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January 2012
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February 2012

Cheer up, sleepy Jean

It snowed today. And I thought about what it would be like to move to southern California. I feel like I've been thinking this a lot lately, more than I usually do during the winter months. No, MOM, we're not moving, but seriously, sometimes I just wonder.

Or maybe I'm just tired of hissing at my children to be! quiet! all the livelong day. How does a person who weighs thirty-five pounds make more noise going up the stairs than I do? Why must they both run EVERYWHERE? 

It doesn't matter. Phillip is taking care of them right now. Emma just went down for the night. And I am in my beautiful bedroom with the curtain headboard which I still have not taken pictures of I KNOW I'M SORRY and I almost feel like I'm off the clock. 

We're going on a kindergarten tour tomorrow. I am... ambivalent. The Catholic schools are out - for now, anyway. The choice/option/magnet schools, whatever you want to call them, aren't really a "choice" for us seeing as how the tiebreaker system makes them essentially neighborhood schools. I just want to go to our neighborhood school tomorrow and see a lively kindergarten class with a nice teacher so I can feel okay about sending my kid there next year. I won't care about worn out carpet or ugly portables and textbooks that have seen better days. Just the school itself looks run down and tired from the outside. But if there's one thing I've known since birth, it's that Schools Never Have Enough Money. That doesn't mean it isn't staffed by awesome teachers. 

I also called up Jack's old preschool today to see if there's a spot for Molly. Now, I'm not really sure what preschool teachers and staff are supposed to be like, or what they're typically like, or, really, ANYTHING about the people running preschools. But where I feel like Jack's program is lacking in creativity and mess and energy, and where Molly's program was bursting at the seams with only two teachers who never spoke to me, Jack's old preschool is bright, welcoming, interesting, and hands on. Jack brought home such neat projects, his teachers always had a quick note to share about him at pick up, he did such fun things. The communication at that school puts the newsletters and emails from our current preschool (and Molly's school) to shame. I MISS IT. 

I figured out that I could drop Jack at kindergarten, go directly to the old preschool, and drop Molly off. I no longer care that it's farther away - although this issue is somewhat moot as the staff told me they're looking for a new building! We'll have to see about that. But I feel like I sort of failed Molly this year. I don't feel guilty about it - I really feel like I did my best - but in hindsight, sticking my clingy-ish, quiet-when-her-brother-isn't-around daughter in a class full of 20 kids, most older than Molly, was not the brightest idea. I don't feel so bad about Jack - his program isn't what I hoped for, but Jack sort of rolls with everything and loves his class. But Molly... I want Molly to have a good start. I want her to like going to preschool. I want her to have some time doing her own thing. Again, I'm SO not worried about her learning specific things or getting into the right schools or getting ahead or whatever, but I want her to have FUN and to know that school is a FUN PLACE. (At age four, at least!) I could keep her home again, but I'm positive she'd enjoy it - in a smaller, warmer setting. And that's Jack's old school. 

SO. I only got to play phone tag with the director (who totally remembered Jack AND Molly and "would LOVE!" to have Molly attend) but they're moving to a new building and there's a lot to figure out still. I'm hopeful. 

Which of you have kids going to kindergarten next year? Have you done the tour or "Kindergarten Round Up!" or whatever they call it where you live? Or maybe everyone here is super tired of hearing about school. ME TOO. 

No baby book and only gritty iPhone photos

I have a five-month-old. HUH?!

I think Five Months is one of my favorite months. They are just SO cute and still SO immobile and also not getting into stuff or demanding snacks or fighting with a sister or popping a brother on the head - just SWEET. And adorable and all chubby babyness. Love it. 

Even though I can't remember the last time I updated the big kids' baby books, Emma doesn't even HAVE a baby book. The amount of guilt I have around this is tremendous, I think because I LOVE my baby book. I pored over it as a kid and used it to prompt my mother to retell all the stories of my cuteness and my mom seemed to write down EVERYTHING... so yes, GOBS O' GUILT. 

I do, however, have a blawg. So. 

Emma, at five months you are not sleeping through the night, not rolling over, and still barfing all over everyone, mostly me. Clearly we should return you to the manufacturer, but every time we start digging around for the hospital receipt you bust out with a huge open-mouthed smile or you look at me with the You Are My Entire World And I Will Love You Forever And Always, Never Leave Me Because You Are The Best Mommy In The History Of Mommies face and I'm a total sucker for that face. Remember that when you want a car. 

