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December 2012

Christmas Crankypants

Whatever I end up writing here tonight, I'm sure it can be summed up in this sentence: WHY IS IT STILL NOT FRIDAY? and you're excused from reading the rest. Merry Christmas!

I think I did Christmas better last year. By which I mean, I put a LOT more effort into observing Advent and doing Christmassy activities with the kids and seeing the Christmassy sights. This year, not so much. I didn't even attempt a daily-activity-Advent-calendar like last year's. Absolutely NO interest in seeing the lit up neighborhoods or shopping downtown or ice skating at Seattle Center. 

However. This year I don't hate December. So. Progress, yes? Honestly, just the fact that I'm not sitting here writing weepy blog posts about my "diastrous" Christmas party means there's been major improvement. 

I don't hate December but I'm done with this week. I'm ready to get the party started, you know? I AM DONE WITH EVERYTHING. But still! Another day of school and fixing sandwiches and wondering what we're going to have for dinner OH HOW PROVINCIAL! Let's do this Christmas thing and then let me get on the airplane and do MY thing for a week. 

I caught a few minutes of Katie Couric today (shut up) and she said something about how she always wonders about women who don't have "their own thing" like a career and I thought: I KNOW, KATIE! WHAT IS MY THING! I NEED A THING! 

Well, eventually. I'm gonna go try out this Volunteer Intercessor thing for a spell and see how that goes. I'm sure that has a great future and pays super well. 

I don't think I'll be updating here for a while. I don't have a lot to say (obvs) and I'm not sure if I'll have much time to put thoughts together when I'm in St. Louis. Pancakes is bringing her iPad and keyboard so if the spirit moves me I won't be too far from the tools of insta-publishing. But otherwise, Twitter will be my blog. I'm not sure if you guys are interested in what I'll be doing? I mean, from a curiosity point of view, not because you can't stand going a day without reading these amazing insights into my daily life. HAAAA.

Okay, I should probably go be a parent. Merry Christmas, Internet. You may actually get a card from me before Christmas, but don't count on it. Oooh, that was Scroogey. Okay. I'm going to go cheer up with some left over party libations. MERRY CHRISTMAS! HAPPY NEW YEAR! XOXOXO


The best Christmas pageant ever

I'm trying not to be horribly disappointed that Jack's school does not do a Christmas program. Or a Holiday program. Or a Winter or Snowflake or Solstice or New Year program. As far as I know they do NOTHING, at least I think I would have heard about it by now. HUGE. BUMMER.

My THEORY is that the school is respecting its fairly large population of Muslim students and their families. With maybe a bit of liberal West Coast overcompensation in the Avoidance Of All Things Remotely Smacking Of Religion (though I should note, with a bit of honest shock, that Jack's school DOES do the Pledge of Allegiance.) 

My other, more worrisome theory is that they just don't have TIME to put on a holiday program. SIGH. 

Kindergarten has been a bunch of surprises for me. Surprise at how well Jack and I both took to this full day separation (ok, maybe not a TON of surprise about that). Surprise at how ACADEMIC kindergarten is. Weren't there TOYS in your kindergarten classroom? Maybe a kitchen and dolls? And plenty of arts and crafts? I thought kindergarten was one big poster paint session. But no, everyone says kindergarten is "the new first grade" and dude, it totally is. I can't believe some of the schooly stuff Jack is learning. I mean, I think it's GREAT and he likes doing it and handles it well and Phillip and I are BOTH so pleased and amazed by how much he's learned so far.

But there are no toys or "centers" and very little art. Jack's school does not have a music program or an art teacher. He's done a few art projects within the context of the curriculum, within his own class, but only a few. I know his teacher sings songs with him and there are heaps of intstruments for older kids to borrow for an after-school band, but there is no music otherwise. 

And once a month I go to the meeting at church where I hear everything about everything, which always includes a lot about the parish school, and every month I wonder: what would THAT be like? An amazing art teacher. And OBVS a Christmas program, with singing, featuring the Baby Jesus. I LOVED the idea of Jack learning that stuff right along with how to read and add and subtract. There's a curriculum and there is OTHER STUFF. 

At Jack's school they barely have time for science. 

