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December 2009

Seven Quick Resolutions

1. I resolve to bake more. I love baking and baking took a decided hit in 2009. This should coincide with my next resolution which is

2. my resolution to NOT lose weight. I KNOW. I have many many thoughts on the recent fitness/fat internet kerfluffles, all of which shall go unpublished except for: I am in a good place. I am happy and comfortable doing what it takes to be my current size, and while I'm sure there are people out there - including, sometimes, myself - who think I could stand to lose another size or two, I'm ready to prioritize other parts of my life. At the same time

3. I resolve to not GAIN weight. 2010 shall be the Year of Maintaining!

4. I resolve to set the table more often. I LOVE setting the table! Funny, since I distinctly remember hating it when my mother asked me to set the table. But I have many pretty dishes and place mats and glassware and I'm not even talking about fancy things that you only use for holidays. Instead of throwing some plates onto a cluttered dirty table when Phillip walks in the door, I resolve to do my best to use my table for showcasing dinner, not showcasing a weeks' worth of mail, an assortment of dirty bibs, toys I've taken away from the kids, phone chargers, cameras, remotes and purses. 

5. I resolve to write more about the churchy stuff. There. I said it.

6. I resolve to attempt something professional this year. Yes, I have no idea what this means either. Perhaps it means Submit An Article. Actually, I'm pretty sure that's what it means. But it could also be Get Someone To Pay Me For My Obvious Expertise In Social Media. Or even Learn How To Use Freaking PhotoShop Already. You know, something for the resume.

7. I resolve, for the gazillionth time, to be a better commenter. Every once in a while I sit down and respond to every single comment on a particular post, but I am crap at commenting on YOUR posts and everyone knows comments are better than emails, especially email responses to comments YOU left (well, I guess that DEPENDS, but in the Public Recognition and Affirmation Of Your Online Presence Department I think comments are the clear choice). 

I hate resolutions. I can't believe I actually came up with these. Boring! Trite! Who cares! Now I'm off to SET MY TABLE for our much-looked-forward-to New Year's Eve dinner with friends. Happy New Year to YOU! And see you in your comment box. xoxo


One of the nineteen things on my mind

I've gone from worrying about how long it will be before we can have our third baby to wondering if I even want a third baby. Probably the truest and most accurate thing to say at this point is that both propositions sort of freak me out. I realize this is where most of the human population sits - frightened and unsure either way - but the fact that I don't know how I feel is alternately terrifying and amazing. On one hand, I don't change my mind about these things, what's wrong with me? On the other hand: I allowed myself to reconsider! Knock me over with a feather!

It was going to be three. I wanted at least three, Phillip wanted no more than three. Three. And, as you know, I was getting all nervous about the gap between Molly and Next Baby, and thinking that no, we'd actually have to have four so Next Baby wouldn't be lonely. YES, I THOUGHT THIS. So I was still thinking three, but sometimes I was thinking four.

Then I was doing the grocery shopping earlier in the week and when I walked down the baby food aisle my entire body relaxed. My shoulders dropped. I sighed happily. I saw the little tubs of baby food, the jars, the teething cookies and puffs and I could practically taste the relief that came from knowing all of those things were behind me. 

Hrrmmm.

My kids are two and a half and sixteen months. They are both walking (finally) and talking (sort of). They eat people food (when they feel like eating). They sleep through the night (most of the time). They're on the same schedule (more or less). I feel relatively confident about taking two kids out of the house at the same time. Why do I want to make my life harder by adding a third?

I could be done with all the little baby stuff. I wouldn't have to think about breastfeeding or pumping or washing a frillion itty bitty bottle parts EVER AGAIN! I wouldn't have to wake up every two hours or walk a crying baby back and forth across the living room at three in the morning. I wouldn't have to figure out how to mesh three schedules or fit a third baby into a small house or a small car. My life could get easier

I don't even know what to do with these thoughts, Internet, they are so surprising to me. And they are coming from someone who loved the little baby stage. Loved her newborns. I'm the easiest on myself when they're so tiny and schedule-less, when I know my only real responsibilities are feeding and changing and holding. And it's never occurred to me that I would feel "done" at two.

