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    120 posts categorized "This Mom thing"

    September 24, 2014

    Keep on keeping on

    Yesterday was rough. The day before that was rough. Today is rough. I THINK things are getting better? On the whole? But yesterday and today instead of getting on the stupid treadmill (and just WALKING FTLOG) I crawled into my bed and slept. I just wanted to escape. Naps don't make me FEEL better. I feel terrible, all groggy and out of sorts when I wake up. But I can disappear for that half hour or hour... 

    We are trying to figure out our trip to Italy and perhaps other parts European this May and June. Phillip is working things out with his job and I won't really know what our options are until November, but every time I scout plane fare, each ticket is as much as our mortgage payment. All my Alaska miles (and the $750 in vouchers I received from that disaster trip to Colorado) are not going to help me on an international flight booked through Alaska mileage plan partners. So I'm feeling stupid about trying to go that route in the first place and just defeated in general. We will make it work (I am nothing if not a We Will Make It Work kinda person), but [shakes fist at Expedia.com].

    I haven't seen my friends in forever. I miss Liz. I take kids to school. I go to Target. I have conversations with my sister about bakery work. I watch a lot of cable news. I fold laundry (sometimes). I clean up the kitchen (sometimes). I think about planning a date with Phillip or meeting friends for happy hour and then I worry that doing something out of the ordinary in the evening will mess with how I get ready to go to sleep, a very important part of Anxiety Management. And then I get mad about that. 

    I've been on this weird tear to BUY stuff. I keep going to my usual clothing store websites, piling things in carts, being shocked by the total, not entering my credit card info, moseying over to another site. I've bought a few oversized sweaters at TJ Maxx. I bought Emma a whole bunch of cute stuff at Old Navy yesterday. Navy sweater with white stripes and red heart-shaped elbow patches SWOON. But the hole I am attempting to fill is not filled. Maybe if I splurge on a gorgeous pair of boots? But boots never fit around my wide [AVERAGE SIZED, FTLOG] calves and whenever I wear them I look in the mirror and suspect tall boots aren't the best look on my stubby legs anyway. So maybe not. 

    The best part of my day is reading books to my kids before they go to bed. I KNOW. Phillip used to do all of that. I used to get away with not doing bedtime at ALL. Then we had Emma and I would usually put Emma to bed (easier/quicker) than putting big kids to bed. But this summer it started to be the time that I would sort of "make up for" being a distant crappy mom during the daytime [read: anxious] and for whatever reason it was calming and comforting to be with them. Just in general my kids have been a huge consolation to me during this latest episode. But I've read two Narnia books to them, that they really loved (me: ugh) and Jack and I tore through a Jack-appropriate book on the Revolutionary War the last two nights and I just feel like YEAH! I love reading, even though I haven't done much of it lately (everything I read stresses me out somehow and I don't need more of that) and my kids haven't been super excited about reading, but we finally found a book they WANTED to keep reading and it made me SO EXCITED. And Jack wanting to keep reading about Paul Revere and George Washington: YES. Weird, maybe, but these times at night and the looking for books they'd like has been a balm to my soul the last couple of months. 

    Usually I'm pretty upbeat, Internet, but tonight I just want to cry it out. God I'm tired. 

    August 14, 2014

    Room Update (snore) + Recently Improved Parenting

    I'm done painting YAAAAAYYYYY MUPPET ARMS!!! Painting is not the WORST thing in the world, but halfway through all the cutting in it starts to FEEL like the worst thing. But anyway, thanks for the Barely Pink recommendations - I went to Home Depot, asked for 2 gallons, and you were right, it is PERFECT. I wouldn't have picked it out at the store, but it's the perfect color on the wall. That room already feels so different. I don't think the previous paint color ITSELF was super ugly, but in that room? SO dreary and BLAH. The pink has brightened and livened it up a little. The bed should get here on Monday and I CANNOT WAIT. 

    I cannot wait so much that I dragged Molly's pink and white desk into the room, taped up my beloved elephant fabric (from my super botched Homemade Roman Shades project), and then decided that the kids should all camp out in there tonight because I PAINTED THIS ROOM GOLDARNIT IT MUST BE APPRECIATED! 

    The challenge is: decorate this room without spending any! money! (gaaaahhhh) This shall prove to be difficult since I've decided I need to throw some navy blue in there, to de-sweet-ify the pink, and then per Twitter, maybe some GOLD? Or some MINT? Things I already have: a two-toned pink rug, a pink and white Eiffel tower lamp, a giant hot pink 'E'... My mom is going to salvage my elephant fabric for curtains, adding some material to the top and bottom to make the panels long enough. Plus I have a white dresser and a white bookshelf and a white doll bed (which my mother's godfather built for her when she was little AWWWW) that we will fill with EJ's nine hundred stuffed animals. Yes, I definitely need some navy/gold/mint. I forsee a lot more standing around and surveying the room landscape in the next couple weeks. 

    And you guys, I haven't even STARTED planning Emma's old room, the new guest room slash Room Of Bakery Storage And Staging aaaiiieeeee!!!

