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July 2009

Seven takes that are never quick - who am I kidding?

1. I feel a little guilty about the fact that while my fellow Seattle moms were going tiny bits of insane wrangling their children in freak temperatures, I was, uh, sitting in a movie theater and, uh, kicking it with the laptop in a frigid Panera and, uh, attempting to hunt down the perfect carry on bag for our trip next week. I took them down to my parents' house on Wednesday and, uh, left them there. I am really hoping my Seattle mom friends won't break up with me, because the shorties are returning sometime tonight and I still have two whole days of child entertaining to do before I pawn them off on their other grandparents on Sunday for another overnighter. And then Tuesday we leave for a 4-day vacation with grandparents along as, uh, babysitters. I think Dumping My Kids On Grandparents actually deserves its own dripping-with-guilt post. Noted. Stay tuned.

2. Ooh, some guy on the national news is reporting from Alki. Why didn't I think of going THERE? Clearly my horizons need some broadening. And you know, I wasn't kid-free the WHOLE time. I had at least a DAY of kids and excessive heat and I made sure to complain about it at Parenting.

3. The freak temperatures have meant 1) not a lot of exercise and 2) kind of a lot of eating. I mean, what else is there to DO? Phillip and I were out till eleven last night, waiting for our house to cool down, and your late night options pretty much boil down to movies or eating out. Since I'd already wasted money on a movie I would have walked out of if it hadn't been for the air conditioning, we ate out. Yum. I'm still 3 pounds up from the birthday gorging and it's not looking good for my Vegas swimsuit.

4. Not that I haven't been TRYING to find a swimsuit other than the bikini I bought on a whim. But they don't exist. It's like all the stores have decided it's October. This also applies to looking for swim floaties or pool toys for the kids. I understand staying ahead of the season, etc., but MAN is that annoying. You know what else is annoying? The lack of tank tops that are not 1) spaghetti strap or 2) racer back. It's like the tank top industry teamed up with the bra industry this summer, forcing us poor innocent prefer-their-underwear-UNDER-their-clothes women into spending even more money at Target. Target ALREADY has its name stamped over my bank account. ANNOYING.

5. I try not to read any articles or watch any news stories or read any blogs that are Sad and Incomprehensible and Senseless. I just don't handle that stuff well, and it's really enough for me to be aware of the basic facts and move on because I've been known to be, well, useless for hours on end after reading those stories. I hope that doesn't make me sound horrible, and I do try to add my voice to the prayers and good wishes, but yeah. I can't deal. So I have no idea why I kept reading this article Phillip pointed out to me over the weekend. I haven't been able to get it out of my head. It really gets to my fear of Doing Everything Right And Still Failing. I guess you don't want to read it either. Sorry.

6. A day or two ago someone was curious about the similarity between my website name and that of another much more famous website. Since it's not the first time someone's asked me that question, and maybe other people are wondering, and maybe Maggie Mason herself lies awake nights plotting how to cut the power lines to my house: I had no idea. And I've wanted to change it even BEFORE I discovered the Other Website because, let's face it, it's kind of a terrible name. I mean, 50% of it is MY NAME. Changing it would involve giving in to my perfectionistic nerdy side, and while I would dearly LOVE to indulge that side, the full time mom thing doesn't afford many opportunities. So until I think of a new name (unlikely) or you think of a new name (somewhat more likely) or Maggie Mason sends me a cease and desist letter (pretty sure she has no idea I exist), I expect there won't be a lot of motivation to be anything other than mighty. And my feelings about that can be summed up in a big fat OH WELL.

7. Did you see the Blathering grew up and got itself a wine sponsor? If there are any Blathering fence sitters out there I think this should totally tip the scales. IT'S FREE WINE, PEOPLE. There's even discounts and coupon codes and a giveaway! Right up a mommyblogger's alley! Of course, the most important thing is that you sign up for the Blathering itself. We promise to behave ourselves around any Free Stuff. Ahem. 

More quick takes here!

Exhibit of The Ornery #471

Everything I had to say about today I saved for Parenting. And YES perhaps it is about being HOT like REALLY REALLY HOT like wanting to give the weather the FINGER hot and maybe I almost caved on my years' long opposition to an air conditioning unit hot except THERE AREN'T ANY LEFT IN THE STORES. (You = OOH I can't WAIT to read THAT.)

But I don't want you to leave emptyhanded, Internet, which is why I am going to attempt to embed my very first YouTube video of my sweet darling princess baby Molly. Here I go:

Oh dear. And now I have to "preview" to see if it worked. eep.


Items of note:

1. Phillip took this with our new! camera! that I am not allowed to touch, hold, carry, breathe on or otherwise use.

2. I don't know why she does this. Sometimes I'll wheel her into the kitchen for breakfast so I can clean up while she's eating and before I know it she's rocked the chair up to my HEELS. 

