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May 2013

Winning

Best day, you guys. BEST.

First thing: Jack comes home from school and is telling my mom (who babysat while I went to the work lunch thingy) about his friend who had to go to the nurse's office. Apparently she ate something she was allergic to and she got sick. Quoth Jack, "She farts. She farts a lot if she eats something and she's allergic." Me, only after he'd said "farts" about forty seven times: "Jack, do you mean 'barfs'?" Jack, nodding: "Yes. Barfs." 

Second thing: my deck is getting fixed. Finally! Turns out it doesn't look half bad under that plywood. (Check my instagram feed if you just went, "plywood? huh? what kind of deck IS this?") There are definitely rotting places, including a beam that is holding up a WALL, but apparently there are ways to fix this and the contractor tells me it looks good, and tomorrow morning we're meeting before Phillip goes to work to Discuss The Options. This is how it will go:

Contractor: Blah blah blah blah blah

Phillip: Blah blah blah how much blah blah what about blah blah 

Me: WHENCANWEBUILDTHESTAIRS????????????

Third thing: remember I was all, "aiiiieeee my old boss just invited me to a THING!" So I went to the thing today and it was SO GREAT. I mean, it wasn't heaps of fun or super fantabulously interesting and I didn't even see half the people I would have liked to see, but it was so good to see the people I DID see and bringing Molly along was a touch of brilliance. I always had someone to talk to, I always had something to do, and eeeeeveryone wanted to say hello to Molly. I know this will sound weird and creep you out Internet, but the guy who sat across from us, who was just smitten with Molly, PICKED HER UP as we were leaving. If he hadn't said how much Molly reminded him of his grandkids about a million times over lunch I would have been, you know, uncomfortable, but instead it was just super sweet. Which is basically how I feel about everyone in this particular local industry. THEY ARE JUST SO NICE. I thought this when I worked for them too. There are the unpleasant ones, but at these industry get togethers everyone is so friendly and kind. 

I used to go to this thing every year when I worked for my old boss. It's not fancy or a big deal, but it honors an industry person of the year and raises money for an industry-related charity and everyone supports it big time. So there are lots of people there and all the companies donate items for a huge raffle. The grand prize is always a TV and ONCE I WON THE TV. I did not have this blog then or I would have told you about it. My boss bought me raffle tickets AND THEN I WON THE TV. Phillip was super duper impressed. 

I did not win the TV this year. DISAPPOINTING. But I bought a crap ton of raffle tickets just so Molly would win something and feel like it was worth her time and effort escorting her silly mother to this boring social event. WE DIDN'T WIN ANYTHING. 25 raffle tickets people and not even a HAT. Some dude who worked for the charity, though, he won FOUR TIMES. Super bad ticket pickers, right? ANYWAY. They finally pull the ticket for the TV and it's not us and it's this young kid who I assume is part of this other group and he's flustered and I'm all WHATEVER and getting ready to go - 

then my old boss comes up to me and says, "THAT'S MY ASSISTANT. MY ASSISTANT WON THE TV. AGAIN." So. He's the one to take to Vegas. But! I'm leaving and saying goodbye and the assistant, who I will call College Kid, is standing nearby having absolutely no idea how he's going to get his new television home. He lives in the U District like a proper college kid and that's on my way so I offer to take him home. And you GUYS. This kid. He was a TRIP. He was the chattiest, cutest, flabbergastiest, chipper little guy in the WORLD. And I am not exaggerating when I say he was just like the Fred Armisen character on SNL who can't form a sentence. I shall quote from wikipedia: 

  • Nicholas Fehn – a political commentator whose mind races and wanders so much that he is incapable of finishing a sentence without starting a new one.

You know that guy? OMG THIS KID. I couldn't tell if he's ALWAYS like that or if he was just SO! EXCITED! about winning a television that he couldn't emit a coherent thought. IT WAS ADORABLE. 

Last thing: It was sunny. You seriously cannot underestimate the power of sunshine around these parts. I swear, there's forward movement on a house project, I caught up with a former life, my daughter was absolutely perfect, my mom was here helping all day, sunshine, GOOD WORK EVERYONE. Let's make it happen again tomorrow. 

