Your Hosts


Tweet!

    Follow mightymaggie on Twitter

    Elsewhere

    94 posts categorized "Phillip"

    January 06, 2015

    On budgeting, SAHMing, and Purpose In Life-ing

    Money talk is SO AWKWARD, isn't it?*

    Budgeting has not been a strong point in the Cheung Household (UNDERSTATEMENT), but we are giving it another go in 2015. For a long while Phillip paid all the bills and did all the money stuff and I was a proper 1950s housewife who knew nothing about nothing. Then he went back to school and taking over the money stuff was something I could help with - and shoot, I kept myself afloat through college, working and paying my own bills and whatnot, I'm not TOTALLY useless. And I developed my own "budgeting" system (mostly a very neurotic Excel spreadsheet and stacks of receipts), but I'd say that all of the budgeting we've ever done has been more of a "Oh, huh, look at all the categories we overspent in THIS month!" rather than a "Oh, huh, look at that category, we should probably not go out to dinner tonight." You know? I was SUPER GOOD at tracking what big spenders we were, basically. 

    Earlier this year when the bakery started taking over my life, Phillip went back to doing the money stuff. And he started using Mint, which I absolutely positively cannot stand. For unidentifiable reasons. I just do. Also Phillip's mode of budgeting was basically the same as mine (excellent tracking! not so much with the cutting!), except he added an element of OHHHH NOOOO and this is where everything went to pot. Many many MANY discussions this year re: our differing approaches to money, our differing views on what is enough money, our differing views on what to do with the money. I should say that we are in full agreement on the big questions; it's the small nitty gritty questions where we butt heads. 

    We had another of these painful conversations last night, and a lot of OTHER stuff plays into these conversations too, right? How you grew up, expectations, general levels of stress, how you cope, all sorts of really complicated things that you just have to accept and put aside and deal. We manage to do that by having a fight first, then having a productive conversation. Is there a better way to do this? Probably! We just haven't figured out how yet. 

    ANYWAY. For a multitude of reasons, not least because I never understood Mint, we downloaded the free trial of You Need A Budget and set the whole thing up. We are hopeful! I already understand the system better than I ever understood Mint, and Phillip appreciates having everything accessible and uploadable and not color coded in aqua and pink and yellow with circular reference errors all over the place (I didn't say I was GOOD at Excel). 

    But we did decide that we couldn't send EJ to preschool like I hoped. It's not a HUGE deal and we WILL find a way to make it work next year when she's four, but stuff like Europe Trips and house maintenance are the big deals currently. And preschool's expensive, even the cheap ones. I cut the housecleaner because they were honestly causing me more stress than helping, but I know that will be annoying as soon as it's time to clean a toilet. We made up good-sounding amounts for groceries and dining out and clothing, but have we ever adhered to those amounts before? This feels a bit like a new year's resolution to lose weight that's bound to crap out by February. I have a definite "oh, everything works out!" personality which drives my poor husband around the bend, so it's in the interest of our marriage that I stay engaged and concerned. And I plan to. I'd like to learn how to SAVE money and go to Europe AGAIN! (Phillip: hanging head)

    Any discussion of money, though, takes me into the Is It Okay That I'm A SAHM frets and I feel kinda insecure tonight. Especially reading everyone's tweets about their kick ass working moms today. I know Phillip would have preferred I stay working, though it wasn't a choice I made so much as my job sort of disappeared after I left it and I wasn't sure how to "go back" to work. And also we were making it work on one income. And I never liked my job. Or working in an office. And I really loved staying home. And yes, I have ALWAYS felt like someone was going to TELL ON ME or something, that's how much I loved (love) staying home. 

    I don't think I'm especially GOOD at it or anything. I am not SuperMom. I do as little housework and cooking as I can get away with. When they were babies I hung out with my friends with babies as much as humanly possible. I've done a lot of shopping and coffee drinking and napping. For a while I did a lot of exercising. My kids are clean and fed and taken care of, but am I teaching them to read or doing art projects or playing games? Um, SOMEtimes? Not REALLY? They know their families really well. They know about being kind. They are forced to eat vegetables every couple of days. ???

    I think one thing I feel confident about, but also mixed-feelings about, is that because I stayed home with the kids, Phillip has been able to pursue everything he's wanted to pursue. Grad school, business travel, switching jobs several times, without ever worrying about how to manage things at home. I have always taken care of that and I for sure don't know how he would have earned that Master's degree without me holding down the fort. (I suppose there's an argument to be made re: "but YOU'RE the one who wanted to have kids", but that's a dark mental pit that doesn't actually exist in the real world and I try to stay away from it.) 

