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    99 posts categorized "Family"

    April 01, 2014

    Oh yeah, I used to write about my kids

    ALL RIGHT. Things are looking up. There was a sudden influx of capital to Thumbprints Baking Co., for which the owners are terribly grateful and over the moon. We have picked a kitchen. We have insurance. The next step is formalizing the agreement and the step after that is (OH GOD) going through the county health department food business application process. I am guessing I will need to restock the liquor cabinet. 

    But I want to exercise my mommyblogger chops tonight and write down a few things I've noticed about my kids. Before I forget. So you can leave now, it's okay, I totally won't be offended. 

    So there's this huge amazing CRAZY thing I've been more and more aware of lately and that is the fact that my two biggest kids seem to be best friends. This is wild to me. It's not that they never fight (they always fight) but they also really really like each other. They don't really want to do anything without the other. We keep asking them if they're ready to stop sharing a room (when are a brother and sister too old to share a room?) and neither of them are interested. Well, they're very interested, just not right NOW. Even when I make a point of reminding them that Molly would share with Emma and we'd move the girls into the room next to Jack's so he wouldn't be alone downstairs. No no, they don't want to do that yet. 

    And they play with the same things and play the same way. They would both choose to do an art project over almost anything else (except perform Let It Go in princess dresses for their parents and all their parents' friends.) They make up plays. They build elaborate forts in the living room and pretend that Emma is their kid or their pet or just some random baby they get to boss around. They squabble constantly and accidentally hurt each other all the time, but I'm not sure either of them has ever been purposefully vicious to the other. 

    My brother and I are the same number of months apart as Jack and Molly. I suppose it's possible we liked each other when we were very small? But my main memories of my brother are of him barging into my room (which was 1) not allowed and 2) totally unnecessary, no I am still not over this and have refused to "just ignore him" for 34 years), messing up my stuff, and being mean to me. Always! My whole life! Not that I was a total peach to him - I remember my dad telling me, many many times, "Some day he'll be bigger than you, Mag! Watch out!" So yes, I shall grudgingly admit that I possibly beat up on him too. I sort of remember playing outside with him, making mud soup and charging through the patch of forest across the street from our house and riding bikes. My mom is probably reading this and thinking, "You did TOO have fun together!" Maybe it wasn't until we were a little older that he became my main reason for wanting to hurry up and go to college already. (Like 5th grade older.)

    But I don't see that with Jack and Molly. Really. I suppose it's possible and I'm sure one day they won't want to do the same things all the time and play with the same kids and feel bad that having a "boys only" birthday party means Molly can't come. (Jack is turning 7 next month. Omg.) But still. They really really like each other, they look out for each other, they give each other heads up when their mom is on the warpath. I'm starting to wonder if they're going to be the kind of brother and sister who are buddies growing up. Who don't have to turn 30 and live in separate houses before they finally tolerate each other. (You may think I'm being snotty about my brother, but I bet you anything he would agree. Also, he called the other day to talk about the bakery and wanted to give me some feedback and he had to say, "Look, I'm not being a jackass like usual, I'm really trying to help." SEE? EVEN HE SAYS SO.)

    And you know what, I'm writing this on April 1, which is basically my brother's personal holiday, the day on which he switched out my morning cereal for dog food, shortsheeted my bed, and set my alarm clock to go off in the middle of the night. HOW APT.

    So yeah, my heart IS warmed over by the affection my two oldest show each other. (Ask me again when they're teenagers.)

    Emma, however, worships the very ground on which her brother and sister tread. All day long I am reminded that something is Molly's, something is Jack's favorite, something is what Molly wants, something is what Jack did. Everything - EVERYTHING - relates to her two favorite people, some way or another. She will play any game they want to play. The big thing right now is "putting Emma to bed" - in the middle of the day, for whatever reason, and she gaily goes along with it, climbing into her bed with her stuffed cow and her pacifier and staying there however long they require. She's the baby and she has her manipulative moments, her fickle devotions, her sudden wails of distress. But for the most part she's all about being where they are, doing whatever they are doing. Including homework. Emma does lots and lots of homework. 

    I just think they are the neatest. I could have never dreamed them up. My creative, sensitive, sweet little boy. My absentminded, giggly, kind little girl. My utterly charming, delighted by everything two-year-old. They are just perfect.

     

     

     

    March 18, 2014

    On having lived a good and full life

    I went to my great-aunt's funeral today. I got there forty minutes early and thought I'd go get a coffee or something before it started, but when I drove by the church there were already people going in and the blocks around it were lined with cars. I had to park several streets away and I'm glad I saw my aunt and uncle walking by and jumped out to join them because otherwise I would have never found a seat. The church was bursting, there were another couple hundred people in the basement watching on a live feed, and then the reception was insane. There were so many people. And I KNEW my great-aunt and -uncle were the sort of people everyone knew and everyone loved, but it was still overwhelming and speechless-making to see the crowd that turned out on a Tuesday afternoon to honor my great-aunt. 

