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August 2012

In which I act like a rookie

Just because I feel the need to demand acknowledgment from whoever can give it, I just spent the last couple of hours updating the Blathering attendee page. Would you like to know why? WE SOLD OUT, SUCKAS! We have a bunch of new attendees, plus everyone decided to fill out their attendee surveys, like, yesterday, so I had some work to do. Now my eyes are crossed. 

Whenever I tell real life people about the Blathering they're sort of speechless. For various reasons. Some people can't believe that I'm going to meet people I only know from the internet (although, to be honest, I've been doing this a while now and most of my real life people have accepted this strangeness.) But other people just can't believe so many of us can just go away for a weekend! Like it's no big thing! 

Well, in my own case, it's a HUGE thing. When Phillip goes on a business trip he doesn't have to worry about childcare or what we'll eat or how we'll get to all our scheduled events or if we'll REMEMBER our scheduled events or (ESPECIALLY OR) if I will go particularly out of my mind during his absence. It's just what I DO, right? I will be away Wednesday through Sunday and I've been planning childcare and the drop off pick up schedule since, oh, MAY. I'm worried about Phillip going out of his mind and I am really counting on the various grandparents to spell him if necessary. I believe my mom has an overnight already scheduled. 

SPEAKING OF OVERNIGHTS OMG HOW COULD I FORGET TO TELL YOU THIS? Emma is going to stay overnight with my parents this weekend. No big deal, right? BUT IT'S TWO NIGHTS. Two nights! I am... irrationally nail bitey!

Jack's first overnight was at seven months. Molly's was... maybe even earlier? No wait, hers was later I'm sure, due to the fact that she was overly attached to me and surly with everyone else. And yeah, the first time was always anxious-making, but mostly I think I'm pretty good at shipping my children off. I don't fret, I don't really care how things are done, I expect everything to be different at Grandma's house, whatever. 

We haven't had EJ stay overnight because, for starters, she was swaddled until she was over nine months old and my mother is completely baffled (and offended, if you really must know) by swaddling. And since that was the only way to get EJ to sleep, there was no hope for a sleepover. But now my issues are more about the fact that she still wakes up once a night and we still feed her a bottle (I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW) and that is a huge drag for someone who is not her mom or dad (well, it's a drag for her mom and dad, quite frankly.) BUT ALSO. She is just super attached to Phillip and me. I don't know if I've written about this very much, but I feel WAY more bonded to EJ at this age (really, from BIRTH) than I did with the other two. I don't know why. I think she's a very expressive and communicative baby, at least with me, and I am JUST as worried about missing her as I am about her missing me. 

WHO AM I?!?!?!

We have friends coming into town and staying with us, Labor Day weekend is our annual weekend with good friends (ie: Intensive and Intentional Couples Therapy Which is Nine Thousand Times More Awesome Than It Sounds) and it will just be EASIER without Emma. All the other kids will be with grandparents. I've planned to send Jack and Molly off since forever. But when I was talking to my mom the other day she assumed EJ was going too and then I suddenly had the OPTION!

Phillip Cheung: Um, yes, let's send her to your parents', are you kidding? 

Me: WAAAHHHH!

I feel RIDICULOUS. I've been SUPER OKAY leaving my kids. But I'm seriously feeling like EJ is my one and only and I've never done this before and what if she MISSES ME? 

Okay, maybe a large part of my CRAZY is because it's two nights. Two nights is a big deal for a baby who doesn't sleep through the night and loves snuggling with her mommy. (It is also a big deal for the mommy.) But that's just the way it is this weekend and it WILL be so much NICER and EASIER for us if we don't have any kids at all. We'll be free to focus on the things we want to focus on with our friends, and have the flexibility to go out and do whatever whenever. 

I feel like I'm leaving her at home and flying to Palm Springs all over again. 

And I think she will be fine! Honestly! She loves my parents and my mom is great and swears up and down she doesn't mind getting up at three in the morning and Jack and Molly, Emma's favorite people on the planet, will be right there too. I AM BEING A HUGE DORK. 

I am being a huge dork. I am being a huge dork. I am being a huge dork. 

Okay, so I owe you 1) a princess party post and 2) a picture of my almost-kindergartener wearing his brand new backpack because OMG I DIE. I ordered it online, it arrived today, it was met with a Barely Contained Expression of Glee, and it was worn all during quiet time AND packed with all the quiet time essentials. I cannot wait for him to pack it for real and take it to school on his first day. 


All the people who are funnier than me, and other reasons why you should go to the Blathering this year

I didn't get to go to the Blathering last year. I know. I'll wait for you all to get out your hankies. It was in October, see, and I had this baby at the end of September, and while I very seriously considered going anyway, WITH the baby, I stayed home. I thought a two-week-old might hamper my fun-having, it wouldn't be worth the airfare, no one would want to room with me because I'd have a BABY, etc. etc. POOR BLOGGER LADY. I had to settle for Face Timing with Manda and A'Dell and that was NICE and all, but dude. Not going to the Blathering is a Major Bummer. 

So what I'm saying is, I totally know how it feels to stay home and GOING is so much better. So you should register and get your plane ticket and I'll see you there.

