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April 2010

So many kinds of nerdness in this post

Phillip's plane arrives at midnight. It's 9:15. He said not to wait up, but I am so far gone into Blog Redesign Trauma he'll probably be greeted by a half-bald muttering woman hugging an empty bottle of wine. 

Anyway, I am eating two hard boiled eggs for dinner (at 9:17) (which I also ate for breakfast and lunch) (along with generous helpings of cake frosting) (yes, just the frosting) and obviously it is time for Phillip to rejoin the family. The week without him was going swimmingly (eating habits aside) until today when the children went feral and I thought I might lose my mind from the whining and clinging and general crabbiness. I don't know if it's because I know Phillip is coming home tonight and therefore I loosen my grasp on my Determined Cheer mindset, or if four nights (five, really, since I had to put the kids tonight too) are really The Limit. 

See, the blog stuff wouldn't be so bad if I weren't a raging certifiable perfectionist. Seriously, I don't know how many times today I thought of my old boss who used to narrow his eyes at me and say, "Maggie? Sometimes DONE is better than PERFECT." And my problem is that I can't really think of an instance where that statement could possibly be true. 

And it is SO far from perfect. I mean, we're not just talking Not Valid HTML and Not Valid CSS, we are talking Gross Abuses of Blogging Platforms and that is quite possibly as good as it gets. You probably don't want to hear about the two hours I spent formatting a drop down menu only to realize it wasn't really going to do what I wanted it to do after all and SO MUCH FOR THAT. 

Yes, this is how I spend my free time. With intermittent breaks for cake frosting. Mighty Maggie: Here To Make You Feel Better About Yourself. 

The perfect thing though... okay, so I have this friend who is reading up on the enneagram and wants me and another friend to do it with her and I'm all YES. I mean, hello, I am a blogger. My favorite person is me. And learning more about ME? SIGN ME UP! But once she had me in her grasp my friend started to get a little cautionary, for reasons I intend to detail over at the Catholic blog, but the gist is: you could learn some potentially not fun things about yourself. Or, rather, you would have to learn more about the things you wish didn't exist. So suddenly I am not that enthralled. OBVS.

I took an online quiz, because I am nothing if not horribly lazy (why read a big ole book when I can take a ten minute online quiz? HMM?) and it says I am a One. And the prevailing word in the description of Ones is "perfectionist". So yes, that would be me, to a T.

Except I'm not sure I'm a One. The rest of the description didn't sound a lot like me. I'm usually pretty good at these personality things and can pick myself out of a large lineup (see: favorite person) but this one was harder. I read up on some of the other types and still couldn't figure it out. My friend told me she thinks I might be a Two (while also saying she is not supposed to tell me what she thinks, GEE THANKS) and for a minute it sounded more accurate and then the next minute it didn't. SO I DON'T KNOW. And you know, I'm finding it a little bit disturbing. Don't I know myself well enough? Am I not as self aware as I think? Guess I better study up on me! Fasten your bloggy seatbelts!

But I have to finish this stupid redesign first. I will win. And Phillip will come home and tomorrow some dudes from Sears are going to bring me a new refrigerator and I might get to leave the kids with my husband in the afternoon, the better to painfully reintroduce my legs to running. FUN TIMES. I'm glad he's coming home. I mean, it's nice to not make dinner all week and throw my clothes all over the bedroom, but I sure miss my hour of internet while he's putting the kids to bed. Oh, all right all right, I miss our Loving Conversations and Romantic Evenings as well. OKAY? 

Short (and lazy) but sweet

Things I Should Be Doing Instead Of Sitting On My Couch Eating Yogurt And Writing - Though I Use The Term 'Writing' Loosely - A Blog Post:

  1. Folding clothes
  2. Picking up toys
  3. Cleaning a bathroom
  4. Figuring out what to do with the random bookshelf full of random junk
  5. Putting the dry dishes away
  6. Being at ALL productive

You know I just wrote that list out to make myself feel a little less guilty. Because if I have made a LIST at least I am on top of what needs to be DONE and I can SCHEDULE ACCORDINGLY.

I spent my day Optimizing My Kitchen. That means I was buying cute yet functional storage containers, filling said containers with kitchen items and reorganizing nearly everything. This is quite possibly My Bliss, you guys. If only I had unlimited funds and an actual eye for decorating but woe, it is not to be. 

Well, not the WHOLE day. I did walk the kids down to the Fancy Stores (that's what I'm going to call it from now on, where Fancy = Too Rich For Me, And Yet I Cannot Help Myself) and we poked around the play area and the fountains and MAYBE I bought some drastically overpriced HOOKS at Anthropologie, I admit nothing. 