So. This is NOT a "I regret public school" post. I don't. At all. There are various little ways that I see how this was an excellent decision for Jack, for our family, and Life In General. I think it's awesome that there is a large percentage of Muslim students. I LOVE his teacher. She's fantastic. I would know this even without my mother, teacher extraordinaire, saying, "She sounds fantastic!" every time I talk about her. We've had a handful of email interactions over the last week or two that have resulted in more friendly and personal communication at school. The school has a focus on character that I really like, emphasizing kindness along with reading. I think their writing program is so great. Jack is really happy there and loves everything about school. 

Still, I am sad - for HIM - that there is no holiday songfest, with freshly scrubbed and dressed up little kids, with parents holding camcorders, with the excitement of going on a stage. He did it last year, at the Catholic preschool. Maybe it was just such a big part of MY school experiences, and my parents always putting on shows with their classes, that I'm irrationally mopey about it. 

I don't know. Maybe they do something in the spring. Maybe his own class will do a little something some day. Maybe he'll play the lead in the high school play and, vicariously, all my dreams will come true. Heh. 

IS there a perfect school situation? I think mine would be a diverse Catholic school, within walking distance, with Jack's current teacher, with his current class, free, unhindered by a budget, with active yet laid back and friendly parents. Dream on, right?

When I was little my mom would put brown towels on my brothers' heads (the big one was Joseph, the little one was a shepherd) and blue one on mine, hand me a baby doll, and make us sing Christmas carols in front of our family on Christmas Eve. I have a boy, a girl, and an ACTUAL baby. We can put on our own Christmas program this year. 

The only consolation

Normally I'm the woman quietly weeping in front of her television for days on end. I sometimes think that soaking up as much information as possible is my way of grieving or processing what happened; feeling all the feelings, trying to imagine myself in the tragedy is my way of somehow serving or honoring or respecting the victims. 

With this latest evil I am weirdly, almost guiltily, detached. I can think of three reasons. The first is that the crazy pills kicked in for reals about a month and a half ago and even when I've TRIED to imagine my own child not coming home from school, my brain just doesn't go there. Like that option is no longer available, that switch is flicked. 

The second is that this one is so far beyond my ability to comprehend that my own body is protecting me from attempting it. Like if I actually succeeded in empathizing I would never leave my house again. I've thought: "what good am I to my own children if I let myself descend into that pit?" So I haven't. I suppose this is also called Denial.

The third is that maybe it's GOD protecting me. Knowing the sort of person I am, knowing my responsibilities to the three kids who live here with me. Like he's saying, "it's okay, you don't have to feel all the feelings this time, I know what's inside you."

But this morning, I don't know. I wondered if I was maybe ready to feel the feelings. Which isn't to say I've totally absolutely avoided everything. Friday I went around in a nauseous daze, Saturday a glimpse of a 6-year-old's face on the news sent me into the bathroom to sob. 

But this morning, I turned on the TV. I turned on The View, knowing that I would either love what they were saying or hate it. Like I felt maybe a good five minutes of gun control disagreement might be engaging, or at least give me something to focus on.

Except then Joy Behar said something like, and I am SO paraphrasing: "I guess 'they're in a better place' is consolation for some people" and I thought, "JOY. That is the ONLY consolation anyone could possibly HAVE."

Because I believe in God and heaven, and the promise of heaven is how I've clawed my way through many a World War II book. Of course those children should be here with their parents, but you know what? Heaven is better. It HAS to be better. It has to be a million trillion frillion times better than anything we can possibly dream up. That if any of us actually knew the truth of heaven and had to choose between it and "growing up, getting married, having our own kids, living a long peaceful happy life" we'd be all YEAH, NO CONTEST.

And I believe that one day those parents will be with their children again and none of this misery will exist. Otherwise we might as well go fling ourselves off the nearest cliff, you know? 

I have some ideas as to how Joy Behar might respond to that, but whatever. She can deal her way and I'll deal my way. It involves a lot of wordless prayer, a quick supportive email to the kindergarten teacher, a preservation of delightful expectant Christmastime for my kids. 

A few other things help:

All the teachers and former teachers I know, every single one of them would have locked the classroom door, huddled with the kids in a closet or a bathroom or the corner, and calmly read book after book until it was time to come out. Without a doubt. Teachers love their students. The teachers I know, especially the ones in my family, are amazing people. I can't picture them in a scenario where they don't think of their students first. 

