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    April 09, 2015

    Made to write?

    The other day an old old friend and I were together and talking about what we should do with ourselves when our littlest kids go to school. Old old as in I met her when she was a sophomore and I was a freshman at UW. We've lived down the hall from each other and countries apart, but the blessing (and curse) of the NDCF is that it trains you how to talk about God in your life. It teaches you to ask questions and expect answers and to go there, if you will, in a way that I haven't found many people outside of my old NDCF world know how to do. Like a current NDCF staff friend of mine likes to say, NDCF grads are total snobs about conversation.

    (Not sure I've mentioned the NDCF in eons, so it stands for Non Denominational Christian Fellowship (my blog name for it, not its real name) and it's basically what I majored in in college and where I met my husband and many of my closest friends.)

    So anyway, even though Old Friend and I haven't lived in the same town for forever, it's been easy to catch up and we went down the rabbit hole this last time: where is God? What does he want me to do? What am I supposed to do with my LIFE?!

    We actually talked about writing. Long long ago we would take creative writing classes together and read each other's work before the arrogant snots in our class (every English department has its share) got their hands on our stories and ripped them to shreds. Didn't I want to write? she asked me. Didn't I do that anymore? 

    Ummmm, nope? Not in a long long time. And as I admitted this I realized AND HEY! I DON'T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT EITHER!

    Because WRITING was going to be the thing that I did that made it worth having me in the world. I was only biding my time, the universe tolerating my presence, until I finally wrote the thing that yearned to be written inside me, and then I would have earned my place. I would be worthy of my parents who still talk about the writing I did in elementary school, my junior year English teacher who thought the world of me, my senior year English teacher who pushed me harder than anyone ever has, and those college professors who thought I was a wooden useless mute until I wrote my first papers and I'd see the inevitable PLEASE SPEAK UP MORE IN CLASS scrawled across the tops. When I finally WROTE something I would have then achieved the thing everyone I'd ever known had told me I should achieve. Then I'd be worthy of their love and praise and all the things they'd said about me. Then I could feel okay about however many years I spend on this planet. Wasn't I made to do this? Wasn't I BORN for this? Everyone saw this in me. *I* saw this in me. 

    I just had to do it. 

    This is where my old friend had left my story. And I needed to catch her up.

    OH, I told her. Yeah... I don't really write anymore. I mean, sometimes? Sometimes I think about it? But... not really.

    Things have happened, I told her, in the last few years. Things that have shown me, revealed to me, made me understand on entirely new planes of thought, that God doesn't love me for what I DO. That God doesn't love me less when I screw up and he certainly doesn't love me more when I do well. That I cannot earn His love. That His love is not shut away in cage with a lock inscribed OPENS AFTER PUBLICATION. That he loves me right NOW, right NOWWWW, when I haven't done ANYTHING amazing in my life! When the one thing at which I excel is eating a whole bag of chocolate chips in one sitting. I mean, that is a good God right there. 

    And I told my friend: once this truth became a truth that I wholly and completely and entirely absorbed, I didn't really care about writing anymore. And I certainly did not care about getting published

    For a while I've felt bad to say that out loud. Because it sounds... I don't know. Like, maybe to someone who thinks the God stuff is eye rolly it sounds lazy or dumb or like someone who gave up on a dream for a totally whack job reason. Yeah. Like someone who GAVE UP. But the thing I realized when I was telling my friend this story was: I DIDN'T FEEL BAD. 

    So YEAH everyone who went to high school with me! And all my teachers! And all the people who told me I had TALENT and blah blah blah. Writing is awesome! But it's not my thing anymore. It's not the thing that makes me special or makes me ME, even. It's not the thing that I'm about or that I do or that I want to do or that I was made to do. It's not the thing that makes me worthy and it's NOT the thing that makes me lovable. 

    I love Anne Lamott for saying that publication does not solve your problems. 