    My grandmother's family is Italian and her younger brother and his wife, whose funeral this was, are/were the most Italian of the bunch. My great-uncle is small and wiry, laden with heavy gold jewelry and a pinkie ring. He's loud and boisterous, he tells the best stories in the best ways, and his wife was a beautiful lady with perfect makeup and a touch of perfume and always called you "dear" and wanted to know what you'd like to eat. For a long time they ran a catering company and between that, the church community, and some other business ventures they seemed to know practically everyone in Tacoma. For SURE they knew every Italian. 

    I think they were alllll at the funeral. 

    I am only one quarter Italian. My kids know Daddy is Chinese and Mommy is Italian - they say this because I lived in Italy with Grandma and Grandpa when I was little, duh. But I'm only one quarter. My Italian grandmother married a German. And my dad is... Polish? Banished beyond-the-pale Jew? Who knows. So it feels a little strange to call these vehemently Italian people my family. They are, at least, the extended family I know. The embodiments of stories my mother told us about her growing up years. And they may not know my name, but they know I'm Mary's granddaughter, and how am I "dear", and did I get anything to eat yet? 

    (The Italian Italian relatives were there too, the ones who speak with an accent. Their son looks like he walked straight out of the show Boardwalk Empire. Even as a kid I was fascinated by these people and their clothes and their jewelry and their red Alfa Romeo with the gold interior and the hood ornament that honked if you tried to pull it off. Don't ask me how I know that.)

    I left the reception thinking how blessed I would be to have a funeral that runs out of space and food. You know what I mean? 

    I wasn't close to my great-aunt, though she passed my bakery business card to her engaged granddaughter while waiting for surgery in the hospital last week. Most of the people I saw at her funeral were people - my mom's cousins, mostly - I hadn't seen in years. But they knew me or they knew who I was and I just felt so lucky to come from this crowd. I come from other places too, but I also get to claim this one and the lady whose funeral it was was the lady who "won" my bouquet at my wedding, because she and her husband had been married the longest. 

    She won it again at my sister's wedding nine years later. 

    I spent the rest of the day at my parents' house, just talking and talking and then I drove home and now I'm here, in my own house, with my own little Chinese Italian Jewish Eastern European family. I hope we touch as many lives as my great-aunt did. 

    September 12, 2013

    Happy birthday, my Dad!

    It's my dad's birthday today. I won't tell you how old he is, but I've been going around singing a certain Beatles song about getting older and losing your hair and it's wonderfully appropriate. Even though I have a beautiful voice and remember all the words, my dad did not enjoy it. 

    Anyway, I thought I would tell you a bit about my dad, even though he 1) doesn't like my blog "persona" (I DON'T HAVE ONE!) (do I?) and 2) would not at all enjoy becoming Internet Famous. But what are blogs for if not to aid you in alienating your family members? 

    The first thing you should know about my dad is that even though he is constantly complaining about children - his own, his grandchildren, other people's children, children all up in his business and his house and disturbing his peace and quiet and HE MUST HAVE HIS LIBRARY! - he has five of his own and spent his entire career dealing with them so OBVS he is a BIG FAT LIAR. 

    One of my most embarrassing moments turned to fond memories is that of hearing my very own father outside my 5th grade classroom chewing out some delinquent 6th grade boy in the hall. "OOOOOH," everyone looked at me, "is that your DAD?!"

    (I once went to a dance with a boy who had been one of my Dad's "problem students". HAAAA.)

    He taught several different grades through the years and I am now all of 34 years old, but I will forever think of him as a sixth grade teacher and sixth graders as big kids. Always. The end. I mean, he had a PODIUM. Did YOUR sixth grade teacher have a podium?!

    When we lived in Sicily my mom (my MOM!) went on a business trip. And she was going to leave us with DAD? REALLY? But nothing was all that different except for being forced to eat vegetables at dinnertime. I don't ever remember my mother (not a fan of vegetables herself) insisting on us eating something, but my dad would not let us leave the table until we ate one (1) green bean. I believe I finally swallowed mine with a glass of milk, but my sister is still sitting at that table. 

    Because of my dad I've seen every ancient Greek or Roman ruin in Italy. Almost.

    We went to London one summer and each of us had to write a Case Report. I am still not sure what a Case Report is. We picked our own topics - I chose the British Royalty, duh - and then we had to research and write and illustrate. My only memory from this experience is wondering if our tour of the Crown Jewels was everrrrr going to end. 