    Even though I've been painting and I'm anxious and it was Cookie Weekend I'm not totally All There right now, I've been trying hard to spend time with the kids, especially the big kids. We're managing to do a Fairly Fun Thing each morning, but the afternoons are shot. Emma still sleeps for hours so we can't go anywhere and I don't want the big kids being loud or bothering Emma, so they end up playing a lot of Minecraft and I end up reading a lot of Twitter and watching cable news. I don't think any of those pursuits are particularly GOOD for us, but the kids are 1) quiet and 2) happy and I'm grateful for time to myself during these days when we are together 24/7. Then I end up making something boring and easy for dinner (this is what the kids prefer, at least) and Phillip gets home at 6 or sometimes later and then it's bedtime... I spent a lot of July feeling like I was totally ignoring my family, mainly to get bakery stuff done. I haven't figured out a schedule for myself (there IS no schedule with the bakery) and my tendency is to work work work work work work until the task is finished - no breaks, no wondering if I should take 2 days instead of 1... that kind of thing. 

    So I guess I'm trying to make up for that now? We've done the summer dollar movies twice (Rise of the Guardians and Turbo - thumbs up from my crowd for both), we got a membership at the science center so we did that this morning. A big crafty project at the library, just GOING to the library which is getting to be more and more enjoyable (for me, at least). And I've been trying to find a Big Book to read to them at night. A year or so ago I tried Harry Potter, but my kids hate anything scary and they didn't GET Harry Potter and now they say they don't LIKE Harry Potter, so I wonder if I basically ruined Harry Potter for them. I tried Beverly Cleary, one time I tried the Best Christmas Pageant Ever - they don't like anything. I totally feel like I've failed in the Raising Children Who Love To Read department HOWEVER! The other night I thought I'd try The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe. WHICH I DO NOT LIKE. I did not like the Narnia books as a kid and fantasy books, in general, are not my thing. Lord of the Rings - snore. SORRY. I just... not my thing! But I know that MOST PEOPLE DO like the Narnia books and MAYBE JUST MAYBE my kids might like them? So I started reading the first one and GUESS WHAT THEY LIKE IT. I am shocked. Mostly because they haven't liked anything I've read to them so I wasn't expecting that to change. But they BOTH like it and they BOTH want to keep reading when I say it's time to go to bed and THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPY. 

    Also the fact that I am reading a significant amount of story to them each night - that makes me happy. The big morning things we manage to do, the reading at night, the puzzle I helped them put together yesterday, hopefully all of these things are making up for my complete disregard for them during July and also all the Minecraft. 

    I just tell myself that if my kids are super awesome at Minecraft it's more likely they'll major in something Useful in college and get decent jobs. As opposed to English majors such as myself, a degree which is last on the List Of Lucrative Degrees. 

    Or maybe they'll take over a family bakery business MWAH HA HA oh man I'm tired. LATER INTERNET.

     

     

     

    May 07, 2014

    On being my own taskmaster (spoiler: it's not going so great)

    The hours between school pick up and dinner have become the worst hours of my day. I wouldn't say they were ever the BEST hours, but I didn't have to actively prepare myself to Deal like I'm doing this week. Almost as soon as the big kids hop in the car to go home from school I feel done with them. Emma too, by that point. And I feel TERRIBLE about it! They are at school all day! I shouldn't be Ragey Angry Mom as soon as they get in the CAR, right? 

    I really truly do think that the Pr0zac was masking some of my Kid Frustration (or general Mom rage). The lightheadedness was helping me gauge where I was in the withdrawl process (it's almost all gone), but right when I got super lightheaded in the afternoons is right when my frustration with them ramped up. So I think that's part of it, definitely. 

    BUT THERE ARE OTHER PARTS, I AM ALSO SURE OF THAT. 

    Most of what sets me off is noise, chatter, and talking at me. I've always felt that I have a pretty high tolerance for Kid Noise, like kid music and playing together and laughing and being silly. But MY GOD it has disappeared. Jack and Molly are SO SILLY the second they get in the car after school and I just can't handle it. I bark at them to shut it and it doesn't stop until dinner. I usually make them a huge snack and we watch a show or two, that's usually a good barrier between school and home, a chance to zone out. Maybe they don't need that zone anymore, though, because it's instant chaos, whether or not they have a giant plate of fruit and crackers and Wild Kratts. They get everything out, they run wild, they start noisy games with each other, they accidentally hurt each other constantly, Emma demands to be part of the fun, and the constant constant requests for more more more. More of everything, please. 

    Since the weather's been getting nicer I've been forcing them into the backyard and everyone is usually happy with that. Even if they don't want to go out initially, their mom isn't out there yelling at them to be quiet or stop being crazy or whatnot. And I feel bad for not feeling like I can deal with them WHEN I HAVEN'T DEALT WITH THEM ALL DAY, but it's not like I'm forcing them into cages or anything. It's outside! Outside is good! 

    Anyway, the Other Part is that I have work to do. I am not yet anywhere near efficient with this bakery thing. It takes me hours to package boxes, and the rest of the time I'm organizing the schedule, updating the bookkeeping, making lists of what comes next, making lists of what we need. I feel like this stuff shouldn't take me nearly as long as it does, but for now that's just how it is and it's kind of a big deal. I spent most of my morning and a bit into EJ's nap boxing up cookies and making sure everything had the right labels and cards and packing and ribbons ETC. ETC. and then I should have sat down and had lunch or something. But I kept going... And I get tired. And I just want a few minutes to myself. Some days there's nothing going on and other days I don't sit down. Right when I DID sit down (with Parks and Recreation and an entire mini watermelon), I got a phone call from the school saying a certain kindergartner wet her pants and needed new clothes. 

