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June 2012

Ballerina babies

My anniversary was even lower key than I expected. I spent most of the evening on the couch under my giant zebra-print blanket, shivering, my teeth clacking together, and cursing whoever gave my baby Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease. Because, according to the doctor at her 9-month ped visit that morning, it was likely the rest of us have it too. SUPER!

Oh well. We're saving all the awesome for next year anyway. And Emma's mostly back to normal, as evidenced by the smile and gigantic mess:

Photo (3)

The ped visit was basically an Affirm Everything I Am Doing As A Parent session. (I love my doctor.) Controlling her naps, giving her Miralax, the swaddle situation - the ped's reaction to all of these things was "heck yeah, why not?" The one place that got sketchy was the No, Seriously, I Have Not Seen This Baby Roll Over Even One Time. And no she's not scooting, crawling, pulling up, or anything. I haven't stressed much about this, here or offline, because this is a STRONG baby I've got here, and it's clearly not an issue of muscle tone. It's my professional opinion that what's going on is a severe lack of motivation. LAZY BABY. But you know, it bugs me just the same. The doctor told me about a state program where I can have a physical therapist COME TO MY HOUSE and evaluate her. Not because either of us are SUPER worried, necessarily, but maybe PT could give me some ideas of how to encourage her? Also, did you read the part about COME TO MY HOUSE? Also I believe it is FREE. (YAY HEALTHCARE!) 

So I'll be doing that. Eventually. I'm kinda swamped right now. This grown up version of a baby disease is not helping matters. 

ALSO yesterday, I took Molly to her much-hyped first ballet lesson at the community center. 

Photo (4)

Molly's pretty shy around new people and places, especially when her brother isn't around, but at home she believes she is the most beautiful princess in the land and we are VERRRRRRY EXCITED about "ballet school". Because I wasn't feeling well Phillip came home early and I didn't have to take the other two along. Not that it mattered because they kicked the parents out! Here I was thinking of what things I could bring with me to keep Jack and Emma occupied for 45 minutes, but I guess we'll just be headed to the community center playground or the library or the mall across the street. It's a nice set up for that reason, I guess, but I was pretty disappointed I didn't get to watch. 

As were all the OTHER mothers. There were a lot of other mothers. I had kind of sort of glommed on to one of them, our daughters being the most ballerina-looking of the bunch (by which I mean we had obviously gone out and bought brand new ballet clothes while the other kids were wearing princess costumes and leggings - ie: smarter parents than me). But a few minutes later a whole bunch of other mothers showed up and these were all friends of hers and it was instantly clear that I had done this wrong. I was supposed to sign up Molly with a FRIEND. So that I would have a friend in the waiting room. Bad move, Maggie!

Whatever. I took myself to the mall and bought a dress, just because I had 45 minutes to myself and I felt like it. 


Source: via Maggie on Pinterest


What was that I said the other day about not liking spaghetti straps and and ruffles? Huh! I want to wear this with a navy cardigan and red shoes. (I have a lot of red shoes.) 

Here's Molly with the ballet bag my mother made her:

Photo (5)

I'm not gonna lie, Internet. It's really fun having a girl. 

Molly didn't have much to say about her lesson. They ran around and picked up flowers? Something like that? She did take note of a lot of the NAMES in her class. (Do your kids do this? Molly's "ownership" of the name Molly is pretty intense. THAT IS HER NAME. FYI.) So I guess there was an Olivia and a Sophia and a COCO. We were THOROUGHLY AMUSED by the existence of a little girl named COCO and the discussion led to a very serious disagreement over whether we should get some COCOA PUFFS or maybe HOT COCOA on the way home. Oh, that makes it sounds like we (she) was making fun of the name. OH NO. This was an IMPRESSED and SLIGHTLY JEALOUS amusement. COCOA is quite possibly Molly's favorite thing. 

Anyway, I should probably get back to parenting, eh? I have to make cookies for a church function, tiny bite-sized desserts for my sister's birthday party tomorrow night (we are having a Daria marathon WOO) and wrap a bunch of presents. Onwards and upwards!



Tomorrow, June 28, is our ninth wedding anniversary. Or, as I'm really thinking of it, Emma's nine-month doctor appointment in the morning and Molly's first ballet lesson in the afternoon. I don't think we're reallydoing anything for our anniversary either. It also happens to be my sister's birthday and our weekend is totally packed with two birthday parties, a baby shower, a bachelor party, church obligations, and lunch with a blog friend (hi Lisa!) There is no time for anniversaries this year. 

Usually I'm pretty big on marking Important Days, but this year I'm just exhausted. Which is probably the word I will use to describe it for the rest of my life. "Oh that year? I don't even remember that year. I was EXHAUSTED." 