(Was that helpful? Do you feel like you can get off your fence now? I am here for YOU.)

All the mushy shmoopy things that people say about it are true. I should know. At the first Blathering I tip toed into Elizabeth's house behind Liz, because Liz is a Fun and Friendly Person and I am... not... and I figured that everyone would automatically like HER and then they would be duty bound to at least acknowledge my presence. This worked out really well for me! So much so that I thought I could go to the next Blathering on my own, which I did, and that was good too! I know! Gold stars for the anxious introvert!

I didn't go to the Blathering after that. We've already discussed it. Let's move on. 

THIS Blathering is a smidge intimidating because HOLY CRAP there are fifty some people attending and that's about forty-seven more than I think I'll have time to talk to. (Not that I don't WANT to - that is, in fact, the problem. How do I have meaningful and memorable one-on-one conversations with fifty some people in 3 days?!) Apparently it was this way last year as well, BUT WE HAVE ALREADY GONE OVER THAT. This is MY first capped-at-sixty Blathering and EEK! Except... okay, I'm going to be honest. I'm really not nervous at all. This is half because a large handful of attendees are already my friends. By which I mean I successfully used Liz to con them into thinking I am awesome. But also, in my experience with Internet People, which happens to be a lot of experience now, EVERYONE IS REALLY HORRIBLY NICE. Especially this group - I mean, the organizers practically have a memorized creed about inclusivity. 

So anyway. Not intimidating. Get over that. If it helps, know that you can just come find me and be all, "Dude, there are a lot of people here" and I'll be all, "Dude, I KNOW" and we can lurk in our corner together. And I say that with the utmost positivity, because not all of us are Lives of the Party and hilarious joke tellers and quippy witticists and YEAH YEAH maybe some of us would like to be (SOMETIMES IT WOULD BE NICE, OKAY?) but I own my Rather Dullness. I own my Can't Think Of Anything Funny To Say Until Ten Minutes After The Moment Has Passed-ness. But that's okay! If I can have an awesome time, so can you. If I can come home from a Blathering weekend with face injuries from laughing so hard, you can too. 

My personal internet is crammed full of brilliant, hilarious, amazing women who express themselves in words - exactly the way I prefer to express myself. There honestly is something about being in a group of people who use words, who put their stories out there. We're all people who ventured onto the internet and made it as real as our real lives. Maybe we've self-selected somehow, and you're reading this because you think we'd be great friends in real life - THAT'S PROBABLY TRUE. 

If you go to the Blathering, I know it's not because you want to meet ME. But part of the awesome, I think, is that I might get brave and introduce myself to YOU, or you'll HAVE to say hi to me because I happen to be standing next to someone much funnier, and six months from now I'll be emailing you about my rotten day and you'll be recommending I have wine for dinner and you'll be just as real as my "real life" friends. 

It's so worth it, is what I'm saying. I'm so glad I get to go again!

 

 


A behavior chart for ME

Behavior charts are one of those things that I found wholly unimpressive before I was an Actual Parent. Back when I was just a Potential Parent, or maybe you prefer A Parent In Theory Only, I thought most complicated stuff like that - charts, reward systems, overly detailed Time Out rules - were silly. More specifically, they were only for BAD parents. Parents who could not control their children. Parents who COULD control their children did this with merely A Look, A Voice, or, in dire times, perhaps a subtle arm yank (combined with A Look or A Voice, of course.) 

I have now been an Actual Parent - a Parent In Practice Most Definitely -a little over five years, enough time for the universe to do some major work on humbling me. I'd say there's still much to do, but in the Discipline Department I am well and thoroughly broken (AS YOU KNOW.) My arsenal of Looks, Voices, and Arm Yanks are terribly ineffective with a certain Jackson Cheung. I feel a tiny bit better knowing that they work (mostly) on his sister, but I just haven't been able to come up with a good system for JACK. Add to that the fact that Phillip has even fewer Looks and Voices and is, in general, a much nicer and more patient person than me ANYWAY, we are lost. Our Lostness led to a Okay, We Need To Change It Up discussion last night, which, in conjunction with a phone call to my mother, who knows about these things, led to The Behavior Chart. 

SO. Our struggles with Master Cheung are as follows:

  1. Every instruction, every request, every direction, EVERY SENTENCE is met with some kind of Talk Back. Sometimes sassy, sometimes genuine, always irritating. I'd say 10% is out and out worth a year in military school, 10% is justified, and the rest is just sort of borderline disrespectful/rude/genuinely inquisitive, so you're not entirely sure how to react. Was he doing it on purpose? Did he REALIZE that was rude? Do I get angry or do I patiently teach? A lot of times he's not being BAD, he's NEGOTIATING, but MY GOD ENOUGH WITH THE NEGOTIATING JUST DO I WHAT I TELL YOU TO DO AAAUUUGGGHHH!!!
  2. He's getting bossier and snippier with Molly. Frequent thing I say: "You are not the boss of Molly!" Another frequent thing I say: "Molly, you don't have to do what Jack tells you to do!"
  3. He often gets out of control. Yet another place where we aren't sure how far to go. Sometimes he's just having FUN! But a lot of times he doesn't know when to stop. He roughhouses with his grandfathers and always pushes the limit. He ADORES Emma, but he can get rough and wild with her. He can get rowdy and silly and he'll stop for the two seconds it takes you to tell him to calm down, but then he'll go right back into it. 
  4. He doesn't always seem to REALIZE that he's in trouble. And therefore doesn't ACT like he's in trouble. Frequent thing I say: "ACT LIKE YOU'RE IN TROUBLE!" Another frequent thing I say, "Is it a good time for you to be talking right now? NO IT IS NOT."

