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    May 15, 2015

    I need to go this far away

    My parents are already in Italy. They are poor travelers (and freely admit this, not breaking blog policy here, HI MOM!), but it sounds like the flight went mostly well and getting the car and driving to Practically Podunk, Italy went ok too. My mom's email this morning said they spent most of the first [rainy] day at their favorite coffee shop where the owners remember them and want to see the kids and I'm feeling sort of sad about that. My mom and dad lived in this town for 13 (I think?) years, and only moving back to the US when Jack was born. I know they want to be near us and their now hordes of grandchildren (I already can't imagine living far away from MY hopeful future grandchildren!) but I sort of feel like Practically Podunk is home for them. My dad, I think, would disagree. He always says he's American and feels most comfortable in America, but there are no Italian-style cafes where they live now. No good bakeries with fresh bread, no weekly markets, no lifestyle of evening strolls and cappuccino in your regular bar. I can still see my parents living there and being happy in their Italian farmhouse, my mom's flowers, my dad's weekend road trips, the dinners out, the knowing how to get around Venice, the friends they still have there. I feel bad (sad? mournful? wistful?) that they moved. (And happy too.) 

    I finally got out the suitcases. I packed a week's worth of underwear for every family member in a ziploc bag. I divvied up the activity books, crayons, markers, and stickers amongst three backpacks. I've almost found sandals for everyone. I'm doing laundry. I have a general packing list. We have kid headphones and car seats and as of this morning we have a will and health directives. Not a necessary item, perhaps, but one we've been meaning to do for YEARS and now we have it and if our Paris plane crashes into the Eiffel Tower, at least our family will know what to do with the millions of dollars we have hidden under the mattress. 

    I haven't flown overseas since Jack was born and I'm starting to dread the trip. I hate small closed spaces. I hate confinement. Everyone does, I know, I am not a special snowflake. At least the way the seats are situated we are only sitting with each other, no strangers with whom to bump elbows. Although I can see scenarios where I might prefer a stranger to my own kid. 

    I bought tickets to Matilda. Thank you, wonderful London reader, for your recommendation and instructions on how to get from Stansted to Southwark. I have printed out every single airline and hotel and otherwise logistical confirmation email, boarding pass, and ticket. I wrote down how to get from the Paris airport to our hotel. Phillip SAYS we will have data plans for the phone but WHO KNOWS. I'm very much a Have A Folder Full Of Everything I Could Possibly Need sort of person. I'm super fun. 

    I think... finally, after the insanity that has been our Spring, I am ready to get on a plane to anywhere. I want to go away. I want to not think about school or the bakery or what's going down on Twitter or my church obligations or who I haven't emailed or talked to or where I'm supposed to be tomorrow or what I'm supposed to buy or pick up or mail or clean or ANYTHING. I want to stop THINKING. I want to get on the stupid airplane and get myself to Practically Podunk and then *I* want to spend a full week sitting in an Italian bar drinking cappuccinos and listening to people have conversations I don't understand and don't need to worry about. I will be a tourist in England, but in Italy, at least for that first week, I want to relax my shoulder muscles for the first time in months. 

    May 11, 2015

    A few thoughts on Pants, Fit Of and the chances of losing children in the London underground

    The FPC is here because we have a wedding cake tasting tonight and another tomorrow night and there are a lot of little cakes and bowls of fillings on all of the surfaces. And between this (passionfruit curd!) and the crazy meds and running errands instead of going to the gym, oh and also PLAIN TIRED, there is a lot of angsty sighing when it comes to choosing a pair of pants to wear each day. Oh, pants. PANTS. Or should I say "pants". What's really working for me these days is a nice sack on top and something soft and stretchy on the bottom. Like... pajamas.

    But then this morning I saw a tall, slender, elegant looking lady in the Target underwear section, holding up a piece of shapewear and eyeing it critically. And I thought, Well. There's no hope for ANY of us, is there. 

    I have probably never been in a more confident state of mind, happier with who I am and who my people are, how things are with my family, really, and my PANTS. MY PANTS have the power to take all of that confidence and happy-with-self-ness and make me want to crawl into a hole of shame and doubt. How does that even WORK? 

    WHATEVER.