And then Jack yelled at me. Yelled. As in, he did not WANT to be strapped into the stroller and did not WANT to go home and if I was going to make him sit there well then I better give him some FRUIT SNACKS and I will just say that Jack will be lucky if he gets to see Three. He sat in his room a good long while for that performance. I sat on the couch, much like I'm doing now, but in a desperate-ish state of mind, wondering how to conjure The Fear Of God.  

I have some good news on the baby front, though. Wait. That didn't sound right. OTHER PEOPLE'S BABIES. Calm down. So one baby I haven't told you about, he is going to be born TOMORROW. Holy cats! He was originally scheduled for Jack's birthday, which I thought would earn him plenty of good karma, but since Jack is being so THREE lately perhaps the karma is not all that great. EITHER WAY! Tomorrow's baby has been held up in prayer since we heard about him. He will have to undergo some difficult procedures once he has arrived and I know you know even those stupid heel pricks are heartwrenching. So think good thoughts for tomorrow's baby, will you? 

And the other baby I DID tell you about, although I can't find the link and it was a very long time ago. And it wasn't even really about this baby. See, I was very worried about a friend, but wasn't sure if I was worried about the right things and didn't want to pry and REALLY didn't want to say anything if just the fact of my at-the-time two-year-old and brand spanking new baby would make things all the more painful. But you encouraged me to say something anyway and I'm SO glad I did, it was SUCH a good thing and learning my friend's story and holding HER up in prayer has made this news all the sweeter: if everything goes as smoothly as it's going right now, she'll have a baby this year too. Every time I think about it I start to cry, so I'm just going to go grab a Kleenex and maybe another yogurt and call my mother. 

If only child-wrangling burned as many calories as it SHOULD

Well. Let's not do TODAY again, shall we? HOLY HECK. 

We just got home from the volleyball "celebration dinner" (shut up) and you BET my kids are parked in front of the television while I give myself a few minutes to recover. I blame my friend who was all, "Oh just BRING them, it'll be FINE, I'll HELP you, it'll be FUN." Because no, it was not fun, it was more like sitting through about five back-to-back homilies in church with both kids and no husband. There were video montages and trophy presentations and one speaker, then another speaker and then the introducer of the Big Speaker and I thought I wouldn't live to HEAR the Big Speaker the introducer went on so long, I thought I was probably going to pitch myself out the nearest window on account of the beastly children. 

There was another mom there, a more laid back and easygoing mom, a mom whose children are just slightly older than mine, and I can't count the number of times she said, "They're doing GREAT!" And the amazing part is that she MEANT it. Because as far as I could tell? They were not doing great. Molly pretty much sang through the entire Big Speaker's talk (which was like a half hour and yes, I know, he's sort of a big deal but KILL ME NOW) and every time I told Jack to stop doing something or to listen to me or to basically act like a human child instead of a chimp (IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?) he "went boneless" as "Knuffle Bunny" would put it, or he started doing the whine/whimper and he KNEW I was helpless to do anything about it since 1) there was a SPEAKER and 2) to get out of the room I would have to waltz right in front of the Big Speaker and this meant JACK WON. Oh, that kills me. I was SEETHING. But of course, you can't expect two-ish and three-ish children to sit quietly through nineteen years of Grown Up Talk and I'm the idiot who brought a hundred snacks but no crayons and at least they weren't dive bombing the buffet or running screaming through the tables. Right? AT LEAST THERE IS THAT. 

I have such a hard time figuring out if they are REALLY being as beastly as I think they're being, or if they're Just Being Kids and perhaps the entire world is not as bothered by them as I think it is. And whenever an easygoing mom like that says something encouraging and sweet and helpful I feel buoyed, somewhat, and then I immediately feel like a Complete And Total Failure because my stressed out-ness is That Obvious and wow, I must suck so much. This is another topic entirely: how often people feel compelled to ask me "um, are you... OKAY?" I mean, where was I when they were handing out the easygoing genes? WHERE WAS I?

On the other hand, I manipulated my entire day so that my kids would get to nap before the celebration dinner and I WAS SUCCESSFUL and for that I totally earned the forty-seven cookies I ate tonight. We went to the early Mass (8am) in order to drop Phillip downtown in a Timely Manner to catch the light rail to the airport. And then I attempted to garden while my kids played in the yard, but there is no such thing as "gardening while the kids play" whoever thought THAT up was on drugs. So I put the kids down, the better to, you know, MAINTAIN MY SANITY, and all was well until about an hour in when Jack started to wail and wail and wail and guess how I handled this? (You will be proud.) I did nothing! Well, actually I stood on the outside steps for about ten minutes deciding what to do. Anyone who saw me standing there was probably rather confused. "What is she doing? Counting the bird poop splotches?"

