Too much going on

What I'm doing about it

You may have heard some jubilant shouting on Twitter last week - that was me announcing that the school board voted the right way. I know. I KNOW. This thing for which we completely lost hope suddenly turned around and the school board HEARD us and then made the right decision! And I do say "right" because the options were 1. let ALL the kids in our school go to the fancy just-built school in 2017 or 2. let everyone but the lowest income, not-white, English language learner kids go back and put those undesirable ones in the super crappy substandard building. I am not exaggerating. This is what the boundary change amounted to. When I used the words "outrageous" and "scandalous" and "segregation" in my letter to the school board I was stating FACTS. 

But the school board voted the right way. Want to know why? Because when the school year started, the REST of North Seattle caught wind of how THEY would be affected by the boundary changes. And they were not happy. Their kids were going to have to move schools for no discernible and/or good reason. Safe routes to school became an issue. Leaving friends became an issue. Getting jerked around by the school district just because became a very big issue. And those parents began to turn out in droves. They showed up to Saturday afternoon school board director meetings at public libraries. They swamped the school board email account. They went to the school board meetings which take place at 4pm on a weekday south of downtown - nigh impossible to get to for a North Seattle family - and signed up for testimony slots. They were mad, they had a voice, and they were making themselves known. Guess who benefited. 

It's clear that the turning point for our issue happened when those families - from whiter and wealthier schools than ours - started advocating for themselves. Several longtime advocates were instrumental in communicating to those families how our specific boundary issue was tied up with theirs. And through Facebook posts and a local blog and communication between PTAs, those families at other schools began to care about what was happening at our school. It was easy to tie in our issue with theirs when testifying before the school board. The school board directors could see the connected dots AND THEY AGREED WITH US. Then they voted the right way. 

Phillip has a less magnanimous and probably more realistic view on this. Because the school district staff got the boundary stuff so incredibly wrong, EVERYONE was angry and we just lucked out. I like my theory better, but I'll accept this one.

It feels good to have this victory so soon after the election (upon which I received a text from my husband, stuck at a work conference in Texas: "I feel like everything I understood about the world is wrong.")

Grappling with what it all means has meant, for me, that I've had ten times as many conversations about race as I've had in my entire life. Some of these are conversations about "ok, white friends, how are we going to be more engaged in this issue." And a lot of them have been, "ok, white friends, here's why your pro-life or anti-Hillary or I-just-want-some-freaking-change vote is frightening to people of color." I have been surprised that people need an explanation. But some do, and I've been providing it. At some point I came to the (terribly belated) realization: I want to do the work of making sure fewer people need this explanation. 

Is this a very low bar? I think it is. But it's more than I've done before. I've talked about race a LOT - with people who are safe. People who think the same as me. People who know more than me, so I can learn and listen and ponder... and what have I done with it? I've kept it to myself. I've avoided awkwardness and confrontation and risk. 

Well, I'm sorry I've avoided. Not that any intervention I'd engaged in earlier would have changed, say, an election result. But I have a better understanding, now, of what my friends of color are working with. Phillip has often talked about being the token Asian in a group, having to explain martial arts or fielding questions about model minority myths. Maybe it's MY turn to be the Race Ambassador. I can be the one to explain why the melting pot metaphor "melts" everyone into sameness and is hurtful. When someone says "I don't even SEE Phillip as Chinese!" instead of rolling my eyes I can say, "But he doesn't have that choice." When someone tries to make racism a "strictly interpersonal issue of hatred and intolerance" I can talk about stuff like, you know, housing segregation and its effect on, say, PUBLIC SCHOOL BOUNDARIES. (That quote is from this article, which resonated hard for me.) 

Today we went to a panel/workshop/discussion thingy about race and public education, put on by a multiethnic church who is committed to having these conversations and promoting justice. For me, and everyone else there, the "church" part is a very important part of this conversation. Or, rather, all of us in this work need Jesus to fill in the gaps. I'm going to say something stupid. Someone else is going to lose her patience. Someone else will misunderstand. All of us may have different priorities. But knowing that we all rested in Jesus made this a truly "safe space". In our fumbling and confusion and awkwardness, Jesus is there to fall back on, to help, to pave a path, to make a Third Way. 

Phillip will say this a lot to himself when it's just the two of us struggling to figure out the marriage things we are always struggling to figure out. We both want to find a solution so badly, but sometimes there isn't one. Sometimes we just are the way we are, and Phillip will finally say, "I guess this is why we have GOD." Like, FINE THEN. I GIVE UP. 

I think, on this race issue (and I should say, there are PLENTY of issues to engage in right now, this is just the one I feel called to), it's best if we come to the table already surrendered. Especially us white people. Listen! And then believe what you hear. Do it over and over. Eventually God will give you something to say, probably something to share with other white people. I think that's what's happened with me. 

