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January 2013

Bat Saga

If you follow me on Twitter you could not escape the Bat Tweets today. I'm sorry. BUT YOU GUYS. The bat! It was ridiculous! It is STILL ridiculous. I cannot believe we arranged an entire day around, and my husband missed an entire day of work because of, a STUPID BAT.

Around two in the morning Phillip got up to investigate a noise in the bathroom. Silly me, I thought he was getting up to deal with the Insomniac Baby who starts talking to herself around two or three and doesn't stop for at least an hour. But no, he thought Jack had come upstairs to use OUR bathroom, but the noises were weird, so he got up - and then he was turning on lights and banging doors and I was all, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU CRAZY MAN."

He slams the door and looks at me. "So," he says. "There's a bat in our bathroom."

While Emma yammered in the background, we both Mulled The Implications. 

It wasn't in a place where he could trap it (hiding in a heap of bath toys) (which are now in the garbage) (ugh). If he shooed it out it could fly anywhere in our house. We didn't have a net or anything to catch it with. Besides, Phillip was afraid it would bite him. 

He left the lights on, both doors shut, got back in bed and began to Google. What else would we do?

The bathroom is a little weird - one end opens into the hallway and the other opens into our bedroom. It's the only bathroom on the upper floor AND it has a super high ceiling with a skylight. It's pretty if you ignore the cobwebs. Phillip assumed the bat somehow flew in from the attic? But how did it get in the attic? In the middle of the night he left messages for pest control services and in the morning I said, "Um, no, you aren't going to work today and leaving me with VERMIN ON THE LOOSE."

We used the bathroom downstairs. We told the kids the toilet was broken. I made Phillip sneak in and get my contacts, but otherwise we kept the doors shut. We didn't want to wait for anyone to call us back, so Phillip called again, and a man from Critter Control promised to be at our house between ten and noon. 

Twitter warned me that Vermin Catchers were chatty and the Bat Man did not disappoint. In the span of five or six minutes I learned everything I never wanted to know about bats. However! He located and caught the bat within minutes and duct taped it into a coffee cup he had in his truck. 

Why didn't you just get RID of it? you are asking. Throw it outside! Well, because the Bat Man made a Very Big Deal about getting it tested for rabies. It was that or immediately go to the clinic and begin the series of rabies shots for the entire family. The chance was low, he promised, but STILL. STILL. WHAT IF? These are your BABIES! AAAAUUUUGGGHHHH!

It sems like this is the sort of thing pest control should do FOR you, but no, we got to KEEP the bat. He left the bat on our PORCH. In its coffee cup HOUSE. (Well, first he checked out the attic and the roof and nope, no bat colonies here and OMG BAT COLONIEEEEEEEESSSSS.)

He told us to call Seattle Public Health. And this is where everything gets RIDICULOUS. 

Seattle Public Health was very sorry about our bat, but they didn't think it needed to be tested for rabies. Phillip demanded to know why not. Well there are requirements and restrictions for doing such testing and if we weren't DIRECTLY EXPOSED to the bat, there was no need. Phillip explained that we didn't KNOW if we were directly exposed. What if it  LANDED on one of the CHILDREN during the NIGHT and seriously, I was dry heaving as he had this heated conversation. 

Phillip and the SPH lady went back and forth and because she felt sorry for us in our Bat-Ridden Plight, she agreed that as it was found in the Master Bathroom which is technically part of the Master Bedroom, she could say it was "flying around in our room" and we were "directly exposed", but she'd have to the argue the point to her superiors and get back to us. 

Oh! And if they DID agree to test it, we would have to drive the bat to Kent (waaaaay south of us), have it humanely euthanized, and then drive to Shoreline (north of us) to have it tested. !!!

While we waited to see if they'd agree to test it, Phillip decided to call a vet and see if THEY could euthanize it. (I didn't know this part.) "Uhhhh..." they said. "Uhhhh...." Then they told him to call Animal Control. (WHY DIDN'T THE BAT MAN JUST TELL US TO CALL ANIMAL CONTROL.)

So! Animal Control said, "Hey, we'll euthanize your bat! AND we'll deliver it to Shoreline for testing!" Then they wanted our information and they'd call us back. Note: Animal Control? MUCH CLOSER THAN KENT. Note: I WAS UNAWARE OF THIS PHONE CALL. 

But. They never called back. Phillip sat around wondering what to do about our bat. I was ignoring this to the best of my ability, except for when I had something exciting to tweet. 

Then SPH called and said they agreed to test our bat. OH THANK YOU FOR THE LOVELY FAVOR, SPH. But we had to euthanize it first and deliver it to the lab "packaged properly". I do not have ANY desire to know what that means. 

Animal Control still hadn't called. (Note: I DID NOT KNOW THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO CALL.)

Around 3 Phillip decided that he better just drive the stupid bat to Kent so he'd have time to drive it back up to Shoreline before the lab closed. Me = still ignoring everything. Me = wondering why he can't go pick up Jack on his way to deliver the bat. Me = disbelieving that a bat, a MOUSE-LIKE BAT, has put a total stop to Cheung Daily Production.

