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    October 26, 2015

    A Litany of Complaints

    Okay friends, if you've got any pep talks lying around, I could use one. 

    Things are not HORRIBLE. At all. Much of Twitter is experiencing Actual Horrible right now and all I've got is a leak in my ceiling. 

    But we already had someone out to fix the leak! And we were going to get a guy to come repair the ceiling and that was going to last us until the spring when hopefully we'll have enough money to gut the whole bathroom and start over, which is what REALLY needs doing. But as soon as I got out of the shower this morning the kids shrieked, "THE CEILING IS DRIPPING AGAIN!" and lo, it was so. Our top [main] floor bathroom is situated directly over the bottom floor bathroom [the kids use this one] and we thought it was the toilet, but maybe now it's the shower? 

    We had our 5th contractor come out to give us a bid on the bathroom and while this is our first Fairly Reasonable In Our Opinion Bid, it's still a huge chunk of money. And he didn't include redoing our shoddy shower tile job, which we're pretty sure we want. 

    TANGENT: If you had one bathroom on your main floor that served as the master bedroom bathroom AND the bathroom everyone in your home uses during the average day, including guests, would you:

    OPTION ONE: Divide into 2 bathrooms, creating a hall bath with a toilet, large shower, and teeny sink, and master bath with double sinks, small shower, and toilet, or

    OPTION TWO: Keep as one large bathroom, but replace giant tub with giant shower and replace current shoddy tile job shower with a sink, so that the pocket door dividing the bathroom would actually be USEFUL (giant shower/double sinks on one side, toilet and new sink on the other side). 

    (I suppose it would be helpful to note that the bathroom currently has one giant soaking tub, double vanity, toilet, and shower, but a pocket door that divides it into tub/sinks and toilet/shower. It also has a door on either end, one into the master bedroom, one into the hallway, IT MAKES NO SENSE, your Christmas party guests feel like they're walking into your shower.)


    I'm also sick and I've been sick for going on three weeks and I AM OVER IT. 

    I tried REALLY hard not to go over my grocery budget this month, but no one in this house is cool with being a vegetarian except... oh wait, probably everyone is cool with it except Phillip. And Molly, I guess. Future Post: How Molly Is Mini-Phillip.

    I screwed up Molly's Halloween costume. Royally. 

    I absolutely hate my hair, but if I chop it into my preferred long bangs pixie I'm afraid I'll look even fatter than the nearly 40 extra pounds I've gained this year OH YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT FORTYYYYY. 

    Also, I spend an inordinate amount of time each evening ogling the gray hair multiplying over my scalp.

    But you know what, I might be okay with all of these things if my four-year-old would literally get her you know what together and figure out how to use the potty. I pretty much never want advice about anything, but people, if any of you know the tiniest thing about potty training while on Miralax PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE put your assvice in the comments I BEG YOU. (I should note the other aspects of potty training are good, including night training, in fact, that was the first thing she mastered A YEAR AGO. WHAT IS UP WITH THIS KID?)

    Let us pause while I figure out if there's anything else I want to sob about. 

    Eh, I think that's it. Time to open that bag of Halloween candy that put me over my budget WISE DECISION, SELF. 

    October 20, 2015

    A Lone Wolf Enjoys Her Space

    Day Two, Lone Wolfing. 

    Oh, didn't I tell you? Phillip is in Vegas for a week [VEGAS] at a company conference. He keeps sending me pictures of dessert spreads and fancy appetizers, so we're not speaking to him. Easy to do when he's not here!

    Lone wolfing with three kids ages 8, 7, and 4 is a FAR FAR CRY from lone wolfing with three kids ages 4, 3, and not yet 1. Or even with two little kids and pregnant. What I'm saying is that I did not have one ounce of anxiety over Phillip going away 4am Monday through 9pm Thursday because HELLO, I've got BIG kids. I might even have looked forward to it a tiny bit because does anyone care if I make Real Dinner? Noooo, no one cares, bring on the cereal. 

    Don't worry, Phillip, I made them eat green beans with their Honeynut Cheerios.

    I did fall right back into that habit of scheduling the crap out of myself for Lone Wolf Week. Tonight is the only night I don't have friends coming over for wine drinking, and that's because tonight I went to the PTA meeting. (FREE CHILDCARE. WHY YES, I SHALL ATTEND.) And even during the day I have done an incredible amount of socializing for a self-proclaimed introvert. Not to make it sound like I'm skipping from social engagement to social engagement, no, more like I spent the entire four hours Emma was at preschool having Meaningful Conversation with the same single person. AND IT WAS GREAT!