P.S. THANK YOU FOR THE DINNER HELP. I will write a Dinner Update, I just had to get that farts story out of my system first. 


In which I seem to have a Mental Block against Dinner

All right, Therapist Twitter, we need to help me figure out what I'm going to do about something and that something is DINNER. 

Dinner is, and I am not REALLY exaggerating here, the BANE of my existence. Every single week I make a menu, every single week I buy the things I need to cook what's on that menu, and every single week I maybe make two of those dinners. MAYBE.

There are some genuine rough days where the kids get frozen pizza and I am face down on the couch when Phillip gets home. But it's more like yesterday, when I just didn't FEEL like figuring out what to do with those pork chops I defrosted and made scrambled eggs and bacon instead. And tonight, when AGAIN I didn't feel like dealing with pork chops and decided to make Costco frozen potstickers and rice for the kids and texted Phillip to bring home teriyaki. NEITHER of these days have been bad ones. I JUST DON'T FEEL LIKE MAKING DINNER. (PRACTICALLY EVER!)

I'm trying to figure out if this is, you know, some sort of Major Failing that I need to work hard to overcome, or just one of the things I'm not so great at, which is okay because I have this big list of other things I excel at to balance it out. HMMM?

The problem is, me never wanting to make dinner means everyone else suffers. Well... actually the kids love it when I decide to give them frozen whatever for dinner because it's always something they like better than Mysterious Cooked Meat and A Green Vegetable. And I honestly would be perfectly happy eating cereal four or five times a week. It's my poor husband, who works hard all day and loooooves fooooood who suffers. THAT POOR MAN. Every dinner I sucessfully put on the table is out of love for my husband. Seriously. 

(I suppose the kids and I suffer poor nutrition, but I didn't eat ANY vegetables until the ripe old age of thirty and I think I turned out okay.)

And my distaste of dinnermaking is becoming a THING. Like I am embarrassed to invite people for dinner, because I DON'T KNOW HOW TO MAKE ANYTHING GOOD. I also happen to be friends with people who DO cook! Gak. When my sister was telling a friend of hers about a party I was hosting, but someone else was doing all the food, the friend said, "Sounds like Maggie!" And FOR SHAME, people! I am a grown up, I have three children, I don't have to LOVE cooking, but I certainly shouldn't be defeated by it every single evening! 

Part of it, I think, is the fact that three times a day every day I have to think of what to feed people. And I don't care what anyone else says, that's a hard job. A million times I've thought about how easy my job would be if I just didn't have to FEED these kids. My family is in a stage of life where we don't all eat the same things or want to eat at the same time. I often get the kids fed by 5 or 5:30 and have nothing for Phillip and me when he gets home. I feel absolutely thwarted when I've tried to figure out a new recipe and my kids won't eat it (ESPECIALLY when it looks like something they would totally eat.) So yeah, part of it is just the sameness and drudgery and lack of imagination. 

I do like cookbooks. I love cooking magazines. I like food shows! I don't necessarily love FOOD (dessert is in a category by itself) but I do LIKE food and there have been plenty of times when I've been excited to try something new at home. But on a regular basis? No. And when you and your husband are trying to only eat certain things and none of other things? No. When you've spent your day cleaning up after kids and folding laundry and wiping faces and doing breakfast and lunch dishes? No. I would like to lay on the couch with a bowl of popcorn now please. 

How do you manage this? I know some of you are super into making meals, but some of you have to NOT be, right? And we still have to do it. So what do you DOOOOOO? I'm wondering if I just need to stock up on some Trader Joe's stuff for a while until my dinner mojo returns. There WAS a point this year where I was making lots of new things, or at least making a real dinner more often than not. Maybe my menus are too ambitious. Maybe scrambled eggs and bacon needs to be an Actual Dinner rather than a Cop Out Dinner. Maybe I need to make things well ahead of time instead of waiting until 4 to stare unhappily at whatever raw meat thing I've decided I'm making that night. Maybe I should seriously investigate the crockpot. I DON'T KNOW. I just... I NEED TO DO A BETTER JOB THAN THIS. GAH.