Phillip left with the bat. Two minutes later I hauled the girls to school and fetched Jack. When we got home, Phillip's car was in the driveway. He was in the house talking on the phone. I stood at the top of the stairs and shouted, "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON PHILLIP CHEUNG!"

"Animal Control is coming to get the bat!"


"They're coming to PICK UP THE BAT!"

Oh you guys. This is so stupid. Animal Control didn't call Phillip, but Seattle Public Health DID, in the car, right before he got on the freeway, to tell him that Animal Control was coming to get the bat. How SPH linked up with Animal Control I AM STILL VERY CONFUSED ABOUT THIS. I was sort of stuck on the part where someone was driving across town to my house to pick up a half-dead BAT.


And it's not like it started to make sense after that. I know Phillip is reading this and dying to explain how SPH knew about Animal Control and he DID tell me but I'M STILL NOT CLEAR  BUT ANYWAY. Phillip had a half hour conversation with the Animal Control girl in our driveway, who was holding our bat in something that looked like an oatmeal cannister about three feet away from her body. GOD KNOWS WHAT THEY WERE DISCUSSING. But Phillip came inside and said he had to FOLLOW THE BAT. 


Apparently he had to give Animal Control twenty minutes or so to kill the bat, I mean Humanely Euthanize the bat, THEN he could go pick it up and take it to the lab in Shoreline. (They told him they would deliver the bat on the phone, but I guess they mixed that up with "we will pick up your bat from your house".) 

Meanwhile I am thinking: TAXPAYER DOLLARS AT WORK. 

So Phillip left again, a bit later, for Animal Control in Interbay (for you locals playing along) to pick up a dead bat. Then he made it to the lab in Shoreline at 4:55 PM, five minutes before it closed. 

All this to find out if a bat, which should not even be flying around in January, and did not come from a Bat Colony in our attic, and which is the size of a teeny mouse, which (we are fairly certain) was NOT flying around our house and landing on each individual family member in their beds, and living in an area in which rabies is not common, HAS RABIES. So that WE CAN KNOW THAT WE ARE NOT EXPOSED. 

I realize that rabies is a big deal. But this just seems wildly SILLY to me. Who knew that catching the bat would be infinitely easier than deciding what to do with the bat post-catch? 

So! Let us all fervently pray that this bat is not one of the lucky five percent that have rabies because OH GOD if I have to add "Now we're all getting rabies shots" to this blog post I'll have to also add a padded cell to my house. 

Thoughts during an attempted afternoon nap

Today is a day when I don't feel capable of making dinner for my family, let alone figuring out how to open a kid-friendly bakery. Today is dark and gloomy and it's been raining all day. I've had to do drop offs and pick ups in the wet, standing alongside the van buckling and unbuckling, throwing cookies at whiny children in the back seats, turning off the radio because my brain is already too full, overloaded. 

The sort of day where 2:45 rolls around and I think to myself, "I don't want to go pick up Jack from school." I don't. I don't want to get coats and shoes, get the girls in the car, drive two minutes, get the girls out of the car, haul us into the school, wait around until the bell rings, bark at them on the way back to the car because OMG look where you're going and you don't need to stomp in every puddle and your side of the car is THAT side and how long can it possibly take you to climb into your car seat? 

My hands smell like diapers. 

I have to think of what to make for dinner, even though I made dinner LAST night and the night before that. And even when I don't make dinner I have to think of what to scrounge out of the freezer or the cupboard or what to order. It's gray and dreary and there's a baby howling in her crib and laughing-that-sounds-dangerously-close-to-crying downstairs and why can't I make all of this go away so I can lay down on the couch and close my eyes?

It's January. It's Monday. It's all sorts of terrible things. 

I feel angry at the baby. Part of why I'm not going in there to pick her up is because I'm afraid I won't be very nice to her. Just sleep. For the love of God, just sleep

I hate when I am PLANNING to get my kids a snack, even though they've been mean to each other and snotbrats to me, but they rush me all, "Mommy can we have a SNACK?!" and then I don't want to give them anything. Well maybe some nice heads of lettuce. A can of beans. I want them to LET me do something for them rather than this constant pelting of demands. Like they think I'm going to forget to feed them, that I just WON'T pick them up from school. 

I hate it when I've just snapped at them about something and three seconds later: "Can we have a snack?"

It is SO wearing, SO tired-making to be talked at and cried at and pelted with "But Mommy, I'm still hungry" because seriously, if you're so hungry you should have just EATEN YOUR DINNER so stop asking me for MORE THINGS THAT ARE NOT DINNER. 

I want to go on vacation, which is terrible because I just WENT on vacation. I want to see my friends. I want to parent WITH my friends. Who thought up this horrible stay at home mother situation anyway. Who thought this was a good idea? There's another mother on my street, but she works and hasn't initiated with me at all, even though I've initiated with her AND she seems to appreciate it; besides the one conversation we've had was about researching private schools and did I know where the good ones are and I'm probably not the sort of parent friend she wants anyway WHY I AM NOT LIVING IN THE BLOGGER COMMUNE? 