3. Phillip thought there was sound, but it's not working for me.

4. That weird floaty thing in the background is a leftover birthday balloon. There are five total in my house, and two of them are stuck in the stairwell skylight. Thank you, Jackson.

5. I hope you appreciate the pauses wherein the little monster takes the opportunity to cram another chunk of banana into her maw.

6. And stick around for the devilishly awesome single eyebrow raise at the end. That is TALENT.

7. It is hot. The end.

Oh THAT third baby

Phillip told me that I made it sound like I was pregnant. Hence his throat-clearing the other night. Oops. In case anyone is wondering: NOT PREGNANT. Which doesn't mean I can't talk about it, right? But before I get started I have a little bit of business with my husband. Okay? Just a sec.

Phillip DARLING. You should probably just skip this one. There won't be anything new for you, and since putting the words "third" and "baby" next to each other in a sentence makes you all jittery-like, it's probably best you just skip this one. Be thankful I'm doing my venting elsewhere and that I won't need to rant your ear off for another, oh, couple of weeks.

All right. So. Back whenever Phillip and I had the How Many Kids Do You Want conversation my answer was, "At least three" and Phillip's answer was "No more than three." Which means: Three. (At least.) (Heh.)

SEE PHILLIP?! I'm just trying to be FUNNY. RELAX. I'm SORRY. Just go back to your queries or your reports or whatever it is you're doing today. BYE.

Anyway. Large chunks of my grad school neuroses revolve around the fact that we're more or less putting our lives on hold for two years. I am, at least. Phillip gets to go to school and earn a degree and I WANT THIS FOR HIM, but I feel, essentially, that I will just be at home waiting for him to finish. And two of the big things I'm thinking about can't happen during the grad school years: moving to a bigger house and having our third child. "Can't" of course is probably the wrong word, but 1) those things seem unwise, for various reasons and 2) Phillip doesn't want to. Especially the third baby. He will have enough going on, thank you very much. 

The house thing is another post for another day (and wouldn't you know, I'm already plotting the alternatives.) But the baby thing is requiring a lot of Perspective Shuffling. A lot of Paradigm Shifting.

To be super perfectly absolutely honest, I am not ready for a third baby. This has mostly everything to do with pregnancy. I had a ridiculously breezy first pregnancy and I remember feeling like I could SO handle a second when Jack was only 5 or 6 months old. I could TOTALLY do that again. But my second pregnancy was really hard. I was sicker and more uncomfortable, I was in way more pain, and the near-constant anxiety I experienced during that pregnancy laid the authoritative smackdown on any anxiety I've had in the last handful of years. Not enough time has elapsed to make the memory softer around the edges. I'm not sure how much time that will require, to be honest. It was worth it, and I'm willing to do it again, but I'm also really happy NOT being pregnant. Or nursing. Or anxious. Or trying to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes. I haven't been this happy in my own body... EVER, and I'm not ready to mess it all up again. 

But I hate - HATE - this sort of insta-decision about the size and shape of our family. It means waiting and there is nothing I am worse at than WAITING. It automatically means there is a three-year age difference, at least, between Molly and Third Baby. I don't like that. It feels huge. It makes me think I'll have to have a FOURTH baby, just to make up for Third Baby's lack of close-in-age sibling. You can only imagine what Phillip thinks about THAT! Or poor Potential Fourth Baby, whose only reason for existence is to make things up to Third Baby. GAH. BE THANKFUL YOU ARE NOT INSIDE MY WARPED AND STUNTED BRAIN.

Now, before you all start lining up to slap me, I am FULLY AWARE that in the Grand Scheme of Things, three years is NOT a super huge age difference. That plenty of people want to wait that long or longer. That plenty of people don't even WANT a third baby. And then there's another group of you who want to call me out on my Catholic cred and demand to know why I think I can "plan" this at all (or the fact that I even WANT to, and if you are one of those people I am thinking you should find yourself another website to read for I am going to DISAPPOINT.) Oh, and then LOTS of you, I'm sure, have three-year or more age gaps between your kids, or between you and your siblings, and it's perfect and why would I think it WOULDN'T be perfect and obviously I need to get over myself. Oh! And! The people who are all, "DUDE. She already has TWO and her husband is going to work full time AND go to school AND she wants to sell her house and she's talking about WHAT NOW?"

Have I left anyone out?

Okay. So. You all know that I am the oldest of five kids, that we're all about one year apart and that family holidays are a rocking good time at my house. You may also know that Phillip is the youngest of two, that there is an EIGHT-year age difference between him and his brother and that family holidays at his house are of a quieter more laid back variety. (Although it gives me opportunities to be The Youngest and 10-year-old me was right: being the youngest IS a free trip to Awesomeville.) Add in expectations and cultures and plain old personalities and you just sort of end up with your own picture of how things will work out. I don't think either of us set out to or wants to or intends to mimic our own families, but it DEFINITELY plays into our visions of our future family. Phillip cannot fathom the kind of life I had growing up. I cannot fathom his. To me, a three-year age difference seems lonely and separate. To him it's nothing.