Checking in with friends. Most of us have small children. Just a few quick texts this morning to see how drop off went. That we are so unanimously and equally horror struck gives one a little faith in humanity. 

Donating. Besides prayer I couldn't think of another way to turn my grief into something that might actually help.

...that's all, I think. Add this post to the heaps of others that had no need to be published, but are out here because I needed to write something down. 


*ETA: after reading Sarah's comment I just wanted to say that I didn't mean this to be a platitude I would offer to grieving families, only something I say to myself to reconcile my own despair over horrific things happening to innocent people. What she said about Jesus weeping with us - yes. This.  

A Not Particularly Pinterest-Worthy Hot Chocolate Bar

Because Jennie asked: important information pertaining to the Cheung Holiday Extravaganza* Hot Chocolate Bar

This was my second year doing a hot chocolate bar, even though Dedicated and Forever Welcome Party Guests walked in Saturday night and went, "ooh! A hot chocolate bar! This is a great addition!" Sob

We tried to manipulate the, ah, flow? Of mingling? Guest traffic? this year and moved bars and tables around a bit. (Didn't really work. Oh well.) I have a dining table and three sidebar type cabinets (my favorite type of furniture, by the way, I love me a long counter with cupboards). That's four Food And/Or Drink Areas. (I actually need five.) Things were laid out like so:

  • food on the dining table
  • desserts on the dining room sideboard
  • wine, punch, non-alcoholic drinks on the living room sideboard
  • hot cocoa and coffee on the sideboard we moved against another wall in the dining room
  • the make-your-own cocktail bar on the kitchen counter (people are messy!)

And OBVS this was Pinterest-inspired, but I didn't try to copy any particular look. I didn't want to buy anything new serving things, mainly. (Well, "wanted" is not the right word. I didn't NEED to buy more.) Also it's sort of a lost cause, me attempting to copy a Look. Besides, once you know @ebj123 you sort of give up trying to win Prettiest Display.


Aaaand, this is the only picture I have of it. I have to say it looks pretty dull in that picture. But in person I think it was cute? I hung white sparkly snowflakes above it with fishing line (though this was a second choice - the marshmallow garlands were a big fat giant FAIL, also I HATE marshmallows FOREVER). Oh, and I wrapped the sides with wrapping paper because it's basically a shelf full of toy and junk storage and it looked messy to me. 

This year I added the coffee pot. I don't know. It seemed to fit. Options! So I had paper cups, a coffee pot, a big pump thermos full of hot chocolate (the Ghirardelli mix - last year I made it from scratch and WHYYYY?), cream, sugar, and stir sticks. For toppings I put mini marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, and crushed candy canes in ice cream glasses, and a ton of whipped cream in a bowl. I also put out a little bucket (from last year's Target dollar section) of Pirouette cookies and some chocolate covered peppermint sticks from World Market. I know I had more toppings last year, but I didn't knock myself out too much this year. (This was actually this year's theme: Do Not Feel Exhausted BEFORE The Party Even STARTS.) 

I think it was okay? The marshmallow garlands would have looked awesome hanging in that space, but I seriously couldn't get them to work. I guess I could have spent a hundred years doing it and getting my entire house sticky in the process, but it wasn't worth it. Stupid marshmallows. (Apparently I'm not going to let this go easily.)

I also bought some red and aqua clip art frames on Etsy (I LOVE BUYING ETSY CLIP ART!!!) and made a label for everything. Which got me lots of lovingly snarky comments, but I don't care, that sort of thing makes my heart go pitter pat. 

So, uh, that's it? We made the cocoa in a big pot on the stove and somehow someone poured it into the thermos. I believe I was putting on eyeliner at that point. And the thermos I bought on Amazon last year for $20 something. 

Here is the punch and wine bar, featuring the Craigslist cabinet I bought last year and painted white. I suppose this is the Very Much After picture?


Dessert table:


Where you make your Christmas cosmo:


Food table minus the stuffed mushrooms which were still in the oven, and the lumpia and gyoza, which hadn't yet arrived, which is the only thing worth eating that isn't a cookie (IN MY OPINION. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY COOKIES I HAVE LEFT OVER? SOOOOO MAAAAANY.)


