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October 2013

Happy Halloween, MTHFR!

At my every two weeks-ish acupuncture appointment this morning my hippie doctor gave me the news: I do indeed have the MTHFR mutation. There are several variations, actually, and I happen to have the one that is most well-known for being linked to miscarriage. 

"But all your pregnancies were fine?"

"Yes."

Hmmm.

That book I read a while ago, the one that I decided gave me my own hippie doctor certification (Nutrient Power) had a lot to say about the MTHFR gene mutation or, rather, what happens when something like the mutation messes with your brain. So I don't feel TOTALLY in the dark about what it means anxiety-wise. The treatment, if you can call it that (why not?) is taking something called methylfolate. Which is different from folic acid. Apparently my body doesn't know what to do with folic acid. But I have 30% of what's normal for methylfolate (or whatever methylfolate produces? maybe I am not yet a hippie doctor.) and if I start taking that, it's possible I might see a big difference. 

A big difference in what, I asked. 

Energy? Mood? Feelings of anxiety? According to Hippie Doctor, some people start feeling great immediately. Some people take months. Some people... not so sure. She admitted it's a huge experiment. But you know, so are SSRIs.

I don't feel one way or the other about finding this out. Part of me thinks it might be nice to find The Thing That Is Wrong. Part of me doesn't believe that thing will ever be found, or if it's even one thing, or that even if it's found it can be fixed. Even though it seems purely chemical NOW, there's no way I would have said that ten years ago. Can it change? What IS it?

Phillip gave a presentation at the NDCF alumni event we went to two weekends ago and he was super nervous about it. "THAT," I said. "That's what it feels like. Just without the REASON."

I wasn't trying to be obnoxious or win the Pain Olympics or anything like that, I'm just always trying to find a way to DESCRIBE it.

So I'm going to start taking this methylfolate, slowly, and if that goes well in a week I add in another supercharged supplement thingie, and my pharmacist friend will scrunch up her nose at me and everyone on the internet will think, "As long as you don't go off your REAL meds" but... that's kind of the goal. Is there something that works that isn't an SSRI? (Which, honestly, doesn't work all that great for me anyway?)

I don't think acupuncture has worked any miracles for me, but I do love and trust my hippie doctor and she's the one making sure I don't go off the real meds. Yet. I like that she has new ideas. I like that she takes my evidence into account. I like how she connects headaches and hormones and fatigue. It doesn't NOT make sense, you know? 

We're taking the kids to a friend's neighborhood tonight for trick or treating. It's been described as "the Candy Cane Lane of Halloween." It sounded good yesterday but today I feel tired (always tired) and not excited and not into it. It's sad, because I LOVE being into it. And I also feel like we're cheating on our neighborhood, and maybe disappointing our one set of nice neighbors for whom our kids are probably their only trick or treaters. Is this a dumb thing to be sad about it? IS THIS HORMONES AGAIN?

Jack is a ninja. Molly is a "pixie fairy". Emma is a cow. I will GET excited, if only because this will be the evening EJ discovers the total crazypants amazingness that is trick or treating and I am going to enjoy watching it. I am also hoping my kids are not yet at the age where they notice that I am stealing all their good candy when they go to bed. 

Hope you're having a chocolatey evening yourself. 


In which I become a ranty small-government conservative

We are still frustrated. I am trying NOT to be frustrated because frustration is not going to get me anywhere and will just make me Unpleasant To Live With. I am trying not to be frustrated because frustration will just make this long, tedious process of copying out every recipe and making labels for every product even more long and tedious. I am trying not to be frustrated because because frustration makes me Negative and Ranty and I hate being those things. 

BUT I AM SOOOOO FRUSTRATED.

I spent most of yesterday investigating other options and it turns out that there aren't any. Well, there are if we have unlimited funds. But do I want to front the $400/month rent for a commercial kitchen while we figure out if anyone actually wants to buy anything? No. So submitting recipes, labels, processes, and packaging descriptions is a necessary evil. 

I might be LESS frustrated if I hadn't spent heaps of time on a particular Facebook page set up for people trying to get approved. Where those people write about how many times they had to correct or change their recipes and labels, how they were rejected and asked to resubmit because of paperwork errors rather than food safety issues. How it took them ten weeks to get an inspector. Even if we were able to hammer out our application by the end of this week, I'm not sure if we would be approved in time to sell holiday items. How no one is quite sure if you're allowed to sell GANACHE. It's discouraging, big time. 

On the other hand, I have just as many Valentine and Easter ideas as I do Christmas ideas. When I called the regulators to ask clarification questions, they responded immediately and were sympathetic (yet firm, alas.) As a neurotic person myself I can find some understanding for the paranoia behind Washington's paranoid Cottage Food law requirements. And I still think it's worth it. 

