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July 2010

On houses and bath time

NO I'm not going to FRB's show tonight! Sheesh. 

I am actually Single Parenting tonight. The kids are in the bathtub and I am perched on the toilet seat, shielding the laptop from errant splashes. There is no situation like Bath Time to show me that I am the laziest mother on earth, you guys. Basically I do not care what they do in the bath tub as long as they are 1) not fighting and 2) not drowning. Like, I have told them about forty-seven times not to drink the bath water, not to slurp the bath water, not to put their MOUTHS in the stupid WATER. But they keep doing it and I think to myself, "At least they are not 1) fighting or 2) drowning." And I go on with my typing. 

For those of you aghast that I am Blogging Whilst Bathing, I have my feet kicked up on the tub. I have negative twelve feet to cross to whisk anyone out of any precarious position. I'm pretty sure I would even throw the beloved laptop aside if action were required. 

I don't see how I can feel like it's been a long week when we were on VACATION on Monday and it's also not even Friday. That's three whole days of parenting for me, and two of those days contained large amounts of Other People Entertaining My Kids. The Bride was up here this week with her new husband and if I hadn't had such a great time I'd be embarrassed of how much we ditched the kids with New Husband so we could talk. So we're sitting in a park and snacking on Rainier cherries while New Husband kicks a ball around or takes them to throw rocks in the lake. Or we're hanging out at the table finishing giant slices of chocolate cake while New Husband plays hide and seek in the backyard. "But he LOVES kids!" she kept saying. Worked for me!

Maybe it was just today that felt long. We had no plans, no one to see, no errands to run. We went for a long walk in the morning, but Jack ruined it by acting out in the grocery store where we stopped to buy fancy overnight pull ups. (PSA: do not use swim diapers in place of pull ups. Just go to the store and buy some more. Unless you like laundry, that is. I hate laundry.) So he was a brat and I used my Mean Mommy voice and then he started to howl, in public, and I managed not to die until we were safely back on the trail, away from People Whose Children Always Behave. 

But the repercussions meant Jack was remorseful enough to behave through "quiet time" and the rest of the afternoon. There were sprinklers and peaches and running around in underpants. It's not supposed to stay this warm, so we tried to take advantage. Even if "advantage" sometimes means watching back to back episodes of Sesame Street in the basement where things are twenty degrees cooler. 

It's days like these, even with the Mortifying Grocery Store Episode, that make me think I couldn't possibly be doing anything else. 

While the kids ate dinner with Elmo, I trolled Redfin for an in-advisably long time. The prices are dropping, making me in-advisably optimistic. We're not planning to buy any time soon, and we intend to be exceedingly picky when we do, but it doesn't hurt to look, right? Quite a few oldish-but-updated houses popped up - the kind I like, in neighborhoods I love. Of course it'd be a major stretch to afford those, but I looked at them anyway, favorited them anyway. 

I hate the kitchen floor in this house. I loathe it. Every time I sweep it I think: if this were MY house this stuff would be ripped up in a FLASH. But then I remind myself that it's not my house and, therefore, not my problem. And something about that makes the permanent dirtiness more manageable. Same with the lack of dining room, the ugly carpet, the awful front door, the laundry room, the claustrophobic shower and the losing battle I am fighting with the weeds in the backyard. The fact that these are not my problems to own makes them infinitely more bearable. It also makes hunting around on Redfin a frequent event. What WOULD the house-that-is-all-mine look like? 

I can wait, though. I don't need to be responsible for discolored marked up kitchen floors any time soon.

And oh look, SOMEONE is trying to drink the water AGAIN.


I wanted a better story

I've been writing a lot, which is good, since I certainly haven't been doing laundry or vacuuming or working out. I have this whole Anniversary of Hot By Thirty post floating in my head and I do fear it's not going to be as flattering and laudatory of my cumulative efforts as I'd like. But I've been writing and spending a bit more thinking time in my made up world and I tell you that to maybe help explain the rest of this post, to which you will surely respond with loud snorts and giant eye rolls. 