    Other summers my dad bought math books - Saxon? Is that a homeschooling series? - and we had to do lessons on our own. This was horrible. These books, oh, they were big and fat and heavy and the print was teeny tiny and there were SO MANY PROBLEMS to solve. I hated those stupid math books. And see what good it did me, Dad?! WHY DID YOU BOTHER.

    If you ask my dad a question he will give you the entire background, reasoning, thought process, anecdotal details, and relevant reading, in addition to the answer. I used to make fun of this until I realized that, uh, I do it too. Ahem. I bet if my dad took the Strengthfinders quiz, Context would be in his top 5, just like me. 

    Twelve years ago yesterday I called my dad on the phone - he was in Italy, I was in my apartment in Seattle - and we watched TV together and cried. 

    When I thought I would join JROTC in high school because there was a good chance I could get college paid for, my dad said, "Now... are you SURE you want to do that?"

    When I thought I would go to a small liberal arts college in the Midwest where I knew no one, my dad said, "Now... are you SURE you want to do that?"

    When I was absolutely determined to go live in China for a year and be an English teacher, even though I was also experiencing High Levels of Crazy, possibly to do with the fact that I was forcing my own self to go to China for a year and be an English teacher, my dad called me on the phone - he was in Italy, I was in a different apartment in Seattle - and said, "Now Maggie? This doesn't sound like a good idea..."

    After 20 years he finally got me to read a few war books. And then keeled over from shock when I said I think it would be fascinating to visit battlefields in northern Europe. (But he will never get me to go to Gettysburg.)

    He's told me at varying points that I am named after Margaret Thatcher and/or Meg from A Wrinkle In Time. My mother says neither of those things are true. 

    I remember asking him what "divorce" meant and the answer being "you will never ever have to worry about that."

    We ate chocolate pie in honor of his birthday this weekend (and sang wonderfully appropriate Beatles tunes), but I bet he's spending his actual birthday afternoon alone in his nice quiet house, a book half-falling out of his hands, snoring on the couch. He's so great. Happy birthday, Dad! 

    July 21, 2013

    A stream of consciousness post that makes even less sense than usual

    Birthday Week is over. WOE. (Blogless Emily, you win the book! Send me an address!)

    Also all my kitchen painting plans were postponed on account of someone feeling a little, "Didn't we JUST DO a big project? Can't we just LIVE HERE FOR A WHILE?" Etc. I still have a lot to say about my kitchen - including meeting with a kitchen designer from Home Depot - but that will have to wait because toNIGHT I was filling out Molly's school enrollment forms and this was the last page:

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    I'm not sure what to do with this. I sat and looked at it for a long time. I asked Phillip. (He snorted/laughed/ignored me.) I ended up not circling anything, even though I am a rule follower, because what would I circle? And now I am just wondering what the POINT is. Data - yes, but is something we "consider" actual data? Does it make her eligible for certain things? I am not at all above checking boxes and circling things to GET stuff. 

    I don't know. I don't remember doing this for Jack, although I'm sure it was the same form. And I'm not UPSET about it or anything, I just feel like I need some more information. Or maybe it's just another one of those things we will encounter and be confused about. 

    We went to see my visiting brother and SIL one last time today. They have three boys and a foster baby girl they hope to adopt. If SIL and I aren't talking about house renovations we are talking about foster parenting and shockingly, Phillip and I are both open to the idea. I think this is surprising to us both. I never thought I could be a foster parent because it sounds like nonstop emotional turmoil and I am already on medication for that. Phillip feels like our family is complete. But there's something about it. I'm not sure either of us could articulate it, although we keep trying, but something about it just seems Possible. I wouldn't say that we are anywhere close to pursuing it, or even wanting to pursue it, but it continues to feel Possible and that's... I don't know. 

    And the picture of Raising Children grows ever more complicated. I think I would walk into the fostering process with the intent to be a temporary family, supporting reunification, while remaining open to adoption. Maybe not very open? But open. You hear about those people who've adopted sixteen kids from the foster system - how amazing is that? Am I that sort of amazing? I don't think so, but what a fully lived life, you know? What a right way to be on this planet. So all the possibilities are out there. More kids. Needy kids. Kids who don't look like us. Maybe this is the simplest of the complicated questions on the school enrollment forms I will fill out. 

    I'm hoping to find out if I got a job this week. Talk about another Possibility. I haven't quite let myself think about how I'll take care of Emma - maybe that sounds irresponsible, but to me it's just not borrowing trouble. When I thought about foster parenting or having more children I didn't picture having a job. What does that mean? Maybe it means nothing. Maybe I will be going to the Y every morning and putting a baby down for a nap every afternoon like I planned. I don't know yet. 