But it did not let up. And after I don't know, 15, 20, 25 more minutes? I was finally like: okay, maybe this is a Not Napping day. So I went in his room and guess what: his blanket was on the floor. TRAUMA! I get a medal for that one, dudes. Great parenting right there. 

(And then he went to sleep.)

Also! I am noticing that my boy is rather... I'm not sure. OCD? A teeny tiny bit? The word I use with other people is "fastidious". I mean, he's always been averse to dirty fingers and always wants a napkin (although why does this not apply to DIAPER issues? HMM?) But he's started folding his blanket when he sleeps, like, his-OCD-present-wrapping-uncle-who-saved-all-his-Transformer-packaging would be crazy proud. And he's noticing things that are off. Like there was a big stack of paper plates at the dinner (we were sitting right next to the buffet) and the top plate wasn't stacked exactly right and he kept trying to tell me that the plate was doing something WRONG and he needed to FIX IT. Sorry about those genes, kid! Tell it to the therapist!

Anyway. The Backyardigans have now gone inside for their snack and I'm back on duty. BEDTIME. Nighty night! 

Seven Quick I Can't Remember The Last Time I Posted These Takes

1. I was getting headaches every night. In a move completely unrelated to the previous fact, I threw the chocolate chips in the garbage. ("MOMMY!" Jack cried when he saw the bag in the trash. "Those are CHOKLIT CHIPS!" I know kiddo, and I'm almost as horrified.) Last night I quickly downed the gourmet truffles my husband brought me from his travels afar and just as quickly got a headache. It occurred to me that I hadn't had a headache in nearly a week. Oh so slowly, oh so foggily I put two and two together. I have so far rejected the idea that these two facts are correlated, but I am reluctantly open to the idea that they ARE and am rather fearful for What It All Means. 

2. Volleyball playoffs are Saturday. This makes me laugh. Playoffs! Hee! I had a great time with my first volleyball team, but I've made friends on my second volleyball team. I feel so proud of myself for getting to know people outside of my little College and Church circles. I've been accused of Cold and Unapproachable Standoffishness, but it's hard to be that way on a volleyball court, especially when you're dancing around waiting for the serve and stoked because you get to hit in this rotation and no one ever let you hit in high school because you were too short and uncoordinated and MAYBE I have a teeny tiny outgoing side and it miraculously comes out when I need to yell, "SETTER'S OUT!" and, well, I'm not REALLY cold and unapproachable, honest. I just need to hang out with you on a volleyball court wearing my dorky team t-shirt and my kneepads that are too small now that I've washed them and my knee fat spills over oh so unattractively. Icebreaker!

3. I've decided that my Phillip Is Away For The Week Project is a site redesign. You: Who cares?! Me: Somewhat stymied by Typepad's still new-to-me template changes. You've been warned.

4. I think we are taking the kids to the Tulip Festival tomorrow. I have no idea if this is a good idea or not, but I want to do a FAMILY THING instead of, you know, running errands. I can't think of a better Family Thing than spending a few quality hours in the car. 

5. My little Jiffy peat pot seedlings sprouted almost immediately. Whee! And it's downright summery out, which means as soon as the kids wake up we are going to Garden. Which means an afternoon full of, "I told you not to walk there! Stop it! Go AROUND! This is MOMMY'S place to play. Don't walk on the garden! GO AROUND!"

6. It's midnight now, because I went to an open gym volleyball practice night thing and then we went to happy hour, except there wasn't enough space so we ended up at this guy's apartment in downtown Bellevue and it was sort of like college, where you're out walking late with friends and hanging out eating pints of ice cream and you guys, he lives above a SAFEWAY and that is pretty much MY DREAM. Also: Phillip is asleep and I'm awake and I'm pretty sure we have somehow broken the space-time continuum right there. 

7. I just got a library email informing me a book is waiting on hold, and I can't remember what this book is or where I heard about it or what. Do I go get it? Probably. Hmm. I gave up on the elegant hedgehog book so I'm looking for something to read. Liz gave me the first book in the Golden Compass series, although the anti-churchiness sentiment in those books is bound to be a huge turnoff. Woe. What do I read until Mockingjay comes out? BESIDES the giant stack of magazines on my counter? HMM? 