Here are the representatives of the Seattle Chapter of Bloggers Who Sometimes Peel Themselves Away From Their Beloved Laptops


I have an ADORABLE picture of my little sisters, but sometimes they don't like it when I put their pictures on the internet. YOUR LOSS.

Of COURSE there is no picture of Phillip and me. NONE. EVER. THERE ARE NEVER ANY PICTURES OF US TOGETHER. I only have this stupid one of me and my Santa star pillow, and all I hear is my mother's voice saying, "GET THAT HAIR OUT OF YOUR FACE."


Tomorrow I buy a ton of tins and plasticware to box up the multitudes of cookies for neighbor and teacher and Random Friend On Whom I'd Like To Unload gifts. I cannot have this stuff in my house anymore. CANNOT. Fudge is not an appropriate breakfast food! At least not every day!


*sometimes I reeeeeally want to write about our party and party stuff and decorating and food and how much fun it is to buy Etsy clip art and make dozens of perfectly coordinated labels, but then I realize 1) I sound like a nutcase and 2) I start referring to it as the Cheung Holiday Extravaganza and 3) I suspect the majority of party guests only show up to humor me, and because many of them 4) read this blog I also suspect they are 5) secretly scoffing at any party-related post SO. THAT'S THAT.

I might be biased but this IS this cutest thing ever

So my baby isn't walking or crawling or even pulling up, when you try to do baby signs with her she smiles at you like you're an idiot, she's reverted to old [and horrible] sleeping patterns, and she still takes a bottle and a morning nap, both things my other kids gave up before 12 months. 

She does, however, have a fairly advanced first word. 

RIGHT?! She sort of says "mama" (though not in reference to me, of course) and she often says "uh uh" which I know means "uh oh", but COME ON! So what if she's just repeating sounds?! THAT'S WHAT FIRST WORDS ARE!

I am totally writing this down in the baby book, I don't care what you say. 


Tuesday Reads & Recommends

Recommend: Have you ever played, or ever heard of, Hashi? I was looking for a nerdy logicky iPad game for the occasional zone out purpose and stumbled on this app. AND NOW I AM OBSESSED. It was super easy to pick up and each game is harder than the last. I used to finish them in two minutes, now I'm constantly getting stuck and having to start over. 

Also, if anyone is EXTRA nerdy like me and has a few of those Nancy Drew computer games in a drawer somewhere, the Dana Knightstone iPad apps are pretty cool. Same developer, same sort of set ups and puzzles, less annoying dialogue. 

Read: Where'd You Go, Bernadette? I read this on the planes to and from the Blathering. I loved it. It is a quirky little book, but its a good one, especially if you are from or familiar with Seattle. Then you will find it hilarious. AND TRUE!

Read: A few weeks back this guy was on the news - a neurosurgeon who went into a coma and miraculously woke up claiming he'd seen? visited? journeyed to? heaven. I KNOW. Obvs I read this article ASAP and discussed it at length with everyone who would listen, as fascinated-by-the-supernatural types such as myself are wont to do. Even if you're not that type it's pretty interesting, if only for the exquisite description!

Read: In the same religiousy wackjobby vein, read this article Phillip forwarded to me (from a TECH site!) about the issues a student is having with her student ID, which happens to be "the mark of the beast". Just so you know, everything I learned about the Rapture and the End Times I learned from my friend's parents who have been preparing for these events for years. Truly. I get all my good conspiracy theories from them, also my information on how long how many pounds of flour will last and where to invest. Anyway, what Phillip and I both liked about this article is how it examined the question without making the believers into ridiculous cartoon characters. My friend's parents were positive that UN troops were holed up in Montana to declare martial law when Obama won the election, but they're very kind people. 

Read: one of my best friends has a child with Down Syndrome and if my dad reads something about Down Syndrome he will send me the link to forward to her. Usually these are George Will articles. This time it was 6 Things Down Syndrome Parents Wish You Would Stop Saying. When he sent the link he added, "maybe number seven is: "Hey, I read this great article on Down Syndrome, I'll send you the link!" But I liked this writer's candor. 