Where Jack was blissfully happy yet sort of oblivious to people, where Molly was suspicious and had eyes only for me, you are extra super duper cheerful and easily entertained by whoever happens to be holding you. You're free with your smiles and gurgly laughs and as long as you are not left on your stomach too long or (horrors!) ALONE, you are one chill little baby. 

There is the sleep issue, of course. You nearly killed me from Month Three to Month Four. Not that you were sleeping great before that, but you were still newborny and I was giving you the benefit of the doubt. No, you got WORSE at three months and during January 2012 I nearly lost my mind. If you weren't awake every two hours you were awake EVERY hour. The only way to reliably get you back to sleep was to nurse you in my bed, so that's what I did, all night long, and people were like, "UM, maybe you should move that baby to her own room, DUMMY" but then I did that and you STILL woke up every two hours (OR EVERY HOUR) and obvs it is much better to do that while still in your own bed, right? So I moved you back. 

And naps, what were those? I spent every afternoon re-napping you. You'd sleep ten, fifteen minutes, twenty if I was super lucky. I'm not sure I can say more about this without bringing on the PTSD. 

We thought reflux? and gave you Zantac, which you hated oh so passionately. We gave you gripe water and Mylicon. We started giving you huge bottles before you went to bed. We bought two different swings. We tried not feeding you at night. We bought different pacifiers. We tried having giant fights at three AM and let me tell you, THAT worked wonderfully. 

Then, at four months, we put you down for bed around eight and you didn't wake up until midnight. Your father and I wondered who took our baby and left this sleepy baby in her place. But it was you! You did that! And you got the tiniest bit better every day! Amazing! You know, the internet strongly believes in a four month sleep regression, but you are the anomaly. That or you were having your four month sleep regression at three months, in which case you are SUPER ADVANCED. Maybe I pick that. 

Now you go to bed around seven or eight in your own crib, and wake up once around midnight and once in the early early morning when I move you into bed with me. Sometimes you skip that early morning feed and those are the days I love you best. 

And now you are - I can't believe I'm saying this - so easy to PUT to sleep. I mean, your sister fell asleep on her own from day one so she wins. But whenever I am rocking you to sleep and you just, you know, close your eyes and fall asleep, I think about your BROTHER, who required the most vigorous most intense rocking and A LOT OF IT and I am SO THANKFUL, EMMA. In comparison, you are cake.

You love your little blankie with the ribbon tags, you love the Bumbo, you love hanging out in the high chair while the big kids have lunch, you LOVE having your diaper changed and hanging your little baby bottom out in the cold air, you love the playmat with the little mirror that hangs directly over your face (you little narcissist). But the things you love most of all are your brother and sister. I was worried about you, Emma. You are three years younger than Molly, more than four years younger than Jack. They are thick as thieves and where would you fit in? Was this going to work out? 

But OH EMMA, you are Our Baby. I have to remind myself sometimes that one day you will be big and maybe it'll be Jack and The Girls instead, because right now Jack and Molly are The Big Kids or Jackenmolly and you are Our Baby and we all sort of share ownership of you. You're practically Jack's PET, the way he talks about you and reports to me about you and asks questions about you. And you should see how Jack prides himself on his ability to make you smile and laugh - you reward him every time. We can all get down on the floor with you and while I'm trying to keep your siblings from totally manhandling you, we are all thinking: what did we do before Our Baby?

I try so hard to think about you independently from your brother and sister, but sometimes that's the most fun. Like you are wearing 9 month clothes! You are a TANK compared to your scrawny siblings. Actually you're just on the taller side of average, but when you started to bust out of the six month outfits two days after I got them out, I couldn't believe it. 

At first I thought it would be fun to give you a nickname, like EJ, or, better yet, EmJ (don't let anyone tell you this isn't an AWESOME NICKNAME), but the fact is we just call you Emma at home. Or Emmaboo, because it goes really well with Mollymoo. The Internet calls you EJ, though, which I find charming, and when you grow up you will know you had these internet aunties who sent you clothes and made you quilts and kept your mommy sane. 


Sometimes I'm knocked out by how hard it was to go back to The Baby Stage. It's not like your dad and I were so far removed from it, but in some ways we were super settled into life with two preschoolers and your entry into our family hasn't been super smooth. But Emma, my heart just BURSTS with you, and when I remember thinking about how maybe two was enough, I'm horrified. I just LOVE YOU. The second you spy me leaning over your crib your face disappears into an open mouth of joy and how could I not want to give you the entire world. I love carting you around. I love having you watch me make dinner from the Bumbo. I loved hefting you all over that Portland hotel this weekend, and that giant glow over the city was ME beaming every time someone told me I had an adorable baby. 