I know it sounds kinda weird being all Morose over something I don't even WANT, but I just don't want it YET. What if I want it in three months? Or six? Or when Molly is two, which even Phillip thinks is an acceptable time to start negotiating the next baby? It's not like it COULDN'T happen, but between The Circumstances and My Husband, it probably won't. SIGH.

The smart thing to do is wait until he's done with school and we're in a bigger house. We will allow for surprises and, you know, life happening, but that's the plan. "Plan". And little by little I am wrapping my brain around the idea. Waiting so long for Third Baby is not half as bummer-worthy as it was even a week ago. And I keep seeing families with two older children and one little one in a carrier or a stroller. I know it's because I'm keeping my eyes open, but I can't help but feel like God is trying to tell me it will be fine. THOSE families look happy! Mine will be happy too!

I also don't want to sound like Third Baby will just easily and cheerfully appear, or that everything will go according to plan. I know enough of your stories to know that's not always the case. But I have no reason to feel anything about Annoyingly Optimistic, the way I am about pretty much everything else.

I have that nagging blogger feeling, where you've written a whole bunch about a topic that's important, to you at least, and you haven't quite got it right. Like you've left something out. And people are going to comment on the thing you've left out and you're going to be all DARNIT. I MEANT TO SAY THAT. But oh well. It's almost ten and I've had two people instant message me so far to inform me that if I don't get my powdery mildew zucchini away from my tomatoes I shall have no caprese salad this summer AT ALL. So. Must start Googling!

Not doing anything about the future guilt tonight

This weekend smelled like sunscreen and tasted like ha gau and sounded like two children yelling, simultaneously, at the top of their lungs. We're sticky and half-naked around here, in and out of the kiddie pool and the sprinkler, filling up on fruit snacks in the car on the way home from the splash park instead of eating dinner. I have to say, it's not a bad life being two in July. Especially when your mother takes pity on you and lets you slurp on a popsicle in front of the television before you go to bed.

We meant to drive to the coast, but it was kind of a long week and perhaps I'd had an ornery and unpleasant disposition for most of it and then my dad ended up in the hospital and Phillip and I were all, "You know, there are plenty of places to play in the water near our house." My dad is fine, and since I'm sure the last thing he'd want is for me to tell The Internets all about his week [WEEK. AND COUNTING.] of illness, I'll just say that by the time I found out he was IN the hospital everything was already under control. 

I've been thinking that fifty years from now when I am in The Home and telling all the spring chickies to enjoy their babies, it goes so fast, the best years of your life, blah blah blah, I won't be interested in half the stuff I write on this website. Most likely I will be dying of shame, quickly thumbing through the pages trying to find the parts where I write about that cute thing Molly was doing at 9 months and what phrases Jack was saying at two years and, you know, all those things you tell yourself you're going to write in the baby book. And my 80-year-old self will have to die of shame AGAIN because I don't think I blog too much of the cuteness. In between my attempts at Half Decent Writing and Random Spurts of Consciousness there is a whole lot of WHINING. Oh, my life is so hard, two children, wah, the jabber jabber and the needy and the not eating and the not sleeping and 80-year-old me is going to DIE, people, DIE. Because! What was she thinking? Is she serious? Why aren't there more pictures? IT GOES SO FAST!

Here is where you think I'm going to detail some of the cuteness (and dude, my baby girl was THE cuteness today, people, in her completely pointless bathing suit since she refuses to be anywhere NEAR the water) but NO. I am going to do the two things I do best: whine and worry.

So. Maybe some of you were around about a year ago when my darling firstborn - oh wait, it was OVER a year ago, HOW TIME FLIES - entered into what I have so far deemed The Worst Baby Phase which is Transitioning To One Nap. Both ends of the nap spectrum are good. Two naps? Goooood! A free morning and one longer nap? Also goooood! But in between? In between is just a whole lot of bashing your head against your filthy hardwood floors. In between is this big mess of No Schedule! and How Are We Supposed To Go Anywhere? and I'm Going To Need A Prescription If This Goes On Much Longer.

I remember this VERY WELL, Internet, and I have no doubt about Jack kicking up this awful nap transition thing around ten months. TEN MONTHS. We had four miserable months of transition when, somewhat miraculously, between fourteen and fifteen months, and JUST IN TIME for his sister to be born thank GOD, Jack got the hang of one nap. He had a schedule, I had predictability and all was right in the world.

I am beginning to suspect that Molly is starting her own transition phase, and it doesn't look good.

I've heard that it's not ALWAYS bad. That some kids bang this out in a matter of weeks. That the parents, even, are even-keeled and good natured the entire time. But I'm not banking on that with my fussy little Molly (and you KNOW I won't be even keeled and good natured). We're now on week two of Morning Nap Weirdness. She falls asleep - EVENTUALLY. But not easily, not quickly, not like she used to. And she's having a hard time falling asleep in the afternoons too. It's all just very... REMINISCENT, if you will. I find myself hoping that it's just the heat, that everyone's a bit uncomfortable, that things will go back to normal. But it's not normal for her to nap in the morning forEVER, right? She's going to transition EVENTUALLY, right? WAH.

