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November 2014
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January 2015

December 2014

A retrospective, a looking forward, a commitment to unhealthy foods

Everybody's all "resolutions!" and "goals!" and "no more sugar!" and I'm all WHEN ARE THE KIDS GOING BACK TO SCHOOL. I hate to be that way, I really really do, but I'm having a hard time. It's not that the kids are home and driving me crazy so much as there is no routine and if anyone in this house needs routine it's the 35yo mom. I need Things On Which To Hang My Days, and when there's no school and everyone you know is traveling or sick or too far for the casual afternoon dumping-of-the-children-to-entertain-themselves-in-the-basement, life gets difficult. Plus it's the DARRRRK time of year and I HATE being stuck at home in the long dark afternoon. When Phillip got home tonight I nearly fled the house for the nearest movie theater (dark, but blissfully lacking in people asking for snacks). Instead he found some chocolate in a dresser drawer and I spent the next hour in the bath reading a post-WWII spy novel. THAT was lovely. 

So yeah, no resolutions or goals for me. Yet. Maybe. Although I typically don't like to do resolutions - my biggest goal in life is to not fail at anything, so NOT making resolutions profoundly helps with that. 

I think, at the end of 2014, I find myself in a place of looking back over the last couple of months and thinking, "Hmm. I could do THAT better." 

Case in point: Christmas. Christmas was different this year. We did our own thing on Christmas Eve for the first time ever - the children's Mass (Jack and Molly were in the choir SO CUTE), then coming home, eating pizza and snacks, opening up our family presents. It was low key and easy, but I realized later I was annoyed that we didn't really have a PLAN. And even MORE later I realized that what I wanted was a TRADITION. As in, we ate the things we always eat on Christmas Eve. We opened the presents in the way we always open presents. Except we don't have those traditions. Yet. We have the way my family has always done things, but PHILLIP didn't grow up with that so he didn't KNOW, but then maybe we could mix it up a little ANYWAY... I just sort of wish we'd spent 10 minutes talking about how we wanted Christmas Eve to go. That said, it was lovely and the kids were super fun and it was really nice not having to rush around the next morning with church and getting ready for brunch with Phillip's side of the family. 

But next year...

I also want to find a way to make preparing for and celebrating Christmas more about JESUS. SIGH. This was doubly hard this year because of the bakery, aka Macaron Madness Month. I forgot and/or left out a lot of Christmas party things I always do and this was doubly true of Actual Christmas. We didn't even do the chocolate Advent calendar! The absolute laziest thing you can do for Advent! 

I don't know if we'll still have a bakery next year (lots to discuss this month! STAY TUNED!), but even so, I've been reading a lot about the people who don't put up the tree until Christmas Eve and make the 12 Days of Christmas a THING. Part of this is appealing. We always leave up the decorations until the Epiphany and wouldn't it be nice if Christmas wasn't suddenly slam bam OVER on the 26th? What would it be like to turn our annual Christmas party into a TWELFTH NIGHT party?! (I am seriously digging this idea.) That said, this is a way of being counter-cultural that would be VERY DIFFICULT for all involved... Like, I just don't think I could wait until Christmas Eve to put up our tree. We do our big Christmas shindig ON Christmas Eve! I don't want to explain why it's not the Christmas season YET or get huffy about it in blog posts and you guys I LOVE CHRISTMAS SHOPPING AT THE MALL I JUST DO. And I don't think I could draw out the present opening for 12 days (although is this something everyone does or just the person whose blog post I was reading?) But TALKING about the 12 days of Christmas, maybe planning a thing to do on each day when there's so much more time to observe the season... I don't know. This is definitely something I want to talk to Phillip about in the car, when he's a captive audience. Anyone here do that or considering it? I think if I wasn't spending the week before Christmas planning a party and getting rid of the kids for the weekend and worried about how everything is decorated, I miiiiight have more time to talk about running for your lives and having a baby in a BARN. Etc.

