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January 2008

Twelve years too late!

In keeping with our little school theme here, I got an email the other day from a girl I knew for all of one year of high school. Apparently she found my brother's MySpace page, got my email address from him and there she was, asking me what I'd been up to for the last, oh, twelve years.

(Note to my brother: People with MYSPACE PAGES have no business making fun of people who run highly entertaining professional-looking BLOGS. Mmkay?)

(Note to everyone who'd rather read about the baby: Please help me in my Continuing Adventures With Baby Food over at Parenting. Seriously. I NEED HELP.)

So anyway. It wouldn't be such a weird occurrence, getting an email from an Old School Chum, right? Except that this was a girl I knew during the worst year of high school on record, when I didn't have anyone to eat lunch with, let alone someone who would think to email me twelve years later. And we weren't even friends! I mean, of all the people I would have liked to have been friends with at that school, she was at the top of the list. She was probably the friendliest nicest person I knew that year- but being friendly and nice meant she was friends with everyone else and there obviously wasn't much time to become BFF with me. We were on the basketball team and in the same classes, but that'd be the extent of our friendship.

Which leads me to wonder: WHY EMAIL ME?

The obvious answer is: because lots of people in the world are much nicer and pleasanter and sunnier dispositioned than I am. SOME people just like to say hello and catch up. It's a NICE THING TO DO.

And it's not like I MINDED getting an email from her (and believe me, there are plenty of high school era people I'd rather not get emails from.) The handful of memories I have of her are all good ones. I was sort of surprised that I wasn't creeped out when I saw that email was from a High School Person. There are exactly three people I communicate with from high school and two of them I haven't talked to in years. Tracking those people down, finding out what they're up to, the thought of going to (oh dear God in heaven) a REUNION makes me queasy. So the fact that I thought it was nice that she thought of me is not un-meaningful.

BUT STILL. I guess I just don't see the point. It's not like we had some great friendship to reignite or anything. We didn't even graduate together. We were on the basketball team sophomore year and then she moved away. The End. So what is the point of emailing me?

(See, Phillip got really sick of me going on and on about this last night so I have to come do it here.)

I have to admit, there are two or three people I'm curious about. I'd like to know if they got married and what kind of jobs they have and where they live. Just so I can sort of finish them off in my brain. Closure! But NO WAY am I going to hunt down their MySpace pages and EMAIL THEM. (Okay, MAYBE I would hunt down their MySpace pages, but I would not email them. Although MySpace is scary. SCARY. Why can't everyone have nice little blog?)

I don't think this girl was looking for me. When I saw "your brother's MySpace page" of COURSE the first thing I did was go FIND my brother's MySpace page and INVESTIGATE. Turns out he is "friends" with a whole bunch of people from our high school (he graduated two years after me) and clicking through all those profiles seriously messed with my head. And then I discovered the high school reunion page two girls set up to connect everyone and MY BRAIN EXPLODED. Too much information! Too many old names and faces and updates! Gah! I'll bet anything this girl was clicking through just like I had done, found my brother's page, thought to herself, "Hey! He had a sister in my class! I should see what's up with her!" and then actually DID THAT VERY THING.

So who is the normal one? Her? Or me?

If anything, it made me want to email one of the friends I haven't emailed in years, just so I could say, "GUESS WHO EMAILED ME!" And then gossip about all the people I saw on the reunion page.

I often wonder what it would have been like to attend high school in the states. Phillip isn't exactly friends with people from high school, but he'd always run into them on campus or reconnect with them through job networking or friends of friends of friends. I have other friends who were super excited about their reunions (okay, not freakishly so, but they still wanted to go whereas I would not consider the thing in a million zillion years.) I wonder what it'd be like to go home to your parents' house and hear about all the other kids who've been in town lately. I don't know. But going to a school where NO one goes back home didn't make a difference to all the people friended on the reunion page. THEY were beside themselves with the getting reacquainted.

Maybe it is ME. And my surly snobby high-school-is-the-pit-of-all-evil* attitude. That must be it.

What did Christian say about prom on Project Runway? "I think prom is horrible and tacky and gross!" Yeah.

*Actually, I do not think this. Not entirely. It's just that the good parts of high school- my kick ass volleyball team, my English teachers, the drama stuff, the going out and dancing, the actual friends I eventually made- NOT AS INTERESTING. Who wants to read about that? GIVE ME THE ANGST!

More thoughts on school

Like I told my mother last night, "Sometimes you ask the internet what is wrong with your screaming barfing baby, even though you kind of already know the answer and the comments aren't that helpful. But SOMETIMES you ask the internet something and THEY REALLY KNOW." Reading all your stories was so helpful! Even though we won't be making this decision for a while (and I do mean "we", as I had to reassure Phillip who wanted to know why I was asking the internet where to send our child to school without even asking him first) it's good to know this stuff.

