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May 2012

Waiting it out

Right now I'm cooking oatmeal, though it's been so long I've completely forgotten HOW to cook oatmeal, and then I'm going to feed it to Emma before bedtime because I need to feel like I'm doing SOMETHING about her rotten sleeping habits. Actually, "habits" is not the right word since she's completely unpredictable. Two nights ago she slept through, last night she was up from 2:30 to 4:30. Fun times!

I won't bore you with the technical details of the unpredictable sleep - you've read them all before, and probably in this very place. SNORE. (Ha! There is no snoring around here! Not from ME anyway! *eyes Phillip maliciously*)

We are STILL swaddling her and I KNOW but THAT IS HOW WE GET HER TO SLEEP. Phillip wants to do some sort of unswaddled boot camp this weekend and I am, of course, dreading it. I've taken a sort of hands off approach to sleep, mainly because, with all three of my kids, nothing we did seemed to have any effect. We did have Jack cry it out around seven months, but I remember having to redo it three or four times afterwards. Molly was our best sleeper, but you remember me writing about how she refused to GO to sleep until midnight? Horrible! But there was nothing WE could do. My big strategy for things like this is Wait It Out. 

But you can't wait out unswaddling. That is something I actually have to do. LAME. 

Phillip, if you are interested, takes an opposite approach. LET'S TRY ALL THE THINGS. (AND FIGHT ABOUT THEM IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.) 

I think one thing that's been hard about Baby Number Three is the fact that Babies Number One and Two were decidedly NOT babies anymore. We were completely out of the baby stage. I didn't think this was a big deal, as I adore babies and loved the infant stage and wept over my babies getting older each month. BUT IT IS REALLY STINKING HARD. Abiding by the nap schedule (well, what little nap schedule we have), the separate feeding, the immobility, the waking up all night, even the stupid bucket seat - it's hard to go back. I'm just saying. There's definitely a part of me that thinks this would have been easier had we had Emma a little sooner, when we were still in the thick of baby/toddlerness and still used to the drill. But then I might have had three under three or three under four and I have no doubt that would have entailed a whole different set of parenting woes. 

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But anyway. 

I'm also having somewhat of a rough time with Jack and I can't figure out what to do about THAT either, except Wait It Out (And Attempt Consistency In The Meantime). I'll be the first to say that I am a less than stellar disciplinarian. I'm bad at consistency, I forget what I said before, I'm not too methodical, and every time I send him to a corner it's a DIFFERENT corner which I think is pretty indicative of my discipline practices right there. CANNOT DECIDE WHAT TO DO! WILL TRY IT ALL! 

But lately it seems like Jack just flits from one thing-I-don't-want-him-to-do to another-thing-I-don't-want-him-to-do. Don't manhandle Emma. Don't bang on the piano. Don't throw pillows at your sister. No, you can't have a snack. Stop shouting. Don't jump on the couch. Don't hang on the chair. Don't tip the chair back. Don't sit that way in the chair. Clean up the markers. No, you can't have the iPad. ALL! DAY! LONG! Even on preschool days, the minute he gets home he's causing problems with his sister. (Who, I have to admit, has the sensitivity of the Princess and the Pea and is constantly in tears ANYWAY.)

Today I instituted some Snack Rules, which I know I should have done a long time ago I KNOW, because I cannot I CANNOT! deal with the incessant asking for snacks. He responded pretty well to that, so now I'm wondering if I should go around Instituting Official Rules for everything. Except I thought we already HAD rules about manhandling babies and jumping on furniture. So maybe not. 

Sometimes I think I am just dealing with a case of Five-Year-Old [Noisy] Boy and there's really nothing to be done about THAT. Sometimes I think I need to give him more to do, more projects and activities, more structure. Except HECK NO, KIDDO. The last thing I want is Jack following me around all day demanding I provide him with his next ACTIVITY. He already does that with my mother. 

Phillip came home a whole hour early today and all three rushed him and left me alone, so there's really no need for all this self-pity. 

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Did you know that the homicide rate in Seattle has something, like, frintupled this year? As in last year there were three homicides and this year you read about a new shooting every morning? 

I don't think much about this. I don't think I live in a particularly dangerous part of town. But I do live in a big house in a secluded-ish (for the city, anyway) area, dead end street and all, and when Phillip goes on his business trips I admit to a small amount of paranoia. 

Until today I thought the worst that had happened in my neighborhood, in the time I've lived here, are a couple of car burglaries. However! When I went to pick up Jack at school today a certain preschool dad was already there and ready to update me on the police blotter. Apparently a shooting had just happened in [Part Of Town Not Particularly Close To Us] and I responded with the appropriate, "ARE YOU KIDDING?" because SERIOUSLY, SEATTLE, WHAT IS UP? 

But then! Then he tells me about a home invasion that 1) happened 500 feet away from his house where 2) the owner was fatally shot by the intruder 3) TWO DAYS AGO and how did I not know about this? Apparently there was a marijuana operation happening at this house? So it was not a random thing? BUT STILL OMG. Then he tells me that he and his neighbor have started keeping an eye out (on their PRIVATE ROAD) and calling police and the next sunny day they plan to open their garage doors and clean their rifles in plain view. 