    I love to write. I express myself best in writing. I am MUCH better on paper than I am in person. :) And I keep writing even when it's stupid, like the fact that hardly anyone writes on their dumb blogs anymore, but here I am! I would do this even if no one read. No one DID read for the first couple YEARS I did this! And now I'm learning to write prayers. It's different from straight up journaling... I'm still figuring it out, but it's good and I'm excited about it. 

    But I'm probably not going to write a novel. I mean, it'd be awesome to write a novel! But I don't have to write one anymore. I can reach the end of my life and if the only writing I leave is the heaps of drivel accumulated on this website, fine by me. (I mean, hopefully someone deletes this thing, but you know what I'm talking about.) 

    Am I communicating how terribly horribly VERY MUCH IMPERATIVE it was for me to be a REAL LIVE WRITER and for people to KNOW I was a REAL LIVE WRITER? 

    And now how I don't give a crap? 

    This is God in me. It's amazing. I never thought that would happen. I never thought I'd feel free. I didn't know I NEEDED to feel free. 


    While I've been sitting here writing about how I don't want to write anymore, my children have seen fourteen television shows and the breakfast dishes are strangely still unwashed and no one has thought of what to make for dinner. CLEARLY there is still Building of Character to be done and Life Lessons to be learned. But this tiny piece, this piece is good. 



    April 06, 2015

    A not particularly informative Thumbprints update.

    The big news around here, if you didn't catch my moping on Twitter, is that my sister Katie, aka The Other Half of Thumbprints, moved away this weekend. And like my brother-in-law said, "GEEZ you guys, it's only an hour away!" So yeah. IT'S AN HOUR AWAY. This has major implications for Thumbprints, of course, and then there's the fact that my sister MOVED AWAY and the only word I have for that feeling is BEREFT. I can't even write about it; my eyes are welling up. 

    There's a lot to write and process, but I won't do that here until I've fully done it with Katie. The short answer to the "what are we doing" question is: For now, we're keeping on keeping on. (Today I booked a baby shower in a fancy Microsoft millionaire neighborhood and why yes I WILL drop my business cards over the sides of all those private gates.) The long answer starts with: I have no idea.

    So it's good news the catering company canceled/postponed the event where we were supposed to give a little presentation to other catering managers and hand out giant boxes of samples. I've been looking forward to this since about February. Getting on a few more corporate menus was going to be the way we DO this thing. If there hadn't been the uncertainty about Katie moving, I might have been trying to do this on our own - I had a few contacts and I was going to suck it up and introduce ourselves and drop off cookies and see where it went. But I'm not sure how we INCREASE what we're doing when we've also increased the hard stuff about our business...

    We would have done the presentation anyway (and it was going to be the Tuesday after the Blathering, omg), but (and I believe I've mentioned this before) Food People are lacking the spiritual gift of Administration. Turns out none of the other catering groups had their spring menus done and no one was ready for the spring tasting event. I have no idea if it's just postponed a week or they'll wait until the next one (they do it seasonally)... who knows. But it takes something off our plate, both for the business and me personally. I'd told EBJ it was fine if she wanted to stay Sunday night, but I'd have to put her to work on Monday.

    When I dropped off our kitchen rent for March, I told the coffee shop owner we wouldn't be using her space anymore. It was terrible. I mean, SHE is lovely and she gave me a great big hug and said encouraging things and wants us to keep in touch. But MAN. Wait. I said I wouldn't process here. Yet. I'll do that later. My eyes are welling up again. 

    In the meantime, I'm BUSY. We hosted Easter and I've got something going on every day until the Blathering, and then most days after that until we leave on our trip in mid-May. Jack has his first communion coming up AND his 8th birthday. We're doing art class and I've just quasi-joined a new churchy volunteer thing which means a few nights and weekends out. We also started contacting contractors, but I think I'm going to tell Phillip he needs to manage that. I have too much with the trip right now. And Thumbprints. I'm mixing up my contractor emails with potential new kitchen emails... 