    THAT SAID. I'm not sure what that gets me as a woman in the 21st century. I have family members and friends for whom it's VERY IMPORTANT to be able to earn your own living. And I... can't do that. Something happens to Phillip? Not sure what I'd do. I have nothing to fall back on. And I never found The Thing I Like Doing. Although... I think I HAVE, actually, but no one pays you to be a professional pray-er. (This is my problem, Phillip says. Everything I work hard at is not paid work. ALAS.)

    In that respect I feel failure-ish. It's all on my husband to support our family. Even if I WANTED to help, childcare would cost more than whatever I would take home. (At least now, while we still have one at home.) Perhaps I have let myself down? I have not been All I Could Be? Am not fabulous career woman, famous writer, rich business lady, cannot even buy my own lip gloss.

    But even THAT... I mean, I LIKE my life! I don't feel unfulfilled or unhappy. I DO feel guilty, sometimes, that I am not contributing financially. And that what I AM doing (bakery work, long weekends for churchy conferences) is somewhat hard on my husband without any financial gain for us. Most of the time I feel like I have plenty of time to figure out what I'm going to be when I grow up, though I suspect it doesn't involve an office or more schooling or any sort of financial independence. Gah. Uh... life would be pretty DULL without me?! **

     

    *I have an Asian-American husband, Asian-American in-laws, and two Asian-American best friends and this means I talk about money in public a LOT. The cultural differences here, they are big time. 

    **I KNOOOOOOW. I KNOW I AM WORTHY AND VALUABLE EVEN IF I DON'T HAVE A PAYCHECK. I'm just saying, if I kept writing about that this blog post would be eons long. It's ALREADY eons long. I AM AMAZED YOU GOT THIS FAR. 

    November 26, 2013

    I'm allowed to finally tell you that (DUN DUN DUN):

    I prepped for this post (HAAAAA PREPPING FOR A BLOG POST!) by delving into my own archives, specifically November 2012 (the reason in a moment) and UH OH. This whole time I've been saying, "We can't have Thanksgiving at my brother's house because it's our turn to go to Phillip's parents' house! Sorry! We TAKE TURNS! We just CAN'T! And also, my mother-in-law makes sticky rice stuffing! Have you TRIED sticky rice stuffing?" But my November 2012 archives tell me that we actually went to my in-laws' last year, which means this year we should be going to my brother's house. So now I feel terrible. A wiser person than me would just keep this little historical tidbit to herself, but I have never been a good liar and even not writing about what I found out in my archives just now feels like LYING and OH GOD DID I RUIN THANKSGIVING? 

    Whatever. Phillip and I were both incredibly blessed with families who, upon finding this out, will go, "Eh." Can you imagine the kind of guilt complexes I would have if other people besides my own self were making me feel guilty? I mean CAN YOU? IMAGINE? 

    Okay. Now that I've made my little confession there (SORRY MOM) I can get on with the Main Subject of this blog post which is: 

    ... in the space of what feels like three hours, Phillip applied for, interviewed for, negotiated with, received an offer for, gave notice at his current one, and accepted the offer for: a new job. 

    *deep breath*

    And the reason I was going through my archives is because it's practically a YEAR TO THE DAY that we were happy dancing about quitting the previous job and accepting the current one! In fact I was having this existential philosophical carthasis about the whole thing. I was just so thankful the TRAVELING was going to be OVER. That things might return to normal-ish! 

    That job, that came at what felt like the last minute, that rescued our family, that sped Phillip out of a place where months later much of his team was laid off, it's been SO good to us. The commute is hell, but it wasn't until Phillip accepted the new new job that I realized how RESTFUL this year has been. For ME. There was no travel. There were no late nights. Sometimes there were 10pm conference calls to India in the office downstairs, but mostly Phillip came home in time for dinner and he knew what was going on with us and Work wasn't hanging over everything. 

    Except. Phillip likes work. And he never felt completely IN this job, I think. And there was this company that's been on his radar for a long time, a local company experiencing a lot of success and growth and one night he went out for beers with an old classmate who works there and a few days after that he was applying for a job and a few days after that he was interviewing and BAM. He wasn't really looking, he was actually in a great place with the current job, but things happen. This thing happened. Actually, what I think, is that we prayed. Not FOR the job - it's a long story and I have to get permission to tell it - but more like we were trying hard to put God in his rightful provider place in our lives and then... things started happening. I hope I get to share that. Sometime. 

    Anyway. He starts December 9. Everything is so amicable and friendly and positive and Phillip is so happy and I am so proud of him. I am delighted for him and slightly nervous for myself. I think there might be a return of Worker Bee Phillip, perhaps a disappearance of the Phillip Who Remembers To Call Me To Tell Me He'll Be Late BEFORE He Is Actually Late. This is what triggered my little anxious episode last weekend (which has completely dissipated, by the way). I stood up straight and said, "SO. I'm a little WORRIED." And told him why. And instead of an argument he said, "Huh! I see what you're saying!" 