    I went to Ikea last week and bought desks for the big kids. I spent some time looking at beds and I am only interested in beds that maximize sleeping space. Bunk beds. Trundles. We don't have heaps of overnight guests, we don't have foster kids, we don't have people needing a place to stay. But there is something in me that requires making the most of the space I have. I am continually thinking about how many people I can house at one time. 

    Sometimes people say they could never have a big house like ours because they couldn't clean it. I just tell them I don't clean it. But you guys I know I prayed for the biggest house we could afford in the city. I feel like there are supposed to be people in here. I feel like the space is not just for me to wander around in, stressing about paint colors. 

    I don't know what all these paragraphs are amounting to. I don't know how I got here from a finicky question on a school enrollment form. It's entirely possible I'm just worn out and loopy and need to go to bed.

    May 27, 2013

    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

    March 04, 2013

    The more the better

    Oh you guys, my baby, my BAAAABEEEEE, she is best most cutest thing in the WORLD. I can say that because the other two are decidedly NOT babies and this is a baby type of Squee. I just LOVE HER. She gives kisses now, INTENTIONALLY, and it's the sweetest and tonight she used her hands to direct my face towards her and then I DIED. I DIED OF SWEETNESS. Phillip and I are just smitten. I know it sounds barfy and eye rolly and obnoxiously mommyblogger, but it's the truth. We are in LOVE. 

    I look at her sometimes and think: what if you weren't here? WHAT IF YOU WEREN'T HERE? It's weird, because life had simplified quite a bit by the time we decided to have Third Baby. No more diapers, sleeping through the night, several hours of the week spent at preschool. We could have just gone on and not looked back. I've always been terrified that I will never feel DONE having kids, that I will always feel like someone's missing. But there was definitely a point post-Jackenmolly where I thought: two is fine! I am good with two. I have my boy, I have my girl, we fit in our car, four chairs at a table, etc. Emma definitely upsets the symmetry in our family, her presence requires more car, more space, more energy. But oh wow, I can't believe there was ever a time when we didn't have her. 

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    This weekend I met a woman who asked me a million questions about my kids and when I asked if she had any (she was maybe in her late forties, early fifties) she said, "Oh, the Lord had a different path for us." But then she went on to tell me about some of her "honorary" kids, young people she mentored throughout her life, and how they still come to her house and stay and call her up and write letters, even though some of them now have Big Important Jobs or live in different countries. I just had this feeling of rich fullness talking with her. I wanted more kids, more people, more family. 

    Calm down, Phillip Cheung! I am not starting Fourth Baby negotiations. Honestly, I'd be quite happy to never be pregnant or give birth again. But I would joyfully grow this family, if that is the path the Lord has in mind for us. I would adopt, I THINK I would foster, I'd let college student cousins live downstairs, I think I would even host foreign exchange students. I actually think this is something that Phillip and I are good at, sort of gathering people in. Ish. I don't know. I guess it's more that both of us want to provide a place for people, and feed them, listen to them, entertain them. Something like that. It's the whole idea behind the bakery. It's why we bought this giant house. I hope there are always people to upset the symmetry and make me figure out how we're all going to fit in the car. 

     

    November 27, 2012

    This post was NOT sponsored by Cupcake Prosecco but it SHOULD have been

    I had a fabulous Thanksgiving, Internet. It was delicious, delightful, and rawther drinky. A long time ago I was into this book called Things You Need To Be Told by the Etiquette Grrls - oh dear, I seem to have fallen into an Amazon reviewer wormhole. People think this book is pretentious! People think gin and tonics are boring! People are not fans of Random Capitalization! (QUELLE HORREUR!) Well, here's my contribution to the reviews: LIGHTEN UP! 

    So ANYWAY, I was super into this hilariously pretentious etiquette book and one of the things the authors recommend as a good time is A Very Boozy Thanksgiving, wherein you invite all your orphaned friends for a giant (and very boozy) dinner. I have always wanted to do this, but it's sort of unseemly to do in front of your grandmother, right?

    BUT! This Thanksgiving? I opened the wine before dinner at my in-laws'. As the only real wine drinker at the gathering you feel a little silly opening the wine at, say, 2pm, but C'MON IT'S THANKSGIVING. You guys, I have the best in-laws. I stood on a chair to get the bottle down from the fancy rack and they're all, "Yes! Open it!" And it's THANKSGIVING, but they don't want you to help, they don't even really seem to care if you keep an eye on your own children, you're just supposed to sit down and relax and maybe read the Black Friday ads. The most I've ever done at my in-laws' is set the table, and that's not for lack of TRYING to help, lest you think I am a lazypants. No, I'm offering to help cook, to wash dishes, to wipe up, wipe down, clear, what have you, and they just act like I'm really super duper hilarious. Wash dishes? HO HO! Go sit down and put your feet up! FIL will do the dishes! He LIKES doing the dishes!

