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March 2011

Before I drop them off at the orphanage

Today has not been one to win me any honors in parenting. My in-laws showed up ten minutes ago, their weekly Monday afternoon visit, and I am hiding out in my bedroom. I am "folding laundry". I am actually trying to scrape what's left of a Pleasant Demeanor out of the Pit of Furious that is my current state. I am thinking this will take me at least until we meet Phillip for dinner. 

I understand that it's my fault. I ignored them all morning to pick up my house. Landlord sent his realtor over for picture taking and because I am 1) a decent tenant and 2) exceptionally prideful, I had a lot of work to do. I did most of it over the weekend, but certain things you have to do last minute, like hiding of bathroom essentials and sweeping of kitchen floors. I'd also saved my bedroom, aka The Place Where Everything Place-Less Goes To Die, for last. So as soon as the kids woke up they were parked in front of PBSKids and I was marching up and down the stairs putting things away, wiping down, hiding in closets, all that good stuff. 

I finished 45 minutes before the photographer came, which angered me because that was 45 minutes I had to keep everything clean. The TV was still on. 

The photography itself was relatively painless. And I didn't have to use my Grown Up Voice with the realtor, since he immediately and cheerfully acquiesced to my when-he-gets-to-show-the-house demands. (No one gets to visit while Molly (and, preferably myself) are napping. The end.) 

But Phillip took the car this morning - it is becoming more and more and MORE apparent that we are not long for the one car family world - and the weather was icky and OH GOD WE HAVE TO ENTERTAIN OURSELVES. AND IT'S NOT TIME FOR LUNCH YET. 

I kept Jack happy with computer games, graham crackers, more television and puzzles until Molly woke up, but by then I was Beyond Exhausted and just wanted them to play with each other, away from me. But no, there had to be giggling/whining (Jack is gleefully taunting his sister) or tattling (both of them accusing the other of some egregious invasion of personal space) or out of control roughhousing (that will end in tears) or SPITTING and SO YEAH I LOST IT. 

Hence the hiding in my bedroom. I am so tired. I thought I was supposed to be getting over The Tired by now, but I still want to take a three-hour nap every afternoon. And even though I have grandparents here to keep the kids away from me, I'm STILL furious with them! AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH.

Tomorrow morning we have the house inspection, which is half exciting and half a giant pain in the rear since the preschool and one car situations are making the logistics pretty tricky. On the other hand, my brother-in-law (MY BROTHER-IN-LAW!) is going to watch the kids for an hour tomorrow afternoon so I can do something about the shaggy animal currently atop my head. 

GAH. I just feel so bad because everything is going WELL but it's still a lot of WORK and I am totally putting the mom stuff on the back burner (hello PBSKids!) and WOW I SUCK AT THIS RIGHT NOW. 

Aaaand right now the kids are ordering their Ye Ye to go sit in the corner. OMG. I'm going to shut the door and dive under the covers. 

So we bought a house

This is going to be perfect Catholic blog fare, but I feel very sing-y from the rooftops-y, so here you go. Let's recap. 

1. I start praying for a big enough house in Seattle, oh, two-ish, maybe three-ish years ago. Because seriously? The only way we could get a big enough Seattle house is if God just dropped it into our laps. I believe that that totally happens, but it's a big ask, you know? Best to start praying ASAP.

2. After praying and praying and praying (and intense stressing), we put the townhouse on the market and it sells in 11 days. At first we are annoyed that we didn't get asking price. Later we consider ourselves Damn Lucky we sold it at all.

3. After praying and praying and praying (and intense stressing) the perfect rental house pops up on the weekend we most desperately want to sign a lease. It's ours. 

4. I continue to pray for a big enough Seattle house. However I am RAWTHER SAWTISFIED with my position: happily renting, happily content to watch prices drop, happily patient for The Perfect House. Everything is SO going my way. I am the smartest person on the planet. I am SO in charge. In fact we are SO pleased with the way things are going that

5. we go to Disneyland. 

6. We come back from Disneyland. And hey! Landlord is selling our house! Like, TOMORROW! WHAAA?


8. We think about buying our rental house. Because we have temporarily lost our minds. Also we are terrified of having to settle for Something Out There, because I've been seriously looking for the last three months and THERE IS NOTHING OUT THERE. (Um, that we can afford. Important point.) The thought of renting for another year totally bums us out. But what other option do we have?

9. I kick the house search into high gear. Agent and I go see about 10 houses on Tuesday morning. I fall in love with something old, vintagey, cute, precious - all the things my husband does not particularly like. But I love it, so I will make him love it, and it will be ours. 

10. Phillip goes to see the house the next day. I'm right: he doesn't like it. But there's this other house that popped up just that day, that we go to see because we're open to seeing anything, and hmmm... it's ginormous. And it's in Seattle. 

