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July 2011

Party Post-Mortem

Last night I hosted a ladies-only murder mystery party and I don't think it went very well and I've been fuming about it ever since. 

The regular party details - food, drink, excellent guests - were in fine form. So at least there is that. I was not embarrassed to serve the pizzas and meatballs and caprese bites and other "Italian-ish" fare (the mystery was set in Venice) that was actually cooked by ME, and dudes, I MUST recommend this punch: 1 can limeade, 1 2-liter bottle of Sprite, a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream and raspberries. I pretty much had my face in the punch bowl the whole time. 

And my friends... oh, my friends are so lovely. I just think all of them are the bee's knees. Because the MYSTERY part of the party was a DUD and they played along anyway.

So the MYSTERY... okay, so I could only find games for up to 6 or 8 people in stores, but there were downloadable games for many more party goers. I was expecting about 12, and between the number of guests, the fact that we were all women, and the relative professional-ness of some of the download sites, I ended up picking this Venetian masquerade game. Also because my parents are in possession of tons of Carnevale masks (they used to buy one on every trip to Venice, SIGH) and I thought those would make good decorations. (And I can sort of pull off Italian food.)

But it wasn't very good. It was poorly written. It was full of typos. Sometimes it mixed up character names. There was way too much reading aloud. It was not entirely intuitive when it came to what you were supposed to share with the group and what you should keep hidden. Also there were a couple of riddles and puzzles and they were silly. The one where the answer to a riddle looking for a "ferocious beast" was PIGEON was probably the Height of Party Hilarity. (I wanted to die. Of course.)

It was confusing and awkward to get started, and because of typos and character mix-ups and poorly written-ness it continued to be somewhat confusing and awkward. EVEN THOUGH my sister and I had gone through the entire mystery so it would go as smoothly as possible. I separated out all the chapters and pieces of "evidence" and thought about how to work around an incredibly stupid puzzle at the very end. Thank goodness for my sister, who played her Crime Investigator role to a T and several of my friends whose tombstones will eventually read EXCELLENT PARTY GUESTS, but I was still disappointed and the ending felt a bit incomplete and BAH. Failure! 

Here I will again bust out my enneagram mumbo jumbo and say: I AM A THREE. I need to succeed. If I fail, no one loves me. And here I had invited a bunch of people who had never been to a mystery party before and now they would NEVER GO TO ONE AGAIN. Especially one thrown by me! OH THE HORROR. No really, I stewed about it all night and stewed about it all day. 

Then tonight I was fixing dinner for the kids and getting the table and ready, and oh, what's this? A stack of papers? That look like they were not used? A stack of papers that say CHAPTER FIVE CLUES? Hmm. OMYGODDIDIFORGETAWHOLECHAPTEROFCLUES???

If you know anything about me you know that it is taking a MASSIVE amount of character for me to admit to this Abect Screwup on my personal website, in front of God and Country. The mystery was not entirely to blame. IT WAS ALSO ME. And not just because I picked a dud of a mystery! I am not even kidding you, when I saw that stack of clues I thought I would crawl under a rock and never ever ever come out. 

So! I highly recommend throwing a mystery party and leaving out a good chunk of the mystery as a way to feel like the lowest class of moron. I read through the clues and yes, a lot of our issues at the end of the story (possibly all the parts where we were like, "Hey! I didn't know that about myself!") might have been worked out, it was still confusing what you were supposed to share and keep hidden. Either way: I AM SO SORRY, PARTY GUESTS. I owe you all about two hours back. I have punished myself by sitting around wondering what sorts of things you are saying about my crappy mystery party to your husbands. MOAN.

That said, it was a "learning experience" (that's my mom talking, who I had to call today to vent, obvs) and here is what I've learned:

1. I LIKE the cheesy murder mysteries with the silly names and sillier costumes. This one advertised itself as being a mystery that people wouldn't feel dorky about, but honestly, that's a part I ENJOY. I once threw one of these for my siblings on New Year's Eve several years ago and we STILL laugh about the picture of us in costume - me in a Marilyn Monroe wig, my sister in a French maid outfit, my brother wearing a vaguely pedophile-ish mustache. I think it's more fun to "own" a certain character, instead of this mystery which was more a bunch of socialites gathering for a masquerade, with nothing in our dress to make us funny or distinguish us from each other.

2. I suspect it might be more fun with fewer people. Maybe not. Maybe if I'd picked a good one I'd say the opposite. But it was difficult to "question" each other in a large circle. We were SUPPOSED to be walking and mingling, but again, the way the clues were written, it wasn't very intuitive and I'm not sure mingling would have worked. I don't really KNOW, but it just seemed that way at the time.