So he's not, like, DOING horrible things. It's more like he just doesn't stop, doesn't know when to stop, doesn't know how to be in the stopping... well, and then the times that he dumps water on Emma's face in the bath tub. 

I was interested in charts because I think JACK is interested in charts. He's aware of this stuff now. He likes stickers. He can keep track of things. HE CAN SEE HOW HE IS DOING. This was a big factor for me in going the chart route. One glance at his chart will let him know what kind of day he's having and HOPEFULLY have an effect on how he acts. MAYBE?!

I googled and googled and googled and eventually went with this idea. That is a super detailed blog post, but I'll just sum it up real quick - our version, anyway. 

Each kid (we're doing both kids - Molly doesn't really NEED it, but we don't want to single Jack out and it can't hurt) has a chart with six "cards". The original blog post called these "coins" and they translate into money, but I didn't want to go that route for various reasons. (Also I didn't want to cut out circles.) So I bought those foam sheets at the dollar store and made cards with the kids' choice of character glued onto the fronts - superheroes for Jack, princesses for Molly. When they misbehave, I can tell them to give me a card. (Read the blog post if you're interested in the how and why and when details. I think we'll do most of what she says.) But they can also earn the card back with good behavior. At the end of the day, if they have all six cards still on their charts, they get a sticker. If they earn 10 stickers, they get a reward. In Jack's case it's a new iPad game, in Molly's it's a new dress up dress. (In the original blog post it's $10 for the kid to spend, so it's also a way to learn about money.) No sticker if I still have cards when they go to bed. If I have to take away ALL the cards, they can't earn them back for the rest of the day and ALL electronic privileges are taken away (iPad, TV, computer etc.).  BUT the next day always starts with six cards. 

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(That last card is blank because it USED to be the Hulk and then Jack said, "But I don't like the Hulk! Where's BATMAN!" whereupon I felt like AN IDIOT because Batman is his FAVORITE and I FORGOT BATMAN. OOPS.) (Also, the cards are stuck on with Velcro. My experience with stick on Velcro is not awesome, but we'll see how it goes.)

It sounds really complicated, right? It felt that way when I was explaining it to Phillip. But I think it will help. It will help Jack because he likes a challenge, because he likes to win and hear he's doing well, it will be easy for him to see how he's doing during the day and hopefully that will translate into being more aware of his "status" with us, and he knows up front what the expectations and consequences are. He WANTS to "be a good boy". Also he's just a finicky chart sort of person and responds well to that sort of activity anyway. 

It will help Phillip and me because we'll be on the same page, we'll immediately know what to take away, it helps us stay consistent, and it makes it easy for us to follow through. WE ARE NOT GOOD AT THOSE THINGS, INTERNET! We are wishy washy! We are constantly stymied and confused! We often don't agree! But we agree on this, it's workable for both of us, and in the moment we don't stand there trying to figure out what the appropriate punishment is. 

It is ENTIRELY POSSIBLE that I will come back here next week or the next and tell you that this was a terrible failure. I am open to that! But right now I feel pretty optimistic, if only because it's a PLAN and I always feel good when I have a PLAN. 

Also! I am VERY MUCH AWARE of the potential ridiculousness of starting a fancy new behavior chart one week from the start of a Major Life Change AKA Kindergarten! But hey, this is when we talked about it, this is when I felt motivated to DO something, so it's done. We'll see how it goes. 

I can't really figure out if I should be rolling my eyes at myself or patting myself on the back. It seems really OVERBOARD, you know? On the other hand, I think Phillip and I NEED overboard at this point! Honestly, it's as much for us as it is for the five-year-old. How embarrassing. 

OKAY. I will report back. 

P.S. I owe you a Princess Party post and there WILL be a Princess Party post and I bet you're as excited for that one as you were for this behavior chart post. FUN TIMES AT MIGHTYMAGGIE.COM!


In which I start missing my five-year-old

I'm feeling like a bit of a mean mom tonight. The princess birthday party is tomorrow and when I envisioned this whole thing, it was all about Molly (OR OKAY, MUCH ABOUT ME) and how we would decorate and what we would wear and eating PINK things and DRINKING pink things and WHEEEE!!! I totally failed to consider the small boy who also enjoys cake and party games and, yes, princess dresses. 

To his credit, there's been no whining. Just a lot of anxious curiosity. He saw me printing out pictures for a game and asked me all about it, informed me he played the same game with Grandma, were we going to use candy at the birthday party too, was I going to make sure everyone could win, ETC. ETC. He wants to know about the cake. He wants to know who's coming. He wants to know if the cookies we decorated today are for the party. AND I JUST FEEL TERRIBLE.

