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November 2010

Confessions of a Sugar Addict

All right. I'm officially disgusted with myself. It only took about two months to admit it, but seriously, I cannot sustain a diet of sugar, sugar and more sugar. I mean, I CAN, but I WON'T. Do you hear me, Christmas cookies in my freezer?!

It started in October. The week I decided to launch Phase One of the South Beach Diet was the week I got anxious. COINCIDENCE? But I kept it up for about a week and a half. I got down to my happy Hot By Thirty weight, which was only a few pounds, but a huge psychological victory. Yay me! 

But the anxiety didn't go away, and when I hit my self-imposed time limit for Dealing On My Own, I started to Cope. And in my world, that means sugar. Cookies, bread, granola bars, chocolate, anything in batter form. And I haven't been able to stop. I haven't wanted to write about it, because, well: EMBARRASSING. But honestly, I haven't been able to stop. I made fudge a few days ago and I'm pretty sure I've eaten at least half the pan. That I stored in the freezer. FOR MY CHRISTMAS PARTY. I've eaten at least two pints of ice cream in the last couple weeks, when I'm used to thinking of ice cream as a far off distant memory. The week Phillip was gone I made cookies for the sole purpose of eating the dough. I am having to arrange my own intervention, you guys. 

Everyone says it's the time of year, but this is the time of year I've lost large amounts of weight. The time I lost twenty-five pounds before I had Jack, I started in October. Fall is the time I kicked myself into weight loss gear after having Jack. And Molly was born in September and I lost that baby weight by the end of February. I believe I can get through this time of year without bloating up into a Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon. I KNOW I have Will Power of Steel. SO WHERE IS IT? 

Probably somewhere with Motivation, I think. Every time I open the freezer to dig out another piece of fudge, I sort of hate myself, but I also sort of don't care. I feel pudgier, but my clothes still fit. It's sweater season. Eh. I can work it off later. It tastes sooooo goooood. 

Sometimes I'm eating my feelings, sometimes I'm just bored, sometimes it's just the plain and simple fact that I do not have an OFF button when faced with a giant bowl of chocolate candy. My clothes still fit, but not for much longer. And I've worked too hard to let this get away from me. Thin tastes better than chocolate!

(Okay, sometimes Thin cannot compete, but you know what I mean.) 

I was talking to the FPC about what food to make for the party and I realized, for the first time, and we've been throwing Christmas parties since we got married, that I am pretty much the only one who eats nothing but sweet stuff at parties. Until last year, when the FPC got married during Christmastime, I always made something like 10 kinds of Christmas cookies. Cookies are the one produced-in-the-kitchen item I tend to not screw up, they look kind of awesome, and I could eat them all day long. But as I was telling the FPC, OTHER people tend to eat the real food, things that do not tempt me at all. Well, I'm using "real" loosely here, because the real food amounts to a lot of fried or cheesy appetizers and dips, but I'm the only one heaping her plate with CAKE. 

When I go out for Happy Hour with my friends, they order calamari and prawns and other things I'm only mildly interested in, because honestly I just want to order off the dessert menu. I roll my eyes when people complain about a chocolate dessert being too rich - I've only had one chocolate item defeat me in the Richness category, and I can tell you when and where and what it was. It's never too cold for ice cream. And if there's cake around, that's probably what I'll eat for breakfast, lunch AND dinner. 

There was a time where it was a Big Deal to eat a little bit of ice cream. A Big Deal to have a few cookies or order pasta in a restaurant. I've totally lost that mindset, and I'm not even exercising to try to make up for it. I've been running in my garage, but the treadmill is a lot easier than running outside, and because of our wonky schedules, I don't always get to use it. I suppose I should tell you that Jillian and I haven't spoken in months. OH THE GUILT.

But it's the eating thing that needs my attention. Exercise is good, but it's best if I think about exercise from the mental health side of things. It helps with weight loss, sure, but I've done it without exercising at all. And exercise won't help me learn to stop filching fudge from the freezer every half hour. 

This is why a low carb diet works for me, because it totally cuts out the stuff I overindulge in. And since I have no OFF button, I have to just quit it completely. This is why I need to get back to it, before I end up in a diabetic coma by the weekend. I just need to dig a little deeper in the motivation pit - dressing up for holiday parties? possibly going somewhere warm with my husband after Christmas? I need someone to invite me to a January wedding or something. Gah.

I may or may not use this blog for accountability purposes. WE SHALL SEE.

