Your Hosts


Tweet!

    Follow mightymaggie on Twitter

    Elsewhere

    January 18, 2016

    ACK BATHROOM REMODEL

    IN SPITE OF:

    • the incredibly long, annoying, confusing, and frustrating process of finding a contractor, by which I mean the incredibly long, annoying, confusing, and frustrating process of my husband figuring out if he could EVER be comfortable with ANY contractor; 
    • not really having any idea of how to divide our Why Did They Design It This Way??? main floor/master bathroom in a sensible way;
    • and the remodel money slooooowly yet suuuuuurely drying up (thanks, Stock Market!); 

    WE ARE GOING TO REMODEL THE STUPID BATHROOM. 

    In April. Our contractor dude will probably start demo the week we go to Hawaii for spring break - oh, did I mention that? - which is why I will not be at the Blathering this year. I can't go on a family trip, remodel a bathroom, AND see Britney in the same month. I am extraordinarily self-indulgent, but even I have limits. 

    Here is the CURRENT floor plan and the DESIRED floor plan. 

    IMG_1386

    For a while we considered keeping the double vanity and putting the toilet on the other side of the bathroom with the shower, but marriage is about compromise, friends, and Phillip Cheung wants the biggest shower he can possibly get. With a foot or so saved for some type of deep linen closety storage (the above picture is not to scale, heh), his new shower is really not going to be all that bigger than his current shower. But configuring it this way earned me some wife points and also ensured that we'll have to pay more for plumbing. SURE, WHY NOT!

    I still have to get in touch with our Builder Dude and discuss exact measurements and all that, but I have a GENERAL idea of what I want and how it will look. That is, until I start thinking about it a bit more and then everything is back up for debate. Maybe I really DO want to have a tub and we'll do a shower tub combination with this lovely piece of porcelain, isn't it pretty? With a shower curtain because is there anything more hateful to clean than a shower door? I'd lose my storage there at the end, but I'd have enough space for a tiled shampoo ledge/bench. Who cares about where the towels will go!

    Speaking of tile, I'm a big fan of sparkling white with MAYBE some aqua glass tiles thrown in somehow, but you know what's nearly as hateful to clean as shower doors? GROUT. I HATE GROUT. Which is why, when I stayed at a fancyish hotel earlier this year, I spent the better part of every shower examining the... vinyl? wallpaper? siding? material?... that lined the shower. I mean, it was NICE. It was like waterproof textured wallpaper. All white. Vertical grooves. Only a handful of seams in the whole shower. IT WAS SUPER COOL. And I cannot find anything like it anywhere on the whole internet, which makes me think maybe it WAS wallpaper and what were they thinking putting it in the SHOWER? But I loooooved it and I would totally put that in my house. 

    (OR MAYBE I can put in a narrow stall shower and one of those tiny Japanese soaking tubs. OOOOOOOHH. (No.))

    As for bathroom vanities, I don't like anything. And I have looked at all of Pinterest, all of Houzz, and all of the rest of the internet. I want modern, but not ugly. I want clean, but not operating room sterile. I want as much storage as possible, while realizing you don't get that much in a one sink vanity. Do I want one that comes with the countertop included? I want an undermount sink (pretty much all of my choices are based on what is easiest to clean). How does a built in vanity work? Can you put something together with kitchen cabinets? 

    The thing I hate most about my current bathroom is the linoleum floor. It's ugly, torn, coming up in places, UGH I HATE IT SO. What is an AWESOME floor? Dark? Tiled? WHAT? 

    The small guest side of the bathroom, I kind of don't care. Probably whatever floor we pick for the other side, a teeny tiny wall mount sink that I assume I'll get at Ikea, and a super plain shower - heck YES we are ripping out the tile we put in ourselves. In addition to it's ugliness it wasn't a very good job and although we needed to do it at the time and it worked out and we saved ourselves a few bucks, if we're going to remodel everything else we're going to get a PRETTY shower too GOSHDARNIT. And because it won't be used that often, I'm more okay with grout. White subway tiles sound nice, but so do those ginormous rectangular tiles where you need, like, seven for the whole shower. Clean lines, white, boom. 