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The Gospel of the Snack

You guys remember my friend Pancakes, right? Here she is again.

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Let us gaze longingly at her namesake:

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(Okay, so we also ordered this giant plate of FRUIT along with our Palm Springs pancakes, but the pancakes were really the stars of breakfast.) 

Anyway. I met Pancakes long long ago, my first week of college when she invited me to an NDCF event. And now, umpteen years later (let us not dwell on how many years), she's, like, THE BOSS of the NDCF. I know! 19-year-old me is TOTALLY JAZZED. (Wait, do people say 'jazzed'? It just felt right. JAZZED. Yes. Right word.)

So yes, while I am home folding laundry and/or putzing around all day, Pancakes is out Doing Ministry and Making Impacts and Speaking Truth and Organizing Really Amazing Events and OKAY MAYBE I'M A LITTLE JEALOUS. Although Pancakes is gifted in ways I can only dream of, and this was never more real to me than at the NDCF winter retreat we attended this weekend. You guys I am just SO PROUD of her and SO PROUD to know her. 

(Also, the one time she looked at this website happened to be a day when I was (gasp) CRITICAL of the NDCF, but tonight I am feeling very RAH RAH NDCF! and I am going to EMAIL HER and tell her to LOOK AND SEE THAT I WROTE NICE THINGS.) (WOO!)

But what I really wanted to say in this space is that one area where Pancakes particularly excels is picking out snacks. Specifically, Snacks That Are New To Her Friend Maggie. 

I have to say, Internet, I'm not a huge snacker. Wait. Snacking is basically what I do all day long, so that's probably not the best way to say it... I think I'm not big on foods that are marketed and sold as snacks. I'm SUPER big on foods marketed and sold as DESSERT. Which can also be snacks. But, like, my airplane carryon is full of cookies. When I'm feeling snacky in the afternoon I reach for more cookies. (Or peanut butter straight out of the jar. That also works.) 

But Pancakes stopped at Trader Joe's before she made her way to Portland and her room was stocked with the MOST amazing snacks. Little bits of deliciousness that I seriously could not stop cramming into my piehole all weekend long. Saturday, pretty much directly after eating lunch, Pancakes and I went in search of snacks - we bought smoothies at an Orange Julius, and then, because that was not unhealthy enough, sneaked past the meeting going on in her room to retrieve the Coveted-By-All-The-Volunteers Bag O' Snacks, which we brought to a loungey area by the elevator, in full view of whoever got on and off. We proceeded to gorge ourselves (perhaps this love of gorging is why we are such great friends? YUM.) but we ALSO offered our snacks to anyone passing by, which is how the Gospel of the Snack was spread. We were doing holy work, people.

My favorite of all the snacks? Trader Joe's Yogurt Pretzels. OMGGGG. You know how the internet loves Trader Joe's? I myself am sort of: eh! Sometimes I go there for prosciutto that does not cost a college education. I have definitely shopped there for wine. And it's true, their aisle of chocolate-covered-things-in-plastic-tubs is to die for. But the snacky things have never really attracted me. That has all changed, of course, due to my newfound devotion to Trader Joe's Yogurt Pretzels. Somehow this one bag made it to Saturday evening. I have no idea how this is possible, seeing as how I was popping a Yogurt Pretzel at every available minute - I bet it was because we were at an NDCF conference and God just wanted to give us a current day application for the loaves and the fishes. There were more than enough Yogurt Pretzels for everyone. 

But also: chocolate covered potato chips?! HOLY WOW, Trader Joe's! This bag of extra delicious trail mix? (Also populated with chocolate chunks, OBVS.) These little salty puff things? Amazing granola bars? Pretzels with PEANUT BUTTER INSIDE? 

The sad news is 1) guess how much weight I gained this weekend NO REALLY GUESS and 2) guess what I gave up for Lent NO REALLY YOU'LL NEVER GUESS. 

The first one I may or may not write about on the weight loss blog. Probably won't. I think I need to skip this week's weigh in for the benefit of my mental health. But the second thing? I GAVE UP CHOCOLATE, INTERNET. I know. At the last second I was all, "No!" and "How about asparagus! Or salad!" but God was all, "No! It must be sacrificial!" and I was all, "WAAAAHHH." At which point I also decided to give up wine.  Heads up: there will be MUCH pain in suffering in this space for the next fortyish days. 

But the Yogurt Pretzels were on the Approved Lent Foods list and LO, THEY WERE DELICIOUS. 

Do you have a favorite snack? I need to hear about it. I have been in the Snacking Dark these long thirty-odd years. 