Phillip says, "It's nice when I get home and you want to, you know, hang out with us! Instead of focusing on your computer and getting away!" And God, I wish I could be that way every night, I really really do. Those are fun nights. I can wrestle with the kids and sing songs and cheerfully help with homework and clean up the kitchen, but they aren't all like that. Some nights I just don't want to hear anyone else talking. I don't want to hear anything

The baby is still sobbing. I should probably get her up. 


In which someone needs to pour me a drink and rub my feet

Today I am overwhelmed by the coffee shop idea. I think it has something to do with the aisle - AN ENTIRE AISLE - of Torani drink syrups. 

I want to throw all these thoughts and ideas at you and see what you think. But first I should say that the idea has morphed a little, from a coffee shop with homemade treats, to a bakery that also sells coffee. I suppose this was always the vision, seeing as how both the FPC and I are infinitely more interested in flour, sugar, and butter than we are coffee beans. Also that both of us have worked barista jobs and aren't particularly excited about doing it again. (GOOD PEOPLE TO START A COFFEE SHOP, EH?!) We've had a lot of fun dreaming up a menu - baked goods, snacks, lunchy items, kid-friendly and kid-sized bento boxes even - and the coffee is... well definitely not an AFTERTHOUGHT, but not the focus. I think that's okay. 

And it's not a cafe. We don't want to do REAL food. We will have some TYPES of real food, and things you could order for your kids' lunch that you could feel virtuous about, but we won't be making to-order sandwiches and that sort of thing. After all, the FPC and I are the sort of people who would eat a croissant followed up by a brownie for lunch. Our working name is Little Cousins Bakery & Playroom. Please, I beg you people to think of something better. 

So a BAKERY, that sells coffee and encourages you to sit down in our, hopefully, large space full of chairs and tables and couches and things for your kids to do and play with. Which reminds me of the most troubling aspect of this whole thing - I'm not worried about getting customers, but I AM worried about getting enough customers in and out of the store. From what I've read, coffee shops make money by selling lots of coffee. (You can tell I did not go to business school.) And that means getting people in and out. I can see this being the sort of place where there isn't really a quick turnaround. This is why I think it has to be a pretty large space, to accommodate a lot of people who might want to stay on a rainy day. A large space costs more. So. Blargh. 

Other worries: 

  • Even if we wipe things down and disinfect the toys ten times a day, is that enough to kill germs/calm the parents?
  • Is it prohibitvely expensive to lease a commercial space with a kitchen? Is this why hardly any of the coffee shops I go to sell their own treats?
  • What kind of liability insurance will this require?
  • What happens if you take out a small business loan and then, ah, can't pay it back? *bats eyelashes*

Honestly, my biggest personal thing to figure out is if I have the TIME. I'm not a total idiot. I know that people who open small businesses are working crazy hours to get it off the ground. Even if they have employees, no one works harder than they do. And I'm also aware that as hard as I think I'll have to work, the truth is that I'll probably have to work twice THAT hard. 

But! In our house, Phillip's career is the priority and because I do what I do, he's able to move up and ahead and do what he needs to do. It would be a big sacrifice for our family, either in terms of time or money or Phillip's commitment to HIS work - likely all three - if I were to devote all my free time and energy (and more than what I currently have free, of course) to opening a bakery with my sister. I'm not sure I want to go there. This isn't my long time pursue-at-all-costs dream. Also, Phillip works a job that pays actual money, whereas I am good at thinking of things to do that will COST us money. 

I can't really figure that out, though, unless I figure out what it will take to open a bakery. Maybe we can hire enough help so that we can still be parents too. Which is why the FPC and I went out to price things today. We meant to price out equipment and ingredients, but the restaurant store isn't open on Sundays. So we went to the Cash 'n Carry instead and maybe it was a good thing that we only did that because DUDE. OVERWHELMED. 

We went to the Cash 'n Carry because the FPC's former boss would go there when that bakery was low on supplies. It was... well you go in sort of expecting everything to be labeled ACME, but to my surprise there were actually a lot of name brand items, as well as things I had absolutely never seen before. Pouches of bavarian creme filling? That are not refrigerated? Powdered lactose-free soft-serve mix. Enormous bags of specialty flour. Vats of frying oil. Buckets of baking powder. And an aisle of Torani drink syrups, every imaginable flavor, four dollars and eight cents each. 

The FPC went down each aisle with her notebook and pen, writing down useful information, while I went around taking photos with Instagram and exclaiming over sizes and amounts and OMG that is a CRAP TON of soy sauce! (Not useful.) 

In the car on the way home we talked about how the FPC would translate her notes into "how much stuff we need and how much it will cost" and it just sounds like... well, for one thing, a lot of math. But everything is an estimation and we've never done this before and I am OVERWHELMED. I keep telling myself that OTHER people open coffee shops and bakeries and they are not ALL smarter than me, but yeah, right now I'm feeling fairly uneducated. 

At least when we go to price out equipment those will be one-time costs and not this, you know, five bags of flour per week or whatever it is that we'll need. 