    Anyway. Do you have any THOUGHTS? Feel like throwing me into additional design tailspins? I'm planning to buy everything before April, stash it in the garage, and then Hail Mary my way through the actual process. I am fine making nine million decisions about fixtures and grout color and blah blah blah, but I would like to make them NOW. 

    January 11, 2016

    SAHMing, and realizing the end of an era quickly approaches

    I'm feeling extraordinarily proud of my momming today, you guys. I took Emma to the local library story time, which she loved, and then there was crafting, which I actually participated in, and then we picked out books and now we're home eating lunch. I feel like a proper stay at home mom instead of a mom who stays home and spoils her kid in coffee shops every morning and spends too much money at Target. 

    Now that it's January I feel acutely aware of how much full time momming I've got left. Emma's birthday is a few weeks past the kindergarten cut off date, but in the opinions of me, Phillip, my former teacher parents, and my current teacher friends, she will be totally ready for kindergarten in the fall. (WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE POTTY TRAINING ISSUE, which we will discuss in a moment.) So if she actually does go to kindergarten in September, I've only got six months left of Big Kids Go To School, Little Kid Hangs Out With Mommy. I expect All Kids Are At School to be really really different. Moms already in this position tell me that I won't have as much time as I think I'll have, but I still expect it to be DIFFERENT. The preschool driving back and forth, the figuring out what to do with us on not-preschool days, the eating lunch together, the snuggling in bed and waiting until the absolute last second to pick the kids up at the bus stop... those days are quickly flying by and I'm feeling the pressure to Cherish! Every! Moment! 

    And I WANT to. I'm not being obnoxious or sarcastic. Even on the rotten days when my kids are horrible and I'm exhausted and out of patience, I've been thankful for the option of being a stay at home mom. I quite enjoy not having a boss or responsibilities to other people besides my family. It's given me space to devote to the not-paid things I'm really interested in doing. I am a terrible housewife and a lazy mom, but I'm good at lots of other things (and other aspects of being a mom!) and I can do all of that because I stay home. I'm suited to it, which really does surprise me, and because I stay home my career-oriented husband has had near complete freedom to pursue his goals. I struggle with not earning money and the paycheck=worth feeling, I sometimes feel useless or not as accomplished as my working mom friends, and the full-time working husband/stay at home wife dynamic can be confusing in 2015. But ninety-nine percent of the time, I'm confident in my role. 

    So what will it be like when Emma goes to kindergarten?!?!

    I've had MANY more-experienced-parents say to me that as your kids get older it becomes more important to be around for them. I... am not sure about that! I mean, we'll see how it goes, right? But just on a daily taking-care-of-everyone's-needs basis, it seems like things are only going to get simpler. (Until my kids start demanding to be driven to sports and social engagements, I suppose. I'm sort of hoping they are couch potato nerds on that front.) People might start being actual helps in the taking out the garbage department, the cleaning up of the kitchen department, the laundry department, and the - could it BE? - cleaning the toilet department. (All things I am notably lazy and bad at, btw.)

    And when all three kids are in school I expect finding time for bakery emails and the gym and meeting up with church people and PTA social media and whatever else I've dipped a toe in to be MUCH MUCH EASIER. I will probably not go back to work, the big reason being that I don't have a Work to go back to. I was "in publishing" (the scare quotes are super valid) before and have no interest in going back. The career-type jobs that interest me (design, coding, user experience stuff) feel very hard to get into at age 36. I think I missed the boat on those things, which is probably just how it goes when you have absolutely no idea what you want to be until you're no longer in your 20s. And the stuff I'm ACTUALLY interested in (almost all church-related things) aren't paid. Ha. Honestly, if I went back to work it'd probably be as a part time admin or a barista or some job at the kids' school, something where I would leave all my work at work and still have enough time to do the things I'm involved in now. And I could see that happening. If something presented itself, I'd seriously think about it. Grad school? HA HA HA. What for? I can't justify however many thousands of dollars for an MFA, which is really the only degree that sounds awesome. Phillip went to the iSchool (I like to think of his master's degree as my third child, Emma being the fourth) which could potentially be up my alley, but again, I don't think I want a Real Job. Maybe some sort of spiritual direction type certificate, but when I'm, like, 50. That's got plenty of time to percolate. 