11. The next day, after praying, praying, praying (and intense stressing) we decide to write an offer. Except Phillip is working late that night and isn't always available and when I go to bed thinking that our offer is on its way to the seller, IT IS NOT. Because a Certain Someone neglected to initial the final document. 

12. I find this out the next morning. I also find out there is another offer on the table. I THINK about panicking, but I do not. Because... ??? Because I have been praying, praying, praying and while I am not 100% sure about THIS house, I am 100% sure that God will give us a house, and this is all part of how it's going to work. 

13. Agent says this is all to our advantage, because now we can get rid of our first offer and go right in with our best most aggressive offer. And we do. We are strong buyers. We're pretty confident. But we're also anticipating having the sellers play the buyers off each other and who knows how long that's going to take, or what we'll have to do. I pray and pray and pray, but I do not pray that God will give us the house. I close my eyes and tell God that I know he is in charge. I know that's he's on top of this. I want what he wants for us. I feel like this house is ours, but I'm not going to go there yet, and it feels wrong to pray that someone else DOESN'T get the house. I cling to the knowledge that God has this covered. He knows what we need.

14. I sleep better that night than I have since we got home from vacation. 

15. We're anxious in the morning. The sellers are meeting to talk about our offer at 9. We watch the clock hit 9. We talk about other things. At 9:30 Agent calls to say the house is ours. Our offer was way better than the other offer, plus the sellers loved the cover letter Agent wrote, a letter that included a family picture. Which I thought was corny, but HEY. WE HAVE A HOUSE.

A big enough house. In Seattle. At the exact moment we needed one. 

Other things have felt prayed over in my life. Exceptionally, completely, extremely prayed over. I keep meaning to write the How I Started Dating Phillip story, not the cutesy story, but the real prayed-over story. But this, the house...

I have said, in my mind, "God, if you want us to stay in this town, you'll have to give us a house," approximately seven bajillion times. Flat out. Not nicely. It's just fact. AND HE DID.

It's not The Perfect House. It's got a weirdo fireplace and 80s cabinets and a layout I'm still not sure about. It's not in a cute trendy neighborhood. It's not at ALL the sort of house I thought we would buy. But oh my goodness is it big enough. And in Seattle, still close to everything we want to be close to. Including a Catholic church and school, about two blocks away, and how can I believe this house is so prayed over and not totally wonder if that's where God wants us to be? 

More discernment in my future, apparently...

Poetry Saturday

I hated John Ashbery's poetry because I never understood it. Then one time I heard him READ a poem and OH, I LOVED John Ashbery.


Meaningful Love  
by John Ashbery

What the bad news was
became apparent too late
for us to do anything good about it.

I was offered no urgent dreaming,
didn't need a name or anything.
Everything was  taken care of.

In the medium-size city of my awareness
voles are building colossi.
The blue room is over there.

He put out no feelers.
The day was all as one to him.
Some days he never leaves his room
and those are the best days,
by far.

There were morose gardens farther down the slope,
anthills that looked like they belonged there.
The sausages were undercooked, 
the wine too cold, the bread molten.
Who said to bring sweaters?
The climate's not that dependable.

The Atlantic crawled slowly to the left
pinning a message on the unbound golden hair of sleeping maidens,
a ruse for next time,

where fire and water are rampant in the streets,
the gate closed—no visitors today
or any evident heartbeat.

I got rid of the book of fairy tales,
pawned my old car, bought a ticket to the funhouse,
found myself back here at six o'clock,
pondering "possible side effects."

There was no harm in loving then,
no certain good either. But love was loving servants
or bosses. No straight road issuing from it.
Leaves around the door are penciled losses.
Twenty years to fix it.
Asters bloom one way or another.


Friday Reads and Recommends

It's 8pm. I just put the kids to bed and I would go to bed myself (Phillip won't be home until midnight) except that I'm waiting on an email from my agent, which will include documents I will somehow electronically sign, because we are putting in an offer on the Big House. 

I kind of don't want to think about this. So!

1. Here's a Redfin article about explaining the Crappy Inventory phenomenon, aka: why we feel the need to pounce on this house before someone else grabs it. But I wasn't going to think about real estate. 

2. The words "real estate" always make me think of Lucy from the Peanuts comics. Ahem.

3. If we get this house one of the first things we'll do is paint over the minty green living room. Elizabeth sent me a link to a Favorite Paint Colors blog (THERE IS A BLOG FOR EVERYTHING) and now I like 'Gravity'. And now I'm REALLY going to stop thinking about real estate.

4. I'm a bit bereft that I can't find the full (free) text of this article from The New Republic: Writer's Block: The End of Bookstores. Sorry!

