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    105 posts categorized "Family"

    July 24, 2015

    The Great Pet Plan

    Soooo I have been spending a LOT of time browsing Petfinder.com. I KNOW. I mean, maybe you don't think I know, but I KNOW. I KNOOOOOW. 

    BUT YOU GUYS. 

    We're not getting a pet. We aren't. The reasons are as follows:

    1. Phillip only wants a cat. 

    2. Maggie only wants a dog. 

    3. Phillip doesn't want to pick up dog poop. 

    4. Maggie is terrified of cats. 

    5. Phillip is ALLERGIC TO CATS. ("I'll just take a Zyrtec!")

    AND YET. 

    I continue to browse Petfinder in hopes of finding a nice fluffy white living stuffed animal doggie in need of a Furrever Home (GAG!) who wants to curl up in my lap while I watch TV and follow me around the house while I do laundry and basically be a Sweet Sweet Doggie Friend. 

    The closest I've come to convincing Phillip is: "Maybe when all the kids leave home and you NEED a dog." 

    We had a dog when I was a teenager, but as I had already mentally removed myself from Family Life by the time he showed up, I honestly don't even remember paying attention to the dog, let alone enjoying him or taking care of him. I have no idea how to take care of a dog. I don't know what you're supposed to do. And I admit it, there are many things about owning a dog that would potentially be terrible and maybe it would be terrible. 

    Then again, I've talked to several people lately who are in love with their little dogs. People who love the addition to their families and going for walks and seeing their kids interact with a pet and having a little furry companion. I THINK I COULD BE ONE OF THESE PEOPLE. 

    I do not want a big giant slobbery dog, although I occasionally enjoy other people's big giant slobbery dogs. My neighbor dog is one of these dogs and if I happen to leave the garage door open she will invite herself in and make herself at home. It's okay because in addition to big giant and slobbery, she is friendly and lovable. But I want a little stuffed animal dog, preferably some sort of Poodle mix, no terriers. Today I found myself perusing the sites of people who breed mini goldendoodles. OMG SO ADORABLE.

    Then I saw someone selling a mini goldendoodle on the Nextdoor site. I made Phillip look at the picture and he refused to say the puppy was cute. DOES HE HAVE A HEART OF STONE. 

    (Note: I promise not to buy a dog off some random person on Nextdoor.)

    I am reminded of the time I was 9 months pregnant with Jack and driving downtown. I'd just dropped off Phillip at work and as I was pulling away I saw one of those downtown apartment dwelling hipster people walking a BABY BULLDOG. And I thought I might die of cute. Seriously. At that moment I told myself, "Self? You just need to have this baby."

    Well folks, pretty sure Phillip would rather have a dog than a baby. 

    I'll keep working on him. Picture me tapping my fingers together Mr. Burns-like. My goal is to know for sure that I DO want a dog (because it's true, I should weigh more pros and cons than I have) and what KIND of dog and how to acquire such a dog and how to take care of a dog by, say, when Emma is in kindergarten. And then I'll just wear him down until he says yes. Because mawwiage.  

    February 01, 2015

    On losing

    Because I am only interested in football to the extent which my husband is emotionally invested, and as it is a begrudging, reluctant, and generally suspicious-of-rabid sports-fans interest, I will not be writing about The Big Game that just finished a bit ago. I hoped you'd humor me for one more post about my grandmother - her funeral was Saturday afternoon and I wanted to write down some thoughts. 

    At some point my grandma disappeared into herself. I didn't see her often enough to know when it happened or what it was like - I was very busy with my own life an hour away from hers. When I saw her it tended to be at my parents' house, usually with other people around, and she sat in her chair with a cup of coffee and a cookie - or, if she was lucky, one of the new babies that keep showing up in my family - and didn't speak unless spoken to. And even then you couldn't be sure that she actually heard you. It wasn't that I didn't remember the grandmother that used to cook massive meals for her giant family, or the grandmother who spent all her time sewing her granddaughters' wardrobe or playing cards with her neighbors or writing us cards. I just... well, that wasn't her anymore and while I missed that grandma, I wasn't around as much to have cause to WANT that grandma back. If that makes sense. I hope it doesn't sound harsh. I think I'd grown up and I didn't need or even necessarily want a giant dish of ice cream and a card game or black and white movie on a Saturday afternoon. 