    ANYWAY. ALL THAT TO SAY. These last (hopefully) months with just Emma and me at home, that's an Era coming to an END. I just want to be aware of it and make the most of it, while also reserving my right to fall down foaming at the mouth on Terrible Children Days. Library story time, which I regret to say I didn't even bother to look up until this morning, is every Monday. What if we did the gym after the bus stop and then headed to the library on Mondays? That would be a GREAT routine! Preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays - more gym and plenty of unpaid-work-that-I-still-have-to-get-done time for me. Wednesdays and Fridays reserved for our typical coffee and shopping, or visiting Grandma, or hanging out with Mommy's friends, or folding clothes in front of TV. 

    Maybe all this stuff is also on my mind because of how BIG Emma is getting. She's just a big girl these days, with plenty to say about everything. She's the little spoiled sister in our family, but when it's just her and me I can see how much her brain is expanding: her vocabulary, her ideas, her thought processes. IF ONLY this would extend to the bathroom! I keep saying I'm going to take her to a naturopath, so I should actually get on that. I think I've been slow because in my heart of hearts I suspect this is a LEARNED ATTITUDE, not a physical issue, and I am not going to get the potty training timeline I prefer. What kid do you know who's been dry overnight with nary an accident for 1.5 years, yet will not even TELL you when she needs to go poop? (Sorry Future Emma, but the fact that I have to resort to discussing your habits (or lack thereof) on the blog is YOUR fault, not mine.) I mean, I devoted my Christmas novena to this issue. I AM PRAYING FOR HONEST TO GOD MIRACULOUS HEALING. 

    Let us all direct our good juju to the potty training gods and the people who decide whether a four-year-old-but-turns-5-in-3-weeks gets to enter kindergarten in Seattle Public Schools. I thank you for your efforts. 

     

    January 03, 2016

    In which I am eaten alive

    So the first thing you should know about my week in downtown St. Louis during which I volunteered at Urbana 15 is that I got BED BUGS. That's right, folks! Bed bugs. For real. Actual factual bed bugs. Me. A thing that happened. To me. 

    THE STORY IS: 

    Our first night in the hotel was not really much of a night, seeing as how we didn't get out of our orientation meeting until nine something and our first shift began at 1am. 

    [QUICK DIGRESSION: I was volunteering on the Intercession Team, the folks who pray for the conference around the clock. We were divided into teams of 6-8 people and assigned three-hour shifts. My team's first shift was from 1 to 4am the very first night. HOW NICE FOR US.]

    Okay, so between jet lag and knowing we'd just have to get up ANYWAY, my friend Ellen and I didn't bother sleeping. I have always used a cute little pseudonym for my friend Ellen whenever I've mentioned her on this here blog, but NO MORE! and the rest of the story will reveal WHY!

    We stayed up, headed to our shift, and when we came back at 4am we fell directly into bed and did not move until about noon. Upon waking Ellen told me a funny little story about how she'd seen a bug on her pillow sometime during the night and flicked it onto the floor. Bugs and spiders and things don't really squick me out so I didn't think too much about it. Ellen went off to some meeting and I stayed in bed, my preferred place for snacks and reading library books about Vichy France. But not long after Ellen left, I noticed a bug on MY pillow. A fat-ish black bug. I took a picture of it, texted it to Ellen with the caption, "Apparently you brushed him into my BED". Calmly, because I am Calm about these things, I picked up my pillow, brought it to the bathroom, flicked the bug into the sink, and washed it down the drain. 

    Of course, the NEXT morning I woke up and was covered in bites. They were all over my forearms, my hands, and my neck. When I went into the bathroom I could see a few faint bites around my hairline, one by my eyebrow, and one by my lip. And then there were a few in the little slice of skin where my t-shirt met my pajama pants. 

    "WE HAVE BED BUGS!" Ellen yelped. 

    I... did not believe we had bed bugs. Because. I don't know. Denial? Plus I thought bed bugs were insidious little transparent creatures, like lice, and that there would be trillions of them creeping through the sheets. Not one big fat black bug I'd washed down the sink hours earlier. I tore all the covers off the bed and didn't see any other bugs. 

    Ellen declared that bites could take hours to show up. Even if it wasn't a bed bug, there was no way I could sleep in that bed again, right? 