You are going to tell me there ISN'T a Long Term Solution and that will make me unhappy

For several weeks, the Quiet Time Box reigned. Oh, they were good days. Put the two-year-old in bed, get out the three-year-old's box of distractions, settle into my comfortable chair with the laptop, while away the afternoon. And then, right before Thanksgiving, the three-year-old decided he was no longer interested in the Quiet Time Box. And suffering overtook the land. 

Have I mentioned that Molly is napping three to four hours? THREE to FOUR?

I am not sure what to do. Here are the things I've tried: 

1. Adjusted my expectations. I haven't hoped for a nap in months. I am now working on not hoping for much more than forty-five minutes to an hour to myself (about the amount of time that Jack plays the computer/about the amount of time I am comfortable letting him play the computer.) This is not going so well, but I AM working on it. 

2. Thought up Activities. Every so often I print out coloring pages or little books or cut and paste projects from homeschooling websites. Jack LOOOOVES this. However, I am not a preschool teacher nor do I have even the slightest bit of aptitude for being a preschool teacher and I can do an Activity for, oh, twenty minutes. Max. What do I do with the other three hours and forty minutes?

3. Baking. Jack loves to bake. Well, actually, he loves to TASTE whatever I am baking which I have no problem with, obvs, as I am a serial taster myself. (One of tonight's rejected post topics: my completely reestablished sugar addiction and how I'm avoiding about half the pants I own. You are welcome.) But we can't bake EVERY DAY (see: sugar addiction). It works right now since it's Christmastime and I'm stocking the freezer for parties and gifts, but no, we are not making chocolate chip cookies every afternoon. 

4. Angry Birds. I can get an extra fifteen minutes of quiet if I hand over the phone. Which I do. Don't judge. 


Molly sleeps three! to four! hours! Every day! I don't know how long that will last, although she's always been a great sleeper (the girl ASKS for her nap!), and I am certainly not COMPLAINING that she takes such long glorious naps. But I'm really at a loss for how to occupy the boy. Today I swear I could see the boredom swimming in his eyes, and you know, I'm bored too! But I'm quite happy to sit with a book or the laptop and ignore the dishes until it's time to make dinner. Jack? Not so much. I can't make him stay in his room having Quiet Time for three to four hours. (As much as I would like to. DON'T JUDGE.)

I could restock the Quiet Time Box. I could choose to do chores during nap time and have him help me - fold clothes, unload the dishwasher, stuff like that. That would be hard, because I've always thought of nap time as MY down time. Plenty of time to clean the kitchen later! But I could do it. He likes to "help". I could also plan Activities on a more regular basis. At least one dorky little activity per day. He could play his computer, I could zone out with the laptop, both of us knowing that at the prescribed time, we'll do a little project. For me, it's all about Knowing What's Coming Up. 

Jack is also a million times more pleasant to be around when he's had a large helping of Attention. I should get some peace prize for that revelation. I'm brilliant! But there was one afternoon where, in a Fit of Desperation, I decided we would write a story. I put him in my lap and told him to dictate. Which he did. His story was about a gajillion sentences long, all of those sentences starting with "I like". I like Mommy. I like Daddy. I like the airport. I like computer. The fun part was after I wrote down whatever he said, HE wanted to write. So underneath every sentence in English is a sentence in Preschooler Gibberish, which looks like big purple squiggles. It was hilarious. He was "WRITING!" 

That was a good day. How do I get more of those? What do you moms of no-nappers yet not-quite-in-school-ers DO? I'm floundering around here...


Today was the first Sunday of Advent and as I have never truly observed Advent before (or, let's face it, any liturgical season) and I ALSO have children on the Cusp of Understanding, I decided I had to make an Advent wreath. 

See, I chose to observe via Advent wreath because it seemed like the LEAST I could do. Other people have these daily activities planned, but other than opening a little door and scarfing the chocolate within, I'm even worse at daily observances let alone seasonal ones. But with an Advent wreath, you just 1) make it and 2) light candles. And it's probably okay if you even forget to light the candles every so often, just as long as you do it on the four Sundays of Advent and make a decent effort at explaining what Advent IS to your kids. Right? 

Except my Advent wreath is so bad. It's not even a wreath. I thought about collecting greenery, but it's all wet outside and gross. I had four candles, but they were all white (you need pink and purple) and I couldn't figure out how to ARRANGE them. In a wreath-like manner. SIGH. I ended up putting them in small holders and circling them around a holly berry votive holder. MOST GHETTO ADVENT WREATH EVER. I'm so embarrassed of it I don't even want to put a picture on my website. 

Also, I had to color one of my candles pink with a Sharpie, and instead of listening to the prayer or my many attempts at telling them about the Baby Jesus, the kids were insistent on finding out how I made THAT candle PINK! 