    Gosh I love Meaningful Conversation. 

    Tomorrow, though, tomorrow Emma and I are going to Rest. I am going to lay in bed with Two Dots (HATEFUL HATEFUL GAME) and Emma will snuggle next to me with her fourteen stuffed puppies and her books and the iPad and three blankies and we will only get out of bed for snacks. I will be fully rested for my evening of Meaningful Conversation with the friend coming over when the kids are in bed. 

    Ohhh, this is where people get the idea that SAHMs have lunch hours. 

    (That was an inside joke. I don't even remember how it started. Someone left a comment on someone's blog? About how THEY wish they could take a lunch hour like a SAHM? And Maureen and EBJ and I will think this is hilarious until the day we die.) 

    But you know, sometimes it ain't all bad being a super lazy mom of a super snuggly four-year-old. 

    I'm not all lazy. I'll have you know that tonight I 1) volunteered to update newsletters and websites etc. for the PTA and 2) sent an email volunteering to teach homeschool art class as an after school activity. LOOK AT ME JOINING THINGS. 

    But I AM lazy. Like I am going to leave alllll the dishes because I will have all the time in the world TOMORROW. Do you know that Barry Louis Polisar song 'Tomorrow'? AKA the Mighty Maggie Theme Song? Yep. Going to bed. xoxo


    October 14, 2015

    What's happening at MY Seattle Public School

    Fresh off the teacher strike we have a new reason to be outraged at the Seattle school district: due to lower than projected enrollment numbers, the district is cutting 25 teachers. They say they are "reassigning" them, though how "reassigning" saves the school district any money, I am unclear. Also! The Superintendent helpfully blamed the strike: 

    Part of the reason for the discrepancy is that more than 1,000 students left Seattle for neighboring districts, up from 350 last year, Superintendent Larry Nyland said at Wednesday’s school board meeting. District officials say they’re looking into why more students left, but did note that the delay in the start of school due to the teachers strike could have had an impact.

    Schools near district boundaries “lost students during the strike as parents found spots in Highline or Shoreline or Renton,” Nyland said at Wednesday’s meeting.

    You guys, I think he is for actual serious. 

    We live near one of these district boundaries and as far as I know, we are not losing a teacher. Huh! But I'd like to share OUR school's reason for flabbergasted speechless outrage. Ready?

    This summer my kids' school - we'll call it Cute Kid Academy - was torn down [YAY!] to be replaced, in two years, with a much prettier, shinier, fancier Cute Kid Academy. You know how bad your building has to be to finally get money for a new building, right? REALLY SUPER BAD. 

    In the meantime! Allll the CKA kids were moved into a nearby building that used to be a school, but has been some sort of artist in residence community hang out space? for the last 20 years. The district spent ten million renovating this interim building - we'll call it Portable City - to get it ready for our 300 or so kids. 

    However, because this chunk of Seattle is growing crazy fast and because capacity seems to be Seattle Public Schools' most pressing issue, SPS has decided to keep Portable City open, even when the new Cute Kids Academy opens. 

    THEN [cue the silent movie-style Ominous Music] they REDREW THE BOUNDARIES. 

    Cute Kid Academy's free and reduced lunch rate is over 70%. We have a large population of immigrant families and English Language Learners. The new boundaries slice CKA's current attendance area in such a way that a seriously significant chunk of those kids, the most marginalized and underserved kids in our district, are reassigned to Portable City in 2017 instead of the brand spanking new CKA. 

    One of our school parents collected some data and made a heat map of where our FRL, ELL, and public housing families live and overlaid the new school boundaries for 2017. This visual representation makes it abundantly clear that Seattle Public Schools is, in effect, creating an estimated 90%+ FRL student population and cramming them into an old, hastily cobbled together building, in an ignored corner of our city. Our current 300 kids barely fit into Portable City and the school is slated for FOUR hundred in 2017. Meanwhile, the new CKA, which was designed with this population in mind (a health clinic open until 7pm! A large kitchen with space for community involvement! A counseling center!) will have 650+ seats. 

    There must be some explanation, right? How could a district in this famously progressive city, with Race and Equity teams on staff, who supposedly have a Race and Equity TOOL to help in creating school boundaries, have made such a colossal ERROR? 

    But not only do they not offer an explanation, they won't acknowledge that this new boundary is a mistake. I have asked the district via email and in person for their rationale and have yet to receive it. I've also asked absolutely everyone I know who is even remotely involved - the district hasn't explained itself to anyone. For over a year, CKA staff and concerned parents have been trying to get the district to redraw the boundary in a more equitable way, but no one at the district or school board level appears to care. I was there when the director for facilities and capacity brushed off our concerns, backed up with real numbers, as "well, we don't REALLY know what those numbers are going to be." 