    So before our next shift I calmly CALMLY walked to the reception desk and hissed, "I GOT A FEW BITES LAST NIGHT" and showed him the super attractive splotchy red bumps on my neck. I did not hiss BED BUGS or, you know, freak out on this guy, because I am Calm and I don't make scenes and, per my usual meek mousyness, I didn't want HIM to feel bad. Thankfully my brand new revolting skin disease spoke for itself and the hotel staff quickly sprang to action, assigning us another room, not charging me for that night, offering laundry service. We also had dinner that night with friends who were bed bug-educated, saw the picture on my phone and decreed Yes, That's A Bed Bug. 

    The next room was fine. I didn't get any more bites. But they were tremendously itchy and also ugly and embarrassing - ON MY NECK. ON MY FACE. - and my dear old wonderful longtime friend Ellen couldn't help telling all and sundry that we had BED BUGS wasn't it HORRIFYING, but they only bit MAGGIE poor MAGGIE can you BELIEVE we had BED BUGS?! poor MAAAAAGGIEEEEEE. After the fifteenth time she declared that the bug must have bitten her too, but her skin just didn't REACT like mine, I beat her silly with my Vichy France book. No, I martyred up and made sure everyone knew the bed bug ate ME because SHE DIDN'T KILL THE STUPID BUG WHEN SHE SAW IT FTLOG.

    AHEM!

    The second thing you should know about my trip is that I did not sleep. After a few days Ellen and I referred to our schedule as "prayer shifts surrounded by naps". Even though we really only "worked" three hours a day, those three hours were often in the early morning and were themselves often mentally and emotionally exhausting. Plus the conference itself was kinda intense. Racial justice, the persecuted church, getting emergency deployed to the prayer ministry room to help out the prayer ministers because even though there were 50 of them, the line to get one-on-one prayer was OVER AN HOUR LONG. 

    That said. It was also kinda amazing. I've been too tired to process it all which is why you got a post about bed bugs. You're welcome.

    December 22, 2015

    I'd like to settle in for my long winter's nap now

    Another Cheung Christmas party in the books, another post-party week of me flinging myself across the couch all, "NOW WHAT?!" Because I am super mixed up on the reason for the season and after all the booze is drunk, I'm always a bit surprised there's actually more of Christmas left. Kids opening presents? The Christmas pageant? Family? Eh? 

    This was my best year for party stress, mainly because I decided not to stand in the kitchen all day handwringing over homemade appetizers. I finally allowed myself to JUST NOT MAKE FOOD this year. I know! I mean, there was FOOD, but nothing I slaved over (and subsequently ruined) and therefore no running around like a crazed banshee during the half hour before guests arrive trying to get the food done. And guess what! THE PARTY STILL HAPPENED! I KNOW! Of course, no one appeared to EAT anything (COINCIDENCE?) I would be much more upset with myself about this if it weren't for the fact that this year my guests only drank half a bottle of Makers Mark as opposed to last year when the entire bottle disappeared within the first 20 minutes of the party. Maybe we were all just a bit more moderate this year. This is what I'm going with. 

    I ALSO did not freak out about enough people coming/WHO was coming/what I would wear (that much)/the decorations/the little stupid food labels/whether or not the hot cocoa display could hang with the other hot cocoa displays on Pinterest/getting fancy Christmas soap for the bathroom/people who RSVPed and didn't show/people who didn't RSVP and came/whether or not the food was any good. I just didn't. And I know, I'm suspicious too, it's like someone switched out the Type A for Type Anything Else, but let's just hope it sticks. Not being crazy is so much better than being crazy. 

    ANYWAY. That's over. We did my-side-of-the-family Christmas the very next day and yesterday I cowered in a corner and sobbed. No, I was fine, until the late afternoon and hour nine million of dense dark gray rain and I had to go to the Christmas pageant rehearsal. Which! Was fine! But you know what? If I do this again next year? GROWN UPS ARE NOT INVITED. I'm just going to leave that there. It will be a lovely fifteen minutes on Christmas Eve and then I don't have to think about it until next December. And next December I shall be better prepared, with a flask and strong-Christmas-pageant-related-opinion earplugs. 