What else. Oh, I hate my house. It's like now that I'm not bakerying 24/7 I have time to be irritated with my house again. It also doesn't help that one of my friends is planning to put her own house on the market this spring and constantly texts me with Redfin links to new construction. I mean, I love it, but it doesn't help with the fact that I have a poorly designed bathroom and my kitchen countertops are embedded with 25 years of grease. And I SERIOUSLY can't do anything about it because any money we might be able to spend on the house in 2015 has gone towards lodging in London for a week OH DEAR GOD. I swear, London will be the reason my kids don't go to college. 

BUT I LOVE YOU, LONDON. I have spent the better part of winter break on AirBnB and VRBO.com looking for the perfect vacation rental. (It does not exist.) I have read ninety-seven articles about London With Kids. I have calculated how much it will cost to see a musical (this will be the reason the kids have crooked teeth). I am super excited to go to Italy and I am somewhat excited about our few days of just-us time in Paris, but London OH. I really do love London. I think I can love Paris too - I've only been as a 17-year-old trying to lose the adults who were constantly on my case and as a 21-year-old with her college roommate (and trying to lose her too) (I have since grown as a person). Being there with my One True Love will surely make a difference. And Italy... well, I mean, it's just a GIVEN that Italy is my favorite and everything there will be as spectacular as it always is. London is just the place I always hope I get to go to and LOOK! I DO! WHEE!

(Prague is my other favorite. And if all the stars aligned I would actually be on a Tour of Important Eastern European Locations In 20th Century History, but we all know no one wants to go on THAT trip with me, amirite?) (WARSAW! I want to go to Warsaw!)

ANYWAY.

Things. Needing them done differently.

2015 may be the year I find a regular babysitter. In 2015 Emma will start going to preschool. I'm trying to find a place to start her in January, though her age (a very young 3) and the never-going-to-happen-potty-training situation are making this task difficult. Maybe this will be the year the business becomes, you know, real. Real-er. Or it becomes the year we decided to put it aside and I get all obsessed about my house again, who knows. We will travel lots. (I have $750 in Alaska Airlines vouchers from my disaster Colorado trip that I need to spend by June!) The Blathering is HERE! Partly in my HOUSE! My kids are getting older which is very much freaking me out. I'll turn 36 which is definitely on the downward slide to 40. Oh, I should probably lose some weight too. NOW we've got ourselves a proper resolutions post! 

I could take care of my house better. I could be a better wife. I could read better books. I could learn to dress better. I could bite the bullet and do better at being a Good Parishioner instead of hiding in the back. I could definitely be a better keep-in-touch-er. 

But I think the thing I most want to do is keep moving... I want my heart and brain to keep expanding, you know? New stuff. More people. Bigger world. So more of that, 2015. And if it means I have to let the clean floors and no chocolate vows slide, well, I'll power through. 

 

 


Christmas Party 2014 Post Mortem

Except for year my sister got married in December and we did a St. Valentine's Day Massacre party instead, we've thrown a Christmas party every year we've been married. It's been a white elephant party and a collect-canned-food party and one time I tried to create a dance floor (FAIL), but it's always been a invite-pretty-much-every-single-person-we-know-and-eat-and-drink party. And I really love having it. 

In the last few years - the first year we lived in this house, especially - I have tried to out-Pinterest Pinterest. Which is sad/funny since I'm not much for crafting. Buntings and hot chocolate bars and cute labels for everything. Our house has high ceilings and I would spend DAYS stringing lights and garlands and tinsel, carefully placing mason jars full of cranberries and tealights in the high window sills. I would fret about no one coming, then I would fret about too many people coming, then I would stress about food and make millions of to do lists. 

The day OF the party, I would clean and decorate and prep food and slump onto the couch, usually about 4pm, and wonder why in the world I do this every year and GOD THIS IS THE WORST IDEA EVER. Then I would pick myself up, put on the dress (which would be the least bad dress out of all the dress options, sigh) and do my makeup and hair and put on tall shoes and THEN I'd find myself kicked into gear. A glass of wine while I'm putting out the last minute stuff, Phillip hunched over a laptop and the TV stuff, trying to get the music to work (WHY DOES THIS TAKE HIM SO LONG, EVERY YEAR, YOU THINK HE'D CREATE A MACRO, DO THEY STILL HAVE THOSE?) and I would start to fa-reak. out. about. everything not getting done and THEN! 