I didn't have any qualms about a no boys allowed party, but I really did not think through how to PLAN a no boys allowed party with a boy hanging around 24/7. 

Anyway, the idea is for Phillip and his dad to take Jack out for dinner (he's requested the McDonald's Playplace, if you had any doubt) and to bring him back before the party is over so he can have cake at least. I'm starting to wish I'd gone along with Molly's original plan, which was, "No Mommy, we have to have Jackson, so we can have a Princess and SUPERHERO party." She was so much smarter than me. 

BUT WHATEVER! We have pink felt princess hats and heart-shaped finger jello and what better use for my parents' ancient Bavarian china, with the dainty pink rosettes and gold trim? 

This was a week I was worried about, what with No Plans and No School Yet, but it turned out okay. Despite the nasty cold I picked up yesterday, despite the never knowing what we were going to do each morning. Things worked out. And this morning Emma slept late, so I got the big kids ready and then when the baby woke up, we all went out for coffee and muffins for breakfast and THAT is why being a SAHM is awesome. You can just DO stuff like that. Sure, you're beholden to the baby's schedule and everything's a hassle with three car seats, but just sort of picking up and going wherever and deciding that on this random Thursday morning you're having blueberry muffins and hot chocolate for breakfast instead of staying home and eating oatmeal - it's not a bad gig, is what I'm saying. 

We have one more week of this, then Labor Day Weekend, then SCHOOL. I already have fifteen School Events on the calendar. And I'm slowly filling up our week with friends and coffee dates. It's a tiny bit weird to think Jack is going to be completely out of the playdate picture after a week and a half. No more weekday overnighters to Grandma's house, no random coffee shop breakfasts, no more Target at 8:30 AM. It's good - we're both definitely looking forward to school, oh yes - but it's also the end of an era, at least for Jack, and somewhat for me. I've still got a long time with Emma, but my near-daily semi-freakouts about What Are We Going To Do This Morning?! are practically ended with the big kids. Molly will be gone three days a week. (And when she's home she's easy: doughnuts and shopping.) 

So hopefully I won't be tearing my hair out these next few days. Hopefully we can do some fun stuff? Enjoy ourselves? Not that HE'S aware, but I am. And not that there's really anything to commemorate or DO, even, but I want to notice, pay attention. He won't always be the little boy so interested in his sister's princess birthday party. 


And this isn't even his birthday post

I've been watching The West Wing on Amazon Prime, like the rest of Twitter. I really liked that show, but I haven't seen the early seasons and it's fun to have it be entirely new again. And the toepick girl is in it! She's terrible! Well, I think it's more her lame/boring/annoying character than HER, but it doesn't surprise me that she was gone by the time I started watching. 

ANYWAY. The last episode I saw, Josh Lyman gives Donna Moss a rare book for Christmas (this, after she gave him a list requesting ski gear) so she's all WHATEVER, DUDE. Except he writes a Sweet Personal Message in it and everyone swoons - not that we are privy to the sweet personal message, but we know it's sweet because DONNA is swooning and we love Donna SO. 

I was watching on the Kindle in bed, Phillip was reading on the iPad. When the show was over I batted the iPad out of my husband's hands and you know what came next: "How come you never write ME any  MEANINGFUL MESSAGES?!"

Because, well, HE DOESN'T. Sob. I married an IT Professional, not a writer or a poet or an artist. He has an excellent ear, he plays forty-seven different instruments, the man can SIGHT SING, but lyrics are not his strong suit. I have longed for a love letter these past dozen years, but the only one I have I had to specifically request AND it is typed INCLUDING his signature. 

I've saved all the ancient emails and letters he sent when he spent two summers in China, but we weren't dating then. I have some cute notes inside birthday cards. And those are NICE. I won't count them out. But he's just not going to be the guy who writes me a random just-to-say-I-love-you email or leave me a note in my suitcase or write me a letter on a sentimental occasion. And he will NEVER write me a poem. ALAS!

I accused him of this last night. "YOU HAVE NEVER WRITTEN ME A POEM!" Surprised, he sort of laid back and thought a moment, then he said, "Well, if I DID write you a poem, would it rhyme? You know, like A B A B? Or is it A B C B? I can't remember."

Then today, of course, I came upon all these blog posts, from mostly dutiful Catholic wives, who are warning against reading Certain Books and watching Certain Movies and comparing our husbands to these fictional men. (I honestly can't remember what they were, but I found the first link through Hallie's site. Bad blogger!) So I'm reading them and of course they're right and I was already thinking this myself BUT OKAY FINE THEN. I DID NOT MARRY JOSH LYMAN. I SHALL DEAL. 

Anyway. I've sort of had enough of blog posts telling me to be a better person so I certainly won't do that HERE to YOU. Especially because I'm the sort of person who thinks I already know everything. "Well OF COURSE, Dutiful Churchy Blogger Lady, OF COURSE I shouldn't compare my real and messy life to the pretty shiny one on my television! I am not a DUMMY! And I know what I'm doing! Gah! Leave me alone!"