But MAN. 

We decided that I would type out recipes and Katie would do labels. I have the easier job: typing up and/or copying, pasting, and formatting a heap of recipes. (HEAPS, since we want to be able to say "we can make whatever flavor cake you like!") Katie has to list all the ingredients in order of weight, and listing out sub-ingredients and allergens. And noting the weight of the product (which at this point is going to be total guesswork because who knows how much a custom baby shower cake is going to weigh?) 

This is going to suck and take forever and we will be Mad At Everything because that is how the ladies in my family like to be when things are not going their way, BUT IT WILL BE WORTH IT. It will. It will it will it will.

I finally added a Bakery category to this blog. IT'S FOR REAL, DAMMIT!

 


40% off photography! Plus a bakery update/RANT. (More of a rant.)

Before I start my Daily Complaint (isn't that what this website amounts to?) I want to direct you towards Lindsay Kennedy Photography and the MIGHTY MAGGIE READER SPECIAL. Dude, you guys, I've never had a Reader Special named after me. Or anything, actually. Except the blog, that I named myself, out of a desperate lack of creativity. BUT THE POINT IS Lindsay is offering a discount for my readers, all four of you, and you guys SHE TRAVELS. Check out my gorgeous new canvas, yo:

Photo (5)

Note. This is not where it's supposed to go. I want to hang it on a big blank wall nearby, but doing that requires getting out the monster ladder and that is a Phillip job. It might get hung by Valentine's Day. 

At the very least you should check out that link for yet another picture of my delightful and only-because-of-Lindsay photogenic family. I FEEL SO FANCY. 

Oh, and did I tell you Lindsay offered to take pictures for Thumbprints? I KNOW. No really, I KNOOOOOW. 1) she is the best. 2) I am still totally utterly wonderfully floored by the support my entire off- and online universes have thrown behind this bakery craziness. 

SPEAKING OF THE CRAZINESS. (This is where I complain.) Katie I spent a large chunk of Saturday going over what we want to sell via the website. That was a lot of work. I had a big list of ideas, Katie had a big list of ideas, and we edited and culled and priced and mulled and I think we came up with an assortment of things that are yummy, pretty, and special to us. 

THEN we started going over the Cottage Food Application. And that is when I started to get Annoyed. 

Until the Cottage Food Act passed, you could only sell food that had been prepared in a commercial kitchen. A few days ago I told you why that wasn't a good option for Katie (or our bakery). So we should be uber grateful that the CFA exists. EXCEPT.

You are only allowed to earn a maximum of $15,000. Not like I think we're going to make over $15,000 any time soon, but I think we can agree that that is not a Living Wage and anyone who applies for the CFA has, I have to assume, ambitions of building a larger business, either eventually renting space in a commercial kitchen or opening a storefront. 

You COULD apply for a CFA to just make goodies on the side, right? And sell to friends and family and maybe their friends and family and be legal etc. etc. But if that were our only goal (and Katie's pretty much been doing this exact thing), WE WOULD NOT BOTHER TO APPLY. BECAUSE:

  • It costs $230.
  • You have to have your kitchen inspected. And the rules for your kitchen include: a two-compartment sink, smooth countertops, child gates (or a "child management plan"), separate storage areas for your business supplies and ingredients, etc. 
  • You must copy and submit to the Powers That Be every single recipe you intend to use. Which, in our case, is a lot of recipes. 
  • You must make labels listing ingredients (and some ingredients, like flour, must be broken down into sub-ingredients) for every single item you intend to sell, and submit these with your application. 
  • You must write out your packaging process for each product.
  • You must write out any processing steps for each product that are not listed in the recipe (ie: cooling on racks, storing in the freezer, etc.)
  • Youc cannot sell anything that needs refrigeration.
  • You may only sell direct to the consumer, hand to hand, which means no shipping, no Etsy, and no selling to food service establishments, like small local coffee shops. 

I feel like I'm forgetting a few things. Oh, writing up the sales plan and schedule (which can be "unknown, will vary"). Some of it will be quite easy for an English major who graduated summa cum laude in B.S., but writing up the ingredients for every single stupid cookie? OMGGGGGG. (Katie's doing that part. HA.)

And I UNDERSTAND. I do. But if we weren't hoping to open a storefront at some point, I don't see how doing this is worth it. A stringent rule-follower like myself is saying this, people. It's a LOT of tedious work for not very much reward. Unless it springboards us into something bigger. FINGERS CROSSED.

I GUESS, if we were just making homemade granola, or jam, or something like that, it wouldn't be such a big deal. I WILL GIVE YOU THAT.