There you go, your eagerly-looked-forward-to Monday WHINE. Will now have to dredge up some of the cuteness for tomorrow, even though the cuteness is not half as much fun to write about. But seriously, the 80-year-old is HAUNTING ME. From the FUTURE. Wagging her finger at me about the BLOG. It's, like, FUTURE GUILT.

I need a moment of silence about this nap thing. Really. I'm NOT looking forward to this. I also need my husband to fetch me a frosty cocktail. It's 86 degrees in my living room and my palms are sweatfused to the keyboard.

Before I hit "publish" I want you to know that Phillip waltzed over here a few minutes ago all, "Apparently your readers would like us to have a Third Baby. Do they know something I don't know? I do hope you are going to clear the air. I would like to see it in print." He was very official-sounding, very abrupt, very no nonsense. But really, I have no idea what he is talking about. Did someone say something about a third baby?

Oh yes, it appears we are still doing Seven Quick Takes

1. "...a poorly rested Jackson is a curse upon the entire Cheung household." I don't often think much of these things I whip out for Parenting, but I rather liked this one. It's very much the gist of the relationship I have with my two-year-old right now. My mom won't like it, but you might.

2. It's going to be ninety-something degrees this weekend, fairly close to the point where native Washingtonians pucker up like raisins and die. Instead of whining about this (and actually, I kind of like it, I'm very much looking forward to spending nap time at my sister's apartment complex pool tomorrow) we're thinking about going to the beach. The REAL beach, not the fakey Puget Sound beaches in Seattle. It's about three hours to Ocean Shores and while I have been to Ocean Shores several times and can therefore vouch for its lack of anything remotely fun to do, the KIDS have never had the rocky windy freakishly cold Northwest "beach" experience. And if we go when it's 90 degrees in Seattle it might be warm enough on the coast to go without a hooded sweatshirt. How novel!

3. Having gained four pounds since my birthday festivities (FOUR. POUNDS.) I've been trying to get back on track in preparation for our Vegas trip in two weeks. If you wonder why we're going and what we're going to do in Vegas, you only have to read Jen's recap of her trip, since I'll be doing the exact same things with the exact same family members. Anyway. FOUR POUNDS. For SHAME.

4. Vegas finds itself on a short but heavy list of topics I have not yet sucked it up to write about, including, but not limited to: Grad School, Selling The House, Third Baby, Road Trips, Housecleaners and What To Do When Both Babies Are Howling At The Same Time, Does Anyone Know? Most of those things are connected, OBV. Let's just say this blog is in Tightly Controlled Freakout Mode and is liable to explode at any moment.

5. I finally updated Google Reader. If I haven't added your blog to Google Reader I don't read it. Which is shameful, I realize, especially since I have a folder in GR just for anyone who has ever commented on this website, so I can keep up my [FACADE OF] a blogroll over there on the right. So  I went through a few days of comments, was mortified to note how many blogs I was missing and updated accordingly. Got some good stuff too: here's Linda talking about potty training. (OMG. Add "Potty Training" to Quick Take #4.) Here's Christiana talking about her goals before 30. Here are Sara's pictures of her brand new one-year-old. (Seems like there's a lot of new one-year-olds out there right now.)

6. This has been a hard week for Jack and me. He is pushing every single button I have and I tap out of patience around 4:30 pm, a good hour and a half before Phillip gets home. (If not earlier, say, nine in the morning?) It seems like the brattiest days are the ones where he's not sleeping as much, like the weeks (months?) when Molly would wake him up a full hour (or TWO, OMG) from his afternoon nap, and now, when Molly's internal 5:45 am alarm clock means everyone else has to get up at 5:45 too. Today was a little better (we all slept till 6:30) but MAN these I-am-just-going-to-smirk-at-you-while - you-shout-no-at-the-top - of-your-lungs days wear me out. I went for a run when Phillip got home - first time ever at that time of the day - just to have an outlet for the shorties-won't-do-as-I-say! aggression. ARGH.

7. Phillip told me about these certificates ($25 certificate for $2!) and we're hoping to stash the kids with my parents tomorrow night and grab some grown up dinner. I imagine we will probably discuss the spreadsheet he sent me earlier today, detailing how, exactly, we are going to pay for grad school, and let us all hope we have enough money for wine, Internet. LET US HOPE.

More quick takes at one of my fave sites.

I'm posting this because I'm avoiding posting about grad school. You're welcome.