By the way, my mother would like you all to know that she does not declare her Catholic school experience to be representative of all Catholic school experiences. That said, she went to school in the Olden Days and her nuns were big fat meanies. Also, she would appreciate it if I stopped writing about her without asking first.

Overall, after reading your comments, I have a much better impression and idea of what Catholic schools are about. I mean, as much as you can after reading Long and Terribly Interesting Reader Autobiographies. Which is a lot!

I don't really have any context for private school, other than my mom's and my aunt's stories about the nuns. Until we moved overseas I went to an elementary school where both of my parents taught previously and all the teachers knew me and treated me like a princess. When we moved overseas there was one available schooling option- the Single American School On Base where your parents worked, where all your friends went and where all your parents' friends worked. At my last school we had a couple of Italian students who paid through the nose to attend the American school (and after visiting a couple of Italian high schools aka giant communist concrete boxes of boredom, I would have too!) There were also lots of international schools in Italy, which I know about because we often kicked their butts all over their fancy basketball and volleyball courts. Those diplomats' sons and embassy workers' daughters were no match for the spawn of the American Military. I had strings of rotten teachers in my Department of Defense-funded public schools, but I also had a handful of truly stellar teachers. My chemistry and physics teacher conducted real estate deals from his desk while we goofed off (I am pretty sure he owned over half the town), but my senior English teacher had as much an impact on me as my best college professor. Also, when you are attending a small public high school dripping with government money, you get to do a lot of stuff. I was a member of pretty much everything there was to be a member of. I went all over Europe with sports teams and bands and speech and drama geeks. I mean, we went to VENICE for field trips.

As my friend Lee noted in the comments, it's true, I don't really know anything about the local public schools. I've heard vague unfavorable comments about the Seattle school system and many, much more specific comments about the district my mom and sister teach in, which Jack won't be going to anyway. There is always a huge struggle to pass school levies (although that may be true anywhere?) unless you are living in Rich Microsoft Suburbs or something. I know there are a couple of local standout high schools, but I know next to nothing about the elementary schools.

But the fact that my church has a little school next door has always been attractive to me, even before we had a kid. It shows that your church is active in the community and the annual school fund raiser is a HUGE neighborhood event. The school just recently started a pre-K program and while we haven't really decided anything, I think it's probably a given that we'll enroll Jack when it's time. We love our church community, we love our church, we already know a dozen of Jack's future classmates and all of that adds up to, what seems to me, an excellent place to be.

Also Catholic elementary school is really attractive. I've dropped things off at the school before and snooped around in the hallways looking at all the displays. Displays for All Saint's Day as well as President's Day. We like the idea of Mass and religious education as part of his normal school day. Again, we are fans of the community and the school itself seems to have a Rah Rah St. Urban Wealthy Neighborhood! attitude anyway. I can easily see us sending Jack to this school if we are 1) still living here and 2) can afford it. Neither of which are for sure.

But I have more doubts about Catholic high school. I have fewer now that I've read your comments, but there's still something about it. I really REALLY don't like the idea of a little insular Catholic world. It's the same kind of thing I noticed in some of the more "sheltered" kids in the non-denominational college fellowship. Having this perception of non-Christians (or non-Catholics in this case) as The Other. But I suspect that has more to do with the kind of kid you have and what kind of world you provide for him outside of school. It might even be more important to send your kid to a Catholic high school, according to you guys, what with the quality of education and all that. I guess this shows that environment is an important concern of mine. I'm not particularly worried about the racial make up of classrooms and things like that, but diversity of thought is important to me.

While I'm bringing that up, I have to say that I am not at all afraid of accusatory fundamentalist types putting a not-parent-approved fear of God into my kid. For one thing, we live amidst and attend church with Good Seattle Liberals and Good Seattle Liberals would rather die before making snap judgments about your belief system- unless, of course, you are driving an SUV to work, by yourself, every day of the week. I have heard about this stuff happening in religious schools, but I really don't see it at this school. We are hippy dippy Let's Learn About All The Wonderful Cultures and Their Wonderful Customs and Incorporate Them Into Everything We Do types. We are not, however, hippy dippy about church teaching. My priest is the most vocal and open I have ever heard about The Controversial Stuff. Oh my God, you should hear him in the marriage classes. I have to hide my face behind my hands.

I feel like I am forgetting all sorts of stuff, but the baby is awake ALREADY and I have not taken a shower and now my day is ruined. Ruined!  I do want to try to respond to your comments, although I haven't been very good at that lately. Anyway, I really appreciate your stories. Honestly truly. Although my mom is disappointed no one had anything to say about the WASL, the Bane of her Existence. Oops, there I go writing about her again...

