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February 2013

House of pestilence

I will preface this by saying: we almost never get sick, and we've never been really sick. I have yet to take a child to the ER. I think we've done the antibiotics thing once. So yeah, I don't have a ton of room to complain about The Night Everyone Was Barfing and The Day Everyone Stayed Home Sick. But I think I will anyway. THIS HAS BEEN THE BORINGEST DAY EVER.

Emma threw up twice on Monday morning, but we didn't think much of it. Because... I guess because we hardly ever get sick? And she seemed just fine afterwards? But late Tuesday night Molly started throwing up and Jack started in in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Phillip and I were managing a barf, pee, drink of water, lost pacifier, or legs stuck in crib slats situation every hour on the hour last night. By four and five in the morning it was almost laughable. The way extremely unfunny things become comically distressing when you haven't slept. YOU KNOW.

Molly's just been tired most of the day, lounging around sipping her water bottle and demanding a twenty-fourth Busytown Mystery. Poor Jack got the worst of it and I was cleaning him up every hour until around one when he conked out in my bed and stayed that way until about five. Based on Emma's perfectly fine-ness and strong irritation with the absolute nothing that has gone on in her house all day, I'm expecting the kids to be fine tomorrow. I'll still keep Jack home from school, in accord with the 24 hour rule obvs, but I think the worst is over. 

Unless, of course, Phillip and I get it. 

I have been a hand washing FIEND today. I'm sort of the opposite of a germaphobe, which I know sounds extra super terrible, but I just don't think about it much and (see above) we hardly ever get sick. I don't really worry about what they're picking up from whom and all that, but I do NOT want to get sick right now. We have the kids scheduled to stay Friday and Saturday night with my mom and dad while we go to this retreat thingy over the weekend, where I'm supposed to be on another prayer team and Phillip is supposed to hang out with long time friends. BUT NOT IF WE GET SICK ON FRIDAY. 

Oh, and Phillip isn't home from work yet (it's 6:45) because he was trying to avoid traffic which means he isn't AROUND to catch the vomiting, which means just ME is going to get sick on Friday and MAYBE I AM A LITTLE BIT CRANKY ABOUT THIS.

Anyway, I've basically eaten handfuls of Kix for dinner and we're on our fifty-ninth episode of Busytown Mysteries and I have no plan for tomorrow and my house is a dump so I am sitting here, ogling the resort I've booked for our 10th wedding anniversary trip. Which is not happening until August. but one can wish her hours away until August, yes? No one is allowed to get sick in August.

Reads & Recommends, Movie Edition

I've seen a few good ones lately. 

My sister and I borrowed our other sister's copy of Pitch Perfect and watched it at my house - wait. There is something I maybe haven't shared with you. I don't really like watching movies at home. I want to watch them in a big dark movie theater with a massive sound system on a ginormous screen, even if it's the simplest quietest movie. If I'm home I'd rather watch a TV show, and I'd rather be playing an iPad game and reading Twitter at the same time. I don't know. I have a short attention span at home, I get bored fast, I fall asleep. Movies are so much LESS at home (and I HATE seeing them twice). That said I love sitting in movie theaters almost as much as I love movies, so I will pretty much go see (and enjoy) almost anything. But anyway. Pitch Perfect. LOVE IT. It's silly and crass and ridiculous and AWESOME. My new favorite thing is telling people they have fat hearts. (IT'S A COMPLIMENT.) Anna Kendrick has never been my favorite (and I can't STAND Anna Camp) but they are determined to make me like them. Determined! 

Then Phillip and I went to see Silver Linings Playbook last weekend and seriously, is there a worse movie title? Don't answer that. The first couple of times (or twenty times) I saw the preview for this movie I didn't think much of it. I thought it looked too ISSUEY (you know?) and the age difference between J Law and the Hangover Dude really bugged me. But I like to see some if not ALL Oscar-nominated movies (at least the ones that are not Quentin Tarantino movies) so we went and OHHHHHHH. I haven't liked a movie so much in a very long time. I mean, I thought Pitch Perfect was a blast, but Silver Linings Playbook was like a very very good and engrossing and thought-provoking novel, where you loved all the characters and wanted the best for them and your faith in humanity swelled. I would see it again, I would even watch it at home. I was crazy impressed by every single actor in this movie EVEN CHRIS TUCKER. Love love love. LOOOOVE.