    Also I'm not feeling well. I'm feeling like I sometimes do at a certain time of month, except it's so not that time, and IS MY BODY TRYING TO TELL ME SOMETHING. Possibly that it needs cake and a nap. Or graham crackers spread with passionfruit curd while watching RHOBH with Katie OH WAIT. <teary face emoticon>

    April 02, 2015


    Phillip and I have kind of sort of decided that we maybe might be able to remodel our bathroom next spring and the kitchen the year or two after that. Or we could reverse it - kitchen first - except I potentially want to do way more with the kitchen than I want to do with the bathroom, and the bathroom feels like a nice smaller (but not small) project to do first. Possibly? 

    Also I went to see my friend's brand new freaking ginormous house last night and now I want a massive island in my kitchen JUST LIKE HER. 


    I need some help. Or ideas. Or experience.

    1. We are hiring out. Everything. ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. That being said:

    2. How do we go about it? 

    I have purchased myself a membership to Angie's List and I have a reasonable list of highly rated contractors and remodeling companies to contact for bids. My questions are more about what I want them to DO on their first visit to my house. 

    Because for both the kitchen and the bathroom, there's the Smaller, Keep The General Footprint remodel and then there's the Hey, We Found A Money Tree, Let's Make This Amazing remodel. Except the Amazing remodel we would need, like, significant design help. I wouldn't be able to say, "This is exactly where we want things to go," because I'm not sure if it's even possible for those things to GO there. You know? 

    So when I invite someone over to give me a bid... can I ask those things? All the companies we're looking at come with design service. And I feel like I would have to ask about BOTH, because even though we plan to do the kitchen second, if it turns out it doesn't make sense to change the footprint, then I'd have more money to potentially do the bigger remodel on the bathroom. Right? 

    Are my remodelers going to hate me before I even hire them? 

    Am I worrying too much about wanting them to not thing I'm crazy? 

    Do I hire a kitchen designer separately from all this? Find that out first? I would prefer to go crazy on the kitchen as opposed to the bathroom. Phillip might feel differently, but let's be honest, I will win this conversation. 

    The simple plans:

    BATHROOM: Keep the existing space, but divide it so that there is a small powder room with a door to the hallway and a bigger-but-not-much-bigger master bath with a door to the master bedroom. (Right now it's a jack and jill into the master and hallway. Annoying.) 

    KITCHEN: Keep the existing footprint, but gut. New everything. 

    The not so simple plans:

    BATHROOM: Divide the current bathroom to create a small powder room and master bathroom, but add pointless hallway space plus master closet to create a Big Master Bath/Closet. Would require moving the bedroom DOOR. Not the best idea, but would be interesting to see how a professional would make it work. 

    KITCHEN: Gut. Take down a half wall and post. Create brand new kitchen and kitchen table area with expanded opened space. Potentially makes a lot more room for dining AND opens up the space for parties and gatherings. 

    I've read a lot of places that "kitchens are usually designed a certain way because THAT'S THE WAY THAT MAKES SENSE" but you guys, my house is weird. WEIRD. There MIGHT be possibilities. I would like to find out! For kicks! And potentially thousands of dollars!

    I just... I want to ask all my questions, but I am afraid of looking stupid. Which, okay, really really eye rolly thing to worry about, but this is my hang up about absolutely everything. Is there anything you can share with me to make me look less stupid? Maybe? 

    March 22, 2015

    The finer details of hauling one's husband and three children across the seas

    It occurs to me that there are, like, ONLY TWO MONTHS until we go on our big trip. 

    *breathes into paper bag*

    Okay, so ALL the airfare is purchased. To Venice, to Paris, to London, and back home again. I booked our Paris hotel last night so now all of our lodging is booked. (THANKS MOM AND DAD AND ALSO PHILLIP'S WORK!) 