In which it slowly dawns on me: hormones?

I had a major case of The Rage again today. Actually, I think it started yesterday, when I forced Molly into my Cleaning All The Things Boot Camp while Jack was in preschool because I SWEAR if one more person got out one more toy without putting it away I was going to drop everything, including the baby, and flee to Fiji. 

My tolerance for 1) mess and 2) dealing with the people who think cleaning up THEIR OWN MESSES is BENEATH THEM is at an all time low. Or take the all time low and multiply by a frajillion and THAT is how low. I am angry and resentful and lashing out and OMG SUCH A PLEASURE TO LIVE WITH! 

I thought I was tired. 

So I was kind of excited about TODAY, because today was a no-preschool day and that meant if the kids slept late I wouldn't have to wake them up and I wouldn't have to go crazy getting everyone ready in the morning. It's totally not unusual for the big kids to sleep till seven-thirty or eight and the baby sleep till past that. I KNOW. 

Of course, this morning everyone woke up at six. By 9:30 I was about to commit myself. I should say: they weren't being UNDULY horrible. Yes, Molly is doing this THING where she cries at the drop of a hat, about every single stupid little thing and I don't know what it's about (is it her Three thing?) and it is SO wearing. And Jack is his usual bouncy, happy, chipper sasspants which I ALSO have no patience for anymore, but that's the thing. Where did my patience go? I used to have SOME. I feel like I have NONE. 

It happened to be sunny and glorious, however, and I thought that just the thing everyone needed was a nice walk outside. Even though I did NOT want to get everyone ready to go outside and did NOT want to put a super tired Emma in her little coat-suit, I knew she'd fall asleep in the stroller and the big kids needed to get OUT. 

So then OF COURSE, not three minutes into our walk, Jack starts complaining about how TIRED he is and how he's HUNGRY (it's BARELY ten in the morning) and his FEET hurt and Molly looks like she's about to cry and DUDES. Only the skinniest of threads was holding me together in the middle of the street in broad daylight. 

Which is when I thought: hormones?

I NEVER think ANYTHING is hormones. Ever! IT WILL NEVER OCCUR TO ME. Someone else has to say it or write it in a blog post or a comment before I'm all, "OH!" So my next thought was 1) I am improving in my physical self-awareness or 2) things are REALLY NOT GOOD. 

It took me many many more hours before I came up with a suitable explanation for having Hormonal Issues, however, and you will laugh, because it is SO OBVIOUS: I think we are done nursing. I THINK. I have never had a huge supply which I have never done anything about. Emma's been getting a bottle since her first HOURS in the hospital (needed to make sure her glucose levels were stable and my milk hadn't come in) and ever since that first week or two when I decided I had to give her a bottle to maintain my sanity, I haven't really looked back. I am SO OKAY with bottles. 

But nursing is free! Sometimes I like doing it! Emma can be really cute! And shoot, I breastfed my other kids for at least six months, I don't want to shortchange this one, right? Except... 

Yeah, I think it's That Time. I'm pretty sure my supply has decreased more over the last couple of weeks. I still nurse her at various times, but in the evenings when she's clearly Super Hungry, we go straight to bottles. And now that she's sleeping longer and going longer without eating, well, there you go. And I HEAR weaning makes you HORMONAL. 

I have no memories of this with the other kids. I don't! I keep trying to remember how I stopped and all I come up with is, "Well, one day, it just happened?"

I'm not weepy or any of those things... but I am SUPER SHORT-TEMPERED with the kids. I also want to EAT EVERYTHING. Though who knows if that's hormones or my old friend Eating My Feelings. 

Oh, and the other thing that makes me think it's hormones is that, for some crazy reason, I blossomed into Funny Cheery Happy Mom! tonight. WHERE DID THAT COME FROM? Seriously, pretty soon everything that came out of Jack's mouth was comedy gold. When Phillip came home I flat out told him that I had never wished more to be at work than I had today, but I said so with a GOOFY GRIN, like OH, ISN'T THAT FUNNY?! 

I was TRYING, I'll say that for myself. We made cookies - the one thing the kids and I do together that we all equally enjoy. Then we did a Shred because I was serious about eating all the things AND WE MADE COOKIES and my kids are HILARIOUS when they are exercising with me. And Phillip came home early. And Emma and Molly took extra long naps. I mean, there was a lot of good. 

But I think I will inform Phillip of the Possible Hormone Situation, because he always likes to know it's Not Him, and see how it goes. I'm not sure if we're really done nursing or just doing it once a day or what. I don't really want to be DONE done, but I can SEE being done done. If that makes sense.