Last month I went to a churchy conference that was pretty much useless except for this one line that I kept hearing in my heart over and over. The speaker said, "Because I KNOW all lives matter, I am not AFRAID to say that BLACK lives matter." Isn't that the truth of it? As people who believe in a loving creator God, who knows our names, who gives us destinies and desires and hopes and joys and deeply desires relationship with us, we KNOW that all lives matter. I repent of the ways I've held back, out of fear.  I'm praying that in the spaces I move in, I will be bold in speaking up for the lives that our broken culture doesn't value as much as mine. 


In which I move to Canada

Hi Internet

I'm writing to you from the other side of the street fair, our third so far, and does anyone have a trick for figuring out What's Worth Doing for street fairs? I spent a long time today staring at the [really lovely super nice] ladies selling jewelry next to us and thinking, "If THEY have a bad weekend, at least they don't have to throw out all their inventory!" We had a good Saturday and a not so hot Sunday, which is how these things go, I think, and, well, we made SOME money? I haven't sat down to calculate exactly how many hours Katie worked and how much she got "paid" per hour, mainly because I'm afraid to know. The food business, guys. I don't know that I recommend it. 

That said, I kind of love sitting at these street fairs. We've only done the one in my neighborhood, which is pretty small and tame, but I suspect the bigger the fair, the wider the swath of Bizarre Humanity. The older I get the more fake extroverted I become (fake because I still need that alone time to decompress no matter what) and I quite enjoy interacting with all the various Batty Ladies, Toothless Vagabonds, stressed families with babies, people who can't decide, people who ask me if my macarons and sugar cookies are sugar free, people who think we're selling soap and can't BELIEVE you can EAT THOSE!, Spacey Teenagers, people who can't walk past a Seahawks-themed cookie without feeling obligated to buy it as a token of their devotion, people who want me to open a store, people who come back for seconds, Random Conversation Starters, people who pay in dimes, THEY'RE ALL AMAZING. Especially the ones who walk by, stop in their tracks, and squee because OMG MACARONS THEY'RE MY FAVORITE. These people inevitably ask what MY favorite is and I always say, because I am a tremendously bad liar, that I prefer a massive fudgy brownie to one of these foppish silly little cookies. I know, I need to work on that. 

BUT I AM TIRED HOLY CATS. 

So here I am, wanting to unwind in front of some fun Olympics television viewing, and I CAN'T, because stupid NBC has me on a West Coast tape delay. I am not a huge Olympics/sports fan so I don't know why this has me so het up, but I keep getting excited to watch certain events with my kids and I keep getting disappointed/frustrated because nothing comes on until so late! And we already know the results for all the swimming because hello, internet, and UGH why don't I live closer to Canada so I can watch THEIR Olympics coverage. 

Maybe Trump will win and the Cheungs will relocate to Phillip's company's Vancouver location and we'll get to watch Canadian Olympics coverage NEXT time!

I come up with the greatest solutions to things. 

We're starting week 4 of Bathroom Remodel. (SEGUE! THERE WASN'T ONE!) It's... ok. So it's going slow - this last week was a hard one for our contractor dude's personal life - but I'm dead serious about having the lowest of low expectations and I am unfazed by Slow. And I think we're actually out of the really slow part, where it's all boring plumbing, and we've moved into framing and actually putting in some bathroom-looking type things. I really like the guy we hired, even though he wasn't around much last week. I also thought having the kids at home during a remodel was going to be horrid, but instead it's made me feel less awkward about having a stranger in my house all the time. Kids give me a reason to do stuff in my own house rather than feeling like I need to escape every day. We've had some design issues come up, but nothing we haven't figured out. I'm nervous the final product will be terrible because 1) I picked everything out and can you trust me and 2) what if the design sucks? But... too late for that! 

I am so Fine about the bathroom remodel that I've been sitting here looking at kitchen remodels on Pinterest during the NBC sucky coverage. I KNOW. 

Honestly, all I'm nervous about right now is that there's going to be some sort of Bathroom Emergency when I'm in Chicago this week and I won't be around to swoop in and Make A Decision. But that's what texting is for, yes? Also: CHICAGO. I am QUITE looking forward to seeing two of my favorite ladies and also feeling QUITE guilty about being gone longer than I've ever been for Something Fun. (Volunteering at Urbana is longer, but volunteering at Urbana is for GOD whereas hanging out in Chicago with @lizritz and @notthatyouasked is more like, hmmm, threatening to my liver.) 

All right. I wanted to watch the men's relay medley, even though I already know who wins, but it's almost 11 which is, like, years past my bedtime, and it's like NBC doesn't actually want anyone to watch the Olympics, don't you think? GAH


In which relaxing is bad for the psyche

This morning I'm wondering if it's possible to have a summer that doesn't feel like it's going 90 miles an hour. I feel like I set out to have a slower summer this year, or at least a more thoughtful summer, if that makes sense, and it's still nuts. 