We have cable now - did I tell you that? We used to have cable, then we got rid of it, then our antenna was acting up during a Very Important Seahawks Game and Phillip Cheung was all THAT'S IT WE ARE GETTING CABLE AGAIN. Except it's Dish, because cable doesn't work on my street. Long story. (I LIVE IN THE WOODS. SORT OF. IN SEATTLE. ISH. SHUT UP.) So yeah, we have cable now, and one thing we like to do is scroll through the endless pointless channels to see how many times Bridesmaids is playing this week. I mean, we like to see if there are any movies we want to record. So even though I don't like to watch movies at home (SEE ABOVE) I had really really really really wanted to see An Education when it was out a few years ago and missed it. But it was playing the other night. So I recorded it. And I watched the first half with Phillip and the second half today at naptime. AAAAAND. I cannot decide! Part of me loved it. I think that part of me is in my early 20s, loves things set in the early 60s, ADORES Carey Mulligan and coming of age stories, and relates to the Girl Who Wants To See The World. The other part of me is in my 30s and old and married and long over her women's studies classes and thought everyone in it was being stupid and selfish and careless and BIG HUGE EYE ROLL. Age Twenty Me loved the dresses and hair and Paris scenes best, Age Thirty Me loved the dad character development. Both of the Mes thought Carey Mulligan was great. Possibly both of the Mes want to BE Carey Mulligan.

And now I am watching Take This Waltz with Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen because it was free on Amazon Prime and I like to watch Free On Amazon Prime things while I am suffering through my nineteen-minute miles on the treadmill. I've been trudging through every season of the West Wing but I was getting a little bored with that and I love Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen. I haven't finished it yet, but it's... well, the circumstances feel forced to me? A young married chick (Michelle) just HAPPENS to live across the street from a charming dude she meets on an airplane, except oops, MARRIED (to Seth) and DRAMA. So that part is, you know, whatever. But the interactions? Those feel VERY REAL and some of those very simple quiet scenes are UNNERVING. Anyway. Has anyone seen it? Trivia note: it's written and directed by Sarah Polley, who I'm supposed to think of as a Hip Young Emerging Canadian Filmmaker, but who I actually think of as The Girl Who Won The Role Of Ramona Quimby Way Back When They Were Making A TV Series About Ramona Quimby. 

Movies I would really like to see, but probably won't: Amour, the parts of Zero Dark Thirty that aren't depicting torture

Movies in which I have absolutely no interest: Les Mis, Django Unchained, Life of Pi

I need something to learn

Today's a weird day. Emma's thrown up twice, but doesn't seem sick. Other than absolutely everything she touches reeking of puke, I haven't noticed a change in temperament or temperature. And the big kids are lying down on the couch reading books, which I swear to you has never happened in the history of the Cheung family. Not at 4:45 PM, anyway. 

And I am having one of those afternoons where I want to go to grad school for spiritual direction or audit a bunch of 20th century history classes or watch some documentaries or go to a big conference or otherwise LEARN something. I feel like LEARNING something right now. I want to KNOW more things. 

I think, actually, what I really want is to be wiser. It seems like a far stretch to be wise, but I think I could shoot for wiser. I've always had this feeling like my true age, the age that I will feel most like myself, is Older. Maybe 47. Maybe 87. But when I hit that age I will just know most of the things I need to know, even if that means knowing that there's so much I don't and will never know. 

But I would be okay knowing that. Which would be the point. I think. 

I spent my Saturday discussing Life with two old friends from college. This weekend I am volunteering at yet another college student retreat. The weekend after that I am flying across the country to be with my oldest Internet friends and I am exceedingly hopeful for long and thinky conversations about Life with them as well. (Them: OH NO. CAN'T WE JUST GO OUT TO DINNER?) I am so looking forward to these things, so wanting to be talking about ideas and where people are and what's happening.

It's just one of those days, I guess. 

Yesterday I was telling Phillip that my favorite thing about him is that when I get unnecessarily wrapped up in all the intensity and uncertainty and misunderstandingness of something, he just shrugs his shoulders and makes a flippant remark and then I remember: it's really not that big a deal. And how he's really the only person I ever want to talk with about Controversial Matters, because he makes me think about all the other sides, and how he continues to give the benefit of the doubt long after I give up. 

I wonder if my kids will want to talk to me when they're older. Or maybe they'll be tougher, stronger, more confident people than I am, and not interested in talking something out. At least not with their mom. Maybe they'll think I'm a wackadoo church lady. Maybe they'll be pre-med and think I'm hopeless. Maybe they'll think reading books about personality types is a monstrous (and embarrassing, quite frankly) waste of time. But maybe they'll go out for coffee with me and tell me what God is doing in their lives. 