Sometimes I mean that physically, lately I mean mentally. My body is tired - I have a nine-month-old who can't put herself back to sleep in the middle of the night - and my head is tired. I'm not so awesome at managing a baby schedule and a preschooler schedule. I've had a hard time keeping up with paperwork - the school kind, the paying bills kind, the helping-my-sister-with-her-wedding kind. I am still searching for the right combination of crazy pills and the energy required to keep anxiety at bay is often more than I have for each day. So a month or so ago when Phillip told me he feels like I haven't been listening, haven't had time for him, don't know what's going on with him - yes. That is correct. Happy Anniversary!

Our baby observer person, who I have grown to LOVE, told me last week that I never LOOK tired. I always LOOK super on top of things and I never seem rattled by anything. (I have no idea how this can be, since every week I tell her exactly how rattled I am by EVERYTHING.) And at church on Sunday our priest thanked me for hosting one of his going away parties (which I was asked to do by the "transition team") and then said, "I told them you'd be fine with it. I said 'Maggie doesn't get flustered by anything.'"

Clearly these people do not know me at all. That or they have never heard of the enneagram and Type Three. BAH.

But wasn't this an anniversary post?

I'm pretty good at holding it together. I know that. A lot of times I don't HAVE to, but when I have to, I can pull it off pretty well. I'm not sure anyone would know how anxious I've been the last five months if I hadn't said anything. I was constantly a wreck about getting to preschool on time, but we were NEVER late. I rarely say no and I don't WANT to say no. I get my stuff done and everything works. It's all good. 

There's one place I let slide, though, and that's being married. He's legally committed to me, right? What's he gonna do?! So I can spend the entire day fretting about this or that, getting something ready, making sure the kids have what they need, being angsty on my blog, blah blah blah, and by the time Phillip gets home I am done. Done! Done with children, done with talking, done with taking care of everyone. I will be in bed with my boring Hitler book - see you tomorrow. 

I don't want to be that way. I really don't. I'm just not sure HOW. Not at this stage of life, anyway. 

Phillip has been keeping bags of Hershey chocolates in his filing cabinet downstairs. When I start flipping out, when I start despairing, he calmly goes downstairs and calmly returns with a handful of candy. (It works.) He comes home from work and instantly turns into Daddy. He chases them around the house, he gets them settled for dinner, he eats whatever random thing I've cooked. He doesn't care if there's laundry all over the couch or I didn't do the dishes or I have junk all over every surface. He does bath time, he clips nails, he makes bottles. He puts all the kids to bed. Most importantly, he doesn't get annoyed that I am attempting to beat my Bejeweled Blitz high score the entire time he's doing these things. (258,000!) 

And you guys, it's not like HE'S rested and refreshed. He's up as much as I am in the middle of the night, even more some nights. And his job? It's not all spray parks and baking cookies and train tables at the bookstore and coloring pictures, like mine was today. 

I am so freaking LUCKY. Did I have any clue how great a dad this guy would be when I married him? How great a co-parent he would be? NO IDEA. I mean, I hoped. I assumed. But I really had no idea. I want to take better care of him. I really really do. I need to figure out what to keep in my filing cabinet for his bad days. 

Our tenth anniversary will take place on a beach in Hawaii or a beach in Mexico or in a Manhattan restaurant or on a Caribbean cruise or any of the other places we've talked about blowing all our money. Our ninth anniversary will be at home, probably in front of the TV, and I'll just be happy we made it there. 

You can also read about EightSevenSix (this one has all the pictures), FiveFourThree, and Two. Because yes, that is how long I've had this website. 




All right, Internet. Basically all I want to know is if it's okay to leave my house looking like this: 

Photo (2)

What we have here is a several years' old Target t-shirt, a brand new $12.99 Target skirt, and Old Navy capri leggings I wore through my entire EJ pregnancy. The only thing I can really say for this outfit is at least those are not MATERNITY leggings. I know that this is not AWESOME, I just don't want to wear pants to Safeway and it's too cold to wear a dress. (DAMMIT SEATTLE.)

It seems like all my favorite internetters have taken up fashion blogging lately and while I have no claim or ambition to fashion blogging (AS IF YOU COULDN'T TELL) I occasionally have QUESTIONS. I would usually never act on these questions. I mean, there've been several times when I can't decide what to wear to this or that function, but honestly, I'd rather die than post myself in each outfit and put it up to an internet vote. It's not that I don't trust you, Internet, it's that I admire and trust your judgment so MUCH that I am terrified of your criticism. I mean, what if you hated everything? What if you thought I also had a terrible haircut and ugly shoes and even the background is a disaster? 

(In this picture I 1) already KNOW I have a terrible haircut and 2) am not WEARING any shoes and 3) am standing in front of the only square foot of my house that is NOT a disaster. SO THERE.)