    I would also add, though, that I still liked and enjoyed this older more forgetful and frail grandma. She was sweet and loved my babies and I could still make her laugh. I also spent my senior year of college working in an adult family home where I saw dementia and loss of independence and dignity and degenerating bodies to an extent that was sobering and sometimes frightening and I was always very VERY thankful my grandma did not need the level of care that these ladies did. Always in my mind was, "Well, at least she's not like THEM."

    So it's been strange for me to spend the last couple of days thinking about my grandma the way she USED to be. I had to think back to those times in order to write the reflection I was asked to give at the funeral. What memories did I want to share? What stayed with me? 

    It honestly wasn't until I'd written what I wanted to say and then actually said it - so, halfway through the funeral - before it hit me that this was a whole person who left us. A busy, competent, productive woman who, in the last years of her life, was none of those things. As I listened to my own self speak I realized how I'd packaged my own grandmother into a nice White Fluffy-Haired Forgetful Old Lady box. A TV grandma. A character. And while I'd loved that grandma, she had been so much more. She'd been so much more in my own life

    I don't know why or how I did that. Maybe it was easier to think of her this way when my parents would sometimes seem angry or grieved about the things she no longer was. Maybe I was too busy to be sad about it. Maybe it just wasn't something that affected my present day life. Oh, that sounds awful.

    I think this is why I was so relieved when she died. Relieved because I believe in Heaven and eternal life and she was free from that frail body and Alzheimered brain. I was only a little bit sad. A little bit affected. I mostly felt happy for her and not much like I'd lost anyone. 

    Then, at the end of the ceremony, when the priest waved the incense around her casket and laid his hand on the top while he prayed, when they began to wheel it out of the church, that's when everything became blurry and terrible. This was it! This was the end. And she was gone now and I saw my sister crying in the pew behind me and I thought, Oh, we don't have a grandma anymore. 

    We had such a good grandma, you guys. 

    This is what I shared at the funeral. I'm typing it here because I will for sure lose the paper I scrawled it on and I'd like to remember what I wrote. 

     

    Just wanted to share a few memories of my grandma.

    Because of her, my favorite movie star, for a very long time, was Shirley Temple. And Shirley Temple movies at her house were accompanied by ice cream cones. There really was no better place to be than Grandma's house, where there was always a beater full of frosting, just for me. And then when I was older, when I'd grown out of the frilly dresses she used to make for me, we played cards - usually Spite & Malice. I know she taught my sisters Hand & Foot, but with me it was Spite & Malice. Always with a dish of candy nearby to keep up our strength. 

    But what I really associate with Grandma is Christmas. When I was a kid, Christmas wasn't about Santa or the Baby Jesus, it was about Grandma and Grandpa's house. Her crazy red tree, the piles of presents - half of which were slippers, the coffee table covered in snow globes and music boxes, the nativity scene surrounded by that weird angel hair stuff, and a table extended as far as it could possibly go. My Christmas attire was always, of course, a Grandma Original. One year she made a matching Christmas dress for my Cabbage Patch Doll. It was taped to one page of a scrapbook full of doll clothes, like a mini fashion portfolio of all the outfits she'd ever made for me. Christmas, in my mind, was tied so closely to Grandma that when my family moved overseas when I was 10 years old, I wasn't sure what we would DO at Christmastime. I strongly doubted a holiday without my grandmother was possible. 

    Earlier today my mom reminded me that she sent cards for every holiday - Valentine's Day, Easter. It really WASN'T possible to celebrate without her. 

    Many years later I've learned there are lots of ways to celebrate holidays and special occasions, but Grandma's style continues to be the one I prefer. I've been known to color coordinate a tree and I often buy two bags of candy - one for my guests and one for me. As I reflect on what my grandmother meant to me, I'm reminded that in my home there's no such thing as too many decorations or too many slices of cake, and there are never too many people. 

     

     

    January 23, 2015

    Grandmas and beaters full of frosting

    My grandmother passed away early early this morning. I woke up to an email saying she went quietly and calmly and then I laid in bed a while longer feeling... relief. Joy, even. I keep wondering if I'll cry and I haven't yet. I did so much crying last week, just over the messiness of dying, and I've cried before over how old age and Alzheimer's slowly turned my grandmother into someone near-unfamiliar. But today I am relieved and a sort of tiredhappy. Last week I had a dream about a cathedral with its doors wide open and I feel like my grandmother went through those doors this morning. She's there. She's in peace. She's in Love. 