    MIRACLES ABOUND in the Cheung household, folks. 

    September 08, 2013

    THIS is the last day of summer

    Up to this point in my year my chief achievements include, and are pretty much limited to:

    painting Emma's dresser

    spending many thousands of imaginary dollars on kitchen and bathroom renovations

    putting a slide on my deck

    memorizing all the words to 'Royals'

    getting a tan

    reading more fun fiction books than depressing nonfiction books

    but TOMORROW? Tomorrow begins the first day of Two Big Kids in School, All Day, Every Day and HOO BOY the productivity is gonna start exploding around here. First up is a trip straight to the treadmill after school drop off. EJ Cheung is going to the Kiddie Playland Paradise whether she likes it or not while I try not to die. It's been a while, folks. A long while. I hope the not dying isn't TOO painful. 

    THEN I might go to the grocery store or (be still my heart) Target. I have to buy groceries not made of carbs and/or preservatives and also Jack's classroom has requested some snacks and antibacterial wipes and glue sticks and whatnot. Then we'll come home and have some lunch and then Princess EJ will go down for her nap while I... WELL GOSH, I DON'T KNOW! Maybe I will read a book! Watch TV! Nap! HAVE A LUNCH HOUR! Or fold clothes. But I could fold clothes WHILE I watch TV and no one will be bothering me for a snack or the iPad or complaining that his/her brother/sister is breathing on him/her! 

    I'm about to bust out singing A WHOLE NEW WORRRRRRRLD! A MAGIC PLACE I NEVER KNEW! 

    But seriously, the treadmill. It needs to happen. 

    SO YEAH. Molly's first day tomorrow. Feels a little anticlimactic, but whatever, we have picked out the first day outfit and I don't expect any tears. From either of us. Well maybe a few from me, but later, in the car, after I've had enough time to Dwell. Molly might be a little anxious at first, but she's had a whole year of going to school every day and waiting to have her own classroom, she's met her teacher several times now, she's totally comfortable with the student teacher, she even seemed to have made a friend at orientation. My little preschool drop out has grown up! Sniff! 

    AND today is Phillip's birthday. He woke up this morning mumbling to himself and the only part I could make out was "thirtyFIVE?really,thirtyFIVE?" We left the kids with a babysitter last night and had ourselves a Totally Typical Night Out by which I mean we went to dinner and wandered around a fancy mall wondering what else we could spend money on. I indulged the computer stores and car stores and the half hour we watched a 3D printer make a plastic bracelet. Then today we went to my parents' house where he watched a whole football game without anyone bothering him and blew out candles on a cake from a Chinese bakery. (The sort of cake I refer to as "cake".) 

    Last year I wrote a shmoopy birthday post. This year... this year I am not making any comments about the fact that he wants to buy a very expensive Practically Professional DSLR camera when neither of us has any idea how to do anything other than point and shoot. Both things come from a place of love and eternal devotion. 

    If you would like to leave a birthday comment or send a birthday tweet, you can say something here or @ him at @pcheung. And there's no real reason to do this other than entertaining me, your trusty blogger pal, and piling up more anecdotes for my future memoir entitled The Internet Is The Best Thing Ever.

     

    June 27, 2013

    Ten

    One apartment

    +

    Three houses 

    +

    Three kids 

    +

    Three cars

    +

    Five (or six? or seven? or eight?) jobs

    +

    Nine Christmas parties

    +

    One trip to China

    +

    Two trips to Italy

    +

    Nine frillion socks on the floor

    +

    One slide

    +

    One graduate degree

    +

    Three different TiFauxs

    +

    One charming, hardworking, thoughtful, and devastingly handsome Chinese man

    +

    One neurotic, anal-retentive, nitpicky, and adorably chubby white girl

    =

    Ten years

     

    Photo (50)
    This is the only recent picture I have of just the two of us. THE ONLY ONE.

     

     

    June 06, 2013

    My one and only love

    There's been a lot of wedding talk in my chunk of Twitterland today, all on account of the divine Miss Miriel and her upcoming nuptials. It's been fun looking at everyone's wedding pictures and oohing over dresses and bugging Miriel about livetweeting her wedding. 

    And my tenth anniversary isn't for another couple of weeks so I'm not quite due for a shmoopy post, but I heard Sting singing 'Someone To Watch Over Me' in the car on the way home (KPLU evening jazz!) and how are you not supposed to feel shmoopy over that?