Perhaps he just told me that last part for dramatic effect. SHUDDER.

ANYWAY. He had time to tell me all this because the kids were not in the classroom. The Pre-K classroom is in a separate building from the main school, but it has giant windows and a glass door and you can see the whole room. The lights were off and the backpacks were still on hooks so we assumed that the preschoolers were doing stuff with the big kids in the main building. It's happened before. We just waited. 

And I left Molly and Emma in the van, because I always leave them in the van when I run over to get Jack out of his class, and it's no biggie, and it's in a church parking lot with a fence and only one way in and out and while I USED to feel bad about leaving them in the car I don't anymore. Anyone who has to get a kid in and out of a car seat understands my dilemma, right? But really, it's NEVER been a problem and I've never taken more than a minute to get Jack. 

But we were waiting quite a while and I needed to go get the girls. I marched off to the car, unloaded them, and right as I was walking back to the classroom to wait some more, one of the other parents yelled at me, "The school is in lockdown, we have to go to the front of the building."

I had no idea what he was talking about. 

We all trooped to the front of the building where a very serious-looking principal carefully opened the front door and let us all in. And then we stood there while she made sure we weren't waiting for any other parents. I hissed at another school employee standing nearby - "what's going on?"

It was because of the shooting about 80 blocks away. All the local schools were in lockdown. AND NOBODY TOLD THE PRE-K PARENTS WAITING OUTSIDE TO PICK UP THEIR CHILDREN AT NOON. It wasn't until one of the waiting parents got annoyed and called the school office that we found out what was going on and what we were supposed to do. 

Then the principal told us that she would call the pre-K teacher to let her know all the parents were here, and then she would lead us to the kids. I was thinking the kids were in the main building somewhere. BUT NO. The principal led us through the school and out the back way to... the Pre-K building! Where we'd already been standing for 10-15 minutes! Where my little girls had been hanging out in the car! Where my son had been hiding in a windowless bathroom singing the Hokey Pokey because a shooter on the loose might show up! GAAAHHH!!!

So you already know that I am not the type to go all indignant on people and even in the moment I was only momentarily frustrated by the lack of communication. The shooting felt pretty far away, this seemed to be an overly cautious reaction, and now we we ready to go home and eat lunch, no harm done. 

But now that I am thinking about it a little more, the indignance is rising. I'm not sure what the plan is for the regular students, but clearly no one had thought about what to do when the pre-K parents picked up their kids. It surely wasn't a SURPRISE that we all showed up at noon. They do have all our contact information. I don't get it. I still don't feel like Molly and Emma and I were in any real danger, but would the process have been any different if there WAS real danger? I left my kids exposed, the parents were standing around like idiots, and then to herd us into the main school building and then back outside where we'd already been standing just makes no sense. 

That said, Jack appears to be completely unaffected. Even uncurious, to a degree that sort of bugs me. Doesn't he have any questions about WHY all the kids were hanging out in the bathroom? But the teacher sang songs with them and they read books and apparently it was no biggie, Mom, chill out. 

We had to do terrorist drills when I lived in Sicily. I vaguely remember hiding with my classmates in a central area of the school. And I remember one time when the sirens went off and I was late for band practice and running to school with my instrument... but that was during the first Gulf War and there were lots of weapons stored behind barbed wire (and a MOAT!) not too far away from my house and HELLO, AMERICAN MILITARY BASE. I am decidedly not a fan of lockdowns in small unremarkable Catholic schools. 

Anyway. Writing this all out has made me twitchy AND I've wasted my lunch hour. Thirty seconds until EJ wakes up and starts barking for her lady's maid. 

If you are in your early thirties and listen to music, maybe you will not hate this post

This morning we drove down to spend the day with Phillip's parents - ALERT! The Home Goods is not open yet! WOE! - and we were listening to the radio, as we do, and a Matchbox 20 song came on and a thought occurred to me: 99% of the music that was popular when we were in college is TERRIBLE. 

I was SUUUUUPER into music in college (1997-2001), but I was listening to the Indigo Girls and Dar Williams and Sinead O'Connor and 10,000 Maniacs and learning to play Ani DiFranco songs on the guitar (I can still play 'Both Hands') and basically if you were a woman who accompanied her self-written angsty songs with angsty guitar, I bought your album. Bonus points if you were a lesbian. My dorm room was its own little Lilith Fair AND I HAVE NO SHAME. 

Phillip, like all the other musically-inclined guys I knew in college, was into Dave Matthews. (Also a whole bunch of other people, but Music Phillip Listened To When I First Met Him could be an entire week-long series of posts and then he might leave me because I might not properly genuflect before Sting.)

But the stuff on the radio? UGH! 

So we're having this conversation in the car and I'm having these flashbacks to my sophomore year dorm and my beautiful, gleaming, absolutely ginormous bookshelf stereo that I bought with my very own money, of which I was incredibly proud, about which all the musically-inclined guys I knew laughed because it was a Magnavox. What's wrong with Magnavox I ask you! For the record, I am still not an electronics brand name snob and my Magnavox worked JUST FINE thankyouverymuch. ANYHOW. 

