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March 2013

In which a light bulb takes forever to switch on; home video with drunken stumbling, cleavage, bad hair

I spent most of my day poring over community center brochures and dance studio and church and martial arts websites trying to find something ANYTHING for my kids to do this summer. I don't need long term day camps. I don't need full time childcare. I just want some stuff to DO, to hang our summer on. Last year we did Vacation Bible School and ballet. This year I'm shooting for VBS and swim lessons, at the absolute least. 

BUT NOTHING WORKS OUT OMG MY EYES ARE CROSSING FROM THE STRAIN. I couldn't find a single stupid affordable thing that 1) BOTH kids could do (4 and 6-year-olds aren't often in the same group) and 2) would fit with Emma's schedule and 3) OUR schedule, with Phillip coming home from work and dinner and what we like to do on weekends. Impossible! 

Then I looked up the nearest YMCA and you guyyyyyyssssss... The Y is pricey which is why I've never considered it, but I started to think about how we won't be paying for preschool anymore, how they have AMAZING childcare and kid spaces, how many kid programs they have, swim lessons, how I could even just go there for lack of anything better to do on a weekday morning and exercise while my kids play. Is this not a win win win win win situation? And there's no contract so if we decide it's too expensive/not worthwhile to keep for the fall, then we can drop it! 

I emailed a local gym too, one that's super close to me with the same sort of child care and the same swim lessons. I'll see what it costs to go there (of COURSE they don't tell you on the website) and I'm thinking I'll probably go with the Y just because they have way more kid activities, but still. I'm feeling RATHER PROUD of this family-size solution to not only our inevitable summer doldrums and swim lesson quandaries, but how to get some exercise in when I have all the kids. 

I know other people join gyms. I just did not think I was one of those people. This is a whole new horizon for me, Internet. 

While I continue to pat myself on the back, please enjoy this video of Emma's nightly Walking Boot Camp session. I don't know, you guys. My one wish was that she'd start walking before her 18 month appointment, but that appointment is THURSDAY MORNING and, as you can see from this video, THERE IS NO HOPE. This morning my friend said, "It's because she's so tall!" but... I think my friend was just being nice. 



A bunch of haphazard thoughts and worries about spoiling your kids

So right now I am trying to figure out what I think about going big on holidays, buying stuff for your kids when they don't need it, buying stuff for your kids for no reason, giving them treats, spoiling them. I think I'm trying to figure out if what I feel right now, and what I want to do for Easter, is Not So Great Parenting. 

See, I feel like I messed up Christmas. We didn't do an Advent calendar this year and I don't really know why, other than I was lazy. We didn't put tons of thought into gifts for our kids - I think I put more thought into gifts for my nieces and nephews than I did for my own kids. And Molly really truly wanted this Disney princess doll. She saw it when we were shopping for something else in the Disney store. It wasn't the Barbie kind, it was one of the "toddler" or "little girl" princesses and they were actually pretty cute and I honestly don't have much of a problem with Disney princess stuff. I asked the clerk if I could buy it without Molly noticing, but it didn't work out and I ended up not getting it. Instead I gave her a doll with a huge collection of handmade doll clothes. My grandmother had bought sixteen-inch dolls and made wardrobes for my sisters and my one girl cousin and me when we were all too old for dolls. I've had it for years and always thought I would give it to my daughter one day. This Christmas I thought: hey! I'll save my money! I'll give her something meaningful! It could be a Family Heirloom! It's not another Disney princess piece of crapola! This is better! 

You guys, it was not better. Molly liked the doll, but the clothes were too hard for her without my help. The clothes were more the kind of thing you and I would think are cute rather than a four-year-old girl. The doll itself was super cute, but not any more special than Molly's other dolls. Months later I still massively regret not buying her that stupid Disney princess doll. It wasn't super expensive. It wasn't inappropriate. It was the one thing she happened to really glom onto around Christmas time. WHY DIDN'T I JUST GET HER THE STUPID DOLL?

In my family Christmas is a big deal. So is Easter. My mom used to make us these huge Easter baskets and hide them around the house. We'd have big dinner or brunch with family and friends. Our outfits were super special. We got to sleep in CURLERS for Easter. When I found out that Phillip's family was barely registering Easter this year (and my parents were going to be out of town) I made sure to create our own Easter celebration. We'll have friends and food and an egg hunt. And I've been buying Easter basket fillers for weeks. WEEKS. I want the Easter bunny to knock their socks off this year. 

And yesterday? When Jack was sick and just Molly and I went to church? Afterwards I took her out to lunch at a restaurant she specifically requested, then we went to the mall and bought a [Disney princess, natch] necklace at Claire's because she's been dying for "kid jewels". No reason! No occasion! She wanted it and I wanted to give it to her. 