    Now: everything else. Ack.

    CAR RENTAL: I have done some cursory investigation into renting a car big enough for five people and their ten tons of luggage. I don't THINK we have to rent a van. I don't WANT to rent a van on account of how much gas is going to cost in Europe. We'll need to pick it up at the Venice airport, drive it to the house my parents are renting, and keep it until we fly to London from the Treviso (near Venice) airport. It's small town Italy and while we can take the train to Venice, if we want to go to the beach or visit old friends or go pretty much anywhere, we need a car. 

    CAR SEATS: After MUCH investigation I think we're going to buy those BubbleBum things for the big kids and borrow a Rider Safe vest for Emma. I cannot bear the idea of BRINGING Emma's car seat and while we could rent (sketchy) or buy (expensive) seats while we're there, these options we can bring with us without sacrificing a lot of space and since we hope to borrow two of the three, save us some cash. 

    LUGGAGE: I am totally overwhelmed thinking about this. Seriously. We have some suitcases, but are they too big too small too old falling apart manageable for two adults with three kids in an airport I DON'T KNOOOOOW. Chances are, even if they're exactly what we need, Phillip Cheung is going to want to get new ones. Maybe I should put this on HIS list of things to figure out. 

    CARRY ONS: I'm thinking each kid will have a backpack with snacks, activities, water bottle, and a change of clothes. Emma's certainly big enough to carry her own little backpack. But I need a carry on for ME which will hold everything ELSE. Phillip will have all the important stuff - documents, tickets, money, and probably his computer, probably the iPad - but I have been stocking up on Stuff To Do for a few months and I need something to hold it all. All the extra snacks. All the pull ups and baby wipes and first aid stuff and kleenex. A place to hide the activity books I'll need to bust out on hour seven of the plane ride. Oh, and I would also like room to bring a book and a chocolate bar for my own self! Does such a bag exist? It needs to have a messenger bag strap, not be too huge or too small, double as a bag I could take on a day trip (it'd be NICE), and preferably have nine zillion pockets because I'm THAT kind of lady. MORE POCKETS MORE HAPPY. I should not spend all the money on ANOTHER Ju Ju Be bag, I should not spend all the money on ANOTHER Ju Ju Be bag...

    PACKING: What? I have to do this? People need clothes? Shoes? Huh?

    BEING A TOURIST: I THINK I have convinced my dad that we will not hit the ground driving five hours to Pisa. I figure we need a day or two to recover from flying and honestly, just walking down the street for gelato will be enough entertainment at first. We will take the train to Venice more than a few times, I want to go to the beach, and there are plenty of day trips to take. When Phillip and I go to Paris my parents will road trip the kids to Austria - that is enough big trip driving for them. Florence et al will have to wait for another trip. That said, I do want to make a list of things to do in Paris (for me) and London (for the kids and my in-laws). Those will be the more Go Out And See Everything parts of our trip. The Italy part is probably going to be a lot of Going To That One Place My Parents Liked To Go On Field Trips With Their Classes and tons of Having Dinner With My Parents' Friends. Both of which are TOTALLY fine with me. 

    I'm forgetting something, aren't I. 


    What do I do with my house for 3 weeks? Get a house sitter? 

    Still thinking about what kind of project/journal/scrapbook type of thing I'm going to have the kids do while we're away. 

    Packing. Omg. (Our London apartment has a washer and dryer. This might be my favorite part of the London apartment.)

    We saw some friends the other night who went to Europe earlier this year and after talking to them I felt like I needed to make a separate list of Things We Should Eat. So perhaps that is coming to the blog as well. Stay tuned. 


    March 19, 2015

    Conversation In Front Of My Mirror

    "Hey, I look GREAT in this shirt! Sure, it's got a giant Captain America shield on the front, but it isn't see through, it's long enough, it doesn't completely highlight my jiggly muffin top - "

    "Helps that you finally found some pants that fit - "

    "Right, okay, but still, I can leave my house in something other than a dress and leggings. Yay me!"

