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April 2013

Slip 'n slide

Molly had her first ever swim lesson this morning. Of the five kids she was probably the oldest, but also probably the least familiar with water. Whatever. I decided not to let this reflect on my parenting. Molly is the type of kid who starts screaming bloody murder and you run across the house and into the bathroom where you, irresponsible parent that you are, have let your 4- and 5-year-olds play in the tub and oh. Jackson got an eensy weensy drop of water on Molly's face. OH THE TRAUMA.

So I wasn't really expecting it to go super well to begin with, but I was honestly too stressed about GOING to swim lessons to think about the actual lesson. I feel very new at the Y, I don't know how things work, I'm not always sure where to park or when to arrive and I made Molly take a shower before she got in the pool like all the Firm Signage demanded even though it was clear none of the OTHER kids' mothers made them do this. My ultimate plan is to drop Jack at school, go to the Y, stick the kids in the play area while I run, then get them both out for Molly's lesson at 10. But Emma is the clingiest whiniest baby EVER right now and I WAS JUST STRESSED OUT, OKAY! So getting us all there, on time, in the appropriate clothing, in the right place, without having done anything embarrassing or stupid? I WAS ALREADY WINNING. 

Molly was game for everything though. I was so proud of her. I mean, this could be the kid who refused to get in the water without me. But she got right in with the others and ALMOST put her face in the water when all the other kids did. I mean, this was progress. Then the instructor had them stand on the side of the pool and jump in (with him right there of course) AND SHE DID IT. YOU GUYS MY KID JUMPED IN THE POOL. I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT. 

Aaaaand she IMMEDIATELY burst into panicky tears, fuh-reaking out all over the place, UGH. Water got up her nose! Ack! Ack! And I couldn't put Emma down to deal with her because then I had TWO screaming children. So I'm kind of hovering over the edge of the pool, hoping I don't drop Emma in, trying to calm Molly down, trying to act like it's No Big Thang in front of the other moms even though I seriously just wanted to hand one of them my baby and take myself out for a latte. The other moms were actually super nice and encouraging. I suppose Molly is not the only drama queen in our family. 

EVENTUALLY I coaxed her to at least stand NEAR the other kids in the water for the last 10 minutes of the lesson, but jeez. I may have to resort to bribery next time. Have Phillip take her on the weekends or something. I don't blame her, though. I don't know how to swim, nor do I have any interest because I AM AFRAID OF WATER. I just understand that it would be better if Molly were NOT like me in this particular instance. 

Jack will have his first lesson Thursday night with Phillip as his chaperone. I expect that to go much better. Jack is a smidge more daring, plus he likes to show off. Peer pressure!

As for the DECK SLIDE...

Okay people, the thing about slides is: 99% of the slides you see on or whatever are made for 5 foot decks. It might say "Ten Foot Slide" but that just means the slide is 10 feet long. It does not mean the slide is made for a 10 foot deck. SO. The majority of slides I've looked at online are made for 5 foot or 7 foot decks. I've got an 8. The difference in price between a 7 foot platform heigh slide and an 8 foot is, oh, $1500. I DON'T KNOW WHY. I can find a gajillion 7 foot slides for $500ish and the 8 footers start at, like, $2000. With tax and shipping. Is ridiculous. I KNOW. 

So my contractor was telling me that I can either purchase a slide that costs more than the stairs, or they can build the slide deck a foot down from the actual deck and pay $750 extra (7 foot slide plus tax and shipping) - it's just that the actual deck stairs project will cost more. 

Anyway, I did some googling and I found one single solitary option under-$1K for an 8 foot slide, a slide that comes in pieces and you can order as many extensions as you want. Enough extensions for an 8 foot deck comes to about $800. I also found a seven foot slide on Amazon for $500ish, which would work nice because we have an Amazon credit card and points to burn, making it even cheaper. I emailed those options. I haven't heard back, but I'm supposing one of those will work. My contractor's first thought for where to purchase a slide was Rainbow, which I already know is the priciest swingset out there. All those $100ish slides you see are for 5 foot decks. I know. 

Of course, we could do away with the slide altogether except NOPE! I am in it. I feel the same way I did about the fireplace. It's a lot of money for something that isn't necessarily going to increase the value of our house, but it will improve the USE of our house SO MUCH. Like, remodeling the kitchen would be super duper nice? And remodeling the bathroom would be even better? And make our house a lot nicer? But not to the extent that deck stairs (AND A SLIDE) will make my children more inclined to play outside in the backyard this summer which is infinitely more helpful for a SAHM's quality of life, yes? 