I wasn't going to write about it, but the day sort of demands it, I think. Or tomorrow night, rather, which is the night my First Real Boyfriend will be in town playing a show at some local bar, to which I was invited. VIA FACEBOOK. 

Most of us have First Real Boyfriends, right? And we are all allowed some amount of irrational and semi-ridiculous angst about these first boyfriends, right? I mean, if we HAVE irrational and semi-ridiculous angst. Some of us are above these things, I know, but I will just tell you right now: I AM NOT. 

So First Real Boyfriend was this exceedingly cocky and confident 16-year-old guy and why he wanted to date my exceedingly insecure and naive 14-year-old self remains a mystery. He made me incredibly nervous, but he was persistent and a lot more honest, forthright and in possession of a larger vocabulary than any other guy I knew, so, well, you know. Barf. I know. Right now my mother is reading this and wondering how she raised a daughter who writes about this on the INTERNET. Have I no SHAME?

ANYWAY. I started dating this guy in, like, February or something and as soon as school was out my family was moving. So the whole "relationship" was Fraught With Angst from the get go. I have no idea where my journals are from those years but I bet they are full of excellent material. All sorts of blissful and terrible and ultimately unimportant things happened during those months, and then I moved. CUE THE DRAMA!

Okay! So! It is well documented here that the year we moved was The Worst Year Ever and I'm not PROUD but neither am I ASHAMED to say that was in part because I missed First Real Boyfriend a whole bunch. I think we wrote a letter or two, but other than that, this extremely horribly embarrassingly significant event in my life was KAPUT. 

OH THE WOE.

Now! When you go to school on American military bases overseas, NO ONE GOES HOME AGAIN. Everyone is from everywhere else and everyone's parents move on or move home and when you go home for Christmas break? NO ONE ELSE IS THERE. So I knew the chances of seeing this guy again (and anyone else I hoped to reunite with) were nil. My parents, being teachers and civilians, stayed where I went to high school about ninety-seven times longer than anyone else, and the only people I saw again after graduating were other teachers' kids. Who weren't even really my friends, but BECAME my friends for a week or two every year out of convenience. You just don't see people again. They disappear. You are left with Wondering. 

And I wondered a lot. 

He wasn't the only person I wondered about, but he was one of the big ones, and OH YES I took to Googling when Googling became a thing that you could do. And this is how I found out that First Real Boyfriend LIVED IN SEATTLE OMG. 

AND he was in a band. AND I knew where his band was playing. Which meant (OBVS) I COULD GO SEE HIM. And you KNOW I considered this. Some of these venues were places I'd actually been to. I could just show up. I could pretend to not have any idea he was there! IT COULD HAPPEN!

But it didn't, because even I am not that ridiculous. 

After a while it just became a Thing That I Knew. First Real Boyfriend lived in Seattle, played in a band, blah blah blah. Maybe I would run into him on the street or in a restaurant or whatever, maybe not. I was extremely proud of myself for this grown up behavior, you guys. No more high schoolish pining and daydreaming, not even any for-curiosity's-sake wondering. Honest! And one day I Googled again (do not tell me you do not use Google for nefarious purposes, I won't believe you anyway) and found out he'd moved away. Astoundingly enough, this did not disappoint me in the least. Tra la la!

But then. THEN. 

A few weeks ago. Out of the deep, vast, giant blue. I open up Facebook, which I am trying to use more often (WHY? I DON'T KNOW). I notice I have a friend request and a little part of me dies inside, because lately all my friend requests are from high school and while it's wicked fun to find THEM, I don't really want them to find ME. But this friend request is not just from high school, it's from WAY BACK in high school. It's First Real Boyfriend. 

That's it. Just a friend request. No note. No email. No "Hey, what's up!" No "Great to find you!" Definitely no "I've been wondering what happened to you for fifteen years, I missed you so much after you moved, LIFE WAS NEVER THE SAME!" 