Mean nuns and rulers

Is it Catholic Schools Week or whatever in your part of the country? This past Sunday we were treated to an extra thirty minutes of blah blah blah because we were honoring the Distinguished Alumni from our parish school. A graduate of the class of 1956, a very nice man with a nice-looking family. The church invited his classmates to attend as well and there was a whole pew of white haired former Catholic school students on hand to make the applause louder. It was very sweet and, for the millionth time since we had a kid, I started wondering if we will send him to Catholic school.

I have to say that for the most part, the point is moot. I have my doubts if we will even LIVE here by the time Jack is school-aged, due to the Not Being Able To Afford Even A One Room Shack In The Greater Seattle Area. And because so many people are in that boat, there aren't enough kids to fill all the city Catholic schools. But if we ARE living nearby and our parish school still exists, it's a consideration. I have not heard fabulous things about the local public schools and, hey, we're Catholic. We're also committed members of the parish which means subsidized tuition! I thought private school tuition was something scandalous and since we are not oil tycoons or Microsoft zillionaires, I didn't think Catholic school was an option. But Catholic school is not the same as, say, Lakeside and tuition is something like $4000. Which is not free, but in the realm of barely possible.

And so. Every so often I wonder: will we send Jack to Catholic school?

Sometimes I feel guilty thinking this because I am the Proud Daughter of two career elementary school teachers. Dedicated teachers. The BEST teachers on the PLANET and I will not be persuaded from that point. These are two people who were made to be elementary school teachers and because of them I know a HELL OF A LOT about public school. Teacher politics, working with the administration, crappy teachers, excellent teachers, vile children, sainted children, special ed, getting rid of music and art, Ritalin, planning periods, recess duty, helpful parents, parents who think they are helpful, kids who need parenting, bullies, unions, grievances, funding, what to do when a first grader pees his pants at his desk and acts like it didn't happen.

Yeah. So for some reason I feel like I need to be Faithful to the System. It worked for me! Half of my family and practically all the people we know spend the majority of their time attempting to educate the children within the public school framework and I Will Support It! Or something like that. (And both of my parents are rolling their eyes to the back of their heads because what is with their goofy daughter and her weirdo pronouncements, and while they're at it, what is with her WEBSITE, do you KNOW WHAT SHE SAYS ABOUT US?)

Then my mother moved back to the United States and got herself a teaching job in the same district she worked for when I was in third grade. Washington State, in case you are interested, pays it's teachers in rubles. It installed something called the WASL which, if you listen to my mother, is the Devil in Standardized Test Format. And also, this particular school district was demanding teachers make up for the 15 hours they lost when the school thought there was e. coli in the water and shut everything down, only to later realize, oops!, the water was fine after all! And this is somehow the teachers' fault? (Seriously. The dinner conversations at my parents' house are DELIGHTFUL.)

I was telling my mom about the old guy we honored at church and how it made me think about Catholic schools and for once she didn't say, "Those nuns were the most vicious women on the planet!" She said, "Well, it might be nice to go to a school where they haven't cut music and art and don't spend the entire day teaching from photocopies of old WASL tests!"*

And I hadn't thought about that. When I think about Catholic school I think about the religion part (which is fine with me) and how my friend the Youth Minister swears up and down she will never send her kid to a Catholic school because, the way she sees it, you get an overly sheltered kid who hits 9th grade and turns into an out-of-control alcoholic when he goes to public high school. (We'd probably have to sell our kidneys to fund a Catholic high school education.)  I also think about how I liked going to schools (and a college) where there was at least one kind of everybody. Not that all the kids in a Catholic school are Catholic (oh, how my church is constantly bemoaning the lack of participation from school parents in parish life!) but you know. Of course, that's probably not a huge issue when you are seven.

What sayeth my rabid Catholic readers? Did you go to Catholic schools? Was it a good experience? Did you turn into coke heads when you reentered the secular world? Are you super sick of that stereotype? Do school experiences just totally depend on the kid? Do you feel like you are a [fill in positive word] Catholic because you went to Catholic school? And if you think so, is there a tree-worshiping crystal-owning former Catholic school student for every kid like you? These are the things I wonder.

Not like I need to worry about this any time soon. Right now we're more concerned about not eating the lint in the rug and figuring out how to get from the coffee table to the rocker without conking one's head on the hardwood floors.