The other thing I was going to try and do during Advent was Not Shop. It's not really going to happen, but I did get all of my kid shopping and most of my adult shopping done over the weekend. So I'm not going to be as focused on Present Acquiring as I usually am during December. But I realized that I do have one singular Season of Advent blockage and that would be: my Christmas party. 

For example! My head is entirely stuffed with decorating ideas and cookie recipes and grocery lists and where to put the chairs and how to put out the food and I really have no idea how the Baby Jesus feels about this. On one hand, I love throwing parties, I love opening my house, I love showing my friends a good time and I think Jesus is a huge fan of all of those things. On the OTHER hand I'm supposed to be waiting to celebrate, I just got the schedule of all the penance services, I'm supposed to be prayerful. Not, you know, thinking up a Signature Party Cocktail. 

I don't know. I found myself bargaining today. "Well God, I'm REALLY excited about this party, so maybe we'll just save the Proper Observance of Advent stuff until after it's over? I'll still have two more weeks! It's all good!" 

AAAAANYWAY. I suppose I should save my intense "why can't I just LOVE the liturgy like all the GOOD Catholics" introspection for the Catholic Blog, eh? 

In which Family Fun is had

The Cheungs outdid themselves today, people. Oh yes. Family Fun was had. Phillip and I are always very good at TALKING about what kinds of fun and kid-friendly things we should be doing with our free time, especially now that he's in grad school and free time is much more valuable than it used to be. However! We are not so hot at the DOING of the fun and kid-friendly things. For example: the Friday after Thanksgiving we talked a big game about going to the parade or trying the ice rink, only to realize that the parade was already over (oops!) and we were too lazy to even get DRESSED. So we did nothing. Scratch that! We purged toys and cleaned the house. I take it back. WE ROCKED THAT DAY. 

But today we Carpe Diemed. We got the kids ready, packed a lunch, stashed everyone in the car and paid through the nose to park downtown. We saw the Teddy Bear Suite at the Fairmont (about a hundred times more awesome than I expected it to be, and I'm always pleasantly surprised when employees at Snooty Locations treat me like I actually belong there). The kids were fans. But we'd made them walk a few blocks to get there, so they were cold and tired and obviously a bribery-type snack was in order. 

Next stop: Starbucks. I am not so much a fan of Starbucks. We stopped at Specialty's first (not so much a fan of Specialty's either, but options were limited and I DO think fondly of their chocolate chip wheat germ cookie.) But it was way crowded so we kept going until we hit a Starbucks (obvs not that far in Seattle!) and bought the kids whatever they pointed to in the bakery case. There were a bunch of girls ahead of me in line trying to figure out American money - they were from Heidelberg and for a moment I got very very sad about how long it's been since I "went home" for Christmas in Italy. The first year I didn't go home was the year I got married. The last year I went was the winter I was pregnant with Jack, which also happened to be when we drove to Germany to visit my aunt and took a slew of pictures in Heidelberg. 

Then my parents retired and moved back to the States and MOPE MOPE MOPE. I suppose the tradeoff is Nearly Always Available Babysitters, but OH. Sometimes I miss it. 

THEN we rode the carousel. THEN we rode all the escalators in Nordstrom. THEN we went home and Molly slept till five. Five! 

(Jack did not. Of course.) 

I made an actual dinner, which I don't think I've done since before Phillip went on his business trip. And after dinner we put up the tree and put on all the lights and the ornaments and the kids drank cocoa with nine dozen marshmallows apiece and I am on my second glass of wine and there was some discussion about Netflixing (and more wine?) after the kids are in bed, but who knows, Christmas lights are a workout and we're beat. OH WE ARE OLD. 

We really really talked up this Teddy Bear Suite thing with the kids. I mean, none of us really knew what it was (it is: a fancy hotel suite TOTALLY redecorated for Christmas and filled with a gajillion teddy bears in picturesque settings, perfect for Christmas card pictures of the kids if only your kids weren't 1) afraid of the really BIG teddy bear and 2) sat still) but we were all excited to go downtown and Have! Fun! So they were all buzzy and smiley and Molly was in her car seat chanting, "Mahmoo! Daksun! Daddy! Mommy!" over and over and over, pointing at each person and beaming, and I thought: I must hold very tight to that sound, that voice, this moment, because one day we will not be the most wonderful people in her world. One day my kids will be old and uninterested and wishing they could hang out with their friends instead of their stupid parents and my heart will ache for the day we went to see the teddy bears and Molly excitedly sang our names, all the way there. 