Half of me is "WHY NOT" and half of me is "oooh, this is NOT GOOD".

I don't feel like I spoil Jack. He's the oldest and I know I'm subconsciously harder on him (I'M THE OLDEST TOO, JACK. WE'LL CHAT ONE DAY!) He's never really been INTO a certain kind of toy or theme. And he goes to full day kindergarten. He's just not AROUND as much. 

But Molly, and Emma by virtue of being my SWEET WITTLE BABY... man. I'm sure a lot of you think I'm terrible for taking those girls out for coffee and pastries nearly every morning. Part of it is just what we have to DO, to manage the silly drop off schedule, but we'll do it even when we don't have school. I love going to coffee shops with them. I'm very much aware that Molly will be in full time kindergarten in just a few months and I CHERISH that time. I really honestly do. Should I let them eat chocolate croissants and cookies and chocolate chip muffins nearly every morning? That doesn't sound like a very concerned or involved or aware parent. AND YET. I am so happy to spend my cash on morning treats, so happy to have that little half hour of sweets. 

And they're only little for so long. There's only a few years when Christmas is THE BEST DAY EVER!!!! and Easter is super exciting and your birthday is a high holy day. (Okay, some of us still treat our birthdays as such.) Plus they have a mom who loves sugar, loves presents, loves parties, loves celebrations. 

But they also have a mom who wants them to learn the Reason For The Seasons (gag) and doesn't want to create spoiled little brats and wonders how much is too much indulging and cares what her stricter friends and family think. I don't feel like I SUPER indulge my kids. I am certainly not going around buying them every which thing, but I've been known to buy a superfluous pair of pink shoes, cookies when there are bagels, and we always hit up the Target dollar section. 

I don't know. I think I'm freaking out about both of my big kids going to school in the fall. They're, you know, a package deal. Once they're in school that's it. Life goes faster and they get bigger and the last thing Molly will want to do is go have a coffee with me before school. OH I FEEL SO SAD ABOUT THIS. 

I need an app that tells me what's happening next

Everything's a little bit off here at Camp Cheung. Everyone's a little off kilter, the routines are crooked, no one seems to know which end is up. It's kind of like my gallery wall, where every time I look at it I notice all the frames that need the tiniest adjustments. But even though I am constantly adjusting, they constantly look wrong. It MAY drive me insane. 

I think it started Thursday - late Thursday night a distant 16-year-old relation was retrieved at the airport and brought to our guest room. The next day he toured the university and his dad flew in late that night. I think I've seen them for all of five minutes. They sleep here, I'm told, but they leave before I get up and come home when I'm in bed. Phillip says they are investigating Seattle and playing many many many rounds of golf. I am not ENTIRELY sure when they're leaving.

Anyway. That's sort of disconcerting. 

Then Jack threw up yesterday. Out of the blue. We'd gone out to breakfast, he'd been hyper and silly on account of overnight guests (and oh, the constant asking about when they are going to come HOOOOOME, as if they cannot fathom guests who are visiting but not at all interested in THEMMMMM) but then boom: barf. I don't know. I just don't know. Where did that come from? What is it? WHO KNOWS?!

We sent him to bed pumped up on all sorts of fruity-flavored medicine and rushed back to his room at midnight when we heard him sobbing. Except he wasn't sobbing so much as... counting? He was sitting up in his bed counting. Worriedly. We told him to count in his head and go back to sleep. 

(I am just waiting for the day when Jack and I get to discuss Anxiety Disorders. Seriously. I feel as certain about this as I do about the fact that he will get glasses before age ten.) 

Then this morning Emma woke up at six. Usually it's the big kids bounding into our room at six and Emma sleeping until eight, but today was the other way around and I got a head start on worrying about what church was going to be like with an extra overtired baby. (Hint: horrible.) 

And Jack still felt sick and I was all set to stay home with them because I am having FEELINGS about church lately LOTS OF THEM, but then I realized: I absolutely HATE staying home with kids on weekends by myself. It just feels like the rest of the week. It makes me nuts. So just Molly and me went to church and I only dealt with one person asking me how many songs were left and afterwards we went to the kindergarten mom's Chinese restaurant and gorged ourselves on scallion pancakes. 

I am never ever going to lose the baby weight, am I? (The entire Internet chuckles to itself.)

Then we went shopping (Molly bought a princess necklace, I bought sky high metallic platform wedges with an ankle strap because I am super practical) and grocery shopping (I avoided the Easter candy) and Nai Nai and Ye Ye were here with heaps of food and fun aaaaaaaand I sat in my room reading my newest book, which is about the Holocaust. JUST A LITTLE LIGHT READING. 