5. I don't know if you've heard about the "racist white girl at UCLA" and her video about Asians in the library. Angry Asian Man's got all the links. Eh. I'd be more worried about the rampant stupidity than the racism. 

6. I loved this Elizabeth Taylor obituary, and wanted to smack Richard Burton:

"One prominent and perhaps surprising dissenter about her looks was Richard Burton, who was twice her husband. The notion of his wife as “the most beautiful woman in the world is absolute nonsense,” he said. “She has wonderful eyes,” he added, “but she has a double chin and an overdeveloped chest, and she’s rather short in the leg.”


7. Oh wait, one more thing, you should totally check out my friend Emily's kitchen remodel. Love it. LOVE IT. 


More house. This time with a winner. (We think.)

You know you think you may have found The House when you open up your laptop in the morning and see that your husband has been shopping for Giant Televisions. 

Last night's house tour did not quite go as planned, but was pretty exciting anyway. The thing was, we saw a 3300 sf house built in the 80s before going to my top choice house, 2600 sf built in 1947. With a large chunk of that square footage down in a basement with poor light and leopard print carpet. It looked... a little different. 

For one thing, it was abundantly clear how 1) old and 2) need of fixing up it was. I mean, I LIKE old houses and none of the fixing up was crucial. But it was so clear how much work would need to be done to get it all NICE one day, and after seeing the newer house it was a little bit overwhelming. 

PLUS, Phillip just did not FIT in that house. I'm not saying he couldn't fit through the doorways (which is what my MOTHER assumed when I said this) but he just... like he probably would have to hunch over in the shower, and two of us in the kitchen would be annoying, and the basement ceilings were lower than I realized. 

For the record, the backyard is still pretty kick ass. 


Please don't sue me, Redfin!

However. The 3300 sf house? RATHER TEMPTING.

The biggest thing it has going for it is space. And I know a lot of people are all, "More to clean!" But for us it means hosting giant parties, having my entire family over for Christmas, having lots of kids over to play, places to KEEP ALL THE TOYS, room for people to stay when they visit, maybe more kids! (JUST JOKING, PHILLIP CHEUNG!) What I'm saying is: we like hosting things. We like being able to offer our space when someone else needs it. It's possibilities and options and flexibility and room to grow. For us it's a big fat huge plus, even if it makes us sound like big fat huge spoiled Americans. 

The other things I like: it's on a very quiet cul-de-sac with lots of trees and other big houses. It's not the fanciest/most expensive and definitely not the oldest/ugliest/cheapest on the street. It has a backyard big enough for a swingset, gardening and a patio, but not so big we have to buy a riding mower. It has ginormous windows and balconies and a giant deck in the back. The living space is super bright and super open. It's got the 80s kitchen and bathrooms, but obviously we don't have to DO anything to use them - it's all cosmetic stuff - and the kitchen has TONS of workspace and floorspace. (It also has a big cabinet with sliding trays/drawers like I had in my townhouse, probably the number one thing I miss!) It's in a better part of the older house's neighborhood - on a quiet neighborly street, but SUPER close to a main drag and the freeway. Also a brand new Safeway. It's also (and this is just something to CONSIDER) within walking distance of a Catholic church and Catholic school. 

The biggest drawback is the layout. There are two bedrooms upstairs and two bedrooms downstairs. It's like a split level where you have to go upstairs to the living space, but NOT like a split level in that you don't go downstairs and the entry way is huge. So I've spent most of my House Considering Time wondering how we would do bedrooms. Because the two bedrooms downstairs have difficulties: one has a door to a patio in the front - cute, but NO WAY am I putting two kids in that room - and the other is in the far back corner of the house. So if we were sleeping upstairs I'd feel like my kid is way far away. Right now of course we could have the master bedroom and put two kids in the definitely large enough second bedroom upstairs, but what about Third Baby. EVENTUALLY Third Baby needs a room. 

Right now the way I've worked this out is: Phillip and I would take the bedroom with a door downstairs. It's just as big, has a bathroom, and is actually a little more private than the bedrooms upstairs. We'd put J and M in the master bedroom and also make that a playroom. And Third Baby could have the second bedroom upstairs, whenever Third Baby gets around to needing it. Years later I see the two girls or two boys sharing, the one boy or one girl with his own room, and later on I won't feel so weird about a kid in that back room. I just think there are different options and we may have to move around as the years go by. Problematic, but not a deal breaker? 

The other thing is this bizarro fireplace that's in the middle of the room. As in, it sticks out two to three feet from the wall, and you can walk around it. I have no idea what you do with that space/wall behind the fireplace. And the chimney goes all the way up, so you have this big wall/post making the back wall of the living room sort of confusing. Right now I see us lining that back wall with bookshelves. Still not a dealbreaker, but definitely weird. 