    Yeah. Good times. I also like holidays at my in-laws' because Phillip has a pair of college age cousins I find charming and hysterical and one of my very favorite Thanksgiving Quotes was when the college senior said, "So Phillip, you're like, what? 28?" HAAAAAAA!!! HA! HA! HA!

    (That means they think I'm 27!)

    Oh wait! I forgot to tell you about Thanksgiving EVE aka Phillip's Last Day of Work! It was splendid. My sisters and one of my BILs came over after the kids went to bed and we put away two trays of nachos, half a pan of easy toffee bars, some red wine, and a bottle of Cupcake Prosecco. YOU GUYS. I have never been a big fan of white and/or sparkling wine. I mean, if there's nothing else, I'll drink it. But it's not my favorite, and when there are toasts I usually take a few sips of champagne and move on to the good stuff. HOWEVER. Cupcake Prosecco was quite possibly the most delicious thing I tasted all week and OH MY perhaps I should fork over a few extra dollars when I go to buy something champagne-like! I wanted to get something nice to celebrate and it was lovely. 

    So! Thanksgiving? Good. The next day was a huge terrible boring-as-heck rainstorm and I took the kids to see Brave, which was also terrible and boring-as-heck. I did not mind at all when Molly got scared and demanded to leave in the middle. Then, as we do, we last-minute-invited friends for dinner and GUESS WHAT. THEY BROUGHT CUPCAKE PROSECCO. BEST FRIENDS EVER. 

    Side note: not many of my super good real life friends are the drinky sorts, so the fact that @lizritz absolutely never blinks an eye when I refill her wine glass makes her, like, triply precious. 

    Saturday? Saturday was wine with my two sisters at the Sound of Music singalong movie, which all of you should experience at least once in your lives. It was a riot. Also, I STILL DO NOT HAVE A DRIVER'S LICENSE! GROWN UP FAIL! I never ever tried to buy alcohol before age 21 (I SWEAR), but in the last week I purchased alcohol three times without an ID - once at the grocery store, where I gave a nervous giggle and they passed me through anyway (I AM THIRTY-THREE AND LOOK IT), once at the Sound of Music where I got my sister to buy my glass of wine, and once AFTER the singalong, when we went to happy hour and I only ordered a drink because the waitress didn't card anyone ELSE. Except then she carded EVERYONE. (I got my drink anyway. And left a large tip. GAH.) (My inner rule follower: DYYYYYYING.) (The waitress says I could totally use my sister's ID by the way. Which is funny, since I'm FOUR YEARS OLDER.)

    Sunday? What was Sunday? There was probably more wine. 

    It was just a very CELEBRATORY handful of days, Internet. VERY fun. VERY cheery. VERY "Look At Me Deleting All My Work Email Off My Phone Forever And Ever!" I know this post is obnoxiously WINE WINE PROSECCO MORE WINE! but really, I just felt like we were celebrating every day. The entire goal for the weekend was: Have as excellent a time as possible. GOAL ACCOMPLISHED.

    Phillip started his new job on Monday, but since he's doing an online training the first week, an online training that starts on East Coast time, he's doing it from home. Not even going to the office. Weird! But that just meant today he was done at 3:30, like REALLY done, no phone calls, no emergency texts, no conference calls at weird times. And we've just been hanging out all day and tomorrow is more of the same. It's crazy. I know he'll have to go to the office NEXT week, but today I made Cherry Cabernet Brownies with a red wine ganache JUST BECAUSE IT SEEMED LIKE THE RIGHT THING TO DO. 

    July 22, 2012

    Beggars would ride

    You know what is not that awesome? Standing around on the empty, bleak, gunmetal gray Washington State coast, in the almost-rain, clutching your thin and useless hood around your chins, and watching your nutjob children gleefully racing the waves with their nutjob cousins, all while listening to your just-married sister extol the virtues of the Disney resort in Hawaii. AKA where Jesus goes on vacation. WAH, I WISH. And then perhaps, if you are me, you come home from your family beach weekend and start looking up prices for beaches that actually live up to the name.

    But FINE - my preference for white sand, blue sky, and 80+ degree temps aside, Family Beach Weekend was a good time. The kids CLEARLY don't care what color the sand/water/sky are, they are throwing themselves into it no matter what. Sand? YES, MORE SHOVELS! Water? WE WILL GET WET! Sky? WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT! THAT'S JUST OCEAN MIST!

    I walked out to that stupid beach more times than I really wanted to, simply because the best thing about having kids is watching them be kids. You just have to see those skinny chicken legs galloping through icy surf, listen to the high pitched shrieks of frozen joy, grudgingly participate in the building of a the too-cold-for-water but not-too-cold-for-digging dilapidated sand castle. (And, if you are P Cheung and New BIL, a channel out to the ocean to fill up the moat - excellent engineering, men!) 