*Hello local readers whose children have probably taken the WASL once or twice. I don't REALLY know what it is. Or if it's really the Devil's Own Test or what. And I haven't a clue if teachers teach from old tests. I am using Poetic License! Also! I just know that my mom, the Best Teacher Ever, thinks spending an entire year worrying about making sure the kids ace the WASL (and NOT worrying about anything else, those things don't matter, they aren't on the WASL) is a grand waste of Learning Time and not only that, it is BORING. Anyway. Me=So Not An Authority. Simply full of hot air.

Nothing to see here, stop by tomorrow

I swear I had a million things to say today. I have erased, in this order, posts regarding 1) Catholic School 2) Why grown ups don't act like grown ups ie: is that 45-year-old woman I know smoking pot on the weekends FOR REAL? 3) how it is cold and snowing and I am stuck inside all day and 4) the status of my blogroll, which I am pretty sure no one gives a rat's ass about. (If you do: I am working on it!)

Oooh, I also erased a post about POLITICS because MY GOD we don't bring up POLITICS on the BLOG! What am I thinking?

Anyway, I am sitting here obsessively refreshing my UPS tracking number to see when my new jeans are going to get here (new! jeans!) while my mother-in-law does the diaper changing and feeding and putting to bed. I might even take a nap.

Except not yet, because I have to eat lunch and fancy up my sister's resume. I've had a string of crappy jobs and absolutely no idea what I want to be when I grow up, but I am VERY good at fancying up resumes.

So I am sorry to leave you with this pathetic excuse for a post, but you know, you can't just fling a post about Catholic education into an online den of RABID CATHOLICS without putting some thought into it. And let me tell you, this post contained absolutely no thought whatsoever.

Oh, and to update you on the Barfing: there has been no barfing since I last posted. THANK GOD. And for the record, yes, the baby spits up and all that, but not very often and NEVER EVER has his dinner vacated his insides in quite the way it did last week. So there. And just so you don't get too jealous, I will have you know that we go through about 47 drool bibs a day. DISGUSTING.

Grossest post you'll find on this website

Last night my child barfed up his entire dinner.

(Oh wait. If you are not into things like children barfing up their pureed chicken and vegetable dinners, you can go read about my extreme lack of effort in the appearances department at Parenting. Bye!)

Anyway. It totally grossed me out. I think I have seen him barf only once before and it was, like, maybe a tenth as much barf as last night.

(Goodbye all my readers!)

And I was sitting there bragging to Phillip (can you brag to someone who would be bragging about the same thing?) about what a good EATER our boy is and how he has NEVER spit out ANY kind of food and how he would just sit in his high chair slurping up pears and avocado and sweet potatoes ALL DAY LONG if I let him. How we'll NEVER have any problems with foods and eating and then BAAAAAAARRRRRRFFFFFFF.

He'd been looking at me like, "Ugh, more cereal?" But I just thought that meant he wanted bananas or something. So I'm sitting there waving my spoonful of bananas and he gives me an apologetic look, opens his mouth and everything he ate comes POURING OUT.

Of course I reacted with calm and aplomb. By which I mean I started shouting, "OH NO! OH NO!" and Phillip came rushing up the stairs (he works from home on Wednesdays) to see which of us had died. He ended up cleaning up the high chair and the floor and the shoes (ick! the shoes!) while I took the baby upstairs to strip him and hose him down. Ugh, poor baby.

He is not sick often, can you tell? Nor does he throw up or do anything else that could be vaguely construed as gross. I mean, all babies have squicky diapers, but that's about as far as it goes with our kid.

UNTIL LAST NIGHT. Ugh. I sort of wish I had documented it with digital imagery, just for posterity. IT JUST KEPT COMING OUT.

I do hope you all have already eaten whatever meal it is that you should have eaten before you read this.

The internet IS my therapist!

I will have you all know that I had a great day yesterday. A FANTABULOUS DAY.

I wrote that post in the middle of doing many things. Napping, eating, playing, crawling. And going out to coffee with a friend and her daughter in the morning. And skipping moms group in the afternoon because Jack wouldn't go down for his nap until an hour later than usual. The best part? I did not freak out about this. I did not say to myself, "Self! If only you had manipulated that morning nap! And gotten him down a little earlier! And maybe given him lunch at lunch time instead of fifteen minutes past lunchtime! Then he would be sleeping and you could make it to moms group!" I also did not say, "Self! MAYBE he will wake up with enough time to still get to moms group! You can do it! Just pack and get ready and wait and then SPEED OUT THE DOOR LIKE A CRAZY WOMAN!"

I did not do either of those things. Instead I put my baby down, called the woman hosting the moms group and told her I probably wouldn't be there that afternoon and I would see her next time. Then I hung up the phone, made myself some lunch and watched TV. It was all very calm and easygoing and unstressful and SO NOT LIKE ME.