The bathrooms - one up, one down - have doors into certain bedrooms AND the hallway. So even the master bedroom bathroom upstairs is the bathroom for the whole living space. 

But it has a great dining room, an extra little space on the other side of the kitchen for a breakfast table or toys, a flex space downstairs that'd be great for Phillip's office and my treadmill, and a giant laundry room. 

Except for the layout, all the things we don't like are cosmetic. It's also the most space I've seen in Seattle proper at this price - the same price as the older house. So. 

I'm going to see one more house this morning, mostly to tell my FIL I saw it, and then, barring anything new on the market, we will probably put an offer on the big house. And then hire a painter to get rid of the minty fresh pistachio green the owners slathered all over the living room because WHO WANTS THEIR LIVING ROOM TO BE THE INSIDE OF A TOOTHPASTE TUBE???

I can't believe we "found" a house. I HAVE been praying for a house for TWO YEARS, so it shouldn't be SURPRISING that we found a house when we needed to find a house, but we're still sort of "do we LIKE it or are we talking ourselves into it?" Right now we both think we like it . A lot. 

P.S. I have not forgotten those of you who asked about Disney - just no time to write the email yet!

P.P.S. I wrote about house stuff and SHARING ROOMS OMG at Parenting. It's insane! My kids are sleeping in the same room! It's a HOUSE MIRACLE!

For the three of you who aren't bored out of your minds by now

Do you want more house talk? DO YOU?

First things first: our architect friend came over tonight and after spending God knows how long traipsing around the dark backyard with Phillip finally said, "You only want to do this if you REALLY want to do this. And it sounds like you don't really want to do this." And he was right. We knew that. We had already pretty much decided. But it was still nice to get Professional Affirmation. 

But I've been waking up needing a full body massage because there is just NOTHING OUT THERE we like. Everything is too far away or too old or too expensive. And yes, we've only been serious about this for a few months, but I have been looking for over a year now. I feel pretty familiar with what's out there, what things are going for, and how long a house will last on the market. SIGH.

This morning I met Agent at a house in the LFP (that's a reference for you locals and DUDES, every time I go up there I get lost. EVERY TIME.) It looked nice in the listing but OH. This was the sort of house you take pictures of to put on your blog. Which I would do if my phone pictures weren't so DARK. It was hilarious. It was so outdated, but then downstairs? There was a bar. A full wooden bar, with a carved wooden post in the middle of the room and a giant beam across the wall with a German phrase carved into it and a shelf full of STEINS and... yeah. Not quite what I'm looking for. I don't want my house to come with a Bavarian serving wench. 

But all the other houses? I WOULD LIVE IN. And this is what turned my whole day around. It was just SO NICE to see that there are OPTIONS! Livable workable OPTIONS! The next house was your typical big suburban house on a ginormous lot, right on a creek. Which was pretty cool, I have to say. But it was also in the LFP and I'm not totally SOLD on the LFP. Possibly because of all the getting lost. 

The rest were city houses. One was sort of... grandma-ish. Like, the house was nice, but you could only really see grandchildren hanging out there, not YOUR children. And one house had a view, was really close to my current house, had TONS of space, but it was bank owned which means all the repairs (and there were a lot, plus a butt ugly kitchen remodel) would be on us. 

But the other two... Okay, so I fell in love with one of them. I did. I am trying to be objective about this, because 1) just because I am now in a time crunch, I am not REQUIRED to fall in love with anything and 2) the owners had a sense of style I totally covet and I'm sure that swayed me on the house BUT STILL. It's an older (1947) quirky house, nothing special from the outside (though it has a 2 car attached garage which is a prize in the city). The street seems nice, but has no sidewalks. I was not planning on being impressed. But this house has a great living room, a totally big enough dining room, three bedrooms on the main floor and a gigantic basement with a huge family room, another bedroom and bath, and all these little nooks and crannies that would work for storage and possibly treadmills. And the outside was awesome. It's a two-tiered yard - the first tier is a paved patio with an outdoor fireplace and plenty of room for outdoor dinner parties, the second tier has a SWINGSET, a little path to ride a tricycle on, space for a garden and a shop/potting shed/PERHAPS A WRITING STUDIO.  

