Grad School Days

One year down, one year to go

I feel like all I did today was cook and clean and put away and it's eight o'clock and Phillip is reading to the kids and I'm dead tired and I STILL have stuff to clean and put away. At least the cooking is over with, I suppose. 

But really, all I want to do is sit in front of my television (or Hulu on the laptop, either one will do at this point) and I can't. Because there are dishes in the sink and I haven't put away all the clean clothes (though they are folded!) and there are toys all over the playroom which means sitting there to watch a TV show would give me the shakes anyway. Oh, and I totally intended to change all the sheets today and obviously that's not happening. 

Phillip starts school again on Friday night and I'm worried because I'm already beginning to feel bogged down. This quarter he'll be in class Tuesday and Friday afternoons/evenings, and while I suppose that's better than Friday nights and all day class on Saturday, it means I am alone from wake up to bedtime two days out of the week, which feels like a lot. Plus the random Thursday that he spends hanging out with the other IT Dudes in the server room once a month. Plus all the other un-plannable un-knowable school obligations that popped up all year long. And it's fine, it's okay, we signed up for this, but why am I so tired before it's even started?

I met up with a friend this morning and we were talking about how much easier our lives are now that the kids are walking and talking and eating people food and going to preschool and are basically Not Babies anymore. And the truth of this is really astounding. Even for me, whose babies did not give her a ton of grief, life feels easier. You can leave the house almost any time you want. You don't have to pack a suitcase full of diapers and milk when you do. You feel less guilt or fear around leaving them, you can sit on the bench while they go down the slide, they can eat a grilled cheese sandwich all by themselves. 

So I tell myself I shouldn't be so tired. I have all the same laundry and meals and dishes and toys I had before. The kids are older and going to preschool and playing by themselves and are perfectly happy to leave me oblivious to the fact that they are building a fort inside my closet. (Which, if it buys me 10 minutes with Twitter, is totally fine by me.) I'm still sitting here avoiding the grease trap that is my kitchen. Maybe the difference is that this time I know what I'm getting into, and while I'm not pessimistic, I'm not terribly optimistic either. The next nine months sit before me like a massive sink full of yesterday's dinner dishes, and no one else is going to do them for me. 

Grad school: the year in review

One year down, one to go. 

Last year at this time I was pretending to be one of those people who Take Things As They Come. I think I have lived long enough now to know that I'm not ever going to be one of those people, but I can do a decent job of acting like it. Sometimes. So I tried not to dwell too much on the imminent loss of time, help with child-wrangling and weekends-as-I-knew-them. And what do you know - that first quarter wasn't bad at all. Thanks to friends, family, an easy course load and my NaNoWriMo-related OCD, the first quarter flew by. 

Then winter quarter kicked our cocky little butts all over town, stomped on our faces, taunted and mocked us and threw its neon-colored energy drink in our faces in the middle of the school hallway. MAN. With the exception of my various Anxiety Episodes, this past January, February and March were the hardest chunk of our marriage thus far. 

It's our own fault, really. It wasn't just school - though the course load was tougher and more burdensome than fall quarter and this past spring quarter combined. And it wasn't just WINTER, which is always rough, for me at least. It was the start of many unbloggable things at Phillip's job, not to mention the introduction of business travel in our family. The travel, the job stuff and the school stuff meant Phillip wasn't just gone on the weekends, he was gone multiple times during the week and even if he wasn't PHYSICALLY there, he was often MENTALLY there. 

And oh yeah, we decided to sell our house. BRILLIANT!

I know I've mentioned this several times before, but I went to this bridal shower long long ago where one of the guests advised the bride-to-be to watch out for the seventh year of marriage. Seventh years, the guest claimed, can tend towards the miserable, and if you have any control over it at all, you should take a break. Don't start anything new. Stay home, enjoy each other. The guest had all this BIBLICAL evidence to support her theory, something about plagues or famines or whatever, I don't know. But she was really quite adamant about the whole set up and I think I was on year three or four at that point and making precise mental notes. "Year Seven: Go On Vacation!" Something like that. 

It will be seven years at the end of this month. So I don't know if I'm in year seven already or it starts in a few weeks (thinking about this makes my brain hurt, much like trying to figure out how many months pregnant etc.) but EITHER WAY. Close enough, right? And dude, we were NOT THINKING. Jobs! School! Houses! Tentative discussions re: Third Baby! GAK!