    I don't love any of my wedding pictures and when I think back to who I was at age almost-24 ten years ago I'm not super impressed. So much of my personality flaws were on huge display. I had absolutely no idea how to plan a wedding, no good friends who were married, and parents who still lived in Italy. I knew what I wanted and I knew what wouldn't work for me. Like buying a fancy dress and getting my hair done. I thought dress shopping would be the most humiliating thing in the world, so I enlisted my aunt to MAKE my dress - very plain, empire-waisted, nothing showy. Makeup? I put mine on in the car when I drove myself and my maid of honor to the church for pictures and got there before anyone else. I had a friend do my hair, but of course I redid it. It wasn't that I thought I didn't deserve to be pretty on my wedding day, I just didn't think I could pull it off. Me? Beautiful? In the dark part of my heart I thought I would try to look beautiful and it would fail and everyone would roll their eyes at me for making the attempt. Better to just look like myself. 

    I THOUGHT THIS.

    I was months away from a full fledged nervous breakdown, determined as I was to get this wedding thing over with and start on the real goal: Phillip and me being missionaries in China. (HA HA HA.) 

    My future best friends wanted to be involved so badly and tried to do so much for me, but I was embarrassed that I didn't already have the standard flock of bridesmaids to take care of everything so I blew them off. 

    At no point in the process did I EVER want to appear needy, lonely, like I didn't know what I was doing. The more unsure I was about something the more sureness I faked. 

    I liked my wedding! I did. It was exactly me at that point in time. It was low key, heavy appetizers, lots of wine, no garters or bouquet toss, on the water in my favorite city. The one element that I would absolutely a million times over do again was the jazz trio and the girl singer. So there wasn't any crazy dancing at my wedding, but we had the music that started things off. 

    The first summer I knew him, Phillip spent eight weeks in China. And during that entire 8 weeks, even though we were barely friends, much less dating, I listened to a CD he'd made for me before he left. It sounds like he liked me, right? But Phillip was 1) super into whatever was the newest technological thing, which at that time was burning CDs and 2) super into music, all kinds, especially music no one knew much about, like romantic jazz standards. He made a lot of CDs. I spent that entire summer listening to Sting sing 'My One And Only Love' on repeat, daydreaming, wondering if there was any other guy in the entire world who even KNEW that song. (Besides Sting.)

    I was an insecure, nervous, fearful, prideful girl, but somehow I managed to fall in love with the right guy. Even more amazing, he wanted to marry me

    So I didn't get it all wrong. We started dating knowing that we'd probably get married - not because we were super churchy even then (although we were) but because we both completely abhorred the idea of ever going through a breakup. If we were doing this we were doing this. He was as serious as me, and in just the same way, in which we couldn't imagine doing it differently. AND he liked Gershwin.

    We danced to 'My One And Only Love' at our wedding and I will never hear that song - or Sting singing any jazz standard - without swooning. It's just... everything. Some people have amazing photography or exquisite dresses. I have this song. 

    At the time I felt too young, and when I look back I think: thank goodness. I couldn't continue to be so insecure, nervous, fearful, and prideful because now it affected him. I'm a better person because of him. I am more. I think the two of us, we are so much better together. 

    I think about who I was when I got married and the truth is that I didn't know I could be anyone different. I know I would have grown up somehow anyway, but because I married Phillip? My heart expanded in ways that didn't exist before him. 

    February 12, 2013

    Kindergarten homework

    IS STUPID. Seriously! Who knows what that picture is! WE HAVE NO IDEA. Today we were trying to figure out the begnning and ending sound of a word, three letters, middle letter E, with a picture of... a paint brush? In a puddle of paint?  Ten minutes later Phillip shouted, "RED! It's a black and white copy! RED! RED!"

    Then there was a picture of a diamond. Blank E BLANK. Gem, right? It's gem. What kindergartner knows the word gem? GEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS IS NOT ON ANYMORE.

    Jack said, "I think it's JEWEL," and then Phillip says, "no, I think it's GEM. JEWEL has too many letters."

    So then Jack asks, "How do you spell JEWEL?" 

    Phillip says, "J - E - W - L." 

    And I say, from the kitchen where I am bent over a sink full of dirty dishes, wiping the sweat from my brow, realizing that not only must I cook the meals and do the dishes I must also be responsible for ALL THE SPELLING: "OH. MY. GAWD. PHILLIP CHEUNG. J-E-W-E-L."

    "Oh right," Phillip says. 

    "How come you don't know how to spell JEWEL," Jack asks. "You must not be a grown up." 

    I KNOW, JACK. I KNOW. 

    Oh, as I'm typing this, Jack, who is still doing his homework, comes over to me shouting, "THIS DOESN'T MAKE SEEEEEEENSE!!!"

    I look over it and say, "I don't understand. Everything's right. You did a good job."

    He goes, "But WHY do I have to do six plus one so many TIMES when I already KNOW IT?"

    #snotbrat

    December 09, 2012

    It'll be ten years in June

    Well HALLO, Internet! It's nice to see you! Tonight, apropos of absolutely nothing, I have decided to tell you about my first date. 