    Collecting and stashing poor, marginalized, under-resourced kids at a too-small, barely functioning building flies in the face of all the research about how to best serve those kids. THOSE kids need to be at the new CKA. The new CKA was designed FOR THEM. 

    CKA's staff, parents, and community members are going after this decision on a few different fronts, from cost of transportation to capacity issues. There are real reasons why redrawing the boundary in a more equitable way would work for us, save money, and not adversely affect other boundaries. And yes, we should be shoving those reasons in the face of the school board. But in my opinion, the shockingly blatant equity issue should be enough. It should be enough for reasonable people who care about educating all children. 

    As I continue to learn about the myriad issues Seattle parents have with Seattle Public Schools I become more and more pessimistic about our chances. But I can't not send my little emails and ask my nervous questions and go these meetings at the school where I hardly know what to do, other than just sit there and participate in Being Concerned. Hopefully, eventually, I'll fumble my way into being useful. For now, be righteously indignant with me, Internet, and think good thoughts for our CKA kids. This is not okay.

    October 06, 2015

    Career counseling

    I don't know how many years ago now I was pointlessly tweaking the blog and somehow deleted the chunk of code that collected visitor numbers and referral sites and all that good stat stuff. Good and bad came from this screw up. On the good side, I am 1) no longer obsessed with who and how many people are reading this drivel and 2) no longer disappointed when I discover the only who and how many is my mother. On the bad side, I DON'T KNOW WHO IS READING. Not many people are reading blogs anymore, so it seems a silly thing to fret over. But people are just WAY more google-able than they were when I started this thing. Hardly anyone knew what blogs WERE! There was safety in that! I continue to be more or less okay with being embarrassingly open book about my entire life, but I feel like maybe I should, you know, mentally prepare myself for the day when a super rad teacher I don't know at my kid's school is introduced to me and says, "Oh, you're the one with the blog!"

    (That day was Friday.)

    SO ANYWAY! This is why, even though I am dyyyying to write about The School Boundary Situation Happening In My Neighborhood, I'm not going to. Yet. Especially since I seem to be the only person who thinks the school district might NOT be a Nefarious Mustache-Twirling Villain in this whole mess. I'm hoping for Merely Clueless? Understandably Doesn't Like To Admit They Made A Mistake But Will Quietly Make It Right? I'm sure I'm being naive, but I'd rather be naive (for now) than publicly lambaste anyone. Besides, people were throwing around the phrase "media strategy" at the meeting I went to this afternoon, so I'll get to participate in a whole PLAN for that. I do enjoy a good plan. 

    (If you are interested enough to email me, I will happily share the details. If you're local and don't know what I'm talking about, then especially you.)


    I've thrown myself into researching all this school stuff (in my district and others), which is new and good, but with Emma even more independent in preschool, I'm sort of wondering what to do with myself. Yes, I do remember that little boutique online bakery, but with Katie moving and us streamlining what we do, there's not a whole lot to work on. I do have a pile of paperworky things I need to finish and we continue to get orders on a fairly regular basis (without advertising! kind of amazing), but Thumbprints has sort of lost its luster for me as a PROJECT. Which I think is the part I liked best. We can't grow it right now so I've lost that feeling of having something to work on.

    I realize now that I LIKED having something to work on. I'm remembering things I did before I had kids, like teaching myself Access to build databases at work (which was not my job, and actual tech people are putting their noses in the air, but this was huge for me). I taught myself HTML and CSS. For a while I was revamping the blog all the time, just for fun. I LIKE building and creating things, I like getting something going out of nothing. I think I'm probably more skilled at the part where you KEEP it going, but that part is definitely not as fun. (Oh, poor those of us with the spiritual gift of administration!) 

    So I don't know. Maybe this thought process will actually take me somewhere, maybe I will shove it to the side and sit in front of the TV with a bag of chocolate chips. (Let's take bets!)

    October 01, 2015

    This week's Two A.M. Feed

    Oh hello, Neglected Blawg. Here's this week's Two A.M. Feed! And here's where you can sign up for email delivery! 