I think I'm a good listener. Until something reminds me of something I read in one of my war books, and then I'll get started on something and I become rather obnoxious. I'm sorry. 

When I took the test in the StrengthsFinder book, one of my top five was Context. I see that now. "People strong in the Context theme enjoy thinking about the past. They understand the present by researching its history." (This means I'm boring.)

Okay, I have to figure out dinner and be a parent and do my life. I can't just sit here and be thinky dreamy all day. There's puke to clean up, giant messes to yell about, chocolate chips to try not to eat.  

In which I grudgingly accept that belts are not the devil

I'm taking a break from the Oscars and the fact that I'm doing so is TRULY a bummer. I love the Oscars! I love self-aggrandizing award shows with sparkles and tuxes! How disappointing. Actually, what's disappointing is that Seth Macfarlane looks like THAT, you know, Epitome Of Classy, but opens with one of the most cringe-worthy unfunny monologues ever. Or maybe I have the wrong sense of humor? Or NO sense of humor? That's probably it. (No. He's terrible. It's not me.)

But all these gowns are bringing to mind the lesson I learned this weekend about FASHION. (You: HAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!) But whatever, I am going to tell you about it anyway. 

You know how everyone is belting everything? Or maybe they were six months ago and that's over now and I just haven't figured it out? I'm not sure. Either way, belts look terrible on me. Until this year I owned one single belt, one that looks somewhat like a car seatbelt, and I've had it since college and it's entire purpose in life is to keep my jeans from sagging. It's not for show, it's not cute. I did, last year sometime, buy a fabric belt off Etsy because I thought that on the few occasions my shirt rides up and my belt is exposed, I should have a cute one. 

But then people started wearing belts as, you know, ACCESSORIES. Belting dresses, belting cardigans, belting absolutely everything and I was STYMIED. Completely. I thought the problem was that I didn't have a PROPER belt, so one day I spent a few bucks on a skinny-ish leopard print belt. One that is totally meant to be seen and isn't terribly effective at keeping up one's pants. But nooooo! It did NOT look good! I tried belting a too-big shift dress, a long cardigan, a dress with a cinched waist that I never wore BECAUSE it had a cinched waist - all terrible. Belts just HIGHLIGHTED my no waistedness. Made it OBVIOUS. The best I got that belt to look was over a fitted sweater dress, and maybe an inch or two above my natural waist. Not that I ever wore that out of the house, because 1) I was entirely too self-conscious and 2) when you wear a belt an inch or two above your natural waist it naturally sinks down and you spend all your time anxious about whether your belt is in the right place. BAH.

Friday, though, I was feeling sort of lame about myself. I've lost a few pounds on Weight Watchers and I feel like I'm on my way, but I haven't lost enough to look different. Still, I thought I'd do some retail therapy because that almost ALWAYS makes me feel better about ANYTHING and WHY NOT. I deserve to look cute! So before I went out I typed "RECTANGLE BODY SHAPE" into Google and Pinterest to get some ideas. 

AAAAAAAND, 99% of those ideas were BELTED ideas. WHAT?

I have a Rectangle Body Shape. I have a pretty ill-defined waist. I am narrowest right at the bottom of my rib cage, but I'm not hour glassy and belts have ALWAYS made me look like I just tied a string around the middle of a sausage - busting out at both ends. I looked like this even at my thinnest. I think I looked BETTER, but dresses with cinched waists still looked terrible on me. But all the recommendations for this shape were to DEFINE THE WAIST! usually with a BELT! and NOOOOO. 

Except, maybe I've been doing it wrong? So I went out Friday morning, baby in tow, and decided to pull a bunch of cinched waist and belted things off a rack and try them on and FIGURE IT OUT. I will now tell you what I learned. 

Belts TOTALLY work for me IF: 

  • the garment is fitted and trim. If something is a little too big or meant to look blousy or voluminous, then NO. NO WAY. I look like a box on top of another box. Same goes for those shirts with banded bottoms. 
  • the waist is high enough. I realized that nearly all the cinched waists on all the cinched waist dresses fall too low. I don't need it so high that it's an empire waist, but almost everything I tried on hit me at my THICKEST point and that does nothing for me. 
  • a belt is INCLUDED. Things that don't include belts seem to require the belt hit the least flattering latitude on my body, while, say, fitted dresses that come WITH a belt have it fastened at a better spot. 