But I love it when YOU post pictures. So it can't be that terrible, right? And I really do want to know about Leggings. I mean, I am almost 33 years old. I have three children. I've already been through a leggings craze in my life. Should I burn these and promise to never speak of them again? 

My case for the leggings is: 

  1. I NEVER wear them as pants. Promise.
  2. I love dresses and skirts, but I live in Seattle, where today, June 25, it is something like 55 degrees and raining. 
  3. Even though I am a mere 5 pounds away from my Lose The Baby Weight Goal, I am not a fan of pants. I may never be a fan of pants again. My middle, which was pudgy to begin with, is only MORE pudgy and lumpy and love handley and generally unattractive. This type of shape is not conducive to pants. 

All this fashion blogging of late has made me think about MY style, you know? I don't necessarily want to throw out everything in my closet, but before I've bought anything new I've tried to think harder about what I like, what I wear a lot, and what looks decent on me. And woe, I still don't really know. 

I want to look just like the Boden girls. 

Source: via Maggie on Pinterest



(Also blond and skinny, please.)

When I dress up I want to be sparkly.



I love shift dresses.


Source: via Maggie on Pinterest


Source: via Maggie on Pinterest


And for the summer I am REALLY in love with just about everything in the Athleta catalog. 




So... I like sporty casual stuff? With a bit of sparkle thrown in for special occasions? I DON'T KNOW. 

Things I don't like: 

  • ruffles
  • spaghetti straps (I feel too old for these now. Weird?)
  • drawstring waists (these ALWAYS hit me at the worst spot)
  • shorts

Hmm. I'm remembering that I said "just tell me if leggings are okay"... and somehow I spun it into this. But give me a break, Internet! My one sick child has multiplied into two sick children and the routine went out the window and I am NOTHING WITHOUT MY ROUTINE. I moved through today in a state of confused shruggery. That's a new word, by the way, that I just made up. "Shruggery" is sort of the physical manifestation of the word "huh". 

I just looked through all these pictures again. It appears my style is: anything that looks good on people with long skinny legs. (Which is the opposite of me, btw. Oops.)

All right, Internet. If you haven't deleted me from your reader, stay tuned for a similar post focusing on hair. OH YES. IT WILL HAPPEN. 


A few days in the life of EJ

Internet, I have so many things going on I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN. Seriously. I think I will go take a nap and let Emma tell you about our weekend. 


YO WASSUP INTERNET!!! EJ here, even though no one ever calls me EJ in real life and every time someone emails my mom about EJ I'm all "Who's that - oh RIIIIIGHT." 

If you haven't heard, I have Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. When my mom told my Nai Nai this today she said, "Isn't that ANIMAL disease?!?!" and I just want to state for the record, NO IT IS NOT. That would be FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE. I have the human baby kind, as evidenced by a freaky rash, a loss of appetite due to SORES in my THROAT, and the total disappearance of my jolly disposition. Fun times!

I started acting weird last week. Probably about the same time my hopeless parents attempted to put me to sleep unswaddled. HA HA HA! I actually went along with this for a bit, you know, somtimes it's just nice to throw my mom a bone every once in a while. So I agreed to nap unswaddled and I even went down for the night unswaddled (although I made my parents pay for this around 4am, trust me.) But on Night 3 of no swaddle (HOW I MISSED MY SWADDLE!) I didn't feel so awesome and my dad was kind of worried and my mom was blowing him off because she just does that with him but DUDES! I had a fever! And my parents would have figured this out if they had a thermometer that worked! WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM?!

By the time my dad finally went out and bought a thermometer and learned how to USE the thermometer (that's my dad!) my temperature wasn't SUPER high, but it was still SORT OF high. And this was super exciting for everyone because my parents were hosting the priest and three other families for a going away lunch. I have excellent timing, don't you think? What did they THINK was going to happen when they unswaddled me? That I'd just let them get away with it? 

I was pretty crabby and unhappy that day, especially when everyone came over and they tried to get me to play with this OTHER baby. Apparently she has my same birthday? But I don't think so, because SHE'S crawling already and pulling up and I swear she was going to start speaking French. I don't see why I have to play with HER. So I got even crabbier, as I do, and FINALLY my dad put me to sleep. And THANK GOODNESS because right after that, everyone did this little song and dance number for the priest and can you even IMAGINE the mortification? They would have made me "dance" and pretend to "wave" and I will be eternally grateful I slept through the entire thing. MY MOM IS A NUTCASE.