The drawbacks - the kitchen and bathrooms are pretty outdated (we're talking turquoise toilets and cabinets similar to the ones in my 1921 house) but TOTALLY livable and doable and I really liked how the current owners created bathroom storage. (And there are THREE bathrooms!) Eventually we'd want to remodel those, but there's no burning need to do it soon. Besides, I kind of like turquoise. Also the neighborhood isn't one of my favorites, but I actually really liked the feel of the street, and it's a half block away from an elementary school. I don't know WHY the idea of walking distance school is so attractive to me, but it just is. Also it's just old. The basement is finished, but not particularly nicely (and you guys, there is LEOPARD PRINT CARPET!) (although I sort of think that's way awesome) and the basement bedroom doesn't get a lot of light and one of the bedrooms upstairs is pretty small... BUT I LIKE IT ANYWAY WANT WANT WANT. 

Okay, then the other house, only a few blocks away, was just huge. Like over 3000 sf huge. HUUUUUGE. And recently remodeled. It had a nice little kitchen and a decent size dining room, but the rest of it was just rooms. Three upstairs, three downstairs, I think there were 4 bathrooms, then a gigantic family room downstairs and 2 little extra rooms, like maybe office and treadmill or something. I don't know. SO MANY ROOMS. The huge drawback with this place is that the yard is pretty nonexistent. There's a sloping patch of grass and that's it. A big nice deck, but after living in our current house with it's fully fenced and awesome back yard, it's hard to think about having barely any yard. OH. And it's currently being rented by 4 or 5 of the most disgusting 20-something men on the planet. Like I would show you pictures, except they'd all be photos of X-rated art. Also big ass televisions, which were in EVERY SINGLE BEDROOM. What the house had going for it was that you could tell it was still a NEWISH and NICE house, even though these guys were TOTAL SLOBS and their rooms SMELLED and I believe an IGUANA was living in one of them. 

Agent opened the door to the, ah, abode of the most offensive roommate and said, "This will be Molly's room!" HAR HAR. Seriously, I'd have to have a priest come in and douse the place with holy water if we bought that one. 

TOMORROW afternoon Phillip, his parents, Agent, myself and two shorties who LOVE open houses will visit my favorite house, then check out a new one that just popped up this afternoon, and then maybe the House of God Knows What They Watch On Those Individual Televisions The Size Of My Bed. 

I don't want to rush into things. At the same time, we have to make a decision EVENTUALLY. Preferably SOON-ish. And things we like do not tend to last long on the market. So. That's where we are tonight. 

And do you know why I'm writing so late? Because I fell asleep in the chair in the living room after barking at Jack to "GO SLEEP ON MY BED IF YOU'RE SO TIRED AND CRABBY". I think he must have done so! Because the next thing I know he's waking me up all whiny-like, and I'm all, "shoot! We better go get Molly" and then I look at the clock to see when I should start making dinner and IT IS SIX-THIRTY. How did that happen?!?! So the kids? Were up till nearly 10. OMG. 

I should tell you how smashingly the room sharing is going. But that just means I'll be up all night with sobbing children. So I won't. 

The End!

House Update, and more Disney than you care to read

I just LOVE that you guys are so ENCOURAGING about what is, I've decided, an Officially Bat@*#$ Crazy Idea! YOU ARE SO CUTE! Well, all of you except my friend Dan down there who was a major downer. First comment on my website and he's gotta be all DEPRECIATION and MARKET VALUE BLAH BLAH BLAH. 

So yeah. It was this Very! Exciting! Thought! and then I woke up with a huge stomachache and a general sense of what-the-hell-are-we-thinking. How did we go from wanting to buy a fixed up turn-key house to considering rehabbing a super quirky 1921 house on a busy street next to a funky duplex and - I forgot to mention this part - a cemetery? HMMM? That said, we're still waiting on our architect friend to drop by and give us some educated opinions, but after talking to our agent last night (who herself was encouraging while also being completely honest and way helpful) I kind of feel like this sort of project is way out of our sphere. It's not just a kitchen remodel, it'd be a WHOLE HOUSE REMODEL. Did I mention that I'm supposed to have a new baby in October? OH YEAH RIGHT.

Anyway. Agent and I are off to see something like 10 houses tomorrow morning and I have kicked the House Prayer into high gear. 

So now I'm going to write about our trip. Because I need to think about something else. Also: MY WEBSITE. 

Disney! The happiest place on earth! I love it, I just love it and I don't care what you say. I will admit, however, that this trip was harder than the first. Here are the reasons why: 

1. Spring Break. At least I THINK the reason it seemed SO VERY CROWDED (compared to our post-Labor Day trip a year and a half ago) was Spring Break and also (I heard) 3 conventions going on in Anaheim. (The Religious Education Congress was staying in our hotel, as evidenced by the giant "Welcome Religious Education Congress! Happy Hour at 2:30!" sign on the wall.) On our first trip we had a relatively easy time riding every ride we wanted, when we wanted. This time we didn't manage Peter Pan or Dumbo or Alice in Wonderland or the tea cups until three days into the trip, our first chance to arrive way super early, and even THEN Peter Pan was mobbed a half hour into opening. Like, an hour long wait. On our previous trip we felt like we had the run of the park for that first hour, so it was a little frustrating. (I should say that Friday, our last day, felt a lot different. Either the crowds were smaller or we were used to it!) 