    The bakery madness is over, thank God. We have some big things to think about for next year, if Thumbprints continues to exist. Did you know the FPC is having a baby? In February? YESSSSSS and guess who will be saying, "NO COOKIES IN FEBRUARY (OR MARCH, APRIL, POSSIBLY JUNE AS WELL!)" I turned down a TON of orders this month because our two corporate orders were just that big and time consuming. We basically did nothing except those two things, but tripled the amount of money we made from last December. The issue is no longer "What does it look like for Thumbprints to operate" - I think we've figured that out. Now it's a matter of, "Does this work for us? Do we want to keep it up? Is it worth it?" All questions to figure out later. After I've done all the taxes, obvs. SIGH. But I'll tell you this much: if the bakery still exists next December, we're either going to be as exclusive and choosy as we want to be, OR we are hiring helpers and a big kitchen with storage space and working until we fall over. We got so many calls this month SO MANY CALLS. And I think I might enjoy bossing a few extra bakery hands around.

    Speaking of bosses, I got an email from my first job boss wanting to know if I want to work a few hours from home for him ummmmm hmmmm... (No. The right answer is no. Don't let me keep pondering that.)

    The next few days we're just getting ready for OUR Christmas. We're a Christmas Eve family, so after the pageant and church, we'll come home and eat incredibly unhealthy snacky foods and open presents. I will miss my family and all the noise and movement, but I just want to do it at home so much. It does make me remember growing up overseas, though, where you never have any family around and your friends come over on the holidays and I miss and want that too. Why don't I have any orphaned friends to invite over?! Phillip is going to have to adopt some young work people away from their families. 

    Christmas Day we usually host a brunch for Phillip's much smaller side of the family, but this year his mom is leaving (tomorrow!) to work on a Mercy Ship in Madagascar! Ack! And because hosting a Phillip's family thing without his [wonderful wonderful] mom around is not something I want to do, we changed plans. FORTUITOUSLY one of Phillip's cousins opened a Chinese restaurant this year. Two minutes from his parents' house. Like, it's where his dad eats all his meals now. AND GUESS WHERE I SUGGESTED WE HAVE CHRISTMAS LUNCH? Am I not the smartest person in the world? And it's just so FITTING, my husband's family being Chinese and me being half Jewish, right? Everyone will be much happier doing this than eating strata at my house anyway. 

    And then the next day I get on a plane for St. Louis where I will volunteer at Urbana for a week. I am... I feel terrible about leaving the kids right when they get all their new stuff and we want to organize and play and have fun. Molly and Emma are getting all these things for their Target brand American Girl dolls and I want to help them set it all up! Figuring out childcare was hard. Leaving Phillip for a week is sad. I kind of think of Urbana as "work travel" for me, because I really am going to train and learn and grow in the things I want to grow in, but it's NOT, obviously, and it's a big deal for me to be gone a whole week when the kids are out of school, and during the holidays! It's a big deal and I'm thankful Phillip is so supportive of me and my "work". 

    Of course, on the other hand, I have been so tired and frustrated with so many things, that a week in a nice hotel room with one of my best friends super super far away sounds soooooo niiiiiice...

    Was that not the most mommybloggy update in the world? SNORE. But here I am, dropping a digital pin on this point in my life. 

    I think I'll eat some cake now. Katie made me a passionfruit ganache cake for Christmas (BEST GIFT EVER?) and I am slowly (okay, not that slowly) working my way through. It's hard work, but I'll get it done, no worries. 

    MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR, FRIENDS! If you're St. Louis adjacent hit me an email and maybe we can meet for lunch!

     

    December 14, 2015

    In which Maggie needs to remember what she's good at. Again.

     

     

    I just wrote this massive blog post in which I reached the conclusion: some things are not my jam, and that's okay. 

    I guess sometimes you just really have to write a massive blog post! But I won't put you through the misery of reading it. How nice of me. 

    This stems from a tiny bit of Mom Insecurity which appears to be leftover from when my big kids were babies and toddlers, the time when Mom Insecurity ran high. I wasn't insecure about being a MOM, more like there were a lot of things I thought I was supposed to do or enjoy or be as a Public Mom that I... didn't want to do. Like be in a PEPS group. Seattle people know what this is. PEPS is an organization that groups new parents by neighborhood and their babies' age, so I ended up in a group of women who lived near me and whose kids were all born within a few weeks of mine. They were great! I know people who found their best friends in PEPS! But I still didn't like being in the organized group, for a number of reasons, and I felt guilty and what-is-wrong-with-me when I slowly and unofficially stopped going. 