Oh, I was so pleased.

And then? For some reason not many moms were able to make it to the moms group and it was more or less cancelled one of the moms ended up visiting me instead. Which was lovely because 1) I did not have to leave the house and 2) I got to say things other than, "We don't HAVE any more pears!" and "Are you TRYING to smash your fingers in the drawer?"

What's on tap for today? Oh, I think a bath. And some lunch. And maybe a quick three-block walk to see the ducks in the duck pond. And then, I think, a leisurely afternoon because my new US Weekly arrived yesterday and my sister left a pint of ice cream in my freezer and something obviously must be done about those two things.

I hope your days are going as fantabulously as mine.

P.S. I just saw the latest Friday Night Lights, which starred Rory Gilmore's ex-boyfriend AND Weevil (although a 40-year-old Weevil, my goodness, what happened?) AND IT WAS LIKE THE WORLD EXPLODED INTO LOLLIPOPS.

Long, angsty, introspective and HELLO, SAVE IT FOR THE THERAPIST

So I've been thinking about why Doing Stuff With A Baby has been freaking me out so much lately. It started a few months ago when I felt overwhelmed by my involvement in three moms groups. I officially dropped out of one, more or less dropped out of another, but I still go to my church group, which has never felt suffocating in the ways the other groups did. Now that I'm out of the holiday season I've been thinking about going back to the one I didn't officially drop, but when I set out to Actually Go, I get nervous and stay home.

When I pictured what it would be like to quit my full time job and stay home with a baby, I imagined lots of outings and get togethers with other stay at home moms. We'd go out for coffee in the mornings and let our babies play in each other's living rooms in the afternoon. I thought it'd be really fun to start going places like the children's museum and the aquarium and, okay, even the zoo. I was even excited about all the new friends I was sure to make in my three moms groups. Everyone always talked about how hard it was to leave the house when you have kids, but I figured that was just part of the job. You get used to it, right? You make it work.

But, like many many other things in my life, it's taken me a while to reconcile Reality with What I Thought It Would Be Like. I have this little problem of setting rather high expectations for myself. What is wrong with me and all the not wanting to get out of the house? Why can't I just go to the museum without writing a dozen angsty blog posts about going to the museum? If I'm not having fun at the moms group, why don't I JUST STOP GOING? I mean, for the love of God, you must be saying to yourselves. GET A GRIP!

I'm sorry. It takes me freaking forever to get a grip. And then I have to write an angsty blog post about it.

It's gotten a lot easier for me to acknowledge when things aren't going the way I thought they would. For a while this was near impossible. I was optimistic to a fault. I refused to believe I wasn't doing well or that things weren't going well or that I wasn't happy. SURELY it was just a matter of perspective! All is well! Funnily enough, this exact outlook on life ended up plunging me into the underworld of questionable mental health and something called Anxiety, with a capital 'A'. I have had to actually practice Figuring Out What's Wrong. My back starts to tense up, my heart rate increases and even though I think everything is going fine, I have to sit down and ask myself, "What is anxiety trying to tell me here?" How stupid does that sound? VERY STUPID. But I swear, if I don't do this, it just gets massively worse. Because I am THAT GOOD at telling myself everything is fine.

Anyway! So I am lots better at the part where you realize, hmm, things are not perfect. What I am still pretty bad at is the being okay with imperfection.

I acknowledge that the moms groups aren't quite what I thought they would be, and I reluctantly decide to cut back. Getting out of the house is STILL a lot of work 8 months into this gig, so I don't get out as often as I would like. I don't see my stay at home mom friends nearly as much as I thought I would for the same reason. And I end up feeling really bad about all of these things. Why can't I just MAKE MYSELF do this stuff? It's not that hard!

So I've just been thinking about why it's hard. Because even if I don't THINK it should be hard, it is.

I've realized that I have a complex when it comes to being on time. I am so horrified of being late I often show up to Important Things embarrassingly early. (Like the one time I was an hour early to a job interview because I was so terrified I'd get lost.) (Don't worry, I didn't actually GO an hour early, I just sat in a coffee shop, but STILL.) Having a baby really messes with your ability to get places on time. I am slowly making my peace with this, but the peace still bumps up against the part of me that thinks I should be able to get places on time ANYWAY. It totally bugs me to show up late to moms group and coffee dates.

I've realized that getting our stuff together and stashing it all in the car makes me really tired. Especially when I have to pack lunch or dinner. Just figuring out what to HAVE for lunch or dinner is exhausting sometimes. This eating solid food thing is fun, but I'm never quite sure what he should be eating and I'm always surprised to see what other 8-month-olds are eating. I chalk this up to being a New Mom, but that only goes so far. I spend 15 minutes deciding what to bring, how to package it, strategizing how I'll heat it up and feed it to him. Plus everything ELSE that goes in the Massive But Fashionable Diaper Bag. Seriously, I feel like I've won a war after I throw that thing in the trunk of the car.