    The Are You Serious, Seattle School Board? Edition

    Last week I linked to a podcast and a New York Times article about school integration issues. This week I found out there's a school integration issue happening in my district. In my neighborhood. The boundaries in question are the boundaries for my kids' school. There's nothing to link to (yet) and I'm not ready to do that anyway, so for now let's just read Nikole Hannah-Jones' reporting in last year's Atlantic about school segregation in Alabama and examine these charts about segregation in New York City. And here is a report called Housing Policy is School Policy that looks to be extra relevant, though it's still sitting in my bookmarks folder feeling lonely because 57 pages. But hey, when you are someone who generally avoids having opinions in public, when it looks like you'll need to use your timid little voice, you attempt to be as informed as possible. 


    [cleansing breath]

    Okay, so this is some horrible Facebook clickbait, but you guys, I love love love Shirley Temple and I bookmarked this link to show to my kids. My grandma had practically every Shirley Temple movie recorded on a neatly marked VHS tape and I saw every one of them, sitting on her living room floor eating an ice cream cone. Oh, now I miss my grandma. Dangit, Shirley Temple! (Oh, and watching this is super weird now that I have a seven-year-old girl.)

    One of my favorite Twitter follows, LZ Granderson, on Faith: It's Not Just For Straight People Anymore.

    I used to think (maybe still do think) that the absolute best job in the world would be a guidebook writer. This blog post from the Rick Steves site (but not by Rick Steves) maaaay take away some of my perceived glamour, but he still got to see The Last Supper, so whatever. 

    Speaking of travel, here are 25 Unusual Foreign Travel Warnings For Visiting The US

    Phillip and I had a whole big conversation on this lady poker player and her feminine wiles the other night. Read the transcript or click the link to hear her story on All Things Considered.

    and now it's time for!

    This Week In Nazis: I really enjoyed this article about WWII obituaries, especially all the ones it links to! And here's a piece about all the gold rushers in Poland thinking they've found the hidden Nazi train and now a maze of tunnels

    This Week In SeattleThe head of the teacher's union is a tough guy in this interview. He came off as Mr. No Personality the one time I saw him on TV, but I suppose that could be the effect of staying up until 3 in the morning asking the school district for more recess. 

    Tonight I go to a meeting related to the above Boundary Madness and then the Cheungs escape to Great Wolf Lodge for the weekend. If you can call that an escape. My kids will certainly think so, but I may hide under the bed with a flask of wine and one of those Magic Quest wands, thwacking away anyone who tries to pull me out. I hope your weekend is just as exciting.

    September 24, 2015

    "Normal", church, gyms, anxiety, babies. So. The topics you've come to expect.

    SOOOOOO everything should be good, now, right? Kids are in school AND taking the bus, which is pretty neato for all of us. Emma goes to preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She'll start going MWF if a spot ever opens up, but honestly, I'm already over the driving schedule on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I'm not in a huge hurry for her to switch. And when they're all out and occupied I've been grocery shopping, drying and folding laundry (not just leaving it in the washing machine to mold for days on end) (you do this too, don't lie), and also a lot of staring at blank walls which is something I feel I deserve. At least for a little while. 

    Like the gym? Yeah. I thought Emma HAD a MWF preschool schedule so I was going to do the gym each of those mornings. But she didn't get a spot (fine) and now I only have TWO Emma-free mornings and that feels like so much less time than THREE Emma-free mornings. Also, on one of those mornings I somehow mostly-committed myself to what I thought was a bible study. At the time I thought Emma could go with me and be in the new co-opy childcare set up (Catholic churches: Y NO BABYSITTERS?) and we would have four out of five mornings nicely scheduled up, but now I'm all WAIT. I'm going to be spending one of my only two kid-free mornings HERE? It's not a bible study either, it's a lay Dominican spirituality class (my church is a Dominican church. Parish. Something or other.) Which is cool if you are into that sort of thing, but I think I am not? I liked the lady leading it, but all the kid noise was distracting and several times I found myself thinking, "I COULD just read a BOOK." Of course, the point was to MEET some of the other women at my church because I'm actually ready to stop being a crotchety run-away-as-soon-as-Mass-is-over Catholic. But I don't know. One of the few women I know at my church is the ORGANIZER of this ministry thing, so I could just say HEY, plz invite me over for talking and wine with the other ladies. Then I wouldn't have to learn about St. Dominic. 