I KNOW, I KNOW it doesn't help that I like to GO 90 miles an hour. But the last year I've tried hard to be aware of how Me Liking To Do Everything affects my family, especially Phillip, and I'm getting better at saying no to things I really want to do and intentionally preserving empty days in our schedule. This year we had several conversations about how terrible the end of last summer was, so we've planned a family getaway for Labor Day, Phillip and I are going to have our own local getaway the weekend after next, and I found a babysitter for sporadic summer date nights. 

BUT STILL! Sometimes I think it's because I have the bakery (though our bakery July is slow indeed) or because both our families are so close and we do so much with them or because I have so MUCH family living nearby. Maybe it's "Northwest Syndrome" where you need to take ultimate advantage any time there's good weather. But it's not like those are bad things or things I want to say no to. 

I signed up the kids for two VBS camps (on back to back weeks, admittedly) and we start swim lessons this afternoon. But that's it. I never got around to signing them up for the Chinese school summer camp and Jack didn't want to do soccer camp. Maybe August will feel slower? 

I'm not complaining. As I may have mentioned ten times in this post already, I LIKE TO BE BUSY. But when I've tried to NOT be busy ON PURPOSE and it isn't happening? That feels... I don't know. Like I messed up somewhere. What would it be like to have a long summer full of very lazy mornings and afternoons at the community pool with all our friends? Yeah, that 1) doesn't exist and 2) those lazy mornings would probably drive me insane. 

Did I mention our bathroom got demo-ed yesterday? HA HA HA

I turned 37 yesterday. I am fond of the odd number ages for some reason. They feel good to me, so I feel good about this upcoming year. But even though I'm younger than most of my local friends and a veritable spring chicken when you look at the demographics of the prayer ministry I'm in, I have this very Three anxiety around How Many Good Years I Have Left To Do Something Awesome. WHICH IS RIDONKULOUS. And yet! It's there! I am copping to it! In the same way I am looking at my rapidly graying hair and wondering whether to be a) the lady who covers her gray or b) the lady who cares not or c) the lady who bleaches it and dyes part of it pink because HEY if you're gonna dye your hair you should just go all out, I feel like I need to sort of plot out this second half of my life. 

My mother is reading this and her eyes have never rolled so far, I just know it. 

A few weeks ago I gave a talk (on prayer) (to a small churchy crowd) and you guys I REALLY LIKED GIVING THAT TALK. Seeing as how the one time I was asked to be a lector at church I nearly barfed all over the ambo, I hadn't really considered Speaker as a possible String to my Bow. But when you super dig what you're talking about and you feel like you're meant to share it - huh! That's different! So is that something I could, you know, DO? I've always thought creating and leading retreats would be fun. What about writing again? How much can I do when Emma is in school every morning? Can I go to THAT conference and THAT retreat and THAT night and... oh, and here we are at 90 miles an hour. Oops. 

Phillip is reading this and thinking 1) GOD NO MAKE IT STOP and 2) Why can't she want to do something that earns money?

I have to head out to an appointment with Emma's nurse, so that will spare you Part Two of this post, where I get navel gazey about a million other things... (seriously - I just deleted it because I don't have time to properly navel gaze. You're welcome.) 

 

 

 


Summertime me uses a LOT of caps

Here is a good example of Jack-ness (and also where you say, "Hey, weren't you going to try not to write about your kids so much?" and where I say, "BUT THEN THEY DO STUFF LIKE THIS.")

So I bought all three kids those summer workbooks they sell at Costco. I bought the Summer Fit Activities books for Jack and Molly, and I think those are pretty good, but I bought a different brand for Emma and it's dumb. The big kids are doing Actual Things while Emma is tracing letters. While Emma requires improvement in varied aspects of Preschooler, at age Nearly Five she has better handwriting than her brother and sister. BUT I DIGRESS. 

Right now, in Jack's workbook, it's talking about rounding. Which apparently they did not do in third grade this year? Because Jack is somewhat offended by the concept. He understands how to DO it, and I would I please stop talking to him like he is a CHILD, he GETS IT ALL RIGHT, he just doesn't understand why you would do such a thing. Shouldn't you just say the right number? Why would you not want to say the accurate number? It doesn't make sense. It even sounds sort of stupid. IS THIS LIKE LYING? 

So here I am, rueing the day I bought these stupid books and created incentives for the kids to work through them. Yet another piece of evidence in the Everything You Do That Makes You A Conscientious Not-Lazy Good Mom Is Actually Really Annoying And Drives You To Drink case file. 