Spring quarter was much easier. SO much easier. In large part due, I believe, to the fact that our house sold lightning fast and we don't have that hanging over our heads anymore. (For real, it's a literal weight off my shoulders. I feel LIGHTER.) Plus school was less work. There was the job stuff, but now the job stuff is just one huge stressful thing instead of one of SEVERAL huge stressful things. Which makes a difference. 

And now the first year is over. Amazing! Let's tally up the Initial Fears, shall we? 

Fear of being Bored and Lonely: Um, hello, I am a diagnosed introvert with a passionate and undying love for the internet. Phillip having to do homework almost every night means I don't have to feel guilty about writing forty-seven blog posts per week. Possibly I didn't need to worry about this one. WIN.

Fear of the kids being Adversely Affected: I don't see this happening. They seem fine. Even when Phillip is gone for a week, they seem fine. And right before he leaves/when he gets back he dotes and coddles and spoils and YEAH, I think they're doing JUST FINE. 

Fear of Jealousy: Hmm. This one is a little more complicated than I thought. Before school started I was worried about feeling left out or left behind. Turns out, though, that I have as much interest in going back to school as I do in going back to work in an office, ie: NOT SO MUCH. I'm not jealous of school. I AM jealous of Phillip's... freedom? ability? allowance? responsibility? to think about things other than running our family, to not have nap schedules etc. dictating his life. I was occasionally jealous of this before school started, but now it's like he has twice as many Important Things going on. While I, uh, manage the daily failure that is potty training. More on my lack of Important Things tomorrow, I think. I wrote about it tonight and got rid of it, because Holy First World Problems, Batman. 

Fear of Separate Lives: Well. Also complicated. In some ways, this was totally unfounded. In November, when Phillip was unreasonably excited about every little thing at school, coming home every day with a NEW thing he wanted to be when he grew up, I was unreasonably excited about NaNoWriMo and it was awesome. We were both TOTALLY nerdfully sunk in our own little worlds, yet we were really excited about what each other was doing and super supportive. But then there was a few months ago, when we were sunk in our own little worlds, but depressingly so, and upset and frightened and worried and more confused and frustrated with each other than supportive. So yes and no on Separate Lives. Big highs, deep lows. I reserve judgment. 

Fear of Resenting Phillip for Always Being Gone: Yes. This happens. Sometimes it's not a big deal, sometimes it sucks. Sometimes I know I'm being petty, sometimes I get mad when he comes home without diamond earrings because does he know what I put up with all day? WHERE ARE MY DIAMOND EARRINGS?!?! This, I think, is just part of the Grad School Widow business and I console myself by saying, "One more year, one more year, one more year." 

Anyway, this is now embarrassingly long and I may or may not have laundry to do. Also, Phillip leaves tomorrow morning for another week (and we leave for Hawaii 2 days after he gets home) and I don't think I've done nearly enough fretting about that. But I have one mantra for this week, and that is the weather forecast for Honolulu. Maybe I won't die of a Vitamin D deficiency this summer after all. 

A totally random number of not very quick takes

Today was the first day I started to feel like: dude. I am ready for my husband to be home. 

It's not just the kids, although today was the first day I really struggled with them, it's the house stuff. I do not recommend being in two different states during the Inspection Negotiation Period. I have also developed some Rather Strong Opinions this week re: the process of selling one's house (and buying, I suppose), but upon further reflection I've decided that it might be wiser to share those after the deal goes through. Suffice to say that we're still batting the terms back and forth and St. Joseph remains in the garden box. 

In the meantime I think I've found a rental house. I think. The bathtub is mauve, but Mauve is better than Dirt. 

Two of my favorite girls just left my house. Eleven o'clock! On a school night! Conversation topics included Catholics, naked Korean spas and blogs. It was so awesome I forgot all about my dentist appointment tomorrow morning. And now that I've remembered I'm feeling all Oh Crap-ish.

Every night this week I've put Molly down in the pack 'n play in my room and then moved her to her crib whenever I decide it's time for me to go to bed. It's SO HARD. Molly's always been pretty reliable in the sleep department. I mean, yes, maybe she doesn't fall asleep when we want her to, or stay asleep as long as we want her to, but she falls asleep on her own and stays that way if you need to transfer her. I dread Jack falling asleep in the car, but Molly's almost always a snap. So it's not a big deal, really, that I have to pick her up and move her at night because she never wakes up. But I feel terrible doing it, because she looks so comfortable and then here comes her mother, totally lacking in the Upper Body Strength Department, bending into the portable crib to pick her up and I always do something awful, like lose my balance or half-drop her or something. It's so mean. And she gets all fidgety and gaspy like WHO IS DISTURBING MY PEACEFUL SLUMBER?! I hate it. She stays asleep, but it's still awful. This is so Phillip's job. 