Since I've been talking about this with real life friends, I've found out that one kid-friendly coffee shop is out of business and one is now charging for playtime. We are not interested in either of those things. I'm worried that this is a great but not terribly profitable idea. 

I'm just overwhelmed. I don't quite know what to do next. I feel like I have to figure out all the stuff that scares me, like the capital and the accounting and insurance and rents and omg buying and learning to use a CASH REGISTER. I can't think about anything FUN because those things are FUN and if all I do is think about the FUN parts I'll never get anywhere. I have to concentrate on how HARD it will be and how TIRING and STRESSFUL and EXPENSIVE and RISKY and then, I suppose, if I'm STILL interested, then I guess I really AM interested. Or I have what it takes. Or I could try and SEE if I have what it takes. 


Okay, so my next steps are: 

1. Invite some friends to dinner, one of whom is writing a business plan to open his own sports bar, for reals. He's currently the assistant manager at an Actual Restaurant and Isn't A Dummy. Pick his brain. 

2. Read. Google. Make lists. 

3. Start putting a business plan together, piece by piece, investigating as we go. Phillip is excited about this part, thank God.

4. Talk to the owner of one of the kid-friendly coffee shops I know about. According to the FPC, people in the food business LOVE to talk about being in the food business and will most likely LOVE being The Expert and telling us all about their experience. 

I think that's what I need/want most. To talk to someone who's done it before. Even if it's not quite exactly the same. Can you be a mom of young children and pull this off? Can you be successful? Can it be simple or do you have to add in birthday parties and classes and other stuff to make money? Do you have to have EVERY flavor of Torani syrup?

I figure we're due for a little blog angst, yes?

Okay guys, so here's the problem with the blog. Or, the many problems with the blog. (This one. In case you were wondering.)

I don't know what it's about anymore. 

Well. ME, obviously. MEEEEEEEEEEE. My favorite subject. 

And not that I ever felt like it had to be ABOUT something before. Like Emily said her blog post a few weeks ago, which has obvs inspired this post, I started this thing because I was BORED. And back then I didn't have 9.5 years (OMG) of archives, so everything was fresh and silly and all of it was interesting (to me). 

Now the blog is more a means of procrastination than time-filler. Now I do more "considering" before I write about my kids, especially Jack. And you know how smitten I am with Emma, but let's face it, babies have not slept and not walked before and I repeat myself - have you noticed? I stopped writing for (I quit and they said, "well, we were going to get rid of you anyway") because I didn't have anything new to say. That's sort of how I'm feeling here. 

But this is not a post about Not Blogging Anymore. I'm not sure I could stop! I have always kept a journal and you know what? Journals are way more fun when people comment on them and then you get to meet those people in real life. SUPER COOL.

In the last year or so, though, I've been starting to feel like: what is to keep people reading this? And not in the "I have to have lots of readers!" way, but in the "why would my FRIENDS want to read this?!" way. I have made some beloved internet friends and if this is the prime way I communicate with them and share my world, OH GOD. I AM SO SORRY FOR THEM. I can't STOP writing, because I love it and because I want to be part of the community, but WHAT IS THERE TO SAY? 

Things I have considered: 

  • blogging less often, like once a week. So that it COUNTS and it's GOOD and it MATTERS. 
  • becoming a Churchy Blog
  • becoming a Blog That Documents The Creation Of Our Bakery/Playroom
  • become one of those people who only Twitters
  • magically getting funnier/wiser/more original

Unfortunately I am a very average boring person who wants to write about ALL the average boring things whenever I feel like it. So. Those things are not going to work. 

I guess this is more about my fear of maintaining my online friendships. Because guess what: I DON'T have as much time to dork around online as I used to and it appears I gave up reading blogs instead of writing one. Most people tend to do it the other way around, I suppose because they are much nicer than I am. But I can't tell you how many days I go between opening up Google reader, or how many times a friend (A GOOD INTERNET FRIEND!) has to inform me that she wrote something about that exact thing I'm talking about two weeks ago FOR SHAME. 

Since the new year I've been trying harder. I weeded out my reader and at least once a week I make a concentrated effort to not only read my friends' blogs but COMMENT ON THEM. I've become lazy and dependent on Twitter and Instagram, even Facebook sometimes! I feel like I know what's going on with you! But then I open up your blog and oops. I don't. 

I used to sit at the computer and type URLs into the address bar from memory and read your stories for hours. I can't do that anymore. But I want to do better than I'm doing now. I used to think blogging would be a phase or something, and then I'd find something better to do, but no. I don't think I'll do this FOREVER but to stop means... well, it'd be like moving away. I HATE MOVING AWAY. Would we stay in touch? WOULD WE REALLY?

And THEN, Internet, I feel stupid for having BLOGGING ANGST. HOW RIDICULOUS. 