3. More drinking might have helped.

4. No reading aloud! I mean, there has to be SOME reading aloud, but because you weren't ever quite sure what you were supposed to be saying (POOR WRITING) a lot of us eventually ended up just reading off our clues. Eh.

Anyway. My INSTINCT, as a THREE, is to immediately plan a follow up party, a REDEMPTION if you will, to prove myself as a party thrower and murder mystery games as actual fun. But, ah, I realize normal people are not so obsessive. And they probably wouldn't attend anyway, having already been through one of THOSE before...

I think next time (OF COURSE THERE WILL BE A NEXT TIME) I will buy one in a box from the store, as it seems it might have gone through an editor or two to be printed out and put in a box. Yes? But even then, it's not like you get to read the whole mystery ahead of time. Even my first successful party had a sort of stupid ending. We just didn't care! 

BLAH BLAH BLAH whatever it's over and YAY PEOPLE I KNOW because if nothing else, I got to have all my favorite girls around eating cake. THE END.



Friday Reads & Recommends

I just painted the super high section of my hallway. I had to wait until Phillip got home so he could show me how to use our stupid ladder. And then I painted the rest of my hallway. BOOYAH. Now I'm waiting for it to dry so I can do the second coat. You: Dying of boredom. Me: FINE THEN.

So you know that cool living room mood board Elizabeth put together? And all those super cute outfit boards that Betty Beguiles does? And all the other way spiffy decor/outfit boards you see all over Pinterest and style blogs? I have been wracking my brains trying to figure out how people do this. Not EVERYONE has an $800 copy of Photoshop, yes? I just heard about Polyvore and wanted to check it out (not that I can compile a MOOD board, sorry, I have no talent in that arena) but then Elizabeth told me she just used Picasa. !!! I have Picasa! I could do that too! I mean, if I had talent. Which I do not. Alas. 

I cannot recommend the last Harry Potter movie. I am a big fat fan of the books, all of which I've read numerous times, but I never really liked ANY of the movies. I thought Deathly Hallows Part One was all right, but Deathly Hallows Part Two was like watching people off the street sleep walk through the motions. I wasn't disappointed because I didn't have any expectations, but dude, why do you have the creme de la creme of British theater sitting around doing NOTHING? Sigh. 

I've read some books lately. I picked up Discovery of Witches because the internet wouldn't shut up about it aaaaaand MEH. It's Twilight for grown ups. And I'm not going to lie, I burned through all the Twilight books (even though the whole time I was going, "This is so BAD! Why do I even CARE! But I DO care!") D of W was infinitely more interesting to me - witches! daemons! rules! tradition! history! secrets! - but I could barely keep from barfing over the love story. I am not against love stories by any means, but I cannot handle the boyfriend who "protects" the girl by constantly telling her what to do/that he knows best. UGH. Physical stuff, you know, punching the bad guy's lights out, THAT'S all good. But the constant badgering about safety and ordering her around (DO YOU HEAR ME, EDWARD CULLEN?) that is not at all romantic to me. It's annoying. It makes me want to dump him myself. (And why was she so in love with Matthew Clairmont in the first place? I never figured this out. Because he's supernaturally handsome?) ANYWAY. 

I read the latest Gail Carriger which I think is called Heartless? Yes. Still good trashy fun. I wasn't big on the third book, when she's traipsing all over Italy without Lord Maccon - isn't that the best part of the story? The two of them annoying each other? - but this one she's back where she belongs and it was better, though none of them have been as funny as the first one. The ending, however, promises an interesting premise for the NEXT one. 

Then I read Deadline by Chris Cutcher. I have never ever wanted so much to read about the same characters in a completely different story. I haven't read his other stuff (I hear it's depressing) and I didn't think this one was SUPER depressing, but it was crammed full of Edgy Issues and even the premise of the book was a little OUT THERE, in my opinion. But the characters! They were so fabulous! I wanted to read about them doing pretty much anything else!

So then I read Okay For Now and SIGH. This is one of those books that make me despair that I will ever be A Writer because everything I've wanted to write has been written already. It's a companion book to The Wednesday Wars (which I also loved). SO GOOD, you guys, so good. And any issues are implied or vaguely referred to or SHOWN instead of hammering you over the head with their ISSUENESS. And now I'm super cranky because I all the things I'm thinking I will read next WILL NOT MEASURE UP. 

