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    135 posts categorized "Jackson"

    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.




    February 06, 2014

    A former overachiever stops projecting onto her own kids. (For now.)

    To hear my mom tell it I was reading Nancy Drew mysteries by age two. (No.) But "reader" has been part of my identity as far back as I can remember. And for someone who thrives on Nice Things People Say About Her, In Particular Her Teachers And Parents, it's been super important to me to be a GOOD reader. Of course, being a "good" reader loses nearly all of its meaning as you realize there are no special points for learning to read before you go to kindergarten, and then instead it's about how many books you read, what kinds, whether you can nod superiorishly when someone excitedly tells you about a new author they've just discovered. 

    (By the way, I think I've completely dropped the ball on Being A Good Adult Reader. I don't read super fast, the only new books I keep track of are British and Italian murder mysteries, I've only read a handful of the books everyone raves about on Twitter, and more than two thirds of the books on my Kindle (and ALL the books on my nightstand) are 20th century history books. I am no one's idea of Well Read. Sigh.)

    ANYWAY. All that to say it was important to me, to the point where I just naturally ASSUMED, that my kids would also be Good Readers. 

    (Let us pause while I roll my eyes at my own self.)

    Oh yes, I ASSUMED, in fact I EXPECTED, Jackson Cheung to be reading chapter books by kindergarten. And I'll just say right now that I did absolutely nothing to PREPARE him for such a feat. Along with the assuming and expecting was, I think, the presumption that reading Nancy Drews in preschool was something that just came naturally. It wasn't something I THOUGHT about. It wasn't something that I was consciously waiting for, even. I just thought one day it would happen!  Like out of thin air, one day my kid would just start reading. 

    Other things I assumed:

    • He would opt to read over, say, play Subway Surfer on the iPad.
    • He would beg me to go to the library. 
    • Once at the library he would provide me with a two-foot high stack to check out. 
    • He would never EVER groan or make an Unpleasant Noise when asked if he would like his mother to read to him. 
    • He would have Favorite Books.
    • We would BOND. Oh the BONDING! Over BOOKS! Tra la la!

    So yeah. None of this happened. We always read books before bedtime, but otherwise Jack never showed much interest in reading on his own or wanting to be read to. Molly seemed to like listening to stories a little more than her brother, but again, I pretty much stopped going to the library with them because they were such pains. They were barely interested in the books and when they discovered that you couldn't just sit down and play a game on the computers they were all, "Can we go to the playground now?"

    Of course I determined that I'd done something hugely wrong in their first years. I encouraged and offered and hunted for books they'd enjoy, but no one ever wanted to read them and after a while it was like, "Why am I doing this to myself?" 

    Then last year, in kindergarten, Jack began learning to read. And it was... kind of crazy. 

    I am surrounded with friends who have precocious little girls reading Jane Austen at age five. I'd just accepted the fact that I was going to have one of those kids who didn't like books and we would have a Hard Row To Hoe (is that the right expression?! NOT WELL READ.) and we would struggle and whatever. Fine. And because Jack wasn't terribly interested, Molly didn't seem to be interested either and FINE. We would deal. I felt certain it would all turn around once they were old enough to read The Westing Game, but for now, FINE. FIIIIIINE.

    But Jack started learning to read. Slowly. Hesitantly. Uncertainly. And it was like a miracle. This thing that I'd been trying to do with him for SO LONG was SUDDENLY HAPPENING. At this magical place called school! Where he seemed to be MUCH more motivated! And I wasn't in charge!

    He still didn't want to read much at home, but whatever, I was pleased. It was fantastic. 

    But then THIS year. THIS YEAR IS NUTS. 

    My kid can REEEEEAD. I am so freaking amazed at how far he's come just from the beginning of the year. And Molly? Based on what I attempted to do with Molly in preschool I didn't have any expectations, but that kid can read levels and levels better than her brother did in kindergarten. She is always surprising me with what words she already knows. Right now they're in their beds reading to themselves before I turn out the lights - my absolute favorite thing in the world to do, they are doing it, and they didn't make a single groan or whine about it. They said, "Well can you get me a few more books?"