    Katie has... (wait I have to ask, hang on...) Chocolate cake with a whipped ganache filling and chocolate sour cream frosting OHMAHGAWWWWWD. Cookies and cream filling. Passionfruit curd. Coconut frosting. Cream cheese frosting, raspberry filling, carrot cake, white cake, lemon cake... YOU WISH YOU WERE HERE DON'T YOU. EFF THE PANTS.

    Europe is only going to exacerbate the pants problem, but I'm finally in the place where I can't wait to go. I need a VACATION. Right now it's a big spin of what we need to buy and what to pack and all that, but it will be SO NICE to get away from the stupid calendar for a bit. No bakery deliveries or pick ups to worry about, no back and forth to school, no homework, no piano practice, no who's working late or who has a dinnertime meeting... We've been go go go since the end of March and NOT going sounds SO NICE right now. So nice. (Except for the part where I GO to Paris sans children. Yes.) 

    Thanks for the Matilda recommendation - I am totally buying those tickets ahead of time. HAVE MY HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS, WEST END! I AM COMING FOR YOU!

    Oh, and Phillip told his parents the other day that if we were going to Syria, say, their level of panic over theft of both money and children would be appropriate, but since we are NOT, maybe they could dial it back a bit. Because they are wonderful wonderful people, his dad just sighed and smiled sheepishly. I shall still mentally prepare to ask my in-laws to allow my children to run free at London playgrounds and for regular anxiety attacks (THEIRS) whilst managing the kids in the underground. 

    (I told my FIL this story about my brother getting "lost" in St. Mark's Square - he lost US (too busy feeding pigeons), but my dad had an eye on him and watched him feed pigeons while throwing up his head every few minutes or so to shout, "MOM!" Basically letting him get good and nervous until my dad "found" him. But my FIL did not think this was funny AT ALL. "You need to get LEASHES!")

    Excuse me, I believe my tasting services are needed (PASSIONFRUIT CURD).

     

     

    April 29, 2015

    Packing, Planning, Blathering Recovery

    I'm trying to put my life in order which is pointless considering that we're going on vacation in 3 weeks (THREE WEEKS) and when we get back it will be summer vacation and there's never any order during summer vacation. Does it really matter if I organize the art supply bins? Does it even matter if I put them back where they're supposed to go post-Blathering? What about putting the winter coats away? Or organizing my desk? WHAT IS THE POINT. 

    I cleaned and decluttered for the kitchen designer to come on Monday and he ended up canceling and seriously, I should just make myself a t-shirt that says I HAVE STOPPED BOTHERING.

    Things I Still Need To Do For Our Trip About Which I Am A Little Bit In Denial

    Buy another Bubble Bum

    Borrow the Rider Safe Vest from our friends

    Get powers of attorney for the time period when Phillip and I will be in Paris and my parents will be road tripping with the kids

    Rent a car for Italy

    Figure out the best way to get from the Stansted Airport in London to our Southwark apartment 

    Think about what I want the kids to do during our trip and buy the appropriate supplies (keep a scrapbook? write a blog? Write reports?)

    Make packing lists (I do not want to do this. I do not want to do this. I do not want to do this.)

    Make sure everyone has appropriate shoes

    Research tube tickets for London 

    Find out how much WWII-related stuff I can do in England without driving my family insane

    Figure out if we have any money left over to see a musical in London

    Emotionally prepare myself for my beloved sainted in-laws having hourly anxiety attacks about losing children in London (quoth my FIL this weekend: "You need to buy LEASHES for the kids!")

    Find someone to housesit and/or pick up mail and water plants

    Worry about all the things I'm forgetting

    I feel like I can't throw myself full force into trip planning because there is STILL big stuff happening - Jack's first communion is Sunday and there's a lot involved in that. Saturday we have to go to the rehearsal and then make a banner for our family's pew the day of - who knows how long that will take. Sunday is the big day and after Mass we're having a lunch at our house. It will also double as Jack's family birthday party because his birthday is the FOLLOWING Sunday (Mother's Day.) And because I'm kind of big on birthdays, I feel like he should also have a FRIEND party so I have to figure out how we're going to do that next Saturday (day BEFORE Mother's Day...) I was going to throw money at that problem, but all the options are so MUCH money and have so many restrictions with how many people and times and all that... it just doesn't feel worth it. 