I have to go paint a second coat now. Also I promise to start reading Interesting Things on the internet again so I actually HAVE links on Fridays. 


Decorating: The "Breakfast" Room

If you are the type who likes philosophizing over Third Baby, head over to Parenting for my Thursday post. If you are the type who likes house talk, then...

behold. My, uh, extra room. The room off the kitchen. The breakfast room. Family room? Separate eating area? I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO CALL IT. 

Photo (3)

(Also sorry for the photo quality. I have to use my phone. Long story. Not interesting.)

So, one thing we really liked about this house was it's various Random Spaces. This one, for example, then another random room downstairs (plus a gigando laundry room where I intend to put a treadmill when Third Baby is born.) 

Anyway, you can kind of see that butcher block counter - that's one side of the kitchen. We have a sort of oversized, super open galley kitchen, just two counters facing each other. The counters are tile, then each counter has a butcher block "bar" a few inches above it... Okay, one of these days I will take a picture of the kitchen, but not right now because I haven't done the dinner dishes. Shut up. 

And then you see the sliding door to the deck (there's another sliding door in the dining room.) And a big window up above. Because of that window and the sliding glass doors and this room being on the east side of the house, this room gets the most sun in the morning and I LOVE to eat breakfast in there. For a while we had the smaller couch in there because the contractors weren't done with the living room, and I have every intention of moving that couch BACK. I want it to go where the kid table and the blue kid chair are right now. The chair is there because I wanted it out of the living room one day and never put it back, and the kid table is there because I thought the kids would eat/do projects/get messy in that room. But they end up just sitting at the [new] [supah cheap] [Ikea] table instead. (Or their table in the living room. We have a lot of tables.) So both of those things will go, eventually. 

What you can't see is the Pile O' Junk in the far corner on the floor behind the table. Most of it is stuff that the previous owners left behind, like a WALL PHONE WITH A CORD or their DIRECTV BOX. Annoying. We just haven't got around to getting rid of it (or putting it in the garage with all the other stuff we don't want but haven't given away yet.) 

The white thing is an Ikea Expedit on its side. We bought that when we moved into the rental house and needed 1) a table for the TV and 2) toy storage. Now it holds drawing paper, crayons, play dough, kid music, and all the stuff I keep hoping Jack will be interested in for quiet time. The baskets on the bottom are cherry red, and I bought those when we moved into the rental to hold cans and dry food on a different shelf in our kitchen. The stuff on top are two prints of Venice, but I'm not sure if they GO in this room so they are leaning against the wall instead of ON the wall. I kind of like them there. Three glass jars holding, respectively, cookies, rice and lasagna noodles. Two empty picture frames. A white/turquoise/navy blue candle holder I bought when we were living in our first apartment. 

The curtains belonged to the previous owners. The hanging lamp belonged to the previous owners. Again, there is next to NO overhead lighting in this house so I'm grateful they left us all their weird lamps, even if I don't like most of them. I'm leaving that one up to see if I like it when we move the couch. (Which we won't do until we buy a sectional for the living room. Which is, admittedly, light years away. But still. I'M PLANNING.)

This is also the only room besides the kitchen to have hardwood floors. Everywhere else is brown carpet, except the kids' room, which is Pergo. (I've decided I hate Pergo. But whatever.) It's also constantly filthy because 1) the kids eat messy in here and 2) the gigantic trees that hang over our deck are constantly littering the deck, and therefore the sliding door entrances, with Tree Refuse. Sigh. 

Is this at ALL interesting? 

I've thought about painting this room, but it would have to be the same paint as the kitchen since they are pretty much one and the same space. And I don't really want to paint the kitchen. One day we will remodel the heck out of it (ALSO light years away) and for some reason this makes me feel like painting is stupid. Except that it's not a LOT of paint. Maybe I just like the idea of putting off the decision. 

I'd have more pictures except everything's kind of a dump since I'm getting ready for a party. Maybe after the party when I put everything AWAY. 

SO ANYWAY. Future plans for that room: 

  • small red couch against the wall
  • small TV for morning news-watching purposes, probably sitting on the Expedit. This might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I LOVE WATCHING THE NEWS, esp in my pajamas while eating breakfast.
  • paint?
  • floor lamp?
  • bar stools? Except right now I'm using the space under the bar for random deck item storage...
  • white board/white board paint with a spray painted aqua trim frame for preschooler entertainment
  • another picture or two for the walls. OR SOMETHING. 


How do I love thee, Birthday Cake? Let me count the ways!

