Places

In which I steal my own private jet

TypePad is SUPPOSED to email me when someone comments here, but I didn't get any emails about yesterday's post and I was feeling pretty dumb. Until I stopped by my little command center to write something new (have to get that embarrassing post off the front page! gah!) and saw all the nice things you said and all the people who were totally cool about those wacky Catholics and SIGH. I really love my dorky little corner of the web. 

Tonight I am looking at airfares. I have to say, I don't really recommend it if you're already of a high strung nature. Points being: 

I had EVERY intention of tagging along on Phillip's latest work trip, a couple of days in Sacramento to tour some workplace facility (it's where they house the robots? keep the secret codes? I don't know) and you know this is where my favorite Princess Nebraska lives and I was IN! But then holy cow, it's $300 to fly from Seattle to Sacramento and also the trip got cut to one day and BOO. BOO I SAY.

Next I was looking at flights to NOLA for the Blathering and YIKES. Five hundred dollars! Worse: no direct flights! So I'm looking at leaving at the crack of dawn and arriving with hardly any time to hang out on Thursday night. Unacceptable! I'll start my letter writing campaign tomorrow. 

THEN I was looking at flights to St. Louis. Becaaaaaaaause I am kind of sort of super leaning towards attending Urbana the week after Christmas. Urbana, for those of you too lazy to click, is this ginormous student missions conference that happens every three years. I never went to it when I was in school, mainly because 1) it cost several hundred dollars and 2) I spent my Christmas breaks in EUROPE not MISSOURI and 3) I was going to be a starving unpublished author when I grew up and starving unpublished authors are far too navel-gazing to do missionary work, are you kidding?

Do not fear, Internet, I am far too navel-gazing NOW, in addition to soft, lazy, and extremely fond of American convenience food, to become a missionary. I actually have the opportunity to attend as a full time volunteer for prayer ministry. Remember my friend Pancakes and how she is a muckity muck in the NDCF - she has to go to Urbana for WORK. And somehow she passed me off as a worthy and dedicated alumni so I could go with her. I just got the This Is How You Register! email from the prayer ministry lady today and now I am in A State. 

PROS: 

  1. HOW AWESOME WOULD IT BE! OH SO AWESOME! I can't even imagine what it would be like to pray with these hard core prayer people. This really is an incredible opportunity for me. If my mini-experience in Portland is anything to go by, I would learn SO MUCH. It'd be intimidating, but I think it's fair and not TOO dramatic to say it's potentially life changing as well. 
  2. Pancakes and I would have a big fat huge BLAST.

CONS:

  1. It's six days/five nights long! Gah! I have never been away from my kids that long. Phillip has never taken care of them on his own for that long. I'd leave early Thursday morning and come back Tuesday night. THAT IS A LONG TIME. Even with the weekend in the middle of it, meaning Phillip wouldn't have to take a whole week off, even with help from grandparents, that just feels like a LOT of hard work and time for something that is essentially a Fun Trip Just For Me. 
  2. I'm responsible for airfare, lodging, and meals. I'm not all that worried about hotel and food expenses, but airfare is pricey. Again, all that money (or frequent flyer miles that we could save for that ten year anniversary trip with the kids) JUST FOR ME.
  3. AND I'LL HAVE JUST GONE TO THE BLATHERING! As I type this I'm reading responses to my "Woe is me, tickets to NOLA are so expensive and have horrible timing!" tweet and one "solution" seems to be to leave a day early and stay overnight in a connecting city, or even road trip, and OOOH THAT SOUNDS FUN TOO! But no! That is too much time! That is too much fun! That is too much for just MEEEEE. 

Self-indulgence... it weighs a lot.

P.S. My husband, because he is made of amazing, is Pro Maggie Going Pretty Much Anywhere To Do Anything Awesome. I mean, he is a TEENY bit perturbed about SIX DAYS AWAY, but he's been really supportive about "what a great opportunity". And he DOES have a bazillion frequent flyer miles, right? Think a bazillion is enough for two nearly-cross-country flights? 

 Blargh. I have to decide this soon.


Where I brought a BABY to a BAR

HOLA INTERNET! Did you miss me? I've been very busy. Very busy NAPPING. 

I went to Venice!

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Well, Fake Venice, where the canals are chlorinated and the signs all point the right way and there is no St. Mark's in St. Mark's Square and there are heaps of tourists who aren't wearing enough clothing. 

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Well, I suppose that last one is true of Real Venice too. 

So, I know perfectly well that I'm supposed to hate Las Vegas or at least feel prudishly superior to it, but I can't. I love it so. The corrupted Disney-ness of the entire place just fills me with glee. I could seriously wander around inside those cavernous Houses of Sin with the fake blue sky and luxury shops for hours - in fact, that is exactly what I did. My 48-hour vacation basically took place in my hotel and the sidewalk in front of my hotel. 