2. The Weather. I am not COMPLAINING about the weather, which was mostly in the low seventies/high sixties and SUNSHINEY the entire time. But it was in the fifties when we left the hotel in the morning, fairly warm by the time we headed back to the hotel for naps, and chilly again in the evenings. So I was constantly stressed about what everyone was wearing. I know that's the stupidest thing in the world, but I spent a ton of time deciding what everyone was going to wear and what layers we were going to pack in the stroller and whether they'd be warm/cool enough and... yeah, major source of mental exhaustion for me. Our first trip was easy: shorts! And maybe a sweatshirt if we stayed out late. This time I was not at all sorry I packed everything from down vests to sundresses. 

3. Our Hotel. If this had been our first Disneyland hotel experience it would have been just fine. But I was TOTALLY SPOILED by the HoJo's giant kid suite rooms, their fancy spraypark (which we wouldn't have used anyway, but still) and crazy expensive but fully stocked convenience store. Our hotel, the Anabella, was great - separate room with bunk beds, ANOTHER separate room with a daybed and a TV (great for Molly's nap) - but lacking in space over all, with no microwave, no good breakfast eating space, a window that looked right out on the balcony walkway (motel style) and shades that didn't fully close AND curtains that didn't fully close. So you couldn't open the shades and curtains for sunlight, unless you wanted to give the world a full view, but you couldn't close them either to make it nice and dark at night. Annoying. Obvs not the end of the world, and we sort of liked the walk to Disneyland better from the Anabella than from the HoJo (and I'm sure it was cheaper too, have to look), but I had a hard time not letting a few things bug me. 

4. My Children. On our first trip to Disneyland, Jack was TWO and Molly was ONE. Molly wasn't even WALKING. The first thing we discovered in Disneyland this time is that we had a runner on our hands. After the second or third time Molly disappeared on us, we became super vigilant and adamant about hand holding. They also decided to have Opinions, Jack especially. The first two days we couldn't get him to nap, and he was a TOTAL PILL in the afternoons. He kept asking to go to HAWAII. He wanted to go to the BEACH. Like THAT is a proper vacation. What are we doing in this BEAUTIFUL LAND OF MANUFACTURED JOY?!? I lost my patience a few times, I was tempted to give lectures on being ungrateful, I occasionally wondered why we even BOTHERED. Then the last two days he napped freakishly long in the afternoons and was, of course, an Absolute Delight. Cheered and excited by everything, willing to do whatever, totally happy to BE ALIVE. That's more like it. 

ALL OF THAT SAID. I think we had a pretty awesome time. I feel like we did a lot more. Since the kids were older and also slept till nearly five or six in the evening, we stayed out pretty late which meant we got to see some fireworks and the World of Color fountain show, plus hit up some rides with super short lines before closing. Some of their opinions were fun - last time, no one gave a rip if we saw Mickey or not. NOW it was IMPERATIVE. 

They didn't have any parades this time, which was a total bummer (since that's what the kids loved most last time). But we did get to see World of Color which was pretty spectacular, the fireworks, and a handful of live performances around the park. We also did a handful of not-rides: the dream house inside the Innoventions building was pretty interesting for a couple of computer dorks like Phillip and me, and I have to give five stars to Turtle Talk with Crush in DCA. FREAKING AMAZING. It's "live" animation. Seriously. You are having a conversation with Crush. I have no idea how they do that. 

I guess the other thing that was different was food. I made sure to bring a TON of food with us - peanut butter and cereal and juice boxes - but we ended up just dropping a ton of cash on food in the park. I had to think about this for a while, and I think it's because we had a different schedule. We could stay in the park later, so we ended up buying lunch. Of course I could have brought lunch with us, and I did once or twice, but we always supplemented with something snacky from the park. And we ended up eating dinner there nearly every night. Part of it, of course, is that Phillip and I are totally those people who treat ourselves with food, so we are inclined to be spending way too much on things like mid morning snacks anyway. The good thing is that we'd decided ahead of time that it was okay to spend money, that this was Our Vacation and we weren't going to worry too much. 

And I have to say that was the best part. I napped every day, even when Jack didn't. I slept GREAT. When both kids were sleeping Phillip and I just lazed around, and since the internet connection was so horrible we were forced to interact! It was just SO NICE to do NOTHING and do our nothingness in the same place. Molly wanted nearly nothing to do with me, and was always reaching for Phillip and I was just happy for her that he was around to hold her, you know? And on the last day when we could have stuck it out a little longer and crammed in a few more rides, we were both in agreement about heading home, turning on a DVD for the kids and calling it a night. It was low stress all around. Well, except for what everyone was wearing. I couldn't help that. 