I have to say, there's not really such a thing as "done" for us. We are Catholic and everyone knows how that goes.

But if I'm not done, I know, at least, that I am nowhere near ready. We don't have the space or the funds or the energy and I don't know if I'll ever want to be pregnant again. I wasn't the sickest or tiredest or uncomfortablest pregnant woman out there, but my second pregnancy wreaked awful havoc on my brain chemistry and that's not something you eagerly sign up for. Maybe I'm not done, but I can wait a while.

And I feel guilty for saying so. I don't know why, since most people are surprised to find out we might like to have more, especially because "you have the boy and the girl! You're done!" I want a big family, it's how I picture the future. Am I really saying I no longer want the future I've imagined all these years because right now I'm too tired? Or I don't want to have to lose the baby weight all over again? Or because I think spoon feeding seven-month-olds is such a drag? Really? Phillip, who has never imagined a big family in the first place, has financial issues with more kids - college funds, number of bedrooms, the grocery budget, vacations, bigger cars. I've rejected all of those at certain points in our marriage, loudly repeating some platitude I heard once about all babies arriving with a loaf of bread under their arm. But here I am, visibly relieved in the baby food aisle.

I don't know. Having written all this I think I still want more - that picture of a big family is still floating around in my head. But I can wait, I could probably wait much longer than I originally thought, and I'm baffled by that. Stymied. All I really know so far is wanting to have a baby and desperately hoping my husband would get on board with my Let's Have A Baby Right This Second master plan. I've resigned myself to always wanting more or wanting sooner than Phillip, that that's the way it will be in our lifetimes. So this nonchalance, this contentment with waiting, this being okay - it's all very new. Very mind-bending.


Does this pass for my obligatory resolutions/2010 list post?

I would like to know why I feel just as crazy busy THIS week, my designated RECOVERY WEEK, as I have during the last couple of weeks, aka The Madness.  HMM? Why is that?

It's my own fault, of course. No one is MAKING me obsess about Hawaii travel plans and parties in February and selling the house and blogger get togethers that aren't happening until THE FALL. Seriously. I am fantastic at being PHYSICALLY inert - just put on an episode of Greek and tell me there are Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches in the freezer - but my inability to be MENTALLY inert, even when I PLAN to be, is a sickness. Obvs I need tropical beach vacation, stat.

I sat here for, I don't know, HOURS last night, with my internet ADD, flicking back and forth between writing a new post and researching plane tickets and hotels and code for rounded corners and trolling Redfin until I finally shut the laptop and ordered up a medicinal episode of The Office. Which I don't even like that much anymore, but feel obligated to follow.

There are other, smaller things I allow myself to dwell on when I'm attempting a self-imposed Let's All Take A Deep Breath brain pause. It's perfectly acceptable to think for a few minutes on the fact that Molly is waking up a full two hours earlier than her brother, and why this might be, and how much my life might improve if we were able to do anything about it. [Insert a Dubious Cackle.] Totally fine to wonder what I should make for dinner on New Year's Eve. Definitely okay to tackle the tasks that are right in front of me as opposed to six months out - like the mountains of clothes in need of folding, the no-place-for-the-Play-Doh situation, what to do with my leftover Christmas cards.

Or what about Jack and the potty? (Doesn't that sound like a very strange nursery rhyme?) I think that if we stayed home for a straight week and I remembered to remind him about the potty every fifteen minutes, he would be trained. The end. Maybe we should do that? I knew it was silly to get all hard core about potty training mere days before The Madness, but now it's starting to get annoying. He can USE the potty, he just needs to THINK about it. He also needs to stop asking for a Potty Treat for the merest dribble. (Again: MY FAULT. Noted!) 

Or, and this is more fun, I can think about what Wii Fit game to rent to play with my just-borrowed Wii balance board thingie. They gave me the Wii Fit game too, but I hear that one is kind of a drag, with all the constant switching between exercises. Do you have one? Which "game" do you use?

I feel so ANTSY. Like: please hurry up New Year so I can get going already!