There ARE other ridiculous hotels and casinos to visit on the Strip and ordinarily I would have dragged Phillip to every one (the sky! I LOVE THE PAINTED SKY!), but I had a somewhat rigorous napping schedule. 

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It's her fault. 

But really, there is not a more perfect baby than that one right there. She was a dream. A chubby ball of joy. AN ANGEL. This kid easily fell asleep in her father's arms mere minutes before our flight took off, slept the entire way, then took another nap when we reached the hotel, waking just in time for an evening stroll about the [crazy huge] premises. Then she proceeded to charm the socks off all of Las Vegas. Quite possibly my favorite part of the trip was all the "She is SO ADORABLE!" comments I got from everyone from hotel staff to the random dude in the elevator. Am I bragging? Well, I don't do it that often, so whatever, MY BABY IS THE CUTEST I AM TOTALLY BUYING HER A PONY. 

Honestly though, she was SO EASY. She slept super duper crappy at night, but she sleeps super duper crappy at night when we're home, too. But during the day she was a breeze. She went down so easy for her naps, was always happy to hang out in the stroller, didn't mind the outdoor furnace or the frigid inside AC or the arid desert air that was slowly killing her mother's will to live. (I'm a Pacific Northwesterner. I am basically made of mold.)

There was a lot of napping, a lot of exploring the Venetian and the Palazzo - by the way, we stayed in the Palazzo, in a [crazy amazing] room that looked identical to the pictures of the rooms on the Venetian website. I spent a stupid amount of time trying to figure out if they were separate entities or what. Ashley, who is a Las Vegas NATIVE, who took herself and her three small children to the Strip just to hang out with ME (SHE IS CRAZY) informed me that basically two people own everything on the Strip so it really doesn't matter if it's separate or not. Point taken. 

Also, Ashley was so awesome to come hang out with me while Phillip was working and I continue to have a 100% success rate on Internet People, Fantabulousness Of - except for the part where her terribly cute identical twin girls and baby boy with baby angel halo hair totally stole EJ's limelight. 

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You can see why. I DIED OF CUTE.

Phillip was giving presentations all afternoon on Wednesday (WORKING! IN VEGAS!) (Actually, I have all these THOUGHTS about corporate conferences and events in places like LAS VEGAS) so there was more napping. We did make it to the pool one time - EJ was very suspicious of that situation. But there was a lot of hanging out on the brown velvet sectional (!) in our room:

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WORKING? WHATEVS.

Oh, I suppose I should mention that I probably gained one pound per hour and I should probably go to therapy for something I've decided to call Vacation Gluttony. It starts at the airport, when you think: I have to get on AIRPLANE, and that SUCKS, so I should probably buy myself a treat. And continues at the hotel, where you think: When will I get to go out to dinner and order dessert in such a fun place again! Or: This is going to be a long nap - I better get a snack. Or: I ate a chocolate bar for breakfast, so I might as well eat my weight in pastries for lunch, yes? 

This is a SERIOUS PROBLEM. I've decided to solve it by 1) not wearing pants for the next month and 2) going off carbs. FOR REALZ THIS TIME FTLOG.

The baby was a bit fussier on the ride home, which was unfortunate as I was sitting next to a Prim Older Woman who, upon seeing that her seatmates brought a baby, did not bother to hide her Utter Self-Pity at her Utter Unfortunate Circumstances. Which, okay. FINE. I might be a little nervous about sitting next to a baby on an airplane too. BUT I WOULD NOT SHOW IT!!! I might even act overly sympathetic or interested in the baby or anything to show the parents that I was On Their Side because NEWSFLASH: the parents do not want a crying baby either! Possibly one of the parents needed an extra dose of anxiety medication for this exact potential scenario! 

Emma did cry a teeny bit, two different times, but not very loud and not very long and I made extra sure not to unnecessarily bother the woman next to me and she was STILL A PILL. And when we were getting off the plane she picked up Emma's sweatshirt, which I hadn't noticed I'd dropped, and wordlessly flung it into my lap. 

Phillip thinks I am oversensitive. Please see the above photo for what I think of that. 

Okay I have a LOT to say about a LOT of things, but this is what I will say for now and I missed you and I hope this wasn't the most boring vacation blog post on earth and I tried to post pictures for just that reason even though they are PHONE pictures and not even of the Instagram variety so therefore TOTALLY INFERIOR PICTURES but I tried! We'll chat later! Bye! (NO MORE CARBS! I MEAN IT!)


The hottest day in Seattle is Palm Springs in January

When you're a native Pacific Northwesterner, who has never lived more than an hour away from a Large Body of Water, and at one point lived mere steps away from an OCEAN, and who now regularly maneuvers her vehicle around several annoying lakes just to go SHOPPING, flying to Palm Springs was a freaky mind trip. Perhaps you did not know this, but THERE IS NO WATER IN THE DESERT. 