Tomorrow after preschool we're picking up Phillip at work, dropping the big kids with my folks, and heading to Portland for the NDCF winter retreat. CRAZYPANTS. We're not actually ATTENDEES - I had the opportunity to pray behind the scenes and I am all over that and Phillip is just going to hang out with Emma and, as he put it, "attract the college girls with my cute baby".  Honestly, I am just excited about not having to pick up anyone's MESS for two days. WAHOO.

I put a lot of thought into this Ash Wednesday Eve reflection and I hope you enjoy it

Last month a mystery package showed up on my doorstep. I was all excited until I saw it was addressed to someone else. My address was correct, but I have an address that's easy to get wrong and I just assumed it was mislabeled. I left it on the bench in the entry way until the next day when I could give it back to the postman. Except I reeeeeally did not want to hand this particular box back to my grouchy postman because when you turn the box on its side, you find out it is a box of THIS:

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Then again, I didn't want it laying around in MY entryway forever, so I thought maybe I would write "return to sender" on the box and leave it by the mailboxes for the postman to pick up, thereby eliminating any opportunity for excessive blushing. 

Except, when I went to write on the box, I took a closer look at the label and DEAR GOD, it wasn't just addressed to "So and So", it was addressed to "So and So OR CURRENT OCCUPANT" AND THEN I DIED.

Well, first I emailed my internet ladies (AS YOU DO), THEN I died. Seriously, though, OR CURRENT OCCUPANT? Are they sending out SAMPLES now? They just ASSUME Current Occupant could use [SEE ABOVE]? They don't know me! I could be a dude! DID THEY KNOW ME? Who does this? Were they travel sizes? Blogger perks? WHY ARE FREE SAMPLES OF [SEE ABOVE] SHOWING UP AT MY HOUSE?

I kind of forgot about it. I think I threw it in the garage? I really didn't know what to do with it. I didn't want to OPEN it, but I didn't want to throw it away unopened, BLARGH. 

I should say, I completely forgot about it until this afternoon, when I came home from a playdate and saw ANOTHER BOX OF [SEE ABOVE] ON MY DOORSTEP. 


This time I took a picture and emailed it to ladies who do not have my blushing problem because it DID appear to be, as Elizabeth put it, "like Birchbox for your hoo ha!" Which is my new startup, I think. I've already got the inventory.

Anyway, tonight I was talking to A'Dell and her smartypants self suggested I Google the name on the box. DUH. I just assumed the address was wrong, because "So and So" is not the name of the previous owner and I do have a weird address. But I did as I was told and HOLY HECK "So and So" lived in this house in NINETEEN NINETY EIGHT. I don't think I had ever HEARD of such a [see above] in 1998! 

She ALSO happens to be an OB/GYN, HOWEVER. She has not lived in this house for AGES. I am dying to know if the previous (elderly-ish, quiet couple) were receiving monthly supplies of [see above] samples. Then again, I only received my first installment last month, and I've been living here since May. So. How long do you think I'll keep receiving this item? Do I need to send a polite letter? SHOULD I OPEN THE BOX?!

I have been thinking of what to DO with the [see above], especially if I keep receiving said items. So, uh, we have the start up idea, obvs. Then practical joke packages to internet friends? Save them for a white elephant party? Donate to some sort of shelter? Or maybe a nursing home? Drop them off at my OB's office? BLOG GIVEAWAY?!?!?!

And I LIKE my curtain headboard, OKAY?

Saturday morning I woke up angry. I don't know. I JUST WAS, OKAY? 

Phillip kept saying, "Go get a coffee!" "Go out!" and being all NICE about it, but because I was feeling Angry and perhaps a bit Surly about everything, I felt like shouting, "I DON'T WANT TO GO OUT! I WANT EVERYONE ELSE TO GO OUT!" 

(I did not say this.)

But it's true, I just wanted to pick up the living room and have it STAY toy-free for more than five minutes. I wanted to clean the kitchen and just have it STAY clean. I wanted to feel caught up on laundry and I wanted to put all the papers on my desk away and I wanted to pack up maternity clothes and clear off the dining room table and pick up my bedroom and GAH WHY AM I ALWAYS CLEANING UP AFTER EVERYBODEEEEEEE!!!

(My mother just read that and is now thinking to herself, "VINDICATION.")

Instead! I stomped around and yelled a lot, but at some point things got better (my in-laws came over and played with the kids? I went for a run? I invited friends for dinner thereby giving myself Something Fun To Do?)