I didn't do any of the things on my Stuff To Do While Phillip's Not Here list. Sad, huh? I just ate whatever was there, or brought to my house (thanks Liz!) and I hardly watched any TV at all. I was looking forward to New Moon, honest! But I watched all of three shows this week - one was The Good Wife (PEOPLE. WATCH THIS SHOW.) and the other two were old Veronica Mars episodes I found on On Demand. The Logan-Falls-For-Veronica episodes so (OBVS) the good ones. Swoon. 

I am GOING to watch New Moon. I don't care what you say. 

Sometimes I wonder what the next thing will be. The house, the travel, the sickness, school, the handful of Unbloggable Things. There's just a LOT. And it's all of our own doing, so I don't want to complain so much as, you know, ACKNOWLEDGE. That's a crapload of stuff right there. And right when you think something is going to resolve itself, it gets more complicated AND another Hard Thing is piled on top of the heap. 

That said, I think we're doing pretty well. This week was about a million times easier than I thought it would be - kid-wise, anyway. I'm ready for Phillip to be home (10pm-ish Friday night) and for some house stuff to get figured out already. And by the time Phillip goes on his next week-long trip I'll be installed in a new house with plenty of organizing and decorating to do. I'm looking forward to it. 

I think I'll sleep on it

Original Agent came over tonight. We talked and talked and talked and somewhere in that conversation Original Agent said something like, "Funny how all the big stuff comes in bunches." 

I don't know if FUNNY is the right word, but yes, right now it is coming in bunches. Work stuff, school stuff, sick kids (STILL!), business trips (AGAIN!), the background noise of trying to communicate our struggles with this schedule and routine and then: selling our house too? Are we crazy? 

I've had a hard time over the last two months - a really hard time - determining my role as The Wife Of A Full Time IT Guy And Part Time Student. I think the beginning of this grad school adventure was easy, mostly because Phillip was really excited about what he was learning and we were both diving into this mess with low expectations and generous dispositions. It was new and I was so proud of him and we wanted the best for each other in every situation. And this quarter it feels like things have evened out. The excitement has maybe waned, and certainly our generosity and grace for each other's hardships has dwindled. We both feel like we're doing everything we can to get through these days, but it doesn't always feel like enough. 

I thought the physical distance would be the hardest part. I thought I would really have a hard time with no help on Friday nights and Saturdays, plus all the time he'd have to spend doing homework and reading. But it turns out that isn't half as bad as I expected. I have a lot of mom friends, a pair of aunts who like to babysit and two sets of fabulous grandparents. I always have help, I always have a way to fill a long day. What I struggle with is the emotional distance. Phillip has nine thousand things on his mind and I feel like everything else is more important than all the silly details of home. I mean, he is out EARNING MONEY and LEARNING STUFF and what's so important about what we bought at Target and whether someone used the potty? And I just dread adding to his mental list of Crap He Has To Think About. So I don't want to make a fuss or stress him out even more. I feel like my job is to Say Yes. Whatever he needs to do, wherever he needs to go, I support him. The car? A business trip? A conference call from home? A meet up after classes? Yes. I can handle things at home. You go do what you need to do. I will stay here and Make It Work. Don't worry, I will figure it all out.

It's well documented on this website that I do not handled The Unexpected very well. I need time to prepare and think about how to, well, make things work. So when Phillip told me today that he is going on another business trip, this time for a week in March, I was sort of okay - he'd told me earlier that this was a possibility and I'd done the preliminary Mental Preparation work. What I didn't know (and what he didn't know until today) is that there would be ANOTHER week in April or May. 

And you know, I CAN deal with that. I am not excited about it, believe me, but I just need some time to think about it and strategize and I know things will be fine. It's the not knowing, though. The "wait, why do I feel like these things are just HAPPENING to me, like I have NO SAY IN THIS SITUATION WHATSOEVER" that is really hard. I feel like the lowly support staff, the admin who gets all the thankless details hammered out. It's not fair, because Phillip doesn't have a lot of say either, but I still feel... powerless. 

It's hard trying to figure out what to put at the end of the sentence that starts: "I need _______ ." "Chocolate" and "an expensive dinner" and "diamond earrings" are all contenders, but somehow I don't think those items quite convey what I'm trying to communicate. 