Sights like that make me panicky. Like I start envisioning Wile E. Coyote-type scenes where it's just desert and animal skulls for miles and miles. I get like this when we drive to EASTERN WASHINGTON so the ACTUAL DESERT gives me the shakes. 

But then you fly OVER Palm Springs and it's this swanky, midcentury Oasis. I kept pointing out giant green square (with a hotel in the middle) after giant green square (with a golf course and a hotel in the middle) to my friends. I don't know. It was just sort of fascinating. I know. I'm a dork. I'm a dork from one of the greenest places on Earth. 

And then we touched down and I instantly felt out of place. I needed to be of Retirement Age, attached to a Paunchy Balding Man in belted khaki shorts and white tennis shoes, with a vodka cranberry in my hand. (Although, you know what I can say for the Paunchy Balding Men of Palm Springs, they all appeared to be with women who looked like their wives rather than their secretaries.) (MAD MEN NEEDS TO HURRY UP AND GET ON MY TELEVISION.) 

So anyway, my friends and I took a taxi to a hotel that was actually as snazzy as it looked in the pictures. Aaaand, we never left. Well, there was Saturday morning when we walked into town and found breakfast, but mostly we were at the hotel doing a whole lot of nothing. It was mahvelous. 

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SWOON

We read, we talked, we ate at the hotel restaurant (twice - it was SO GOOD), and I'm glad I bought a bathing suit because DO YOU SEE THAT POOL. 

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Oh hello most perfect bath tub in the universe. Please come visit me.

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I threatened to put my friends on the blawg, but only one of them appears in my handful of phone photos and you all know I'm completely incapable of putting pictures from my CAMERA onto the COMPUTER. Anyway, this is my friend who knocked on my door the first week of my freshman year of college and is basically responsible for sucking me into four years of NDCF and we are going to call her Pancakes. Because:

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we ate that mountain of pancakes. Each of those pancakes is bigger than my head. I think we ate some fruit. But mostly pancakes. And we ate them POOLSIDE in our BATHING SUITS in UPPER SEVENTY DEGREE WEATHER in JANUARY. WHY DID I COME HOME?

Oh right

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You guys, Phillip did SO AWESOME. I think the kids did pretty well too. Emma had one good night and one not so good night, and I missed her SO MUCH, but I'm also really glad I left her at home. I think it was great for Phillip to have the experience of taking care of the kids on his own, and I think it was fun for them too. I knew he'd be fine taking care of them, no worries there. I did miss her, and all the super cute babies at our hotel did not help, but I was fine. (Except for the pumping. HAAAATE.) Anyway, I knew that Phillip would be awesome with the kids but, uh, not so much with the rest of the housewifely duties, ie: cleaning anything. Except! My house was spotless when I came home. SPOTLESS. For this we will thank my blessed mother-in-law who visited Sunday afternoon before they picked me up at the airport. Seriously. I was SO HAPPY ABOUT THIS. 

Pretty much the only negative thing I have to say about my trip was that my Kindle Fire mysteriously stopped working on the plane ride home. BUMMER. I had to get out my OLD Kindle (which I brought because it has the e-ink screen which I would need to read outside in the SUN, I know, shut up me) and reread the first half of Prep, which might be even more awesome than the first time I read it. But even that, I mean, most of the time we were using it to hook our other friend on Downton Abbey, which was super fun. Speaking of, Pancakes does not think Matthew Crawley is cute. !!! 

Anyway, I'm super glad I went. Sunshine brings me out of many a funk, and I'm glad I didn't bring Emma. I may start lobbying for a Blathering 2013: Palm Springs. We can all pretend to be trophy wives!

 

 


The Snowbound Edition

You guys, I don't remember when we had enough snow to make snowmen. Or the right KIND of snow. And I have made TWO people-sized snowmen so far. I've dragged my kids around on a plastic disc borrowed from our friendly neighbors. I've oohed and ahhed over the winter wonderland that is my tree-filled neighborhood. I've put hats and mittens in the dryer. I've made many cups of hot cocoa for the kids. I've exchanged the "isn't this NEAT!" happy face with the not-friendly neighbors, because snow on a holiday weekend IS pretty neat. 

But now I am over it. To be honest, I am over it as soon as it begins falling, because Seattle is not known for its snow-handling abilities, both practical (the city continually falls down on the snow job) and emotional (I've seen ninety-thousand cars slide down Capitol Hill streets into downtown on the news thus far.) Also it means I am stuck. 

See, Seattle's kind of weird, in that it will snow in certain pockets of town, or the snow will miss entire ribbons of neighborhoods, or it will DUMP in one particular area and only dust another. It started falling on Saturday and by Sunday morning it was pretty clear that we were not going to church OR the baptism reception for which I bought a VERY CUTE PRESENT. Disappointing! 