You guys, I'm sure you're all sick of me talking about my stupid books by now and I'm not sure I even WANT to write about this one, I don't even know why I'm reading it in the first place. I had nothing to read, it was cheap on the Kindle, I sort of felt up for it? Somehow? It's been a long time since I read a flat out surviving-the-Holocaust book and maybe I won't read another one. Or at least not for another several years. I say that, but then one of the only things driving these people to survive is so that they can TELL PEOPLE what HAPPENED and GOD if I don't feel like I OWE THEM. At least that much. 

Blah blah blah. ANYWAY. Jack is still not feeling well, except for these moments when he perks up and starts telling me how the dinosaurs went extinct or what words start with Y. I have every intention of sending him to school tomorrow. He spent the whole day in his pajamas lolling about on the couch, so he should be JUST FINE. 

And I need to get back on track. I need my routine! My schedule! I have the faintest little hope that I can find a regular time to exercise! Except this week? This week is even crazier. The golfers are sticking around plus Phillip's brother and his family are coming to visit and I have only vague ideas as to what the plans are and our Easter lunch will be bookended by giant Chinese dinners and I'm not sure how I'm supposed to manage family AND fasting on Good Friday and gaaaaahhhh WHEN IS BEDTIME?

In which I pretend I know what to do with 20ish kindergartners (I so do not)

I am volunteering in Jack's class tomorrow. For the first time. Worse: I am not volunteering so much as GIVING THE LESSON. This particular lesson is called Make A Present For Your Teacher Who's Having A Baby In Two Months!

I made the mistake of asking my mother for baby present suggestions. I was thinking she'd give me appropriate parent-teacher gift ideas: a nice blanket maybe, an outfit, a card from Jack, I DON'T KNOW. Instead, my mother, who is nothing if not ambitious, creative, and full of Can Do Spirit! said, "YOU KNOW WHAT WOULD BE REALLY COOL?" And proceeded to tell me that I should get all the kids to think about "what makes a good mom?" and then write down what they think and draw a picture and MAKE A BOOK.

Me! Who has no contacts within the school OR the parent community! WHO HAS ABSOLUTELY NO GUIDING SMALL CHILDREN IN SCHOOL EXPERIENCE. 

I am, however, nothing if not wanting to get an A+ in everything, especially gift giving and mom approval, SO. After approximately nine bazillion emails with my partner in crime (aka the teacher across the hall I unceremoniously roped into arranging things for me) we found a time for me to come in and attempt book pages. As I type I am printing out card stock with a big box and lines underneath for the pages. Draw your picture in the box! I will help you write your Good Mom Advice! And then I will somehow (??????) fix these pages into a nice keepsakey book that the teacher can pull out years from now and say to her husband, "Oh yeah, I remember that Jackson kid, he was in my class that year I had [BABY NAME], remember? He's the one who nearly died of mortification when I had to tell him to be nice that one time?"

(DID I TELL YOU ABOUT THAT? I think that was one of those things that I decided were Not Blog Appropriate. On my kid's behalf. Good story, though.)

Anyway. I'm not exactly NERVOUS, but I guess I am a little APPREHENSIVE. I can barely get my own children to follow directions let alone another 25 kids belonging to OTHER people. So we'll see how this goes. If all else fails I can go purchase a nice blanket. 

In other news: Phillip's cousin's kid is flying out here tonight and staying with us so he can attend some College Weekend thing for prospective freshmen. Then his dad is flying in tomorrow? And maybe staying with us? And maybe I am making dinner for all these people, but maybe I'm not? I'm repeating the Cheung Family Motto to myself - "We'll just play it by ear!" - but it's not really working this time. In case you haven't figured it out, I am terrified of AND bad at making dinner. Anyone got any Easy No Fail Dinners? We'll probably go with our standard salmon/rice/broccoli it being a Friday during Lent and all, but if you have suggestions I'm sure I can make use of them in the future. Like the week AFTERWARDS when Phillip's brother and his family comes to visit. GAK.



You know the baby started sleeping great because I stopped whining about it on Twitter. She started 1) taking regular-ish naps at the same-ish time and 2) sleeping through the night which was... lifechanging. Our other kids stopped taking a bottle right around 12 months, but we were still giving Emma a bottle before bedtime AND giving her another in the middle of the night to put her back to sleep at, oh, 16 months. 

Not that I feel horrible about that. I don't. We either gave a her a bottle in the middle of the night and she went back to sleep or we listened to her moan and yammer for two hours until we gave up and gave her a bottle and then she'd go back to sleep. Was she hungry? I don't think so. Did she need to eat? Of course not. Is it what worked? YES. 

But one day I tried putting her down without the bottle and, unlike the other times I'd tried this same thing, she didn't point accusingly at her nightstand wondering where her bottle was. And a few nights later we were able to just stick a pacifier in her mouth instead of going through the whole bottle rigamarole at 2am. And then, more often than not, she would just moan and yammer for a little bit and go right back to sleep on her own without any interference from us. 