I've realized I compare myself to other moms. Not really in the "how we take care of our babies" arena- I'm very a much a "whatever works" kind of person in that regard. But I do compare my energy and sanity levels to other moms. Why are all the other moms in the moms group so excited about spending the entire afternoon making gifts for the grandmothers at the pottery painting place when the mere thought makes me keel over backwards? How come my friend isn't driving herself crazy about nap schedules like I am? Why am I the only one who dropped out? What's wrong with me?

But I've been reading your comments and talking to my mom and hanging out with the friends I had before this whole baby thing happened (who are moms too) and I'm slowly SLOWLY realizing that, uh, maybe it's okay to give myself a break on all this stuff. I've got a baby who seems to be happy and thriving, even if he has never been to the zoo and only sees his baby friends once every other week. I wonder if I'm having delayed baby shock or something. It wasn't this huge rock-my-world thing when Jack was born. Not that it wasn't a big change, but it was a change I underwent well (possibly the first one ever!) But now I am more and more aware of my limitations and frustrations. Jen keeps using a phrase that I've really taken to heart: a phase of life. I'm going to be doing the small child thing for a few years. This is, obviously, a Phase of Life and I'd be doing myself a favor if I started to understand that I can't do everything, I don't have to do everything, and it's okay to only do the things that work for us, even only the things that we* like to do. There will be time enough to be Busy.

*By "we" of course I mean "I". Like Jackson gets a vote. Ha!

Thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our little family just returned from Chinatown where we honored Dr. King by eating heaps of steamed buns and shrimp dumplings and Guy Lawn (gai lan? stir fried rice noodles with beef) and broccoli beef (CHINESE broccoli which is 100x better than regular old broccoli) and noodles with scallops and OH MY is your mouth not totally watering? Mmm. We ate these things nonviolently, of course, and peacefully offered up our prize parking space to grateful dim sum seekers. Phillip wanted a bubble tea, but I think the bubble tea shops in the international district are yuck. I prefer the bubble tea shop/international student hangout in the University District, but I never go there anymore because 1) my sister no longer lives across the street and 2) I feel 100 years old whenever I venture into the University District. So! No bubble tea. And good thing because we are now enduring the pain that comes from completely stretching out your stomach.

It is also brilliantly sunny outside, if a whopping minus forty-seven degrees. Almost.

We are enjoying a stretch of Irresponsibility here at Camp Cheung. I don't know what it is- maybe January?- but we are feeling tired and doldrummy (me) and tired and overworked (Phillip) and demanding constant supervision with all the pulling up and grabbing and opening/closing and inch worming (Jackson). So we called up one set of grandparents to take over yesterday, and the other set is in charge today. (Miracle of miracles, Phillip has the day off. I KNOW. We can't believe it either. Even though he had, like, seventeen work phone calls this morning, but I am going to be charitable and pretend they didn't happen.)

Anyway! Yesterday I dragged Phillip over to Fremont where I remembered the Fremont Sunday Market being a little more crafty and artsy than antiquey and vintage and basically full of someone else's old junk. I know I know, some of you can probably waltz into an antique shop and find the One Thing You Did Not Know You Could Live Without. But when I walk into an antique shop I am overwhelmed by the vast amounts of OLD SMELLY JUNK. Part of this is just my preference for straight lines and right angles and shiny and new. I can appreciate things like old china or ninety-year-old armoires or old timey signs and stuff like that, but I don't want it in my house. So I perused the giant table of old watches and dusty jewelry and typewriter keys and pages ripped out of Dick and Jane type books and a huge display of ugly figurines you'd find inside your great-grandmother's china closet, but I wasn't interested. I was also not interested in the "art" covered with diatribes against all the political leaders of the world. Oh, Fremontians!

We walked up to the chocolate factory, which is way more my speed, and tried to get in on the tour, but they were full. Blast! We consoled ourselves by scoring as many free samples as possible. It helped.

Next, because we didn't want to go home and, you know, be required to feed the baby or something, we fought for parking downtown and hung out at the market. I miss the market. I used to walk through those stalls EVERY SINGLE DAY, but then I switched jobs, and NOW I don't leave the house so I don't get my weekly fill of tourists ogling the fish throwers and the Japanese school kids taking pictures of the Starbucks and, all right, a croissant from the French bakery. We bought some cheese at the Italian deli and some satsumas and, all right, some croissants from the French bakery. It was fun just wandering around and not thinking about naptime and enjoying the parts of your city that other people are always talking about.