The one thing I'm content to let lie? The "Novel". I'm morbidly and cautiously curious to see what's inside, but I'm not sure I want to think about THAT, EVER.


In which the Cheungs tackle the outdoors

Somewhere on the list of Things About Which I Am Moderately Insecure you will find Not Properly Outdoorsy. It's quite the failing for a native Washingtonian, you know, and Phillip and I are always half-heartedly saying things like, "We should really get the kids swim lessons" or "People say snowshoeing is really fun" or "What if we took the kids up to the pass to play in the snow?" And then today we actually DID take the kids up to the pass to play in the snow, where we learned that we were right the first time: it's better to just talk about it than actually do it.

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SEND HELP.

We Googled "where to play in the snow" because we are nothing if not diligent Googlers, but all we could find was an inner tubing spot, where you had to pay for the tubes and honestly I couldn't see either of my kids going anywhere NEAR an inner tube. We just wanted to pull off the side of the road and throw some snowballs or something.

To do this, of course, we had to acquire all the gear. You can't just go play in the snow. You must first find snow pants and snow boots and the right kind of gloves and hats and a backpack because it's not like you can take the diaper bag out into a giant snowdrift, am I right? Which meant we found ourselves at the home of our Properly Outdoorsy Friends borrowing things like army-issue camouflage green snow pants and hiking boots that weighed about four tons per shoe. Most of the kids' stuff was dug out of the boxes of hand me downs my sister-in-law sends every couple of months, or purchased on sale at Target. Jack already had the boots, for example, because last year we were snowed in at Christmastime and if it happened again I didn't want to have to tie plastic bags to his be-slippered feet.

And this is my main beef with Snow Sports. It takes SO long to get READY. I don't know how families with young kids go skiing. I mean, they must start getting ready a good two hours before they even have to pull out of the garage. And then, once you're finally out there, you're not done! You have to put on the ski boots and lock them into the skis and if you are my family you have to stand in line for years to RENT all this stuff and THEN? You are cold and wet and icicles are forming inside your nostrils and when you go home your hip joints make you feel like you are ninety years old and I JUST DON'T SEE THE ATTRACTION.

ANYWAY. We weren't going skiing, but the first ski area was our first option for playing in the snow. Phillip thought we could just hang out at the bottom of the runs and I was all, "Uh, okay, I guess" and that's pretty much what we did. Molly would agree to walk across the snow, but didn't want much to do with touching it or playing with it. Jack loved it, digging his hands (covered in cheap mittens that kept sliding off, argh) into the snow and throwing it into our faces. 

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Stupid mitten.

But for the most part we stood there looking around, looking like People Who Obviously Don't Do This Sort Of Thing. It would have been fun to drag them across the ground in a sled or even a cardboard box, but even if we'd had a sled, there were signs everywhere outlawing this kind of fun. Also, my fingers were freezing inside my fancy borrowed gloves, making me rather nervous about Molly's wittle fingers inside the fleece pocket things Old Navy pretends are mittens for babies.

We were there nearly an hour (though yes, I'm counting however long it took us to get in and out of car) and then decided to head to North Bend, aka The First Sign Of Civilization, for lunch. We stopped at McDonalds where Phillip and I watched in amazement as our son ate half of a Happy Meal cheeseburger. That in itself labels the day a success, I think.

On the way home we talked about whether we'd take our family skiing or any of the other outdoorsy winter sports things other local families do. Phillip skis, or at least he did back when he was a Young Single Man Driving A Subaru. I do not ski, despite weeks of expensive ski lessons in AUSTRIA with distractingly handsome ski instructors. But we're both a little shamefaced about our collective lack of outdoorsiness and athletic prowess. We're hopeful our kids won't suffer from our deficiencies in these departments. Wishful thinking? I'll have you know that I said, OUT LOUD, that yes! Of COURSE I would go skiing! SEVERAL YEARS FROM NOW!


AND THEN

The last couple weeks have just been INSANE. This YEAR, actually, has been insane (the good kind) and I spent most of yesterday detailing all of the insanity during our way-postponed weekend-with-old-friends. Phillip applied to grad school! We went to Disneyland! Phillip is IN grad school! I WROTE A FREAKING NOVEL! And oh yeah, I was anxious a grand total of, like, four days and that, my lovely internet friends, is a MIRACLE.