Okay, so this is what is going on right now. Ready? Today I:

  • found out how to get Molly into kindergarten next year even though she was born (one day) past the cut off date (YES THIS IS HAPPENING)
  • ate snap peas and Ranch dip for a snack instead of chocolate chips
  • made plans with the FPC to leave our kids with our husbands Sunday afternoon and price out bakery ingredients and equipment at two different stores (THIS ALSO APPEARS TO BE HAPPENING)
  • could not figure out which part of Mexico is the best part of Mexico to go to if your husband reeeeeeeeeally wants to sit on a beach and do absolutely nothing to celebrate his 10th anniversary (I'm thinking Puerto Vallarta because the flights are cheaper?)
  • decided I could wait another week or two for a haircut


I love you. Have a good weekend.

Stupid boring update. Best title ever. You are welcome. #boringestbloggingloser

I'm halfway done painting the entry way. Since I'm only halfway done I shall reserve final judgment, but the feeling I'm going with right now is The Inside Of The Ice Queen's Minty Toothpaste Tube. That gray tile floor, the cool walls, the bright white trim and doors... I mean, I think it's very pretty. But it's not very warm. And then I walked upstairs to, in my opinion, a warm living room (the brown carpet probably does that trick, sigh) and noticed all the aqua up THERE and, well, yeah. We shall see. 

Tomorrow I will do the rest of the trim and tape everything up. Friday I'll finish painting. That is the PLAN anyway. After that I DECORATE. BEST PART. A mirror! Art! Trinkets! The shoe cabinet Phillip never lets me buy but GOSH DARN IT I am buying that shoe cabinet! A rug! I NEED A RUG!

Soooooooo I've just spent an hour looking at rugs I cannot afford at Garnet Hill, then I looked at rugs I could possibly afford at Overstock, then I thought about not making dinner and just driving up to Home Goods to see what they have THERE... this is the problem with House Projects. THERE IS NEVER AN END! I definitely need some sort of rug in that entry way now, even though the Pine Needle Issue will make a rug a huge pain in the butt. But warmth! I need some! 

Or maybe it's just because it's January. Bleargh, January. 

EJ was awake, like SUPER VERY MUCH AWAKE, for hours last night. So awake that when I went in to try my hand at getting her back down, she wanted to get DOWN on the FLOOR and play with the toy kitchen I moved out of the hallway and into her room. No, baby girl. It's three in the morning. We do not bang oven doors at three in the morning. 

God knows how long that went on. And then, at the crack of dawn, I hear Molly shouting, "MOMMY! MOMMY!" and I fling myself out of bed and rush down there and she's all, "I can't go back to sleep." WELL, ME EITHER, KIDDO. 

My dad always says that people who have children deserve what happens to them. 


I feel like I was going to tell you something. What was it! Lame. I will also blame this on January.

Emma is sixteen months old today. Six. Teen. Molly, prissy little princess that she was/is did not start walking until sixteen months. I am guessing Emma will be... 20 months? Maybe? I have now seen her do everything BUT walk - just yesterday we caught her (slowly, cautiously) crusing around the coffee table. But when you hold her hands and try to get her to walk, her feet point to the left and her right knee bends, but her left knee doesn't, and you feel like you're working with the awkward scuttling Hitler Youth crab. WHATEVER. Happy sixteen months, you crazy baby. 

Phillip is going to go exercise - did I tell you my husband is doing the Insanity workout? Which I think is (wait for it) INSANITY? I can barely make myself get on the treadmill these days. Anyway, I'm sure he just LOOOOVES that I told you this. HEH. But he's going to go exercise and I am going to NOT exercise (read: play Hashi - I'm halfway through the HARD level (AND THEN WHAT WILL I DO???)) and then we will watch Downton Abbey. Exciting times in the Cheung household you guys. Paint, no sleep, not exercising - SAME OLD SAME OLD. 


On my favorite color of wall being Aqua

The Spirit moved me, so this afternoon I started painting. Again. 

For my birthday, in JULY, friends gave me a Groupon for paint (lots of it) and I JUST acquired the paint a few days ago, right before the Groupon expired. Long ago I decided on what I THOUGHT was a muted aqua for my entry way. I know way back I was all "NAVY!" but then I came to my senses. Okay, right now some of you are thinking "aqua is not coming to your senses" but LEST YOU FORGOT, aqua blue, that bright baby cheerful blue, is my favorite color and never ever fails to make me feel that "...aaaahhhh...peaceful" feeling. You can have your red and your taupe and your dark gray and your sage, the aqua is mine. 

It occurred to me, as I stood inspecting my entry way and ignoring my children, that I really needed to finish painting the trim. At the end of the summer I painted every door in my house a bright white and when I painted the front door I also painted the thick white trim around it and the window. I just, ah, didn't paint the rest. I WAS TIRED. So today I thought, "That didn't take long! I'll just paint the trim real quick!"

So I did that. 

While I waited for the first coat to dry I dragged one of my Groupon paint cans into the house, wedged the top open, took a paint brush and painted a giant aqua stripe on one of my boring cream walls. And it was very AQUA. And I was DELIGHTED. 