I've always thought I look half decent in sheath dresses, which is weird because I HAVE NO WAIST. But after my shopping trip I realized that the dresses I own are CUT VERY WELL (for me, anyway) and make me look like I have a waist (or maybe they're cut to make me look a little curvier?) I don't know how it works. But two or three of those dresses have ties or belts and I look downright SKINNY in those. I came home with a close fitting jersey shirt dress (ANOTHER style I've never thought looks good on me, but again: CLOSE FITTING) with a tie belt and dudes, I look hot. I'm just saying. Retail therapy definitely worked for me on Friday. 

The Rectangle Shape recommendations also say that peplum tops work for me, but I was not brave enough to try on one of THOSE. (And where would I wear my peplum top anyway? To Safeway?)

Other things I think I might accrue: 

  • Jackets. I'm not really a blazer sort of person, but I ordered this ponte knit black jacket thing, with buttons and a mandarin collar, and THAT makes me look like I have a waist. I should probably buy more fitted jackets than a millionth long shapeless cardigan 
  • Button down shirts that FIT. If they FIT they look SO GOOD. Unfortch they're usually super giant and saggy or fit everywhere except across the boobs where the button keeps popping open. I don't like the ones that look super work shirty, but I like the more feminine ones, or with more detail. IF THEY FIT.
  • Empire waisted maxi dresses. I have one that I love, and this isn't so much the "definining the waist" factor as "accentuating what you've got" plus a maxi dress plus wedges makes me look TALL. 
  • BETTER BRAS. Dear God, someone please drag me to the Nordstrom fitting room lady already. 



I am a FIRM SUPPORTER of bangs - the start-from-the-top-of-your-head blunt cut bangs - on little girls. When else in a non-celebrity's life can one pull off what I like to call The Rainbow Brite? Blunt bangs are CUTE, they are AGE APPROPRIATE, and they are PRACTICAL. Tweenage me is cringing as I write this, but I've become one of those ladies whose inner shrew is constantly shrieking, "GET THAT HAIR OUTTA YOUR FACE!"


Bangs are a pain. You either have to haul your child to the salon every couple weeks OR you trim them yourself. I've been trimming them myself AND IT SHOWS. I hate doing it. I do it BADLY and it's just a MESS. So I've neglected them for a bit and we're back at the Do We Or Don't We stage, AKA the stage where I start to wonder if my child can even SEE through that curtain of hair. 

If we grow them out, we will have to suffer growing them out. That's no fun for a grown up and I might not survive the process as the parent of the person growing them out. And when they are grown out you still have DO something with that hair, and poor Molly inherited MY hair which is, well, uncooperative. Super straight, super fine, with wispies all over the place. It's not going to smooth back into a ponytail, is what I'm saying. 

Also, she looks OLD when I pull her bangs back. NO LIKE. 

But she won't have blunt cut bangs forever. Is this when we give them up? Or do I hold fast? I did, after all, wear MY blunt cut bangs until AT LEAST age twelve. Thanks Mom!


Photo (32)


Photo (33)


She's talked a little bit about having LONG hair, but NOOOOOOOO, not until you can wash it yourself, girlie. 


Giving myself a coffee shop pep talk

After our foray into Pricing Out Bulk Food Items, I totally lost interest. Well, it was more like the coffee shop idea was a drawer that was half open, and while I was trying to figure out if I wanted to open it all the way, it started closing by itself, slowly, but then tightly. And then, you know, superglued itself shut. 

A thing or two happened in the meantime which gave me a bit of breathing room. Not that I needed it. The excited urgency I felt was gone. Maybe we would do this later, like in a few years, when I was smarter and more capable and knew all the knowledge. 

Then about a week ago I was sitting in one of the few coffee shops we visit that has a kitchen and bakes in house. I watched them do their thing - a family, I think, and covered in flour and very busy, but laughing and cheerful. And I thought: okay, yeah, maybe that still sounds exciting.

And this morning we went to a new bakery (well, new to me) nearby and it was small, but bright and friendly and my coffee was good. It looked like a bubble tea shop, if you've ever been in one, with the couch and the TV and the board games. The owners are Vietnamese and they sell banh mi and steamed buns which Yelp raves about. (It was a smidge too early for banh mi, so I couldn't form my own opinion.) They had a measly and somewhat unattractive array of doughnuts and cookies and I thought: we could do better this. 

While Molly played a game on my phone and Emma drew all over a menu and we killed time before preschool, I sat there rethinking my Stance. I rethinked it all the way to preschool and back. And now I am sitting here writing it out so I can more clearly confront my own self and my deepset terror of Not Being Good At Something. 

