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August 2009

A flurry of awesome

I have a lot of things to tell you, namely: the awesome that was getting to hang out with Princess Nebraska in person, how Eli and Jack got along smashingly, eating at Delancey, going to a clothes party, the Future Pastry Chef getting herself engaged! over the weekend, my irrational and barely-hidden glee over the Future Pastry Chef asking me if I was serious when I said I'd be her wedding planner (NEED BLACKBERRY! CATERING CONTACTS! STYLISH GAY FRIEND! APPLY WITHIN!) and, of course, Molly's family-only birthday party. For which I created the masterpiece below:

P1000353

Who's the Future Pastry Chef NOW?

But I am tiiiiiiired. I am so tired I almost forgot to update my website. THAT NEVER HAPPENS. And tomorrow night I will be cake popping (OH YES, THERE SHALL BE CAKE POPS) so I can't guarantee anything then either. It's a bummer, really, because I had the BEST weekend, even the part where I was trying on clothes I didn't really like in my friend's bedroom and running around the house asking all these other women I barely knew if I needed another size and is this coat too long and I don't know, maybe the classic jean would look better than the contemporary jean. And I am soooo not the kind of person who de-pluralizes the word JEANS. 

More later. Promise.

P1000385 

Almost a one-year-old.


Seven quick Big Questions. Sort of.

Nearly all of these things require their own post, but seeing as how I have Cake Pops and a Birthday Shindig and Packing For An Extended Family Trip in my future, as well as The Trip Itself, by the time I settle down to write those posts I will be bored with the subjects. Possibly. I reserve the right to change my mind. In the meantime, what do you think about...

1. Oh wait. First I will tell you that I managed to write something nice and sweet about Jack at Parenting. It has to do with his newfound love of all things Thomas Train. And me realizing that I'm not one of those parents who takes the batteries out of noisy toys or tries to get her kid to play with the wooden lead-free toys instead - I ENCOURAGE the commercialism. Oops. But seriously, when he is playing with trains I am a Puddle of Mommy Goo.

2. And this is more of a Public Service Announcement: My aunt, who has an Advanced Degree in Television told me about Drop Dead Diva, a Lifetime show about a 24-year-old model who dies and is reincarnated as a 32-year-old overweight lawyer. I LOVE IT. There are very few shows out there in which I like every single character (and I LOVE the main character). It's goofy and emergency-of-the-week, but it's also sweet and funny and occasionally rather insightful. Brooke Elliott does a fantastic job bringing out her two different "personalities". Two thumbs up.

3. Okay, first question. After reading the comments to my dinner post a few days back, I bought a crock pot at Target today. Because it was on sale. Because I felt like buying something. And so many of you seem to think a crock pot solves all the world's ills. But what do you MAKE in a crock pot? I've looked up recipes, but I've yet to be enamored by any of them. I think I need to know what OTHER people are making in them. You know, REAL people.

4. And a BIG question. Do I bring a double or two single strollers to Disneyland? NOTE: this has changed from the first time I asked. Did I even ask you? Or just Jen, our resident Disney Expert, who even accosted DisneyWorld visitors to get their objective opinions on my behalf. Jen is so industrious! When we were driving I intended to bring a single and rent another single at the park. But now that we're flying, I have the option to take the double. For a while it seemed like two singles was easier, especially thinking about maneuvering through a theme park. But Jen says the DisneyWorlders highly recommend having a double. And since we're now doing the airport thing, and have a 10-15 minute walk from our hotel to the park, what would you say? Is it best to have one parent pushing the kids and one parent dealing with the plane tickets? Or one parent per kid? I'm now leaning towards the double, mostly because of the airport logistics, but it's heavy and awkward and WELL I JUST DON'T KNOW. And you guys seem to be big travelers- what do you think?

5. I read this post when Jennie linked to it on Twitter and it got my mind churning for a few hours. I don't have much to say about it, only that I find the entire conversation continually fascinating. I didn't know about "paid reviews", for example, or what that really means. Reviews aren't my thing so I feel outside of the debate, but I do have ads on my website, I am paid to write for another website and I did spend an entire afternoon "consulting" for World Vision. The fact that they're a charitable organization looking to serve orphaned children and not trying to sell, you know, potty seats, justifies my experience there, in my opinion. Not to mention the fact that they NEEDED consultants, GAH. But I was very taken in by being treated like a professional and not some bored-stay-at-home-mom which is how I normally think of myself. Free food, free swag, having importantish people ask you questions because they think YOU are an expert - heck yeah it's flattering. Anyway. I've been obsessively reading the comments to that post and of course I'd love to know what you think too! 