I was basically an Anxiety-Ridden Freak until I could call my doctor at nine this morning. I don't know why I get like that. It's not like GD is, you know, CANCER. And my ability to low carb is proven (see the website!) But I was still jittery and upset about still having birthday cake in the freezer that I would now have to feel Horribly Guilty about eating (UNFAIR) and then I called the nurse and she's all, "So your glucose test results were normal, but -"

And I was all, "REALLY!? HONESTLY?! OMG! I've been sitting here all morning dreading the three-hour test! That's fantastic! I totally thought that's why you called! Oh, I am so relieved!" 

The whole time I am running my mouth the nurse is trying to get a word in. Finally she says, "But you're ANEMIC." And she says "ANEMIC" like it IS cancer and then tells me I need to go get "slowfy" and I'm all "slowfy?" and she repeats "SLOWFY" except it sounds like "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU DUMBASS" but it doesn't matter because I! Don't have! Gestational diabetes! And later I google around it turns out I am supposed to go buy myself some of this and FINE, DONE. 

I think to myself, "Maybe THIS is why you are so freaking tired all the freaking time," and then that's the last thought I have about The Vague Phone Message all day. Except for when I have a slice of frozen birthday cake because hey! I CAN EAT SUGAR!

(We will revisit this whole thing once this baby is no longer taking up residence in my body and I have to acknowledge the fact that I have nine thousand pounds to lose.) 

I did all my other grown up things today too, which means I earned myself a trip to Heaven On Earth, aka The Party Store. People, this is not just ANY party store. This is a party store right down the road from me, a party store that sells party supplies, oh yes, but also costumes and Christmas trees and sequinned fabric and professional costume makeup and expensive tiaras and fifteen kinds of glue and feather boas of every color and fake fur and fake cigarettes and OH I JUST LOVE IT. Seriously, just walking IN makes me happy. There's another pretty terrific party store downtown that makes my heart go pitter pat, but MY party store is two minutes away and I CAN JUST GO FOR FUN! Sigh. 

Anyway, I came home with a few necessary items and then all afternoon the kids were on my case to help me with my PROJECTS by which they meant "throw feathers and sequins all over the room." Oh, feathers and sequins! Be still my heart!

So I suppose you can tell from the tone of this post that Things Are Looking Up. Aren't we all HAPPY? You are all invited for the rest of the birthday cake. I will read this here DIY magazine I picked up at Michael's while I wait for you to come over. (I KNOW. A DIY MAGAZINE. AM BRAINWASHED BY PINTEREST.)


I guess the third time's the charm

Tomorrow I think I need to commit to being a grown up. I've been spray painting and vacationing and hanging out with old friends a bit too much and tomorrow I need to, you know, pay some bills. 

First thing: I have to call my doctor. A nurse left a very vague message on my phone today and when I called back the office was already closed. I've already decided that I failed the glucose test and am stuck doing the three-hour test. The amount of anxiety I have over this is pretty noticeable, and I feel more angry at myself than distraught that I'll have to low carb it until October. (I mean, I was planning to do that afterwards ANYWAY.) Is there anything else horrible you have to do when you have GD? And yes, for all I know the nurse could be calling because I... okay, I have no other ideas. I MUST have failed that test. By the way, I love how it's "FAILING". Gah. I will probably have bad dreams about this. 

Second thing: I have to call Jack's preschool to see if I can switch the days he's attending. I can choose any three days out of the five, and since Molly's preschool switched the days on me, I now need to switch Jack's days. This wouldn't be such a big deal except I have TOTALLY procrastinated on the application and registration fee (these Catholics need to know EVERYTHING, the application is like a BOOK) and I just don't feel like copping to that. Which is stupid because they already KNOW. They ALREADY called me this summer to make sure I still wanted him to attend! And I had to say, "Yeah, I just haven't mumblemumble found a copy of his immunization mumblemumblebye." So get over myself, yes?

I also have this cardboard box which I've been using to store every important-looking document that comes in the mail. On occasion I rummage through it and pull out anything that looks like a bill and pay them off. I used to have a system for this. I was very organized, once upon a time. But then we moved. And all our account numbers changed. And I got confused and also I still have no idea where to put Important Mail. Well, anywhere that is not our dining room table because the amount of crapola on the dining room table is GETTING TO ME. 

So I need to do that tomorrow. Make sure I have not forgotten to pay people money. Basically the first thing you should learn as a grown up. I've been doing it for a while, but I can't say I've always done it well. 

After those things and ONLY AFTER THOSE THINGS am I allowed to go to the party store and buy sparkles and feathers and other party accoutrements. 