SLIDE! SLIDE! Stay tuned! 


Another entry in the "I'll Never Run For Public Office Anyway" file

Friends of mine are struggling with meds right now, then I read this extra super sobering article about how we treat bipolar disorder and BLARGH. It is hard to be a person attempting to live with a spot of crazy. 

This is how I think of it for myself, anyway. For the most part I am just like everyone else, with (it seems to me) the average amount of quirks and neuroses, but then something goes off in my brain and all at once I'm very much aware that 1) my brain is not functioning correctly, yet 2) I am at the mercy of my brain. This does not happen to my husband, it doesn't happen to most of my offline friends, it doesn't happen to my family, this is my lonely singular hard thing to conquer. 

The last couple of years I've chosen to conquer it, successfully, with meds. The first pill I took, C, was downright amazing. I experienced no notable side effects, always felt like myself, never felt the crazy anxious, and when I decided to wean off of it to nurse EJ, I experienced, again, no noticeable side effects. When I decided that HOO BOY I shouldn't have gone off those lovely magical pills, I asked for another prescription... but they didn't work that time. Who knows why? That was about a year ago, and it set off about six or seven months of trying to figure out what WOULD work. I tried a couple different things before ending up on a fairly large (yet typical) dose of P. It works... mostly well? At times I feel the crazy anxious, but not often enough to complain. I don't THINK I have any noticeable side effects, unless the P is a factor in my difficult time losing weight (um, this is more likely due to a strong affinity for cookies). I feel like myself. Except for the times when I realize I haven't yelled my head off at the kids in God knows how long, I can't remember the last time I had The Rage. Not that I'm a particularly ragey person to begin with, but I highly doubt my kids suddenly stopped being people I felt the need to yell at. 

I don't LIKE being on meds, I don't LIKE knowing that I need this stuff, but it's so much better than the alternative. And I have LOTS of experience with the alternative. I don't have the time, the brain capacity, the strength, the required amount of rest to deal with this entirely on my own. I have three kids to take care of, a husband who works really hard, and a house that needs deck stairs. Not taking meds is no longer an option for me. And honestly, I can't believe I went so long without them. IDIOT.

But even though I've come to a place where I fully embrace medication, where I discuss it freely on this here giant public forum, it's still SO SO WEIRD. It's such a STRANGE and COMPLICATED and FRUSTRATING thing to need medication for your FEELINGS. Especially as a Christian, you guys. Especially when you're sort of used to running all your feelings by God, using them as a gauge for how things are going, when your spiritual life operates in the same emotional and mental space as your craptastic brain chemistry. All the thinking takes place in the same brain, yet some of it is well and truly messed up. 

I don't know if I'm explaining this well. I guess it's like - it just seems like if you aren't doing well, you change whatever it is that needs changing. And God will help you do that. And if you work hard enough and you're committed and you power through it and suffer and persevere... you should come out of it? 

Except I would never say that about an illness that was NOT mental. I am not going around telling people with cancer or diabetes or strep throat that they're just not working hard enough, that they're not committed. 

I guess I just want to ask God, "How come you let us get sick in our HEADS?" That just doesn't make sense. That's the place where we RELATE to you, God! That's where we pray and know ourselves. When I'm super anxious it doesn't matter how many times I mutter "and yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil for Thou art with me" because my BODY is going BERSERK. My faith in You, my head knowledge that this thing I'm anxious about isn't even REAL - it doesn't matter, because something has snapped in my brain and my body is out of my control. 

I only started taking meds after I'd completely convinced myself I couldn't do it on my own. Maybe this is a very "Three" point of view. Threes are very "can do!" and when other people give up easily it makes us insane. Oooh, poor choice of words. I just mean... yeah. Threes are super good at "deciding" to feel a certain way. And I can't do that with anxiety. At all. Not even a little bit. 

Where am I going with this. No idea. Just sitting here in my dark living room feeling terrible for people struggling, feeling thankful that I'm doing well, for now, wondering how long it will last. Realizing that I'm much more comfortable with the strangeness and frustratingness than I used to be. Of course I'm only this confident with where I am because of the years I spent banging my head against the I Can Do This On My Own wall. (No I can't.)

Where does God fit into anxiety and depression? I'll keep thinking on that. 