As promised, the good stuff

So, the first thing I want to say is that the very best "result", I guess, of moving to the house is written out in gory detail over at Parenting. Or it will be on Thursday. So go read that, will you? Because I think I have even more to say about it (you: shocked!) and you will already know what I'm talking about. 

One of the other good things about the house is that the bus route downtown is different, meaning Phillip has to walk a bit farther to catch the bus home, which means he stopped by this shop tonight and brought me some truffles. Not a bad perk, eh?

Seriously, though, and three-year-old antics aside, I've been doing nothing but clapping myself on the back for having the excellent idea to unload the other house and snap up this one. WAY TO GO, ME! And it's really weird, you know? I'm all, "Really, Self? Are you SURE?" Because Phillip and I would often sit in our old living room and say, "This is the nicest house we'll ever live in. It's all downhill from here." And we MEANT it. We had a brand new upgraded everything fancypants townhouse and we knew you could never really be happy if you didn't have granite counter tops. 

WHAT A JOKE. Just the other day we were sitting in our new living room and saying, "Um, I don't miss the old house. Is that okay? Is that WRONG?"

Probably my favorite thing about the new house is the fully fenced yard AND the kitchen with plenty of windows and a door I can prop open to hear if anyone is screaming. There are two doors to the backyard - one from the kitchen (up a flight of stairs) and one from the laundry room (no stairs) and if the kids are playing outside I usually leave them both open so I can just... NOT BE OUTSIDE. And there's a million ways to destroy the backyard - throw gravel! pick the flowers! run through the plants! ride trikes through the puddles! - that the kids are happy out there for much longer than I expect. So I get dinner ready in the kitchen without a Mollymonster hanging off my leg, or I fold some clothes or go through the mail without hollering at Jack to stop throwing balls in the house every five minutes. It's kind of amazing. Kind of life-changing. My favorite days have been the sunny ones, where the kids are running around outside and I'm in the kitchen getting dinner ready and listening to The Moth podcast. (I've had an iPod Touch for, like, a YEAR and I'm only really using it NOW. Yay podcasts!) 

The other great thing is, of course, the separate rooms. It's an adjustment though. They don't seem to miss each other (and really, why would they) but Jack sleeps WAY later in the mornings now and it throws off my whole Coordinated Schedule thing. (Perhaps you've read my other posts this week. Cough.) Not a bad thing, just not something I've figured out yet. But we love love LOVE not having to race out of bed in the mornings to retrieve The First One Who Wakes Up. There were a couple of posts in blogland recently about how great it is to have kids sharing a room and I felt bad - for about ten seconds. I mean, I DID hope for all that sweet bonding crap, but sleep is more important. Can I get an amen? 

Other good stuff: 

For a while I was really worried that all the fun stuff-to-walk-to would mean throwing my entire body weight behind the double stroller for ten blocks straight. Not that that would be so horrible and not that I couldn't do it, I just wouldn't WANT to do it. I'm LAZY. So I fretted about this for a bit, but then I realized that just down the street is Seattle's Biking Trail, which I used to spend a lot of time on in college, late at night, fretting about the guy in my dorm who never paid attention to me, and I didn't remember fretting while SWEATING. I mean, I didn't remember any HILLS. So the other day I packed the kids in the stroller, walked down the hill to the trail and you GUYS! Flatness! It's paved and friendly and takes me to a snooty grocery store (five minutes) or a huge playground (15 minutes) or another snooty store (20 minutes) and I haven't even figured out the walking times for all the things I know are in the opposite direction. This also means I might keep up my (flagging) running habit, since you KNOW I was not going to go running HILLS. As if. 

The mailbox. This is going to sound stupid BUT. The old house had one of those group mailboxes out on the sidewalk (and NO outgoing mail slot, WTH) and I couldn't go get the mail during nap time when I FELT like getting the mail because I didn't want to leave the kids alone in the house. The new house has an old timey mail box attached to the outside wall by the front door AND it works for outgoing mail. This is a HUGE DEAL. (My life is small.)

The living room that has turned into our joint office/library. It's weird, having a teeny couch, a rocking chair and two desks crammed into your Official Living Room, but it's working well for us. I don't feel like Phillip is locked up in some Man Cave when he does his homework - usually I'm right next to him doing my own "work". I knew having three floors in the old house really separated everyone, but in the new house I'm realizing just how much. 

That the kids can play in places where I am not. They play in the playroom or Jack's room. I'm not one of those moms who insists that the toys stay in their respective places - I extricate a lot of toys from our living room at the end of the day - but I just love that they aren't constantly under my feet all day long. I wonder if this makes me sound bad, like I'm not supervising them well enough, but my kids are happy to run around doing their own things and I'm happy to let them. They fight, of course, and I don't get to be in my own space for long, but just not having to be in the same room all morning on a rainy grumpy day is really great for my (our?) disposition. 