    OH WAIT! I HAVE NEVER BEEN ON A FIRST DATE! WITH ANYONE! So actually I have decided to tell you all about how bitter I am that I have never been on a first date. Ever. Possibly I need to write a song about it, in the spirit of an indignant red lipsticked Taylor Swift. 

    I know you are wondering how one eventually ends up married if one has never been on a first date. I WILL TELL YOU. 

    But first: the history of the nonexistent date. (ANY DATE! FOR SHAME!) 

    Shockingly I somehow acquired a boyfriend when I was fourteen. I knew he was my first real boyfriend because we didn't break up after three days. He was sixteen, which I now think is TERRIBLE, and he had a CAR, which is even WORSE. I'm positive I have committed the entire relationship to a journal somewhere, but I have yet to open those boxes labeled MAGGIE'S HIGH SCHOOL STUFF that my parents evicted from their garage years ago, so I'm a bit fuzzy on the details. Fourteen-year-old me is horrified by this, by the way, but fourteen-year-old me thought she would marry THAT guy so who cares what she thinks.

    Anyway, did not go on any first dates with that guy. I don't even remember how we started hanging out all the time. I was basically not allowed to do anything or go anywhere or have any fun, especially with him, so it's possible this entire "relationship" took place in the school hallways. Except for that one time I DID ride in his car and got CAUGHT ha ha ha - I 1) still feel guilty about this and 2) am still irritated with the friend of my parents who told on me. NEARLY TWENTY YEARS LATER. 

    (OMG. TWENTY YEARS?)

    So. No first date there. 

    And thennnnn, there is no date to tell you about, on account of there being no boys wanting to TAKE me on dates. WOUNDED SIGH.

    Oh, there were boys I I liked in high school, but they did not like me. When I think about them now my only feeling is relief. Spare me the teenage boys! I overheard a few of them at the mall today and thought to myself, "Why did you ever think THAT specimen of human being was AT ALL attractive?" 

    There were the two or three guys who liked me, but who I thought were weird/annoying/dumb/unattractive/etc. and therefore ignored (nicely). I'm guessing those are the guys who now entertain Victoria's Secret models on their private islands. There was the guy who told me, at our graduation party, that he had really liked me at one point but was totally intimidated by me. At the time I was confused and offended, but now I just think I must have been THAT smart and beautiful. I mean, OBVS, right?!

    Oh, and the guy I mooned over my entire senior year, who was dating someone else. TRAGEDY! He lived in my town and secretly liked me back and once we met up in our tiny town square (remember I lived in podunk Northern Italy) to drink beer and eat pizza at the one pizzeria. Well, he ordered beer. I thought beer was gross and also I was determined to be a Very Good Girl after that whole riding-in-cars-with-boys fiasco a few years before. 

    NOT A DATE.

    Then I went to COLLEGE which was, like, a million frillion percent better than high school, but there was still nobody who wanted to take me on a date. Woe. Sometimes when I look at pictures of myself in college I think, "Well, no WONDER." Even so, I wasn't particularly interested in anyone. There were heaps of Possibilities, you know, but none of them struck me as Worthwhile. 

    Until, of course, I met Phillip Cheung. SECOND WOUNDED SIGH. I liked him from almost the first second, but it was two years of getting to know each other, hanging out in big groups, killing time in each other's dorm rooms, being Just Friends, wondering if he would EVER EVER like me back. And you guys, I know there are SEVERAL journals worth of Phillip Angst, but we're just going to keep those boxed up until I die and then my grandchildren can find them and make fun of me. 

    By the time Phillip finally admitted to himself that I was the most perfect girl in the entire world and the only one for him, there was no need for a first date. When we went out it was just doing the things we'd always done before, only this time he paid. 

    Phillip's take on this, since he just asked me what I was writing about and I told him the truth, is: "Well, I was so great there wasn't really any need for a first date."

    Also, in case you haven't figured this out, Phillip and I aren't really the, ah, frivolous sorts. As in, I AM HIS FIRST REAL GIRLFRIEND. Someone had an even worse dating track record than me! I didn't know it at the time, but we're definitely both the sort of person who doesn't want to even bother unless it's Serious. That might be why it took him so long - deciding to date me was tantamount to assuming we'd get married. 

    And yeah, we got married and had three perfect children and he has a Career and I'm a SAHM and everything worked out just fine, but man, sometimes I'm watching a TV date and I'm BITTER! I wanted a TV-style date! I wanted someone to ask ME out and be Pleasantly Surprised and Flattered! I wanted an awkward kiss goodnight on a New York City stoop! WAH!

    Instead I Pined for two years until I wore him down. And he didn't even PROPOSE, people, we were having a big FIGHT about when to get married and instead of a proposal we were both like, "FINE! LET'S DO IT NOW! HAPPY?!"