Read: This is... I guess I'd say it's one of the most powerful and honest blog posts I've read in a long time, from Barefoot and Pregnant

Intellectually, I believe the Church. I understand the arguments against birth control. I agree with them, even. I just no longer think I’m a good enough person to follow the rules.

That spike your interest? 

Recommend: Believe it or not, when I've been looking for dresses and skirts and tops of the sparkly holiday variety, JCPenney has been my best bet. BY FAR. I am in absolute love with the dress I bought to wear to our party this weekend - not online for some reason, but it's this silvery lace thing with FRINGE and OMG I LOVE IT. I mean, for something I'm going to wear once or twice a year, I don't want to spend heaps of money, but I want SOMETHING awesome. I found several awesome things at my local mall department store. WOO!

It'll be ten years in June

Well HALLO, Internet! It's nice to see you! Tonight, apropos of absolutely nothing, I have decided to tell you about my first date. 

OH WAIT! I HAVE NEVER BEEN ON A FIRST DATE! WITH ANYONE! So actually I have decided to tell you all about how bitter I am that I have never been on a first date. Ever. Possibly I need to write a song about it, in the spirit of an indignant red lipsticked Taylor Swift. 

I know you are wondering how one eventually ends up married if one has never been on a first date. I WILL TELL YOU. 

But first: the history of the nonexistent date. (ANY DATE! FOR SHAME!) 

Shockingly I somehow acquired a boyfriend when I was fourteen. I knew he was my first real boyfriend because we didn't break up after three days. He was sixteen, which I now think is TERRIBLE, and he had a CAR, which is even WORSE. I'm positive I have committed the entire relationship to a journal somewhere, but I have yet to open those boxes labeled MAGGIE'S HIGH SCHOOL STUFF that my parents evicted from their garage years ago, so I'm a bit fuzzy on the details. Fourteen-year-old me is horrified by this, by the way, but fourteen-year-old me thought she would marry THAT guy so who cares what she thinks.

Anyway, did not go on any first dates with that guy. I don't even remember how we started hanging out all the time. I was basically not allowed to do anything or go anywhere or have any fun, especially with him, so it's possible this entire "relationship" took place in the school hallways. Except for that one time I DID ride in his car and got CAUGHT ha ha ha - I 1) still feel guilty about this and 2) am still irritated with the friend of my parents who told on me. NEARLY TWENTY YEARS LATER. 


So. No first date there. 

And thennnnn, there is no date to tell you about, on account of there being no boys wanting to TAKE me on dates. WOUNDED SIGH.

Oh, there were boys I I liked in high school, but they did not like me. When I think about them now my only feeling is relief. Spare me the teenage boys! I overheard a few of them at the mall today and thought to myself, "Why did you ever think THAT specimen of human being was AT ALL attractive?" 

There were the two or three guys who liked me, but who I thought were weird/annoying/dumb/unattractive/etc. and therefore ignored (nicely). I'm guessing those are the guys who now entertain Victoria's Secret models on their private islands. There was the guy who told me, at our graduation party, that he had really liked me at one point but was totally intimidated by me. At the time I was confused and offended, but now I just think I must have been THAT smart and beautiful. I mean, OBVS, right?!

Oh, and the guy I mooned over my entire senior year, who was dating someone else. TRAGEDY! He lived in my town and secretly liked me back and once we met up in our tiny town square (remember I lived in podunk Northern Italy) to drink beer and eat pizza at the one pizzeria. Well, he ordered beer. I thought beer was gross and also I was determined to be a Very Good Girl after that whole riding-in-cars-with-boys fiasco a few years before. 


Then I went to COLLEGE which was, like, a million frillion percent better than high school, but there was still nobody who wanted to take me on a date. Woe. Sometimes when I look at pictures of myself in college I think, "Well, no WONDER." Even so, I wasn't particularly interested in anyone. There were heaps of Possibilities, you know, but none of them struck me as Worthwhile. 

Until, of course, I met Phillip Cheung. SECOND WOUNDED SIGH. I liked him from almost the first second, but it was two years of getting to know each other, hanging out in big groups, killing time in each other's dorm rooms, being Just Friends, wondering if he would EVER EVER like me back. And you guys, I know there are SEVERAL journals worth of Phillip Angst, but we're just going to keep those boxed up until I die and then my grandchildren can find them and make fun of me. 