Okay but then? It gets better. So THEN, after everyone went home - more evidence my mom is a nutcase - she didn't know what to do with all the left over food so she invited MORE FRIENDS FOR DINNER! How do you think I felt about that, Internet? Not awesome! I made my dad's afternoon pretty miserable while my mom went shopping - she had to go get a baptism present, for a baptism the NEXT DAY, way to leave things till the last minute Mom! - and then I got to be around a whole other group of Small Children, the better to infect them with my Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease! Wahoo! Not that my mom had any idea what was going on with me, because she's generally clueless about pretty much everything, but still. I made sure to slobber on everybody, just for kicks. 

I gave them a hard time that night, as per usual, and then it was baptism time! So I have this new cousin who everyone is bugging me about, saying we're going to be BFFs or whatever, but I'm, like, four times this baby's size and all she does is lay around and maybe I'm not ever going to roll over but at least I can SIT. And CHEW on things. MAN. They dressed me up in this ridiculous outfit and made me skip my nap so we could go to church and sit through six (SIX!) baptisms, one of which happened to be my cousin's. I think. I didn't see it because I was passed out in my grandmother's arms. They made me skip my nap! And then they tried to force feed me Cheerios! What else was I supposed to do! 

AND THEN they made me go OUTSIDE where it was FREEZING COLD for a baptism reception in a PARK! Oooh, I was not a happy camper. I made sure to breathe on EVERYONE!

The afternoon was all right, though. They sent Jack and Molly, aka The Thorns In My Side, to Nai Nai and Ye Ye's house and I had my mom all to myself. That's my favorite way to have my mom. And you bet I made sure that she neeeeeever put me down. I let her sleep a bit better last night, but don't think I let her get anything done TODAY. She thought she'd get all this stuff done for my aunt's wedding and my other aunt's birthday and I bet she wanted to haul me off to the mall to look for birthday and shower presents, but OH NO, LADY. I let her go to the grocery store (I like to eat too!) but after that it was a grand day of Holding Me. Who wouldn't want to hold me? I am adorable! 

Just not when I put my pacifier in my mouth like this:

Photo (1)
Which happens to be the ONLY way I put my pacifier in my mouth. FYI.

Then she FINALLY bothered to inspect my poor spotted bottom and FINALLY called the doctor and GUESS WHAT! I have an actual DISEASE! You know that made my mom feel AWESOME. She spent a good half hour squeezing and kissing and fussing over me (RAD) and another half hour on the phone with my dad and my grandma all "POOR EJ!" which was also RAD. I mean, I'm the third baby. They only take pictures of me with their stupid PHONES. I'll soak up all the fussing and guilty phone calls I can get.

My mom IS kind of a walking zombie, though.  I think I'll let her have another five minutes, but then I'm totally demanding a snack and the iPad. 


Everything I did wrong today, in list form

  1. I took the kids to the mall this morning to look for wedding clothes for Jack. I have dresses for both the girls, but Jack needs a standard white dress shirt and khaki pants. I packed everyone in the car, arrived at the mall, and realized we left the stroller at home. 
  2. I decided we would go to the mall anyway and find one of those smart cart thingies. As we were walking to the entrance, some dude yelled at me that I'd left the back of the van wide open. 
  3. I found the smart carts, but because I couldn't believe it cost FIVE DOLLARS to rent it, I put in four quarters and tried to yank it out and it wouldn't and THEN I got annoyed with the security guard standing by who was all, "Uh, Ma'am, it's five dollars." Five dollars! Because the stroller wasn't in the car when I left the house. Gah!
  4. We went to Penney's. I don't know. I thought they'd have what I was looking for. But no, they did not. I found an approximation of what I was looking for and dragged Jack into the dressing room to try things on - the first time I've ever done that with a kid. And it turned out to be the first day (that I know of) that Jack had decided not to wear underpants. (We did not buy anything at Penney's.)
  5. We also did not buy anything at Macy's. This is because they had no (NO) dress up clothes for little boys. Also because I could not find someone to ring up the roughly ninety-three outfits I picked out for Emma. Wait, this is not something I did wrong. What is wrong with YOU, Macy's? My money not good enough? 
  6. I bought the kids lunch at the food court thinking it was a nice day and we could bring our lunch to a park and kill some more time. Except it was not a very nice day outside. And I was tired. And Emma was cranky. Thankfully the kids weren't too upset because they had just got themselves Food Court Lunch. To make up for it I told them we'd go to the spraypark after quiet time. Because it was SUPPOSED to be 78 degrees today. THAT'S WHAT IT SAID ON THE NEWS, OKAY? SEVENTY-EIGHT DEGREES.
  7. I fell asleep during quiet time. I think some kids asked me for snacks. I'm not sure what I said. For all I know they ate directly out of the sugar container. 
  8. It was still not seventy-eight degrees after quiet time. It was cold. Windy. We were not going to a spraypark. There was much wailing, much gnashing of teeth. I remembered that my neighborhood has a teeny tiny farmer's market on Thursday afternoons, and the farmer's market is right next to a playground. The kids decided this was a sorry but acceptable replacement for the spraypark. 
  9. Except there was another family at the playground, a family from Molly's old preschool. This mom was pretty much the only mom who said more than two words to me while I was shlepping my new baby and three-year-old up and down those stupid stairs on preschool mornings. But did I talk to her? Of course not. Did I even try to catch her eye and acknowledge the "hey, I remember you" situation? Not really. I don't know why I'm like this. She didn't act like she recognized me either (although we were both in Nice Mom At The Playground Mode where you smile at everyone at least). But honestly. What is wrong with me? Why can't I make simple conversation? I sit there thinking: what's the point? It's not like we're going to be best friends. My kids aren't going to that school. In ten minutes we'll leave and no big deal. But BLARGH! Why do I have to make everything into a worth/not worth it situation? SOMETIMES IT'S JUST NICE TO BE PLEASANT AND CHATTY!!!!
  10. When we got home it was hot. Naturally. I let them get out the funky play sprinkler and sent them outside and wrangled Emma who, by this time, had had enough of her wishy washy, unpleasant, socially hopeless mother dragging her around all day and was a crabby fussbudget.
  11. I am now sitting here waiting for friends to come over to show me how to make bulgogi. Because I can't even cook right. But I am so tired I could go to bed right now. Maybe a glass of wine for dinner first.