    It's just so exciting. There are ten million things I want to share with them, ten million things that I'm all HURRY UP SO WE CAN READ THIS! This part of being a mom is so good, you guys! I get SO SNIFFLY about my kids getting bigger and how they're all elbows and knees and no more pudgy cheeks, but now they can READ. And I think they're beginning to LIKE it. And it doesn't matter at all that they didn't want to sit and listen to books when they were little or had no interest in sounding at words at age four or that neither of them are in the highest reading group like I was (BECAUSE THERE ARE NO READING GROUPS, GAWD MAGGIE), it's happening and it's SO COOL. 

    We planned this trip to Disneyland a few months ago. We wanted to take Emma while she was still little and my mother-in-law is retiring this year and we thought it'd be a fun celebration trip and, well, whatever I do not need any reason to go to Disneyland. But we didn't tell the kids until well after Christmas and then we told them we could only go if they each read 20 books. That's probably a silly number to a lot of you (I'm looking at you, friends with Precocious Girl Readers!) but it was a HUGE one for us. They could only put a point on their chart if they found a book at the right level and read the entire thing out loud to us. 

    We are ALMOST at 20 books. And there has been NO complaining. Only "what book should I read you tonight, Mommy?!" I think this calls for a Squee.

    November 21, 2013

    In which I learn my child has an alternate (and better behaved!) personality when he's not around me. (OBVS)

    Had parent teacher conferences tonight. Pretty much the only thing Jack's teacher wanted to talk about is how much he reads, how much he likes reading, how well he's doing, how he talks about what he's reading with his reading partner, how cute they are when they're reading together, etc. etc. etc. So. Also the part where she said that he's such a great direction-follower and probably knows what to do in the class better than she does - are we talking about the same kid? 

    (Also: my projected fears about J increase with every teacher conversation. If he's so much like First Grade Me, what sort of terrible psychological disorder will he have at age 22? I'm sorry, Jack! I will pay for all the therapy!)

    Molly's teacher knows that my parents are former teachers. Tonight he said to me, "You know, sometimes I think you're reluctant to talk to me because you don't want to be THAT PARENT, you know, the ones you heard your parents talking about. So let me tell you: don't worry. You are NOT that parent. Please come talk to me about ANYTHING."

    So obviously he's now my favorite person in the world. He understands my psychological disorders and showers me with affirmation. 

    We had all three with us for conferences, which I would have rather DIED than do last year, but this year it was just a necessary evil. Jack and Molly alternately showed off and kept busy. Emma talked. And talked and talked and sang and shouted and barked orders at her siblings and I wondered aloud what her first parent teacher conference will be like. "She's a great kid, but she has to sit in this tiny plexiglass cage by herself because no one can hear themselves think."

    What's the other thing I was going to tell you. OH! Katie and I are through with the recipe and label misery! Mostly! There are a few things we're missing, but for the most part, all of the recipes and labels have been typed and edited and YAY. It took me half an hour to write up the packaging process for all of our items and Katie is working on the list of what equipment we will use and how we will clean it. (YES.) Basicaly we're 99% done with the hardest part. The rest of the application will just be writing up some processes, printing everything out, putting it together, and writing the check. And I will be super excited until our packet is returned with a bunch of corrections. SIGH. But I'm feeling motivated and optimistic for now. So motivated that I started working on our bakery website and it just feels REAL! 

    Things that stink: I am a terrible web designer, I have no graphic design skills, and it takes me forever to do really simple things. However, I do work for free and at this point that's the only job requirement. Also I have a basic grasp of English so people who use our website will at least have the right information. Other things that stink: I really want to start advertising what we can do for Christmas and I'm almost certain we won't be legal by then. More things that stink: wondering if people will actually order stuff from us. I DON'T KNOOOOOOW! NAIL BITING!!!!!!



    November 19, 2013

    Impromptu history lesson in the Cheung playroom this evening (alternately titled: do you have ideas for books for little boys?)

    Holy shnikeys. Okay. SO! I just finished reading my first grader a first grade-level biography of Abraham Lincoln. But I somehow neglected to consider the fact that reading my first grader a first grade-level biography of Abraham Lincoln would STILL involve discussion of slavery and war and assassinations and DEAR GOD I'M GLAD THAT'S OVER. 

    I am tired of Jackson telling me he doesn't like to read. Not like he's said that a LOT or anything, but just the once or twice was enough to make me think OH NO YOU DON'T and develop a Plan. The plan is basically to bombard him with books he can 1) read himself and 2) ARE OF INTEREST. He is moderately interested in the Star Wars early reader books (GAG) but was MUCH more interested in our collection of books about the human body or freaky animals or volcanoes. A while back I was talking about learning to read with my parents (not about Jack necessarily) and my dad said that many little boys appear to be uninterested in reading, but the truth is that they're just not interested in they're offered. He suggested biographies for gifts for my nephews so I marched myself to Barnes & Noble yesterday to look for... biographies a first grader could read. 