These extra pounds are not enough insulation. Must eat more bread.

Seattle schools were closed today which meant preschool was closed. But I was prepared! We would 1) go out and play in the snow 2) have a nice hot bath 3) do Thanksgiving Activities and 4) take naps (Molly) and play computer (Jack and me). 

It took, as I'm sure most of you understand, about fourteen years to get ready to play in the snow. Several layers of pants, shirts, socks, then rain boots, then brand new heavy coats, then last year's hats because this year's hats are too big and it appears I should have checked before I automatically bought the next sizes up (I blame Old Navy and their Random Hat Sizing Methods) then the pointless fleece mittens then the endless standing around and complaining while I dressed myself in decidedly fewer layers. Because I'm a grown up, right? Jeans will be fine! Sweater will be fine! Except NOT because it was something like fifteen degrees outside and I AM NOT FROM SIBERIA. Holy blackened fingers. 

So I finally ushered everyone outside and stood there wanting to DIIIE while Jack immediately untucked his pants and mittens and unzipped his jacket and started flinging snow everywhere. And Molly kept falling in it. And then they found the old Fisher Price rakes and shovels in the gravel and HOO BOY now they could gleefully scrape snow off every surface in sight. There I was thinking we were going to have a grand old time making a snowman or throwing snowballs, but the snow was too cold for packing (it was excellent ski snow, not that I care) and I was not at all interested in shaking the snow off the Japanese maple and WHEN CAN WE GO INSIDE? 

Photo (2)
Totally oblivious to his mother's slow death by deep freeze.

Oh, I also remembered, about ten minutes into Snow Playtime, that I'd saved all of Jack's snow clothes from last year (WHEN IT DIDN'T SNOW AT ALL) plus his boots, because they would probably fit Molly this year. And there was Molly wearing rain boots and sweat pants getting all soaked and freezing, because her mother can't remember anything. I actually have two sets of 2T snow pants (I think one I bought and one is from a cousin) and I bet Jack would fit into them still. But the snow will probably be all gross or melted tomorrow and yay for keeping all the bulky snow pants! Woo! 

Photo (3)
But last year's hat is super cute, no?

We were out about 45 minutes though, so I felt like it was at least worth all the effort to get them outside, even if I wanted to die for about 42 of those minutes. But I was disappointed about the snowman and then I saw all these pictures online of other people's kids sledding and all that and I wondered if I'd Failed at Snow Playtime. It doesn't happen that often and look: I forgot the snow pants, I couldn't make a snowman, I didn't even THINK about attempting to SLED. Woe! 

Whatever. It was freezing. I am still freezing. This is because I forced myself outside and into the garage where it was probably, oh, TEN degrees, and watched the Gwyneth Glee during my slow chubby girl jog. And I like Gwyneth, I don't care what you say. Perhaps I own the song she sings in Duets!

I seriously intended to write two sentences about the snow (because: BORRRRING!) and oh dear, now I've written forty-seven paragraphs. Did anything else happen today? 

OH YES! The Thanksgiving Activities! See, everything really DID turn out the way I planned. It was even a halfway enjoyable time. While the kids were chowing down on mac and cheese and hot dogs (their mother is such a gourmet) I was printing out Thanksgiving-themed coloring pages and Thankful Trees from here and here. I also printed out a few coloring pages with the letters of Jack's name and an emergent reader "book" about the colors of turkey feathers. I know. VERY EXCITING. But then I sat down and cut out all these things and the kids were TRANSFIXED. They were all, "Mommy is going to do an ACTIVITY with us?! FOR REALZ?!"

We colored and cut out and pasted our Thankful Trees and taped them to the living room wall. Then we colored our Pilgrims and Indians and taped those to the stairwell wall. Then Molly went to bed and Jack colored his Thanksgiving book. I was reading it with him and sounding out the words. "My turkey has a RED feather." "My turkey has a BLUE feather." And he was supposed to color the feather the appropriate shade, right? Except my kid kept saying, "NO. I want to color that one YELLOW." And I'm all, "BUT-" And he's all, "NO! YELLOW!" And so I was all, "FINE THEN. SEE IF I CARE."

Oh, and then the best part of today was when I got the text that said "School is cancelled tonight" and shoot, when does UW EVER cancel classes (OH RIGHT, WHEN THERE'S A THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL GAME) and my husband came home early, The End. 

My ideal Thanksgiving feast would be some sort of dessert buffet. Can we make that happen?

So I am not excited about Thanksgiving. 