    That's a lot of stuff, right? 

    I DO feel recovered from the Blathering, which, well, I wasn't sure there for a while. I am not a young lady drinking too much wine in someone's back yard anymore! My age is showing; also my introvert. Man, my poor introvert was silent screaming by the end and I had to give her a few days of intense solitude. Thank goodness that's over - I'm sort of a BAD introvert and can't stand spending days on end by myself. I can tell I'm all better because I spent the better part of the morning trying to find someone to hang out with Emma and me and feeling MOROSE when no one was around. 

    I didn't even tell you about the Blathering, did I? Maybe I'll write a proper post, but for now I'll just say that I was so stinking proud of Seattle, you can't even imagine. The weather was DIVINE. The views were GORGEOUS. The food was YUMMY. The party bus did NOT get stuck in my cul de sac and none of my neighbors have dropped by to interrogate me about the horde of women who showed up that Friday night. I was so so happy with the way everything went off. I was beyond delighted with the sunshine. I did my best to spend time with individuals and small groups - I'm best via email, but if I must be endured in person, it's best to endure me in small groups - and I felt like I got to talk with a few more people than I usually do at this event. I'm just PLEASED. And proud of my city, which is dorky I know, but you know what I mean. 

    Feeling like I've outgrown blogging/Twitter/the Internet is a frequent topic here (sorry, also how meta, also eye roll), but oh I would missssss yooooooooou. 

     

     

    April 23, 2015

    In which maybe the bakery doesn't have to define itself. (YET)

    So I've been thinking. Maybe it's okay that the bakery doesn't have a big huge VISION or GOAL attached to it. Maybe it doesn't need that. Maybe *I* don't need that. MAAAAAAYBEEEEE?

    We have done absolutely NOTHING to promote the business since Christmas. ZERO. We had a lot of business in February, next to nothing in March, and now... I have two wedding tastings on the calendar, possibly a third, a baby shower, a possible bridal shower, and over the last few weeks random birthday cake and custom sugar cookie orders. Not a ton of work, but it seems like a lot of interest for a baby business with no storefront and no marketing. 

    Also, order by order, we are somehow managing to shlep the goods from where Katie bakes to where people are celebrating. 

    I very much like to have PLANS and ORGANIZATION and VISION. Katie has always been pretty cool with just doing what we're doing and seeing where everything goes. I'm the one who's all NO WE HAVE TO SHOOT FOR THIS MOON AND THEN THAT ONE. Which is not bad! I think baby businesses need someone with big and near-impossible ideas! 

    But maybe it's okay that we don't have that right NOW. Maybe?

    I was feeling like I couldn't go on unless there was a new vision for Thumbprints, meaning a new idea or an adjustment to the previous idea to be profitable. With Katie moving away, the previous plan for getting profitable seems TOO impossible. If I scratch that, what do I have? Does this even make sense anymore? Do I still want to work on it? 

    The last few days - seriously, just the last day or two - I'm starting to feel like it could be fine. It's not as if we had a business plan when we started, or even as recent as Christmastime, and we still improved and got more business and learned stuff. It was fun. And I was never about the business plan until one actually occurred to me. Would it be so hard to go back? Is it ACCEPTABLE to go back? 

    I am just now getting pretty involved in a new church thing. I wonder if that's what's making me feel okay about Thumbprints not doing everything it possibly can to take over the world. I have something else to dream about? Maybe. 

    But also I'm just responding to these orders for baby and bridal showers and dudes, it's fun to talk to people about cake. Everyone reaching out to me is having a party. I love parties. It's fun to be part of their parties, you know? It's fun to discuss how many macarons a group of ladies will want (never as many as I think they should want) and whether chocolate cake is better than light fruity cake (ALWAYS, THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS).

    I don't know. I just thought I should mark the day when I stopped feeling Despairing. Maybe I don't have to despair. Maybe we just keep on keeping on. Maybe one day a new idea will pop up. Maybe everything is okay. Maybe Thumbprints can just keep being our little baby business where we're only doing as much as we want to do, and only when we want to do it. 

    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

    Remodeling (OR MAYBE I SHOULD JUST MOVE)

    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. 

    Anyway. 

    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. 

    UMMMM.

    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? 

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