Cheerily, the big kids are at a big time VBS this week. May I recommend VBS for the mom who wants to be Conscientious, Not-Lazy, and Good, but really can't hack it most days? Because VBS is basically free childcare for a week in the summer. YEP I SAID IT. We usually do a week of the standard, local, Catholic VBS which goes from 9am to 12pm every day and costs $40 per kid. Not too shabby. But this year we are ALSO doing a week of extremely non-standard (for us stodgy Catholics) not-local (IT'S A HALF HOUR AWAY, THAT'S LIKE DRIVING TO NEBRASKA), Korean megachurch VBS. Okay, I'm not sure if it's really a MEGAchurch, but it's 1) bigger than our church and 2) holy cats, the production values for this VBS, which ALSO cost $40, but goes until 2:30 every day AND includes lunch, ARE INSANE. Like, and I'm dead serious, I'm pretty sure they painted a mural around the entry hall of this church JUST for VBS. There's a giant orange submarine (the theme is "Submerged") hanging from the ceiling. There are nine million people running it and they are wearing matching t-shirts and lanyards and crazy hair bows and they are the most organized and friendliest church people I have ever encountered. This place is NUTS. I watched my kids walk into the sanctuary outfitted with a giant set for the huge song and dance numbers. IS THIS WHAT LIFE IS LIKE WHEN YOU'RE PROTESTANT?!?!

My friend sent her kids last year, that's how I know about it. I'm not in the habit of knowing what's going down at huge Korean churches in the suburbs, but perhaps I should be. 

In the meantime I think I may be booted from my role as a South American saint in the regular Catholic VBS because I would not commit to an hour and a half practice sometime on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. Guess what: I do not feel bad about this at all. If I were part of the Korean church I'm sure I would have started practices like three months ago and all my lines would be memorized, but... it's a little too late to schedule an hour and a half practice with someone in sole charge of her three children in the summertime with mere days' notice. AT LEAST THIS IS WHAT I THINK. So sainthood is most likely off the table for me ("I'll try to find someone else, Maggie, you sound too busy" "WORKS FOR ME!"), but let's be honest, no one thinks I'll get there anyway. 

What was happening last time I graced this blog with my presence? Had we gone to Cincinnati yet? I don't think so! We went to Cincinnati, Internet! We apologize to the locals for bringing our terrible PNW weather with us, but we had a lovely time nonetheless. Phillip's brother and sister-in-law may be the dotiest uncle and aunt who ever doted, plus I made everyone traipse around at least three museums, only one of which had the word "Children's" in the name. A good trip is marked by the number of museums visited, don't you think? May I recommend the Cincinnati Art Museum, which was packed full of good stuff, and the Underground Railroad Museum (Freedom Center?) A bit heavy for our last day and we opted out of the modern day slavery exhibit (I know I have to have SOME conversations, but I didn't want to have ALL of them at ONCE), but I thought it was so well done. If you are going with clueless children like mine, may I suggest starting on the second floor at "how slavery happened" exhibit before you start the Underground Railroad exhibit on the first floor? Jackson's logical little self would have appreciated his mother providing some proper chronology. 

Most of our time was spent eating everything in sight and talking grown up stuff while kids played Minecraft. Recommend. 

Oh, may I also recommend @hrcopsey, who introduced me to Taste of Belgium and her husband and boys, showed me around her amazing house, and assured my West Coast Snob self that Cincinnati was full of awesome. (Correct.)

We've been home about a week. Summer is supposed to start feeling like summer, right? Any day now, Summer! I'd appreciate sunnier weather, more drinking on decks, and less staring at one's calendar in terrified awe. 

OH HERE'S A PIECE OF NEWS: First, let's recap. Bathroom remodel! Was supposed to begin in April! Until the day before demo was to begin our handyman was diagnosed with cancer. (He is doing rather well, he thanks you!) We found another do-it-all-himself contractor type who said he was available mid July. When I texted him in mid June, this was still the plan! But the other day when we texted to get a start date, he said that oops, he still wasn't done with the project he was doing when we met him, which was the first of TWO projects he needed to finish before starting ours, and now we're looking at a fall start date? OH GOD. But! Today he called Phillip to say that his second project wasn't actually ready yet and would switch places with us. So now we could start... Monday? OH GOD. 

(I still don't think it will happen. Low expectations just make my life more livable.) 

I have to put kids to bed. Then put myself to bed. Because, you know. Summer. 

 


For the bus stop parents, an explanation of my mood

Pretty sure the parents at the bus stop think I'm the most unpleasant person in the world. But by 7:57 each morning - the last possible minute we can leave for the bus stop - I am already DONE with my day. How many times can one remind her second grader that the field trip form is with her lunch box only to have that second grader totally ignore said forms by the lunch box? How many times can one endure the sorry excuse, "But I didn't have TIME to brush my hair!" And really, how many times can one say, "PUT ON YOUR SHOES!" before one keels over absolutely dead? 