6. How do you know when you should stop losing/trying to lose weight? I think I need to save this for a bigger post. I was supposed to have answered this question over a month ago, but it turns out it's a lot harder than I thought. I'll get back to that.

7. Guess who I get to hang out with on Saturday? GUESS! Not so much a Big Question as a BIG TEASE, huh?! I'll give you a hint. she's bringing Senor Pants along.

More quick takes at Conversion Diary.


In which I actually follow up!

I thought I'd try out this new idea where if I don't have anything to write about on my blog I just... don't write anything. But I've decided that's no fun. I mean, I might be waiting FOREVER.

Phillip is working. I think he is rebooting a server? That's what he's usually doing when he has to "do work" at 9:45 at night. But that's okay, I'm frantically trying to finish a photo book on Shutterfly before my coupon expires in the next two hours and 15 minutes. I love this photo book thing. I know it's not the cheapest route, but DUDE is it easy. And, you know, much nicer than my scrapbooking abilities would produce. I just captioned one of the photos: "Viva Las Vegas!" So you know in 15 years my kids are going to pull it out and look at the pictures and go, "GAAAAAWD Mom, you are SO LAME." Except there will be another word for lame, and I don't know what it will be and I'm SURE I won't know then. 

So you are probably wondering why I'm over here dorking around if I'm supposedly finishing this photo book thing, and the reason is: the photo uploader. I'm doing the Picasa to Shutterfly trick and it's only slightly faster than the regular uploader, which is about the speed of me running lines. Which is SLOW. Sigh. I think all this photo stuff would be fun if I didn't have to sit around waiting for things to scan and upload and resize. Oh wait. It's finished. Back later.

It is now later. Don't you love it when people are all "JUST A SEC!" in the middle of a post, and then they come back and write some more, but it's not like YOU went anywhere and you wonder why they even bothered to SAY anything. Yeah, I hate that.

Oh, I know what I can tell you about. Those books I checked out of the library. Ahem.

1. In The Woods by Tana French. MOST EXCELLENT. Until the last chapter or so when you realize you're not going to get what you want and you entertain dark and gruesome fantasies of what you might do should you encounter Tana French in the woods. 

2. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen. LOVE. You kinda have to be into YA lit or teenage romance or Gossip Girl, but since I am all of those things this book was a very quick, very fun, very crushworthy read. And now I'm on the second book and after that I'll probably read the third book and then I don't know what I'll do because I don't believe there is a fourth book. HORRORS.

3. The Miracle Detective by Randall Sullivan. PEOPLE. This book. Gah. Super fascinating. I love reporters who go into a project thinking one thing and finish in a completely different place. 90% of this book is about Medjugorje so if you're not into that, go ahead and skip. But I learned a lot of history, a lot of science, a lot about the church and, most interestingly for me, a lot about the social aftermath of "miracles". My brain was twisted in all different directions, which is always fun, don't you think? And pretty much the entire time I'm reading I'm also thinking, "Holy CRAP, I had NO IDEA THIS WAS HAPPENING." Not the apparitions so much as the details of the war in Bosnia. I mean, that IS the reason my family got to move back to Italy in 1995, so my parents could teach the frillion new kids living on the base where the planes bombing Bosnia lived. It's horrifying. This book puts you in a bit of an apocalyptic mindset, I think. Don't you want to just rush out and devour it?!

The only book I'm reading now is Rumors, the book that comes after Luxe. But I discovered something: I like reading. Well, I've always liked reading. What I mean is: when I have good books lying around I choose to hang out with them over 1) exercising 2) eating 3) sleeping 4) taking care of my children and, most shockingly, 5) the internet. SRSLY. And I was staying up waaaaay too late. Yay, Library! Now that I've figured out how to actually use you, think of all things I am never going to accomplish!