Okay - before I tell you why I'm not excited about Thanksgiving I have to tell you that I'm downstairs in the playroom, which is where the TV is, and we have this nifty TV screensaver thing that kind of scrolls through pictures on the network. (NERDS.) And for the last couple months the pictures were of Molly's birthday party, but NOW it appears that the pictures are of 1) Halloween and 2) The Blathering. So look! There's Jack and a pumpkin! And now look! It's Emily and Katie! And Sara! Now it's Molly as a butterfly! Oh, and there's Arwen and Miriel eating breakfast! And Erica washing dishes! MEMMMMRIEEEEES.

Anyway. Thanksgiving. Meh. 

Last year, possibly while I was sitting at the in-laws' table for Christmas dinner, it occurred to me that I just don't like Big Feasty Dinners. Which isn't to say I don't like the food, I just don't like eating so much of it, and all at once. (This totally does not apply to dessert, by the way. Just real food.) On Christmas Eve my family typically makes soup or something half-nutritious, but then a bunch of reeeeally bad for you appetizers and dips and deep fried snacky things and plenty of sugary stuff, and we sit around eating, drinking and opening presents for what feels like hours upon end. And I enjoy this immensely. But Christmas dinner involves one heaping plate of Real Food, most of which I am wholly uninterested in, and someone inevitably barking at me to have some more, my goodness, I haven't eaten ANYTHING. To which I am always tempted to respond: DO I LOOK LIKE I'M STARVING? (I swear, I must completely mystify FIL, since 1) I don't eat anything and 2) even the biggest sizes in Hong Kong won't fit me.) 

We are spending Thanksgiving with my family this year (we alternate) and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone and all the talking and all the General Hubbub (I LOVE hubbub) but dinner? Shrug. I like turkey, I really like mashed potatoes and gravy is delicious. But one serving is enough for me, thanks. And all the rest of Thanksgiving? You could not pay me to eat the dressing, as it is 99% celery and celery is on the I Don't Care If I'm Thirty-One Years Old, I Am Not Going To Eat That list. (I get a headache just THINKING about the smell of my mother cooking celery for the dressing at 10 in the morning.) The assorted jello salads are bizarre (EXCEPT for the peach ice cream jello which I have to make MYSELF, HARRUMPH), the cranberry stuff is unpleasant, the sweet potatoes are too sweet and I can't even remember what else is on the table. And Thanksgiving dessert - OH what a disappointment. The one thing I could gorge myself on and it's pumpkin pie. NO, THANK YOU. I love pumpkin, I really do, but there's something about pumpkin PIE that is just not yummy at all. I've put in my request for the pumpkin cheesecake from Costco (DELISH) but I won't get my hopes up.

And it's not just my family. Every year I get excited for the holiday food magazines and I burn through them looking for something NEW something I might LOVE, but nope. Every year is a variation on the same, and I've finally concluded: I just don't love Thanksgiving. 

But ALSO. It's hard to be excited about Thanksgiving when I have Christmas on the brain. And not even the true-meaning-of-Christmas part of Christmas - I'm talking about my Christmas PARTY. What food to make! How to decorate! Booze to buy! Playlists! What to wear! What table decor I absolutely must have from Crate & Barrel! Oh, it is quite difficult to get into the Thanksgiving Spirit when your Christmas party is a mere two weeks away.

It snowed today, which you already know if you read even a single other Seattle area blogger I'm sure. And you know what I thought about when I saw the snow? I thought: if it snows again on my Christmas party and all of my guests stay home, God and I are having WORDS.

ANYWAY. Because of the snow, or, more likely, the crazy iced over roads in the morning, I'm pretty sure we won't be going to preschool. Which means I have to think of something to DO with these children. So I think I'm going to TRY and get into the Thanksgiving spirit and make a Thankful Tree with the kids. That or dress them in all their clothes, punt them into the yard and shout directions for snowman-building from the warmth of my living room. 


A long slog

Even with grad school eating up most of his not-working time, Phillip still puts the kids to bed. He has night class twice a week, but otherwise he is home and he does the whole bedtime routine by himself. Sometimes I am cleaning up dinner, sometimes I'm running in the garage, sometimes I'm zoned out on the couch with the laptop, but other than a kiss good night, I don't participate. 

In addition! If someone wakes up in the middle of the night? Phillip deals with it. It wasn't that way when they were tiny babies, but I think when Molly was born, Phillip took on all the Jack wakings. And as Molly became a better sleeper, he started doing them all. It wasn't anything we officially decided - I think it was just a combination of habitually dealing with Jack and also Phillip understanding that it takes me hours to fall back asleep whereas it takes him seconds. (UNFAIR.) 