    Guess what! There aren't many! Well, I suppose there are if you have an especially advanced reader, but Jack isn't and I didn't want to frustrate him with books that were too hard. Almost all of the biographies and nonfiction early readers were at higher levels (and sometimes I think even level 1 is high!) I ended up buying two readers about George Washington that I thought we could read together, one easier one about Abraham Lincoln and one about storms, both National Geographic readers. Oh, I also bought a book about the First Thanksgiving because guess what! My kids have yet to hear Thanksgiving mentioned in school! I intend to ask why at conferences. Anyway. We've been reading that before bedtime and they seem to be pretty interested AND learning a thing or two! Well done, Me! Parenting Gold Star!

    But anyway, he wanted to read about Abraham Lincoln tonight. And of course I got all excited because HE WANTED TO READ! And he COULD read it! And then we got to the page about slavery and UGH. 

    I don't particularly want to or feel like I should shield him from Very Bad Things That Happened. Not anymore. (Molly, at this point, had taken herself to bed, her being much more interested in books using the words Fancy and Nancy.) That said, I didn't quite feel PREPARED, you know? And I felt sad that I HAD to explain what happened. And wondered how it was going to sit in his brain. What pieces he would remember and what he would think about and it did not help when he said, "oh, so like slavery is like being a kid." OMG YOU GUYS. I might find this funny later on, but I did NOT FIND IT FUNNY THIS EVENING. He was all, "You know, because you have to clean up and obey your parents and do what you're told." (LIKE HE EVER DOES WHAT HE'S TOLD.) And I said, "Oh no. No no no no no no no. NOOOOO. It is NOT like being a kid." And that is when I chose to go into great and terrible detail about what it might have been like to be a slave and how it was not at ALL like being a kid who lives with his nice mommy and daddy and no no no NOOOOO.

    I think he got it. It takes a lot to chasten Jackson Cheung, but I think I achieved Satisfactory Chastening.

    And that was before we even got to the Civil War and the assassination.

    So! Lotsa learning in the Cheung household tonight! I do feel it was appropriate, seeing as how today is the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. Best of all, Jack was interested. He asked questions. He wanted to read the whole thing. He correctly answered all the"questions for review" at the end of the book (which HE wanted to do btw, I didn't make him do it.) I wondered if I have switched to reading mainly nonfiction because somehow my subconscious knew that my kid would prefer it and I would want to be excited instead of bummed.

    He DOES like Nate the Great. Not all is lost.

    And Molly will read anything with a pink cover.

    I am starting to feel anxious about what they are learning (or NOT learning, rather) in school. But that's another post. I'll save it for after my conference interrogations. (Ha. Like I actually have it in me to interrogate anyone.) (NO.)

    What books do your little boys enjoy? I need things to tide us over until we're ready for chapter books.  

    November 12, 2013

    Quick bakery update and J. Cheung makes the newspaper

    Hi Internet. Have you been wondering why I haven't written anything about the bakery lately? (Or maybe you haven't. Maybe you're all, "Oh thank GOD she stopped talking about THAT", in which case you might want to click over to something else right now.) Well, I haven't been saying much because what we're doing right now is the Height of Boring. There is really no good way to make paperwork interesting. 

    But that's what's going on: paperwork. We actually finished typing up all the recipes and matching ingredient labels (we have 60+ so far). Katie's been through them once and I will do the final edit and print everything out. It feels great to be so far into the process! It is totally discouraging to think about how much we still have to do! The next step is to write out any processing steps that weren't included in the recipe AND the packaging steps. As in, "Using gloved hands I take two cookies and place them inside a food grade plastic bag" type description. That's the example they give you in the application packet. Okay, I'm quoting from memory, BUT STILL. For EVERY RECIPE. And while I am doing that, Katie will be typing out how she plans to clean and sanitize every piece of equipment we plan to use. 

    Aaaaand... okay, it's probably not a wise idea to further express our feelings in such a public forum. Ha ha ha. I'll just say that Katie does a lot of grumbling and I do a lot of "yes, but we have to do it anyway!" and then we both bang our heads against the table and swear at our computers and give up and make cookies. I am under no delusion that we will have this thing done in time to sell Christmas cookies. MAYBE Valentine cookies. 

