PEOPLE! Keep POINTING IT OUT! GAH! So: bangs. Even though I've been growing them out since Molly was born and they're FINALLY grown out, but that's the great thing about hair. It grows. (It also turns gray, but that's a post for another day. WEEP.)

5. I have this friend who's been losing weight with me. Nearly every day we email each other and say what exercise we did and whether or not we totally fell down on the eating thing. She's been doing the 30 Day Shred and I've been mostly running. I throw some shreds in there every so often to mix things up, to tell myself I'm doing "weight training" and whenever I need a bit of Jillian's brand of ass kicking. Anyway, my friend emailed me today to say that we should publish our exercise email thread. She came up with all these names for our "book" and one of them is The Shredder And The Rye. And I was all, "No no no! We have to call it "Shredder And Not Allowed To Eat Rye"! Is that not the most AWESOME book title EVER? You would totally buy that, right? And this was her idea, by the way, to run it by the Internet At Large. Be nice so her opinion of The Blogging Thing is improved.

6. Remember last week when I was all, "Hey? Dubuque, Iowa? Anyone?" PEOPLE ACTUALLY VOLUNTEERED. Dude, if THAT is not proof of the Internet's awesome I don't know what is. So all week I've been in close and intimate contact with Sarah, who is now my BFF, and who may or may not have picked up what I wanted her to pick up in Dubuque Iowa as she is road tripping with a small child AND YOU KNOW HOW THAT GOES. Either way, I'm totally grateful. And one of these days I will tell you what I wanted that can only be purchased from a monastery in Dubuque, Iowa. It's one of the thinky/edity posts, though, so we're talking three, four years out? Maybe? Don't hold your breath. (You: "Don't worry!")

7. Phillip is working late tonight. I'm used to it, but I never enjoy doing sunup to sundown on my own with the kids. It's lonely and by the end of the day (now), even if it was an easy happy-baby day (it was) I am totally beat and worn down. I don't know how single parents manage, I really don't.

More quick takes here.


Throwing something up, seeing if it sticks

Here it is, my contractually obligated post to notify you of new written-by-me content at Parenting tomorrow: Disneyland, And Other Things We Do Because We Have Children. And yes, I know it's probably not up there yet, but go back later. You'll be enlightened! Well-informed! Reading this post will make you BETTER LOOKING. Promise. Go make the Parenting editors think I have readers. Thx.

Other than THAT I am feeling a bit speechless these days. I am bored (OH SO BORED) with the usual mommyblogger topics. The things I'd like to be writing about are either 1) against one of my various Blog Policies (which reminds me, I should be writing a new ABOUT PAGE in which I mention my SECOND CHILD, for SHAME) 2) churchy and therefore not anything I can just hammer out, which means I'd have to THINK and/or EDIT, neither of which I am AT ALL interested in doing at the moment (or ever), or 3) things I should save for Important Days like Anniversaries and Father's Day and Culmination of Hot By Thirty Day. So.

I hate to be one of those bloggers who's all "Hey! Ask me questions!" because NARCISSISTIC MUCH? I mean, I already have the BLOG for gosh sakes, I don't need to ask YOU how to write about ME. (I should point out here that I LOVE when other bloggers ask questions though because I? ALWAYS HAVE QUESTIONS.) So I am not asking. Although Lovely Blogless Lurker Shannon emailed me with a couple of very helpful topics, all kid-related, and when I swing back into mommyblogger mode I shall be using her list. Thanks Shannon! And I hope you'll tell me if I assumed wrong about the 'blogless' part.

Instead of YOU asking ME I've decided to ask YOU. Because I find you all exceptionally interesting. And very pretty.

1. Where do you do your blog reading?
2. What's your first bloggy stop?
3. Do your real life friends get the blog thing?
4. What [for lack of a better term] blog genres are you into?
5. What is your Significant Other's opinion of The Blog Thing?

Here are my answers:

1. At my laptop on the dining room table, which is open and available to me pretty much all day. PARENTING FAIL. When I'm going to be out all day I have Google Reader bookmarked on my iPod Touch.
2. Right now I'm very into stalking my Sacramento homies; you can find them here.
3. Sort of. Sometimes. Their attitude is along the lines of Mysterious and Slightly Unsafe Thing Maggie Does So That She's Less Neurotic Around Us, Thank God. Which is fine. Although I am increasing my number of Friends With Blogs (and bloggers who are friends!) which does wonders for one's (okay, just mine) social insecurities.
4. The parenting bloggers OBV, but also a handful of foodies, locals, smartypants Catholics and an artsy/DIY/style blog because sometimes I like to pretend I am those things.
5. I believe the official term is Supportive While Mildly Amused.