Usually you're fine once you get out of the side streets, but according to the news, our chunk of I-5 was a skating rink. Also, our side streets are BAD. My side street is a VERY STEEP HILL and even though it's one seven millionth of a mile long, it's still a launching point for flying into a house and/or sliding backwards into the creek. For this reason Phillip parked HIS car (did I tell you we have two cars now? gah) on the street above the steep hill, like everyone else on the two cul-de-sacs below. 

So we're not STUCK stuck. Phillip could drive out and get us whatever we needed (although he'd still have to make it off the side streets and they are gleaming sheets of white). But for all intents and purposes I AM STUCK and I am stuck here with THREE RESTLESS CHILDREN and there is only so long we can all do this. 

It was fine when Phillip was home this weekend. He's actually still home. He's WORKING from home, which you may all agree is worse than being at work. I used to think it was awesome that he could work from home, but now I know it just means he's HERE but UNAVAILABLE. I do a lot of stomping and shouting when he works from home, just so he KNOWS. 

But anyway. Hopefully this will all be over by the time Phillip leaves for his trip on Sunday morning. Right, God? 

I haven't been doing much of anything except, oh, standing in every room in my house deciding how I will decorate/redecorate/remodel/redesign. It's a sickness. Especially because I have every intention of DOING these things. It's not just, "Oh, wouldn't it be fun if we knocked down this wall?!" Like, I want to email the dudes who took out the fireplace and ask HOW MUCH WOULD IT COST TO KNOCK DOWN THIS WALL. 

I spent a couple hours yesterday planning and measuring for a wall of DIY built in bookcases, before I realized that Ikea only sold one style of bookcase in the depth we want (as far as I can tell anyway, feel free to refute!) and my plan would not work after all. I did a lot of computery work. I folded a lot of laundry. I made brownies which was BAD because 1) I'm still hoping to lose four pounds by my trip (HA HA HA!) and 2) I am beginning to suspect that eating copious amounts of chocolate makes my baby uncomfortable... 

BECAUSE SHE WAS UP ALL NIGHT AGAIN. This is not helping with the snow. She is actually sleeping better during the DAY, which is great. That's helping a lot. She's even napping in her bed again, after we tried it out one day and she slept three amazing hours. So. Better during the day, but still crap at night. Even though we 1) moved her into her own room and own bed/car seat and 2) I am no longer nursing her in bed and 3) we tank her up as much as possible before we put her down for the night. Last night she still ate ALL NIGHT LONG and I finally ended up putting her in bed with me because WE COULD NOT HANDLE IT. And I suspect she didn't REALLY need to eat, but when you're dead tired and it's 4 am, you are not particularly principled. 

So I don't know. Whatever. What am I going to do with us today? More snowmen? BLARGH.


It's Barfsgiving!

Oh wait. Do I have to update this thing tonight? It TOTALLY feels like a Friday. I think maybe because Phillip worked from home today? And we're driving to my parents' house tomorrow morning? We'll stay at their house tomorrow night and road trip it (can you call it a road trip if it's just barely more than two hours?) to my brother's house in the PA for Thanksgiving. 

I don't write about my brother on this website because 1) I think he'd prefer if I didn't and 2) he's a big fat meanie about my website (back when I had ads: "You get MONEY for that?!?!" Then I kicked him in the shins, which is about all I can do because he could squash me with his pinkie finger.) (I have another brother, but he lives in Colorado and probably thinks the same thing about my website but would never SAY so. Well, maybe he would. But he would find a funnier, cuter way to say it, which would make me think he was just joking and teasing me, but deep down I would know that he really thinks my website is the awesomest.) (All right, now you know entirely too much about my brothers, neither of whom are interested in making an appearance on the blog. SHUT UP, ME.) 

BUT ANYWAY. My brother! Who lives in the PA! Got married! I know! And in a huge shocking twist he's become all domestic-like (although I rather suspect he's always been this way, it's just that NOW he has the opportunity to let it shine) and he and his wife are hosting Thanksgiving. And we are staying at THEIR house Thanksgiving night. THIS IS A LOT OF TRAVELING FOR ME. 

I am not a HUGE fan of the PA, as it is... WAIT. It occurs to me that you, my beloved readers, do not know what "The PA" is. !!! And honestly, a snotty Seattleite such as myself has no business calling it that either, it's just that my cousins also live there and they always call it The PA and I think it's cute... anyway, it's PORT ANGELES. Which you know and care nothing about unless (DUM DUM DUM) you have read and are deeply devoted to the Twilight series. 

So the ENTIRE POINT of this post, if you are wondering, is to ask you if you think I can get away with a Twilight-themed Thanksgiving post for Parenting. I COULD skip it, it being a holiday and all, and Parenting being super flexible with the blog schedule (also blog writers - they have, after all, kept ME around for inexplicable reasons). I don't even quite know how I would WRITE a Twilight-themed Thanksgiving post. What would it be ABOUT? Vampires don't EAT. (Right? Am now worried about my vampire lore deficiency.) But something about it sounds very funny to me. And I would probably piss off the hordes of Twihards somehow and that would be good for the pageview business. 