    That's my job too. 

    So part of what's going on when the kids are home from school is that I want to finish what I was doing before they got home, and I can't think when they're going a mile a minute. I NEED TO THINK. It's imperative that I am thinking at 100%, right? Part of it's that I'm tired and don't want to listen to them. Part of it is Emma being up from her nap and wanting a drink! snacks! dress up! phone! Kleenex! JACK TOOK MY BAAAALLLLL. 

    I guess today I feel like I had a hard enough time getting my stuff done with there were no big kids and Emma was asleep. And now that they're home I just want them AWAY. GO DO SOMETHING. PLAY OUTSIDE. FIND SOMETHING TO DO THAT IS NOT TALKING TO ME. 

    I don't feel bad for not playing or doing stuff with them. But I do feel bad for having negative tolerance for their after school fun. I'm trying not to be so snappish. for example, been trying VERY VERY HARD not to yell at Molly for being slow. Even though this may be the thing that kills me first, she is not doing it on purpose. It is, I'm afraid, part of who she is. I am dead serious when I say I can't think of anyone who moves slower than she does. Girl can run across the playground in a flash, but the walk to the shoe closet in the morning takes weeks. And God forbid you bark at her to move faster, because that only makes her move slower. The more you shout, the slower she gets, until she's full on paralyzed and you have to go against your entire being and take that massive freak out down to a soft, gentle, "okay, let's go get those shoes over there first" whisper. OH MY GOD IT IS RAGE-MAKING.

    I just put Emma in bed for shrieking at Jack. Jack is half-cleaning up (the only way he supposedly can) the giant mess of blankets and pillows he made in the living room. Molly is wandering around in a daze with two Lego people, talking to herself. I have to make dinner and then I have to do more bakery work and then I have to pass out in my bed. Wait, do I have a husband? Does he fit in there somewhere? 

    April 03, 2014

    Extracurriculars: yes/no?

    Molly has ballet on Thursday nights. I've signed both big kids up for swim lessons at the community pool starting in two weeks. We tried out a martial arts lesson last night and now Jack wants to do that too, except I didn't know it's 2 days a week and costs three times as much as the gym membership I looked into today. Because I looked into a gym membership today, did you know that? What am I, crazy? 

    I struggle with wanting to kick the kids out of the house as soon as they get home from school and not see their faces again until dinnertime, like the Olden Days people write about, where you didn't manage and schedule and craft and play and blah blah blah. And then wanting to sign them up for absolutely everything, because there are so many NEAT THINGS they can do and why wouldn't I want them to have every opportunity?! Ballet! Piano! Tae kwon do! Swimming! Camps! MUSICAL THEATER!!!

    Molly is taking ballet because I happened to find a great dance studio near our house with totally affordable and easy-to-schedule lessons. And because she wanted to. And I thought it would be cute. I signed them up for swim lessons (we started last spring at the Y, but these community pool lessons are SO much cheaper) because that seems like a safety issue. And I don't know how to swim. And I have an enduring fear of water, so much so that I am not really looking forward to an expenses-paid Phillip's-side-of-the-family vacation cruise this summer. And I don't want them to be like me. 

    I REALLY want them to take piano (and so does my FIL, sheesh), but I haven't set that up because it's another night, another expense, with the added bonus of having to make them practice. Sometimes I feel like *I* could teach them, but SNORT we all know where that's going. Phillip found a piano lesson iPad app and is kind of sort of teaching the big kids. (I took yeeeeeeeears of piano lessons. Phillip took a few. But he can play better than me AND knows everything about chords and time signatures and keys and WHATEVER, PHILLIP. HOW NICE FOR YOU.)

    I would love love love to get them involved in music - piano lessons, choirs, theater stuff with music. I would love for them to play soccer and do gymnastics and have dance recitals. I've been looking at summer camp opportunities through the community center system and yes, we'll do all of those, thank you. Oh, and I would also like to join a gym. 

    I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS. I am just now starting to understand the effect starting a small business has had on my free time. Or, I should say, the time that I divide between chores and household shopping and paying bills and driving around and Managing The Household. I was DISAPPOINTED to remember that this week is watching week at ballet which means I can't edit bakery pictures in the waiting room like I'd planned. When am I going to edit those pictures? WHEN AM I GOING TO WORK ON THE BLATHERING WEBSITE?!

    (Right now, you are saying. Stop blogging and do it now.) 

    So the blog has taken a hit, yes, but I can still do that in a few stolen minutes here and there and it's good for me and helps me figure things out. But I almost never see friends anymore, not during the day. I used to schedule my whole week around playdates and lunches and story times and all that toddler nonsense, but now I take the big kids to school and after that EJ is my Errand Running Companion and/or Dora Watcher While I Do Stuff On My Computer That Isn't Just Reading Go Fug Yourself. On good days I put her down for a nap and hop on the treadmill for the length of a TV show and that is WORKING. Where/why do I think heading to a gym every morning (and putting EJ in the childcare center, which I'm almost positive she would resist) will be easier/better? And what do I do for the kids and what is just silly? 