Also, there was bacon for dinner and bacon makes everything better

So Jack has been Not Himself for over two weeks now (NOT THAT ANYONE IS COUNTING) and it's... getting to me. He wasn't obviously sick until the second week, and now it appears he is going to be sick for the rest of time. And because being sick means he isn't sleeping well, I've basically got 28 pounds of Whine living in my house. 

Some days he's so clearly unwell that I have an easier time tapping my sympathy reserves (which, admittedly, I have a hard time tapping in any situation.) Like yesterday, when we met a bunch of friends at a new playground. We got there first and Jack half heartedly wandered around the big toy, kicking the wood chips and pretending not to hear me call him back. When our friends arrived he was suddenly glued to my leg. He wanted me to hold him, which I would not do, but he is more stubborn than I am (I AM DOOMED) and eventually I gave in and oh, it was so pathetic. Little Jack's head on my shoulder, a tiny voice saying, "I want to go hooooome, Mama. I want to go hooooome!" OVER AND OVER AND OVER. 

So even though I hadn't seen some of these friends in months and months, I took the kids back to the car and drove them home. I cooked a made-to-order grilled cheese, which was subsequently not eaten. I kept a steady stream of Caillou playing on the TV. I held a cranky, misbehaving, snot-nosed little boy in my lap during naptime because there really wasn't anything else to do, and I wasn't angry. He'd cough and I'd feel the vibrations rattling his ribs. Poor little guy. 

But it's not always like that, especially when his nose ISN'T running and he's NOT coughing. I try to remind myself that he's still not feeling well, that he didn't get enough sleep, but DUDE, it's like he's competing for the gold in Pushing Buttons. (Look at that Timely Reference! Woo!) I have had so many awful and mortifying moments with him over the last two weeks (and honestly, Molly isn't a peach herself.) 

The worst was probably sometime early on when friends came over in the afternoon and then stuck around for dinner. We ordered a pizza, thinking the kids would like it, we wouldn't have to make dinner and our husbands could eat as soon as they walked in. But oh, Jack was a NIGHTMARE. He stole toys, was rude to our friends and nasty to his sister. And my FAVORITE thing about Jack is that when you intervene or take something away or even just say, "No!", he erupts into pitiful earsplitting wails AND DOES NOT STOP. I mean, you'd think he wiped out on the short track! (ANOTHER Timely Reference! Am on a ROLL!)

Anyway, it was just awful. I was so embarrassed. And these were friends who are more like family - it takes a LOT to be embarrassed in front of them and I wanted to DIIIIEEEE. 

Tonight I went to their house. Phillip is working late (he's still not home) and sometimes my friends invite us over for a Pity Dinner and hanging out until it's time to go to bed. I almost didn't go, just because Jack has been so Anti-Other-People (oh, who am I kidding, he's being Anti-ALL-People) and I didn't want to spend an evening constantly breaking up fights between him and his future prom date. (Who, right now, is more like the bossy know-it-all big sister. HILARIOUS.) 

But we went, because I am more lazy than anything else, and my friend was going to make dinner. And you guys, it was wonderful. It was restful. It was the best evening I've had with my kids in a a LONG time. They played so nicely and they played together. They were cute, they were happy, THEY ATE DINNER. When Jack's godfather busted out the guitar, all four kids had a little dance party in the living room: Molly doing her patented squat and lunge dance steps, Jack finding a toy guitar and standing right next to the real thing, mimicking all his moves. I sat there watching them, singing along and thinking oh God, in this random Thursday evening you have redeemed the last two weeks.

I'm sad Phillip wasn't there. His physical absence hasn't been as difficult as the distance in just knowing what's going on in each other's worlds - the result of the physical absence, I guess. I'm grateful he's not going on that trip, even though I know it was a bummer, and it turns out he doesn't have to go to school on Saturday either. It feels like a sorely needed break. 

He just called. He's on the bus. I better go clean up the kitchen. The lack of a proper house elf is really the only thing preventing me from calling this The Perfect Evening. 

Most likely to succeed

Oh man you guys. I know I'm venturing into First World Problems Happening To Spoiled Has Everything She Could Ever Ask For Annoying Even SHE Can't Believe She's Writing About It Blogger territory here, but SERIOUSLY. I feel like every day has delivered some sort of delicious oh-please-sir-can-I-have-some-more? emotional beating and I want a break. Smothered in hot fudge, preferably. 