    Anyway. It will take a bit for me to figure things out, I guess. I decided that next week is the week I make myself go to the gym and get back to the place where I LIKED going to the gym and it felt like a regular part of my week. Oh, this reminds me to update you on my Dosage Lowering Experiment. I was supposed to go down one step, and if I was feeling fine after a month, go down another step. Well, I haven't gone down the second step. It isn't that I'm experiencing anxiety, but I feel like I'm hovering in the place where I could easily tip over the edge. Sometimes it feels like an actual LINE, or a FENCE even, that I'm sitting on top of. A feather could knock me into the abyss. I'm not QUITE on that fence yet, but I feel like going down another step MIGHT put me there. This may not make sense unless you are crazy like me. But I'm trying to reason with myself. I could try it and see what happens. But I could also NOT try. It's not like I HAVE to try. It's not like anyone's out there pushing me to try or shaming me into it... except my own self. I really think the only hope I have for losing this weight is to consume less of this medication. But... it seems I'm not just SAYING "not anxious is better than skinny", but am actually living it out. 

    I might take that step down still. I haven't completely decided. My brain doctor is out on maternity leave and there's no appointment set up for me to say definitively what's going on. I have space. I like that.

    And quite honestly, the only thing fattening up this much as really changed about my life is that it's much harder to find clothes I feel good in. Which is a big deal, but not the hugest deal. I can still find SOME cute things. I don't ALWAYS feel like a whale. I haven't, you know, lost any friends or been kicked out of parties. 

    I suppose there's the looming specter of diabetes. HEH.

    All the moms I know are exhausted. We're all feeling a little guilty, because HELLO, school was supposed to solve all our problems. But the starting of school - getting up early, making lunches, homework, piano practice, shoehorning everyone back into that routine - is sort of exhausting! We are HAPPIER, but man we're tired. Phillip wants to take the big kids to do some outdoorsy thing with friends on Saturday and because I avoid outdoorsy things like the plague and Phillip doesn't want to deal with the still un-potty-trained four-year-old, Emma and I are going to have a nice long boring day by ourselves. 

    Did I forget to tell you my baby is four? My baby is four. That birth story from hell is now four years old. I know I'm still not over it because every time someone tells me THEIR birth story my whole body contracts in fear. But my baby is FOUR. I am delighted by her every day, and also kind of heartbroken. I've got big kids now. All big kids. I'm good with babies. I'm a good mom to babies. There are a lot of babies in my family, but none close by. No one has a baby I can just borrow for a few hours to tamp that feeling down. I told Phillip last night and he was super jokey and dismissive and I got MAD. This is a real feeling. And I'm not saying I want to have another one, but I also don't feel done with taking care of them. So I don't know what to do with that. 

    OKAY I THINK I'LL STOP NOW! Time to throw some pizza at the kids and head to a [deep breath] PTA meeting. WOO HOO!


    September 13, 2015

    No school tomorrow

    Until I went to college, nearly every adult I knew was either a teacher or in the United States Air Force. All my parents' friends were teachers, and all my friends' parents were in the military. While I think living on military bases overseas exposed me to a great diversity of people, all of those people worked for the same dude: The Government. Systems of promotion and raises and time off were pretty standard across the board. And while I was absolutely certain I did not want to be in the military and fairly certain I did not want to be a teacher, I didn't have a whole lot of ideas about what I COULD be. (Seriously, until I decided to get married, my best guess for my future was teaching English in Europe somewhere - maybe the best of both teaching/military worlds!) 

    So it's been PRETTY FREAKING WEIRD to ride shotgun along Phillip's career, a path that's taken us down a mostly Big Time Corporate Tech Dude territory. Unfortunately for him, I was never career-oriented, being mainly concerned with just making enough money to travel. I don't think he was particularly hard core on career until we had Jackson, though, and since I was very happy staying at home, he had the space and also the pressure to actually DO this work thing. And that's when Work became WORK. 

    But even before it was WORK, Phillip's perspectives on it were so different than mine. I used to chalk it up to White/Asian stuff, which a lot of it was (and is!), but it's also about what our own parents did and the other adults we knew growing up. My adults were teachers/soldiers. His were white collars on corporate ladders. Before we had kids I would rant about people who couldn't leave work at work, who traveled too much, who answered every email at any time of day, who cared too much about (ugh) money. 

    Little did I know that I MARRIED one of those people. HA! And THANK GOD. Want to live in Seattle and have kids and a house and maybe dinner out once in a while? YOU NEED A JOB.

    Phillip has spent GOBS of time strategizing his next career move. It's amazing. I STILL come from a place where you want to be a thing and you become that thing and you do that thing and hopefully you're paid enough to do the fun stuff you want to do in your life and that's pretty much it. Phillip thinks that's nuts. Phillip's dad likes to say, "You always have to be thinking about the next job!" Which *I* think is nuts. My husband's crafty strategizing, his willingness to take advantage of opportunities, his annoying work ethic, and his NO FEAR for asking for raises/promotions is amazing. Even if I WERE career-oriented, I'm positive I'd be far behind him, terrified as I am of promoting myself or asking for anything. I do a lot of leaning OUT, people. 