    Oh, but I have I told you about the friend who is also attempting the CF application, even though she has the option of using a commercial kitchen, because the commercial kitchen is so DIRTY? Yes. That. Can you see where I'm going with this? 

    SO ANYWAY. The bakery. The online version. It is going. Slowly. I feel like maybe this is good practice for jumping through all the additional hoops of opening a storefront? Maybe? When I'm feeling optimistic and generous? 

    I'll cap off this super boring paperwork post with a link to a news article featuring a picture of none other than Jackson G. Cheung, Esq. A reporter visited the first grade and EXCITEMENT ABOUNDS!


    October 13, 2013

    Not that all brothers are uniformly awesome. For example, mine refer to me as Large Marge.

    Phillip likes to say that I am a very hard worker, just not at anything that generates revenue. Today I took that a step further by working very hard on things that COST us money - I am now a proud member of an actual factual LLC. It cost me $200 and about a half hour of googling "do you really NEED a registered agent?" Legal Zoom, which was going to charge me $400, kindly offered to be my registered agent (for a fee, obvs) but it turns out you need a registered agent to, and I'm practically quoting here, accept mail on your behalf if you're on vacation. So. Thanks but no thanks, Legal Zoom.

    You can register an LLC online in the state of Washington (woo hoo!) and now I can check the first step off my list. Once the LLC application is processed I can apply for a business license and after THAT we can put together our giant pile of prereqs for a Cottage Food Permit. I also have a URL, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and many many links in my Bakery bookmarks folder. 

    And I don't know why this is making me think of Mike Birbiglia but it IS... See, I'm doing this with my sister, who I love, even if she prefers dollar store posterboard to Excel. My FIL felt it necessary to pass on some advice his parents gave him - never go into the same business as a sibling. Ha. But I'm so excited to do this with her and it feels SPECIAL and all sorts of other cheesy things that would make her positively  DIE, but whatever. And this makes me think of Mike Birbiglia because we listened to an awful lot of his comedy in the car this weekend and he kept talking about his brother. All these adventures and funny things about his brother. And I got very MOPEY about Jackson not having a brother. MOOOOOOPEY.

    So yeah, did you follow all of that? Bakery to sisters to Mike Birbiglia to brothers? Excellent. That is what I'm thinking about, how Jack does not have a brother and this is such a bummer to me. I am VERY VERY curious how people without a brother or a sister (or both!) feel about this - when they were kids and now when they're grown ups. Phillip, for example, doesn't feel like he missed out not having a sister. I would venture to say that if he had a sister instead of a brother, he MIGHT feel like he missed not having a brother? Maybe? I DON'T KNOW. As someone who has two of each it's hard for me to fathom. 

    I am OVERJOYED that my girls have a sister. I know this doesn't necessarily mean they will LIKE each other, but I feel like the odds are in their favor and it makes me happy. I love having sisters! And it DOES make me feel sad for Jack. Sometimes I see families that are all boys and I think about how awesome that brother bond must be. What is my boy missing?! WAH. 

    Now OBVIOUSLY I know that if the stars aligned and Phillip Cheung was struck by lightning and we had a fourth child, it's not like we would automatically have a boy. Even though *I* think it would be perfect to have two of each, that doesn't mean the universe ponies up. We could have fifteen more kids (calm down, Phillip!) and Jack STILL might not have a brother. 

    So it's not really a "oh, we should have more kids" feeling, but a "oh, this is the sort of family our kids will have" feeling and a big fat wondering of what it will be like for them. I am always surprised when I recognize (remember? acknowledge? dawns on me?) that our family is NOT just like mine! We are different! We do different things! My kids will experience things UTTERLY DIFFERENTLY than the way I did! BRAIN EXPLODING!

    Will Jack have some sort of stunted emotional growth from the lack of a brother? Probably not. Already he seems closer to his sister than I ever was to either of my brothers. He DOTES on Emma. I also take comfort in a boy/girl sibling pair I know who are SO close and SO awesome. AND all of you who are onlies, who are all, "Uh, only is the only way to go." Seems like most people prefer how it worked out for them. 

    I know it's sort of a dumb and pointless thing to think about, but I DO think about it. All right, this pause in bakery talk is brought to you by Mike Birbiglia and the siren call of a chocolate bar, luring me out of bed. 