There's a huge area for a garden and I will get around to planting my seedlings when it stops raining. The landlord just installed a garage door opener. We're getting a new fridge soon. I love the 'character' of older houses. And we took your advice and switched out the shower head in the downstairs shower and lo, there was water pressure. 

It's not perfect. I really don't like the laundry room. The kitchen floor, while not as panic-inducing as my old floor, will never look clean no matter how hard I scrub. The kitchen gets really hot when it's just sunny, not even warm, outside. The carpet has tears and ugly spots. I hate the paint color. Our table is too big and heavy for its spot in the kitchen, and there isn't enough storage for food and linens and coats. 

BUT WHO CARES. I thought I lived pretty close to things in the old house, but this house is even closer and Phillip and I are realizing that wait, maybe THIS is the nicest house we'll ever live in, because there's no way on earth we can afford to BUY a house in this neighborhood and that's so much of what we love about it. And I just love - LOVE LOVE LOVE - knowing that if and when we decide to buy again we are free. Free! No will-it-sell townhouse hanging over our heads and all that drama. I know I was complainy about it, but I hope you know I'm still sort of shocked we are in our rental house already, when I was thinking MAYBE by June or July. I feel SO blessed. 

As a side note, I hung the REST of the pictures today and a certain someone STILL has not said anything about it. I guess I can't have everything. 

Triumph? Sort of?

I hung a dozen pictures on the wall today and my husband has not said a damn thing. 


I just want to say that none of your comments on the last post made me the tiniest bit defensive or insecure or bummed out and THANK YOU FOR THAT. Group hug!

Today was much better. SO MUCH BETTER. Not completely perfect, as it involved a full hour of bawling for maaaaawwwwmeeeee but the force was with me, by which I mean I shut myself in the kitchen with the laptop and the iPod playing The Moth podcasts. The Moth is my favorite. 

See, I decided that the boy still needs a nap. And I know I can't physically force him to take a nap. But I can sort of insist that he give it the ole college try and I can do that by 1) putting him in his crib and 2) not going to get him when he starts the daily manipulation fest. He had some books in his crib, he went potty, he had his drink of water, I told him over and over that I would not come back until it was time to get up. And so it wasn't MY problem if he wanted to wail and carry on for over an hour, was it? I THINK NOT. 

And then he fell asleep. TRIUMPH! I think? And Molly woke up pretty soon after that, so, yeah, not the greatest afternoon in the world, but dude, I will TAKE IT. You are all right: the worst part is fighting a losing battle every single stupid day. We'll see what happens tomorrow. 

Oh, and thanks for the Quiet Time ideas. While I'm pretty sure Jack needs to nap MOST days, I know he also is totally fine skipping the nap on SOME days. And the sucky part is deciding what kind of day it is, but if I DO decide it's a skip day, I am very much in love with the TV In Mommy's Room While She Pecks Away At Her Silly Blawg plan. I can do that. Jack is a very good play-by-himselfer, but I think letting him play in his room was a little too much freedom. For now, anyway. Poor kid. He's going to be thirty-seven before we let him ride his bike down the street. Don't even talk to me about the big boy bed. That sucker is on HOLD.

ANYWAY. Friends came over this morning, which always makes a difference. I realized it's been about two weeks since we played with other people and man do I miss other people. And did I tell you Phillip is leaving again on Sunday afternoon? And not getting home till midnight on Thursday which is technically not Thursday at all since the kids will be good and asleep by then? Sigh.

Didn't I say I was going to write an Awesome Things About Moving post? OH RIGHT. Maybe tomorrow! Who knows! 

Oh wow this is long I AM SO SORRY

I'm just going to preface this by saying I am Rather Sensitive about the, ah, Circumstances. And that I'm not looking for advice so much as, um, I don't know. THE ANSWER? Or maybe a care package of booze?

The Circumstances are this: I find myself butting heads with Jackson an average of, and I am trying not to exaggerate here, every ten to fifteen minutes. During waking hours when it's just the three of us at home, that's about what it amounts to. And of those head butting moments, I'd say every third or fourth one escalates into something more than Head Butting. More like "If you don't straighten up and do what I am telling you to do I am going to stick your little bottom on the sidewalk with FREE stamped across your forehead." 