So I just sat there and stared at it for a Good Long While. And then I shut the computer and ignored it for several days. And then I decided to be a Grown Up and hit 'Confirm'. The End. 

Maybe it's just me, but how anti-climactic. How depressing. How absolutely devoid of romance, in every sense of the word. Of all the ways I imagined reconnecting with First Real Boyfriend, freaking FACEBOOK wasn't one of them. I mean, I knew he was on there (EVERYONE IS ON FACEBOOK) but no way was I going to FRIEND him. Well, for one thing, I don't friend anybody (SNOB!) but it's just so... MUNDANE. And you guys, I HATE mundane. 

Perhaps it's just the aspiring YA novelist talking. Perhaps I really AM that ridiculous. Perhaps you are all unsubscribing as I type. 

It's just one of the ways I find Facebook odd and mysterious. I love how I can post pictures and have my mom's friends in Italy see them two seconds later. On that note it's kind of awesome. But what did First Real Boyfriend have to gain by friending me? Sure, he can see my less than riveting updates, but if he can hunt me down on Facebook he can find the blog (I just did this as an experiment, OMG HOLD ME) and surely that's a better way to stalk me AND I wouldn't know. It's not like he's communicated with me since, other than the mass invite to the show. Or is it just me that wants to do all of this anonymously? And other people have less pride/fewer neuroses? That's probably it. 

Here's a potential kicker: 

A few months before I got married I was working downtown and running an errand at a local hotel. On my way out I made eye contact with the valet. I instantly looked away. It couldn't be. I walked faster, my head down. I did look back, just once, but he was looking right at me, which made me even more nervous, and I booked it all the way back to my office. 

It could have been, right? It'd be a much better story than FACEBOOK. 


I LOVE MY BLAWG!

A few weeks ago I met up with Blogless Reader Megan at a fancypants mall. She was in town for a family wedding and OBVS we had to hang out and it was super fun and her crazy energetic kid made sure my enthralled-by-older-kids kid got his first nap in weeks and it was a Grand Time. Even though we are only BLOG-RELATED and even though her husband was all, "Um, you're going to meet someone from... the... INTERNET?"

WHATEVER, MEGAN'S HUSBAND!

And then this weekend I met up with MORE friends from the internet and had yet ANOTHER smashing time. 

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Two of these people are gorgeous and glowing, one of them is rocking the always in fashion I Was Squeezed Into A Flying Tin Can Today look. 

And! And! I'D MET THEM BEFORE. You know what that means, right? It means we'd hung out once and had a good enough time that we decided, of our own free will, to do it again. Craziness! 

This was something like my zillionth time hanging out with Internet Friends, but you guys, it seriously isn't lost on me that I wouldn't know you if it weren't for this stupid dorkalicious website. And we AREN'T strange, semi-creepy Internet Weirdos, we are totally people who would be friends In Real Life. So it totally works when we DO meet in real life. We can all get dinner together and talk about kids and jobs and, okay, the internet. It's so much fun. It's especially fun to walk along Manhattan Beach and point out which house you'd like @shelbyraymond and @darrenoia to purchase for the next time you visit Southern California. (I want the one with a turret!)

If I haven't said it before, I HIGHLY recommend getting thyself a blog. 


To market to market to buy a fat pig

...home again, home again, jiggedy jig. 

I am writing to you from the comfort my bed, in my pajamas, with my glasses on, wearing slippers, because it is COLD, though - and this is a big fat important THOUGH - not as cold as LA. Harrumph. 

I have a frillion pictures to post, but I'm too tired. We're all too tired. The kids conked out in the car on the way home from Grandma and Grandpa's house, Phillip is flitting about the house stressing about having to set his alarm for Ungodly Early all week and I briefly contemplated not even cracking this here laptop. I KNOW. 

I am trying to think of what to tell you about the wedding - I was just so happy to be there. Everything else I can think of to say about it makes me teary and dudes, I am too tired to be teary. Oh Former Roommate. You know I just love you. 