I remember where that monstrosity sat on my little desk area and I remember the first time I heard Britney Spears and thinking WHAT IS THAT HORRIBLE SOUND. Britney, however, endured, and now I actually have a little spot soft for her and her Southern crazy. 

Then there was other stuff. Like Sugar Ray. And Blink 182. And The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. And Smashmouth. And stuff NO ONE WANTS TO LISTEN TO ANYMORE. Ugh, remember that Marcy Playground song? HAAAAAATE. 

I didn't really like it THEN either. 

Phillip, whose favorite thing to do is Be Contrary, tried to come up with songs that we loved/are still good/endured, but I don't feel he did a particularly good job. The best he could do (for me) was N*SYNC. Who I love. I don't care what you say. One of my favorite things was when all the freshman boys in my roommate's Asian American bible study group memorized the Bye Bye Bye dance and performed in the lounge. 

Then we started talking about music from HIGH SCHOOL and, well, I'm not sure how I feel about music from the mid-late nineties. I was barely aware of the whole grunge scene and I didn't like much of what I heard anyway. But sometimes I'll turn on the radio and hear the live version of the Stone Temple Pilots' 'Plush' and DUDE, that is a good song. Mostly I remember what kind of music all the boys I liked were listening to and then I have to go back and time and shoot myself for being such a pushover. But besides the grunge stuff we have the R&B scene and what woman in her early thirties does not have a junior high or high school dance memory involving BoyzIIMen? HMMM? GOOD STUFF, LADIES. 

I remember a girl in high school saying she liked Green Day and all I knew about Green Day is that you were Edgy if you liked that music. Sort of like how I remember a girl in college saying she liked Coldplay, back before most people had ever heard of Coldplay, and all I knew about Coldplay was that you were Cooler Than Thou if you liked them. 

Gah, this post has no thesis. No wait. The thesis is: there is no popular music from my college years that I am excited to force my children to listen to when they are older and embarrassed by me. HOW DISAPPOINTING. 

Also, I really like a lot of the music on the radio NOW. Maybe this makes me cool? Like I love that new Payphone song, possibly because I am in love with Adam Levine, but Phillip is all NO ONE EVEN KNOWS WHAT A PAYPHONE IS ANYMORE. (He's jealous.) 

I've sort of traded my angsty lady music for upbeat dancey stuff, music I can run to, music that sounds good when you're driving, music that makes washing the dishes a little less tedious. I call it my teenager music. I don't know what half of it is (and there was the one time I almost died because I found out the song I thought was sung by a girl was actually Justin Bieber) but I love it and Pandora means I can have it on whenever I want. There used to be a time when I religiously purchased every new Indigo Girls cd, but I haven't listened to them in years. Perhaps because I'm no longer an angsty college student but a tired, busy, (and yes, also angsty) SAHM who doesn't have time for all that harmonized self-reflection anymore. Give me Usher! 

(But I'll always love you, Dar! Anyone want to drive down to Portland on Saturday and see her show? No? You don't have a babysitter? DAMMIT.)

Weekend done right

I interrupt this three-day weekend to tell you: I AM ROCKING IT. 

I dug up ALL the overgrownness in my front yard, weeded it, stared at it for a really long time, and decided that what I really needed was a whole bunch of Large Bushy Plants to fill in the bare dirt areas. I thought about going to Home Depot or Costco and buying up whatever was cheap and big, but I have a CRAP TON of plants in the backyard that are driving me insane. There's this huge area, sectioned off with decorative bricks and two by fours, that possibly, at one time, was a pretty flower garden, but is now just a giant mess. It WAS full of hostas and irises, but as of today I have transplanted ALL of those into the front yard. I don't like hostas OR irises, but they take up space, they come back year after year, and they are FREE. I still have two peonies, an ugly rosemary bush, and two unidentified flowering plants stuck in that flower bed in the backyard, all of which must go. The peonies I plan to gently and lovingly place in some undecided spot, the rosemary bush as well, and I'm just going to throw out the other plants because they're SO unattractive, even with the flowers. Besides, that whole area is going to have to be redone once we put the stairs in off the deck, so I have to transplant things anyway. I'm feeling very brilliant about this whole arrangement and even mulch-less and sporting half-falling-over transplanted irises, my front yard looks a trillion times better. 

I promised Jack I'd "play baseball" with him after I did all my digging. So I grudgingly went out to make good on my promise and DUUUUDE, my kid can hit a ball! I did not know this! I was even able to tweak his stance and give him advice on how to swing and he TOOK MY ADVICE (GASP) and hit a ball over our (admittedly short and picket-like fence) and PRIDE, BURSTING, ETC. So much so that I almost immediately took him to Fred Meyer and bought him a REAL bat and ball (we were just using a whiffle bat) and I am thisclose to signing up to coach Little League. (HA. THAT IS A JOKE.)