    And then I had to do a bakery event. A pretty big one. It went so well, you guys, SO WELL. I said a lot about it on Twitter and Instagram, but I didn't know how to say anything about my grandma. Or if I should. But I wanted to say something eventually - I know many of you helped pray her through this.

    Thumbprints is in charge of funeral reception desserts (which, if we're truly honoring my grandmother, will be the only food there.) I hope to write much more about my grandma and what she means to Thumbprints. (Katie: "She taught me how to bake." Me: "She taught me to appreciate a good batter-laden beater.") 

    Phillip just left for his ski weekend which means there's no one here to judge me if I make a batch of Grandma's fudge frosting (from the recipe book my aunt made for all the grandchildren several years ago) and eat it with a spoon. I bet my grandma would. 

    IMG_8259

     

    June 15, 2014

    I updated, meh, why am I even bothering OH LOOK COOKIES

    Oh HELLO THERE. I am feeling crankypants towards the blog - I wrote this super huge post last week - a post I actually tried to WRITE WELL and put THOUGHT INTO - and Typepad ate it. @)#%*#$)%*#!)%$!)#*!)@#*%!#()_$*%

    And having to rewrite an already perfectly written blog post is a HUGE BUMMER so I didn't bother. And now you will never know all the GOOD things that happened on my Colorado trip, you only get the return trip drama. And I suppose you only get that if you follow me on Twitter. And now I wonder how many sentences I can start with the word 'And'? Clearly I am not working hard on writing THIS post well and/or thoughtfully. 

    I suppose my Colorado post boiled down to the following points: 

    1. Always, ALWAYS, meet up with your internet friends. @kate_welsh and I had a great time in a hotel bar in Charleston, but now we've had a great time at a restaurant bar in Denver and now I want her to live next door. 

    2. Hanging out with 9th Grade BFF was exactly what I thought it would be, only a frillion times better. I am not kidding. I was weirdly un-nervous (I AM ALWAYS NERVOUS!) but it honestly never occurred to me that seeing her again would be anything but fantastic, and I was right. I love being right! I'm a quasi-military brat, she's a true one, and it was so fun for both of us to realize that HEY we DO have someone who "lasted". I am busy getting the guest room ready for when she visits. (WHEN ARE YOU VISITING?)

    3. Colorado Springs is a WEIRD PLACE, YO. I don't use 'yo' lightly, but there's really no other way to say it. What a weird WEIRD place. I felt that way the first time I went, about 8 or 9 years ago, but it's exactly how I remember it. Only more of it. It might be my inner city girl, but I swear it's not just me. 

    There you have it. Only there was a lot more in my previous post. Perhaps you are relieved. 

    As I type this out, all my internet buddies are retweeting my super casual comment about Thumbprints introducing a monthly cookie subscription box. And... well, my corner of the internet has proved its extreme awesome over this last week, but I never dreamed they'd love the FPC's and my little bakery as much as they do. There's no way I could have started a bakery without you guys and you're showing that there's no way we'd be moving forward without you either. I planned to do some obnoxious tweeting tomorrow and the next day, some Facebooking, etc., but you are doing it for me. I'M GOING TO CRY NOW.

    ALSO today is Father's Day. I suppose I should write something shmoopy about fathers. 

    I know I've told you this before, but I'll tell you again. When we were in college, Phillip and I did a camping trip with some other friends (possibly the last time I went camping). We weren't dating yet. In the morning I crawled out of my tent looking and feeling like Death On Toast. I caught Phillip's eye - he was looking at me kinda weird, but never said anything. A few years into being married he told me that when I crawled out of that tent I looked like a mom and he'd had this flash of some day in the future when we'd be camping with all our kids. (ALL OUR KIDS. HE SAID THAT.)

    I COULD have taken that the wrong way, but I didn't. And I'd always sort of known he'd be an amazing dad to the bunch of kids we'd have. In the future. When we got married. If we ever started dating.

    As for my adopted dad, the sainted FIL, not sure I know a cheerier, friendlier, takes-care-of-absolutely-everything-you-need sort of person. Really. I mean that one zillion percent. 