It's not really the mom stuff either. Some of it is my utter impotency when it comes to managing my two-year-old (and if one more person wants to delightedly tell me how three is ten times worse, I will take my sinkful of dirty dishes and chuck it at that person's head.) Some of it is not having any idea what is up with him this last week or two. And yes, some of it comes from the fact that it takes half an hour just to get READY to walk out the door and someone always poops after I've got her coat and shoes on, MOLLY. So sure, the mom stuff isn't exactly a cakewalk lately. 

But I feel like I've had all these Irritating Situations pop up this week, requiring me to act like a Grown Up. And not, like, Take Responsibility kind of grown upness, but Sticking Up For Yourself grown upness and Fixing Stuff and Advocating and Knowing What's What. I mean, I don't want to talk on the phone with my FRIENDS. Don't tell me I have to explain an issue over the phone with my DENTIST. HORRORS.

I don't want to call the dentist or the real estate agent or the doctor. I don't want to confront anyone or manage any situation or cause a fuss. Why am I so concerned about all of these people LIKING me? Why am I worried about how I'll come off when I ask a simple question to which I most certainly deserve an answer? Why is it so hard for me to ask for what is mine? Why am I worried about their impression of ME when THEY are the ones who need to sell THEMSELVES? 


Okay, and maybe it's the mom stuff too. We took the kids up to bed at seven and at nearly nine they are still griping and whining. I've already made myself hoarse with shouting, I've already moved them into separate rooms, what else can I do? At this point I'd settle for Quiet. 

They are both sick, which is lovely. 

When I met my old boss for lunch yesterday he kept wanting to know What I Do and it's always a little intimidating talking about this with him, since I always get the feeling he is not so impressed with my stay-at-home-ness. He knows Important People and his wife knows Really Important People and the man can namedrop all day long and am I looking for part time work? and he can hook me up whenever I want and hmm, that kind of writing doesn't sound like REAL writing and am I SURE I'm not interested in this contract gig for so and so? It's fun, you know, and when I worked for him I was fresh out of college and it was just him and me and his dog in the office and it's a little like your dad worrying if you can pay the rent that month and if your boyfriend is treating you nice and all that. So I love him, I do, and I appreciate the fact that if I DID need to find a job he would bend over backwards to help me out. But I don't want one. Not right now.

THAT SAID. I wipe noses. My husband just told me that he might have class two other nights a week next quarter. I've bitten off all my nails. I get a stomachache before I have to call the dentist to tell them they did something wrong. I can't figure out what's up with my kid. I eat everything remotely sugary in my house, and can't motivate myself to exercise in the afternoons. I told him I wrote a novel, but I haven't, really, and lately I'm embarrassed every time I look at it. This writing ISN'T real writing, is it? And I think I'm just feeling like I need to succeed at something here pretty soon. I think right now I will succeed at finishing off this bag of chocolate chips. 

Getting my whines out before Phillip comes home

It was a long week here at Chez Cheung. Many many difficult moments, none of which you heard about because I was too busy running my mouth about GROCERIES. 

I am really tired. I am really frustrated. I am struggling with being married to a full time office worker slash part time student. I have yelled at my kids more times than I care to admit. I have plowed through several bags of Valentine candy. I have spent an hour on the phone with my mother despairing over my complete and total inability to control my my 2.75 year old. And right now I am listening to both of my kids jump up and down and giggle in their cribs - they've been doing this for over an hour. 

I feel like I need a break, except I get lots of breaks. I feel like I need a weekend away, but I've had lots of those, and I can have one almost whenever I want. I feel like I need Phillip to be more involved with the kids, to do more with them, to take care of them on his own. Except he DOES those things. ALL THE TIME. 

So I don't know what I want. Besides an eyebrow wax. I very much want - no, need - an eyebrow wax.

I have about four million things to do for my party next Saturday. I have lists to write and money to spend, two things that make me very happy. My parents are driving up tomorrow morning so I don't have to spend Grad School Saturday by myself. I will start playing volleyball again in a few weeks. I think I've picked a condo rental in Hawaii. I'm going to have lunch with my boss from two jobs ago on Monday, which is not about anything important, but gives me a reason to wear makeup. I am going to learn how to play craps. (It's for the party. Want to come?)

Next week: stuff with our house. Stuff with my kids. Thoughts, once I process them all, about all of your grocery comments (and thank you for leaving them). Exercise or lack thereof. Preschool. LIFE.


As a result of his revolting work ethic, Phillip had weeks and weeks of vacation time he had to use or lose by the end of the year. It was no problem taking time off for Vegas and Disneyland, and now we're in the middle of a week off at Thanksgiving and looking forward to another week around Christmas. And he still has a few days left over. I KNOW. There is no way I would EVER find myself in such a situation.