But now, Internet. NOW I have finished painting the trim (on the side of the entry way I plan to do first - I learned the FIRST time I painted my entry way that I should maybe do this project in stages so I don't drive the other residents of the house insane) and taped the ceiling and cut in just about everywhere I need to cut in, the aqua is... AQUA. Like, same as my off-the-kitchen family-ish room. Also known as MY FAVORITE but also DUDE. Kinda... AQUA for the entry way. I'm not entirely sure what the first impression of my house is going to be. "Does a child live here?" "Is this a preschool?" "Am I inside a toothpaste tube?" 

I really did think this was a MUTED even GRAYISH aqua. You know, a GROWN UP color. I've learned, now, that I do not like neutrals. I don't like creams and browns and taupes, I like BLUE and YELLOW and RED. Those are the colors that make me happy to be in my space. But I've ALSO learned that OTHER PEOPLE think those colors should be reserved for BABY ROOMS. I was honestly shooting for ADULT, here.

So I am feeling a smidge nervous about this paint, you guys. I mean, I think if I didn't already HAVE an aqua room I'd be all, "DEAL WITH IT, SUCKAS" but because I DO already have my "colorful" room, this one is maybe "overkill"? "A poor design choice"? "Too much"?

The PLAN is to interrupt a lot of that aqua with white framed mirrors, strips of MDF or plywood painted white with coat hooks running along the walls, a colorful cover for my entry way bench pad, and possibly painting the bench white. (Do not want to do this. Blargh.) The floor is gray tile. The doors are white. White/aqua is MY FAVORITE. STOP CARING ABOUT PEOPLE WHO PREFER TAUPE. 

No seriously, why have I written an entire blog post worrying about what PEOPLE WHO DO NOT LIVE HERE are going to think of my BLUE PAINT? LET US MULL. 

I think... ok, so this is my SPACE. I don't have an office - this dining room where my computer lives at least 85% of the time is my office. And I like to decorate and I like to surround myself with things that are cheery (to ME) and YES, this house and the paint colors and furniture choices within reflect my personality. I think. Maybe? I am not terribly sophisticated (AQUA), I am not a perfectionist (SCUFFS EVERYWHERE, CARPET HOLE), and I don't dig dark, heavy, solid, matching, muted, neutral stuff. I mean, I have, at points, but I generally tend towards Light, Colorful, Airy, Windows, Maybe I Should Live On A Beach. I think. I gravitate towards the aqua, people, and if you think aqua walls are lame then obvs you think *I* am lame. SOB!

Except. For God's sake. I am thirty-freaking-three years old and if there is ANYTHING lovely and fabulous about being In Your Thirties it's that you are delightedly aware of caring a smidge less of what people think of you than when you were In Your Twenties. In my twenties I would have written an angsty blog post about PAINT and asked you what you THOUGHT and I would have taken EVERY BIT OF ADVICE, even if it was conflicting, which meant I would do NOTHING, because OH THE HORROR OF NOT EVERYONE THINKING MY ENTRY WAY IS THE CUTEST. 

But because I am writing this In My Thirties, I am going ahead and painting my walls a nice aqua (Martha Stewart's Artesian Well, btw) and all you aqua look-down-your-nose-ers can hang. OH YEAH. 

Reads & Recommends, Urbana-ish Edition

All I have to say about this gun control article is that Megan McArdle always makes me think: There's Little We Can Do To Prevent Another Massacre.

Dear God, Dar Williams is FORTY-FIVE? Sheesh. I looked high and low for a review of the show she did with Loudon Wainwright III in Seattle last weekend, which I attended with a former Long Lost Yet Much Beloved Friend, but all I could find was a review of a DIFFERENT Dar/Loudon show. I suppose Seattle is too cool for fangirl swooning (I am not). Loudon and Dar in Iowa. (Iowa! Oooooooh ooooh, ooooh, Iowa.)

Make your teenage nieces and nephews read this: 

It was an embarrassing few minutes. The exposure was regrettable. The angle was bad. The dialogue was unrealistic. And it’s going to be on the Internet forever.

Although perhaps it doesn't mean as much coming from someone who's been blogging since 2004.

Did you know that if you get 25,000 signatures on an online petition, the White House promises to respond? Except now that they've had to respond about building a Death Star, they've bumped that number to 100,000. The Empire Won't Strike Back. (And the response: Galactic Empire Responds.)

Those last two are from Phillip, by the way. So is the next one: 

A developer outsourced his own job to China. THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED. 

In honor of two whole days without eating carbs (SOB!) I present: Consider the Cheeto

...perhaps junk food does offer a sort of self-effacement or understandable reprieve from thoughtful, engaged eating.

I, of course, think Cheetos are vile.

I am reading Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. YES I downloaded this the day after I saw 'Lincoln'. I recommend both. Except I sort of wish I'd read SOMETHING about Lincoln before I went and saw the movie because I spent at least half of it asking my history major sister what was going on (shame) and she had no idea either (double shame!) But yeah. Excellent movie, super interesting book (which is way more about character and politics than it is about gory Civil War details, at least so far, if you are the sort of person who is concerned about those things.)

