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March 2015
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April 2015

Packing, Planning, Blathering Recovery

I'm trying to put my life in order which is pointless considering that we're going on vacation in 3 weeks (THREE WEEKS) and when we get back it will be summer vacation and there's never any order during summer vacation. Does it really matter if I organize the art supply bins? Does it even matter if I put them back where they're supposed to go post-Blathering? What about putting the winter coats away? Or organizing my desk? WHAT IS THE POINT. 

I cleaned and decluttered for the kitchen designer to come on Monday and he ended up canceling and seriously, I should just make myself a t-shirt that says I HAVE STOPPED BOTHERING.

Things I Still Need To Do For Our Trip About Which I Am A Little Bit In Denial

Buy another Bubble Bum

Borrow the Rider Safe Vest from our friends

Get powers of attorney for the time period when Phillip and I will be in Paris and my parents will be road tripping with the kids

Rent a car for Italy

Figure out the best way to get from the Stansted Airport in London to our Southwark apartment 

Think about what I want the kids to do during our trip and buy the appropriate supplies (keep a scrapbook? write a blog? Write reports?)

Make packing lists (I do not want to do this. I do not want to do this. I do not want to do this.)

Make sure everyone has appropriate shoes

Research tube tickets for London 

Find out how much WWII-related stuff I can do in England without driving my family insane

Figure out if we have any money left over to see a musical in London

Emotionally prepare myself for my beloved sainted in-laws having hourly anxiety attacks about losing children in London (quoth my FIL this weekend: "You need to buy LEASHES for the kids!")

Find someone to housesit and/or pick up mail and water plants

Worry about all the things I'm forgetting

I feel like I can't throw myself full force into trip planning because there is STILL big stuff happening - Jack's first communion is Sunday and there's a lot involved in that. Saturday we have to go to the rehearsal and then make a banner for our family's pew the day of - who knows how long that will take. Sunday is the big day and after Mass we're having a lunch at our house. It will also double as Jack's family birthday party because his birthday is the FOLLOWING Sunday (Mother's Day.) And because I'm kind of big on birthdays, I feel like he should also have a FRIEND party so I have to figure out how we're going to do that next Saturday (day BEFORE Mother's Day...) I was going to throw money at that problem, but all the options are so MUCH money and have so many restrictions with how many people and times and all that... it just doesn't feel worth it. 

That's a lot of stuff, right? 

I DO feel recovered from the Blathering, which, well, I wasn't sure there for a while. I am not a young lady drinking too much wine in someone's back yard anymore! My age is showing; also my introvert. Man, my poor introvert was silent screaming by the end and I had to give her a few days of intense solitude. Thank goodness that's over - I'm sort of a BAD introvert and can't stand spending days on end by myself. I can tell I'm all better because I spent the better part of the morning trying to find someone to hang out with Emma and me and feeling MOROSE when no one was around. 

I didn't even tell you about the Blathering, did I? Maybe I'll write a proper post, but for now I'll just say that I was so stinking proud of Seattle, you can't even imagine. The weather was DIVINE. The views were GORGEOUS. The food was YUMMY. The party bus did NOT get stuck in my cul de sac and none of my neighbors have dropped by to interrogate me about the horde of women who showed up that Friday night. I was so so happy with the way everything went off. I was beyond delighted with the sunshine. I did my best to spend time with individuals and small groups - I'm best via email, but if I must be endured in person, it's best to endure me in small groups - and I felt like I got to talk with a few more people than I usually do at this event. I'm just PLEASED. And proud of my city, which is dorky I know, but you know what I mean. 

Feeling like I've outgrown blogging/Twitter/the Internet is a frequent topic here (sorry, also how meta, also eye roll), but oh I would missssss yooooooooou. 

 

 


In which maybe the bakery doesn't have to define itself. (YET)

So I've been thinking. Maybe it's okay that the bakery doesn't have a big huge VISION or GOAL attached to it. Maybe it doesn't need that. Maybe *I* don't need that. MAAAAAAYBEEEEE?

We have done absolutely NOTHING to promote the business since Christmas. ZERO. We had a lot of business in February, next to nothing in March, and now... I have two wedding tastings on the calendar, possibly a third, a baby shower, a possible bridal shower, and over the last few weeks random birthday cake and custom sugar cookie orders. Not a ton of work, but it seems like a lot of interest for a baby business with no storefront and no marketing. 