Aaaand this concludes the millionth entry in the Pointless Post series. I'm going to bed. Sort of. I do, after all, have a book to read. 

P.S. I took your cake comments into consideration. Also the email from Nessa in which she seemed rather concerned for my mental health should I undertake the cake pop project. Believe me, I AM ALSO CONCERNED. But I have scheduled it out, acquired an assistant and am working on the Flexible and Just Having Fun! Frame of Mind. It will be a stretch, but I have a few days to get there. And never fear- I shall report back!


Fruits and kitties

This is when I write something terribly profound and moving and inspiring, but I'm actually just killing time before I jet over to a friend's house. This is my newish and preferred mode of socializing these days: weeknight-after bedtime-get togethers. I don't know why it took me so long to figure this out. Maybe because most of the time I'm so tired after the kids go to bed I can't bear the idea of putting on real clothes and leaving the house. But it works really well for us. Phillip doesn't feel deserted in the witching hour with two children and I still get to have some grown up time. He occasionally goes out for his own fun, but I'm married to one of those minimal people-seers. I believe this is part of the male DNA? Maybe once a month, maybe less, Phillip emails The Guys and suggests a movie he knows I will never agree to see, with a detour at IHOP before heading home. Yes, IHOP. We are GOOD TIMES, people.

Anyway. I've got a friend who's suddenly single parenting for a week and heading over to her house to help her finish homemade peach pie is the least I can do, right?

Speaking of peaches, Phillip and I are waiting with Bated Breath for these delectable lumps of scrumptiousness known as Rama (as in the farm, I think, is called Rama) Peaches. A few years ago his old boss told us about these famous peaches, appearing for one weekend only at the U District farmers' market. We bought a flat, of course, and I'm not really one to wax rhapsodic over fruit, but WOWIE. These were amazing peaches. So then we bought some last year, with a weeks' old Molly in tow. I'm following the local farmers' market organization on Twitter (LOVE TWITTER) and they keep advertising where the Rama Peaches will appear each weekend. They have yet to make it to a farmers' market near me, but when they DO, I'm inviting all of you for peach cobbler. Then you will die happy. 

Watermelon is my favorite fruit. Is it even a real fruit? It's more like sugary water. And it's so sugary I've stayed away from it for the last two years because it's got, like, giant red circles and angry faces all around it in my low glycemic cookbook. SIGH. I'm realizing I didn't even eat the watermelon at the family reunion this weekend because it's so ingrained in me: DO NOT EAT THE WATERMELON. But really. Watermelon + Maggie = 4Ever. I recall many a summer in the backyard feasting on watermelon and spitting out the seeds at my brother when my parents weren't looking.

Man, this blawg is going downhill. Not that it was ever really going uphill, but you'd think I'd shoot for something more interesting than these random String Of Consciousness paragraphs. How about tomorrow: tomorrow I will write Something of Substance. HA. Suggestions? Perhaps a manifesto on my favorite vegetable, the French Fry?

I finally sent an email about Molly's birthday party today. (SORRY MOM.) I think that means I need to make a cake. I want to make a Hello Kitty cake. Not because Molly loves Hello Kitty, but because *I* love Hello Kitty and what if wait till Molly can ask for a Hello Kitty cake but it turns out she's one of those girls who'd rather die than be seen anywhere near a Sanrio store and threatens to boycott her own party if I make a Hello Kitty cake? My heart will break into a zillion tiny pieces. UNFORTUNATELY: the future pastry chef is out of town this weekend and therefore is unavailable for tending to 1) the inevitable disaster of a cake and 2) her sister's inevitable breakdown over the disaster of the cake. Anything other than a box cake in a 9x13 glass dish is unwise.

And you know what I want to do when the playgroupers come over? Make these. AMBITIOUS MUCH? It's like I'm TRYING to give myself a panic attack before our Disney trip. No really. When I am going to make the CAKE let alone the CAKE POPS?