Perhaps I should try a home improvement television cleanse

I think I've overdosed on HGTV. Which doesn't mean that I am sick of watching HGTV (AT ALL), it means that I spend way more time thinking about my OWN house and everything it NEEDS. Technically it needs nothing. Un-technically it needs EVERYTHING. And I just feel... it's like I feel MAD about it. I'm mad that we can't fix ALL the things IMMEDIATELY.

Deck demo was supposed to start today but it got pushed back to Thursday. Fine. But we're waiting to see what the construction guys find before we decide how to fix the deck and I feel so twitchy and annoyed about it. I don't want to talk about getting other bids and how to finance it and blah blah blah I just want to get it DONE. I have an answer for all those things (whatever is easiest and fastest) and I'm READY. 

And after that? GRAND plans for the kitchen and upstairs bathroom. Total gutting. Knocking down walls. All new everything. But you know, if that's too expensive I have less grand ideas and those are okay too, I just want to get MOVING! Let's DO this thing! 

It's not just remodeling, it's wanting brighter couch pillows and a bigger better new rug, a king sized bed, new paint for Emma's room, ooh maybe I can PAINT our dining room table, and we'll need actual outdoor furniture and OMG STOP IT CRAZY LADY. 

I actually quite like my house. I mean, for the dozens of things I hate about it (GRAY TILE EVERYWHERE), it's got a lot of great qualities. "Good bones", I think they'd say. I just wish I could go into a room and not instantly reimagine it as something else. We'll update everything eventually, I really think we will, and things will be perfectly pleasant in the meantime. This schizophrenic Pinteresting I'm doing - hire a kitchen designer! bathroom tile! appliances! landscaping! diy shower install tips! Ikea cabinets! - needs to stop. BLARGH.

The forecast looks like a long string of sunny days ahead and THANK GOODNESS, because I wouldn't be surprised if the rain and gloom and stuckinsideness is part of the nonstop house wantingness. Also part: spending hours cleaning up the kitchen and vacuuming and creating a dozen piles for Goodwill and things STILL look dirty and cluttered. AND: the baby. Oh, the baby. As my mother would say, she's "asserting herself". The fact that Phillip is currently entertaining all three in his office downstairs is probably evidence of the sort of attitude I had when he got home. SORRY.

In other news. Molly Cheung jumped into the swimming pool during lessons today and submerged her whole head. Not on purpose of course, but the point is: SHE DID NOT FREAK OUT. She wasn't HAPPY about it, but she wasn't shrieking and howling for me. In fact she was smiling not five seconds later. MAJOR IMPROVEMENT! So proud of my girl. 

Oh you guys, I just had to erase a whole paragraph about diy remodeling and if YOU had done it and SERIOUSLY, PLEASE BEGIN THE INTERVENTION.


The Memorial Day Club

Okay, writing this post is going to give me something to do while my daughter screams bloody murder from her crib where I have ostensibly put her down to sleep HOW DARE I DO SUCH A THING.

This morning in the bathtub I got Molly to put her face in the water. Just barely, but after weeeeeeks of shrieking if water was anywhere near her eyes or nose, this was a huge HUGE step. First, I bribed her with one of those Usborne dress up doll sticker books. There are about ninety different versions at Barnes & Noble and Molly Cheung is on a quest to own every single one of them. So with that hanging over her head, and through a mix of teeny tiny steps and putting my OWN face in the bath water (UGH) I got her to submerge her nose and a chunk of cheek for about three seconds. Without screeching. WIN! 

Off we went to B&N then, leaving Phillip and Emma at home. Molly picked out her next sticker book (this time the dress up girls are going to Parties!) immediately while Jack hemmed and hawed. He ALSO got a sticker book if Molly stuck her face in the water. Bribery for everyone! So Usborne makes "boy" sticker books too. In the "girl" category we have Weddings and Bridesmaids and Pop Stars and Fairies and Ballerinas and on and on. In the "boy" section we have PIRATES! and EXPLORERS! and WARRIORS! and my personal favorite: Second World War. 