Oh, that reminds me, I introduced my mother to Pinterest today. I'm happy to say she was properly enthralled. Although seriously, WHO WOULDN'T BE?

Last thing: I got a Boden catalog in the mail today and I am in looooove! I've heard other people talk about Boden, and also mini Boden, but there is seriously every combination of SUPHER cute sweater/skirt/dark tights/tall boots in the WORLD in that catalog and WANT WANT WANT. Even if each item is $100+. Don't care! Want! What I probably SHOULD care about: the fact that I am not a ninety pound stick like the girl in the pictures, with her skinny little stick legs in her boots. Those boots probably wouldn't ever zip up over my calves. Even when I've lost all the baby weight. WHICH I WILL DO, STUPID GESTATIONAL DIABETES THAT I AM 99% SURE I HAVE. WAH.

Things I Have Found Surprising

When we first moved in, I had a list of things I knew I would hate and would need to fix ASAP. Chief among them, the dishwasher. It's old. It's icky by virtue of being old. And it stores the silverware in the door, so you have to tilt the door up to put the silverware in and since silverware is basically my least favorite dirty thing to deal with, this upset me greatly. 

Turns out my dishwasher is awesome. It works about a thousand percent better than the fancy, stainless steel, brand new dishwasher in my townhouse. 

Same with the washer and dryer. Sure, they're older and a bit smaller than I'm used to, and they are certainly not energy or water efficient or anything like that. But they WORK. And they work FASTER. 

I thought for sure I would hate my cooktop. I desperately miss my gas range from the townhouse. I hated - HATED - the electric stove in the rental. This house has one of those flat cooktops with circles that get all red and hot. This, I told Phillip, THIS will be replaced ASAP. 

But I love my cooktop. I'm not sure I love it as much as gas, but it's SO easy to clean and when you're only using one burner, the rest of it serves as a flat counter and shoot, I may be keeping it after all. 

I have thereby saved myself one bajillion dollars in appliance replacement. 

The carpet is brown, which I hate, but it is soft and squishy under my feet and when we eventually get around to fixing the carpet hole or replacing the carpet or whatever we're going to do with flooring, there will still be carpet. Hardwoods in the dining room, probably, but carpet everywhere else. Sorry, gorgeous pictures of hardwoods on Pinterest. My feet enjoy the squishy. (I also prefer to vacuum than dustmop. Shocking.)

I thought I'd like the tile counters because Italian houses have tile counters and I like everything in Italian houses but DUDE why does ANYONE put tile on COUNTERS? The heat resistance is nice, but every itty bitty crumb and spill gets stuck in the grout and this makes me INSANE.

I halfway enjoyed painting my living room. 

I haven't been afraid to DO stuff to this house. Like put holes in the wall and paint colors and stuff like that. I attribute this to the fact that we are not moving - EVER - whereas I felt panicky about whatever we did to the townhouse because what if we RUINED something and COULDN'T SELL IT!

Things that are not surprising: my oven is still too small. The two bedrooms up/two bedrooms down situation is still frustrating with little kids. A bigger house is less fun to clean than a smaller house. 

In other news: why have I been making brownies from scratch? Sheer laziness has prompted me to buy all manner of boxed brownie mixes and they are all - ALL! - better than my Baker's One Bowl Brownies. Sheesh. It's Ghirardelli Double Chocolate from now on!




House Frustration with a side of Commenter Frustration (NOT YOU OF COURSE)

I am having House Frustration. This is my list: 

  1. Hang yellow candle holder – need Phillip
  2. Finish painting near ceiling
  3. Finish painting hallway – buy new roller
  4. Fix curtain rod – ask P for help
  5. Take all hallway boxes, ladders, drills downstairs – need Phillip
  6. Fill vase with paper flowers/tissue paper branches/SOMETHING
  7. Frame red/aqua print - buy red frame
  8. Pillow for rocking chair - FIND pillow
  9. Paint bedroom Sharkey Gray - need Phillip
  10. Paint P’s dresser white -
  11. Find end-of-bed bench
  12. Hang kid pictures on hallway wall
  13. Recover dining room chairs - find fabric

FOR NOW this is my list. The frustration stems, I think, from needing Phillip to do most of this stuff with me. Or at least start me in the right direction. I was able to paint the dining room by myself because it's a smaller room, but our bedroom, for example, has REALLY high ceilings. And to reach those I have to cart around a VERY heavy ladder. And move all the furniture. Etc. (Phillip is very excited about this, btw.) 