    September 09, 2013

    If this were a paid job I would have been fired ages ago

    Today was one of those days where you realize how much of the parenting you do is Cruise Control Parenting. Or maybe you don't have those days. I will tell you about them. So I am a well oiled lunch making, bottom wiping, laundry folding, hair washing, seat buckling Mom Machine. I do these things day in and day out and when things don't go my way I get angry and frustrated and upset and sometimes I YELL and call my mother and despair that I will ever raise children with even half decent manners. I don't really think about it. The kids are either Good or Bad and my days are either Good or Bad and we are separate and frozen entities. Me Vs. Them. Parents Vs. Bedtime. Telling me about what they did at school vs. "Can I play the iPad? Can I play the iPad? Can I play the iPad?"

    Then there are days like today where a split second before I yell I think: wait. I think this is a Moment. 

    The MOMENTS are the times when you realize HEY. This job isn't just about reminding someone to say thank you ninety-seven times a day. I am responsible for more than that. Maybe my kid is driving me crazy for a reason other than He Does It To Drive Me Crazy. Maybe something's UP with him. 

    Jackson (isn't it always Jackson?) was making us both insane tonight. Tonight? This whole week and last week and probably the week before that. He is SO rough, he is SO wild, he gets SO silly. He's not one of those super rambunctious energetic boys, but he has his own particular kind of zany energy and it often results in hurting a sister or destroying my living room or piercing our eardrums with shrieks or otherwise making us nuts. And on top of that, tonight he was being a real twerp about telling us anything about his day. "I'm too tired." "I don't feel like talking about it." What is up with this SIX-YEAR-OLD who is literally too cool for school? Is he too good for his home? Does he think he's an emo teenager? I mean, does he WANT us to give him something to be emo about because WE CAN MAKE THAT HAPPEN. 

    Out of frustration and annoyance Phillip ordered him to his room and Jack burst into tears and there was my moment. Was he being a huge jerkface to his parents? YES. Did he maybe not MEAN to be a huge jerkface? POSSIBLY NOT. 

    I went to his room, sat down on his bed, and stared at him. He did his very best to meet my gaze, while also sucking in his cheeks to prevent himself from his ultra-irritating brand of Nervous Laughter. It makes me crazy, but tonight I could remember making the exact same face with my parents. Was my dad funny? NO! I CAN'T HELP IT! MY FACE JUST DOES THIS! 

    He was totally expecting me to start lecturing with my Mean Mom voice, but instead I started to ask him about his day. I think we were both surprised, but LO AND BEHOLD he started TELLING me about his day. More information than I've ever got out of this kid before. After a nice long chat about first grade I said, "Jack? Do you think you're just really tired when you come home? And maybe we should make some quiet time for you in the evenings? Would that help?" 

    This is going to sound weird, at least to me, but I have never felt that any discipline worked as well with my son than just sitting down and talking to him. Not talking where you're trying to get him to understand something or make choices (that NEVER works with him), just TALKING. I feel like nine times out of ten he's acting out and making us insane because we haven't MANAGED him well. We don't know what's going ON with him. This kid - this kid who is SO MUCH like me - needs alone time. Lots of it. He needs a desk and a filing cabinet and something to work on. He likes to store and organize and catalog and he is perfectly happy to do this alone and as his parents we need to recognize those times. 

    I'm fully open to the possibility than I am a wimpy softie and making up complex emotional issues where I should maybe just stick him a corner until the next day. But you know, I AM a wimpy softie and I spend oodles of time analyzing OTHER people's complex emotional issues- why wouldn't I do this with my own children? It can be my very own special way of screwing them up! 

    Anyway, Jack and I had a very good talk. About first grade and how he doesn't mean to make Molly cry, he's just "getting his energy out" and do I remember that I was going to get him a filing cabinet? It turns out that when he needs a change he ALSO attacks furniture and room layouts (I've been informed exactly how the bedroom and playroom should be in order to maximize Jack's enjoyment of those spaces). And he said, "I'm VERY tired, Mommy" and I believe him. 

    Molly, whose first day was today, and who has absolutely no complex emotional issues regarding it (as far as I could tell) is much simpler to figure out. We've never had to dream up a million different ways to deal with Molly because she's instantly contrite and changes her behavior. Emma appears to be much feistier than either of her siblings, but responds well to Mommy's I Mean It Voice. Jack... he requires more imagination, at least at this point. A different kind of attention. It's like he wants to sit down with his mom and talk about his feelings.