Housey stuff

Phillip and I are suffering from a bit of... well, I'm not really sure what you'd call it. Whatever you develop when you've gone overboard in your consumption of HGTV. 

It started with the deck. Well, really, it started with buying the HOUSE, but the deck is the first big tangible fix/upgrade/change since we took out the weirdo fireplace the week before we moved in. There are a ton of things we want to do with our house, but deck stairs is the best combination of affordable/doable/most needed. And then I went and added that slide. (Phillip: still not sold. I mean, he's sold because I HATH DECREED IT SO, but, you know, he's still raising an eyebrow whenever I mention it. LOSE THE EYEBROW, PHILLIP.) Anyway, it's meant a lot of Pinterest browsing and contractor researching and all that housey stuff. 

THEN my sister, the one who got married last summer, went and bought a brand new super huge house and duuuudes, that's pretty exciting. I keep getting jealous, then I remember that this house is a good 50 minutes away from my beloved city and I feel better. But THEN I remember it's within walking distance of the best babysitter in the universe, that babysitter being MY MOTHER and I get jealous all over again. But whatever! It's fabulous! Yay my sister! It's finally finished and I got to take the grand tour today and that just puts you in the housey mood too. WALK IN PANTRY, people. Swoon. 

But the biggest thing? Phillip discovered HGTV. Now, I've known about HGTV for a while, but it's never really been all that interesting to me. I tried to develop an affinity for HGTV back when Emily Cassee was creating her House Hunters drinking game, but I couldn't get into it. But now? NOW? Maybe it's the fact that I learned how to paint things these last two years. Maybe it's the kitchen with the laminate cupboards and hateful tile grout counters. Maybe it's knowing we're here for a long time. I DON'T KNOW. But suddenly Phillip and I cannot get enough. It's actually quite embarrassing. 

Our favorite show is Property Brothers. I think it's called Property Brothers? It features these two impossibly good-looking brothers - one is a realtor and the other renovates houses. They find people (preferably a young, obnoxious, entitled couple) a fixer upper and turn it into their dream house. We think this show is amazing. We think the renovations brother is a GOD. We cannot stand the idiot whiners who end up on this show because DO THEY NOT REALIZE WHAT THESE BROTHERS CAN DO?! They should just pick the cheapest house in the best neighborhood and thank their lucky stars they landed on this show. 

Anyway, it makes us talk entirely too much about our own house and what we want to do to it. (Phillip comes up with these super random things, like wanting to replace the window in the garage with one that opesn, so the flies can fly out instead of getting stuck in the corners and dying. Yes. My ideas are more along the lines of "remodel the bathroom!") Just today we covered how we'll split the upstairs bathroom into two, whether or not we should open up the kitchen by knocking out the counter peninsula, and how exactly we would pay for all of this. In rather excruciating detail. 

Today my sister was all "I have to buy a refrigerator today! Lame! I'm never going to buy anything fun again!" And I'm all, "WHAT IS NOT FUN ABOUT BUYING A REFRIGERATOR?!?!?!?" Because I am OLD and UNFUN and ADDICTED TO HGTV.

I'm tempted to post a bazillion Kitchen Inspiration pictures, but Phillip is yelling from the bedroom saying another episode is on. Must go. Chat later. 

How I rationalized eating the cookie that I'm eating after writing this blog post

Every month I lose five-ish pounds and every month I put them back on (perhaps you are familiar with this cycle) and I am beginning to think, "You know? Maybe this is just how it's gonna BE." 

And really, is that so bad? Can I just stop comparing myself to the Me of 2009 because 2013 Me is a HECKUVA lot different.

  • I have three children on three different schedules. 
  • I am on a hefty dose of crazy pills. 
  • I moved and if I want to run in my new neighborhood I have to run HILLS.
  • I'm older. 
  • I'm much more fond of naps.
  • I am no longer super amazed by my ability to lose weight. It is no longer novel. It doesn't feel like an exciting challenge. It feels like TORTURE.
  • It's impossible for me to work out at the same time every day so it never feels routine.
  • Chocolate feels WAY better than skinny. 

I tell myself, "Girl? You're still thirty pounds and two sizes smaller than you were when you got married." And that helps. Pre-kids me would have laughed herself silly at the idea that post-kids me could run three miles in a row, without stopping, and without a basketball coach chasing after her and screaming about conditioning. I mean, not all is lost. 