So yes, it is indeed a book full of pages of cartoon dudes in their underclothes in various WWII scenes and pages of sticker clothes to dress them in. I am not entirely sure what I think about it. On one hand, I think it's super cool. Each scene is sort of a different part of the war (the Blitz, Russia, prisoners of war) and there's a little blurb about what you're looking at and explanations of what the clothes and accessories are. It IS educational. It's just WEIRDLY educational, yes? Especially when your daughter is oohing over the fairy wing and crown stickers. (There ARE "girl" educational sticker books - Fashion Around The World, Historical Fashion, oh and also SPORTS girls.) But yeah... I am not at all opposed to boy things and girl things, I am totally fine with Molly wanting the Ballerina book instead of the Explorers book, whatever. It's more the... WAR AS A STICKER BOOK that I'm not quite sure I appreciate. 

ANYWAY. 

I tried very very very VERRRRRY hard to get Jack to pick the WWII sticker book because, let's face it, I want to look at it. Despite my mixed feelings. IT IS NEATO. And he had picked that one over the Explorers one (which IS educational AND cool AND without mixed feelings) and this was a pleasant surprise for me - until I saw the SUPERMAN sticker book and knew he would much prefer that. And any time I see something my kids would like I have to show them, even if I don't want to get it for them. IT'S A COMPULSION. 

But this is how my kids figured out it was Memorial Day. "But it's Memorial Day, Jack!" I pleaded. "We should get the WAR sticker book!" (THAT JUST SOUNDS CRAZY.) 

He said, "We can get that one NEXT time, Mommy." 

Fine, whatever. We bought our sticker books plus an HGTV magazine and went home to do absolutely nothing for the rest of the day because it was POURING and I also decided to wash every single sheet in the house. (And I did.) 

IN THE MEANTIME! My kids were very very busy in the playroom downstairs. I found this a lovely change of pace as I folded clothes in front of Love It or List It and placated my shrieky baby while reading Entertainment Weekly. But after dinner Phillip and I were invited to Memorial Day Club. 

Memorial Day CLUB. And it turns out that Memorial Day Club is basically being invited to the playroom so Jack can pretend he is the teacher (or, as he subtly put it, "the boss") and play school. We did a bunch of worksheets - and we actually HAVE worksheets because my sister is a 4th grade teacher and gives us all the leftover sheets she would have recycled. This is our drawing paper at home. But I was supposed to do the worksheet side and I was supposed to write a rule for figuring out fractions that are equal (omg I'm not even DESCRIBING it correctly) (obvs I couldn't come up with the rule). And then we played Sight Word Bingo. And then we played some horrible game where everyone kept winning except me. And then we got sort of bored which royally peeved the boss who reminded us he was, indeed, The Boss, which only got him fits of giggles from his mother. More peevishness ensued. 

Anyway, this is how the Cheung family honored those who are no longer with us. That and changing all the sheets. 

We had a really nice time with family this weekend, I got some time with friends, and tonight I got to hang out at the playroom table with my kids, remembering that I used to hang out around that same playroom table when I was their size, with my four brothers and sisters. Which made me try to picture what it'd be like with TWO MORE CHILDREN in that room and... well, I couldn't really do it. And then I could? But then I couldn't? And that is all for another post? That we shall have to password protect from Phillip? HA HA HA HA HA


I didn't MEAN to make this about how much I love Seattle, but it's just so easy to go there

Tomorrow the kids are off school and we are busting out of this joint. We're headed to my parents' house, then the Children's Museum in Tacoma, then we'll lunch at a restaurant I get to review for Trekaroo - hey, did I tell you I'm writing [totally inane, somewhat useless] reviews over at this lovely family travel website? FANCY! Sort of. It's not like they're flying me to Paris. (Carrie, could you work on that?) It's kinda fun, though I've totally run out of things to write about. Must go on a trip soon! 

We're staying the night with my folks and heading up to Port Angeles in the morning for my nephew's birthday party. And can I just say: I HATE DRIVING TO PORT ANGELES. I'm sorry All Of My Family Who Live Up There, but I do. It's just so... PACIFIC NORTHWESTY. That stretch between the Hood Canal and Sequim? Does anyone live out there? Is it just a million square miles of FOREST? Populated by nothing but Weyerhaeuser propaganda signs? 