And everything else requires spending more money than I want to spend, or I can't even find the thing I want to spend money on in the first place. So I spend a lot of time hunched in front of this here laptop PLOTTING my house escapades, but not exactly doing anything about them. And while I do this the dishes and laundry pile up and then I get mad about THAT, but whose fault is that, exactly? WOE. 

A lot of this is driven by the fact that I'm having a party in about a week and a half and I know my house won't be PERFECT, in the sense that I have it all redecorated and remodeled in my head and need it to look that way NOW, but I want it to look BETTER. 

It also just occurred to me that I will need to stick a new baby somewhere in a few months and also dress this baby and change her somewhere and right now my entire bedroom is lost under a fine layer of cast off clothes... oh I am starting to feel panicky. 

In the meantime, I want to recover my chairs in this:


Source: via Maggie on Pinterest


but it's not UPHOLSTERY fabric so I'm thinking it won't work. That said, all the upholstery fabric I see is yuck yuck yuck. (And dudes, that embed feature on Pinterest? How cool is that! That would have made my old Style Lush posts SO EASY!)

I like this fabric because it would pull the yellow from the living and dining rooms, and the red and aqua from the kitchen - the dining room is right in the middle of the living room and kitchen. Also I think it's kinda bright and happy. And a far cry better from the filthy cream/sage plaid on my chairs right now. 

I don't know you guys... I just sit here thinking: paint the entry way! Recarpet the living room! Hardwoods in the dining room! Spray paint the picture frames white! Gray sectional! Move red couch to breakfast room! Find prints for kitchen! Show Phillip the kitchen remodel pictures! Hang pictures! Find new duvet cover! Paint dresser! And... yeah. I am still just SITTING HERE when I'm done thinking all of that and feeling PREGNANT and POINTLESS and unable to do more than make a list. I mean, I vacuumed yesterday AND cleaned a toilet and I was pretty darn proud of THAT. I can't exactly haul a dresser into the garage and paint it too. BAH.

And now, to talk about something completely different...

A few days ago I was noticing that my latest blog post at Parenting (the complainy one, not the Chinese culture fret one) had a few more comments/hits than I was expecting. That usually means the editors linked to it on the Facebook page and against all better judgment, I trotted over to the Facebook page to see what the General Commenting Public had to say. I have to tell you this is normally a very bad idea. There is a WHOLE WORLD of people missing a sense of humor (I KNOW) and it's just better if I act like they don't exist. 

BUT ANYWAY. I went over there and thank goodness there was only ONE humorless commenter (telling me I should seek therapy before I "go all Casey Anthony" on my kids - SNORT!). But what DID surprise me were the people thanking or lauding me, really, for "saying what they feel". Like, they are afraid to say things like that, or feel guilty or whatever. HMMMM.

First of all, it was a REALLY STUPID written-in-five-oh-crap-I-better-write-something-quick-minutes post, and, like nearly everything I write, not to be taken too seriously. Entertainment value, people! Second of all, I do not GET feeling ashamed or guilty or needing to act like you don't ever get frustrated about the constant chatter or constant butt wiping or constant fighting or constant mess. It's weird, because I am ALL ABOUT making sure everyone thinks I am Pleasingly Perfect In Every Way, but parenting? Most days I can't fake it let alone achieve it. So why not own it? EVERYBODY'S IN YOUR BOAT!

Some of you have said stuff about me being honest or whatever and it's always nice to get a compliment, but it makes me wonder: are other people lying? Or do they just never talk about it? Like, I just don't KNOW any moms who don't complain about their kids or use hyperbole when they've had a bad day. Isn't that NORMAL? Sure there are moms with real problems and I don't want to make light of those, but most of us just need bedtime to get here ASAP. Right? 

But it appears a lot of moms (at least ones who comment on Facebook pages) feel like they can't say those things, even if they're just being funny and venting and getting stuff off their chests. I can't stand it when commenters take my stuff super literally over there because COME ON! Who hasn't wanted to compose a "children for sale" Craigslist ad? I promise not to take you seriously. I promise to get what you're saying. I promise not to make you feel like a bad mom for venting about your day. I promise to say, "ME TOO, SISTA."


You want to feel like a great mom? MY kids are eating Cocoa Puffs for dinner and watching that godawful purple dinosaur at the same time. There you go. My gift to you. Happy Friday.

Cake, fighting, husband lateness, etc.