Last night after the kids went to bed I hung out with some friends eating chocolate covered strawberries, which I already know I like, and baby carrots, which I think are vile and the devil's preferred vegetable. I HATE RAW CARROTS!!! Except! Last night I was shoveling them into my mouth as fast as possible thanks to an unbelievably high fat concoction called Uncle Dan Ranch Dip. BOW DOWN BEFORE IT. It's this packet of ranch dip mix whisked into one cup of sour cream and one cup of mayo and it is so delicious that it even makes raw carrots palatable. Of course I immediately bought a packet for myself today and I've been chowing down on carrots and snap peas all evening AND! AND! AND! my kids are too! When you are a parent who does not love vegetables it's hard to figure out how to get your kids to eat them. But JACKSON CHEUNG IS EATING A SUGAR SNAP PEA AS I TYPE. I know that ranch dressing has been a parenting tool since it's existence, but I never have it around (OR dip-friendly raw veggies if I'm being honest) so this is a freaking COUP people. (ALSO: LOW CARB. SCORE.)

I suppose this weekend hasn't been a TOTAL success - my attempt at putting EJ to sleep unswaddled was, shall we say, Amusing. As in, EJ was HIGHLY AMUSED. I'm trying not to get super discouraged about this. I HAVE done it twice before. I know it will happen eventually. I will not be swaddling her and rocking her to sleep in college. But MAN is it getting old right now. JUST ROLL OVER, FTLOG!

In other (very! important!) news, I was able to shoehorn my butt into a pair of Old Jeans. Namely, the jeans I wore to the Original Blathering, mere months after my Hot By Thirty finale. I can button those jeans! THAT SAID! I should not wear them in public! And I certainly cannot wear a shirt that is the slightest bit fitted at the waist for fear of exposing the impressive amount of muffintop BUT I CAN BUTTON THEM AND WOO HOO LET'S CELEBRATE WITH RANCH DIP!!!

I still have one day left to go and I am SO excited to tell you that I plan to spend it perusing the aisles of a brand new HOME GOODS that cropped up dangerously close to my in-laws house. The internet recommends that store so often that I have been INCENSED not to have one near by but NOW! I DO! Tomorrow I will spend all the money! And this concludes the dumbest post EVER!

I've Stopped Running (For Now)

I brought my running shoes to Vegas, but I never took them out of my bag. I've brought my running shoes on other vacations and used them daily, but this time I barely considered it. Honestly, just attempting to find the work out room in that vast hotel property sounded like something beyond my capabilities. 

I told myself I would run when we got home and I seriously had every intention of doing so. But it was a rough day or two when we got home and I didn't have time and I was so tired. I'd also told myself I would have a little self-control around food when we got home, no more of this pastries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner like I did in Vegas. But that didn't really happen either. I didn't have time to grocery shop until Saturday, so from Wednesday when we got home to Saturday morning I was, well, eating pastries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Almost. 

Saturday is when I stopped all that. Saturday I went grocery shopping for a meal plan that was Super Low Carb. I busted out the South Beach Diet book for a few recipes and loaded up on the lunch foods and snacks that have served me well before. And eggs. A trillion eggs. Good thing I love eggs. 

A small amount of shame, a bridesmaid dress to fit into, determination, a little competitiveness, and just knowing that I CAN do it were my motivators here. I was just sort of tired of myself - do you know what I mean? Tired of not getting it together. So I decided that Saturday I would get it together. I also decided that I wouldn't exercise. 

I KNOW. However. Here are my thoughts. I have been struuuuuggling with weight loss since about March. I know it wasn't a plateau - I just wasn't doing what needed to be done. I was at a point where I wasn't back in my old clothes, but I was close and I was just sort of fine with it. And as soon as Lent was over I was back into my chocolate addiction, which becomes more of a madness when I'm not feeling so great, which has been most of this spring. I would step on the scale every morning and hate myself. I would plan my entire day around when I could get a run in, or when I could have 30 minutes to myself in front of the TV. If Emma didn't nap right or Jack bugged me all through quiet time, I stressed out, because I wouldn't get to exercise and I wouldn't lose weight that day. Then there were the days when I was doing my video in the morning and running in the afternoon. I was so proud of myself on those days! And some mornings I'd be down a pound or two. But I was constantly gaining and losing those same two or three pounds. I started to feel like maybe I should just throw those clothes in the Goodwill bag because this was NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. 

Anyway, the not exercising part wasn't really a PLAN so much as space I decided to give myself. If I felt like running I would, but I wasn't going to make a big deal about it or feel guilty if I didn't. That article I linked to last week, about obesity and all that, reminded me that I have done this before without exercising AT ALL. Not that exercise isn't GOOD, clearly I am not saying that, but a bit of science lent some credibility to my own experience, and that gave me space to stop. 

The last few days I've spent my unpredictable nap times and quiet times with a book, my breakfast or lunch, sometimes an episode of Felicity. Often a nap, since the medicine I'm on has a drowsy side effect and I'm already not sleeping enough at night. And oh, it is wonderful. I haven't dreaded Having To Go Exercise Now, I haven't stressed about my schedule, I haven't worried about how I'm not running enough, I just STOPPED. 

I've also lost three pounds since Saturday. Do you know how long it took me to lose the previous three pounds? Like, at least a month and a half. 

Eating like this, which I'm used to and doesn't bother me half as much as it once did, is giving me a semblance of control, which I can really use right now. And choosing to let go of daily exercise has given me a break from giving my own self a hard time. 