The last few days though? All messed up again. I don't know. I'm so tired. I mean, I'm always tired. I have these really wild chaotic dreams (a side effect of the crazy pills, I believe) and I wake up tired and I SWEAR it's because those dreams are so CRAZY. They're not nightmares (though sometimes they're scary) and they're not, like, super fantastical wackadoo, but like last night: my stylist was cutting Anderson Cooper's hair and then me and Anderson became besties and somehow Phillip showed up and we were running from The Law? Or something? I DON'T KNOW YOU GUYS. But I will bet all the money that I would be better rested if I just stopped DREAMING. GAH. 

Okay I got off track. I AM TIRED. And now I have 1) a baby who doesn't feel like napping anymore and 2) moans and yammers FOREEEEEEEVER in the middle of the night. We haven't reverted to a bottle or anything like that, but two or three times in the last couple days we've had to get her out of bed and sit with her a while - we haven't had to do that in weeks. And the napping is even worse. I have a VERY TIGHT SCHEDULE on preschool days, people. There is a LIMITED NAP WINDOW. If she doesn't nap in that window she doesn't nap. And then both of us are miserable. 

I'm not saying this is unusual or even all that terrible, but it's annoying and I can't exercise because there's no set time to exercise and I want to take naps all the time which I NEVER used to do. Gah. And sometimes I think about how when JACK was Emma's age I had a TWO-MONTH-OLD and you guys? I would die. You know I love babies. I LOVE BABIES. But the thought of taking care of my two big kids and my not-walking nearly-18-month-old AAAAND a brand new baby makes me want to sob. I mean, POINTLESSLY sob, because obvs I don't HAVE a two-month-old, but still. How did I have two babies before? How do people who have two babies do it NOW? Why am I thinking about this BECAUSE IT IS POINTLESS?

All of this to say, the baby is blabbing in her crib instead of sleeping and all I want to do is crawl into my bed, but then I might not eat lunch which means eating crap all day long and it is SUCH a struggle and OH GOD MY LIFE IS SO LAAAAAAAME.

Reads & Recommends: too tired to write anything else edition

I am blog-empty, Internet. But I have been reading LOTS of nonsense. 

A tablet simple enough for a WOMAN to use! Oh good, because I am REALLY struggling with my husband's manly too-smart-for-me tablet.

Surrogate offered $10,000 to abort baby. I just couldn't with this story. I just couldn't. I don't even know. BLARGH. 

Phillip and I watched the video on this guy's personal website with our jaws hanging open, neither one of us knowing quite what to make of it. I am well versed in the Asian Man Stereotypes, but this dude... THIS dude seems WACKO. Anyway. Here he is warning his clientele that the upcoming release of the new StarCraft game will only lead to greater isolation. (Uh, yeah.) (And yet Phillip Cheung? Totally stoked.)

I really really hope there are other more popular Phillip Cheungs out there, higher up on the Google list of search hits. 

I think this Veronica Mars "where are they now" slideshow came out before the big Kickstarter thing - probably just getting us all mopey again and ready to open our wallets when the moment demanded it. 

This is, pretty much, the ONLY positive thing I've read about Matt Lauer. Ever. 

Okay, we already did the whole papal election thing, but are we so over it that we aren't at least mildly interested in the lengths the Vatican goes to to keep it secret? This is super interesting!

Only of interest if you're local - how the UW light rail link will gentrify the neighborhood. (Mighty Maggie Trivia: I wrote one article for that paper! It was about new equipment at the dentistry school! It was terrifying! I had to INTERVIEW PEOPLE! OH THE HORROR! And then my second article assignment? Was about free condoms on campus. Yes. I think it got killed. And then I quit. OH DEAR GOD.) 

Required reading for life listy bloggers: why are we so obsessed with the pursuit of authenticity? For the record, I have no idea why people were upset about Beyonce lip syncing at the Superbowl. It's not like we don't know she can sing. GIRL CAN SING. 

I know the internet loves reading about unusual names

But this is the kind of thing writers and would-be authors think about. Curtis Sittenfeld’s parents called their daughter by her middle name from birth to distinguish her from the many Elizabeths in the family. Sittenfeld, the author of “Prep” and “American Wife,” didn’t think much of her name growing up, in part because she attended boarding school, “and no place has more people with weird names than boarding school,” she told me. But as an author, her name has resulted in numerous misreadings. “A lot of people have e-mailed me, ‘I read your story and I was so impressed at how a man could get inside the head of a female character,’ ” she said. “Then when they meet me, they’re much less impressed.”