And then I woke up sort of angry TODAY. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

Well, last night I had freaky deaky dreams that left me way un-rested and then I thought I was going to bust open a few preschooler noggins in church this morning. This is particularly unfair, as my kids 1) are getting sick and 2) were JUST FINE in church. I don't know what it was. Like I suddenly decided that everyone needed to sit stock still and pay attention and quit hanging on me and what, you need another Kleenex AGAIN? Blargh! I wasn't ANGRY in church so much as... TIRED. I was tired. There you go. 

Hours later I took myself out on a restorative trip to Target where I purchased all sorts of clearance items for my house, including a five dollar tablecloth that I turned into a curtain "headboard" in my bedroom. I would post a picture except 1) it's kind of too dark right now and 2) I want to find my bedroom BEFORE pictures and 3) you probably won't like it anyway and i am not in the mood for anything other than "OBVS YOU ARE THE NEXT MARTHA."

It wasn't that long ago that we stayed forever after church talking with all the other parents of small children. I looked forward to this! But I honestly can't remember the last time that I didn't just want to fling myself at the exit and zoom back home. I feel so frazzled after church, even today when I SWEAR my kids were TOTALLY FINE. Maybe it's the whole process - getting up, getting ready, getting everyone in the car, hauling everyone into Mass, getting everyone settled with their crayons (with which to deface the worship aids). The people I used to talk to all the time are probably all, "WHATEVS, CHEUNGS" and we will never be invited to coffee hour again. 

I keep feeling like this is just my life and it's not particularly hard or particularly easy and I get as much sleep as any other mom in my position and actually I have so much help and my kids were so fun today so where does the ragey tiredness come from?!?!

Phillip and Emma and I are headed to Portland this weekend and we are reeeeeally looking forward to it. I don't think it's about sending the big kids to the grandparents for two nights so much as just a Change of Scenery. I feel awful saying that, again, because I just HAD a change of scenery, just a few weeks ago I was sitting by a POOL eating a giant stack of PANCAKES delivered to my LOUNGE CHAIR. But what can I say, another little mini-vacation is sounding pretty nice. 

Explanation for tonight's post: Phillip is working late

I've been designing my sister's wedding invitations. I wasn't going to do it (three kids! new baby!), then I decided why not (it's probably a better use of my Pinterest time, eh?), then I was going to use Kate's cafe lights, then I decided those weren't going to work, then I made my OWN cafe lights, then I hated them, then I went through several different versions of cafe lights, then I was unhappy with the text placement, then I sent my sister so many proofs she lost track, but I think this ninety-seventh version is the right one, or at least the done-is-better-than-perfect one... My sister and I occupy the far and opposite ends of the Caring About Invitations spectrum and where she is all, "Looks fine to me!" I am all, "But the lights aren't GLOWING RIGHT" and looking up graphic design courses at the local community colleges and budgeting for the proper software and despairing that I will ever EVER be good at anything EVER. 

Thank God the next step in the process requires only the fine motor skills necessary for applying rubber cement.


I'm re-reading Prep. Not for any particular reason - I just ran out of things to read one day and it was the only book on the Kindle that I thought would do the trick. But I kept reading it and I think I am as struck as I was the first time. I was talking about it with the FPC tonight and she said, "It was good, but it was so depressing, I wouldn't want to read it again." But for me, it's more that there are depressing things about yourself when you are a self-absorbed teenage girl, and this [still] self-absorbed [former] teenage girl continues to be absolutely riveted. 


Phillip wants you to read this article about Jeremy Lin. Also, he wants to tell you that he, too, was [still!] personally offended when Jet Li did not close the deal with Aaliyah.


My kids like this book and I enjoy reading it to them:


My sister, the one getting married, apparently got super bored that week everyone was snowed in and started buying books online for her niece and nephew. For a while we were getting a book every day. This was one of them. I think Minerva Louise is my new favorite book character. She is certainly my new favorite character who is also a chicken. Honorable Mention goes to Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash.


Now I'm going to sit here and watch more of the Inspector Montalbano series (in Italian) (with English subtitles) that my parents bought me, my parents being the people who installed and encouraged my devotion to Italian murder mysteries. What is fun is that they are filmed in the town next door to the town I lived in when I was ten and eleven years old and I can practically taste the pizza. Excepting the fact that TV Montalbano does not look a THING like book Montalbano, they're half decent. In case you were wondering. Which I'm sure you were not. Fine then! Go have more fun than me on Thursday night!