Actually I think I hate driving up there because when I was little MY cousins lived in Port Angeles too and I swear it took, like, nine hundred hours to get to my uncle's house. One of the first times I went back as an adult I was totally fantastically shocked at how close it was from Seattle - that ferry ride cuts out SO MUCH DRIVING! However! Catching the ferry on the Saturday morning of Memorial Day Weekend? I am not so foolish! So we're going to stay with my parents the night before, drive up with them, and take the ferry HOME. Much better. Especially since I bet my parents will take all the kids in THEIR van. EXCELLENT PLANNING, SELF!

Anyway, have you even HEARD of Port Angeles? I remember wearing a Port Angeles t-shirt in 5th or 6th grade on the Italian military base (because I was THAT stylish) and being made fun of because it's LOS Angeles, not PORT Angeles, who's ever heard of PORT Angeles. I would like to swat that boy on the back of his head with a hardbound copy of Twilight. Harrumph. 

But it's funny - my brother and SIL up there would rather eat glass than live in or near SEATTLE. Actually I think I'm really the only one in my family who's totally committed to High Density Living. Not that the rest of them live out in the woods or whatever (and not that where I live right now, on the far northern edge of Seattle proper, is particularly hard core city living), but where they can take it or leave it, I must have it. Not just because Phillip's job is in the city and all our friends are here. There is definitely something about the fact that at age 18, after years of feeling like I didn't belong, I fell in deep monogamous love with this city. To leave it sounds... like changing ME. Or something. I don't know. I can be a bit overdramatic. 

I remember my first couple of years living here - my only other family member in town was my aunt, and she would pick me up at the dorms and take me to movies or out to dinner or to her house or whatever and I would just be in AWE of her navigational skills. I knew Seattle wasn't a huge city, but it was so much MORE than anywhere I'd ever lived and every neighborhood was far away and new and strange to me. I couldn't imagine a time when I would know my way around. But now I do! And I am still so happy about that in my own warped head. Almost every time I drive north across the ship canal bridge I hear my aunt say, "Nearly every building you see over there is part of UW," and I now I know what those buildings ARE. 

I just really LOVE THIS PLACE, is what I'm saying. 

Nearly all of Phillip's business trips, back when he was business tripping, were to Atlanta. I can say that now, I think. So much so that we talked (just a little bit) about MOVING to Atlanta. If he'd wanted to stay at that job and move up and go far, all that, then yeah, moving to Atlanta would have to happen. And because I love and support Phillip, I could contemplate it. How nice for me that he didn't want to stay at that job, eh?! (Not that we discussed it for more than 10 minutes anyway.)

The only other place we've talked about is San Francisco, also because of a job. I think I would like San Francisco? That seems possible in a way that Atlanta doesn't? But still. No, for a whole bunch of reasons. 

There was a job that had potential for living overseas. I think I would do that. Maybe. Depending. That's different - we'd come back. (Right?)

But anyway, Port Angeles, yes, nice place, very scenic, mountains and water and forests and lakes and that Dungeness Spit - all lovely. Not enough traffic for me, though. (HAR HAR. That was for my dad, who hates traffic more than anyone else in the world hates traffic. He hates traffic as much as he loves Harry Potter. That's a lot, people.)

THE END

 


Obvs cartoons have been on all afternoon

Ever since Jack came down with pneumonia in MARCH, at least one person in our family has been sick. I think Molly is the only one who hasn't had coughing fits at night or gone through a box of Kleenex in one afternoon. Phillip had to go to the doctor THREE TIMES before he finally started to get better and I found myself at the doctor this morning. I wouldn't have gone - I can't remember the last time I went to the doctor for something unrelated to having babies - but after watching Phillip go through what was definitely more than a man cold, I was worried. 

I'm fine, of course, just coughing, just a virus. Ho hum. The best thing to come out of this is a text from Phillip promising to be home by 5:30 with take out dinner for the kids. Excellent. 

There are plenty of not so great things, however, and most of those have to do with Not Feeling Up To It. I don't know if it's because it's the end of the year or we're all hacking up our lungs or what, but I am no longer okay with the complicated drop off pick up schedule. Suddenly I am OVER IT. I am DONE. I don't WANT to go out for another time killer coffee and treat. At the beginning of the school year I looked at it as something to power through and survive. Somewhere in the middle I MIGHT have started to enjoy it. We got into a rythym, you know, and found "our" coffee shops and developed a not-very-routine routine. But it needs to be done now. I am finished. I am tired. I AM READY FOR THE NEXT THING NOOOOOOW.