Feeding your family, at least, the ones who are willing to eat

Jack is being weird. I mean, he's always been a Sensitive Little Thing, but his prima donna tendencies are increasing big time. We thought this had to do with taking away his full time maid/playmate/defender of annoying behavior aka Las Vegas Trip Grandma, but that was over two weeks ago. He hasn't had a meltdown of the sort we suffered en route to Lucy's birthday party the day after we got home (did I even TELL you about that? OMG) but he's been twice as ornery, picky and all around irritable as he was before. He's also stopped eating, which prompted me to chalk it up to teeth. But then, eating has never been Jack's bag anyway. He is uninterested in anything that is not a Simple Carbohydrate (the more sugar the better!) and I three-times-daily opt for What He Will Eat over What Is Nutritious. I know, I know, but I CANNOT DEAL.

We even had to have him CRY IT OUT the other night. The boy is TWO AND ALMOST A HALF. He has been sleeping through the night like a good boy for quite a while now, so this Instant Freak Out we're receiving when we deign to put him in his bed at night is unacceptable. And because Molly is sharing his room, we're sort of at his mercy. He stands up in bed and starts "Eh! Eh! Eh!" and if we don't do anything about it he just gets louder and more upset until we have two kids who shouldn't be awake. He wants to be held, or for me/Phillip to sit in the chair while he peacefully drifts off in his crib. Well, no. That is not okay. And the first night he did this I was on my own, I'd had a long crappy day and I finally had to throw him into my bedroom and shut the door on his howls so I could dial back the The Rage. (And oh, that is a post for another day, a nice sunny fictional day when I am not scared of The Comments.)

The next night we put Molly in the pack and play downstairs (poor Molly) and decided he would cry. Fine. And we left him there and the crying moved into that realm of "Do you think he's going to throw up?" and then we heard a big THUMP. We ran into his room and found him on the floor - the first time he has EVER found his way out of the crib, and, we think, so he could retrieve the blanket he threw out in one of his Fits of Sleep Is For Sissies. He sobbed and shrieked and Phillip asked him if he wanted a drink of water and, poof! A sweet little voice said, "Yes pweez." So we KNEW the crying wasn't REAL crying it was MANIPULATIVE and PISSED OFF crying and ooooh we were furious. We ordered him back to his cell after the drink of water and he was quiet, but we think only because the fall out of his crib stunned him as much as it stunned us.

It could still be teeth. He has big empty spots way back in his gums. I know those aren't supposed to be empty forever. I imagine it's not a fun time, having hard pointy things erupting through a tender spot. It could also be Two. It's probably a combination thereof. Either way it's not going well, and I'm starting to feel guilty for being so over the moon with my almost-one-year-old and so consistently frustrated with my almost two-and-a-half-year-old.

But I did not sit down to tell you all that. Look how distracted I get. Actually I really just wanted to know what you are eating for dinner tonight. 

I'm always embarrassed to tell people what we eat, because most of my friends are actually decent cooks who like to eat vegetables and buy quality stuff. Most of what we eat in my house comes out of giant bags in the Costco freezer section. I top whatever that is with cheese and call it good. (Well, actually, we usually just buy giant bags of chicken and fish at Costco and then sit uncertainly in front of allrecipes.com trying to figure out what to do with the chicken and fish.)

But this Weight Watchers thing has really broadened the scope of what I can make for dinner. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to try it out - I didn't want my family to be on the low carb diet forever. I also wanted to test it as a way to maintain the weight I've lost (although I started losing again, provided I don't eat anywhere outside of my own house, and this is yet ANOTHER post in and of itself, I am so CONFLICTED) but anyway. I still don't know what is acceptable to eat for lunch, but dinner time is so much easier. That Cooking Light subscription is finally doing me some good.

However! I'm still stuck in a Dinner Rut, mostly because a lot of these new recipes are intimidating. Or I am picky. Or I don't have a slow cooker. Or I don't want to spend an hour in the kitchen. It was funny that I was just sitting down to brainstorm our weekly menu (see: last week's menu, and the week before that, and the week before that) when Liz got online asking me what dinners *I* was going to make. Apparently I am not the only one in a rut. Maybe you are too?

So here's something I make almost once a week, because it's quick, easy, everyone likes it (EVEN JACK) and makes enough for Phillip to take to work the next day:

Cook up some low-carb penne pasta. (I like the Dreamfields brand. In a black box.)