Thing I did right today:

Emma took all her naps unswaddled. She is in bed for the night, unswaddled. We had one touch and go unswaddled naptime yesterday, and from that point on it's been The Way Things Are. I would gush over just how easy it was, except I've been attempting the unswaddle for MONTHS now, and it only took yesterday. So no, it wasn't easy. It sucked. BUT I HAVE CONQUERED THE SWADDLE BLANKETS AND I WLL NOT BE DENIED MY VICTORY. PASS THE WINE. 

Fun Fact: Phillip neatly flattens and folds our plastic bags into quarters and stores them in a drawer. I will actually miss that.

As of July 1, plastic shopping bags are banned in Seattle. Banned! OH SEATTLE. 

In theory I think this is an excellent idea. I am Pro Environment. I am a Proud Supporter Of Our Earth. I am Team Recycle. Plastic shopping bags are terrible horrible things, especially for our Precious Marine Habitat which, I hear, is the main reason we are banning the shopping bags. (?)


I own, like, four thousand reusable bags. I have them from absolutely everywhere. I've even bought a few on purpose. The other day at the library I bought THEIR reusable bag because I just didn't feel like stuffing 10 picture books into my diaper bag. 

But once I own the bag it never leaves my house again. Oh, sometimes I pack them with the kids' overnight things for a stay at Grandma and Grandpa's. Or I use them to tote dinner to a friend's house or to haul some baby clothes or whatever. I have never ever brought one of my reusable shopping bags to a store. EVERRRRR!

So this is bad, Internet. How am I going to get my groceries home NOW? Wait wait wait - how am I going to carry home my weekly $100 worth of Target junk? THEY AREN'T GOING TO HAVE PLASTIC BAGS AT TARGET!!!

Okay, don't pester me about the DETAILS of the ban. Like PAPER bags are allowed. And those little plastic bags they have in the produce section are allowed. And I guess there are exceptions and qualifications and all sorts of confusing things that don't really affect the fact that Target is no longer going to have BAGS. 

I'm thinking that I'm going to have to store my bags in the car. Right? This makes sense. HOWEVER. Once I carry all the bags inside and unload the groceries, I will then have to put the bags BACK in the car. And the chances of me doing THAT are, well, NOT VERY HIGH. I am already SO bad at this sort of thing, Internet. I can put off menial Taking Care Of Life tasks until the rapture comes. My library books are ALWAYS overdue. I make important phone calls at the absolute last minute. I still have a handful of thank you notes from Jack's birthday sitting on the counter, because I can't be bothered to buy stamps. 

Up to this point, the only people affected by my Extreme Laziness were, well, myself, and the library I suppose (they are many dollars richer) and also my aunts who haven't received their thank you notes and are rueing the day they ever bought their great-nephew a shirts-and-shorts set. But now my children are going to starve because I won't be able to bring the groceries home. 

It's really just one more annoying way thing to remember or, rather, another thing to forget and race back into the house to find, cursing and stomping the whole time. Like I don't already forget everything ELSE. Why is my city trying to make my life harder? WHO CARES ABOUT THE MARINE HABITAT?!