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    And did I tell you that Phillip goes on a business trip tomorrow? I conveniently forgot this fact myself. Right now I am Thinking Positive: it'll be a good week to get everyone back on my very favorite thing, A Schedule. Would you believe I'm actually sort of excited to put our house back together, get things cleaned up, remember where I put the mop and all that? 

    I even had an incredible moment of foresight a few weeks ago and signed the kids up for two separate weeks of Vacation Bible School. The first week fortuitously starts tomorrow YAAAAYYY!!! It's at my friend's church so at least Jack and Molly will know those kids, it goes from ten to one Monday through Thursday, and if nothing else it'll be a few hours each day when all of us are having our own kinds of fun. My friend thinks we should drop our kids off, go find a coffee shop, and blow the rest of the time shopping. I'm not entirely sure if Emma will nap before or after VBS drop off, but I don't see why that should interfere with the coffee/shopping time. That's what Ergo carriers are for, right? 

    It's a relief AND a disappointment to know all the big stuff of our summer is over. Until our couples retreat with friends over Labor Day, we are looking at a nice long stretch of Nothing. Usually a nice long stretch of Nothing is exactly the sort of thing to send me into a blubbering angsty-blog-post-writing panic, but it honestly sounds pretty good right now. The only way it could be better is if I had white sand/blue sky/warm water in my backyard.

    Yeah yeah yeah if wishes were horses WHATEVER.

    July 18, 2012

    Unusually and exceedingly peculiar and altogether quite impossible to describe

    So, as you are WELL AWARE, my sister got married last weekend. THIS weekend my side of the family is headed to the beach (well, what we Washingtonians call a beach) for a little family vacation. Because of those two things I made absolutely no plans - NONE, I SWEAR - for my birthday, which is today. I mean, ordinarily there are parades and visits from the president and honorary degrees and all that, but this year I told Phillip, "Low key! Nothing big! Maybe just a catered luncheon!" REALLY. 

    I did make myself a cake, though. The chocolate cake and frosting on the back of the Hershey's cocoa box. (RECOMMEND.) Jack and Molly helped by cutting out the parchment circles for the cake pan and licking the spoons. I did take a long leisurely bath during which I read an entire issue of Entertainment Weekly without any interruptions. I did let out a squeal when my husband handed me a card with tickets to Wicked inside (perhaps he's heard me singing along to the Wicked Pandora station lately?) (There's a strange exhilaration! In such total detestation!) (It's so pure so STROOOOOONG!)

    Otherwise... my parents and brother and SIL and nephews were going to come up and visit for a while. The FPC would drop by with Rosie. La la la. But then my parents took the kids home a bit after lunch and my brother and sister just... stayed. I think they all had better things to do, but everyone just sort of... didn't get up. And we talked about a million different things and soon we were discussing what to order from the Thai restaurant down the street and opening the wine and I kept thinking: this is why I wanted a bunch of kids. Because maybe sharing a room is a bummer and your brother still beats you up well into your teenage years and no one owns up to their turn to do the dishes, but when you're a grown up, brothers and sisters are pretty awesome. 

    My growing up experiences seem pretty different from my siblings'. You can tell just from our high school-centric conversation this afternoon (my two brothers, two sisters, and one SIL all knew each other in high school and half the people they talk about are total strangers to me.) It's me, then two brothers who shared a lot of the same friends and then two sisters, all of us just one year apart. It's no secret that my sole objective from age thirteen or fourteen was to Leave Home And Go To College. Like the FPC more or less said tonight, "You didn't pay attention to us at all!" Maybe things would have been different if my sisters had been born "next" to me instead of my brothers, but she was right. They were the "little girls" and my brothers were, you know, brothers, and surely there was more to life than this miserable box known as high school. 

    I always LIKED my brothers and sisters, but I don't feel like we were friends, really, until we were all out of school and living on our own, doing our own thing. There's definitely a way where I feel like I was waiting (whether or not I realized it) for them (especially my sisters) to "catch up" with me. Even though I'm really only a handful of years older! It made a difference. 

    And now it's so great. SO GREAT. I just love hanging out with them. I know the FPC, at least, is reading this and rolling her eyes because Declaring Your Love For Family Members On Your Dorky Website is not really something you DO in this family but WHATEVS, FPC. You are stuck with me. 

    (I don't know. Maybe they were driving home tonight all, "Okay, so how do we manage spending an entire weekend with THAT?" But I'm just going to pretend they think I'm awesome.)