    And MY dad... I would write something about him, but that would probably make him feel WEIRD and while he thinks it's lovely that *I* have internet friends, he's not sure that HE wants internet friends and could I just please leave him alone in his library? Unless I would like to talk about the article on Ukraine I just read, or Israel, or have I read that book he gave me about education yet, did I see what so and so wrote about that, maybe we just need to sit down and discuss what is wrong with US foreign policy? That sounds good. Do we have an entire afternoon? Did I bring enough Cadbury Fruit & Nut bars? Excellent.  

     

    June 05, 2014

    #maggiekatenachodate

    I am going out of town tomorrow! I LOOOOOVE going out of town. Ever since EBJ (and my mother) talked me into spending more than one night in Sacramento for the event that turned into the Blathering, I have been Going Out Of Town's biggest fan. 

    This isn't an escape quite up to Blathering level, but I'm RAWTHER EXCITED regardless. I am even bringing my big kids! Crazy! Except for the part where we land at 10pm and I have to rent a car and do all that annoying paperwork (and then drive a strange car) with two sleepy children. But! It shall be done! And if it really truly can't be done I can always call my brother to pick us up. HA.

    So my brother and SIL and their three boys live in Colorado and I visited once, after my first nephew was born, before I had my own kids. Things are very different now! THREE boys plus one extra adorable new niece, for whom this whole trip is planned. She was officially adopted a few weeks back and my brother and SIL are throwing a party and as you know, if there is a party, I must be there. 

    I'm super excited to bring the big kids (Jack and Molly and my two older nephews are kind of The Older Cousins in our family). Even though my brother apparently has to work all weekend and my SIL's whole family is coming and WHO KNOWS if and when we'll see anyone, but guess what, I have made plans for THAT as well. 

    Because! The first thing we do when we wake up on Sunday is drive an hour and a half to my 9th grade BFF's house. And guess what I haven't SEEN her since 9th grade. No wait, she had a flight layover at the base I moved to after 9th grade, so I did see her one night when we were in 10th grade. BUT SINCE THEN? NOT EVER! And we haven't even kept in great touch or anything! I *could* be really nervous or whatever, but I am so not. Well, I might be once I start driving to her house. But even so, 9th Grade BFF is sort of the first person I identified as My Kind Of Person and I have every reason to think she still is. I am BEYOND excited to sit on her couch and talk for hours. I have no idea what we're going to do with our kids. Lock them outside? That'll work! (What *should* be making me nervous: that I am not HER person. EH! We'll work around that.) 

    AND THEN AND THEN! On SUNDAY I get to hang out with @kate_welsh!!!! Hence the hashtag title, which, has anyone ever been hashtagged in a blog title in such a beautifully rhyming way? I THINK NOT. I think the only thing we have planned is 1) nachos, but really, what more do you need? YAY!

    Oh, and Sunday afternoon is the Party. I've been told, though I'm not sure if this is still the case, that the family of New Baby should wear mint. Mint! So! LUCKILY the Easter outfits I bought the kids are pretty minty AND coordinate well with each other, so Jack and Molly are all set. But while mint (a version of aqua?) is one of my favorite colors, I felt sort of silly hunting for an appropriately Minty outfit. Instead I'm going to wear ORANGE. Ooooh, rebellious. But I found a minty scarf? And minty earrings? I feel like they'll still let me into the party? 

    (Just watch, the whole Wear Mint thing will be so over and my kids will be the weirdos wearing the coordinated matchy minty outfits FINE, I SEE YOUR PLOY, SIL.)

    Long long LONG ago I used to write more about my brother and I would refer to him as The Captain, since he was, indeed, an Air Force captain. But he has recently informed me that he should now be referred to as MAJOR. Even though we don't really REFER to him anymore, do we. His first name is Matthew and from now on I think we will call him Major Matthew. Isn't that adorable? I love it. Almost as good as a hashtag. 

    Even though this was a crazypants week (I didn't even tell you about how the cleaning ladies ruined my oven!) (And I own a BAKING BUSINESS!) (GAH!) I feel pretty organized and settled and ready to jet off tomorrow evening. I have a giant in-Sharpie list of stuff to do, but I don't have to get the kids out of school until about 1 tomorrow and that's HEAPS of time, right? 

    OH AND THEY CUT MY TREE DOWN TODAY OMG THAT WAS WILD! Darn it! I think I have TONS to say about my tree! Starting with: people who cut down trees for a living are PRETTY FUN. But anyway. I'm about to turn into a pumpkin. Please think good thoughts for the whole being-able-to-sit-with-your-small-children-on-an-airplane thing, thanks.