Sadly for my blog post, Port Angeles is not the STAR of the Twilight set, that would be Forks, but I have been to Forks (I even wrote about going to Forks back when this website was a teeny tiny baby website) and I will never go again. Really, why does anyone live anywhere besides Seattle? SNOTTY CITY GIRL ALERT! OOPS!

Anyway, I have to finish packing for EVERYONE and also eat a WW-approved dinner (DID YOU KNOW THEY CHANGED UP THE WHOLE POINTS SYSTEM SO ANNOYING) and then I guess I'll have to feed a baby again. 

OH WAIT! You know what this post should have been about? The fact that I did not get barfed on today. I DID NOT GET BARFED ON TODAY! Today is BARFSGIVING! 


Portlandia: Conquered

Would you believe that the one thing I said I wanted to do in Portland was the one thing I did not do? In not going to Powell's I feel as though I've committed a mortal sin. I walked by the entrance several times. I thought about what books I would look for. But we never went and... I don't feel bad about it! I mean, I do, because I have to come here and ADMIT that I DID NOT GO TO POWELL'S. But I did not go to Powell's because I pretty much slept/read through Friday afternoon and I couldn't be bothered. AND IT WAS LOVELY. 

I've been to Portland a handful of times, but this was the best yet. The Hotel Monaco was fab. The public transportation was beyond easy. The food was delicious, even though we only went to one of the restaurants on my foodie's list of must-eats. And Phillip bought himself a new wardrobe in the city that does not charge sales tax. SCORE.

We kept walking around saying to ourselves, "Why doesn't SEATTLE do this? Why isn't SEATTLE like this? Why aren't the people in SEATTLE like this?" After a while we decided that Seattle DOES do a lot of these things (markets, outdoor movies, street musicians) but the geography makes it hard to take it all in via a twenty minute walk downtown. In fact, Seattle's downtown is not all that awesome at all, whereas I loved walking through Portland's Pearl district all the way to "Flicks on the Bricks". In Seattle you have to head to Fremont or Magnuson Park for an outdoor movie - not terribly walkable places from downtown. And Seattle public transportation... well, I'll refrain from describing our bus ride home when we got off the train.  

As for the people... I really don't know how to describe the difference I felt. I just saw a print on Pinterest - it's a bunch of regional generalizations written in the shape of the United States, and up where Oregon and Washington are was "RAINY HIPSTERS".

 

Source: facebook.com via Kat on Pinterest

 

So yes, in some respect, the crowd was very similar. Coffee snobs, anyone? But there seemed to be more people out on the streets. More locals. They didn't seem to be in much of a hurry and sometimes they smiled and there were all sorts on every street. Maybe I don't spend enough time in downtown Seattle anymore. I used to walk through it every day, twice a day, three times if I headed to the market for lunch. Now all I experience is hazard after losing-a-child hazard. So maybe it's that. 

We had an amazing brunch at Tasty and Sons. We saw Crazy, Stupid, Love. We caught 20 minutes of West Side Story, the outdoor movie. We caught some major man-wardrobe sales at Eddie Bauer and Banana Republic. We had fantastic hole-in-the-wall Thai food. I felt bad about for not being excited about the restaurants on my foodie friend's list, and had an Existential Crisis over my absolute un-interest in trying new and fancy food. That said I had a perfect cappuccino at Stumptown with Tara, whom I adore and could have talked to for hours and hours. The street food trucks were never open when we were interested, and I avoided Voodoo Doughnuts because of the HORDES of people waiting outside. The train was peaceful and ridiculously easy. I read In The Garden Of Beasts in two afternoons. We watched a few episodes of Downton Abbey on Netflix Streaming. We slept in till nine. The whole time I felt swollen, stretched-out, huge, tired, achy, crampy, hideous. I sat in a Banana Republic dressing room waiting for Phillip while a bunch of gorgeous twenty-somethings picked out going-to-a-wedding outfits for their gorgeous twenty-something boyfriends. I sat right next to a mirror and felt old, fat, veiny, spotty, greasy, with bad hair and flabby arms. To make myself feel better I bought a giant replacement while-I'm-pregnant wedding ring at Nordstrom Rack. Why not?

And now I'm home. The kids are playing outside. Phillip is on an airplane, headed to Work Headquarters for another exciting week of meetings. I am back to obsessing over my house and planning our next Big Things - friends coming to stay for a weekend, Molly's birthday, Phillip's birthday, the starts of preschool. I shouldn't be so tired after such a restful weekend, but I am, and I miss my husband already. I'm not sure what kind of week it will be. Either Phillip will come home to an absolute sty, or he'll see a freshly painted bedroom with new bedding and spray-painted-white furniture and all his junk piled high in the closet where I can't see it. 