    (Obvs that is another blog post. That I'm sure I've written two or three times. Sigh.)

    I LOVE YOU, PHILLIP! 

    Anyway. This post is brought to you by the fact that it's Sunday night, Phillip is going out for beers with some friends, which he can do because he's not nursing an ulcer about going to work on Monday, and I am quite content to stay home with a bowl of popcorn and my TiFaux, and we are very terribly happy. 

    December 05, 2012

    I, on the other hand, remember it well

    Sometimes I like to read what everyone else is reading, even if it's months past when everyone else is talking about it. I put a digital copy of What Alice Forgot on hold at the library and the other night when there was absolutely nothing to watch on TV I thought, fine, I'll start reading a book

    It wasn't the best book I've ever read and it certainly wasn't the worst, so when I was all done I was confused (again!) by how STRESSED OUT and IRRITATED I was. How AFFECTED I was. "What's your DEAL, Self?" I asked myself. "CHILLAX."

    But I thought about it most of the day and I realized: oh. That's why. So you see, due to a head injury, Alice has forgotten the last 10 years of her life. (WAIT! SPOILER! DO NOT KEEP READING IF YOU WANT TO READ THE BOOK! I HAVE WARNED YOU!) Ten years ago she was young, pregnant, blissfully happily married, excited for the future. But the Alice of the Ten Years Into The Future, the REAL Alice, she's a half-psychotic supermom with three kids and a fancy house and a husband who works all the time... and travels... and takes a lot of phone calls... and she sort of emotionally divests herself from him... and then they SEPARATE. ACK.

    Hey did you like how I said "emotionally divests"? And I've never even taken a psych class. 

    Anyway, this gnaws at me. Clearly I am still processing The Year Of Too Much Business Travel. I am beyond thrilled that Phillip is at a new place doing new stuff, he feels like there's potential, and the environment, the expectations, the "culture" seems so different. He hasn't been there long enough to know and it's not like he'll never get on a plane for work again, but it's a huge [and good, I think] change. But I don't think I have fully switched over from Single Parenting Every Other Week to Daddy Is Home At Five Every Day. 

    I feel terrible, because it's not like Phillip was DEPLOYED. It's not like his job WAS in Atlanta and he only came home on the weekends. (I know people who have arrangements like this and do it for years.) He got so much better at communicating vague travel plans and I never felt jerked around by his work. And even though he was consistently traveling once a month for a year, the excessive travel, the several weeks per month only started happening in September. That was only three months. When we knew there was an end point. Halfway through we knew it wasn't just the end of crazy travel but an entirely new JOB waiting at the end. When he made sure to be around on the weekends and made it possible for ME to go on a FUN trip by myself for five days. 

    It seems like such a short term thing - why does it feel like a big deal still? Why does it feel like something to process at all? 

    I think it's the way I coped with it all. In the beginning, when he first started these 4 and 5-day-long business trips, I would silently freak out about them for weeks ahead of time. (If I KNEW about it weeks ahead of time, I suppose!) The anticipation was always harder than the actual event. I think I got used to it, sort of, then we went and had EJ and I got terrified all over again. EJ was only about two months old the first time he left me at home with three. She was a horrible sleeper, the whole thing WAS horrible, I had to plan to spend almost the whole week with my parents when he went away again the next month. (That was better.) 

    By September and October of this year, I didn't even bat an eye. It's not like I was HAPPY about it or anything, but I felt resigned. It wasn't Phillip's fault, after all. He didn't seem to be as affected by work travel as I was, but this was still his job, the way I got to stay home with my kids, the way we paid the mortgage. And I was capable. I could do all the school stuff by myself. I could do all the meals and bedtime. I could do a wet bed and a bloody nose and an awake-for-no-reason baby all in one night. I made embarrassingly easy dinners, I put the kids to bed as early as possible, we made plans with friends and family, and I savored that alone time at the end of the day when I was finally done and there was no one else around to take care of except myself. Single parenting wasn't so bad. I could handle it just fine. 

    What's weird now, I think, is that even though I don't HAVE to single parent anymore, it's still sort of my first plan of attack. How do I take care of this thing? How do I manage all of these people? I forget to factor Phillip into all of that. 

    So when he comes back and decides that he's going to try a new discipline approach with Jack, or suggests I do something differently with Emma, or points out something I forgot or ignored I'm RATHER TOUCHY. I'm like this anyway (don't you try to tell me I'm wrong!) but I feel even more sensitive. Like, "HEY, WE WERE JUST FINE WITHOUT YOU." 

    And that's... horrible. Horrible! I don't want that! 

    I didn't really know how else to deal with the business travel, and now I see it affecting things afterward. I need to get out of this mindset where I am only and forever in charge, where parenting WITH someone is better for everyone. And I don't have to tell myself it's not important just so I can manage to do it alone. 