I don't intend to QUIT running. I actually like it. I do. I especially have to get back into it if I'm going to do NaNoWriMo like I said I would at the beginning of the year. I've never written so much as when I was running on a regular basis (PRE-Emma, I should add!) But after I lost all that weight after Molly, I told myself that if I was going to keep it up, running couldn't be a weight loss thing, it had to be a mental health thing. And it was, for a long time, until it turned into just another thing I couldn't get done the way I wanted to do it. 

I'll get back to it. Maybe even tomorrow. But I'm not going to insist on it, not any time soon. And one day I'll get back to Jillian, because I really like those arm muscles she gave me that summer, but I don't have to do that right now either. 

So, you know I'm not ADVOCATING this, right? You do what works for you! And who knows how long this is going to work for me. Right now I'm super motivated to keep eating this way, which really is good for my particular body type, I believe. But I'm well aware that I'll always be a cakemonster at heart and there will be plenty of backslides. And there once was a time when I felt horrible if I WASN'T exercising almost every day. I think I would like to feel that way again, but right now I feel like I've made a good decision for me, backed up by those three lost pounds, backed up by the fact that I'm going to bed early and not stuffing my face at night, backed up by the no-more-berating-myself if I miss the exercise opportunity in my day. 

We'll see, right? 

The Summer Survival Plan

I wasn't going to do any Summer Activities. It sounded exhausting. I have a little baby, you know, who takes two naps a day and not, unfortunately, on a terribly predictable schedule and how in the world am I supposed to ferry two other children back and forth to their respective classes and camps and lessons? No, thank you. That's what our backyard is for. Plus, those activities are pricey. I want to SAVE that preschool money this summer. And I won't feel guilty about it! When my friends start talking about all the stuff their kids are signed up for, I will remind myself that 99% of them have JOBS and need CHILDCARE! The Cheung children are just going to Putz Around all summer and they are going to LIKE IT!

Yeah, well, would you like to read the new Maggie Cheung Summer Survival Plan? 

Jack and I are just... If this no-preschool-day is any evidence, I just don't think we're going to make it to kindergarten unless we find ourselves some structure. If I were a more creative, harder working parent with exceptional mental health, I think I could pull off a Summer O' Structure on my own. But I am a sleep deprived, lazy parent with rather questionable mental health and I think it's better for both of us if I schedule some Away Time. Not a ton! But some. Some is good. 

SO. Phillip has been a angst-ridden mess about the fact that our kids have not had swim lessons, but fret no more, PCheung! This is the summer of swimming. We are going to DO this thing. I've got info for every kind of lesson, from the community pools to the private covered-heated-backyard-pool in the fancy neighborhood. I only need to figure out how to ensure PHILLIP is the one who has to get in the pool with them, not me. 

Also, I thought all the lessons and camps and stuff would be out of my price range, but I have lately discovered the local community center and $41 for 5 weeks of ballet lessons? I CAN DO THAT. Molly has been pretending to be a ballerina for months and now is the time to indulge it, before she gets a bit older and learns she's inherited her mother's decidedly un-ballerina-like physique. I'm trying to find some sort of soccer or t-ball thing for Jack (before you get indignant, I most certainly did ask him if he wanted to take ballet lessons and he gave me an unequivocal NO) but the times are all, like, 1:30 to 3 or 12:15 to 2 and just because they are cheap doesn't mean I'm going to interrupt the sacred and holy afternoon nap. 

The other thing I'm looking into is a Vacation Bible School week. I ran into problems here (along with some of the community center class options) because Molly won't be four until the end of the summer. So many things are for 3-4 year olds and 5-7 year olds and simply for the convenience factor I need them to be in the same class! Anyway, the VBS I'm looking at starts at age 4. I emailed to ask if they are, you know, STRICT about it. Which is really not something I do, you know, I am a RULE FOLLOWER. But at age 32-and-three-quarters I am slowly coming around to the idea that It's Okay To Ask. 

So! Classes! Things to put on the calendar and look forward to! YES!

I am still not really sure what a mother's helper IS. My understanding is that it's a tweenage girl who comes to your house for some amount of time and occupies your children in various games and activities while you get laundry done and cook dinner and maybe clean a bathroom. This sounds great. But you know what sounds even better? A tweenage girl who occupies the kids while I type on the computer or read a book or take a nap. IS THAT HORRIBLE? Especially as a SAHM? 

EITHER WAY, here is my idea. The only other kid on our street is a tweenage girl. I forget exactly how old - I've actually never met her and rarely see her - but I think about 12. Her parents were the first people we met on our street; her dad was actually the one who was all cranky about how much we paid for the house (meaning: not as much as he wants for HIS house.) But her mom is the one who brought up babysitting that one time and I remember thinking, "No way! Too young!" but you guys, NOT too young for a mother's helper! So my idea is to march over to her house one of these days and ask if she wants a summer job. Two to three afternoons a week, two-ish hours a day, $5 an hour. What do you think? I have no idea what the going rate is. I have no idea if she'd even be interested. She's probably scheduled up with her OWN activities. Blargh!