    He's now at a company he's wanted to work for for a long time. He's happy there, happy to be part of this big Seattle tech thing that's happening. And I'm happy for him, even if the t-shirts and morale-building emails make me want to barf a little bit. (They don't just make a product, you guys, they make a way of life.) He's a devoted employee AND likes his job, which is mind blowing to me, someone who has NEVER liked an office job. And also, again, THANK GOD.

    ANYWAY. My whole point of writing this. I'm getting to it. It's been a brain twist for me, or like a REWORKING of ideas I've always had, that you could go to work for a company and maybe move around within it, doing different jobs. You could RISE. And as you did that, you had frequent conversations about your performance, what you could be doing better, what you're awesome at, and what your compensation should be. You don't just wait around for the next across the board pay raise for your chosen career, you don't just hope things will be different that year, you negotiate it. If you're Phillip, you do a crap ton of research on nine million websites, develop your self sales pitch, and ask for more. Because you CAN. You might GET it. 

    And you know what I feel like Seattle teachers are doing? This is their self sales pitch. This is their "Look. We are incredible assets to the company and we have sat around waiting for this company to get its shit together for too long." There is not one thing on the list of things that Seattle teachers are striking for that I disagree with. Or don't want for my own kids. 

    There ARE crappy teachers out there. I KNOW. You can't have two teachers for parents and know all the other teachers by their first names and not be aware of some REALLY CRAPPY TEACHERS. But the teachers I know and love are crazy amazing people. The teachers at my kids' school especially. I'm serious. I don't know all of them, but I have a pretty good sense of the camaraderie at that school, the devotion to their students, the heart they have for the work they do, and the extra miles they go out of school. There are several stories I can't share here, but they feature teachers who made school families part of their families when it was most needed. We are not a Catholic school like I hoped to go to, we are not a private school which a lot of people choose since supposedly Seattle schools are so terrible, we are not a gifted kids school, or even an average neighborhood school - my kids' school is over 70% free lunch. There were three and a half white kids in Jack's class (Jack was the half). The kids at our school have names I can't pronounce because they were born in different countries. Our school doesn't even try to have an auction or a carnival because the volunteer base isn't there. Creating community in that school is hard work, but I LOVE my kids' school and that is almost wholly because the teachers have made it a wonderful place to be, for both parents and kids. I 100% support them striking for more recess, less testing, and equity for students of all backgrounds and I 1000% support them for asking their bosses for appropriate compensation for HARD WORK. 


    September 10, 2015

    This week's Two A.M. Feed

    Phillip is all, "Why don't you just post it on your website? What's the difference with this newsletter thing?" The truthful answer is I DON'T KNOW and maybe it's all redundant and stupid, whatever. Sometimes I sort of wish certain blogs still had the old school "subscribe by email!" link so maybe this is that. ANYWAY. Herewith is this week's Two A.M. Feed, just delivered via email and posted here for non-subscriber yet faithful blog reader enjoyment. (Or boredom.)

    Subscribe here!


    The We Support The Teachers! Edition

    This Week In Seattle gets bumped to the top this week because OH MY GAWWWWD the teachers are on strike andit does not look good. The Two A.M. Feed is the proud progeny of two Washington state public school teachers, one of whom spent many an evening away as part of a bargaining team. In Two A.M.'s teenage years she was forced, on multiple occasions, to give up her bedroom so the visiting DoDDS union rep could sleep over, so it's not like she's TOTALLY pro-Union, but she can't really argue with anything on this list.  The Seattle Times thinks the teachers are "at risk of becoming a symbol of excess for those who oppose more school spending", but when you read this condemnation of the Washington State legislature, you feel like throwing your shade towards Olympia instead of the picket lines. 

    In other news!

    Picking vs. inheriting religion: Catholics Who Aren't Catholic 

    Where are the rich Gulf states in the midst of the refugee crisis? Social media is wondering the same thingMore from the International Business Times. No idea how I started following Hisham Melhem on Twitter; this piece of his is intense and makes you think. 

    Wondering where to give or how to help? This list of organizations complied by CNN seems legit. The work being done by Migrant Offshore Aid Station is especially inspiring. Catholic Relief Services has good information too. 

    I admit it. I mocked. And now I take it back. Evidence the ice bucket challenge may have worked.

    This piece on Madeleine L'Engle made me feel rotten for not liking her books. Maybe I should return to them as an adult (albeit one who still hates reading fantasy) and give her another shot. 