Anyway. I'm just trying not to berate myself too much. Could I have more will power? More motivation? Could I do better? YES. Would my life be more awesome if I had those things? I'm not so sure. Napping suddenly holds premium value. Rest is a new requirement in my life. I feel super lame saying that, but DUDES. I'm TIRED. 

I can already tell that things are going to get simpler. The kids have something like seven weeks left of school. After that? I decide the summer schedule. We can go to the Y every single stupid morning if I decree it so. And when school starts again I'm going to have five days a week where I drop the big kids at 8;45 and pick them up at 3. I could have a routine again. It is entirely possible. Even LIKELY.

But these last two years, with the kids going different places at different times, with the baby who only recently started reliably sleeping through the night, with the husband who was traveling, with the always always tired... maybe it really isn't so bad that I am where I am. Right? MAYBE it's amazing that I'm even this CLOSE! No? Too much? All right, whatever, I'm going to bed.



I blame my parents

It all started when my parents would say, "OH, JUST IGNORE HIM!"

This in reference to my cretin of a little brother whose one pure joy in life was pushing all of my buttons, all at the same time, on a regular and maddening basis. How do you ignore such a thing, I ask you? HOW IS IT DONE? 

I'm willing to let that go, I am. After all I'M a parent now and therefore deeply appreciative of the "OH, JUST IGNORE HIM!" as a go-away-and-leave-me-alone tactic. And there were plenty of times my brother actually DID get in trouble, like the time my dad actually DID leave him on the side of the road, and that other time when they told him he couldn't live with us anymore and my mom started packing his backpack - at age six or seven. 

BUT. It was, indeed, my terrible misfortune to grow up sensitive, easily intimidated, beholden to a monstrous guilt complex with parents who were Tough, Did Not Suffer Fools, Not Afraid Of Confrontation, and valedictorians of the Eye Roll Master Class. 

If I hated the basketball team so much why didn't I just QUIT? WHO CARES?

In a gross misuse of justice did Mrs. So and So publically lecture me in the senior hallway about something I was totally allowed to do? BLOW HER OFF! WHO CARES! YOU'RE GRADUATING IN TWO WEEKS!

I hurt someone's feelings and I may die of the shame and sorrow and failure to be the perfect friend? OH FOR GOD'S SAKE, MAGGIE, SHE SOUNDED LIKE A NUTJOB ANYWAY. GOOD RIDDANCE.

So yeah. I have spent the better part of 33 years trying to ignore, quit, not care, roll my eyes, and suck it up, and GUESS WHAT. IT HASN'T WORKED.

I am still the sensitive, easily intimidated, beholden to a monstrous guilt complex creature I've always been, with my giant nose stuck in multiple personality analysis books. I write about my feelings on the internet, people, and have been doing so for YEARS. At this point I might as well throw in the Suck It Up Towel and own the fact that when my neighbor rings my doorbell with no purpose other than to chew me out about how my guest has parked in front of her blessed mailbox, I WILL FEEL LIKE WARMED OVER CRAP. FOR A LONG TIME. AND WRITE ABOUT IT ON THE INTERNET.

It's not that I feel bad that my friend (OKAY IT WAS LIZ! IT'S ALL HER FAULT!) parked in front of the mailboxes, it's that I honestly do NOT understand why my neighbor's first response is "Spew Vitriol!" rather than "Apologetically Yet Firmly Notify!" Perhaps I should walk around with a sign around my neck: GUILT TRIPS WORK BEST.

We figured out the unspoken mailbox parking rule a while back, but the absolute very first time this particular neighbor mentioned it, it was when my parents had JUST driven up and parked and we weren't even out of the cars yet and she zooms into my own garage to tell me my parents better not park there. (OR ELSE.) So yeah, this was the second time, but she was mean about it the FIRST time and today it was like I'd spent my entire two years in the neighborhood spitting on her rose garden and BY GOD she was TIRED OF TELLING ME TO STOP!

And I'm also sad that we don't have any friends on our street. The one other family with children never appears and the others are a combo of never there/retired/renting/not interested. There is one house with an older couple who is VERY sweet and kind to us, but we rarely see them. I would LOVE to have good relationships with my neighbors, but I have NO relationship with my neighbors, for the most part, and it bums me out. So I'm sensitive to that too, I guess. 

And also SHE LIVES NEXT DOOR! It's not really like I CAN ignore her! 