    But we were even talking about a joint trip to Disneyland with our kids, and what it would be like if my brother and SIL moved to Seattle. Isn't that awesome? Not everyone WANTS to go on a trip with their brother's family, you know? But I totally would. I feel so lucky. 

    I have a lot of cake in this house, if you're interested. Leftover Thai food? Any takers? 

    Tomorrow I have to do laundry and pack and buy a whole bunch of salmon at Costco because Phillip and I are in charge of one of the beach weekend dinners and the only thing we are reliably good at is salmon. (MMM.) We also have an Unbloggable Thing happening tomorrow for which I'd like to obnoxiously request some good mojo. And I have another Revamping The Crazy Pills appointment which... well, I guess tonight I'm not feeling super positive about that. I'm feeling sort of "will this ever end" ish. Blargh. But I have a giant basket full of chocolate bars (they accompanied the Wicked tickets) and Phillip doesn't have to go to work in the morning and HELLOOOOOO I am 33 today! I am pro-birthday. Pro-getting older, even if my stupid brother makes stupid jokes about it. 33 just LOOKS good for some reason. It's a good year, right? I NEED A GOOD YEAR. 

    July 16, 2012

    Long boringish recap. No pictures. SORRY.

    You know what? I think I could start running again. (Someone ask me in a week or two if I actually started running again. Seriously.) 

    Maybe I am only thinking about this because I was within spitting distance of pre-Emma weight and then I decided to eat an entire wedding plus an entire bag of Crappy Day Chocolate Cookies. But really. I think I could. 

    ANYWAY. Wedding recap! Sort of! But no pictures. I am tired of posting pictures. (It's my website and I'll be lazy if I want to!) Yesterday I decided to stare down Facebook - I unfriended God knows how many people and restricted about half the people left. IT IS NOT PERSONAL. Well, I guess it is, sort of, it's just that maybe I would USE FB if it were more like my blog/Twitter community and less, you know, people I never talk to anymore. So I did not unfriend YOU, I promise, but I did get a couple friend requests from people I'm not sure I know. What I'm thinking is that you are a reader/lurker, but I either don't recognize your name from comments or you comment with a blog name or something, so if those friend requests are from YOU, could you just tell me you're a blog person? Is this horribly snotty of me? I'm just being REALLY PICKY and I HAVE had total strangers friend me before SO. That's all. 

    Wait. All right. So pictures: all the good ones are on FB. If I get anything exceptionally awesome from the other wedding photo takers I will be sure to post them here. Especially if they are of 1) programs/seating chart/invitation/other Maggie-produced wedding item or 2) me looking photogenic because one day I hope to market myself as a lifestyle blog (HAAAAAA.)

    As for the wedding itself... nothing went wrong! I mean, this will be a very boring recap! 

    Okay SURELY something went wrong. I will think. UMMMM. People disrespected the seating chart? Certain people COMPLAINED to my SIL who was manning the Seating Chart Area that they couldn't find their tables? And she explained that the seating cards were in alphabetical order, this was not a graphic representation of the table area. Which apparently they did not/could not understand and so they just sat where they felt like it? Displacing other people? Who didn't really care and the wedding sort of shrugged it off and continued on? 

    All day long I was losing my camera and my keys and sometimes my phone. I hated that. I was a huge embarrassing flake all day long. The only thing I was successful at managing was my sister's hair. People I ROCKED the Hair Management. I packed this glorious bag of Wedding Emergency Essentials: your hairspray, your safety pins, your lip gloss, your sewing kit, your anti-diarrheal medication. (Seriously - what if you were having Issues? Wouldn't you be glad I packed that little bottle?!) We had to fix the hair immediately after the hair appointment (honestly, I have never ever had a hair appointment where I did not go home and tweak/totally redo). And we fixed it up halfway through the reception. I was ON TOP OF THE LONG LOOSE CURLS. I was NOT on top of remembering where I put a $$$ camera that did not bleong to me. 

    The ceremony was just! beautiful! All those colors really did work together and so many people commented on the multicolored-ness of everything. And it was so sweet and touching too - I wonder if I think it seems MORE touching than other weddings I've been in/attended because my sister is not a teary and sentimental kind of girl. So there was something SO LOVELY about watching her walk down the aisle with my dad and say her vows. Let's just say I was glad I grabbed a Kleenex from Phillip right before the processional began. 

    The reception was in an old timey theater that now hosts weddings as well as rock shows and pageants. We put blown up copies of the invitation in the box office along with my sister's engagement pictures (which are gorgeous, I hate her.) The seating chart was stationed in the entry way along with a "guest book" - postcards that said "I remember B when..." and "Love is..." and "R & B should name their kids..." etc. Those were laid out with colored Sharpies and collected in a tall glass vase.