Saute 1 diced onion and 1 clove chopped garlic. Add 1 (15oz?) can diced tomatoes, 1T basil, 1/4t oregano, 3/4t sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, boil until pretty much all the liquid from the tomatoes evaporates. Stir in 1/2C cream and 1T butter. Simmer 5 min. Pour over pasta.

We usually eat that with some kind of sausage on the side and a salad. Sometimes I add bacon because bacon makes everything better. (Now the WW people are horrified, but the low carbers will like it!) And now that I'm looking at the recipe, I realize I almost always forget to add the sugar and the butter. And I almost always leave out the onion because I am four. Oh, and this makes enough sauce for about half a box of pasta. I usually boil the whole thing and keep the rest in the fridge for kid dinners/lunches later on in the week.

Okay, I shared my boring but easy weeknight dinner, now share yours. Bonus points for no cheese. OH CHEESE, HOW I MISS YOU.


Seven quick wedding-related takes

1. My sister is making a cake for a wedding on Saturday. When I went over to my grandmother's house this afternoon (because she has two ovens) my sister had eight cakes cooling on the counter and one more in the oven. That is, you'll agree, a lot of cake. And people, making a wedding cake is VERY! STRESSFUL! Especially when the bride wants three different kinds of cake, with three different frostings. Or is it icings? I should ask the Future Pastry Chef, but she is half passed out on the couch next to me. We were going to watch the Project Runway premiere until we realized it doesn't start till ten. Ten! Does that mean we are too old for shows like Project Runway? So we are watching this Project Runway All Stars thing instead. It has Santino and Tim Gunn so I'm not going to complain.

2. We ordered our wedding cake from a Chinese bakery in the international district. We did this because 1) one of us is Chinese and 2) we heard Chinese wedding cakes were cheap. Chinese wedding cake is not, in my opinion, very tasty (they are light and airy and I prefer my desserts on the dark, heavy, fudgy, chocolatey side) but the cake wasn't that important to me. We ordered a three tier "mixed fruit" cake, which meant there were chunks of melon in the whipped cream-ish filling. The florist put pink Gerber daisies on it and I pronounced it perfect. I think it cost around $200.

3. When I was planning our wedding I tried to be cheap. I really did. This is why our pictures are horrrrrrible and why there was no champagne for toasting. Because we were going to buy it ourselves and we forgot. I also sent my friends to the Pike Place market the morning of the wedding to buy "whatever looks pretty" from the flower vendors. They stuck the bouquets in baskets in the church and then we moved them to the reception. That was cheap, but I always feel a little guilty when I read in the church bulletin that that week's flowers were donated by so-and-so couple who got married the day before. But then I wonder: who spends all that money on floral arrangements and LEAVES THEM THERE?

4. My sister is invited to a wedding in Portland and she needs a plus one and I am dying to go, but I'll be at the Blathering. I'm annoyed with my friends for all being married and therefore not inviting me to weddings. This also makes me feel old.

5. I made my own wedding invitations. I can't even fathom doing this now. I used to like making cards, although I was never very good at it. And I still make my Christmas party invites, but most of it I do on the computer. My wedding invitations, however, involved cutting out four frillion tiny flowers and gluing rhinestones in the center. Yes. RHINESTONES.

6. One thing I was willing to spend money on was music. I wanted a BAND. Specifically I wanted a jazz trio with a singer doing all the old standards. Lucky for me, my husband complemented his business degree with a music degree and had some hookups. An old piano player friend of his was fresh off a stint on cruise ships and agreed to do our wedding for cheap. SCORE. I loved it. I don't know if anyone else did (people seem to prefer the dance-friendly pop songs on the iTunes playlist) but one of my favorite parts was dancing to a live version of "our" song.

7. Okay, this has nothing to do with weddings, but I just saw a preview for a movie with Rory and Matt. I MUST SEE THIS MOVIE.

BONUS QUICK TAKE: New post up at Parenting! "... I'm not storing anything up for a weepy Why Did They Even Let Me Take This Child Home From The Hospital meltdown, trust me."

More quick takes here!