People would show up. And I would have the best time. Seriously, so much more fun than LAST year. 

Then: the half hearted late night clean up. An "eh, that's good enough" and passing out with your dress still on, on top of the covers. The next day: did people have fun? Really? Did they like the food? Did they think the people were cool? I'm sure they did, our friends are awesome, but I don't know, what about that one couple who didn't seem to talk to anyone else? Did I ignore them? Oh crap I forgot to put out that decoration! I meant to light those candles! I didn't put embarrassing party prep materials away! I forgot to hide the potty seat! OH NOOOOOOO WORST PARTY EVERRRRRRRR

So. 

This year was very much the same. The same Phillip working on a tertiary level of party prep vs. me frantically putting food out and hoping he will notice and HELP ME FTLOG, the same very old friends, the same mix of super new ones, the having of the best time, the same people staying late, the same stuffing of leftovers in the fridge and passing out, the same groggy wakeup and second guessing of every moment. 

But certain things were different. I did not have TIME to Pinterest this party. In fact, I didn't manage to put up a large chunk of plain old boring stuff I ALWAYS put up. I did start decorating early and I thought I had time to do it all, but it turned out I sort of didn't care and also suspected other people wouldn't even notice. (They didn't.) 

I did not make punch. No one came up to me and demanded to know where the punch was. No one has emailed me yet to say how disappointed they were I didn't have punch at the party. (Basically, I forgot about punch.)

I forgot to light the candles. 

I forgot to put on shoes. I got my shoes OUT. I just... didn't put them on. And when I realized my shoes were in the middle of the floor instead of on my feet, I chose to kick them under the table. I also left on the leggings I wore all day under my party dress. Eh. 

I didn't make ANY FOOD. Like, for serious. There has not been ONE YEAR in all the party throwing years when I don't pore over appetizer recipes and STRESS and FRET and WORRY because I need the party food to be SPECIAL and FANCY. No. This year I went to Costco. I bought all the chips and bread and crackers. I bought all the dips. I bought all the fancy Italian meat. I bought all the cheese. I did roast some peppers and I did throw some meatballs (from Costco) in the oven. There was no itemized list of when to cook things in the oven this year AND IT WAS SERIOUSLY THE BEST THING EVER. Also, no one complained or has since called or emailed me to complain or be disappointed. The fact that I think this is a possibility may tell you a little something about me. I know it's weird to be afraid of disappointing people with store bought food when the food I MAKE is often VERY DISAPPOINTING, but no one has ever accused me of being rational.

We still had the obscene table of booze and mixers (thank you, Duty Free Store!) but it wasn't decorated very nicely, I didn't have time to write up drink recipes in pretty handwriting, and I just sort of threw the bar equipment on the table and hoped for the best. I'm not aware of anyone being disappointed by the haphazard bar layout and/or lack of a second bottle of Maker's Mark. (I had one. Downstairs. Dudes, if I put out ALL the Makers Mark, they won't drink anything else!) 

The biggest possible disappointment was the severe shrinkage of the dessert table. The morning of the party I made three ridiculously easy bar cookies and brownies, cut them up, threw them on platters, cut up some toblerone and threw some truffles in a dish. Done. I didn't THINK this would be a big deal, because I usually have ten tons of cookies left over after the party anyway, but it was disappointing to ME. There were no Thumbprints sweets on account of every macaron being worth their weight in gold around here, and people at Phillip's work had been asking if they'd get to sample Thumbprints stuff! No, they just got my lame bar cookies. But you know? I don't think people were for REAL disappointed by this either. 

I didn't do anything new. I didn't try anything different. 

But, as usual, the people made the party. We have the old friends who come every year. And because Phillip keeps changing jobs and because I'm conning all the school parents into being my friends, we had a lot of new folks too. And I know this sort of thing is not for everyone, but I REALLY REALLY STINKING LOVE gathering all my people. I love introducing them to each other. I love feeding them and plying them with drinks and getting dressed up and not having kids around and meeting peoples' spouses and learning what neat things people are doing and I JUST LOVE IT. I'm an established introvert and like everyone else, I hate small talk too. But you just start asking people about themselves and they have such interesting answers! It's also possible that I am just surrounded by super fabulous people YAY ME. 