I WANT to be reading A Heart for Freedom by Chai Ling, but this Lincoln book is going to take me forever. Chai Ling was the leader of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 AND she was a speaker at Urbana! I didn't actually get to see her talk because I had a prayer shift that night, but you can see it here. She now runs an organization that works against the effects of the one-child policy in China. 

Other Urbana talks, if you're into that: 


I saw this student speak and everyone in my little group was in awe. 

All right, I'm spending the weekend celebrating my almost-youngest-sibling's 30th birthday. THIRTY! WOO! I intend to eat ALL THE CARBS!

When I grow up

Just so you know, I am still "looking into" this bakery cafe playroom thing and I continue to tell more real life people that I am "looking into" it and that's how you know I am still not in posession of my right mind. FYI. 

One thing I realized at Urbana was that if I'd gone as a student I would have FUH-REAKED OUT. I didn't have a husband or kids or a mortgage, no responsibilities, just a totally blank (VERY BLANK) future infinitely before me, like a Personal Antarctica or something. I really had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up (still don't, actually) and the myriad possibilities at Urbana, plus the constant invitation to devote a year or two or ten to missions, plus the pressure I would put on my own self to be what Urbana thought I should be (THREEEEEEEEEEE!!!) I would have self-combusted. I had an excellent time, but I'm glad I experienced it as an adult with a husband and three kids and a mortgage and, therefore, way fewer options. This is a GOOD thing. 

But still, you wonder what you want to be when you grow up. 

The last several years I have tried very very hard to think of myself as a Mother. I mean, I AM a mother and I am very happy with my SAHM status, but "just being a mom" has never EVER felt like The Only Thing I'm Supposed To Do. It's one reason why I stopped reading a lot of blogs where the author was a religious SAH homeschooling mom-of-many, because there was a way I felt like that was the RIGHT way to do the mom thing, and clearly THAT was not going to happen at Chez Cheung. Like that was the way to make the most of your vocation, you know? And I hope you know I am not disparaging those mothers. I stand in awe of them, I bow down, I salute them. The gifts they have are not my gifts.

(Can you even IMAGINE if I tried homeschooling Jack? We would need two padded cells within a week.)

Then again, I've never been the mom who is itching to get back to work or the career, I've never aimed for anything, I am very much an Introspective Slacker, which is obvs how I got into this blogging thing. So it's kind of a weird place to be in, to feel like There Is More To Me Than Being Mom and But Nothing Else Sounds Good/Seems Right. 

Honestly, a Bakery/Cafe/Playspace does not at ALL sound like The Thing I Am Supposed To Do. I know absolutely NOOOOOOTHING about running a business. Pretty much the only thing I know I'd be good at is 1) cleaning and 2) making sure our business has a social media presence. FPC informs me that that's important, but it doesn't feel like quite the right skillset, you know? 

I thought I was supposed to be a writer. 

I thought I was supposed to teach English overseas. 

I thought maybe I should "just be a Mom". 

I thought I was maybe supposed to create a lovely home and support my husband's career. 

I thought I might work for a politician. 

I definitely thought I would travel. 

I suppose the right answer is that we do a lot of things in our lives, that everything has a season, that I can't be everything I'm supposed to be in one year, that I'm not even really SUPPOSED to DO anything. I can do all of that, I can do some or none of it. Though that's the stumbling block for a Three: if she isn't DOING anything (and doing it well), she's pointless, a waste of space, not valued, unloved.

I have an Urbana/prayer/Three/value post in the works. It's hard going, but I'll get it out eventually. What is the thing that I DO? What is the thing that I AM? The end of that post will tell you that right now I'm somehow - miraculously, even - okay with the absence of an answer. 

Or, rather, I am just beginning to comprehend the actual truthful answer. 

Let me just put my head down here for a sec...

I don't think I'd been so tired in my life as when I was pregnant with Emma. I finagled an afternoon nap out of every single day, even if I had to sleep next to a child playing a noisy iPad game. I was tired from when I got up in the morning to when I went to bed at night. I thought it would pass after the first trimester, but it actually got worse. But the only time it occurred to me that there might be something wrong was somewhere in the third trimester, as I pushed a cart through Target, and thought, "I could actually fall asleep, right here, walking."

At one of my last Emma appointments I was informed that I was rather anemic and should start taking iron pills, stat. I took a few, until I forgot. I think I was busy napping. 

And maybe it's taken until NOW to realize that I am STILL so VERY TIRED and maybe (?) there is something wrong? Maybe having the baby didn't cure anemia. Maybe I should be taking iron pills. Maybe then I could get through an afternoon without fervently wishing for a quiet hour alone with my sofa. 

I have never EVER been a napper, and not for lack of trying. My mind races, my heart beats faster, it's like my body is all, "Um, NOOOOOOO, you have things to DOOOOOO." Until I was pregnant. I took naps when pregnant, as many as possible, but then the baby would arrive and I'd be back to my regular no nap self. It would drive me crazy when friends or family would take the baby and tell me to nap. GAH! I mean, it never occured to me to sleepwalk in Target, but I had no problem spending an afternoon in my bed. Otherwise, naps? Too high strung for that, oh well! 