    Or things like outings. I hate outings. All of my friends were constantly going to the zoo and the aquarium and big parks and I kept wondering why we couldn't all just visit each other in our houses and drink mimosas while the kids entertained each other. 

    My kids are older now which means I have to do less stuff with them and therefore have to spend less time with other women I don't know very well and their children. So the insecurity opportunities are less. But recently I wonder if the opportunities are just DIFFERENT. Like the PTA. I am doing the one thing I am half decent at for the PTA (newsletters and social media, heh), but I still feel lame because I don't know enough people, don't volunteer at school for anything, and DON'T WANT TO. Aren't I at stay at home mom with tons of time?! 

    There's an extra level of Church Mom Insecurity. Am I involved in the right way? Am I participating in the right things? Are my kids sufficiently holy? Am I demonstrating to the people with influence that I am worthy of friendship? (Oh wait, is my Three showing?)

    Chatting with the preschool moms? PLEASE DON'T MAKE ME. They are all great, they really are, but I have other friends and I want to use up every last drop of preschool time to do stuff FOR ME. As soon as my kid walks in the door I RUN to the car for ME TIME.

    Crafting costumes for the Christmas play? IF I MUST. But I will suck at it and also get really annoyed and frustrated with the disorganization and mess, EVEN THOUGH we get it done in half the time and with tons of help. 

    Girl Scouts? That's not something I can just drop her off at, right? 

    Co-op preschool? SNORT.

    And possibly worst of all, I have yet to sign my kids up for a sports team. There is no soccer every Saturday morning for the Cheung kids, no gymnastics, no martial arts at night, no dance recitals. They take piano, because Chinese grandparents (also half-musical parents) and swimming in the summers because their mom is deathly afraid of water. But otherwise... honestly, just the day when I do preschool and piano is exhausting. 

    I guess you can just read this as LAZY. LAZY MOM. But you guys, I am not lazy. I may flee in the face of the volunteer form and have the housekeeping abilities of a frat boy, but you should see me work on my stupid little business. You should see the hours I put in tying stupid perfect bows on those cookie boxes. The time I devote to making sure the people in whom I'm already invested are well loved. The work I do to keep our family on track. The weeknights I give to the church ministry where my gifts are best used and most welcome - which has nothing to do with children or families specifically. The time I will put in this week to give my friends a kick ass time at our holiday party on Saturday. 

    That stuff isn't Public Mom stuff, so sometimes I feel like it doesn't count. You know? I think I'm have a stretch of Public Mom Failure. (All brought on by myself, of course. AS PER USUAL.)

    It's made me think: maybe I shouldn't BE a stay at home mom! SAHMs are supposed to be a certain way! Crafty, creative, whizzes at time management! The truth is that I AM all those things, just not when it comes to my KIDS. I can think of one single time that I pulled it together and was SAHM Awesome and that's when I instituted Homeschool Art Class. But that was born of desperation, folks. My public schoolers didn't know about impressionism. UNACCEPTABLE. 

    But... I already wrote a blog post about this, I don't need to write another one. (TOO LATE.) I think it's time for another round of...

    THINGS MAGGIE IS AMAZING AT

    • Avoiding phone calls for the bakery. Email me, people! EMAIL IS BEAUTIFUL.
    • Planning vacations. You guys, I booked us a Hawaii vacation in one night, using frequent flyer miles from 2 different airlines, in coordination with out of state friends. BOOM.
    • Holding bakery customer hands. It doesn't seem like it would be a thing, but you'd be surprised.
    • Having a filing cabinet. 
    • Making cookies that TASTE good, even if they are not necessarily good-looking.
    • Making my kids laugh. Right now I have two phrases that make them bust up every time. This won't last forever, but I am MILKING IT.
    • Knowing when to put a war book down. 
    • Eyeshadow. Okay, maybe not AMAZING, but I'm getting better. 
    • Initiating time with friends without kids. 
    • Making it possible for my husband to have friends-with-no-kids time. 