Today we're, uh, going to buy a treadmill. I think. I'm of the opinion we should go find some friends who also have the day off and do something fun, but Phillip says, "If we're going to buy a treadmill, we should stop talking about it and JUST BUY A STUPID TREADMILL." And I think I see his point.

Thanks for all your thoughts on the Staying Homeness. They really made me feel better. Honest! I was feeling squirmy because people were asking me to tag along to the zoo or to a Group or just wondering what in the world was up with me and I was caught between Friends! Who Want To Hang Out! And Do Stuff! and my usual Home Is So Nice And Also Where The Television Is Located. I think what I need to do is be At Peace with my homeyness and stop feeling guilty about never going to the zoo (I also hate! the! zoo!), while remembering that fresh air and other people are very good for us Anxious Types and it is often very worth the effort to Get Out. EVEN if it means going where there are smelly animals and tantrummy toddlers.

In which I need someone to smack me around a little

Phillip just left for work. I just put J down for a nap. Phillip has one of his big Updating Servers Something Or Other tonight and I'll be lucky if he's home by midnight. I saved this week's episode of Project Runway to watch with my sister tonight when she comes up to hang out with (babysit) me. But I've got hours and hours to while away with just myself and the boy and the empty-stretch-of-hours thing always makes me a little jittery.

I still prefer this to a Real Job. The kind where you sit in an office and sneak your blog fixes and get home after dark. But the stay at home mom gig has a whole new set of challenges and some of them are pretty difficult if you are the Anxious Sort, like myself.

Some people deal the Monotony by going to Everything. Story time, the zoo, the aquarium, Gymboree, the children's museum, the park, three different mom groups, four different playgroups, the coffee shop with the basement playroom, petting farms, language classes. I would like to be one of those moms. Those moms seem to have it all together. They've got a routine and a schedule- something to do after the morning nap, something to do after the afternoon nap. It seems like they know a lot of other moms and they always have a tip about where to go and what to do. Who has free coffee on Tuesdays, where you can get in half-price on the first Friday of the month.

But I'm the kind of mom who gets up in the morning and evaluates the next twelve hours. Am I up to going out? Did the baby sleep okay? Do I think he'll nap when he's supposed to nap? Do I have any errands to run? Do I feel like dragging a kid along on those errands? Can we wait one more day for groceries? Should I just call a friend and see if she's home this afternoon? And if not, maybe we'll just take a walk to see the ducks?

A trip to the zoo, quite frankly, always sounds exhausting.

I can't tell if it's because I'm lazy or easily overwhelmed or averse to the Getting The Baby And Myself Out The Door process. In the summer and early fall we took a lot of walks. I was pretty good about calling up a friend and walking around the lake, and I even went alone plenty of times. It's colder now so walking around the lake means a popsicle baby, but I still bundle him up and take him around the neighborhood. If I'm feeling really brave we'll go grocery shopping or walk around the mall or Target. Every two weeks I go to my moms group and J plays with other babies, which is good. Oh, and once a week we drive to my parents' house and spend the day. Even though packing for that little trip is way more work than going to the zoo, I am pretty much off duty once I get there, so it's worth the effort.

And then I feel bad saying things like that because JEEZ, I have the easiest kid in the universe and there's only one of him and HOW LAZY CAN I POSSIBLY BE?

I liked what Christina said over at Parenting. Staying at home with a baby is BORING. I liked hearing (okay, reading) someone else say that. I love my kid, I think he is the cutest thing ever, he is a little ball of squirmy fun- but ripping up magazines and opening drawers and flinging coasters across the living room is not a terribly interesting way to spend the day for someone above the age of one year. Add in the babycare- diaper changes, feeding, dressing, mopping up drool- and daily chores- laundry, dishes, picking up- and it gets dull AND tiring.

But even knowing all that, I don't know how to become the Mom That Goes Everywhere. Because THAT sounds exhausting too. I like being free to decide what to do with my day. It's just that most of the time I decide to do nothing.

You know what? I think I'm just pouty because Phillip won't be home till late and that always puts me in a Stellar Mood. The kind that likes to gripe on her website about things that could be easily solved if only she sucked it up and, you know, was not so FREAKING LAZY.

Evidence of the Lazy: I am reading the internet instead of 1) taking a shower 2) cleaning up breakfast 3) attempting to reduce the massive mountain of laundry on the floor. Sigh.

Enrolling myself in Architect School

Who here is sick of the baby posts? ME TOO!

Let's talk about how much I hate my bathroom. Shall we?

Here it is. The hateful Who Designed This Bathroom Anyway? Chimpanzees? bathroom courtesy of my mad rad Paint skillz.