    April 17, 2014

    Spring Break meanderingness

    Friday night we started driving to Montana to visit friends for a short Spring Break trip. We got there Saturday afternoon, spent a glorious two-and-a-half days never seeing our children because they were always exploring outside, and drove all the way home on Tuesday. We knew we'd have a good time, but we had SUCH a good time. I can be a huge downer about going places other than bright shiny cities (or beaches, obvs) and the drive through Eastern Washington gives me the shakes. Also, our friends live on 40 acres of empty fields (in a spectacular designed-by-them house, BUT STILL) and middle of nowhereish places are not my favorite. That said, when your children are out of your hair and having a blast AND you yourself are enjoying excellent company, a middle of nowhereish location is fantastic. There were hours and hours of Drinking Wine While Having Deep Meaningful Conversations, which is pretty much my favorite thing to do. My kids ran through alfalfa fields, burned sticks in the forest, petted dogs and horses, drove go carts, climbed trees, rode bikes a million times farther than they get to ride them at home. I'm still positive I couldn't live there, but I honestly do have an entirely new and delightful outlook on living in the middle of nowhere. Ish. 

    I've been getting pretty lightheaded in the afternoons for about two weeks. Today I finally googled "lightheaded" and "Pr0zac withdrawal", as it's the only reason I can think of. It appears to be a definite possibility, but honestly, ANYTHING related to SSRIs look to be definite possibilities when you ask Dr. Google. The one recommendation I found that seemed reasonable is to start taking fish oil supplements (Omega 3). I can try that. 

    I also googled "weight gain" and "Pr0zac"... because. I want to say that I'm still struggling with this, but I also struggle with whether I should write about it. Part of it is a legitimate thing I need to do and work on and figure out and come to terms with. Part of it is me looking at pictures of the summer I turned 30 and hating myself because I don't look like those pictures anymore - even though I have one more child, a wildly different schedule, way less time for myself, and a new business. (A BAKING BUSINESS.) While I suspect the meds have made it near-impossible for me to LOSE weight (I'm not sure if they made me gain) and I do think it's important that I find a way to shed some weight in the near future, I also need to find a way to let go of that almost-30 body. Most of all I need to reframe the narrative in my head that tells me I failed and disappointed myself and others. 

    I rearranged my living room. It's kind of wild how something like rearranging one's living room can make the entire world brighter and happier. I am typing this from my "office" - a tiny console table I stole from the entry way and placed in the corner of the living room, on which I placed my laptop, a lamp, and my box of bakery files. I crammed the printer into the bookshelf next to me. It's not comfortable, but it's cute, and it will work until we kick EJ out of her room and create The Prettiest Office In The Universe [Even Though I'll Have To Share It With A Boy].

    The bakery is going well! Sort of! We are almost finished with our new application, which is fantastic, and let's not think about the "4 to 6 weeks" it will take to even get looked at. Deep breath. I have also received heaps of marketing advice from Twitter, most notably Ginger from Ramble Ramble and ONCE AGAIN I am in awe of Thumbprints' supporters online. I am still completely freaked out that no one is ever going to order anything from us, but now I have things to DO while no one is ordering from us. Things to TRY! It appears I'm going to have to be way more present on Facebook than I am currently (boo), but on behalf of the bakery (yay). I apologize in advance to any locals who are innundated with FB posts from Thumbprints. And the rest of you - hardly any of you have tried our treats, maybe you think we're overpriced and our website sux and we're doing everything wrong, but even YOU, I thank you for keeping that to yourselves. Everyone has been SO GREAT. I LOVE YOU.

    OH! I wanted to tell you that our Montana friends have a DOG. Okay, they actually have way more dogs than one family should own, but their INSIDE dog is a Maltese/Yorkie mix and I love her. And she's a needy, anxious, just-got-her-hair-cut-so-she's-not-even-that-cute dog. But I LOVED having this little warm body next to me on the couch or in my lap. I don't like cats. I have a thing about cat claws and I get super nervous and tense when a cat climbs into my lap wondering when it's going to dig in. It's terrible, because Phillip only likes cats and I only like dogs and no one would help me take care of a dog and what would we do when we go somewhere etc. etc., but MAN I really want a little doggie. At the very least I will demand my own little doggie when EJ goes off to college. Will Phillip deny his sobbing baby-less wife THEN? I THINK NOT.

     

     

     

    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:

    Photo

    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.

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