Like candy to my soul

I was sitting at a stoplight when 'Crash' by the Dave Matthews Band came on the radio. I heard this song for the first time on a mix tape a high school friend made for me - she was a freshman in college, I was a high school senior, and we were hanging out over Christmas break. Also on this mix tape: the Indigo Girls, Ani DiFranco, Sinead O'Connor... it was a very influential mix tape. 

The light changed and I realized I was hearing the lyrics for the first time. I know the words, like a lot of people Of My Era, but I hadn't really heard them and I found myself thinking my my Dave, you're making me blush. 

And for some reason I flashed back to the moment a few years ago when I happened to be standing next to Dave Matthews at a church-sponsored toddler gym morning while he chatted with a friend of mine. Out of context (though what would the right context be? A CD cover?) he looked to be just another exhausted parent wrangling a two- or three-year-old, a person to be pitied just like the rest of us. But I heard the whisperings of the other moms, realized exactly who it was talking to my friend, and became tongue tied. You are famous, I thought. I am a stranger to you, but you are not a stranger to me.

Listening to this song was now intimate, almost uncomfortable. The Dave Matthews at the toddler gym had struck me as quiet and unassuming, and here he was crooning these innuendo-ish things over my car radio. And I wondered if he knew, if he ever thought about it. Does he walk into a grocery store and feel known? Does he visit a toddler play gym and understand the moms there will have heard his deepest thoughts? How does that make him feel? When he drives his car and hears his own music on the radio, does he look into the cars passing by and wonders if his own heartbreak touches them in some way? I thought these things as I drove, and in those moments I felt that Dave Matthews was a very brave soul.

But lately, and who knows why, I am consumed with wanting to be Dave Matthews. I am drawn to what he does, what all artists do. I feel called to it, like I am not living my whole life, I am not fully who God made me to be, unless I also reveal a truth in some highly vulnerable, highly public way. And then I think get over yourself, Maggie and go on with the rest of my day, making food and cleaning up spills and changing diapers and wishing for Phillip to get home. 

I have a great fear that I will never get my truths out. I don't even know what these truths are. But I don't intend to sing or paint or dance them, they need to be written out and (this is important) read. I dread that part and crave it at the same time. This is just a vague floaty feeling inside me, the nebulous gas of whatever it is I should be doing with this life. 

This is why I ate cookie dough for dinner SHUT UP

A few days ago I was whining on Twitter, as I do, about dealing with the big kids. I think the word I used on Twitter was 'discipline' but I think a better word might be "making them act right." You know what I'm talking about. It's not like they're being NASTY or MEAN or whatever, they're just being twerps! I don't ENJOY repeating myself nine thousand times a day, you know? They're loud, they're wild, they get all "but where's my DWINK, MOMMY?" like "how dare you go about your day while I am sitting here just a tidge thirsty, HMM?"

I was reminded of this today when I went to put EJ down for her nap. (For something like the fifth time, let it be noted.) I thought: hey! Instead of yelling at the kids to be quiet WHILE I'm holding the baby, why don't I yell at them AHEAD OF TIME? Smartness! 

So I cornered them in the living room, used my Very Important Mommy Voice, and told them I needed them to be quiet while I tried to get Emma to sleep. They nodded their heads which is universal for I Understand You, unless you are a three- or four-year-old, in which case it translates to, "Get out of our hair, woman." 

I went to wrap up the baby and get her down and I swear, not TWO MINUTES LATER, someone is standing right outside the bedroom door, sobbing. Sobbing! And you know, these kids have lived in my house some years now. They can't possibly believe that at this point I'm going to literally drop the baby and come running to their aid on account of a little sobbing, especially sobbing that is happening DIRECTLY AFTER I tell them to NOT DO THINGS LIKE SOB FTLOG! 

(Note: no one was HURT. No one was on FIRE. No one was BLEEDING. No one had anything to SOB ABOUT, TRUST ME.)

So I pulled the door open a bit with my foot and gave the offender (JACK) the biggest meanest scariest look I could muster and Gestured Angrily so that he'd LEAVE. 

And he did! Lovely! (Well not without 1) a Terribly Wounded Look and 2) more sobbing). I went back to putting the baby to sleep and then! Not THIRTY SECONDS LATER! Molly starts shouting, "NO! NO JACKSUN! NO!" And there was running! And all sorts of LOUDNESS GAAAAHHHH!!! I had to do my whole Angry Look/Angry Gesture thing ALL OVER AGAIN and this time it was LESS EFFECTIVE and I also suspect they didn't even NOTICE but I still had a baby in my arms SOOOO...