    Inside the theater it was dark and felt like a party. There were appetizers and drinks while the bride and groom finished up pictures. The tables were white with tall vases of pink and orange gerber daisies, tea lights, and little white favor boxes with tissue paper flowers on top in all the different wedding colors. My sister bought the Hershey kisses with the cute little wedding sticker on the bottom - those were in the boxes. (Everyone ate the candy and left the boxes. Lame.) White chair covers with gauzy white sashes.

    And it was pretty laid back. Nothing formal. People just hung out until the bride and groom showed up. They were announced, then there was just more hanging out until the buffet opened. That was probably my favorite part, just going around to all the different people I haven't seen in a year (or longer) and catching up. As you know I am Afraid Of Chatting, but something about big family occasions and really LIKING everyone and knowing that they really DO want to know about me and that new baby I have now and everything's all FESTIVE and HAPPY... it brings out the talky. SO FUN. 

    Eventually there were toasts (which were perfect. PERFECT. The Maid of Honor and the Best Man were SO GREAT, you guys), then they cut the cake, then their first dance to "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" which is a Frankie Valli song from 1960 something, but REALLY is a Lauryn Hill song / the song Heath Ledger sang on the bleachers in '10 Things I Hate About You'. WE LOVE THIS SONG. 

    (OH. That is a thing that went wrong! SO. Apparently the venue (also in charge of the music) lost the playlist? Which was only a handful of songs? And called my future BIL during picture taking to ask what the dance songs were? OMG I KNOW. But no one could remember the name of the first dance song which is why my sister and I were singing it at the top of our lungs in the church vestibule while Future BIL was on the phone. AWESOME.)

    Apparently they did NOT want to dance in front of EVERYONE and were only doing it GRUDGINGLY and the bridal party had strict instructions to storm the stage mere seconds after their first dance began. But honestly, they were SO sweet and cute that we couldn't bring ourselves to do it. 

    Of course, there was pah-lenty of dancing later on. I discovered that my normally quiet, reserved, on the sidelines, introverted BIL (husband of FPC) is QUITE the dancer once he's had a drink or two. Honestly, he was the only one with any business dancing to any of those songs. I knew he had it in him, but the "teaching everyone all the dances" part DID surprise me. 

    EJ had a rough time skipping that afternoon nap, but there were so many nice ladies willing to hold her and/or push her around in a stroller until she fell asleep. Which meant I could 1) drink more and 2) dance more. YAY.

    I realized, after it was over, that I felt like a GUEST. Which was so nice! I loved the FPC's wedding and was MUCH more involved in it, but I needed therapy after it was over. Something about how the FPC and I were the only ones in the city where the wedding was held made it MUCH more complicated than Other Sister's wedding, you know? (For ME anyway, and this is MY BLOG, I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO COUNTS.) Plus it was at my church and I was figuring out so much of the logistics. This one was in my parents' and sister's town and the reception venue handled nearly everything, and no one needed me to do anything. Of course, you know how I abhor not being needed, but it really WAS nice not having to manage anything the day of the wedding. 

    My sister changed into the MOST ADORABLE green dress and then she and BIL escaped. They went to Hawaii. They are in Hawaii right now. I am not jealous at all. 

    The rest of us packed up gifts and and guest book cards and flowers and table numbers and gave up looking for lost cameras (PHILLIP HAD IT THE ENTIRE TIME OMG) and then hunkered down at my parents' dining table to debrief. For hours. WAS EXTREME FUN.

    I did my own wedding almost entirely by myself. (My parents lived in Italy at the time, my in-laws were helpful but planning our Chinese wedding banquet in Vancouver, my sisters were 19 and 20 so somewhat oblivious to wedding stuff, and my best friends from college had all - ALL! - moved far away. My close friends were only starting to be my close friends then.) But over the years I've helped with friends' weddings and I did a lot for my sisters' weddings. I feel like a know a thing or two now and IF ONLY I KNEW THESE THINGS WHEN I GOT MARRIED!!! (Future post: How I Will Do Things When I Get Married Again.)

    I am STILL tired. I slept fine enough last night and even passed out on the couch for a bit this afternoon, but I still have that tired eyes/headachey feeling. So of course I spent hours painting the doors that go on the credenza/buffet thing I bought and painted in JANUARY. Someone needs a new project? 

    This was a pretty pathetic recap, it seems. Light on the drama, heavy on the sniffles. But that's the way we want things to go, right? Right. Well done, family of mine. I can't wait for our family beach weekend (THIS WEEKEND) (TO WHICH SISTER AND NEW BIL ARE COMING, I KNOW, THEY ARE CUTTING THEIR HONEYMOON SHORT, THEY ARE CRAZY) (SERIOUSLY) so we can talk about it all over again!!!

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