Of course, when the Cheungs invade Southern California, Southern California pulls out all the stops. Including weather that, I swear, brought to mind the polluted, smoggy, gray, depressing skies of CHINA. I feel terrible about this, I really do, especially when I mentioned this comparison to a pair of actual Southern Californians who were a bit taken aback and started defining the term marine layer. And MY did they get all huffy about it! It's a MARINE LAYER! Not SMOG! AS IF! And you know, I'M SORRY, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIANS. But us Pacific Northwesterners are brought to up to believe all sorts of things about the evil Californians moving up to steal our views and real estate, and one of those is that their smog is sad and desperate sight to behold and I'M SORRY I just thought it was SMOG. But no! It is the MARINE LAYER. A marine layer that pretty much negated the swimsuit I packed and sent Phillip and I on an elusive hunt for a sweatshirt all weekend. A SWEATSHIRT. Harrumph. 

Also, there are a lot of malls in LA. Did you know this? I think I knew this, but DUDES. There are a LOT of malls. Our hotel was directly across from a mall, which was rather helpful in my Quest For Something To Wear To The Wedding That Wouldn't Make Me Feel Like A Frumpy Stay At Home Mom. And we did a lot of driving this weekend, as you do in LA (so I hear), and every two minutes there was a mall. Not that I'm complaining. I love malls! Yay for spending money! 

I will have to write an entirely separate post about the Avis Car Rental experience. Oh yes. You = SO EXCITED.

I felt sick all weekend too. That was awesome. I still feel sick! I started to feel sick on the airplane, and then I felt sick until I woke up on Sunday and just felt SORT of sick. And then late that night after the wedding I realized that, oh dear, I felt REALLY sick, and I still felt sick when I woke up and this is why I knocked myself out with a massive dose of Dramamine before we flew home. It's all upset stomach and nausea and insert standard Internet disclaimer here: NOT PREGNANT. I don't know what's up with this sudden onset of Delicate Constitution, but it's seriously interfering with my snacking routine. LAME.

All right people, The Sick is trumping everything else, including all mentions of MINI BLATHERINGNESS. This post is hereby postponed till further notice. I'm going to get through about two pages of my murder mystery before I start drooling on the pillow. Sounds like an excellent way to end vacation, don't you think? 

MORE LATER.


In which I use the word 'aplomb'.

I would just like to say that for a ninety degree day with no car and no husband till after the kids go to bed, I did a rather fine job of parenting today. By that I mean 1) minimal shouting (mine) 2) general cheer (the kids) and 3) no meltdowns (any of us). Oh, Jack was still honing his miscreant skills, as usual, and Molly was still responding to the miscreant-ness with random shrieking and near-constant wailing, as usual, but I did not let these things drive me to The Rage. I credit, for the millionth time, a Grand Lowering Of Standards. When they wanted to eat doughnut noodles (tortellini) and granola bars for dinner at 4:30, who was I to insist on adhering to The Schedule? It's summer. It's hot. We are all a bit browned, a bit tired, a bit dirty and The Schedule as we know it has ceased to exist. 

That's what's getting me through this no more nap business, by the way. I've just given up. If he does get a nap he's worse than horrid when it's time for bed, so now I prefer that he doesn't nap. He's generally good for at least a half hour of playing quietly in his room, and when that doesn't work I let him play his computer or watch a move on my computer while I fold clothes or read a book or, uh, doze off next to him. Instead of being furious that I no longer have a chunk of afternoon time to myself, I have just accepted the circumstances. WHO AM I?

I'm still feeling a little loser-ish about all the things I listed yesterday, but I've thrown a bit of gratefulness in for today's mix of not-quite-as-loser-ish-feelings. I don't know if you can tell from the blog, but this year has been harder than the others and if I'm not worried or beating myself up about one thing, it's another. Sometimes I feel like I'm doing my best, sometimes I think I should be fired. Trying to figure it all out with Phillip is even more complicated. Do you ever feel like you couldn't blame your husband if he wanted to trade you in for someone who deals with Life with a bit more aplomb? Yeah. That.