If she doesn't work out, Ursula The Excellent Neighbor has alerted my attention to another tweenage girl in the neighborhood who does some babysitting. Maybe she'd be interested in some summertime employment.  

I feel a little guilty, like I'm a SAHM, I should not need a mother's helper. Maybe I don't need it, but it'd be REALLY REALLY NICE. When I was proposing all of this to Phillip he was all, "But you don't have preschool! You can do anything you want! You can go visit your family! You can go to parks! You can hang out with all your friends!" and I'm all DUDE, YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW. Goodbye, preschool money. But I will be glad to spend you on ballet and 12-year-old girls. 

Have you guys thought about the summer? 

Why did I give the FPC all the brownies?

It rained all day. Really hard, unrelenting rain. It was terrible. 

Emma was awake nearly two hours last night. We took turns trying to put her back to sleep, kept failing, kept making loud dramatic middle-of-the-night sighs that are intended to inform the other person that THEY should be the one to get up this time... She'd eaten two tubs of baby food plus a six ounce bottle at bedtime. When she woke up at 1:30, I automatically made another bottle. She drank four ounces, and when I couldn't get her to go down and Phillip took his turn, she drank the other two. On my final and last turn I made yet another bottle, not because I thought she was hungry but because that was the last trick in my bag. She drank another four ounces and went back to sleep. Finally. 

It's wearing on us. Even my standard "that's just what babies do" acceptance and optimism is cracking. 

I visit my sister in the morning and see her tiny baby and listen to the woes of newborn sleep and I think, well, at least we're not doing THAT. And I think about how horrible it was in January (I will never forget January 2012 as long as I live) when Emma was sleeping next to me and waking me up every hour, and I think, well, at least we're not doing THAT. 

But even I have to admit that these random hours of wakefulness in the middle of the night, when she's just jabbering and then insistently whimpering, are taking their toll. 

For example: the other night she slept till five, then Phillip gave her a bottle and she went back to sleep until seven. I don't think I even woke up at five. And that was the best day I've had in a long time. I was hardly anxious. I felt like doing my life. Today I am anxious again, tired, wearing pajama pants. 

Then again, it could be the rain. 

The, ah, Anxiety Management Plan appeared, at first, to be an improvement, but things un-improved a few days later. So I don't know. A nurse called me today and I'm glad I didn't catch it in time because I still don't really know what to say. 

Today I was thinking that maybe I could have a perspective where I viewed anxiety as a physical ailment (in some ways it is, actually, if you ask the muscles between my shoulder blades). So there are people who walk around with chronic pain or fatigue or long-term conditions that they just have to manage and they take medicine for it and there's no shame in that and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't and they have to go back to their doctors and regroup. I want to think that way. It seems like the doctors look at it that way. But then there's the part where I don't have a good reason or any genetic history and they don't know my whole story and I don't need medicine for arthritis, I need medicine for fear

Blargh. That makes me sound like I'm holed up in my dark little house, swathed in black, neglecting my children and ignoring my duties. No, I'm just not as together as I feel I should be. As I want to be. 

I think sleep would help. 

I continue to be grateful for good friends and the wonderful distraction and support they provide. I always think about how hard I prayed for friends when I was a miserable lonely fifteen-year-old and how God has blessed me a gazillion times over as an adult. And today I was even thinking about the Blathering, which is what - six months out? Something like that. And not even about how it's just a fun weekend with people you've always wanted to hang out with in person and gee I'm really looking forward to it, but how it's (for me, anyway) some hard core quality time with meaningful, important, longtime, real life friends who unfortunately live so far away. 

Phillip was just in here saying, "We'll see how tonight goes!" We are, at least, foolishly hopeful every night.

Things I Have Bought And Things I Might Have Bought If I Had A Money Tree In My Backyard Instead Of An Enormous and Terrible Lavender Bush

I did some shopping today. I picked up a few things.

These shoes:


Target sandals (also in blue and orange), $20. This was definitely a case of going to Target for formula and diapers and coming home with shoes and notecards and brownie mix. But I will definitely wear these. I wanted blue, but 1) they didn't have blue in my size and 2) I HAVE blue sandals already and 3) perhaps I should Branch Out. 

Note: I attempted branching out in Yellow, having purchased two suitable bridesmaid dresses from J.Crew. My favorite was this one: 

J.Crew Ramona dress in bright lemon, on sale for $180. 

But I tried it on for my mom and she liked the dress but hated the color and also how much I paid and I was all BUT THIS IS THE DRESS and she was all OKAY FINE and then a few days later I got a voicemail saying that she and my sister decided I should return it and just wear the green dress I bought back before I knew it was supposed to be a LIME green dress. It looks like this:


Calvin Klein square neck pleated dress, clearly not in green, $99.99 on the website but $40 at TJ Maxx where I found mine, in emerald green.

Actually, I KNEW emerald green was probably not the right green, but it was only $40 and I loved it and decided it would be my Goal Dress. That was 5 pounds ago and I could stand to lose another 5, so, GOAL: lose at least 5 more pounds by my sister's wedding in July! MUST FIT INTO DRESS!

Also, I really like those shoes the model is wearing, except I want mine in hot pink. Green dress, hot pink shoes. YES.