It's just TYPICAL. Typical afternoon in the Cheung household. BLARGH! Emma was so tired it was a snap to put her down (for five minutes anyway) and then I ordered the big kids downstairs. AWAY WITH YOU! I shouted. BE GONE! GO AWAY FROM ME! YOU ARE MAKING ME CRAAAAAAZEEEEEE!!!

They went downstairs with (you guessed it) more Wounded Looks and Crying and OH COME ON. I'm a softie but I'm not THAT big a softie. I threw myself across the sofa and relished the five minutes of quiet I'd get before someone started to sob downstairs and beg me to come wipe their butts or get a Kleenex or MOLLY PUSHED ME or whatever was going to come next. 

But they were quiet! And you KNOW I used the resulting many minutes to get important stuff done, like browse Pinterest. I was so happy! And then Emma woke up. 

And then LAAAATER... I realized that those kids were being AWFULLY QUIET. Like, SUSPICIOUSLY QUIET. I yelled from upstairs to see what was up, but no one answered. I'm not proud to say that I then IGNORED the quiet for a while longer. I mean, I am not one to look a quiet horse in the mouth. But then I started to get nervous. Had someone drugged my children in my absence? Did they eat some sort of magical quiet piece of lint? Secretly let themselves into the backyard? Got stuck in the utility closet? 

I went downstairs to investigate and BOTH KIDS are IN THEIR BEDS ASLEEP. It was 4:30 PM.

(The next thing that happened is Phillip called to tell me he'd be an late. THE END.)

Austerity measures

Over the weekend, slightly terrified by what I was seeing on the credit card statement, I instituted a handful of Austerity Measures for the Cheung Household. One of the biggest budget offenders is Going Out For Lunch and instead of throwing a little hissy fit about it (because you know it is not ME going out for lunch) I decided I would try to help a dude out. And that meant cooking. 

My husband is not big on, say, sandwiches. When he deigns to make himself a sandwich, which he only does after determining that there is nothing left in the house, he stacks it super high, Dagwood-style, so much so that one package of deli meat produces MAYBE two sandwiches. And then he complains about having to slice cheese. SUCH A BABY ABOUT THE SANDWICHES. 

No, what Phillip wants to eat is Leftovers. And I... hate leftovers. There are very VERY few things I want to eat the next day, I almost never want to take my food home from a restaurant, and it never occurs to me to make so much food that we have leftovers on PURPOSE. I am the person who LIKES sandwiches. Actually, just give me a loaf of bread. Maybe a cup of yogurt. And I'm good! Cooking is for high maintenance people!

My poor husband, huh? Now his MOM would spend her entire weekend making all sorts of nice Chinese dishes and she'd put four or five cups of rice in the rice cooker and he'd be set for the week. But Phillip chose to marry a white girl who cannot stirfry beef to save her life. IT'S HIS OWN FAULT. 

But I thought I would TRY, you know? I make this [ridiculously easy] baked pasta thing that he likes, so I thought I would put that together this afternoon and he could bring it for lunches. Then it ALSO occurred to me that I knew how to make something else that leftovers well - fried rice. I don't make GREAT fried rice, but even amateur fried rice is yummy. So I went grocery shopping with Leftovers in mind and set out the ingredients and felt better about the whole austerity thing. 

The kids stayed with Phillip's parents this weekend [there was a local Chinese school performance for Chinese New Year - Jack and Molly were smitten - am I going to have to send them to Chinese school? - A POST FOR ANOTHER DAY] and P's parents only planned to stay a few minutes when they brought them home. But! Phillip was busy trying to attach his new television (SERIOUSLY, PEOPLE. WE NEED THE AUSTERITY MEASURES.) to the wall and I was trying to not look because THAT IS MY WALL. Anyway, it ended up that MIL hung out with the kids and FIL helped Phillip hang the TV and then I decided to suck it up and just ASK my MIL how she makes her fried rice. Because MIL's fried rice? Like everything else she makes? DELICIOUS. 

Turns out the only difference between my fried rice and MIL's is, well, SHE makes hers. That somehow infuses the tasty magic? I don't know. And then without me suggesting it or implying it or anything, MIL waltzes into my kitchen and takes over the fried rice-making. After they left Phillip asked me if I was okay with that and I was all, "IT WAS THE BEST THING THAT HAPPENED ALL WEEKEND."

So now I have a giant vat of fried rice in my fridge in addition to a giant pan of baked penne and I have high hopes for the budget. Is this a problem/issue/item of concern in your house? How do you combat the siren call of the lunchtime Indian buffet on 4th avenue?