By the time Phillip finally admitted to himself that I was the most perfect girl in the entire world and the only one for him, there was no need for a first date. When we went out it was just doing the things we'd always done before, only this time he paid. 

Phillip's take on this, since he just asked me what I was writing about and I told him the truth, is: "Well, I was so great there wasn't really any need for a first date."

Also, in case you haven't figured this out, Phillip and I aren't really the, ah, frivolous sorts. As in, I AM HIS FIRST REAL GIRLFRIEND. Someone had an even worse dating track record than me! I didn't know it at the time, but we're definitely both the sort of person who doesn't want to even bother unless it's Serious. That might be why it took him so long - deciding to date me was tantamount to assuming we'd get married. 

And yeah, we got married and had three perfect children and he has a Career and I'm a SAHM and everything worked out just fine, but man, sometimes I'm watching a TV date and I'm BITTER! I wanted a TV-style date! I wanted someone to ask ME out and be Pleasantly Surprised and Flattered! I wanted an awkward kiss goodnight on a New York City stoop! WAH!

Instead I Pined for two years until I wore him down. And he didn't even PROPOSE, people, we were having a big FIGHT about when to get married and instead of a proposal we were both like, "FINE! LET'S DO IT NOW! HAPPY?!"

(Obvs that is another blog post. That I'm sure I've written two or three times. Sigh.)


Anyway. This post is brought to you by the fact that it's Sunday night, Phillip is going out for beers with some friends, which he can do because he's not nursing an ulcer about going to work on Monday, and I am quite content to stay home with a bowl of popcorn and my TiFaux, and we are very terribly happy. 

I, on the other hand, remember it well

Sometimes I like to read what everyone else is reading, even if it's months past when everyone else is talking about it. I put a digital copy of What Alice Forgot on hold at the library and the other night when there was absolutely nothing to watch on TV I thought, fine, I'll start reading a book

It wasn't the best book I've ever read and it certainly wasn't the worst, so when I was all done I was confused (again!) by how STRESSED OUT and IRRITATED I was. How AFFECTED I was. "What's your DEAL, Self?" I asked myself. "CHILLAX."

But I thought about it most of the day and I realized: oh. That's why. So you see, due to a head injury, Alice has forgotten the last 10 years of her life. (WAIT! SPOILER! DO NOT KEEP READING IF YOU WANT TO READ THE BOOK! I HAVE WARNED YOU!) Ten years ago she was young, pregnant, blissfully happily married, excited for the future. But the Alice of the Ten Years Into The Future, the REAL Alice, she's a half-psychotic supermom with three kids and a fancy house and a husband who works all the time... and travels... and takes a lot of phone calls... and she sort of emotionally divests herself from him... and then they SEPARATE. ACK.

Hey did you like how I said "emotionally divests"? And I've never even taken a psych class. 

Anyway, this gnaws at me. Clearly I am still processing The Year Of Too Much Business Travel. I am beyond thrilled that Phillip is at a new place doing new stuff, he feels like there's potential, and the environment, the expectations, the "culture" seems so different. He hasn't been there long enough to know and it's not like he'll never get on a plane for work again, but it's a huge [and good, I think] change. But I don't think I have fully switched over from Single Parenting Every Other Week to Daddy Is Home At Five Every Day. 

I feel terrible, because it's not like Phillip was DEPLOYED. It's not like his job WAS in Atlanta and he only came home on the weekends. (I know people who have arrangements like this and do it for years.) He got so much better at communicating vague travel plans and I never felt jerked around by his work. And even though he was consistently traveling once a month for a year, the excessive travel, the several weeks per month only started happening in September. That was only three months. When we knew there was an end point. Halfway through we knew it wasn't just the end of crazy travel but an entirely new JOB waiting at the end. When he made sure to be around on the weekends and made it possible for ME to go on a FUN trip by myself for five days. 

It seems like such a short term thing - why does it feel like a big deal still? Why does it feel like something to process at all? 