It's been nice reconnecting with him (if I may use such a gross shmoopy word) after this first graduate school sprint. Of course, "reconnecting" isn't all hand holding in movie theaters. Our worlds are stretched even farther apart now, and we spend a lot of time trying to extract some understanding, maybe even a little empathy, from the other person. It doesn't always work.

I'm not surprised that the things I was most worried about are the things that haven't seemed to matter. Like how much time Phillip is away from us. I suppose it's not very nice to say it's not that big a deal, but all quarter I managed to find easy ways to fill our time on Friday nights, and we spent every Saturday with family. Phillip stays up late doing schoolwork, but I'm used to him staying up late to do work work, and coming up with my own project really helped in that regard. So time hasn't been a big deal.

I spent a few moments panicking about Phillip getting to do all this neat school stuff and learn to Make A Difference while I rolled up my sleeves to start the Great Potty War, but then I'd go right back to scheduling our date nights and days with family. Of course this has been the roughest part for me. I sometimes think I would really enjoy Phillip's program, and the fact that he is constantly talking about what he wants to do and be when he grows up is harder than I imagined. Sometimes it's super fun, because hey, we're talking about my life too, and I understand at least half of this technical lingo and corporatespeak. Sometimes all it does is cement the fact that I am simply Support Staff around here, at least for another year and a half. My job is to say yes, even when I don't want to, and make it work.

We had an argument about food the other day. It was really very stupid. I mean, it sounded stupid, I'm sure, to anyone who might have been listening in, but it was a big deal to me. Well, it was a big deal once I realized I was really upset about this Big Overarching Thing instead of the Dumb Little Thing. Feeding my family is a huge struggle for me. Even besides all the silly stuff I whine about here, the picky eating and the inability to cook and getting dinner on the table every tnight, just THINKING about it, the PLANNING of what and when and where to feeld two small people can be exhausting. Our argument, which started out (as they do) about one single stupid thing, became a reflection of my (our?) biggest Stay At Home Mom conundrum, which is: I Don't  Ever Get To Put Myself First, So How Dare You Use The Bathroom By Yourself When I Need You To Hold The Baby?

Or, ah, some variation thereof.

I guess I thought I was over it, or mostly over it, or had found a plethora of ways to deal with it, or (when I'm thinking rather highly of myself) secure enough in myself not to freak out about it. But then grad school started and my husband ramped up the Career Ambition and the Conversation About Things Other Than Children and needing time (and the car) to do Important Things. And apparently I am not over it. It's hard. It's hard reconciling the fact that what I want to do - what I LOVE doing and am incredibly grateful I GET to do - makes my daily life so separate from my husband's. That it feels like less than his.

Tomorrow his mom and dad are driving up to spend the day with the kids while we go Christmas shopping downtown. I expect there will also be some sushi eating and cappuccino drinking (not at the same time, ugh) and perhaps some movie watching. I'm looking forward to it, and have already had a good talk with myself about keeping the Petty Self-Centered Issues in check.

When we aren't "reconnecting" we're talking about HOUSES. But that's another (soon-to-be-posted) post.  


Potty usage has increased to about once a day, or once every other day. By which I mean, once a day or once every other day Jack responds positively to my suggestion that we try using the potty, and then he uses it. All other suggestions are met with, "No! Want new dipah!" I have gone back and forth on this - do I buy licensed character underwear? Talk up the potty treats? Let him go naked? Force him to sit on the potty every half hour and endure the inevitable meltdowns during the following half hours? When I'm done thinking about it I decide that I have enough going on in my life currently, that we've got an entire year before I hypothetically send him to preschool and it is okay to opt out of this particular battle. Phillip has also been instructed not to push the potty issue. It is now The Policy in the Cheung Household: using the potty is not a fight worth picking. 

Other policies include, but are in no way limited to:

No more force feeding the boy. Not that we were ever able to successfully force feed him (AND WE TRIED), but you know what I'm talking about. The nightly dinnertime drama of figuring out how to coerce Jack into eating three bites of dinner. I hated every minute of it, while also hating the fact that he WASN'T EATING and that one day we were walking to the front door and ran into the next door neighbor who said, "Oh, it looks like Jack lost weight!" YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO SAY THINGS LIKE THAT! Weeks of paranoia, heated conversations and fatigued surrenders later, we've decided it's not worth it. If he doesn't want to eat, we let him get down. Sure, we might make him sit at the table a few more minutes because everyone ELSE is eating dinner and that is what we DO, but again: not a fight worth picking. At dinnertime I make sure to give him something I know he likes, and if he doesn't eat it, he doesn't eat it. Sometimes, depending on the situation and the time, we let him graze. We almost always let him sit at the table again if it's not too late and he acts like he might want to choke down another forkful. I'm not sure if he's eating more (although, quite honestly, I THINK HE IS) but the best part is that we are no longer mad at Jack and mad at each other during dinner. WIN. 