And so, I am a big grouchy grump at the bus stop. Sorry, everyone. 

This weekend is our annual hang-out-with-college-friends-and-talk-about-our-lives weekend, aka our Couples Retreat (that just sounds so goofy, I don't know why, I keep trying to come up with another name for it.) We usually do this over Labor Day, but circumstances require we gather over Memorial Day weekend instead. Most years the week before the retreat is when Phillip and I have our most glorious and breathtaking arguments, hence a weekend of intense couples therapy with the people who know us best. (And thank God, right?) But this year we're not nearly as exhausted and done with each other as our typical end-of-August selves, and so for once I am not gearing up for Massive Character Building. This year I am merely wishing away every single minute until the moment I get to drop off the kids with my in-laws. They haven't been particularly terrible (the kids, not the in-laws, the in-laws are wonderful in every way) and I have a lot farther to go to reach the end of my rope, but I don't feel like I've had an adult conversation with my husband in weeks. I can't remember the last time we went out to dinner with friends and only had to think about ourselves. Sometimes I write things like that and hear judgy voices: "Why should you get to think only about yourselves?" "Who else gets to dump their kids with grandparents as much as you do?" "Oh, do you need a break? You do work so hard, what with your tough blogging schedule and daily coffee dates with your preschooler." 

Eh!

In a bit I'll take Emma to preschool, then I'll come home and clean all the bathrooms, something I'm going to do only because the out of town friends are staying with us. Otherwise I might just let them go until mid-July when our new contractor guy starts the bathroom remodel. Did I tell you that part? That we found someone new? Who only becomes available right smack in the middle of summer vacation when everyone is home and going feral? IT'S GOING TO BE SO FUN!

Yeahhhhh I think we're going to quit this blog post while it can still win the award for most boring on the internet. I mainly wanted to jump on here and go, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE AND YOUR ABILITY TO DO THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT I TELL YOU EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF YOUR LITTLE LIVES?!"

I've got that out of my system now, so thanks, have a lovely day yourselves. I will probably opt for a nap instead of bathrooms. (Oooh, the judgy voices are coming back.)


I'd like to settle in for my long winter's nap now

Another Cheung Christmas party in the books, another post-party week of me flinging myself across the couch all, "NOW WHAT?!" Because I am super mixed up on the reason for the season and after all the booze is drunk, I'm always a bit surprised there's actually more of Christmas left. Kids opening presents? The Christmas pageant? Family? Eh? 

This was my best year for party stress, mainly because I decided not to stand in the kitchen all day handwringing over homemade appetizers. I finally allowed myself to JUST NOT MAKE FOOD this year. I know! I mean, there was FOOD, but nothing I slaved over (and subsequently ruined) and therefore no running around like a crazed banshee during the half hour before guests arrive trying to get the food done. And guess what! THE PARTY STILL HAPPENED! I KNOW! Of course, no one appeared to EAT anything (COINCIDENCE?) I would be much more upset with myself about this if it weren't for the fact that this year my guests only drank half a bottle of Makers Mark as opposed to last year when the entire bottle disappeared within the first 20 minutes of the party. Maybe we were all just a bit more moderate this year. This is what I'm going with. 

I ALSO did not freak out about enough people coming/WHO was coming/what I would wear (that much)/the decorations/the little stupid food labels/whether or not the hot cocoa display could hang with the other hot cocoa displays on Pinterest/getting fancy Christmas soap for the bathroom/people who RSVPed and didn't show/people who didn't RSVP and came/whether or not the food was any good. I just didn't. And I know, I'm suspicious too, it's like someone switched out the Type A for Type Anything Else, but let's just hope it sticks. Not being crazy is so much better than being crazy. 

ANYWAY. That's over. We did my-side-of-the-family Christmas the very next day and yesterday I cowered in a corner and sobbed. No, I was fine, until the late afternoon and hour nine million of dense dark gray rain and I had to go to the Christmas pageant rehearsal. Which! Was fine! But you know what? If I do this again next year? GROWN UPS ARE NOT INVITED. I'm just going to leave that there. It will be a lovely fifteen minutes on Christmas Eve and then I don't have to think about it until next December. And next December I shall be better prepared, with a flask and strong-Christmas-pageant-related-opinion earplugs. 