I should, though. Except for the two Christmastimes where she brought us delicious cookies (and who knows what instigated THAT), she's been pretty unfriendly and/or uninterested in us. And once she complained about all the pine needles when she doesn't even own the trees and I was like, "Seriously? You're mad because you live next to my tree?"

CLEARLY THIS REALLY ISN'T MY PROBLEM. And in these situations I try to make myself feel better by reminding myself of True Things. Like "at least I am not so desperately unhappy that I am compelled to stomp over to my neighbor's house and complain that someone she knows has parked in front of the mailbox without so much as a howdoyoudo." 

Should I let this sort of thing ruin my day? NO! Does it anyway? YES! Does kicking myself for being affected by someone else's crotchety mood help at all? NOOOOO. 

And after 33 years I'm beginning to suspect that The Ability To Blow It Off is simply something you're born with. My parents? EXCELLENT blow offers. Me? The opposite. And it's not my fault, it's THEIRS for not passing it down. Maybe it would just be better that, having been sniped at on my own front porch, I crawl back inside and dedicate the next several hours to couch, television, and ice cream. You know? Just ACCEPT the fact that I will feel Crappy. And then write a cathartic blog post that will make my parents roll their eyes. 

Garden thievery

About two weeks ago I planted dozens of tiny seedlings in my freshly dug garden. Jack and Molly and I started four different kinds of tomatoes, snap peas, beans, squash, zucchini, and lettuce in little peat pots inside the house and I ohsocarefully transplanted all of them into the garden. 

After one week I noticed that every single cherry tomato plant was missing. Peat pot and all. 

Last night when I got home from Sacramento I went to check on what was left of the garden and noticed that nearly all the other seedlings had disappeared as well. Whatever's stealing them - raccoons? squirrels? the handful of mangy cats constantly trespassing in my yard? - is not a fan of snap peas or beans. Those are pretty much the only plants left - that have a chance of surviving, anyway. I'm annoyed. (UNDERSTATEMENT.) I angrily put up the bamboo stakes and string trellis for the pea and bean vines this morning, though I half expect to walk out there tomorrow and see that those are gone as well. I'll have to go buy actual plants now and, I don't know, create some sort of varmint repelling force field. GAH. 

And then, because I spent the last several days in Elizabeth's ready-for-television (literally) backyard, I stood around staring at MY yard and mentally noting every single stupid thing I want to change or get rid of and this is what finally propelled me upstairs to pester a few contractors. I emailed a few a while back, but just because email is MY preferred method of communication doesn't mean contractors necessarily CHECK their email addresses. Even if they've posted them on their geocities style website. But I have two coming to visit now. The one who came last year and gave me an estimate and a new guy I found on Yelp. And I am not entirely sure how they'll respond when I say, "AND I want to put in a SLIDE." The correct response is, of course, "AWESOMESAUCE." 

Phillip is only mildy interested in this slide thing. I think he thinks it's going to cost another kajillion dollars and look ridiculous, but I think it will only cost around a frillion dollars and who CARES if it looks ridiculous. It would be SO COOL. And something our kids would enjoy for a long time, I think. Take the stairs or slide down? ALWAYS SLIDE. We also always talk about "resale value" for things we want to do, even though I am not moving out of this house, ever. I mean, maybe if we somehow pile up a kajillion dollars and I could buy a house with a view of the Sound, then okay, MAYBE I would move. But until then? Nope! (Although, let's face it, you can add another $5K of value to a house with a slide off the deck, amiright? OBVS.)

I have the tiniest bit of hope for my yard this year. One thing I've really been working on, honestly, is not getting all bent out of shape about how much work there is to do and how it needs to get done NOW. Like, my yard is just horrifying. It really is. All the work I put into it last year was for naught - everything is all grown over again, even worse. The first summer we lived here I was pregnant, and last summer I couldn't do anything because a certain baby was not mobile (and oh yeah, my husband was always gone.) But THIS summer... okay, so my baby is only quasi-mobile, but I have PLANS. Things WILL get done. But not all of it, and that will be okay. The stairs are a priority. Once those are in I can figure out what exactly needs to happen in the backyard, what I can save, what I need to rip out. I'm considering hiring a nice lawn service to do the massive weeding required in the front and mulching it all over. I'll plant some flowers. I might grow some snap peas. But I don't have to dig out the evil lavender bush or figure out what to do with the [many] overgrown flower beds or deal with the three (three!) dead trees. We will be here a long time. No rush. 