Once you tell people you want to open a kid-friendly bakery/coffee shop, everyone starts telling you about the kid-friendly bakery/coffee shops they know. When I thunk up the Original Idea, I knew of two. Now I know... a dozen, seems like. And they're FANCY. They charge fees to play in the play areas. They have classes. They have babysitting nights. They sell T-SHIRTS. One in particular didn't start out charging a fee to play, but now it does. And I started to think: a simple kid-friendly bakery/coffee shop does not appear to be a profitable endeavor. You have to do all this EXTRA stuff to sustain yourself. Hrrmmm.

And even though none of these kid-friendly bakery/coffee shops are anywhere near me, I started to worry about competition and how to stand out. What would WE have that they WOULDN'T HAVE. I didn't worry about having customers, I worried about making sure our customers left and new ones came in. I got bogged down in food details, when that is CLEARLY the FPC's department and SHE is not bogged down. I worried about profit margins and catering to Seattle Moms and birthday parties and disinfectant and paying employees.

But when I started worrying about other coffee shop owners rolling their eyes at us, worrying about People In General thinking this was the dumbest idea ever and I have no experience and why in the world do I think I can pull this off and I CAN'T and OBVS I SHOULD JUST STOP THIS CRAZYTALK! Yeah. That's when I realized, today, that it wasn't really a No Longer Interested it was a Too Scared Of Failure To Be Interested. AKA: The Curse of a Three

A lot of people, I'm sure, would think that is a PERFECTLY acceptable reason to back off. I think it is too. Just not for me. Too many times I let the possibility that I won't get an A+ in something keep me from even trying. It is NOT a good reason for me. Not enough money? Not enough time? Not a GOOD time? Honestly no longer interested? Yes, good reasons. But the fear of looking foolish, the fear of not getting it right the first time, the fear of not being the best - BAD REASONS.

Okay, barfy phrase alert: the "place of growth" for me, is to recognize and "honor" (SORRY AGAIN!) my own wants, without being hampered by what I think other people think I should want (or feel or do or say or be.) 

I still envision a bakery with a huge display case full of goodies. A big space with tables, chairs, couches, and little play centers scattered about. A cheery face behind the counter. A simple coffee menu. Decor by Ikea and my mother's sewing machine. A chill storytime once or twice a week (my mom has already volunteered), but no classes and fees and parents' night outs and special events - hopefully we can make enough money on bacon cheddar scones, bento box kid lunches, peanut butter and jelly muffins, and birthday cake special orders. A place to hang out on a rainy morning. Staffed by family and friends. And, because I want everything I do to glorify God, a place of ministry without it necessarily being Ministry. A place that is good for the community, that gets to know its customers, that donates, is ethical, is open to being something more than a kid-friendly bakery/coffee shop, that can fill a need.

I'm still in. It doesn't have to be like the one in Queen Anne or the one in Bothell or that new one I just heard about in Lynnwood, it can be OURS. It can be what WE want it to be. And if I stop fretting for two minutes, I'm pretty sure that what WE want is a super good thing. 

Reads & Recommends, Tuesday Night Edition

Interesting profile of a South African comedian:

"The son of a black South African woman and a white Swiss man who met when interracial relationships were illegal in South Africa, Noah jokes that he was "born a crime.""


You'll probably find this one incredibly boring, but NOT ME! What cruise lines don't want you to know. Phillip is dyyyying to go on a cruise, but they've never sounded great to me. You can't get off! I get motion sick just looking at them! I would gain 100 pounds a night! Hello claustrophobia! Here is something I probably haven't told you: in my past working life I was required to know more about maritime law and issues than the average person, and I also helped recruit staff for a US-flagged cruise ship line. The stuff in this opinion piece is a Big Deal, and yeah, I'm happy to add "foreign-flagged" to my list of reasons to keep up the Lifetime Cruise Ship Boycott. (Phillip is super bummed.)

WASHINGTON RULES. A friend of mine linked to this on Facebook and it speaks truth. I'd say it's required reading for all locals. Perhaps the colorful language is not necessarily the sort we use here on, but I support and commend the author's skill in deploying it.