The bakery madness is over, thank God. We have some big things to think about for next year, if Thumbprints continues to exist. Did you know the FPC is having a baby? In February? YESSSSSS and guess who will be saying, "NO COOKIES IN FEBRUARY (OR MARCH, APRIL, POSSIBLY JUNE AS WELL!)" I turned down a TON of orders this month because our two corporate orders were just that big and time consuming. We basically did nothing except those two things, but tripled the amount of money we made from last December. The issue is no longer "What does it look like for Thumbprints to operate" - I think we've figured that out. Now it's a matter of, "Does this work for us? Do we want to keep it up? Is it worth it?" All questions to figure out later. After I've done all the taxes, obvs. SIGH. But I'll tell you this much: if the bakery still exists next December, we're either going to be as exclusive and choosy as we want to be, OR we are hiring helpers and a big kitchen with storage space and working until we fall over. We got so many calls this month SO MANY CALLS. And I think I might enjoy bossing a few extra bakery hands around.

Speaking of bosses, I got an email from my first job boss wanting to know if I want to work a few hours from home for him ummmmm hmmmm... (No. The right answer is no. Don't let me keep pondering that.)

The next few days we're just getting ready for OUR Christmas. We're a Christmas Eve family, so after the pageant and church, we'll come home and eat incredibly unhealthy snacky foods and open presents. I will miss my family and all the noise and movement, but I just want to do it at home so much. It does make me remember growing up overseas, though, where you never have any family around and your friends come over on the holidays and I miss and want that too. Why don't I have any orphaned friends to invite over?! Phillip is going to have to adopt some young work people away from their families. 

Christmas Day we usually host a brunch for Phillip's much smaller side of the family, but this year his mom is leaving (tomorrow!) to work on a Mercy Ship in Madagascar! Ack! And because hosting a Phillip's family thing without his [wonderful wonderful] mom around is not something I want to do, we changed plans. FORTUITOUSLY one of Phillip's cousins opened a Chinese restaurant this year. Two minutes from his parents' house. Like, it's where his dad eats all his meals now. AND GUESS WHERE I SUGGESTED WE HAVE CHRISTMAS LUNCH? Am I not the smartest person in the world? And it's just so FITTING, my husband's family being Chinese and me being half Jewish, right? Everyone will be much happier doing this than eating strata at my house anyway. 

And then the next day I get on a plane for St. Louis where I will volunteer at Urbana for a week. I am... I feel terrible about leaving the kids right when they get all their new stuff and we want to organize and play and have fun. Molly and Emma are getting all these things for their Target brand American Girl dolls and I want to help them set it all up! Figuring out childcare was hard. Leaving Phillip for a week is sad. I kind of think of Urbana as "work travel" for me, because I really am going to train and learn and grow in the things I want to grow in, but it's NOT, obviously, and it's a big deal for me to be gone a whole week when the kids are out of school, and during the holidays! It's a big deal and I'm thankful Phillip is so supportive of me and my "work". 

Of course, on the other hand, I have been so tired and frustrated with so many things, that a week in a nice hotel room with one of my best friends super super far away sounds soooooo niiiiiice...

Was that not the most mommybloggy update in the world? SNORE. But here I am, dropping a digital pin on this point in my life. 

I think I'll eat some cake now. Katie made me a passionfruit ganache cake for Christmas (BEST GIFT EVER?) and I am slowly (okay, not that slowly) working my way through. It's hard work, but I'll get it done, no worries. 

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR, FRIENDS! If you're St. Louis adjacent hit me an email and maybe we can meet for lunch!

 


December Madness, fueled by sugar cookies

The December Panic kicked in this morning. It's late this year - usually it starts on Thanksgiving, ha. But this morning I find myself wordlessly roaming my house, mentally curling into the fetal position. It's all the usual stuff, plus the stuff that I should care about but don't usually, plus the stuff that I should care about and never do, plus the bakery, plus the Christmas party, plus the fact that I'm leaving for St. Louis the day after Christmas and will be gone for a week... suddenly I care very much about ALL THE THINGS. All the stuff on the deck that I still haven't put away from the summer? VERY IMPORTANT! The kids not putting their things away in their assigned places and just haphazardly stashing in their rooms? PANIC INDUCING! The fact that no one has any clean socks? I HAVE FAILED AS A MOTHER! My inability to choose a Signature Cocktail for the Christmas party? A DISGRACE TO THE HUMAN RACE! 

And the bakery, oh you guys. The bakery basically has two customersSug in December: our big corporate client from last December and then a tiny corporate client who ordered 59 dozen sugar cookies - FAWNCY ones at that. Yesterday we decided that we're not taking any more. We have one tiny order for late December, but that's it. I've turned down lots of orders over the last 2 weeks because we literally have no space, but now it's official. DO NOT CALL US. This is madness, the end. 

I should say more about the bakery, for those two or three of you interested in this entrepreneurial mental illness, but that's a little more procrastination than I mean to have right now. (Basically if I am writing on my website I am avoiding something I really SHOULD be doing. Like dishes.) 