Except... MAN. I watch Donna open that book and see that handwritten note that I KNOW is like the yearbook message from the only boy you loved in high school and I instantly want that FEELING. And where else to focus my Ire on Not Having That Feeling except my poor caught-unawares husband?!

Poor Phillip. SERIOUSLY. It cannot be rainbows and sunshine living with ME. Last night I actually asked him what, if anything (ha ha), he felt was "missing" with ME and he actually ANSWERED: he wishes I were more compassionate when he's not feeling well. And you know what I did with that? I LAUGHED! HAAAAAA MORE COMPASSIONATE WITH A MAN COLD!

So. Clearly I am no prize in the wife department. Also I am sitting here typing this up while he clears the table and cleans up the kitchen. I am reasonably certain he will leave all sorts of dirty things on the counter and neglect to wipe up the stove, but still, HE IS CLEANING. I AM TYPING. (No one is watching the children, btw.)

I have married a guy who does not express himself via the written word. I probably won't die of this. He does, now that I'm thinking of it, give truly excellent foot rubs. He's the serving sort - cleaning, cooking, taking care of children so you can chat with your friends undisturbed. He works very hard. Probably because he is NOT a writer he does not get all dramatic and angsty and self-absorbed, like, EVER. No, he lets ME do all of that. He gets all of the gold stars for never ever saying, "But could you come home earlier?" or "I really don't want to put the kids to bed by myself" or "No, tonight's not a good night for you to go out." HE'S the one who told me I should spend 100s of our dollars on a week-long trip to St. Louis, so I can go pray with a bunch of strangers, while he stays home with the kids during his week of vacation, IMMEDIATELY AFTER I have already spent 100s of our dollars to go hang out in New Orleans with a bunch of internet people he's barely heard of. And here I am complaining about poems.

What he is doing while I am hiding in the corner with my laptop: 

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Gratuitous EJ photo:

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"My dad is awwwwwesommmme."

 


Tummy sleep, photos, a plea

While I was on my Blathering organizer phone call tonight (ARE YOU GOING?) Emma, apparently, fell asleep on Phillip. And he put her down in the crib on her stomach. He told me this with raised eyebrows and a shrug and I'm all, "Huh! We'll see about that!" 

So of course she just woke up SKA-REEMING and I'm sure it has everything to do with waking up on her TUMMY OH NO WHAT IS WRONG WITH MEEEEEEEEE?!?!

The photo session was not particularly awesome this morning. I blame Emma. Well, the other two are doing that horrible fake smile thing, you know, where you tell them to smile and then they look like grimacing monkeys? But Emma was TOTALLY weirded out by the whole situation. "You want me to sit on the FLOOR? In front of this bright LIGHT? And then you're going to flash that THING at me? Who is this strange lady! And what is my mother doing there dancing around with a stuffed Elmo like she thinks that might actually make me ENJOY this scenario?!" 

The goal was one measly shot where all three were smiling. I got one measly shot where two were smiling and one was SORT of smiling. I guess the lame thing about those department store portrait studios is the incessant upsell and the awful "collages" and their insistence on that BROWN background. I hate that brown background. I bought pictures with the brown background anyway ($4 sheets! individual poses!) but I remain a strong supporter of the Plain White Background [With Brightly Dressed Children]. 

I DO know a handful of professional photographers and I COULD go do an Actual Photo Taking Session, but that's not really in the budget right now, nor do we have a free weekend in the next year. Also, I hate having MY picture taken too. SIGH. I think I'll go back again with just Emma around her birthday. See how that goes. You get what you pay for at Penney's, but sometimes you get MORE than what you pay for. There's always a chance!

ANYWAY. Did you know that there are only two more weeks until kindergarten starts? I know everyone else is already in school (IT SEEMS LIKE IT) but we have two more weeks. Two long weeks with no plans. GAK. We have Molly's birthday party this Friday and I have a lot of errands to run, so I'm hoping that sort of fills up our mornings. Or we can at least be "helping" Mommy get ready with food and princess hats and deciding on decorations. 

BUT NEXT WEEK OH DEAR GOD. What are we going to do? Do you live near me? Would you like to come over and play? Maybe we can invite ourselves to your house? PLEEEEASE?!

 

P.S. I am drinking a Diet Hansen's Black Cherry Soda, left over from the volleyball tournament, and it supposedly has zero calories and is sugar free and I ask you, WHAT IS IT MADE OF?

 


In which no one will smile anyway

You know how when you get all KRAZY about something that is of ultimately NO IMPORTANCE WHATSOEVER? Yeah. That. Tonight's edition of the krazy = what my kids are going to wear for their impromptu portrait session tomorrow. 

ALL SUMMER I've been meaning to get their picture taken. I never did Jack's five year pictures or Emma's 9 month (or 6 month, ahem) pictures and I have been feeling very Bad Mommish about this. What I really want is a good shot of all three of them. The last pictures I really loved of the kids were done at PENNEY'S of all places, so back we go. You can schedule it online! So I just hopped onto their website and signed up for an open spot tomorrow morning AND they helpfully sent me a coupon as if they KNEW this was going to be happening... 