When I returned my yellow dresses today I finally saw that bubble statement necklace that people keep Twittering about. 

J.Crew bubble necklace in turquoise, one hundred fifty dolla omg

Now. I thought this necklace, when I saw it in links online, was super cute, terribly overpriced, but no matter, it's cheap on eBay! EXCEPT. Then I saw it in person and HOLY HECK that thing is monstrous. It hangs down WELL into one's cleavage and you guys, I have spent my whole life attempting to DETRACT attention from that area. So. No bubble necklace for me. Sheesh. 

I ended up buying a black dress on final sale from Banana Republic, nowhere to be found online. I'm not sure where or when I'll wear it, but it's a conservative and modest yet stylish LBD, with cap sleeves and a belt and pleating on the bodice and it was only $24 and it just seemed like the type of thing you should have in your closet. I was worried that it made me look like a flight attendant, but my friend scoffed at the idea and also, $24. Done. 

I wanted to buy fancy hair stuff at Aveda and fancy face stuff at Kiehl's, but... SIGH. 

I took a picture of shoes I liked, with every intention of finding them cheaper online:

And I did. But I haven't bought them. Maybe later. Miz Mooz Dulce mary janes in blue (again with the blue!) $99.95 at Zappos. 

I hated everything at H&M. If you must know. 

Now if you'll excuse me I have some brownies to make for delivery to the FPC tomorrow morning. (I used to be SUPER SNOBBY about making my own brownies from scratch, but then I tasted a Ghirardelli brownie and then I found out it was from a BOX and I do not make brownies from scratch anymore. Let us all bow down before Ghirardelli.)


Wherein I make the arrival of Baby FPC all about me (and you are unsurprised)


I didn't sleep at all. My sister was in the hospital! Having a stressful labor! OMG! It turns out I am one of those people who MUST KNOW EVERYTHING and EXACTLY WHEN IT HAPPENS and HOW COME THEY WERE NOT TEXTING ME EVERY TEN MINUTES???? Dude, you guys, some people do not tweet through labor! I KNOW!

When I finally fell asleep after feeding Emma at 5:30 this morning, I OVERSLEPT. This was SO not okay because! I had extra responsibilities! Jack, who does not normally go to school on Thursdays, was going on a field trip today. And my step-niece was staying overnight while the FPC and my BIL were at the hospital. I had to get her to school by 8, Jack to school by 8:15 and I woke up at 7:33. AND I wasted an entire two minutes feeling sorry for myself for not sleeping LONGER. Because everyone else was sleeping too! OMG!

People, we were in the car and zooming to school by 7:49. How much ass do I kick? Sure, no one ate breakfast and a very sleepy Jack had a huge booger in his nose and I dressed him in fleece pants even though it was going to be something like 70 degrees BUT WHATEVER WE MADE IT TO SCHOOL ON TIME. 

(I was a bit of a wreck.)

Two seconds after we get home I realize I've missed a call from my BIL. So obvs I call back ASAP and he goes "The baby's here!" and I go "WAHOO!" Also, maybe I cried a little bit. Shut up. 

I immediately started making scones. Weird, BUT. Each time the FPC has visited me in the hospital after a baby she brought, what else, baked goods. Fabulous delicious best-things-I've-ever-tasted baked goods. I was NOT going to show up at that hospital room without a sufficient load of carbs. At the same time I was feeding Emma, getting Molly dressed, getting myself dressed, half unpacking, and putting Emma down for a nap. Head=spinning.

This doesn't feel as crazy to me, now that I'm writing it, but this morning I felt like I was on drugs. OH WAIT I AM ON DRUGS. But the opposite kind of drugs, where you're super ramped up and extra alert and ON A MISSION! 

You should have seen me careening through Target, baby in the front of the cart, 3-year-old in the back, throwing in snacks and nursing bras and the tiniest pajamas I could find (Baby FPC is five tiny pounds) and also a present for my niece because GET THIS today is her birthday too! OMG THIS DAY!!!

Then Molly and Emma and I made it to the hospital and SNIFF! I am an aunt! Actually, I've been an aunt longer than I've been a parent, but this is my SISTER'S baby and she lives TEN MINUTES AWAY and Baby FPC and Emma have a pre-arranged best friendship and SNIFF! 

I am not allowed to post pictures so DON'T ASK. Well, I might have to sneak one someday because the difference in size between Petite Baby FPC and Moose Baby EJ is hilarious. No one tell my sister. 

AAAAANYWAY, the rest of the day was a bit calmer. My parents took breathers at my house between hospital visits, and that was fun for Jack and Molly. I also had a giant "Here are all the things I learned from my giant Hitler book" conversation with my dad, because I enjoy pretending he is my personal history professor. I guess he kind of IS. And then my mom and I went back to visit the FPC again. Then Phillip came home with flowers and doughnuts to bring the FPC later tonight because that's the kind of great and thoughtful BIL he is. And now I have to REALLY unpack and do some laundry and clean up my disaster of a kitchen and oh yeah, go grocery shopping because there is NOTHING to eat in this house.

But I am thinking it would be nice to go back to Fake Venice and take a long nap. 