Let's discuss something more important, like my hair appointment tomorrow. Yes, one million things I need to do, but YOU BETCHA I am going to the salon and fixing my head. The hair is in a state of way-grown-out pixie, where it's more like a slightly layered bob, with some random slicing into it since I cut it myself a few weeks ago. I curl it with a flat iron everysingleday. The layer right under the top layer is all going gray. And the fact that I can gather it into the teeniest of ponytails drives me INSANE. A short hair lady cannot abide even the minutest of ponytails. But I am wondering if I SHOULD let it grow, that maybe longer hair suits me right now (but not TOO long). Everyone I ask says, "Oh, I like it like this!" but NO, WRONG ANSWER. 

So when I was wandering around Anthropologie the other day hunting for a Festive Top (this was going to be my too-fat-for-all-my-dresses-holiday-solution), instead I found the most perfect head of hair on the girl manning the dressing rooms. It helped that she was 1) tall and thin and 2) freakishly movie star beautiful. Being none of those things it's entirely possible her hair will not work on my head, but I stalked her anyway and surreptitiously took pictures... I kind of can't believe I did that. So creepy! But she had the perfect long-ish pixie, and her hair was dark like mine and came to a point at the nape of her neck like mine and appeared to be straight-but-worked-over-with-a-flat-iron the way I do mine. SO MAYBE. 

Anyway. Congratulations, Me! Instead of folding the pile of laundry on your bed or doing the breakfast dishes, you wrote a pointless blog post! And now you have to go meet a friend for coffee because HELLO it's not like your priorities are COMPLETELY out of whack. When you get back you have nine million sugar cookies to box (AND YOU GUYS I LEARNED HOW TO TIE REAL BOWS!!!!!) so it's not like anything your family actually needs you to do is going to get done today. But you'll have had a good day! Throw some Xanax at that December anxiety issue and you're ALL GOOD!


And guess what! There's no school tomorrow! HAAAAA

So if I wanted to, I could write my whole blog post in super huge Impact font what do you think about that I sort of love it maybe this is fuuuuun!!!

Okay, sorry, it's just that Typepad made it a whole lot easier to be annoying and I couldn't help it. 

Oh, Typepad. Remember when Typepad was where the cool kids started their blogs? 

That reminds me, I stupidly volunteered myself to start a blog/website dealie for my churchy crowd... which brings me to today's topic, it being POSSIBLY I SHOULD STOP VOLUNTEERING FOR THINGS. 

Remember the bakery? Yeah, the bakery. That's still happening. We got our most $$$ single order this week and that's exciting, especially because it's not one that makes both Katie and I hyperventilate, ie: we can handle it, no prob. But we've also got a bunch of custom sugar cookie orders, including one from a lady who's having her own cookie cutters designed and created by a 3D printer OH YES. And we're back on the holiday menu for one quite large local e-tailer so it's safe to say Thumbprints Holiday Madness is in full swing. So there's that. My business, for which I pay taxes and write emails and suck up to government officials. Kind of a thing on my plate. 

OTHER THINGS:

  • (sorry)
  • That pesky school boundary issue. I have a meeting about that this week. This meeting was announced via email where it was noted that "Maggie has some great ideas (and contacts!)" and I have yet to correct the record on the contacts part. Just knowing WHO to contact is definitely not the same as Having Contacts. Derp. 
  • Being the website, Facebook, newsletter, and brand new Twitter account updater for the school PTA. I would rather do this job that pretty much any other job for the PTA, but with the boundary issue I'm realizing I could pretty much turn THAT into a part-time job. 
  • Every Monday night I do a church thing. Every. Monday. Sometimes it's two blocks from my house, sometimes it's an hour away in traffic. I super love doing this thing, but again: every. Monday. 
  • We got our bathroom leak and ceiling fixed! And now it's my job to draw up a design and source some materials for our bathroom remodel, still scheduled for the spring, but with A Dude rather than A Remodeling Firm which means more work for me. (But you guys. I really had no idea how much A Remodeling Firm would charge for a bathroom remodel. I mean, I thought I knew, but I didn't really know, and that's made me A-OK with hiring a chatty yet reliable and weirdly inexpensive Dude rather than my preferred Firm.)
  • OH, HEY, BEING A PARENT
  • Planning and prepping for our yearly holiday party.
  • And the newest thing! Last year a friend and I threw around the idea of doing a Christmas pageant at our church. We didn't approach anyone about it till about Thanksgiving time and because our church is the sort of church that does things Well, it was a bit horrified at the thought of throwing together a Christmas pageant sort of last minute like. But this year we have another friend who is now church staff and sort of the Go To Lady To Get Stuff Done and guess who talked the priest and choir director into a pageant, created a whole practice schedule, and already put a notice in the bulletin. And... when I said, "Sure, okay, I guess?" I didn't realize we'd be practicing EVERY SATURDAY in December (overkill?) (but remember my church does things WELL!) and HOO BOY. So that's bakery deliveries and at least 3 parties on December Saturdays, coupled with pageant practice... Phillip is going to kill me. 