Did I tell you that I took Molly to the early kindergarten entrance thing? Quick review: Molly was born one day past the kindergarten cut off date. Kids born in the eight weeks after the cut off date are eligible for early entrance testing so I signed her up and paid the $90 fee and shlepped her to a morning of assessments. I have absolutely no idea what went on - all the parents stayed in the lunchroom while the kids went to classrooms, and then immediately disappeared as soon as the kids were back with their parents. So! If she "passes" we get a date with a school psychologist for one more test, then apparently they tell us if she gets to go to school in the fall. I've heard this could happen, like, the day before school starts. Fun times! 

Even though it's not for sure, I can't think of a single reason why Molly wouldn't be admitted and I am beginning to dream about September. Not because my kids are so horrible and I'm dreaming about school starting before summer vacation even starts, I'm just already in love with my LIFE come September. Jack and Molly at the same school, on the same schedule, with the same notifications and lunches and picture days and fundraiser days and BE STILL MY HEART! Drop them both off at 8:45 and pick up at 3:00 and whatever I want in between. Just one baby to work with, no naps and drive times to coordinate, I am swooning, people. Weak-kneed. 

I feel senioritisy about things I have no business feeling senioritisy about. Especially being someone who is way past her senioritis days. Can I just blame the time of year? 

Oh AND? Deck demo starts next week after Memorial Day. More fun times!


Where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain

So, uh, how many of you have emergency kits? Oooh, next question: what is IN an emergency kit?

Phillip and I are discussing emergency kits, escape routes, meeting up plans, all sorts of distasteful things as we watch the Moore, OK coverage. I say, "Thank God we're building deck stairs because we don't have an exit route from the second floor." Phillip says, "I think my car has lots of water in the back, but I need to put more in the van." I say, "Should I make everyone a little backpack of extra clothes and snacks and a space blanket? And... other stuff?" Phillip says, "If something happens when I'm at work and I can't reach you, first I'll look for you here, then I'll look here, then I'll look here." Then we stare at the TV a little longer. 

For a while I sat in on a bunch of meetings where we tried to figure out how to disaster-prepare the church. It was even more important as the church is the largest gathering space in that neighborhood and would likely be a shelter and headquarters for response teams. It was totally overwhelming - not the best feeling for someone on the planning team, I know, but I had a hard time wrapping my brain around so many responsibilities and contingencies. At such a time I think I would only be big enough for three responsibilities: Jackson, Molly, and Emma.

Phillip and I need to figure out a plan for our family. I've been thinking about it for a while. Extra food and water in the garage. Batteries. Flashlights. Radios. What else? I had to make a little emergency kit for Molly's preschool. Extra clothes, a space blanket, a few snacks, a "comforting letter". When my brother returned from Hurricane Katrina relief with the National Guard, he stocked up all the proper survivalist supplies, bought a few guns. We will not be doing that. But we should do something. Say the next earthquake takes out a bridge? Or we find out North Korea can reach Seattle? Or my friend's parents are right and the rapture is going to happen any day now? WHO KNOWS?

I'm looking at this website: http://makeitthrough.org/

Ugh, this is such a terrible thing to think about. Much like making a WILL, which we haven't done EITHER. (I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW.)

Tonight I'm just super thankful that when Jack asks me what the news is talking about I can truthfully say, "Don't worry, that doesn't happen here." 

I'm so sorry, Oklahoma.


Six years, three kids, a bajillion neuroses

Even though I could positively karate kick every single person who feels compelled to tell me that my baby doesn't look like much of a baby anymore, they're right. At some point in the last few weeks Emma Cheung morphed into the next version of herself. She's not two yet, but for all the whining and demanding and temper having and sheer personality getting thrown around, she might as well be. And it's as I suspected - there's a loud, assertive, charming little extrovert inside that kid and I admit it, I'm a little intimidated. 