    "It doesn't really look that great from the back. Kinda shows off your mounds of back fat."

    "Well, yeah..."

    "Is that really your back, even? It's so... lumpy!"

    "I HAVE gained a lot of weight in the last year or two. I'm just thankful it dispersed itself somewhat evenly."

    "Yeah, I saw you in those pictures from Christmas. And you thought you looked bad in LAST year's Christmas pictures."

    "I thought I looked... half decent in those pictures? My makeup was awesome."

    "Makeup can't hide 40 extra pounds, dear."

    "Oh shut up, I know, okay? I KNOW ABOUT THE EXTRA POUNDS."

    "Then how come you're not doing anything about them? Don't you care? Aren't you ashamed?"

    "It's just... it's not as easy to lose the weight as it was before."

    "Are you blaming your crazy pills again?"

    "......... maybe?"

    "What about that ice cream you ate last week? What about the cake you ate last night when company was over? What about all the wine? What about that GYM YOU JOINED?"

    "I couldn't go this week! Sick kids! I said I'd babysit Rosie! I couldn't go!"

    "Right. Sure."

    "I look good in this shirt. I wanted to feel good about looking good in something."

    "If you feel good about looking like this, what's to stop you from feeling good about 10 pounds more? And 10 pounds after that? You can't ACCEPT yourself like this. You have to DO something about it."

    "What if I told you right now that I am the happiest and most myself I have ever been in my life?"

    "Even with all this weight you've gained?"

    "Even with all this weight I've gained. Is not looking as good in clothes going to cancel out how well I'm doing? How not anxious I am right now? How happy I feel about my life? How much my husband doesn't care?"

    "He's lying."

    "Not being able to fit into my old jeans should not weigh more than all of the positive things in my life right now."

    "WEIGH more, HA HA HA, good one."

    "I'm not doing this. I'll go to the gym when I can. I LIKE going to the gym. And I'll try to eat better. And I'll just TRY."

    "You've been trying for two years now. It's not happening. And you THINK everything is going well and moving forward in your life, but when other people see you, they see a Chubby Girl Who Can't Stop Eating Cookies and no one takes you seriously."


    "People who knew you when you lost all that weight are secretly laughing at you now."


    "And you think you can lead things. Be in charge of things. Be respected. Be loved. HEH."

    "God doesn't care about my pant size."

    "Everyone else does."

    "What the hell is wrong with you?"

    "What the hell is wrong with YOU?"


    March 10, 2015

    SAHM, Entrepreneur, Official-Macaron-Taster, and now Art Teacher

    Tomorrow I'm starting something completely out of character which is Teaching Small Children. Never in my LIFE have I EVER wanted to be a teacher of small children, work with small children, or supervise small children. Even as a teenager, babysitting was my least favorite (though often only) way to earn money. BUT TOMORROW I'M GONNA DO IT. 

    See, my kids are poor, deprived, public school students and our particular school seems particularly deficient in art and music. They do art projects in class and I think 4th and 5th graders get to do band, but it bums me out that these aren't subjects that are taught anymore. Or should I say, that there isn't enough money for these subjects to be taught at OUR school. It's why I spent a not insignificant amount of time mooning over and hoping to send our kids to the Catholic school. THAT SAID, I really truly super duper stinking love our little neighborhood public school. I will just have to teach them art at home. 

    So yes, I did a bit of research and bought an actual factual Art Curriculum. It's called Meet The Masters and will do just dandy for not just my kids but the handful of my friends' kids I've invited to do it with us. (Because my kids are going to be more sold on this extracurricular if OTHER kids come and it's MORE like a REAL THING. You know? Instead of mom beating them over the head with a copy of The Starry Night?) 