I've been meeting a pregnant friend to walk around the lake about once a week. It's not an official Thing or anything, we just did it once and it was nice and we decided to do it again... and then I realized that that was pretty much all the exercise I've been getting lately. Which I think is okay, seeing as how just climbing the stairs in my house makes me breathless and all the painting-near-the-ceiling I did recently about made my arms fall off in addition to making me breathless... in other words, it feels like Life Itself is enough exercise for me lately. But then walking around the lake made me feel, you know, VIRTUOUS. So we've kept it up. 

Except tonight, when I texted her to say: can we meet for cake instead? 

I mean, WHY NOT? I'm feeling sort of crabby anyway and cake is guaranteed to make me feel better whereas a walk around the lake will just make me bemoan my Increasing Girth and future inability to lose it. ALAS. (Oh yes that IS a Future Post Topic!)

The kids were awesome the first day post-vacation, but they've been sassy and snippy and fighty ever since and I! Have! Had! It! My dad was talking about how he bought new DVDs when my nephews visited last week because he just needed an hour when they weren't fighting and I am all I KNOW THIS FEELING. My "favorite" is when J and M are playing some sort of little chasing game and then Molly suddenly decides she doesn't want to play anymore and runs to my side in a Fit of Sweet Innocent Baby Girl Is Being Tortured By Her Nefarious Older Brother and expects me to hold her and protect her and GAH. This happens approximately fifty thousand times a day and as much as I want to, I can't keep Busytown Mysteries going from eight to six. (Right?)

Also I am crabby because my husband is late coming home from work and... ATTENTION HUSBANDS EVERYWHERE: Your wives can usually get behind the fact that you are late. It happens. We understand. The bus schedule is off, traffic is bad, the boss needed something, there was a fire in the server room, whatever. However! When you clearly have advance notice of the Being Late, it would be MOST WISE of you to share that information with us. As in, if you are supposed to be home at six, do not send me a text at six-fifteen saying you've been waiting for a bus for 25 minutes. What can I infer from that text? That you knew you were going to be late A LONG TIME AGO. 

This is why meatballs and corn on the cob and other various random food particles I decided to turn into "dinner" are congealing on my counter as I type. Not that I'm ANNOYED or anything. 

Also! My parents visited this morning and took us to Denny's for lunch. Now, the Cheungs are city folk and we are [rightly] made fun of by others for being sort of snooty about our eating establishments. As in: we live in the CITY. Why eat at a CHAIN. Why eat at Denny's, EVER? But secretly the Cheungs sort of LOVE Denny's, especially because the kids actually EAT things there. Special!

So we went to Denny's and even though Jack was a total pill and didn't want to order anything and Molly only wanted doughnuts or something, when their food came they ate ALL OF IT. And our food too. Jack is getting better about eating and Molly has always been ready to try anything, but neither of them eat very MUCH and it's always a struggle getting them to eat enough so they won't be hungry in an hour. But today? At lunchtime? DUDES. These kids packed it in and I had a whole afternoon without begging for snacks. They didn't eat dinner till AFTER SIX. AMAZINGNESS. Seriously, is this what it could be like? Can I take them to Denny's EVERY DAY?

Oh wait, Phillip is home now and apparently he CAN'T tell me he's going to be late earlier because he's waiting in the bus tunnel and there's no service down there. Okay fine then. But the timing seems sort of off to me... well. I won't pick it apart. THIS TIME. HARRUMPH.

Did I tell you I'm choosing cake over exercise tonight? SO SMART OF ME. 

In other news, I have a post up at Parenting tomorrow about all the ways my kids (mainly Jack) are identifying their half-Chineseness, and most of those ways are just plain bizarre. Well, it's not really HIS half-Chineseness I guess, but just NOTICING Chinese (Asian) things in general... and some of those things are clearly NOT Chinese, but merely associated with Chinese grandparents. Stuff like that. Anyway, I'd really appreciate hearing from other parents from bi/multi-racial kids. I mean, it's not a problem or anything I'm fretting about, but it's just sort of WEIRD, the stuff Jack comes up with, and I don't really know if I should just go along with whatever or try to guide him. I mean, he's FOUR. We have plenty of time to get all racial reconciliation talky talk with him. Bleargh.

It also occurs to me that this website has been seriously devoid of house decorating talk for, like, DAYS now. Unacceptable! Tomorrow: FABRIC! 


I made my own birthday cake. And then I made my children sing to me. 

And then Phillip made them guess how old I am.

Please excuse the state of my kitchen. I did not receive a house elf for my birthday.