Anyway, I had resigned myself to this whole application process, until Saturday when it was discovered by both of us that neither of our kitchens would work. Not Katie's, because she only has a one-compartment sink. Not mine, because I have tile countertops, ie: not smooth, with nasty unsanitary grout all over the place. And as much as I would like to remodel my kitchen, that doesn't seem like the best solution. 

After we freaked out, calmed down, and let off some anti-CFA steam, Katie came up with a solution. We will use my kitchen, but the kitchen table instead of the counters (and the butcher block bar area above the tile counter). This is not ideal because my oven is the House Original and is also the smallest oven known to man and Katie hates it with her whole being. ALSO I HAVE TO HAVE MY KITCHEN INSPECTED HOLY CRAP. But it will work. For now. We think. GAH.

So! That's what's up with THAT. We are really really hoping to get legal in time to sell our numerous holiday cookie trays and gifts. I hope people want to BUY them. I think they will be yummy and CUTE AS HECK. We need to start hauling ass on labels and hoping against hope that someone feels like coming out and inspecting us in a timely manner. AND THEN I WILL PUT UP THE WEBSITE. AND IT WILL BE GLORIOUS. AMEN.

 

 


Alert! Quinoa PSA! (Also: photography questions.)

I've recently started making a very easy and delicious (to Phillip and me) dinner. I basically stirfry a bunch of veggies and tofu (or maybe 1 kind of veggie and LOTS of tofu, because it's me we're talking about), dump it in a pot of just-made quinoa, and mix it all up with oyster sauce. I am embarrassed to tell you this is dinner, even though we both like it, because, I don't know. It doesn't sound good? But it is? ANYWAY. 

So I bought the Costco bag of white quinoa which lasted almost forever. We ran out and Costco trips are kind of a pain in my butt so when we happened to be in Trader Joe's the other day, I picked up a bag of their Organic Red Quinoa. New! Different! 

And two nights ago I made our standard Quinoa Stirfry. I remember saying to Phillip, "Mmm! I might like this red quinoa better! It's... chewier? Heartier? Tastes a little stronger?" 

(FORESHADOWING: NOT GOOD THINGS.)

Yesterday Phillip was away most of the day on a West Coast business trip (his first at the new job! Was home before I went to bed! Lovely!) and I had half the leftover quinoa for lunch. As I ate it I was thinking, "MAN this is YUMMY. I could eat VATS of this stuff!" But I didn't, because next up was a vat of yogurt and granola for dessert, my new favorite thing, which I would eat all day if I could because SUGAR!

That's what I had for lunch. And almost directly following lunch, like, as soon as I put down my empty bowl of yogurt, my stomach started to hurt. 

And hurt and hurt and hurt and YOWCH and now be happy that I'm going to spare you my afternoon of intestinal troubles. 

I didn't feel like eating dinner, but I had to eat dinner because taking my pills on an empty stomach is horrible, and I'm staring at the fridge thinking: no, no, no, no. I wanted a bowl of cereal, but I thought the milk was a bad idea. I wanted more yogurt, but that was probably what made me sick in the first place. I spied the other half of the quinoa and thought, "That's HEALTHY." So I ate that. 

And my stomach started hurting AGAIN.

When Jack came to inform me of his bad dream at 2am, my stomach still hurt. After I got him back to bed I grabbed my phone and googled, even though I KNOW I'M NOT SUPPOSED TO DO THAT. (Thankfully "quinoa indigestion" does not equal Cancer. FYI.)

BUT! I found this blog post and three-years-long comment thread about how quinoa suddenly made someone sick. Even people who'd been eating quinoa for years. Turns out you are supposed to rinse quinoa not because it's DIRTY but because the outer layer is POISONOUS! I feel like this could have been helpful information! For me! To know! I never rinsed my quinoa because... how? But remember how I said it seemed chewier? And the taste was different? Maybe more bitter? I probably 1) did not cook it long enough and 2) THE BITTER IS THE POISON!!!

My symptoms were INCREDIBLY mild compared to the people in this comment thread. (The woman at the campsite! Omg!) But the common theme seemed to be: I had no problem with quinoa for years! Until this one day! And now I can never eat it again! There was even someone who wrote and said that they'd eaten the Coscto quinoa with no problem and then one day the wife bought Organic Red Quinoa from Trader Joe's and that's when the misery began. 

Which is really sad to me, because I love quinoa. For a Not Healthy eater I sure do love my Whole Grains and Seeds And Weird Items Found In The Bulk Foods Aisle. 