Sometimes, I think, THIS is why I live in Seattle. I am not naturally green. I do not particularly enjoy nature. I was SO not the girl planning to be a marine biologist when she grew up. I am not overly concerned about emissions and waste and local and organic. But I live in a city where those things are pretty much a religion and because of that I am horrified when I visit out of state or even hour-away friends who do not recycle plastic bottles. And then my heart starts to hurt because OMG THEY JUST THROW THEM IN THE GARBAGE?!?! SERIOUSLY?!?!?

Okay, that's not REALLY why I live in Seattle. But I think it's a reason why I like it here. It's good for me. I sometimes feel that way about being Catholic. I think I'd make a super non-denominational church goer, but even though I don't feel passionately about liturgy, I want to be around it. It's good for me to be in it, to be with people who value it. 

So dearest Seattle... I love you. I don't want to go camping with you. I don't want to go to the REI garage sale. I don't want to hike or ski or snowshoe. I buy the cheapest gallon of milk. Sometimes I get really mad at bicyclists. I don't see how you can afford to shop at Whole Foods. I can't tell the difference between Peet's and Zoka's. I will never EVER keep chickens in my yard and I will ALWAYS vote for whoever is running against Jim McDermott. But you are good for me. You stretch me and challenge me and keep me honest. I will never leave you. Even if I forget my reusable shopping bags every single time I shop. 

Love, Maggie

And now it's Me vs. the Squirrels

Sucked it up and planted my stupid garden today. Two weeks ago (ie: the last time it was sunny) I dug a rectangle out of the overgrown lawn in what I have determined is the sunniest part of the yard. Today I dug out a bigger rectangle, then I scavenged some of those ugly scalloped edger bricks from random parts of the yard and blocked it off. This was so it would look less like a random hole in the lawn. It helped, a little. 

Then I dumped two bags of potting soil on top of the existing dirt and mixed it all up with a rake. If that was pointless and/or stupid, don't tell me, I felt like I was Priming My Soil. 

THEN I walked around my front and backyards looking for some kind of trellis for my pole beans. The chunk of dug out yard happens to be right up against the house, so I just needed something to prop against the wall. And the outside of the house, much like the inside of the house, is full of Random Items Left By The Previous Owners. Like an entire shed full of garden tools. Anyway, there are a ton of overgrown never-pruned vines all over this yard and I picked the ugliest one and stole its trellis. I propped that sucker against the house and planted my pole beans beneath it. 

At that point I had to make a decision: plant ALL the tomato plants or just the ones that DIDN'T appear to have a leaf-eating disease. What happened? They've all been sitting on the deck for a week and I've watered them and placed them in the sun, but three out of the five look like I should just toss them in the yard waste bin. I decided to only plant the good ones (which happen to be the cherry tomato plants.) (Which happen to be the only ones that ever turn out for me anyway.) 

I also planted zucchini and cucumbers. If I had one of my previous gardens I would also have lettuce and snap peas and various vegetables that would die before anything really grew: squashes, melons, peppers, eggplant, that one time I tried to grow a pumpkin and it never turned orange. (The kids were super impressed with that one, let me tell you.) 

Anyway, I'll tiptoe out there tomorrow morning and see if anything's left. I regularly see cats and raccoons visit my backyard and I'm pretty sure the fir tree houses an entire colony of squirrels. I'm just going to call this a practice year. I'm going to be living here for years and years. I will have plenty of other summers to attempt the Best Garden Ever. 

In the meantime I have some sort of itchy nasty rash all over my forearm and, I swear, about three dozen miniscule slivers in my right ring fingertip. Something went awry with my gardening gloves, but still - what is in the dirt that makes my arm so itchy? And just THAT arm? And how in the WORLD did I get so many slivers in my finger? I thought at first it was just dirty and I needed to scrub a little harder, but then I looked closer and NO, those are ITTY BITTY SLIVERS OWWWWIEEEE. 

I suppose I should be doing one of my various stationery-related tasks for my sister's wedding (in less than a month) (HOLY CATS) OR I should be figuring out my Blathering plane tickets (HAVE YOU?) OR I should be folding laundry OR doing something quasi-productive but no, I see that there are new episodes of Drop Dead Diva on Netflix. 

Just wanted to update you on the Garden Decision. I know you were anxious. ALSO: here's an update on yesterday's "do I wake a sleeping baby?" post. EJ woke up, entirely her own, at exactly 10pm. Perhaps she read the blog? She sucked down a bottle, played while I window shopped on the internet, and easily went back to bed at 11pm. And then woke up at 4:30am. I am never going to sleep all night again, am I. 

To Wake or Not To Wake?!

All right, I need to obsess over something. 

I am baby wrangling on my own tonight. And as previously mentioned, we have this whole new Emma Sleep System where we're super stingy with her naps during the day and somehow this gets us longer stretches of sleep at night. I wouldn't say it's working PERFECTLY but it is working WAY better than what we were doing before. Which was nothing. Haaaa.