On a TOTALLY DIFFERENT NOTE, Marie from Tiny Town linked to THIS on Facebook: "If I were at home, I would have died". Another entry in the home birth vs. hospital birth catalogue, but the comments are the best and most interesting part. As I read through it occurred to me, for the absolute very first time, that if I'd had Emma at home? Or at a birth center? Or even maybe with a midwife? Things would have been SO different, right? I have no complaints about my first two hospital (and medicated) births - Molly's birth was probably the Most Perfect Hospital Birth, for both provider and mother. And of course I had no intention of doing it naturally the third time. I didn't think I COULD if it was another 40+ hour labor like the others. But with hindsight? YES. I would absolutely 100% choose home over hospital. The three things that traumatized me most were 1) being alone until the last minute, not realizing where my body was in the labor process 2) being forced into delivering in the stupid bed, and 3) the whole mess AFTER the baby was out, with EJ across the room and me feeling like a slab of meat getting poked and prodded. NONE OF THOSE THINGS would have happened if I were at home. 

Hmm, sorry, did not intend to write a whole post on THAT. Oops! I still have The Feelings, apparently. (And I should say, I don't blame my nurse or the doctor, it just wasn't... you know. With Jack and Molly the hospital was a massive and comforting relief; with Emma it was... like the hospital ITSELF was the unnecessary intervention almost.)


Kill These [TV] Characters At Your Own Risk (New York Times) I wasn't surprised with Downton (I'd read casting news), but The Walking Dead and Mad Men? Game of Thrones? ARGH!


And this isn't a Reads or Recommends, but I just have to tell you: DUDES. I hung out downtown this weekend and stood on a corner, across the street from the tallest building in Seattle, waiting for Phillip to pay for parking. And that whole time I was standing there LOOKING UP, just LOOKING UP AT THIS HUGE BUILDING and it took me a whole minute to realize I WAS LOOKING UP and I WASN'T FREAKING OUT. Because my ENTIRE LIFE I've had a phobia of Looking Up [Usually At Tall Things, But Also High Ceilings] (THIS IS REAL). When I was little I couldn't walk through the mall without squeezing my dad's hand and keeping my eyes on the floor. I literally needed to hold on to something. Whenever I visited my aunt in Seattle, I couldn't ever look up lest I feel paralyzed and terrified. Not that the building would FALL OVER - it wasn't like that. I don't know WHAT it was. I just couldn't look up! When we moved overseas I HAAAAAAATED going inside giant cathedrals because I could NOT STAND THE HIGH CEILINGS. It's hard to describe. But anyway, I've noticed I'm not half as tense about it as I used to be. But this weekend was seriously the first time in my WHOLE LIFE that I looked up at something massive for longer than ten seconds, without forcing myself, and almost enjoying the view. IT WAS AMAZING. Freedom! Ha! 

All right, I have to put some beasties to bed. Night night.

P.S. I am NOT afraid to look DOWN. Interesting! 



Phillip wins Best Husband trophy; plot points developed

My kids stayed overnight with grandparents on Saturday to do this Chinese New Year thing except WHO CARES the point is that they stayed! overnight! and Phillip had orders to Plan Something Nice. I was expecting dinner and movie. I was NOT expecting:

  1. Lunch at the  Chinese noodle restaurant I've been wanting to try on the Ave, where I discovered that
  2. Phillip had PACKED A BAG and we were staying in a HOTEL DOWNTOWN
  3. and then we saw Silver Linings Playbook which was, seriously, beautifully marvelous, and 
  4. afterwards we had drinks in the hotel bar while we waited for our dinner
  5. which we ate in our room while we watched Downton Abbey on the laptop a day early because Phillip's got skillz like that
  6. and in the morning we went down to the market and ate All The Things. Piroshkys, mini doughnuts, apples, and bought four giant scallops that cost us $15 and were delicious pan seared at home for lunch. (Not that we know how to pan sear anything. When Phillip's mom brought the kids in the house the first thing she did was sniff the air and say, "Smells overcooked!")

After that Phillip did the dishes and I cleaned the bathrooms and the kids came home. NOT BAD, EH? 

Things are, I suppose, not all that fascinating around here. Jack is counting out 100 marshmallows for 100 Day. Molly's bangs are too long. My hair is too short. (I trimmed the sides myself. Oh yes. And now I think I'm going to grow it out.) Emma is (steady yourselves) crawling up stairs. (You thought I was going to say WALKING, weren't you. HA HA HA. THAT IS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.) 

The coffee shop idea is still Out There, but an unbloggable Thing (but nothing bad or sad or even very interesting, I promise) should be pursued first before we go price out more stuff and overwhelm the English major AGAIN. 

Your thoughts on the Church Dilemma were duly noted (thank you) and I have created a Potential Church Spreadsheet, with notes from my interrogations of people currently attending those churches. I am nothing if not thorough. 