Also, order by order, we are somehow managing to shlep the goods from where Katie bakes to where people are celebrating. 

I very much like to have PLANS and ORGANIZATION and VISION. Katie has always been pretty cool with just doing what we're doing and seeing where everything goes. I'm the one who's all NO WE HAVE TO SHOOT FOR THIS MOON AND THEN THAT ONE. Which is not bad! I think baby businesses need someone with big and near-impossible ideas! 

But maybe it's okay that we don't have that right NOW. Maybe?

I was feeling like I couldn't go on unless there was a new vision for Thumbprints, meaning a new idea or an adjustment to the previous idea to be profitable. With Katie moving away, the previous plan for getting profitable seems TOO impossible. If I scratch that, what do I have? Does this even make sense anymore? Do I still want to work on it? 

The last few days - seriously, just the last day or two - I'm starting to feel like it could be fine. It's not as if we had a business plan when we started, or even as recent as Christmastime, and we still improved and got more business and learned stuff. It was fun. And I was never about the business plan until one actually occurred to me. Would it be so hard to go back? Is it ACCEPTABLE to go back? 

I am just now getting pretty involved in a new church thing. I wonder if that's what's making me feel okay about Thumbprints not doing everything it possibly can to take over the world. I have something else to dream about? Maybe. 

But also I'm just responding to these orders for baby and bridal showers and dudes, it's fun to talk to people about cake. Everyone reaching out to me is having a party. I love parties. It's fun to be part of their parties, you know? It's fun to discuss how many macarons a group of ladies will want (never as many as I think they should want) and whether chocolate cake is better than light fruity cake (ALWAYS, THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS).

I don't know. I just thought I should mark the day when I stopped feeling Despairing. Maybe I don't have to despair. Maybe we just keep on keeping on. Maybe one day a new idea will pop up. Maybe everything is okay. Maybe Thumbprints can just keep being our little baby business where we're only doing as much as we want to do, and only when we want to do it. 


Made to write?

The other day an old old friend and I were together and talking about what we should do with ourselves when our littlest kids go to school. Old old as in I met her when she was a sophomore and I was a freshman at UW. We've lived down the hall from each other and countries apart, but the blessing (and curse) of the NDCF is that it trains you how to talk about God in your life. It teaches you to ask questions and expect answers and to go there, if you will, in a way that I haven't found many people outside of my old NDCF world know how to do. Like a current NDCF staff friend of mine likes to say, NDCF grads are total snobs about conversation.

(Not sure I've mentioned the NDCF in eons, so it stands for Non Denominational Christian Fellowship (my blog name for it, not its real name) and it's basically what I majored in in college and where I met my husband and many of my closest friends.)

So anyway, even though Old Friend and I haven't lived in the same town for forever, it's been easy to catch up and we went down the rabbit hole this last time: where is God? What does he want me to do? What am I supposed to do with my LIFE?!

We actually talked about writing. Long long ago we would take creative writing classes together and read each other's work before the arrogant snots in our class (every English department has its share) got their hands on our stories and ripped them to shreds. Didn't I want to write? she asked me. Didn't I do that anymore? 

Ummmm, nope? Not in a long long time. And as I admitted this I realized AND HEY! I DON'T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT EITHER!

Because WRITING was going to be the thing that I did that made it worth having me in the world. I was only biding my time, the universe tolerating my presence, until I finally wrote the thing that yearned to be written inside me, and then I would have earned my place. I would be worthy of my parents who still talk about the writing I did in elementary school, my junior year English teacher who thought the world of me, my senior year English teacher who pushed me harder than anyone ever has, and those college professors who thought I was a wooden useless mute until I wrote my first papers and I'd see the inevitable PLEASE SPEAK UP MORE IN CLASS scrawled across the tops. When I finally WROTE something I would have then achieved the thing everyone I'd ever known had told me I should achieve. Then I'd be worthy of their love and praise and all the things they'd said about me. Then I could feel okay about however many years I spend on this planet. Wasn't I made to do this? Wasn't I BORN for this? Everyone saw this in me. *I* saw this in me. 

I just had to do it. 

This is where my old friend had left my story. And I needed to catch her up.

OH, I told her. Yeah... I don't really write anymore. I mean, sometimes? Sometimes I think about it? But... not really.