    Jack LOOOOVED the martial arts class last night and has asked me no less than one frillion times if I've signed him up yet. And I'm mad at the class for having us do that before they gave us any information about how to sign up (THEY'RE NOT STUPID). But even if I didn't mind forking over the money every month, that's two nights a week! That's... a lot! 

    As I sat in that gym last night watching small children learn to kickbox (it was awesome, I have to agree with Jack), I realized that if we joined, we would basically be committing to a Small Children Learning to Kickbox community. That is what they do. Right? Or my friends whose kids play soccer in the fall - that is just what they do in the fall. Right now the Cheungs don't have a Thing that we Do. And quite honestly, I like it that way. For someone so reliable and committed and devoted I am totally stingy with my time and who owns it. I need to own my time, not a soccer team or a ballet class. 

    I don't THINK I'm depriving my kids, but it can feel that way. There's just so much awesome stuff out there and it seems like most families are doing something. On the other hand there's no way I'm going to do ALL of it. It's impossible! And how are they going to learn about disappointment and the unfairness of life?!

    I also have this little problem where any time I go to find out about something that costs money, it takes negative effort on the part of the salesperson to get me to buy it. Martial arts lessons? Gym membership? Church kitchen? New car? New HOUSE? SIGN ME UP. 

    Poor poor Phillip.

    AAAAANYWAY. I'm not sure what to do with all this stuff. WHAT A FIRST WORLD PROBLEM. I want to get Jack involved with something, because his sister has ballet, but I don't think we can do THIS. And I want to get back in shape and develop a habit of fitness, but joining a gym won't magically make that happen. And I want to do piano, but let's face it, that's probably just signing myself up for years of another thing to fight about with the kids. Me = not exactly Tiger Mom. 

    Okay! Time to buck up! Ballet in an hour! Homework! Figure out dinner! Put everyone to bed on my own because Phillip works late on Thursdays! I CAN DOOOOO IIIIIT.

    March 12, 2014

    That time I fell asleep on the couch and didn't pick my kids up from school

    I was never a napper - I was actually an ANTI-napper - until I got pregnant with Emma. I had horrible problems falling asleep AT ALL let alone in the middle of the day on a couch when there were THINGS TO DO. I was an early-to-bed morning type of person. If I was tired, I went to bed when small children went to bed. Naps? Noooo. Naps were unproductive and anxious-making, and if I ever did manage to put myself to sleep in the afternoon I woke up horribly groggy and cranky. No, thank you. 

    But then I got pregnant with Emma and daily life turned into a matter of making sure I got my nap every afternoon. Molly was still taking naps, but Jack, horrible child, had given them up. But his sainted grandparents had given him an iPad for his 4th birthday (SPOILED) and that was how I got my nap: we both got in my bed, he played a game or watched a show and I snoozed. Bliss! That entire year is a blur of falling asleep to the grating tune of Busytown Mysteries. 

    I did not give up my nap habit after Emma was born. At first this was clearly because she was our worst sleeper. Jack took forever to PUT to sleep, but once he was asleep he was down. Molly was our dream baby. I will never forget putting infant Molly in her crib and WATCHING her slowly close her eyes and fall asleep on her own. I DIDN'T KNOW BABIES DID THAT. Emma, on the other hand, only slept if she felt like it. Which was almost never. At some point we'd just decided that Emma didn't NEED as much sleep as a regular baby. HONEST. That is what we thought. Sometimes we still think that. Remember that month Emma woke up every hour on the hour, every night, for a month? OH ME TOO! FUN TIMES! 

    So yeah, I was tired. It wasn't because I had three kids. I had two big kids who were getting more and more self sufficient and who also were, by that point, excellent sleepers, AND I had this non-sleeping version of a baby and THAT was why I conked out on the couch every day. 

    But now... okay, kind of a guilty secret, but I still do take naps. A lot. IS THIS A GOOD THING? I don't really think so. I think it makes my nighttime sleep not so great, for starters. It's very hard to keep up an exercise routine when you would rather use one exercise time slot for napping. And unless I sleep for at least two hours, I wake up to my phone alarm (because I have to pick up the kids! on time!) groggy and annoyed. Yes, sometimes I will nap the entire time Emma naps. Three kids and nearly seven years into this parenting gig and I finally figured out how to do that! 

    Anyway, I have been trying VERY HARD to kick my nap habit. Most days now I go watch Veronica Mars on my treadmill instead of napping. Some days I just CAN'T - stuff to do, you know. But there are still many many days, like today, when I've done my kitchen chores and I did my exercise, but I still have an hour or so before I go get the kids and maybe I'll just sit down and watch my DVRed politics talk show and maybe scroll through Twitter andzzzzzzzz. IT JUST HAPPENS. It's like my body is all: couch! zebra-stripe blanket! no one singing Let It Go! SHUT DOWN!

    This past summer I nervously asked my brain doctor if perhaps the Pr0zac had a, you know, Napping Side Effect. Because, and this is as true as I can discern, once I was on my full dose I was 1) tired all the time 2) gaining weight (or having massive trouble losing it) and 3) having WACKED OUT DREAMS. I was also not anxious! So didn't really want to mess with it, obvs, but while my brain doctor agreed the meds could be affecting my dreams, he pooh poohed my other concerns. 