    Tomorrow we're going to do a little introductory lesson where we make a portfolio to hold our masterpieces. But then it's 5 weeks of learning about a particular artist's life, learning a technique, and then trying it out on our own. I know nothing about art, which is not IDEAL, and I cannot draw or paint to save my life, but oh well. The thing is, absolutely everything I know about art I learned in 3rd and 4th grade when I was in a program called 'Challenge' and we did a similar art curriculum. Seriously. This is the only reason why I know any famous painters at all. I can APPRECIATE art - I absolutely love art museums, to the detriment of my poor husband - but I was too busy filling my schedule with poetry classes in college to take a single Art History course. (Art History, History, and Philosophy WHY DIDN'T I TAKE ANY OF THESE?) 

    Anyway. I am hopeful that my kids will come out of it at least being able to recognize a famous painting or two, maybe even know what the world "pointilism" means. We'll see. I mean, there are a million things I'd love to expose them to - dead European painters is just the beginning, yes? 

    I was telling Molly's teacher about it today and she said, "Oh, and then you can do it as an after school program here!" and I said, "YOU ARE TAKING THINGS TOO FAR, WOMAN!" 

    Groups of small children and art supplies - it can only be awesome, right? 

    March 07, 2015

    The cure for jet lag is gelato

    My mom and dad keep asking what plans we've made for our Europe trip, have we figured out what things we want to do in Italy, and I keep saying DEAR GOD, Parents, I am only SLIGHTLY aware of what I have to do NEXT WEEK! 

    Which isn't very nice, since my parents are fronting a large portion of our Europe trip (HELLO, LODGING!) and "we'll tag along with whatever you're doing!" is not anyone's favorite response to "What do you want to do?" Right? I hate those people. 

    AND YET. I want to block out a day or two for Airplane Ride Recovery and then a week-ish later when Phillip and I go to Paris my parents are taking all three of my kids on a road trip to Austria and Bavaria (I KNOW, THEY ARE THE BEST) so it's not like I'm going to immediately pack them in a rental car and zoom off to Florence or Pisa or something. I figure the local surroundings plus plentiful train rides to Venice plus a beach trip will be more than enough. They will get museumed within an inch of their lives in London, might as well spend our small town Italy days hitting the markets and eating gelato. 

    When we moved to Sicily when I was 10 years old, we flew from (and I remember this OH SO CLEARLY) Seattle to Detroit. Detroit to Philadelphia. Philadelphia to the Azores (where I spent grades 7-9). Azores to The Base Where I Eventually Graduated From High School in northern Italy. That base to a naval base in Sicily. (This was on military flights which were 1) free, but 2) shrouded in cigarette smoke and 3) stopped absolutely everywhere). AND THEN when we finally landed in Sicily, someone picked us up in a rental van and drove us either 2 or 4 hours, this part I DON'T remember) to the base where we would actually LIVE and 25 years later (omg 25 years) I can STILL smell the sickly sweet smell of SOMETHING (this is what rural Italy smells like - gas? sewage? rotten SOMETHING) and feel the nigh unbearable heat and experience the intense car sickness intensified by the smell, the heat, and the windy wackadoodle rural roads HELLO CULTURE SHOCK. 

    I have no idea what my kids are going to think or feel and I'm VERY CURIOUS! Maybe it will be no big deal! We will have a MUCH easier flight and northern Italy in May is no Sicily in August. But that first time flying to Europe (age 10) and the time I flew to Asia (age 25), those were the most mind bending moments of my life. The time is not what the time is supposed to be! The air is different! The sun is different! (Or, in the case of Beijing, non-existent!) EVERYTHING IS STRANGE AND FREAKY AND WHAT IS GOING ON. 

    Ooooh, I am so excited. At some point I will even start planning. 

    February 24, 2015

    Out of Office Message

    Hey Internet! I felt like I should tell you I'm headed out of town in the morning. EARLY in the morning. My friend and I are road tripping to Redding, CA for a church conference and while I love my friend, I am strongly doubting her claim that she will be here at 5am. Nonetheless I shall be up and ready to go because WHAT IF SHE IS?