Things have happened, I told her, in the last few years. Things that have shown me, revealed to me, made me understand on entirely new planes of thought, that God doesn't love me for what I DO. That God doesn't love me less when I screw up and he certainly doesn't love me more when I do well. That I cannot earn His love. That His love is not shut away in cage with a lock inscribed OPENS AFTER PUBLICATION. That he loves me right NOW, right NOWWWW, when I haven't done ANYTHING amazing in my life! When the one thing at which I excel is eating a whole bag of chocolate chips in one sitting. I mean, that is a good God right there. 

And I told my friend: once this truth became a truth that I wholly and completely and entirely absorbed, I didn't really care about writing anymore. And I certainly did not care about getting published

For a while I've felt bad to say that out loud. Because it sounds... I don't know. Like, maybe to someone who thinks the God stuff is eye rolly it sounds lazy or dumb or like someone who gave up on a dream for a totally whack job reason. Yeah. Like someone who GAVE UP. But the thing I realized when I was telling my friend this story was: I DIDN'T FEEL BAD. 

So YEAH everyone who went to high school with me! And all my teachers! And all the people who told me I had TALENT and blah blah blah. Writing is awesome! But it's not my thing anymore. It's not the thing that makes me special or makes me ME, even. It's not the thing that I'm about or that I do or that I want to do or that I was made to do. It's not the thing that makes me worthy and it's NOT the thing that makes me lovable. 

I love Anne Lamott for saying that publication does not solve your problems. 

I love to write. I express myself best in writing. I am MUCH better on paper than I am in person. :) And I keep writing even when it's stupid, like the fact that hardly anyone writes on their dumb blogs anymore, but here I am! I would do this even if no one read. No one DID read for the first couple YEARS I did this! And now I'm learning to write prayers. It's different from straight up journaling... I'm still figuring it out, but it's good and I'm excited about it. 

But I'm probably not going to write a novel. I mean, it'd be awesome to write a novel! But I don't have to write one anymore. I can reach the end of my life and if the only writing I leave is the heaps of drivel accumulated on this website, fine by me. (I mean, hopefully someone deletes this thing, but you know what I'm talking about.) 

Am I communicating how terribly horribly VERY MUCH IMPERATIVE it was for me to be a REAL LIVE WRITER and for people to KNOW I was a REAL LIVE WRITER? 

And now how I don't give a crap? 

This is God in me. It's amazing. I never thought that would happen. I never thought I'd feel free. I didn't know I NEEDED to feel free. 

*****

While I've been sitting here writing about how I don't want to write anymore, my children have seen fourteen television shows and the breakfast dishes are strangely still unwashed and no one has thought of what to make for dinner. CLEARLY there is still Building of Character to be done and Life Lessons to be learned. But this tiny piece, this piece is good. 

 

 


A not particularly informative Thumbprints update.

The big news around here, if you didn't catch my moping on Twitter, is that my sister Katie, aka The Other Half of Thumbprints, moved away this weekend. And like my brother-in-law said, "GEEZ you guys, it's only an hour away!" So yeah. IT'S AN HOUR AWAY. This has major implications for Thumbprints, of course, and then there's the fact that my sister MOVED AWAY and the only word I have for that feeling is BEREFT. I can't even write about it; my eyes are welling up. 

There's a lot to write and process, but I won't do that here until I've fully done it with Katie. The short answer to the "what are we doing" question is: For now, we're keeping on keeping on. (Today I booked a baby shower in a fancy Microsoft millionaire neighborhood and why yes I WILL drop my business cards over the sides of all those private gates.) The long answer starts with: I have no idea.

So it's good news the catering company canceled/postponed the event where we were supposed to give a little presentation to other catering managers and hand out giant boxes of samples. I've been looking forward to this since about February. Getting on a few more corporate menus was going to be the way we DO this thing. If there hadn't been the uncertainty about Katie moving, I might have been trying to do this on our own - I had a few contacts and I was going to suck it up and introduce ourselves and drop off cookies and see where it went. But I'm not sure how we INCREASE what we're doing when we've also increased the hard stuff about our business...

We would have done the presentation anyway (and it was going to be the Tuesday after the Blathering, omg), but (and I believe I've mentioned this before) Food People are lacking the spiritual gift of Administration. Turns out none of the other catering groups had their spring menus done and no one was ready for the spring tasting event. I have no idea if it's just postponed a week or they'll wait until the next one (they do it seasonally)... who knows. But it takes something off our plate, both for the business and me personally. I'd told EBJ it was fine if she wanted to stay Sunday night, but I'd have to put her to work on Monday.