I have visions of sitting on my deck with a frosty drink and a good book, watching the big kids clamber up the stairs and hurl themselves down the slide, keeping an eye on the baby "painting" on the deck with water, totally ignoring the fact that I have to make dinner. Doesn't that sound like a good summer? That sounds so NICE. 

Summer. Ha. At this moment everyone in my family is sick, I feel like I'm about to lose my voice, I'm wearing pink fuzzy socks, jeans, and a sweater coat. Can't really start talking about summer in my town until, oh, the end of August. 

After stocking up on Vitamin D

*blows dust off the ole blawg*

The last time I went to Europe I was pregnant with Jack. It seems like forever ago. It was even MORE forever ago that I stopped going "home" (Italy) once or twice a year (Christmas, summer). So it makes absolutely no sense that I am still so happily surprised to note that traveling doesn't HAVE to be a days-long, multi-flight, jet-lagged affair where you must be sure of everything you're packing because WHO KNOWS if you'll be able to buy it THERE. 

I was SO AGAINST flying with children, because flying, to me, was (see above) a days-long, multi-flight, jet-lagged affair that took on all sorts of new neuroses after 9/11. I didn't fly anywhere for a long time. No interest. When I planned our first trip to Disneyland it was going to be a road trip. Oh yes. I was not getting on a plane WITH CHILDREN. 

But then we flew to Vegas with Phillip's family and I marveled at how easy it was. And we flew to LAX for the Disney trip. Twice. And seriously, I am still SO amazed when I am sunning myself mid-morning in a California backyard and fixing my kids dinner by 5pm in Seattle. WHAT A NIFTY WORLD WE LIVE IN!

Plane tickets are expensive and child care is complicated, but I highly recommend hopping on an airplane every so often to visit a friend. There are fare deals to be had and grandparents to sweet talk and you can make it happen! Bonus points if your friend lives in what is basically The Tropics compared to your marine temperate locale and your weekend souvenir is an awkward and unfortunate tan line. 

Elizabeth will tell you that the first time Getting On A Plane And Visiting An Internet Friend came up I thought I would only go for one night. I couldn't POSSIBLY stay longer. Not because my kids needed me or I would miss them so much or anything nice like that, I just felt like I wasn't ALLOWED. I can't go anywhere BY MYSELF! JUST FOR FUN?! So it's totally crazy to me that a few years later here I am taking off, alone, for absolutely no reason, for four days... good crazy. 

I had such a great time, you guys. And it was so nice to get away. I feel bad because pretty much my entire family was sick while I was gone - either getting sick or continuing to be sick - and I was off, you know, lolling about a beautifully landscaped yard and plotting my move to California. But after the house guests and the holidays and the sicknesses and the stuck at home it was nice to just GO. I am so lucky I'm able to GO. I am so lucky I have such great people to GO to.


And whenever you start to feel like a lame frumpy housewife, there's nothing better than parking your own car, taking the shuttle, going through security, sitting at your gate all by your lonesome to feel like a Jet Setting Sophisticated Cosmopolitan Lady. (Just me?) 

Also, airport snacks contain no calories. FYI.

Anyway. School starts again this week, I have the Great Spring Clothes Sorting to suffer through, and a six-year-old's birthday to plan. Back to real life! I kinda missed it.


ooh! ooh! Before you go, I have a serious question. How cost prohibitive do you think it would be to install a SLIDE alongside the DECK STAIRS????? (I'm calling contractors this week. I AM.)


Reads & Recommends, the What Bad News? edition

What a terrible day. Here are some other things to read.

Courtesy of Phillip Cheung and his odd internet browsings, here's how a physicist proposed to another physicist

I fully agree with this picky picky anti-pagination crusader. 

I forget who linked to this on Twitter, but this memory of a recipient of a terrible review encountering Roger Ebert is pretty awesome. Thanks for linking, whoever you are!

I happened to catch this Medal of Honor ceremony during my lengthy SAHM lunch hour. Amazingness. Faith in humanity. The presence of light in darkness. The story of Army Chaplain Emil Kapaun

Did you guys hear the This American Life about coincidences? Actually I thought it was sorta dull until they got to the romantic part and HOO BOY those are some GOOD STORIES! The one about the dollar bill! PINK SPARKLY GOOSEBUMPS!