Friday mornings do not have to be Fun! Family! Fridays! That's what I was originally hoping for, but it's unrealistic. Friday mornings might be the only time either of us has the energy to tackle various household projects or run unpleasant errands. What we ARE doing is doing those things together. The weather is getting nasty so it's not like we can run out to the park for an hour on Friday mornings, and most indoor things cost money. We don't want to spend money. So errands and housework it is, but if we're together and the kids are with us, it's still a Family Friday, right. Lame, but as good as it gets right now. 

Don't obsess over the scale. (This one's just for me!) After all my whining and moping about MAINTAINING my weight and how do I MAINTAIN and WAH this maintaining thing is SO HARD, POOR ME, it turns out it's not that hard after all. I mean, it's hard in that I am still totally conscious of everything I put in my mouth and everything bit of energy I expend, it's just that for some unknown reason I don't... CARE. As much. Anymore. I stopped counting points. I stopped avoiding bread. I try to buy and eat good-for-me food and I try not to eat too MUCH of it (at this point, I think this is The Key), but I, uh, ate at Red Robin twice on Sunday. TWIIIIICE. And I totally ate french fries with ranch dressing BOTH TIMES. I get down on myself, but then I eat better the next day and sometimes I go for a run and it turns out I'm keeping my weight within a one to two pound range. Which is FINE BY ME. Would I like to be skinny? Would I like to know what size four is like? Would I like to be the same size as my sisters for JUST ONE DAY? Sure would! But right now? I would very much like to finish off the bag of bittersweet Ghiradelli chips my husband bought last night, on a specific Bring Your Wife Some Chocolate Run. I figure as long as I don't feed my Crappy Weather and Children Who Won't Go To Sleep Sadnesses with constant shovels of fatty and carby food, I'm good. RIGHT? 

We shall continue in pursuit of Sharing A Bedroom. Today, I am half proud half embarrassed to say, was the first day... in the history of Jack and Molly, I SWEAR, that I didn't have to march into their bedroom and turn into Krazy Shrieky Head-Might-Spin-Around Mommy because they were jumping up and down in their cribs instead of taking a nap. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT MADE TODAY DIFFERENT. I've been taking a harder tack with the perpetrators in the last day or two and possibly it's making a difference. But it could be that they were just more TIRED than usual. WHO KNOWS. But I am not giving up on this. It is utterly totally profoundly ridiculous to continue thinking, the way Phillip and I have been, that the only way out of this sleep mess is to buy a house with more bedrooms. RIDICULOUS! Would it be easier? UNDOUBTEDLY. But what we have is good, better than what a lot of people have, and it can work. Today has given me hope. 

Chocolate and flowers erase coming home late, long work days and too much alone time. Well, they erase a big chunk, at least. Says the girl who is currently munching on chocolate chips and admiring the giant vase of roses on her desk. SEE BOYS? A simple "I miss you" works, but tangible visible reminders make it last a little longer. 

What are YOUR current Policies?


My house smells strongly of garlic. Perhaps because an open jar of pre-diced garlic is sitting right next to me on the counter and I can't be bothered to put the lid back on. Perhaps because I am waiting for Phillip to do that precise thing, since he is the one who USED the garlic HOURS ago. Perhaps I will put on my Big Girl Pants and put the lid back on the garlic before my brain leaks all over the keyboard. One moment, please.

Okay. So. You people come here looking for quality content, right? HA. This will be a garlic-scented mishmash of barely coherent ideas. You have been warned. 

Last week was lame. LAAAAME. Phillip worked late Tuesday and Thursday and had class on Friday and Saturday. I think I saw him maybe two or three minutes all week. This hasn't been independently verified, of course, BUT THAT'S WHAT IT FELT LIKE. During the first part of the week it was fine. FINE, I SAY. I think this is due to, once again, my policy of keeping Drastically Low Expectations. I KNEW it was going to be a lame week, therefore it wasn't exactly surprising and/or disturbing when it turned out to be just that. 