AAAANYWAY. FYI. I will try eating quinoa again - not the red kind, though - and I will rinse it thoroughly (people say they just soak it, even overnight) (though how does this get rid of the POISON???) and I will cook it again and try a spoonful and see what happens. You bet I will update the internet on the status of my digestive tract.

All right, now that I have warned you about Evil Quinoa, I have a couple questions for any photographers out there. What Katie and I need on our baking website are PICTURES. However! All the pictures we've ever taken of Katie's cakes are crappy snapshots. Possibly this is because all we know how to take are crappy snapshots! I TRIED to take better pictures of yesterday's delivery, but no, they still look like crappy snapshots. 

I would be HAPPY to hire a photographer to snap our wares. Soon I'd like to make a whole bunch of things just for picture-taking purposes. But! I don't want to hire a photographer every single time we make something. That seems... inefficient. And annoying for, let's face it, the friend with a DSLR who I would sucker into being our food photographer. 

Phillip wants to buy a fancy camera (we left ours in Cabo - oops! I never wrote about Cabo!), but a fancy camera does not a talented photographer make. Do you talented types have any tips for me? Lighting? Backgrounds? Angles? I'll be honest and say photography is not one of the things I am eager to learn about and/or interested in doing better. (Sorry.) But I DO want to take a decent picture of a cake. I'll have to do that Saturday, in fact. IDEAS? HELP? A free computer program that makes it pretty? 

 


Deciding to be FINE with how I look

Yesterday? I think it was yesterday. Monday I woke up and thought: Today is the day I decide to be FINE with how I look. (I wanted to write "happy" there instead of "FINE" but I also wanted to be truthful and maybe the all caps will make up for the lack of fervor.) 

And I'm serious. I'm as serious as I am totally baffled by how I will accomplish this. 

Here are the facts:

I have almost always been several sizes larger than most of my friends (and most definitely my sisters) my entire life. But I did not have an eating disorder or develop any worrisome thoughts or habits in regard to my size. I would guess I was no more and no less unhappy with my body as the average teenage girl and young woman. 

I lost weight for the first time right before I had Jack. I dropped about 20 pounds. I was DELIGHTED. I started wearing the size that I am currently wearing. This is to say: I am not at my heaviest. 

I lost the Jack weight just in time to get pregnant with Molly. 

And after Molly I did Hot By Thirty. I am wondering if this was just a particularly charmed moment in my life. I dropped all the baby weight plus ten more pounds. I was smaller than I was in high school. I was fitter than I'd ever been in my life. I had ARM MUSCLES. Everyone was proud of me, everyone complimented me, it was basically a Three's dream come true. I was STILL bigger than my sisters and I knew a size 8 wasn't going to get me a modeling contract, but DAMN I felt great about myself. I was also more obsessed with my body and my looks and how other people looked than I had ever been in my entire life. Which was not so great. 

I maintained that size until I had Emma. After Emma I dropped most of the weight, though I was never able to fit into my old pants. Even though I was only a few pounds over my goal weight I was light years away from fitting into those pants and felt muffin toppy and dumpy and frumpy and BAD. I felt very very BAD. I won't go into the length and breadth and miserable depth of my disappointment with myself, but it was very bad and THEN I gained most of the baby weight back. 

I am not entirely sure how this happened. (Oh wait, yes I do. Cookies.) But even with the cookies I did all the things I normally do to undo the effects of too many cookies and... it didn't work. I tried other things. They didn't work. I never found the right combination of diet and exercise that would equal weight loss and at some point this summer I think I gave up. I know I've gained weight since the spring. 

I am not at my heaviest. But now I know what it's like to be much smaller than I am, and my inability to get back to that place (and, at this point, my lack of motivation to even try) feels like an exquisite failure. Every morning I get dressed I remind myself that these pants are bigger than my old fat pants. I can't wear that sweater anymore. What won't show the rolls around my middle? Remember when I could wear a tight-fitting shirt and my pants didn't slide down over my love handles? 

But I am not UNHAPPY. My marriage is great. My kids are awesome. I just got back from a fantabulous weekend with amazing, lovely, hilarious ladies. I have wonderful friends. My family is supportive. I JUST STARTED A BUSINESS. 

Why am I constantly telling myself I'm a failure? 

Here are my excuses: 

  • Maybe my SSRI has the dreaded weight gain (or makes-it-hard-to-lose) side effect. 
  • I'm older. 
  • I actually FEEL older. 
  • I don't sleep well. 
  • I'm BUSY. I have THINGS TO ACCOMPLISH.
  • My metabolism must be different. My body is TOTALLY WACKED OUT after Emma, in all different ways. Why wouldn't that be one of them?