Sometimes he's picking fights with Molly (who, to be fair, is not much of a peach herself these days, but Molly responds pretty well to a Pointed Glare while Jack thinks a Pointed Glare means he gets to have another cookie.) Sometimes he's doing all the things he's not supposed to do in the backyard, like throw the pea gravel and stomp across my garden and pick the flowers that shouldn't be picked. Sometimes he's refusing to go potty, refusing to sit the right way at the dinner table, refusing to pick up toys, refusing to go up or down the stairs, refusing to do ANYTHING we want him to do. 

And while this is horribly annoying and grating and miserable for everyone and plain old suckalicious, I also consider it Standard Issue Toddler Fare. My dad would say, "Maggie, dear, this is what you get for having children." So yes. It's nothing out of the ordinary. We've struggled with particularly onerous weeks of misbehavior before, usually during a time of transition (HELLO) so we're dealing. Maybe not WELL (the "choices" thing, which I am trying in VAIN, is pointless when the person to whom the choices are positioned consistently opts for a third unlisted choice, and time outs, while nice for the parents, do not appear to be a deterrent for future misbehavior.) BUT WE ARE TRYING. 

Anyway, in the MIDST of the rampant parental abuse we are experiencing, the boy has now decided he is no longer going to nap in the afternoons. NOW. I just have to say that Jack will be three in something like three weeks and I've heard of lots of kids starting to skip naps at this age and a huuuuuge reason we want him to have his own room is so he has a quiet place to hang out during nap time. I'm just saying I've THOUGHT ABOUT IT and I'm not SURPRISED and I'm even halfway PREPARED. 

But it's not working the way I thought it would, and while I shouldn't be surprised about that, I'm not dealing very well. I put him in his bed with a couple of books and one of those magnetic drawing pads. That keeps him happy for a little while. Basically I'm not expecting him to fall asleep right away, and it's okay with me if he plays quietly in his bed until Molly wakes up. Yes, he's harder to deal with when he doesn't have a nap but (AND THIS IS KEY) if I get a break, I CAN deal with a less than stellar mood in the afternoons. If I don't? MY less than stellar mood ruins EVERYONE'S day.

So sometimes this works and sometimes he falls asleep. Most of the time it backfires. He's okay for a little while, but then he starts whining for more. More books, more water, more toys. Then he wants to get out of bed. Then he wants to play with crayons. Then he has to go potty, except oops!, he already went in his pants. Then he needs a Kleenex. Then he has a piece of fuzz in his bed. Then he wants covers. On and on and on. So it's not so much nap time or quiet time as it is Mommy Fetches Me Stuff Time. In other words: NOT A BREAK. 

Now I know what you are saying. You are saying to yourselves, "Well stop going into his room, woman! Can you not see when you are being manipulated? This is your own fault!" And I am in full agreement with you there, I am. REALLY. I will just say that the reasons I answer 90% of his calls for "MAAAAAWWWMEEEE" are thusly:

1. What if he is giving up his nap and it's unreasonable for me to expect him to spend a full two hours sitting in his bed with two books? This is where I go in to give him more books or let him try playing in his room by himself (he just sees how far he can go OUT of his room). Because I'm OKAY if he doesn't sleep, I just need him to NOT NEED ME for a while. 

2. What if he DOES have to go potty? We have regressed on the potty situation big time, something I blame on all the transition (and myself, of course). I feel like it's just a reflection of everything else, but I still want to respond to those requests ASAP. 

3. What if he really DOES need a Kleenex or wants covers because he wants to go to sleep or that fuzz is really bothering him? Sometimes I've let him cry for a long time and I go in there and his face is covered in disgustingness and I would want a Kleenex too. And sometimes when I do that, THAT's the point where all the whining and fussing and hollering for Mommy ends. 

So now you are saying, "Well, why does the hollering for Mommy bother you? Just leave him in there! He's fine!" I've heard several variations on this point recently and I would like to address it with: BECAUSE I CANNOT RELAX. It's not that I'm worried about him, not really, and it's not that I think it's mean or damaging to his little psyche or anything like that. It's that I cannot do anything else except listen to the whining and hope for it to end. I can't write, I can't work out, I can't play on the internet, I can't watch TV, I can't pay the bills, I can't do any of the things I usually do during nap time because the incessant whining makes me so incredibly tense and frustrated. And this is my entire issue: I NEED SOME DOWNTIME TO SURVIVE. So I cave. I admit it. I SUCK!

Which is why I am extremely suspicious that this is all my problem. Like, something as simple as an Adjustment In Attitude could be the answer. It's been the answer before. Or a big fat Lowering Of Standards. I am open to anything. I think the thing I'm doing most wrong is being inconsistent. I tend to operate on a by-the-minute basis during naptime. Do I think I can handle the whining? I try. Do I think he could try playing quietly in his room? I'll try it. Do I think he's being awful and needs to go back in his bed? I'll do that. It's never the same thing, even though in my head I have this Nap Time/Quiet Time PLAN. Apparently I need a Plan B. 