    I MEAN, THOSE ARE SOME PRETTY AMAZING THINGS RIGHT THERE. And now it is time for me to make dinner, which is something I am decidedly un-awesome at, but the whole point of this post was up there at the top: I just wasn't MADE to be an amazing dinner maker.

     

    December 07, 2015

    December Madness, fueled by sugar cookies

    The December Panic kicked in this morning. It's late this year - usually it starts on Thanksgiving, ha. But this morning I find myself wordlessly roaming my house, mentally curling into the fetal position. It's all the usual stuff, plus the stuff that I should care about but don't usually, plus the stuff that I should care about and never do, plus the bakery, plus the Christmas party, plus the fact that I'm leaving for St. Louis the day after Christmas and will be gone for a week... suddenly I care very much about ALL THE THINGS. All the stuff on the deck that I still haven't put away from the summer? VERY IMPORTANT! The kids not putting their things away in their assigned places and just haphazardly stashing in their rooms? PANIC INDUCING! The fact that no one has any clean socks? I HAVE FAILED AS A MOTHER! My inability to choose a Signature Cocktail for the Christmas party? A DISGRACE TO THE HUMAN RACE! 

    And the bakery, oh you guys. The bakery basically has two customersSug in December: our big corporate client from last December and then a tiny corporate client who ordered 59 dozen sugar cookies - FAWNCY ones at that. Yesterday we decided that we're not taking any more. We have one tiny order for late December, but that's it. I've turned down lots of orders over the last 2 weeks because we literally have no space, but now it's official. DO NOT CALL US. This is madness, the end. 

    I should say more about the bakery, for those two or three of you interested in this entrepreneurial mental illness, but that's a little more procrastination than I mean to have right now. (Basically if I am writing on my website I am avoiding something I really SHOULD be doing. Like dishes.) 

    Let's discuss something more important, like my hair appointment tomorrow. Yes, one million things I need to do, but YOU BETCHA I am going to the salon and fixing my head. The hair is in a state of way-grown-out pixie, where it's more like a slightly layered bob, with some random slicing into it since I cut it myself a few weeks ago. I curl it with a flat iron everysingleday. The layer right under the top layer is all going gray. And the fact that I can gather it into the teeniest of ponytails drives me INSANE. A short hair lady cannot abide even the minutest of ponytails. But I am wondering if I SHOULD let it grow, that maybe longer hair suits me right now (but not TOO long). Everyone I ask says, "Oh, I like it like this!" but NO, WRONG ANSWER. 

    So when I was wandering around Anthropologie the other day hunting for a Festive Top (this was going to be my too-fat-for-all-my-dresses-holiday-solution), instead I found the most perfect head of hair on the girl manning the dressing rooms. It helped that she was 1) tall and thin and 2) freakishly movie star beautiful. Being none of those things it's entirely possible her hair will not work on my head, but I stalked her anyway and surreptitiously took pictures... I kind of can't believe I did that. So creepy! But she had the perfect long-ish pixie, and her hair was dark like mine and came to a point at the nape of her neck like mine and appeared to be straight-but-worked-over-with-a-flat-iron the way I do mine. SO MAYBE. 

    Anyway. Congratulations, Me! Instead of folding the pile of laundry on your bed or doing the breakfast dishes, you wrote a pointless blog post! And now you have to go meet a friend for coffee because HELLO it's not like your priorities are COMPLETELY out of whack. When you get back you have nine million sugar cookies to box (AND YOU GUYS I LEARNED HOW TO TIE REAL BOWS!!!!!) so it's not like anything your family actually needs you to do is going to get done today. But you'll have had a good day! Throw some Xanax at that December anxiety issue and you're ALL GOOD!

    November 10, 2015

    And guess what! There's no school tomorrow! HAAAAA

    So if I wanted to, I could write my whole blog post in super huge Impact font what do you think about that I sort of love it maybe this is fuuuuun!!!

    Okay, sorry, it's just that Typepad made it a whole lot easier to be annoying and I couldn't help it. 

    Oh, Typepad. Remember when Typepad was where the cool kids started their blogs? 

    That reminds me, I stupidly volunteered myself to start a blog/website dealie for my churchy crowd... which brings me to today's topic, it being POSSIBLY I SHOULD STOP VOLUNTEERING FOR THINGS. 