But I've been thinking - seriously thinking - about what it would mean to Accept Myself The Way I Am. For the most part I'm not sure what that means. My entire motivation for Hot By Thirty was an unacceptance of the way I am. I don't know how to even TRY to exercise or eat healthy without a measure of dislike for my current status. A measure of disgust with myself. 

I can sort of imagine what it would look like. I would just get rid of those size 8 skinny jeans and buy clothes my current body looks good in. BECAUSE THOSE EXIST. I can see how I might emphasize the positives instead of constantly harping on the negatives. 

And I spent time this weekend with women of all shapes and sizes and colors and every single one of them was one of those Amazing Women of God. (I was at an NDCF alumni event.) And I was sitting there thinking: if that woman were thinner/smaller/taller/younger/wore different clothes/wore makeup/had shinier hair/looked any different - would I respect or admire or want to emulate her any more? 

The answer was no. Every single time. An honest no. Kind of a shocked why-would-you-even-think-that no. 

So I started thinking: maybe people think that about me. 

MAYBE my weight gain this year, my FAILURE, has absolutely nothing to do with how people feel about me, whether they love me, if they want to spend time with me. 

I think I've been in this place where I can believe those things as long as I'm TRYING to lose weight. Because everyone respects TRYING, right? 

But now I am seriously wondering: can I be okay with myself in this season of NOT trying? Of eating yogurt and granola for breakfast instead of eggs? Of walking on the treadmill instead of running? Of taking a nap instead of walking? Of making cookies with my kids, even though I know I will eat at least half the batter because that's JUST HOW GOD MADE ME? 

I don't think I can. I can do those things, but I will berate myself the whole time. Even though I have no intention of doing anything differently any time soon, I make sure to berate myself because then I know I haven't settled. I haven't become THIS person. I can still be the person with arm muscles. I haven't Become Okay With This. 

So... I was thinking about this last night and realizing that in other places in my life, where change seems impossible, or where I can't figure out the right way, I turn to God. Not all the time, and not well, but I mean to and try to and wouldn't you know, many times it works out. 

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

I think this is one of those things that I do not understand and maybe I don't HAVE to understand. God provides a way when there is no way. God parted the freaking Red SEA. 

I cannot part the Red Sea of disappointment with myself on my own. I can't. It's not going to work. In a few days I'll just go back to feeling bad every morning and worrying about what it means that I'd rather nap than run. I don't want to keep doing that. I don't want to see everything through these fat pants-tinted glasses. 

The answer, I know, is to pursue God with my whole mind, body, and spirit, and he will make me more like him, and I'll just stop caring about my pants size!

What's more likely? That as I turn to God every time I want to mentally whale on myself for gaining weight this year, every time I hate what I see in the mirror, he will gently turn me towards whatever it is that he would much rather I be thinking about. That the more times I can say, "God, I know this is not from you" he would respond with, "THIS is for you" and it will be something relevant and real and about who I AM and not what I LOOK like. 

 

 


Gift wrapping: why be beautiful when shoddy will do?

For the last couple days I've felt very inspired by the bar everyone went to in our small Italian town. I keep thinking of things they had in their bakery case or treats they offered at holidays, how they wrapped things, how PRETTY and SPECIAL they made even the two little cookies you ordered with your cappuccino. I don't want to open an identical cafe, but Katie and I are both a little hand flappy over any idea that seems inspired by that place. 

I keep googling and Pinteresting for ideas and information. It seems like everyone wants dessert as Art - sculpted cakes, cookies worthy of hanging in a gallery - whereas I prefer to eat dessert that looks like dessert. I keep picturing a tray of exquisite little bites. Ten different kinds of labor-intensive cookies, snuggled into brown boxes or arranged on paper trays, tied up with ribbon or twine or raffia, with labels and tags and OH. Pass me my smelling salts. 

I shopped around for packaging supplies today and was roundly disappointed. I thought I'd be able to get away with buying things as needed while we're in this phase, but I might be making a large Etsy order soon, or at least visiting the restaurant store to check out their supplies. Those Wilton treat boxes at JoAnn's are flimsy tagboard dreamkillers.

I've also started thinking about the small shop across the street from the bar. It sold all sorts of Pointless Things, like vases and candy dishes and platters and fancy stemware. Expensive, breakable things. So obviously it's where everyone bought wedding gifts (I made a point of buying a wedding gift there the last time I visited my parents) and the best part was how the ladies wrapped your purchase. Always with ribbons and maybe a fake sprig of flowers and SIGH.