You are probably wondering what J's closet is doing in our master bathroom. Answer: It is not in our bathroom. Where you see J's closet and washer/dryer, those are WALLS. As in, the bathtub is kind of set into the wall and those are the things taking up space in the corners aka Why I Have Absolutely No Storage In My Bathroom.

You are also probably wondering why there are no ACTUAL pictures of said hateful bathroom. Answer: You must be joking. That would require removal of all the hair I've lost since having the baby. GROSS.

I hate to complain. I really do. I have a very nice house, as I pointed out yesterday. The kitchen, for example, is faaaabulous. Enough counter space to hold a dance party, giant deep drawers instead of cupboards (Iove!), a big ole pantry type closet thing and more than enough room for my sparkly wine glass collection. I love the built in fireplace/bookshelves and the cool windows and the stained solid doors and even the fixtures. I live in an area where there are lots and lots of townhouses and, at least at the time when we were picking one out, ours was the best. Do I sound like a total snotbrat? It's just that there is a particular Builder who puts these things up extra fast for super cheap and ours looks nothing like those. In fact, that Builder told our builder he was taking too long on our house. Good sign, no?

ANYWAY. All that being said, there are two things I hate about the house. 1) my bathroom. 2) the closets. The size and shape of Jack's closet? THAT IS THE ACTUAL SIZE. And my closet is not much better. I think our builder opted for bigger bedrooms over closet and bathroom space, and that just goes to show that he is a MAN and therefore NOT INVESTED IN CLOSET SPACE. Before J was born Phillip ripped out all the stuff in our closet, bought a bunch of white wire closet stuff at Lowe's and redid the entire thing. I have never been happier with my not-terribly-handy husband. (He can build you a TiFaux and make sure you can print to your office printer from your laptop in a hotel room in Hong Kong, but not so much house fixy things.)

But I was talking about my bathroom. Which I hate.

I don't know if you can tell, but there is pretty much NOWHERE to put anything in my bathroom. Underneath the sink is a big cupboard. That's it. And that's where I store the cleaning things and extra toilet paper and the spare Percocet and the hairdryer attachments and boring stuff like that. But where do you put extra towels? Makeup? A decorative candle? CONTACT SOLUTION?

I've had a basket on the counter containing all these things the entire time we've lived here. Along with the hairdryer and contact solution and a mug with toothbrushes and toothpaste and Phillip's super irritating Bionic Toothbrush. There are no shelves. There is no place to put shelves. Were we to hang shelves near the toilet, we would constantly be giving ourselves black eyes if not bloody gouges in our temples. Same thing if we hung them by the sink. There is no medicine cabinet since the builder decided to line the entire wall with a giant flat mirror. There isn't even anywhere to hang a HAND TOWEL. People say, "Oh, just get one of those tall shelf things that stand over the toilet," but no! We have a WINDOW above the toilet! Gah!

What is REALLY annoying is that the bathroom has a super high ceiling. So when I was standing in there yesterday for 15 minutes because I had LOST IT with the bathroom and was going to declare WAR, I kept thinking, "If only there was a way to create storage overhead!" Except, you know, that would require a LADDER.

I decided I'd move the tall Ikea shelf thing from the guest bathroom (which is no longer a guest bathroom since we don't have guests, it's more of the Diaper Pail Bathroom), but that wouldn't fit in between the wall and the toilet in that little corner. Hate! I spent an hour online looking at narrow glass shelves and hooks and devising brilliant storage methods for the bath toys and the baskets of hair ties and lip gloss. Then I gave up, tore off all the books on my college-era Ikea bookshelf and moved the entire thing into our bathroom. I shoved it between the wall and the toilet (because it looks like my Paint skillz are just off center, but NO, the toilet is NOT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WALL). It looks terrible. It really does. It looks very... college-era, instead of relatively new grown up house. But at least I have somewhere to stack the bath toys and the Kleenex and the bottles of lotion I can't bear to throw out, even though they are seventeen years old, because MAYBE ONE DAY I WANT TO BE TAN AND SHIMMERY!

Other townhouses have giant bathrooms with separate showers and two sinks and HEAPS of drawers and cupboard space. Of course, those other townhouses expect you to put your television over the fireplace (which I cannot STAND, it's like a SHRINE, and yes, maybe that IS how much I love my television, but I try not to ACT LIKE IT).

GAH! I am annoying today. And since I really can't go without discussing the baby, someone tell me why it is that he will not go to sleep until he has jammed himself as far into a crib rail as possible, face into the bumper, butt stuffed into the corner, and on top of all his blankets? I just went to check on him and he's breathing like Darth Vader because his nose is between the bumper and the mattress.