But as the week went on I got very tired. The weather was flat out wretched, overdoing the ugly October weather even for Seattle. I didn't always have plans and I'll just say it: it was LONELY. I was anxious and mopey. By Friday night I was a lump on the couch with a broken TiFaux, slowly counting to 10 before I ran upstairs to yell at the kids for the millionth time. (Note to self: cross "Yelling" off the List Of Things That Might Work If I Really Put Some Muscle Into It.) When Phillip came home on Friday I was already asleep, and he left at 7:30 the next morning. 

Saturday I had plans. We were going to drive to my parents' house, Future Pastry Chef in tow, and go to a pumpkin patch. Phillip was going to spend the entire day in class or writing a paper, so I'd be driving home on my own, something I hate to do, but I NEEDED OUT. So we piled in the car Saturday morning, even though 9 in the morning on Saturday looked an awful lot like 9 at night. We passed one accident before we even got on the freeway, and witnessed another when one car stopped to avoid standing water and the car behind it (which happened to be the car in front of me) smashed into the first car. At which point I said to the Future Pastry Chef, "WE ARE TURNING AROUND!" 

But we kept going. Seriously, I needed something to do. And Future Pastry Chef had a hot date with a florist. There is a wedding to plan!

Gosh, I am taking a very long time to tell you that we ended up sleeping over at my mom and dad's house on Saturday. For no good reason, other than the fact that 1) I didn't feel like driving home and 2) when I suggested it to Phillip over the phone I could practically see the sheep jumping over the fence above his head. Sleep? Uninterrupted sleep? SIGN HIM UP. 

Early on my mom had talked about us spending the night every so often on Saturday, but I am one of those really annoying people who doesn't like to be away from her husband. A fancy blogger weekend in Sacramento is one thing, but a 45-minute drive out of town is another. I hadn't brought any overnight things for any of us, we wouldn't be able to drive our neighbor to church, there wasn't a real reason to stay. But we did. Because. 

Part of me wants to say, "Hey, this was an especially rough week. The multiple late nights. The kids who won't go to bed when they're supposed to. The RAIN, which was much more rain than even WE are used to." But another part of me pipes up with, "But it's only the third week. Copping out already? SUCK IT UP, GIRLFRIEND." And guess which part wins? (If you picked the first one you haven't been reading long.) 

When I got home today I was angry. I didn't know WHY, though. It wasn't like Phillip was, you know, catching up on his TV shows while I was dealing with kids and messes and scary driving situations. It's not like he ENJOYS giving up every Saturday to sit in the library and write papers. I know that much. But I was still angry. 

Poor Phillip, you guys. Poor Phillip. What is he supposed to say? Or do? He knows I am annoyed about SOMETHING and he is DESPERATELY trying to figure out before it gets WORSE. I KNOW THIS. But seriously. I didn't know!  Finally I said, "When I asked you on the phone if it'd be okay if we spent the night, you were a LITTLE TOO EXCITED."

While he tried to think of something to say to that (GOOD LUCK, PHILLIP) I sat there wondering if that was really the upsetting thing. Not the mess in the living room that neither of us had the energy to pick up, not the fact that I was on my own for three nights of bedtime torment (and oh man is that another post I am deathly afraid to write - the DISCIPLINE POST - GAH), not the fact that he went out with friends after class on Friday and wants to go out with friends again on MONDAY... not any of that, but just wanting to hear him say, "My week was lame too and the reason it was lame was because YOU WEREN'T THERE." 

ATTENTION TWO OR THREE MEN, IF THAT MANY, WHO READ MY WEBSITE: a good and honest "I miss you" will get you very far. Trust me. 

So will cleaning up the dishes, even if it still smells like garlic, and hosing down the counters, which is what Phillip is doing as I type. Which brings me to another thought: grad school may be the thing that reattaches my lost forty pounds. I just want to EAT. ALL THE TIME. 

Anyway. I promise not to turn this into Grad School Widow 24/7 or whatever. And it's not even that bad. Honest. I even told a friend tonight that there's a way that it doesn't feel like anything's all that different. (GASP.) But this was a hard week and the gloomy weather, which has SUCH an effect on my questionable mental health, was not at all helpful. Expectations have been raised for this week, what with a few fun things planned and, at the very least, a deputy present to help out the bedtime sheriff. I suppose this post would be TOTALLY pointless if I didn't say something to the effect of, "Gee, maybe I should quit typing and have a CONVERSATION with my HUSBAND! How NOVEL!"

Happy Monday