    I am still on a [low] dose and I have an appointment to get me off of it completely (the methylfolate supplements are working well, so far) and I'm interested to see what life will be like then. And maybe it has nothing to do with it! I don't know! MAYBE MY LIFE IS JUST THIS EXHAUSTING. 

    All that to say (seriously, ALL THAT) I have a SYSTEM for napping. And today I didn't follow my system. And I slept through a phone call from Jack's teacher saying, "Uh, your kids? Are still here?"

    OMG

    I did a bunch of stuff this afternoon AND I exercised. It was not going to be a nap day! After I finished everything I ate lunch in front of another Veronica Mars episode (I am never going to finish by Saturday). When it was over I had about 10 or 15 minutes until it was time to wake up Emma (because I always have to wake her up now) and pick up the kids. I knew it was bad to be all snuggled up under my blanket. I knew I shouldn't close my eyes. I especially knew I should go find my phone and set my alarm JUST IN CASE. But I was so sleepy, so warm, and it was SO QUIET. And I fell asleep. 

    I woke up once or twice and eyed the clock, just to make sure I hadn't overslept. And I hadn't! Until the THIRD time I opened my eyes, looked at the clock, and promptly lost all sense of time and space because WHAT THAT CANNOT BE THE RIGHT TIME OMG OMG WHATTTTTT.

    I woke up at 3:10, exactly twenty minutes after the school bell rings to let the kids out. 

    You guys, I thought I would die. DIE. I dashed into Emma's room, ripped her out of bed, grabbed my keys and my phone, flung the baby into her car seat and zoomed out of my cul de sac. I wanted to DIIIIIE. And then my phone started ringing and I knew it was the school and I had the actual thought: I don't have to answer that. BUT THEN WHAT KIND OF PARENT WOULD I BE? AN EVEN WORSE PARENT! So I answered the phone with, "I will be there in 30 seconds!" and they said, "Okay!" and I RACED TO SCHOOL. I drove the wrong way into the parking lot, left Emma in the car, and dashed inside. Where Jack and Molly were looking at me curiously, all, "Where WERE you, Mommy? " 

    I couldn't TELL them. They would REPEAT IT. TO EVERYONE. 

    I yelled a thank you to the school secretary and beat it out of there before any teacher or other staff person could see my shame. When I hustled the kids back to the car I noticed I had a MESSAGE on my phone, from Jack's teacher. I had to ACKNOWLEDGE it, right? So when we got home I quickly wrote a groveling and massively self-deprecatory email, eager to do whatever it would take to expunge my name from the Unfit Parenting file they probably keep in a locked cabinet somewhere. 

    DIIIIIEEEEEE. 

    My kids were fine. I felt bad about them, but I mostly felt bad about SCREWING UP and SCREWING UP IN SUCH A PUBLIC WAY. Also, as the daughter of two public school teachers I have heard practically every Stupid Parent story in the universe and OH GOD I HAD TRIED SO HARD NOT TO BE ONE OF THE STUPID PARENTS!!!! I actually had to call my parents, because I can't do a single vaguely screw uppy thing without instantly confessing, and request absolution. Which my father gave, but not in a very nice way. "Oh, I'm sure something else will come along that will knock this episode out of the water!" THANKS, DAD! 

    Jack's teacher responded in a VERY kind and sweet and "SERIOUSLY NO BIGGIE" sort of way, and I believe her, which is why I am not STILL flogging myself five hours later. 

    This IS the sort of thing that WILL kill me one day. It's not the big heavy serious stuff, it's the stupid little screw ups that make me look like an irresponsible idiot. I am not an irresponsible idiot! Ever! Except when I AM! WOE. 

    (Isn't it terrible that this isn't about my kids? Ugh, I am such a THREE.) (SORRY. I CANNOT HELP PERSONALITY TYPING EVERY ASPECT OF MY EXISTENCE.)

     

    February 26, 2014

    And the point is... ?

    Thanks to a delightfully nerdy exterminator (and gross - he squished an ant, smelled it, and then held it under MY nose AS IF) there was a massive ant genocide in my house last week. We VANQUISHED the ants, Internet. And then Phillip saw one crawling around today. 

    Perhaps this is where my depressed hopelessness is coming from. 

    I've been emailing back and forth with an owner of a commercial kitchen. He is, or appears to be via email, friendly, easygoing, helpful, and completely without condescension towards the pair of silly girls who have no idea how to run a business. Even better, we can afford his rates. Then his latest email to me reminded me to make sure I am permitted in the county (his kitchen is across the county line from me) and heads up, it looks to be $651 per year. I have a call into the appropriate government office to confirm, but perhaps this is adding to the general mood as well. 

    I worked in my yard today, because it was nice out and my yard desperately needs working on AND (shocker) I enjoy working on my yard. But there is so much to do and I have every confidence it will look just as bad in September as it does now. 

    And my house. As soon as I pick up one room, another room is disaster-fied. The kitchen is a perpetual sty. No one makes their beds, picks up their towlels, puts their socks in the hamper, puts their toys away, throws away their fruit snack wrappers, picks up crayons, washes their toothpaste down the drain. My slaved-over painted cabinet is a dumping ground for absolutely everything that can potentially ruin a slaved-over paint job. And I am guilty of this too. I put stuff in the most convenient putting-stuff place. I'm the one that doesn't make MY bed. But I am so sick of them and me and I see no end to it. Ever. I'm not a clean freak, I have a high tolerance for clutter, but I'm the only one annoyed when it gets to be too much, the only one who does anything about it, and they are all WORKING AGAINST ME. I just walk from room to room not having any idea where to start.