I am back on the Weight Watchers bandwagon today. I realized that drinking coffee really helps me not scarf snacks all day. I drink decaf. If I make half a pot in the morning and slowly drink it through the day, I'm not so hungry. Is this wise? Am I exchanging weight loss for stained teeth? Oh well, my teeth aren't that awesome anyway. And I don't really drink half a pot. I sort of fill mugs and carry them around with me and drink maybe half of what's in the mug before it gets cold and I throw it out. #genius

Also gum. I am a big big fan of those Extra dessert gum flavors. I know this sounds gross to you. I don't care. I'm a gum chewer on account of my deepest wish to be Not A Nail Biter. But the orange dixie cup and lemon bar flavors totally float my boat. Yes, lemon bar gum. Shut up. 

Oh, now Molly is counting out her OWN 100 marshmallows. Of course. 

OH WAIT. We have a playdate tomorrow! Gak. Jack is buddies with The Cutest Little Blond Girl In The World and 100 emails with her mom later, she's coming home with us after school. It was my suggestion, which I definitely expected to be rejected since the mom has only really met me once and that was at kindergarten orientation. But she's totally cool with me driving her kid to my house and having her hang out here until she gets off work. I would... not be excited about Jack doing that. But I am more neurotic than most. Also I know that I am extremely trustworthy and nice and responsible and I have a pantry full of delicious snacks so the other mom has nothing to worry about. We are all very excited. Molly maybe most of all, since because Kindergarten Friend is a GIRL, she will automatically be Molly's friend too. MAKES SENSE!

Conclusion: everything is good! The end!

For the bajillionth time: weight loss, my extreme dislike of

Okay fine. I'm going to write the effing Weight Watchers post. 

After going Low Carbish for weeks and weeks and losing and gaining the same three pounds, I decided I needed a change. Low carb, as I may have mentioned nine hundred times before, is a good plan for me, and probably the way I should normally eat. Not NO carb, but LOW carb. I think I take after the side of my family with a history of obesity and diabetes, and all the other times I've lost Serious Weight I did it by going low carb. It's a good plan for people who think chocolate cake is perfectly acceptable for breakast, lunch, AND dinner. On the SAME DAY.

Thing is, at a certain point, I get very lax. For example, cheese is low carb! So I will have fourteen slices! You can see how it stops being effective through that sort of user error. Also (and this happened before, when I was doing Hot By Thirty) the more weight I lose, the less effective it appears to be. And I don't think that's SOLELY because I get lax - I don't know if I just need to change it up or just start fresh with a new program or what, but WW worked when I got stuck in HB30, and I thought it would work again this time. 

And it has. I've lost 4 of the 10 pounds I would really like to lose. 

(Well. Then this weekend happened. I knew I was going to dinner and probably a movie with Phillip on Saturday, but he planned a whole WEEKEND DATE starting with lunch at a Chinese noodle shop where we seriously, I mean it, ate our weight in homemade noodles and dumplings and scallion pancake. We weren't hungry until late that night, when we shared a burger and fries. Shared. WE NEVER SHARE. EVER. So. You know. I'm thinking I'm going to delay weighing in for a few days. HEH.) 

But once again I am really super duper struggling with what happens in my head when I'm trying to lose weight. I'm either not caring about it and totally digging into my noodles, or down on myself and counting all my points. I haven't figured out how to be Okay With My Size AND Trying To Lose Weight at the same time. Which is where I want to be. 

I mean, is that even possible? Right now I am the same weight and size I was before I had Jack. Which, at that point in my life, was a huge achievement. I'd lost nearly 30 pounds and two sizes. I was crazy proud of myself and feeling all the things people say you feel when you lose weight: better about myself, more confident, less self-conscious, all that. At one time in my life this size was THE BEST EVER. 

Then I did that crazypants HB30 gig and wasn't satisfied to stay at this weight, and lost 10 more pounds. Then THAT was the best, obviously. I lost more and realized: hmm, maintaining that was going to require a little more work than I wanted to do, so I gained three or four back and felt like I had finally found the Holy Grail Of Weight Loss: the Maintainable Number. 

Then I had Emma. 

This time has been significantly harder. My life is much busier and my baby doesn't help with her unpredictability, but I also DON'T CARE AS MUCH. I DON'T! And I love chocolate more than I love arm muscles. I love chocolate and chocolate flavored things more than a human being really should and I don't WANT to give it up. Not all of it, anyway. Not even enough, apparently, to get back into my pre-Emma jeans. I got to a point after Emma where I'd just sort of lost MOST of it. And that felt, you know, FINE. I mean, I would have liked to lose all of it, but eh, it was time to make Christmas cookies. 