My war books glossed over this particular guy, Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist, last surviving member of the July 20 plot (to assassinate Hitler). I was... simply amazed he was still around. Not least because I thought everyone even remotely associated with that plot paid with their lives. 

Phillip forwarded this one to me: pictures of children around the world with their favorite toys. Wow. 

P.S. Since this IS a reads & recommends post 

1. The newest Inspector Montalbano (Dance of the Seagull, by Andrea Camilleri) was GOOD. Not nearly enough talking to himself, but infinitely fewer young ladies throwing themselves at his feet. 

2. The newest Inspector Rutledge (I Forget The Title, by Charles Todd) is... not that good. I don't know why. I think the bad guy never felt interesting to me. Of course, I'm not quite done so there's still time to surprise me. And Meredith Channing disappeared! I KNOW! I need a book just about Rutledge and Meredith Channing. 

3. I'm reading that Birth Order book and I keep cross referencing it with my enneagram book and just be happy you aren't friends with me in real life for I fear I am now Entirely Insufferable. 

4. I finished Bailout, vomited, then coped for a week with Easter candy. I tweeted to the author and he tweeted back: 

Shut up. My DAD was impressed, so THERE.


Small collection of tiny thoughts

I am a HUGE Veronica Mars fan. I was SO disappointed when it was unceremoniously canceled. I've often wondered how they were going to end the series. Every time I see a bright yellow Xterra (not that often, but often enough) my heart goes pitter pat. But I have to say, I felt weird donating to the Let's Make A Movie Fund. I mean... I don't know. Maybe it's because Phillip and I have spent so much time talking about what to DO with money lately that it just seemed super frivolous. I would pay to see it! Shoot, I would BUY it. But to donate to get them to make it in the first place? IT JUST FELT WEIRD. (I donated anyway. My heart belongs to Logan Echolls.)

I have nothing insightful or halfway interesting to say about the new Pope. He seemed like a sweet little grandpa out there on that balcony. My only Pope Hope (haaa) was that it would maybe be someone NOT from Italy and also NOT from the US. I thought that would be nice.

But I loved watching the drama unfold. I was caught between noticing the ridiculousness of it - the Twitter smokestack account, the silly commentators, the eyes glued to a chimney - and the rah rah yay World spirit of it all. The not-Catholics were excited too! Breaking news! Suspense! Mystery! Fancy costumes! Twitter was super fun. I'm especially thankful to the Cardinals for making it happen during those few hours when the baby is napping and everyone else is at school. 

My mom gave me a super great idea for Jack's teacher's new baby gift, but it involves a lot of organization and getting people I don't know to get other people I don't know to email me. So. We'll see how that goes. 

Phillip and I are going to start watching House of Cards - the Kevin Spacey Netflix political drama - tonight. I am super excited. I just stopped feeling barfy about my financial crisis book and I need another example of political corruption to feel Despairing about. At least this one is fictional. (We hope.)

Last night @ebj123 sent me a link to a dress that, according to her, screamed MAGGIE CHEUNG! And it did, you guys, it did. Oh man I loved it. I just got the email telling me it's shipped. Hello impulse buy! Moral of the story: @ebj123 is evil. And! I cannot find the link! I think I got the last one! It will probably look horrid. Oh well. 

I am reading a new Inspector Rutledge mystery! And I just finished the newest Inspector Montalbano mystery! And the two of you who care about post-WWI Scotland Yard drama AND modern day Sicilian crimefighting are WAY EXCITED.

My thoughts about the impending demise of Google Reader: welllll... I hardly look at it anymore anyway. (hangs head in shame)

OKAY THAT'S IT. I have officially emptied my brain of Wednesday. YOUR TURN.


Leaning something a little different, I think

All this Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg stuff that's been going on the last month or so has been TOTALLY up my alley and I've read a million different takes (many of those hours spent deep within the Penelope Trunk vault (this was my favorite.)). 

But as someone who actively chooses to stay home and raise children, I don't feel like I have a lot (or anything?) to add to the debate. I don't have any opinions about it - I haven't tried to be a career mom or the Woman Who Has It All. so what do I know - but I do have THOUGHTS. Lots and lots of thoughts. 

Mainly my thoughts revolve around: what if I WAS working? What would that be like? Would I be happier? Would I feel more like I am doing what I am supposed to do? Have I lost out on something because I'm not pursuing a career? 

It's not that I feel "judged" or whatever for staying home, or that I've let the Sisterhood down somehow, or any of those dumb un-feminist things. I actually feel the opposite. But just knowing ME, the kind of person I am, the [vague, silly-ish] dreams I had as a teenager, my potential, my resources, being a Three, even being the oldest (I've started a BIRTH ORDER book you guys, there's your warning!) - did I make the best choice? 