Last night I was talking to my mom about an old friendship, one of those relationships that's a lot different than it used to be, and you're not entirely sure when or where things changed. I told my mom, "I used to think she just really changed after we graduated, but now I wonder if she was ALWAYS like this and was just different when we were in school?" And my mom said, "I think LOTS of people change when they're in college and then revert back to who they were before" and then we started talking about everyone we knew who could or did or might or is currently fitting this mold.

I think it's hard to say, because most of us aren't terribly sure who we are before we Go Out Into The World (college, for most of us, and whether that is The World is debatable). But as far as you can really categorize these things, I think it's true for me. I was a boring rule-abider before, during and after my college years, no huge changes for me. But I WAS different in college. As unfortunately evidenced by the totally worn out pair of Birkenstocks I finally threw out the other day, with a huge exclamation of "I CAN'T BELIEVE I EVER PUT THESE ON MY FEET" disgust.

The big stuff didn't change - I didn't lose my faith - but the details did - I became an honorary non-denominational Protestant for four years.

One of the biggest things that happened to me was one of my best high school friends (I KNOW. Eventually I had GOOD FRIENDS from HIGH SCHOOL!) made a special trip to my dorm room sophomore year to come out in person. This was an enormous deal in my universe. It affected everything from how I interacted with my NDCF friends to what classes I chose to the music I liked to recalculating a lot of high school memories to (and this is embarrassingly true) how I cut my hair. I'd always been interested in feministy genderific sociological stuff, but now I was REALLY interested in it, obnoxiously so. I really needed to make sense of certain things, and I really really wanted to live "authentically". I was super committed to doing and being the things I said I was going to do and be, namely: Independent! Smart! Well-Traveled! Did I mention the INDEPENDENT?!

Then I started dating a boy. (One of my very favorite Dar Williams concert moments is when she told us that she got married that year, paused a second, then added, "TO A MAN".) Many - practically ALL - my feministy genderific sociologically contrived ideas floated into outer space somewhere. Half because they were mostly stupid ideas, half because I didn't need those ideas to protect me from Phillip's big scary Man Agenda. In fact, when I tried to tell him why this stuff was so entrenched in me he never appeared to be anything other than Utterly Clueless, so nonexistent was his Man Agenda. Sigh. College Me was frightfully stupid.

ANYWAY. I tell you all this because a few years later I was telling a friend how much I just really wanted to quit my job and stay home with a baby and she was looking at me like I had sprouted another nose. If this person thinks much about our friendship I'm POSITIVE she wonders Where I Went Wrong. We had several conversations about it, all of which made me feel tremendously guilty because where DID I go wrong? Was I copping out? Failing? Turning into someone I never wanted to be?

I spent way too much time thinking about this, but I'm glad I came to the right conclusion, which was: IT WAS OKAY FOR ME TO CHANGE. And perhaps I wasn't so different after all. Maybe the person she became friends with wasn't "authentically" me, but maybe someone trying out a lot of new ideas, the way they say you're supposed to when you're in school.

When I was out with two friends getting my nails done this weekend, we calculated that one friend and I had now known each other a total of twelve years. TWELVE! For someone whose formative years were spent either moving or having friends move, that's a huge number. We've weathered each other's changes, although we're much better friends now than we were in school. But other people haven't ridden the Change curve as well, myself included. It's totally okay for ME to change but I'm not at all sure it's okay for other people.

Did you change or change and then revert? Do you have those different-than-they-used-to-be awkward friendships? What do you do about these? I was telling my mom that my current strategy is to just Go With It. I'm not really sure what that means, but I think it has something to do with letting go of expectations, to just take whatever I get and do my best in return. That's all we can do, right?

In which I surrender

Today was so rotten it was almost funny. No, it WAS funny, as evidenced by the numerous times I laughed out loud at my own predicament. That predicament being: Mother Of Two Children Who Woke Up Unbearably Early And Are, Therefore, Impossible To Wrangle Or Otherwise Cajole Into Obdience, PLS SEND WINE.

If I don't get Molly out of the babies' room as soon as she starts to jabber it's all over. Then Jack is awake (a full hour or more before he SHOULD be awake) and both my kids are so sensitive to the holy sleeping schedule that I know, right then, at 5:45 am, that our entire day is shot. That's why I knew it was totally okay to email my friend at 5:47 am to let her know that nope, we would not be meeting her at the park at 10:30. Sorry! Maybe next time!

Jack... well, I wrote about Jack for Parenting. So you'll have to wait.

And Molly. You know, sometimes I don't know how to write about Molly. Jack is easy. For Jack all I have to say is: Perpetually Cheerful. Even when he's not having a good day, Jack is fairly easy to amuse or comfort or figure out. He's a simple little dude. But Molly... it just depends on the day. Today, as it happened, she was Little Miss Clingy and Mademoiselle How Dare You Put Me Down. I tried to get a few things done anyway. Folding clothes, cleaning up the kitchen, clearing off the table, Swiffering. I actually managed to Swiffer the whole floor and they couldn't take that away from me, right? At that point in the day I had already composed several elaborate free-to-a-good-home Craigslist ads for both of them, and had quickly entertained thoughts of shipping them to Grandma's house for the remainder of the week. (OH GOD IT'S ONLY TUESDAY.) They were complete and utter pills. At least until after their nap (only an hour, btw, kill me now) and then Jack was all "Owsigh! Owsigh!" and Molly was all Hey, As Long As I Have This Rubber Scraper Jammed Into My Maw I'm Good. Which worked for me.