This week it's MY side of the family

This is the time of year my brother and sister-in-law come to town and The Cousins become the object around which my family revolves. They're only here for a week this time, and my parents already whisked the little boys to the ocean (it was something like 88 degrees yesterday, and my dad starts to twitch at around 72, and the ocean is reliably four thousand degrees cooler than anywhere else in the state). My brother and SIL Hotwired themselves a hotel (the WESTIN, sigh) and dropped by yesterday afternoon. I'm sure they were super excited to visit a stuffy little house populated by a tired mother, a stressed out working-from-home father and two babies who hadn't taken long enough naps. And then one of those babies' diapers leaked all over the floor. UGH! Quoth SIL: "It's okay. We have these things at home."

We are Nap Transitioning, although it's not a very organized or formal situation. With the second kid, instead of hoping to God she takes SOME kind of morning nap and SOMEtime in the morning, I'm leaning more towards keeping her up as long as possible. Yesterday I put her down at her regular time, only because she was YAWNING and RUBBING HER EYES. I mean, I don't know WHY I thought she might be tired. But she complained in her crib for a good hour and by the end of that I was a little frazzled and flustered and suddenly asked myself why I was trying to get her to sleep. I mean, the morning nap is pretty irritating the second time around because it's not like it's a break for ME. So I got her up and went on with the day and that girl stayed awake till the afternoon nap. WIN! 

Of course she didn't fall ASLEEP at one. THAT would have been EASY. No, she howled and whined and I'd go upstairs to find her on her tummy, hanging on to the crib bars like she was being washed away by a tide of fleece blankets. I took Jack upstairs for his nap when she was quiet, but she was falling asleep sitting up. Her little body kept tipping over, her face meeting her toes, and when I rolled her over so she could sleep like a normal baby, she screamed. It was shortlived, though, and eventually I had two quiet sleeping kids and all was well in the world. 

(That's when brother and SIL called to come over, by the way. I diplomatically suggested they come over when the kids were awake. I am all about maximizing my grown up time.)

We have a family reunion this weekend, scheduled for the only Saturday in which The Cousins are available for showing off. I haven't seen them yet - we're going to visit today - but I already know to outfit my own boy in football pads and a helmet. According to everyone, including their parents, The Cousins are miniature brutes and will eat my sweet little boy alive. I mean brutes in a good way, though. We enjoy bite-sized brutes in this family. The more roughhousing and shrieking the better. Seriously- what is a holiday without tiny people constantly underfoot and demanding something? What do grandmothers LIVE FOR? Mine is quickly turning into a brute as well, but his cousins have a good head start. We'll be going over the playbook on the ride to Grandma's house.

But oh yeah, the family reunion... we'll be driving Far Away and I'm not sure where and if the kids will nap and no one seems to know if we're grilling the fish for lunch or for dinner and, well, potentially it's one of those stressful kind of things that leave me screeching, "BUT I NEED A PLAAAAAAN!" at my husband when no one else can hear. But I am trying out this Go With The Flow idea I hear so much about. We'll just show up when it's good for us and leave when it's good for us and if we don't get much reunioning done, so be it. 

Anyway, I've got to get these kids fed and bathed and dressed and out the door. Happy Thursday. 


Maybe it's me who needs the slice of cake

I'm thinking about starting a Catholic blog. I know. I actually started one a very long time ago. I wrote a very nice introductory post. Then I promptly deleted the whole thing because obviously I was SMOKING SOMETHING. But I have been thinking about how I don't keep a hard copy journal anymore. And also how it's hard for me to stick with something if I'm not 1) constantly recording every thought and feeling (see: Hot By Thirty) and 2) accountable to someone/something/some timeframe. I don't know. I'm thinking about it. I even have a name for it, and I'm rotten with names (see: this blog). You are allowed to blame this severe lapse in judgment on that stupid Medjugorje book which has unnerved me more than I would like to admit. Anyway. We shall all mull this over. In the meantime: MOVING ON.

I am sitting at my desk waiting for Phillip to finish putting Jack to bed. Jack, who did not eat his dinner and is still tantrumming and shrieking and disobeying everyone except his beloved grandmothers. This weekend my friend with a boy exactly one year older than Jack promised me that it gets better at three. This was supposed to make me feel better, but I confess all I could think was, "SIX MORE MONTHS? I shall surely die."

But that's not what I was going to tell you. I was going to tell you that from where my desk is situated I can see clearly into our neighbors' house, and getting to know these neighbors has not done much for my opinion of whether or not the husband should wear a shirt. My opinion remains, and will always remain: yes he should. As long as I can see straight into his house.