    A brief history of the British royal family. This is so so great. 

    Bucking a trend, some millennials are seeking a nun's life. (I know a handful of young women living in an old convent near me. Some are discerning, some aren't, but none of them have taken me up on my offer to spend a few hours a week with three delightful children UNFORTCH.)

    And now it's time for...

    This Week in Nazis: I cannot WAIT to read this book. The Atlantic interviews Timothy Snyder who has a new book on Hitler himself: Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning. When you read this stuff you can't help but apply the things you've learned to what's happening in today's world, and the interview goes into a bit of that. Fair warning (though pointless as there is probably exactly one of you who might read this YO RACHAEL!): Timothy Snyder's previous book, Bloodlands, is the last book I had to stash in my freezer, Joey-style. I don't expect him to hold back in the new one either. (GONNA READ IT ANYWAY)

    Nothing else happened this week. Let's hope next week's Feed consists of celebratory SCHOOL IS BACK IN SESSION articles, shall we? Excellent. 

    September 08, 2015


    As it seems likely the teachers will strike tomorrow - the first day of school - we will begin today's blog post with a moment of silent prayer. 


    Thank you. 


    SIGH. Brisk clap. Phillip and I had a productive weekend, by which I mean our friends talked some sense into us (by which I mean him, obvs) and Team Cheung is plugging away. One thing I learned this weekend is that Phillip is BURNED. OUT. Probably anyone else could see this and talk about it, but I think because burned outness is something I completely deny/ignore/avoid/fight when it happens to me, I'm pretty terrible at identifying it in someone else. It's kind of like I don't see the POINT of being burned out. I mean, you still have to keep going, right? It's not like I have the option of throwing myself on my fainting couch and letting the au pair take care of the laundry and grocery shopping for a week. So I just don't let myself get there. [If you are thinking, "Hey! That sounds like a good way to propel oneself into a confusing anxiety attack!" YOU ARE CORRECT.] 

    So, poor Phillip. It's not like I don't KNOW that he's struggling, but for whatever reason I just expect him to Power Through the way I do, forgetting that Powering Through is actually one of my special superpowers, not an average skill everyone is born with. 

    What IS good about living with a person with the superpower of Getting Shit Done is that once said person finally figures out her husband really IS at his rope's end, she prints out a calendar of the year and starts inserting deliberate down time into any potentially stressful week or month. We now have a fun family weekend planned for October and a relaxing just us retreat weekend planned in November. A weekend in Vegas in January thanks to my crappy trip out of the Colorado Springs airport last year and the vouchers I got for complaining about it. A potential family trip planned for midwinter break in February. And maybe turning last year's Husbands Ski Weekend into an annual thing. (December is just going to be a mess. December is always a mess. Even a wife with special superpowers is no match for December.) 

    We ALSO reformulated our plans for remodeling. For the zillionth time. This has been SUCH an annoying process, but I guess we needed to do it. The bathroom HAS to get fixed. It has actual stuff wrong with it, so the bathroom is still on tap for Drastic Renovations. But the kitchen... as much as I despise my tile countertops, the kitchen is FUNCTIONAL. The kitchen can last a lot longer so instead of focusing on big bath and kitchen remodels, we're now looking at throwing some money at the living room. When I asked Phillip what things stressed him out about the house, he mentioned the hole in the carpet, still there from when we removed the fireplace when we moved in. The cracks in the ceiling from the fireplace removal. The fact that all his living room electronics are sort of patched together, wires all over the place, nothing working quite right. So now we're thinking about actually going ahead on that Wall O' Built Ins we've dreamed about, with places for everything, wiring in the walls, and replacing allll the carpet. Expensive, but probably not as expensive as tearing out the kitchen, right? 

    (I've been so frustrated with the not having a remodel plan that I've taken to hunting for new construction houses on Redfin, all located thirty minutes north, of course, with four bedrooms, bonus rooms, dens with full bathrooms that can double as guest rooms, laundry upstairs, and NEW NEW NEW EVERYTHING. After the last move (done while pregnant and Phillip was traveling) I said I'd die in this house, so I should probably reevaluate.)

    You don't care about any of this, but it was helpful for me to write out. PEOPLE TO CALL. STUFF TO LOOK UP. NO HEAD SPACE TO GET IT DONE UNTIL THESE KIDS GO TO SCHOOL ACK.


    September 03, 2015

    Seasonal Angst

    I need everyone to know Seattle Public Schools does not start until Wednesday. Next week. The ninth. Next week. NEXXXXXT WEEEEEK. And! The teachers union just voted to authorize a strike! Mediation begins tomorrow, but it's entirely possible school WON'T start on the ninth. If that comes to pass, I bequeath the blog to the first comment on this post. 