For whatever reason she started getting all finicky and fussy around five. Five! This, after waking up at 3:30 (on her own) from her two-hour afternoon nap. (I don't let her do more than an hour in the morning and more than two hours in the afternoon.) Five is not an acceptable bedtime when you have practically just woken up from your afternoon nap AND you are Emma Cheung, The Exception To The Sleep Begets Sleep Rule. 

I kept her up until six, when she got REALLY fussy. Then I gave her a bottle and put her down. And now. NOW I get to decide whether to let her go on sleeping or if I wake her up to feed/change/redo bedtime. I DON'T KNOOOOOOW. This is decision is also hampered by the fact that only JUST got done putting the big kids to bed and cleaning up dinner and picking up the living room (except that is a lie, the living room is a DISASTER) and I am tired. I want to eat MY dinner and watch MY tv shows and then put MYSELF to bed. I don't want to get the baby up when she might just wake up at 2:30 ANYWAY. 

But maybe I should. What to do, what to do what to do. 

Before the Nap Stinginess began we were attempting the Get Her Up At Ten So She Doesn't Wake Up At Two system. Which was working half decently. Ish. Which is why Phillip, on the phone just now, HIGHLY recommend I get her up. Like, NOW. 


ALSO I have this Molly issue where there is Constant Sobbing and I am, again, At A Loss. Today the sobbing was over the fact that when I peeled her Fruit Roll Up off the cellophane it ripped. OH THE HORROR. I made sure to rip Jack's as well, so that it wouldn't be just HER fruit roll up that was decimated. But no, she could not get over this horrible affront to her sensibilities, so I sent her to her room until lunchtime. She was still sniffly when she came upstairs for lunch, and the whole thing started over again when she learned she was not getting Princess Soup (chicken soup with the princess-theme noodles, WHAT A RACKET) but instead a sorry cheese sandwich and WOE, WHAT IS THIS, A CONCENTRATION CAMP??? 

Where Jack's Three was neverending corner-sitting (also somewhat like his Four and Five), Molly's is neverending DRAMZ. Add that to the reluctance to speak, the assuming you understand the most subtle of head movements and lowered lashes, the incessant tattling, let''s just say that four dollar chocolate bar I bought myself at the grocery store today was totally justified. 

(Also, it appears I now have a four dollar chocolate bar habit. THIS STUFF IS GOOD, PEOPLE.)

All right. Now quick, tell me what to do about Emma. 

Deck vs. Yard, also my budding musical theater career

I live next door to a pitbull. I saw it tonight when I went out to water the vegetable plants on the deck. But that's only the second time I've seen the pitbull in the just-over-a-year that I've lived in this house. I figure that's a good sign. But still, a pitbull. We didn't know about the pitbull. Our yard backs up to four other backyards and the fences between all these yards are, well, I could probably knock them down with a well-placed kick. Especially the one that divides us from the pitbull - it's short, old, and picket-like. The last time I saw the pitbull was right after we'd moved in, when I had both kids in the backyard. Its owner was all, "He's all right... but he doesn't much like kids..." 

So. Yeah. 

I have vegetable plants on the deck, in their original containers, lined up in their original carrying box from the store. This is because I have no idea what to do with them. At first I was going to buy containers and plant the tomatoes, at least, in containers and leave them on the deck. The advantage to the deck is that it gets more sun than the yard, for some reason, and it's easily accessible for watering and fussing and doting. 

Then I thought I would plant them in the yard. I finally identified the chunk of yard that gets the most afternoon sun and I dug up a bunch of overgrown grass to make space for a garden. The advantage to the yard is that it's the YARD. That's where the garden should be. I can grow a lot there and grow beans on a trellis and plant a bunch of lettuce and all that. 

The disadvantages: I have to sweep the deck every five minutes lest we get buried under pine needles, and I don't love the thought of moving a bunch of containers around every time I have to sweep. Plus containers cost money! Even if I bought cheap plastic ones, I have to buy a LOT of cheap plastic ones. Plus it seems weird to plant, say, zucchini in a pot. Can you even do that? As for the YARD, I will remind you that our main living space is on the second floor and there is no staircase from the deck to the yard. So it's not super accessible for watering and fussing and doting and I know that makes me sound incredibly lazy, but I can't, like, leave a baby upstairs and go water the plants real quick. ALSO, more importantly, I can't SEE the garden area from the deck. This is because the dude who built our house built these WALLS on certain edges of the deck. This means that our closest neighbors can't SEE us on the deck, which is awesome, but means that I can't see EITHER. A lot of times I'll go out on the deck to see which kid clobbered the other outside and I can't even see them because of the stupid wall. 