    I should bookmark this post for ten years from now when my daughters are driving me to drink and my son is as baffled by them as his parents are.  

    July 01, 2013

    House/parenting/privacy/interior design dilemma. So, like, THE WORST KIND.

    I have a post brewing re: How To Intentionally and Positively Address Well-Meaning Comments On My Biracial Kids' Appearances but in the meantime! I have a problem. I didn't think I would have this problem for a while, but it's been popping up here and there, with more frequency as the days go by, and I DO NOT HAVE A SOLUTION.

    In short: Jackson would like his privacy, please. BLARGH.

    A while back the child who happily and persistently walked in on his parents' showers decided absolutely no one could be anywhere near the vicinity when he went to relieve himself. FINE. We don't want to be around ANYWAY. He didn't say anything about baths - possibly because bathtime at Chez Cheung is more like Fun With Water than Actual Bathing and it's more fun to get every single available surface soaking wet with a partner in crime. But just recently he's been preferring showers to baths with his sister(s) (again: FINE) and more often than not showering by himself in the family changing room after swim lessons. (SUPER FINE.) 

    But NOOOOOOW just changing clothes is becoming an issue. A big one, since they share a room. Obviously I expected it to become an issue, but I kind of hoped to know what to do about it when it came up. And I don't. Molly appears to care not at all and that may be because she's a year younger or maybe because she's infinitely less fastidious and nitpicky than her brother. I would LIKE to split them up, I would be HAPPY to split them up, I am OVERJOYED at the prospect of big kids who tend to their own personal hygiene. HOWEVER!

    My house is stupid. We bought it knowing it was stupid. WE KNEW this would be an issue. We have four bedrooms, but two are on the top (main) floor and two are on the bottom. Each floor has a (large) bathroom. So when we first moved in, Phillip and I took what seemed to be the master bedroom on the main floor and Jack and Molly shared the smallest bedroom, the second one on the main floor. When Emma was born and ready to move into her own space, we moved Jack and Molly into one bedroom on the bottom floor. So Emma, Phillip, and I sleep on the 2nd (main) floor, Jack and Molly share the back bedroom on the 1st floor. The 4th bedroom is huge, has a huge walk in closet, and an entrance to the 1st floor bathroom, but right now it's home to a full bed, a twin bed, a pack 'n play, and Phillip's desk and Assorted Phillip Stuff. So it's busy right now. We often have overnight guests (mostly family), my niece naps there when I babysit, Phillip needs an office space with a door, and the closet is great and much needed storage. 

    The PLAN was to have Jack and Molly's room turn into Just Jack's Bedroom and Molly and Emma would share the other big bedroom downstairs with the big closet and the bathroom. I can easily picture three teenagers sharing that space, turning the playroom into a TV/computer room, staying out of MY bathroom. You know? And if it really wouldn't work to have Molly and Emma share, then Emma could move back upstairs and Phillip would have to work in the playroom or something. We'd figure it out. 

    But right now that is not an option, and not just because we're using the guest room as a guest room so often. Emma's just not big enough to sleep on another floor from her parents. Or at least I don't feel comfortable with it. It's hard enough having my 6- and nearly 5-year-olds down there. (Though it's worked out well, thank goodness.) And I'm not sure how it would go with her sharing a room and I don't even want to GO there. 

    What's also clear is that Jack isn't ready to sleep downstairs by himself. His room is pretty far from ours and I totally understand feeling nervous by himself down there. (HOUSE = STUPID.) It's possible to squeeze Molly into Emma's room, but the few times I've asked Jack if he wants his own room, he only wants it on the condition that Molly is also sleeping downstairs. 


    I am not entirely sure what to do. For now I think I'm content to keep things the way they are and bark at Jack to go change in the bathroom. Maybe when we move Emma out of the crib we can revisit the room situation, but who knows when that will be? I don't WANT that to be soon! 

    The only other thing I can think of is moving Molly into the PLAYroom. You have to walk through the playroom to get to J and M's current bedroom. But they are two separate spaces and they both have doors and maybe that could work. Although it would be annoying. I just reorganized that playroom! 