But ever since Emma was born I have looked forward to, hoped for, wished for, GREATLY DESIRED an afternoon nap. Or a morning nap. Whichever works out, I'm flexible. Emma, mind you, is nearly 16 months old. And it's only been the last couple of weeks where I've thought, "HMMM. MAYBE THIS ISN'T JUST BECAUSE I HAVE THREE KIDS WHO RARELY LET ME SLEEP A WHOLE NIGHT."

I thought it was that - Emma's been a rotten sleeper, and if she wasn't waking me up, one of the big kids was having a night terror or a bloody nose. I thought maybe it was the constant business travel. I thought I was just busy. I thought more exercise would help. Maybe I had too much going on. But NO. I should not be this tired. I should not feel distraught when I realize Emma isn't going to cooperate and the big kids aren't going to play by themselves and I can't lay down on the couch for just a few minuteszzzzzzzz

I am actually writing this blog post right now instead of napping. I thought to myself, "FTLOG SELF! GET A GRIP!" So here I sit, in hopes of keeping myself accountable to taking those vile iron pills stuffed in the back of a bathroom drawer, to see if it helps with the Daily Dragging. Because honestly, this is ridiculous. How will I ever hope to open a community-serving coffee house or write a novel or lose 30 pounds or paint the rest of my house or learn how to do a smokey eye if I want to crash on my couch every single stupid day?! I AM THE ANTI-NAPPER!

NOW I'm going to go unload the dishwasher which is BY FAR my least favorite household task. I will NOT lay down on the kitchen floor and take a snooze, even though I have CONSIDERED IT. 

On the occasion of the first #BBL weigh in

After my first week, in which I ate healthier and exercised more consistently than I have in months, I lost half a pound.


I signed up for Jennie and Regan's Biggest Blogging Loser round because I gained more weight over the holidays than I've gained since I first started lost a bunch of weight a few years ago. This is entirely due to 1) heaps and heaps of delicious cookies and 2) not particularly caring. I'm sort of amazed at the not caring, frankly. I cared too much for a very long time. 

So in that respect, I suppose, I'm a little bit pleased with myself. One thing I learned when I lost weight: as much as I liked wearing my size 8 pants (that's skinny for me!) I disliked having Weight be the thing that my world revolved around. I think, in a way, I was sort of good at losing weight? In the way that I decide to be good at things, which really only means making that thing my sole focus until it DOES work, even at the expense of other things. 

Except, there are plenty of other things I'd rather focus on. I did not especially LIKE myself with Losing Weight Tunnel Vision. So. 

I would like to lose 10 pounds. I THINK this would get me back in the pants I've stuffed in the back of my closet. I was pretty close to that goal this summer, but then The Cookies happened. So I'd say about two thirds of those ten pounds are Cookie Weight and the last third is Emma Weight. 

Losing ten pounds would not make me Skinny. I would not look as toned as I did when I was Shredding all the time. Even if I was, I suspect that third pregnancy shifted things so that I'd have to lose another ten pounds on top of the first set to really look the way I did in my most-focused Post-Molly weight loss days. 

The good thing is that I'm okay with this. I feel like I had my summer of feeling skinny and for someone who has never been skinny in her life, just FEELING skinny was kind of new and fun. But I know I don't have (and don't want to try to have) what it takes to get back there. I am older, I have more going on, I have a completely different schedule, and to make Getting Back To That Point the focus of my world sounds unbearable. Not worth it. I have a coffee shop to obsess over now! 

But I DO want to lose SOME weight and I am UTTERLY UNMOTIVATED. My subconscious refusal to choose pants with waistbands in the morning - not enough motivation. Pictures of myself ten pounds ago - not enough motivation. Hanging out with my forever-smaller-than-me sisters and friends - not enough motivation. Absolutely nothing sounds better than coming back to the house after the school drop offs, putting Emma to bed (if she'll agree) and flopping onto the couch with my Kindle and a handful of chocolate chips. I don't WANT to hand over my chocolate chips. You can have French toast and ice cream and thick slices of fresh bread and scones and cinnamon rolls and cake and my other favorite things, but I'm not giving you my bag of medicinal and mood-altering chocolate chips. 

And honestly, do I want to live in a world with no cake? Absolutely not. So that's hard too, to go from a place of shoving every cookie in sight into my gaping maw to, you know, Not. Especially when I look at myself in a mirror and go, "Yeah, you've gained weight, but it's not HORRRRRRRIBLE..."

I'm trying to think up some motivation. Winning the BBL money is not it, since even if I tried my hardest I doubt I'd win anyway. Usually what works is some sort of Upcoming Event for which I would prefer to look Fabulous, but I don't have any of those right now. Summertime is too far away to feel truly motivational. I'm thinking maybe a prize? New clothes? A new purse? Some of the not-cheap jewelry I covet on Etsy? I don't know. A PLANE TICKET?!

Anyway. I have to go make a kindergarten lunch and attempt to not lick the peanut butter knife. (HA. NOT GONNA HAPPEN.)