So today Phillip and I made the most of a morning and afternoon without kids and tried to, I don't know, take a deep breath. We slept in, we didn't rush, we wandered over to the pho place down the street and had a leisurely lunch. And then I dragged him all over downtown looking for the perfect and deeply discounted winter coat. In the car on the way to my parents' house we talked about how great our day had been. We talked about our kids and our families and the wedding and our first Christmas Eve at home and how much fun we had doing absolutely everything. Even though we need at least another month to recover.

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Home from Christmas Eve Mass and WHY did I want to go to that? No, really, WHY?

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Yay pajamas!

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Hug a bug - be gentle please!

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Christmas morning at Ye Ye and Nai Nai's house.

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Mommy's new toy. This picture can be alternatively captioned: We loooooove Daddy!

AND THEN. Tonight, at four days shy of SIXTEEN MONTHS OLD, Molly started walking. And we are all so relieved we won't have to wheel her into her dorm room after all. Merry Christmas to US! 


Poetry Saturday

Batter My Heart - John Donne

Batter my heart, three-personed God; for You
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like a usurped town, to another due,
Labor to admit You, but Oh, to no end!
Reason, Your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love You, and would be loved fain.
But am betrothed to Your enemy:
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to You, imprison me, for I,
Except You enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except You ravish me.


Twas The Night Before Christmas (Almost)

We spent the day with my parents, came home after dinner and upon walking into the house it was clear that I apparently stopped Managing Life sometime on Friday afternoon. I have a stack of unpaid bills on my desk, a mountain of presents to wrap, dirty dishes, new toys all over the floor and the house elves have done nothing. Nothing! The worst parts are the various and mysterious Bags O' Wedding Crap that I cannot bear to peek into. My veil is poking out of one of them, another, I know, is filled with Things We Thought FPC Might Want To Save, But She Probably Won't, Which Means I Am Harboring A Sack Of Garbage On My Counter. And then sometimes I wonder where my shrug is or my shoes or the nine million granola bars I brought to the church but didn't eat and oh, what about my scissors? WHO KNOWS WHERE THESE THINGS ARE? 

What I'm saying is: I have a lot to do. 

I am probably going to kick back on the couch with the ginormous Rubbermaid storage tub of leftover wedding cookies my mother gave me for our Christmas Eve celebration, but let's pretend I am actually getting stuff done. Sound good?

Here are some links to tide you over:

I have no idea when it will post, but my updated version of Twas The Night Before Christmas is SUPPOSED to show up at Parenting sometime on Thursday. We shall see. I'll update this spot when it does, because I am halfway proud of what I churned out this week. Hey! It's up!

I have a wishlist posted at Style Lush. Not because anyone dropped the ball on my Christmas gifts and could benefit from a quick trip to the mall (RIGHT, PHILLIP?) but because it's kinda fun to make a big stack of stuff you think is cool/fun/pretty/droolworthy.

And even though it's the Eve of Christmas Eve and I sincerely hope to be back with something Appropriately Reason For The Season tomorrow, just in case I'm not I'll link back to this picture

Merry Christmas Eves, everyone. 


Next up: SELLING THE HOUSE

I suppose I should be focused on the various holiday gatherings we have scheduled for the week, not to mention the birth of our Lord and Savior (UNTO YOU A CHILD IS BORN!) but, uh, my brain has quickly leaped to the next big thing on my List Of Big Things, and that would be Talking To A Realtor. 

I kind of want to throw up. 

Also, A'Dell's tweets about selling her house are not helping. 

But every time I walk into our bedroom and bang my knee against the pack and play, I am reminded that we have a moving deadline: find a new house before Molly outgrows the pack and play. 

I wrote this post about location vs. space a month or so ago and it was practically the next day, I swear, that I figured out what I want. Or what I think is most important for me. 

Your comments helped a lot. I also happened to visit two friends that week, one who chose location and one who chose space. That helped too, as I hung out in their respective living rooms and visualized myself living in their houses! 