I suppose the one TRULY terrible thing that happened last night is that my blog - oh yes, THIS BLOG RIGHT HERE - was outed, and not even by a BLOG FRIEND. Yeah. HI, FELLOW SCHOOL PARENTS! WELCOME TO MY MANY NEUROSES! I UNDERSTAND IF YOU DON'T WANT TO HAVE THAT PLAYDATE ANYMORE.

I guess... it was not my favorite party in that I didn't feel super spectacular about how everything LOOKED or TASTED, I would not have given myself an A+, no one is going to pin a picture of my beautiful tablescape. TORTURED SIGH. But you know, I am growing as a person, don't you think? Look at me all "Who cares if I wear shoes! Who cares if the candles aren't lit! Who cares if I just left this plastic tub of spinach dip on the table in the middle of everything after I dumped it into a bowl? C'EST LA VIE!"

 


A Highly Capable Person Takes Premature Stock Of December

Things At Which I Am Full On BOMBING, TERRIBLY

  • sending Christmas cards
  • feeding my family healthy food and at reasonable hours
  • observing Advent
  • preparing my second grader for his First Reconciliation which happens to be TOMORROW
  • keeping the house clean
  • keeping up with laundry
  • sticking to the budget 
  • remembering important things that are upcoming in my friends' lives, and thinking of ways to help
  • calling my mother
  • bakery paperwork like, oh, I don't know, maybe RENEWING MY BUSINESS LICENSE BEFORE DECEMBER 31
  • actually let's just call that previous bullet Running A Business In General

OH YOU GUYS. I'm in that weird place where I am AWARE that things are more intense and busy and crazier than usual and I'm aware that I COULD be doing poorly, but actually I think I'm FINE? But this is the problem for people like me - we think we're doing fine until the moment when BOOM: anxiety hits or there's a massive fight with a spouse or SOMETHING, and we realize HUH! Maybe we were not doing so fine after all!

Except... I think I AM fine? 

I have had Rosie, the Temperamental Niece with me every day for two weeks. I drop the kids off at school, I go to Katie's house, I pick up my niece, and she doesn't go home until dinnertime. This is so Katie can do the many many things she must do to fulfill our corporate caterer orders. While it IS harder to take TWO toddlers to the store or the mall or the coffee shop, we all get along pretty well (minus the Threenager when she's Threenaging) and I don't particularly feel like this is a hardship. Let's just say I'd MUCH rather hang out with Rosie than do what Katie is doing. BY FAR. 

But this major upset in routine has thrown the little girls for a loop. Their moms are TIRED. Their moms are trying to figure out if all this hard work is even worth it. Their dads are a tiny bit stressed by the stressed moms. So. Things might NOT be fine, even though I feel like I am getting along Just Fine. 

Things have suffered though. Even though I feel like I clean the kitchen three times a day, it's always a disaster by the time Phillip gets home. I let the kids decorate our [very tall] tree a few days ago and I still haven't got around to moving all the ornaments (you know what I mean). I am finished buying presents, but I need to wrap them all. I can't remember the last time I vacuumed. And I told the cleaning company not to come last week because I've had them scheduled at a bad day and time which is crazy stressful and I need to rethink, but in the meantime, my house continues to fester. I managed to sweep my entry way last night and felt like I had conquered THE WORLD. 

We ARE going to make money this month (even though we don't know if it's enough money to make this madness worthwhile). And I'm SO GLAD we decided to do our Christmas party this year anyway. I would be so bummed if we weren't and even though I haven't done a thing to get ready for it (NEXT WEEKEND) I am looking forward to seeing everyone. 

AND I AM NOT ANXIOUS. 