Before I get all blubbery and teary, may I just say how excited I am about tomorrow? The day BEFORE I go on my trip? I'm dropping the kids off in the morning and then I have about nine thousand things to do and OH I am so EXCITED about these nine thousand things. Mostly because they are 99% shopping. Legit shopping, by the way - I've left acquiring the wedding gift to the last minute. But because I'll already be downtown, I have five or six different things to return, including the dress I planned to wear to the wedding. Oops! Don't you hate it when the smaller size is too small and the bigger size is too big? So I kind of have to find something to wear and I can't tell you the number of weddings I've been invited to where I've gone shopping for Wedding Attire the day BEFORE the wedding. I am a PRO. Failing that I've been invited to snoop through Liz's closet. Something will work out! 

We interrupt this rambling blog post for an entry in the baby book: Molly eyed her (second) dinner plate approvingly, noting the "staw-ba-weddies". 

I still have to pack the kids' suitcase, not to mention my own. I have to do some laundry. I need to clean up the violent plastic explosion that is my front and back yards. I kind of want to ditch all of that and go play some volleyball tonight, which wouldn't be very nice OR responsible. 

But I'll try to make up for the rambly uninterestingness with some links: 

I have two posts up at Parenting, both of which I considered not posting. (OOOH, INTRIGUE.) This one about The Rage and this one, about my smidgen of SAHM insecurity. Oh, and the Parenting blog moved to Drupal and they're requiring you to register/log in to comment. Which I KNOW, I don't bother with commenting on those kinds of blogs either, and I certainly don't expect YOU to jump through those hoops. That said, some of you have been Very Faithful Commenters over there and I'm not sure I've told you how much I appreciate it, even with your boycotts of subject lines. Thank you. 

I bought a new kind of vanilla yogurt that turned out to be much more tart than our usual brand and the kids wouldn't eat it. And since I bought a huge tub, I was looking for things to do with it. I tried these scones and oh they are delicious. AND easy to make. I think the last one is going to be Dinner. 

Okay, I really have to do laundry. Like, before we are suffocated. Happy weekend, everyone. 


In lieu of eating the cookies in the freezer, I will write a blog post

Right now things are fine, life is fine, everyone is fine. So I don't know why I'm sitting here feeling DOWN about stuff. I hate it when I do this. Suck it up, Me! 

For posterity's sake, Stuff about which I feel Down:

  • Parenting
  • Parenting with the other parent, which is twice as hard as Parenting
  • The number on the scale
  • My response thus far towards the number on the scale, which is: ...eh. 
  • Things in The Past about which I can do absolutely nothing
  • Gray hair

Some of these things I've been meaning to write Full Length Posts about, but sometimes (and this is really unbelievable, but trust me, it's true) I bore my own self with all this stuff. I mean, how many times can I write about whining or not sleeping or gaining a few pounds (and losing them and gaining them again and losing them and gaining them again and...)

BORRRING! 

Phillip and I are leaving early Saturday morning for a weekend away. Technically it's Former Roommate's Wedding, un-technically it's Let's See If We Remember How To Spend Gobs Of Time With Each Other. I'm taking the kids to my parents' house on Friday because our Saturday flight is so early. And we won't pick them up until Monday evening. I'm feeling slightly panicked about this, Internet. We've left our kids overnight plenty of times. We've even left them for two nights on occasion. But this is going to be THREE nights and we are FLYING. 

I know this probably isn't such a big deal. Last year it took me several weeks to come to terms with a two-night solo trip to Sacramento - the self-indulgence! the leaving everyone in the lurch! the guilt! But, um, it was fine? No one even seemed to notice? And while I think three nights and mostly four days IS kind of a big deal, I think everyone will be fine. (Hopefully. I am not sure about my dad. He must have his library.) 