There's no point in REALLY raking this over the coals, since I think I'm long past the point where I could easily change my mind. We have three kids now, I'm appalled at the cost of daycare, I'd basically be working to pay the daycare bill, and I haven't put any effort into looking for a career that would be WORTH working to pay the daycare bill (with the hope that eventually I'd move up.)

But I do wonder if that's where I missed out in the first place, the never finding a CAREER that suited me. Well, if I'm being honest, not really LOOKING for a career. It wasn't that I always planned to be a SAHM, I just... well, basically I wanted to earn enough money to travel. Not really Yahoo CEO material right there. 

Nearly all of my mom friends work, though, and nearly all of them do because they LIKE working and they LIKE their jobs and it adds a wonderful meaningful dimension to their lives. It's not just for the paycheck. Sometimes I feel like I should have worked harder to find that! For a long time I would say, "Oh, but I didn't like my job anyway" and my friend would say, "You never found the RIGHT job." 

And I'm smart, you know. Well, smart enough. I'm obnoxiously detail-oriented and organized, I'm driven, I love to learn, I follow through, I'm reliable, I get stuff done. I know I COULD succeed at a career, if I ever managed to pick one. I could be good at something other than folding laundry. 

Then again it's telling, isn't it? That a firstborn Three, a total gets-her-value-from-achievement DIDN'T pursue a career. At times I thought about getting a teaching certificate, pursuing a public policy path, there was my fling with web design. Ultimately nothing felt right. And for so long I've thought that's because the one thing I've always REALLY wanted to do was write. OBVS am supposed to be a writer! You can't get excited about doing PR for the chamber of commerce if you're REALLY supposed to be a middle grades rockstar author. 

Except now? I'm not even sure if THAT'S true anymore. In this last year I feel like I've lost a lot of my writing mojo. This is good because 1) I haven't written anything since I got pregnant with Emma and 2) I think there's a way that I made Be A Writer into an idol. As in, my parents will be the most proud of me if I become a published writer, my teachers will think the best of me, it's the biggest way to impress my friends, etc. etc. Is it really because *I* want to be a writer? (A Three has to ask herself these things. Pathetic, isn't it?)

I think I do. But I also think, right now, age 33.5, that I'm okay with NOT being a writer. Or at least not the next Lois Lowry, which was The Dream. I have never admitted that out loud before. I read about these women who apparently have it all, women changing the world, women making heaps of money, women working really super hard, women who get tons of respect and accolades and I wonder if I could be doing what they're doing, but I also feel like: but nooooo. I don't WANT to!

I actually quite like my life. I mean, as tired and done with parenting as I feel right now on Tuesday afternoon, I'm pretty sure I would not rather be sitting in the CEO office on the phone. And the ideas I have for my time are so NOT career- or profit-oriented ideas. I had to ALLOW myself to HAVE them, simply BECAUSE they so not about achieving success. Maybe adoption or fostering is in my future, maybe one day I'll go back to school to become a SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR! (Ha. The not-churchy people in my life are all "huh?" and the churchy people are all, "Ummmm, I don't quite think that's the right choice for you.") I have this kind of nutty idea to make my house a place of prayer once or twice a month, and that would COST me money because I'm thinking about hiring babysitters and feeding whoever shows up! I'm hoping to go to some conferences in the nearish future that would be "spiritual education", I guess, just for ME. I feel like THAT'S the direction I'm supposed to go. Even this bakery-with-my-sister idea (that I DO keep kicking around) comes from a place of wanting to do something fun that would fill a need in other people's lives - not entrepreneurial ambition. (Don't tell the bank when I ask for my loan.)

So I salute you, Sheryl Sandberg, and I think you kick major amounts of booty. But I don't share your picture of success - not your personal picture or the perspective you advocate. Lots of women do and more power to them, but for me it's been good to think about changing the world from a different sphere of influence. And to think about power as something I receive through the grace of God, not something I fight for in an office. 

When I was in college someone told me that they see a lot of women who take a back seat to their husband's career but then powerfully emerge on their own once the kids are mostly grown. Like it was this good thing that I could be happy about. At the time I was super offended by the mere IDEA that that's the lot women were stuck with. How UNFAIR! Now I think: that sounds good. That sounds really good. And I think the experience of being with these kids will inform whatever powerful thing I do in the future. And it WILL be powerful, even if I'm not wielding that power in a conference room or selling it on

Perhaps I am even wielding a bit of power right now. ??? I do get to decide when certain people can eat their Curious George fruit snacks. 


Dare I say we were PRODUCTIVE this weekend?!

Sometimes we don't have any plans for the weekend, no one to visit, nothing to do, and that's when Phillip and I look at each other and say, "FINE, LET'S FINISH THE STUPID [insert house project here]." And we're in bad moods about it too, because as nice as finishing house projects is, neither of us are what you would call "handy" and it takes forever and the kids get in the way and we disagree and that's why we probably shouldn't start them in the first place. 