I'm NOT someone who has a problem saying no. Honest. I have lots of nice ways of saying no, but I only bust those out when I don't want to do something. And I'm realizing that most of the time, I WANT TO DO EVERYTHING.

Phillip? Not so much. 

Yeah, so my list of things up there, I'm excited about every single one of those things. BUT CAN I DO ALL THE THINGS? 

I think the answer is: December is just going to be crazy. Like everyone else's December. Every year. CRAZY = DECEMBER I am very much a "All right! I see the list! It will be rough, but we'll get it done and WE SHALL PREVAIL!" 

Phillip will struggle. I will plan and organize and do nine million things so he only has to do four, but he is still going to kill me. Maybe that's why I'm writing this out, so you know what happened when I tell him about the Christmas pageant and I never show up on Twitter again. 

Buuuuuut.... this is why we planned a grownups-only weekend in Vegas in January? Maybe I can leverage his February ski weekend with friends into this. Maybe a good, "BUT WE WANT OUR KIDS TO BE IN A CHRISTMAS PAGEANT!!!"

Last night I attempted Actual Cooking and made Indian butter chicken, one of our favorite things. The end result was not something that tasted anything like butter chicken, but it was vaguely Indian and definitely edible. Not a total fail, I thought. But Phillip, who is absolutely never anything but encouraging about my "cooking" struggled to find something positive to say and the kids wouldn't eat it at all. So tonight we are having hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls, probably some macaroni and cheese. I do know how to say no to SOME things. 


A Litany of Complaints

Okay friends, if you've got any pep talks lying around, I could use one. 

Things are not HORRIBLE. At all. Much of Twitter is experiencing Actual Horrible right now and all I've got is a leak in my ceiling. 

But we already had someone out to fix the leak! And we were going to get a guy to come repair the ceiling and that was going to last us until the spring when hopefully we'll have enough money to gut the whole bathroom and start over, which is what REALLY needs doing. But as soon as I got out of the shower this morning the kids shrieked, "THE CEILING IS DRIPPING AGAIN!" and lo, it was so. Our top [main] floor bathroom is situated directly over the bottom floor bathroom [the kids use this one] and we thought it was the toilet, but maybe now it's the shower? 

We had our 5th contractor come out to give us a bid on the bathroom and while this is our first Fairly Reasonable In Our Opinion Bid, it's still a huge chunk of money. And he didn't include redoing our shoddy shower tile job, which we're pretty sure we want. 

TANGENT: If you had one bathroom on your main floor that served as the master bedroom bathroom AND the bathroom everyone in your home uses during the average day, including guests, would you:

OPTION ONE: Divide into 2 bathrooms, creating a hall bath with a toilet, large shower, and teeny sink, and master bath with double sinks, small shower, and toilet, or

OPTION TWO: Keep as one large bathroom, but replace giant tub with giant shower and replace current shoddy tile job shower with a sink, so that the pocket door dividing the bathroom would actually be USEFUL (giant shower/double sinks on one side, toilet and new sink on the other side). 

(I suppose it would be helpful to note that the bathroom currently has one giant soaking tub, double vanity, toilet, and shower, but a pocket door that divides it into tub/sinks and toilet/shower. It also has a door on either end, one into the master bedroom, one into the hallway, IT MAKES NO SENSE, your Christmas party guests feel like they're walking into your shower.)

OMG THIS WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE AN ESSAY ON MY BATHROOM. 

I'm also sick and I've been sick for going on three weeks and I AM OVER IT. 

I tried REALLY hard not to go over my grocery budget this month, but no one in this house is cool with being a vegetarian except... oh wait, probably everyone is cool with it except Phillip. And Molly, I guess. Future Post: How Molly Is Mini-Phillip.

I screwed up Molly's Halloween costume. Royally. 

I absolutely hate my hair, but if I chop it into my preferred long bangs pixie I'm afraid I'll look even fatter than the nearly 40 extra pounds I've gained this year OH YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT FORTYYYYY. 

Also, I spend an inordinate amount of time each evening ogling the gray hair multiplying over my scalp.

But you know what, I might be okay with all of these things if my four-year-old would literally get her you know what together and figure out how to use the potty. I pretty much never want advice about anything, but people, if any of you know the tiniest thing about potty training while on Miralax PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE put your assvice in the comments I BEG YOU. (I should note the other aspects of potty training are good, including night training, in fact, that was the first thing she mastered A YEAR AGO. WHAT IS UP WITH THIS KID?)

Let us pause while I figure out if there's anything else I want to sob about. 

Eh, I think that's it. Time to open that bag of Halloween candy that put me over my budget WISE DECISION, SELF. 


Out of Office Message

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

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

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

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

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

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