In which you will roll your eyes at least fifty times

I am grouchy. I'm just going to say it. Three days before Christmas and I am GROUCHY. Believe it or not, I was grouchy BEFORE I stepped on the scale this morning and subsequently threw out all the Christmas candy. Oh yes I did. And if that doesn't work I may have to man up and join Jennie's competition. GAH.

Anyway, I am feeling completely defective in the Christmas Cheer department and I keep trying to put my finger on the cause. Did I throw our Christmas party too early? Did I finish my shopping too early? Is it because it seems like everyone else is on vacation already and Phillip isn't off this week? Is it because today is the shortest day of the year, aka Worst Day Ever?

The kids are being awesome, so I can't blame them. And Molly just came in here playing Jack's toy guitar and singing some gibberish song. My heart grew the tiniest of sizes. 

A few nights ago I was sitting on the couch staring at the ornaments while Phillip put the kids to bed. I was actually doing that barfy sentimental thing where you remember where each ornament came from and it turns out that all of my favorite ornaments are from Italy or Germany, aka the two places I spent my Christmases before Having Children. And then I started to cry. 

And seriously. FTLOG! First world problems much? Perspective anyone? Oh no, I am tearing up AGAIN. GET IT TOGETHER, SELF!

When I lived overseas, home was Washington State, where we were from. But I was 10 when we moved overseas and 18 when I moved back and by that time I didn't really feel like anywhere was home. My parents stayed in Italy ten more years after I went back to the states for college. Because I left earlier than anyone else in my family, for a while it seemed like THEY all thought of it as home, while I was floundering around in Seattle trying to find my place. 

But I went "home" for Christmas every year until the first year I got married (and for a handful of years afterwards). Sometimes it was two weeks, sometimes it was five. A few years after I moved to Seattle, the base built a new school, relocated all the stores and restaurants, my parents even moved into a new house. That house, especially, was so unfamiliar to me. My parents lived there so long that all their favorite restaurants changed, the people who visited changed, I couldn't even remember how to get anywhere. 

But it was home, it was where I spent the holidays, and that time of year, at least, is so achingly familiar that I DO get weepy, all right? The cold, the naked trees, the snow on the mountains, the garish Italian Christmas decorations, walking in the dark to a pizzeria, the smell of bonfires and gluhwein. A few times we went to Germany where my aunt used to live, or meet her in Austria, and my mom and I would make a beeline for the Christmas markets. Oh I miss Christmas markets. The Italians tried to pull them off, but they were so much cuter and Christmassy in Germany, all the little wooden stands filled with carved wooden ornaments and toys and treats. 

My clearest memories of Italy take place in the winter, the season I always returned. I close my eyes and see how everything looked in the dark: restaurants, churches, my old town, the lights of the tiny town halfway up the mountain. The ride to and from the airport, the Prosecco on Christmas Eve, my parents' front yard that I never saw in bloom. 

It feels worse when I think about my kids. How in the world am I going to show them all of these things? My parents met in Europe and decided they wanted us to experience it too. That is, uh, not an option for us. One day, when we've decided the kids are Old Enough To Remember And/Or Appreciate, we will probably blow our savings on some two week whirlwind tour of Europe, which will be grand, but obviously not the same, not enough, not as real. And I know I can't MAKE it real. I know it's not even a big DEAL for them to know these things, but it still makes me incredibly sad. 

I'm sure everyone has their own "Italy at Christmastime" that their kids aren't going to experience. Most of the time I think my kids are going to be so lucky because we have no intention of moving anywhere and their grandparents are so close and they live in this great city and they are totally going to be from somewhere. But this time of year I think about how much I want to take them for cappuccino and cookies at Stradella's, to ride the train to Venice, to buy lunch at the market, to pick out an ornament at a Christmas market, and then it feels like their stable little stateside life is a great tragedy. 


Besides, we can't live TOO far away from the acceptable Chinese restaurants

This morning we met some friends at Seattle Center (where the Space Needle is, for you out-of-towners, also the EMP and the Science Center and the Children's Museum and a whole bunch of theaters and a really not so impressive amusement park). I left around 9:45 in the morning and it took me about fifteen minutes - from the time I left my house to when I beautifully parallel parked the car - to get there. And we were late anyway, because we had to walk from the parking spot to the museum and Molly's average speed is something like Tortoise, but hey, fifteen minutes. Not bad. 

TONIGHT. Tonight we had to pick up Phillip at his office and then meet his parents and some of their friends for dinner downtown. To get to Phillip's office I ideally take the exact same route as I did this morning, with an earlier turn off and a few more city blocks. It should take fifteen minutes-ish. But I did, of course, leave at 5pm, the height of rush hour, but that's WHY I left at 5. Because dinner was at 6. 