I still have mixed feelings about the Veronica Mars kickstarter thing, especially the frequent emails asking for more, but dudes! $5.7 million! And I am VERY excited for the movie. I've been watching old episodes on the treadmill and it's still crisp and dark and quippy. Logan Echolls is still my favorite TV boyfriend. (I have a few.)

I liked The Voice before, but I LOVE IT now. Usher is SO COOL you guys, SO CHILL and so good at laughing at himself (at least on the show?) and Shakira is a DOLL. I never thought I'd say that about the singer of Phillip's Favorite Song With Which To Annoy Me ("Hips Don't Lie") but for serious. She'sadorable. I usually get a little bored after the live auditions, but this season I am COMMITTED.

Here's the reaction of a little girl who sees herself for the first time after cleft palate surgery.

This article is super old, but it's still amazing. I think the lions were angels. 

Peace out, Internet 

Glad I've seen it, never want to go back

For most of my growing up my parents were elementary school teachers with the Department of Defense, meaning they taught the dependent children of military families stationed overseas. I lived in Europe, mostly Italy, from 5th through 12th grade and one of my most enduring and firmly ingrained memories is of my dad's unrelenting frustration and exasperation with The Military. 

They lost things. They were unforgivably slow. The right hand didn't know what the left was doing. The pile of paperwork was ridiculous. The hoop jumping was ludicrous. "Your tax dollars at work!" he liked to explode, which meant nothing to me because I didn't PAY taxes and also "your" tax dollars were paying for my multiple sports trips all over Europe so, you know, AWESOME. 

But anyway. That's a little bit what my day at Children's Hospital felt like. Except that it was also one of the most impressive places I've ever experienced. 

So Emma had to go get an ultrasound - wait, an x-ray - wait, WHAT now? - plus have a consultation with a general surgery doctor to discuss issues she'd probably rather not have me write about on the internet. Let's just say girlfriend needs the big bottle of Miralax. And I finally got around to making the appointments and soldiered through the inevitable confusion between what our ped wanted and what the hospital thought our ped wanted - don't worry, I won't explain it because IT IS NOT INTERESTING.

But when I got to the campus this morning - I'd never been there before - and discovered this easily navigable, least intimidating, and possibly most beautiful hospital I've ever seen (if a hospital can be called beautiful?) I felt very... I don't know. Kind of like, "OH. Well. They'll take care of us HERE." 

Even though I went to the wrong place and never (I found out) went to the first desk I should have stopped at, everyone was friendly, cheery, pleasant, helpful, easygoing. I wasn't nervous to begin with, just stressed about having to do something new, but I felt even LESS whatever I WAS feeling. And the waiting room was GINORMOUS and full of TOYS and BOOKS and CRAYONS and I felt like, "Why don't I just come HERE on a rainy Thursday morning?" 

But then bureaucracy set in. The change to an x-ray wasn't made official somehow and I had to wait around for that. Then I had to wait around for something else. Then I receptionist found me kneeling under a table picking up all the crayons Emma dropped and apologetically told me I would be waiting longer because while they appeared to have the appropriate paperwork, they couldn't read the appropriate paperwork.  

FOR SERIOUS? It was an hour before they brought us back for a five minute procedure (during which Emma screamed mightily) and we could go home. 

At home I sat around feeling stressed about going back at 4. To alleviate this I watched the newest episode of Nashville and gawked dreamily at Sam Palladio. Phillip came home early, my in-laws showed up to whisk off the big kids, and Phillip and I took Emma back for the "consultation". 

Except I didn't really know what the consultation was for? I KNOW. BAD PARENT. But I was so confused by this point, I wasn't even really sure they got the right x-rays. My doctor had left a message on my cell telling me "everything looks normal!" and we would wait to see what the hospital doctor said. (About what? The spinal thing? The anatomical issue thing? BLARGH?)

And then we waited some more! During this wait, however, Phillip was entertaining Emma and I was admiring the hospital's check in procedures, the color coded doors and spaces, the amount of space, the ocean theme, the PEOPLE. It's not like I interacted with them, but you could just tell. These were Marvelous People. 

We met some more marvelous people when we were [finally] called back for the exam. Because! It was an exam! Not a sit down where you peer at x-rays, which is what I thought. BUT WHATEVER. A resident and a student came in to talk to us first and they were SO NICE! And so SMART! Maybe a little bit handsome! They asked heaps of questions and wrote heaps of notes. Then they disappeared to go find the Real Doctor, who was older, just as nice, not quite as handsome, but infinitely smarter. This man just EXUDED "I know what the heck I'm doing." And after asking heaps of questions, performing an exam (during which Emma screamed mightily) and spending heaps of time with us, his official diagnosis went something like this: "Uh, why did you come here?" 