I thought my other kids were full of personality at this age too, but I think they were personalities I understood a bit better. Maybe a little more like my own, or easily handled. I see a lot of myself in Jack, and Molly is a sweet, soft, delicious little spoonful of girly whipped cream. Or maybe it's because I'm familiar with them, I know what to expect, and Emma's self is suddenly exploding all over the house. Even Jack and Molly seemed stunned by the force at times, unthinkingly handing over a toy or snack, immediately giving in, yielding to the emotional noise that is their baby sister. 

Just this last week she's begun to choose walking - a drunken stumble, really - over scooting, and she's high on the experience. "LOOK AT ME!" her face says, as if she started walking at 9 months instead of 20. She talks. Constantly. Repeats everything we say. Yells it. And if she can't form the words she emits this awful mind-numbing "Eh-ehhhh!" until we figure out what she wants. She is sweet and darling and cuddly and loving until the instant she is not, and then she is furious, offended, indignant, and spilling white hot tears of HOW COULD YOU?!?!?!

And while she is still very clingy and attached to me, she has absolutely no fear diving (literally) into her siblings' games and toys and carefully structured pillow forts. Aren't all of these things here for her own amusement? Including the older siblings? Is not this entire house and everything within it simply existing for her own personal enjoyment? 

I feel sorry for my kids sometimes, having as they do a mother obsessed with Myers-Briggs and enneagrams and birth order and various other personality theories and assessments. I don't WANT to assign them traits and characteristics before they can pronounce "enneagram" but dudes, if Emma Cheung doesn't have YOUNGEST CHILD oozing out of every pore. I see it in action every day. She studies Jack and Molly, she takes note of what gets a laugh, and she'll do those things over and over again. She REMEMBERS those things, weeks and weeks after they happen. I'm afraid she'll be playing "steal Mommy's napkin" for laughs until she's thirty-five. Even at not quite two she's the ham in this family, though admittedly she doesn't have much competition. I fear for this child, growing up the lone noisy extrovert in a family of rule followers. But see - I'm doing it again. Who knows what she'll be like! Who knows what the other kids will be like! I don't blame her for capitalizing on being Super Cute Funny Baby Sister, a role I've often envied. 

I think of all the times growing up when I swore to myself that if I ever had kids I would be FAIR! And EQUAL! And I would remember how old the oldest was when she got to shave her legs and not even CONSIDER letting the youngest do it until she was AT LEAST the age the oldest WAS etc. etc. etc. But I cannot fathom a time when Emma won't be my BABY and so much younger than her siblings and therefore needing special treatment and attention. HORRIBLE! But even Jack and Molly fall into this line of thinking, getting irritated when people would try to get Emma to stand on her own and walk, taking over, protectively grabbing Emma's hands and barking, "SHE CAN'T WALK." 

How am I encouraging Jack in his "oldest" role and Emma in her "youngest"? How am I neglecting Molly as the "forgotten middle"? 

It is such a BIZARRE and AMAZING thing to have three brand new never-seen-before individuals living in your house. Where you're observing every minute detail, recording many of those details in a BLOG for heaven's sake. WHO ARE THEY? More importantly, HOW AM I SCREWING THEM UP? 


Friday Reads & Recommends: the Vintage Edition

So, heads up, I have a serious amount of war links, even for me. 

Have you heard of Irena Sendler? I hadn't either. Shame on me. What a courageous, amazing woman.

My father, the good Nazi. I just... Where did I get this link from? I forget. This story just broke my heart. The father wasn't just any old garden variety Nazi, he was a MONSTER, but it was hard to totally fault and blame and condemn the son for making so many excuses. Especially maybe because the father was so terrible. Despite his denials, it's telling to see the effects the father had on the son who never knew him. 

This story is just flat out crazypants. An Auschwitz Survivor Searches For His Twin On Facebook. I KNOW. Holy crap. They were one of Dr. Mengele's experiments. 

I am fascinated by the story of Ryan Fogle, the CIA agent found out in Moscow. The details are bizarre, but according to this story about spies in our history, he's in good company. 