I did not drive up to Phillip's office until 5:55. FIVE FIFTY FIVE. With kids who hadn't eaten dinner to boot. What was I thinking?! It was gory out, all rainy and dark and I knew I was in for it thirty seconds after leaving the house, which was when I encountered my first stretch of traffic. I usually get at LEAST a few more red lights out of the way before I hit a backup. Not tonight. 

Usually it's the kiss of pleasant children death if Jack happens to fall asleep in the car in the late afternoon, which of course he promptly did. But at least I didn't have to listen to his whining, so that was a win. And Molly kept listing all things she wanted to eat - yogurt, grapes, toast - until I realized she was getting all these ideas from the Wiggles song we were listening to ("Fruit salad! Mashed potatoes!") so I turned that off and handed her my phone. Insta-happy. 

But still. Nearly an hour. While I waited in a left hand turn lane to take The Back Way, I thought about all the possible ways a North Seattleite can drive downtown. You must take a bridge. Montlake, University, Ship Canal, Fremont, Ballard... am I missing any? I thought about how I knew exactly how to get to all of those bridges, how I figured out which would be the best one for me to take. I thought about how large and intimidating and confusing this city was when I moved here, and how NOT intimidating it is now. Even this morning, when I missed the freeway ramp to go home because I was stuck in the wrong lane, I just powered up a few hills and found The REALLY Back Way. I am totally from here. 

I sat in the merge lane to get on the bridge and I thought about how everyone complains about the traffic, but because I'm a stay at home mom and most of the time the places I want to go are against commuter traffic, it hardly affects me. I couldn't remember the last time I was really stuck in something like this. So I also had time to think about how often I sit with the laptop examining floor plans of giant houses in Bothell and Woodinville and Kirkland. Ginormous brand new houses that I'd LOVE to live in, that are cheaper than the ancient tiny house for sale on my busy street. I look at those floor plans and imagine where the furniture would go, and what we could do with the money we might save.

But tonight I felt sort of sad. Because, and I don't know if this will really make sense - I KNEW WHERE TO GO. I knew exactly what I was going to do to bypass the traffic. It was a route I'd used a million times, but not really since we moved out of our first apartment in Lake City. It was so familiar, the whole AREA was just so familiar. And I just felt like... but I'm from here. I know this place. I should stay here

Honestly, I make it sound like Bothell is the far side of the moon or something. OBVS IT IS NOT. I am just feeling stubborn tonight. Like yes we ARE going to find a house we love near-ish our church and the school and at a price that won't make us faint. RIGHT?

Also, you have to give me a break, I sat in traffic FOR AN HOUR all the while freaking out about being late for FIL's Milestone Birthday Dinner. GAH. (Except - Cheung Family Trivia - the birthday milestone was actually three years ago. Technically tonight we celebrated his AMERICAN age. Oh made up dates on official immigration documents! You make for lovely parties!)

P.S. Molly is in her bedroom singing at the top of her lungs (at 9:22 pm): "LO MAI GAI! LO MAI GAI! LO MAI GAI!" Somewhere, a certain Chinese man is driving home from his milestone birthday dinner and wondering why his heart is growing all warm and fuzzy. 


We bought a driveway and a swingset and a dog

I'm sitting here thinking about houses and neighborhoods and what will happen and then Jonathan Coulter's "Shop Vac" song comes on Pandora* and now I can't possibly move to the suburbs.

Actually, I'm not thinking about moving to the suburbs so much as moving to a very different neighborhood. This neighborhood is so far away, so unfamiliar and so not a part of my Seattle experience that it might as well be in Idaho. So I don't know why I'm sitting here with Redfin scoping out every house in our price range, especially since 1) we are living here until next summer OR LONGER and 2) the whole point of waiting is so that we are for sure as we can possibly be about WHERE.**

But I don't know. There's just something about that part of town that interests me. I was interested in it a few years ago and Phillip was all, "Dude. We don't know anybody there. We'd never see anyone. So, uh, NO." And he had a point. We are very close, by which I mean practically codependent, on numerous friends, all of whom live fairly close. It would be very sad to think I couldn't just hop in the car and go five minutes to spend the morning with a friend. Right? 

AND YET. I look at houses.

The fact that I'm considering it, though, leads me to believe I'm in a Good Place. For the longest time I've sworn up and down that I am not leaving. I am not leaving my neighborhood or my church or my friends or my grocery store or my favorite walk, because for a long time I was so anxious I needed all of these things to steady me. Change is bad. And hadn't I spent most of my life moving around and losing friends and making new ones? For the first time ever I felt like I had roots. I felt that these roots were literally holding me upright. If something bad happened I could call this person or that person and they would be with me in minutes. My house was safe. I knew all the back streets. I knew things and I was known. 