But anyway. There was no small amount of shock when we finally built the ultra cheapo but uber functional bedside tables I picked up at Fred Meyer six weeks ago. 

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I bought two of these on sale, rushed home, opened the box and saw that 1) it was missing the little bag of hardware and 2) the instructional diagram was about one hundred times more impossible than Ikea instructional diagrams. So I boxed it back up, shoved it in a corner, forgot about it, lost the receipt, yeah. Until this weekend when Jack and Molly were headed to a playdate RIGHT NEXT to Fred Meyer and I started to feel guilty. They let me exchange it without giving me a hard time, probably because they knew what a PITA it was going to be to put those suckers together. 

But I think they look nice! At least they are a huge improvement over the pine TV tray-type tables we were using as nightstands. Haaaa, classy. Also, that's probably as uncluttered and un-dusty as the top of that table is ever going to be. I clean up for the internet. 

The PLAN for our bedroom is to get rid of the giant red couch and get a KING SIZE BED. OH YES. I HATH DECREED IT SO. This bed is Phillip's from the College Days and the some of the slats are broken and it's all chipped and unhappy. I want to get maybe a [king size!] black upholstered bed and add a few more pieces of supah fancy white Hemnes bedroom furniture. We have the tall dresser right now, but I'm batting my eyelashes at the long one. 

Okay, but we put the nighstands together while we waited for the PAINT to dry on the WALL HOOK TRIM. 

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Did I not tell you I started a pre-K? 

Phillip bought that piece of trim eons ago and I bought the hooks eons ago, but we left everything in the garage. AS WE ARE WONT TO DO. Anyway, I made a stink about it starting yesterday and we finally got it up this afternoon. We had to mark up a lot of area with pencil, drive to a friend's house to cut the trim, get out the trim paint YET AGAIN, but it was fairly easy for us House Novices. We even managed to screw it into a few studs, totally on accident. Woo!

I still need to get a few things for the entry way walls, but otherwise it's done. No more paint or furniture or rugs. I'm quite happy with it too. All the storage choices are working out, there are decidedly fewer shoes strewn about and I'm hoping the same for coats now that the hooks are up. AND the bench is almost always available for sitting and shoe taking off/putting on. Goals: accomplished! 

I thought my next project would be Emma's room. Hers is the other bedroom on the main floor besides ours, it has huge windows and great light, high ceilings, and a Pergo floor (the only part of the house that does, curiously enough. OH THE QUESTIONS I HAVE.) I *think* I want to paint this room a darker gray (the grays I chose for the hallway and my bedroom could also be described as a "sort of dirty white?") with a lot of bright white and hot pink accents. Eventually it will be Phillip's office OR, if he feels like it, at some point I could switch out Jack for Emma, the girls would be downstairs, Jack would be upstairs and we'd keep the larger bedroom (and attached bathroom) downstairs for the office/guest room. I don't know. If I think about it too much I get all STRESSED which is RIDICULOUS because YEARS! We have YEARS! BUT WHATEVER. I think a real gray would not be too dark at all for that room and would easily accomodate Baby Girl decor, Grade School Boy decor, or Husband's Office junk. 

However! Pulling that off is overwhelming. I paint while the baby sleeps, but how do I paint if the baby is sleeping in the room I want to paint? HMMM? Maybe I should wait until she's not in the crib anymore? All the baby furniture - basically a super stained upholstered rocking chair and a much abused and half-broken Ikea dresser/changing table - needs to go at some point. Maybe I should just wait and do a Toddler Girl room? MAYBE I AM JUST COMING UP WITH LAZY EXCUSES?

In the meantime I am plotting a Pinterest-Approved Gallery Wall:

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Tres boring.

This is where I used to have a shorter brown hallway table and 3 canvas frames over which I stapled obnoxiously bright and flowery fabric. It... worked? It was something? I guess. Turns out that table looks awesome in the entry way and functions much better down there. I went and bought the table I originally and always wanted for that space - the super narrow Chloe foyer table at World Market. Tis awesome. In the corner I stuck my Goodwill chair that I painted coral back when I wanted a desk and coral accents in my bedroom. (This was pre-red couch.) But all over that wall, which is quite... expansive (bad picture, but it goes up pretty high) will be FRAMED THINGS. Of all shapes/sizes. Mostly white frames, but with a few dark brown, and lots of (obvs) yellow and aqua in the pictures. I have photos, prints, Etsy printables, and artwork that isn't necessarily working in other parts of the house. I have a lot of frames already and I hope to just spray paint them white to save money. I started gathering them all up (you can see them stacked under the table) and I'm hoping to get started on that this week. I have MANY large blank expansive wall spaces in this house, but this is the only one that I really feel could pull off a large-scale gallery wall, sort of asymmetrical and not-strictly-matching, but Highly Organized. At least, that's how it looks in my head. WE SHALL SEE. 