    Remember the bakery? Yeah, the bakery. That's still happening. We got our most $$$ single order this week and that's exciting, especially because it's not one that makes both Katie and I hyperventilate, ie: we can handle it, no prob. But we've also got a bunch of custom sugar cookie orders, including one from a lady who's having her own cookie cutters designed and created by a 3D printer OH YES. And we're back on the holiday menu for one quite large local e-tailer so it's safe to say Thumbprints Holiday Madness is in full swing. So there's that. My business, for which I pay taxes and write emails and suck up to government officials. Kind of a thing on my plate. 

    OTHER THINGS:

    • (sorry)
    • That pesky school boundary issue. I have a meeting about that this week. This meeting was announced via email where it was noted that "Maggie has some great ideas (and contacts!)" and I have yet to correct the record on the contacts part. Just knowing WHO to contact is definitely not the same as Having Contacts. Derp. 
    • Being the website, Facebook, newsletter, and brand new Twitter account updater for the school PTA. I would rather do this job that pretty much any other job for the PTA, but with the boundary issue I'm realizing I could pretty much turn THAT into a part-time job. 
    • Every Monday night I do a church thing. Every. Monday. Sometimes it's two blocks from my house, sometimes it's an hour away in traffic. I super love doing this thing, but again: every. Monday. 
    • We got our bathroom leak and ceiling fixed! And now it's my job to draw up a design and source some materials for our bathroom remodel, still scheduled for the spring, but with A Dude rather than A Remodeling Firm which means more work for me. (But you guys. I really had no idea how much A Remodeling Firm would charge for a bathroom remodel. I mean, I thought I knew, but I didn't really know, and that's made me A-OK with hiring a chatty yet reliable and weirdly inexpensive Dude rather than my preferred Firm.)
    • OH, HEY, BEING A PARENT
    • Planning and prepping for our yearly holiday party.
    • And the newest thing! Last year a friend and I threw around the idea of doing a Christmas pageant at our church. We didn't approach anyone about it till about Thanksgiving time and because our church is the sort of church that does things Well, it was a bit horrified at the thought of throwing together a Christmas pageant sort of last minute like. But this year we have another friend who is now church staff and sort of the Go To Lady To Get Stuff Done and guess who talked the priest and choir director into a pageant, created a whole practice schedule, and already put a notice in the bulletin. And... when I said, "Sure, okay, I guess?" I didn't realize we'd be practicing EVERY SATURDAY in December (overkill?) (but remember my church does things WELL!) and HOO BOY. So that's bakery deliveries and at least 3 parties on December Saturdays, coupled with pageant practice... Phillip is going to kill me. 

    I'm NOT someone who has a problem saying no. Honest. I have lots of nice ways of saying no, but I only bust those out when I don't want to do something. And I'm realizing that most of the time, I WANT TO DO EVERYTHING.

    Phillip? Not so much. 

    Yeah, so my list of things up there, I'm excited about every single one of those things. BUT CAN I DO ALL THE THINGS? 

    I think the answer is: December is just going to be crazy. Like everyone else's December. Every year. CRAZY = DECEMBER I am very much a "All right! I see the list! It will be rough, but we'll get it done and WE SHALL PREVAIL!" 

    Phillip will struggle. I will plan and organize and do nine million things so he only has to do four, but he is still going to kill me. Maybe that's why I'm writing this out, so you know what happened when I tell him about the Christmas pageant and I never show up on Twitter again. 

    Buuuuuut.... this is why we planned a grownups-only weekend in Vegas in January? Maybe I can leverage his February ski weekend with friends into this. Maybe a good, "BUT WE WANT OUR KIDS TO BE IN A CHRISTMAS PAGEANT!!!"

    Last night I attempted Actual Cooking and made Indian butter chicken, one of our favorite things. The end result was not something that tasted anything like butter chicken, but it was vaguely Indian and definitely edible. Not a total fail, I thought. But Phillip, who is absolutely never anything but encouraging about my "cooking" struggled to find something positive to say and the kids wouldn't eat it at all. So tonight we are having hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls, probably some macaroni and cheese. I do know how to say no to SOME things. 

    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.)

    OMG THIS WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE AN ESSAY ON MY BATHROOM. 

    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.

    Previously

    Archives

    Credits