In MORE addition! If a kid wakes up before Phillip heads to work, which occasionally happens even though he goes to work awfully early, he'll get them out of bed and at least stick them in bed with me, ensuring that I can get five minutes to acclimate to the morning before I have to get out of bed. 

When Phillip is not here, these are the hardest things. The bedtime/nighttime/early morning things. I suppose that only makes sense, since I'm used to doing everything ELSE on my own. 

I put the kids down about fifteen minutes ago and I'm waiting for Jack to fall asleep before I start cleaning up dinner, since the kitchen is right outside his room. Molly's been taking a long time to fall asleep this week, probably because I've been putting them to bed earlier. She's happy to go to bed, but she's talking to herself for a long time, putting her babies to bed, reading her mountain of books, doing whatever the heck she does in the dark. And you know how I meant to go running this week after bedtime? Yeah. Turns out I can't shut off my brain when I know one of them is still awake, when the potential for having to drop everything and change a diaper or find a pacifier or turn on the music still exists. Running is not the escape I need it to be when a kid is still up. She's asleep by nine or nine-thirty, but by then I've transitioned to MY bedtime. Sure, I'm watching Foyle's War on my laptop in bed (shut up) but at least I'm warm and cozy and drifting off. 

This week has felt harder than the others. I think the others took place when I was sort of always mad at Phillip for being gone, and to Be Fine while he was away for a week felt like fighting back, or avenging myself or something. But I'm not mad now, I'm just Resigned To The Fact, and I'm tired and I miss him and I know this grad school deal is more than half over, but I am ready for it to be over NOW. 

He comes home tomorrow afternoon, which means I can get an hour to myself after dinner. I intend to spend it in the garage, chipping off the untold number of carby pounds I've put on this week. Tonight I started to feel that weird jittery feeling you get when you haven't physically exerted yourself in forever. Like I WANTED to shadowbox with Jillian or something, but I'm exhausted. I can start taking care of myself tomorrow. 

I'm not sure how people do this regular business travel thing. Or residencies. Or 80 hour work weeks. Phillip's job is demanding right now, and yes we have the grad school thing, but that has an end point. I don't know what I'd do if this was just LIFE, you know? Or if we had to do it for years and years. I feel even more weary just thinking about it. 

In some respects I'm cut out for it. I don't need other people around to be okay. We've seen a few friends this week and I rely on my internet people, but I'm really okay not having anyone to talk to in the evenings. I don't really feel lonely, hardly ever. So it helps, I think, to be an introverted, internal-processor blogger type. But it's beginning to wear on even me. I really miss my husband. Even though he's usually home, even though we make great use of the grandparents, I don't get to talk to him all that often. I don't always feel like I know what's going on with him, and since I feel like what I'm doing isn't very important, I try not to weigh him down with too much of what's going on with me. Neither of us are very happy about that arrangement. 

But maybe one day I will write about the amazing things I've seen in my husband in the last year and a half. The awesome conversations we HAVE had. The things we both geek out on, the things he's learned, the things he's aspiring to be. I don't know what the tangible benefits will be from a master's degree, but both of us would say it's already worth it. It's just really hard right now. 

Miss Mollymoo, Age Two

I took the kids to get haircuts this afternoon. Phillip is in love with loyal to this Korean lady at Great Clips and I started taking Jack there about a year ago. He has spiky coarse hair that I have to completely wet down every morning and while I am a huuuuge fan of homemade little boy bowl cuts, such a look would never work on Jack. Alas! So I take him to the nice Korean lady at Great Clips who fawns over him and asks him all about preschool and tells him he's the handsomest boy and basically totally earns her giant tip.

The last time we went to get a haircut, Molly burst into tears afterwards because SHE wasn't getting a haircut. So the nice Korean lady hauled Molly onto the booster seat and PRETENDED to cut her hair. Seriously. Nicest lady ever.

Molly's had one official cut at the snooty obscenely-priced kiddie salon. Other than that, I cut her bangs (and I haven't regretted any snip - yet) and one time I evened out the back. But I am not particularly skilled at this, even though Molly LOVES having her hair done or otherwise being primped and fussed over. And lately she's been looking a bit shaggy. I could have just cut her bangs, but I sort of wanted to trim the back too. The hair right above her ears is taking forever and a day to grow out, so it was getting sort of mullet-ish (AGAIN) and I thought: why not have her hair cut too?