    Let's add "despair" to "depressed hopelessness". 

    I've run/walked on my treadmill every afternoon this week. (All of three times, I know.) I am so proud of me! And then I think about how far I have to go.

    MOST DEPRESSING BLOG POST EVER. Could I BE any whinier? 

    I think it's the ant. It has to be the ant, right? I BLAME THE ANT.

     

    January 29, 2014

    If wishes were horses

    It hasn't been a good day. It's actually been pretty rotten. I have had it with my job, my house, and everyone in my family. I am angry and tired and what I really really want to do is go away somewhere for a full 24 hours, where I can have a day off. No one to feed, nothing to clean, no paperwork, no diapers, no car seats, no drop offs and pick ups, no one talking to me, no one needing me, no one asking me for snacks, no one waiting for me to make a decision. A DAY. OFF. 

    Saturdays are not days off. Trips to Disneyland or Victoria or Grandma's house are not days off. (Though they are miles above THIS kind of day, let me tell you.) 

    An alone not-beholden-to-anyone day.

    What would I even DO? 

    In a few weeks I'm going to volunteer on one of those prayer teams again, a Friday night through Sunday morning deal, and I'll get to stay in a hotel room with good friends and no kids and do something completely out of the ordinary. That sounds so good to me right now. I cannot wait. 

    I think I'd have to go somewhere, because if I stayed home I'd be too tempted to Get Stuff Done. So yes, I would definitely have to go away (even though I would love to have the house all to myself. Sigh.) I would bring my Kindle and some Ghirardelli bittersweet chips and my crossword puzzle app. I think I would see what's out at Nordstrom Rack. I think I'd go get a brow wax, maybe at the Benefit Brow place that I keep wanting to try, and then of course I'd definitely have to buy some makeup. Apparently I am into makeup now? I would treat myself to something dense and chocolatey. I would most definitely attempt to meet up with friends for Deep and Meaningful Conversations. Like, a whole day of meeting friends for coffee? With some nice introvert time in between, filled with murder mysteries and lattes? That sounds so NICE. A pedicure? I would require sunshine. A walk around the lake with worship music in my ears? 

    And then coming home and not having to get anyone ready for bed? Or do the dishes? Or fix the pillows on the couch for the fortieth time that day? 

    I need some Not-Mom time, I think. Maybe some Alone Independent Grown Up Person time. Is it bad to want that? I feel bad. But not that bad. 

    What does your day off look like?

     

    September 09, 2013

    If this were a paid job I would have been fired ages ago

    Today was one of those days where you realize how much of the parenting you do is Cruise Control Parenting. Or maybe you don't have those days. I will tell you about them. So I am a well oiled lunch making, bottom wiping, laundry folding, hair washing, seat buckling Mom Machine. I do these things day in and day out and when things don't go my way I get angry and frustrated and upset and sometimes I YELL and call my mother and despair that I will ever raise children with even half decent manners. I don't really think about it. The kids are either Good or Bad and my days are either Good or Bad and we are separate and frozen entities. Me Vs. Them. Parents Vs. Bedtime. Telling me about what they did at school vs. "Can I play the iPad? Can I play the iPad? Can I play the iPad?"

    Then there are days like today where a split second before I yell I think: wait. I think this is a Moment. 

    The MOMENTS are the times when you realize HEY. This job isn't just about reminding someone to say thank you ninety-seven times a day. I am responsible for more than that. Maybe my kid is driving me crazy for a reason other than He Does It To Drive Me Crazy. Maybe something's UP with him. 

    Jackson (isn't it always Jackson?) was making us both insane tonight. Tonight? This whole week and last week and probably the week before that. He is SO rough, he is SO wild, he gets SO silly. He's not one of those super rambunctious energetic boys, but he has his own particular kind of zany energy and it often results in hurting a sister or destroying my living room or piercing our eardrums with shrieks or otherwise making us nuts. And on top of that, tonight he was being a real twerp about telling us anything about his day. "I'm too tired." "I don't feel like talking about it." What is up with this SIX-YEAR-OLD who is literally too cool for school? Is he too good for his home? Does he think he's an emo teenager? I mean, does he WANT us to give him something to be emo about because WE CAN MAKE THAT HAPPEN. 

    Out of frustration and annoyance Phillip ordered him to his room and Jack burst into tears and there was my moment. Was he being a huge jerkface to his parents? YES. Did he maybe not MEAN to be a huge jerkface? POSSIBLY NOT. 

    I went to his room, sat down on his bed, and stared at him. He did his very best to meet my gaze, while also sucking in his cheeks to prevent himself from his ultra-irritating brand of Nervous Laughter. It makes me crazy, but tonight I could remember making the exact same face with my parents. Was my dad funny? NO! I CAN'T HELP IT! MY FACE JUST DOES THIS! 