I probably shouldn't write about the neighbors, since we spent a half hour talking to another set of neighbors the other afternoon, in our shared driveway, and The Blog came up. It's not like it's a SECRET but I'm always a little taken ABACK. You know? And I'm always a little desperate to know how they found out about it. It's positively delightful when a NEW person visits this website. A stranger, from another town in another state who occasionally emails to say how fabulous and pretty they think I am. But when a REAL LIFE person visits this website I get all panicky about whether the Online Me matches the Real Life Me, and I'm guessing NO because the Real Life people know exactly where I rate on the Fabulous and Pretty Scale (note: not terribly high). In case I run into you one day, I'll just let you know now that I am exactly like the Online Me, only drastically less chatty. I am, unfortunately, the opposite of chatty. I fear this is going to be a huge problem for me at the Blathering, but I will do my best to pick up some self-esteem and confidence before then, and soldier on in my shaky belief that I may be worth getting to know anyway. Oh dear. And I thought I had a few more weeks before the neurotic gak-I'm-meeting-all-the-cool-ladies-from-the-internet-what-if-they-hate-me!? posts started appearing. SORRY.

When Phillip walked into the house tonight, dinner was on the table waiting for him, but I was on my hands and knees cleaning up the humongous spilled milk puddle in the middle of the living room. Courtesy of Jack, who sideswiped his placemat and sent his dinner flying. And everything had been going so well. I felt bad, because it wasn't Phillip's FAULT, and yet I still had Nothing To Say. I get like that. I kind of have to sit and regroup and coax the pleasant conversationalist from the dark recesses of my brain before I can behave nicely towards my husband.

Phillip was a doll, though, and took Jack and his infuriating resistance to all things edible out of the house. They drove off to the nearest ballot drop box, because we like to wait until the last minute to vote. I know it's only a primary, but the bag tax was on the ballot! I MUST HAVE A SAY ON THE BAG TAX! Aaand, I do believe it's failing.

Have I told you how much I love Seattle lately? I don't think so. I'll have to put one of those posts in the queue. My favorite thing right now is following all the local Twitter feeds. I'm following the news, but also farmers' markets, the county and all of my surrounding neighborhoods. A friend was railing against Twitter over the weekend (the kind of railing in which you are compelled to say, "wait, tell me how you REALLY feel") and his feelings on Twitter were similar to my feelings on Facebook. But I love Twitter. It takes a certain type, and you need to be following the right people, but I love knowing that you guys are up with a teething baby and you just cut your hair and you're anxious about the in-laws coming and you are ALL HILARIOUS. (And this is what I told my friend: "You need to follow people who are FUNNY.")

So ends another who-knows-what-the-hell-this-is-supposed-to-be-about post. I am tired. I need to watch some television. I need to gear up for another day of "What's this, Mama?" "What's this, Mama?" "What's this, Mama?" "What's this, Mama?" "What's this, Mama?" "What's this, Mama?" "Why, I don't KNOW, Jack, why don't we read that story LATER, how about you have a slice of this nice sedative-laden chocolate cake?"


What we DO when we are couples retreating

Just so you know, someone ASKED me about this, so at least ONE of you is interested.

We did not end up Couples Retreating this weekend. This was due to the fact that one of the couples had a family emergency Friday night and the two remaining couples (there are four total, but one couple was already out due to living in another state and having a brand new baby) felt sorta weird just going on without them. Instead we took extreme advantage of the fact that neither couple had kids for the weekend and basically napped, ate too much, shopped (the girls), played nerdy board games (the guys) and caught up on Life over fattening and delicious food that was prepared, served and cleaned up by people other than ourselves.

What we USUALLY do is a little more intense.

Four years ago one of us (not me!) was reading a book about the Examen. She was really impressed with the concept, and started talking about it with some friends, along the lines of: wouldn't it be awesome if some of us committed to gathering once a year to do our own examen? This particular group of friends had some significant things in common: we all knew each other from school, some better than others, but we had the same non-denominational college fellowship background; we were in the same stage of life, having all been recently married; we were all in interracial marriages, specifically white/Asian. I am a total sucker for things like that so of course I was signing up before she even stopped talking.