So let us now make a list of what I am Awesoming at:

  • Buying REALLY cute festive outfits for my daughters. I never do this. But I'm doing it now. IT'S FUN.
  • Playing with my new Lorac Pro 2 Palette
  • Making sure there is SOMETHING for everyone to eat
  • Keeping up with Twitter
  • Checking books out instead of instantly downloading them (I finally figured out my library app!)
  • Keeping up with Homeland
  • Boxing macarons
  • Keeping up with my bakery email
  • Wrangling a 2yo and 3yo through every store known to man
  • Chatting with school moms
  • ORDERING Christmas cards
  • THINKING about what I need to do for the Christmas party
  • Managing the schedules
  • Sitting at my desk shouting, "STOP ASKING QUESTIONS! STOP TALKING TO ME!" 

ONWARDS AND UPWARDS, INTERNET. WE SHALL OVERCOME. ONE THOUSAND MACARONS OR BUST.


Promise I won't bring this up again for at least another six months

Phillip went out to drinks and dinner and dessert with his coworkers tonight while I stayed home and did homework word problems and practiced piano and washed shampoo out of eyes and read bedtime stories and cleaned up the kitchen. To make up for having gone on a date with work people instead of his wife, he brought home an absolutely majestic piece of chocolate cake. A huge piece of cake, all rich and fudgy with shiny satiny frosting, OH. Except I am on Day Two of Not Eating Everything In Sight and now I'm just sitting here STARING at a piece of cake. Willing it to disappear before I lunge for a fork. 

In late spring, having finally weaned myself off the last SSRI, I started losing weight. I felt SO. VINDICATED. I lost nearly 15 pounds without doing much at all. I wanted to burst into my old brain doctor's office and shriek, "I GUESS SOME PEOPLE *DO* GAIN WEIGHT ON THIS ONE, JERKFACE!" But I thought that might be a little undignified and also I wouldn't want him to think that I'd spent the better part of a year feeling indignant over something so shallow as my inability to lose WEIGHT so... yeah. I kept my thoughts to myself. But in late spring I was all, BOOYAH! And thinking the rest would take some work, but it would happen. Yay Me. 

Okay, so THEN Anxiety Episode Number I Guess I'm Not Really Counting Anymore happened in early July and in late August there was the week when it was so bad and things with Phillip were SO bad that I didn't eat for a week. Do you know how bad things have to be for Maggie Cheung to NOT EAT?! Like, really horribly terribly bad. But! I lost more weight! It was INCREDIBLY shallow of me to be aware of this fact, was it not, but I felt like the universe owed me a silver lining and I was happy to take this one. 

Oh, but THEN that week ended and Phillip and I went back to Coping Poorly instead of Not Coping At All and I started to eat again. But I wasn't really doing better anxiety-wise and I realized it wasn't that I was eating my feelings so much as I was aware that eating was something I ENJOYED. Does that make sense? So I felt like I deserved to eat. Everything else was terrible, but this here jar of Nutella? That would make my evening SO much better! I would LIKE that! 

I suppose it is not THAT surprising that I am now even heavier than I was before. Not that I've been brave enough to step on a scale and make myself certain of this fact, but I can tell. Sigh. 

There were a few weeks of promising myself that I would stop eating all the cake, but then we'd have a big cookie order and oh look, there's a few left over! It was like I just didn't care enough to care. Or something. And I'd think about what it took for me to be a size 8 and I'd say to myself, "Self? You don't have time for that. You don't WANT to spend your time on that. THAT WAS NOT FUN. Also! Cake is delicious!" And also being super busy with the bakery and still not having a good grip on the anxiety stuff and being verrrrry generous with myself. Space. Grace. Time. 

And now I'm at a point where attempting to treat my body a little better WOULD be grace. To eat foods that aren't half sugar. To try to find a schedule, or a work time/being with kids time balance. To make myself something for lunch rather than reaching for whatever is easily grabbed and eaten as I do something else. Cutting out carbs has been the one consistent way for me to cut the sugar cravings and fit in my pants, so that's what I'm doing again. Trying. (Failing. Then trying again. Then failing again. But going back to trying.) I've given up on getting my Hot By Thirty body back. That was more like a fun chunk of time where I could wear whatever I wanted! Now I just... want to feel a little bit better about myself. Or something. 