I'm not great at gift wrapping, but I APPRECIATE IT. I am a huge sucker for design and packaging. This is basically why I buy BeneFit cosemetics - I love their whole look. I'm also the person who chooses a restaurant based on ambience and style rather than food. I have very strong feelings about fonts. Stuff like that. This is why Katie is doing the baking and I'm doing the Facebook page. BUT while I think I can pick out what looks and feels good, I'm not super skilled at executing it. Heh. And I'm impatient and easily distracted and this is why my Christmas presents are held together with duct tape and the recipient's name is scrawled across the top in Sharpie. 

I must do better. I must summon every ounce of determined perfectionism in my lazy unfocused body. 

I AM SO EXCITED.


Brain chemistry update

I just called my mom to ask her a couple things and she said, "ARE YOU FEELING BETTER?" and I said yes, and then I thought I ought to tell you too. I am feeling better. I have decided to assign this particular "episode" to hormones, even though my old brain doctor told me that hormones should really have nothing to do with my diagnosis. Or whatever. Well. You know what I think about my old brain doctor. 

I am feeling better, but I don't want to SAY I'm better because two minutes from now I could go all wacko again and THEN what would I say? 

I had a long day with the kids. Good, but long, and Phillip was late and I have a headache. All things that are better than anxiety, btw. 

I bought some expensive-but-worth-it volumizer for my hair and expensive-but-the-internet-says-it's-worth-it mascara. Retail therapy is temporary, but that little patch of temporary feels so good. 

I lusted after a dress I won't buy because it's $228. I wondered why I am so drawn to short shapeless dresses that belong on tall skinny girls with long legs when I am... well, let's say I do better with structure and cleavage. But oh, part of me just always wants to look like Megan Draper with her cigarette pants and cat eyeliner and nude lips. 

I did not think about the bakery at all. 

I had a nice chat with Jackson's teacher. In the midst of processing a Parenting Neurosis the other day I happened to email his teacher to see if we could meet and ohhhh I felt like a dummy today, now that I am Over my Parenting Neurosis and well aware that now I look like Overreactive Psycho Mom. 

I have a hard time talking to my kids' teachers. I want to say, "You don't have to talk to me like you talk to the other parents. Tell me how it really is. I SPEAK TEACHER." But I don't say that, because that DOES make me sound like Psycho Mom, and then I'm left wondering if I got the sanitized parent version of the story or what. Not that it matters. It doesn't matter. I don't know why I think it does. 

I think it's a Three thing. My attempts to play the part of all the teachers' favorite parent. (It used to be the part of the teachers' favorite student.)

I capitalize so many words. I know this. It's an affectation that's turned into, I don't know, how I write here, I guess. It's how the words look in my brain. And it's from reading the Bagthorpe books when I was a kid. Anyone else read those? I often think about the Strings to Rosie's Bow.

All right, this is clearly going off the rails. Thanks for all the kind comments and tweets and emails and offers of extra Xanax. I appreciate every word. 

 


BLARGHANXIETY

I am super duper Mad At Everything right now and I've decided I'm just going to GET IT OUT and then pour myself a giant glass of wine and watch Homeland with Phillip. Which will probably just make me more mad because is it me or does Homeland suck this season? 

Okay, so, after two-ish months of hippie doctor acupuncture, lowered SSRI dose, iron, and vitamin B, I thought I was doing pretty well. And in fact, the last two or three weeks I was doing REALLY well. So well that last night, when I was thinking about my doctor appointment this morning, I was excited to tell her HOW well I'm doing. How this was the first Blathering where I never got anxious. How I am starting a new business. How GREAT everything is! I haven't even broken out the happy light yet! 

Until just a few minutes after those thoughts, when Hard Core Stage Fright suddenly flooded my body and I thought, "WTF?" 

Because apparently that's how it is for me now. I had my years of Major Messed UpNess and the requisite therapy and life changes and better habits and building of character. I was still anxious, but less so, and in a seemingly more predictable way? Then I started having kids. It got bad again. I went on drugs because DUDE, anxiety is a whole 'nother rodeo when you're responsible for small children. And those drugs were great, but I went off because I think I'm All That and WHOA BAD DECISION. The old drugs don't work anymore. The new drugs don't work as well AND they make it nigh impossible for me to lose any cookie pounds I happen to put on. AND NOW NOTHING IS WORKING AGAIN AND I AM MAD MAD MAD. 

Okay, so it's only been one day and it's likely this will dissipate and blah blah blah, but right now I'm going to be furious. I don't get furious very often. I feel like I'm allowed. I am SO ANGRY about this. I feel like I have done EVERYTHING. I have tried EVERYTHING. I have worked SO HARD. And nothing helps. It's always going to be there, floating around in my brain, waiting until I've had a great month and a huge new project to pounce and dance around on my shoulder blade muscles and laugh at all of my big ideas. 