But the Bride was up here today (they are honeymooning up here - when you are FROM Hawaii, maybe the tropical beach thing has no draw?) and we had lunch and I couldn't help but think about my own honeymoon. Which, frankly, was not terribly exciting. Phillip and I road tripped from Seattle to San Francisco, staying at B&Bs along the coast. I think I thought this would be romantic. It was mostly boring. We had a blast in San Francisco though, trying little restaurants and shopping and seeing movies and going to all the tourist traps. It helped that we stayed in a swank hotel (seven years later we are even snobbier about our hotels, it's terrible.) 

So I was just thinking about how we had days and days to do whatever came to mind and suddenly I didn't feel panicky about the weekend. Well, that's not entirely true. Perhaps I just felt something in ADDITION to the panicky, which was: Excited. Not just about flying to a sunny beachy locale and watching one of my favorite people get married and perhaps running into her and her, but excited to just hang out with my husband. No work, no school, no kids - just us, for three whole days. DO WE REMEMBER HOW?


Big boy bed: CHECK

Okay, well, summer was a day late this year. Today, July 5, was not terribly exciting in the appropriate summer weather department. But tomorrow, according to my Weather Channel app, is supposed to be 79. Not too shabby. But the day after that? 90. The day after that? 90. NINETY DEGREES, PEOPLE! I may faint from joy.

Obvs I already have plans for wading pools and backyard sprinklers etc. And I'm a little worried about the house, since the wraparound kitchen windows create a sort of goldfish bowl in the back of the house and it can be stifling when it's only 55 and partly sunny. The downstairs is a nice frosty basement even when it's hot upstairs, but Jack's room is upstairs and I might have to Prepare. Fans, windows, sleeping bag full of ice. During last year's handful of Unbearably Hot, Even For Me days I had to send the kids to their grandparents for their own safety. (And once they were happily ensconced in my parents' living room with its preferred meat locker temperature, I took myself to the movies. Let me tell you, I'm not sure that The Ugly Truth was even worth the two hours of air conditioning. MY EYES, MY EYES.) 

Oh, all of this reminds me to tell you that we finally built Jack's new bed this weekend AND he slept in it AND we are all still functioning at mostly optimum levels. We bought him bunkbeds, because we've got a 22 month old as well and two birds, one stone, blah blah blah. It took a while to go GET the beds and then another week until we had time to BUILD the beds, but now he's in it and GOSH he's adorable. 

P1010943 
My middle name is "Oh yes, I know I'm a ham."

The bedding is from Target. It was the first set I saw that I liked and I should have just bought it then, when the store had all the matching sheets, but no, I have to THINK about it and LOOK AROUND and FRET and guess what - when I went back, my store was out of everything. My mom scored the quilt for me at HER Target, but I can't find the sheets anywhere. I ended up buying red jersey sheets and WHY DID I BUY JERSEY SHEETS? I do this all the time. I think, "Oooh! Comfy!" and then I try to FOLD jersey sheets and the process creates all sorts of interesting swear word combinations and quite possibly an ulcer. 

Anyway, it's about time, yes? I was no longer worried about how he would do in a big boy bed, since he's been sleeping in them for forever at his grandparents' houses, but I was a little anxious about Change In General. As in, Jack doesn't really DO change. We had to completely rearrange the room to fit the bunkbeds and everything's just DIFFERENT. And we were already dealing with multiple monster sightings and demands for water and Kleenex and one more toy. The first night he woke up around 1:30 saying he was scared ("scared of what, Jack?" "monsters!") so of COURSE I crawled into bed with him. I know I shouldn't do that. I know I am setting myself up. BUT HE WAS SCARED OF MONSTERS. AND IT WAS 1:30! And by now you are all aware that I take the path of least resistance! Eventually he'd fall back asleep, right? Well, he did, AT THREE THIRTY OMG. 

Guess who didn't sleep that entire time? And may still have been wide awake when the other baby woke up at FIVE. 

Last night they slept through, thank goodness. Benadryl may have been involved. I'm not saying. 