GOD I HATE IT WHEN I WRITE ABOUT THIS STUFF!!!! I go through these spurts where I'm like, "I'm never going to write about my weight or size or WHATEVER on the internet AGAIN! EVER!" For various reasons: no one cares, I don't want to hate on myself, I don't want to set a poor example for my kids, etc. Then I do this. Because it helps! It does! It helps to write it out and sometimes someone comiserates or says something nice and THAT HELPS. It also makes me feel like I'm accountable to something. "I told the INTERNET. I can't go give up on everything NOW."

I can say, though, that I DON'T hate myself. I am not down on myself. I would LOVE to fit into my old dresses, but I'm not MAD at me because I don't. Last year I was mad. So something is different (not sure what). I think some of it has to do with starting to believe that OTHER people don't need me to be skinny in order to love me, or even just hang out with me. That sounds terrible, doesn't it? That I might have believed something like that? I think that was the shady part of Hot By Thirty - absorbing the accolades from people who are important to me, the trap of thinking I was an improved human being for having lost over 30 pounds... and then feeling like I MAJOR FAILED everyone when I gained it back. Diminished worth. Ugh, let's not go too far down that road. 

You know, I was REALLY planning to sit down and write about Selfie. (I STILL AM.) But then something happened. Oh right. The cake. It's bad news when a part-owner of a baking company has to write an angsty four thousand word blog post about the deep and personal implications of a single slice of cake. 

 


December tastes like macarons

Things I Want To Write About, Maybe

  • the cancellation of Selfie
  • what it's like to go from silky smooth, fine, flat, healthy, dark brown hair to feels-like-straw, doesn't-require-hairspray-to-hold-a-curl, way damaged bleached blond hair
  • gaining weight
  • skincare routines, specifically my lack thereof
  • the dude who ordered a cake and then didn't respond to any of my follow up emails so he's not getting a cake tomorrow, sorry about that
  • signature cocktails for my Christmas party
  • planning my Europe trip and how Phillip wants to go to Paris but not to see ART or HISTORY but to see if he can catch a glimpse of Nadal at the French Open
  • relatedly: does anyone ELSE want to go to Paris with me
  • what to get Emma for Christmas
  • shoes. I want to look at shoes.
  • what to get PHILLIP for Christmas BIG FAT SIGH

And I would have written about any (all?) of these things today, but I was glued to my BAKERY EMAIL and also my BAKERY INVOICING PROGRAM and YAY? but also OMG THIS MONTH MIGHT GET US COMMITTED. And as someone who has actually for real considered COMMITTING HERSELF, this is NO JOKE.

Please note: we DO have people we can hire to help out! We just... don't want to pay anyone! I know. But when you aren't paying YOURSELVES it sort of kills to think that you're paying someone else with the money you MAYBE could have had left over for YOU. That said, if we keep getting orders for 100 decorated sugar cookies in one go, we will just HAVE to hire out. Because. I mean, FIVE decorated sugar cookies and I'm done. I have absolutely no idea how Katie is not rocking in a corner at this point (75 candy cane macs, 75 clementine macs, 75 gingerbread macs, and 80 decorated sugar cookies are headed to Big Local Company Holiday Gathering tomorrow AND THAT'S JUST THE FIRST CORPORATE CATERER ORDER ON THE CALENDAR.)

I am absolutely no help, if you are wondering. I am allowed to make three, maybe four, of our cookies. Everything else is a Katie job. And under absolutely no circumstances am I allowed anywhere NEAR anything that requires PIPING, HA HA HA. (Poor Katie.)

She doesn't know how to embed code for an online store, though. I AM USEFUL FOR SOME THINGS! (Don't tell Katie how stupid easy it is to embed code. SHHHH!)

HEY, WE HAVE AN ONLINE STORE!!!!

No seriously, soon I am going to write about the TRAVESTY that is the cancellation of Selfie ie: no more John Cho on my teevee, but now I'm going to bed. Gotta rest up for another day of Bakery Email! I CAN DO IT!