    Phillip feels differently... I'm not exactly sure how it all lines up, but from what he says, it seems that he feels he was fully present when he was home and it wasn't like he was gone ALL the time and he was still a part of things. And he WAS... but I think when he was here, especially the last few months, I was just preparing for him to leave again. I never got comfortable. I made sure to spend plenty of time alone, without kids AND my husband. I didn't want to be angry and resentful all the time, and it seemed like the only way to do that was to act/feel/think like I was just fine doing this on my own, I didn't need him anyway. 

    So I wasn't angry and resentful. Honestly. I was many things, but I was not angry or blaming him. Whatever I did, it worked. It's just that now that it's over, it's proving hard to go back. 

    November 27, 2012

    This post was NOT sponsored by Cupcake Prosecco but it SHOULD have been

    I had a fabulous Thanksgiving, Internet. It was delicious, delightful, and rawther drinky. A long time ago I was into this book called Things You Need To Be Told by the Etiquette Grrls - oh dear, I seem to have fallen into an Amazon reviewer wormhole. People think this book is pretentious! People think gin and tonics are boring! People are not fans of Random Capitalization! (QUELLE HORREUR!) Well, here's my contribution to the reviews: LIGHTEN UP! 

    So ANYWAY, I was super into this hilariously pretentious etiquette book and one of the things the authors recommend as a good time is A Very Boozy Thanksgiving, wherein you invite all your orphaned friends for a giant (and very boozy) dinner. I have always wanted to do this, but it's sort of unseemly to do in front of your grandmother, right?

    BUT! This Thanksgiving? I opened the wine before dinner at my in-laws'. As the only real wine drinker at the gathering you feel a little silly opening the wine at, say, 2pm, but C'MON IT'S THANKSGIVING. You guys, I have the best in-laws. I stood on a chair to get the bottle down from the fancy rack and they're all, "Yes! Open it!" And it's THANKSGIVING, but they don't want you to help, they don't even really seem to care if you keep an eye on your own children, you're just supposed to sit down and relax and maybe read the Black Friday ads. The most I've ever done at my in-laws' is set the table, and that's not for lack of TRYING to help, lest you think I am a lazypants. No, I'm offering to help cook, to wash dishes, to wipe up, wipe down, clear, what have you, and they just act like I'm really super duper hilarious. Wash dishes? HO HO! Go sit down and put your feet up! FIL will do the dishes! He LIKES doing the dishes!

    Yeah. Good times. I also like holidays at my in-laws' because Phillip has a pair of college age cousins I find charming and hysterical and one of my very favorite Thanksgiving Quotes was when the college senior said, "So Phillip, you're like, what? 28?" HAAAAAAA!!! HA! HA! HA!

    (That means they think I'm 27!)

    Oh wait! I forgot to tell you about Thanksgiving EVE aka Phillip's Last Day of Work! It was splendid. My sisters and one of my BILs came over after the kids went to bed and we put away two trays of nachos, half a pan of easy toffee bars, some red wine, and a bottle of Cupcake Prosecco. YOU GUYS. I have never been a big fan of white and/or sparkling wine. I mean, if there's nothing else, I'll drink it. But it's not my favorite, and when there are toasts I usually take a few sips of champagne and move on to the good stuff. HOWEVER. Cupcake Prosecco was quite possibly the most delicious thing I tasted all week and OH MY perhaps I should fork over a few extra dollars when I go to buy something champagne-like! I wanted to get something nice to celebrate and it was lovely. 

    So! Thanksgiving? Good. The next day was a huge terrible boring-as-heck rainstorm and I took the kids to see Brave, which was also terrible and boring-as-heck. I did not mind at all when Molly got scared and demanded to leave in the middle. Then, as we do, we last-minute-invited friends for dinner and GUESS WHAT. THEY BROUGHT CUPCAKE PROSECCO. BEST FRIENDS EVER. 

    Side note: not many of my super good real life friends are the drinky sorts, so the fact that @lizritz absolutely never blinks an eye when I refill her wine glass makes her, like, triply precious. 

    Saturday? Saturday was wine with my two sisters at the Sound of Music singalong movie, which all of you should experience at least once in your lives. It was a riot. Also, I STILL DO NOT HAVE A DRIVER'S LICENSE! GROWN UP FAIL! I never ever tried to buy alcohol before age 21 (I SWEAR), but in the last week I purchased alcohol three times without an ID - once at the grocery store, where I gave a nervous giggle and they passed me through anyway (I AM THIRTY-THREE AND LOOK IT), once at the Sound of Music where I got my sister to buy my glass of wine, and once AFTER the singalong, when we went to happy hour and I only ordered a drink because the waitress didn't card anyone ELSE. Except then she carded EVERYONE. (I got my drink anyway. And left a large tip. GAH.) (My inner rule follower: DYYYYYYING.) (The waitress says I could totally use my sister's ID by the way. Which is funny, since I'm FOUR YEARS OLDER.)