This is not stress from bakery stuff. This is not stress from raising kids. This is not stress from anything else going on. I know what it's like to be stressed out and overwhelmed. I also know what it's like to be irrationally tense and fearful, to have all the physical symptoms of stage fright WITHOUT A FREAKING STAGE. When I tell friends how I'm doing I have to differentiate between Normal Person Anxious and Crazy Anxious. Two different things. And right now I'm dealing with the crazy kind. 

I've been feeling really bad about myself for gaining two sizes in one year. Pretty much everyone I mention this to says, "I haven't noticed at all!" But I'm pretty sure they're lying. (Not saying I don't appreciate the lies. I do.) But the last couple days I've been telling myself, "Self? NO ONE CARES. No one cares! Not even your husband cares! He married you when you were even bigger! NO ONE CARES EXCEPT YOU. AND YOU ARE BEING RIDICULOUS. Get over it! Stop believing the lie that you are only lovable if you are thin and/or desperately trying to attain thinness! God does not give a rip about your pants size!" 

But does God care about how I am shaky when I have nothing to be shaky about? That I lie awake in bed taking deep breaths that do nothing? Does he care how hard it is to concentrate on anything else when I'm anxious? How EXHAUSTING it is to fight the 24/7 mental battle? I mean, what else am I supposed to do? I guess I could go back to the regular doctor and subject myself to the Drug Experimentation Phase again. I could go back to therapy (to talk about what?) (How mad I am?) (Gah.) 

My hippie dr, whom I adore, drew blood today to test me for the MTHFR mutation. There's a special combination of folates and vitamin B if that proves to be a thing for me. That book I read recently offered a whole slew of potential avenues for treatment. Acupuncture is nice, although I'm not sure if that's because I'm in a dark quiet room for half an hour or if the needles actually help. 

I AM SO ANGRY ABOUT EVERYTHING GAAAAHHHH

*deep breath*

Okay. I know that it's been 24 hours of anxiety and I have dealt with YEARS of anxiety. I am not such a weakling as this post makes me out to be. I can suck it up. Also, I am not REALLY angry. I am... worn out and frustrated and feeling very WHY ME. Which I've decided to indulge tonight. I'll go back to being a grown up tomorrow. I am very grateful that I have this place to go WACKO and write all the curse words (and then delete them because this is a family website) THANK YOU AND THE END


What would YOU buy?

Exciting bakery update! We have an LLC! I KNOW! It's, like, for REAL. Now I have UBI number, whatever that is, so I can apply for a business license. After that we turn in our hefty Cottage Food Permit application. AND THEN WE START SELLING STUFF. 

So that's what we're talking about now. Cakes, obviously. Katie's already been doing that, but now we'll be selling and marketing them with all sorts of officialness. Here are our other ideas, based on things she's done before, things people have requested in the past, and things we think might work:

  • Croissants. Other breakfasty pastries. 
  • Cookie platters, especially fancy holiday cookies. 
  • Jars of granola.
  • Cupcakes.
  • Savory pastries. For example, I have a friend who asked if Katie would be interested in making a whole bunch of piroshky-type pastries that my friend would freeze and put in her kids' lunches. 

What would YOU buy? 

I'll just be honest - I probably wouldn't buy anything. I like to bake, for starters, and I've always made my own cookie platters and food gifts for people like teachers and neighbors. BUT. Last year a friend of mine asked if I had any leftover cookies that she could bring to a holiday gathering because she didn't have time to make something on her own. AND. The little Italian town we lived in had the most amazing cafe with cases full of treats. Maybe this is an Italian thing but people often bought trays and platters of pretty cookies and small Italian sweets to take home or to share with friends, all wrapped beautifully. We would LOVE to make and sell platters like that! I HAVE bought those. 

Anyway, I was just thinking about what people might like to buy around the holidays. I was thinking of bringing trays of treats for the kids' teachers, to my old office, to friends' houses, to parents' friends, littering business cards wherever I go. You bet Thumbprints Baking Co. will be catering the sweets section of the annual Cheung Christmas shindig. 

We need to start taking pictures of whatever Katie makes. She's making a birthday cake for our brother-in-law next week and while it will be the flavors he requested, it will be decorated to the tune of What Would Look Nice On Our Website? 

That's where the baking business stands right now. In the Children Department:

1. Jackson continues to be the kid that I'm most anxious about. Molly and Emma, by comparison, are so easy for me to figure out! Jack is the one where I have to really think about what he needs at any particular moment. Today, for example, he's been on the verge of tears all afternoon because (I think) he is overtired. Maybe? I DON'T KNOW. I also watched him chasing girls on the playground after school today which got me all antsy about the crew of sassy girls he hung out with last year and how they affected his behavior. Is that happening again this year? He doesn't need more sass, primary grades ladies. 