I am tired of getting so incredibly angry at my kid for this stupid stuff. I can be firm and discipline him and lay down the law without turning into The Rage Monster, which is usually where I'm at come three o'clock. I'm tired of being manipulated, of allowing myself to be manipulated. I'm tired of not knowing if he's giving up his nap or just adjusting or just being a pill or what. I'm tired of always doing the wrong thing. 

I have a few ideas in mind. I will still put him in his bed first, because I think most of the time he still needs to sleep, but I will still give him a book or two. I'm going to try putting him down earlier because someone said this worked in her similar situation. I'm going to have him go potty, get a drink, everything I can think of WHEN I put him down and try my very very hardest not to go in there again. A Quiet Time CIO, if you will, because maybe he knows he can get me to do whatever. (As evidence of his sneakiness I present the multiple Potty False Alarms.) And if the nap skipping becomes a more permanent thing, I think I am going to buy a few inexpensive quiet toys and keep them in a tub that I bring out only for Quiet Time and establish Harsh Punishments for venturing outside of his room. (Or put up the baby gate - that was Phillip's suggestion.) 

So yeah. That's what's happening at Casa Cheung. You SO want to hang out with us, don't you. 

Yesterday was the worst, the absolute worst, and when the FPC showed up at 5 to babysit the kids so Phillip and I could go see Conan O'Brien downtown I practically wept with gratitude. (And of course they were angels for HER.) I was determined not to go on and on about Jack when I met Phillip for dinner, but you know I did and to his credit he did not try to fix it or tell me I was doing something wrong or basically act like HE is the one who stays at home and knows how to do it all which is something I cannot abide at any time ever. It was nice to get it all out, actually. And I had a lovely gin and tonic and a massive burger at a Downtown Workers' Happy Hour Meeting Spot (a job was sounding good at that point) and then Conan O'Brien was more fun than I expected. I'm not much of a fan (mostly I really hate the Late Night Format and nearly all forms of crude frat boy jokes) but I like HIM and the band was awesome and then Local Celebrity Eddie Freaking Vedder showed up and did a few songs and fourteen-year-old me was pretty impressed, although thirty-year-old me would have preferred Local Celebrity Joel McHale. Also, I highly recommend checking out this dude Reggie Watts, who opened the show, and while every other word out of his mouth was one your mother doesn't want you to say, I laughed SO HARD. 

Your standard photo cop out post

It turns out I am not ready for my All The Great Things About The House Post. Mostly because when my in-laws delivered the kids tonight they were horrible and I just... I just don't know what to do about that. Wait, the kids, not the in-laws. THE KIDS. THEY ARE KILLING ME. ALSO. I busted my jaw at my volleyball game today and I'm oscillating between "Oh, it'll be fine, I'll just take some Advil and it'll feel better tomorrow" and "OMG I NEED TO HAVE RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY." 

This is why I'm just going to post some pictures. OKAY?

Cute, huh?


I do need to record, for posterity and honesty's sake, that he was a total rockstar at his first dentist appointment. Polishing and flouride and everything. 

Rocking the paper bib. 

So we had to celebrate at the lake. 



The kids stayed Saturday night with grandparents, which meant an easy Sunday morning for Phillip and me, plus grown up lunch with Holly and her man! It was a mini Blathering! SO FUN. If I haven't mentioned it before, I highly recommend meeting your blogging buddies. 

Dim sum virgins no longer. 

See how happy I look? Halfway SANE? IT'S ALL AN ACT, INTERNET. SEND WINE.

Wait, I HAVE wine. Also: Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches, the no-longer-eating-her-feelings girl's Coca Cola cake. (Sob.) I think I'm gonna get me some. In the meantime you can check out my Flickr stream where I have posted a you know what ton of New House pictures, all awaiting your decorating brilliance. 

P.S. I did not clean up for these pictures at ALL. Hopefully someday soon I'll be able to post a second batch where things are 1) set up 2) put away 3) on the wall and 4) LOOK DECENT.

Dangerously close to the edge

I worried about the kids adjusting to the move (and with good reason, my God they are cranky, antagonistic, disobedient little suckers) but I didn't worry about ME adjusting to the move. I am, after all, a grown up. I was the one who instigated the entire thing. I don't need bribes or naps or one more drink of water to put me in a better mood. 