I'm not sure how this is going to affect "nap" time. I've been pretty down on naps - trying to get him to take one is emotionally and mentally draining, and then if he DOES take a nap he's an absolute beast at bedtime. The way I am dealing with this is to Lower My Expectations. It works! Now I let him stay up playing his computer and as long as he 1) stays in his room when I tell him to stay in his room and 2) keeps the "Maaaawwwmmeee, I need a Kleeeeeenex" to a minimum, we're all good. I can usually maintain some semblance of Pleasant by the time Phillip gets home. I am HOPING that the big boy bed means Jack can get his own damn Kleenex and that he can crawl into it if he feels tired. That actually happened today, can you believe it? But all of the big boy bed days so far do not count, because Phillip has been home and the only days that count are Plain Old Boring Normal Everyday Days Home With Me. We shall see. 

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DO NOT FAIL ME, BUNK BED. 


The things I carried

We're home from our Fourth of July celebration, which was damp and gray per Washingtonian standards. There was a misty picnic with volleyball and croquet and bubbles and I hear there were fireworks for later in the evening, but I am not a fan of fireworks and we had to go home around seven. The kids fell asleep in the car, we put them down without a fuss and now the house is quiet and peaceful - every once in a while I hear a bang or a pop (ILLEGAL!) and when I was unloading the car I heard a backyard full of what sounded like Drunken College Boys singing the national anthem at the top of their lungs. In my Younger Days I would make the trek down the Burke-Gilman to Gasworks Park in the early afternoon and wait it out until fireworks time (usually ten, which made for the most boring afternoon in the world). And then pre-kids we usually met up in friends' backyards for beer and hamburgers. But now we have bedtimes to observe and ten sounds awfully late to be out and have I mentioned that I don't like fireworks anyway? So. 

My sister and I spent a few hours in my grandmother's old house today. I was there to pack up two sets of china (24 plates, 24 saucers, 12 fruit bowls, 16 tea cups, 4 serving bowls - eventually I lost count) and she was there to loot my grandma's sewing room for things she might possibly use in her kindergarten classroom. Things like yarn, maybe, or scraps of material. She found crocheted rosettes of the kind my grandmother attached to our yearly Christmas slippers, and yarn tulips made from that bendable plastic grid stuff you can find at craft stores. 

We also found boxes and boxes full of diaries. Nothing terribly exciting - my grandmother was the type to write down who she talked to on the telephone and what she made for dinner and whether she had to go to the store, not necessarily how she FELT about her telephone conversations and cooking dinner and shopping. But we hunted for, and found, the diary pages of the days we were born and the day our parents were married. Short, succinct, matter of fact. 

We also found scrapbooks full of newspaper and magazine clippings, mostly of movie stars. The one all about the Kennedys and the presidential cabinet my mother told us was actually my uncle's school report (made by mother). We found newspaper clippings from when Mt. St. Helen's blew up and the front page of the local paper on V-Day, 'SURRENDER' in huge bright red type across the top. 

My aunt had kept out a few things for me, although I'm not sure what her criteria was. A framed picture of my grandparents and four of us kids, before the youngest was born. A couple of children's books. My grandmother's travel diary from one of her trips to visit my mom in Germany. Some cocktail napkins. 

We spent a few minutes staring lovingly at the piano. It's not as huge and ugly as the picture I have in my head. It is big, and I don't like the way my grandma refinished the wood, but today I decided I was all wrong, it's beautiful. My in-laws have a piano they are keeping for us until we have space for it - a perfect shiny black upright. But it has a quiet subdued sound, and I much prefer the loud saloon piano sound of my grandma's piano. My uncle, he who chopped off the ends of the coffee table and made it better than new, has offered to refinish it. And movers are hauling it to my sister's apartment tomorrow. It's a tiny bit surreal. I can't really picture that piano anywhere else.

This is what my new china looks like. 

Maybe the strangest thing I took from that house is a big box of sewing patterns. I don't sew. I've often thought about giving it another try (my grandma walked me through a dress once or twice, painful experiences all), but it's probably not going to happen. But I didn't want to toss that box of patterns. For one thing, I know several people who consider vintage baby clothes patterns a real steal at garage sales. For another, my grandmother pretty much dressed me until age 10, and every Christmas and Easter dress she ever made the little girls in our family can be found in that box. Including the patterns for the best Christmas gift ever - a giant stack of Cabbage Patch kid clothes. Yes, I can be ridiculously and eye-rollingly sentimental. What in the world am I going to do with thirty-year-old sewing patterns?