I've been thinking about this for years, probably the minute I set my dining room table with all my new wedding presents. I love this town, I love its neighborhoods, I love the scenery and the shops and the libraries and the attitude and the cute little houses and the hills and the cafes. I can live within walking distance of an excellent school, a Thai restaurant and a secondhand bookstore, but I will never ever EVER be happy if I can't have twenty-nine people over for dinner. 

I know, I know. How often does one have twenty-nine people for dinner? Next to never. I AM FULLY AWARE. I also know how silly it is to base your house-picking decisions on paint and kitchen counters and floor tile, but there it is. This is my silly house-picking deal breaker. I want the option of throwing a massive party without worrying if the house contains enough oxygen. 

We've thrown some fairly large parties in our fairly small living space. I would even say that these parties were a fairly good time. But I spend a huge amount of time worrying about where to put the food, where to put the drinks, where to put the Christmas tree, where to put the PEOPLE. Sure, it works out, but I doubt it's very comfortable. 

When we're older I'd like to have friends for dinner and kick all the kids into the basement to play. I'd like a guest room and an office. I want to fit twelve people around my table. I want a hall closet and enough distance between the TV and the table, a fenced yard with enough room to play touch football. 

I would love to walk down the street to a coffee shop, but if it meant I lived in a house where inviting people to dinner meant hitting up the Thai restaurant, I'd be miserable. 

If there's another wedding in town, I want to be able to offer my house as a place to stay. I want to host Thanksgiving and Christmas. I want to have more kids. Sometimes, in the way off distant future, I think I want space for foster kids. (Phillip just fell over - cardiac arrest.)

I WANT SPACE.

But I also don't want an enormous house so far away from town that no one wants to COME to our parties. That would also not be good. 

A few weeks ago I was trolling Redfin, as you do, and I found The Perfect House. It was not the largest or newest or fanciest house, but it was large and new and fancier than anything I expected in our price range. It was hanging out, I will admit, in the farthest far point of our price range, but still, it was within the confines, and it was in my top pick neighborhood. If we were in any position to buy I would have called up a realtor right then and there to make an offer. It was big and new enough for Phillip, big and close enough for me. It's already sold, of course, it was a steal. But it gave me the teeniest shred of hope that something similar is out there, ready to make itself available when we're ready to buy. FINGERS ARE CROSSED. 

In the meantime, I need to find a real estate professional and start asking questions. Is it a good idea to sell our house and rent for a year? Will we make any money on our house if we sell it now? Are there any rental houses that fit our criteria? How awful will it be to show our house while we are still living in it? Are we insane? Should we just stay here forever? 

Right now we're thinking of selling in the summer once Phillip has time away from school. We're thinking about renting until he's finished with his program and we know what we can afford. It's entirely and hopefully possible that this is our last Christmas in this house. And now I think I have to go cry a little, because this house? Almost perfect.


What happened on the way to the wedding

When someone asked us how the wedding went and I couldn't think of what to say first, Phillip piped up with, "Well, there were a lot of wardrobe malfunctions." And that, I think, is an excellent way to characterize most of what happened on Saturday. 

Not with Molly, of course. Molly's stylist was on the ball. 

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Could I be any cuter? Could I look any LESS like my mother? 

And except for the fact that I was too frazzled to remember to wear the earrings FPC gave me the night before, there were no wardrobe issues with either the bride or her bridesmaids.

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Other Sister and FPC, in typical and characteristic stance. Other Sister: "Look at me! I'm five inches taller than usual! Where's Jack so he can tell me I'm a princess?! Because I AM!" FPC: "How many hours till I can get out of this thing?" 

And before someone speeds down to the comment box to say so: YES, WE KNOW WE ALL LOOK SO MUCH ALIKE!

The first wardrobe malfunction took place much earlier in the day, when my mom, Other Sister, FPC's high school BFF and our SIL were driving up to Seattle. BFF (on account, Other Sister admits, of being barked at to hurry up) forgot her dress at Other Sister's apartment and didn't remember until they were about twenty minutes into the drive. Oops. It wasn't a huge deal and BFF more than made up for her grievous error by being the Girl Friday of weddings. Dude, thank God for the Random Family Friends who were stuck helping with the decorating because we were their rides. WE NEEDED THEM.