    But the other day Jack asked me if he could have a box for his things, ie: the loads of papers he wants to keep. This kid has so many PAPERS. Phillip had just recycled all our cardboard so I didn't have anything lying around, but OH, I underSTOOD! This was when I decided I had to buy my son a filing cabinet, just like my parents did for me. And I want to get him a desk. HIS OWN DESK. It's not that we don't have anywhere else to do homework or projects, or that I want him to do all his homework in his room, but there is something about your OWN DESK. With your own drawer of pencils and office supplies. With your papers neatly stacked. I GET this kid, is what I'm saying, and he will LOVE his own room and his own desk and his own filing system and I WANT THAT FOR HIM. 

    On one hand this is not a big deal. Plenty of families live in ONE ROOM. Starving children in Africa, etc.! On the other hand I have heaps of empathy for that dawning realization that you need your privacy. And on the THIRD hand I am ALWAYS itchy to fix up my house the way it is always supposed to be, forever and ever Amen. (Which is not logical, I know this, but I have never claimed to BE logical.) 

    I could bunk their beds again... that would make a ton of space for desks and filing cabinets... SIIIIGHHHH

    Anyone else? When did you decide the boy and the girl were no longer sharing a room?

    June 12, 2013

    What we learned this year

    The last week of school is going annoyingly. By which I mean it's not Friday yet. It's the regular feeling of "isn't it Friday yet" coupled with "let's get this school stuff over with already" and BLARGH. Today was my last true day of The Schedule and while I did get a bit sniffly at the coffee shop, the rest of the day I traded sentiment for impatient irritation. 

    Tomorrow is my last day with just Molly and Emma at home and THAT might be hard. Where it was questionable if Jack would survive the months before kindergarten, Molly is happy at home. She entertains herself, she's happy to fold clothes with me or help empty the dishwasher, she works on projects without needing attention. Not that I have any interest whatsoever in homeschooling, but I can PICTURE doing it with Molly. If I were doing it with Jack one of us would be dead. ANYWAY. All that to say I'd like to do something fun with Molly tomorrow. I don't know what, though. My girl is always game for shopping...

    Friday is a silly little day of early releases and I'm going to cap off my year of not hanging out with the preschool moms by blowing off the end of the year picnic in the park. It's at a bad time! Whatever. I actually did make friends, you know. This morning one of the moms said she was going to email me over the summer to do this thing at the library with our babies and while it sounded totally boring, I was all, "HEY. THE PRESCHOOL MOMS LIKE ME!" 

    Maybe this whole time they've been seeing me drive up in my minivan, watching my kid hop out on her own, and feeling jealous as I drive away. Maybe this whole time they've been wishing THEY could blow everyone off. 

    I really hope I remember to take a picture of Molly and Jack in front of the house on the last day of school, to juxtapose with the first day of school picture. Things are SO DIFFERENT. Molly is just - I don't know the right words. She has grown up SO MUCH. I was so worried about my little preschool drop out and then this year she was all, "I don't need no brother to do all my socializing for me" and had a blast. Jack grew up too, but in a different way. Like he's been exposed to life outside his family and he's trying out all these voices and mannerisms and I have to keep saying, "I DON'T LIKE IT WHEN YOU ACT LIKE [INSERT NAME OF FRIEND]." Also he reads and does math and makes books and his handwriting is terrible and he has blisters on his palms from the monkey bars and every single pair of jeans is holey. His hair is always a mess. He's going to be a first grader. I have a first grader

    And Emma? Emma learned to walk. I spent the first half of the year reminding myself to put the Ergo in the car so I could carry her into the school for pick up. She was always bound up next to me, no one saw her face. And then the second half of the year, when I was still carrying her, but on my hip and putting her down once we got inside. And then holding her hand while she walked. And then trying to get her to hold my hand before she gets run over by the hordes of elementary school students running to the bus. Babies change so fast, I know, but the school year really quantifies things, doesn't it. 

    It's going to be crazy with Molly in school. I mean the time flying by thing. It wasn't so long ago that I was writing about my two babies. SO CRAZY. Although it's still not entirely certain she'll GO to school - next week we meet with a school psychologist, the second of the two kindergarten early entrance assessments. Her teachers, Jack's teacher, and my personal collection of teachers all say she's ready and I think she is too and I'm not really worried about it, but it'll be nice to make it official. 

    And NO, Teachers From Molly's Preschool, I am NOT putting my baby in the Twos program. No no no. 