He was not rude or condescending or impatient with us AT ALL. The opposite, almost. But I have a feeling our ped might get a Sternly Worded Letter. He went through a big list of people he thought we should have seen before we saw him. Which made me feel stupid, like I should have known better, but it's not really the sort of thing a SAHM with an English degree takes into her own hands. 

Our ped DID say there was a "less than 1 percent chance" this was an issue, and I knew that too, and I knew it was probably overly cautious or whatever. It's still nice to know neither of those things are the issue, like at ALL, and it was kind of fun to hear the general surgery doctor comment on Emma. How big she is, how strong, how she forgives easily (after screaming her head off, she smiled and waved at the doctors when they left.) 

So yeah, kind of this "dude, this hospital IS as super amazing as everyone says" and "REALLY? REALLY? THE PROBLEM IS WHAT NOW? AND I COULD HAVE JUST STAYED HOME?" Probably very dull for you, but one for the blog baby book for me. Thanks for your good thoughts. :) 

All right I feel better. Which means this post is pretty boring.

In the morning after kindergarten drop off I'm taking the girls to Children's Hospital for EJ's x-ray. They have a walk in x-ray clinic. You just show up! And get an x-ray! Crazypants! Then we have an appointment at 4pm to... actually, I'm not entirely sure what it's for. My understanding of what the referrals are for and what the appointments actually ARE are not the same. So. Some people would, you know, find out. Me, I'm pretty SURE I know what's going on and that is overriding my general dislike of dealing with all of these things. Mom of the year! 

But I think it's going to be okay. Even if it's not okay, things will be okay. She's walking now - I had her perform for the preschool parents AND the kindergarten teacher. Everywhere we go people comment on what a happy baby. And as of the last week or so the kid does not shut up. Ever. She's either happy bubbling or indignant barking or demandy whining. I just feel like things will be okay. 

Perhaps I can say this because my in-laws want to take the big kids to the Seattle Center (the big park and various museums and playhouses and concert halls by the Space Needle) for this giant bounce house festival thing? I don't know. Sounds like the ninth circle of hell to me. But this means I don't have to think about having two other kids with me at the consultation appointment, and Phillip is going to meet me there, and afterwards we'll have a Parents And Youngest Child date at the fancy outdoor shopping center. I am thinking sushi and retail therapy at Crate & Barrel. 

Besides, I feel like everything is GOOD. Sometimes it's going too fast, but it all feels like good stuff right now. Shoot you guys, I made DINNER. Honey mustard pork chops, asparagus, sauteed mushrooms and zucchini, and leftover mac and cheese for the boy who subsists on preservatives. I used my treadmill today (while watching Veronica Mars. I'm reviewing.) I have a plane ticket to Sacramento. I've joined the Y. Pretty much the only thing bugging me right now is how behind I am on laundry and the fact that my stylist is not available for a haircut on Saturday. OH WAIT. I just checked and there was a cancellation for the precise time I would have requested. OMG. STARS=ALIGNED.

I shall now wait for the laundry fairy to appear. 

In the meantime, I'll show you what I made today:

Photo (41)

I do not know what is up with all those weird LINES! They don't exist in real life. Do I blame the camera? ANYWAY. This is the present for Jack's teacher, about to have her first baby in May. I could have just bound up the pages and made a cover out of cardstock or whatever, but just buying a scrapbook sounded SO much easier. I bought letter stickers and baby stickers and then gluesticked the whole thing together. Each piece of "advice" is on its own page with a picture of the advice giver.The only things I'm missing are a class photo, which I totally didn't bother to buy and therefore do not have a picture to copy and put in the book, and a picture of one kid and I don't know how that happened because he's the one I worked with FOREVER.  The student teacher is going to get back to me about whether we're giving it to her this Friday or next and I'm thinking I'll make Orangette's pink cookies, except they'll be light blue and green (it's a BOY.) So yeah, part of me feels like a total teacher suck up (perhaps I have a history), but I also think it's really cute and she'll love it. 

Okay people, think good x-ray thoughts! I'm fairly certain I'll be stresstweeting from the appointment. Doesn't that sound super fun?! You are SO EXCITED!