We spent an hour or two at the hair salon, and after that we spent a few hours at my house fussing over eye makeup, redoing the hair we'd just had professionally done, finishing up the last reception details, ironing the boys' clothes and plowing through the mountain of food Phillip had fetched first thing in the morning. Lots of re-bobby-pinning and eyelining and yelling, "WHO TOOK MY BAG?"

We had to be at the church at 1:30, which was probably the roughest part of the day for me. The wedding was supposed to start at three and it was a good hour and a half of Barely Holding It Together. I'd spent a long time packing Things We Might Need and distributed them between two bags, but my mom took one of the bags to the reception and it turns out we needed nothing in the bag I had and everything in the bag my mom had. It was raining, my shoes hurt, I had to run back and forth between the church and the hall I don't know how many times, my hair was falling out, I had a Himalayan range on my chin to cover up and nine million people were asking me nine million questions. 

And then my dad showed up all, "Who has my clothes?" and I'm all, "My HOUSE has your clothes because that's where you are supposed to BE."

OH WAIT. 

I forgot the biggest wardrobe malfunction, in which my mother discovers, about fifteen minutes before we are supposed to leave for the church, that she has left the top half of her wedding outfit at home. Fifty minutes away. In WRETCHED traffic. 

Ohhhh, Internet. It was so sad. My poor mother. I mean, we're all a bit of a wreck at this point (except FPC, props to her) and what were we supposed to do? 

We called everyone we knew. Everyone we knew decided not to answer their phones. I was, by this point, used to Last Resortting, and I dug a favorite top out of my closet, a stretchy black Banana Republic number. While it wasn't perfect and I know my mom didn't like it, IT DID THE TRICK. We topped it with one of the many shawls we'd dug out of our respective closets for all the people who didn't have cover ups, a gold one that, if I may say so myself, looked rather lovely. I'd post a picture but I am pretty sure my mother would kill me.   

But back to my DAD. Between hunting down his clothes and ordering them to the church, piling up all the clothes in the dressing room and shoving them into the back of my parents' van, figuring out which clothes FPC was taking with her and which clothes the flower girl needed for the reception and tracking down scissors to cut out the tags in all the clothes we were wearing (WHY DID WE NOT DO THIS BEFORE?) I had about five minutes to turn the Himalayas into the Appalachians. 

And then, during the ceremony, where I was hoping to catch my breath, I noticed that about half the programs were printed wrong. By which I mean: the first page was printed on the second page and vice versa. Picture all the wedding guests looking blankly at their programs, wondering why the order of the Mass begins with "Homily". GO WEDDING PLANNER!

Gak, I'm getting all stressed again. More pictures? 

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Bread means a not-shrieking baby. And is that my mom?! OOPS!

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My kids (Jack wore a vest and shirt from Crazy 8 with black cords), their respective grandmothers and the stupid table number cards. 

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Other Sister and me in front of the prom photo backdrop - not as wide as I thought it might be, but it turned out pretty cute. Also, check out Other Sister's shoes, which I affectionately nicknamed The Drag Queen Heels. As for mine, I'm not sure if I am rocking the ankle strap or not. Also: big fat fail on the Movie Star Red Carpet Pose, eh? SIGH.

And the FPC was gorgeous. The end. 

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Quoth Jack, as I am ready to hit publish, "That's my Aunt Katie! Aunt Katie is a PWINCESS!" 


Rendered speechless

Nearly all of what I want to say about the wedding breaks some or all of my Blog Policies, so I need to think a little about what stories to share. I also need about nine thousand hours of sleep.

Know that the ceremony was teary, the reception was a blast, my sister was the most beautiful bride I have ever seen and I know I am biased BUT SHE WAS and the wine I spilled on my two-year-old nephew's khakis will, I am assured, come out in the wash. 

In the meantime, when I will be sleeping while someone else uploads and collects all the photos, check out the sadness that is Phillip's tie and my skin. SIGH.

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