(Oh, by the way, this is at the top of the stairs - entry way below, living room to the left, Emma's room to the right, taken from the dining room. The kids like to run laps around the stairwell. I have a weird house.) 

Easter shoppy

Oh it's Help Me Pick Out What My Kids Should Wear For Easter time again! YOU = SOOOO EXCITED. 

But really, Christmas and Easter are really the only times I try HARD to dress my children in a particular way. I do most of their shopping a few times a year, sitting in front of my computer, glued to the Old Navy and Crazy8 sale pages, and then a giant box arrives and everything fits and looks cute and YAY, ALL DONE. But they keep growing! And Jack keeps wearing out the knees on his pants! And I have to keep buying things! And then storing the old things! THE CLOTHES ARE THE THING THAT WILL KILL ME, INTERNET!

But Christmas and Easter, yes, I spend more, think more, and possibly go a tiny bit crazy with the need for coordination. Do I want to dress the girls in the SAME dress or just dresses that are obvs from the same COLLECTION. How dressy is the boy? Do I buy a useless sweater vest for $25 that he will wear only once? Or use Easter as the time to buy a pair of khaki pants in the next size up and a nice button down shirt, the end. 

Anyway, I haven't been on the Mom ball recently. I am off my game. Several times this week I found myself wondering what I did with those kids all day before there was kindergarten and preschool. Wednesday Jack had early dismissal and I was practically beside myself the night before, wondering how we would spend our afternoon. I KNOW. PATHETIC. But I am super bad at just staying home with them - they expect me to do PROJECTS (aka ARTS AND CRAFTS) and that is just not my bag. I mean, sometimes it is? But not really? Oh, and I dug this science experiment kit out of the closet, I think someone gave it to them for Christmas? But all the parental SUPERVISION! BAH! Where are the projects where I just sit them down with the directions and they read it themselves and I - oh wait. FINE. 

Where was I going with this. OH YES. NOT HAVING PLANS. Okay, so instead of coming home after school and having a snack and watching TV and not doing homework, like usual, I hauled us to the mall to shop for Easter clothes AND take over the mall play area. (TANGENT: I haaaaaate taking Emma and the big kids to a playground, but the indoor mall area is GREAT because she can crawl around and pull herself up and YES it was sunny today but this was SO MUCH EASIER.) 

Okay, so I came home with the following option from Crazy8: 

For Emma:

OH WOW I LOVE THIS DRESS. It's, like, my perfect baby dress. There are SLEEVES! Eyelet lace! Baby pink! It's not super fancy or super beautiful, but it's CUTE and I just love it. HOWEVER. The matching big sister dress, seen here:

I love this one too, but it's PRICEY. Like $40 something dollars and I KNOW it will go on [a better] sale closer to Easter sooooo... I didn't buy it. I thought I'd just wait and SEE. In the meantime! I purchased the following Matching Sister Looks from Gymboree:




With hot pink cardigans? SIGH. Now that I've put these pictures up I think I'm just going to wait for the pink one to get cheaper. I really like Gymboree's not-super-fancy dresses (the fancy ones are too fancy), but the odds of getting two coordinated dresses I like at a decent price are always small. Same at Crazy 8, except it's cheaper, so I usually end up there. 

As for JACK, I bought him a white and baby blue checked button down to wear with the khaki pants he wore to his aunt's wedding. Unless those are embarrassingly short, in which case I will purchase a NEW pair of khaki pants. How boring being a boy. 

Last year the girls wore hot pink jumpers with a FROG applique and Jack wore pants with EMBROIDERED FROGS and I was SO PLEASED with cute AND clever outfits. I didn't have a similar option this year, as far as I could tell. I restrained myself from buying the seersucker pants. (And matching cap. OMG.)

Sometimes I look at the giant piles of cuteness and wish I wasn't so lazy. It's not that I'm frugal (I am REALLY GOOD at spending money) and it's not that I'm above wanting my kids to look adorable at all times (I totally do), I'm just LAZY. It's WORK! Sometimes stuff is in the wash! Sometimes I have to iron it! Sometimes Molly makes a face about the cutest thing I picked out for her! MOST DAYS I DO NOT CARE. And poor Emma. Ask my friends - 90% of the time she's in her pajamas. WE'RE BUSY IN THE MORNINGS. 

But yeah, given unlimited wealth and a personal shopper AND a housemaid, my kids would look DANG cute. Heh. 

Are you planning Easter outfits? Just me? All right then.