So after a day of Fits and Starts, I decided we'd go Owsigh! and camp in the front yard until Daddy got home. I filled up the five dollar kiddie pool, put new water in the water table, set out all the sandbox toys and propped Molly on a towel with the rubber scraper because God help the woman who tries to get her to play in WATER. Is that person INSANE?

Everyone was happy chewing and splashing and pecking away on their iPod Touches when it occurred to me that I hadn't taken any chicken out of the freezer for dinner. EEEEEXCELLENT. I couldn't just leave the kids outside, what with no fence and one flight of stairs between them and the freezer. And I couldn't ignore dinner because I'd already used my Free No Dinner Pass on Monday. So I marched us all inside again, took off shoes, begged certain people to leave their buckets outside, etc. Went upstairs, removed the chicken from the freezer and no one wanted to go outside again. I didn't blame them - it was nine hundred degrees outside and only 899 inside - but what was I supposed to do then?

I started dinner. I made zucchini bread with the first ugly zucchinis from my garden. I made two dinners that I knew wouldn't be eaten. I tried not to listen to the incessant crabbing coming from the living room. I tried not to look at the clock every thirty seconds. I focused on the fact that I was getting my toes done tonight with my moms group friends, lovely and fabulous women who do not whine or whimper or otherwise insist on me dropping whatever I am doing and immediately producing fruit snacks.

I was so tired. The oven was making my house even hotter. I was done. When Jack waltzed up to me all, "Want milk! Want milk! Want milk!" and WOULD NOT STOP WITH THE WANTING! MILK! I had to actually stop in my tracks and take a nice long deep breath. And that's when Molly started dragging herself into the kitchen, in search, as always, for her mama. Molly is above crawling, apparently, and prefers to butt-scoot across floors in the manner of a paraplegic riding a skateboard, and so quickly that her pudgy thigh is starting to chafe. She was wearing nothing but Lucy's too-small swim diaper (because I am nothing if not Annoyingly Optimistic about Molly enjoying water) and then I noticed she was leaving a large wet streak behind her. On my newly Swiffered floors. 

It was not drool. Or water, or Jack's milk. I scooped her up, her drenched little bottom wedged into the crook of my arm, and took her upstairs to get a new diaper. I laughed on the way. A slightly insane at-my-wits-end laugh. I mean COME ON. Really? Seriously? And when we were both cleaned up and I made it back downstairs with a giggly Molly, the pee streak was dry and I had no idea where I was supposed to wipe it up. I got the Swiffer out to do a nice general once over, but I was out of Swiffer juice. And Jack wouldn't eat his macaroni and cheese, only the PEAS and the FRUIT (what is this? OPPOSITE DAY?) and that's when I tilted my head to the sky and yelled, "YOU WIN, UNIVERSE! I SURRENDER!"

The universe then rewarded me with a husband arriving home moments later, a pedicure, some sympathetic and understanding friends, and it didn't hurt that Liz sent me home with these:


fudgy little mini cupcakes, with a white chocolate coating, on skewers, stuck in a glass of dark chocolate M & Ms and she is all mine you can't have her.

Do as I say, not as I do

A few years ago Phillip and I were visiting his brother and his family in Ohio for a week. We had our snazzy-at-the-time laptop with us because, well, we are who we are, right? And for some reason Phillip saw fit to charge the laptop overnight on the floor next to the bed. Which means that one morning I woke up and got out of bed and stepped on the laptop. Oops! The screen was totally smashed, like someone had used a gun on it, and we quickly reached about a 9.9 on the Phillip Anger Scale. We shipped it off to be repaired, a few years later Phillip transferred his love to a MacBook and the once-snazzy laptop is now mine. MINE ALL MINE. 

And now it has a virus. Or something. I don't know. Phillip was scanning the hard drive all day (do not ask me what that is or how it is done) and now he is poking around with a screwdriver and the laptop is making all sorts of Please Hammer Don't Hurt Me sounds. 