    But first: summer. Lots of summer. Swim lessons, VBS, YMCA camp, Grandma and Grandpa's house, Vancouver, the beach, the spray park, cousins, birthdays, a deck with a SLIDE. It's going to be awesome.


    May 30, 2013


    Best day, you guys. BEST.

    First thing: Jack comes home from school and is telling my mom (who babysat while I went to the work lunch thingy) about his friend who had to go to the nurse's office. Apparently she ate something she was allergic to and she got sick. Quoth Jack, "She farts. She farts a lot if she eats something and she's allergic." Me, only after he'd said "farts" about forty seven times: "Jack, do you mean 'barfs'?" Jack, nodding: "Yes. Barfs." 

    Second thing: my deck is getting fixed. Finally! Turns out it doesn't look half bad under that plywood. (Check my instagram feed if you just went, "plywood? huh? what kind of deck IS this?") There are definitely rotting places, including a beam that is holding up a WALL, but apparently there are ways to fix this and the contractor tells me it looks good, and tomorrow morning we're meeting before Phillip goes to work to Discuss The Options. This is how it will go:

    Contractor: Blah blah blah blah blah

    Phillip: Blah blah blah how much blah blah what about blah blah 


    Third thing: remember I was all, "aiiiieeee my old boss just invited me to a THING!" So I went to the thing today and it was SO GREAT. I mean, it wasn't heaps of fun or super fantabulously interesting and I didn't even see half the people I would have liked to see, but it was so good to see the people I DID see and bringing Molly along was a touch of brilliance. I always had someone to talk to, I always had something to do, and eeeeeveryone wanted to say hello to Molly. I know this will sound weird and creep you out Internet, but the guy who sat across from us, who was just smitten with Molly, PICKED HER UP as we were leaving. If he hadn't said how much Molly reminded him of his grandkids about a million times over lunch I would have been, you know, uncomfortable, but instead it was just super sweet. Which is basically how I feel about everyone in this particular local industry. THEY ARE JUST SO NICE. I thought this when I worked for them too. There are the unpleasant ones, but at these industry get togethers everyone is so friendly and kind. 

    I used to go to this thing every year when I worked for my old boss. It's not fancy or a big deal, but it honors an industry person of the year and raises money for an industry-related charity and everyone supports it big time. So there are lots of people there and all the companies donate items for a huge raffle. The grand prize is always a TV and ONCE I WON THE TV. I did not have this blog then or I would have told you about it. My boss bought me raffle tickets AND THEN I WON THE TV. Phillip was super duper impressed. 

    I did not win the TV this year. DISAPPOINTING. But I bought a crap ton of raffle tickets just so Molly would win something and feel like it was worth her time and effort escorting her silly mother to this boring social event. WE DIDN'T WIN ANYTHING. 25 raffle tickets people and not even a HAT. Some dude who worked for the charity, though, he won FOUR TIMES. Super bad ticket pickers, right? ANYWAY. They finally pull the ticket for the TV and it's not us and it's this young kid who I assume is part of this other group and he's flustered and I'm all WHATEVER and getting ready to go - 

    then my old boss comes up to me and says, "THAT'S MY ASSISTANT. MY ASSISTANT WON THE TV. AGAIN." So. He's the one to take to Vegas. But! I'm leaving and saying goodbye and the assistant, who I will call College Kid, is standing nearby having absolutely no idea how he's going to get his new television home. He lives in the U District like a proper college kid and that's on my way so I offer to take him home. And you GUYS. This kid. He was a TRIP. He was the chattiest, cutest, flabbergastiest, chipper little guy in the WORLD. And I am not exaggerating when I say he was just like the Fred Armisen character on SNL who can't form a sentence. I shall quote from wikipedia: 

    • Nicholas Fehn – a political commentator whose mind races and wanders so much that he is incapable of finishing a sentence without starting a new one.

    You know that guy? OMG THIS KID. I couldn't tell if he's ALWAYS like that or if he was just SO! EXCITED! about winning a television that he couldn't emit a coherent thought. IT WAS ADORABLE. 

    Last thing: It was sunny. You seriously cannot underestimate the power of sunshine around these parts. I swear, there's forward movement on a house project, I caught up with a former life, my daughter was absolutely perfect, my mom was here helping all day, sunshine, GOOD WORK EVERYONE. Let's make it happen again tomorrow. 

    P.S. THANK YOU FOR THE DINNER HELP. I will write a Dinner Update, I just had to get that farts story out of my system first.