There's still another half hour till the fireworks. Time to pour the wine, I think, and find the right channel on TV. I'm glad it's finally here - every Pacific Northwesterner knows that summer begins on July 5. 


A random number of things that concern me

1. Mad Men premieres July 25th and I no longer have cable. How do I maintain my previous levels of fangirlness, Internet? 

2. Phillip and I are exhausted. This is half because of 2a) we don't go to bed at a reasonable hour and half because of 2b) our kids are either not going to bed, not sleeping through the night, or waking up unbearably early. We are despairing over the situation, as we do, and it takes verbal smacks to the forehead to clue us into other factors, such as my friend this morning who said, "Do you think she's teething?" (While the child has all of her fingers stuffed in her mouth. And I am all, "OHHH.") And then my mother insisting that the time change and post-vacation-crazies are still having a negative effect on behavior. I'm all, "It's been a WEEK." But I am now remembering my old theory from the parents-living-in-Italy days, that it's horrible to skip hours and easy to gain them. I was dead to the world for a full week whenever I flew to Europe, but easily bounced back at home. And lest you think it's a vacation thing, I had an INSANELY easy time adjusting in China and thought I would DIE when we flew home. Anyone care to confirm the theory?

3. I thought 'Knight and Day' was cute and cheesy and perfectly silly sweet for date night, but I read two reviews that skewered, then roasted, burned and chewed it to pieces. It always bugs me when the critics make it clear I belong with the unwashed masses. 

4. I have this whole blog post stewing about a Thing that happened via Facebook and I REALLY want to write about it, but I have this giant fear that somehow the Thing might find my blog and read about itself and even though it honestly wouldn't matter in the least - no one would be hurt, no one would be upset, no one would CARE - I would Die of Shame. Because then the Thing would know that I care. And this is unacceptable. 

5. The amount of things about which I do not want people to think I Care are... innumerable. And inconsequential, for the most part. This is probably the thing that should make me Die of Shame. 

6. I am afraid I will dislike the new Harry Potter movie as much as I disliked the others. And I don't want to watch it (or anything) in 3D. How depressing. Well, I thought the last one was half decent actually, if you overlooked the fact that they burned down the Burrow and other heresies.

7. Several weeks ago my old neighbor emailed me for OB recommendations. I only remembered this, like, yesterday. I FEEL TERRIBLE. Even though I can't understand why she emailed ME, when one of her other old neighbors is AN ACTUAL OB. It just reminds me of all the other emails I've dropped lately. For someone as constantly online as myself, it's really not okay to be forgetting to email people back. But honestly, if I don't respond right that second, I don't at all. I completely space. If you are one of these people: I AM SORRY. Try again? Gah.

8. Speaking of constantly online, Phillip has grand plans for outfitting the senior members of Team Cheung with the new iPhones come August or whenever our contract is up. As much as I want an iPhone (or, really, any phone that can check Twitter and my email account), I'm a leeeeetle anxious about things like, well, paying attention to my kids for starters. I mean, is it really such a good idea to give a blogger an iPhone? Hmm?

9. I am considering a post in which I model my various choices of wardrobe for an evening out with my brother- and sister-in-law in a few weeks. An evening out to a venue where it's entirely appropriate to wear your most outrageous outfit. Which means I could totally wear my sparkly sequinned dress AND my feather boa. Except that while I enjoy OTHER people's "pick my outfit!" posts, I am MORTIFIED at the idea of doing my own. What if you hate ALL of my choices? What if you think I look awful in EVERYTHING? What if you can't believe I would ever wear any of those things out in public EVER? I would Die of Shame. 

10. This blog will be six years old this summer. Six! Years! Isn't it time for me to start doing something else?