But maybe I should have worried a little bit. Not that it would have gotten me anywhere, but I might have thought to be prepared. And it's not that I don't want to live here or think we made a mistake. The first two days were extraordinarily difficult with the kids, but every day since we keep figuring out how to live here and I can tell, a week and a half into our residence, that our options for Living have expanded exponentially. The different rooms, the different areas to play, the fact that there is no television anywhere near our eating space, the BACK YARD. The back yard is worth its square footage in gold, people. But I want to write about all of that later, all the awesome stuff and the places we've walked to and the things we've discovered. 

Right now I just want to whine, because there are still boxes in almost every room. I still don't know where to put so many things. And there are so many things I feel like we NEED. A TV stand. A coat rack or four. A filing cabinet. Right now I'm sitting in the living room, where I like to sit because there are two big windows and a view of the street, but it's such an ODD room. At least the way we've set it up. We have both desks in here - there's nowhere else, really, to put them - and one little couch and one rocking chair and I keep thinking, "What happens when my friends come over here to drink wine? Where will we sit? I need some kind of fabulous accent chair! (Like the one I'm coveting on Style Lush!)" And I sit here and wantwantwant even though this is sort of ridiculous, coveting a $350 ACCENT chair with a pattern I don't even really LIKE for my one to two year RENTAL HOUSE. 

And downstairs... SIGH. Because of the windows and the doorways and the stairs, there aren't a lot of ways to arrange the furniture and everything we have seems oversized and I have this playroom with nowhere to put toys. There are small issues, like the toy storage tubs I bought for our built in bookshelves in the other house don't fit as well in the Expedit bookcase. Not the end of the world. But then I've left bins of toys on TOP of the Expedit since day one, since there's nowhere to put them but the floor and this makes me upset. We had to cut the room in half with a couch - I don't want to use up more floor space for toy bins. You know? I'm just... frustrated. 

I'm not one of those people who can't stand clutter. (OBVS.) I mean, I don't LIKE clutter and I spend a lot of time organizing and arranging and figuring out Systems and all that, but it's not like I'm going to have a breakdown or something because I can't find a place to put the mail. But I can't find a place for SO MANY THINGS. This house, I feel compelled to say again, is probably exactly as big as our last house, there IS enough space. It's just... different. And I don't know where things go yet. I don't know how we work in this house yet. I HATE THAT.

Making everything even MORE difficult to handle are the children, who are driving me around the bend. Jack is either tormenting his sister or pretending he doesn't speak and/or understand English, and there is pretty much nothing that brings out the Rage more than Not Listening To Mommy. And Molly is just clingy as heck. She's a mama's girl anyway, but GEE WHIZ, KID I can't make dinner/fold the clothes/unpack/sweep/ANYTHING if I'm holding YOU. And then I blame Jack, of course, because half the time she wants to be held because he's being awful to her. 

They are sleeping through the night and sleeping later in the mornings. It's awesome. It's amazing. It's so so wonderful. But Molly still wants to take her nap at twelve-thirty and Jack is uninterested in naps altogether. So we've started doing the Quiet Time thing (books and a toy or two in his crib) and now that we're more settled in the house, he usually falls asleep. Eventually. Like an hour (or more) later. I survive by Coordinated Naps, folks, so this single hour or so of nap overlap is kind of getting to me. I'm trying to learn to relax during Quiet Time, but I'm not used to hearing an hour of singing to oneself or reciting the alphabet or doing all the dinosaur roars while he reads Paper Bag Princess. I know that's silly. I know it's fine if he's in his room, the door closed, Quiet Time in effect. I'm just unclear on how to dial back the Mom Brain, a necessity if one is to survive the hours of 4 to 6pm later that day.

ESPECIALLY when it's interspersed with calls for MAAAAWWWWWMEEEEEEE over and over and over until I cannot stand it any longer and I go into his room and he cheerfully produces a sock, or shows me the booger on his finger and I want to slam every door in the house because SERIOUSLY? All that whining and carrying on for THAT? Can't you just SAY, "Mommy! Come admire my booger!" 

So... YEAH. I will write about all the GREAT stuff later, promise. And this week looks to be a good one - we have tickets for Team Coco (PHILLIP'S IDEA!) on Monday and I'm trying to get up the nerve to call an Actual Real Live Babysitter so we can go on a little neighborhood restaurant date Saturday night. But then Phillip leaves for another week starting Sunday afternoon and thank God he has agreed to take me to Ikea tonight because a whole week of Nowhere To Put Things plus No Husband To Fulfill My Wishes for an entire week might very well send me over the edge.