Besides, on the last day we got to hang out with Sydney InsideDog


Jack likes blonds

(Chasing the three kids around Tom Sawyer's Island that morning was an unexpected blast for me. I can't believe we didn't go there on our first trip!)


I like her mom


Molly likes Dumbo

They ALL liked making me sick in the spinning cup

Jack liked the 20-second Heimlich Chew Chew Train ride in DCA, for which we spent an eternity in line (SKIP THIS!)


I THINK they like each other

P.S. If you would like excruciating detail about any aspect of Disney-With-Two-Shorties, I would LOVE to pontificate further. FYI. I had a really hard time finding reviews that fit our type of family, so email if you're interested!

Welcome home, Cheungs!

I know I'm supposed to tell you ALL about our Disney trip and then I could probably write another week of blog posts about moving the kids into one room today and the subsequent disaster area that is my house. But right now all I can think about is that our landlord wants to sell our house, preferably as soon as possible, and I have already eaten all the chocolate. 

Last week sometime the landlord called about bringing an appraiser over. I decided not to think too much into this. Then while we were standing in line for the Storybook Land Canal Boats (cute!) Phillip took a call (not cute!) from the landlord who asked if we were going to be gone long enough for him to install new countertops. UM, YES? Except I was pretty disappointed to come home and see countertops that looked exactly the same, just minus some bubbling and peeling. 

And then today he called to tell us that he wants to put the house on the market. According to Phillip he sounded like he felt pretty bad about springing it on us, and was surprisingly forthright about why - he's losing three thousand dollars a month on his three rental properties and he's afraid of losing HIS house. I suppose I could begrudge him the lack of notice and all that, but the truth is that we're looking to buy anyway and he's been awesome to us so far and dude, it sucks to be losing that much money PER MONTH. Phillip said, "Well, we're looking to buy a house anyway" and the landlord instantly said, "Do you want to buy the house?" and Phillip said, "Well how much are you selling it for?" and while we are not ENTIRELY clear on this, as in, nothing is in writing and he could change his mind and who knows what he'll come back with if we say we want to discuss it further, but he produced a number about the same as what we paid for our townhouse. 

Which... see, this is where my mind gets blown a tiny bit. It is a number so low that it seems incredibly foolish not to say YES WHERE DO I SIGN? The houses we've been looking at are priced significantly higher. Of course, we've been looking at updated four-bedroom houses with over 2000 square feet and this house is... not that. We actually have no idea what the square footage is - maybe 1600? And there are only three bedrooms. And no dining room. And a really old, outdated kitchen. And two bathrooms that could use some remodeling. And slopey floors. And a hideous, unfinished laundry "area". And dingy blue carpet. And ancient windows. On a busy street and right next to an odd-looking duplex building - no fence between us at all. 

Still, it's kind of an amazing price. So amazing that we could definitely do some remodeling. A LOT of remodeling. 

Because we also kind of love this house. We LOVE the neighborhood and how close it is to pretty much everything. The schools are excellent. I'm always thinking about how awesome the backyard would be if I OWNED the house and felt that the work and money would be worth it. It's got a playroom downstairs. It has cool skylights and a wall of windows in the kitchen. I have spent extensive time daydreaming about how I would remodel this house (but never seriously, since I never thought we'd have the option to buy it). It's light, it has character, it has that 1920s craftsman look. We've been really happy here. 

But I never wanted to remodel anything. Phillip and are not DIY types at all. We're not into that kind of thing, have no talent in it, and if we ever attempted a bathroom remodel we'd probably end up getting divorced. That's why we're not looking at houses that need serious work. It's just not an option for us. 

SO WHAT ARE WE THINKING? I'll tell you. First of all, if we buy this house for what the landlord owes, which is the number he gave us when we asked what he'd sell for, we could hire an architect and contractors. We'd still be living in a construction zone, but we wouldn't be doing any of the work ourselves. And the second thing is that I'm really drawn to the idea of making all the decisions. That house I went to see before we went on vacation put a lot of dreams into my head. It was beautiful and modern without being the same old same old you see in every suburban development house. It was creative and beautiful and I really admired the imagination that went into planning it. It TOTALLY EXCITES me that we could have the same opportunity. 

The scariest thing is that we'd want to add at least two bedrooms, and we have no idea if that's even possible. One of the first things I'd want to do if we owned the house is knock out the walls of Jack's former bedroom (now Phillip's office) and make space for a dining room. Which means losing one of the three bedrooms. Which means we'd definitely need more. So we're not just talking a kitchen remodel, we're talking about MAJOR WORK. Additions, build outs (I'd LOVE to bump out the front and create an entry way), who knows what else. 