    He was totally expecting me to start lecturing with my Mean Mom voice, but instead I started to ask him about his day. I think we were both surprised, but LO AND BEHOLD he started TELLING me about his day. More information than I've ever got out of this kid before. After a nice long chat about first grade I said, "Jack? Do you think you're just really tired when you come home? And maybe we should make some quiet time for you in the evenings? Would that help?" 

    This is going to sound weird, at least to me, but I have never felt that any discipline worked as well with my son than just sitting down and talking to him. Not talking where you're trying to get him to understand something or make choices (that NEVER works with him), just TALKING. I feel like nine times out of ten he's acting out and making us insane because we haven't MANAGED him well. We don't know what's going ON with him. This kid - this kid who is SO MUCH like me - needs alone time. Lots of it. He needs a desk and a filing cabinet and something to work on. He likes to store and organize and catalog and he is perfectly happy to do this alone and as his parents we need to recognize those times. 

    I'm fully open to the possibility than I am a wimpy softie and making up complex emotional issues where I should maybe just stick him a corner until the next day. But you know, I AM a wimpy softie and I spend oodles of time analyzing OTHER people's complex emotional issues- why wouldn't I do this with my own children? It can be my very own special way of screwing them up! 

    Anyway, Jack and I had a very good talk. About first grade and how he doesn't mean to make Molly cry, he's just "getting his energy out" and do I remember that I was going to get him a filing cabinet? It turns out that when he needs a change he ALSO attacks furniture and room layouts (I've been informed exactly how the bedroom and playroom should be in order to maximize Jack's enjoyment of those spaces). And he said, "I'm VERY tired, Mommy" and I believe him. 

    Molly, whose first day was today, and who has absolutely no complex emotional issues regarding it (as far as I could tell) is much simpler to figure out. We've never had to dream up a million different ways to deal with Molly because she's instantly contrite and changes her behavior. Emma appears to be much feistier than either of her siblings, but responds well to Mommy's I Mean It Voice. Jack... he requires more imagination, at least at this point. A different kind of attention. It's like he wants to sit down with his mom and talk about his feelings.

    I should bookmark this post for ten years from now when my daughters are driving me to drink and my son is as baffled by them as his parents are.  

    August 27, 2013

    Two things I'm terrible at, a big list of things I'm awesome at

    I made a super huge deal about getting a housecleaner while we were in Cabo. We were going to have houseguests immediately upon our return and it was honestly all I could do to make sure all the sheets and beds were ready. I knew I would be infinitely more stressed out if I also had to make sure the kitchen and bathrooms weren't embarrassing. But it caused this huge fight because we were both tired and out of time and Phillip didn't want someone having a key to our house while we were gone and it wasn't until our second to last day in Cabo when I emailed the maid service and begged for a late notice housecleaner. 

    It worked out, and even though the appointment window was confusing and we ended up hanging out with our friends while the housecleaner was still here, it was DONE and CLEAN and PERFECT and I was so relieved. It didn't last long because see: Houseguests. But it was this huge weight off my shoulders and I'm not sure Phillip really understood that until it was finished and we were both all, "OOOOOH, SHINY!"

    And today I feel like: WHAT WAS THE POINT? Which is, basically, why I'm not a great housecleaner to begin with. It doesn't last. It doesn't even last a few hours. Someone has a bloody nose, someone dumps a bowl of crackers on the rug, someone wants to play with play dough, someone trashes the bathroom just washing their hands, and people ALWAYS need to eat. I get so discouraged trying to keep my house clean, and not even CLEAN but just above College Student Shared House Standards and it's so hard. 

    I cleaned up all of breakfast and lunch, started the dishwasher, wiped down the counters, and was feeling pretty good about everything. Then I decided I would make a Real Dinner. Salmon, quinoa with veggies, ACTUAL FOOD. So I'm getting it all prepped and I even text my husband to see if he'll be home at his regular time and all is going well. Until he texts me later to say oops, a crisis came up, and the kids are starving, and EJ spills her milk all over the kitchen floor, and everyone wants snacks, and WHY DIDN'T I JUST GIVE EVERYONE A BOWL OF CEREAL?

    It's when housecleaning combines with cooking that I am MOST discouraged. The two pillars of Housewifedom and I shall never ever manage them. 

    I'm tired, so much to do before school starts, and it's getting dark again. Up here during the summer it will stay light until 9pm, but it's getting DARK and the weather is overcast which adds to the DARKNESS and my mood is DARK. Overwhelmed, frustrated with children, feeling like I can't accomplish anything because someone always needs something. ARGH.

    So this is when it's good to think about things I AM good at. Things I AM getting done. Shall we?

    • Making pina coladas.
    • Making beds.
    • I have yet to kill a houseplant this year.
    • Even if we are not eating together, I made salmon and quinoa with veggies. Boom.
    • Hanging out with friends. (Part of why I am not getting anything else done.)
    • Shopping. Specifically: birthday gifts for Molly and a Skylanders Giants backpack for Jack. Even though I told him he was not getting a new backpack this year. And especially not a Skylanders Giants backpack. BUT HE LOVES IT AND $15 BOUGHT ME A WHOLE DAY OF DEVOTION SO THERE.
    • Changing diapers.
    • Finding pacifiers.
    • Remembering everything going on, even if it makes me bite all my nails off.
    • Keeping up with Twitter.
    • Randomly texting friends.
    • Visiting grandparents.
    • Straightening bookshelves.
    • Finding places for everyone to sleep. House Tetris.
    • Imagining how my house would look if I were independently wealthy.
    • Sleeping light so I can help the nosebleeders and band aid needers and bed-faller-offers. 
    • Reading books.
    • Monday through Wednesday crosswords. (I'm working on the other days.)
    • Remembering lyrics to childrens' television show theme songs.
    • Liking to dance. Which is different from Dancing. (I am trying to figure out how to do salsa lessons on Wednesday nights. WITH my husband. OOH LA LA.)
    • Wearing overly large earrings. 
    • Ordering things from Amazon.com.