But I am going NUTSO about what they are going to wear. So nutso that I insisted we all go to the mall tonight so I could buy Brand New Coordinating Outfits EVEN THOUGH I had resolved not to buy ANY new clothes after all the new clothes buying I did for the wedding. No more! Enough! 

I bought new clothes anyway. I justified it by 1) not buying Jack anything and 2) saying the girls' clothes are Back To School Clothes even though 3) Emma does not go to school. OH WELL. I had Jack wearing a white polo and jeans, Molly wearing a pink sweater dress with an argyle trim at the bottom and Emma in a white, pink, and navy ruffled number. Until I got home and I was all NO NO NO THIS IS NO GOOD. 

I will spare you all the reasons why. I will also spare you the nine thousand other outfits I dragged out of closets and forced everyone to try on. But at this point, which I swear to you is the Last Point, Jack is wearing a white polo and khaki shorts, Molly is wearing a pink sundress, and Emma is wearing a baby blue sundress with a pink flower print - the same dress Molly wore in her one year pictures. I have decided this is Touching and Sentimental instead of All The New Things I Bought Look Terrible. 

Do you think I will get back there in a month for Emma's one year pictures? I seriously spent ten minutes considering if I could get away with One Year Pictures before she's even hit 11 months but then I thought my mom might call CPS.

The only good part of all of that is I can RETURN the new clothes and get my $50 back. ($50! Because I also bought shoes! For the baby who NEVER WEARS SHOES! OMG I AM INSANE!)

Okay, you know what else is pushing me towards What Are You Thinking Town tonight? Two yards of Barbie Pink felt. At first I was thinking we would just decorate construction paper CROWNS at Molly's birthday party this Friday but nooooo, NOW I have decided I am going to make PINK FELT PRINCESS HATS. Me! Who has no sewing skills whatsoever! Who is not particularly crafty! But I went to Jo Ann today and bought 2 yards of pink felt, several different colors of tulle (obvs the princess hats must have multicolored streamers), stick on jewels, sparkly stickers, and fabric pens. I'm going to google the crap out of PRINCESS HAT, find a pattern, cut them out, and stick them together with that iron on hem tape stuff. Then each kid can decorate her hat to her gaudy heart's content. I am very excited about the princess hat, folks, except for the part where I have to find and make a pattern, cut them out, and put them together. HAAAAAAA. 

I am so tired. 

I am looking at my Last Favorite Pictures of the Kids (taken when Jack was 3 and Molly was 2, SNIFF!) and I am remembering that THAT MORNING I dragged them to Target, bought Molly a new outfit, and changed her in the car right before the session. Maybe I have improved the tiniest bit on Dressing Kids For Pictures?


Rah rah go team

My body is in revolt. I'm sore - not the sort of sore you get when you pop in the 30 Day Shred after a three-month hiatus and you can't walk up stairs anymore - more like a full body creaking and tightening. When I lurched out of bed this morning, every inch of me complained. I am literally painfully aware that I Am Getting Older. 

It was fun, though, this all day outdoor volleyball tournament I foolishly agreed to play in. Our team was definitely not the best, but we did all right - especially when you consider it was our first time playing together and we were playing against teams who've played together FOR YEARS. We did well enough to make the last seed of the "higher" bracket, although that top seed creamed us in the first game and we wished we'd been the top seed of the lower bracket. Are you bored yet? Volleyball shmolleyball? 

I really like team sports. I've only come to appreciate individual efforts, like running and yoga, since I've become a parent and experienced that singular and desperate craving for alone time. I haven't really played volleyball since I got pregnant with Emma so yesterday I got the, "Is it coming back to you?!" question a few times. Well, not that I really ever had IT in the first place, but yes, I can still (mostly) serve a ball over a net and not totally embarrass myself on the court. It's fun, it's a little bit of exercise, it's something different than the usual day to day. 

But there's also something about being on a TEAM, accomplishing that win with a GROUP. If you do it enough with the same people, if you're putting in all the practice time and working hard and you know each other well, there's really nothing like it. It might be the only thing I miss from high school. I always loved the team more than I loved the sport and even though I AM really competitive, if the team part wasn't fun, I stopped having fun on the court and stopped caring whether we won or lost. [See: senior year, basketball, all-Europe tournament. BAH.] My team yesterday was pretty awesome and I hope I get to play with them again. 

I realize I try to find "teams" in real life. Those moms groups I was in when Jack was a little baby, I think that was an attempt to find my next team. Each time I join a church committee I think I'm hoping for a team. The girls I have because of the Blathering. A handful of offline friends - my longest running team. Sometimes we're supposed to do something, accomplish something, make something happen. But I realize that the greater purpose, for me, is the relationship. It becomes a problem when you're all together to hammer out the Five Year Plan, but one of you is fixated on the dysfunctional dynamic between two other members and what should she dooooo and what were we supposed to be talking again? 

In the mail Friday I received a fat envelope of Kindergarten Information. It was only fat because half of it was the same information in Spanish. Just a letter about upcoming important dates, Kindergarten orientation, a few opportunities to maybe meet some of the other families. And then a form asking parents to volunteer for various events - a pancake breakfast, a book fair, family movie night, bulletin board displays, volunteer translators. I'm excited! Nervous! And TOTALLY WONDERING what sort of team this whole school thing is going to have me join. 