Honestly I'm a big fan of homemade bowl cuts on little girls as well. I like long hair and I love playing with it, but even at this length Molly is constantly batting hair out of her face and her clippies never stay in and headbands seem like a pain and ponytails I mean PIGtails are cute but not always conducive to rushing to preschool so short hair it is. VERY short hair, as it turns out:

Photo (1)

Phillip says she looks like a Vulcan. 

Eh. Earlobe length is fine by me. Actually I think it's pretty cute. A little cap of hair. I just hope the sides keep thickening up and growing out. They're sort of flipping out right now, as you can see, like her ears are so enormous they can't cover them. Except her ears AREN'T enormous, she just needs MORE HAIR. I see these two-year-olds running around with giant mops on their heads or luscious, thick bobs and I drop a few more pennies in the Future Therapy jar because you KNOW she's blaming the hair issues on me. 

But my second kid, oh, she is a trip. The nice lady says, "Who wants to go first?" and Molly, who has never had her hair cut at this establishment before shouts, "ME!" and is pretty much the most perfect two-year-old hair client EVER. Sits still, admires herself, looks down, looks up, bats her eyelashes appreciatively. Kind of like how she marched right up to the preschool teacher the other day and more or less demanded to see this classroom Jack keeps talking about. This one will not be crying on her first day, I know that much. 

Where is Anne Lamott when you need a good pep talk?

Last year at this time I was zooming through what I hoped would turn out to be My First Novel. The goal was 50,000 words by November 30. I ended up somewhere around 70,000. I also wrote "The End" at what was actually the end. It felt pretty amazing. 

Of course it wasn't a GOOD novel, or even really a NOVEL, but it was a start and I was proud of it and I didn't hate it or get tired of it and I've been working on it all year long. I was halfway through the third draft sometime in mid-October when I decided: Oh God, this is terrible, this is a very bad idea. Confidential to my writing group: it was possibly a very bad time to start a writing group. 

It was, as many first novels probably are, a fictionalization of a personal experience. An extreme fictionalization, I hasten to add. It really WASN'T a memoir with different names, or even therapy disguised as a YA novel. But I started to think I wasn't cool enough, smart enough, edgy enough, brave enough, interesting enough to pull it off. And while my kernel of an idea was, I think, a decent premise for a YA novel, I didn't know how to put my characters at risk, or have them do things I didn't want them to do, or become unlikeable... and really that's just so ME, to not want to get in TROUBLE. 

And then you look at what's on the YA shelves and you think (if you are me): oh dear. I do not want nor do I have any business writing about Issues. Or vampires, for that matter. 

So it's not just my parenting I feel doubtful about lately. And I look at this heap of words in a word processing program I bought especially for The Novel, and I tell myself that it's not so bad, this is the most I've ever worked on one project, the longest I've stuck with something and gee I sure have learned a lot in the process. It's okay to move onto something else. Shouldn't I be writing middle grade stuff? That's more me. That's more my speed. Right? Maybe? I'll think of something else. Then I realize I can't think of something else. And if I do, I'll probably just do the same thing to the something else that I've done to this project: give up. 

Oh, what depressing drivel from someone who ate cookie dough for dinner!

I think, if I were able to peel away this ridiculous Generalized Crisis of Confidence I'm currently undergoing or whatever, that I would still like to work on this "novel". Because it's kind of fun, because it's an escape, because sometimes I think I pull a good line out of nowhere, because sometimes I think not everyone wants to read about Issues, maybe they just want to read about themselves. 

But right now I am tired and anxious. I get to talk to my husband once a week if I'm lucky. My kids are awesome, but one of them waits until an hour past bedtime to go poo and the other doesn't nap. I've stopped caring about what I eat (obvs) and I have rotting pumpkins on my stoop and I don't think I'm going to run tonight because it's almost nine and I'm beat and Molly is STILL singing to herself in her crib. I can't go hang out in the garage with earphones and the noisiest treadmill on earth if the baby monitor is continually flashing because Molly is on the eightieth verse of 'Wheels On The Bus'. 

Writing feels... like another thing I'm behind on. 

I loved NaNoWriMo because I HAD to pull it out. I HAD to keep going or ELSE. And sure, it was horrible and ridiculous and nonsensical, but I kept making things happen. That feels like the biggest difference for me right now: I feel completely out of things that happen. 

Oh you guys I have about ten million more things I could say about this writing thing, but I fear it would get REALLY out of control, you know, all philoSOPHical-like and no one wants that and only half of you are interested in writing-as-a-thing-you-do anyway and did I tell you I ate COOKIE DOUGH for dinner? That's something you can't wait to do when you're a grown up, but when you actually DO IT as a grown up it means someone should probably arrange the intervention. 