    Don't ask me what the church conference is about. I actually don't know. I honestly have no idea what sort of thing I'll be attending for 3 days. All I know is that my friend has been before, raaaaaaaved about it, and told me I should go. And now I am! I am easily swayed. 

    But I feel like the amount of work it's taken to enable me to be away from my house for 4 days was INSANE. Maybe I didn't have to make a freezer meal and do all the laundry in addition to figuring out every single logistical detail, but I did and it has lessened the guilt somewhat. What is this guilt about? I guess it's because I don't HAVE to go to a church conference for four days? 

    This morning I'm telling the kids what's happening and what to expect and how Aunt Katie is going to pick them up from school and Jack said, "Things don't work very well without you!" If he hadn't been all the way in the back of the van I would have smothered him with kisses. Things WILL work well without me, and even though I'm sure he doesn't really know what he meant, I felt his meaning and I loved it. Then he said something about how Daddy should just not work while I'm away because who is going to take care of everything? And THAT'S ABOUT RIGHT, KIDS. I take care of EVERYTHING. 

    I'm so tired. I still have to eat dinner and pack my shampoo and make sure I don't forget my contact solution like I do on every other trip and OH I should probably call my mother. But I felt like I should say HEY, I'LL BE AWAY I don't know. You = whatevs. 

    P.S. The bakery had a great February. Without us doing a Dang Thing. I absolutely cannot wait until this presentation to other catering managers (in April) LOOK OUT! WORLD DOMINATION!

    February 18, 2015

    The Annual Lenten Whine

    Long time blog readers are well aware that this is my absolute favorite time of year, a solemn and profound forty days of reflection, sacrifice, and personal growth. I am so looking forward to sharing my many insights and revelations with you during this season of penance and fastHA HA HA NOPE. 

    Oh Lent. You're here again. 

    One thing that is a teeny bit different about THIS Lent as opposed to all my other Lents is that I actually DID think about it BEFORE it arrived. I wondered what to do with the kids, what I should give up, what I should add to my life, and wondered all of it BEFORE this morning. Progress!

    Which isn't to say I came up with any ideas or made any decisions. Of course. I am still not sure about the kids, for example. I have read a bunch of suggestions from helpful People Who Observe Lent Properly and I hope I can put a few of those into action. As for myself, I deleted the Twitter and Facebook apps from my phone, as a way to be more present in my real life and with my kids. And I decided to give up chocolate. Real chocolate. Actual chocolate. Chunks and bars and bites and bags of bittersweet Ghirardelli chocolate chips, aka Maggie's Lifeline When The World Is Going Kaput. 

    I spent a long time trying to figure out what I would give up. Giving up food always seems so EXPECTED. Heaven forbid I give up something boring, right? Giving up social media seemed like a good idea until I thought about all the people with whom I communicate purely through social media, and how those are IMPORTANT people, not people I can ignore for 40 days. So deleting the apps from my phone makes it possible to keep in touch with those folks while curbing the actual issue, which is the incessant scrolling through Twitter whenever I have a free five seconds. But it wasn't like I felt EXCITED about my sacrifices, right? There was nothing I thought of that burned brighter in my brain, all, "YES! I am the thing you should sacrifice! Giving ME up will be the MOST meaningful!"

    But when I thought about this a little more I realized that there was probably NOTHING in my life that was going to stand out as The Thing I should sacrifice because (dum de dum dum ) I DON'T WANT TO SACRIFICE ANYTHING. Duh. This is why it's called a sacrifice. I am not going to be EXCITED to give up ANYTHING. And so I decided to go with something that, while embarrassingly un-original, would definitely be the most day-to-day sacrificial, and that would be my handfuls of medicinal chocolate. It's going to be horrible. Prepare yourself for plenty of whining. 