I was not particularly worried this morning when Phillip said, "Yeeeeaaaaahhh, I'm gonna have to scan this thing," because look: I am MARRIED to the person everyone goes to when their computers crash. I can't tell you how many gift certificates to fancy restaurants we've acquired thanks to Phillip's finesse with computer innards. It was when he said, "I don't think you'll lose anything," that it even OCCURRED to me that I might lose something. And cue the 


It's not baby pictures I'm worried about (those are, after all, saved on some box downstairs called The Server), it's the bits and pieces of writing I haven't saved anywhere else. The websites I've built. The fact that I have Dreamweaver, a freakishly expensive piece of software, installed on that computer, LEGALLY, even though I am not the OWNER of the software and WHAT IF I LOSE THAT PROGRAM, CLEARLY I WILL DIE. It has the Budget of Awesomeness, the meticulously detailed Food & Exercise Spreadsheet Of Insanity and a handful of other I-don't-even-want-to-tell-you-I-track-these-things spreadsheets and documents. It has the text of the Indignant and Professionally Furious Letter I sent to my former employer over a year ago, of which I am still VERY PROUD. In short: stuff I would like to keep. 

One of my college writing TAs confessed that she burned her work to CDs and mailed them to her mother to store in a fireproof safe. I used to think: DUDE. Need a Xanax? And this morning I was all: WHERE IS MY FREAKING FIREPROOF SAFE.

OH LOOKY HERE! Phillip has just arrived to inform me that my computer is all fixed. Even though it is "SLOW" and "DIRTY". Is this his way of saying he'll buy me a new one? But whatever. Yay! All better! No, you can't have him! And no, he can't have HIS computer back until I am done with this post. 


Oh, okay. So at one point today he told me about this thing called Dropbox. Have you heard of it? It is THE AWESOME. It's this place where you can store all your stuff offsite AND sync it between all your various devices AND retrieve things you deleted. And no, this is not a paid advertisement!

Anyway. I shall be downloading Dropbox to my laptop POST HASTE. I think this is a most fabulous idea. At this point I have chunks of writing on my laptop, Phillip's laptop, floating in my email and, now that I am thinking about it, on my PARENTS' computer. GAH. 

So. There you go. 

In other news: 

  •  I suddenly have a huge crush on Michael Westin.

  • The new Miss Marples are better than the last Miss Marples but not half as good as the Joan Hickson Miss Marples.  

  • I will be taking my very first plane trip post-children two weeks from Tuesday, and I will be BRINGING THE CHILDREN and I realize this is something some of you do blindfolded, but perhaps you are not the types who need copious amounts of alcohol to fly BY YOURSELF, and FYI the freakout will commence shortly.

  • The color on my fingernails is called Hoodoo Voodoo (sp? who knows?!) and yes I did sit around for ten minutes or so wondering how I might score the job of Nail Polish Namer.  

  • It did not occur to me until sometime this afternoon that there might be a connection between my total lack of energy and all around Blahness and the amazing amounts of CRAP I consumed this weekend. For example: on Saturday I ate a chocolate chip muffin for breakfast, nachos and beer for lunch and deep fried appetizers and numerous cocktails for dinner. (That is the ABRIDGED version.) And I wondered why I could barely move on Sunday. DUH.  

  • As soon as this concept resolved itself in my brain I went to the cupboard and opened a gift box of truffles. And ate half of them. Not only am I slow in the INTELLECTUALIZING I am hopeless in the APPLICATION. 

Well done, Phillip Cheung

I knew SOMETHING was up. I use Phillip's laptop so often I couldn't help but glimpse emails to friends with my name in the subject header. Of course I did him the favor of not reading those emails. YOU'RE WELCOME, PHILLIP. One time he missed a call and later told me it was work, when I'd quite clearly seen a friend's name on the screen. Future Pastry Chef sister somehow "forgot" to make the birthday cake I specifically requested for Friday night with my family. And my mother can occasionally keep a secret, but she cannot help herself from discussing said secret with your sisters when you are three feet away.

I was told we were having dinner with two other couples. I suspected a birthday cake might show up. I thought a handful of other friends might be there. The girls I manicured with that afternoon (PEOPLE! Until now I have been missing out on the crazy fun that is hot pink fingernails!) assured me it was no big deal. (LIARS.) So I certainly did not expect to walk into a restaurant bar full of my very favorite people. 

Of course, that is the moment I DIED, because while I 1) love parties and 2) love to throw the party, I am 3) not at all cut out to be the CENTER of the party. I mean, I think I put on a good SHOW, but in ACTUALITY? Shudder. So I did what any self-respecting introvert would do: hid my face behind my husband and slowly made my way to the bar.

I am told Phillip emailed everyone we'd ever known, and that this email was quite funny (at my expense of course.) Apparently he asked the Future Pastry Chef to whip up the birthday cake before I did. He Made Arrangements with my friends, he kept the tables full of food and drinks, he mingled like I have never seen him mingle before. I was a tiny bit smitten.

I, on the other hand, was so flustered I mixed up my own sisters' names and kept asking people to repeat themselves because my brain was still in I Thought I Was Just Going Out To Dinner Mode. But you know, a few drinks took care of the Tongue-Tie and the Fear of Mingling and it wasn't long before it turned into The Best Birthday Ever.

Here is the cake:


Chocolate fudge cake, with ganache and a cheesecake filling. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. 