When I dropped off our kitchen rent for March, I told the coffee shop owner we wouldn't be using her space anymore. It was terrible. I mean, SHE is lovely and she gave me a great big hug and said encouraging things and wants us to keep in touch. But MAN. Wait. I said I wouldn't process here. Yet. I'll do that later. My eyes are welling up again. 

In the meantime, I'm BUSY. We hosted Easter and I've got something going on every day until the Blathering, and then most days after that until we leave on our trip in mid-May. Jack has his first communion coming up AND his 8th birthday. We're doing art class and I've just quasi-joined a new churchy volunteer thing which means a few nights and weekends out. We also started contacting contractors, but I think I'm going to tell Phillip he needs to manage that. I have too much with the trip right now. And Thumbprints. I'm mixing up my contractor emails with potential new kitchen emails... 

Also I'm not feeling well. I'm feeling like I sometimes do at a certain time of month, except it's so not that time, and IS MY BODY TRYING TO TELL ME SOMETHING. Possibly that it needs cake and a nap. Or graham crackers spread with passionfruit curd while watching RHOBH with Katie OH WAIT. <teary face emoticon>


Remodeling (OR MAYBE I SHOULD JUST MOVE)

Phillip and I have kind of sort of decided that we maybe might be able to remodel our bathroom next spring and the kitchen the year or two after that. Or we could reverse it - kitchen first - except I potentially want to do way more with the kitchen than I want to do with the bathroom, and the bathroom feels like a nice smaller (but not small) project to do first. Possibly? 

Also I went to see my friend's brand new freaking ginormous house last night and now I want a massive island in my kitchen JUST LIKE HER. 

Anyway. 

I need some help. Or ideas. Or experience.

1. We are hiring out. Everything. ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. That being said:

2. How do we go about it? 

I have purchased myself a membership to Angie's List and I have a reasonable list of highly rated contractors and remodeling companies to contact for bids. My questions are more about what I want them to DO on their first visit to my house. 

Because for both the kitchen and the bathroom, there's the Smaller, Keep The General Footprint remodel and then there's the Hey, We Found A Money Tree, Let's Make This Amazing remodel. Except the Amazing remodel we would need, like, significant design help. I wouldn't be able to say, "This is exactly where we want things to go," because I'm not sure if it's even possible for those things to GO there. You know? 

So when I invite someone over to give me a bid... can I ask those things? All the companies we're looking at come with design service. And I feel like I would have to ask about BOTH, because even though we plan to do the kitchen second, if it turns out it doesn't make sense to change the footprint, then I'd have more money to potentially do the bigger remodel on the bathroom. Right? 

Are my remodelers going to hate me before I even hire them? 

Am I worrying too much about wanting them to not thing I'm crazy? 

Do I hire a kitchen designer separately from all this? Find that out first? I would prefer to go crazy on the kitchen as opposed to the bathroom. Phillip might feel differently, but let's be honest, I will win this conversation. 

The simple plans:

BATHROOM: Keep the existing space, but divide it so that there is a small powder room with a door to the hallway and a bigger-but-not-much-bigger master bath with a door to the master bedroom. (Right now it's a jack and jill into the master and hallway. Annoying.) 

KITCHEN: Keep the existing footprint, but gut. New everything. 

The not so simple plans:

BATHROOM: Divide the current bathroom to create a small powder room and master bathroom, but add pointless hallway space plus master closet to create a Big Master Bath/Closet. Would require moving the bedroom DOOR. Not the best idea, but would be interesting to see how a professional would make it work. 

KITCHEN: Gut. Take down a half wall and post. Create brand new kitchen and kitchen table area with expanded opened space. Potentially makes a lot more room for dining AND opens up the space for parties and gatherings. 

I've read a lot of places that "kitchens are usually designed a certain way because THAT'S THE WAY THAT MAKES SENSE" but you guys, my house is weird. WEIRD. There MIGHT be possibilities. I would like to find out! For kicks! And potentially thousands of dollars!

I just... I want to ask all my questions, but I am afraid of looking stupid. Which, okay, really really eye rolly thing to worry about, but this is my hang up about absolutely everything. Is there anything you can share with me to make me look less stupid? Maybe?