I think it's the way I coped with it all. In the beginning, when he first started these 4 and 5-day-long business trips, I would silently freak out about them for weeks ahead of time. (If I KNEW about it weeks ahead of time, I suppose!) The anticipation was always harder than the actual event. I think I got used to it, sort of, then we went and had EJ and I got terrified all over again. EJ was only about two months old the first time he left me at home with three. She was a horrible sleeper, the whole thing WAS horrible, I had to plan to spend almost the whole week with my parents when he went away again the next month. (That was better.) 

By September and October of this year, I didn't even bat an eye. It's not like I was HAPPY about it or anything, but I felt resigned. It wasn't Phillip's fault, after all. He didn't seem to be as affected by work travel as I was, but this was still his job, the way I got to stay home with my kids, the way we paid the mortgage. And I was capable. I could do all the school stuff by myself. I could do all the meals and bedtime. I could do a wet bed and a bloody nose and an awake-for-no-reason baby all in one night. I made embarrassingly easy dinners, I put the kids to bed as early as possible, we made plans with friends and family, and I savored that alone time at the end of the day when I was finally done and there was no one else around to take care of except myself. Single parenting wasn't so bad. I could handle it just fine. 

What's weird now, I think, is that even though I don't HAVE to single parent anymore, it's still sort of my first plan of attack. How do I take care of this thing? How do I manage all of these people? I forget to factor Phillip into all of that. 

So when he comes back and decides that he's going to try a new discipline approach with Jack, or suggests I do something differently with Emma, or points out something I forgot or ignored I'm RATHER TOUCHY. I'm like this anyway (don't you try to tell me I'm wrong!) but I feel even more sensitive. Like, "HEY, WE WERE JUST FINE WITHOUT YOU." 

And that's... horrible. Horrible! I don't want that! 

I didn't really know how else to deal with the business travel, and now I see it affecting things afterward. I need to get out of this mindset where I am only and forever in charge, where parenting WITH someone is better for everyone. And I don't have to tell myself it's not important just so I can manage to do it alone. 

Phillip feels differently... I'm not exactly sure how it all lines up, but from what he says, it seems that he feels he was fully present when he was home and it wasn't like he was gone ALL the time and he was still a part of things. And he WAS... but I think when he was here, especially the last few months, I was just preparing for him to leave again. I never got comfortable. I made sure to spend plenty of time alone, without kids AND my husband. I didn't want to be angry and resentful all the time, and it seemed like the only way to do that was to act/feel/think like I was just fine doing this on my own, I didn't need him anyway. 

So I wasn't angry and resentful. Honestly. I was many things, but I was not angry or blaming him. Whatever I did, it worked. It's just that now that it's over, it's proving hard to go back. 

A nap or a nice long soak in the tub with a copy of Us Weekly

I reached a weird Short Hair mark today. It doesn't feel too long so much as too... thick. Which, for someone with decidedly un-thick hair, is an odd sensation. Before, when it was short but still ear-tuck-able, it would definitely get too long and shaggy-looking. Now it's more... mushroom shaped. I don't know. I'm not into it. And my bangs seem too long, even though they aren't really that long. This is all very confusing and I scheduled a haircut about two weeks earlier than I planned because No. I am not having Mushroom Head. 

Everything feels a bit confusing, to be honest. Let's bullet point:

  • My husband is getting home at 5. !!! He is working MUCH farther away than he used to, but he's coming home an hour earlier than he used to. Will this last? Who knows! 
  • After a dedicated struggle to lose weight and maintain a smaller size, I seem to have lost all of my mojo and/or motivation and absolutely must put every sugary thing I see into my mouth. I don't understand how I can be eating my feelings NOW, NOW that the business travel is over and my baby usually sleeps through the night. 
  • Every single stupid morning my sink is full of dishes. This probably shouldn't be confusing, but it IS. Every morning I'm like, "Really? AGAIN?"
  • I am oddly un-stressed about our Christmas party. That is not at ALL like me. 
  • My kids ate tacos the other night. Tacos! With weird meat and a side of refried beans! I nearly fell over from shock. 
  • It gets dark at 4. 
  • I haven't seen my friends in forever. And I am really good at making sure I see my friends. But it's That Time Of Year and there's school schedules and family in town and we are all so busy
  • I keep flipping back and forth between What Alice Forgot and The Guns Of August and then cautiously watching bits of the Chosin Reservoir documentary on Netflix because I'm afraid of it but still really want to know about it and I think all of that input might make for a confusing subconcious. 