The gist of the weekend is to review your year. What were the ups and downs? The words we use are consolation and desolation. When were you closest to God, when were you farthest away? It's pretty intense. Each couple shares about their year individually, the rest of us listen. We ask questions, we discuss, we remember. And when all of it is out we pray. It's not everyone's idea of a good time, I know that. It's not always easy, obviously, to lay everything out there, but once a year we do and for us it's such a good and solid thing. Even just the half hour we spend reflecting with each other, filling in the blanks under the seasons (Phillip: "What were we doing in the winter?" Maggie: "Trying to get Molly to fall asleep before midnight." Phillip: "OHHHH. RIIIIGHT.") 

The first year we reflected on Friday night, had three couples share on Saturday, one couple on Sunday and Sunday evening we crawled into bed determined to sleep for a week. By the second year some of us already had a baby, and things definitely changed. We don't talk quite as long, the prayer times are hurried, we're feeding kids at mealtimes and stressed out about childcare for Saturday night. Just trying to find a weekend this year was exhausting in and of itself. But it's still a good thing. Even the way we're going to make up for this weekend - attempting to find three separate weeknights for each couple - will be good.

We take pictures every year and keep track of prayer requests in a journal. We have two kids apiece now. We've been through births and deaths, crises of faith, new jobs, moves and the standard assortment of major life decisions for people in their late twenties and early thirties. We go to different churches, have different politics, have different ideas of what constitutes a good time on a Saturday night, but we're committed.

As the lone blogger in the group I am often pretty bored during the official Reflection Time. I feel like "reflecting" is part of my genetic makeup, it's something I am doing daily if not hourly. I am thinking about what I will share with these people months ahead of time. I collect and organize and refine my thoughts. I know exactly what I'm going to say. I love that I get to spill it in person and not just on the blog, because I probably wouldn't otherwise. It's really good for me to get specific and connect the pieces and to do all of that with Phillip's help. I'm sure you're not surprised to hear that the things I find most impacting and eventful in my year aren't always lined up with Phillip's things. I'm also blessed to have friends with gifts for listening. They always seem to latch onto something, to identify the part I couldn't quite make out for myself. It's helpful. Comforting. Eye-opening. And everyone should have the experience of being prayed for.

I know there are people out there who would rather eat fertilizer than sit through a long, sappy, teary, churchy, way-too-vulnerable weekend couples therapy session with friends. I am not one of those people. I love it. I'm so thankful I get to do it. I'm just going to have to find myself an actual factual babysitter so we can finish THIS weekend.


After a long long weekend

I sat in baseball traffic for over an hour today and that has put me in a Mood. Frakkin' Mariners. I swear, we have lived here long enough to know when and how to endure a local highway, and STILL we do stupid things like, "Oh, it's only the 8th inning, I'm sure we can take the stadium exit off 99 to avoid the traffic on the ship canal bridge!" What are we? Recently transplanted Californians? And then we got stuck on the way home as well, since "Thou shalt run into stop and go traffic at Boeing Field" is somewhere in the BIBLE. This thought doesn't often enter my mind, but SOMETIMES it'd be nice to drive SOMEWHERE without having to factor in the stinking TRAFFIC.

Ahem.

I missed my kids. They were with my parents all weekend and I just put Molly down for the night. I'm one of those people who doesn't fall in love with her kids right away. I mean, I love the little squishy red-faced balls of pudge they give you in the hospital, but in a sort of bland and vague way. But whenever I look at Molly lately I'm just flattened by "oh my goodness, you are the sweetest thing, you are adorable, and you are MINE!" This happened with Jack too, and still happens when he's not throwing himself about like a jilted prima donna. And you don't really think about it. You're just kind of going along, la la la, this is life, this is what my kids are like, this is what they do and BAM- your kid busts out a PERSONALITY and you're all DUDE. This is WAY MORE FUN.

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Oh, Parents. Don't think I'm not aware that I have you TOOOOTALLY wrapped around my pinkie finger.

Sometimes I think the most exciting thing about being a parent is wondering who in the world is IN that little roly poly body.

Jack, of course, is not to be Out-Personalitied:

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Where is that woman with my mojito? And it better have a little umbrella.