So maybe I will end this dreary little post with a note that Jack was much nicer to me today and I to him. God bless preschool and sisters who have the afternoon off and choose to spend it hanging out with you and your little monsters. God also bless the fabulous women who comment on my blog because SERIOUSLY, I really appreciated your not-advice-giving super-kind made-me-feel-so-much-better words. And my husband just instant messaged me tonight asking me (RHETORICALLY) if I might one day want to move to the city he is currently holed up in (RHETORICALLY) because he could see himself working for the company in this locale (RHETORICALLY) and you know how I'm always talking about how I am married to Seattle, they will have to crowbar my body off the Space Needle before I move? Well GOSH if I'm not sitting here thinking about moving (RHETORICALLY) to where Phillip is currently and what that could possibly be like. (RHETORICALLY). (OMG GO TO BED ALREADY.)

He is not the boss of me

I had a really rough day with Jack.

Well. I've just been sitting here staring at that sentence, wondering where to go with it. OH THE PLACES WE COULD GO. But I just feel spent. And sort of like this topic has been driven into the dirt, and everyone has given me their two cents and while I appreciate it, there is no two cents specifically catered to the combination that is my cheerfully disobedient kid and my set of parenting flaws and I just end up feeling even MORE like everyone else knows better than me. That everyone else has it figured out. That anyone else would have this kid straightened out in a snap and when they look at me they're just biting their tongues and rolling their eyes. 

Which is to say that I'm tremendously insecure (NEWSFLASH!) On the other hand, I really do think, I mean, I REALLY REALLY DO THINK that I am doing my best. I even think I've improved. I'm WAY more consistent, from which battles I pick to how I respond. And it's been a long time since Phillip and I argued over our drastically different 'styles', because we talked it to death and found solutions we could both live with. That's been huge. 

But I am still routinely and cheerfully ignored by a preschooler, which I find infuriating, embarrassing, baffling and beyond frustrating. Cleaning up is one of our biggest power struggles. This morning we visited friends and when I asked him to help clean up the bedroom - we were in the living room and I was changing Molly's diaper on the floor - he flat out refused, danced around the room, whimpered, whined, ran away from me. And then, when I threatened him with his life or no computer at quiet time (I can't remember which) he walked verrrrrrry sloooooowly to the bedroom and then I'm 99.9% sure he didn't help once he arrived. He probably just stood there looking obstinate and superior, calculating the mortification he was causing his mother with every not-helping second. 

Stuff like that - I don't know what to do. 

Or what about when I tell him to do (or not to do) something, so he goes and asks my mom or my friend or my sister instead. Within earshot of me. When they've already heard me tell him yes or no. I just want to die. 

I had a handful of depressing-ish topics for tonight - I can't believe I went with this one. Again. You are probably all tapping out a GROW A SPINE comment with your left hand and unsubscribing with your right. 

You know what else annoyed me today? My in-laws came over in the afternoon so I decided to get my run in then instead of waiting till the kids were in bed. But I couldn't eject last night's Foyle's War DVD from my laptop. My computer just wouldn't spit it out. I got tired of that, so I decided to just watch Parenthood on Hulu. But then 1) my computer crashed, I think from all the DVD annoyance and then 2) on the second try the screen blacked out after the first commercial. But I was still determined to get my run in. So I tried again. And then I had to watch yet another episode of Parenthood where I hate all the characters except Amber WHY DO I KEEP WATCHING THAT SHOW. SHUT UP, KRISTINA!


We went to dinner at a Chain Restaurant where the burgers are as big as your face and Jack eats half a French fry and FIL frets over Jack's starvation diet and MIL micromanages every bite. Except tonight Jack ate the carrot sticks they give the little kids as an appetizer. HE ATE A CARROT. And then he shoveled in his macaroni at a speed heretofore unthinkable, and MIL was so amused by my astonishment she took a picture. 

And when we got home we put on our pajamas, treated ourselves to some iced animal cookies and played a couple rounds of giant toddler dominoes. All three of us, on the floor in the living room, counting and matching and then driving Matchbox cars along our domino train. I asked Jack to clean up the dominoes, just once, and he said, "Okay Mommy."  

Bedtime was a cinch. 

Jack was out within seconds. Molly? She's still talking to herself in bed, and every so often hollering for me to come and, in no particular order: find Halloween book, want covers, want passo, want moozik, want Fassy Nassy books, not this covers want pink covers, fix blankie Mommy, want kiss and hug. Tomorrow night I'll have to lace her animal cookies with Benadryl.