Where I brought a BABY to a BAR

HOLA INTERNET! Did you miss me? I've been very busy. Very busy NAPPING. 

I went to Venice!

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Well, Fake Venice, where the canals are chlorinated and the signs all point the right way and there is no St. Mark's in St. Mark's Square and there are heaps of tourists who aren't wearing enough clothing. 

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Well, I suppose that last one is true of Real Venice too. 

So, I know perfectly well that I'm supposed to hate Las Vegas or at least feel prudishly superior to it, but I can't. I love it so. The corrupted Disney-ness of the entire place just fills me with glee. I could seriously wander around inside those cavernous Houses of Sin with the fake blue sky and luxury shops for hours - in fact, that is exactly what I did. My 48-hour vacation basically took place in my hotel and the sidewalk in front of my hotel. 

There ARE other ridiculous hotels and casinos to visit on the Strip and ordinarily I would have dragged Phillip to every one (the sky! I LOVE THE PAINTED SKY!), but I had a somewhat rigorous napping schedule. 

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It's her fault. 

But really, there is not a more perfect baby than that one right there. She was a dream. A chubby ball of joy. AN ANGEL. This kid easily fell asleep in her father's arms mere minutes before our flight took off, slept the entire way, then took another nap when we reached the hotel, waking just in time for an evening stroll about the [crazy huge] premises. Then she proceeded to charm the socks off all of Las Vegas. Quite possibly my favorite part of the trip was all the "She is SO ADORABLE!" comments I got from everyone from hotel staff to the random dude in the elevator. Am I bragging? Well, I don't do it that often, so whatever, MY BABY IS THE CUTEST I AM TOTALLY BUYING HER A PONY. 

Honestly though, she was SO EASY. She slept super duper crappy at night, but she sleeps super duper crappy at night when we're home, too. But during the day she was a breeze. She went down so easy for her naps, was always happy to hang out in the stroller, didn't mind the outdoor furnace or the frigid inside AC or the arid desert air that was slowly killing her mother's will to live. (I'm a Pacific Northwesterner. I am basically made of mold.)

There was a lot of napping, a lot of exploring the Venetian and the Palazzo - by the way, we stayed in the Palazzo, in a [crazy amazing] room that looked identical to the pictures of the rooms on the Venetian website. I spent a stupid amount of time trying to figure out if they were separate entities or what. Ashley, who is a Las Vegas NATIVE, who took herself and her three small children to the Strip just to hang out with ME (SHE IS CRAZY) informed me that basically two people own everything on the Strip so it really doesn't matter if it's separate or not. Point taken. 

Also, Ashley was so awesome to come hang out with me while Phillip was working and I continue to have a 100% success rate on Internet People, Fantabulousness Of - except for the part where her terribly cute identical twin girls and baby boy with baby angel halo hair totally stole EJ's limelight. 

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You can see why. I DIED OF CUTE.

Phillip was giving presentations all afternoon on Wednesday (WORKING! IN VEGAS!) (Actually, I have all these THOUGHTS about corporate conferences and events in places like LAS VEGAS) so there was more napping. We did make it to the pool one time - EJ was very suspicious of that situation. But there was a lot of hanging out on the brown velvet sectional (!) in our room:

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Oh, I suppose I should mention that I probably gained one pound per hour and I should probably go to therapy for something I've decided to call Vacation Gluttony. It starts at the airport, when you think: I have to get on AIRPLANE, and that SUCKS, so I should probably buy myself a treat. And continues at the hotel, where you think: When will I get to go out to dinner and order dessert in such a fun place again! Or: This is going to be a long nap - I better get a snack. Or: I ate a chocolate bar for breakfast, so I might as well eat my weight in pastries for lunch, yes? 

This is a SERIOUS PROBLEM. I've decided to solve it by 1) not wearing pants for the next month and 2) going off carbs. FOR REALZ THIS TIME FTLOG.

The baby was a bit fussier on the ride home, which was unfortunate as I was sitting next to a Prim Older Woman who, upon seeing that her seatmates brought a baby, did not bother to hide her Utter Self-Pity at her Utter Unfortunate Circumstances. Which, okay. FINE. I might be a little nervous about sitting next to a baby on an airplane too. BUT I WOULD NOT SHOW IT!!! I might even act overly sympathetic or interested in the baby or anything to show the parents that I was On Their Side because NEWSFLASH: the parents do not want a crying baby either! Possibly one of the parents needed an extra dose of anxiety medication for this exact potential scenario! 

Emma did cry a teeny bit, two different times, but not very loud and not very long and I made extra sure not to unnecessarily bother the woman next to me and she was STILL A PILL. And when we were getting off the plane she picked up Emma's sweatshirt, which I hadn't noticed I'd dropped, and wordlessly flung it into my lap. 

Phillip thinks I am oversensitive. Please see the above photo for what I think of that. 

Okay I have a LOT to say about a LOT of things, but this is what I will say for now and I missed you and I hope this wasn't the most boring vacation blog post on earth and I tried to post pictures for just that reason even though they are PHONE pictures and not even of the Instagram variety so therefore TOTALLY INFERIOR PICTURES but I tried! We'll chat later! Bye! (NO MORE CARBS! I MEAN IT!)