I usually require, you know, parades on my birthday. But I felt pretty low key this year. I wanted to read my book. (I downloaded A Discovery Of Witches. More on that when I finish it.) Eat some cake. Not do much. My in-laws came over in the afternoon and took us out to dinner. They do this every Monday, actually, but this time I got to pick the restaurant. We usually go to a mall restaurant because it's easy with the kids and I just went ahead and picked the OTHER mall restaurant. So it was different! But the same! And easy!

Oh, and my in-laws... you guys, they are so funny. My MIL walks into the house and first thing says, "Just ignore him." 

And I am all, "Huh?"

And she goes, "I TOLD him to ask you first, but he said no, no, he was just going to bring it, so just ignore him if you don't like it."

So of course I am wondering: WHAT DID HE BRING?

Anyway. My FIL. He is... anxious about certain things. One of my favorites (well, not at the TIME) was when Jack was brand new and we were sitting on the couch under the can lights? Inset lights? The little round lights set inside the ceiling? Whatever they are? And FIL goes, "You need to change these lights! They are too bright for the baby!" 


Anyway. One of the things he always wants to know is what we're going to do about the carpet hole. And I always say, cheerfully and nonchalantly, that we just haven't decided yet. Which is true. I leave out the part about how the carpet hole doesn't really bug me. (I know it SHOULD, it just DOESN'T. We will fix it EVENTUALLY.)

Anyway! Today he showed up with a carpet! And he was proud of himself INDEED. BatBat (First Uncle? I'm not sure. There are EIGHT uncles and he is the oldest) didn't need a particular carpet in his condo anymore. So FIL brought it home and then to our house. It will be perfect for the carpet hole! So I just nod and he hauls it upstairs and fusses over the filler carpet which is really too thin to fill out the hole blah blah blah. But finally he gets it to his liking and then! He unfurls the carpet and the whole time he is telling me how it is NOT Chinese style. Except, you guys, it totally is. 

I've decided it's not horrible. It can stay until we really figure it out. 

Photo (2)

And then Phillip comes home and is all, "This was in my HOUSE when I was a KID."


What else was I going to tell you? OH. Beach pictures!

CRAZY boys. Crazy crazy crazy. Plus my brother, because someone had to watch the crazy boys and who better than one of their ilk? We are talking SIXTY DEGREES, people. AT BEST.


"Mmmm. Salty, gritty, hints of crab shell and seaweed - this might be my favorite dirt yet."


"I'm happy standing riiiiiiiight here, thankyouverymuch."


I am not ready to be home from vacation. We had a really lovely time, especially the kids, who both started bawling when they realized they were putting on their shoes to get in the car to go home. 

I'm not ready to be home, even though it's sunny (WAY sunnier than it was at the beach) and the kids are still asleep and I have an internet connection. I liked having all those people around. I loved watching my kids play with their cousins, cousins they see maybe once a year. I was worried about that - Jack is possessive of Grandma, he's a smidge sensitive, he's used to being The Boss. But instead of usurpment and hurt feelings, the kids seemed to get along marvelously. 

It helped that there was a giant ocean just perfect for running in and out of - if you didn't think about the part where the weather was maybe sixty degrees and the water even colder. There is tons of photographic evidence of the Small Boy Crazy that I'll need to show you sometime. I may have to take the kids to the wading pool today, just to make up for being home. 

I have so much to do. I have a party to plan, a house to finish painting, boxes and boxes of baby clothes to sort, a kitchen that is never clean, but I feel like all I can really get done in a day is one thing. Maybe two. Bonus points if I manage to make dinner as well. 

My whole body is itchy. I blame insects and Third Baby. It's the bug bite on the bottom of my foot that makes me want to die.

Preschool flipped some days around on me, and I have to figure all of that out. 

I'm feeling ugly. Short hair, bad skin, a body that is increasingly unwieldy. I have several upcoming occasions for which I need to look Nice and I feel sort of despairing about that. And then I keep thinking about how all my hair is going to fall out in a few months. Good times. 

But I spray painted my candle holder yellow, and I really like it. I bought a tall, curvy white vase to sit on my sideboard and I spend an awful lot of time on Pinterest wondering what sorts of wooden or paper flowers to put inside it. I could go to World Market this morning and just look around - my kids let me do that as long as we spend sufficient time in the cheapy toy section. I still need a decorative pillow for my rocking chair. 

I think about putting in hardwoods. 

Then I think about the million other Large Expenses on our list. 

I haven't written anything in almost a year. But there are over 50 some books on my Kindle. 

Oh wow, it's really starting to be beautiful outside. AND the kids are still sleeping. I should be outside on my deck with a cup of coffee and the Kindle and what am I still doing here?