 


A preview

So last week was pretty interesting. I had the big kids signed up for another week of VBS at a different church, nine to noon, Monday through Friday. Where the first VBS week was from ten to one and felt like a vacation (just one kid! meeting friends for coffee! shopping!) this week felt like practice. PRACTICE FOR SCHOOL. 

Jack's school starts at 8:50, I think. We'll drop him off and then take Molly over to her preschool, which starts at 9:30. It's a big time gap, but I REALLY want Molly in this preschool and OH WELL. Then I'll have three hours with just Emma. Pick Molly up at 12:30, go back home, pick up Jack at 3. It's going to be... well, it sounds kind of exhausting to me, but maybe it won't be. People have kids in real school and preschool and not in school, right? They make it work? Maybe we'll just get into the swing of things and Emma, especially, will be happy napping around those times. (PLEASE GOD?)

That's Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Tuesday and Thursday Molly will be home with Emma and me and those mornings we'll probably go get our Kindergarten Morning Doughnut and I will love those mornings like I did when it was just Jack in preschool two (OMG TWO!) years ago. 

But yeah, this last week was sort of mind blowing for me. A preview, if you will, of Kindergarten. It was really REALLY weird to just have Emma. And starting at nine made a difference - four out of the five days, we immediately came home so Emma could take her morning nap. I'd put her down and then I'd just... look around and wonder what to do with myself. (Don't worry. I still didn't do the dishes.)

Even more eye opening for me was today - almost an entire day with just Emma. Phillip took the kids down to his parents' house Saturday morning and the grandparents didn't bring them home until about three in the afternoon today. So this morning I only gave Emma breakfast, I put her down for her morning nap and knew I wouldn't be bothered for an hour, when she woke up I only had to think about what she and I might like to do rather than what the big kids might like to do. It was so easy, it was so quiet, it was SO GREAT to focus on Emma.

I am NOT SAYING that one baby is easy. Now that I have three kids, one baby is easy FOR ME. (And I have an easy baby.) But when I had just one baby (an easy baby too), just that one baby was overwhelming. All the packing to go out, the carrying them everywhere, the diaper situation - what a drag. But when I can just focus on THAT instead of also yelling at big kids to get your shoes on and find your sweatshirts and did you remember your backpack and  FTLOG PUT YOUR SHOES ON... I can appreciate the single-focus of one kid more than I used to! 

It was just SO WEIRD to think that this sort of day is going to be my New Normal. Jack is going to be gone SEVEN HOURS A DAY. What are we going to DO? I will have three mornings a week with just Emma! You know what I did today with Just Emma? We ran an errand at Home Depot, I bought a coffee and we walked halfway around the lake, we visited my sister and my niece, and all day I was thinking, "HEY, I CAN TOTALLY GO FOR A RUN TODAY." Do you know how long it's been since I felt like I COULD exercise? That I actually had enough time and brain space to make it happen? (Not that I exercised today. I painted the fronts and backs of 10 doors and the fronts of 3 more this weekend - obvs I crashed on the couch.) 

But... what if I felt like that more days than not? Is that what school is going to be like? I'm not REALLY as exhilarated about this Jack going to school all day thing as I make out - I think we're going to miss him. I think it's going to be a strange and possibly tough transition for both of us. But MAN... today was pretty awesome. It's like I knew that I've been struggling? But not until today did I remember that swimming feels so incredibly different than drowning. 


Break on through to the other side

So you know how I was all, "I'm gonna paint my entry way!" and you were all, "All right dude, but make sure you paint those doors first," and then I was all, "I'm not going to paint my entry way when it's SUNNY outside!" and then you (or maybe my friend Pancakes) was all, "Hmm, what about this OTHER blue, and yes, you DEFINITELY need to paint your doors, and happy birthday, here is a Groupon for paint!"

ARE YOU CAUGHT UP? 

I don't know why I got it in my head that I needed to paint doors this weekend, but when I get something in my head IT IS FIRMLY LODGED IN THERE. Also! It turned out that I was NOT going to spend all day Saturday at a volleyball tournament like I thought (perhaps I should check my calendar once in a while!) and ALSO it turned out that Jack and Molly were going to spend Saturday through Monday (that would be TOMORROW) with Phillip's parents. Free and clear weekend + firmly lodged idea + 80 degree forecast = opportune weekend for door painting. 

I didn't think it was going to be EASY, Internet. I have painted enough things to know that even though I have painted enough things, there is always something that is a drag. I also didn't think it was going to be quick. I DID think it would be relatively painless (which is sort of different from easy) and CHEAP. I was going through the neatly labeled cans of paint in our garage (I swear, we bought this house from clones of Phillip's neatly labeling parents) and one of them was an almost-full gallon of trim paint. Which is sort of what I was thinking I would need for painting doors. A-HA!