    Sunday? What was Sunday? There was probably more wine. 

    It was just a very CELEBRATORY handful of days, Internet. VERY fun. VERY cheery. VERY "Look At Me Deleting All My Work Email Off My Phone Forever And Ever!" I know this post is obnoxiously WINE WINE PROSECCO MORE WINE! but really, I just felt like we were celebrating every day. The entire goal for the weekend was: Have as excellent a time as possible. GOAL ACCOMPLISHED.

    Phillip started his new job on Monday, but since he's doing an online training the first week, an online training that starts on East Coast time, he's doing it from home. Not even going to the office. Weird! But that just meant today he was done at 3:30, like REALLY done, no phone calls, no emergency texts, no conference calls at weird times. And we've just been hanging out all day and tomorrow is more of the same. It's crazy. I know he'll have to go to the office NEXT week, but today I made Cherry Cabernet Brownies with a red wine ganache JUST BECAUSE IT SEEMED LIKE THE RIGHT THING TO DO. 

    November 20, 2012

    T-Three Hours

    Three more hours until Phillip is home. 

    I think... if this wasn't the end of all the travel insanity? I'd be out of my mind. Single parenting feels like the norm. Totally taking care of the house and making all the domesticky decisions on my own is the norm. Making decisions about the kids without consulting Phillip? The norm. Collapsing on the couch after I've put the kids to bed and dragging myself to bed ten minutes later? Very much the norm. I am actually worried about what it will be like to live together again. I hope that doesn't sound TOO dramatic, I mean, it's not like we're a military family and he's been deployed for 12 months. But I 1) most definitely did not sign up for this and 2) hate that it feels NORMAL! What will it be like to have that fifth person around again?! This is not the way I want things to be. I can't believe what the last three months have been like. If he wasn't quitting I'd be SO ANGRY.

    Honestly, even if he wasn't starting a completely new job, the end would probably be near. A super huge project is going live, everything happens in Atlanta, and things keep getting pushed back, but still, next year if he were still working there, it most likely wouldn't be travel at this level. At least he has a job. At least I get to do what I want to do. I didn't have to go to New Orleans for five days. Get over yourself, Self.

    But that's what we've been telling ourselves for a while now, that this is just a little aberration and things will even out an go back to normal. Except: this IS the new normal. I was talking to Liz last night and she said something like "you just went straight from grad school to business trips" and I was all YEAH I DID! I don't want to throw myself a huge pity party here or anything, but I usually err on the side of Not Acknowledging When Things Have Been Crazy And/Or Hard and it's GOOD for me to say: Dude. This has been mildly unpleasant.

    That said... Maybe it was the five days away with internet friends, maybe it was knowing that the end is near, maybe it was God giving me a little badly needed grace, maybe I just tried to be a grown up for once, but I've been surprised at how easy the last two weeks have been. Even the last two days, with Jack at home instead of in kindergarten - I'm really having FUN with these kids. Sure, they're still bickering and making giant messes and wanting three meals a day, but I've, like, PLAYED with them. We've made a serious amount of cookies.* We've read stories and made crafts and you guys I HATE doing crafts. We've laughed a LOT. We've had FUN. 

    And wow, I love my husband. I mean, that's sort of required. But in the same way I've sort of been kept from freaking out on him, I feel like he's been kept from stressing out on me and needing more than I feel like I can give. I came home from NOLA talking about all the people I was going to visit - on my own, for days at a time, with money in our savings account - and he was all, "Yeah, you really should do that." He's the one who told me I should go volunteer for a week at this crazy missions conference in St. Louis. I just feel so lucky.

    I did not start this post thinking, "I will write about what I'm thankful for!" But it appears that I did. I'm thankful for my 100%-supportive-of-my-extracurriculars husband. My silly kids. My sweet baby. Our filthy house and Jack's school and two sets of grandparents who never say no to watching our kids. 

    His last day is tomorrow. There's a bottle of champagne in the fridge for when he gets home. I may decide he needs to take me shopping for diamonds in the evening, as thanks for my wifely sacrifices. Or maybe we'll just watch four straight episodes of Homeland, go to bed early, and enjoy having to do absolutely nothing for Thanksgiving at his parents' house. 

    I am REALLY thankful I have this place to write it all out, and continually yet happily mystified that people read it. 

     

    *Peppermint Wreaths
    Chocolate Crinkles
    Easy Toffee Bars
    Cranberry Bliss Bars
    English Jam Bars
    Red & Green Thumbprints
    Salted Caramel Thumbprints
    Sugar Cookies (not yet decorated)
    and 
    Fudge 

    Previously

    Archives

    Credits