I gained weight over the holidays. I tell myself I'm still nearly 30 pounds lighter than I was when I got married. I don't WANT to worry about making a date to work out or run every day. I don't WANT to be super strict about what I eat. I take care of three different children on three different schedules and I want to read my BOOK. I've lost a couple of those holiday pounds and what if this was good? What if this was okay? What if I just stopped worrying about it? What if it wasn't something I felt compelled to talk about and write about and whine about to friends and all that? WHAT WOULD THAT BE LIKE?

Except I know. I know what it would be like. I would keep eating along with not caring and soon I would gain those 30 pounds back. I am absolutely sure this would happen. And I am NOT okay with that.

So I go back on Weight Watchers. I tell myself I don't have to get to the fit nearly-skinny point I was at the summer after I had Molly, I just have to get to a point where it's not a super huge deal if I have an extra slice of birthday cake one night. I want that CUSHION, where I can gain a few pounds but still feel within bounds of where I should be. I am out of that range right now. I need back in.

It makes sense, right?  

I read Elizabeth's posts about dressing well and feeling cute no matter what your size and I think HEY, I SHOULD DO THAT. I should totally stop acting like I'm REALLY a size 8 and I can't wear certain things when right now I'm a size 10 and WHO CARES? It's dumb. I've acted on this too! I've bought clothes that are a size 10 (or 12!) instead of a size 8 and I was (AM!) totally fine with it! The dress I bought for my Christmas party, that I absolutely ADORE, is a size 14. Did not care. Love that dress. Must find another occasion for wearing it. (Silver! Fringey! Lacey! LOVE!)

But the more I don't care and the happier I am with my size, the easier it will be to gain back those 30 pounds. I don't know how to do it otherwise. 

So I continue to care, I continue to feel bad about not exercising HALF as much as I did when I only had 2 kids, I continue to shamefully throw away half-full bags of chocolate chips so I can't gorge on them all night when Phillip is out. 

And even when I was a size 8 and had arm muscles and was just barely low carb because I'd found my Maintainable Number and I felt good about where I was, I still stayed just a little bit unhappy, still berated myself if I didn't exercise enough that week, because I didn't want to gain it back. 

What I am trying very very very hard to do is not be Publically Insecure about it. Like, I will write this blog post, but I don't want to write another one. Not unless I have something different to say (and I probably won't.) I am not texting my friend who does low carb with me when the scale is mean to me. I am not stepping on the stupid scale every day. I'm trying not to mention it every time I hang out with other moms. If I'm going to be successful, I have to award Weight Loss a prime upfront spot in my life. But I hate that. I hate how it makes me talk. I hate how I sound. I do not want to want validation from everyone else about my size and how I look and how my pants fit. 

SO THAT'S IT. That is the struggle. For me. The giving up certain foods, the exercise guilt, the frustration and embarrassment over the muffin top - all of that is secondary to this FIGHT IN MY BRAIN. 

Kindergarten homework

IS STUPID. Seriously! Who knows what that picture is! WE HAVE NO IDEA. Today we were trying to figure out the begnning and ending sound of a word, three letters, middle letter E, with a picture of... a paint brush? In a puddle of paint?  Ten minutes later Phillip shouted, "RED! It's a black and white copy! RED! RED!"

Then there was a picture of a diamond. Blank E BLANK. Gem, right? It's gem. What kindergartner knows the word gem? GEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS IS NOT ON ANYMORE.

Jack said, "I think it's JEWEL," and then Phillip says, "no, I think it's GEM. JEWEL has too many letters."

So then Jack asks, "How do you spell JEWEL?" 

Phillip says, "J - E - W - L." 

And I say, from the kitchen where I am bent over a sink full of dirty dishes, wiping the sweat from my brow, realizing that not only must I cook the meals and do the dishes I must also be responsible for ALL THE SPELLING: "OH. MY. GAWD. PHILLIP CHEUNG. J-E-W-E-L."

"Oh right," Phillip says. 

"How come you don't know how to spell JEWEL," Jack asks. "You must not be a grown up." 


Oh, as I'm typing this, Jack, who is still doing his homework, comes over to me shouting, "THIS DOESN'T MAKE SEEEEEEENSE!!!"

I look over it and say, "I don't understand. Everything's right. You did a good job."

He goes, "But WHY do I have to do six plus one so many TIMES when I already KNOW IT?"