So! Here I had an almost-gallon of paint. In addition I already had, in my not-so-neatly-labeled box o' painting supplies: brushes, rollers, tape, paint trays, and half a gallon of primer. I thought I would need another gallon of both paint and primer, but then, THEN I WAS SET! Right? 

Okay so all the above was the In Theory part of the post. I will now give you the In Practice part. 

I took off the three interior doors in the entry way and laid them out flat (propped on paint sample jars) in the garage. In doing so I realized that 1) these doors are TRULY HIDEOUSLY CRAPPY and 2) NONE of them are the same width. I went around measuring every door in my house and I swear to you, NONE OF THE DOORS ARE THE SAME WIDTH. 

They're just hollow core wood doors, I'm sure they've been hanging here since the house was built in 1988, they are bruised and marked up and if they were ever finished, like with a stain or varnish or SOMETHING, they are not ANYMORE. Out of all the doors I painted, the only one I really needed to sand/degloss was Emma's door. Why that one was shiny I have no clue. 

Oh, so that part was easy. I had some deglosser left over from my cabinet painting project and I just rubbed that stuff on and no problemo. Then I rolled on the first coat of primer and DUUUUUDE. It was like the door just sucked up all the primer with a straw. It was like maybe I'd SPILLED a bit of primer and then carelessly rubbed it in. So. TWO coats of primer. 

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In the meantime I was deglossing and priming the back of the garage door and the entry way closet, which I'd chosen to leave on the hinges. I only had to do one side, so it wasn't a big deal, and I just taped up the hardware and the wall edges. But that was enough to make me happy I'd Done Things The Right Way and taken the other doors off the hinges. SO MUCH EASIER to paint when the surface is horizontal and nothing's in the way. 

Anyway, this was taking forever because it was taking forever to DRY. I was going crazy. Seriously. Those firmly lodged ideas are not known for their patience. So of course I didn't wait long enough in between coats and the doors I hung today are a bit tacky still BUT OH WELL THEY ARE PAINTED THE END. 

Today! TODAY the firmly lodged idea reminded me that I had one day left to paint the rest of the doors and if THIS is how I was going to do it I was never going to get it done. So around 7:30 in the morning I was on my deck preparing a Door Painting Assembly Line. 

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Also I needed to buy more paint. OBVS. In the morning I sent Phillip for another can of Kilz. In the afternoon I drove to the suburbs, the location of my Paint Groupon, for another can of trim paint. AND IT WAS CLOOOOOOOOOOSED!!!

Maybe I was a TEEEEENY BIT IRRITATED, Internet. This paint store is about 20 minutes away. Do you know how many paint stores are within 2 minutes of my house? I was feeling very foot stompy about this, and also confused because I still only had ONE DAY to finish those doors and now I had to buy a totally different kind of paint. 

Okay, so here is where Elizabeth is going to cluck her tongue and shake her head. I just went to Home Depot and bought Behr semi-gloss interior paint. In white. I didn't even tint it. OH YES I DID. I did not even BOTHER going to the fancy pants paint store and asking the fancy pants paint store employees what sort of fancy pants paint should go on my doors. I was ALREADY a smidge (a mile) overbudget!

So do I regret it? 

I have one more coat to do on my last 7 doors. It hasn't fully dried so I'm not ENTIRELY sure, but it appears the finish is less smooth and glossy than the three doors from yesterday (Parker Paint). I also ROLLED it on, which I know is not super kosher, but I knew that going into it. (If I brush painted 10 doors plus 2 outer doors plus one closet I WOULD HAVE GONE INSANE. Also, I'd probably only be on my third door.) So. It could be better, is what I'm saying. They are not perfectly smooth, glossy, and blemish free. 

THAT SAID. Did I mention that these were the crappiest doors in the universe? Like, BEYOND CRAPPY. I couldn't believe I hadn't noticed it before. So it's kind of like I still have crappy doors, but now they are WHITE crappy doors and this is a trillion percent improvement. They look really good and the only person who even REMOTELY cares about the finish on those doors is me. And you know what principle I fully embraced on this project? DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT! DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT!

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I'm going to slowly change out the brass knobs and handles for silver ones. (Expensive!) And one day I would REALLY like to put trim around the doors. We have awesome thick white trim around all the windows but NOTHING around the doors and it really looks undone to me. But that's a DIY project I have no idea how to do, so that's for another day. 

So it wasn't painless, it was more expensive than I planned, and waiting for the doors to dry PLUS flipping them over to do the other side is a royal pain in the butt. But it wasn't HARD, either. I'm not sure I would say it was easy, but the actual painting of the doors was the easiest part. (Not that you WANT to do nine hundred coats because your doors are sponges, but at least it was EASY TO DO.)

Jack and Molly come home tomorrow afternoon and everything needs to be painted. I might not have enough paint to do finish the front door tonight, but all the interior doors will be in their places, waiting for Phillip to help me hang them tomorrow night before he leaves on a business trip Tuesday morning aaaauuuuugggghhhh

THUS CONCLUDES A BLOG POST ENTIRELY ABOUT PAINT I AM SO SORRY

P.S. do you know how many BUGS died in my paint? That I thought were specks of dirt? And brushed off? Except it SMEARED? OMGGGG