North Korea isn't fighting a war (yet?) but I feel like this story about North Korean orphans fits in the category. This is awful, just like every other story that comes out of there. I've been debating picking up that newish book on FDR and the Jews, and every time I read about North Korea I can't help thinking WHAT SHOULD WE BE DOING ABOUT THIS? Fifty years from now is someone going to write a book about the US and how we knew what was going on and did nothing? UGH. 

All righty! That heavy enough? Here's a "this book is totally overrated" review of The Great Gatsby on Vulture. Excellent. I totally want to see the movie, though, because is there anything more glamorous than 1920s fashion? NO. And 1920s fashion as depicted by Baz Luhrmann? SWOON.

Wikipedia's Women Problem. Discuss.

Vintage cigarette ads. 

50 Shades of Draper. SERIOUSLY. I love this show, I really really do, I love how it's a chapter of a novel for me to dissect each week, but this was the first episode where I just needed something good. Simply good. Like Burt whatshisname falling in love with Joanie and they get married happily ever after and CAN SOMETHING HAPPY PLEASE HAPPEN OMG.


When I used to have a job (and dreaded it)

When I was out doing the kindergarten and preschool rounds this morning my old boss from 10-ish years ago popped up on my cell phone. I worked for him 3? 4? years? I should know this. And when I moved on I stayed in the same industry so I saw him often, plus he was, by then, kind of like your crotchety uncle who is secretly a big fat softie inside and gives you a giant check for high school graduation. 

It was just him and me and his dog in our tiny downtown office. He was a lobbyist and flew around and talked on the phone; I did absolutely everything else. He once yelled at me (like my DAD yelling at me, which is TERRIBLE) for getting his flight reservations wrong. Like, I was terrified to go to work the next day. He's been suspicious of Phillip ever since he didn't give me an engagement ring (LONG STORY!), but he went to my wedding, has met all my children, writes to me every Christmas, and takes me out to lunch when he's in town. But I haven't talked to him in forever. And he didn't leave a message. And he called TWICE. eep!

Anyway, when I got home I had an email from him inviting me to an industry lunch we used to go to every year, where I once won a giant television in a raffle (he paid for my raffle tickets). I am at once touched, delighted, and horrified. WHAT? No. I am not going to that lunch. Even as his now mid-thirties all-grown-up-now former assistant who can pay for her own raffle tickets this time, thankyouverymuch. 

There are just SO MANY THINGS I regret from that time, it would just be SO... I don't know! He implied that most of "the old gang" would be there, so a lot of the Important and Not So Important People I used to work with and talk to and I always felt so SUBSERVIENT to them, so insignificant and dumb and unpretty and a total utter failure at the Schmoozing that happens at those events. 

I worked super hard. Especially after I messed up those plane tickets, man. I didn't always have a lot to do there (or at my next job), but I tried my absolute hardest to get everything right the first time, to be the quickest, most efficient, most reliable, on-top-of-everything Girl Friday. And I think I succeeded, for the most part. I knew I was lacking in social graces, I knew I was easily intimidated, I knew my looks didn't exactly recommend me (this was an old boys' club, sigh), and I was just SO AWARE of being BELOW everyone else. (This is long before I knew I was a Three on the Enneagram, obvs. IT EXPLAINS SO MUCH!) So I made myself, in every way I knew how, indispensable. Like, that's what was going to make me valuable.

All of those people were SO kind to me. Some of them wrote me recommendations, some of them got me work other places, many of them gave me advice. The industry, which never interested me, was full of really tremendous, generous (and fun loving) people. When I look back I can see them affirming me, inviting me into their groups, treating me like a grown up, but I don't ever remember thinking I WAS a grown up, equal to them in any way. And to think about seeing all of them again? Errrr...

No, I think I will go. I think I will go because I love my old boss and it'd be a good time and it's a fundraiser for a great organization and because I know that ultimately all my old insecurities were bigger in my head than they were in real life. I'll go because I think it'd be fun to actually see some of those people again and while they may loom large in my memories I most likely occupy negative space in theirs. 

Besides, even if I was a very anxious, uptight, all-business 20 something, I like myself much more as a 30 something. I am more than happy in my job. I am more creative, more productive, more comfortable, more ME than I ever was working with that crowd. I have three kids, I have a sense of humor, I know now that I'm worth getting to know. 

If nothing else, maybe I'll win another TV.