And your intrepid heroes:


Maggie: *rather stymied re: empty glass* Phillip: I am as pleased with myself as I look.

I just want to state for all the internet to know: my friends are the best. Their devotion to all things Cheung and Celebratory makes me very teary. I can really only think of one truly bad thing about having children, and that's how it often distances you from friends without children, or even friends with children who live more than a few miles away. There were people at my party I hadn't seen in six months, people I hadn't seen in over a year. I felt so honored.

I was going to post a whole bunch more photos, but there are kind of a lot, and almost all of people you don't know and what fun is that? But if you know me in real life (and most likely you don't, since 99% of my Real Life Peeps are all "blob?") or if you don't know me in real life but find yourself inexplicably fascinated (AND WHY WOULDN'T YOU?), you're welcome to check out the Flickr account I have every intention of using again. 

And thanks for all YOUR birthday wishes. Smooch.

We interrupt 7 Quick Takes for, what else, MORE BIRTHDAY

I gathered some turning-30 thoughts for Parenting this week, and they haven't seen fit to publish them yet. Which, most of the time, is fine. Every week I send them a blog post and every week I think, "Oh God, why did I write THAT, maybe if I'm lucky they'll forget to post it, no, they probably don't WANT to publish it, why would they defile their site with THIS garbage" and it goes on and on. Except this time I've sent them Time Sensitive Material and find myself refreshing the page over and over because dudes, there are only so many more hours left of 29.

Oh, are you tired of hearing about my Impending Birthday? TOO BAD, SUCKA!

I tend to make Large-ish Deals out of my birthday anyway. I so enjoy cake and presents and attention and not having to cast about desperately for a reason to be completely self-absorbed. For a long time the Thirtieth Birthday just felt like an excuse to have a REALLY good time. You know, blow a lot of money, do a lot of silly things I never do in real life, like have my nails done and buy shoes I'll only wear once.

So I'm definitely doing those things (nail appointment: check! crazy high heels: check!) but I've also been doing a lot of Dwelling. Just a lot of sitting around in Sentimental Land, mulling over the details. When a friend of mine emailed to ask about what time we're supposed to meet up on Saturday, which is SO unlike me you guys, I am normally All Over the fine print, especially when we're talking MY BIRTHDAY, I wrote back all, "I haven't even been paying attention, I've been THINKING TOO MUCH."

I blame Hot By Thirty. Hot By Thirty is making me Take Stock Of My Life Thus Far and making me all weepy and emotional. Because of Hot By Thirty I am in the best shape of my entire life, I am wearing a size I haven't seen since 8th grade and I can run three freaking miles without stopping. That's the kind of stuff that floats you back to that one time in high school when EVERYTHING SUCKED and you wondered if you would EVER BE COOL and if you'd ever meet a guy who wasn't TOTALLY LAME and the only way to improve your life was to finally be, you know, OLD, like THIRTY, and have your WHOLE LIFE FIGURED OUT.

I wouldn't say it's all figured out, but I have to say: thirty looks to be a hell of a lot more fun than fifteen. Or twenty. Or twenty-five. And the fact that I can say that spins me into aNOTHER round of weepy emotionalness.

I also blame the steaming pile of you know what that makes up my "novel", because my main character is (WHAT ELSE) a teenage girl. That means I spend an awful lot of time living in teenage girl land and I am always so very grateful to get back to almost thirty.

How late does Panera stay open? I suddenly find myself the only person in the front dining area. When my parents drove up this morning they offered to take the kids home. I am the only idiot in the world who needs to wrap her brain around something like that before consenting (smarter people get the "YES PLEASE!" out before the parents have even finished offering). Take note, friends of mine: Maggie must always Fully Digest before Responding. Anyway. This is Phillip's late night and I'm on my own and I didn't want to be home. So I drove to Panera and had a "low fat" strawberry smoothie for dinner (Hot By Thirty is dead in the water, folks. This week has seen a world of treats I haven't let myself eat in MONTHS.) And here I am, pecking on the laptop, not making any sense, AS PER USUAL. I also suspect I have rewritten the exact same things I wrote for Parenting, but OH WELL PARENTING, YOU SNOOZE YOU LOSE.

In short: Turning 30. Extremely content. Very pleased. Excited for New Era. Mostly excited to wear super high heels to mysterious Birthday Dinner. All of that trumped, however, by Harry Potter plans for Friday evening. BE STILL MY BEATING HEART.

Also! For those of you who READ Hot By Thirty, I think we're going to save Culmination of Hot By Thirty Day for Monday or thereabouts. Turns out I am not a huge fan of my After picture choices. How come they all look like the BEFORE pictures? This weekend I hope to get some After pictures where 1) my eyes are open 2) the camera angle has not invented multiple chins and 3) I am wearing clothes that do not look like I've slept in them. Yes, that means I am EXTENDING the birthday posts, but I don't care. It's my blog and I'll wear my birthday tiara as long as I want to.