2. Molly is relatively simple. She likes art projects, pink, and she ALWAYS wants to go shopping. We're growing out her bangs. (I KNOW.) She's rarely grouchy or overtired or nasty and as long as I'm not trying to get her ready to go to school we get along great. She also looks extra adorable in the tons of Old Navy sale items I bought her over the weekend. 

3. Same with Emma. My issue with Emma is that she never. shuts. up. and I swear she's the reason I am passing out every afternoon again. Every night, from three to four in the morning she is awake and thumping her head against the mattress in combination with songs or chants or mindless gibberish. She does it at various points all night long, but it's that 3am session that always gets me and always keeps me up. And she does it all day too. We walked around the lake this morning and the ENTIRE WAY she was singing/talking/chanting to herself. MY KINGDOM FOR SOME SILENCE. 

I am thinking that right about the time Jack gets easier to understand and deal with, my girls will turn into Tweenage Horrors. We shall see, eh?!


Not that all brothers are uniformly awesome. For example, mine refer to me as Large Marge.

Phillip likes to say that I am a very hard worker, just not at anything that generates revenue. Today I took that a step further by working very hard on things that COST us money - I am now a proud member of an actual factual LLC. It cost me $200 and about a half hour of googling "do you really NEED a registered agent?" Legal Zoom, which was going to charge me $400, kindly offered to be my registered agent (for a fee, obvs) but it turns out you need a registered agent to, and I'm practically quoting here, accept mail on your behalf if you're on vacation. So. Thanks but no thanks, Legal Zoom.

You can register an LLC online in the state of Washington (woo hoo!) and now I can check the first step off my list. Once the LLC application is processed I can apply for a business license and after THAT we can put together our giant pile of prereqs for a Cottage Food Permit. I also have a URL, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and many many links in my Bakery bookmarks folder. 

And I don't know why this is making me think of Mike Birbiglia but it IS... See, I'm doing this with my sister, who I love, even if she prefers dollar store posterboard to Excel. My FIL felt it necessary to pass on some advice his parents gave him - never go into the same business as a sibling. Ha. But I'm so excited to do this with her and it feels SPECIAL and all sorts of other cheesy things that would make her positively  DIE, but whatever. And this makes me think of Mike Birbiglia because we listened to an awful lot of his comedy in the car this weekend and he kept talking about his brother. All these adventures and funny things about his brother. And I got very MOPEY about Jackson not having a brother. MOOOOOOPEY.

So yeah, did you follow all of that? Bakery to sisters to Mike Birbiglia to brothers? Excellent. That is what I'm thinking about, how Jack does not have a brother and this is such a bummer to me. I am VERY VERY curious how people without a brother or a sister (or both!) feel about this - when they were kids and now when they're grown ups. Phillip, for example, doesn't feel like he missed out not having a sister. I would venture to say that if he had a sister instead of a brother, he MIGHT feel like he missed not having a brother? Maybe? I DON'T KNOW. As someone who has two of each it's hard for me to fathom. 

I am OVERJOYED that my girls have a sister. I know this doesn't necessarily mean they will LIKE each other, but I feel like the odds are in their favor and it makes me happy. I love having sisters! And it DOES make me feel sad for Jack. Sometimes I see families that are all boys and I think about how awesome that brother bond must be. What is my boy missing?! WAH. 

Now OBVIOUSLY I know that if the stars aligned and Phillip Cheung was struck by lightning and we had a fourth child, it's not like we would automatically have a boy. Even though *I* think it would be perfect to have two of each, that doesn't mean the universe ponies up. We could have fifteen more kids (calm down, Phillip!) and Jack STILL might not have a brother. 

So it's not really a "oh, we should have more kids" feeling, but a "oh, this is the sort of family our kids will have" feeling and a big fat wondering of what it will be like for them. I am always surprised when I recognize (remember? acknowledge? dawns on me?) that our family is NOT just like mine! We are different! We do different things! My kids will experience things UTTERLY DIFFERENTLY than the way I did! BRAIN EXPLODING!

Will Jack have some sort of stunted emotional growth from the lack of a brother? Probably not. Already he seems closer to his sister than I ever was to either of my brothers. He DOTES on Emma. I also take comfort in a boy/girl sibling pair I know who are SO close and SO awesome. AND all of you who are onlies, who are all, "Uh, only is the only way to go." Seems like most people prefer how it worked out for them. 

I know it's sort of a dumb and pointless thing to think about, but I DO think about it. All right, this pause in bakery talk is brought to you by Mike Birbiglia and the siren call of a chocolate bar, luring me out of bed.