    (HA. Have just ensured no one comments on this post.)

    Tomorrow a pair of sainted grandparents pick up the children and whisk them away for the weekend GOD BLESS THEM. I know I've bored you with this piece of trivia before, but I'll repeat it again - each year on Labor Day weekend we get together with three other couples we've known since college and do a rehashing of our year. What was awesome, what was not awesome, some prayer, some amateur counseling, and lots and lots of eating. I think this is our ELEVENTH year, you guys. And when you have been rehashing your year with the same friends for ELEVEN YEARS, you start to [finally] identify some patterns. As in, every single end-of-August, Phillip and Maggie, no matter HOW lovely a year it's been, IMPLODE. 

    As I've been already rehashing this for a week or so now (I am an introverted internal processor, this is what we DO) with all sorts of people, even including Phillip himself, I have all sorts of insight into our August Dramz. It goes something like this:


    Phillip: Need to get work stuff done so we can go on trips! Vacation! Paying for vacation! Money! Budget! WORK! 

    Maggie: SUMMER! WHEE! *dances*


    Phillip: Need to get work stuff done because we went on all those trips! Still paying for them! Money! Budget! WORK! 

    Maggie: Hmm. Despite library visits, neighbor kids, grandparents, tons o' outings, and emergency afternoons at friends' houses, there is still a LOT OF TIME that these kids are hovering around me asking for snacks and iPad time and more snacks and what's for dinner and what can they do now and OMG ALL THE TALKING LEAVE ME ALONE ALREADY. 


    Phillip: STA-RESSSSSSS! House is a mess! Kids are terrible! We've spent too much money! I am working so hard! No one appreciates me! Least of all that woman I live with who last spoke to me four days ago!

    Maggie: *passed out on couch, earplugs in ears*

    RIGHT. SO. 

    During one of our Um, What Is Going On With Us conversations Phillip swore up and down that the kids not being in school doesn't affect him because HE does the same thing every day, no matter what time of year it is. True that. HOWEVER. It sure does affect the moods of his wife and children at the end of the day when he comes home, and it undoubtedly affects what they are DOING. There is no snack, homework, piano practice, reading, dinner routine in the summer. There's no structure. There's no set time for, say, cleaning up the living room so Phillip has an actual path through the house when he gets home. I say we will ALL be happier family members when the routine picks up again. 

    But it's also true that by the end of the summer I am half as productive as I was at the beginning. Maybe I love babies so much because they don't talk to me. I love my big kids, you know that, but the incessant chatter and needing and in-my-space-ing is haaaaaarrrrrd. Any energy I had for doing fun stuff and going places is long gone by the end of August. At the end of August the only place that looks good is my BED. 

    So I'm not, you know, asking Phillip about his day. Or being super aware of what's going on with him. Or, ah, making sure there's something other than cereal for dinner. Pretty bad at that last one. 

    Even though we've had a GREAT! YEAR!, seems like our couples weekend rolls around and things are NOT! THAT! GREAT! But. The benefit of eleven years of weekending and twelve years of marriage:

    Maggie: Seems like we do this every year. 

    Phillip: Huh. Sounds about right. 

    Maggie: It'll get better in a week. 

    Phillip: Yeah, you're probably right, okay I'm gonna keep watching this stupid PRE-SEASON SO IT DOESN'T EVEN COUNT football game if that's fine with you. 

    Maggie: *passed out on couch*

    [You know what? Any weekend is going to be better than last year's weekend, which coincided with the "temporarily raised anxiety levels" symptom in my ramp up to the correct SSRI dosage, wherein I sat shaking and sweating and speechless while my friends drove me to Target for my emergency Klonopin prescription. I have good friends. I also still have that bottle of Klonopin. I haven't needed it since that day, but I like to keep it around. #preparedness This year? DECIDEDLY LESS ANXIETY, THANK THE LORD. More poundage, but a lot less crazy, PHEW.]


    Things I do not have energy to tell you about because see above: my wine tasting weekend in Walla Walla, my big seven-year-old girl's birthday, my haircut dilemma, more cries of desperation re: school not starting waaaahhhh. 

    What do you think? Do you have a yearly pattern like this? SEASONAL ANGST? I think we have some others, but this is probably the most pronounced one. And it's another thing where having good friends/community is SO HELPFUL because you can be whining about something and they'll look at you with annoyance and say, "GAWD, I swear you guys do this EVERY YEAR."