But these last two years I've been introducing myself to life without anxiety. Any significant anxiety, anyway. And it's... I don't really know how to describe it. It's like I built this big scaffolding around me - and the scaffolding was a good thing, you know, it was helpful, it propped me up - but now I'm realizing maybe I don't need some of it. Maybe I can put some of it away. I can always get it out again if necessary, but right now, it's blocking my view. I'm curious. 

So I think about what we'll do next. One of my good friends is considering a move overseas and at once I'm jealous and confident that's not in our cards. We've got the only local grandkids, we're very close to our families, we love our city and state, Phillip has opportunities, we have roots. We're not going anywhere. But this small change could make a huge difference. It'd mean a different church. It'd mean making some new friends. It'd mean identifying with a completely different part of the city. And I can't help but be attracted to that amount of change. It sounds exciting. 

Am I picking our next house based on excitement?

Our house money would go farther in this neighborhood, which is attractive, obviously. It has my required parks and water, just different parks and water. It's quick and easy access to downtown for Phillip, probably much better than where we live right now. It's closer and an easier drive for our families while still living in the city. My sister is likely moving sometime this year, and this neighborhood would be much closer to where she hopes to be. It's so much more diverse than my chunk of town, which I feel is part of the reason to live in the city. I have no idea what the schools are like, a growing concern on my radar***. And we really do have to hang out there a bit before I can declare that yes, I'm done with Familiar, I'm ready for New. 

But I want new right now. I want invigorating and fresh and anything-can-happen. It's probably not a good thing to indulge these thoughts since I've got a whole second year of grad school ahead of me, and again, WE'RE NOT MOVING YET. Maybe if I use enough caps I'll stop looking. 

*my usual Pandora station is based on Fountains of Wayne. I write really well to Fountains of Wayne, but I need to tweak it because there is WAY too much Weezer.

**Phillip feels that there are other reasons besides WHERE but since this is the only one that matters to me, this is the official Blog Position.

***Is this a growing concern on YOUR radar? Of course, I've done nothing about it except Fret.


To market to market to buy a fat pig

...home again, home again, jiggedy jig. 

I am writing to you from the comfort my bed, in my pajamas, with my glasses on, wearing slippers, because it is COLD, though - and this is a big fat important THOUGH - not as cold as LA. Harrumph. 

I have a frillion pictures to post, but I'm too tired. We're all too tired. The kids conked out in the car on the way home from Grandma and Grandpa's house, Phillip is flitting about the house stressing about having to set his alarm for Ungodly Early all week and I briefly contemplated not even cracking this here laptop. I KNOW. 

I am trying to think of what to tell you about the wedding - I was just so happy to be there. Everything else I can think of to say about it makes me teary and dudes, I am too tired to be teary. Oh Former Roommate. You know I just love you. 

Of course, when the Cheungs invade Southern California, Southern California pulls out all the stops. Including weather that, I swear, brought to mind the polluted, smoggy, gray, depressing skies of CHINA. I feel terrible about this, I really do, especially when I mentioned this comparison to a pair of actual Southern Californians who were a bit taken aback and started defining the term marine layer. And MY did they get all huffy about it! It's a MARINE LAYER! Not SMOG! AS IF! And you know, I'M SORRY, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIANS. But us Pacific Northwesterners are brought to up to believe all sorts of things about the evil Californians moving up to steal our views and real estate, and one of those is that their smog is sad and desperate sight to behold and I'M SORRY I just thought it was SMOG. But no! It is the MARINE LAYER. A marine layer that pretty much negated the swimsuit I packed and sent Phillip and I on an elusive hunt for a sweatshirt all weekend. A SWEATSHIRT. Harrumph. 

Also, there are a lot of malls in LA. Did you know this? I think I knew this, but DUDES. There are a LOT of malls. Our hotel was directly across from a mall, which was rather helpful in my Quest For Something To Wear To The Wedding That Wouldn't Make Me Feel Like A Frumpy Stay At Home Mom. And we did a lot of driving this weekend, as you do in LA (so I hear), and every two minutes there was a mall. Not that I'm complaining. I love malls! Yay for spending money! 

I will have to write an entirely separate post about the Avis Car Rental experience. Oh yes. You = SO EXCITED.

I felt sick all weekend too. That was awesome. I still feel sick! I started to feel sick on the airplane, and then I felt sick until I woke up on Sunday and just felt SORT of sick. And then late that night after the wedding I realized that, oh dear, I felt REALLY sick, and I still felt sick when I woke up and this is why I knocked myself out with a massive dose of Dramamine before we flew home. It's all upset stomach and nausea and insert standard Internet disclaimer here: NOT PREGNANT. I don't know what's up with this sudden onset of Delicate Constitution, but it's seriously interfering with my snacking routine. LAME.

All right people, The Sick is trumping everything else, including all mentions of MINI BLATHERINGNESS. This post is hereby postponed till further notice. I'm going to get through about two pages of my murder mystery before I start drooling on the pillow. Sounds like an excellent way to end vacation, don't you think? 

MORE LATER.