    OKAY I FEEL BETTER. A little bit. A friend just texted me about shopping at the Rack tonight after the kids go to bed. Some big clearance sale? That might make me feel even better. 

    So! Are you having a rotten WHAT IS THE POINT sort of day yourself? I would very much like to read the things YOU are good at. 

    July 25, 2013

    Someone's in a big girl bed! Also: job update. Because you were on tenterhooks I'm sure.

    We're not surprised I bought Emma a toddler bed today, are we? Of course not This is EXACTLY the kind of dumb thing I do that drives my husband crazy. Case in point: I just put the toddler to bed and she is SUPER PISSED that she no longer has bars with which to prop up her feet. She kept holding her leg out to me and grunting indignantly. "Where are my bars, woman?!" 

    I bought Emma a toddler bed not because she needed or wanted or was ready to leave her crib behind, no, I bought the bed because I wanted a WHITE bed, a key element for the Redecorating Of Emma's Room. With which I have thrown myself with GUSTO. Up next: wall paint, curtains, PAINTING A DRESSER. Oh yes. This is what happens when I have to put my unused Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations kit in my garage. 

    Yeah, I'm ridiculing my own self right now. It was fun to take pictures of her in it, but I'm not so sure about the SLEEPING in it. She's become a half decent sleeper, even if she does wake up almost every night and thump her head/kick her feet/moan herself back to sleep. At least *I* don't have to do it, right? Why am I messing with that? I WAS NOT THINKING!

    Okay, here's what I was thinking:

    • Emma is too big for the pack 'n play so when she stays overnight with Grandma she's going to start sleeping in a toddler bed
    • My sister needs a crib
    • Our crib is the wrong color for my Grand Scheme
    • Even though it's basically the same size, I have a few more furniture arrangement options if I move her out of the crib
    • I thought she was too little still for a twin bed

    The end. Not QUITE enough evidence for moving her you say? I guess we'll find out. I've been anti-toddler bed, even. Why do people want to move babies out of cribs! Keep'em in there until they're five! Go right to a twin! Toddler beds are silly!

    And yet, here I am. I suppose I could have just painted the crib white. Nahhhh

    Today was a blissfully dull one (until Jack contracted some mysterious YMCA Day Camp illness and barfed in the car on the way home. I think he was carsick from a bus ride? Or just hot? He IS a delicate little flower, the sort of native PNWer who says, "Mommy, it's too sunny," on a 65 degree day in April.) I appreciated the Dull since yesterday was the opposite. I would have written the longest blog post ever published, but most of it goes against Blog Policy. Bummer! 

    Things I CAN say: the naturopath appointment was awesome. I'm not sure if my new hippie treatment plan will actually WORK, but the appointment itself was hands down the best health care experience I've had since I've had to pay for it myself. I'll write more about it later, including all the parts that will make my pharmacist bff cringe. Heh. Also: acupuncture. I KNOW. 

    Another thing I can say: I didn't get the job. But I did get two more emails from the principal late last night thinking up ways I can still get myself employed at her school. Basically I can be an office assistant SUB. Did you know they do that? I didn't! So that means I could work once in a blue moon, but gather the necessary experience to better qualify me to work the following year, which is a possibility because the school is growing. Honestly? This sounds better to me. I wasn't QUITE ready to leave Emma, even part time. Amongst other things I wasn't quite ready for. But the possibility still remains and I will be in the know and yes. So far this sounds good. 

    I went on and on about this with Phillip and IRL friends last night, so I feel like I'm boring you and/or repeating myself. But when I heard I didn't get the job I wasn't disappointed - I mean, it's never fun to hear you were rejected, obvs. But I just kept thinking of all the things I wasn't going to get to do. Things with Emma, getting back in shape at the Y every morning (we'll see if this actually happens ANYWAY), starting to write again, house projects, saying yes to prayer conferences, getting back to pursuing the whole mom-friendly bakery idea. I was SO looking forward to a year where the schedule would be the same every day, a year where I might actually get BORED. A year where I would realize hey, I NEED to go back to work! Even though this was only part time, it was going to be a big wrench in family life and I just... I just wasn't SURE. I think if I'd been offered the job I would have taken it. But signing up to be a sub instead, just sticking a toe in the water instead of a whole foot, it feels like a grace year. It feels ridiculous too, like I'm a spoiled brat or a kept woman! If only other women were so lucky to have the choice, right? So I'm aware of that. Well aware. 

    Another observation to cap off this post: this might possibly be the nicest summer I've ever had in Seattle. I think I can count on one hand the number of times it's rained in the last two months. It's been glorious - bright, sunny, HOT, beautiful, glittering water everywhere. Someone please help me remember these days come November. 

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