    What are you doing? I bet you're DOING something. (Let me copy?)



    February 09, 2015

    In which I tell my own self how fast it goes

    I forgot about our big trip there for a second. Then yesterday I realized we have no tickets for Venice to London and I should probably get on that and then I got frustrated with my options (suuuuuper cheap for an 11pm flight, nearly 3x as much for a daytime flight) and now I'm done again. My dad keeps asking me about cars and car seat regulations and of COURSE I haven't figured that out because that's got to be the most boring part of our trip to research. But we booked the London apartment. We have tickets to cross the Atlantic there and back. The Paris flights are purchased. Big stuff accomplished. 

    (Except for the packing. Oh my God, the packing. Every time I start to think about what suitcases or what kind of carryon bag or how many pairs of underwear or if I need to buy the kids new things because maybe they've grown out of their summer clothes I MAYBE start to cry. A little bit. Paging Emily Cassee.)

    I was thinking February was going to be a nice drifting back into routine, but NO, have you heard of Valentine's Day coupled with 100 Day and (imagine Jack motormouthing excitedly) PAJAMA DAY TOO! I did not think about Valentine anything (except for bakery stuff, I suppose, and barely even that since I took our store down and we're not shipping anymore SORRY), until maybe yesterday. Oh right! I have to get the kids valentines! (See how I didn't even CONSIDER helping them MAKE valentines?) 

    Also 100 Day. Yippee. And Pajama Day is stupid. There. I said it.

    Also there are LOTS of February birthdays I 1) have already forgotten and 2) am bound to forget. And did I tell you I'm going on a little road trip with a friend at the END of February? Which is actually not that far away? I did plan out the whole thing and everyone's been notified and I know what's going on, but still, whoa. That's coming up quick. (Church conference. Redding, CA. DRIVING. God help us.)

    My parents took Emma overnight last week and it was freakishly quiet for almost 48 hours in my house. I could THINK! I started to wonder if this is what it will be like when she goes to kindergarten. Preschool, when she starts, will just make everything worse. I want very much for HER to go, but it's not a convenient schedule and will involve lots and lots of driving back and forth for pick ups and drop offs. But it can't be worse than the year I had a kindergartner and a preschooler and a BABY, so chin up, Maggie. No, the rest of this year (we're attempting to start her in preschool at the end of February, early March, just until we go on the trip) and all of next will be all about the Annoying Schedules. MAYBE the following year, if we decide not to test her for early entrance to kindergarten (born 3 weeks past the cut off). But the year she DOES go? Whatever shall I do with myself? 

    MAYBE the bakery will be ready for world domination and I'll be very busy indeed. Even if it isn't, our hope is that we get busy THIS year and will need a sort of on-call additional baker. That's the goal. So it's entirely possible that even a regular baby bakery will keep me busy. 

    But what if it doesn't? Or what if we don't HAVE the bakery then? 

    See how I was all whiny about being busy at the start of this post and now I'm freaking out about NOT being busy? I must be excruciatingly difficult to live with. 

    My big kids are getting SO. BIG. and my little kid is getting big too - she wanted me to hold her in church and my arms wanted to die. I keep thinking about how when JACK was 3 he was a BIG BOY and I sent him to preschool and he had to be nice to his little sister. And now his littlest sister is 3 but she's still my BABY. Junior high me is severely unimpressed with my lack of attention and care for birth order unfairnesses. 

    I was telling my mom how it suddenly got hard staying home with just Emma. I think that has MUCH to do with the fact that she stopped napping, if not EVERYTHING. But also the not being potty trained, the not having a preschool or class or regular outing we do (besides, ah, coffee and pink cake pops.) I've been thinking so much about preschool and mother's helpers and childcare at gyms and stuff like that, but I know from having the older two, once it starts it just keeps going. No more little kids at home with me. 

    It hasn't even happened yet and I'm still marveling at how fast it went.