Our real estate agent is coming over in about 20 minutes because we want her opinion. We want to know if the estimated selling price is as awesome a deal as we think it is. We want to know her opinion about resale value, given the busy street and rental next door. We've also left a message with our architect friend, to see if it's even possible to add on to this house (and if it would bankrupt us). And I think after we talk to those two people we'll have a much better idea of what we want to do. 

Because if we don't buy this place, we're looking to buy a house within the next several weeks. And this makes me ill. 

Let's look at pictures of happy!


Here is what Molly looked like when I finally took that lollipop away:


I seriously have a thousand things to say about this trip (you = on tenterhooks), but right now let's think cheery thoughts for my husband who is stomping around saying things like, "We're RIGHT back where we were a year ago!" and perusing (and CALLING) rental listings. 


Realtor said the only real way to expand is to add a second story, which would most likely blow through our remodel cash pretty quickly. Hmm. Now to talk to the architect...

Quick note before I crash

I'm sitting on my bed, surrounded by my husband's packing mess, trying not to think about waking up at four in the morning and getting on an airplane. I hate both of those things. A lot. 

To relieve the airplane jitters I am thinking about sending Phillip out for an emergency apple fritter. It turns out that I not only want to eat Actual Apples, I need my junk food to taste like apples too.

My appointment this morning was a Grand Success. One little blob, measuring ahead. One fantabulous doctor who blew off the mean nurse and hugged me when she left. 

I have no idea when the kids are going to go to bed. Which is a bummer because I? Could go to bed right now. 

I'll have something up at Parenting later this week, but other than that I'm outta here. Dear Southern California: I will require all of your sunshine.


There is just one moon and one golden sun

I started packing tonight. I figured this was a good idea, seeing as how the kids are staying with grandparents tonight (foisting children off on the grandparents on the first night of daylight savings: BRILLIANCE) and we've already spent a small fortune at Target on snacks, travel-size toiletries, a few extra clothes, and child-size headphones (that was Phillip). Oh, and borrowed my in-laws' brand new suitcases. WHY NOT?!

I've been religiously checking the Anaheim weather and stocking up on cheap little clothes (aka LAYERS), but I'm still sort of baffled as to what we'll actually need when we get there. We're planning on hitting the park in the mornings, coming home for lunch and naps - the hottest part of the day - and going back at night for parades and shows. So... MAYBE we'll need a few pairs of shorts? But it's not really going to be HOT. So also sweatshirts and long pants and maybe a vest when it gets colder? Or a full on jacket? Do we need the full on jacket? I have their rain jackets, if only to get us to OUR airport. I have several different kinds of shoes. And I have extras of every layer because I am not fully convinced we can get through a day without pants-wetting. So I guess what I'm saying is that I'm OVERpacking, partly because I have to and partly because my in-laws bought some pretty giant suitcases. 

As for Phillip and me, we're going light. If only because neither of us has any Disneyland-appropriate clothes. One of us is too fat and the other only owns khaki pants and approximately 573 dress shirts with blue stripes. 

Oh, and going on what I learned last time, I'm bringing most of the food with me. Cereal and peanut butter and snacks. You can buy those things when you get there, but you will need to take out a loan. 

So I THINK everything is going okay. Phillip has a Big Day at work tomorrow, so he's upstairs Stressing, and I am downstairs staring at a couch full of miniature clothes. Except not anymore, I am writing to you about being stressed about miniature clothes. 

BUT NOT REALLY! After we foisted the children we had a really nice afternoon. We decided NOT to look at houses. We decided napping and general Lazing Around was a much better idea, then we took ourselves to Target and dinner at an Indian restaurant and, be still my heart, bubble tea for dessert. 

This does not bode well for tomorrow's First Doctor Appointment. I'll have you know that I totally watched what went into my mouth yesterday and I LOST weight (I HAVE IT TO LOSE) but today there was, well, Indian food and bubble tea. Sigh. I keep telling myself that the nausea = eating will not last forever and the bubble tea was for Impromptu Date Night and also I am going to DISNEYLAND where I will be walking about nine thousand times more than usual. If I don't keel over from exhaustion, that is. We shall see. 

Also, I cannot decide if I'm nervous about this appointment. It's the Heartbeat Appointment, but I feel pretty zen about that. I think I just don't want to GO there and I don't know what ELSE they'll want me to do and whine whine whine. I don't know. I THINK I am zen. I have no reason to NOT be zen. Except for the fact that it's been well established that I am not at all a zen type of person. BAH.