Do these sound like the dumbest problems or what. But still. I can't decide what to do with my plants. Right now I'm leaning towards planting the tomatoes in containers and everything else in the yard. I DON'T KNOW. And it's not like it's SUNNY here, it's not like outside is anywhere amenable to growing ANYTHING so why even BOTHER complain complain vent pout. 

Phillip leaves tomorrow for an overnight trip, which, one night? PUHLEEZ. I can do one night with both hands tied behind my back. Things I AM worried about: grocery shopping. There is no food. There is also no more preschool. That means taking three children to a grocery store, something I try very hard not to do, EVER. Shall we go to the store with the playroom? I think so. ALSO. We are hosting a going away for our pastor this weekend and I am DETERMINED to force the children (mine and a few others) into a performance of some sort. My most ambitious plan involves rewriting the lyrices to 'So Long Farewell' from The Sound of Music and writing parts for the adults as well. If all else fails I think a preschooler rendition of Jesus Loves Me and a card will suffice. 

Right now, though, I have a nearly nine-month-old who, just this moment, seems to have, ah, solved her gastrointestinal problems. Things were getting dire, people, also very very sad. Is there anything more pitiful and heartbreaking than a baby who can't go? POOR BABY. Yay generic brand Miralax!

SERIOUSLY? you are thinking. YOU ARE ENDING WITH THAT? But I just like to remind you every now and then that I can be a serious mommyblogger. Happy Father's Day.

Two of my very favorite dead horses: sleep and school. You're welcome!

The current Emma theory is: less day sleep, more night sleep. Yesterday I woke her up early from both her morning and afternoon naps (KILLER) but Phillip put her down at 7:30 last night and she slept till 5. I fed her and put her back to bed; she started complaining around six and we got her up, but I'm pretty sure she was awake that whole time. ANYWAY. I wouldn't go so far as to say this is The Answer, but the theory has worked consistently so far and it at least makes us FEEL like we have (even the tiniest) grip on the situation. 

In other news, I am sad ALL OVER AGAIN about the Catholic school situation. The problem is that yesterday was the last day of school and because Emma napped beforehand, Molly and I were able to sit in on the assembly in the church. It was INCREDIBLY sweet and touching and moving and just all around charming. I was charmed! There were several sendings of teachers and students who will not return next year and they were all SO sweet and tear-inducing (if you are already tear-inclined, like me, shut up.) There was the honoring of the Parent Volunteer of the Year and HE was definitely the teary sort - he could barely choke out a thank you before he had to go sit down. 

Then there was the "moving up" ceremony during which I nearly died of THIS SCHOOL IS SO LOVELY! Representatives from each grade (there's only one class per grade) stood at the lectern, summarized their year in cute (younger grades) or inside-jokey (older grades) ways and then formally announced that their class was ready to move up to the next grade. Then the entire class stood up in the pew and marched into the vacant pew of the class above them. The eighth graders had already graduated and disappeared, so the seventh graders claimed their spot, the sixth grade the seventh grade and so on. It was just a really meaningful and joyful thing to witness. I felt SO disappointed that Jack would not be part of this community. I felt so disappointed that *I* would not be part of this community. 

It got worse later that night when I went to a church meeting (from six to nine thirty OMG I QUIT) and we heard the school principal present his budget. Just so much talk of Catholic school and how they make it work and trying to keep tuition down and what things they were able to do that year - shoot, I was ready to send my kids THERE. Yes, we know that I am easily influenced and swayed, and sending my kids to OUR parish school would be the height of inconvenience. Not to mention that in order to SEND our kids to Catholic school I would basically have to go back to work and that is not happening. But still. Disappointment. 

Maybe you're surprised because I wasn't terribly positive about Jack's pre-K experience. I think a lot (most?) of that had to do with the fact that the pre-K program was very new and still sort of a neglected stepchild at that school. Neither the staff nor the other parents seemed to know what to do with the pre-K kids and parents. There were valiant attempts to include us in various school events, but on a day to day basis the communication was terrible and I didn't think the program itself was all that fabulous. If I had to do it over again I probably wouldn't send him there. That said, he DID get to do a lot of things BECAUSE he was part of a "real" school - going on real field trips, visiting the school library, having a "buddy" in the upper grades. My impression of the kindergarten is totally positive and if circumstances were different I'd be excited to send him there. 

All of this said, my impression of the PUBLIC SCHOOL was INCREDIBLY positive and once I have a glimpse into that community and Jack actually starts attending, hopefully the Catholic school disappointment will wither and disappear.

Before all that, though, we have a summer of ballet lessons and a wedding and a beach weekend and maybe some swim lessons and two weeks of two different VBS camps and I keep telling Jack that kindergarten doesn't start until SEPTEMBER - we have a whole summer of fun to do first.