I don't know. Maybe things don't feel like real life yet. December isn't ever a normal stretch of time and I feel like I'm just waiting around for the next thing - a party this day, a party that day, family family family, then oh yeah I have to get on a plane the day after Christmas... Making solid plans or changing something up or painting something or making a decision - feels sort of pointless because we just don't know what things ARE yet. Something like that. Maybe I just need a nap. 



In case you weren't super sure, this website is powered by chocolate chips

I am averaging about a half a bag of chocolate chips per day. I want to totally ignore this fact AND never speak of it again OR refer jokingly to the pudge I continue to add to my middle as "my winter weight! HAR HAR!" At the same time I want to write a lengthy, angst-ridden, self-diagnosis of my inability to stop eating chocolate chips and the utter depression consuming me re: the pudge I continue to add to my middle. However. I've decided to do neither and simply eat more chocolate chips while I think of something else to write about. 

I held a seven-week-old baby at church this morning and OH. Heavy sigh. I never want to be pregnant again and I'm still half-terrified of giving birth again and even if those things weren't true my husband is already well out of his Children Comfort Zone. BUT BUT BUT. I love babies. No, you guys, I love babies. They are the smooshiest most wondrous little things and if I think about it too much it absolutely kills me that my own baby is rapidly becoming un-baby-like. Maybe this is why she isn't even close to walking, maybe she knows!

ALTHOUGH. Pregnancy is, in my opinion, a totally valid reason to keep a chocolate chip habit. 

Honestly, I think I keep eating chocolate chips because they're THERE. I start baking pretty early on for Christmas festivities and this year, as you already know if you follow me on Twitter/Instagram, I went hard core with the cookies. My freezer is packed. But I still have plans for more and that means Cookie Supplies are everywhere. I finally did get a handle on the amount of goodies I was consuming directly out of the freezer, but those chocolate chip bags are the devil. Delicious devils. 

AAAAAAANYWAY. Is there really nothing else to say? Must this blog always be waxing poetic over chocolate?

I suppose one good observation I can make is that I consume (or want to consume) the same amount of chocolate in good times as in bad. Last week? Quite possibly the easiest week of my Mom Of Three Kids Career. Phillip's new job started, but only kinda sorta. He was doing this online training thing Monday through Thursday. It started at six in the morning (lame for him) but meant that he was off around three (awesome for ME.) He did this from home, so he was around during the afternoon witching hours! He picked up Jack for me! He was just HERE! And I have to say, I got used to that pretty quick. So much so that when he finally went into the office on Friday, it was a long afternoon. Even though he came home at FIVE. He NEVER comes home at five! But apparently everyone else left early? So he did too? What I'm saying is I could maybe get used to this new company. The culture appears to be... decidedly different. 

In the meantime I am doing a crazy amount of online shopping (while eating chocolate chips) and fussing about my house (while eating chocolate chips). I am DYING to decorate for my Christmas party, which isn't for two weeks. (By the way, you're invited.) So far I've refrained from giving into that madness, but I'm also annoyed because the decorating I HAVE done is constantly being messed with by CHILDREN. Also, they think my present wrapping supplies are theirs for the taking. No. I will guard that last tape dispenser with my LIFE.

DEAR GOD THIS IS THE MOST BORING BLOG POST EVER. I feel like if you are still here reading this I should hurry to your house and pour you a handful of chocolate chips as thanks. I need a jumpstart for this blog. Or something. I can't keep writing about Jobs and Children and Weight I Could Clearly Not Be Gaining If I Made Any Effort Whatsoever. I'm trying to think of a SERIES. One time, long long ago, I wrote a bunch about how I became the Lackadaisacal Yet Mostly Devoted Churchy Person I am today. One time I wrote about how I go grocery shopping and feed these people I live with. I need to think of something I can be obsessive about for a week or two. The only thing I've thought of so far is: Which Nashville Character Would I Rather Marry: Fake Tim Tebow or Gunnar The Sweet, Sensitive, and Swoon-worthy Singer/Songwriter. SIGH.